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Apple Maps May Not Be As Far Behind Google Maps As You Think…

Posted by on May 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Apple Maps May Not Be As Far Behind Google Maps As You Think…

Apple Maps SucksJustin O’Beirne has published another amazingly detailed analysis of Apple Maps and how it has developed compared to Google Maps. While I shall yield to Justin’s mastery of all things geospatial, I feel like he kind of punted on his analysis of Apple Maps’ business listings data.

O’Beirne observes that Apple Maps has few business listings for Markleeville, CA and then claims “all of the businesses shown on Apple’s Markleeville map seem to be coming from Yelp, Apple’s primary place data provider.”

While only Apple and Yelp know for sure, I am fairly certain Yelp is not Apple Map’s “primary place data provider.” I imagine Yelp is Apple’s primary U.S. business review provider, and perhaps has a significant role in helping Apple verify a business is in a specific place with specific data, but there are several other business listings data providers that likely are providing the “primary” place data to Apple, not the least of which includes Acxiom, Factual, Neustar Localeze and TomTom. These companies likely have significantly larger POI datasets than Yelp, while Yelp likely has the lead in newly created businesses in its popular categories. Clear Channel Broadcasting may also be a provider, although it is unclear what data it is exactly providing Apple.

In his analysis of Apple’s lack of businesses in Markleeville, O’Beirne claims that “Apple Maps doesn’t have some of the businesses and places Google has.” This is possibly true, but not based on the data O’Beirne shows. Here’s his comparison of what Apple and Google show for a section of Markleeville:

I think O’Beirne is confusing that Apple Maps is not displaying the businesses in this view v. actually having them. Each of the highlighted businesses on Google Maps are on Apple Maps, they just don’t appear in the default view of this section:

Alpine County Chamber of CommerceJ Marklee Toll StationIntero Real Estate Services

I believe a lot of the Markleeville business data (surprisingly) comes from Factual, not Yelp.

O’Beirne also makes a point about a discrepancy between Apple Maps and Yelp re a single listing as evidence of a larger problem. O’Beirne states “there’s a place on Apple’s map with no Yelp listing at all: the “Alpine County District Attorney”. Even stranger, it appears to be a garage:” Then he shows the following the Apple Maps listing next to an image of a garage at the same location from Bing Maps:
Alpine County District Attorney GarageThe problem actually is that Apple Maps has the Alpine County DA location correct, but it also has a dupe listing in the wrong place:
Apple Maps Dupe ListingI am not going to claim that Apple Maps has fewer dupe listings than Google Maps, but given the amount of crap we deal with for clients on Google Maps on a daily basis, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case. Regardless, the really odd thing is that had O’Beirne checked Google Maps, he would have seen its address for the Alpine County District Attorney’s office is 100% wrong:

Alpine County DA Wrong Address

I am not trying to dispute O’Beirne’s take that Apple Maps still has a long way to go and it may never get to feature parity with Google Maps, but maybe Apple Maps is not in as bad shape as he thinks.

 

The post Apple Maps May Not Be As Far Behind Google Maps As You Think… appeared first on Expert Local SEO Consultants for 13+ Years.

What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples)

Posted by on May 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples)

permalinks

A permalink or permanent link is the address (URL) of a web page. It is called permanent link because it’s not expected to change throughout the life time of a page.

In this post, you will learn everything you ever need to know about permalinks.

In particular I will explain:

  • What are the main characteristics of permalinks
  • How to make your permalinks SEO friendly
  • What to do if you need to change a permalink.

Permalink Characteristics

Let’s start with a quick introduction to URLS.

Each and every page published on the web has a unique Uniform Resource Locator, commonly known as a URL.

The URL represents the address of a page and it is expected to remain the same as long as the page is published on the web. Thus, it sometimes referred to as permalink.

The permalink structure of a website is a term that describes how the permalinks of each and every page will look like.

Don’t worry if this is confusing now, read on and you will understand in a bit what is the relationship between permalinks and permalink structure and how it affects your SEO.

Here is an example of a permalink: https://www.reliablesoft.net/seo-strategy.

A permalink is made of two parts:

  • The website domain
  • The page slug
What is a permalink
What is a permalink

The website domain can also include the protocol i.e. https:// or http:// and or www.

The page slug is what comes after the domain slash (/).

The max length of a permalink is 2083 characters but in general the shorter, the better.

How to create SEO Friendly Permalinks

A permalink should have all the characteristics of an SEO friendly URL. Best practices are:

It should start with https – This indicates that the webpage is secure, which means that any information transmitted between the web browser and web server is encrypted.

It should be short and descriptive – A permalink should be short without having unnecessary information but at the same time, it should describe what a page is about.

For example, look at these two permalinks:

https://www.example.com/what-is-seo

https://www.example.com/2019/12/a/d/DFI_U.html

Just by looking at the first one, you know what to expect before visiting a page while the second one contains information that does not help users or search engines.

In many cases, a permalink is shown in the search engine result pages (SERPS) and thus it is important to be meaningful as well.

Permalinks in Google Search Results
Permalinks in Google Search Results

It needs to include SEO keywordsSEO keywords are the search phrases users type in a search engines search box.

By including those terms in your permalinks, you give search engines a strong clue about the content of a page and this increases your chances of ranking high for those keywords.

It also gives users a big hint of what to expect by visiting the particular page.

Words in permalink should be separated by dashes – Any words that make up a permalink should be separated by ‘-‘ and not any other characters.

Permalinks are lowercase – To avoid any issues, all letters in a permalink should be lowercase. This is because some web servers treat uppercase characters differently.

Should not include stop words – These are common words that don’t add any value or help in understanding the actual content of a page.

For example, words like “a”, “the”, “on”, “and”, “is”, “of”, “you” and other similar words.

Permalinks in WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms and the first platform to use the term ‘Permalink’.

You can find the ‘Permalinks Settings’ under SETTINGS.

Permalink Settings in WordPress
Permalink Settings in WordPress

WordPress gives you a number of options for setting up the URL structure of your posts. The best setting to use is the ‘Post Name’.

With ‘Post Name’ your permalinks will not contain any unnecessary information. When you publish a new page, WordPress will take whatever you type in the page title and separate it by dashes ‘-‘.

How to change the permalink without losing SEO?

Although the idea of a permalink is to be permanent, there are valid cases where you might want to change it.

For example, during an SEO audit, you might decide to make your URLS shorter by removing date information.

In order not to negatively affect your SEO, you need to ‘tell’ search engines that you are changing the URL so that they can update their index.

If you make the change without informing them, they will consider it as a new page. This means that any backlinks pointing to the page will be lost and any users that bookmarked the page will get a 404 error, since the page has changed address.

To avoid these issues and maintain your SEO rankings, you need to add a 301 redirection to your .htaccess file to inform search engine crawlers about the change.

Here is a step by step example:

Let’s say that your current permalink is:

https://www.reliablesoft.net/this-is-a-long-permalink-to-be-made-shorter

and you want to change it to:

https://www.reliablesoft.net/permalinks

If you are on WordPress you can change the permalink of a page by editing the URL right below the title.

Step 1: Visit the page in EDIT mode, change the URL and click the UPDATE button.

How to Change the Permalink of a Page
How to Change the Permalink of a Page

Step 2: Using an FTP program, locate the .htcaccess file found in the ROOT folder of your website, download it to your local PC and edit it using Notepad or other text editor.

Step 3: Add the following line and save the file.

Redirect 301 /this-is-a-long-permalink-to-be-made-shorter https://www.reliablesoft.net/permalinks

Notice that you don’t need to include the domain name for the [source] URL but you need to include the full permalink for the [target URL].

Step 4: Upload the file back to your webserver.

Step 5: Open a new browser window and test and everything is working as expected. If you type the OLD URL in the browser, you should be redirected to the new page.

Step 6: Go to Google Search Console and use the URL Inspection Tool to make sure that search engines can access the new permalink without any problems.

URL Inspection Tool
URL Inspection Tool

Step 7: Make sure that the new permalink address is included in your XML Sitemap.

Key Learnings

A permalink is a term that describes the URL of a page. Any page published online must have its own unique permalink.

You can safely change the permalink of the page but in order to maintain your SEO rankings you need to add a 301 redirection so that search engines and users can navigate to the new address without getting a NOT FOUND (404) error message.

The post What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

Link Building Strategy (for 2019): The Power of Using Creative Ideas vs Tactics

Posted by on May 29, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Link Building Strategy (for 2019): The Power of Using Creative Ideas vs Tactics

This article is NOT going to be about the latest link building strategy or fad for 2019.

You’re in the wrong place.

Or maybe not?

That really depends on what you think link building strategies are.

This article is about using strategy to build links.

Red pill or blue pill?

red pill blue pill

Keep reading to find out.

Here’s the deal:

My basic approach with link building has always been to just take existing pages, pick the first strategy that came to mind and execute.

I got some good, even great results from this, but as time went by I started to hit a ceiling.

So, a few months ago I was looking for feedback to refine my link building service and reached out to Nathan Gotch (of GotchSEO), here’s part of what he replied to me:

Nathan Gotch Quote

Aha! Moment.

I started researching the topic of creative, strategic link building, linkable assets etc. and I was hooked.

Strategic Link Building vs Tactical Link Building

As mentioned by Joshua Hardwick at Ahrefs in this article, a strategy is “an overall plan”, a tactic is “the actual means used to gain an objective”.

So, if we take that distinction into consideration, yeah, this article is about link building strategies.

The problem with most articles out there is that they define as strategies, what in reality are mostly “tactics”.

Here are a few of them that you might have seen mentioned on and on again:

  • Broken link building
  • Guest posting
  • Replicating competitor backlinks
  • Resource pages link building
  • Roundups
  • Skyscraper link building
  • Infographics

And so forth…

I believe this is an important distinction to make because we, as SEOs and marketer, often focus on the surface of things (how to do “X” = tactics) instead of looking at the bigger picture (why should we do “X” or what’s the best way to do “X” = strategy).

This article was also mostly influenced by a great video I’ve seen a while back by Ross Hudgens of Siege Media where he talks about the difference between tactical and strategic link building.

Here’s the video:

In short:

Tactical link building: Focus on the specific tactic used (that mentioned above) and try to scale it no matter what content, page, business or company we are dealing with.

Strategic link building: Carefully analyze the target site/company/page to see what’s already working and/or what might work well for its particular industry/niche, THEN try to scale it.

In all honesty, I think strategic link building is the best approach for most companies out there, especially now in 2019.

It allows you to be authentic, original, leverage scale and lower the cost per link to get the best ROI at the same time.

Most of all, it’s fun!

Lame Nerd GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ok, that sounded very nerdy.

But, here’s what I liked most about what Ross says in that video:

ANYONE can learn a tactic and try to replicate it. Not anyone can find the right strategy. This virtually eliminates you competition and puts you ahead of the game.

It takes research, persistence and the willingness to experiment and take action. You need to do the hard work that nobody likes to do basically.

That’s what the “tactic articles” are for.

We are all looking for the shortcuts, the quick step by step, A to Z mega-guide.

Here’s where everything falls apart though:

  1. You still need to do the hard work after learning a tactic, and
  2. No single tactic works in EVERY situation.

Why not try and see your company or site as its unique situation with its own unique opportunities?

Why not invest a bit more time up front to get better returns in the long run?

For example, let’s say that you have a SaaS company, you did some research and found that your product is similar but better than competitors’.

You have a great feature that blows them out of the water and a great USP.

In a situation like this, going after and stealing your competitors’ links might work particularly well for your company.

What better excuse than:

“Hey, check us out! we do this that they don’t and it works really well for people like you!”?

The decision to do your research beforehand instead of just trying to build some broken links (for example) saved you time and effort.

And you can keep doing this until you’ve gone after all your competitors’ links.

Now you’re asking:

“How do I figure out what the best strategy is for me?”

How To Find Strategic Link Opportunities and Ideas

To do this, fist try to look at your company site as a whole. Do you have anything unique that can be leveraged for this?

The first step is always to look at your competitors.

Plug them into Ahrefs Site Explorer and go to the “best by links” report.

This shows you all the best pages of that site ranked by the number of incoming links and you can filter them by a few different metrics.

I like to filter them by the number of referring domains (number of unique sites that link to each page).

See if you notice any interesting opportunities.

  1. Is there anything that stands out?
  2. Any weird-looking URL that is getting a ton of links?
  3. You can also use the status code filter to only look at 404 pages that are getting links and then replicate them (broken link building)
  4. Or filter by words that are included in the URL or title of the pages. For example filter for “tools” to only see pages that talk about tools.

For example, I noticed Hotjar is getting a ton of links to their feature page on “feedback polls” (3,549 dofollow links):

Hotjar Links

They even have 1 link from Harvard University just because they’re using the tool.

Harvard Link

Now, if I were a SaaS providing a similar product, I would think of ways I could make this feedback poll better, more useful, add better features and pitch it to all those 3,549 sites.

The guys at Drift.com are doing a great job at getting backlinks (817 links) from their podcast “Seeking Wisdom” :

Drift Link Profile

Do you have something unique to say? Have you ever considered running your own show? Having a podcast is a great way to build authority in your industry. Sure, it takes work but as you can see the results are totally worth it.

Another example is Dropbox.

Their unique approach to team culture has gotten them a TON of great links.

Dropbox Links

And to show you how these strategies are repeatable, here’s how Asana is doing the same thing and they both got a link from the same article on Tech Crunch:

Techcrunch

The folks at You Need a Budget are doing great with their own proprietary method:

You Need a Budget Link

They have a dofollow link from the New York Times!

New York Times Link

This strategy works great if you have a unique way of doing things. They’ve also written a book about it!

Are you using some innovative technology that is all the rage at the moment? The guys at Plum are spreading the word about their app by focusing on their strength, AI:

Plum Link

To give another step by step example of how I usually come up with this kind of stuff, Let’s take a look at another example, in the sports news niche.

The first step again is to go to Ahrefs site explorer tool, take some of the best sports news websites and put them in there.

I’ll take ESPN as an example.

Again:

  1. Go to the “best by links” report.
  2. Scan through the list to spot check interesting opportunities.

Right away with these few tips (and took me like 2 minutes), I found a bunch of different opportunities and ideas:

These work great in the sports news niche cause everybody on the internet who is talking about sports needs stats to make a point.

Here are some of their links:

ESPN Links

To replicate this strategy, ask yourself:

  • Can I make these stats more up to date?
  • Use a different/better visualization?
  • Niche down the statistics? (maybe only do stats for a particular segment of players in a sport)

And this is an example of a link that’s not working/error page:
http://games.espn.com/s/fantasy/error.html

This page has 513 sites linking to it and it’s not even secure (https):

Broken Link

No idea of what fantasy games are?

You can put this page into Archive.org and see what it previously was to make sure it’s something you can replicate.

(note: not sure about this particular example but it’s the first that came out and it’s just to show you how to find stuff like this).

Now, these are just a few examples of using uniqueness to differentiate yourself from the pack and acquire backlinks at the same time.

Does it mean this only works for companies or websites that are as unique or as BIG?

Not necessarily.

If you’re not in a position where you can stand out from the competitors big time, or yuor not a huge player like the ones outlined above, you can still use the strategic approach by working on a page by page basis.

You can approach each page as a unique asset and look for opportunities there.

Case Study: How To Craft A Linkable Asset From Scratch

This is an example/case study from one of my clients Uplead.com a B2B prospecting software.

They came to me looking for my opinion on writing an article about b2b sales trends. The main problem with this, was that I knew there were a ton of BIG players already competing for this topic.

Such as this article by Hubspot.

No way we could compete with that…

To see what kind of articles were performing well, I did some quick research, looked at a few sales blogs’ “most popular articles” sections to see if I could find anything interesting.

These are a few of the topics that came out:

  • B2B Sales Trends to Watch in 2019
  • Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Increase Your Sales
  • Sales Follow-Up Strategies
  • Value Proposition Examples
  • Elevator Speech Examples
  • Famous sales/business people quotes (Example)
  • Sales Job description templates
  • Free Chrome Extensions for sales
  • SALES STACK 2019
  • Statistics Every B2B Company Should Know to Boost Sales and Get More Customers
  • HOW CAN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE HELP SCALE YOUR B2B SALES AND MARKETING?
  • [B2B Sales Humor] The Top 100 Overused Business Clichés

I don’t know about you but again, I’m seeing artificial intelligence popping out a lot, might be a cool angle!

What about a statistics piece on AI for b2b sales?

Well, look at this:

B2b Sales Trends

According to Google, there are almost 2 million results about b2b sales trends that contain the exact words “artificial intelligence”, like this one:

AI

They already link out to another generic article on marketing trends (SmartInsight), we could pitch them our article which is specifically on AI stats and trends.

Do you think they would be happy to include a link? I think they would!

After I got the idea for the article approved, I created this short brief for Uplead’s content manager who then had the piece researched and written:

As soon as they started creating the article I did some pre-outreach to gauge interest and qualify my prospects. I reached out to people via email and Twitter.

This brought out a few people that told they would love to read the article once it came out:

Here’s my first email:

Outreach

One of the replies:

Reply

Here’s the finished article, I really like how it came out.

Time to send it to qualified prospects:

Reply #2

And, their last reply:

Reply #3

Besides doing the pre-outreach I also reached out to people who were mentioning the topic in their articles and people who were linking to similar/worse/outdated articles.

Here’s some of the replies:

Reply #4 Reply #5

Pretty cool, right?

What About Building Strategic Links To Existing Pages?

Generally speaking, you can find ideas and opportunities even for existing pages using what I could call “one-offs”: single links that might spark ideas to then do the same thing at a much bigger scale.

For example, let’s say you sell beauty products.

You notice one of your competitors is getting just 1 link to it’s sunscreen product page from an article on “How to get ready for summer 2019”.

Why not reach out to all similar articles and ask them to include your own link?

Maybe add a new section in your product page specifically about how your product is good for this summer (or any summer) to spark more interest and make it even more relevant to your potential “linkers”.

First, look at what’s already ranking in Google’s top 10 for your target keyword/topic.

Go through each one of the top 10 ranking results in Ahrefs and try to get a feel for the kind of links that they are getting.

Are they mostly from recommendations? Resource links? From an existing relationship with the blogger? Are they clearly paid links?

You can find this out by scanning through their anchor text and the text surrounding the links. Ask yourself:

“Why did this site link to that particular page?”

Once you understood what the majority of link types for your target keyword is, you need to figure out,

  • Can your article earn the same type of links?
  • Can you come up with a unique angle for it?
  • Something that’s missing or a unique perspective on the topic that you could add?
  • Does it make sense or do I need to create a new article to match that?

If the answer to those questions is “Yes”, then you’re already ahead of most people who will publish a similar article and try the first link building tactic they have in mind, just because someone told them so!

Another example of this in action:

Say you have a free logo maker software.

If I put the keyword “logo maker” into Ahrefs this is what i get:

Logomakr Links

Logomakr.com has 344k links to its home page! Let’s dive in.
I use the “Include” filter to only see the articles that mention the word “tool” in their title.

Title

This alone, gives me a ton of ideas on how to scale my outreach up.

Link Opportunities

As you can see, I could reach out to everyone who has an article about the following topics:

  • Free business tools
  • Free graphic design tools
  • logo design tools
  • Image creation tools
  • Tools for Internet marketers

How to find them? Just use some simple Google search operators such as:

Intitle:business tools intext:logo

Intitle:business tools intext:design a logo

intitle:business tools intext:logo design

Etc.

You get the idea.

Conclusion

Like most parts of SEO, link building has been used and abused in recent years. Since bloggers like Brian Dean started sharing their email templates, most of us are just too lazy to come up with something unique.

I myself am guilty of this. I just got to a point where I was sick of the angry email replies (totally understandable), sick of just being “another one of those”, which got me to think:

Can I do this another way? Can i send 100 emails instead of 5000 and get some good enough results?

The answer is “YES”!

Use your head, best judgement and a bit of creativity (combined with some SEO tools) and you’ll see there are a myriad of untapped opportunities to stand out, help people by giving them something of value and get some great links in the process.

Secure WordPress from Hackers

Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Secure WordPress from Hackers

According to WP White Security, more than 70% of WordPress websites are vulnerable to a hack attack! But don’t worry – it’s easier to deal with than you think!

INSTALL WORDPRESS SECURITY PLUGINS

Never is it a bad idea to find the security plugin that works for you! “WP All-in-One Security” is the one we use and recommend to clients because it has Brute-Force Protection, a File-Change Scanner, a Firewall, and much more! It even has a “Security Strength Meter” to show now secure you can make your site!

USE STRONG CREDENTIALS

Just create a password (even the one that can be auto-generated by WordPress) that’s at least 12 characters in length and doesn’t just use letters (regardless of capitals or lowercase) or numbers.

KEEP A CONSTANT WEBSITE BACKUP

This is a must-have regardless what happens! Use “BackWPUp” and have it run a backup at the very least once a month!

SCAN YOUR SITE FOR MALWARE

Plugins make it possible to scan your WordPress site for malicious code using a scanner like “Anti-Malware from GOTMLS.NET” – get it for free and scan your site immediately!

LIMIT YOUR LOGIN ATTEMPTS

“All-in-One WP Security” can do this too, so make sure to limit the number of attempted logins so a hacker can’t get in after a number of failed tries to break in!

CREATE A NEW ADMIN IF “ADMIN” IS YOUR USERNAME

Hackers will use the username “admin” because it’s the most commonly used username in WordPress. Make a new one with administrator rights and delete the old one so they can’t get in!

USE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

“All-in-One WP Security” does this too by adding a CAPTCHA, but you can even send you a verification code by cell-phone! This makes it much harder for a potential hacker to get into your site!

KEEP WORDPRESS UP TO DATE

This is easily done without you pressing a single button by adding this to your wp-config.php:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true );

Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!!

Posted by on May 27, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!!

Hey friends! I’m way over-invested in rare beer and underinvested in giving back to the SEO community (aren’t we all?). There has been a lot of tweetin’ and discussin’ about forum/comment links lately. Do they have zero value for SEO, or is the devil in the details?

Image result for devil barney stinson

Anyway, enough talk. If you can create a resource online showing how you used forum/comment links to boost the rankings of a site that averages over 1k visits a month from organic search traffic I will send you one of these two rare beers from my collection:

A little background on the beers, these are from two fine SoCal breweries.

First on the left is Parables of Red from Casa Agria. Casa is a craft brewery located in Thousand Oaks, and are known for their fantastic hazy hops and robust wild program. They even did a mutual collab with DeGarde, so they are the real deal. This beer is from their club program and was not released to the public.

On the right is a 2014 Black Tuesday from Orange County’s own The Bruery. The Bruery has been around since 2008 and has helped pioneer the high ABV pastry stout game and mainstreaming of wilds. This 2014 BT should be drinking spectacularly right now.

Any questions hit me up @danleibson on Twitter, or leave a comment.

Must be 21 years of age or older.

The post Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!! appeared first on Expert Local SEO Consultants for 13+ Years.

21 Ways to Triple Your B2B E‑Commerce Conversions

Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 21 Ways to Triple Your B2B E‑Commerce Conversions

Posted by OliviaRoss

It takes thoughtful work to scale an e-commerce store. I’m sure you’ve had a few growing pains of your own getting to the point where you are today. However, you’re reading this because you may not be content with where your conversions are at this precise moment. You may not even know if your conversion rate is good or not!

Today, I will give you 21 tips (yes 21!) on how to double (even triple) your current conversion rates.

But first, let’s determine what counts as a conversion.

These are the usual suspects for e-commerce conversion goals:

  1. An online sale
  2. A user adding a product to their cart
  3. A user adding an item to their wishlist
  4. Email signups
  5. Social media shares
  6. Any KPI your company finds valuable

So, what’s a good e-commerce conversion rate?

The Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly is a great source for regularly updated benchmarks on conversion for large e-commerce brands.

From this data, we know that the average e-commerce conversion rate is between 2 percent and 4 percent; but we don’t want to be average, do we? 

Let’s break down some suggestions you can use to improve your site faster.

1. Fix your analytics

Analytics that are in tune to the needs of your business will give you real insight into how people are using your site, and show you obvious improvements that need to be made in your CRO strategy.

With most analytics, there’s usually something that isn’t tracking properly to give you full clarity into what your customers are doing. You need to properly track your goals to give you that insight and help you find out what your site visitors are doing. For instance, are you looking at what people who search your site are doing, or people who enter your site through specific categories, product pages, or information pages?

To find out which events are leading to a purchase, tweak your analytics by segmenting traffic that tracks repeat purchasers.

2. Use Hotjar or other qualitative data tools

You can make wild guesses based off of “best practices” all day, but you won’t know what your customers are doing unless you see it. By using qualitative data tools such as Hotjar or CrazyEgg, you’ll have real insight into what your customers are looking for.

You can achieve this by creating heat maps, session recordings, conversion funnels, and user polls.

Heatmaps will show you an average of where all visitors are clicking and scrolling in a static image. Session recordings will record the screens of visitors on your site so you can view the video and see exactly what the customer is looking at and what they are clicking on.

By creating a conversion funnel, you will be able to see where people are dropping off. For example, if you create a funnel from the homepage to the shopping cart, to the confirmation page, you may be able to see that about 75 percent of users are dropping off in the cart process.

Then, you can view session recordings of that step in the funnel and see where people are getting confused or frustrated with your shopping cart process. Pretty cool, right?

Lastly, you can leverage polls on Hotjar — they’re effective because they give your customers a chance to voice what they think of your site. Try asking questions like “What is keeping you from getting your [insert product name or offer] today?”

Often times, people respond with answers like “I need more information,” “I don’t need this right now,” “Too expensive,” or “I don’t know if I’ll like this brand.” If the majority of people are saying it’s too expensive, you may want to either reconsider who you are targeting or reevaluate your pricing.

3. Display your phone number prominently

    Customer service is essential in online commerce. You want customers to feel that you are readily available for any questions or problems they may run into. Ensure your phone number is clearly visible in the header, footers, and the checkout process of your site at all times.

    If nothing else, at least make sure you have a Contact Us page with all methods of contact options listed.

    See the phone number in the top right on Selini NY’s website?

    4. Clearly state unique selling propositions (UVP)

    I preach this in basically all of my blog pieces. It’s essential to think in the mind of the customer: Why would I buy from you over anyone else? Are you cheaper, faster, do you get better results? Why are you so special?

    I suggest placing your UVPs in your headlines as often as possible since that’s going to be the first bit of information a person will read on each of your product pages.

    5. Grab visitors’ attention quickly

      In reality, you have about three seconds to capture your prospective customer’s attention. This goes back to the UVP as you want to make sure your copy is captivating, but you also want to use quality images, GIFs, and videos to back up your claims.

      For example, if you sell software, it could be valuable to show a quick and straightforward video of the software in action. Why? This way, people can get a realistic view of what your software does without having to leave your site or contact someone.

      6. Optimize for mobile

        First, let’s explain with some statistics from OuterBox on why it’s imperative to optimize your mobile site:

        • 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone.
        • Over 230 million U.S. consumers own smartphones.
        • Around 100 million U.S. consumers own tablets.
        • 79 percent of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months.
        • Almost 40 percent of all e-commerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season were made on a smartphone.
        • E-commerce dollars now comprise 10 percent of ALL retail revenue.
        • 80 percent of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations.
        • An estimated 10 billion mobile connected devices are currently in use.

        Keep in mind, these are just U.S. statistics! With the world turning away from desktops and utilizing their phones more than ever, your B2B e-commerce business must keep up with the times. Optimize your mobile site by writing concise titles and copy focused on the benefits that solve your customers’ pain points.

        Make sure your site’s load time is acceptable by plugging your URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Google will give you a score and recommendations on what you need to fix.

        See below:

        7. Give detailed product descriptions

          Good news: You’ve captured your audience’s attention! Now, it’s time to keep them engaged.

          When in doubt, air on the side of too much information. Too often do people bounce from pages because they weren’t able to get their questions answered.

          Avoid unnecessary bounce by providing as much information about your product as possible. This includes all benefits, how it works, the features, what it can and cannot do, and anything else that is critical for a customer to know.

          For example, look below at how descriptive Salesforce is about its B2B e-commerce solution. I’ve included a snippet here of a very long web page covering nearly 20 different benefits of using Salesforce for your online marketplace.

          8. Add a product video or demonstration

          Adding a product video or demo goes hand-in-hand with your product description. Your website isn’t a brick and mortar store where people can walk in, talk to you, pick the product up in their hands and ask all of their questions about the item.

          So, ideally, you want to get as close as possible to the real experience digitally. Provide a clear walkthrough or demonstration on how to set up and use your product. Customers may be wary of buying if they don’t know how easy or difficult it is to use.

          Make it as plain as day and make it so they can’t say no!

          9. Build a structure to easily find products

            To better assist your customers in finding the exact product or service that fits their needs, add filters to your category pages. For example, how many products do you have? If it’s more than a handful, can you filter them by size, price, color, style?

            If you offer a service instead of a product, do you have separate services with different functions that fall under that parent service? You can see how Flexfire LED guides you to the right product with their structured product menu. Could you imagine if this was just one long list of all products with no categories? It would be chaotic.

            10. Set up rotating banners of top products

              Offer your champion products up front when new and returning visitors land on your homepage. This helps guide customers to a decision sooner instead of letting them figure out which product may work for them on their own.

              Restaurantware.com has several rotating banners showing the top and latest products they have to offer, keeping their customers constantly in the know and wanting to learn more.

              11. Obtain customer emails

              Try to access targeted emails through a pop-up, or offer a coupon code where you continuously market to customers in the decision phase.

              Zappo’s rewards program does a great job of getting people to sign up for free shipping and returns and exclusive access to 24/7 customer service.

              Email marketing is a practice every B2B e-commerce company needs because business executives are constantly checking their email. In fact, those who use email marketing see an average of 40x more ROI from this practice as opposed to any other marketing tactic.

              When writing email campaigns, focus on educating and informing your customers, which frames your company in a way that offers solutions to their problems. Let them know what your services are, why they work, and how your brand solves problems.

              12. Allow customers to review products

              Reviews are a critical part of determining a purchase. Why? The same reason so many people buy from Amazon — we want to know, from real people, if these products are legit. The social proof of reviews creates trust and helps people move forward confidently as they purchase items. It can be extremely beneficial to include top reviews on your product pages to ease your visitors’ minds into choosing you.

              Additionally, you want the review to explain how your team works and what makes your brand different from competitors. So, ask previous clients, how did your brand make a positive impact on their business?

              13. Provide product testimonials

                Along with review star ratings, try to have written or recorded (video) testimonials spread throughout your product pages, landing pages, and homepage. Again, your prospects want to know what others are saying about your services/products, so show them!

                Notice how each testimonial explains exactly how B-school helped them succeed. Sarah’s testimonial is especially notable because she has some solid numbers in her quote: $50,000 in one week is a great result and could prompt new customers to work with B-School as well!

                14. Provide free shipping

                  Customers would rather pay $10 more to get free shipping than pay a $4.99 shipping charge. I’m guilty of this myself. But why is this?

                  Anna Kegler from RJMetrics explains it well:

                  “Most shoppers are still more accustomed to the offline store than the online environment. Because of this, we lack the context for understanding how shipping costs factor into online shopping.”

                  As a customer, if I’m shopping online for the sake of convenience, but then see “convenience” is going to cost me $10 or $20, you better believe I’m going to start crunching numbers in my head about how that money factors into the time it would have taken to go to the store.

                  Guess what happens if the math doesn’t add up? Carts get abandoned as “Unexpected costs” and it’s the number one reason shopping carts are abandoned.

                  15. Offer coupons

                    Coupons can be beneficial to gain interest and encourage people to try your product or service out. However, it’s essential to use coupons sparingly, as always being the lowest price point could end up hurting your business.

                    For example, if you’re offering 50 percent off on too many different services/products, you are cutting your revenue in half. Although you may get some more new customers this way, you won’t have enough money to sustain your business. Plus, a coupon does not guarantee repeat business. How many times have you bought something just once because it was free or discounted?

                    Instead, focus on providing outstanding service and overall unique brand experience. Here are some appropriate ways to use coupons:

                    Sell “stale” inventory

                    You can’t make money if you can’t sell your inventory, so this is the best time to start utilizing coupons. Either give a percentage discount on individual items, a BOGO type of offer or offer a free item once a certain spending threshold has been hit.

                    For example: “All orders over $250 get a free wireless phone charger. Use coupon code: CHARGE250”

                    Show appreciation for customers

                    According to Business.com.: “Acquiring new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer — and current customers spend 67 percent more on average than those who are new to your business.”

                    All the more reason to show your current customers some love! Email coupon codes to loyal customers to show thanks for their continued support.

                    Reward new customers with automatic discounts

                    For new customers, automatically apply discounts towards their first purchase with your business, but don’t try to sell this upfront. Surprise is a great tactic to make lifetime customers.

                    As you can see above, new customers at Check Depot get a discount off their entire first order. Little bonuses like that don’t hurt to try!

                    16. User personalization

                      Smart Insights reveals that one type of personalization (“visitors who viewed this also viewed”) can generate 68 percent of e-commerce revenue.

                      You can see how everything is broken by recommendation type and how each one increased revenue. Try these out on your own site to see where you get the most traction. Just remember, according to Shopify, good e-commerce personalization should:

                      • Meet users’ needs
                      • Avoid turning visitors off with poor recommendations
                      • Be used only where the potential return justifies your investment

                      Amazon.com is a shining example of all of this.

                      Nearly every element on the Amazon page is personalized in some way, including the personal “Olivia’s Amazon.com” link, the personal hello, the link to my account, and my “Wish List”. All suggested items are based on my past searches so nothing is recommended to me outside my realm of interests.

                      Strive to be on this level for your own customers and you’ll start seeing your profits increase.

                      17. Competitive Pricing

                        If you have seven competitors, and they all offer their product between $200–$400, but yours is $1200, you may run into some friction from prospects who are shopping around. If you’re going to have a high price point, you must justify it.

                        The amount a customer is willing to pay boils down to their perception of your brand, and this ties back into your UVP. Let’s say you want a customer to pay three times as much for your product over your competitors. Think to yourself, what makes you three times better than competitors 1 through 7? Is your product of the highest quality?

                        A smart way to determine what pricing will be acceptable to your buyers is by keeping your buyer personas up to date.

                        Sellbrite provides a good example of this:

                        “Create profiles for your customer types that identify their buying concerns, what motivates them to buy your product, their income, and other insights that will help you understand their willingness to pay. With this knowledge, you’ll feel secure in what you are charging for your product and more confident that you will make sales.“

                        18. Make your “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons prevalent

                          How can a customer buy from you if your button to purchase isn’t accessible? It doesn’t have to be rocket science!

                          Keep in mind, in western countries, we read left to right, so you’ll notice in the image above that the add to cart button is in the bottom right corner after most of the important information has already been reviewed. This is a wise spot for these Cart and Checkout buttons since most people on Amazon are reading through product and shipping details before adding to the cart.

                          19. Use live chat or chatbots

                            What works better? Utilizing chatbots will help to avoid the overhead of staffing for a live chat. However, you will probably get a better response from customers through using live chat.

                            Why? Buyers want a personalized customer experience that fits their needs, just as if they walked into a brick and mortar store.

                            Today, we’re using all of these digital tools to find out why people are bouncing — Hotjar, Qualaroo, Rejoiner — but what if we just let visitors tell us right away what they need from us as businesses? Think of all the friction that has been removed just by having a quick conversation with your customers as they entered the site.

                            Look at how SiteGround proves you are talking to a real expert that can help you based on an actual photo, name, ratings and how many customers have been served. On another note, who is that lady on the right? I’m pretty sure her name isn’t Diego like it shows. When using live chat, make it clear to your visitors that they are actually talking to a live person.

                            If you choose to take the chatbot route, be upfront with customers and don’t try to trick them into thinking that a bot is a real person. See how the Facebook Chatbot Bitcoin Buddy deals with its limitations below:

                            20. Show that your site is secure

                            Cybersecurity is one of the most critical aspects of e-commerce. Without proper protocols in place, online sellers put themselves and their customers at risk for payment fraud. Yikes.

                            Trust badges, trust seals, logos of your payment providers, the little secure “lock” icon on the browser, and more add that needed security to get your customers to buy. Most importantly, you must set up your store with an SSL certificate (https:// pages). Lastly, require the CVV for debit and credit cards for added security.

                            21. Referral marketing tactics

                              81 percent of consumers say that a recommendation from a friend or family member heavily influences their buying decisions. Anyone can get reviews from consumers, but it takes skill to acquire a review from a satisfied business executive. To validate your company, use your networking skills on LinkedIn or Google to encourage previous clients to write positive reviews about your business. It doesn’t hurt to try, just make sure to keep it professional.

                              Regularly engage with your contented customers through an advocate marketing program. This will nurture your relationship and reward them for supporting your brand. Once your advocates feel connected to and valued by your company, they’ll be ready to submit high-quality referrals.

                              Take a look at the Google Apps Referral Program. Google gives money rewards for every user who signs up through the advocate’s link.

                              In conclusion

                              There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to optimizing your online commerce. B2B marketing is a different animal than B2C so there are various considerations that must be taken into account when targeted to your desired audience.

                              Business executives are much more discerning than consumers, so networking with these individuals and gaining their trust is imperative to increase your profit. Focus on your unique value propositions, and provide different offerings for new and repeat customers.

                              If you’re able to get happy customers signing up for your referral program and leaving positive reviews, you will be amazed at the impact that it will have on your ROI.

                              Did you find any of the tips helpful? What tactics do you use to help increase your B2B e-commerce conversions?

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

                              What’s the Best CMS for SEO in 2019? (10,000 Keywords Analyzed)

                              Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What’s the Best CMS for SEO in 2019? (10,000 Keywords Analyzed)

                              The last thing you want to do is start a debate about the best CMS for SEO.

                              (Especially on Twitter)

                              That’s why I decided to look at the data instead.

                              In fact:

                              My team and I analyzed the top 10 ranking SERPs for 10,000 unique keywords to see what CMS is ACTUALLY the best for SEO.

                              Here’s what we discovered.

                              The Best CMS for SEO in 2019 is…

                              Not having a CMS at all!?

                              That’s right.

                              According to the data, 58% of the ranking results aren’t even using a Content Management System (CMS).

                              Best CMS

                              Even if the data isn’t 100% accurate, not having a CMS is still the overwhelming majority.

                              But if we remove sites that aren’t using a CMS, the results are far less surprising.

                              The best Content Management System for SEO is none other than… WordPress!

                              Best CMS for SEO

                              Anti-climatic, right?

                              Here’s a list of the top 21 CMS’s that are dominating Google’s SERPs:

                              1. WordPress (45%)
                              2. MediaWiki (9%)
                              3. Drupal (8%)
                              4. Adobe Experience Manager (4%)
                              5. Ruby on Rails (4%)
                              6. ATG Web Commerce (1%)
                              7. SiteCore (< 1%)
                              8. HubSpot (< 1%)
                              9. Magento (< 1%)
                              10. Squarespace (< 1%)
                              11. Shopify (< 1%)
                              12. Liferay (< 1%)
                              13. Django Framework (< 1%)
                              14. Joomla (< 1%)
                              15. Laravel (< 1%)
                              16. Brightspot (< 1%)
                              17. Adobe Dreamweaver (< 1%)
                              18. Salesforce Commerce Cloud (< 1%)
                              19. Wix (< 1%)
                              20. IBM Websphere Commerce (< 1%)
                              21. Medium (< 1%)

                              How We Conducted the Study

                              Let me start by saying that this is by no means a comprehensive study, but there’s a big reason why we shut it down at 10,000 keywords.

                              Why did we only analyze 10,000 keywords?

                              We felt that anything more than 10,000 would be a waste of time because it wouldn’t dramatically change the results. We assumed WordPress would be the best for SEO because it’s the most widely used.

                              As we added more-and-more URLs, the results weren’t changing at that much.

                              It’s possible that a bigger dataset may alter these results. It’s just unlikely.

                              Where did you get the data from?

                              We create a list of seed keywords like “car”, “books”, and “travel”. Then we ran those keywords through Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool and focused on the “Phrase Match” option.

                              Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

                              From there, we exported 50 keywords and the top 10 results for each.

                              Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Export

                              We repeated this process page-by-page. After we gathered 100,000 URLs from 10,000 keywords, we tested the URLs using What CMS’s API.

                              What CMS

                              Unfortunately, we could only copy and paste 1,000 URLs at a time, so it was quite time consuming.

                              Was there probably an easier or better way to gather this data? Definitely, but we’re just happy we got it done.

                              Why is this post so short?

                              Because there’s nothing left to say!

                              WordPress is the best CMS for SEO in 2019.

                              The bigger idea here is to make decisions based on real data. Not people’s opinions.

                              There is one other thing I’m going to prove with this post.

                              I’m going to prove that you don’t need to write “1,800” words to rank in Google.

                              You just need to satisfy search intent, create a super valuable piece of content and acquire quality backlinks. Notice how I didn’t say create a super long piece of content.

                              Length does NOT equal quality.

                              Watch this video (and subscribe to my channel) to master this concept:

                              Your Turn

                              Do you agree or are you surprised by this data?

                              Let me know in the comment section. Also, if this was valuable please share it with a friend or colleague.

                              Thanks for reading!

                              Competitor Analysis: A Structured Approach

                              Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Competitor Analysis: A Structured Approach

                              This blog post is for you if you need a structured way to do competitor analysis that allows you to focus and prioritise tasks without missing out on any important information. It’s also for you if you’ve never done a competitor analysis before or don’t know why you might need to do one.

                              Some of the reasons you may want to do a competitor analysis are:

                              • You used to be the winner in organic search results but you are not anymore
                              • You’re expanding in a new market (geographically or with a category/service/product)
                              • Competitors always outrank you
                              • You’re ahead of the game but want to discover why certain competitors are growing

                              I came up with this method because last year one of our clients asked us to do a competitor analysis but with a very specific question in mind: they were interested only in the Japanese competition, and more specifically they wanted to get this done on their Japanese website. I do not speak Japanese! Nor does anyone else at Distilled (yet!). So, I had to focus on data, numbers, and graphs to get the answers I wanted.

                              I think of competitor analysis as a set of tasks divided into these two phases:

                              1. Discover problems
                              2. Find Solutions

                              The part about finding solutions will vary depending on the problems you discover, which is why I can’t include it here. The steps I include in this method are about discovering problems and as in every SEO project there are multiple tasks you may want to include as part of the analysis. I built a list of steps that are possible to execute regardless of the site’s industry, language, or size; they are listed in a specific order to make sure you don’t get to the end of the puzzle with missing pieces. I’ll go over why and how to do each in detail later on, but here are the things I include in EVERY competitor analysis:

                              1. Track keywords targeted on a rank tracker
                              2. Analyse ranking results
                              3. Backlink analysis (this is nowhere close to a backlink audit)
                              4. Topic searches and trends

                              Let’s dive right in.

                              Track keywords targeted on a rank tracker

                              For this step, you will need a list of keywords targeted. If you are doing this for a site in a language you don’t speak, as it was the case for me, you may have to ask your client or you may have someone on the team who has this list. If you’re expanding into a new market and are not sure what keywords to actually target you may want to use a keyword research tool. For example, you can use Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush, to research keywords used to look for the product/service you are offering (given that you can speak the site’s language).

                              If you’ve never used a rank tracker before, or cannot pay for one, here is a useful post on how to create your own ranking monitor. At Distilled we use Stat and during this task, I discovered that it can track keywords in different languages, including Japanese, which was great news!

                              Whenever possible, when I track keywords I categorise them in one or more of the following ways:

                              • The page/category/site section they are targeting
                              • The topic they belong to
                              • Whether they are informational or transactional keywords

                              In my specific case, due to the language barrier, I couldn’t categorise them. A word of warning – if you are in the same position and you are tempted to use Google Translate – don’t! It will execute some translation pretty accurately but it doesn’t have the level of nuance that we need for informative keywords targeting.

                              Even though I couldn’t categorise my keywords, I could exclude the branded ones and still obtain a really clear picture of ranking results for the site as a whole. The next step will cover how to analyse results.

                              Analyse ranking results

                              With this step I always have in mind two specific goals:

                              • Discover all organic ranking competitors: you or your client may have a specific list of sites they think they are or should be ranking against. However, who your client is actually up against on organic results may include sites that were not considered before. Your search competitors are not necessarily your business competitors! This may be true for transactional and informational keywords depending on the content overlap with sites that do not belong to your industry but are still providing relevant information for your customers.
                              • Analyse how much traffic competitors are getting: for this I used a simple calculation multiplying search volume by CTR (click-through-rate) based on the position at which each URL is ranking for that keyword.

                              When I downloaded the traffic data from the rank tracker I compared the number of keywords each competitor was ranking (within the first 20 results) and how much traffic they were getting. When I plot results on a graph, I obtained an output like this:

                              Above: Comparison of number of times each competitor ranks and amount of traffic they get

                              What I discovered with this graph was the following:

                              1. Competitors A&B had little-to-nothing to do with the industry. This is also good to know at the beginning of the analysis because now:
                                1. You know which organic ranking competitors to actually focus on
                                2. You might discover in this list of competitors players that you didn’t think of
                                3. You may want to discuss with your client some of the keywords targeted (language permitting!)
                              2. Competitor H was my client and needless to say the worst performing. This opened up a number of questions and possibilities that is good to discover at the beginning of every competitor analysis. For example, are pages not optimised well enough for the keywords targeted? Are pages optimised but competitors are using additional features, such as structured data, to rank better? This is just the tip of the iceberg.

                              Keywords to URL mapping

                              At this stage is also where you can do a keyword-to-URL mapping, matching URLs with the keywords they are ranking for. From the URL, you should be able to tell what the page is about. If the URL is also in a different language you can check hreflang to find the English version of it.

                              (Tip: if you actually need to check hreflang, scanning the list of URLs on a crawler such a Screaming Frog will easily extract for you the hreflang values.)

                              When matching keywords to URLs, one of the most important things to think about is whether URLs could and should rank for the keywords they are targeting and ranking for. Think about this:

                              • What is the search intent for that keyword?
                              • Who has a better page result for that intent?

                              Backlink Analysis

                              With this step, I wanted to compare the backlink profile quality among competitors and discover how my client could become more suitable for new high-quality backlinks. I know you may be thinking that comparing domain authority could be just enough to know which domain is stronger. However, Tom Capper, a senior consultant here at Distilled recently wrote a blog post explaining how domain authority is not the right metric for reporting on link building. This is because Google will not rank your pages based on the quality of the domain but based on the quality of the single page.

                              The main goal with this step is to find opportunities: high-quality pages linking to your competitors more often than to you or your client. I’ve written a blog post explaining how to analyse your competitor’s backlinks. By the end of this step, you should have a list of:

                              • Quality domains to target to obtain new backlinks – if they link to your competitors they are interested in the industry and likely to link to your client’s site as well
                              • Pages that should be improved to make them more suitable for new backlinks
                              • Topics to target when creating new content

                              So far you’ve collected a lot of information about your client and its competitors. It’s important to start a competitor analysis with these steps because they allow you to get a full picture of the most important competitors and what they are doing better. This is what will lead you to find solutions in the second phase of the competitor analysis.

                              For the last step of finding problems, I list topic searches and trends because that’s another check to discovering problems before you can find solutions. It’s also another step where the language is not a barrier.

                              Topic searches and Trends

                              At this point, you should have a clear idea of:

                              • Who the most important competitors are
                              • Where they are stronger: topics they target, categories heavily linked externally, site sections with better content

                              When we are making decisions based on search volumes, it is important that we take into account the trend in that search volume. Is this topic something which is popular year round? Is it only popular in the month we happened to do this investigation? Was there a massive spike in interest a few months ago, which is now rapidly declining?

                              I usually check trends over a 12 months period of time so that I can find out about seasonality. Seasonal content should be strategically built a month or two before the upward trend to make sure Google has enough time to crawl and index it.  Examples of seasonal topics can be anything such as:

                              • “What to buy on Valentine’s Day?”
                              • “What to write on Mother’s Day card?”

                              Ideally, you’d want to find evergreen content with a stable interest trend over time. The trend may also look like it had a spike at some point and then levelled down, but the interest remained high and is still relevant:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              A topic like this could be something like “electric vehicles”. This may have had an interest spike when the technology became popular which then levelled down but over time the interest remained because it’s a topic and product that people still search.

                              Increasing trends are the ideal scenario, however, these are not easy to find and there is no guarantee the increasing trend will continue:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              Stable, high trends are solid topics to target, however, they may be quite competitive:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              While it’s a good idea to target a topic like this, unless you have the strongest domain out of all your competitors it’s worth considering long tail keywords to find a niche audience to target.

                              By the end of this step you should have:

                              • A list of solid topics to target
                              • A plan on how to prioritise them based on seasonality and any other information you might have found

                              Wrapping it all up

                              You’ve made it to the end of the list and should have a clear picture of the competitor’s strengths and areas where your client can improve.  From here is where you can start finding solutions. For example, if the ranking results you discovered show pages ranking for the keywords they should not, page optimisation could be a solution, or keywords research for retargeting could be another. There are many other ways to provide solutions which I will expand on my next blog post.

                              What did you think? Have I missed anything? What else would you include to discover problems in a competitor analysis for a site, whether you speak the language or not? Let me know in the comments below.

                              WordPress Security Checklist

                              Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Security Checklist

                              We have discussed security on our blog at lenghth, but it can’t be stressed enough; do yourself a favor and check these must-do’s to keep your WordPress site secure!

                              USE SECURE HOSTING

                              First and foremost is secure hosting – don’t go for the cheapest package you can find; that’ll make it too easy for your site to be attacked and therefore make your hosting needs become a frustration.

                              HIDE WORDPRESS IDENTIFIERS

                              This means you have to make sure you hide anything that shows your site is that of WordPress. A perfect example is the “wp-admin” login page, which can be changed using security plugins like “All-in-One WP Security”. The ‘created on WordPress’ tagline is one you should remove ASAP as well.

                              INSTALL A SECURITY PLUGIN

                              This cannot be stressed enough because it makes security and management thereof so much easier. One way to find a plugin that suits your needs is Google search “WordPress security plugins for [INSERT INDUSTRY TAG HERE] websites”. For example, if your website is eCommerce-intensive, you can search “WordPress security plugins for eCommerce websites”, and as such might need more robust platform than just a free plugin can do.

                              The afore-mentioned “WP All-in-One Security” and “WordFence” are both prime examples of free yet secure options for most websites.

                              KEEP PASSWORDS SECURE

                              This is obvious but make a password that barely anyone would be able to guess. You do have to keep it in a safe place, though, so one free tool – “BitWarden” – manages all your passwords via “Master Password”.

                              PROTECT INPUT FIELDS

                              What we mean by this is, you should make sure everything such as your contact forms have a Captcha system, or some way to prove that such form submissions are not by robots in any way. This even includes your login page, where a security plugin (even a free one) can place a Captcha there so brute force attacks against your website become much more difficult.

                              GENERATE BACKUPS

                              This may seem obvious but this is a simple mistake to make and yet perhaps the most costly. A free plugin – “BackWPUp” – can take care of this for you right away and even can be scheduled to run entire backups of your site/s.

                              STAY UP-TO-DATE

                              Whether you see a WordPress version, theme or plugin that says it needs updating, do as soon as you can if not right away. It will go a long way towards keeping your site secure.

                              In fact, There is a way to do this automatically without pressing any buttons! Put this code at the bottom of your “wp-config.php” file:

                                       define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true ); 

                              Then, put this code at the bottom of your activated theme’s “functions.php” file:

                                       add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
                                       add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' ); 

                              What is SEO Friendly Web Design

                              Posted by on May 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What is SEO Friendly Web Design

                              SEO Friendly Web Design

                              SEO web design is the process of creating websites that search engines can crawl, index and understand.

                              Search engine crawlers cannot ‘read’ and ‘interact’ with a website like a human. Instead they access a website’s HTML code and look for signals to help them understand the structure of a website and the meaning of the content.

                              Why Is SEO Friendly Web Design Important?

                              Following SEO friendly design practices is important because you want a website that keeps both users and search engines happy.

                              If search engines cannot figure out what a website is about, then this will have a negative impact on your traffic and search engine rankings.

                              SEO Friendly Web Design Principles

                              Let’s see how you can design websites that can satisfy both users and search engines.

                              These are the 6 principles to follow:

                              1. Accessibility
                              2. Site structure
                              3. URL Structure
                              4. Internal link structure
                              5. On-Page SEO Optimization
                              6. User Experience

                              Important Note: SEO web design is not about how your website looks or what colors you use. This is subjective and not something that Google cares about. What is important is how a website is structured and how well it can provide the right signals to satisfy the various search engine ranking factors.

                              1. Accessibility

                              An SEO friendly website can be fully indexed by search engines without any problems.

                              That’s the first principle of SEO design, and a very important one.

                              To make sure that your website and content is indexed properly follow these steps:

                              Optimize your Robots.txt

                              Robots.txt is a file in the root directory of your website that gives instructions to search engines as to which pages of a website they can index.

                              Any false blockings in your robots file can be disastrous, so the first thing to do is to check and optimize your robots.txt.

                              Check for Crawl Errors

                              The next step is to check for crawl errors. Google has a tool for webmasters known as Google Search Console, which among other things, it can give you information about crawl errors.

                              Crawl Errors Report
                              Crawl Errors Report – Google Search Console.

                              Step 1: Add the verify your website with Google Search Console.
                              Step 2: Find and Fix any crawl errors.

                              Submit an XML Sitemap

                              An XML Sitemap lists all important pages of a website that search engines need to know about.

                              It’s normal for a website to have a lot of pages but not all are useful to search engines. To make their job easier, you can create and submit an XML sitemap via the Google Search Console.

                              Sitemaps are not only used for discovery purposes but it’s also a great way to inform search engines about updates in your site structure or content.

                              You can read this guide, how to optimize your XML sitemap for step-by-step instructions.

                              Use Canonical URLS

                              A canonical URL tells search engine crawlers which version of a page they should index.

                              For example, if you have different pages for desktop and mobile with the same content, you need to tell Google, that these pages are the same.

                              If you don’t do it, Google will either only index one of the versions or get confused, something that can negatively affect your rankings.

                              Best practices are:

                              Set a preferred domain – Google has a feature in the old Google Search console which you can use to specify how you want Google to treat your pages.

                              In the eyes of Google, these are two different websites (although it’s the same domain):

                              • http://www.example.com
                              • http://example.com

                              Specify a canonical URL for all pages – Each and every page of your website needs to specify a canonical URL in the header.

                              If you are using WordPress, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin and it will do it for you automatically, if not read these guidelines and have a developer make the necessary changes to your CMS.

                              Use ALT Text for Images

                              Making images accessible to search engines is also a principle of good SEO web design.

                              Images make a page more interesting and easier to read, but search engine crawlers cannot easily understand what an image is about.

                              To make their job easier and increase your chances of getting traffic from Image Search, you need to optimize your images.

                              The most important image SEO factor is providing for a valid and meaningful ALT Text.

                              Image SEO Best Practices
                              Image SEO Best Practices

                              You can read the Image SEO Guide for instructions on how to optimize your images for maximum SEO.

                              Add Structured Data Markup

                              Besides images a website may include other multimedia elements such as videos, podcasts and audio.

                              While search engines can index these elements, they need help in understand their context.

                              This is one of the ways schemas and structured data can help. Structured data are special tags you can add to your HTML code to give search engines more information about certain elements of a page.

                              I strongly recommend to read this guide: what is schema for more information on how to use structured data to make your websites easier to read by bots.

                              2. Website Structure

                              Having a simple and well-organized site structure is vital for good web design.

                              The way search engines work is by crawling the homepage of a website and then follow any links from there to discover and index more pages.

                              For best practices, any page on your website should be accessible from the homepage in three clicks or less.

                              It’s always best to organize your website in a hierarchical manner. Your hierarchy should be no more than 2 or 3 levels deep.

                              SEO Optimized Site Structure
                              SEO Optimized Site Structure

                              As you can see in the example above, any page can be accessed from the homepage in 2 clicks.

                              Having a breadcrumb menu that allows the users to go back to the previous level and eventually to the homepage is highly recommended.

                              You can scroll up and look at my breadcrumb menu. It allows you to go back to LEVEL 1 (category page) and also to the homepage.

                              You can read this guide: Best website structure for SEO for more practical tips on how to optimize your site structure.

                              3. URL Structure

                              A good URL structure should match and support the website structure.

                              By URL structure we mean the format of your permalinks (also known as slugs).

                              An SEO friendly URL structure has the following characteristics:

                              • URLs are short and informative i.e. reliablesoft.net/become-an-seo-expert
                              • It includes SEO keywords in the URL (see the URL of this post as an example)
                              • It does not include dates in the URL
                              • It points directly to the page i.e. reliablesoft.net/seo-career unless a page is part of a folder i.e. reliablesoft.net/courses/seo

                              4. Internal Link Structure

                              Good SEO practices indicate that the pages of a webpage should be interlinked together to form a small web.

                              There are several reasons as to why this makes a website SEO Friendlier:

                              • It helps crawling and indexing
                              • It helps you build topic relevancy
                              • It helps you direct traffic to the most important pages of your website.
                              • It’s a great way to make your SEO stronger.

                              How to improve your internal link structure?

                              Make sure that all your important pages are linked to from the homepage.

                              Make sure that all your important pages are linked to from other pages of your website. You can view the internal links report in Google Search Console and make the necessary adjustments.

                              Internal link structure
                              Internal Links – Best Practices

                              For more information make sure you read: Internal linking best practices for SEO.

                              5. On Page SEO Optimization

                              Any page published on your website should be optimized for search engines.

                              This includes:

                              You can click on the above links for specific information on how to optimize each page but the general on-page SEO principles you should always follow are:

                              Work on your page titles

                              Optimizing your pages titles is perhaps the single most important SEO factor.

                              A well optimized title helps both search engines and users understand what the page is about and this translates to more clicks to your page and higher rankings.

                              Work on your headings

                              A good visual design splits a page into several ‘virtual’ sections. This is especially useful for long pages with lots of information (whether this is text, images or videos).

                              Each section should have its own optimized heading. This makes a page easier to read for both search crawlers and users.

                              Technically this means that a page should have one H1 Tag (for the main title), several H2 tags for the heading sections and H3 tags for subsections.

                              This is how it looks visually:

                              Example of Optimized Homepage H1 Tag
                              Example of Optimized Homepage H1 Tag

                              6. User Experience

                              Last but not least, SEO web design gives special attention to the user experience.

                              As already mentioned in the beginning, a successful design doesn’t have to do with colors and fonts but with making the overall experience of the user better.

                              This can be achieved by concentrating on the following factors:

                              Website Speed

                              Both Google and users want websites that load fast.

                              What do we mean by fast websites? A website that loads in less than 3 seconds on mobile using a 3G connection.

                              If you have tried to improve the loading speed of your website, you know that it’s very hard to get it down to 3 seconds. Nevertheless, you should aim to make your website as fast as possible.

                              It’s a technical subject and you will need the help of an experienced developer or web designer but it certainly worth the effort.

                              You can use the revamped page speed insights report (a tool provided by Google to help webmasters makes the website faster), as your starting point.

                              Page Speed Insights Report
                              Page Speed Insights Report

                              Mobile friendliness

                              Did you know that 60% of Google searches are now performed on mobile devices? What does this number tell you?

                              You should follow a ‘mobile-first’ approach when designing your website.

                              Instead of designing your website for desktop and then optimize it for mobile, you should do it the other way around.

                              It’s not easy, you need to find really good web designers that can do this, but it will certainly make the experience of your users better.

                              If you already have a website, then make sure that your websites pass the mobile friendly test without any problems.

                              Next, use a tool like optimizely or Hotjar or any other similar software to monitor how users interact with your mobile website and make the necessary improvements.

                              These tools can produce a heatmap (like the example below) or even video record user sessions so that you can see how users experience your website.

                              Website Heatmap Report
                              Website Heatmap Report

                              Website Security

                              Website security is not a design factors but it’s a big user experience factor.

                              Your website has to be secured (https) and protect user information in the best possible way.

                              Where applicable you should also prove to users that the website is secure by showing logos or other relevant information.

                              RankBrain UX-Signals

                              RankBrain is a machine learning process that is part of the Google ranking algorithm.

                              One of the jobs of RankBrain is to analyze certain UX-Signals and find out which websites users like to visit for a particular query.

                              What this means in simple words is that Google may improve the ranking of a website if there is evidence that people like it better than websites already in higher positions on the SERPS.

                              How is this related with website design?

                              When users like a webpage it means that they are spending time on a page, reading the content, interacting with the site and visiting more pages before they exit.

                              If that’s not the case, then there is probably something wrong with your website and you need to find out what and fix it.

                              Creating an optimized website is not a set it and forget it task. It’s an ongoing process that needs constant analysis and testing.

                              But, you should not start making changes on what you ‘think’ is better.

                              Instead, you should make changes based on informed decisions by analyzing the user behavior on your site.

                              Analyzing user behavior on your site

                              Programs like Google Analytics can help you get insight into how users behave on your site.

                              You can view several analytic reports and find out:

                              • Time users spend on a webpage and site
                              • The bounce rate of a page i.e. how many people exit the website without interacting with your content
                              • Your top landing and exit pages – which pages they visit first and which pages they visit last before they leave

                              Knowing this information can help you figure out which pages need your attention and most importantly to measure the impact of optimizations you make to your site.

                              Bounce Rate in Google Analytics Reports
                              Bounce Rate in Google Analytics Reports

                              For more details, read: How to improve SEO with Google Analytics

                              Conclusion

                              SEO web design is about creating websites that both users and search engines love. Don’t spend all your time on the visual aspect of a website but give more attention to the user experience and usability.

                              A website that looks great on desktop but is too slow on mobile will not help you get organic traffic and rankings.

                              What users (and search engines) want today are websites that are fast, secure and mobile friendly.

                              Test your website thoroughly and analyze the user behavior using different tools and make informed decisions on how to improve your design, structure and content.

                              The post What is SEO Friendly Web Design appeared first on reliablesoft.net.