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Local businesses can solicit GoFundMe donations via Bing Places

Posted by on Apr 20, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Local businesses can solicit GoFundMe donations via Bing Places

Bing has partnered with crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to facilitate donations to local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the search engine announced Monday. Bing Places for Business account owners can set up a fundraiser through GoFundMe and Bing will display a donation button within its local listing page.

The donate button within a local listing. Source: Bing.

Why we care

Many local businesses have had to change operating hours, temporarily close or shift their business models to protect their customers and staff and comply with local stay at home orders and business restrictions. Creating a fundraising campaign is one way to help offset lost revenue during the crisis.

Featuring a donate button right on your local listing makes your fundraiser accessible to customers that may already searching for your business and may make your GoFundMe campaign more effective.

Related: Local SEOs talk COVID-19 challenges [VIDEO].

More on the announcement

  • This feature is currently only available for new fundraisers. Bing will add support for existing GoFundMe campaigns in the coming weeks.
  • GoFundMe does not charge a platform fee; however, there is a fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation for payment processing.
  • To set up a fundraiser, sign in to your Bing Places for Business account and click the “Get Started” button in the “Set up a GoFundMe fundraiser” module on your Bing Places dashboard. Then follow the prompts on GoFundMe as directed and the donate button will appear on your Bing local listing page.

The post Local businesses can solicit GoFundMe donations via Bing Places appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The Ultimate DIY SEO Tutorial For Beginners (Free)

Posted by on Apr 15, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Ultimate DIY SEO Tutorial For Beginners (Free)

SEO Tutorial for Beginners

How can you do SEO on your own? What does it take to learn SEO and optimize your website for search engines? How do you know what works so that you don’t waste your time on tasks that are not important for rankings?

This comprehensive DIY SEO tutorial will give you all the answers.

I know from experience that beginners to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) find it difficult to understand the SEO fundamentals.

There are so many terms, rules and practices to learn and implement and if you haven’t done this before, it’s a nightmare.

Open up Google and search for ‘SEO tutorial’ or ‘DIY SEO’, what do you see? Probably a number of guides each of them taking a different approach to SEO and this makes things even more complicated.

What to expect from this SEO Tutorial?

I’ve been doing SEO for more than 18 years now and I’ve learned through a lot of studying, trial and error how to get a website to the top positions of Google. I have done this for my websites and many client websites over and over again.

It’s not an easy job, it’s a lot of work but it’s also rewarding.

I wrote this SEO tutorial to help you get into the right mindset and understand how to approach SEO correctly. It starts from the beginning and takes you step-by-step through the most important aspects of SEO.

After you are done reading this guide, you will have a deep understanding of how to optimize your website for Google and other search engines.

So, if you are new to SEO and don’t know from where to start or where to spend your time and energy, get a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and get ready to teach yourself SEO!

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Obviously the first thing you need to understand is what is SEO and why all the fuss about it.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a framework you can follow in order to make your website more visible to search engines. Like other frameworks, it has a set of rules, processes, and guidelines.

SEO has two main objectives:

  • First is to make a website friendlier to search engine crawlers so that they can read, understand and add the website to their index.
  • Second, to make a website friendlier to the user. This is one area of SEO that is often overlooked, a website that is SEO optimized should also be user-friendly and vice versa.

That’s the basic definition of SEO, which is clear and straightforward.

Now consider this: what happens if all websites are properly optimized according to best SEO practices? How do search engines decide which one to show first, second, third, etc. in their search results?

This is where the fun part begins. For any search term, you can think of, there are hundreds of websites competing for a top place in the results. The websites that are built on a solid SEO foundation win the race.

Black hat VS White hat SEO: Which way to go?

A solid SEO foundation is based on what is known in the industry as ‘white hat SEO’.

White hat SEO is a term used to describe the process of optimizing your website without violating any rules.

To be more precise, Google has a set of guidelines for what you can do and what you shouldn’t do in order to make your website Google friendly.

If you violate any of those guidelines either intentionally or even because you didn’t know about them, you risk getting a ‘Google penalty’ and this means your website will either be removed from Google or your rankings will dramatically drop.

What is black hat SEO?

Black hat SEO, on the other hand, is a term used to describe actions that are not according to acceptable standards and practices.

The purpose of black hat SEO is to manipulate search engine algorithms using various techniques that can trick search engines into ranking a page higher in the results using false signals.

Which way to go?

White hat SEO is the only way to go. Search engines have very intelligent algorithms, spam detection techniques that can track and penalize any websites that are using black hat SEO techniques to achieve higher rankings.

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet and especially those guides or SEO tutorials that promise you results in a short amount of time. SEO takes time to generate good results and after you do a lot of work.

If you are looking for a fast way to get traffic to your website, get into Google ads, Facebook ads or other paid methods but if you want to build a successful online business, then SEO can guarantee your long term success.

Why is SEO so important?

SEO is important for many reasons but the primary reason is that it can help you achieve higher rankings which means more organic traffic to your website.

Search engine traffic is the most valuable source of traffic for any website and this can lead to more conversions (if you are not sure what a conversion is, read this definition by Wikipedia)

According to statistics, Google receives over three trillion searches per year. Take a moment and think what this number means and how it can change your business if you manage to get your tiny share of traffic from the billions of monthly searches.

Why does it matter to rank high in the search results?

The majority of Google’s organic traffic is distributed among the websites that appear on the first page of Google.

As you can see in the graph below, more than 73% of the clicks go to the first page, and the rest goes to the second and third pages.

SEO Rankings and CTR (Click Through Rate)
The Majority of Search Engine Traffic goes to the top 5 results.

So, if you want to get traffic from Google, you have to rank in one of the top positions or at least on the first page.

How to do SEO on your Own (DIY SEO)

Understand How Search Engines work

Now that you have a clear idea of what is SEO and why it is of great importance for your online success, let’s see in more detail how SEO works.

Since Google is the biggest and most valuable search engine, I will use it in the examples below. But, anything that you do to optimize your website for Google is also applicable to the other big search engines.

How does Google Search Works?

Google has a very nice tutorial on how Google works, and if you have never seen this before, I suggest reading it first.

Of course, they don’t reveal all the details of the algorithm but you can get a very good idea of how search works, and this will help you understand the contents of this SEO tutorial better.

In simple words, Google crawlers search the web to find webpages and add them to their index. When a user types in a search query in Google, their algorithms try to find the best possible match and present those pages in the search results.

If there were only a few pages available per search query, then that would not be an issue, Google would show those in the first 10 positions. But, as mentioned above, there are thousands of pages about a particular topic so their algorithm has to decide which is the best match and show those to the user.

There are many factors taken into account by the algorithm but some are much more important than others.

If you are a beginner to SEO, you don’t have to understand all the theory now, it’s too much information and I know that it gets confusing.

What you need to understand is this:

  • Google wants to keep its users happy so that they return and perform more searches.
  • A Google user is happy when they find what they want in the fastest possible way.
  • Google is making a lot of effort to keep low-quality pages out of their index and they continually adjust their rankings algorithms for this purpose.
Resources to Learn More
How search engines work – A detailed explanation (with a video) on how search engines work.

Domain Names and SEO

Before getting deeper into SEO, it’s necessary to understand the impact your website’s domain can have on your SEO efforts.

I know that some of you already have a domain so I’ve separated this section into two parts. The first part is for those who don’t have a domain yet and the second part possible solutions if you already have a website and want to change your domain.

When choosing a domain name for your website, consider the following:

  • Choose a domain that is easy to remember and write. Avoid domains with too many words, one to two words is preferable.
  • Avoid using hyphens or separators in the domain name. Try to avoid using a hyphen in your domain name. If you must use a hyphen to separate the words, don’t use more than one.
  • Exact match domains no longer have an advantage. In the past, if you had an exact match domain i.e. ‘SEOTUTORIAL.COM’ you had an advantage compared to other webpages competing for the keyword ‘SEO tutorial’ but that’s no longer the case.
  • Domain extension doesn’t matter. A website can rank well regardless of the domain extension. The most common extensions are .com, .net., .org but if you can’t find a matching name for your website you can safely choose any other extension.
  • Self Hosted domains are better. It’s better if your domain is hosted on your own website rather than using a subdomain from any other platform. For example, is better to have ‘mydomain.com’ rather than ‘mydomain.wordpress.com or mydomain.medium.com’.
  • Domain age does matter. Older domains have an advantage in SEO over newer domains. It is easier to rank a website that is 5 or 6 years old than a brand new website. Of course, besides the age of the domain, you have to take into account all the factors discussed in this tutorial, but other things being equal, the website that is ‘older’ will rank better than the newer website.
Resources to Learn More
How to start a WordPress Blog – Includes specific guidelines on how to choose the right domain for your website.

What if I already have a domain and want to change it?

If you already have a domain, content, and website with traffic, it is possible to do a rebranding and change your domain without losing your rankings and traffic but you have to follow the migration procedure correctly.

Should you buy an old domain?

You can buy an old domain and gain the advantage of the ‘age of the domain’ but you have to be careful not to buy a domain that was previously penalized by Google.

Can I merge one or more domains to make them stronger?

Yes, you can. If the domains are related and ‘clean’ from Google penalties, you can safely merge them together and create a ‘stronger’ website.

Website Platforms and SEO

After you select a good domain for your website, the next step is to choose a platform i.e. the software to use to develop your website and a server (hosting provider) to host it.

This is not an area to spend too much time or effort, once you make a good selection from the beginning then you don’t have to worry about it and you can concentrate on other more important tasks.

While there are many options available, the best website platform in terms of SEO is WordPress.

WordPress now powers more than 35% of all available websites on the Internet and has a number of features that can help you build an SEO Friendly website.

It is easy to use and with a few tweaks, you can make it even better.

You can read my best SEO practices for WordPress article for more details and step-by-step guides.

In terms of hosting, not all providers are equal when it comes to SEO awareness, the wrong choice of hosting provider can negatively impact your SEO efforts.

Make sure that you choose an SEO friendly hosting such as Bluehost or KnownHost.

Learn How to Approach the SEO Learning Process

The best way to approach SEO is step-by-step. The whole process can be broken down into 3 main types:

Different Types of SEO
Different Types of SEO
  • Technical SEO – How to make sure that search engines can access your website without any issues.
  • On-Page SEO – What kind of content to publish on your website and how to structure / setup your webpages so that search engines can read and understand them.
  • Off-Page SEO – Link Building and other techniques to promote your website on the Internet and get more exposure.

For best results, you should follow the steps in the order outlined above i.e. start technical SEO, then On-Page SEO and then Off-Page SEO.

Work on Your Technical SEO

Technical SEO has one purpose, to make sure that search engines can discover the important webpages of a website and be able to access them without any issues.

To achieve this, you need to optimize a number of things, the most important are:

  • SEO Friendly Site Structure
  • User and XML Sitemap
  • Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console
  • txt Optimization
  • 404 Page Optimization
  • PageSpeed and SEO
  • Mobile-Friendly Websites and SEO

SEO Friendly Site Structure

The structure of your website is very important. A good and simple site structure will make the job of search engines and users easier and this has many benefits for SEO and usability.

To make an SEO friendly site structure, consider the following:

Group your content into logical categories that make sense. Everything starts with the home page but after that, you should think of a logical hierarchical structure for the rest of your content.

Don’t over-engineer but keep it as simple as possible. Avoid having too many categories or subcategories since SEO wise, these don’t offer much value because of duplicate content issues (we will talk about this later).

Don’t use more than three levels when creating your site hierarchy. Don’t hide your content from search engines and users but make discovery easy.

Use SEO Friendly URLs. Your URLs can contain “-” but not underscores or any other unnecessary information. Keep them clean and easy to understand.

For example, let’s assume that you have a blog about Digital Marketing. Your blog posts can be grouped into one of these categories: SEO, Social Media, PPC, Content Marketing.

Your Website structure can look like this:

SEO Site Structure
SEO Site Structure

and the URLs like this:

  • Sample Category URL: example.com/SEO and example.com/Social
  • Sample Blog URL: example.com/my-seo-blog-post
  • Sample Page URL: example.com/digital-marketing-services

User and XML Sitemap

Google recommends that you provide users with a simple sitemap page that will contain links to all the important pages of your website (or to all pages if it’s possible). You can add this to your main menu or footer.

Besides helping with user navigation a sitemap page is also used by Google during the crawl process to discover more pages from your website.

Another better way to inform search engines about your website pages and structure is to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing.

An optimized XML sitemap should list all pages that search engines should know about and not pages that have duplicate content or provide no value to their users.

Resources to Learn More
Submit Sitemap to Google  – Three ways you can use to submit your XML to Google.

Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console

One of the ways to check what search engines know about your website is through webmaster tools. Both Google and Bing have made these tools available to their users and they are free to use.

You can access Google Search Console here and Bing webmaster tools here.

Webmaster tools can give you a lot of valuable information regarding your website. You can see your ranking position for different keywords, how many links point to your website, how many pages you have in the index if there are any errors during the crawl process and many more.

Resources to Learn More

Robots.txt Optimization

Robots.txt is a file that exists on the root directory of every website and can be used to give instructions to search engines on which directories/files of the website they can crawl and include in their index.

Normally you will need to deal with robots.txt once and if everything is ok you don’t have to change it again.

To make things easier for you, there is a robots.txt tester function in Google Search Console which you can use to ensure that you don’t accidentally block search engines from accessing your website’s pages.

Read robots txt SEO for all the details.

404 Page Optimization

What is a 404 page? The 404 page is shown to the users if they click a link on your website that leads to a non-existent page.

What is the importance of a 404 page for SEO? Remember that SEO is about usability and giving users a dead end is not the best approach.

Your 404 page needs to be useful and provide users with alternative ways to find what they are looking for.

Resources to Learn More
SEO Tips for beginners – Includes examples of SEO optimized 404 pages.

PageSpeed and SEO

One of the ranking signals that is not kept a secret by Google is website speed. Websites that load fast have a competitive advantage over websites that are not so fast.

This means that if everything else is the same, Google will rank higher websites that are faster than slower.

So, even if page speed is a comparative signal and not a direct signal, there are many business benefits from having a fast loading website.

Numerous statistics show that users are not willing to wait for a website to load for more than 3-5 seconds (especially on mobile) and there is also a direct coloration between website speed and conversions.

Website Speed and Bounce Rate
Website Speed and Bounce Rate

To cut a long story short, part of your optimization process should be to improve the loading speed of your website as much as possible.

It’s a technical topic and you might need the help of a developer to do the necessary changes but consider this as an investment you have to do.

If you want to get your hands dirty, here is the guide to follow: How to increase your pagespeed.

Mobile-Friendly Websites and SEO

Last but not least, your technical SEO checklist should also include how good or bad your website performs on mobile.

Google confirmed that mobile searches are now more than desktop and this simply means that if you are not mobile, you cannot reach a large percentage of your potential users.

What is a mobile-friendly website?

A website is considered mobile-friendly when:

  • It can be viewed on a mobile device without having to zoom-in and without having to use horizontal scroll bars to access the content.
  • It passes the Google mobile-friendly test
  • It loads fast (preferably more than 3 seconds)
  • It allows the users to perform the same actions as the desktop but using their mobile devices.

To ensure that their mobile users are happy, Google introduced a mobile-friendly algorithm change in April 2015 (also known as mobilegeddon), that excludes from their mobile index websites that are not mobile-friendly.

Work on your On-Page SEO

Once you’re done with optimizing for technical SEO, the next step is to start working on your on-Page SEO.

On-Page SEO Techniques
On-Page SEO Techniques

On-Page includes the following tasks:

  • Page Title Optimization
  • Meta Description Optimization
  • Heading Tags and Page Formatting
  • SEO Copywriting
  • Internal linking
  • Rich Snippets and Schemas
  • SEO for Multi-lingual websites

Page Title Optimization

A page title (<title>) is the first element that both users and search engines ‘see’ when reading or crawling a page.

Best practices for SEO friendly page titles:

  • Each page of your website needs to have a unique page title
  • Page titles should accurately describe the page content
  • Page titles are shown in the search results so they should be attractive and help users understand if the page is relevant to their search so that they can click to visit the page.
  • Page titles should be brief. In terms of length, it is suggested to go up to 60 characters so that they can fit in the Google search results.

How to SEO Optimize your page titles?

While the above best practices are all related to SEO, there is one more step to take to further optimize your page titles and this has to do with the use of keywords.

Keywords in the page title are important for both users and search engines. Users can easily spot the keywords in the title (sometimes they are even made bold by search engines) and this encourages them to click the link and visit the page.

Search engines ‘read’ the title and try to figure out if this is a page that can potentially satisfy the ‘intent of the user’. If this is the case, then they continue to examine the page content and other factors before they return the results to the user.

What you should do to win both users and bots is to ensure that your page titles include the keywords you are targeting.

For example, if you are writing a post targeting the keyword ‘SEO Tutorial’, then your page title should include this keyword, hence the title of this post.

As an additional note, there is no need to add your website name in the title, this is added automatically by Google (if it does not exist).

If you feel that you need to have your website name as part of the title, then move it at the end and not the beginning.

In the first parts of the title include the important elements (i.e. keywords).

Have a look below at how Google SEO’s optimized the title of Google AdSense. Notice how they blend keywords (make money online) in the page title.

SEO page titles best practices
Example of Optimized Page Title
Resources to Learn More
Difference between a page title and H1 Tag – Beginners to SEO tend to confuse the title with the H1 tag and this guide will explain all the differences.

Meta Description Optimization

The page meta description (<meta name=”description” content=“your description goes here”), is equally important. All of your website pages (including the homepage), should have a unique description that accurately summarizes the page’s actual content.

Best practices for crafting good meta descriptions:

  • Avoid using generic descriptions or terms like ‘This page is about…’ but concentrate as to why someone should visit your page.
  • Include keywords in the description but don’t do keyword stuffing.
  • Keep your descriptions up-to 160 characters.

Pro Tip: Unlike the page titles, meta descriptions are something you can safely change after a page is indexed.

What you can do is check the description displayed by Google for several terms related to your page and make any changes to the text to make it more appealing to the user. While doing this, you can also ‘spy’ on your competitor’s descriptions and see what kind of message they try to pass to their users.

As a side note, have in mind that Google may decide not to show your description in their results but they may show text from the page if they believe that this is a better match to the user’s query.

The description from the Google AdSense page (see image above), is a great example of how you can merge keywords and page summary together.

Resources to Learn More

Heading Tags and Page Formatting

Besides the titles and descriptions that are seen by bots and shown in the search results, other factors that directly impact SEO are heading tags and page formatting.

As a general rule, headings should be used to guide users on the important sections of a page and thus make a page easier to read and user-friendlier.

Headings can also help search engines understand the content of a page. When reading the HTML of a page they can identify tags like H1 and H2 and use the text within those tags to figure out the meaning of the page’s content.

Headings should include keywords and have a hierarchical structure. For example, the first heading on the page should be the H1 tag (this is usually used for the page title) and the subsequent headings can be H2 or H3.

Headings Hierarchy
Headings Hierarchy

As an example look at the headings of this article. It’s a long post so I have used H1 for the post title, H2 for the main sections and H3 for the subsections.

SEO Copywriting

Maybe you have read many times in the past that content is king, but it is still true. Content is the most important element of any website.

Your content needs to be of high quality and also provide answers/solutions to the user intent and keep the search engine user happy.

If this is not the case then whatever techniques you use (either white hat or black hat) to increase the visibility of a website in Google search, sooner or later they will all fail.

What is SEO Friendly Content?

SEO Friendly content is content that provides value to the user by answering a question or providing insights about a certain topic and at the same time can be understood by search engines.

What is a keyword?

To be able to create SEO friendly content, you first need to have clear in your mind what is the meaning of keywords and what is their role in the SEO process.

A keyword is anything that users can type in the search box, that has a significant value. A keyword may consist of one or more words.

SEO Keywords are used by search engines to understand the user’s intent and satisfy their search request in the best possible way.

Consider the examples below, keywords are shown in bold:

  • Marketing”
  • DIY SEO Tutorial
  • What is SEO
  • “What is the best Chinese restaurant in Florida

Notice that some of the keywords are very broad (Marketing) and some consist of 2 or more words, known as long-tail keywords (best Chinese restaurant Florida).

Long Tail Keywords - Search Curve
Long Tail Keywords – Search Curve

What is the role of keywords in SEO?

Everything online starts with a keyword, whether it is website content, user search query or Google Ads.

Search engines during the indexing process are trying to match keywords with web pages that can potentially be used as ‘results’ for those keywords.

Your job as an SEO is to make sure that your web page content includes those keywords (or variations) so as to help search engines index your pages correctly.

Does this mean that if you have a page full of keywords, you will get higher rankings?

Not at all. Keyword stuffing or content that exists for the sole purpose of keeping search engines happy, cannot achieve high rankings.

What you need for high rankings is high-quality SEO Friendly content.

High-Quality SEO Friendly Content

Take a minute and review what is perceived as high-quality by Google.

Notice how much value they give to usefulness, credibility, and engagement of the content.

Valuable Content Google
Google Guidelines for creating high-quality content

Start thinking about how to create content that matches these characteristics but at the same time includes keywords people may use in the search process.

In addition to the above, how you present your content matters. It’s not enough to have good content that is SEO friendly but you need to take other factors into account.

Resources to Learn More

Internal linking

What is internal linking? Adding links to your pages that point to other pages within your website.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept but sometimes overlooked by webmasters and this is an SEO mistake.

What is the purpose of internal links?

Internal links serve 2 major purposes:

1st they aid navigation since they point users to other pages of your website to read more details about a certain topic and 2nd they help search engines discover more pages from your website and also understand the context of your pages better.

Internal linking best practices for SEO

  • Add internal links where it matters and not for the sake of doing it.
  • There is no limit in the number of internal links you should have per page but don’t overdo it. Longer posts are more likely to have more internal links that 300-word posts.
  • For internal links to have some value, they need to be in the main body of the page. Links in the sidebar or footer are not so valuable (for on-page SEO purposes).
  • Use optimized anchor text with your internal links. Unlike external links, internal links can include keywords in the anchor text, there is no penalty for doing so.
  • Don’t add the ‘nofollow’ tag to your internal links. All internal links should be followed.

Rich Snippets and Schemas

One of the modern ways to give more visibility to your content and improve it’s google rankings is by using rich snippets and schemas.

What are schemas and why you should care?

Structured data markup is a formal way to describe your content to search engines. One of the challenges search engines face when crawling a page is understanding the context of a page and schemas can help them a lot in this direction.

As stated by Google, through structured data markup you make your content eligible to appear in rich results and knowledge graph cards.

In real terms, this means eligibility to rank in position 0 of Google (above the normal search results) and this has a number of benefits.

Structured data markup can be implemented by adding a set of tags to your HTML code or through a JSON script.

Resources to Learn More

SEO for Multi-lingual websites

Many websites have their content displayed in different languages and while this is normal and expected when it comes to SEO you need to have a few things in mind:

  • Don’t use automatic translators to translate your content into different languages. Your content has to be of high quality and this means readable, without grammar, structural or spelling mistakes.
  • If you want to make your content available to other languages, then do it manually on a page by page basis.
  • To avoid any issues with duplicate content you need to do some SEO configurations and in particular, make use of hreflang meta attribute.

The hreflang attribute is a way to tell Google that your content is available in more than one language.

Google will use this information and serve the right content to your users (depending on location and language).

Hreflang implementation is an advanced topic and requires technical knowledge to apply the necessary settings to your website.

If you have or thinking of making your content available into more than one language, then make sure you read this guide from Google.

Work on Your Off-Page SEO

Off Page SEO
Off Page SEO

No SEO strategy is complete without off-page SEO. Beginners to search engine optimization should understand that a complete SEO action plan has to include off-page SEO tasks.

While On-page SEO has to do with optimizing your website and content, off-page SEO is about promotion and how you can get more exposure and attention to your website.

Why is off-page SEO important?

To understand the importance of off-page SEO, consider the example mentioned above where a number of websites are targeting the same keywords and all of them have got on-page SEO right, which websites will achieve higher rankings?

The answer is simple, the websites that have done a better job in off-page SEO will get higher rankings and traffic.

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO has to do with methods and techniques you can use to convince search engines that your website is better for their users than the other websites.

In the SEO world, this is translated into incoming links, hence the term ‘link building’ has been associated with SEO.

Why are links important?

Google founders when they wrote the first ranking algorithm, they decided how to actually rank pages in the Google search results.

Besides taking into account all the factors discussed above, they also came up with a brilliant idea: the websites that are referenced (linked to) by other websites are more likely to be more important and useful to users so they deserve a higher ranking.

That’s an oversimplified version of the initial Google algorithm but the main idea holds until today. Websites that have incoming backlinks from other websites are more likely to rank higher and get more traffic from Google compared to websites that don’t have many links pointing to them.

Over the years’ webmasters and SEO’s tried to manipulate this rule by building links for the sole purpose of making the Google algorithm happy (black hat SEO) and this let into many low-quality sites to reach the first positions of Google.

This, in turn, forced Google to add more rules to its algorithm to take into account more quality factors when assessing the quality of a link.

What is a good link?

A good link that can help your website increase its rankings has the following characteristics:

  • It is a natural link – This means that the link is naturally added by a webmaster because they believe that linking to your website will add value to their content and help their users read more details about a certain topic.
  • It is coming from a related website – If you have a website about SEO, it’s natural to have links from websites that deal with digital marketing, social media, etc. but it’s not natural to have links pointing from fashion type blogs or other unrelated topics.
  • It’s coming from a website trusted by Google – Not all websites are equal in the eyes of Google. Google loves high-quality websites and a link from such a website is welcomed.
  • It’s not part of an exchange or paid scheme – Links that are paid for or exchanged (you link to my website and I link to yours) can get you into trouble (see below).
  • It’s not coming from a low-quality website – In general, websites that have little or no original content and are full of external links with no incoming links, do not offer any value to the user, are considered by search engines as low-quality websites.

What is a ‘bad link’?

A ‘bad link’ does not have the characteristics of a good link. Usually, bad links are either paid for or injected into low-quality articles for the sole purpose of tricking search engine algorithms.

It may be a surprise to beginners but there are a number of websites out there that exist for the sole purpose of publishing low-quality content with outgoing links.

What is the problem with that? A lot of bad links pointing to a website can lead to Google penalties and in simple words, this means loss of rankings, traffic and Google trust.

What are Google Penalties?

In order to protect the integrity and maintain the quality of their search results, Google has introduced two types of penalties, manual and algorithmic.

A manual penalty occurs when the Google Search Quality Team imposes a penalty on a website because it violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.

When a website is under a penalty, it loses all (or part) of its rankings. Usually, the webmaster can see the reasons that led to a penalty by viewing the ‘Manual Actions’ report of Google search console.

To get back to the Google index the webmaster must submit a ‘reconsideration request’, which is manually reviewed by the search quality team. A successful reconsideration request does not mean that the website will return to the pre-penalty rankings.

An algorithmic penalty occurs automatically and is a result of bad practices and violations that are checked automatically by the Google algorithm. To recover from an algorithmic penalty, you have to make the necessary changes and wait for an algorithmic refresh.

Google penalties have animal names like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and you can read all about them here.

Resources to Learn More
Is my website penalized? – How to check if your website is under a Google penalty.

How do you get quality links for your website?

So, good links are important for a website’s SEO success, but how do you get these links without taking any risks?

This is something I explain in more details in my SEO Courses as it is a huge topic on its own but to give you some ideas and pointers, consider this:

  • Don’t go after links that are too easy to get. Hard to get links are usually more valuable.
  • Only purse links from websites that are better than yours both in terms of traffic, quality of content and reputation.
  • Don’t believe anything you read about ‘private networks’ or other schemes that exist for the sole purpose of giving links to any type of website.
  • Use guest posting wisely, don’t spend your energy and time on guest posts that nobody will read.
  • Use social media to get your content noticed. Social media shares/likes etc. are not considered as a direct ranking factor but you can use the exposure you can get from social networks to position your content in front of the people that are more likely to interact with it (comment, share, etc.) and link to it.

In addition to the above:

Don’t be afraid to link out to other valuable and high-quality websites. How is linking out related to getting more links?

Webmasters tend to check their statistics, referral traffic and links on a regular basis and if they notice traffic or a link from a website they will check it out and they may return a favor.

To those of you that think that this is ‘link exchange’, it’s not. First of all, the other webmasters are not obliged in any way to return the favor and second this is a method proposed by Google in one of their ‘Audience Engagement Guides’.

Also, another more direct way to make sure that webmasters you’ve linked out to, will notice your content is to email them and mention to them that you like their work and added a link in your articles.

You don’t have to ask for anything in return but it is certain that a percentage of them will appreciate this action and link back to you.

How long does it take for SEO to work?

Whether you do SEO on your own or hire an agency to do it for you, it is important to understand that SEO will not generate the expected results overnight.

As I explained in a previous article, SEO takes time to work because any changes you do to your website will have to be evaluated by Google and then taken into account.

So, any fixes that you do today to make your website SEO friendly, it may take months until these are properly ‘read’ by Google (and other search engines) and used to improve your ranking positions.

The same is true with link building. When a new link is detected by the Google crawlers, it has to be passed through an evaluation process before it is awarded as a positive ranking signal.

Nobody can give you an exact number of how long it will take to increase your traffic after you do SEO work on your website but as a general rule of thumb, it may take 3 to 6 months to see the merits of your work.

Thus it is very important to be patient and not lose your focus. Keep working on improving your SEO, content and user experience and sooner or later you will be awarded for your hard work.

People that are not patient enough tend to get disappointed and quit before they see any results but those people that work consistently for a long period of time, are those that succeed in the end.

SEO Tools and SEO Resources

To manage SEO correctly you need to use tools. There is a lot of data to analyze and a lot of metrics to monitor which makes it impossible to do everything manually, so you need some sort of automation through software tools.

There are hundreds of free and paid SEO tools in the market and because of my job role, I have tested many of them.

I don’t like having to log in to a lot of different tools to do my work so after evaluating a number of them, I decided to enroll in tools that can give me diverse functionality at a reasonable monthly price.

SEM Rush: This is my favorite SEM (search engine marketing tool). I use it on a daily basis for both my SEO and PPC needs. It’s a great and easy to use tool with a number of functions but the nice thing about SEM Rush is that it is continuously updated with new features so you don’t have to look for other choices.

Key Learnings and Next Steps

SEO and Digital Marketing, in general, are disciplines that change all the time. Every week there are new changes to algorithms and practices that directly or indirectly affect SEO but the basic ingredients of SEO are the same for the last 20 years.

If I had to summarize these in one sentence, I would say that SEO is about making your users happy and satisfying their ‘intent’ through high-quality content and easy to use websites.

What I tried to include in this comprehensive SEO tutorial, is pointers to the most important aspects of SEO so that you get the full picture of what you have to do to get better rankings in Google.

As I mentioned in the introduction, it’s a lot of work and it’s not a once-off task.

When you decide to enter the world of SEO you should have in mind that you are entering a competition with hundreds of people that have the same goals as you. Your competitors are trying to make their content and websites better aiming to rank higher and if you are to win this race, you have to do a better job than them, in all aspects.

Those that have the courage to do this, are able to get enough search engine traffic to run their businesses online without the need for advertising or worrying about how to get new customers.

Those that look for shortcuts and don’t have the patience or willpower to do all the work, they give up and quit.

Finally, if you are stacked and don’t know what you are doing wrong or what your next step should be, consider our SEO Audit Service and get all the answers you need by removing the uncertainty and guessing.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial and hopefully, you now have a better idea on how to optimize your websites for SEO.

If you have any questions let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.

The post The Ultimate DIY SEO Tutorial For Beginners (Free) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

The SEO Elevator Pitch – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Apr 14, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The SEO Elevator Pitch – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

This week, we’re revisiting an important topic for SEOs everywhere: how to show your value. In the wake of everything that’s happened recently with COVID-19, being able to describe your worth to potential clients or stakeholders is an integral skill. In this favorite episode of Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins shares how to effectively and succinctly build an SEO elevator pitch that highlights the value you bring to a business and three warnings on what not to do.

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

Video Transcription

Hey guys, welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins. Today we’re going to be talking about creating an SEO elevator pitch, what is it, why we need one, and what kind of prompted this whole idea for an SEO elevator pitch.

So essentially, I was on Twitter and I saw John Mueller. He tweeted, “Hey, I meet with a lot of developers, and a lot of times they don’t really know what SEOs do.” He was genuinely asking. He was asking, “Hey, SEO community, how do you describe what you do?” I’m scrolling through, and I’m seeing a lot of different answers, and all of them I’m resonating with.

They’re all things that I would probably say myself. But it’s just interesting how many different answers there were to the question, “What do SEOs do and what value do they provide?” So I kind of thought to myself, “Why is that? Why do we have so many different explanations for what SEO is and what we do?” So I thought about it, and I thought that it might be a good idea for myself and maybe other SEOs if you don’t already have an elevator pitch ready.

What is an SEO elevator pitch?

Now, if you’re not familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch, it’s basically — I have a definition here — a succinct and persuasive speech that communicates your unique value as an SEO. It’s called an elevator pitch essentially because it should take about the length of time it takes to ride the elevator with someone. So you want to be able to quickly and concisely answer someone’s question when they ask you, “Oh, SEO, what is that?I think I’ve heard of that before. What do you do?”

Why is this so hard?

So let’s dive right in. So I mentioned, in the beginning, how there are so many different answers to this “what do you say you do here” type question. I think it’s hard to kind of come up with a concise explanation for a few different reasons. So I wanted to dive into that a little bit first.

1. Lots of specialties within SEO

So number one, there are lots of specialties within SEO.

As the industry has advanced over the last two plus decades, it has become very diverse, and there are lots of different facets in SEO. I found myself on quite a rabbit trail. I was on LinkedIn and I was kind of browsing SEO job descriptions. I wanted to see basically: What is it that people are looking for in an SEO?

How do they describe it? What are the characteristics? So basically, I found a lot of different things, but I found a few themes that emerged. So there are your content-focused SEOs, and those are people that are your keyword research aficionados. There are the people that write search engine optimized content to drive traffic to your website. You have your link builders, people that focus almost exclusively on that.

You have your local SEOs, and you have your analysts. You have your tech SEOs, people that either work on a dev team or closely with a dev team. So I think that’s okay though. There are lots of different facets within SEO, and I think that’s awesome. That’s, to me, a sign of maturity in our industry. So when there are a lot of different specialties within SEO, I think it’s right and good for all of our elevator pitches to differ.

So if you have a specialty within SEO, it can be different. It should kind of cater toward the unique brand of SEO that you do, and that’s okay.

2. Different audiences

Number two, there are different audiences. We’re not always going to be talking to the same kind of person. So maybe you’re talking to your boss or a client. To me, those are more revenue-focused conversations.

They want to know: What’s the value of what you do? How does it affect my bottom line? How does it help me run my business and stay afloat and stay profitable? If you’re talking to a developer, that’s going to be a slightly different conversation. So I think it’s okay if we kind of tweak our elevator pitch to make it a little bit more palatable for the people that we’re talking to.

3. Algorithm maturity

Three, why this is hard is there’s been, obviously, a lot of changes all the time in the algorithm, and as it matures, it’s going to look like the SEO’s job is completely different than last year just because the algorithm keeps maturing and it looks like our jobs are changing all the time. So I think that’s a reality that we have to live with, but I still think it’s important, even though things are changing all the time, to have a baseline kind of pitch that we give people when they ask us what it is we do.

So that’s why it’s hard. That’s what your elevator pitch is.

My elevator pitch: SEO is marketing, with search engines

Then, by way of example, I thought I’d just give you my SEO elevator pitch. Maybe it will spark your creativity. Maybe it will give you some ideas. Maybe you already have one, and that’s okay. But the point is not to use mine.

The point is essentially to kind of take you through what mine looks like, hopefully get your creative juices flowing, and you can create your own. So let’s dive right into my pitch.

So my pitch is SEO is marketing, just with search engines. So we have the funnel here — awareness, consideration, and decision.

Awareness: Rank and attract clicks for informational queries.

First of all, I think it’s important to note that SEO can help you rank and attract clicks for informational queries.

Consideration: Rank and attract clicks for evaluation queries.

So when your audience is searching for information, they want to solve their pain points, they’re not ready to buy, they’re just searching, we’re meeting them there with content that brings them to the site, informs them, and now they’re familiar with our brand. Those are great assisted conversions. Rank and attract clicks for evaluation queries. When your audience is starting to compare their options, you want to be there. You want to meet them there, and we can do that with SEO.

Decision: Rank, attract clicks, and promote conversion for bottom-funnel queries

At the decision phase, you can rank and attract clicks and kind of promote conversions for bottom of funnel queries. When people are in their “I want to buy” stage, SEO can meet them there. So I think it’s important to realize that SEO isn’t kind of like a cost center and not a profit center. It’s not like a bottom of funnel thing. I’ve heard that in a lot of places, and I think it’s just important to kind of draw attention to the fact that SEO is integrated throughout your marketing funnel. It’s not relegated to one stage or another.

But how?

We talked about rank and attract clicks and promote conversions. But how do we do that? That’s the what it does.

But how do we do it? So this is how I explain it. I think really, for me, there are two sides to the SEO’s coin. We have driving, and we have supporting.

1. Driving

So on the driving side, I would say something like this. When someone searches a phrase or a keyword in Google, I make sure the business’ website shows up in the non-ad results. That’s important because a lot of people are like, “Oh, do you bid on keywords?”

We’re like, “No, no, that’s PPC.” So I always just throw in “non-ad” because people understand that. So I do that through content that answers people’s questions, links that help search engines find my content and show signs of authority and popularity of my content, and accessibility. So that’s kind of your technical foundation.

You’re making sure that your website is crawlable and it that it’s index the way that you want it to be indexed. When people get there, it works. It works on mobile and on desktop. It’s fast. So I think these are really the three big pillars of driving SEO — content, links, and making sure your website is technically sound. So that’s how I describe the driving, the proactive side of SEO.

2. Supporting

Then two, we have supporting, and I think this is kind of an underrated or maybe it’s often seen as kind of an interruption to our jobs.

But I think it’s important to actually call it what it is. It’s a big part of what we do. So I think we should embrace it as SEOs.

A. Be the Google Magic 8-ball

For one, we can serve as the Google Magic 8-Ball. When people come to us in our organization and they say, “Hey, I’m going to make this change, or I’m thinking about making this change.Is this going to be good or bad for SEO?”

I think it’s great that people are asking that question. Always be available and always make yourself ready to answer those types of questions for people. So I think on the reactionary side we can be that kind of person that helps guide people and understand what is going to affect your organic search presence.

B. Assist marketing

Two, we can assist marketing. So on this side of the coin, we’re driving.

We can drive our own marketing strategies. As SEOs, we can see how SEO can drive all phases of the funnel. But I think it’s important to note that we’re not the only people in our organization. Often SEOs maybe they don’t even live in the marketing department. Maybe they do and they report to a marketing lead. There are other initiatives that your marketing lead could be investigating.

Maybe they say, “Hey, we’ve just done some market research, and here’s this plan.” It could be our job as SEOs to take that plan, take that strategy and translate it into something digital. I think that’s a really important value that SEOs can add. We can actually assist marketing as well as drive our own efforts.

C. Fix mistakes

Then number three here, I know this is another one that kind of makes people cringe, but we are here to fix mistakes when they happen and train people so that they don’t happen again. So maybe we come in on a Monday morning and we’re ready to face the week, and we see that traffic has taken a nosedive or something. We go, “Oh, no,” and we dive in.

We try to see what happened. But I think that’s really important. It’s our job or it’s part of our job to kind of dive in, diagnose what happened, and not only that but support and be there to help fix it or guide the fixes, and then train and educate and make sure that people know what it is that happened and how it shouldn’t happen again.

You’re there to help train them and guide them. I think that’s another really important way that we can support as SEOs. So that’s essentially how I describe it.

3 tips for coming up with your own pitch

Before I go, I just wanted to mention some tips when you’re coming up with your own SEO elevator pitch. I think it’s really important to just kind of stay away from certain language when you’re crafting your own “this is what I do” speech.

So the three tips I have are:

1. Stay away from jargon.

If you’re giving an SEO elevator pitch, it’s to people that don’t know what SEO is. So try to avoid jargon. I know it’s really easy as SEOs. I find myself doing it all the time. There are things that I don’t think are jargon.

But then I take a couple steps back and I realize, oh yeah, that’s not layman’s terms. So stay away from jargon if at all possible. You’re not going to benefit anyone by confusing them.

2. Avoid policing.

It can be easy as SEOs I’ve found and I’ve found myself in this trap a couple of times where we kind of act as these traffic cops that are waiting around the corner, and when people make a mistake, we’re there to wag our finger at them.

So avoid any language that makes it sound like the SEOs are just the police waiting to kind of punish people for wrongdoing. We are there to help fix mistakes, but it’s in a guiding and educating and supporting, kind of collaborative manner and not like a policing type of manner. Number three, I would say is kind of similar, but a little different.

3. Avoid Supermanning.

I call this Supermanning because it’s the type of language that makes it sound like SEOs are here to swoop in and save the day when something goes wrong. We do. We’re superheroes a lot of times. There are things that happen and thank goodness there was an SEO there to help diagnose and fix that.

But I would avoid any kind of pitch that makes it sound like your entire job is just to kind of save people. There are other people in your organization that are super smart and talented at what they do. They probably wouldn’t like it if you made it sound like you were there to help them all the time. So I just think that’s important to keep in mind. Don’t make it seem like you’re the police waiting to wag your finger at them or you’re the superhero that needs to save everyone from their mistakes.

So yeah, that’s my SEO elevator pitch. That’s why I think it’s important to have one. If you’ve kind of crafted your own SEO elevator pitch, I would love to hear it, and I’m sure it would be great for other SEOs to hear it as well. It’s great to information share. So drop that in the comments if you feel comfortable doing that. If you don’t have one, hopefully this helps. So yeah, that’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday, and come back again next week for another one.

Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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10 Important WordPress SEO Strategies

Posted by on Apr 9, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Important WordPress SEO Strategies

WordPress is the leading content management system because of a variety of factors that include its user-friendly platform and its huge plugin support. The latter allows WordPress sites to have a variety of options when it comes to choosing the perfect SEO plugin.

Although these plugins do the majority of the work when it comes to SEO, there are certain parts where the website owner needs to make decisions and optimizations himself. That is where WordPress SEO mistakes abound that cripple the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings of the website.

Here are ten important SEO strategies that will help you avoid those mistakes and make full use of the plugins available to you.


1. Increase the loading speed

A successful SEO strategy is dependent on the satisfaction of customers and a slow-loading WordPress site won’t do it any good. To positively contribute to the SEO strategy you are implementing, you should aim to increase the loading speed of each page that makes up your blog.

You can use PageSpeed Insights to gauge the speed of the WordPress blog you are managing and get to see the performance of your website. After running the test, you will get optimization strategies that you can follow through. When the tool tests the website and it scored less than 85, you need to improve on some characteristics of the blog.

Jennifer Hutton is a website developer for NSBroker. She says, ‘’our audience is mainly students and corporate professionals and with that kind of audience, we cannot afford to offer anything below tier-1 services. After all, your website is the source that makes your business run.’’

In her opinion, WordPress has a plethora of plugins that could help you with increasing the loading speed of website pages. One of those plugins is the caching plugin that helps decrease the overall time it takes for each page to load.

The most popular caching plugin is W3 Total Cache and is being used by more than 1 million users and has good reviews online. There are other alternatives to this plugin if you happen to dislike this one like WP Super Cache, WP Rocket, Hyper Cache, etc.


2. Use static permalink structures

Each website has a default permalink structure that is attributed to it but unfortunately, it is not good for SEO purposes. The permalink assigned to each WordPress site is similar to this example – “http://sitename.com/?p=N.” As you can tell, this permalink does not look user-friendly at all and due to that, it does not contribute to SEO efforts.

Thankfully, you can alter the permalink easily when you are using WordPress and create one that is more user and search engine friendly. To benefit the SEO efforts you are implementing, use a permalink that makes it clear what the post is about.

That can be done by breaking it up into a title in very few words or by even including keywords on the permalink. For example, you might choose to set your permalink to something like this, “http://doglovers.com/training-labradors”.

You can do this by heading to Settings on the WordPress dashboard and clicking the section with permalink settings. Afterward, click on “post name” and then do the alterations you need on the permalink.

When users get to see the link, they will know exactly what to expect and if you used keywords, it will have the chance to rank higher on the SERP.


3. Upload an XML sitemap

Using an XML sitemap can help Google easily and more efficiently index the pages and posts you make on the blog you are managing. Although using an XML sitemap isn’t entirely a necessity, it makes the process more efficient and simple.

Whenever you make a new blog post, the XML sitemap will ensure that it is found quickly and with great ease on the SERP.

It essentially makes the content you post on the blog after initially launching readily available for users on Google. WordPress also makes things simple in this regard because there are sitemap plugins that ensure that it is always up to date. The most popular plugins for that purpose are Google XML Sitemaps and XML Sitemaps.

These plugins will automatically generate the XML sitemap you need for the WordPress blog you are running. Above that, these plugins will also send a notification to Google when you post new articles or other content on the WordPress blog.

To ensure that the sitemap you have set up really contributes to SEO efforts, make sure that the data in the robots.txt is relevant to what you provided Google. That especially refers to when you blocked a certain page on the robots.txt file, ensure that it is not included in the sitemap.


4. Set up Google Search Console

How would you like it if there was someone or something that gives you a warning on the not-so-good practices on the website you are running?

Undoubtedly you would feel overjoyed because you would not be in constant worry of whether you are doing it right. Google has made that a reality by inventing Google Webmaster tools that is now commonly known as the Search Console.

If you are not using this greatly beneficial tool, you are definitely missing out on warnings concerning your SEO strategy. Whenever Google finds it hard to access and index the content you have posted, the Search Console will alert you to this.

This will keep you on alert and updated if you are deviating from the goals you have established prior to launching the website.

You can also get to see the penalties that the website has incurred due to bad SEO practices that were found on it. Fortunately, you do not only receive bad news on the Google Search Console but also good ones like where you are getting traffic from.

With this tool, you can also get to see the keywords and links that drive the most traffic to the website you are managing.


5. Use HTTPS

Some website owners do not pay much attention to the protocol used on their website and they might not even know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS. The notable difference between these two protocols is that HTTPS is secure than the other. It has SSL security and is important if you want your site to be more trustworthy and credible.

The audience you have targeted will most likely prefer a site that is secure in comparison to one that does not have any form of security. Fortunately, you can make use of plugins that make this possible on the WordPress site you are managing.

The plugins you can use include SSL Zen, Really Simple SSL pro, WordPress HTTPS and others. Using HTTPS is essential, especially for online shop owners that use the same domain for their blog.

Securing the blog will indicate that you are cautious when it comes to their cybersecurity and safety of their personal information shared on the website, you are running. You can get free or paid plugins but obviously, they come with different features, so ensure that you are paying for what the website really needs.


6. Get a mobile-friendly website theme

Google is very personal about the mobility of sites because of the number of users that access this search engine on mobile devices. As a result, this search engine does not rank sites that are not mobile-friendly high on SERPs. To improve the SEO strategy you have in place, ensure that the theme being used on the WordPress blog you are running is responsive.

There are a lot of benefits that come with using responsive themes and they include a lower bouncing rate. Internet users tend to bounce websites that take a long time to load and responsive sites also improve the website page speed.

Also, when content appears distorted or stretched on mobile devices, they might not get a great user-experience and choose to bounce the website.

All these troubles could be avoided by ensuring that the WordPress blog you are running is responsive. When customers stay for longer periods on the site you are managing, they may even buy the product or service offers you are offering, thereby improving the conversion rate.


7. Ensure that you have Yoast installed

Do not leave out Yoast in the SEO strategy you are implementing because it gives you all-around support. The features offered by this tool can help you gain control over the SEO strategy currently being implemented on the WordPress blog.

The robust features it offers are optimizing keywords, indexing the pages faster on different platforms, ensuring that the content stays up to date.

Every six months, Yoast will remind you to update the most important pages on the blog you are running. Google also checks the website for the readability of the content that you have created and if it does not look good, you might be penalized by getting lower rankings.

Yoast helps with scoring the readability of each page that is on the WordPress blog that you are managing.

Also, you will not have to worry about the technicality of the blog because it will manage everything for you in a simple and efficient manner. Above that, users do not get stuck on the error 404 message because it will automatically redirect old URLs to new ones.


8. Use a CDN to improve the performance of the WordPress blog

The performance of your WordPress blog is very important because it dictates the number of visitors that stay on the site and the experience they get. When the website lacks in the performance output, users might be left with the only option to bounce the site.

To avoid that, you should pay close attention to the quality of the web hosting service you are currently using. Alternatively, you can Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) improve the overall performance and speed on the WordPress blog. Using CDNs makes static content closer to the users by using remote servers spread across the globe.

Whenever a user opens a page, that content will be nearer to them instead of being in one server and take a few more seconds to download on their screen.

Ensure that you get a high-quality CDN provider that will reliably transport the static content to improve the performance of the website. Some of the most reliable CDN providers are Cloudflare, Microsoft Azure CDN, and Amazon CloudFront.


9. Have a solid linking strategy

There are three types of links that you can use for the WordPress blog you are managing and they are inbound, outbound and internal linking. The first one is the most efficient when you would like to drive more traffic to the site you are running. You can request another site to link you to get inbound links.

Alternatively, you can just write quality content and hope that a trustworthy site picks up on the work you have done and links it on their blog. The second type of linking should be actively conducted by you. The end goal here is ensuring that you source and use high-quality links from authoritative websites.

That will boost the SEO strategy you have in place by making you appear as a trustworthy site on Google algorithms. Although these two types of linking are very important, you should also focus on internal linking. The latter form of linking is when you link other published content on your site on the blog post you are writing at that time.


10. Optimize the images you post

Images really do beautify the content you have created and post on the WordPress site you are managing. As much as they can be beautiful, they can also slow down the entire site page or, alternatively, affect the appearance of the page negatively.

Images that are stretched or out of size in any manner can make the website they are posted on look cheap. To avoid this, ensure that the images on the website are perfectly sized and that they are compressed. Uncompressed images can make the website slow and perform badly, so ensure that these two factors are considered and done accordingly.

Also include tags on the pictures and use keywords when doing so to make the images rank higher on the Google Images section. All these SEO efforts will increase the chances of your website ranking higher on the SERPs.


The bottom line

SEO is very important for business websites and this task can be simplified when using WordPress as a content management system. There are plenty of plugins that you can use to improve the SEO of the site and they include cache and SSL plugin tools.

You can also use Yoast SEO, which gives all-around service to WordPress blogs because it indexes the pages, reminds you to update content and helps with keywords. There are so many tools that you can use to improve the SEO of your site so do not neglect this important aspect.

The post 10 Important WordPress SEO Strategies appeared first on WP Fix It.

Gain visibility with Google’s unified mobile search

Posted by on Apr 9, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Gain visibility with Google’s unified mobile search

30-second summary:

  • Consumers visit an average of 14 different channels before they decide whether to make a purchase. To make this more complicated, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of all ecommerce sales by 2021.
  • Shoppers searching on mobile will be served both the Google Search results and products relevant to that search, organically. These aren’t ads, just a single unified search of both Google and available products.
  • To determine which products are relevant for a given query, Google will scan retailers’ websites and product feeds and select the products that seem the most appropriate. Product relevance will also depend on how robust your Google Shopping feed is.
  • Without high-quality product data, listings can easily fall to the bottom of the search engine results page. Fortunately, there are several tactics and best practices that will help improve product visibility.
  • Automating product data feed management reduces the risk of errors, increases overall performance and empowers marketers to dedicate more time to optimizing campaigns and testing new channels.

Consumer expectations are higher than ever. Today’s buyers expect to find their desired products on the ecommerce search engine of their choosing, and they expect accurate, consistent information at every touchpoint.

In fact, about 56% of customer interactions today take place in a multi-channel, multi-event journey. That means most customer experiences include an array of interactions, moments and channels.

Consumers visit an average of 14 different channels before they decide whether to make a purchase. To make this more complicated, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of all ecommerce sales by 2021.

This means that retailers need to create ecommerce strategies that are built around a mobile, multi-channel shopping experience.

One key step to success here will be driving visibility, which ensures you appear at the top of search results on desktop and mobile. And Google has just given you one more way to do just that.

Google unifies mobile search and products – and that’s good news for you

Google has the unique benefit of being the de facto search engine when it comes to general search – and that includes for products. Now, Google has unified their search on mobile by making products even more important.

Shoppers searching on mobile will be served both the Google Search results and products relevant to that search, organically. These aren’t ads, just a single unified search of both Google and available products.

Ultimately, Google’s unified mobile search saves online shoppers time by automating the task of searching for a specific item on dozens of individual storefronts.

But it’s more than just a customer-facing convenience. Retailers who can grasp the value of unified mobile search will be able to reach more customers, more efficiently. And those who can’t will lose out on a key touchpoint.

Being absent (or incoherent) in these results leads only to missed opportunities. Given that these could lead to an immediate sale, that’s a big waste.

Success and visibility will come from your product data feed

The Google Shopping feed acts as a spreadsheet that describes and organizes a retailer’s product catalog.

Note that shoppers on Google will be able to filter their product results by style, department and size, or view several images of a product – all of these data points correlate directly to your product feed. And that’s no accident.

The product feed in this scenario functions quite similarly to SEO. It allows you to supply relevant information (keywords and data specifications) in order to rank high when consumers make relevant queries on Google.

However, unlike your usual Shopping ads, businesses have no control over which search queries will trigger their products to appear. That decision is up to Google’s algorithms.

To determine which products are relevant for a given query, Google will scan retailers’ websites and product feeds and select the products that seem the most appropriate. Product relevance will also depend on how robust your Google Shopping feed is.

If you want to drive visibility and the likelihood that your products will surface, you’ll need to provide as much information as possible.

How to increase mobile search rank through product data optimization

Without high-quality product data, listings can easily fall to the bottom of the search engine results page. Fortunately, there are several tactics and best practices that will help improve product visibility.

Focus on the following:

  • Product title: Your product title is analogous to a website page title in that it’s the first thing Google refers to when looking for relevant results. Avoid keyword stuffing and focus on one target keyword, and move that keyword as close to the beginning of the product title as possible.
  • Product image: Attractive, eye-catching images of the product from various angles entice customers to click on your listing. But always omit watermarks, additional text and logos, or Google will likely reject the product.
  • Product category: Product category isn’t immediately visible to prospective customers. However it is an attribute that Google considers when populating Shopping search results and is crucial to relevancy. The more narrow and targeted you are with your subcategories, the more relevant your product listing will be for customers.
  • Product type: Product type is another backend attribute that helps determine relevance. It’s important that you are as descriptive as possible, especially if you sell niche products.
  • Product description: Google scans product descriptions for relevant keywords. This means marketers have the opportunity to feature second-tier keywords in their product description that the system may have overlooked in the product title.

How to automate your product data edits

Google’s website crawl feature uses crawls of your website to read structured data and sitemap information, then extracts information about relevant products.

However, it’s best for retailers to use automated tools to submit their product data, which ensures the data is both up to date and completely accurate and optimized.

Automating product data feed management reduces the risk of errors, increases overall performance and empowers marketers to dedicate more time to optimizing campaigns and testing new channels.

In particular, consider automating these product data edits:

  • Product availability: After customers purchase a product on one channel, its availability must be updated on all channels. Doing this manually or without automation increases the likelihood that you will list products that are unavailable or not list those that have become available.
  • Change price formats: Manually aligning price formats with channel or country requirements wastes time and resources. Consider automating the process of replacing commas with periods or currency symbols with currency abbreviations like USD, GBP or EUR. Similarly, consider automating the process of conversions or adding tax values.

Consumers have more buying options than ever before, and the introduction of Google’s new Search functionality just reminds us how complex their journey can be.

It’s incumbent upon brands and retailers to keep up by broadening their ecommerce strategies (and product feed optimization) to account for new online shopping trends.

The retailers who successfully incorporate a mobile, multi-channel strategy will be the ones who are most visible to online shoppers today and tomorrow.

Chris Dessi is VP, Americas and Australia at Productsup.

The post Gain visibility with Google’s unified mobile search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Why Every SEO Should Be Using Google Sheets Query Function

Posted by on Apr 8, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Why Every SEO Should Be Using Google Sheets Query Function

Google Sheets allows us SEOs to manipulate data in a multitude of different ways – but Google Sheets combined with the power of SQL (“Structured Query Language” for the uninitiated) takes this to the next level.

Not only does the QUERY function enable us to replicate the actions of formulas such as VLOOKUPs and IF statements – they enable us to accurately and efficiently query datasets without any copy and paste errors.

I know a lot of you unfamiliar with SQL may be thinking “NOPE”  but bear with me and by the end of this blog you’ll understand the basics, have a handful of examples and a number of Google Sheets you can steal and have a play with.

The examples will focus on:

An Introduction To Query

What is the Query function?

QUERY is a Google Sheets formula that enables you to manipulate data sources. This function is largely considered to be one of the most powerful functions on Google Sheets and can be a gamechanger in performing key SEO tasks (and other sorts of data manipulation).

Let’s say, for example, you are doing keyword research and have an export from Ahrefs related to the term “birthday cards.” In one simple query, we can extract all rows of data relating to keywords where:

  • Keyword Difficulty is below 20
  • Keywords are non-branded (in this case excluding keywords that contain “moonpig”)
  • Search Volume is above 150
  • The keyword contains a Featured Snippet
  • We also want this ordered by Volume (descending).

In the first tab, we would have the full export including a large number of varying quality keywords.


The second tab would have our Query formula in A1 – 

=QUERY(All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE B < 20 AND NOT A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ AND C > 150 AND G CONTAINS ‘Featured snippet’ ORDER BY C desc”)

This would automatically populate the rows and columns with just the keywords matching the specific criteria we are looking for – Here are our results.

How does this relate to SQL?

SQL is a programming language used to communicate with a database. 

The QUERY function on Google Sheets allows you to use a Google Sheets version of SQL, named Syntax Query Language, which allows far more granular, accurate and speedy insights from relatively large datasets. You may have heard of SQL in relation to BigQuery – Google’s cloud-based tool which allows users to query really big datasets. 

For SEOs, BigQuery comes in really handy for handling huge datasets and is useful for tasks such as log file analysis, analysing CrUX data or crawl analysis. For more insights check out this blog by one of our Senior Consultants, Dom Woodman.

What is the advantage of using Query on Google Sheets?

  • Instead of having to write individual formulas for each column, QUERY allows you to import specific columns and rows based on select criteria or conditions. This saves the dramas of copy and paste errors (we’ve all been there before!)
  • QUERY datasets update in real time making it easy to update sheets on the go – you can also use the QUERY results as a reference in tables and graphs etc, which can then subsequently be used on other Google platforms such as Google Docs or Slides. Updating your data will also update your data across these platforms making everything more seamless and error free.
  • Queries are extremely recyclable – once you have written queries for specific datasets, you can use them again and again (and obviously adjust as you go). One example of this within SEO is when doing a backlink analysis – you can apply the same rules to a backlink export across different tabs in order to isolate URLs that match certain criteria. See the backlink audit example below for more info. 

How to Write a Query Formula

Google Sheets QUERY Syntax

Google Sheets Syntax: =QUERY(range, sql_query, [headers])

  • Range – this is the table or range you are looking to query
  • Query – This is where you write your SQL query in “quotation marks.”
  • Headers – this is where you can add headers (note: this is optional and it can just allocate a name for you).

Google Sheets SQL – The Basics

As mentioned earlier, the Query formula uses SQL – which has the advantage of being very logical and easy to follow. There are a few general rules that you need to follow when using SQL. The main one being that you need to write clauses in the correct order.

Firstly, I’ll go through the basics using an Ahrefs export for the keyword “birthday cards” before jumping into some more examples. Feel free to jump straight to the examples if you fancy.

Our sample dataset consists of keywords related to the term “birthday cards” – there are a number of columns including the Keyword in Column A, Difficulty in Column B etc.


SELECT

SELECT allows you to specify which columns you wish to import.

Firstly let’s say we want to just select all of the keywords without any of the additional columns of data – basically just column A.

What we would do is create a new tab and type in our QUERY into cell A1.

The ‘range’ will stay the same across these different examples and the Query will change.

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,SELECT A)

Here’s our result…

WHERE

WHERE allows you to specify a condition you want to match (CONTAINS is when a cell contains specific text).

So let’s say we want to select the Keyword and Difficulty Columns (Column A and Column B) where the keyword contains the text “birthday”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,B WHERE A CONTAINS ‘birthday'”)

Here’s our result…

WHERE NOT

WHERE NOT allows you to specify a condition you do not want to match.

This time let’s select all columns where the keyword does not contain the text “birthday”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE NOT A CONTAINS ‘birthday'”)

Here’s our result…

ORDER BY

ORDER BY allows you to specify how you would like your data ordered – “asc” for ascending or “desc” for descending.

Let’s select the columns Keyword, Difficulty and Volume and order it by Difficulty (descending).

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,B,C ORDER BY B DESC”)

Here’s our result…

LIMIT

LIMIT allows you to specify a limit to the number of results

Let’s select all rows where the keyword contains the text “birthday”, let’s order it by Difficulty (descending) and limit it to the top 10 results.

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE A CONTAINS ‘birthday’ ORDER BY B DESC LIMIT 10”)

Here’s our result…

LABEL

LABEL allows you to specify a name for a column.

Let’s just grab column A and B – and let’s label Column B “Keyword Difficulty”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A, B LABEL B ‘Keyword Difficulty'”)

Here’s our result…

Google Sheets Query Examples

Using QUERY for Keyword Research

The first stage in querying a large data set is to have all the raw data in one tab which can be the reference for queries in other tabs. I have named this tab “All Birthday Cards Keywords.” This may feel slightly familiar to those who read the previous section.

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

In this case, I have some (very quick and unattractive) keyword research for terms related to birthday cards.

Example 1 – Isolating Branded Keywords

For this example, I am looking to pull out all the rows of data associated with keywords containing the text “moonpig.” I am also ordering this by the estimated search volume.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Example 2 – Isolating Keywords Matching Specific Criteria

In the next tab, we are looking to extract all rows of data where;

  • Keyword Difficulty is below 20
  • The keyword does not contain “moonpig”
  • Search Volume is above 150
  • The KW contains a Featured Snippet
  • We also want this ordered by Volume descending.

Our Query

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE B < 20 AND NOT A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ AND C >150 AND G CONTAINS ‘Featured snippet’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Example 3 – Isolating “Mother” or “Mum” related keywords

In the next tab, we are looking to extract just the keyword and search volume  where;

  • The keyword contains “mum” or “mother”
  • We also want this ordered by search volume descending.

Our Query

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,C WHERE A CONTAINS ‘mum’ OR A CONTAINS ‘mother’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Using QUERY for Crawl Data

Similarly to the KW research data, we will want to have all of the data in one tab – In this case, I have run a Screaming Frog Crawl of https://www.distilled.net, naming the tab “Distilled Crawl Data – Raw & Unedited.”

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

Example 1 – Pulling Redirects and their Redirect URL

For this example, I am pulling just URLS that are 301 or 302 redirects and the subsequent redirect URL.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A,C,AT WHERE C = 301 or C = 302”)

Our Result

Example 2 – 404 Pages Sorted By Number of Unique Inlinks

This example requires selecting just 3 columns where the status code is 404 order by the number of unique inlinks. 

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A, C, AJ WHERE C = 404 ORDER BY AJ desc”)

Our Result


Example 3 – Title Tags Over 60 Characters 

The purpose of this query is to extract the URLs with title tags over 60 characters ordered by length (highest first).

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A, C, G, H WHERE H > 60 ORDER BY H desc”)

Our Result


Using Query for Backlink Analysis

Again, we will want to have all of the unedited data in one tab – In this case, we have a tab called ‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net.’

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

Example 1 – Analysing a Backlink Profile

For this example, I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Domain Ranking, Referring Page Title, URL Ranking and Type of Link based on specific criteria:

  • URL ranking is above 40
  • The links are followed links

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!A:W,“Select F,C, G,D,N WHERE D > 40 AND N = ‘Dofollow'”)

Our Result

Example 2 – Analysing a Backlink Profile (Round 2)

For this analysis I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Referring Page Title and  Link URL based on specific criteria:

  • The link URL is https://www.distilled.net (this will only pull in the homepage)
  • The links are followed links

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!D1:W1000,“select F,G,J,N WHERE N = ‘Dofollow’ AND J = ‘https://www.distilled.net/'”)

Our Result

Example 3 – Analysing Anchor Text from Non “no follow” links

For this analysis I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Link Anchor, Link URL, Type and Traffic based on specific criteria:

  • The links are not “no follow” links
  • The lists are ordered by the traffic descending.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!A:W,“SELECT F,L,J,N,T WHERE N <> ‘Nofollow’ ORDER BY T desc”)

Our Result

Conclusion

That’s the QUERY function – welcome to a new world without copy and paste errors ruining your day.
Check out all the examples accompanying Google Sheets – Keyword Research, Backlink Analysis and Crawl Analysis

If you have any feedback, questions or recommendations, get involved in the comments.

How to Increase Page Speed (Easy Guide)

Posted by on Apr 7, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Increase Page Speed (Easy Guide)

Improve PageSpeed

PageSpeed is a critical element for your website’s success. Besides being one of the known ranking factors, it’s also an important usability metric.

Nobody (people or search engines) want to spend their time waiting for your pages to load, especially when there are dozens of other websites on the same topic that load faster.

The good news is that there are ways to improve your page speed by optimizing your website’s infrastructure and following some best practices.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is PageSpeed?

Page speed is the number of seconds that a page takes to load until it becomes fully available to users.

Page speed should not be confused with ‘website speed’. Website speed is the average pagespeed of a sample of pages from the same site.

The loading speed of a particular page might be different from the average (it can be slower or faster), that’s why it’s important to individually test and optimize the speed of all your pages.

Why is page speed important for SEO?

Back in April 2010, Google officially announced that page speed is part of the Google ranking algorithm.

The main reasons that forced them to add page speed as a ranking factor were:

  • Fast websites make users happy and they spend more time on a website.
  • Fast websites reduce operating costs (less bandwidth and better use of server resources)
  • Fast websites generate more sales (and conversions in general).

Fast forward to today, pagespeed is now more important than ever.

Statistics show that slow loading websites are losing customers since a large majority of users are not willing to wait for more than 3 seconds for a website to load.

Website Speed and Bounce Rate
Website Speed and Bounce Rate

In addition, a number of studies show that there is a correlation between Google rankings and page speed. Websites ranking in the first places of Google load faster than websites appearing in the lower places.

Pagespeed is a page ranking factor meaning that it affects each page individually and not the website as a whole.

What is the ideal page speed?

Unofficially, the ideal pagespeed is less than 3 seconds for both desktop and mobile websites. I say ‘unofficially’ because this is a number coming from user surveys and studies and it’s not the official number used by the Google algorithms during the ranking process.

The way Google is treating pagespeed is by categorizing pages into ‘really good’ and ‘pretty bad’.

This means that if a website is too slow, this may have a negative impact on its rankings. Otherwise, the algorithm treats all the websites the same.

You can watch the following video from Google that discusses how Google deals with pagespeed and site speed in general.

Video: How Google Measures Site Speed

As a general rule of thumb, you need to take all necessary actions to ensure that your website loads a fast as possible.

Slow websites offer bad user experience and this means they lose money and customers.

15 Ways to Increase PageSpeed

To improve your page speed, follow the best practices below.

  1. Compress and optimize your images
  2. Optimize the delivery of videos
  3. Enable caching
  4. Minify CSS and JS
  5. Eliminate render-blocking scripts
  6. Use scripts asynchronously
  7. Leverage browser caching
  8. Use preloading and prefetching of resources
  9. Move to a faster host
  10. Deactivate unnecessary plugins
  11. Upgrade your CMS software and plugins
  12. Upgrade to the latest version of PHP
  13. Consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  14. Optimize your DB
  15. Use Google Page Speed Module

1. Compress and optimize your images

In the majority of cases, a webpage is slow because of the number and size of images. Good quality images and other visual elements are important for SEO and usability so removing them completely is not an option.

What you should do instead is try to minimize their file size without sacrificing their quality.

Follow the recommendations below:

Use the right size of images – Before uploading an image to your website, re-size it to the maximum width you’ll need.

For example, if the maximum width you show images on your blog is 1200px, then it’s a waste to upload images that are bigger than this.

You can use tools like Photoshop, Gimp or Pixelmator to open an image, change its dimensions and export to a web-friendly format like jpg or png.

Use an image optimizer (extremely important) – The next step is to use an image optimizer. Images exported through Photoshop or pixelmator are not completely optimized when it comes to optimum file size.

Tools like imageOptim (for mac users) or image compressor can dramatically reduce the file size of an image without affecting its quality.

Look at the screenshot below. Both images look exactly the same and they have the same dimensions. The image on the right is 56% smaller in file size.

image compression
Image Compression Example.
These two steps alone will reduce the size of your images and this will have a huge impact on your page loading speed, especially on mobile devices.

Use responsive images – Upgrade WordPress to the latest version so that you can take advantage of responsive images.

What this feature does is two things:

  • When you upload an image to the WordPress media library, it automatically creates a set of images that have different sizes.
  • When a page is loaded and depending on the resolution, it automatically shows the equivalent image size to users.

This means that on mobile users are served a smaller size image and this improves the mobile pagespeed, especially on pages with lots of images.

If you’re not on WordPress, you can get the help of a developer to implement responsive images on your CMS. It’s a feature that can be implemented on any website.

Important Note:

The new responsive images created automatically by WordPress, are not fully optimized even if the original image was optimized.

This means you either have to use an image compression service to do this for you, or to optimize the images manually using imageOptim or any other software.

What I do on a monthly basis is to download all images for the month (found under /wp-content/uploads/[year][month]), on my PC, optimize them using imageOptim and upload them back to the server.

Use lazy loading – This is a technique where the browsers load the images in a page or post when they are needed i.e. as users scroll down the page and not all images at once (this is the default behavior).

By doing so, pages load faster, especially on mobile.

The good news is that there are a number of plugins that can help you do this without having to do any changes to your website.

Native Lazyload –  A WordPress plugin by Google that uses the native browser feature. All you have to do is install the plugin and activate it. There are no options to configure.

WP-ROCKET – A premium WordPress plugin that has built-in support for lazy loading images and videos. This is the plugin I’m using on my website as well.

2. Optimize the delivery of videos

Another element that can slow down your pages considerably, if not optimized correctly, is videos.

When embedding videos into your content, you should follow these best practices:

Upload videos to a streaming service – The best way to minimize the impact of videos on page loading speed is to upload them to a streaming service i.e. YouTube or Vimeo and then embed them on your website.

By doing so, your server is not responsible for streaming the video content but the content comes directly from the provider.

Disable video autoplay – Make sure that you don’t use autoplay.  Besides being a bad user experience it also slows down the loading of a page considerably.

Use lazy loading – The lazy loading technique can also be applied to videos. Videos will only be loaded from the external source, when they are in the user’s viewport and not when a page is loaded.

Replace video iframe with a preview image – This is another technique you can use. You show a preview image to users while waiting for a video to load. Wp-rocket has this feature built-in.

3. Enable caching

Caching is a mechanism that helps a lot with page speed and its a must for all websites.

In simple words, when you use caching, the server creates static HTML versions of your webpages and shows those to users instead of generating the pages from the beginning every time there is a request for a page.

This makes the process faster, fewer server resources are required and the user gets a better experience.

The caching mechanism is clever enough to understand when there is a change to a page or when not to cache a page, so the overall website experience is the same.

WP Rocket Caching Options
WP Rocket Caching Options

To enable caching on your WordPress website, you can use a caching plugin like wp-rocket or wp super cache.

These plugins will add all necessary caching rules to your .htacess file and even create a separate cache for mobile users and a cache for logged in users.

Configuration of the plugin is straightforward and no technical knowledge is required.

4. Minify CSS and JS

Minification is a process that removes all unnecessary characters from CSS and JS files (like comments and white spaces) and this makes those files smaller in size.

Minification reduces the size of CSS and JS Files

Minification does not change the functionality but it does reduce the file size and this means faster loading times.

For the non-technical persons, CSS and JS are files used by all kinds of websites and platforms. The CSS is responsible for the styling of a page and the JS for functionality.

There are three ways to enable minification on your website:

  1. Check if your CMS supports this option. Normally this is found under ‘Speed Optimization’ or advanced.
  2. If you’re on WordPress, check if this option is available in your theme settings.
  3. Use a minification plugin like wp-rocket or autoptimize.

5. Eliminate render-blocking scripts

When a page is loaded, the browser will try to load all the resources defined in the header and then continue with the rest of the page.

Header resources may include the Google Analytics script, Facebook pixel, Google Ads script and many other scripts needed by your website to function properly.

If any of these resources fail to load quickly this will delay the loading of a page.

What you can do to avoid this situation is two things:

  1. Try not to add any external resources or scripts (unless really necessary) to the website header.
  2. Move render-blocking scripts to the footer of the website. If this sounds too technical then you can use wp-rocket or the help of a developer to do this for you.

6. Use scripts asynchronously

Another trick that is very effective when doing page speed optimization is to ensure that all scripts are loaded asynchronously.

During page load, the browser will try to load any script that is found in the website’s HTML code (either in the header, body or footer), before proceeding with rendering a page.

This adds extra time to the page loading speed, especially when scripts are hosted on slow servers.

To solve this problem, you need to load scripts asynchronously. In simple words, this means instructing the browser to continue loading a page and not wait for the script to be fully loaded.

This is done through code by adding the command ‘asynchronous’ in your script’s code.

This is a task that can be done by a developer or through a premium plugin like wp-rocket.

7. Leverage browser caching

Browser caching is different than the ‘server caching’ discussed above. All modern browsers are using a caching mechanism to make pages load faster.

The way it works is simple. When a page is first loaded, browsers will save elements of the page like images, CSS files, JavaScripts on the user’s device.

The next time a user visits the particular page or any other page from the same website, the browser will use the locally saved resources (which is a much faster process), rather than requesting these from the server.

The result is improved pagespeed.

As a webmaster, your job is to give instructions to the browser, through your website’s .htaccess file as to how often and when they should refresh the local elements.

This is a highly technical task and the best way to deal with this is to use a plugin. Again, wp-rocket will automatically do this for you without having to add any code.

8. Use preloading and prefetching of resources

Preloading and prefetching of resources is a technique that can increase the performance of your website as a whole and improve the loading of your important pages.

With preloading and prefetching, you instruct the browser to load in the background resources or pages that you know that will be needed as the user browses a website.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how to take advantage of this:

Preloading of pages: Good caching plugins have a PRELOAD feature. When preload is enabled, the plugin creates caches copies of all the website pages so when a user is visiting a page, this is shown faster since the processing has already be done.

DNS prefetching: When a website is using external files (for example Google Fonts, or Font awesome icons), you can add them in the DNS prefetching section of your plugin and this will speed up their loading time considerably.

In wp-rocket, this is as simple as adding the URL you want to prefetch in the DNS Prefetch section.

prefetch DNS settings
Prefetch DNS Improves the loading speed of a website.

Pre-rendering specific pages: This is an advanced technique but highly effective and easy to implement.

You can use the prerender and prefetch commands to instruct the browser to background load the most important pages of your website that you expect users to visit.

For example, on my website, I added the line below in the header <HEAD></HEAD> which tells browsers to ‘prepare’ the loading of my Digital Marketing Course sales page, as soon as a user visits any page from my site.

<link rel="prerender prefetch" href="https://www.reliablesoft.net/products/courses/digital-marketing-course-bundle/">

The result is that the page loads instantly when users view the page either from the main menu or from any other internal link.

Important: Do not use this for more than one or two pages of your website, otherwise, it is possible to generate the opposite results.

9. Move to a faster host

If after you do the above changes, you still notice that your website is slow then it’s time to consider changing hosts.

Your hosting provider plays a big role in how fast your website will load.

Serious bloggers or online business owners should use a VPS to host their websites and not shared hosting.

The main difference between the two is that shared hosting is cheaper but your website is hosted on the same server with dozens of other websites sharing the same resources.

When you rent your own Virtual Private Server (VPS), your website is hosted on its own IP, on a virtual server that has dedicated resources.

This means that your website is more secure and any potential problems or flaws in other websites do not negatively impact your website’s performance. It’s more expensive than shared hosting but it certainly worth’s it.

To learn more, can read my previous post on how do hosting providers affect SEO.

10. Deactivate unnecessary plugins/add ons

The terminology plugins is used by WordPress. Other CMS use the name add-ons for any additional software installed on a website.

It’s a common practice to install plugins for testing purposes and then forget about them. As a first step, review all your active plugins and deactivate the ones that are not used.

Even if you don’t actively use a plugin, the plugin code/CSS is still loaded and this affects your website speed.

As a second step, go through the plugins you actually use and see if there are ways to do what the plugin does but without having the plugin.

For example, you may use a plugin to add AdSense ads to your web pages but with a few lines of code into your functions.php, you can have the same outcome without having to load the extra coding and logic added by a plugin.

Simple changes like that, although they may seem not important, they can help you gain a few seconds in loading time.

If you’re not a technical person, it is strongly recommended to hire a developer to review and update your add-ons and suggest ways to minimize their usage.

11. Consider using a CDN

A content delivery network or CDN is a service that helps to improve pagespeed by:

  • Using various servers to deliver the static elements of a website (images, CSS, JS)
  • Using servers that are closer to the physical location of the user.

For example, if you have users accessing your website from different countries, the users in the US will be served from US-based servers while the users in Germany from Germans based servers.

cdn
The image on the left – No CDN. The image on the right – With CDN.

To use a CDN, you need to have a subscription with a CDN provider like Cloudflare, StackPath and you also need to do some configuration on your domain so that any page requests are redirected to your CDN provider.

Many CDN providers offer additional features like protection from DDoS attacks, automatic SSL, image optimization, and minification of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Should you use a CDN? My recommendation is that you don’t have to use a CDN unless you have a LOT of images on your pages.

For normal websites, blogs, corporate websites that don’t heavily use images, it is enough to follow the other optimization guidelines.

If you have a high traffic eCommerce website with many images then a CDN may worth it, otherwise, you can still get great page loading speeds without it.

12. Optimize your DB

Behind the scenes, all CMS platforms use a database server and most of them are using MySQL, MariaDB or SQL Server. A slow database server will slow down your website.

WordPress is based on a MySQL Database. While you don’t need to know any other technical details, what you need to understand is that by adding/deleting content/posts to your website, the database gets bigger and at some point is good to do some maintenance work.

This involves things like:

  • Deleting unnecessary post revisions (every time you click ‘Save Draft’, a version of the post or page is kept to the DB).
  • Deleting spam comments.
  • Re-indexing the database tables (don’t worry if you don’t know what this is).
  • Removing unnecessary table
  • Optimizing tables

Performing these actions regularly will reduce the size of your DB and it will run smoother and faster.

Again, the best way to do this is through a plugin. I use wp-rocket but there are other alternatives like wp-optimize.

13. Use Google Page Speed Module

 If you are on a VPS, then an alternative to using a caching plugin is to use Google Page Speed Module. This is a piece of software developed by Google that is installed on your webserver and takes care of caching and optimizing your HTML and CSS without having to do any changes to your website.

I have tested this on a number of websites and it works well but the downside of this is that you need the help of your hosting provider to install the module of your web server and some technical knowledge to configure it correctly.

If you want to play with it and test it, you can read all about it here.

14. Upgrade your CMS software and plugins

It’s always a good practice to keep your CMS software and plugins/add-ons up-to-date.

All software providers are constantly trying to improve the security and performance of their software and to take advantage of this, you need to ensure that you’re using the latest versions.

Don’t forget to take a website backup before performing upgrades. Sometimes, new versions create issues and it’s always good to have an older version you can go back to.

15. Upgrade to the latest version of PHP

This is a highly technical task but one that can make a HUGE difference in your pagespeed, even without making any other changes to your website.

PHP is the programming language used by major CMS (including WordPress). Over the years, the developers behind PHP are trying to improve its performance and newer versions load much faster than older versions.

Check with your hosting provider the version of PHP you’re using and consult with a developer on what it takes to update your website to the latest version.

Have in mind that besides speed improvements, PHP versions have other differences as well and switching to a newer version without thoroughly testing your website may be catastrophic.

On the other hand, if you do the procedure correctly with the help of a developer, all your website code can be migrated correctly and you can take advantage of the speed improvements.

To give you an idea of the speed gains, have a look at the PHP benchmarks below.

PHP Speed Comparison
PHP Speed Comparison

How to accurately measure your page speed?

While so far we have talked about ways to improve your page loading speed, the only way to know if your changes are working positively or not is to use a couple of page speed tools and analyze the results.

Measuring your website speed before and after the changes will help you identify exactly where the problem is (or the areas you have improved).

The tools we’ll use for this task are:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test

Google Page Speed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a free tool offered by Google. The tool analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.

Go to PageSpeed Insights and type in your domain name or the URL of a particular page and click ANALYZE.

Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights

What you see is the speed performance of your website for both Mobile and Desktop as well as a number of suggestions from Google on how to improve your performance.

A few things to know about PageSpeed Insights reports:

A page score is a number calculated using Google lighthouse data. If you want to learn the technical details, you can read the formula here.

The higher the score you can get the better.

Don’t expect that you can get a 100% score, it’s very difficult for the average website to achieve this.

The page score is not directly related to Google rankings. In other words, it does not mean that pages with a higher score, will rank better than a page with a lower score.

As explained above, Google is using a different approach (by grouping websites into two major categories), when it comes to page speed and rankings.

Don’t be over-obsessed with the page score. What is more important is the actual time it takes for your pages to load in real-life scenarios and not your PageSpeed insights score.

Use PageSpeed score as a KPI to measure the effectiveness of your page improvement changes (before and after making a change).

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Pingdom PageSpeed Recommendations
Pingdom PageSpeed Recommendations

Pingdom Website Speed Test analyses a page on your website and gives you a number of useful metrics including:

  • How many seconds it takes for the page to load
  • The total size of your page (in MB)
  • The number of requests executed until a page is fully loaded
  • How long each page element took to load

What is nice about this tool is that you can take speed measurements and see how your website is performing in different geographical locations.

This is useful when you are located in a different country than your target audience.

A few things to know about Pingdom reports:

The most important metric is the LOAD TIME. This is the actual time in seconds your website loads from the specified location.

Look at the PAGE SIZE and try to keep it below 1.5MB. The bigger the page size the more time it takes for the page to load.

Look at the FILE REQUESTS section and find out which website elements take more time to load. Go through the list carefully and spot any scripts or CSS files that shouldn’t be loaded for the particular URL and get the help of a developer to remove them.

For example, if you’re using WooCommerce, you’ll notice that it loads a number of CSS and JS files on pages that are not needed.  Removing them from the pages that don’t actually use them, will make those pages faster. The same applies to a number of plugins.

Key Learnings

Page speed is important and something that you need to check on a regular basis. It’s not a one-time task. As your website grows both in content and traffic, you need to periodically check your website’s load speed (especially for your popular pages), and take actions where necessary to improve it.

Making use of a good caching plugin will help you solve a number of speed problems and if you also take care of your image sizes then your webpage loading speed will dramatically improve.

Keeping your CMS and all plugins up to date is also important since new versions are more likely to include speed improvements.

Finally, use the two tools mentioned above to take measurements from different geographical locations to ensure that the majority of your users can access your website fast with no unnecessary delays.

The post How to Increase Page Speed (Easy Guide) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

Subscription Fatigue

Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Subscription Fatigue

Subscription Management

I have active subscriptions with about a half-dozen different news & finance sites along with about a half dozen software tools, but sometimes using a VPN or web proxy across different web browsers makes logging in to all of them & clearing cookies for some paywall sites a real pain.

If you don’t subscribe to any outlets then subscribing to an aggregator like Apple News+ can make a lot of sense, but it is very easy to end up with dozens of forgotten subscriptions.

Winner-take-most Market Stratification

The news business is coming to resemble other tech-enabled businesses where a winner takes most. The New York Times stock, for instance, is trading at 15 year highs & they recently announced they are raising subscription prices:

The New York Times is raising the price of its digital subscription for the first time, from $15 every four weeks to $17 — from about $195 to $221 a year.

With a Trump re-election all but assured after the Russsia, Russia, Russia garbage, the party-line impeachment (less private equity plunderer Mitt Romney) & the ridiculous Iowa primary, many NYT readers will pledge their #NeverTrumpTwice dollars with the New York Times.

If you think politics looks ridiculous today, wait until you see some of the China-related ads in a half-year as the 2019 novel coronavirus spreads around the world.

Arresting a doctor who warned about the outbreak doesn’t have good optics, particularly after hundreds of other deaths piled up from it & when he later died from from the virus.

The optics keep getting worse.

How does a broad-based news site compete with the user generated Tweets in such a zone?

And any widely known individual journalist who builds a large audience might get disappeared.

Twitter recently surpassed $1 billion in quarterly revenues, but time spent on Twitter is time not spent on other news websites.

McClatchy filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Outside of a few core winners, the news business online has been so brutal that even Warren Buffett is now a seller. As the economics get uglier news sites get more extreme with ad placements, user data sales, and pushing subscriptions. Some of these aggressive monetization efforts make otherwise respectable news outlets look like part of a very downmarket subset of the web.

Users Fight Back

Users have thus adopted to blocking ads & are also starting to ramp up blocking paywall notifications.

Each additional layer of technological complexity is another cost center publishers have to fund, often through making the user experience of their sites worse, which in turn makes their own sites less differentiated & inferior to the copies they have left across the web (via AMP, via Facebook Instant Articles, syndication in Apple News or on various portal sites like MSN or Yahoo!).

A Web Browser For Every Season

Google Chrome is spyware, so I won’t recommend installing that.

Here Google’s official guide on how to remove the spyware.

The easiest & most basic solution which works across many sites using metered paywalls is to have multiple web browsers installed on your computer. Have a couple browsers which are used exclusively for reading news articles when they won’t show up in your main browser & set those web browsers to delete cookies on close. Or open the browsers in private mode and search for the URL of the page from Google to see if that allows access.

  • If you like Firefox there are other iterations from other players like Pale Moon, Comodo IceDragon or Waterfox using their core.
  • If you like Google Chrome then Chromium is the parallel version of it without the spyware baked in. The Chromium project is also the underlying source used to build about a dozen other web browsers including: Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, Cilqz, Blisk, Comodo Dragon, SRWare Iron, Yandex Browser & many others. Even Microsoft recently switched their Edge browser to being powered by the Chromium project. The browsers based on the Chromium store allow you to install extensions from the Chrome web store.
  • Some web browsers monetize users by setting affiliate links on the home screen and/or by selling the default search engine recommendation. You can change those once and they’ll typically stick with whatever settings you use.
  • For some browsers I use for regular day to day web use I set them up to continue session on restart, and I have a session manager plugin like this one for Firefox or this one for Chromium-based browsers. For browsers which are used exclusively for reading paywall blocked articles I set them up to clear cookies on restart.

Bypassing Paywalls

There are a couple solid web browser plugins built specifically for bypassing paywalls.

Academic Journals

Unpaywall is an open database of around 25,000,000 free scholarly articles. They provide extensions for Firefox and Chromium based web browsers on their website.

News Articles

There is also one for news publications called bypass paywalls.

  • Mozilla Firefox: To install the Firefox version go here.
  • Chrome-like web browsers: To install the Chrome version of the extension in Opera or Chromium or Microsoft Edge you can download the extension here, enter developer mode inside the extensions area of your web browser & install extension. To turn developer mode on, open up the drop down menu for the browser, click on extensions to go to the extension management area, and then slide the “Developer mode” button to the right so it is blue.

Regional Blocking

If you travel internationally some websites like YouTube or Twitter or news sites will have portions of their content restricted to only showing in some geographic regions. This can be especially true for new sports content and some music.

These can be bypassed by using a VPN service like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Witopia or IPVanish. Some VPN providers also sell pre-configured routers. If you buy a pre-configured router you can use an ethernet switch or wifi to switch back and forth between the regular router and the VPN router.

You can also buy web proxies & enter them into the Foxy Proxy web browser extension (Firefox or Chromium-compatible) with different browsers set to default to different country locations, making it easier to see what the search results show in different countries & cities quickly.

If you use a variety of web proxies you can configure some of them to work automatically in an open source rank tracking tool like Serposcope.

The Future of Journalism

I think the future of news is going to be a lot more sites like Ben Thompson’s Stratechery or Jessica Lessin’s TheInformation & far fewer broad/horizontal news organizations. Things are moving toward the 1,000 true fans or perhaps 100 true fans model:

This represents a move away from the traditional donation model—in which users pay to benefit the creator—to a value model, in which users are willing to pay more for something that benefits themselves. What was traditionally dubbed “self-help” now exists under the umbrella of “wellness.” People are willing to pay more for exclusive, ROI-positive services that are constructive in their lives, whether it’s related to health, finances, education, or work. In the offline world, people are accustomed to hiring experts across verticals

A friend of mine named Terry Godier launched a conversion-oriented email newsletter named Conversion Gold which has done quite well right out of the gate, leading him to launch IndieMailer, a community for paid newsletter creators.

The model which seems to be working well for those sorts of news sites is…

  • stick to a tight topic range
  • publish regularly at a somewhat decent frequency like daily or weekly, though have a strong preference to quality & originality over quantity
  • have a single author or a small core team which does most the writing and expand editorial hiring slowly
  • offer original insights & much more depth of coverage than you would typically find in the mainstream news
  • Rely on WordPress or a low-cost CMS & billing technology partner like Substack, Memberful, sell on a marketplace like Udemy, Podia or Teachable, or if they have a bit more technical chops they can install aMember on their own server. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I opened up a membership site about a decade back was hand rolling custom code for memberhsip management. At one point we shut down the membership site for a while in order to allow us to rip out all that custom code & replace it with aMember.
  • Accept user comments on pieces or integrate a user forum using something like Discord on a subdomain or a custom Slack channel. Highlight or feature the best comments. Update readers to new features via email.
  • Invest much more into obtaining unique data & sources to deliver new insights without spending aggressively to syndicate onto other platforms using graphical content layouts which would require significant design, maintenance & updating expenses
  • Heavily differentiate your perspective from other sources
  • maintain a low technological maintenance overhead
  • low cost monthly subscription with a solid discount for annual pre-payment
  • instead of using a metered paywall, set some content to require payment to read & periodically publish full-feature free content (perhaps weekly) to keep up awareness of the offering in the broader public to help offset churn.

Some also work across multiple formats with complimentary offerings. The Ringer has done well with podcasts & Stratechery also has the Exponent podcast.

There are a number of other successful online-only news subscription sites like TheAthletic & Bill Bishop’s Sinocism newsletter about China, but I haven’t subscribed to them yet. Many people support a wide range of projects on platforms like Patreon & sites like MasterClass with an all-you-can-eat subscription will also make paying for online content far more common.

Categories: 

Squarespace SEO for People Who Don’t Know SEO

Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Squarespace SEO for People Who Don’t Know SEO

I can’t tell you how many people I know who have built or want to build their own site. These are regular people with basic computer skills, not web developer experts. One of the most user-friendly web builders available is Squarespace.

According to Builtwith.com, Squarespace hosts over 1.9 million live websites. Recently they’ve been making a big publicity push, even landing a Superbowl commercial. This past year Squarespace posted an extensive SEO user guide about their built-in functions and how to best utilize each one, making their platform great for SEO. However, this is assuming that the users know what SEO is and how to implement it.

I recognized this problem and decided to write this post. In it, I define the many Squarespace specific words and terms, what they mean as pertains to SEO, and how to best use them. For anyone looking to improve their Squarespace website visibility, improve user experience, or wanting a better understanding of SEO, this post should help.

Squarespace SEO Contents

I would like to note that I am not affiliated in any way with Squarespace. My goal is to help users better understand the platform and general SEO knowledge.

How to Use Keywords for Squarespace SEO

To help your website rank, use keywords in your site title, headings and descriptions. Below I go more in-depth about how to do this, specifically in Squarespace. If you’re already familiar with the importance of SEO keywords and usage, feel free to skip to the section on SEO titles.

Keywords & Ranking

One of the most important SEO tools are keywords, which are words and phrases that searchers enter into Google or other search engines. Keywords that you type into search bar are also called “search queries”. These words and phrases should be researched and planned out for the pages that you want to appear in search results. For a step-by-step keyword research strategy, check out Moz’s Keyword Research guide

Keywords are a big contributor to whether you show up in search results, or “ranking”. If you use accurate, well-researched keywords on your website, it greatly increases the chances of ranking for the keywords used.

Also, keep in mind, you should use different or unique keywords for each page of your website to avoid competition between your pages. For example, if your website sells custom T-shirts and you want to rank for the keyword “custom T-shirts”, the best practice is to choose one page (usually the homepage) for that primary keyword. Then assign other keywords to the other pages. If you have a page for women’s T-shirts, you could use the keyword “women’s custom T-shirts” for that page.

Keyword Research

When researching keywords, sometimes it’s difficult to know which ones will rank and how often a keyword is searched. The search volume (SV) is the frequency that a keyword is used in a query, typically calculated by the number of searches per month. The more often a keyword is used per month, the higher the SV and, usually, the more competitive the keyword.

A good place to start when researching keywords is typing in queries into the search bar to see what pops up. Using our custom T-shirt example, some suggested terms will appear when you start typing into the search bar. This is a good indication of whether searchers are using specific keywords.

Google suggests search terms when you type in keywords

Another tool to use is the related searches section at the bottom of a results page. When you type in “custom t shirts”, scroll to the bottom of the first page and you’ll see a list of other related terms. These are other keywords related to your primary keyword that you can consider using.

Related search terms appear at the bottom of the results page

If you’re still unsure whether to use a certain word for phrase, ask yourself two questions: 1) is this keyword relevant to my page content? and 2) would a searcher use this term if they want to find my website? Often times thinking like the searcher can help you decide which keywords to use.

For other free tools that you can use, check out these keyword research tools on ahrefs.com.

SEO Titles, Site Titles, Page Titles, Oh My!

In Squarespace, the “site title”, “SEO title” and “page title” have different functions and appear on-page, in browser tabs, and on the search results page. To understand the differences, we must first talk about “title tags”.

Title tags are an SEO term. They are HTML elements that indicate to search engines the title of a webpage. The searcher sees them as the blue text in search results. 

Title tags are the blue text in search results page.

Site Titles

In Squarespace, the “site title” is the name of your website, and appears at the top of your homepage. It also appears on the browser tab and search results page. The site title is your default title tag for your homepage.

Where titles appear on-page in your Squarespace website

It’s important to note that SEO does not differentiate between title tags by page type because they all function the same way. However, SS probably makes this distinction to make it more approachable for their users.

Let’s use an example. Our friends at bonjourbitchesblog.com use Squarespace to host their website, and they have agreed to let us analyze their basic SEO features. “Bonjour, bitches” is a pop culture, style and humor blog website. Their current site title reads “bonjour, bitches”, so their default site title comes up in search results as below.

Site titles that are not changed will show in search results like this

SEO Titles

You can add a separate “SEO title”, which as the name implies, is for SEO purposes. If you add an alternate title here, it shows up on the browser tab and in search results. In this case, the SEO title becomes the title tag for that page.

Why should you add an SEO title to your pages? This is where keywords come into play. Using well-research keywords in the title tag can 1) help the website show up in search results, and 2) increase likelihood of searchers clicking on the page. 

Using keywords in the SEO title signals the search engine what the website is about. We’ll do a quick keyword search for “bonjour, bitches” website to see what they could use as their primary keyword. When we type in “pop culture blog” into Google some potential keywords show in the search suggestions and related searches. From these, we can get a better sense of what searchers might use as search queries.

Suggested keywords for “pop culture blog”

“Pop culture blog” related search terms

SEO titles also help searchers understand what a webpage contains. If the site title remains unchanged, visitors who are unfamiliar with the “bonjour,bitches” brand won’t know what the website is about, which means they will less likely click on their link. But if we use keywords in the SEO title it will help searchers understand the website content. 

If we change the SEO title to “Pop Culture, Style & Humor Blog | bonjour bitches”, searchers will see the below in the results page. They will have a better sense of what to expect when they click on the link.

More descriptive site title helps users and search engines understand your website

Page Titles

In SEO, page titles and site titles (title tags) are synonymous. In Squarespace, page titles are the titles that show on each page of your website (not to be confused with “on-page titles” or more commonly known in SEO as “heading 1” or “header 1”, which we will discuss further below). 

On the Squarespace website, they explain that “some templates” will display page titles, and if you do not add an SEO title then the default page title appears in the browser tab and search results. As previously discussed, if you want different text to show on page versus search results, then you have to manually change it.

Heading Tags

We mentioned on-page titles earlier, which in SEO has a different name: “heading 1” or “header 1” (h1). SS also has a headings function that their users can customize on-page. They briefly explain heading tags and why it’s important for SEO, but their users also have to know to add this function. I would postulate that many SS users, especially ones with little SEO experience, don’t know they should do this, which is why this point is so important. Heading tags, especially h1 tags, are crucial for better visitor experience and help improve your website ranking. 

Let me explain a little bit about how h1 tags work. When you add a heading 1 (h1) on your webpage, the site visitor will see it as an on-page “title”, because it’s usually at the top of the page with the most prominent or bolded text. Search engines see a corresponding <h1> HTML code in the website’s source code, with the same h1 text that’s on-page. Essentially, both the visitor and search engine see the same h1 for that page, but in different formats. 

Keeping this in mind, it’s best practice to have a keyword-rich, unique h1 for each page of your website. If you have the same or similar h1 tags for multiple pages, the search engine will be confused about which page matches the visitor query best, which means your pages will be competing with each other. 

How to Add Heading 1 in Squarespace

To add h1 tags in Squarespace you will have to go into each page and change the formatting of the on-page text. Yes, this can be a lot of manual work, but keep in mind that you most likely will only do this once for each page, and every new page you add to your website.

An important thing to note is that many of Squarespace website templates have built-in heading tag features. This means that when you fill in on-page content like site titles and blog post titles, it will automatically generate h1 tags for you. However, not all templates do this, and SS provides a table of which template families are the exceptions.

Squarespace template table shows which have built-in heading tags

Using our example again, the “bonjour, bitches” website uses the “Skye” template. Unfortunately we can see that Skye is NOT one of the templates that automatically generates h1 tags. The site title on the homepage does not create an h1 tag, which means you have to manually add one to the page. 

Squarespace Skype template has no built-in h1 tags

bonjour bitches homepage has no h1 tag

For individual blog pages on the website, the Skye template will generate h2 tags from the on-page titles. This isn’t necessarily bad for SEO, but search engines deem <h1> more important than <h2>. Think of it this way: if the webpage were a book, the h1 is the book title and the h2 is a chapter title within that book. The search engine sees that h2 tag without any context, so it’s much harder to understand what the webpage is about.

The key takeaway here is this: if your Squarespace template does not have built-in h1 tags, then you should manually insert them on each page. Or, if you haven’t decided on a template yet, choose one that has built-in h1 tags to make your life easier.

SEO Site Descriptions and Page Descriptions

Squarespace uses the terms “SEO site description” and “SEO description” to talk about that short description you see in search results underneath the title tag. In SEO this is called a “meta description”. Meta descriptions are good for SEO because it affects the click-through-rate for your website, which indirectly affects how well you rank.

Meta description is what you see underneath title tags in search results

Click-through-rate (CTR) is a percentage of how often a link is clicked on when it appears in search results. Web pages that have a high CTR signal to search engines that the page is highly relevant to the search query, which means it will rank higher.

From a recent study, pages with meta descriptions get 5.8% more clicks than those without a description. So it’s important to have keyword-rich, highly relevant meta descriptions for pages that you want to rank and searchers to click on.

In Squarespace, both “SEO site description” and “SEO description” are the same as meta description. The distinguishing factor is, SEO site description represents your homepage, while the SEO description represents all other pages. SS probably differentiates between pages for better user comprehension, but in SEO, meta descriptions on all pages are treated the same.

Missing meta description in search result page

In Squarespace, you must manually add the SEO site descriptions and SEO descriptions, or that content will be missing. As above, meta descriptions affect CTR for your web page, so it’s best practice to add them for every page.

Manually enter SEO site description for your homepage. Image taken from Squarespace

Some templates in SS also have “page descriptions”, which appear as on-page text and will show up in search results as the meta description for that page. Not all templates have page descriptions, so check this table to see if yours does. 

Website Navigation: Building a Site Header

SS uses the term “header” and “site header” to describe the on-page navigation, which should not be confused with page headings (h1). This is where your site title, logo and website navigation will live, including links. In SEO, the main navigation should be clear, concise and intuitive. The more easily a visitor can navigate and find what they’re looking for, the better the overall experience and more likely they will return to your website. You can read more about website navigation basics here.

SquareSpace SEO Words to Know

For reference, I have created a table of “SquareSpace SEO” terms and their SEO industry equivalent (or close match). These are all the Squarespace terms we’ve covered in this post.

SquareSpace (SS) Term SEO Term Where it appears Meaning
Site title Title tag At the top corner of each page. It also appears in the browser tab and can appear in search results page This is the name of your website homepage or main page. It is also the search results title by default. This can be text, a logo or thumbnail image file
SEO title Title tag or Page title In the search results page and browser tabs (if the user adds it) This title replaces the site title when you want different text to show in search results. You can add this to all pages on your website.
Page title Title tag or Page title *some pages at the top of page For *some templates, this shows on individual pages and in search results if there’s no SEO title assigned
Heading tags Headings, Headers (h1, h2, etc.) On-page at the top of page (e.g., blog post title) Headings are the on-page titles that also show up in the page source code as <h1>, <h2>, etc. They help visitors and search engines understand the page content
SEO site description Meta Description

*homepage*

Search results page Short description that appears in search results that says what that page contains.

*in SS this is only for the homepage*

SEO description Meta Description *all pages* Search results page Short description that appears in search results that says what that page contains

*in SS this is for individual pages or collection pages (products, blog posts, etc)*

Page descriptions Meta Description

*on-page description*

On-page content and

search results page

On-page description on individual pages, this will also appear in search results if SEO description is not added

*in SS only some templates have this feature*

Header (Navigation) Navigation Bar

or

Main Navigation

On-page, usually at the top This helps website visitors find what they’re looking for on a website. It usually includes anchor text/links to other pages on your website

There are many other facets of SEO that aren’t covered here, but I hope this helps users better navigate Squarespace and improve their website visibility. For those who want to learn more about SEO best practices, I’ve listed some resources below to help you get started.

What Readers Want During COVID-19: Content Ideas for Every Niche

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What Readers Want During COVID-19: Content Ideas for Every Niche

Posted by amandamilligan

This is a stressful time to say the least. Everything is impacted by COVID-19 in some way, including our work.

Once we’ve taken time to acknowledge how lucky we are to work in digital, it’s time to assess if our current content strategy needs any adjusting based on current events.

Many marketers are finding themselves:

  • Wanting to write about something topical
  • Needing to add more content to their calendars
  • At a loss for how to contribute at a time like this

So, I spent hours using Ubersuggest, putting myself in the shoes of various Americans. I tested a variety of keywords to see which ones have exhibited a trend during the COVID-19 outbreak and might warrant some attention from content marketers.

The results below are for the term “Coronavirus,” so for the other keywords identified, I looked for a noticeable spike in the months of January, February, and March to make sure they matched up accordingly.

My findings reveal potential topic ideas for several primary industries. See if any provide inspiration for high-quality content you can create in the coming months.

    Travel

    I’ll start with one of the industries hardest hit by this pandemic: travel. This was a tough one, as more and more people are understandably opting for driving, walking, or biking to get around, and are no longer relying on air travel or public transportation as trips and work get cancelled. However, I identified a few key opportunities.

    Travel insurance

    While it had an increase in the summer months, interest in the topic of travel insurance has risen back up again. Perhaps those who have to travel want to make sure they’re covered if they get sick, or maybe those who canceled travel want to see what their insurance covers.

    In either case, people are looking for information about travel insurance and how it can help them.

    Train travel

    It seems that train travel falls into an ambiguous category that people are asking about. I’m not here to say whether it’s safe or not (as that is obviously not my area of expertise). As we’ve all heard, it’s best not to travel at all, but perhaps your brand can offer some clarity in this regard and offer alternatives.

    Virtual travel

    For everyone stuck at home but still grappling with wanderlust, how can they still explore from the couch? Virtual travel seems to be gaining popularity as more people find themselves stuck at home.

    Work and education

    In some cases, companies and schools have gone from in-person to virtual nearly overnight. It’s been a huge shakeup across the board, and relevant topics are trending accordingly.

    Homeschooling

    Many kids are home from school, and their parents are suddenly and unexpectedly in the position of teaching them. They’re sure to have a lot of questions! Note how the search level now is the same as the summer months, when kids are also home.

    Free online courses

    With all plans essentially cancelled as a result of “social distancing,” people are looking for ways to spend their time at home. If you offer online courses, consider amplifying them and explaining their value. If you don’t, consider whether it makes sense to create one.

    Working from home tips

    Executives and staff alike are looking for advice on how to improve productivity while working from home, perhaps for the first time. Consider creating content with suggestions on how to set up a home office or maintain a schedule while dealing with at-home distractions.

    How to stay focused

    Whether it’s because people are working or studying at home for the first time or because they’re anxious and distracted by the developing events, more and more people are struggling to stay focused. Can your brand offer anything by way of motivation or tools for focus and efficiency?

    Entertainment

    Everyone’s at home either trying to distract themselves from the stressful reality of the world or looking to cure their boredom. As a result, online entertainment is on the rise. Can you offer the entertainment itself, or maybe guides on how to choose the best entertainment?

    Free streaming

    We’re stuck with digital for now, and people are looking for new media to consume. What can your brand provide? Also trending: “cheap digital games” and “best multiplayer video games”.

    Learn to play piano online

    Some folks are using their newfound free time to work on hobbies and skills they haven’t had the chance to pursue in the past. Can your brand teach them anything?

    Best online shopping deals

    This is particularly interesting to me. Keyword rates for this term are as high as they were over the holidays. I’m wondering if people who still have disposable income will pass the time online shopping, while others who are more financially impacted will cut back, leaving things at a net equal?

    Finance

    Aside from the health and safety of the population, finance cuts most to the emotional core of this pandemic. Many people are laid off or can’t work, and financial worry is skyrocketing. What can you do to provide guidance or relief?

    Unemployment

    Many people are unexpectedly looking to file unemployment, and plenty of those people have no idea how to do it, how much money they’ll get, or how to get that information. Informative guides and tips could be hugely helpful in this area.

    Budgeting tips

    With layoffs and pay cuts, people are scrambling to find new ways to save money. Also trending with the same graph results: “How to invest money wisely” — most likely because of the fluctuating stock market. Can you provide insight?

    Relationships

    When tensions run high, it’s important to pay attention to all the relationships in your life, meaning several subtopics in this vertical can be of vital importance.

    At home date ideas

    Couples stuck inside are looking for ways to keep up their romantic lives. Does it make sense for your brand to provide dating or relationships tips at an unprecedented time like this?

    Reconnecting with friends

    Physically, we’re all practicing social distancing, but we shouldn’t be virtually disconnecting from the people in our lives. It looks like people are wondering if they should take advantage of this free time to reconnect with old friends. Can your brand offer advice on the topic, or possibly a forum for those connections to happen?

    How to make your parents understand how you feel

    There are a lot of jokes going around about Gen Zs and Millennials trying to convince their Boomer parents to stay inside. But the jokes are for a reason: Many people are having tough conversations for the first time with family that they aren’t entirely sure how to navigate. Could you provide some helpful tips to approach these conversations?

    Health and fitness

    Health is, unsurprisingly, a vital category right now. Rather than getting into some of the most obvious things (like hand washing, hand sanitizer, etc.), I’ll try to cover some other popular topics that might be useful.

    How to get health insurance

    Similar to “unemployment” above, this is probably a response to people losing their jobs who are now unsure how they can get health insurance. What other concerns might these people have that you can help with?

    Indoor workouts

    People might have to stay home, but they’re also trying to stay healthy. How can you assist them in this endeavor?

    Also trending: “how to start running”, indicating that solitary outdoor exercise is key, too.

    How to strengthen immune system

    People are concerned about their health and want to do whatever they can to protect themselves from COVID-19. However, only dive into this subject matter if your brand is a legitimate medical expert. False information can damage lives.

    Also trending: “healthy diet”.

    Journaling

    Don’t forget about mental health, which is also being affected by the pandemic. People are stressed, anxious, worried, and, well, scared. Does it make sense for your brand to provide guidance on how to emotionally or mentally approach this day and age?

    Also trending: “meditation”.

    Home and family

    In many cases, entire families are at home, every day, for the first time since the kids were old enough to be in school. That can lead to some interesting challenges.

    Natural cleaning products

    In an effort to keep the house clean, people may be looking for guidance on the best type of supplies to use. Could you make a list of the most effective products?

    Also trending: “organic cleaning products”.

    Family recipes

    Everyone’s at home for all their meals and trying to avoid restaurants, so they probably need more recipes in their arsenal. Maybe your employees have favorite family recipes you could share with your readers.

    Games to play with kids

    Parents are used to this over the summer, but not when it’s sprung on them for an indefinite period of time. How can your brand give them ideas and tools to entertain their kids while they’re home?

    Also trending: “family conversation starters”.

    Conclusion

    To round out this study, I want to show the results for “uplifting stories.”

    If you’re not responsible for delivering breaking news or important COVID-19 updates, look for opportunities to amplify joy, gratitude, hope, or any other positive emotion. People are looking for health and safety updates, but they’re looking for inspiration, too.

    Consider how any of these topics might apply to your brand, do some further exploring in the Moz Keyword Explorer, and focus on creating a content plan you feel confident in.

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