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Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev

Posted by on Feb 15, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev

Oleg Shchgolev, CEO and Co-founder of SEMrush, also created SEOquake that was released in 2006. SEOquake was the inspiration to creating something more complex. Then SEMrush was born with the help of his partner, Dimitri Melnikov.

Today, SEMrush has 10 years in the market with 500 employees, revenues close to 100 million, and about 2 million users worldwide.

I had the pleasure to interview Oleg, including some questions beyond Search.

KT: What type of inspiration, vision, and loyalty did you see in Dmitri Melnikov that made you want to go in business with him?

OS: First and foremost, Dima is my friend. Second, he is a SEMrush co-founder; he’s been here right from the very beginning. We have always believed in the product that we’ve been working on and I totally admire him as my friend, my colleague, and co-founder.

We make most decisions together as CEO & co-CEO. Our temperaments are mutually reinforcing and this contributes greatly in allowing us to make balanced and informed decisions.

KT: How is your relationship with your partner Dmitri Melnikov?

OS: I’ve known Dmitri for more than 30 years. We grew up in the same neighborhood; we started programming together and over time our friendship expanded into a business partnership. We’ve gone through lots of ups and downs together.

KT: To be successful in the tech industry do you consider a person has to go to college or can they be self-taught?

OS: Formal education greatly enhances discipline and concentration, helps you socialize and find the right and important people — to network, if you like.

But a lot of leaders I know are self-taught. Back when I was a student, people had pretty much no idea what SEO was, or how important (and complicated) it would become over the years. Students should be aware that their knowledge gets outdated fast. They need to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to continuing self-education.

The IT industry is developing extremely quickly. That’s not to say that college education is not needed at all (it definitely doesn’t hurt to learn some basic stuff in college), but other than that…like I said, I don’t deem formal training to be absolutely essential. With all the online courses and workshops, it’s possible to study everything remotely.

KT: Does SEMrush have corporate social responsibility initiatives? Such as giving scholarships for people that dream with tech careers? Or any other?

OS: At the moment, we work closely with American and European universities and give students the opportunity to explore SEMrush. While learning digital marketing, they familiarize themselves with our tools and work on their projects with the help of SEMrush. Representatives of our company give a lot of master-classes to students, providing them with the insights about digital marketing.

We organize a lot of meetups, roundtables and conferences on digital marketing and agile. We always welcome other IT companies to take part in such events. Lots of lectures, a great deal of useful insight, plenty of opportunities for networking — these are just a few reasons to come by our events.

On a different note, we certainly care about ecological sustainability. We are going to implement waste separation in all our offices and  we encourage our employees to cycle to work to reduce CO2 emission.

It goes without saying that we give people the opportunity to work with us on paid internships. Pretty often, former interns become our full-time employees. We have plans for a large project on how to help novice specialists find work in the digital sphere, but we won’t reveal the details yet

KT: Where is SEMrush headed in the next 5 years?

OS: We are definitely going to add more features to SEMrush, while enhancing our content tools, along with local SEO and traffic analytics (Competitive Intelligence 2.0). We want to ensure that we remain the leading digital marketing software.

As for strategic plans, we are going to strengthen our global brand. At the moment we’re working diligently to enter emerging markets such as China — right now, we are updating our databases to cover Baidu data.

We’ll also introduce tools that help figure out how to rank better on Amazon and optimize for voice search.

This is just a minor part of what is coming. There are a lot of other things we are working on, but we’ll keep them quiet for a while! Hint: 2019 is going to be a big year for us.

KT: What are your biggest pain points as SEO thought-leader? What additional support/buy-in do you think most companies struggle with to get on board? Does this result in limiting their growth opportunities?

OS: SEO is multidimensional and its development is extremely rapid. 5 years ago we couldn’t even imagine that image search or voice search would be everywhere. Such technological growth involves non-stop education and creative thinking, both from my side as a thought-leader and from the side of companies trying to get on board.

One more indispensable thing to get on board successfully is to have some unique feature, to understand your uniqueness and, crucially, to communicate that knowledge to your audience. Such an environment of extrinsic value, created for your customers, will also help build strong and long-term relationships with them and will directly affect customer retention.

KT: What will impact the traditional SEO from Voice search devices in the coming years?

OS: The share of voice searches is growing, along with the amount of voice-activated smart speakers. Naturally, voice searches are different from the searches that are typed — the former are longer and the wording is different — more conversational.

Voice search is about questions, prepositions, and comparisons – the same as with featured snippets . If it’s not an informational query, people are likely to search for location-based info.

Backlinko’s study claims that 40.7% of answers come from the featured snippet. Our SEO clients are putting more and more emphasis on this feature. Questions, prepositions, and comparisons dominate featured snippet results. A whopping 52% of questions have featured snippets.

KT: Can we get a dashboard or report on voice search?

OS: There’s no single dashboard or report on voice search in SEMrush (at least for now) but some of our tools help find solutions for voice search optimization. For instance, featured snippet checks or mobile devices optimization — this contributes to voice search ranking.

KT: What’s the most popular SEMrush feature and why?

OS: Everyone loves us for Keywords Research tools, but there is so much more to SEMrush.

KT: What’s a feature of SEMrush that is less utilized and why?

OS: The features that are available in the Admin Mode only =)

KT: What is diversity like in the tech industry? Do you think there is gender bias in the tech industry?

OS: Judging by what the media says, there are indeed a lot of problems with diversity in the tech industry.  In SEMrush we want our company to be equally welcoming to people of any race or gender. About half of SEMrush C-level employees are women and we believe they are awesome specialists who help make SEMrush an industry-leading company.

Closing thoughts

My favorite answer is the last one because I am an advocate for equality and inclusivity.

In my conversation with Oleg I also learned that SEMrush’s headquarters is now in Boston.

To summarize the success of SEMrush, it is based on a great communication within its talented partners, a great culture of inclusivity, and the amazing people that work there.

The post Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Voice Search Optimization is the way to go!  5 changes you need to make to your website in 2019

Posted by on Feb 14, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Voice Search Optimization is the way to go!  5 changes you need to make to your website in 2019

Voice Search Optimization is the way to go!  5 changes you need to make to your website in 2019

Who can believe that it is nearly 8 years since Siri came into our lives? Immediately, we all loved it, finding the new technology fun and practical, albeit with a few funny results at times!  And the truth is, we probably thought that it would stay where it was, never growing into being a major digital trend that would affect all types of user searches.

Voice search is here to stay

Siri has now been joined by Alexa, Cortana and a few more and is now consistently being used on mobile devices. The use of voice assistants is certainly growing when it comes to being able to use simple commands and the potential for this to transform into search marketing is huge.

Google tells us that since 2013, voice recognition accuracy has improved by 95%. Their research shows that people use voice search because it is so easy.  It enables them to multitask, receiving answers much faster and not having to waste time typing.

Voice search optimization and marketing

This brings us to businesses.  Voice search optimization is hugely important as people often use it to ask questions about a business they need to locate or identify.  Whatever type of company you have, you should be looking to optimize your website in order to deal with voice search queries.  Whilst it is possible to get your existing website optimized for voice search, it is much easier to do it from the start.

Stand out head and shoulders above your competitors by focusing on voice search optimization when developing your website and content from day one.

Here are some changes that we recommend you make.

  1. Keyword research and voice search

Queries are not going to work in the same way.  You need to consider semantics and the way that people speak.  A verbal question is going to be totally different from a search engine typed request i.e.

Typed:                  best TV buy 2019

Spoken:                what is the best TV to purchase in 2019?

Think about the questions that will be asked and tie these into your content, focusing more on natural language than on keywords. The trick here is to capture long-tail SEO as a lot of searches made via voice are much longer than text searches.

  1. Website structure and content

When discussing changes to your site with your web designer and content creator, make sure that they know that you want to maximise your new website for voice search capabilities.  Think about the questions that will be asked by voice and then map them out in accordance with what the customer will be looking for on their journey through your website. A good way of doing this is to include FAQ pages into each main section.

  1. Structured data optimization

Always remember that unlike text search, which provides multiple responses, voice search only provides one answer. It is therefore crucial that your content is as attuned as possible to the likely voice queries. Your site also needs to have a sitemap that is submitted to the Google Search Console.  Google also likes it if you use structured data.  Your web designer will add this to the page’s HTML mark-up.  Google then uses this to produce rich snippets i.e. small pieces of information that show in search results.  This can boost your voice search results by ensuring that answers are extremely relevant to the question being asked.

  1. Create Google Actions

Your web designer will likely do this automatically once they begin to focus on voice search optimization.  By creating Google Actions, your content will be made more accessible to the Google Home Assistant.  Similarly, this can be done for Amazon Alexa.  This makes it more relevant when voice commands are used and will make it easier for users to interact with your site, having productive conversations related to your content.

  1. Being mobile friendly

It is worth remembering that the majority of voice searches come from mobile devices. It therefore follows that if you optimize for mobiles, you are also doing so for voice searches.  Being mobile friendly involves such things as improving your site speed. Many voice searches are also location based so always refer to the address of your business as well as the area of coverage. It is also a good idea to list your company via Google My Business. By optimizing your site for mobile SEO, at the same time you will be ensuring that it is ready to cope with an influx of voice related queries.

  1. Be ready for the future

So, is it possible that voice commands will one day take over from written search queries? There is no way to know at the moment, but it is clear to see that voice commands are going to impact upon search marketing in a big way. If you take search engine marketing seriously, then taking steps to optimize your site for voice search should come naturally. Whatever type of business you have, getting your site optimized for voice search should be high on your agenda for things to do.

Staying ahead of the competition

Home voice assistants are going to become even more popular and, as a result, people are tending to use more voice commands on their mobiles.  All the big players are looking at developing new features and capabilities as the demand for voice search increases. Google is already looking at adding data for voice queries to Search Console so this is one new area of technology that will be incredibly useful, providing valuable insight into how users are using your site via voice search.  If you are ready for these future developments and work with a web designer that is always on the lookout for new trends and technology, you can be one step ahead of the competition.

With research showing that by 2020, 50% of searches will be done by voice, you cannot afford not to get your site optimized for voice search.   With the sales of smart speakers, wearable tech and other IoT equipment also escalating, it is clear to see that we are heading into a voice-oriented realm. The way that consumers search has changed incredibly and is on the move again. Just like we moved into a mobile-first arena, voice search is now catching up.

Your next step

If you want your business to keep up with the times, then it is necessary for you to get your website attuned for voice search, whilst optimizing your content at the same time. Voice search optimization may not be the same as traditional SEO, but it still follows the same principles and taking account of it will ensure that your website is able to cope with both voice and wearable tech searches.

By taking note of the information that we have given above and including these approaches into your voice search optimization plans, you will be ready to take advantage of new voice search traffic as it continues to grow.

 

 

17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

There are so many great plugins available, and it’s difficult to choose which are the best for you.

To help you decide which tools will make your work easier and more productive, I’ve asked SEO experts to share what they use.

Per the experts, I compiled this list of 17 of the best plugins and extensions for SEO — and they’re all free.

Here are the top plugins and extensions recommended by experienced SEOs
1. SEO TextOptimizer

Free extension

This plugin is perfect for those who deal with content. SEO TextOptimizer lets you measure the quality of texts you create for your website based on how search engines would evaluate it.

The tool shows you topics you should develop as well as those you’d better eliminate for search robots to understand the text is relevant to the specific queries. The plugin also suggests you a list of words you could add to improve your content. The best thing is that you don’t need great SEO expertise to use it.

2. SEOquake

Free extension

With SEOquake plugin, you can easily analyze your key SEO metrics. Moreover, the tool provides SEO audit, backlinks analysis, and other useful functions.

One of the factors why SEO professionals choose this tool is that you can get a comprehensive analysis of a SERP and even export its results. There’s a bar appearing below each search result which provides you with key metrics such as traffic, Alexa rank, social media shares, etc.

3. BuiltWith

Free extension

This extension lets you find what a website you are visiting at the moment is built with. It’s created to help developers, designers, and researchers to discover the technologies other pages are implementing and choose those they want to use for their sites.

The plugin tracks:

Widgets
Frameworks
Advertising
Publishing
Hosting
Analytics
Content Delivery Network
Document Standards

Experts also say it’s great you can easily get global trends on using specific technologies.

4. Serpstat Plugin

Free extension

It’s an extension which helps you conduct SEO analysis of a page. Serpstat Plugin provides the most critical information on keywords, traffic, and page visibility. You can also get the report on the top 10 keywords for which your page ranks at the top of search results.

Serpstat SEO & Website Analysis Plugin has now three tabs: Page Analysis, On-page SEO parameters, and Domain Analysis. Here are the most crucial parameters you’ll get with the plugin:

Domain’s traffic.
Domain’s visibility trend for a year.
The number of results on Google, Bing, and Baidu.
The number of images on Google Image Search.
Alexa Rank.
Page speed.
Site start date.
Meta tags.
The number of shares on social media networks (Facebook and Pinterest).

The plugin is free, but to use it, you need to create your Serpstat account, if you don’t have one yet.

5. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress plugin

This incredibly popular plugin by Yoast helps experts with on-site SEO needs. The tool will let you:

Add meta keywords, title, and description to your posts.
Provide clear site navigation for crawlers and users.
Analyze your on-page SEO. You can check your content, descriptions, and keywords.
See what your snippets will look like.
Create SEO-friendly Facebook Open Graph.

This WordPress plugin has a very quick and easy-to-use interface.

6. WAVE Evaluation Tool

Free extension

This tool evaluates web content accessibility within Chrome and Firefox browsers. WAVE provides 100% secure and private accessibility reporting. The plugin checks password-protected, intranet, sensitive or dynamically generated web pages.

7. Spark Content Optimizer

Free extension

Spark Content Optimizer is a tool designed to help you develop your site’s search experience. The plugin provides you with easy access to such a crucial data as:

Monthly traffic.
The performance of your site for all the keywords.
The technical audit which analyzes more than 40 hard-to-find issues.
Information on backlink authority.

8. Link Redirect Trace

Free extension

It’s a great tool for tracking redirect path. The tool analyzes HTTP Headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, link power, etc. You can use Link Redirect Trace extension to analyze your competitors, your on-page and off-page SEO, and other critical factors.

Here are the main tasks this plugin can help you cope with:

Identify and fix problems in your on-page/off-page SEO.
Analyze your competitors’ links.
See the redirect chain and fix problems to make your load time faster.
After your site was redesigned or migrated, you can check your links.
Check links from affiliate and advertising networks.

9. Ap – Data Layer Inspector+

Free extension

This plugin is a perfect toolkit for digital analysts. This add-on lets you monitor, debug, get detailed data not having to switch between the page, the code, and the developer console.

With this tool, you can inspect the dataLayer in real time, insert code into the page, analyze GA hits, ignore hits to individual properties, etc.

10. User-Agent Switcher

Free extension

The tool will help you switch quickly between user-agent strings. If you want to test how your page responds to different browsers, this plugin will let you do it. Due to User-Agent Switcher, you can browse with predefined user-agents or add your own ones.

11. Open SEO Stats

Free extension

This extension provides quick access to the most important SEO stats. The tool will show you:

Traffic stats. Graphs from Alexa Rank, Quantcast Rank, Compete Rank.
Information on your backlinks.
Cached pages.
Indexed pages. You’ll see the number of pages indexed in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.
Geolocation information, such as country, city, and IP address.
The shares on social websites.
Meta information, such as title, meta keywords, description, canonical tags, internal links, external links, and more.

12. Velvet Blues

Free WordPress plugin

This plugin will be handy for those who move their WordPress website to another domain and need to update internal links and references to pages. The plugin helps you fix the problem and change old links on your website. Experts say it’s great that you can find and replace any URL in your WordPress database without having to use phpMyAdmin directly.

With Velvet Blues Plugin, you can:

Update links which are embedded in excerpts, content, or custom fields.
Choose whether you want to update links for attachments or not.
View the number of items updated.

Install it only when you need to fix something and then uninstall it. The plugin treats everything it finds.

13. WP Rocket

Free WordPress plugin

Experts consider this plugin to be one of the best caching tools. Using WP Rocket to cache pages, your page load time decreases, and indexing improves. Moreover, the tool lets users reduce the weight of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

With WP Rocket, you can optimize your images, so that they’ll get loaded only when visitors scroll down the page. Such an action contributes to improving page speed.

14. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Free WordPress plugin

This tool will be useful for those who want to get rich snippets for their web pages. The plugin is created to help you make your page stand out in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results.

All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets supports most content types released by Schema.org. Here are eight different content types for which you can add schema:

Review
Event
People
Product
Recipe
Software Application
Video
Articles

15. Cloudflare’s plugin for WordPress

Free WordPress plugin

This free plugin helps to accelerate page loading time, improve your SEO, and protect against DDoS attacks.

Cloudflare plugin adds value for SMEs/Medium sized businesses, making it very easy to setup CDNs, DDoS Protection, and allow them to utilize edge SEO technologies like service workers.

16. WhatRuns

Free extension

This extension lets you find out what runs any website. You, ll get all the technologies used on websites you visit:

CMS
WordPress plugins
Themes
Analytics tools
Frameworks

Moreover, you can even get notified when websites start using new tools and services if you follow them.

17. Grammarly

Free extension

There are both free and paid access available for this plugin. The tool underlines your grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors for you to correct them. It also suggests you synonyms for overused words and gives you tips on how you can improve your texts. To get the most out of this plugin, you’d better use a paid version, as it’ll get you access to the most critical issues.

Choose the best for you

Remember that the more extensions you download, the slower your browser becomes. That’s why it’s essential to know which ones exactly are perfect for you.

Free WordPress plugins and Chrome extensions will help you make your work easier, but you may spend quite a significant time looking for those which are really useful for you. So, this list should have helped you circle out the tools you’ll try to implement into your working process.

Want more SEO tools?

Check out these articles as well:

7 social media monitoring tools to check out in 2019
8 free technical SEO tools you probably haven’t heard of
Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords
What people search for: Tools for trends
The top 10 tools for getting an insight into your website analytics
Tools to assist your SEO check-up
…. And many more!

The post 17 top plugins and extensions for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

WordPress vs Other CMS Options: A Comparison

Posted by on Feb 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress vs Other CMS Options: A Comparison

WordPress dominates world online content marketing and everyone knows that. The platform caused a sensation when it was released in the early 2000s and has become very popular since. In fact, more than seventeen percent of all websites use WordPress.

Due to its tremendous popularity and impressive functionality, it gets most of the conversations about content management. Most people recommend using it to build websites for the same reasons as well.

However, it would be unfair to focus on WordPress while talking about CMS technology since many other similar platforms exist, and as strange as it may seem for some people, they’re competitive even still.

Let’s take a look at other CMS available that are forming the competition.

JOOMLA
Last year, this CMS celebrated its 10th birthday. It was released a few years after WordPress and has grown into a multipurpose CMS with quite an impressive reputation. Joomla has thousands of developers and website owners for users (around 3.3 percent of all websites are powered by this CMS).

Like well-written papers, Joomla’s functionality deserves the highest grade. Not only does the platform feature all things WordPress can do but also has templates and extensions at its disposal, so they do make Joomla a legitimate competitor.

Sites known for using Joomla include Harvard, Notre Dame, The Hill, the UN, and Linux.

DRUPAL
The next competitor is not as fierce as Joomla with a mere 2.2 percent running it (4.7% of all websites with said CMS). However, the popularity of the platform has grown since the release of the latest versions with comprehensive functionality.

Drupal is widely perceived as a complex system designed for those who have a web development background. It doesn’t feature a lot of templates or themes because it uses a completely different approach to creating stuff by using modules.

Sites that use Drupal: Rush University Medical Center, Tesla Motors, Los Angeles City, University of Oxford, the White House, and Emmy.

MEDIUM
This is a publishing platform that’s also been in the shadow of WordPress from the get-go. However, it has a number of impressive functions. It has a remarkable import tool that makes publishing painless, plus a built-in audience that automatically connects with the user thanks to Medium social media feature.

The platform tells users how many people viewed the publications and how many read to the end, and it doesn’t even require original content to be published.

JEKYLL
This is another competitor that has been disregarded by many because of its complexity; for instance, this static site generator is written in Ruby and requires NodeJS to run. It can, however, generate HTML pages just by having a text without the database requirement, which is pretty amazing.

As you’ve probably realized, Jekyll’s audience is web developers and other people with a web-related background.

SHOPIFY
As great as WordPress is, it can’t be used to create a really good online store. Truth is, it was created for other purposes, so even plugins such as WooCommerce can’t provide all the functionality ecommerce requires. Shopify is one of the best alternatives for those who need to build an online store since it provides all the tools needed for this task.

The platform comes with simple tools for setting up an online store – delivery, customer service, complaints, and many more. It also has apps and templates available.

BLOGGER
Next is Blogger, a blogging platform that Google developed. The number of sites using Blogger is nowhere near the number of WordPress-powered ones (just 280,000), but it comes highly recommended for first-time bloggers who need a small and simple platform for writing online.

The simplicity of Blogger is perhaps the main advantage of the platform, allowing to create and run a blog in a matter of hours, so it saves a lot of time for beginner bloggers. Another massive advantage is customization. The drag and drop system enables users to design a custom look of their blog quickly and efficiently.

SQUARESPACE
Last but not least is Squarespace, which is a hosted site builder. It works just like Weebly but has a richer functionality, with fully customized and customizable templates. With this tool, anyone can build a pretty decent website very quickly and painlessly.

IN CONCLUSION
WordPress obviously holds the leadership position, whilst others are trying laboriously to tip the scales in their favor. However, no competitor from this list has even come close to matching WordPress. Yet.

That doesn’t mean we should disregard alternatives but rather appreciate the diversity of the industry. The future seems bright for Joomla, Drupal, and others, so let’s wait a while and see what happens.

Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO

Posted by on Feb 6, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO

Is it worth your while making your text a pleasant read? Will it lead to higher rankings and more traffic? Is readability a ‘ranking factor’? At Yoast, we’re convinced that writing in plain and understandable language can get you more visitors. We’ve even developed a tool to help people write readable text. Here, we’ll explain why search engines love easy to understand copy, and we’ll give tips on creating it.

Well-written copy improves UX

At the risk of stating the obvious: unintelligible copy makes for bad user experience. Nobody likes to read something that’s incomprehensible, boring or stuffed with keywords. All your web copy should, therefore, be aimed and focused on your audience, giving them the information they need, a solution to their problem, or an answer to their question.

First and foremost, you should write great copy for your visitors. This fits in nicely with our vision of holistic SEO. If you write text people don’t understand, you won’t help people find what they need. What’s more, you’ll end up with unsatisfied visitors, that’ll probably bounce back to Google when they hit your site. Google analyses user signals like that to determine how visitors experience your site.

Search engines mimic humans

There used to be a time when stuffing keywords in your copy would work: if you’d just mention your keywords enough times in your text, Google would rank it high for those keywords. Those times are long gone.

Fortunately, Google got much better at recognizing quality content. For instance, after the Hummingbird update, Google started recognizing synonyms. It also understands which words, entities, and content are related to each other. In addition to that, search engines became better at predicting what people want to read: from the keywords in your query they can make an estimated guess on your search intent. You can learn how to semantically link entities to your content.

Overall, the algorithm of Google is trying to mimic a human. It tries to read text like a human being. As Google becomes more capable of understanding and scanning texts in a human-like way, the demands on the readability of text also rise.

Readability is important for voice search

The number of people using voice search is growing, so Google — and other search engines — are focused on voice. They present their results in a voice-like manner; they rank their results in a voice-like manner.

People searching for information with voice search could end up listening to a relatively long piece of information. Imagine a long paragraph consisting of meandering sentences and containing lots of difficult words, that’s read out loud. The voice result would become impossible to understand. Google wouldn’t want to use an answer like that. Neither in voice nor in normal results.

Google prefers understandable content because voice search is getting bigger. Whether it will be huge or not, doesn’t matter for the importance of understandable, readable content. Google simply dictates the search results and the algorithm. We just have to go with it. And in this case, it’s a good thing. Writing readable content is a blessing for the reader.

Read more: How to prepare for voice search »

What makes a text easy to read?

How do people read web copy? Visitors scan through texts, read subheadings and the first sentences of paragraphs. They look for transition words in order to quickly abstract what the main conclusion of an article will be.

All the things humans do while reading text are things Google will do. That means that the structure of your text, the way you write your paragraphs, will become increasingly important. Core sentences — the first sentence of every paragraph — will be crucial. Having a clear and logical structure in your text will be invaluable.

Tips to keep your text readable

How to create easy reads? Before you start writing your text, think about the structure. What are you going to tell your audience and in what order? Is that a logical order of topics? Will your audience be able to follow your arguments, your examples, your message? Maybe you should try writing content with the inverted pyramid style?

Read more: Setting up a text structure »

Write short rather than lengthy sentences, as lengthy sentences are much harder to process. Try to avoid or to limit the number of difficult words in a text. Try not to use complicated sentences and try to avoid the use of passive voice.

Keep reading: 5 SEO copywriting mistakes you should avoid »

Make sure to write in an appealing style. That can be really hard; not everyone has a talent for creative writing. Make sure to mix it up a little! Try to alternate long sentences with shorter ones. Use synonyms. Avoid starting sentences with the same word.

Read on: 5 tips to write a readable blog post »

We know writing readable copy is hard. That’s why we developed a readability analysis in Yoast SEO. It checks, for instance, if your sentences aren’t too long, if you don’t use passive voice too often, and if the length of your paragraphs is OK. We’ll give you tips for improvement and you can even see which sentences need a second look. We’re continuously tweaking it, adding new checks and getting it translated in as many different languages as possible. It’s available for free in the Yoast SEO plugin.

One last tip: read it out loud!

Google’s Gary Illyes once tweeted that you should read your text out loud. If it doesn’t read nicely or sounds strange, it probably won’t rank either.

Let’s be clear: your rankings won’t immediately soar if you improve the readability of your texts. But, writing a readable blog post is an essential part of every SEO strategy. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure your copy is easy to read. Posts that are nice to read will definitely result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. So in the long run: readability ranks.

Keep on reading: SEO copywriting: the complete guide »

The post Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve

Posted by on Feb 2, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve

Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve

Posted by BritneyMuller

Page speed is an important consideration for your SEO work, but it’s a complex subject that tends to be very technical. What are the most crucial things to understand about your site’s page speed, and how can you begin to improve? In this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller goes over what you need to know to get started.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things page speed and really getting to the bottom of why it’s so important for you to be thinking about and working on as you do your work.

At the very fundamental level I’m going to briefly explain just how a web page is loaded. That way we can sort of wrap our heads around why all this matters.

How a webpage is loaded

A user goes to a browser, puts in your website, and there is a DNS request. This points at your domain name provider, so maybe GoDaddy, and this points to your server where your files are located, and this is where it gets interesting. So the DOM starts to load all of your HTML, your CSS, and your JavaScript. But very rarely does this one pull all of the needed scripts or needed code to render or load a web page.

Typically the DOM will need to request additional resources from your server to make everything happen, and this is where things start to really slow down your site. Having that sort of background knowledge I hope will help in us being able to triage some of these issues.

Issues that could be slowing down your site

What are some of the most common culprits?

First and foremost is images. Large images are the biggest culprit of slow loading web pages.
Hosting can cause issues.
Plugins, apps, and widgets, basically any third-party script as well can slow down load time.
Your theme and any large files beyond that can really slow things down as well.
Redirects, the number of hops needed to get to a web page will slow things down.
Then JavaScript, which we’ll get into in a second.

But all of these things can be a culprit. So we’re going to go over some resources, some of the metrics and what they mean, and then what are some of the ways that you can improve your page speed today.

Page speed tools and resources

The primary resources I have listed here are Google tools and Google suggested insights. I think what’s really interesting about these is we get to see what their concerns are as far as page speed goes and really start to see the shift towards the user. We should be thinking about that anyway. But first and foremost, how is this affecting people that come to your site, and then secondly, how can we also get the dual benefit of Google perceiving it as higher quality?

We know that Google suggests a website to load anywhere between two to three seconds. The faster the better, obviously. But that’s sort of where the range is. I also highly suggest you take a competitive view of that. Put your competitors into some of these tools and benchmark your speed goals against what’s competitive in your industry. I think that’s a cool way to kind of go into this.

Chrome User Experience Report

This is Chrome real user metrics. Unfortunately, it’s only available for larger, popular websites, but you get some really good data out of it. It’s housed on Big ML, so some basic SQL knowledge is needed.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse, one of my favorites, is available right in Chrome Dev Tools. If you are on a web page and you click Inspect Element and you open up Chrome Dev Tools, to the far right tab where it says Audit, you can run a Lighthouse report right in your browser.

What I love about it is it gives you very specific examples and fixes that you can do. A fun fact to know is it will automatically be on the simulated fast 3G, and notice they’re focused on mobile users on 3G. I like to switch that to applied fast 3G, because it has Lighthouse do an actual run of that load. It takes a little bit longer, but it seems to be a little bit more accurate. Good to know.

Page Speed Insights

Page Speed Insights is really interesting. They’ve now incorporated Chrome User Experience Report. But if you’re not one of those large sites, it’s not even going to measure your actual page speed. It’s going to look at how your site is configured and provide feedback according to that and score it. Just something good to be aware of. It still provides good value.

Test your mobile website speed and performance

I don’t know what the title of this is. If you do, please comment down below. But it’s located on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. This one is really cool because it tests the mobile speed of your site. If you scroll down, it directly ties it into ROI for your business or your website. We see Google leveraging real-world metrics, tying it back to what’s the percentage of people you’re losing because your site is this slow. It’s a brilliant way to sort of get us all on board and fighting for some of these improvements.

Pingdom and GTmetrix are non-Google products or non-Google tools, but super helpful as well.

Site speed metrics

So what are some of the metrics?

First paint

We’re going to go over first paint, which is basically just the first non-blank paint on a screen. It could be just the first pixel change. That initial change is first paint.

First contentful paint

First contentful paint is when the first content appears. This might be part of the nav or the search bar or whatever it might be. That’s the first contentful paint.

First meaningful paint

First meaningful paint is when primary content is visible. When you sort of get that reaction of, “Oh, yeah, this is what I came to this page for,” that’s first meaningful paint.

Time to interactive

Time to interactive is when it’s visually usable and engage-able. So we’ve all gone to a web page and it looks like it’s done, but we can’t quite use it yet. That’s where this metric comes in. So when is it usable for the user? Again, notice how user-centric even these metrics are. Really, really neat.

DOM content loaded

The DOM content loaded, this is when the HTML is completely loaded and parsed. So some really good ones to keep an eye on and just to be aware of in general.

Ways to improve your page speedHTTP/2

HTTP/2 can definitely speed things up. As to what extent, you have to sort of research that and test.

Preconnect, prefetch, preload

Preconnect, prefetch, and preload really interesting and important in speeding up a site. We see Google doing this on their SERPs. If you inspect an element, you can see Google prefetching some of the URLs so that it has it faster for you if you were to click on some of those results. You can similarly do this on your site. It helps to load and speed up that process.

Enable caching & use a content delivery network (CDN)

Caching is so, so important. Definitely do your research and make sure that’s set up properly. Same with CDNs, so valuable in speeding up a site, but you want to make sure that your CDN is set up properly.

Compress images

The easiest and probably quickest way for you to speed up your site today is really just to compress those images. It’s such an easy thing to do. There are all sorts of free tools available for you to compress them. Optimizilla is one. You can even use free tools on your computer, Save for Web, and compress properly.

Minify resources

You can also minify resources. So it’s really good to be aware of what minification, bundling, and compression do so you can have some of these more technical conversations with developers or with anyone else working on the site.

So this is sort of a high-level overview of page speed. There’s a ton more to cover, but I would love to hear your input and your questions and comments down below in the comment section.

I really appreciate you checking out this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and I will see you all again soon. Thanks so much. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Jan 26, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Correctly redirecting your URLs is one of the most important things you can do to make a site migration go smoothly, but there are clear processes to follow if you want to get it right. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins breaks down the rules of redirection for site migrations to make sure your URLs are set up for success.

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Video Transcription

Hey, guys. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and I work here at Moz. What we’re going to be talking about today is redirects and how they’re one way that you can make or break your site migration. Site migration can mean a lot of different things depending on your context.

Migrations?

I wanted to go over quickly what I mean before we dive into some tips for avoiding redirection errors. When I talk about migration, I’m coming from the experience of these primary activities.

CMS moving/URL format

One example of a migration I might be referring to is maybe we’re taking on a client and they previously used a CMS that had a default kind of URL formatting, and it was dated something.

So it was like /2018/May/ and then the post. Then we’re changing the CMS. We have more flexibility with how our pages, our URLs are structured, so we’re going to move it to just /post or something like that. In that way a lot of URLs are going to be moving around because we’re changing the way that those URLs are structured.

“Keywordy” naming conventions

Another instance is that sometimes we’ll get clients that come to us with kind of dated or keywordy URLs, and we want to change this to be a lot cleaner, shorten them where possible, just make them more human-readable.

An example of that would be maybe the client used URLs like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it to something a little bit cleaner, more natural, and not as keywordy, to just /plumbers or something like that. So that can be another example of lots of URLs moving around if we’re taking over a whole site and we’re kind of wanting to do away with those.

Content overhaul

Another example is if we’re doing a complete content overhaul. Maybe the client comes to us and they say, “Hey, we’ve been writing content and blogging for a really long time, and we’re just not seeing the traffic and the rankings that we want. Can you do a thorough audit of all of our content?” Usually what we notice is that you have maybe even thousands of pages, but four of them are ranking.

So there are a lot of just redundant pages, pages that are thin and would be stronger together, some pages that just don’t really serve a purpose and we want to just let die. So that’s another example where we would be merging URLs, moving pages around, just letting some drop completely. That’s another example of migrating things around that I’m referring to.

Don’t we know this stuff? Yes, but…

That’s what I’m referring to when it comes to migrations. But before we dive in, I kind of wanted to address the fact that like don’t we know this stuff already? I mean I’m talking to SEOs, and we all know or should know the importance of redirection. If there’s not a redirect, there’s no path to follow to tell Google where you’ve moved your page to.

It’s frustrating for users if they click on a link that no longer works, that doesn’t take them to the proper destination. We know it’s important, and we know what it does. It passes link equity. It makes sure people aren’t frustrated. It helps to get the correct page indexed, all of those things. So we know this stuff. But if you’re like me, you’ve also been in those situations where you have to spend entire days fixing 404s to correct traffic loss or whatever after a migration, or you’re fixing 301s that were maybe done but they were sent to all kinds of weird, funky places.

Mistakes still happen even though we know the importance of redirects. So I want to talk about why really quickly.

Unclear ownership

Unclear ownership is something that can happen, especially if you’re on a scrappier team, a smaller team and maybe you don’t handle these things very often enough to have a defined process for this. I’ve been in situations where I assumed the tech was going to do it, and the tech assumed that the project assistant was going to do it.

We’re all kind of pointing fingers at each other with no clear ownership, and then the ball gets dropped because no one really knows whose responsibility it is. So just make sure that you designate someone to do it and that they know and you know that that person is going to be handling it.

Deadlines

Another thing is deadlines. Internal and external deadlines can affect this. So one example that I encountered pretty often is the client would say, “Hey, we really need this project done by next Monday because we’re launching another initiative. We’re doing a TV commercial, and our domain is going to be listed on the TV commercial. So I’d really like this stuff wrapped up when those commercials go live.”

So those kind of external deadlines can affect how quickly we have to work. A lot of times it just gets left by the wayside because it is not a very visible thing. If you don’t know the importance of redirects, you might handle things like content and making sure the buttons all work and the template looks nice and things like that, the visible things. Where people assume that redirects, oh, that’s just a backend thing. We can take care of it later. Unfortunately, redirects usually fall into that category if the person doing it doesn’t really know the importance of it.

Another thing with deadlines is internal deadlines. Sometimes maybe you might have a deadline for a quarterly game or a monthly game. We have to have all of our projects done by this date. The same thing with the deadlines. The redirects are usually unfortunately something that tends to miss the cutoff for those types of things.

Non-SEOs handling the redirection

Then another situation that can cause site migration errors and 404s after moving around is non-SEOs handling this. Now you don’t have to be a really experienced SEO usually to handle these types of things. It depends on your CMS and how complicated is the way that you’re implementing your redirects. But sometimes if it’s easy, if your CMS makes redirection easy, it can be treated as like a data entry-type of job, and it can be delegated to someone who maybe doesn’t know the importance of doing all of them or formatting them properly or directing them to the places that they’re supposed to go.

The rules of redirection for site migrations

Those are all situations that I’ve encountered issues with. So now that we kind of know what I’m talking about with migrations and why they kind of sometimes still happen, I’m going to launch into some rules that will hopefully help prevent site migration errors because of failed redirects.

1. Create one-to-one redirects

Number one, always create one-to-one redirects. This is super important. What I’ve seen sometimes is oh, man, it could save me tons of time if I just use a wildcard and redirect all of these pages to the homepage or to the blog homepage or something like that. But what that tells Google is that Page A has moved to Page B, whereas that’s not the case. You’re not moving all of these pages to the homepage. They haven’t actually moved there. So it’s an irrelevant redirect, and Google has even said, I think, that they treat those essentially as a soft 404. They don’t even count. So make sure you don’t do that. Make sure you’re always linking URL to its new location, one-to-one every single time for every URL that’s moving.

2. Watch out for redirect chains

Two, watch out for chains. I think Google says something oddly specific, like watch out for redirect chains, three, no more than five. Just try to limit it as much as possible. By chains, I mean you have URL A, and then you redirect it to B, and then later you decide to move it to a third location. Instead of doing this and going through a middleman, A to B to C, shorten it if you can. Go straight from the source to the destination, A to C.

3. Watch out for loops

Three, watch out for loops. Similarly what can happen is you redirect position A to URL B to another version C and then back to A. What happens is it’s chasing its tail. It will never resolve, so you’re redirecting it in a loop. So watch out for things like that. One way to check those things I think is a nifty tool, Screaming Frog has a redirect chains report. So you can see if you’re kind of encountering any of those issues after you’ve implemented your redirects.

4. 404 strategically

Number four, 404 strategically. The presence of 404s on your site alone, that is not going to hurt your site’s rankings. It is letting pages die that were ranking and bringing your site traffic that is going to cause issues. Obviously, if a page is 404ing, eventually Google is going to take that out of the index if you don’t redirect it to its new location. If that page was ranking really well, if it was bringing your site traffic, you’re going to lose the benefits of it. If it had links to it, you’re going to lose the benefits of that backlink if it dies.

So if you’re going to 404, just do it strategically. You can let pages die. Like in these situations, maybe you’re just outright deleting a page and it has no new location, nothing relevant to redirect it to. That’s okay. Just know that you’re going to lose any of the benefits that URL was bringing your site.

5. Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs

Number five, prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs, and I do that because I prefer to obviously redirect everything that you’re moving, everything that’s legitimately moving.

But because of situations like deadlines and things like that, when we’re down to the wire, I think it’s really important to at least have started out with your most important URLs. So those are URLs that are ranking really well, giving you a lot of good traffic, URLs that you’ve earned links to. So those really SEO valuable URLs, if you have a deadline and you don’t get to finish all of your redirects before this project goes live, at least you have those most critical, most important URLs handled first.

Again, obviously, it’s not ideal, I don’t think in my mind, to save any until after the launch. Obviously, I think it’s best to have them all set up by the time it goes live. But if that’s not the case and you’re getting rushed and you have to launch, at least you will have handled the most important URLs for SEO value.

6. Test!

Number six, just to end it off, test. I think it’s super important just to monitor these things, because you could think that you have set these all up right, but maybe there were some formatting errors, or maybe you mistakenly redirected something to the wrong place. It is super important just to test. So what you can do, you can do a site:domain.com and just start clicking on all the results that come up and see if any are redirecting to the wrong place, maybe they’re 404ing.

Just checking all of those indexed URLs to make sure that they’re going to a proper new destination. I think Moz’s Site Crawl is another huge benefit here for testing purposes. What it does, if you have a domain set up or a URL set up in a campaign in Moz Pro, it checks this every week, and you can force another run if you want it to.

But it will scan your site for errors like this, 404s namely. So if there are any issues like that, 500 or 400 type errors, Site Crawl will catch it and notify you. If you’re not managing the domain that you’re working on in a campaign in Moz Pro, there’s on-demand crawl too. So you can run that on any domain that you’re working on to test for things like that.

There are plenty of other ways you can test and find errors. But the most important thing to remember is just to do it, just to test and make sure that even once you’ve implemented these things, that you’re checking and making sure that there are no issues after a launch. I would check right after a launch and then a couple of days later, and then just kind of taper off until you’re absolutely positive that everything has gone smoothly.

So those are my tips, those are my rules for how to implement redirects properly, why you need to, when you need to, and the risks that can happen with that. If you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share, pop them in the comments and share it with all of us in the SEO community. That’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one. Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Uncovering SEO Opportunities via Log Files

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Uncovering SEO Opportunities via Log Files

Uncovering SEO Opportunities via Log Files

Posted by RobinRozhon

I use web crawlers on a daily basis. While they are very useful, they only imitate search engine crawlers’ behavior, which means you aren’t always getting the full picture.

The only tool that can give you a real overview of how search engines crawl your site are log files. Despite this, many people are still obsessed with crawl budget — the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.

Log file analysis may discover URLs on your site that you had no idea about but that search engines are crawling anyway — a major waste of Google server resources (Google Webmaster Blog):

“Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.”

While it’s a fascinating topic, the fact is that most sites don’t need to worry that much about crawl budget —an observation shared by John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) quite a few times already.

There’s still a huge value in analyzing logs produced from those crawls, though. It will show what pages Google is crawling and if anything needs to be fixed.

When you know exactly what your log files are telling you, you’ll gain valuable insights about how Google crawls and views your site, which means you can optimize for this data to increase traffic. And the bigger the site, the greater the impact fixing these issues will have.

What are server logs?

A log file is a recording of everything that goes in and out of a server. Think of it as a ledger of requests made by crawlers and real users. You can see exactly what resources Google is crawling on your site.

You can also see what errors need your attention. For instance, one of the issues we uncovered with our analysis was that our CMS created two URLs for each page and Google discovered both. This led to duplicate content issues because two URLs with the same content was competing against each other.

Analyzing logs is not rocket science — the logic is the same as when working with tables in Excel or Google Sheets. The hardest part is getting access to them — exporting and filtering that data.

Looking at a log file for the first time may also feel somewhat daunting because when you open one, you see something like this:

Calm down and take a closer look at a single line:

66.249.65.107 – – [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] “GET /contact/ HTTP/1.1” 200 11179 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”

You’ll quickly recognize that:

66.249.65.107 is the IP address (who)
[08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] is the Timestamp (when)
GET is the Method
/contact/ is the Requested URL (what)
200 is the Status Code (result)
11179 is the Bytes Transferred (size)
“-” is the Referrer URL (source) — it’s empty because this request was made by a crawler
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) is the User Agent (signature) — this is user agent of Googlebot (Desktop)

Once you know what each line is composed of, it’s not so scary. It’s just a lot of information. But that’s where the next step comes in handy.

Tools you can use

There are many tools you can choose from that will help you analyze your log files. I won’t give you a full run-down of available ones, but it’s important to know the difference between static and real-time tools.

Static — This only analyzes a static file. You can’t extend the time frame. Want to analyze another period? You need to request a new log file. My favourite tool for analyzing static log files is Power BI.
Real-time — Gives you direct access to logs. I really like open source ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana). It takes a moderate effort to implement it but once the stack is ready, it allows me changing the time frame based on my needs without needing to contact our developers.
Start analyzing

Don’t just dive into logs with a hope to find something — start asking questions. If you don’t formulate your questions at the beginning, you will end up in a rabbit hole with no direction and no real insights.

Here are a few samples of questions I use at the start of my analysis:

Which search engines crawl my website?
Which URLs are crawled most often?
Which content types are crawled most often?
Which status codes are returned?

If you see that Google is crawling non-existing pages (404), you can start asking which of those requested URLs return 404 status code.

Order the list by the number of requests, evaluate the ones with the highest number to find the pages with the highest priority (the more requests, the higher priority), and consider whether to redirect that URL or do any other action.

If you use a CDN or cache server, you need to get that data as well to get the full picture.

Segment your data

Grouping data into segments provides aggregate numbers that give you the big picture. This makes it easier to spot trends you might have missed by looking only at individual URLs. You can locate problematic sections and drill down if needed.

There are various ways to group URLs:

Group by content type (single product pages vs. category pages)
Group by language (English pages vs. French pages)
Group by storefront (Canadian store vs. US store)
Group by file format (JS vs. images vs. CSS)

Don’t forget to slice your data by user-agent. Looking at Google Desktop, Google Smartphone, and Bing all together won’t surface any useful insights.

Monitor behavior changes over time

Your site changes over time, which means so will crawlers’ behavior. Googlebot often decreases or increases the crawl rate based on factors such as a page’s speed, internal link structure, and the existence of crawl traps.

It’s a good idea to check in with your log files throughout the year or when executing website changes. I look at logs almost on a weekly basis when releasing significant changes for large websites.

By analyzing server logs twice a year, at the very least, you’ll surface changes in crawler’s behavior.

Watch for spoofing

Spambots and scrapers don’t like being blocked, so they may fake their identity — they leverage Googlebot’s user agent to avoid spam filters.

To verify if a web crawler accessing your server really is Googlebot, you can run a reverse DNS lookup and then a forward DNS lookup. More on this topic can be found in Google Webmaster Help Center.

Merge logs with other data sources

While it’s no necessary to connect to other data sources, doing so will unlock another level of insight and context that regular log analysis might not be able to give you. An ability to easily connect multiple datasets and extract insights from them is the main reason why Power BI is my tool of choice, but you can use any tool that you’re familiar with (e.g. Tableau).

Blend server logs with multiple other sources such as Google Analytics data, keyword ranking, sitemaps, crawl data, and start asking questions like:

What pages are not included in the sitemap.xml but are crawled extensively?
What pages are included in the Sitemap.xml file but are not crawled?
Are revenue-driving pages crawled often?
Is the majority of crawled pages indexable?

You may be surprised by the insights you’ll uncover that can help strengthen your SEO strategy. For instance, discovering that almost 70 percent of Googlebot requests are for pages that are not indexable is an insight you can act on.

You can see more examples of blending log files with other data sources in my post about advanced log analysis.

Use logs to debug Google Analytics

Don’t think of server logs as just another SEO tool. Logs are also an invaluable source of information that can help pinpoint technical errors before they become a larger problem.

Last year, Google Analytics reported a drop in organic traffic for our branded search queries. But our keyword tracking tool, STAT Search Analytics, and other tools showed no movement that would have warranted the drop. So, what was going on?

Server logs helped us understand the situation: There was no real drop in traffic. It was our newly deployed WAF (Web Application Firewall) that was overriding the referrer, which caused some organic traffic to be incorrectly classified as direct traffic in Google Analytics.

Using log files in conjunction with keyword tracking in STAT helped us uncover the whole story and diagnose this issue quickly.

Putting it all together

Log analysis is a must-do, especially once you start working with large websites.

My advice is to start with segmenting data and monitoring changes over time. Once you feel ready, explore the possibilities of blending logs with your crawl data or Google Analytics. That’s where great insights are hidden.

Want more?

Ready to learn how to get cracking and tracking some more? Reach out and request a demo to get your very own tailored walkthrough of STAT.

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A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing

Posted by on Jan 17, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing

A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing

Nonprofit organizations have tough jobs. They’re busy saving the world one creative idea at a time and often have few resources to devote to developing or managing a digital strategy.

Through all the work we do – consulting, training, and blogging – we want to help demystify digital marketing and empower teams to do make efficient strategy decisions so they can spend time promoting good in the world. Our community outreach efforts range from give-back days, fundraising, and perhaps our favorite – sharing information with local organizations and nonprofits about our specialty areas. Learn how a few quick-hitting digital marketing wins could set up your organization for similar success.

Four Hours of Learning, Questions and Discussion

A few weeks ago, we invited 412FoodRescue to our offices for a half-day digital training session. We shared information about SEO, Paid Search and Google Analytics. Our goal was to equip the nonprofit team with best practices and provide quick wins to support their ever-expanding mission.

Having an in-person training allowed for a day that was about collaboration and team brainstorming instead of a one-sided lecture. As Becca from 412FoodRescue noted, “It was great to have an open learning environment where we could jump in and ask any question we needed.”

How 412FoodRescue Helps Pittsburghers

412FoodRescue is a 3-year old start-up that began–as the name suggests–in the “412”: Pittsburgh, PA.

Their business model is simple, yet so effective.

They partner with local businesses like grocery stores and restaurants to “rescue” surplus food that’s about to go to waste. When they identify an over-abundance of food, they leverage their network of 1,300+ local volunteers to complete same-day deliveries. This is coordinated through their app where volunteers receive real-time notifications when there’s a local delivery in their area.

Think of it as Uber for browning bananas!

Since 2015, 412FoodRescue’s volunteers have rescued 3.3 million pounds of food, generating 2.8 million meals. Their app is gaining national attention and they’re looking to roll out their business model to other cities. Some of our employees are food rescue-ers, so it became a cause we wanted to contribute to digitally. If you’re in the  Pittsburgh area, you can sign up for their volunteer opportunities, too.

Optimizing Your Site to Find Volunteers

We began the day with SEO, sharing tips for writing unique, tightly focused title tags, meta descriptions and H1s. The goal of these fields is to reflect a page’s theme. With a little keyword research, we work-shopped writing title tags and meta descriptions for a few of their key pages.

Their site scored a 70/100 on our 13 question, “Mini SEO Checklist”, which is a great score, so we spent time improving their on-page tags instead of delving into advanced technical items.

After using Google’s Keyword Planner, The “Volunteer” page changed to “Volunteer Opportunities” and the meta description was refreshed to include a stronger call to action. When we took a look at Google Search Console, we saw their CSA program–lovingly dubbed, “Ugly CSA”–actually had search demand. We added “in Pittsburgh” to help the title be more locally relevant.

It’s these small changes that can make a huge difference to a nonprofit site. Especially when there’s a critical need to be focused locally.

As a next step, the team plans to update metadata for their top 15 pages and think of future content opportunities as they conduct keyword research.

Does your business have a few key pages that could benefit from a little keyword research and some data analysis? Start small by taking cues from Google Search Console and optimizing pages by incorporating the keywords that users are already typing in to get to your pages.

Reaching a Larger Audience with Google Grants

Next up was paid search.

The team was curious to learn about creating better campaigns. Their agency had set up a Google AdWords Express account a few months ago, but we encouraged them to change their account to a “typical” Google Ads account and to sign up for a Google Grants account for additional bidding options, better management tools, and more detailed insights.

With a monthly Grants budget of $10,000, we found they could amplify their coverage by expanding their campaigns, defining important goals, choosing audience targeting and experimenting with ad formats. Having this capability will significantly change the way 412FoodRescue communicates with Pittsburghers via advertising.

Get Free Advertising For Your Nonprofit with Google Grants

By: Heather Post
Published: June 1, 2017

Together, we outlined a search campaign designed to encourage people in the Pittsburgh area to volunteer. We chose keywords, wrote ad copy and decided on the best targeting to get their ads in front of the right people.

The team was also excited to learn about remarketing opportunities that would allow them to communicate a different message to people who had already been to their site and had shown interest in their app. This option will be a quick win, especially in the volunteering space.

To complete the paid search portion of the training, we provided a template report in Data Studio to help 412 Food Rescue quickly analyze their Google Ads data to facilitate future marketing and advertising decisions.

Take a minute to think about what relevant ad copy might look like for your users. Are you trying to rally an army of volunteers or drum up additional donations? Crafting ad copy to speak to each group of users and applying the targeting options in Google Ads can ensure you’re delivering appropriate advertising.

Seeing the Big Picture with Google Analytics

We closed the day with an overview of Google Analytics. We saved the most complicated, most detailed project for last.

The goal here was to really empower the team on where to begin with their overall analytics strategy and what resources are available to learn more about GA. We provided them with a customized list of “homework” items to help plan out their overall analytics solution and links to great resources to learn how to accomplish those tasks.
We started with a discussion of 412FoodRescue’s business objectives and how to define them. Their goals revolve around engagement, user interactions, and downloading the app to become a Food Rescuer. To plan out your own strategy, check out Sam’s amazing post A Simple Start to a Powerful Analytics Strategy.

From there we went into the importance of a solid foundation and taking advantage of everything there is to offer out of the box within GA. We provided some recommendation of things to enable and update before starting to implement more customized features. For example, filtering out extra query parameter and setting up site search.

The true power of analytics comes from customization, your needs are different from the needs of the person next door; it’s impossible for Google to make an all-encompassing solution. Events and custom dimensions are the easiest tools to unlock more in-depth insights for your site or app. We walked through the site and talked about important event to start tracking now, such as clicks on download the app.

Finally, we ran through the Google Analytics interface together – answering reporting questions, showing the team our go-to reports, and making quick easy updates to their settings. One quick change we made was setting up a test view or making updates to filters.

Applying These Tactics to Your Nonprofit

Digital marketing can be overwhelming, but it can be approachable! The first step, like learning any new skill, is making it a priority.

As 412FoodRescue’s CEO and co-founder Leah Lizarondo noted, “We learned so much from our session and also learned that there is so much more to sink our teeth into. “

“We learned so much from our session and also learned that there is so much more to sink our teeth into. “

Leah Lizarondo
CEO & Co-Founder, 412FoodRescue

Setting aside time for keyword research and analyzing your existing site data can help you focus your marketing efforts and make sure you’re maximizing your limited resources.

Even a few hours can make a big impact. This is especially true for smaller organizations like nonprofits where time is valuable and resources are scarce. Our advice is to start small and scale what works.

Below are a few quick wins that you can apply to up your digital marketing:

Conduct keyword research for each page to determine a priority term. Write an optimized title tag and meta description centered around that term. Ensure you’re using your full character limit and include a descriptive, compelling call-to-action. Think about how your audiences might search, from volunteers to donors for those researching about your mission. Learn how to write effective title tags.
Write compelling ad copy for target audiences. Use compelling call-to-action verbs to active your audience. Terms like “Volunteer,” “Donate,” “Learn,” or “Help” can speak to the specific audiences you’re targeting. For ideas, view our call-to-action cheat sheet.
Define and implement event tracking. The standard metrics that come with an analytics install are great, but to get in-depth knowledge of your users implement customizations like events. Check out our event naming post to understand best practices for event tracking.
Apply for a Google Ad Grant. If you are an eligible nonprofit, a Google Grant can go a long way in helping create awareness for your cause.

Our team here at Lunametrics–Kristina, Megan and Jayna–so enjoyed our morning with 412FoodRescue. Our one regret is that the day ended too soon! We could have brainstormed for another couple hours.

Leah, Sara and Becca are a team of tenacious learners with a passion to end food insecurity in Pittsburgh and we’re happy that we could be a small part of 412FoodRescue’s digital journey. We can’t wait to see what they’ll dream up next!

Local to Pittsburgh? Learn more about 412FoodRescue and join their mission to end food insecurity in our communities and neighborhoods.

The post A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing appeared first on LunaMetrics.

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

Posted by on Jan 17, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

 

Adding images to your articles encourages people to read them, and well-chosen images can also back up your message and get you a good ranking in image search results. But you should always remember to give your images good alt attributes: alt text strengthens the message of your articles with search engine spiders and improves the accessibility of your website. This article explains all about alt tags and title tags and why you should optimize them.

Note: the term “alt tag” is a commonly used abbreviation of what’s actually an alt attribute on an img tag. The alt tag of any image on your site should describe what’s on it. Screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out this text and therefore make your image accessible.

What are alt tags and title tags?

This is a complete HTML image tag:

<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>

The alt and title attributes of an image are commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text and title tag – even though they’re not technically tags. The alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page. So if you are using an image as a button to buy product X, the alt text should say: “button to buy product X.”

The alt tag is used by screen readers, which are browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. The title attribute is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element, so in the case of an image button, the image title could contain an extra call-to-action, like “Buy product X now for $19!”, although this is not a best practice.

Each image should have an alt text, not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people won’t otherwise know what the image is about, but a title attribute is not required. What’s more, most of the time it doesn’t make sense to add it. They are only available to mouse (or other pointing devices) users and the only one case where the title attribute is required for accessibility is on <iframe> and <frame> tags.

If the information conveyed by the title attribute is relevant, consider making it available somewhere else, in plain text and if it’s not relevant, consider removing the title attribute entirely.

But what if an image doesn’t have a purpose?

If you have images in your design that are purely there for design reasons, you’re doing it wrong, as those images should be in your CSS and not in your HTML. If you really can’t change these images, give them an empty alt attribute, like so:

<img src=”image.png” alt=””>

The empty alt attribute makes sure that screen readers skip over the image.

alt text and SEO

Google’s article about images has a heading “Use descriptive alt text”. This is no coincidence because Google places a relatively high value on alt text to determine not only what is on the image but also how it relates to the surrounding text. This is why, in our Yoast SEO content analysis, we have a feature that specifically checks that you have at least one image with an alt tag that contains your focus keyphrase.

Yoast SEO checks for images and their alt text in your posts:We’re definitely not saying you should spam your focus keyphrase into every alt tag. You need good, high quality, related images for your posts, where it makes sense to have the focus keyword in the alt text. Here’s Google’s advice on choosing a good alt text:

When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.

If your image is of a specific product, include both the full product name and the product ID in the alt tag so that it can be more easily found. In general: if a keyphrase could be useful for finding something that is on the image, include it in the alt tag if you can. Also, don’t forget to change the image file name to be something actually describing what’s on it.

alt and title attributes in WordPress

When you upload an image to WordPress, you can set a title and an alt attribute. By default, it uses the image filename in the title attribute, which, if you don’t enter an alt attribute, it copies to the alt attribute. While this is better than writing nothing, it’s pretty poor practice. You really need to take the time to craft a proper alt text for every image you add to a post — users and search engines will thank you for it. The interface makes it easy: click an image, hit the edit button, and you’ll see this:There’s no excuse for not doing this right, other than laziness. Your (image) SEO will truly benefit if you get these tiny details right. Visually challenged users will also like you all the more for it.

Read more about image SEO?

We have a very popular (and longer) article about Image SEO. That post goes into a ton of different ways to optimize images but is relatively lacking in detail when it comes to alt and title tags — think of this as an add-on to that article. I recommend reading it when you’re done here.

Read more: Optimizing images for SEO »

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