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How to Rank For a Keyword for Newbies

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Rank For a Keyword for Newbies

How to Rank For a Keyword for Newbies

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) became the best way to reach a broad audience within the shortest possible time some time back. Even so, it has only recently gained immense popularity among most organizations.

Though several things have changed over the years to suit different technological advancements, following multiple major search algorithm updates, keywords remain one of the primary elements that determine your position on search engines.

Picking the best keyword for a specific business is only half the battle in achieving handsome returns in online marketing. Ranking for the keyword is the most challenging part of your advertising. Thankfully, this is not altogether impossible with the right strategies and tools to guide your choices.

The following are a few guidelines on how to rank for a keyword fast and at the very top of search engines.

Conduct Keyword Research

This is the start of everything.

And also extremely important, so we’ll be spending more time talking about this.

Determine which keyword you want to rank for, and identifying its related keywords to use in the content is the first step of your SEO effort.

Your keywords should be the leading ones used by your target market and be well-aligned with your business values.

Though a particular keyword might be meaningful to you, it might not do much for your rank on search engines. Guesswork will only waste your time and the cash you spend on online marketing.

Refer to the keywords your competitor is ranking for

You can use any tools you like, but here at SEOPressor, we use BiQ’s Rank Intelligence tool to discover our competitors’ ranking keywords.

It’s really simple to use, I just type in the website URL and the tool will run for a few minutes and voila, there’s the list of keywords the website is ranking for.

Which you can then steal, cough, I mean to refer to as your own keywords.

Just type in the website URL of your competitor or the industry’s leading company and let the tool run to get the keywords they’re ranking for. 

Higher search volume, higher competition, go for long-tail keywords

Research for the keyword with just enough search volume for your site so that you make informed decisions.

Some people go for keywords with the highest volume, but these might be too competitive more so for new websites.

You should also ideally start with long-tail keywords, so you build a website’s reputation before moving to short-tail ones as you grow.

Long-tail keywords in short, is keywords specific to your business, or what you’re selling, or the topic you’re talking about, they can be perhaps 3 or 4 words long, they tend to not have explosive search volume, but the search trend is steady and you go for the long and steady win the race kind of strategy.

Using LSIGraph to discover valuable keywords to rank

One of the best tools for your keyword research effort is the free LSIGraph tool.

This tool helps you discover keywords that are related to the one you want to rank for so you can build an outline for your long-form content.

LSIGraph can help you to determine which keywords to target, and what are the closely related keywords that can help you push up the ranking.

Use a Catchy Headline

People nowadays are in a rush.

They want to skim through your article fast to get what exactly you are offering and decide whether or not it is relevant to them.

It is essential to include catchy headlines that will boost the odds of people getting interested in your articles and reading or viewing it.

A research carried out by BuzzSumo concluded that emotional headlines for online articles were the best for driving engagement. If you intent on making your clients curious about your content, go for keywords that induce voyeurism.

The number 10 and list posts in headlines were also proven by the research to be extremely powerful for SEO.

To start, you can head over to Blog Title Generator to insert your keyword, pick if it’s a generic keyword, or is it a brand, or something else. And you’ll be presented with 10 headlines which can serve as your starting point to crafting your own catchy headlines.

Blog Title Generator can instantly generate a list of headlines for your keyword that serves as a good starting point to craft your own catchy headline.

Build Links

Having a varied and strong backlink profiles is one of the ways to push your domain, and serves as a boost to all the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

When someone links to you, it proves to search engines that your content and your domain are authoritative because people will barely link to mediocre sites.

Other than this, people trust sites with backlinks since these show that your content is exceptional enough to be shared with others. This will, in turn, build online traffic to your website and generate a lot of exposure in the right circles.

Building links is, however, not an easy task.

A good way to build your online presence to attract people’s attention to your website and in the way attract some backlinks is by sending out a press release.

At SEOPressor we use MarketersMEDIA. They have great reach to premium news sites like USAToday and Yahoo Finance, the price is not terribly expensive like other famed newswires in the industry, but it gets the job done.

All in all, press releases reach a broad audience within a short time and are among the best choice you have to make a bang for your site online quickly to gain those backlinks.

Repurpose Your Site’s Content

You need not use different types of content to reach clients on different platforms.

You can research on the article that is performing best on one platform then share it on other platforms to reach clients looking for something different. The content can also be linked to each other, voila, backlinks!

You, for instance, can repurpose text contents like a blog post into videos and photos for YouTube and social media platforms.

This is because people on these platforms barely pay attention to long, wordy, thousand words posts.

Videos and photos, on the other hand, can be changed to long text posts and slideshows for the LinkedIn audience.

Google Search Console is the best tool when repurposing your content.

This tool analyses the impressions, traffic amount, and performance of the content on different platforms. This way, you can pick the best articles to repurpose and link to your site to maximize your returns in online marketing.

Do a Competitor Research

To gain insight into what works and does not for your industry, you should know what your competitors are doing.

Researching the content your competitors are using and how well it is working for them is your ideal approach in this case. You can then use your findings to inform what content to steer clear of or replicate then refine to become the best-performing content.

Not everything in your research will be relevant.

Focus on the URLs and domain that competitors are using and how well their title tags apply keyword use. You should also consider what business sizes are ranking best for specific keywords.

If, for example, you are a small brand, it would make little sense to use the same keyword as a huge brand in your field.

Again, for competitor research, BiQ is one of the best tools out there.

This is a suite of tools, including keyword, content, and ranking intelligence and rank tracking of the keywords and content that people in your industry are using. There are different pricing models for BiQ to suit your marketing budget and give you some crucial insight into the elements on which you should center your marketing content.

BiQ has a flexible payment plan that can suit different needs and is also excellent for competitor research.

Pay Attention to the Elements of On-Page SEO

Most online marketers are excessively focused on getting backlinks and drawing traffic to their sites that they forget their on-page SEO.

Once you get relevant traffic to your website, you should know how best to keep them there and convince them to take some desired action. Things like slow-loading pages, broken inbound links, and duplicate content only drive away clients.

To optimize your on-page SEO, use GDoc SEO Assistant.

This is a free writing tool that automatically calculates the SEO score of your article as you write and point out any issues that might affect your on-page optimization.

The tool also guides you on the best way to guarantee that search engines will understand your content better and, in so doing, rank your site high.

Other than that, make sure to link from one post to another.

This is called interlinking and it can make a huge difference in helping the search engine, like Google, to understand your website, as a whole, better. Remember, the better Google can access and understand your website, the bigger chance you have to rank high.

Conclusion

Ranking high on search engines is the only way to actualize profits in the current competitive world of online marketing.

Few people will, after all, proceed to the second and third pages on search engines once they type in their query. If, therefore, your article does not show up within the first pages of search engines, your chances of making profits are significantly low.

Fortunately, the above guidelines will give you the best head start to know the keywords you should use and how best to apply them to optimize your SEO position. Keyword optimization for SEO not only applies to your website but also your social media sites. This way, you are sure to gain your desired position on search engines and social media platforms within the shortest possible time.

Let us know how you like our tips, or if you have your own little tip to rank high, fast. Now, good day and I’ll see you in the next blog post.

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How Big Is the Gender Gap Between Men and Women in SEO?

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How Big Is the Gender Gap Between Men and Women in SEO?

How Big Is the Gender Gap Between Men and Women in SEO?

Posted by NicoleDeLeon

To anyone working in SEO, it’s fairly evident that this is a male-dominated industry. Although there are powerful women SEOs in the field (like Moz CEO Sarah Bird, for example), if you glance at a conference speaker lineup or peruse the bylines on search-related blogs, you’ll see that those who identify as female are few and far between. A recent list of the 140 most influential SEOs featured 104 men and just 36 women. 

So how big is the gender gap? And how does it translate to tangible things like pay and job titles? To find out, we mined the data from our State of SEO 2020 survey, which featured 652 SEOs in 51 countries. Here are some of the things we learned.

But first, a mea culpa. If SEOs who identify as women have an uphill climb in this industry, there’s no doubt that female-identifying SEOs of color have a hill that is steeper still. I deeply regret not asking demographic questions on race and ethnicity which would have allowed us to analyze the disparate impacts that bias plays on BIPOC women SEOs. It was a missed opportunity. That said, we are currently running a survey on BIPOC in SEO that aims to cover those issues and more as we continue to take an introspective view of our industry.

Men outnumber women by more than 2 to 1 in SEO

Of the 652 SEOs who participated in the study, 191 identified as women (29.3%) and 446 identified as men (68.4%). Additionally, one identified as non-binary and 14 preferred not to say. Data was collected on a SurveyMonkey form. We reached out to our own database, purchased lists of SEOs around the world, and promoted the survey on social channels for respondents. We offered no compensation or reward for participating. Non-binary, persons who chose not to identify a gender by choosing “preferred not to say”, and SEOs from the African continent were underrepresented mostly due to the outreach database itself. Finally, respondents selecting non-binary and “preferred not to say” were not calculated in the men/women percentages. 

A voluntary survey is not a scientific sampling, but those percentages mesh with previous studies by Moz that found those who identified as women made up 22.7% of SEOs in 2012, 28.2% in 2013, and 30.1% in 2015. In all four studies, men outnumbered women by more than 2 to 1. 

Importantly, the new results suggest the gap hasn’t narrowed over the past five years.

This was not a surprise to many female-identifying SEOs who participated in the study.

“I started out in the SEO industry about 10 years ago. Compared to that, I do see more women at conferences, on online platforms, and in the day-to-day work with clients,” one said. However, she added that she hasn’t seen much progress in the last 5 years. “It’s like we are kind of stuck. I suspect it’s at least partly a visibility issue: Men have been there forever, building their reputation and expertise. It is hard to keep up with that if you had a late start.”

We interviewed more than a dozen female-identifying SEOs, most of whom asked not to be named. Although a few had supportive bosses, clients, colleagues, and mentors along the way, many shared experiences of being passed over for promotions, having to fight to be heard in meetings and, in some cases, being paid less than men for the same work.

“I think you can sum up the SEO industry by looking at speaker panels of all the major conferences. There is no equality. Are you a white male and 50+? You must be an expert! Are you a woman, 40, who’s been doing this since 2004? Oh, honey, go sit down. We have an expert already,” said one woman. She said she spent 13 years at a website development company being “constantly overlooked” before moving to a digital marketing agency where she is respected and valued.

The gender gap is widest in Latin America

Global internet usage has boomed over the past two decades, with more than 59% of the world’s population now online. Although internet penetration is highest in Europe and North America, more than three-quarters of global users live elsewhere. These growing markets are served by robust communities of SEO professionals on every continent.

Our study reached SEOs in 51 countries, which we grouped into 11 large regions. Participation was highest in the U.S. with 269 SEOs responding, but we also surveyed 113 SEOs in Western Europe, 85 in the U.K., 43 in the Eastern Europe/Balkans region, 39 in Australia and New Zealand, 30 in Asia, 21 in Canada, 18 in Scandinavia, 16 in the Middle East, 12 in Central and South America, and 6 in Africa.

We found that the gender gap is most pronounced in Latin America (83.3% who identified as men to 16.7% who identified as women) and Australia/New Zealand (82.1% who identified as men to 17.9% who identified as women). 

The gender gap is least significant in Africa (although with an admittedly very small sample size due to the small number of African SEOs in our database) and Canada (52.6% who identified as men to 47.4% who identified as women). Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-professed feminist who appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, Canada has made gender equality a priority, but progress has been uneven at times. 

When it comes to gender diversity in SEO, the U.S., Asia, and the U.K. all trail behind Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.

Female-identifying SEOs are more likely to freelance and specialize in content

Generally, the three most common career environments for SEOs are serving as an in-house expert at a single company, working in an agency setting, or operating independently as a consultant or freelancer. Each path has its own pros and cons. We found some interesting gender differences in where SEOs are working. 

Male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs are equally likely to work in-house, with about 40% of both genders working inside a single business. And as we discuss below, both genders reported being satisfied with the working conditions and level of support they received in their roles.

Among those who practice their craft externally, men are slightly more likely to work in agencies than women (49.7% vs. 42.5%). 

The biggest gap was among freelancers. Female-identifying SEOs are almost twice as likely to be contractors or freelancers as those who identify as men (17.7% vs. 10.6%). However, it’s unclear if female-identifying SEOs are heading out on their own because they don’t feel they can get a fair shake working for others, or if they’re drawn to the freedom and flexibility of freelance work.

Full-time freelancing has grown steadily across the economic landscape in recent years. It also tends to draw more women than men. Part of the appeal may be flexibility around childcare, but control over income was also a factor for some of the SEOs we interviewed. 

“I think a lot of women choose to do freelance because they want to be paid what they deserve, frankly,” said one 25-year-old female SEO in East Anglia, U.K.

However, another woman who works as an in-house SEO said, “When I got my start in marketing, most of the jobs offered to me were contractor roles, and it wasn’t clear how to become full time. It wasn’t by choice; it was what was available to me.”

Many female-identifying SEOs said it was hard for them to get hired or promoted, even with stellar track records. 

“I’ve seen loudmouth, no-record, no-proof men be hired. It’s absolutely aggravating. At my old company, I was skipped by two men who had half the knowledge for supervisor positions. Each man left within months to different companies to the next title,” said a 41-year-old female SEO in Minnesota. She subsequently changed companies and found a much more welcoming environment.

In addition to career paths, there are noteworthy differences in the areas of the industry that male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs are most likely to specialize in. Most SEOs consider themselves generalists, but among those who profess a specialty, women are twice as likely to be content experts (17.6% to 7.7%).

On the other hand, male-identifying SEOs are nearly twice as likely to be technical experts (21.5% to 12.6%). It’s unclear if this is a result of choice, fallout from the gender gap in STEM occupations generally, or if those who identify as women feel unwelcome among tech SEOs.

Among the female-identifying SEOs we interviewed, several said they think early gender stereotyping played a role, from the toys little boys and girls are given to what each gender is encouraged to pursue as a career.

“It’s similar to why women are not often involved in engineering jobs. Technical roles are historically associated with developer training, and women are more likely to transition from the marketing side than the programming side,” one said.

Several women also said technical SEO, in particular, is a “boys club.” 

“I participate in online forums for general Tech SEO and Women in Tech SEO, and the vibes are much different,” one woman said. “The male-dominated general forums are competitive. The female groups are more supportive, but again, we are trying to bring along and encourage women in the field.”

Another tech SEO who worked at an agency and in-house before going out on her own as a contractor said the culture can be intimidating: “I find that men are quicker to hop on and attack people about technical knowledge than women.”

Female-identifying SEOs generally charge less than men for their services

To find out more about the dollars and cents of SEO, we asked the agency and contract SEOs who participated in our study about their pricing models. In all, 261 SEOs were willing to share how they price their services and how much they charge. 

The three most common pricing models are monthly retainers, per-project pricing, and hourly rates. Although there was a wide range of rates among male-identifyng and female-identifying SEOs, the medians were consistently lower for those who identified as women.  

Among agency and contract SEOs, men are more likely to price their services with monthly retainers (59.1% of men vs. 39.4% of women). Women are more likely to charge per project (31.8% of women vs. 18.2% of men). About a quarter of both groups use hourly pricing.

But before we talk about prices…

Before we get into the details of how much male- and female-identifying SEOs earn, it’s important to note that we didn’t ask who actually set the prices. Depending on the size of an agency, SEOs who work there may have very little control over the pricing structure. 

The agency’s rates might be standard, or they might vary depending on who does the work. One can assume that freelancers choose their own rates, although they might be responding to signals about what the market will bear and what clients are willing to pay. 

Some studies have suggested that a variety of psychosocial factors lead female-identifying freelancers to charge less than their male counterparts. For instance, a Hewlett-Packard study identified a confidence gap in which women tended not to apply for a promotion unless they met all the qualifications, but men would go for it if they met 60 percent of the job requirements. 

Conventional wisdom holds that women are more cooperative and men are more competitive. Whether or not that’s true, men initiate negotiations more readily than women and tend to ask for higher compensation.

In a future study, we will certainly ask who determined the service pricing. For now, we can only report what male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs told us they charge.

Retainers for those who identify as male are 28.6% higher than for those identifying as female

Our respondents included 138 agency and contract SEOs who use monthly retainers as their primary pricing model. These retainers ranged from less than $250 a month to more than $25,000 a month, but overall they were higher for men. At the midpoint of the ranges on our survey, those identifying as male charge a median retainer of $2,250 a month while those identifying as female charge a median of $1,750.

When we looked at agency SEOs and freelancers separately, the median for freelancers was much lower, but it was the same for both genders: $750 a month. However, the sample size was quite small. There were only 19 freelancers in the study who primarily use retainers. Among the 119 agency SEOs who use retainer pricing, the median retainer was $2,250 for those identifying as male and $1,750 for those identifying as female. 

Project prices for men are 66.7% higher than for women

Our respondents included 54 agency and contract SEOs who typically charge on a per-project basis. The scope and cost of projects varied greatly, from less than $250 to more than $100,000. But the data showed that overall, men charge more per project — a median of $5,000 vs. $3,000 for female-identifying SEOs. 

We decided to dig deeper and found an interesting exception when we looked at agency SEOs and freelancers separately. 

The price gap was more than three times as wide among those who work in agencies. Our sample included 36 agency SEOs who use per-project pricing. Male-identifying SEOs reported that their agencies charge a median of $8,750 per project while those who identify as women said their agencies charge a median project fee of $2,250. 

The reverse was true among independent SEOs. The sample size was small, so we’re not sure what to make of it, but among the 18 freelance or contract SEOs we polled who charge by the project, women had the edge. Female-identifying freelancers charge a median fee of $3,750 per project to $1,750 for male freelancers. 

One contractor in her 50s hypothesized: “I think women may be more detail-oriented and spend more time with their project. Maybe men may charge less because they have more clients?”

Median hourly rates for male-identifying SEOs are 16.8% higher than for female-identifying SEOs

Our respondents included 57 agency and contract SEOs who typically bill by the hour. Among this group, the median rate is $125 for male-identifying SEOs vs. $107 for female-identifying SEOs. In this case, the difference is largely attributable to more women working as freelancers. The median rate for men and women SEOs at agencies was $125 an hour, and the median rate for both who work as contract or freelance SEOs was $88 an hour. 

Many of the female-identifying SEOs we interviewed said women tend to undervalue themselves and need to be more assertive in negotiating prices.

“I think confidence and not being scared to charge what you’re worth comes into play for the higher rates,” said digital marketing and content specialist Kristine Strange.

Both men and women feel equally supported as in-house SEOs

Some good news for in-house SEOs: When asked about working conditions, frustrations, and pain points, both men and women had very similar responses. Both reported strong levels of interdepartmental cooperation and support for SEO priorities.

Female-identifying SEOs are slightly more satisfied than male-identifying SEOs with in-house SEO resources

The resources available to in-house SEOs are largely dependent on the size and fiscal health of the company that employs them. 

Among in-house SEOs, women are as likely as men to work for enterprise-level companies. We found that 27.1% of male-identifying in-house SEOs and 24.8% of female-identifying in-house SEOs work for companies with more than 250 employees. And 72.9% of male-identifying and 75.2% of female-identifying SEOs work for companies with 250 or fewer employees. 

In-house SEOs across the board rated engineering support as their biggest challenge. Female-identifying SEOs were generally more satisfied than their male peers with the expertise of their teams and their staffing levels. They were equally satisfied with other elements of their SEO programs.

Conclusion

Although there are some very prominent and talented female-identifying SEOs, they are still underrepresented. And when they do enter the field, they are often compensated at lower rates than men. There is no single solution to broadening the talent pool, but we have a few thoughts.

Welcoming industry: The overwhelming number of  women who spoke to us about these findings wished to remain anonymous. We can only assume that means female-identifying SEOs do not feel safe openly discussing issues of gender within an SEO workplace. Silence only serves to bolster the status quo. We must foster an industry culture that does not punish the whistleblower but instead seeks to listen, understand, grow, and improve opportunities for all its members.

Training and mentoring: More than in many other industries, there isn’t one clear path to becoming an SEO. The STEM fields are one training ground, but many other SEOs learn the craft from mentors. To achieve more diversity, which is good for the industry and outcomes, it’s important for girls and those who identify as girls to be supported and welcomed into STEM classes during their student years. 

As an industry, we need to take the job of mentorship seriously. Experienced SEOs can do more to mentor young talent, particularly those who identify as women. Agencies can do more to recruit and hire people with different backgrounds.

Several women whom we interviewed mentioned the importance of mentors and allies:

“I sit in countless calls where I say something and until my CTO repeats what I say, some clients don’t hear me. My CTO is so supportive and wonderful, and he will literally say, ‘She’s right when she says, ‘Blah.’ She’s got 20 years under her belt… .’ Then their light turns on.”

“I’m good at learning complex software and doing complex technical tasks but wasn’t encouraged in this until my recent job — and even then, it wasn’t until I got a female manager that I was recognized for this ability and assigned those kinds of tasks on a regular basis.”

“I spent the first two years double- and triple-checking all my work, backing everything with links from male experts in the industry. One day the CTO told me I didn’t need to do that. He trusted me. I found myself in the bathroom in tears. It took me a long time to stop sending links. (Sometimes I still send links, but only if I think he needs to read them to keep up with me!)”

Transparency about pay and pricing: The taboo about discussing fees and compensation keeps inequities hidden. It’s time to shatter that norm. Independent SEOs should run their pricing plans by mentors of all genders for perspective. Agencies should be sure that skill and experience, not gender, is the driving factor in pay and pricing. 

Don’t undersell yourself: If negotiation doesn’t come naturally to you, spend extra time preparing proposals. Research your competitors and talk with mentors. Focus on the value you’re adding. Be sure to factor in your skill level and experience as it grows. Don’t fall into the confidence gap trap. Even if you don’t tick all of the boxes, if you have most of the qualifications, forge ahead to apply or submit a proposal.

I want to acknowledge the important role that several female-identifying SEOs played in the making of this article. First, I have the privilege of working with some amazing women every day in my SEO agency. Thanks to Cindy Glover, without whom I could not have produced this study. I also want to thank Areej AbuAli whose work in creating the Women in Tech SEO community has been an invaluable resource to the SEO industry and in particular, SEOs who identify as women. Women in Tech SEO not only helps to amplify the voices of those identifying as women within the community, but also helps connect them to each other.

If you wish to explore your own possible implicit bias around issues of gender and career, check out Harvard’s Gender-Career implicit bias test.

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E-commerce: What to do when you can’t make deliveries

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on E-commerce: What to do when you can’t make deliveries

E-commerce: What to do when you can’t make deliveries

Covid-19 is impacting businesses across the world and a lot of industries are taking a hit. E-commerce sites are seeing a particular problem where warehouses and delivery centres are closing and deliveries can no longer be made. 

If that’s a problem facing you and your business at the moment, read on for guidance on how to handle your e-commerce site when you can no longer make deliveries. 

How to communicate Covid-19 updates

Clear communication with customers is always essential. Customers will now be expecting to find Covid-19 announcements or words of reassurance on e-commerce sites. We recommend that communication is specific, in this case, to Covid-19. Here are some options:

Top of page banners 

This banner should provide clear details about any delivery delays or cancellations. We recommend having this banner on every page. If that’s not possible, include it on the homepage and the basket/checkout pages. Link out to the relevant policy or FAQ page.

Here’s an example from Target:

Pop ups

Similar to banners, pop ups should have clear information detailing the change in deliveries. Pop ups can be more intrusive than a top of page banner, so we’d recommend including one on the homepage and the basket/checkout pages. Keep messaging detailed and optimistic.

Here’s an example from M&S:

Update meta descriptions

Use your site’s meta description to let existing and potential customers know how Covid-19 is impacting deliveries. This will appear within the SERP, so include information on free deliveries, delivery cancellations or if it’s “business as usual”.

See this example from ASOS:

Implement Covid-19 specific structured data

Google is now supporting Covid-19 specific structured data, which displays clear updates within the SERP.  Some examples include:

Quarantine guidelines
Travel restrictions
Announcement of an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation
Announcement of revised hours and shopping restrictions

See Google’s guide on Covid-19 special announcement structured data.

Update your FAQ page

Your FAQ page should be updated to reflect any changes to your service. To get an idea of the kind of Covid-19 specific questions people are asking, look at:

Ahrefs for keyword research

Search for Covid-19 related queries (e.g. “covid and international deliveries” or “is coronavirus impacting delivery times”)
Use Ahref’s site search functionality to research competitors and identify if they rank for questions you don’t rank for

Site search data (Google Analytics)

If you have site search tracking enabled, look at the queries being typed into your internal search functionality.

Competitors

Are your competitors including Covid-19 specific FAQs? If so, is this something you can also use?

Industry knowledge

You’re an expert in your industry. What questions would you expect customers to be asking?

How to keep your site functionable 

A website helps users fulfil their needs. Although you may be facing delivery difficulties, you can support your customers in other ways – e.g. allowing them to browse, creating shopping baskets or wishlists.  Keeping your site live is essential and now is the opportunity to prepare for a post Covid-19 recovery. Here is what to focus:

Ensure search engines know that your site is still live and deserves to rank

 Maintaining rankings will be crucial in weathering this storm. Health checks you can make include:

Are there lots of redirects or 404 pages?
Are rank worthy pages (e.g. homepage, category pages) being indexed? 
Are non rank worthy pages (e.g. privacy policy page, duplicate pages) being indexed?
Is the XML sitemap up-to-date?

Find an extensive guide to tech audits here and information on common tech issues of e-commerce sites here.

Keep category and product pages live and updated

Category pages are often essential to rankability, people are often looking for a category rather than a specific product. 

Ensure category and product pages are optimised and include relevant keywords in the meta title and H1

Titles should be no longer than 60 characters 
Ensure there is only one H1 on a page

Ensure categories pages are well linked to from the homepage

Here’s a guide on creating and optimising new category pages and how to write an incredible title tag.

Introduce shopping baskets and wish lists

Allow customers to create wish lists or build up their shopping basket without expiry. Remember, we’re thinking about how to make future sales easy for customers that may be browsing now. 

Example from ASOS:

How to collect and use customer data

Now is a great time to understand your customers and the journey they take across your site. As mentioned earlier, customers will still be looking for products. Here are some ways to gather and optimise that data:

Ensure your analytics tracking is correctly set up and accurate

If sales are down, this is also a good time to explore the customer journey and map out any areas where the journey can be optimised. For example, are you finding customers are landing on product pages instead of category pages and fail to make a purchase?

Read more on how to conduct a Google Analytics audit.

Encourage customers to subscribe to be notified when delivery is available

As well as data collection, this offers the customer an extra service which they might not have previously had, helping customer relationships and therefore, retention. Any data collected through subscription can be used for retargeting during this period and post Covid-19.

How to write engaging content

So your sales have dropped and you can no longer make deliveries, how else can you engage the customer?  Write some great content! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Write top of funnel content 

Top of funnel content can capture potential customers and lead them down the path to purchasing. This type of content is worth investing in now, as it’ll pay off in the future. Some examples include:

Evergreen seasonal content – this content will be relevant every year and can be easily recycled in the future.
Timely content around Covid-19. We are seeing sites writing content around working from home, wellbeing and things to do whilst isolating. This content is highly relevant and relatable during this period.
What are your competitors writing about? Use Ahrefs to discover related queries and content ideas to your industry. Protip: find which keywords your competitors rank for that you don’t using Ahref’s Content GAP functionality.

Check out this guide to writing content for organic traffic.

Example: Lush.com (UK)

Lush can no longer make deliveries. They have communicated clearly to customers that deliveries can’t be made, kept category and product pages live and are instead showcasing related content. The screenshots below are taken from their homepage. 

To communicate the lack of deliveries to customers, Lush have provided a banner and large announcement above the fold on the homepage. This communication is clear and links out to a more detailed article.

Instead of displaying products on the homepage, Lush are now showcasing relevant content such as, a guide to looking after your hands and recommendations on “ways to cope” during Covid-19.

The top nav allows customers to easily contact Lush, browse for products and access their basket. Although orders can’t be made, Lush does encourage customers to signup to create wishlists instead.

Final thoughts

Although the world is experiencing a period of uncertainty and disruption, take the time now to prepare your site and business for a post-Covid world. Investing time into ensuring your site is healthy, that  content is being written and that customers feel supported will pay off. Now is the time to pay more attention to customer support, retention and brand reputation in preparation for the future.

Share any of your e-commerce tips and tricks with us!

Yoast SEO 14.8: Related links block in Premium, a new Schema tab and Arabic keyphrase recognition

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Yoast SEO 14.8: Related links block in Premium, a new Schema tab and Arabic keyphrase recognition

Yoast SEO 14.8: Related links block in Premium, a new Schema tab and Arabic keyphrase recognition

Get ready for a brand new version of Yoast SEO! The 14.8 release is so full of remarkable free and premium features we’re having a hard time mentioning them all in this short introduction. So, to make everyone’s life easier, let’s start this post with a list of new features.

In Yoast SEO 14.8, you’ll find:

A super easy Related links block in Yoast SEO PremiumA brand new schema tab in the Yoast SEO meta boxArabic keyphrase recognition: the first of more right-to-left languages!An improved readability analysis for Portuguese & Indonesian

Easily add related links with a block

We can’t stress the importance of site structure for SEO enough. That’s one of the reasons why Yoast SEO Premium 14.7 came with a completely revised internal linking tool. Today, we’ll add a new tool to your internal linking toolkit! In addition to the subpages and siblings block for the WordPress block editor, Premium now gives you access to a Related links block for your posts and pages.

This is how it works: If you have Yoast SEO premium, you’ll see internal linking suggestions on the right-hand side of the post editor. Since Yoast SEO 14.7, you’ll find 5 suggestions for links, including posts, pages, tags, or categories. You can select which ones you’d like to include in your post. Now, with the Related links block, it became even easier to add these links! If you’d wish to include them all, for instance as a list of suggested readings below your post, just use the Yoast Related links block.

You’ll find the Related links block by clicking on the plus sign in the WordPress Block editor and searching for Yoast. Of course, you can customize which links will be in the block, as you know your audience best. Let’s see how it works here:

Get Yoast SEO Premium ▸Only $89 USD (ex VAT)

A Schema settings tab: tell Google more about your post or page

Adding Schema to your website helps Google understand what it’s about. This, in turn, helps Google serve the best result to their users. If you have Yoast SEO installed, it already provides Google with the right Schema on your posts and pages, as well as a full structured data graph of your site. This graph shows Google how content on your site relates to each other. In most cases, this is all you need.

In some cases though, you might want some more granular control to further specify with schema what a page is about. By default, Yoast SEO describes all your Pages by using WebPage schema and your Posts by Article schema. But perhaps you’d like to tell Google one of your pages is your Contact page. You can now easily do this in the new Schema tab that you’ll find in the Yoast SEO meta box.

Want to change the Schema settings of a post? Just select the type of page or article in the dropdown:

The Schema tab of the Yoast SEO meta box

Why use the Schema tab?

Hi, Rich Snippet here. Your guide when it comes to Schema, structured data and everything related.

Using Schema can get you those rich results in Google. And that’s kind of awesome, because they will help you stand out. Just like me. So make sure to use this Schema tab where and when you can!

In this article on changing Schema settings you’ll find a list of page and post types you can change it to. It also explains how to change the default setting of a post type in Yoast SEO’s search appearance settings. That’s not something for the faint of heart though, so please read the article before tinkering with these settings.

Want to see our new Schema tab in action? In this video we’ll show you what it looks like:

Arabic keyphrase recognition

Do you write content in Arabic? Then we have some great news for you! Yoast SEO is now able to better analyze right-to-left languages. This is the first step of a proper SEO analysis for these languages. We proudly announce that Arabic is the first right-to-left language we now also offer keyphrase recognition for.

As of the 14.8 release, Yoast SEO recognizes Arabic sentences and words and it even filters out the function words. This means our plugin can properly check whether you’ve used your Arabic focus keyphrase in, for instance, your introduction, slug, and headings. These, what we call, keyphrase-based checks, help you use your focus keyphrase in the right places. This, in turn, will help Google understand what topics you’re writing about and match it with people’s search terms. In fact, this is one of the all-time basics of SEO.

So, now, you can use these checks to optimize your content in Arabic with Yoast SEO! And this is just the start. Be prepared for the addition of more right-to-left languages in Yoast SEO releases soon.

Interested in how we improved the analysis of right-to-left languages? Our linguist Manuel explains all about splitting RTL texts into sentences here.

Improved readability for Portuguese & Indonesian

In Yoast SEO 14.6, Yoast SEO Premium came with Portuguese and Indonesian (Bahasa) word form recognition. Today, we’re expanding the free features for these two languages to provide you with better feedback on the readability of your copy in Portuguese and Indonesian. To give an example of one of these checks, the analysis will calculate whether you’re using passive voice too often in your copy. This is great news for your readers and search engines, as they both love text that is easy to read.

With the addition of these checks, you can now get an even better readability analysis of Portuguese – de nada! – and Indonesian – sama-sama! – with Yoast SEO. Want to know if we offer a readability analysis or word form recognition in your language? Check the list of features per language here.

Yoast SEO 14.8: Something for everyone

Yoast SEO 14.8 comes with enhancements on many areas of SEO: from Schema to keyphrase optimization, and readability to internal linking. We hope there’s something in it that makes you happy too. Please let us know in the comments!

Get Yoast SEO Premium ▸Only $89 USD (ex VAT)

For all fixes and enhancements, feel free to check out the Yoast SEO changelog.

The post Yoast SEO 14.8: Related links block in Premium, a new Schema tab and Arabic keyphrase recognition appeared first on Yoast.

Video: Pam Auugst on SEO automation & XML sitemaps

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Video: Pam Auugst on SEO automation & XML sitemaps

I’ve got to say, this was a weird video edit because it was recorded the last day I was in my office before the COVID-19 lockdown in New York — and now, I’m publishing it after almost six months of working from home. It is very surreal, but let’s get back to SEO because that is what Pam Auugst of  Pam Ann Marketing and I spoke about that day.

We first talked about SEO automation and how often automating some of the more mundane and receptive SEO tasks can be a huge win-win for both your agency and your clients. Pam has been able to automate some of her daily SEO tasks using Python and spreadsheets; she said doing this is both science and art. It is good advice, SEOs should look to automate reporting, billing and other administrative tasks when possible. But, not all SEO can be automated.

We also spoke about XML sitemaps and the fact that they should not just be published once and forgotten about. She said the sitemaps need to be managed over time, over content and features changes, and then audited. Don’t just push all your URLs to Google in your sitemap files, make sure the content you push is valuable and make sure the content is actually there. CMS platforms can often automate this, but sometimes it can lead to a lot of URLs being submitted to Google you probably do not want to submit.

You can learn more about Pam @pamannmarketing and here is the video:

I started this vlog series recently, and if you want to sign up to be interviewed, you can fill out this form on Search Engine Roundtable. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here. I am currently looking to do socially distant, outside interviews in the NY/NJ tri-state area.

The post Video: Pam Auugst on SEO automation & XML sitemaps appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Site structure: the ultimate guide

Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Site structure: the ultimate guide

Site structure: the ultimate guide

Your site needs to have a defined structure, because without it, it’ll just be a random collection of pages and blog posts. Your users need this structure to navigate on your site, to click from one page to another. Google also uses the structure of your site to determine what content is important and what is less relevant. This guide tells you everything you need to know about site structure.

Table of contents

Why is your site structure important?Importance for usabilityImportance for SEOHow to set up the structure of your siteIdeal site structureYour homepageNavigationTaxonomiesContextual internal linkingContextual linking for blogsContextual linking opportunities for online shopsLanding pagesSearch intentCornerstone content pagesProduct landing pagesMaintaining your site structureEvaluate your menuRethink your taxonomyClean up outdated contentAvoid keyword cannibalizationInternal linking with Yoast SEOSite structure: in short

Why is your site structure important?

Structuring your website is crucial for both its usability and findability. Many sites lack a sound structure to guide visitors to the information they’re looking for. Having a clear site structure also leads to a better understanding of your site by Google, so it’s incredibly important for your SEO. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

Importance for usability

The structure of your website has a significant impact on the experience for your visitors (UX). If visitors can’t find the products and information they’re looking for, it’s not very likely they’ll become regular visitors or customers. In other words, you should help them navigate your site. A good site structure will help with this.

Navigating should be easy. You need to categorize and link your posts and products so they are easy to find. New visitors should be able to instantly grasp what you’re writing about or selling.

Importance for SEO

A solid site structure vastly improves your chances of ranking in search engines. There are three main reasons for this:

a. It helps Google ‘understand’ your site

The way you structure your site will give Google vital clues about where to find the most valuable content on your site. It helps search engines understand what your site mainly is about or what you’re selling. A decent site structure also enables search engines to find and index content quickly. A good structure should, therefore, lead to a higher ranking in Google.

b. It prevents you from competing with yourself

On your site, you might have blog posts that are quite similar. If, for example, you write a lot about SEO, you could have multiple blog posts about site structure, each covering a different aspect. Consequently, Google won’t be able to tell which of these pages is the most important, so you’ll be competing with your own content for a high ranking in Google. You should let Google know which page you think is most important. You need a good internal linking and taxonomy structure to do this, so all those pages can work for you, instead of against you.

c. It deals with changes on your website

The products you sell in your shop likely evolve over time. So does the content you’re writing. You probably add new product lines as old stock sells out. Or you write new articles that make old ones redundant. You don’t want Google to show outdated products or deleted blog posts, so you need to deal with these kinds of changes in the structure of your site.

Are you struggling with setting up your site’s structure? Don’t know what the best strategy is to link from one post to another? Check out our Site structure training, part of our Yoast SEO academy training subscription. Before you know it, you’ll be able to improve your rankings by creating the best structure for your site!

How to set up the structure of your site

So, how do you construct a solid site structure? First, we’ll look at an ideal site structure; then we’ll explain how to achieve this for your own site.

Ideal site structure

Let’s start by looking at an ideal situation: if you’re starting from scratch, how should you organize your site? We think a well-organized website looks like a pyramid with a number of levels:

1. Homepage

2. Categories (or sections)

3. Subcategories (only for larger sites)

4. Individual pages and posts

The homepage should be all the way at the top. Then, you have some sections or category pages beneath it. You should be able to file all of your content under one of these categories. If your site is larger, you can divide these sections or categories into subcategories as well. Beneath your categories or subcategories are your individual pages and posts.

An ideal site structure looks like a pyramid. On top you’ll find the homepage, right below that the main sections or categories, possibly followed by subcategories. On the ground you’ll find all the individual posts and pages.

Your homepage

On top of the pyramid is the homepage. Your homepage should act as a navigation hub for your visitors. This means, amongst others, that you should link to your most important pages from your homepage. By doing this:

Your visitors are more likely to end up on the pages you want them to end up on;You show Google that these pages are important.

Further down this article, we’ll help you determine which of your pages are essential to your business.

Beware not to try to link to too many pages from your homepage, because that will cause clutter. And a cluttered homepage doesn’t guide your visitors anywhere. If you want to optimize your homepage further, there are a lot of other things you can do. Read Michiel’s article on homepage SEO to find out what.

Navigation

In addition to having a well-structured homepage, it’s also important to create a clear navigation path on your site. Your site-wide navigation consists of two main elements: the menu and the breadcrumbs.

The menu

First, let’s take a look at the menu. The website menu is the most common aid for navigation on your website and you want to make the best possible use of it. Visitors use your menu to find things on your website. It helps them understand the structure of your website. That’s why the main categories on your site should all have a place in the menu on your homepage.

Furthermore, it’s not always necessary to put everything in just one menu. If you have a big site with lots of categories, this may clutter your website and makes your main menu a poor reflection of the rest of your site. Where it makes sense, it’s perfectly fine to create a second menu.

For instance, eBay has one menu at the top of the page – also called the top bar menu – and in addition to that, a main menu. This top bar menu links to important pages that aren’t categories in the shop, like pages that have to do with the visitor’s personal account on the site. The main menu reflects the most important product categories on eBay.

Finally, just like on your homepage, you shouldn’t add too many links to your menu. If you do, they will become less valuable, both for your users and for search engines.

Read all about optimizing your website’s menu here or take our site structure training that includes lots of examples!

Breadcrumb trail

You can make your site’s structure even clearer by adding breadcrumbs to your pages. Breadcrumbs are clickable links that are usually visible at the top of a page or post. Breadcrumbs reflect the structure of your site. They help visitors determine where they are on your site. They improve both the user experience as well as the SEO of your site, as you can read in Edwin’s guide on breadcrumbs.

If you use a WordPress site, you can use one of the many breadcrumb plugins that are available. You can also use our Yoast SEO plugin, as we’ve implemented a breadcrumb functionality in our plugin as well.

Taxonomies

WordPress uses so-called taxonomies to group content (other CMSs often have similar systems). The word ‘taxonomy’ is basically a fancy term for a group of things – website pages, in this case – that have something in common. This is convenient because people looking for more information on the same topic will be able to find similar articles more easily. You can group content in different ways. The default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags.

Categories

You should divide the blog posts or products on your site into a number of categories. If these categories grow too big, you should divide these categories into subcategories, to clear things up again. For example, if you have a clothing store and you sell shoes, you can decide to divide this category into a number of subcategories: ‘boots’, ‘heels’, and ‘flats’. All of these subcategories contain products, in this case shoes, of that specific type.

Adding this hierarchy and categorizing to your pages helps your user and Google make sense of every single page you write. When implementing your category structure, make sure to add your main categories to the main menu of your site.

Read on: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

Tags

Your site’s structure will also benefit from adding tags. The difference between a category and a tag mostly has to do with structure. Categories are hierarchical: you can have subcategories and even sub-subcategories. Tags, however, don’t have that hierarchy. Tags just say: “Hey, this article or product has a certain property that might be interesting for a visitor.” Think of it like this: categories are the table of contents of your website, and tags are the index. A tag for the online clothing store mentioned above could be a brand, for instance, Timberlands.

Keep on reading: What is the difference between tags and categories? »

Try not to create too many tags. If you add a new unique tag to every post or article, you’re not structuring anything. Make sure each tag is used at least twice, and that your tags group articles that genuinely belong together.

Some WordPress themes display tags with each post, but some don’t. Make sure your tags are available to your visitors somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article or in the sidebar. Google isn’t the only one that likes tags: they are useful for your visitors too, who may want to read more about the same topic.

Read more: Tagging post properly for users and SEO »

Contextual internal linking

Site structure is all about grouping and linking the content on your site. Until now, we mostly discussed so-called classifying links: links on your homepage, in your navigation and taxonomies. Contextual links, on the other hand, are internal links within the copy on your pages that refer to other pages within your site. For a link to be contextual, the page you link to should be relevant for someone reading the current page. If you look at the previous paragraph, for instance, we link to a post about tagging, so people can learn more about it if they’re interested.

Your most important pages are probably often very relevant to mention on several pages across your site, so you’ll link to them most often. Just remember that not only the page you’re linking to is relevant, the context of the link is important as well.

Google uses the context of your links to gather information about the page you’re linking to. It always used the anchor text (or link text) to understand what the page you’re linking to is about. But the anchor text isn’t the only thing Google looks at. Nowadays, it also considers the content around the link to gather extra information. Google is becoming better at recognizing related words and concepts. Adding links from a meaningful context allows Google to properly value and rank your pages. Yoast SEO Premium makes internal linking a breeze by automatically suggesting relevant content from your site to link to.

Contextual linking for blogs

For blogs you should write extensively on the topics you’d like to rank for. You should write some main articles (your cornerstone articles) and write various posts about subtopics of that topic. Then link from these related posts to your cornerstone articles, and from the cornerstone articles back to related posts. In this way, you’ll make sure that your most important pages have both the most links and the most relevant links.

The following metaphor might help you understand this principle: Imagine you’re looking at a map of a state or country. You’ll probably see many small towns and some bigger cities. All towns and cities will be interconnected somehow. You’ll notice that small towns often have roads leading to the big cities. Those cities are your cornerstones, receiving the most links. The small towns are your posts on more specific topics. There are some roads (links) leading to these smaller towns, but not as much as to the big cities.

Keep reading: Internal linking why and how »

Contextual linking opportunities for online shops

Contextual internal linking works differently on an online shop with very few to no pages that are exclusively meant to inform. You don’t explore a specific topic on your product pages: you’re selling a product. Therefore, on product pages, you mostly want to keep people on a page and convince them to buy the product. Consequently, contextual linking is far less prominent in this context. You generally shouldn’t add contextual links to your product descriptions, because it could lead to people clicking away from the page.

There are just a couple of meaningful ways of adding contextual links to your product pages:

link from a product bundle page to the individual productsa ‘related items’ or ‘compare with similar items’ sectiona ‘customers also bought’ sectiona ‘product bundles’ or ‘frequently bought together’ section.

Learn all about setting up a great (internal linking) structure for your online store with our Site structure training, part of our Yoast SEO academy training subscription. We’ve included lots of examples from real websites!

Landing pages

Landing pages are the pages you want your audience to find when they search for specific keywords you’ve optimized for. For instance, we want people who search for ‘free SEO training’ to end up on the page about our free training called ‘SEO for beginners’. You need to approach the content of your most important landing pages differently than your other, regular pages.

Here, we’ll discuss two types of landing pages: cornerstone pages and product landing pages. They’re both pages you’d like people to land on from the search engines, but they require quite a different approach. But first, we’ll shortly go into search intent, because you have to know what your audience is really looking for.

Search intent

When setting up your site structure, you need to think about search intent. It’s about what you think people are looking for when they enter a query into a search engine. What do people want to find? And: what do they expect to find?

Take the time to think about different possibilities in search intent, as you might want to cater to different types on your site. Are people just looking for an answer to a question or a definition? Are they comparing products before purchase? Or, are they intending to buy something right away? This is often reflected in the type of query they make. You can also use the search results pages to create intent-based content.

When you have idea of the search intent it’s essential to make sure your landing page fits the search intent of your audience. Pages can answer more than one search intent, but you need a clear view for at least your most important pages.

Read all about search intent and why it’s important for SEO.

Cornerstone content pages

Cornerstone articles are the most important informational articles on your website. Their focus is to provide the best and most complete information on a particular topic, their main goal is not to sell products.

Because of this focus, we usually think of blogs when talking about cornerstone content. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can only be a blog post. All different kinds of websites have cornerstone articles! Rule of thumb: if an article brings everything you know about a broad topic together, it’s a cornerstone content article.

In this article, Marieke explains what cornerstone content is and how to create it.

Product landing pages

Product landing pages significantly differ from cornerstone articles. The latter are lengthy, where product landing pages shouldn’t be that long. Rather than complete articles, they should be focused. These pages only need to show what your visitors need to know to be convinced. They don’t need to hold all the information.

You obviously want to rank with these pages though, and that means they need content. Enough content for Google to understand what the page is about and what keyword it should rank for. Where cornerstone articles could be made up by thousands of words, a couple of hundreds could be enough for product landing pages. The main focus of the content should be on your products.

Michiel listed all the essentials of your product landing page here.

Maintaining your site structure

Structuring or restructuring your content doesn’t always have high priority within everything you have to do. Especially when you blog a lot, or add other content regularly, it might feel like a chore. Although it isn’t always fun, you have to do it, or your website might become a mess. To prevent that from happening, you need to not only fix your site structure but keep an eye on it while adding new content. Site structure should definitely be part of your long-term SEO strategy.

Evaluate your menu

When your business goal or website changes, your menu also needs to change. When you start thinking about restructuring your site, planning things visually will pay off. Make a flowchart.

Start with your new menu one or two levels deep and see if you can fit in more of the pages you have created over the years. You’ll find that some pages are still valid, but don’t seem relevant for your menu anymore. No problem, just be sure to link to them on related pages and in your sitemaps, so that Google and your visitors can still find these pages. The flowchart will also show you any gaps in the site structure.

Read on: Optimizing your website menu »

Rethink your taxonomy

Creating an overview of your categories, subcategories and products or posts will also help you to rethink your site’s taxonomy. This could be a simple spreadsheet, but you can use more visual tools like LucidChart or MindNode too.

Do your product categories and subcategories still provide a logical overview of your product range or your posts and pages? Perhaps you’ve noticed somewhere down the line that one category has been far more successful than others, or maybe you wrote a lot of blog posts on one subject and very few on others.

If one category grows much larger than others, your site’s pyramid could be thrown off balance. Think about splitting this category into different categories. But, if some product lines end up much smaller than others, you might want to merge them. Don’t forget to redirect the ones you delete.

In the unlikely event you have built your HTML sitemap manually, update that sitemap after changing your site structure. In the far more likely event you have an XML sitemapre-submit it to Google Search Console.

Keep on reading: The structure of a growing blog »

Clean up outdated content

Some outdated articles you might be able to update and republish, to make them relevant again. If an article is outdated but no one reads it anyway, you might opt for getting rid of it altogether. This could clean up your site nicely.

What you should know in that case, is that you should never just delete a page or article. If Google cannot find the page it serves your user a 404 error page. Both the search engine and your visitor will see this error message saying the page doesn’t exist, and that is a bad experience and thus, bad for your SEO.

Be smart about this! You need to properly redirect the URL of the page you’re deleting, so your user (and Google) lands on a different page that is relevant to them. That could even improve your SEO!

Avoid keyword cannibalization

Your website is about a specific topic, which could be quite broad or rather specific. While adding content, you should be aware of keyword cannibalization. If you’re optimizing your articles for keywords that are all too similar, you’ll be devouring your own chances of ranking in Google. If you optimize different articles for similar key terms, you’ll be competing with yourself, and it’ll make both pages rank lower.

If you suffer from keyword cannibilization you’ll have some work to do. In short, you should research the performance of your content, and probably merge and redirect some of it.  When merging posts, we recommend creating a new draft by cloning one of the original posts with Yoast Duplicate Post plugin. This gives you the freedom to work on your merged post without making these changes to a live post. Read the guide by Joost to learn more about keyword cannibalization and how to fix it.

Internal linking with Yoast SEO

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this advice? Yoast SEO has some handy tools to make internal linking so much easier.

Yoast SEO’s text link counter visualizes your links so you can optimize them. It shows the internal links in a post and the internal links to a post. You can use this tool to enhance your site structure, by improving the links between your related posts. Make sure your cornerstones get the most (relevant) links!

Yoast SEO Premium helps you with your internal linking as well. Our internal linking suggestions tool will show you which articles are related to the one you’re writing, so you can easily link to them: just by dragging the link into your editor!

The internal linking suggestions even include other content types

Moreover, our tool allows you to indicate which articles you consider to be cornerstone content on your site. This way those articles will be shown on top of the internal linking suggestions. You’ll never forget to link to them again.

Read more: How to use Yoast SEO for your cornerstone content strategy »

Site structure: in short

As we have seen, there are several reasons why site structure is important. Good site structure helps both your visitors and Google navigate your site. It makes it easier to implement changes and prevents competing with your own content. So use the tips and pointers in this guide to check and improve your site structure. That way, you’ll stay on top of things and keep your website from growing out of control!

Want to get improve your site structure, but don’t know where to start? Get our Site structure training! It’s part of our Yoast SEO academy training subscription. We’ll guide you through the process step by step. 

Keep reading: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites »

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Managing Algorithmic Volatility

Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Managing Algorithmic Volatility

Managing Algorithmic Volatility

Upon the recently announced Google update I’ve seen some people Tweet things like

if you are afraid of algorithm updates, you must be a crappy SEO
if you are technically perfect in your SEO, updates will only help you

I read those sorts of lines and cringe.

Here’s why…

Fragility

Different businesses, business models, and business structures have varying degrees of fragility.

If your business is almost entirely based on serving clients then no matter what you do there is going to be a diverse range of outcomes for clients on any major update.

Let’s say 40% of your clients are utterly unaffected by an update & of those who saw any noticeable impact there was a 2:1 ratio in your favor, with twice as many clients improving as falling.

Is that a good update? Does that work well for you?

If you do nothing other than client services as your entire business model, then that update will likely suck for you even though the net client impact was positive.

Why?

Many businesses are hurting after the Covid-19 crisis. Entire categories have been gutted & many people are looking for any reason possible to pull back on budget. Some of the clients who won big on the update might end up cutting their SEO budget figuring they had already won big and that problem was already sorted.

Some of the clients that fell hard are also likely to either cut their budget or call endlessly asking for updates and stressing the hell out of your team.

Capacity Utilization Impacts Profit Margins

Your capacity utilization depends on how high you can keep your steady state load relative to what your load looks like at peaks. When there are big updates management or founders can decide to work double shifts and do other things to temporarily deal with increased loads at the peak, but that can still be stressful as hell & eat away at your mental and physical health as sleep and exercise are curtailed while diet gets worse. The stress can be immense if clients want results almost immediately & the next big algorithm update which reflects your current work may not happen for another quarter year.

How many clients want to be told that their investments went sour but the problem was they needed to double their investment while cashflow is tight and wait a season or two while holding on to hope?

Category-based Fragility

Businesses which appear to be diversified often are not.

Everything in hospitality was clipped by Covid-19.
40% of small businesses across the United States have stopped making rent payments.
When restaurants massively close that’s going to hit Yelp’s business hard.
Auto sales are off sharply.

Likewise there can be other commonalities in sites which get hit during an update. Not only could it include business category, but it could also be business size, promotional strategies, etc.

Sustained profits either come from brand strength, creative differentiation, or systemization. Many prospective clients do not have the budget to build a strong brand nor the willingness to create something that is truly differentiated. That leaves systemization. Systemization can leave footprints which act as statistical outliers that can be easily neutralized.

Sharp changes can happen at any point in time.

For years Google was funding absolute garbage like Mahalo autogenerated spam and eHow with each month being a new record. It is very hard to say “we are doing it wrong” or “we need to change everything” when it works month after month after month.

Then an update happens and poof.

Was eHow decent back in the first Internet bubble? Sure. But it lost money.
Was it decent after it got bought out for a song and had the paywall dropped in favor of using the new Google AdSense program? Sure.
Was it decent the day Demand Media acquired it? Sure.
Was it decent on the day of the Demand Media IPO? Almost certainly not. But there was a lag between that day and getting penalized.
Panda Trivia

The first Panda update missed eHow because journalists were so outraged by the narrative associated with the pump-n-dump IPO. They feared their jobs going away and being displaced by that low level garbage, particularly as the market cap of Demand Media eclipsed the New York Times.

Journalist coverage of the pump-n-dump IPO added credence to it from an algorithmic perspective. By constantly writing hate about eHow they made eHow look like a popular brand, generating algorithmic signals that carried the site until Google created an extension which allowed journalists and other webmasters to vote against the site they had been voting for through all their outrage coverage.

Algorithms & the Very Visible Hand

And all algorithmic channels like organic search, the Facebook news feed, or Amazon’s product pages go through large shifts across time. If they don’t, they get gamed, repetitive, and lose relevance as consumer tastes change and upstarts like Tiktok emerge.

Consolidation by the Attention Merchants

Frequent product updates, cloning of upstarts, or outright acquisitions are required to maintain control of distribution:

“The startups of the Rebellion benefited tremendously from 2009 to 2012. But from 2013 on, the spoils of smartphone growth went to an entirely different group: the Empire. … A network effect to engage your users, AND preferred distribution channels to grow, AND the best resources to build products? Oh my! It’s no wonder why the Empire has captured so much smartphone value and created a dark time for the Rebellion. … Now startups are fighting for only 5% of the top spots as the Top Free Apps list is dominated by incumbents. Facebook (4 apps), Google (6 apps), and Amazon (4 apps) EACH have as many apps in the Top 100 list as all the new startups combined.”

Apple & Amazon

Emojis are popular, so those features got copied, those apps got blocked & then apps using the official emojis also got blocked from distribution. The same thing happens with products on Amazon.com in terms of getting undercut by a house brand which was funded by using the vendor’s sales data. Re-buy your brand or else.

Facebook

Before the Facebook IPO some thought buying Zynga shares was a backdoor way to invest into Facebook because gaming was such a large part of the ecosystem. That turned out to be a dumb thesis and horrible trade. At times other things trended including quizzes, videos, live videos, news, self hosted Instant Articles, etc.

Over time the general trend was edge rank of professional publishers fell as a greater share of inventory went to content from friends & advertisers. The metrics associated with the ads often overstated their contribution to sales due to bogus math and selection bias.

Internet-first publishers like CollegeHumor struggled to keep up with the changes & influencers waiting for a Facebook deal had to monetize using third parties:

“I did 1.8 billion views last year,” [Ryan Hamilton] said. “I made no money from Facebook. Not even a dollar.” … “While waiting for Facebook to invite them into a revenue-sharing program, some influencers struck deals with viral publishers such as Diply and LittleThings, which paid the creators to share links on their pages. Those publishers paid top influencers around $500 per link, often with multiple links being posted per day, according to a person who reached such deals.”

YouTube

YouTube had a Panda-like update back in 2012 to favor watch time over raw view counts. They also adjust the ranking algorithms on breaking news topics to favor large & trusted channels over conspiracy theorist content, alternative health advice, hate speech & ridiculous memes like the Tide pod challenge.

All unproven channels need to start somewhat open to gain usage, feedback & marketshare. Once they become real businesses they clamp down. Some of the clamp down can be editorial, forced by regulators, or simply anticompetitive monpolistic abuse.

Kid videos were a huge area on YouTube (perhaps still are) but that area got cleaned up after autogenerated junk videos were covered & the FTC clipped YouTube for delivering targeted ads on channels which primarily catered to children.

Dominant channels can enforce tying & bundling to wipe out competitors:

“Google’s response to the threat from AppNexus was that of a classic monopolist. They announced that YouTube would no longer allow third-party advertising technology. This was a devastating move for AppNexus and other independent ad technology companies. YouTube was (and is) the largest ad-supported video publisher, with more than 50% market share in most major markets. … Over the next few months, Google’s ad technology team went to each of our clients and told them that, regardless of how much they liked working with AppNexus, they would have to also use Google’s ad technology products to continue buying YouTube. This is the definition of bundling, and we had no recourse. Even WPP, our largest customer and largest investors, had no choice but to start using Google’s technology. AppNexus growth slowed, and we were forced to lay off 100 employees in 2016.”

Everyone Else

Every moderately large platform like eBay, Etsy, Zillow, TripAdvisor or the above sorts of companies runs into these sorts of issues with changing distribution & how they charge for distribution.

Building Anti-fragility Into Your Business Model

Growing as fast as you can until the economy craters or an algorithm clips you almost guarantees a hard fall along with an inability to deal with it.

Markets ebb and flow. And that would be true even if the above algorithmic platforms did not make large, sudden shifts.

Build Optionality Into Your Business Model

If your business primarily relies on publishing your own websites or you have a mix of a few clients and your own sites then you have a bit more optionality to your approach in dealing with updates.

Even if you only have one site and your business goes to crap maybe you at least temporarily take on a few more consulting clients or do other gig work to make ends meet.

Focus on What is Working

If you have a number of websites you can pour more resources into whatever sites reacted positively to the update while (at least temporarily) ignoring any site that was burned to a crisp.

Ignore the Dead Projects

The holding cost of many websites is close to zero unless they use proprietary and complex content management systems. Waiting out a penalty until you run out of obvious improvements on your winning sites is not a bad strategy. Plus, if you think the burned site is going to be perpetually burned to a crisp (alternative health anyone?) then you could sell links off it or generate other alternative revenue streams not directly reliant on search rankings.

Build a Cushion

If you have cash savings maybe you guy out and buy some websites or domain names from other people who are scared of the volatility or got clipped for issues you think you could easily fix.

When the tide goes out debt leverage limits your optionality. Savings gives you optionality. Having slack in your schedule also gives you optionality.

The person with a lot of experience & savings would love to see highly volatile search markets because those will wash out some of the competition, curtail investments from existing players, and make other potential competitors more hesitant to enter the market.

Categories: internet

How do You Develop a Content Style Guide?

Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How do You Develop a Content Style Guide?

How do You Develop a Content Style Guide?

Do you have multiple writers writing for your website? Or are you a writer yourself working on different projects like website copy, emails, newsletters and more?

The way you write matters when it comes to expressing yourself before your audience. That is why you need to know precisely what governs your style of writing.

For every brand, consistency in style, grammar, tone, and punctuation are essential tools to make your content enjoyable and engaging. All this can only be achieved if you have a content style guide – and stick with it.

Content style guide creates uniformity besides allowing your content to entice the reader. So, how do you develop a compelling style guide? Read on to find the right answers.

The Importance of Style Guide

A content style guide describes a set of organized rules that you need to follow for your copywriting.

Such rules will help you when creating website content like social media posts, blog articles, email content, eBooks, webpages and any form of online writing.  

i)It Promotes Consistency

At this age of information technology, people are getting smarter each day. This is to say that if your brand is not consistent, they will easily notice. 

For instance, if you create compelling and engaging content on one platform but submit substandard content on another, they may not recognize your brand. Therefore, you need to maintain consistency to allow your audience to easily identify your brand.

When you think about Apple’s copywriting, what comes to your mind?

It’s usually attention-grabbing, descriptive, but also sounds crisp and professional.

It’s only possible for me to describe their copywriting style because it has been consistently not only for all of its marketing efforts, but also throughout the years.

Stay consistent, and your clients will remember you better.

ii)It Gives Priority to Your Audience

The idea behind content style guides is to enable you to communicate more effectively with your audiences. What you include in your style should meet their needs and expectations in every content you create. 

Let’s look at Apple again as an example, they are a tech company and offers products with a premium price tag. Now, how can they wow the crowd and make them overlook the hefty price tag?

Copywriting wise, Apple always make sure to dash out the specs of their products in an easily consumable way, and turn it into a wow factor.

They know those willing to drop big bucks are expecting the get the best. And through their copywriting, they make sure to promise you the best.

This is the reason why your content must be relevant to their behaviors, interests, and activities. In other words, your style guide should give priority to your audiences’ needs in a more impactful way.

iii) It Encourages Good Practice

The first step in creating the best content for your target audience is to carry out a thorough research on the subject matter. 

A good content style guide is created with its purpose in mind.

Your brand, business goals, audience, and close competitors will influence your content style guide as well. This means that you should strive to get more insight into what you are trying to present to your audience. 

Apply what kind of knowledge you have acquired such as discovery sessions, stakeholder interviews, and content audits. All these give you a good starting point.

iv) It Creates Good Content

The content style guide is all about how you communicate with others. This is important, especially when creating a brand for a particular audience.

Despite the style guide being a practical resource, it is also a commitment to creating relevant content. So punctuation, formatting, and grammar should determine the quality of your work

Luckily, the content style guide helps you to keep all this in check. Other elements such as trends, personality and brand values come in later to make your content even better.

Steps to Creating a Style Guide

Here are the steps to follow:

i)Express Your Personality in Three Words

Look out for three important words that describe your personality. Also, make sure to add an explanation of what the three words mean. 

For example, a single word can have several meanings to different people. By providing the meaning of each word, you will help your audience to understand your message better.

Are you young, ambitious, and friendly? Or are you traditional, precise, and details oriented? 

With this firmly in mind, it can greatly change your brand’s image through copywriting.

ii) Find Out What Makes You Stand Out in the Crowd

In this step, you should only focus on relevant information about what gives you an edge over others.

Don’t dwell so much on controversial content in a bid to capture the attention of your audience. Just go straight to the point and state clearly what makes you or your brand unique from your competitors.

For example, TOMS is a footwear brand, but they are also known for their eco-friendly and charitable approach. Because they made sure that everyone knows about that.

Be like TOMS.

TOMS’ copywriting and marketing as a whole focuses heavily on their environmental-friendly, and charity activities. Which is what sets them apart from so many other footwear brands. 

iii)Pay Attention to Your Audience

You need to know what your audience could be thinking when reading your content. This helps you create something that will stand out to them more, and thus closer to their heart.

They might be used to their usual brands but still looking for better options. Take advantage of their situation and pay attention to what they want, can you offer a better price? Or perfects round the clock customer support? Highlight those to turn a visitor into a customer.

Also useful, is to find out as much as you can about how they communicate. 

Take advantage of their situation and pay attention to what they want. Find out as much as you can about how they communicate. 

Ask yourself if their form of communication is formal, casual or humorous. Once you have this information at the back of your mind, you will find it easy to create content that your new audience will like.

iv) Don’t Force Engagement with Your Audience

The next step in developing good content is engaging your audience. Let your tone be their guiding principle when reading through your work. 

But don’t let them feel that you are forcing engagement with them. Just relax and let everything else fall in place.

Things To Consider When Creating Your Content Style Guide

i) Choose Your External Style Book

Several established manuals for external style books do exist out there. Each of them can give you a solid foundation when creating your content. No wonder most companies use one of the following external style books to creating high-quality content:

The Chicago ManualAP StylebookYahoo Style Guide

ii) Grammar and Punctuation

After picking your external stylebook, the next task is to use the set the rules on grammar and punctuation.

With punctuation and grammar, you must take into account any common issues arising while creating content, capitalizing names, titles and many more. Also, you must know when and when not to apply abbreviations, Oxford comma and certain terms you are likely to use so often. 

Or when it’s ok to not follow the grammar and punctuation rules from the style guide.

There exist a whole debate over should there be a comma after the word “and”. This is something you should make clear when creating a content style guide.

iii)Style and Tone

Consider the following situations:

Whether to use passive or active voice.Writing in first, second or third person.How to handle legal language and jargon.

These details can really make or break the consistency of copywriting styles across your different platforms and copies, so do not leave them out.

iv) Your audience’s persona

Is your potential audience professionals? Are they baby boomers? Or are they stay-at-home moms? You should make it known in the content style guide who you are writing for, so you can write to them better.

Creating a detailed audience persona can help your copywriters to craft out more precise copies that can strike a chord with your readers. Building that much needed connection.

Developing personas of your potential customers and choosing which of them to address for each piece of content, can greatly help in creating higher quality content. (image source)

v) Types of Content

Content is available in all types but only a few are right for your audience.

In this regard, your content style guide must take outline and enlist only the most relevant content that can best showcase your brand while highly reachable for your targeted audience.

Focus more on decision making while keeping your target audience in mind. Examples of content that you may use include videos, audiobooks, podcasts, images, infographic and blog articles.

There are a lot of different types of content, choose the ones most suited for your business and can reach to the most potential clients. (image source)

vi)Formatting

Do you want first-line indent? How long should a paragraph be? Are long-winded sentences ok?

You should set some rules on formating to make sure all contents’ formating are uninformed and you do not spend precious time deleting spaces, or combining paragraphs.

Final Thought

When it comes to creating content, you need to adopt a guideline that governs your style.

The content style guide should be created meticulously, with all details and situations considered, in order to guide you throughout your work, helping you to come up with engaging and compelling content for your target audience.

I hope this piece has been helpful to help you in creating a content style guide for you and your copywriters so you can pump out more content that is consistent in quality, add points to your branding effort, and helps you connect better with your clients.

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SEO Checklist: Optimizing Your Website For Higher Ranking

A must-have checklist for every SEO practitioner.
Discover more than 10 proven ways to get ranked on search engines
Get higher rank and more traffic to your website with these methods
18 hidden tips provided to help you get on the road to your SEO success

Related posts in WordPress: make sure to suggest the best

Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Related posts in WordPress: make sure to suggest the best

Related posts in WordPress: make sure to suggest the best

Showing related posts below your post are a great way to keep visitors on your website. That’s why lots of site owners already use related posts to reduce the number of visitors that leave their site after reading an article. You could say that a related posts section is the glue that binds posts together. But how do you make sure your related posts make sense? And how should you add them? In this article, I’ll tell you all about it!

Why you should suggest related posts

There are several reasons to suggest other posts to your audience. First of all, you’d like to keep your audience on your site, read more of your content, get to know your brand better. Maybe, in the end, people will even subscribe to your newsletter or order your products. So, in the first place, you’re adding these links to other posts for your readers. As a bonus, search engines follow links too! And if you link topically related content on your site, search engines will have a better understanding of what your site is about. This helps them connect the right pages to the search terms people use in search engines.

Read more: Internal linking for SEO: why and how »

How to find related posts

If you have less than 100 articles on your site, it’s probably doable to remember most of them. Especially if you’ve written them yourself. But if you have a bigger site with lots of articles, written by multiple authors, remembering everything becomes quite the challenge. Luckily, you can use your internal search to find related posts or you can use Google to search on your site. Nowadays this is super easy; just type your site’s URL and Google will propose to search content particularly on your site.

If you’re on WordPress, you can also use Yoast SEO Premium, as it will find and suggest related content on the right-hand side of your editing screen. With Yoast SEO Premium 14.7, we’ve released a completely revised version of this internal linking tool, making it faster and smarter. When you use our plugin, you’ll see 5 suggestions of posts, pages, tags, or categories to link to while editing your content:

Internal linking suggestions in Yoast SEO

The labels on the right side of the suggestions show you what kind of post type it is (for example, a post or tag page). Just pick the ones that make sense to your readers, as almost no-one will click on unrelated content (unless it’s by accident).

Cornerstone content

Your best, most complete, high-quality articles are called your cornerstone articles. These articles deserve special treatment when adding related posts to your text. As they are your best content, people will want to read them and you want search engines to rank them high. Therefore you should always link from topically related posts to the cornerstone post on that topic. With Yoast SEO you can mark these posts as cornerstone content and they will show up on top of the internal linking suggestions. That way you won’t forget to link to them where it’s important to do so!

Anchor text and inline links

In addition to linking to your cornerstones, there are some other best practices when linking to other posts on your site. For instance, you should make sure you use relevant, on-topic, anchor texts. When you place a link in the actual text of your page, as opposed to a related post section below your post, it’s surrounded by relevant content. Therefore, these links hold more value for Google than that separate section at the bottom of your article. Also, that section might be cluttered with social share buttons, a bio, and your newsletter subscription. This makes it just that tad bit less useful for Google.

Do add a read more section!

So, should you add related posts at the end of your post? Please do! You can do this complementary to the posts you’ve linked in your copy. You could, for instance, select that one cornerstone everyone should read, or another article related closely to the post people just read.

Of course, you can do this manually, but using a plugin can save you lots of time. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, you can use our Related Links block to add all 5 of the internal linking suggestions in one go! You can do this by clicking on the plus sign in the WordPress Block editor and searching for Yoast. Of course, you can customize which links will be in the block, so make sure to check them! As you know your audience and what they will want to read best. Check out how the Related Links block works here:

Useful right? We added this feature to our plugin with our recent 14.8 release! But that’s not all. Because we have another type of block that you can use while linking to related posts. Or two actually.

Meet the subpages and siblings block

The subpages block, which is a block that lists (and links) to the child pages of the current page. And the siblings block, which lists and links the siblings of your current page. And as always, make sure to check whether it fits into your page, as you know this best. This video shows you what these look like:

Both the related links block and subpages and siblings block are features of our Yoast SEO Premium plugin. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested in adding relevant links to your posts using a plugin!

Interested in some related posts?

That’s it for this article! But while writing this, the Internal Linking tool suggested I add a link to another article. So, let’s just use that one in case you want to read more about Internal linking: why and how? See? It works kind of perfectly.

The post Related posts in WordPress: make sure to suggest the best appeared first on Yoast.

Overcoming Webmaster Depression

Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Overcoming Webmaster Depression

This year is a rather easy year to be depressed. 😉

COVID-19, fearmongering media, polarized hyper-charged social media, mass unemployment, lockdowns that killed exercise routines and social connections, loss of hope / purpose / meaning, a guy who stuck a gun in the belly area of a pregnant woman overdosing on fentanyl shortly after he passed counterfeit currency, that broader background being utterly ignored so outrage could fuel widespread rioting with a man in dreadlocks kicking a man sitting in the street unconscious & other bonus random drive by shootings where actual heroes are murdered at random, cities being burned down, communist anarchy, social “justice” movements founded on the idiotic idea of improving society by ripping apart the family unit, etc.

This post is not a suicide letter, but an ode to reality of accepting today for what it is. 😀

pic.twitter.com/OWBHGa5eKR— Zero Gravity Media (@zerogravityhxp) August 12, 2020

Last year was the first year where I managed an office with a bunch of employees in it. When the office opened my email inbox had under 2,000 emails built up in it over a 16 year period of working on the web. Far from inbox zero, I am now above 20,000. I think in a Bill Gates interview about a half year ago I smiled after hearing his sort of EGT was how his email inbox was doing. I timed that office opening almost perfectly for COVID-19 so I could have all the stress and cost associated with training a team, setting up a ton of computers, creating workflow, … and then none of the benefits as the office would get shut down shortly after things began to operate smoothly. 😀

By the end of last year a was a bit (err…lot) on the fat side from working too much, too much stress, and exercising too little. My weight and the length of my fuse are reciprocals.

In the past I used to harness negative energy into a form of rage to fuel drive, but now that I am over 40 I find it much harder to live that way. I’ve already had a number of near death experiences (including one when my wife was pregnant with our only child) and think at some point living that rage-drive way is just shitty. Just say no to endless rage.

So when it was obvious this year was largely going to be dog crap, I started to look internally instead of externally & figured it made more sense to improve health & mood than to fight the gravity of the global depression we are currently living through.

Exogenous Shocks

When things change out of nowhere they can end up dramatically changing the social and economic order.

Many such changes are utterly arbitrary and orthogonal to the concepts of fairness, justice, human decency, etc.

Some parties are politically connected & shielded from actual market forces.

As a self-employed person living overseas I am certainly not one of those protected parties. That said, my family and the people who work for me look to me and hope I can help shield them from some of the crap reality served up this year.

As a rule, when exogenous shocks happen those who are not politically connected get screwed hardest.

Smaller firms tend to under-perform larger firms: “As the earnings season draws to a close, companies within the Russell 2000 stock index — the small-cap benchmark — have reported an aggregate loss of $1.1bn, compared to profits of almost $18bn a year earlier, according to data provider FactSet. Meantime, the much bigger companies within the benchmark S&P 500 index have posted a 34 per cent aggregate drop in earnings, to $233bn.”

Poorer people are more likely to lose their jobs.

Emerging markets tend to get hit harder than developed markets. Which only adds to the powder keg of instability as the food price inflation tied to falling incomes makes many people rather desperate.

etc.

As people get desperate violence increases & many governments get overthrown.

Central banks printing cash to prop up the financial markets only increases the divide further.

Congratulations @federalreserve pic.twitter.com/8HxhLH9il5— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) August 17, 2020

That increased income & wealth inequality makes “the system” only feel that much more fraudulent, which in turn acts as a powder keg to fuel more arbitrary misdirected violence.

Tesla now has a $340 billion market capitalization. They remain unprofitable outside of harvesting tax credits.

Beyond fueling increased violence, the sky high numbers for FOMO stocks also lead some people to feel like they are failures for only slightly succeeding or just getting by.

Others pile in to trashy cryptocurrencies in an attempt to catch up where they only further compound their losses.

Waiting Things Out

It is worth noting many of the jobs that are gone are gone for good.

We may very well be facing a global depression:

“The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies. Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike. This crisis will follow a path similar to the one the last crisis took, except worse, commensurate with the scale and scope of the collapse in global economic activity. And the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts. … In all of the worst financial crises since the mid-nineteenth century, it took an average of eight years for per capita GDP to return to the pre-crisis level. (The median was seven years.) … The last time all engines failed was in the Great Depression; the collapse this time will be similarly abrupt and steep.”

If you can’t afford to feed your family of course you have to solve that problem first. But if you are not absolutely financially desperate then this can be a good year to win in ways other than finances & only worry about money after other things are in a better place.

This is a good year to find meaning through various types of self-improvement and doing lots of small & kind things for the people around you. Yesterday was a good day to buy your wife flowers. So is today. Tomorrow is a good day to buy a friend a surprise gift.

One of the best books you can read about developing positive personal habits is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. It is 8 years old now but it is still a great read.

Pushing for broad structural changes in a crisis through ideology which removes ordinary feedback loops often ends up creating only further injustice with the campaign “hero” looking like their polar opposite. Ideology pushed hard enough wraps around to the other side.

When things are absolutely screwed the world over it is better to focus on improving yourself and your family rather than promoting arbitrary extrajudicial justice and burning things down further.

Here are the steps I took to improve a good bit so far this year.

Coronavirus Lockdowns

When I saw a video of a guy walking down the street in Wuhan cough blood and fall over dead I immediately ordered facemasks for everyone in my extended family. I also bought facemasks and gloves into the office for workers. As it turns out gloves were largely a non-winner because using them is more likely to spread virus and bacteria, but the intent was good.

Cygnus recommended taking the supplement quercetin & so did Dr. Zev, so I do that.

Our government does not want us to treat covid early. If I get covid and no hcq access-I would take IMMEDIATELY quercetin 500mg three times a day for 7 days and elemental zinc 50mg one a day for 7 days, and z-pack. Every American home should have quercetin and zinc.— Dr. Zev Zelenko (@zev_dr) August 16, 2020

When lockdowns were announced I hoarded months worth of baby formula so I know my daughter would be ok & bought her a couple birthday presents in case the lockdowns were extended repeatedly. They were, so that worked out ok.

When lockdowns ended I bought a ton of different toys for my daughter so I could share them with her and make up for the limited outside contact for the time being. I also brought my lead graphic & web designer a dual monitor computer to his house to improve his efficiency.

Any day where there is not a lockdown I try to make the most of it knowing another couple months or quarter year can disappear arbitrarily.

Making the most out of the day for me often means doing something positive on the health front & meaning front right away. Things like getting food for my daughter or going for a walk are big wins early in the day as we tend to slow down and get tired as the day drags on.

Health / Fitness

Early in the year when I could use the gym I was walking at a brisk pace for about an hour a day while reading books and listening to podcasts.

After gyms were forced to be closed I started walking outside. Initially this was often to get groceries or various baby supplies, though I continued to walk daily even when there wasn’t a real direct need just to keep mood up with all the ridiculous crap going on in the world. I used to think the Philippines was way too hot when I had to drive everywhere, but even if it is hot as hell it isn’t bad to be out in the sun and heat so long as you are only walking especially if the walk has a purpose which helps your loved ones in some way.

Walking regularly with nothing else going on can be boring as hell, of course, so to offset the boredom I bring my iPhone and have some Airpod Pro earbuds with their killer noise canceling features. When nobody is near me I sometimes pull down my face mask and jog or sprint for a while to add variety to the day. I also sometimes make people’s ears bleed by singing along in an effort to share the joy of whatever I am listening to. 😀

There are many awesome acoustic songs on YouTube. Revisiting unheard versions of songs you liked a long time ago can make the lyrics more powerful.

Some of the spoken-word song introductions are quite powerful: “everyone wants you to forget you are gonna die, because if they convince you your not gonna die you waste your time doing what they want you to do. Spend money on what they’re selling. … one day I’m gonna die, but before then I’m gonna live, live, live, the way I want to live and I hope you do too.”

Whenever I exercise I usually have caffeine as well. I view it a bit like a band aid or kick start, but I try to only use it either explicitly when walking or when intensely focusing on work.

If my back hurts from sitting at the chair too long that is a cue to get up and take a break even if it is a short one to go play with my daughter.

Sometimes I will walk two or three times throughout the day to break up the monotony.

Most my exercise is walking or jogging, but occasionally I will do a few push ups or sit ups.

In a world of gloom it is hard to look in the mirror and see a steaming pile of garbage which is not well maintained and feel good about yourself.

You know what sacrifices you have made and what the costs were, but it is easy to go down the path of resentment if outcomes are subpar and beyond your control in the short term.

If you don’t feel alive you aren’t. 😀

It’s a lifeless life, with no fixed address to give
But you’re not mine to die for anymore
so I must live

Diet

I try to eat salad, Indian food, quiche, nuts, beef jerky, and all sorts of other foods where carbohydrates are sort of only incidental and are not core to the dish.

Anything that looks/smells/feels/sounds like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, derivatives thereof, etc. I consider to be poison / systemic inflammation / weight gain and try to skip it.

I also consider drinking calories to be a disaster as the glycemic index on things like a soda are through the roof.

If you are fat and eat a lot of carbs you are repeatedly spiking your blood sugar, then it crashes, then you are hungry again. This habit & addictive cycle works on some of the same neural pathways that hardcore drugs do.

Sometimes I still do eat a bit of peanut butter or chocolate or frozen chocolate dipped in peanut butter, though I try not to use it meal replacement style very often & try not to be “full jar now empty” Aaron. Three tips on that front are to eat peanut butter using a chop stick so you eat it slower, eat small pieces of chocolate, and freeze the chocolate before eating so it takes a while to chew and you realize just how much you are eating. 😀

When I wake I often wait at least 4 or 5 hours before eating my first meal. In some cases I stretch that out to 6 or 8.

Communicating

I know a lot of people are in a bad state this year, so I try to offset that at least slightly by overcommunicating.

I send my mom pictures or videos of my daughter every day as she told me those help her sleep better at night and her watch even shows her blood pressure is lower and she feels much more well rested the next morning. I have bought my daughter a ton of extra clothes to wear just so my mom gets a bit more variety in the pictures and my daughter will have a ton of memories to sort through when she is older.

Our daughter has quite a bit of energy so sometimes she makes communicating with my wife hard. Sometimes we have better luck texting back and forth if something is urgent and then discuss it in more detail over email or when our daughter is taking a nap.

A lot of people around me have recently went through hardships beyond the financial uncertainties many are facing.

Our web designer’s mom had a heart attack then got COVID-19 but I think she is ok now.
Our lead writer had a friend younger than I who after going to the hospital with COVID-19.
Our lead programmer’s parents recently had their house broken into with some of their sentimental jewelry stolen & he is the glue guy for the whole family.
One of my buddies recently broke up with his long time girlfriend.

I am sure there are a lot more similar stories that I have not been told yet. So as a rule of thumb I sort of consider that if people have historically been good its ok to give them more leeway this year & be extra kind.

Mental Health

One of the cheapest & easiest wins in terms of quality of life is setting your grounding from a perspective of feeling lucky so that you are appreciative & try to be a better version of yourself. Episode 504 of This American Life shares an inspiring story about Emir Kamenica.

“These stories we tell about ourselves, they’re almost like our infrastructure, like railroads or highways. We can build them almost any way we want to. But once they’re in place, this whole inner landscape grows up around them.

So maybe the point here is that you should be careful about how you tell your story, or at least conscious of it. Because once you’ve told it, once you’ve built the highway, it’s just very hard to move it. Even if your story is about an angel who came out of nowhere and saved your life, even then, not even the angel herself can change it.” – Michael Lewis

I generally am not a fan of taking prescription drugs to solve symptoms of larger underlying problems as in many cases those can cause additional bonus problems. I get that some people need various drugs to get by and survive, though outside of caffeine I typically try not to drink much or do much of anything else that can add more instability or create more bonus issues.

The above said, I think my baseline mood (especially if I am not in great health) tends to be a bit darker than average.

The early web was quite cool and you could do things like email Tim Berners-Lee and get a response, or someone would read your site and see you mentioned Carl Sagan and shoot you an email like this one:

I wrote the first modern book on depression in 1980. It was the first book to present depression as a biochemical disease, rather than a ‘mental’ illness (whatever that is). And, I was the one who introduced Carl Sagan to television as a local TV personality in L. A., Carl was a good family friend who came to watch a taping of my PBS show, he got really intense when he realized what a medium for communication TV was, and I introduced him to the GM of the station, that’s how he got to TV. He was more of a scientist than an actor, I coached him on TV persona. He was a very intense person, and did not have a big ego; he was always open to new information, whether it came from experiences or ideas. He would have loved living now.

To solve both depression and weight gain problems, try an over-the-counter nutrient called 5HTP. The Walmarts here sell the least expensive and best pills. Take about nine a day for about nine days, you will notice you haven’t felt the urge to eat all day and you don’t have as much depression symptoms; the griffonia seed from which 5HTP is made increases serotonin in the brain.

Then a follow up after I asked about the FDA ban of L-Tryptophan:

Now something gets clearer! When tryotophan was banned because of one supposedly contaminated batch, I used every tiny bit of influence I had as a journalist, talked to every politician I could get in touch with. It was like going up against a brick wall. I wrote articles, did everything, could not understand at all why the nutrient was being banned for one bad batch in Japan and why resistance to overturning the ban was so solid. I even tried to obtain the animal version, and was told it ‘wasn’t the same,’ yet according to a chemical analysis, it was. Now I understand….

My book is “Depression, How to Recognize It, Cure It and Grow From It, Prentice Hall hardback, Simon Schuster paperback.

She also mentioned

Depression research is such big business that I feel they don’t want to find a real cure. The way the research should have gone is to study the chemical makeup of depression, then match the medication effect to different brain hormones (as well as cortisol-though it’s not a biogenic amine, it’s a definite precursor), and find accurate ways of testing which hormone or combination thereof is/are out of balance, so the correct medication can be prescribed right off the bat. So, if it’s a seratonin imbalance, the doc gives one medication, if it’s monomaine oxadase, the patient gets another, and so on. Prosac is like a huge blanket device, rather than an accurate laser beam going to the exact place it is needed.

Depression research really hasn’t progressed that much in the last 20 years, imho.

I know a big part of my improved mood was from taking 5-HTP along with Vitamin B & Vitamin C just before bed. When I take those I can fall asleep a bit quicker, sleep about an hour less, wake up feeling more refreshed, and am less hungry the following morning. If I had to guess, I would say the 5-hydroxytryptophan contributed to my recent 40 pound weight loss more than anything else did.

Anyhow, I would not recommend 5-HTP for anyone who is on SSRIs, MAO inhibitors, or many other drug classes (talk to your doctor first, etc.). But I figured a lot of people feel like crap this year so I should mention it has worked well for me.

Before writing this blog post I also recommended it to a few other people.

Our lead content writer was down after her friend died & I recommended it to her. She said she felt a difference the very next day.

Our backend developer took some after I told him about it and said his personal doom loop he was going through was better within 2 days.

I do not think it is a magic cure-all or would work for everyone, but if you are a bit down combining a bit of 5-HTP with exercise, healthy diet, sleep, etc. can help you improve your worldview and outlook a bit to get through the challenging times we are going through.

My only complaint (glass is always at least half empty :D) would be that as I have discarded that sort of rage cycle I find it easier to be distracted and harder to focus on work. If you love what you do focus comes automatic, but if you don’t then you do sometimes have to trick yourself a bit into being productive if you literally could be retired for life. But I suppose most people would say that is an absurd “problem” to complain about.

My only solution to the above is watching MJ on MJ. 😀

I’m going to tweet this & pin it to my page so I can watch it every single day

When MJ talks about winning & leadership has a price, he’s talking about sacrificing a part of who you are for all that your team can become.

A Championship Standard!! pic.twitter.com/IbK95jFTVY— Jaycob Ammerman (@Jammer2233) May 13, 2020

Ending on a Positive Note

Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation
And earthquakes are to a girl’s guitar, they’re just another good vibration
And tidal waves couldn’t save the world from Californication

If you are reading this blog post you are almost certainly involved in some part of web development, content production, internet marketing and/or e-commerce.

Ultimately as the world is reshaped you will benefit as long as you get through the current period as literally *everything* is moving online.

This chart on e-commerce continues to amaze me. pic.twitter.com/zW4EwKHW1N— David Schawel (@DavidSchawel) August 17, 2020

Given that the big platform monopolies are now getting the PR black eyes they deserve for their locked down ecosystems there is a good chance the web will be a much better place in the next half-decade.

The number of people rushing to become their own bosses is at a record level. Many will fail, but many will innovate and create new markets as they have no choice but to succeed. As more things move online, attention merchant platforms keep breaking culture into smaller and smaller chunks to fuel increasingly distorted views of reality that cater toward confirmation bias and rage.

At some point people will tire of the feed-based never-ending stream and want things they can complete. The growth of Neflix and their streaming competitors reflects the desire for something longer and more in-depth.

Some of legacy print media brands with high cost structures are now recycled selling marked-up garbage in parallel markets.

The combination of these trends will drive an increased appreciation for authenticity & the desire for human connection.

Long ago my original SEO mentor stated:

This is what I think, SEO is all about emotions, all about human interaction. People, search engineers even, try and force it into a numbers box. Numbers, math and formulas are for people not smart enough to think in concepts.

I think the best brands, the best sites have a large portion of their founders personality in them. Never be afraid to be yourself, after all there are 1/2 billion people on the www, not all of them have to agree with you. Concentrate on the ones that share your views, concentrate on making their experience the very best it can be, the rest forget them.

Or to put it another way, the best sites say – this is what we do, this is how we do it, if you don’t like it go somewhere else.

Ultimately though I think it comes down to desire and the will to win.

He later sold his business for a life changing sum, so unlike his favorite football club, I guess he had the will to win. The question remains if he will purchase the football club and “fix” them. 😀

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