SEO Articles

Google reveals new image ranking signal, inclusive schema

Google reveals new image ranking signal, inclusive schema

Google said it will soon incorporate a new signal into image ranking. Google is also introducing a new type of schema in an attempt to help make its image search results more racially diverse and inclusive. 

Google will use MST Scale to rank images. Google said it will be adjusting how it ranks images, using what is called the Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale. It is a 10-shade scale. It looks like this:

The Monk Skin Tone Scale includes 10 shades.

The MST scale was created with the help of Dr. Ellis Monk, a Harvard professor and sociologist. Google said the MST Scale is being incorporated into Images search, as well as other image products (e.g., Google Photos). And Google plans to expand it more broadly in the coming months.

Inclusive schema. Google said that creators, brands and publishers can use a new type of schema – inclusive schema – to label their content with attributes like skin tone, hair color and hair texture. Using this schema will help Google better understand what appears within the images. 

Content labels coming soon. Google also noted that it wants to create a more representative search experience. As part of that, Google plans to develop a “standardized way to label web content.”

A continuation of image search changes. Google’s push toward image equity began In October 2021, Google told Bloomberg it had updated its algorithms to show more skin tones for a variety of images, ranging from [beautiful skin] to [professional hairstyles] to [happy family]. 

“We’ve started to roll out an improvement to Google Images to promote greater skin-tone diversity so more people can find relevant and helpful results,” a Google spokeswoman told Bloomberg. “We’re in the early phases of this effort and are continuing to experiment to provide greater diversity in results.”

Now this effort is being pushed out more widely.

Why we care. Google is pushing to be more inclusive of skin tones in Images and adjusting its ranking algorithm to do so. So if you’re publishing diverse imagery, using this schema will help Google better understand the details within your image content, giving you a higher chance of being found in Google Images.

You can read the full announcement about how Google plans to improve skin tone representation here.

The post Google reveals new image ranking signal, inclusive schema appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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6 reasons why the Yoast SEO Shopify solution will boost your rankings!

Our mission at Yoast is ‘SEO for everyone’ and we believe that Shopify users can benefit a lot from SEO. That’s why we recently launched an app that helps you attract more people to your online store on Shopify: The Yoast SEO for Shopify app. What makes this app stand out is that it’s been created by a team with over 10 years of experience in SEO. But how does it attract more people to your store? And what can you actually do with it? In this blog post, we’ll give you 6 reasons why we believe that Yoast SEO for Shopify is the best solution for your online store!

1. Modifying Shopify themes is tricky; we make it easier

When you install an SEO app, there will probably be some changes to your website and theme. Don’t worry, this is quite normal. In fact, there will already have been some other modifications to your theme files. Depending on the other apps that you’re running. Unfortunately, many of the new apps that you install, will apply their changes on top of what’s already there. That’s why sites often end up with mismatched, malformed, and missing bits of SEO stuff. Especially if you’ve historically used multiple apps. The Yoast SEO for Shopify app is really smart; it conditionally removes a whole bunch of potentially conflicting stuff and outputs its own in a clean way. Rather than forcing it in on top of what’s already there.

2. Our structured data is comprehensive and robust

Structured data helps Google and other search engines better understand your pages, which can benefit your rankings. Our structured data approach does a great job of connecting and describing products and pages. We don’t output ‘bits and pieces’ of structured data. We connect the structured data together in one graph and output it in a way that minimizes conflict and overlap.

Structured data also makes it possible to have your customers’ ratings show up in the search results. And this is definitely a recommendation when you have an online store. It shows other (potential) customers that you are trustworthy and will increase the chances of them visiting your website. That’s why we’ve created an integration with four popular review apps on Shopify. This integration helps handle the structured data around your ratings to make those ratings show up in the search results. The apps that we integrate with right now are Judge.me, Loox, Ali Reviews and Opinew. Read more about this integration in our post on showing Shopify ratings in the search results.

3. We are SEO experts!

For over 10 years, Yoast has been building products that help people with a WordPress website with their SEO. And with millions of downloads so far, we’re not afraid to call ourselves the #1 SEO plugin for WordPress. You might be wondering what this has to do with you and your Shopify website? Well, we’ve built our Shopify app with all of the learnings and SEO expertise we’ve acquired over the last decade. Which is a lot!

All of this experience has resulted in an app that handles a lot of the technical SEO stuff for you. For example, the latest best practice for meta robots directives, correctly setting indexing controls on paginated states, and all of the nuances of how various open graph and SEO settings work together. Not sure what all of this means? The takeaway is that these settings play an important role in how high you end up in the search results. We also have close contact with Google and collaborate with them regularly. All of this makes it easy for us to stay up to date on the latest SEO news. This helps us constantly improve our app to make sure you stay on top of the latest changes in SEO.

4. Yoast SEO offers control on an individual level

With Yoast SEO for Shopify, you decide how your titles and meta descriptions are set up per content type. This allows you to set a consistent way of showing your titles and meta descriptions in the search results. We integrate directly into Shopify to give you control per post, page, or product on an individual level. Our app gives you this page-level control, allowing you to make these changes per page or product you’re working on.

5. Our app helps you create quality content that search engines love

Content is a key element in SEO. Google uses any chance they get to remind the SEO world of the importance of high-quality content. To start and keep ranking, you need to keep producing great content. Content that’s easy to understand for site visitors and search engines. That’s why readability is so important when it comes to creating content for your product pages and blog posts. Writing high-quality blog posts and creating great product descriptions should always be a priority.

It’s important to conduct keyword research for your online store and keep up that flow of fresh content. The right content helps search engines like Google understand what your website is about. Which helps them direct the right audience to your pages. Perhaps even more important, it strengthens the relationship with your audience when you provide them with high-quality content. Yoast SEO for Shopify is the SEO solution that gives you direct feedback on the content you’re writing, to help you improve it for site visitors and search engines.

6. We understand content written in 20 different languages

Yoast SEO is the best app out there for understanding content written in your language and giving you direct feedback on it. At the moment, it’s able to do this in 20 different languages: English, Dutch, German, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Turkish, Czech, Japanese, Greek, Slovak and Indonesian.

There are a lot of SEO apps out there that are focused on the English language. Thanks to our team of linguists we can offer feedback on your content in any of the languages above! Of course, you can use an app that is focused on just your language, but don’t forget about all the other features that our app offers when it comes to SEO! With Yoast SEO, you have one SEO app that helps you write great content (in the language of your choice) and fixes a lot of the technical SEO for you.

Yoast SEO helps rank your online store!

Unlock powerful features and much more for your Shopify site with the Yoast SEO app!

Start your FREE trial now »$19 / per 30 days (14 day free trial)

To conclude

There are loads of SEO apps out there for your Shopify store. And it’s up to you which one is the best fit for your specific needs. We hope this article gives you some more insight into the features of our SEO app and how it can help you climb those search results! If you want to read more about our app, go to the Yoast SEO for Shopify page to read all about it.

Want to receive great tips on how to grow your online store and stay on top of the latest news in ecommerce? Sign up for our free ecommerce newsletter right now:

The post 6 reasons why the Yoast SEO Shopify solution will boost your rankings! appeared first on Yoast.

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How to Optimize Your Anchor Text Strategy For SEO

How to Optimize Your Anchor Text Strategy For SEO

The early days of SEO were like the Wild, Wild West.

Blackhat SEO experts did everything imaginable to rank their sites on Google, including keyword stuffing and creating spammy backlinks.

It worked–for a bit.

These days, Google’s SERP Algorithm cracked down on content quality, and those older SEO hacks have long crumbled to dust. Details like anchor text matter.

Why? Because we’re working with a more intelligent, more complex algorithm. Today, there are now more than 200 Google ranking factors.

The recent Core Web Vitals update, which said websites must be fast-loading, stable, and secure, impacted more than a million websites. This means that sites must improve on-site experiences if they want to rank alongside writing and publishing your content. 

Similarly, Penguin, (aka the “webspam algorithm”) has seen a few changes over the last few years. The anchor text in your backlinks and internal links is more important than ever.

Too much “noise,” and you’ll upset the algorithm. Too little, and you’ll disturb the algorithm.

It’s a delicate balance. 

However, it’s worth paying attention when you consider SEO is a top priority for most marketers in 2022.

This guide will cover how to optimize your anchor texts to improve your SEO – and avoid a Google penalty that reduces your audience size considerably.

However, before we start, let’s make sure you understand what anchor text is and how it can impact SEO.

What Is Anchor Text?

There’s a good chance that you use anchor texts daily, maybe without even realizing it. Anchor text is the clickable text you see in a hyperlink.

If the internet is a highway, think of anchor texts like signs for upcoming exits.

They send signals to both your website’s users and search engines. When used correctly, they connect you to a different “lane” by allowing you to source credible information from another website.

They also play a role in helping users navigate your site and give Google’s algorithm a good idea of who your content is relevant for.

If you look at your site’s code, you will see a line that looks like this:

This is the part of your site that Google sees.

There is a section that tells your web browser and search engines which link to follow.

Here’s how that translates to what’s on your page:

When a user clicks on the link, it will take them to the indicated page.

If you’ve never dug into the details of URLs before, it’s easy to imagine that merely creating a link is where the fireworks end – but there’s a much more profound reason for brands to focus on this simple element.

Why is Anchor Text Important for SEO?

As I previously mentioned, in 2012, Google decided to rock the SEO world by releasing the Penguin algorithm. Then it was updated again recently.

Due to this change, anchor text quickly became the easiest way to determine how relevant a reliable website was.

Google also started using backlinks and its anchor texts to see if a website had been over-optimized.

Since Google penalizes over-optimization in this case, the role of the anchor text was only magnified. Since Google has updated the Penguin algorithm multiple times, it’s easy to presume we’ll see even more changes in the future. 

It’s something to watch if you want to maximize ROI from your content marketing, as, sadly, when algorithms change, many brands see massive traffic dips. 

Do you want that to be you? 

Keep in mind, traffic dips will also mean a dip in revenue. Dip too far from too many hits, and your brand could be in trouble. That’s why finding the right balance with anchor texts is so vital to your SEO efforts. 

A 2018 update hit 3.1 percent of websites that had been over-optimizing their anchor texts (and that was just from more prominent websites who reported their dip, imagine how many more suffered.)

At the very least, it’s clear that the anchor text used in backlinks is an SEO signal for the foreseeable future. 

Remember: the theory behind anchor text applies to internal links as much as it applies to backlinks.

Luckily, the algorithm has wisened enough that Google will now only penalize the offending page instead of entire sites, but this could still dramatically affect your traffic and revenue in the long run.

The Different Varieties of Anchor Texts

When it comes to search engines, SEO experts like to leave no stone unturned.

In the case of anchor texts, we’ve had more than a decade to parse through all of the available information. It shouldn’t surprise you that there are many ways to create anchor texts that are both useful and useless.

1. Exact Match Anchor Text

An exact match anchor text is when you use anchor text wording as the targeted keywords for your entire page. For example, using “free SEO tool” as the anchor text to link to my SEO tool Ubersuggest.

In the early days of SEO, using exact matches several times on a single page almost guaranteed your post would do well. But, they were overused to such an extent that Google penalized overuse. 

It’s still a good idea to use some exact match anchor texts. However, in general, you want to mix it up with other types of anchor texts.

2. Partial Match Anchor Text

Partial match anchor texts include your keyword along with other words. For example, using “try my SEO tool” as the anchor text for a link to Ubersuggest. As you’ll see in this article, I typically use these the most on my own site.

It’s an especially useful method for anchor text because I can still effectively include my keyword without coming across as spammy.

Google can still follow my link and have a better idea of the content on my page without suspecting me of trying to manipulate its algorithm.

Since this isn’t seen as a manipulative linking practice, it’s a highly recommended way to boost the authority of your page. But, like other strategies, you don’t want to overuse them.

I also recommend avoiding sentence-long anchor texts. These dilute any keywords you use and can confuse the user as they aren’t sure exactly what part of the sentence the link is related to.

3. Branded Anchor Text

Next, you also have branded anchor texts that rely on a brand’s name to establish authority. Here’s an example from Ahrefs:

As an outbound backlink, this is a great practice.

This is another safe and effective way to build a stronger anchor profile, as it signals to Google that you’re pointing toward other high-quality tools and services.

Of course, you also want to try to find other brands that will help you with your link-building efforts in this way as well.

Never hesitate to link to another brand, especially with a keyword attached to it. Google sees this as a healthy practice as you’re not over-linking to that brand.

4. Naked Anchor Text

This type of anchor text is easy to use–but also not the most effective. It’s commonly used for sources, such as an image or a quote. It is simply the URL pasted into a post in all its naked glory.

For example, I might say “according to www.thisisareliablesource.com, 45 percent of marketers think adding anchor text helps their website ranking.”

You can see why this isn’t a good idea.

When reading content, it’s pretty disruptive to have your attention diverted away to a reference suddenly.

It might also lead your visitor to believe you’re not as technically inclined, ultimately making them your authority.

Whenever possible, avoid this type of anchor text.

5. Generic Anchor Text

You’ve probably seen a lot of these, as they make it easier to create content that flows and even prompts a call to action.

Use this type of anchor text when you want to draw your audience’s eye to a credible source or useful tool – though not too much. 

A repetitive “this page” and “read this here” link practice can get pretty boring really quickly, and it doesn’t tell Google anything about the content you’re linking to.

Instead, highlight parts of the sentence to show users what they can expect to find when they click, as I did in the first sentence of this section.

6. Latent Semantic Index Keywords (LSI)

While this next option may sound complicated, it’s really just the method that search engines use to predict what users will type into the search bar.

When I type “what is anchor” into Google, the search bar provides a series of other popular search options for me to select from.

Using LSI keywords as anchor text creates search-friendly elements of your site that Google can instantly recognize as relevant to a unique search.

While there’s debate over the validity of this approach (Google’s John Muller, for example, says Google has no concept of LSI keywords.) Still, it’s not a bad idea to implement this approach to help readers understand the link context.

Of course, you want to make sure you can naturally use these keywords in your content.

“What is anchor baby” or “what is anchor app” might be difficult to use in a way that flows as a coherent thought, so be aware of that when adding these types of links.

7. Image Anchor 

Image anchors make images clickable. They can help users navigate in and around your website, though be warned: they can make websites less accessible.

Links on images can move your audience to a new site when they just wanted to resize something to see it better or scroll through your post.

Most commonly, you’ll see this approach with a call to action button that is clickable, much like an ad.

In these instances, Google will read the alt tag of your image as the anchor text.

If you don’t have an alt tag optimized, Google will read it as a “NoText” anchor, which you should avoid.

This method is a great way to vary your anchor text methods and provide a more non-traditional approach.

As long as your user knows they can click on it, feel free to include one in a blog post or on your site.

Anchor Text SEO: Best Practises for Using Anchor Text in Your SEO Strategy

Now that you’ve learned more about the various types of anchor text, it’s time to dive into some best-practice SEO tips.

These will be simple, basic guides that can help you develop a more nuanced strategy with time.

Tip #1: Stay On Topic

The unfortunate truth is that there’s a lot of misconception about what good anchor text is.

However, when it comes to SEO in your linking practices, relevancy is high on the list for being ranked by Google. 

They don’t want to get a bad reputation by providing users with irrelevant responses to queries. 

That means your anchor text should consist of words and phrases that closely match the topic of your embedded link.

Say, for example, you run a company that offers content marketing services to small businesses. 

If you want visitors to your site to navigate to a blog post you created about the importance of content, you would need to add a link.

In that link, you need to select a word or phrase as your anchor text related to your blog’s content. Otherwise, Google will see that hyperlink as manipulative and potentially penalize your site.

Here’s an example of what that could look like in your content:

I’ve used the anchor text “how to structure your URLs in the image above.”

That introduces the concept that I want my reader to understand and shows them that they should be able to find relevant information on that topic.

Here’s what you would see if you follow that link:

On the other side is a blog post that’s an exact match to the topic I introduced.

Imagine what would happen if instead of a helpful blog post, I linked to a page that was selling sunglasses.

You would be confused and probably wouldn’t want to follow another link on my blog. You probably wouldn’t come back and read my content because it is seen as manipulative.

So Google isn’t the only one looking for relevance here–the reader is, too.

If you want to establish trust with your website’s visitors, they need to know that you’re using sources and linking practices in their interest.

Additionally, research shows having at least one keyword anchor that signals relevancy creates a greater chance of your content ranking higher.

That means Google still values a keyword-relevant anchor text that provides a good idea about the topic of your content.

As long as you try to keep at least some of your anchor texts relevant, Google will have an easier time categorizing your content and ranking you accordingly.

Tip #2: Always Incorporate Variation

If you always want an exact match, Google’s spam filter will go off, and you’ll take a hit.

You’ll probably have a similar effect if you always only link to brand names.

When it comes to creating a strategy for anchor texts that helps SEO, it is best to use your own unique and varied approach.

That flies in the face of the typical advice you see that focuses on which anchor texts you should use based on specific ratios.

For a home page, you’d be inclined to use 5 percent exact match, 20 percent phrase match, and 10 percent key phrases.

However, recommendations vary widely based on who provides the advice and even what industry you are in.

In most cases, you can follow the prescribed advice and attempt to establish a baseline strategy for your anchor text practices. Once you get that baseline, do what works best to boost your SEO and organic rankings–and that requires a more in-depth evaluation.

You can always check out what your competition is doing if you are struggling!

I make this recommendation based on a study that displayed the after-effects of Penguin 4.0 on a variety of different brands across different niches.

After the update, the first brand decreased its “target” or exact match keywords and redistributed its anchor text strategy more widely.

Once the changes were implemented, it fought its way back to its pre-Penguin 4.0 standing on Google.

Just compare the graph above to this one:

The most notable difference is that they are different, but, in each case, both are ranking well. So what does that mean for ration prescriptions and other similar anchor text optimization schemes?

You should take them with a grain of salt.

While it might work for one brand, there’s no guarantee it will work for you. Plus, it’s incredibly tedious to try and exactly match another brand’s strategy to the letter.

Instead, you should focus on creating a more natural distribution for your anchor text scheme.

All of these variations rely on very natural language and display a clear intent to both search engines and your user.

By focusing on experimentation and natural language in your anchor texts, you’re more likely to see better results in the long run.

Tip #3: Test and Track Your Anchor Texts

Tracking how you use anchor texts on your site will take a bit of effort, but it’s the only way to test how they affect your SEO over time.

To start tracking the variety of anchor texts you use, I recommend using the Anchor Text Categorizer Tool by Linkio.

This tool asks you to fill in various details about your content, including the URL, page title, brand name, and keywords.

You should also fill in the exact anchor texts you use in the content, as you can see below.

In this case, I’ve filled in a few from an actual blog post on my site.

There’s also a helpful percentage calculator just to the side of your screen.

This is where you can start creating a baseline for your anchor text procedure.

As I mentioned in the previous point, you can attempt to implement another brand’s scheme or develop your own. As long as you see a wide variety of anchor texts that help your SEO, then you’re taking the right approach.

Another good idea is to start using Semrush to keep tabs on what types of anchor texts link to your site. To find this info, you’ll need to navigate to the Backlinks tab of the Semrush dashboard.

From there, you’ll click on the option that says “Anchors”.

Now you can see which terms are being used by other brands when they link to your site.

Remember that anchor texts are largely used by Google as a signal of content relevancy and domain authority, so these anchor texts are vital to your SEO.

In my case, most anchors to my site are either my name or something marketing-related.

That’s good because my name is my brand, and I help businesses grow through digital marketing.

These anchor texts took years to build, but because of the content I produce and the relationships I’ve built, they help my SEO, and in many cases, help my articles rank on the first page of Google.

With enough time and the right approach to your own backlinking, you can build this type of backlink anchor base for your own brand and see excellent results.

Anchor Text Strategy for SEO Frequently Asked Questions

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the clickable text that you see in online content that takes you to a new page. It is often underlined or colored blue. Like this.

Why does anchor text matter?

Google uses anchor text to determine if a link is relevant and valuable. It’s not the most crucial ranking factor, but it does impact SEO. Additionally, readers use anchor text to determine if they will click a link.

What are the different types of anchor text?

The types of anchor text are:

Exact match: Use the same keywords as the targeted keywords for your page. Partial Match: Include the keyword along with other keywords. Branded Anchor Text: Add a link to the name of the brand.Naked Anchor Text: Uses the entire URL as the link. Generic Anchor Text: Phrases like “click here” or “this page.”Latent Semantic Index: Also known as LSI, these are keywords that search engines predict users will search for when they are searching for a particular word or phrase.

What are some tips for optimizing anchor text?

Some best practices for anchor text SEO are: stay on topic, keep a consistent structure, incorporate variation, and test and track your anchor text. When possible, use keywords–but don’t overdo it.

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Anchor Text SEO Conclusion

Anchor texts are important. While they won’t tank your SEO on their own, they are a ranking factor for SEO. Additionally, they can impact reader trust.

Google has had anchor texts and backlinks on an ever-tightening leash, so it’s a good idea to ensure you use the best approach for your SEO

It’s also a good idea to implement a unique backlink variation strategy based on your research results.

Using tools like Anchor Text Categorizer and Semrush will ensure that you don’t miss any important changes to your anchor text SEO efforts.

These tips will create an anchor text strategy strong enough to boost your SEO and weather any future changes.

What strategies have you used to improve your anchor texts?

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An SEO guide to audience research and content analysis

An SEO guide to audience research and content analysis

How your customers find you can vary significantly. It may be based on their interests, needs or pain points.

Some people may already know exactly what they need and search for that on Google. Others may be just starting the research process. Others may already know what they need and compare to identify the best source to purchase from.

In this stage of your SEO research and planning, you’ll want to identify:

Target personasBuying stagesPotential keywords 

Your goal will be to map your target personas, buying stages and keywords for each persona and buying stage.  

Persona research 

You can start by using customer service data or information from your Google Analytics demographic details. With this information, you can start creating target personas.  

Below is an example of possible target personas for a real estate company.

Once you have your personas and ideas of who they are, what they need, and what they are looking for, you’ll want to map out the possible steps they’ll take in their buying journey.

Buyer’s journey

Finally, you can add the possible keywords they’ll search for and map them to the journey.

Map keywords to persona to the buyer’s journey

The goal of this phase is to identify all of the possible ways you can be found and to make sure you have content optimized on your website targeting these buying phases and keywords.

You’ll start by identifying primary, root phrases. As you progress, you can go deeper into long-tail terms or semantically related keywords.

This will allow you to identify gaps and opportunities that were missed during your initial baseline and competitive research. Some of these keywords won’t be uncovered unless you truly understand your audience and their needs and pain points.

This stage will complete your research phase and give you all the information to create your content strategy and focus your on-page SEO priorities.   

Evaluate your existing content

With your comprehensive keyword research, the next step is to look at the existing content of your site and see if it’s optimized properly.

Does your website have pages that are not getting any traffic from Google, pages that are near-duplicates or multiple pages targeting the same keyword? Do you have content pieces to match the keyword list you created in the previous stage?

Before creating a content calendar or editorial strategy, it’s ideal to audit your existing content. By reviewing your existing pages, you can decide which pages need to be removed, consolidated or optimized.

Some of the elements you can look for include:

Page trafficPrimary keywordNumber of keywords rankingWord countInternal linking

To perform a content audit, you’ll need to export all of your pages from your CMS or use an SEO audit tool, such as Screaming Frog or Semrush Site Audit, to get a list of your site’s existing pages.

Consolidate all of this data into a content audit spreadsheet. Your spreadsheet could look something like this:

Assess your site’s content

Once you have collected all of the data, go through the URLs and label the pages:

Keep: The page is optimized and performing well and can be left alone.Optimize: The page could be ranking better with improved on-page SEO.Rewrite/revamp: This is for pages where the content needs to be revamped or rewritten.Remove: These pages are not performing well and should be removed. When doing so, it’s important to remove the page from your sitemap, Google Search Console, and any inbound links.Consolidate: If there are multiple pages targeting the same keyword, consider moving all of the content into the URL that is performing best and using 301 redirects for the other pages. 

How to optimize, revamp or consolidate pages

Once you have all of your pages labeled, it’s time to optimize your content. Some pages may be performing well but could be refreshed to help them perform even better. Others may be performing poorly and need to be optimized to rank.

Typically, this process will involve two steps:

Editing and re-optimizing the existing content. Expanding the article with new content. 

Select the primary and secondary keywords for each page

The best way to gather this data is to use Google Search Console for ranking pages or your keyword database for pages that are not.

To gather data from Google Search Console, click on Performance > Search Results report:

You can click on a page to see the keywords that it’s ranking for and the clicks, impressions and average position for each:

This will help you identify target keywords for each page, which you can add to your spreadsheet.

For each page, add the target primary and secondary keywords you will use when performing the necessary content updates.

Revamp existing content

When optimizing pages, you need to make sure that you are preserving or adding the correct on-page SEO elements. Let’s review these:

Primary keyword optimization

The primary keyword should appear in the:

Meta (page) title: For existing articles, you can edit an existing article’s meta-title. Use the Google SERP Simulator to see how your title would look. Where possible, start the title tag with your primary keyword and add modifiers to your titles. Meta description: Up to 230-character description of the article. Make sure that you use the primary keyword as close to the beginning of the meta description as possible.  The first heading of your article is the title. This should be an H1 heading. The title/heading should include the primary keyword.First paragraph. The primary keyword should appear in the first paragraph, ideally within the first 100 words.Anchor text: Include the primary keyword in at least one outbound, internal link.

Adding any secondary keywords

All related secondary keywords should be incorporated naturally into the article. For each related keyword, add them in an H2 heading. Whatever the focus keyword is for each paragraph, it should be both in the H2 heading and in the paragraph following the heading.

Questions and answers

Q&A is an easy way to expand upon your articles by finding related questions. Take the primary keyword, and search for it on Google. Use the questions in the “People also ask” box as section headers:

The section header with the question will be an H2. In the next section, you should answer the question as quickly and succinctly as possible. Don’t re-state the question; instead, immediately provide the answer.

If the question was “How do you get featured in snippets,” then the first sentence should answer the question: “To get into featured snippets, you need to ask questions and answer them using paragraphs, lists, and quick answers.” 

Use bullet points! Google loves listing answers with bullet points, so where possible, answer the question and immediately add a list with bullet points: 

Content formatting

Use proper formatting to make the content easy for people to read quickly. Here are a few suggestions for formatting your content:

Break up giant walls of text. Give information in short paragraphs. Use succinct sentences. 

Add lists. Google loves lists! Are there any paragraphs or sections you can change into bullet points or numbered lists? If so, do it!

Add 2-3 internal links to other relevant pages on the site. Keep your anchor text short. Then, find at least 3-5 relevant pages on your site, and link to your target pages. Every page of your site should contain as many links from other site pages as possible.

Add 2-3 external links to relevant pages. Good external links serve a strong purpose. They create a natural link map and connect your sites to authoritative sources. Google will give more weight to a page that has good external links.  

Add new content

If the article is thin, you can add new content to expand on key points.  

Writing new content

Add more paragraphs. If you can add a list, more sub-headings, etc., all the better! Reading level. Keep the language at a 7th-grade reading level whenever possible. The best content is easy to read and understand, not dense and impregnable.

Images

Add new, optimized images to your revamped content.Along with the link, please write the alt text for the image. This should be a one-sentence image description that includes the primary keyword. 

Content consolidation

When there are several short pages or articles that are all ranking for the same keyword, it might be ideal to consolidate these articles into one longer, more comprehensive piece.

When consolidating articles, keep in mind: 

Take bits and parts of the different existing articles and merge them into one that makes sense.You should write the TARGET URL slug at the top of the document and include the new, optimized meta title and meta description.Add links to internal pages and external sites 

Prioritize your fixes

Once you have created and labeled your spreadsheet and added target primary and secondary keywords, the final stage is to prioritize and assign your optimizations based on traffic or keyword importance.  

If you have pages targeting important keywords that are not ranking well, move those to the top of the priority list.

If there are pages that have a lot of traffic and could be performing better, these should also be prioritized.

At the end of this stage, you should have a comprehensive keyword list that you will have mapped to existing pages or labeled to be created.

Mind the gap

During the early stage, you want to be mindful of identifying persona, content and keyword gaps. If you don’t have content targeting some of your keywords, you’ll be missing opportunities to reach your target audience.

Most sites will have a degree of cannibalization as the SEO and content plans go through different teams and stages.

Before spending significant resources on producing new content, first, identify and maximize the content you already have, and then “mind the gap” by creating a content plan that targets all keywords that haven’t been optimized.

The post An SEO guide to audience research and content analysis appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How-to guide: Create a sustainable, high-performing SEO and content strategy

How-to guide: Create a sustainable, high-performing SEO and content strategy

Consumers are an inquisitive lot. They seek out the best prices, look for new recipes, explore options for travel destinations, find doctors and new restaurants and bike trails and they use search engines more than any other channel to do it. Marketers of all stripes know this, which may be why, on average, marketers are investing more resources into content and SEO in 2022.

What marketers don’t always know, especially those of us tasked with SEO and content creation, is what content will be both sought out by consumers and valued highly enough by the search engine’s algorithm to earn a top ranking. Both requirements must be met for content to succeed in reaching the right people, and it’s not an easy task.

To have the best chance, marketers need to:

Know what consumers are searching forBe able to identify patterns in those searches, including prominent keywordsUnderstand external factors, including competitiveness for the most valuable searches and mitigating influences like geography, seasonality, and the impact of world events

And that is just scratching the surface. Fortunately, organic search leaves a data-rich trail that can be leveraged to support a sustainable, high-performing SEO and content strategy. Winning high ranks is never guaranteed, but with the right insights, marketers can tip the scales in their favor.

A sustainable, high-performing SEO and content strategy starts with research

Content by itself does not drive traffic – after all, less than 10% of all content generates any traffic at all – and SEO by itself does not drive conversion. In practice, getting meaningful traffic from organic search requires a coordinated SEO and content strategy, the foundation of which is research.

To make the most of the available data surrounding content, search activity and website traffic, an SEO and content strategy should account for research insights at four key junctures in a recurring loop:

To establish a baseline for website performanceTo identify topic opportunities, gauge demand and benchmark competitorsTo create and optimize contentTo track, measure and refine content and SEO

Establish a baseline for website performance

To develop a targeted SEO and content strategy, it’s important to first understand how your site performs in organic search. This effort should incorporate both a content audit and a technical audit. The audits will help to identify and prioritize opportunities and provide a baseline against which to measure the impact of the strategy over time.

From an organic search perspective, a content audit should identify a comprehensive list of the keywords – and by extension, the pages – that help the website or domain rank in a search engine. Existing high-ranked content offers a prospective model for new content. Assess the topics, substance and structure of the content to identify patterns that can be leveraged in the larger strategy. Lower ranked keywords and pages may represent a further opportunity for quick gains if that content can be optimized to earn a higher rank.

Search algorithms are automated. In addition to keywords, they rely on technical signals found in the site and page architecture to help them contextualize the content on the page and determine its value for search audiences. A technical audit for SEO will uncover technical issues and opportunities and help ensure that the site and page can be made compliant with best practices. This can include on-page elements such as H1 and H2 tags, site elements like page speed and mobile-friendliness, and opportunities to better contextualize content, for example, by adding links to authoritative content.   

Identify topic opportunities, gauge demand and benchmark competitors

The bulk of opportunity typically lies beyond existing content. Relevant, prospective audiences are presented with search results for countless searches every day. In fact, SEO is responsible for over 53% of website traffic. Those searches hold a treasure trove of intelligence about the keywords, pages, domains, and competitors that are highly ranked and win the most clicks.

A targeted SEO and content strategy must identify and analyze the winners in the market to displace them.

Begin with understanding which topics people are searching for and what keywords and phrases they use to search. Identify within that data the topics you are best positioned to address. The goal here is to get relevant traffic that is most likely to convert. A site that sells zebra-print hair ties and accessories will want to rank highly for searches like “animal print headband.”

Analyze the content that is ranking highly for your coveted searches. It’s important to understand that in the world of search, these are your competitors, and they may not be the same as your traditional competitors. The San Diego Zoo may not be a business competitor, but if they are ranking high for “animal print headband,” they are your search competitor. Determine what competitor pages and keywords are ranking well for and factor that into your content strategy.  

Create and optimize content

All the research you conduct will be used to create and optimize content. Determine what is important to your business, then plan against your baseline research and factor in the insights gained from topic, keyword and competitive analysis to develop a content strategy for search.

Importantly, the potential for content to rank depends not only on the substance of the content but the format. The search engine results page (SERP) is a multi-faceted collection of result types, from traditional web listings to locations to videos and images, quick answers, shopping carousels and more. With the right tools, you can determine not only what topics and keywords will help you rank but what type of content is best suited for a high ranking.   

Track, measure and refine content strategy and SEO

For simplicity’s sake, we’re discussing the cycle of research, content creation and optimization as a linear process, but in practice, it is a loop. Research is not a one-and-done sort of undertaking but must be ongoing. Search ranks are dynamic and search engine algorithms are always changing to improve the quality of results and adapt to innovative technology.

The performance baseline created at the start of the SEO and content effort provides a framework for tracking and measuring ongoing performance. How much has the site’s share of voice grown or declined? What pages have begun to rank or improved in rank? What drove those improvements, and can they be leveraged for additional performance gains? Which new keywords have emerged, and which have declined in search interest?

Actively measuring performance provides the insights needed for ongoing, targeted content creation and optimization.

Research-based SEO and content strategy in practice

It is helpful to look at a real-world example of a research-based SEO and content strategy. The Nestle Meritene example below provides a snapshot of how search data can be leveraged to enrich a company’s understanding of the market and improve its share of voice in the all-important search channel. Nestle, a client of BrightEdge, used Data Cube, our enterprise solution for companies looking to implement research-based SEO and content strategies. You can read the full Nestle case study and an additional case study on Dumpsters.com in the Data Cube product guide.

BrightEdge Data Cube supports all four phases of research-based SEO and content strategy. To learn more about how Data Cube can support your SEO and content strategy, contact us to schedule a demo.

Nestle Health Science – MERITENE®

The MERITENE team, working with its agency to obtain the desired relevance in search engines, employed a strategy to prioritize keywords with the highest search volume. They first conducted research to discover high-value keywords with a minimum of 29,000 monthly searches.

They followed targeted recommendations, optimizing meta tags and existing content to improve SEO performance. Where content didn’t currently exist, they developed SEO-friendly content based on “habits of healthy living” and food supplements using the language their consumers use in search.

Over the course of the first year, they earned page one rankings for more than 90 previously unranked terms related to health. The gains increased traffic from a nascent 435 users in Q1 to 67,735 in Q4.

The post How-to guide: Create a sustainable, high-performing SEO and content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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