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10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

The Distilled Optimization Delivery Network (ODN) is most famous for SEO A/B testing and more recently full-funnel testing. But fewer people are familiar with one of the other main features; the ability to act as a meta-CMS and change pretty much anything you want in the HTML of your site, without help from your development team or writing tickets. DistilledODN is platform independent, sitting between your website servers and website visitors, similar to a Content Delivery Network (CDN), as shown in the below diagram.

This use case for ODN has been popular for many of our enterprise clients who have restrictions on their ability to make on-the-fly changes to their websites for a variety of reasons. A picture (or a gif) is worth a thousand words, so here are 10 common website changes you can make using ODN that you may not be aware of.

We’ve used a variety of websites and brands that use different platforms and technologies to show anyone can make use of this software regardless of your CMS or technology stack.

Before we get started, there is some jargon you will want to understand:

Site section: A site section is the group of pages that we want to make a specific change to

Global rules: These are rules that you want to apply to all pages within a site section as opposed to only a percentage of pages (like you would with an experiment). An example might be something like “Insert self-referencing canonical”. Rules are made up of individual steps.

Steps: These are nested within global rules, and are the steps you have to take to get to the end goal. Some global rules will only have one step, others can have much more.

In the example global rule above, the steps could be something like, “Remove existing canonical”, “Replace with self-referencing canonical”

On-page values: On-page values are constant values that we extract them from the pages in the site section. You can use these in steps. So for the above rule, we’d have to create two on-page values the “existing canonical” and the “path” of the URL we want to add the self-referencing canonical to. An example site where we’ve done this is included below.

The image below shows how these different components interact with each other.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation about any of this stuff, a good place to start is this blog post; what is SEO split-testing.

Now that you’re familiar with the terminology, here are our 10 common website changes made with ODN, with GIFs:

1. Forever 21 – Trailing slash redirect

Having URLs that return a 200 status code for both the trailing slash and non-trailing slash versions can lead to index bloat and duplicate content issues. On Forever21’s homepage, you can see both “/uk/shop” and “/uk/shop/” are 200 pages.

To fix this using ODN, we create a site section that has the homepage entered as the page we want our global rule to apply to.

Then we need to create an on-page value for the page without a trailing slash. In this example, we’ve extracted this value using regex. Having this value defined means that this fix would be easy to apply to a bulk set of URLs on the website if necessary.

Next, we create our global rule. This rule only has one step, to redirects the URL in our site section to the one created using the on-page value, {{path_without_trailing_slash}}.

2. SmartWater Technology – Duplicate home page redirects

Often, websites will have multiple versions of their homepage that return status codes, like when they have both an http:// version and an https:// version, or a www version and a non-www version. This is a problem because it means the authority of your strongest page is split across two URLs. It also means you may have a non-desirable version ranking in search results.

We can see this on SmartWater Technology’s homepage. We can fix this problem by deploying ODN on the non-www version of their site, and creating a site section for the homepage. We only have one page we want to work on in this example, so we don’t need to create any additional on-page values.

We then set up a global rule to redirect the non-www version of the homepage to the www version, which has one step. In the step we select to redirect the URL in our path list (the homepage), to the new destination we’ve entered, https://www.smartwater.com/.

3. Bentley – Adding self-referencing canonicals

As mentioned in the introduction, we can use ODN to insert self-referencing canonicals on a list of pages. We’ve done this with Bentley Motors as an example, which doesn’t have a canonical on their homepage (or any other pages).

We can fix this by setting a global rule with one step to insert this block of HTML after the <title> element:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.bentleymotors.com{{path}}”>

We didn’t have to create an on-page value for {{path}}, since it was created by entering the homepage in our path list. This rule will add a self-referencing canonical to any page that we include in our site section.

If we wanted to, we can also use ODN to apply canonicals that aren’t self-referencing by mapping out the pages we want to add canonicals to, with their canonical page as a value created with a csv upload.

4. Patagonia – Fixing soft 404s

Patagonia uses this landing page, that returns a 200 status code, for 404s, rather than a page that returns a genuine 404 status code. The problem with using soft-404s such as the one Patagonia uses is it won’t send the 404 signal to crawlers, even if the content on the page has the 404 message. This means search engines will see this as a real page, preventing the URL you intended to delete from being removed from the index.

To fix this using ODN, I’ve created a site section with the page path /404/. If you have multiple pages that are soft 404s, you can use other methods to define the pages in the site section. For example, you could match on any page that has “Page Not Found” in the title, or for Patagonia, we could use regex to match on any url that contains “/404/” in it.

Once we’ve defined what pages we want in our site section, we create a global rule with one step that changes the status code from 200 to 404.

5. Amazon Jobs – Changing 302s to 301s

When a redirect is truly temporary, using a 302 status code instead of a 301 makes sense; but if you’re not planning on reverting back to the original URL, using a 302 instead of a 301 redirect means you aren’t passing link equity from one URL to the next.

Once again, this fix is simple to deploy using ODN. We have done it with Amazon Jobs in the GIF below. First, we’ve created a site section with path of the URL we want to change the status code of. I have also changed the response code to match 302 rather than 200, which is the default for ODN.

Again, no need to create an on-page value in this instance. All that’s required is a global rule with one step, to change the status code on those URLs that match what we have in our path list from 302 to 301.

6. Etsy – Changing sitewide links that 30x/404

When you have a sitewide link that has a 30x or 404 status code, it not only might be a frustrating experience for users, it can also have a negative impact on your SEO. If a heavily linked to page on your site has a 301 redirect, for example, you are preventing it from being passed all the link equity available to it.

To fix this with ODN, we can replace the 301 link with the destination 200 link. We have done this on Etsy’s homepage in the GIF below.

First, we create a site section for the homepage, then a global rule with a step to replace the old blog URL. This step replaces the content of the element we’ve selected using a CSS selector with the HTML in the box.

In this case the css selector we have used is “a[href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/uk/?ref=ftr”]”. Using the test feature, we can see this selector grabs the element “<a class=”text-gray-darker pt-xs-1 pb-xs-2 pb-md-1 display-block width-full” href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/uk/?ref=ftr”> <span>Etsy blog</span> </a>”. That’s what we are looking to replace.

We then set it to replace the above element with “<a class=”text-gray-darker pt-xs-1 pb-xs-2 pb-md-1 display-block width-full” href=”https://blog.etsy.com/uk/?ref=ftr”> <span>Etsy blog</span> </a>”, which has the link to the 200 version of Etsy’s blog. Now the footer link goes to the blog.etsy URL rather than the 301 /blog/uk/?ref=ftr URL.  

7. Pixel Eyewear – Adding title tags

Changing title tags is often a desire for content creators, as metadata is one of the strongest signals you can send to Google on what your page is about and what keywords you want to target.

Say you worked at Pixel Eyewear, and after some keyword research decided you wanted to target the keyword “computer screen glasses”, rather than simply “computer glasses”. We can use ODN to make that update, and again this rule can easily be set to target a bulk set of pages.

In the path list, we include all the URLs we want this change to apply to. Then we create a global rule to add “Screen” to our page titles. This has one step, where we use the CSS selector to select the title element of the page. We then enter the HTML we want instead.

8. Pixel Eyewear – Adding content to product pages

This is an example of when a site section has multiple rules. Say that you worked at Pixel Eyewear, and you also wanted to update the descriptions on your product pages, in addition to adding “Screen” to your page titles, and you want to do this on the same pages included in the previous section.  

To do this with ODN, we create a second global rule to edit the product description. This uses a different CSS selector, “div[class=”pb-3″]”. You just want the main description to be more descriptive, so you replace the first paragraph of the element “Meet the most advanced eyewear engineered for the digital world.” to “Our most popular product, the Capra will have you looking stylish while wearing the most advanced eyewear engineered for the digital world.”

Since there are two global rules in this section, the order you place them in will matter. ODN works from top to bottom, as shown in the diagram in the intro, so it will apply the first global rule and its steps first before moving to the second. If one of your global rules depends on something created in another, you want to be sure that global rule is listed first.

9. Liberty London – Adding meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are an important meta property to entice users to click through to your webpage from the SERP, but it’s common for website owners to not have them at all, or on important pages on their site, as seen with Liberty London on their UK featured page.

We can edit the meta description content with ODN, and insert a description. First, we include the path of the target page in our path list, then create a global rule with a single step that grabs the meta description with a CSS selector. This time we set it to “Set or update the attribute of an element.” The attribute we want to replace is the content, and we want to replace it with the content entered.

This can also be used to add in meta descriptions when they’re missing entirely, or when you want to insert new ones. If you want to apply in bulk, you can upload a CSV that has the desired meta descriptions for each target URL as a value.

10. CamelBak – Removing duplicate content

E-commerce and other websites frequently wind up with duplicate content on their websites, which can lead to drops in traffic and rankings. Faceted navigation is a common culprit. We can see this in action on Camelbak’s website, where parametered URLs like https://international.camelbak.com/en/bottles/bottle-accessories?sortValue=af41b41832b34f02975423ad5ad46b1e return 200 status codes and have no canonical tags.

We’ve fixed this in ODN by adding canonical tags to the non-parameterized URL. First, we add the relevant URL paths to our path list. Then we need to create an on-page value for the non-parameterized version of the URL. This rule uses regex to extract the content of the URL that comes before the “?” character.

Once we have this on-page value, we can use it in our global rule. Since there are no canonicals already, this global rule has one step. If there were already canonicals on these pages, self-referencing ones, for example, that still referred to the parameterized URL, then we’d have to remove that canonical before we could add in a new one.

The step to add in the canonical inserts a block of HTML after the <title> element. Then we enter the HRML that we want to be inserted. You can see that this uses the on-page value we created, giving us this string:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://international.camelbak.com{{url_without_parameters}}”/>

Because we’ve used an on-page value, we put a list of paths for relevant parameterized URLs in our path list, and it will insert a canonical to their non-parameterized parent.

This tactic can be adjusted to account for pagination with rel=”prev” and rel=”next” tags and many other variations. Another way to address duplicate content issues with ODN is to redirecting unwanted URLs, among others.

Summary

These examples are only a selection of the types of fixes ODN can employ for your website. There are many more, in addition to being able to perform SEO A/B testing and full-funnel testing. The ability to create custom values and use CSS selectors means there’s a lot of room for any of these fixes to be customized to meet the needs of your website.

If you work on a website that has a difficult time being able to make these kinds of changes (you’re not the only one), then get in touch to get a free demo of our platform in action on your website.

Product page UX

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Product page UX

Product page UX

If you’ve done our All-around SEO training, you already realize that product page SEO isn’t just about optimizing your title and headings. Product page SEO is about making that product page as user-friendly as possible, making sure bounce rate is as low as possible and the page looks awesome in Google. It’s about product page UX (user experience) and technical optimization. This article is about the first part: product page UX.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about user experience (UX) and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

In this post, I will show you a couple of great product pages. These pages have most if not all elements to make it a killer product page. Besides that, I’ll show you a number of more technical improvements that are absolutely necessary if you’re serious about product page UX.

Coolblue’s product page UX

SEO isn’t all about optimizing your meta description, although that seriously helps. In most cases, leaving a meta description blank will make sure Google creates the best automatic meta description it can make. For your product pages, you’d want to convince the visitor to click your link. Coolblue, one of the largest online retailers of the Netherlands, exploiting a huge number of specialized webshops, adds some triggers to every meta description:

Order the Philips 273V5LHAB at Coolblue. Ordered before 23:59? Delivered for free tomorrow. Coolblue: anything for a smile.

When I buy something online, I’d like it to be delivered a.s.a.p.. Makes sense to focus on that. Most of the competition in the Netherlands can’t match the USP of fast delivery like that.

Let’s look at an actual product page:

I added a couple of numbers here that I wanted to elaborate on:

Ordered before 11.59PM, delivered the next day for free. I want it and I want it now, or at least as fast as possible.6 stores. This is clearly a trust factor. I can go to a store in case of issues, which makes it easier to spend a higher amount of money.Ratings and reviews. We did an article on testimonials; these are like that.Delivered tomorrow. So small, yet so valuable. It’s available right now. Add that to item #1 in this list and you know you want to buy from this webshop.Primary and secondary call-to-action. Very important. Add a main call-to-action and an alternative. (In this case Buy now, or On wish list). You’ll find this on most online shops for a reason.All kinds of trust indicators like ‘can be returned for free within 30 days’, ‘customer service available until 11.59PM’ and so on.Alternative views. To give the visitor a shop-like experience, you’d want the visitor to be able to ‘hold’ the product and look at it from multiple angles.Product bundles. Everybody is looking for a bargain or a nice deal, right? That’s not just something we Dutch people do 😉

All these user-focused elements will make the user like the webshop, and this will make Google like the website as well. As mentioned, Product page UX isn’t just about adding the right meta description or headings. Coolblue does an awesome job on product page UX, in my honest opinion.

Amazon’s Product Page UX

Coolblue’s product page is actually a bit like Amazon‘s. Here it is:

There are certainly similarities, as you can see. Let’s go over the numbers:

Free two day delivery. OK, for this specific product, I’d order at Coolblue, but given the fact that Amazon ships abroad, makes that two-day delivery pretty awesome.Alternatives. I like this. It allows me to order at the supplier I have a great experience with, instead of just going for the cheapest that is usually displayed first.Ratings and reviews. Huge numbers of these, what makes me trust these ratings and reviews even more.In stock. Like at Coolblue’s.Call-to-action and alternatives. Amazon actually offers an option to sell your own Apple iPhone 6 for a Gift Card as a third option.X answered questions. It’s comforting to know that the actual seller takes the time to help you out if needed.Alternative views. See Coolblue’s.Product bundles. As at Coolblue’s.

Besides these elements, Amazon has a huge advantage on other online resellers: an awesome, well-known brand. And that most certainly helps a lot too.

Last but not least, I’d like to show you a slightly different shop, named ThinkGeek.

ThinkGeek’s Product Page UX

Both the above shops, Coolblue and Amazon, show how most product pages should be set up. But there are also a lot of online retailers that don’t offer all the options mentioned before, like stock, delivery advantages and reviews. Some shops sell niche products, and don’t need these ‘extra’ triggers. ThinkGeek is one of these shops.

This last page looks much cleaner and more focused. It lacks a number of elements that Amazon and Coolblue did add to their product pages, but I am sure loads of people will prefer the clean and focused appearance of ThinkGeek’s product page. Product page UX is also about focusing on what’s most important. ThinkGeek does add a number of extra elements I’d like to mention:

Free shipping on orders over $75. Or whatever amount seems reasonable for your business. Just the other day, I ordered 12 plectrums I just did not need per se to match the $50 that would get me free shipping. It seems nice, but actually is also just another trigger to make you want to buy more.Customer action shots. Showing actual people using your products, makes that people see themselves using you product. It’s a nice addition!Social proof. Only works with a certain number of shares, obviously. It’s like reviews and ratings, but without the reviews and ratings.In stock. There it is again.Call-to-action and an alternative. I like the way ThinkGeek designed this. The main orange button and the smaller, secondary black button work really well together.People also bought these products. That’s the bundle without a discount. Might be obvious, but showing related products could lead to extra sales per visit.Alternative views. No matter how cheap the product, provide alternative views on the product.Last but not least, ThinkGeek added a pretty large product description to accompany this quite simple, dull product. It shows that ThinkGeek takes their optimization very seriously and realizes that content and content SEO is just as important as creating a nicely looking page for their products (judging by this page).

What about your own product page?

I trust this article’s got you thinking about your own page. If you are an online retailer, I’d love to know what you did to optimize your page. Did you add that in stock option? Did you add urgency by listing only 3 items left? Drop me a line in the comments. I’m looking forward to it.

The post Product page UX appeared first on Yoast.

LinkedIn taps Bing search data for interest targeting

Posted by on Mar 20, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on LinkedIn taps Bing search data for interest targeting

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is expanding its interest targeting capability with Bing search data.

Why you should care

Bing has started incorporating LinkedIn data for search ad targeting. Now, we’re seeing search data be used for targeting on LinkedIn for the first time since Microsoft acquired the B2B social network in 2016.

Advertisers will be able to target LinkedIn users based on the professional topics and content they engage with on Bing as well as the professional interests they’ve indicated on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn launched interest targeting in January, allowing advertisers to target users who have indicated professional interests. It launched with more than 200 topics, such as AI, customer experience and global economy. Interest targeting can be used together with account targeting.

More on the news

Linked in also introduced lookalike audiences to help advertisers expand their audience targeting and prospect to those who “look like” their existing customers.
New audience templates launched Wednesday as well. Designed for newer LinkedIn advertisers, they offer a selection of more than 20 predefined B2B audiences with characteristics such as skills, job titles and groups that can get activated quickly
See our complete coverage of the updates on our sister site Marketing Land.

The post LinkedIn taps Bing search data for interest targeting appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Google Florida 2.0 Algorithm Update: Early Observations

Posted by on Mar 18, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Florida 2.0 Algorithm Update: Early Observations

Google Florida 2.0 Algorithm Update: Early Observations

It has been a while since Google has had a major algorithm update.

They recently announced one which began on the 12th of March.

This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see these tweets for more about that:https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoXhttps://t.co/tmfQkhdjPL— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 13, 2019

What changed?

It appears multiple things did.

When Google rolled out the original version of Penguin on April 24, 2012 (primarily focused on link spam) they also rolled out an update to an on-page spam classifier for misdirection.

And, over time, it was quite common for Panda & Penguin updates to be sandwiched together.

If you were Google & had the ability to look under the hood to see why things changed, you would probably want to obfuscate any major update by changing multiple things at once to make reverse engineering the change much harder.

Anyone who operates a single website (& lacks the ability to look under the hood) will have almost no clue about what changed or how to adjust with the algorithms.

In the most recent algorithm update some sites which were penalized in prior “quality” updates have recovered.

Though many of those recoveries are only partial.

Many SEO blogs will publish articles about how they cracked the code on the latest update by publishing charts like the first one without publishing that second chart showing the broader context.

The first penalty any website receives might be the first of a series of penalties.

If Google smokes your site & it does not cause a PR incident & nobody really cares that you are gone, then there is a very good chance things will go from bad to worse to worser to worsterest, technically speaking.

“In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.” – Abraham Lincoln

Absent effort & investment to evolve FASTER than the broader web, sites which are hit with one penalty will often further accumulate other penalties. It is like compound interest working in reverse – a pile of algorithmic debt which must be dug out of before the bleeding stops.

Further, many recoveries may be nothing more than a fleeting invitation to false hope. To pour more resources into a site that is struggling in an apparent death loop.

The above site which had its first positive algorithmic response in a couple years achieved that in part by heavily de-monetizing. After the algorithm updates already demonetized the website over 90%, what harm was there in removing 90% of what remained to see how it would react? So now it will get more traffic (at least for a while) but then what exactly is the traffic worth to a site that has no revenue engine tied to it?

That is ultimately the hard part. Obtaining a stable stream of traffic while monetizing at a decent yield, without the monetizing efforts leading to the traffic disappearing.

A buddy who owns the above site was working on link cleanup & content improvement on & off for about a half year with no results. Each month was a little worse than the prior month. It was only after I told him to remove the aggressive ads a few months back that he likely had any chance of seeing any sort of traffic recovery. Now he at least has a pulse of traffic & can look into lighter touch means of monetization.

If a site is consistently penalized then the problem might not be an algorithmic false positive, but rather the business model of the site.

The more something looks like eHow the more fickle Google’s algorithmic with receive it.

Google does not like websites that sit at the end of the value chain & extract profits without having to bear far greater risk & expense earlier into the cycle.

Thin rewrites, largely speaking, don’t add value to the ecosystem. Doorway pages don’t either. And something that was propped up by a bunch of keyword-rich low-quality links is (in most cases) probably genuinely lacking in some other aspect.

Generally speaking, Google would like themselves to be the entity at the end of the value chain extracting excess profits from markets.

This is the purpose of the knowledge graph & featured snippets. To allow the results to answer the most basic queries without third party publishers getting anything. The knowledge graph serve as a floating vertical that eat an increasing share of the value chain & force publishers to move higher up the funnel & publish more differentiated content.

As Google adds features to the search results (flight price trends, a hotel booking service on the day AirBNB announced they acquired HotelTonight, ecommerce product purchase on Google, shoppable image ads just ahead of the Pinterest IPO, etc.) it forces other players in the value chain to consolidate (Expedia owns Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire & a bunch of other sites) or add greater value to remain a differentiated & sought after destination (travel review site TripAdvisor was crushed by the shift to mobile & the inability to monetize mobile traffic, so they eventually had to shift away from being exclusively a reviews site to offer event & hotel booking features to remain relevant).

It is never easy changing a successful & profitable business model, but it is even harder to intentionally reduce revenues further or spend aggressively to improve quality AFTER income has fallen 50% or more.

Some people do the opposite & make up for a revenue shortfall by publishing more lower end content at an ever faster rate and/or increasing ad load. Either of which typically makes their user engagement metrics worse while making their site less differentiated & more likely to receive additional bonus penalties to drive traffic even lower.

In some ways I think the ability for a site to survive & remain though a penalty is itself a quality signal for Google.

Some sites which are overly reliant on search & have no external sources of traffic are ultimately sites which tried to behave too similarly to the monopoly that ultimately displaced them. And over time the tech monopolies are growing more powerful as the ecosystem around them burns down:

If you had to choose a date for when the internet died, it would be in the year 2014. Before then, traffic to websites came from many sources, and the web was a lively ecosystem. But beginning in 2014, more than half of all traffic began coming from just two sources: Facebook and Google. Today, over 70 percent of traffic is dominated by those two platforms.

Businesses which have sustainable profit margins & slack (in terms of management time & resources to deploy) can better cope with algorithmic changes & change with the market.

Over the past half decade or so there have been multiple changes that drastically shifted the online publishing landscape:

the shift to mobile, which both offers publishers lower ad yields while making the central ad networks more ad heavy in a way that reduces traffic to third party sites
the rise of the knowledge graph & featured snippets which often mean publishers remain uncompensated for their work
higher ad loads which also lower organic reach (on both search & social channels)
the rise of programmatic advertising, which further gutted display ad CPMs
the rise of ad blockers
increasing algorithmic uncertainty & a higher barrier to entry

Each one of the above could take a double digit percent out of a site’s revenues, particularly if a site was reliant on display ads. Add them together and a website which was not even algorithmically penalized could still see a 60%+ decline in revenues. Mix in a penalty and that decline can chop a zero or two off the total revenues.

Businesses with lower margins can try to offset declines with increased ad spending, but that only works if you are not in a market with 2 & 20 VC fueled competition:

Startups spend almost 40 cents of every VC dollar on Google, Facebook, and Amazon. We don’t necessarily know which channels they will choose or the particularities of how they will spend money on user acquisition, but we do know more or less what’s going to happen. Advertising spend in tech has become an arms race: fresh tactics go stale in months, and customer acquisition costs keep rising. In a world where only one company thinks this way, or where one business is executing at a level above everyone else – like Facebook in its time – this tactic is extremely effective. However, when everyone is acting this way, the industry collectively becomes an accelerating treadmill. Ad impressions and click-throughs get bid up to outrageous prices by startups flush with venture money, and prospective users demand more and more subsidized products to gain their initial attention. The dynamics we’ve entered is, in many ways, creating a dangerous, high stakes Ponzi scheme.

And sometimes the platform claws back a second or third bite of the apple. Amazon.com charges merchants for fulfillment, warehousing, transaction based fees, etc. And they’ve pushed hard into launching hundreds of private label brands which pollute the interface & force brands to buy ads even on their own branded keyword terms.

They’ve recently jumped the shark by adding a bonus feature where even when a brand paid Amazon to send traffic to their listing, Amazon would insert a spam popover offering a cheaper private label branded product:

Amazon.com tested a pop-up feature on its app that in some instances pitched its private-label goods on rivals’ product pages, an experiment that shows the e-commerce giant’s aggressiveness in hawking lower-priced products including its own house brands. The recent experiment, conducted in Amazon’s mobile app, went a step further than the display ads that commonly appear within search results and product pages. This test pushed pop-up windows that took over much of a product page, forcing customers to either click through to the lower-cost Amazon products or dismiss them before continuing to shop. … When a customer using Amazon’s mobile app searched for “AAA batteries,” for example, the first link was a sponsored listing from Energizer Holdings Inc. After clicking on the listing, a pop-up window appeared, offering less expensive AmazonBasics AAA batteries.”

Buying those Amazon ads was quite literally subsidizing a direct competitor pushing you into irrelevance.

And while Amazon is destroying brand equity, AWS is doing investor relations matchmaking for startups. Anything to keep the current bubble going ahead of the Uber IPO that will likely mark the top in the stock market.

Some thoughts on Silicon Valley’s endgame. We have long said the biggest risk to the bull market is an Uber IPO. That is now upon us.— Jawad Mian (@jsmian) March 16, 2019

As the market caps of big tech companies climb they need to be more predatious to grow into the valuations & retain employees with stock options at an ever-increasing strike price.

They’ve created bubbles in their own backyards where each raise requires another. Teachers either drive hours to work or live in houses subsidized by loans from the tech monopolies that get a piece of the upside (provided they can keep their own bubbles inflated).

“It is an uncommon arrangement — employer as landlord — that is starting to catch on elsewhere as school employees say they cannot afford to live comfortably in regions awash in tech dollars. … Holly Gonzalez, 34, a kindergarten teacher in East San Jose, and her husband, Daniel, a school district I.T. specialist, were able to buy a three-bedroom apartment for $610,000 this summer with help from their parents and from Landed. When they sell the home, they will owe Landed 25 percent of any gain in its value. The company is financed partly by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable arm.”

The above sort of dynamics have some claiming peak California:

The cycle further benefits from the Alchian-Allen effect: agglomerating industries have higher productivity, which raises the cost of living and prices out other industries, raising concentration over time. … Since startups raise the variance within whatever industry they’re started in, the natural constituency for them is someone who doesn’t have capital deployed in the industry. If you’re an asset owner, you want low volatility. … Historically, startups have created a constant supply of volatility for tech companies; the next generation is always cannibalizing the previous one. So chip companies in the 1970s created the PC companies of the 80s, but PC companies sourced cheaper and cheaper chips, commoditizing the product until Intel managed to fight back. Meanwhile, the OS turned PCs into a commodity, then search engines and social media turned the OS into a commodity, and presumably this process will continue indefinitely. … As long as higher rents raise the cost of starting a pre-revenue company, fewer people will join them, so more people will join established companies, where they’ll earn market salaries and continue to push up rents. And one of the things they’ll do there is optimize ad loads, which places another tax on startups. More dangerously, this is an incremental tax on growth rather than a fixed tax on headcount, so it puts pressure on out-year valuations, not just upfront cash flow.

If you live hundreds of miles away the tech companies may have no impact on your rental or purchase price, but you can’t really control the algorithms or the ecosystem.

All you can really control is your mindset & ensuring you have optionality baked into your business model.

If you are debt-levered you have little to no optionality. Savings give you optionality. Savings allow you to run at a loss for a period of time while also investing in improving your site and perhaps having a few other sites in other markets.
If you operate a single website that is heavily reliant on a third party for distribution then you have little to no optionality. If you have multiple projects that enables you to shift your attention toward working on whatever is going up and to the right while letting anything that is failing pass time without becoming overly reliant on something you can’t change. This is why it often makes sense for a brand merchant to operate their own ecommerce website even if 90% of their sales come from Amazon. It gives you optionality should the tech monopoly become abusive or otherwise harm you (even if the intent was rather than outright misanthropic).

As the update ensues Google will collect more data with how users interact with the result set & determine how to weight different signals, along with re-scoring sites that recovered based on the new engagement data.

Recently a Bing engineer named Frédéric Dubut described how they score relevancy signals used in updates

As early as 2005, we used neural networks to power our search engine and you can still find rare pictures of Satya Nadella, VP of Search and Advertising at the time, showcasing our web ranking advances. … The “training” process of a machine learning model is generally iterative (and all automated). At each step, the model is tweaking the weight of each feature in the direction where it expects to decrease the error the most. After each step, the algorithm remeasures the rating of all the SERPs (based on the known URL/query pair ratings) to evaluate how it’s doing. Rinse and repeat.

That same process is ongoing with Google now & in the coming weeks there’ll be the next phase of the current update.

So far it looks like some quality-based re-scoring was done & some sites which were overly reliant on anchor text got clipped. On the back end of the update there’ll be another quality-based re-scoring, but the sites that were hit for excessive manipulation of anchor text via link building efforts will likely remain penalized for a good chunk of time.

Categories: google

Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

Posted by on Mar 18, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

A new study by Kaizen has revealed that content that performs well for backlinks does not necessarily perform well for social shares and vice versa.

Analyzing over 2300 pieces of finance content, Kaizen has found the best performing pieces of content for URL rating, the number of referring domains, and the number of social shares. Nine out of the top 10 pieces of content with the highest URL ratings also featured in the top 10 pieces of content for the most referring domains.

This shows a clear correlation between the two. The higher the quantity of referring domains, the higher the quality of URL rating.

The best-performing piece of content for both URL rating and the number of referring domains was the Corruptions Perceptions Index 2017, by Transparency International. The campaign highlighted the countries that are or are not making progress in ending corruption, finding that the majority of countries were making little or no progress.

But what made this campaign succeed so well in SEO terms?
1. It has global appeal

By placing emphasis on visual components of content, the campaign is easily understandable without language and is based on data from across the world, making it globally link-worthy.

2. It is emotional content

The piece evokes an emotional response from the element of corruption and the fact that the majority of countries in the world are making little or no progress in ending corruption.

3. It is evergreen content

Evergreen content” is content that is not tied to a specific date or time of the year and can be outreached (and can gain links) at any time. In addition, Transparency International is able to update the data each year, creating a new story for outreach and increasing its chances of landing links.

By combining these typical elements of viral content, the Corruption Index earned 6372 referring domains, and a URL rating of 84, making it the most successful piece of finance content in the study. Use these three aspects as a checklist for your own content, and it should emulate great results.

Social shares

The Corruption Perception Index also ranked in the top 10 pieces of content for social shares, with a grand total of nearly 48,000. However, it is only one of two pieces to rank in the top 10 for URL ratings or referring domains and social shares. There is much less correlation between social share success and backlink success, showing that they are not directly or significantly linked.

The most successful piece of content for social shares was this car insurance calculator by Confused.com, with 91,000 total social shares. This piece of content, as well as the majority of the top 10, is B2C-focused. In comparison, the URL rating and referring domains lists are more technical and B2B-focused.

Therefore, B2B content performs better for SEO strategies focused on backlinks, whereas B2C tools and guides suitable for customers rather than businesses perform better for social shares.

The Corruption Perception Index is an exception, performing well for both backlinks and social shares. However, by focusing on analytical data from experts and business people, and by providing relevant data for both businesses and customers, it has equal value for both B2B and B2C audiences.

In conclusion

Don’t expect the same piece of content to perform well for both backlinks and social shares. But, if you are able to create content that provides equal value for both B2B and B2C communities, you will have the opportunity for multiple outreach strategies, with resounding value throughout the industry.

Nathan Abbott is Content Manager at Kaizen.

The post Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Big WordPress Mistakes for SEO and How to Fix Them

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Big WordPress Mistakes for SEO and How to Fix Them

It’s common to make mistakes that can lead to Google hindering your website traffic. Some of the errors could be very serious, too.

NEGLECTING TO WRITE GREAT CONTENT
There are two ways of creating a large quantity of content: using article spinners to rewrite words and make an original article look unique, and hiring low paid writers to write new content from. Spinning content, if not done properly, is not the best tactic since some readers will eventually notice and you might end up losing them.

POOR OPTIMIZATION FOR KEYWORDS
Optimizing your website’s keywords is the best method to get your site found on search engines. Don’t optimize for too general keywords, but long-tail ones instead. The more specific your keyword is the more likely your content will be ranked among the best.

The best keyword placement are the first one hundred words, in the Heading, in the First image or text, in the URL, in the Meta description, and in the Title.

BLOCKING SEARCH ENGINES
Check that you’re not blocking search engines by going to “Settings” -> “Reading”, look for search engine visibility and make sure it is not checked, and if it is, uncheck it and click ‘save’.

FAILING TO CHECK FOR & FIX BROKEN LINKS
Use a plugin called “Broken Link Checker” in order to avoid having pages that return 400 or 500 errors.

FAILING TO OPTIMIZE YOUR TITLE TAGS AND META DESCRIPTIONS
Always keep your title below 66 characters. Good Meta descriptions lead to having more visits to your site if it includes a long-tail keyword which is easy for visitors to click.

Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis

It’s been in production for many months, capped off with two months of beta testing, and now it’s finally here: Yoast SEO 10.0! Yoast SEO 10.0 features a new SEO analysis, based on thorough research and fine-tuned with your feedback. More than 100.000 people helped us test this release to make it our best yet. Thanks, everyone! Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 10.0 and its state-of-the-art SEO analysis.

We’d like to celebrate the release of Yoast SEO 10.0 with you. Get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium — today only!

Why change the SEO analysis?

SEO is never done. SEO changes constantly. While the basics keep fairly static, a lot of the playing field is different from years ago. We’ve learned a lot over the years about SEO in general, the importance of language, information extraction, and content analysis, among other things. One thing we learned, was that we should put more effort into researching our recommendations. Turned out we could improve communication about why we do what we do. That’s one of the things we wanted to fix in our new SEO analysis.

Almost a year of research went into Yoast SEO 10.0. We turned every nook and cranny of the SEO analysis upside down and inside out. We combined the insights of many SEO experts, linguists, developers and content specialists with research and common sense to come up with a set of improvements. All this lead to this moment, the release of a new SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.0. As of today, optimizing your content with Yoast SEO 10.0 is a lot more realistic.

What changed in Yoast SEO 10.0?

There were so many findings that we spread the development of features. One of the main focus points was improving the way we analyze and handle languages. Yoast SEO had to get smarter. These were no easy fixes, so these were developed separately by our team of linguists. That’s why we launched parts of the new SEO analysis earlier, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes coming from this project, however, are in this release, Yoast SEO 10.0.

Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you start optimizing content with the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

A new single H1 assessment: The single H1 assessment checks whether the body of the text contains an H1 at any position other than the very beginning.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

Keyphrase density. This assessment now takes the length of the focus keyphrase into account, because it can be much harder to use a longer keyphrase in your text. In the new version, you’ll need to use your longer keyphrase less often in the text than a shorter keyphrase to get a green bullet. In addition, if you write in English, Yoast SEO Premium recognizes various word forms of your focus keyphrase — for instance, [dog], [dogs] or [doggie]. Naturally, your keyword density becomes higher. This is not because you are trying to over-optimize your text, but just because the plugin became smarter. We adjusted the formula so that you do not get penalized.Outbound links. We now show a red bullet instead of an orange one whenever we find no external links in a text. The web is built on links and you can help sustain that by adding relevant outbound links wherever it makes sense.Image alt attributes. As of now, the plugin not only looks at the number of images with alt text on a page but also whether the number of images with the keyphrase in the alt text falls within a certain percentage when you have multiple images, preventing you from over-optimizing.Keyphrase in title. For various languages, we’ll now filter out function words that precede the keyphrase in the title. This means that if you use words like [the], [on] or [what] before your keyphrase in the title, it won’t affect your score. The analysis will understand that you use your keyphrase at the beginning of your title and you’ll get a green bullet.Keyphrase length. In the new Yoast SEO analysis, languages without function word support can have longer focus keyphrases, because there might be function words like the or for between your content words.Keyphrase in subheading. Depending on whether we’ve already added support for your language, different rules apply when it comes to checking if you used the focus keyphrase in the subheading or not. For supported languages, you need to use all content words in your subheading for it to be recognized as reflecting your topic. For non-supported languages, we will check if you used at least half of the words from your keyphrase within a subheading.Text length. We’ve upped the word limit for taxonomy pages to a minimum of 250. This gives you more incentive to write enough, good quality content on your tag and category pages, making it easier for search engines to rank these pages.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

We’ve deprecated the assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

The rest of the assessments of the SEO analysis remain unchanged. You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page.

New Premium feature: Stale cornerstone content filter

Yoast SEO Premium users also get a new feature: the stale cornerstone content filter. We already offered the possibility to mark your most important posts as cornerstone content, but we’re adding a feature that helps you keep that content fresh. The stale cornerstone content filter helps you keep these updated. It gives you a notification in the WordPress post overview once a cornerstone content article hasn’t been updated in over six months. Here’s how you can use the stale cornerstone content filter.

People love the new SEO analysis

We’ve been beta testing the new SEO analysis with you, our valued user. Many of you gave us very detailed feedback on their experiences with the new SEO analysis. Of course, there are always improvements to be made, but in general, users are positive about the new SEO analysis. Here are a few of the reactions we got, republished with permission:

Yoast has continued to improve the way they help content producers like myself achieve better SEO with respect to our articles and reviews. I’ve grown to trust their prowess in staying up to date with changes in best practices as it relates to Google and other search engines. As a result, my SEO writing has improved, and I tend to trust their opinions when it comes to subtle shifts in content and formatting recommendations. Their newest SEO analysis changes are no exception.

Clint DeBoer, Lakeland, USA

I thought the previous version was good in that it improved the way I wrote and presented my webpages and blogs. However, in my opinion, the new version is more user-friendly and produces better results. I rate it 5 stars.

Jurie Fourie, Pretoria, South Africa

I think Yoast SEO analysis is an awesome tool that has helped improve my online writing immensely. I can’t imagine doing what I love to do without the help of Yoast’s SEO analysis. Yes, it’s a pain in the behind at times. But at the end of the day, SEO analysis is that omnipresent, yet silent content editor and writing coach we all need. Thank you Yoast for building such an outstanding product.

Rod Thomas, Lake Forest, USA

Yoast is constantly analyzing their processes to help me optimize my content. I like that they don’t waste my time with unnecessary analysis. Everything is on point and relevant.

Keith Lauby, Gainesville, USA

I think especially the live marking of text areas is a really good thing. For instance for transition words or keyword distribution, the analysis a tremendously helpful. When I change something, I see the effect it has in real time with no save or refresh necessary. It’s demanding but fun to work with Yoast!

Jacqueline Pohl, Berlin, Germany

It was a great tool before, now it feels more polished and more helpful.

Julia Kaldenhoff, Versailles, France

Keeping the SEO analysis updated

You might think we’d rest on our laurels for a bit after all this hard work, but that’s very far from the truth. Part of the why of this project was to fully update the SEO analysis and to make it easier to keep it up to date. SEO is never done, so we’re never done improving the best SEO plugin out there! We keep researching, testing and tinkering until the end of our days. And, of course, there are a couple of search engines we closely follow that sometimes like to shake things up. We’re ready for that!

How did this come about?

Want to know more about the background of this project? We’ve made a documentary about the process, which you can view below. Or you can read Marieke’s behind the scenes post — she was the project’s lead.

Update now!

That’s Yoast SEO 10.0 for you. We’ve revamped the SEO analysis and made it more relevant and helpful for you. We’ve enriched the feedback you get, so you can improve your content in a more natural, realistic way. Enjoy this new release! As always, we’re open to feedback and we’ll continue to fine-tune our releases based on user feedback.

We’d like to thank all participants in our beta test and, of course, you, for using Yoast SEO!

The post Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis appeared first on Yoast.

7 Tips for Structured Data on E-commerce Sites

Posted by on Mar 7, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 7 Tips for Structured Data on E-commerce Sites

7 Tips for Structured Data on E-commerce Sites

BEFORE READING: If you’re unfamiliar with JSON-LD, check out this article to learn more about the structured data format and why we prefer it. Overall, JSON-LD is much more flexible and scalable in comparison to microdata. Rather than having to add and edit microdata spread throughout the HTML of a page, you can add and edit JSON-LD in one place, wherever it’s pasted in the HTML.

While compiling recommendations for structured data for a client, many questions came up. After looking through countless articles on schema markup for e-commerce and going knee-deep into Schema.org, I still came up short when trying to find answers to my questions. Whether you’re working on implementing structured data for your own e-commerce site or a client’s site, here are 7 things that will help you along your journey.

1. When in doubt, test it out. Test and discover structured data opportunities with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

If you’re unsure whether your structured data is valid or is free from errors, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It can confirm whether Google sees the markup on a page. If you’re missing any recommended (displayed as “warnings”) or required values (displayed as “errors”) as part of the structured data type, Google will tell you so. Additionally, the tool will report any syntax errors in your code.

Another great aspect of the testing tool is the ability to view the structured data used on competitor sites. This can be great if you’re unsure where to start or what schema types are relevant for your e-commerce pages. You can even learn from their errors and warnings.

2. Add structured data to your site based on templates

Whether you’re the one adding structured data to your e-commerce site or the one making recommendations, it can be overwhelming to think about all the schema markup needed across the many pages of your site. Rather than thinking about this page by page, approach it from a template level: product categories, products, contact, about, and so on. Also include a universal template, that is, structured data that would appear on all pages (such as BreadcrumbList).  

Delivering templated structured data to a client or your team can also aid in communication with developers and make it easier to implement changes.

3. Do you need to add review markup?

We often come across clients that use third-party apps to collect and display product reviews. We get a lot of questions about review markup and whether to include it as part of their product markup. Review markup should always be included in your product markup as it is a recommended field. But do you need to add it yourself? Here’s a visual to help answer that question.

4. Use “reviewBody” to markup review text in Review

When taking a look at the examples included at the bottom of Schema.org’s Review schema, one example review markup uses “description” and the other uses “reviewBody”. They both appear to be review text. So, which one should you use?

I would recommend using “reviewBody” for review text as it is a property of Review, whereas “description” is a property of Thing. The description for “reviewBody” (“The actual body of the review”) seems to fit review text more closely than “description” (“A description of the item”). Furthermore, when comparing with Google Developers’ guide on review snippets, they used “reviewBody” for the body of a review.

5. Use product markup on product category pages

Category pages can include products, yet it’s not quite a product page. About two years ago, Distilled, using an SEO split test conducted on our ODN platform, experienced positive results when including Product schema on e-commerce category pages. Unlike product schema on a product page, we omitted links to individual product pages when including the markup on category pages. This is in line with Google’s structured data policy on multiple elements on a page:

“A category page listing several different products (or recipes, videos, or any other type). Each entity should be marked up using the relevant schema.org type, such as schema.org/Product for product category pages. However, if one item is marked, all items should be marked. Also, unless this is a carousel page, the marked items should not link out to separate details pages.”

See the next tip on how to include markup for multiple products on a category page.

6. Use @graph for pages with multiple schema types

Are you using multiple structured data types on a single page? Instead of using numerous <script> tags, use one and place all your structured data types inside of a @graph object.

Example:

Before (two <script> tags):

After (using @graph):

7. Use a free online JSON editor

A tool that a colleague recommended to me was JSON Editor Online. You don’t have to sweat it if you don’t have a source code editor downloaded. Just use this tool to make sure your JSON-LD code is valid and correctly indented with tabs, not spaces of course 😉 The tool is also quick to tell you when you have errors in your code so that you can fix the error in the tool sooner, rather than later when you validate the structured data using a tool like Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Another great thing about using an editor tool such as this one is that it is free of weird formatting issues that can occur in word processors such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

Speaking from my own experiences (before I made the switch to use a JSON editor): when creating structured data in document files and then pasting the code to test in Google’s Structured Data Testing tool, the formatting remained intact. As such, I kept getting this error message, “Missing ‘}’ or object member name.” Looking through the JSON-LD, I was unable to locate where the missing “}” would go or any other missing character for that matter. It turns out that copying and pasting code from a doc file with the formatting intact caused my quotation marks to look funny in the testing tool, like italicized or in a different font. Rather than wasting more time by fixing the weird quotation marks, I switched to using a JSON editor when creating structured data. No more wonky formatting issues!

Did this post help in solving any of your problems with structured data on e-commerce sites? What other problems have you encountered? Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting @_tammyyu.

Helpful Tips for WP Beginners

Posted by on Mar 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Helpful Tips for WP Beginners

If you’re using WordPress’ content management system and you’re having a rough time, you aren’t the first one having a hard time with it. Here are a few tips to help you out.

  • PICK A RESPONSIVE THEME
    Although many themes are for free, you’ll need to consider their versatility and responsiveness to various screen sizes.
    For example, some free themes look perfect on desktop, but they look terrible on mobile devices.
  • MAKE YOUR WEBSITE INTERACTIVE
    A very good design makes a website very attractive and that’s what users are in for.

It’s best you ask for the services of a professional designer to evaluate this.

  • ALWAYS MAKE BACKUPS YOUR WEBSITE
    You never know when you write code and everything goes bonkers, or when there’s malware on your website and you’re not able to make it run properly.

We recommend BackWPUp, as it pulls every piece of WordPress data, files and folders

  • BE SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY
    Two plugins we can recommend are Yoast and WP SEO. They’ll both make sure you respect the following requirements:

. At least one internal link on every page of your website
. Outbound links
. Your page’s keyword should be in its description
. Keyword’s density should be between 1 and 3 percent
. Meta descriptions should contain your page’s keyword

Advanced SEO: Digital Summit Slide Deck

Posted by on Feb 28, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Advanced SEO: Digital Summit Slide Deck

Advanced SEO cuts through abstraction. It doesn’t add layers of fixes and workarounds to mask SEO problems. Instead, it removes the problems themselves.

This deck is my talk from Digital Summit 2019. There are a lot of slides. If you’ve seen me speak you’re used to that. If not, don’t let it scare you. Every slide has a single link, idea, or tip. It’s a fast read that I’ve hopefully crammed with useful stuff.

Ask questions in the comments below, or find me on Twitter: @portentint

Or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ianlurie/

The post Advanced SEO: Digital Summit Slide Deck appeared first on Portent.