SEO Articles

What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus.

The sad reality is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while.

Did you know that we are getting roughly 13,000 new cases a day and it’s growing fast?

No one really knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away sadly), but it has caused the global stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you will be affected.

And because my ad agency works with hundreds of companies in all the major sectors and we have 7 offices around the world, we are already starting to see how it is impacting marketing (I’ll share the data below).

So what does this mean for you?

Well, before I go into that, let me be clear on what marketers should NOT do.

Don’t exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear.

What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… I am seeing marketers buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price.

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck.

Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted. Sure you may be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you are better off spending your time on anything that is long term.

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers?

Businesses are going to struggle for a while

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

For example, in China the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February.

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave.

The ports are also empty and the first rounds of layoffs have already started.

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

As I mentioned above, we work with hundreds of clients in different industries through my agency. On top of that, we also have tons of data because of Ubersuggest.

Before I dive into the data, note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to look at the traffic stats from a global perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with less than 5000 visitors a month as they tend to have drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are no global issues or algorithm updates.

We also don’t have data on every single industry, for example, we don’t really work with many restaurants nor do we purchase data for that category as local restaurants usually don’t have the biggest marketing budgets. We have data on most of the major ones, but again not all.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed. 

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic.

Conversions were also down for most industries

From a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information.

For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this:

People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Pay-per-click data

We don’t have as much pay-per-click data as we do for SEO as Ubersuggest is mainly used for SEO purposes, but we haven’t seen big shifts in cost per click… even for things like the travel industry.

We don’t have a big enough sample size, but as I mentioned, costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though we saw big dips in the number of people searching for things like flights or hotels, we didn’t see a drastic drop in CPC but we did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you can still roughly pay the same amount per click, but the cost per conversion has been going up for most industries… unless you are selling necessities like toilet paper.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful

I didn’t come up with that saying, it’s actually a line from Warren Buffett.

You will see people cutting back because the economy is predicted to get hit by 2.7 trillion dollars and experts are saying that we are going to go into a recession.

You even have billionaire investors like Carl Ichan saying that the market has more room to go down and we should expect the sell-off has longer to go.

But what I’ve learned from going through two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others are not.

During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

Just think of it this way: out of all the publicly traded companies in the United States, if the market keeps going down, many of them will struggle to pay off their debt, which has exploded to $75 trillion.

This means some companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the government. Some may be able to cut costs enough to pay their bills, but for most, it will be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is the best time to buy out other companies. The ideal ones to buy are media companies.

The more eyeballs you control, the more power you will hold in the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the ability to sell anything you want in the future.

It’s the reason I bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000 a couple years ago. During their peak, they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month.

That’s a lot of traffic.

When I bought the site out, I was out a good amount of money for me, but the moment I merged it into the NeilPatel.com site, I increased my lead count by 19% and recuperated my investment in less than a year.

In other words, this is your opportunity to strike and gain market share.

So when you see your competitors closing down or slowing down on their marketing, the goal is to double down. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long term, you will.

Every time the market goes down by 20% or more it roughly takes 536 days to recover.

As we recover, you’ll see your revenue climb and the ROI from your marketing spend go through the roof.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the Coronavirus passes soon and it has minimal impact on lives. For the time being, try not to socialize with others too much or go into crowded places.

You should read this article by the Washington Post as it breaks down great simulations of how the Coronavirus will spread and what we can do to reduce the impact on the world.

And as for your marketing, this is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful.

In other words, double down. 

How have you seen the Coronavirus affect your traffic?

PS: Please be safe and, if possible, stay indoors.

PPS: To help out a bit, I’ve opened up the keyword ideas report on Ubersuggest as well as historical keyword data. I know many of you may be facing financial difficulty, so hopefully having the data helps you save a bit of money on marketing.

The post What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers appeared first on Neil Patel.

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10 Silent killers that affect your website speed

Time is the most valuable asset. Nothing is more frustrating than slow page loading. A slow website kills conversions and impacts search rankings. Google stated that it is important to consider website speed when determining search rankings.

Here are some interesting website load statistics:

  • An Akamai study showed that 47% of customers expect websites to load in a few seconds or less.
  • One second delay on Amazon could cost $1.6 billion on sales every year.
  • According to Pingdom, 78% of the top 100 retail websites take under three seconds to load.
  • One second delay on your page load results in a seven percent reduction in conversions.
  • The average load time on the desktop is 1.286 and 2.594 seconds on mobile.

Optimizing your website’s speed is not a necessity, but a must-have, especially if you want to beat out the slower competition. Once you notice that your site is loading more than three seconds, it’s time to figure out things that can slow down your website speed and improve the overall performance.

Let’s discover lesser-known causes of website slowdown and find the best solutions to deal with each one.

 1. Caching issues

Browser caching is very important for repeat visitors. Every time users come to your website for the first time, their browser stores all the files like images, CSS, and Java files for a specified period. The next time the visitors come back to the web page, browser caching allows these stored files to be served quickly upon the user’s next visit.

Reducing the number of round-trips results in faster page load times and improve user experience. Caching can definitely help you speed your website, but it’s not without its issues. If you don’t set up caching properly, it can hurt user interaction. It’s essential to develop a solid caching strategy to maintain strong user experiences.

If you don’t use WordPress, you can add the Cache-Control and Entity tags (ETags) headers to HTTP response headers. ETags are used to validate whether the client has the recent version of a record. While Cache-control is used to define browser caching policies in client and server responses. As a result, these headers help you reduce the need for visitors to download the same files from the server twice and reduce the number of HPPT requests.

If your website is running on WordPress, you can use cache plugins for better performance. WP Rocket is a great premium cache plugin that includes a lot of extra features like lazy loading, database cleanup, CDN integrations, and many more. You don’t have any technical skills to set it up to have faster websites.

2. Overloaded database

An overloaded database can be a silent killer when it comes to website performance. One of the pitfalls with WordPress websites is that your database is overloaded with multiple post revisions, deactivated plugins, saved drafts, and others. Trackbacks and pingbacks don’t have any practical use in WordPress. Ensure to disable both of them because they clog up your database and increase the number of requests.

Make sure to delete other garbage files like spam and trash folders, transients, and database tables that can also slow down your website. As I mentioned above, WP Rocket is one of the easiest ways to schedule and clean up these files every week. You can optimize your database using the ‘Database’ tab.

database overload that slows the website speed

Source: Screenshot made by the author 

Using WP Rocket, you can also schedule an automatic database cleanup.

3. Outdated CMS

Running an outdated version of your CMS can slow down your website and cause different security vulnerabilities. Most CMS like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal let you know once any update is available. Having the latest versions of plugins and any software will result in faster load times.

In case you haven’t still updated your CMS or don’t get any notice, run a regular page speed test on different pages of your website to find out whether the latest updates or versions of the software are compatible with your web hosting or available fixes that can improve the overall performance of your website by making them faster to load.

4. Excessive usage of social media scripts

Social media has become a crucial part of every website. No matter how large your website is, you still need to connect social media to your site and make it easier for users to share your posts. The excessive usage of social media scripts and plugins can kill your site’s performance.

Limit the number of social media plugins and scripts that you don’t use at all and find alternate ways to schedule and automate your social media tasks. Zapier is a great website service that can help you automate these tasks and reduce the burden on server resources and your website.

When it comes to sharing options at the end of each post, it’s a great way to easily share your publications, but these options can add a lot of load to your website. Try not to use them at every single page of your website and include only the essentials.

5. The use of chatbots

Chatbots are great for handling customer inquiries. According to Salesforce, 69% of customers want to use chatbots to speed up their communication with a brand. But there are two sides to the coin. Chatbots can hurt your website speed in case the script isn’t implemented properly and can take your website longer to load.

It’s important to ensure that your chatbot is loading asynchronously. I mean when your chatbot performs any action on your website like initiating a conversation with a customer or sending pings, this action should be routed by external servers. So, make sure to use the right code that enables this action. Check whether there is any problem with a chatbot script using Google’s PageSpeed Tools.

For easier set-up and simple communication, you can use an out-of-the-box solution like Tidio that doesn’t require any coding skills and takes only a moment to create a chatbot. The best thing is the ability to communicate with customers in one simple dashboard. The tool also integrates with different third-party apps to provide better customer service.

usage of chatbots that slows the website speed

Source: Screenshot by Tidio

6. Broken links

Broken links are not only a pain for website visitors but a real drain on bandwidth. I’ve recently made a detailed analysis of one of my clients and have detected a lot of 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools. Once I’ve fixed them, the average load time per user boosted from seven seconds to two seconds, and there was a huge decrease in bounce rate.

So, if you have many broken links on your website, you are just wasting resources. Moreover, they can hurt user behavior metrics and negatively affect your rankings. To detect broken links, I would recommend getting audit reports with the SE Ranking Website Audit. The tool sorts all your web pages by status code to view which ones are 404.

Source: Screenshot by SE Ranking

One of its major benefits is the ability to go deeper than others and find out crawl errors that other tools don’t. Once you get these broken links, you can fix or remove them for good.

7. Render-blocking JavaScript

Every time your website loads in the browser, it sends out calls to every script in a queue. That queue of these scripts should be empty before the website appears in the browser. If this queue is very long, it can slow down your web pages without allowing visitors to fully view the site. These kinds of script queues are called the render-blocking JavaScript and CSS files.

To make your web pages load faster, Google recommends eliminating render-blocking scripts. Before removing them, identify which scripts cause problems using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. 

Most website owners use different traffic and conversion analytics platforms to analyze and measure any type of traffic and conversions with one click. Most of them are installed by using JavaScript code that can slow down your website. The best way to track different events is to use Finteza whose main tracking script (downloaded from the Finteza server) doesn’t impact website performance and can be embedded into the page asynchronously.

Source: Screenshot by Finteza

8. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

Everyone knows that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google project created to speed up web pages on mobile devices by adding an “AMP” stamp next to your mobile snippets. While the idea of having a fast mobile website with content sounds like a great idea, there are some challenges when it comes to AMP.

While creating AMP improves website performance, it removes all of the dynamic features that slow down websites. In other words, it changes the design of your website and provides less functionality for your visitors that can result in reducing conversions. According to this case study, Kinsta saw their mobile leads drop by 59% after adding AMP, so they disabled it.

So, use AMP carefully as it can lower your mobile conversions. If you still want to use them, do it properly (more instructions here). Make sure to validate AMP for Google Search and fix any possible issues.

9. Gravatars

While Gravatars offer convenience and easy customization to your user base, there is one drawback, speed. This is not really visible on smaller websites, but if you have a large website with a lot of blog comments, you will notice much of a slowdown. You have some options to fix that:

  • Disable Gravatars in WordPress
  • Remove comments that don’t have value
  • Use caching Gravatars like Harrys or Optimum Gravatar Cache
  • Reduce your Gravatar image sizes
  • Paginate comments in WP Disable

10. Invalid HTML and CSS

If you stop using invalid HTML and CSS codes, that will increase the rendering time of web pages and the overall site performance. Make sure to create HTML and CSS that aligns with the W3C standards if you want browsers to interpret your site more consistently.

Check your HTML through the W3C HTML Validator and CSS through the W3C CSS validator. One of the options is to validate HTML with the Grunt HTML validation package and Stylelint.

Bottom line

A slow-loading website is something that will turn your customers away before they can visit your website. To keep your site running well and loading fast, you need to focus on these web performance killers and do the best to prevent these issues and make your site more efficient.

Irina Weber is Brand Manager at SE Ranking. She can be found on Twitter @irinaweber048.

The post 10 Silent killers that affect your website speed appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Online Reputation Management Guide for Freelance and Small Business Owners

A Guide to Online Reputation Management for Freelance and Small Business Owners

As a business owner or marketer, you already recognize the value of your reputation and probably work to manage it. Also, you have most likely been around long enough to witness the growth of online commerce and website profiles highlighting the world’s companies.

Now more than ever professionals and consumers rely on the internet. This means that as the world economy quickly digitizes its operations, online reputation management is more crucial to success than ever before.

Staying conscious of your online reputation should be no different from staying conscious of your real life reputation. They are, professionally speaking, one and the same and the benefits to giving just a little attention are worth the net gains you will see without costing them.

While online reputation management is more crucial than ever, it is also easier than ever. Anyone can have success and save time with a bit of education and a little help from industry friends.

We’re going to be one of those friends and in this article, we’ll breakdown the process and provide great resources for building and maintaining your brand reputation.

We hope to help people like you – small business owners and freelancers – recognize the untapped value and utilize the effective marketing tools needed to stand strong in an online universe often dominated by giant companies who have staff dedicated solely to reputation management.

First, what is included under the large umbrella of online reputation management? What aspects of online presence are vital for a successful and respected business?

Vital tips for online reputation management

I. Diversified digital marketing is key!

There are a ton of different ways to market online, but behold this one fundamental:

Frame your marketing around SEO by looking through the eyes of the people you hope to have as clients. Instead of only your perspective, ask yourself, “What keywords might others use to find my business?”

To do this, you’ll need some help from Google. Open up your Google Search Console account, click on search result under the performance tab.

There you’ll see the list of exact keywords your visitors used to find your business, no more guessing game.

II. The Power of the Press Release

Press releases are content-rich pieces of copy that provide news and updates and can easily be shared and spread far and wide. One great thing about the press release format is that it helps tie important keywords to your company. This increases visibility in search engines.

Backlinko shares an easy-to-read guide on how to write a good press release in 2020. This content from Fabrik is also helpful, we have also created quite some blog posts on the same subject, remember to check them out as well!

A few quick points for press release:

1. Just like any content, you need to have your keywords in there. Do some keyword research and make sure they are included in the headline and the start of the press release.

2. A press release should be straight to the point and no fluff. Press release ≠ sales letter, so facts only, no empty promises.

3. Keep the tone neutral. A press release is an official statement, it needs to read like one.

III. Activate and frequently update your social media

Become an active presence on social media platforms. You can do this by frequently sharing worthwhile content and engaging with followers.

Social media is where you have your two-way dialogues with your clients, potential clients, trolls, haters and more. It is also a great, free platform to build or ruin your brand reputation.

An example,

If you think that’s bad, here’s something worse.

This is what happens when your brand reputation through social media is so bad, someone makes an account on that same platform, just to make you look even worse.

Take control of your own social media presence, and don’t ruin it.

On a brighter side, a great example of social media brand-building win is everyone’s favourite double braided girl, Wendy’s!

Being sassy on their social media account isn’t just an entertaining way to portray their brand, it also translates into cold, hard cash. The fast-food chain grows its revenue more than 4 times in the same quarter when compared to the previous year, when they haven’t started this genius social media strategy.

A classic Wendy’s roast that paved their branding.

IV. Providing quality copy is the single most important part of digital marketing.

Sharing useful copy makes your business an authority on information within your respective niche. Quality and reliable copy brings you consumers that believe in what you offer and will think of you when it is time to spend money.

Good copywriting also strengthens online visibility by empowering SEO. Consumers may even look past weaker parts of your online presence (i.e. design, ease-of-use). Certainly having it all in in order will contribute to your success.

Do you want to know more about implementing strategies to build your reputation? You can find specific brand reputation management strategies in this Walker Sands article, but for ease, we’ve quickly highlighted 7 Ways to Build Brand Reputation from Marketing 91 :

1) Be Proactive – approach marketing with foresight and fast course-correction when plans need tweaking

2) Be Specific – “Under Promise and Over Deliver”! With so many alternative options, your business needs to be on its game with issues like delivery and customer service.

3) Be Authoritative – Don’t be shy when highlighting what makes your business or product better than the rest!

4) Be Consistent – Whether customer service, product quality, or sharing content, being reliable goes a long way.

5) Deliver Promises – If you say you are going to do something, do it!

6) Collect Feedback – Learn from your strengths and your weaknesses. Implementing quality feedback is vital for growth.

7) Indulge in Corporate Social Responsibilities Activities – Give back to society! Participate in worthwhile organizations and causes quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Free Marketing Tools to Boost Your Marketing and Reputation Management Efforts

Next, we will share a short marketing tools list that is sure to help your business level up. Effective marketing tools are the foundation of any high-level marketing success. Any job and profession are made better with the right tools.

Simply knowing what marketing tools are out there will give you an advantage. These tools will help you build and maintain an online reputation. They will also save you money in the long run because they’ll provide a way to be more strategic in how you spend your marketing dollars.

An underrated, but vital tool is a good copywriter. It’s either hire someone good or learn to write effective copy yourself! Copywriting is your first line of offense.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Google. This super company offers three tools you can easily use to help maximize SEO and boost ranking and visibility.

I. Have you ever heard of Google My Business?

Google My Business is the program that helps you drive local customer traffic across Google Search and Maps. It is specifically powerful in helping business owners direct their marketing to ideal audiences and to fine-tune SEO presence.

An example of a local search result that returns the Google Map and local businesses directory.

We suggest Google My Business be apart of the online foundation of any business website. If you haven’t already, check out how it can help you improve your flow. Visit these sources for in-depth strategies and tips on how to optimize Google My Business.

More and more of us turn to Google when deciding on paying a local business a visit, if you’re missing your Google My Business profile, you’re missing out your first line of online presence and we’re not even talking about your online reputation yet. So make sure to claim and set up your Google My Business profile if you’re running a local business.

II. What about Google Analytics?

Google Analytics allows you to run web analytics and measure advertising ROI on your website and social media accounts. It is a very handy report system that calculates multiple considerations. It even allows business owners and marketers to fine-tune equations to reach the right people. This makes it a must have tool for every businesses with an online presence.

III. We can’t forget Google Trends.

Google Trends will give you access to the world of popularity and search queries. If you want to hone in on the perfect search words or industry phrases, this tool will let you. The applications are endless.

Once you have some ideas from Google Trends, you can use the last great SEO tool we will share to really make the best of your online presence.

IV. LSIGraph, your keyword research booster.

LSIGraph is a freemium service that helps you find the perfect keywords for your niche. Their websites boast that you will get the “most profitable, semantically related keywords for all your SEO and paid marketing needs”. We vouch for them.

One great thing I like about LSIGraph is that they acknowledge me being an SEO Champion.

Okay, jokes aside, LSIGraph provides me localized data on my keyword. For our global readers, they also support a bunch of other languages like Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin and more. So that’s handy.

Doing a good job on keyword research and targeting the right audiences is the basic of creating a good online reputation. So having a keyword tool such as the LSIGraph can be a major help.

So why does online reputation management even matter?

Do you remember that terrible, 2.5 minute Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner a few years back? Pepsi thought they would show how tolerant and open-minded they were, but their ad projected an entirely different message. It’s so terrible I won’t even show any screenshots here.

They spent a ton of money on a risky ad that was not rich in content and did not have a clear message. Their ad was like a Coca-Cola sponsorship because it didn’t inspire confidence in the Pepsi brand.

Had Pepsi taken proper preliminary measures, they may have prevented such a negative backlash. Reputation management is about cleaning up the past, projecting quality in the present, and carefully planning the future.

It matters if you want to be respected and remain limitless and unshackled in your ability to grow your business.

Here’s the Reputation Management for Dummies recap on what we covered today:

  • Stay Conscious of your Online Reputation by Managing It!Remember: Your online reputation is no longer separate from your personal reputation.
  • Diversified Digital Marketing Is Key!
    1. Press Releases are Gold!
    2. Improve your Social Media Presence
    3. Quality and Reliable Copy is King!
  • 7 Ways to Build Brand Reputation
    Be Proactive, Be Specific, Be Authoritative, Be Consistent, Deliver Promises, Collect Feedback, and Indulge in Corporate Social Responsibilities Activities.
  • Reputation Management should matter if making money matters!
  • A few effective marketing tools:
    1. Good Copywriting
    2. Google Products: Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Trends
    3. LSIGraph

We hope this article, doused with high-quality resources, will be the fuel that flames your online makeover. May your steady and sincere effort to build and manage your online reputation pays off!

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A brief history of Google’s algorithm updates

These days, the way we do SEO is somewhat different from how things were done ca. 10 years ago. There’s one important reason for that: search engines have been continuously improving their algorithms to give searchers the best possible results. Over the last decade, Google, as the leading search engine, introduced several major updates, and each of them has had a major impact on best practices for SEO. Here’s a — by no means exhaustive — list of Google’s important algorithm updates so far, as well as some of their implications for search and SEO.

2011 – Panda

Obviously, Google was around long before 2011. We’re starting with the Panda update because it was the first major update in the ‘modern SEO’ era. Google’s Panda update tried to deal with websites that were purely created to rank in the search engines, and mostly focused on on-page factors. In other words, it determined whether a website genuinely offered information about the search term visitors used. 

Two types of sites were hit especially hard by the Panda update:

  1. Affiliate sites (sites which mainly exist to link to other pages).
  2. Sites with very thin content.

Google periodically re-ran the Panda algorithm after its first release, and included it in the core algorithm in 2016. The Panda update has permanently affected how we do SEO, as site owners could no longer get away with building a site full of low-quality pages.

2012 – Venice

Venice was a noteworthy update, as it showed that Google understood that searchers are sometimes looking for results that are local to them. After Venice, Google’s search results included pages based on the location you set, or your IP address.

2012 – Penguin

Google’s Penguin update looked at the links websites got from other sites. It analyzed whether backlinks to a site were genuine, or if they’d been bought to trick the search engines. In the past, lots of people paid for links as a shortcut to boosting their rankings. Google’s Penguin update tried to discourage buying, exchanging or otherwise artificially creating links. If it found artificial links, Google assigned a negative value to the site concerned, rather than the positive link value it would have previously received. The Penguin update ran several times since it first appeared and Google added it to the core algorithm in 2016.

As you can imagine, websites with a lot of artificial links were hit hard by this update. They disappeared from the search results, as the low-quality links suddenly had a negative, rather than positive impact on their rankings. Penguin has permanently changed link building: it no longer suffices to get low-effort, paid backlinks. Instead, you have to work on building a successful link building strategy to get relevant links from valued sources.

2012 – Pirate

The Pirate update was introduced to combat illegal spreading of copyrighted content. It considered (many) DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests for a website as a negative ranking factor for the first time.

2013 – Hummingbird

The Hummingbird update saw Google lay down the groundwork for voice-search, which was (and still is) becoming more and more important as more devices (Google Home, Alexa) use it. Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole search phrase is taken into account, rather than just particular words. Why? To understand a user’s query better and to be able to give them the answer, instead of just a list of results.

The impact of the Hummingbird update wasn’t immediately clear, as it wasn’t directly intended to punish bad practice. In the end, it mostly enforced the view that SEO copy should be readable, use natural language, and shouldn’t be over-optimized for the same few words, but use synonyms instead. 

2014 – Pigeon

Another bird-related Google update followed in 2014 with Google Pigeon, which focused on local SEO. The Pigeon update affected both the results pages and Google Maps. It led to more accurate localization, giving preference to results near the user’s location. It also aimed to make local results more relevant and higher quality, taking organic ranking factors into account. 

2014 – HTTPS/SSL

To underline the importance of security, Google decided to give a small ranking boost to sites that correctly implemented HTTPS to make the connection between website and user secure. At the time, HTTPS was introduced as a lightweight ranking signal. But Google had already hinted at the possibility of making encryption more important, once webmasters had had the time to implement it. 

2015 – Mobile Update

This update was dubbed ‘​Mobilegeddon​’ by the SEO industry as it was thought that it would totally shake up the search results. By 2015 more than 50% of Google’s search queries were already coming from mobile devices, which probably led to this update. The Mobile Update gave mobile-friendly sites a ranking advantage in Google’s mobile search results. In spite of its dramatic nickname, the mobile update didn’t instantly mess up most people’s rankings. Nevertheless, it was an important shift that heralded the ever-increasing importance of mobile.

2015 – RankBrain

RankBrain is a state-of-the-art Google algorithm, employing machine learning to handle queries. It can make guesses about words it doesn’t know, to find words with similar meanings and then offer relevant results. The RankBrain algorithm analyzed past searches, determining the best result, in order to improve. 

Its release marks another big step for Google to better decipher the meaning behind searches, and serve the best-matching results. In March 2016, Google revealed that RankBrain was one of the three most important of its ranking signals. Unlike other ranking factors, you can’t really optimize for RankBrain in the traditional sense, other than by writing quality content. Nevertheless, its impact on the results pages is undeniable.

2016 – Possum 

In September 2016 it was time for another local update. The ​Possum update​ applied several changes to Google’s local ranking filter to further improve local search. After Possum, local results became more varied, depending more on the physical location of the searcher and the phrasing of the query. Some businesses which had not been doing well in organic search found it easier to rank locally after this update. This indicated that this update made local search more independent of the organic results.

Read more: Near me searches: Is that a Possum near me? »

2018 – (Mobile) Speed Update

Acknowledging users’ need for fast delivery of information, Google implemented this update that made page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches, as was already the case for desktop searches. The update mostly affected sites with a particularly slow mobile version.

2018 – Medic

This broad core algorithm update caused quite a stir for those affected, leading to some shifts in ranking. While a relatively high number of medical sites were hit with lower rankings, the update wasn’t solely aimed at them and it’s unclear what its exact purpose was. It may have been an attempt to better match results to searchers’ intent, or perhaps it aimed to protect users’ wellbeing from (what Google decided was) disreputable information.

Keep reading: Google’s Medic update »

2019 – BERT

Google’s BERT update was announced as the “biggest change of the last five years”, one that would “impact one in ten searches.” It’s a machine learning algorithm, a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP). The name BERT is short for: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

BERT can figure out the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it. In other words, it uses the context and relations of all the words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. This means: a big improvement in interpreting a search query and the intent behind it.

Read on: Google BERT: A better understanding of complex queries »

Expectations for future Google updates

As you can see, Google has become increasingly advanced since the early 2010s. Its early major updates in the decade focused on battling spammy results and sites trying to cheat the system. But as time progressed, updates contributed more and more to search results catered to giving desktop, mobile and local searchers exactly what they’re looking for. While the algorithm was advanced to begin with, the additions over the years, including machine learning and NLP, make it absolutely state of the art. 

With the recent focus on intent, it seems likely that Google Search will continue to focus its algorithm on perfecting its interpretation of search queries and styling the results pages accordingly. That seems to be their current focus working towards their mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But whatever direction it takes, being the best result and working on having an excellent site will always be the way to go!

Keep on reading: Should I follow every change Google makes? »

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the different names and years? Don’t worry! We made a handy infographic that shows when each Google update happened and briefly describes what the purpose was.

Google's algorithm updates 2011-2020

The post A brief history of Google’s algorithm updates appeared first on Yoast.

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Schema Markup for SEO → The Complete Guide

If you want to become a good SEO, you need to have a holistic view on all SEO related topics and there are some technical elements that you must understand, even if they’re not quite easy to digest. One of these topics is schema markup.

 

Schema markup and structured data had a role in SEO for years now and it seems that major search engines recommend them. But what exactly is schema markup? And, more importantly, how does it impact the SEO process?

Schema Markup for SEO

 

After reading this article, you’ll know exactly: what schema markup is, how it affects SEO & search engines, how to correctly implement it on websites and how it can help you get better rankings.

 

  1. What Is Schema Markup
  2. What Is Structured Data
  3. What Is the Difference Between Schema Markup, Microdata and Structured Data
  4. What Are Schema Markup & Structured Data in SEO
  5. How Does Schema Markup Impact SEO & Search Engines
  6. Schema Markup Types Supported by Google
  7. How To Implement Structured Data Markup On Your Website
  8. Structured Data Vocabularies
  9. Schema Encoding Types & Examples
  10. Why Doesn’t My Website Display a Rich Snippet?
    1. What is Unparsable Structured Data?
    2. Structured Markup Penalties
  11. Structured Data Myths
 

1. What Is Schema Markup

 

Schema markup is a code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website, with the purpose of helping the search engines return more informative results for users. Schema markup allows you to create enhanced descriptions that appear in search results, just like in the screenshot below.

 

cognitiveseo schema markup

 

Due to its standardized semantic vocabulary, schema markup added to your site’s HTML helps the major search engines understand your page’s information better and return richer, more informative results.

 

Schema markup has the advantage to be easily stored, retrieved, displayed and analyzed. In a nutshell, when Google doesn’t know if your information is about an artist or a concert of the artist, you can make things clear using structured data markup.

 

2. What Is Structured Data

 

Structured data (or linked data) is a way of organizing information for better accessibility. It might be hard to understand for some because of its relation to coding. However, in simple terms, it’s also called metadata or information behind the information.

 

It’s similar to a database, in which terms are stored in relation to other terms. Think of it as an Excel Spreadsheet, where you have the head of the columns as the terms and under them come their values. Together, this data forms a structure which defines something.

 

Structured Data SEO

 

For example, you can have a product in your store. The structured data could contain a list of terms and their values. The product can be “Lenovo IdeaPad 510” and it could have a list of the following items/terms, with their values:

 

Name > Lenovo IdeaPad S145

Rating > 4.2

Review Users > 925

Price > $239.99

Stock > In Stock

 

 

3 The difference between Schema, Microdata, and Structured Data

 

To make things easier, let’s shortly recap what these terms mean and what the differences between them are:

 

  • Structured Data is a general term that represents binding items to values to better structure information. It can be related to SEO as much as to anything else which contains information.
  • Microdata is a format and it represents the way the data is structured… in a ‘visual manner’, let’s say. In simple terms, think of it as text vs audio or video. You can say the same thing in both, but it will appeal to different people. You can have the same data structured in Microdata format or in JSON-LD format, for example.
  • Schema is a vocabulary that defines the terms and values. There are other vocabularies such as Dublin Core. In simple terms, think of them as languages. The good thing with Schema.org is that it has been accepted by very many platforms, making it the best option for multiple scenarios. That’s why many people use Schema Markup as a synonym for implementing Structured Data.

 

Here are some takeaways:

 

  • You can have data structured in multiple formats, such as microdata of JSON-LD.
  • You can define terms using multiple vocabularies such as Schema.org or Dublin Core.
  • You can use either vocabularies with either of the formats, resulting in your markup.
  • When people refer to Schema Markup, they generally refer to everything related to structured data, but using the Schema.org vocabulary.

 

 

 

4. What Are Schema Markup & Structured Data in SEO?

 

When it comes to SEO, structured data represents some markup that is implemented on a website which search engines like Google can use in order to display information better. SEOs very often refer to structured data as Schema Markup because it’s one of the most popular markups used to structure data. We’ll talk about it soon.

 

Using that markup, Search Engines can display what are known as “rich search results” or “rich snippets”. They are called “rich results” because they contain more elements than regular results, making them stand out.

 

The rich snippet/rich result for the example above looks really good when Google picks up the metadata and displays it properly.

 

eCommerce Rich Snippet

 

The code is a little bit uglier than that and looks something like this:

 

Rich Snippet Code JSON LD

 

It might look complicated, but if you read it, it makes sense. You can see things like “@type”:”AggregateRating” with the values and the review count, and then the “@type”Offer” with the price and availability. The code above is in the JSON-LD format, which is one of the more complicated ones to understand. We’ll talk about formats and which ones to use soon, so keep reading.

 

You can also use structured data to enrich a recipe search result. It can also have ratings but, instead of displaying the price, it displays how long it takes to make the dish, which is always useful when seeking for a recipe.

 

Recipe Rich Snippet SEO

 

These are just basic rich snippets, which affect the regular results you see in Google’s organic search results. However, Google supports a number of different types or rich snippets, some of them which I will present soon. But first, let’s talk about vocabularies and data markup.

 

5. How Does Schema Markup Affect SEO & Search Engines

To put it simply, structured data is not a ranking factor / signal. But if you’ve been doing SEO for a while, you know I’m lying and it’s not actually that simple.

 

You see, that’s the general consensus, or at least what Google officials tell us. In reality, opinions vary. Some say that it does affect rankings and some say it doesn’t. One thing we know for sure is that we cannot 100% trust what Google says. It’s not that they’re not transparent, but they have to keep the algorithm secret.

 

But let’s see punctually how schema markup impacts SEO:

 

CTR (Click Through Rate)

 

Structured Data might not be a ranking signal, but it sure can help with rankings, at least indirectly. You see, any modification to your search result will have an impact on your CTR (click through rate). A negative one will drop your CTR and a positive one will boost it.

 

With a higher CTR, your rankings will actually be higher.

 

If more people click on your search engine result, this sends Google a signal that they want to read your content.

 

To honor that demand, Google might rank your article higher so that more people will see it. This happens constantly, so don’t expect your article to stay there. Tomorrow, a competitor might change their title and their CTR might be higher than yours. Google will notice that.

 

Click Through Rate

 

Structured data can help you with CTR because rich results catch the eye easier than regular search results. Sure, those snippets usually display the information directly on Google’s landing page, but some of that organic traffic will still forward to your website.

 

This might sound counter-intuitive but, with all the rich snippets in the search results, you might end up having a lower CTR and less organic traffic going to your website.

 

Why? Because a user can find the answer directly in the search results and they don’t need to click.

 

For example, most nutrition websites have structured data implemented, which means most of them get rich snippets. If you’re in the top 3 results and all the results display the recipe duration, if your duration is the highest, users might decide to not click your search engine result and go for a faster recipe instead.

 

So, while you can get higher CTR if your rich result stands out (not everyone has rich snippets), it can also lower your CTR if everyone has rich snippets and the client browses based on that info.

 

Priority

 

You shouldn’t prioritize the addition of structured data on your website unless you’ve finished dealing with other, more important issues, such as keyword research, content optimization and other OnPage SEO factors.

 

Why? Because Google said it understands the content and the information required to display rich snippets without structured data, although it’s recommended that you use it.

 

Google can understand your content to display it in rich snippets even without the addition of structured data. However, it’s safer if you do use the markup.

 

So, for example, if you have some HTML with 5 stars and the text “Rating: 4.7 – 24 Reviewers”, Google might figure that out on its own and display a Review rich snippet even without structured data.

 

However, if you want to have a higher chance of the reviews being displayed, then add the SEO structured data so that Google understands the content perfectly.

 

But remember, prioritize! Keyword research, title and content optimization, website speed and quality backlinks are much more effective in ranking you higher. So if you don’t have those in place, you can postpone the structured data markup.

 

Personally, I don’t see how structured data can make search engines smarter. If Google wants its algorithms to better understand content more like a human, structured data makes it a disservice. The truth is that Google doesn’t want to rely on structured data in the future.

 

You should prioritize other things such as good crawling and indexation, keyword research and title/content optimization before going for structured data (the SEO Tools from cognitiveSEO can help you with that).

 

Schema markup isn’t (probably) the future of Search Engine Optimization & Digital Marketing but, for now, once you have finished other, more important search engine optimization tasks, you can make good use of it. Some studies even show that implementing structured data on your website can boost CTR up to 30%.

 

 

6. Schema Markup Types Supported by Google

 

You might be wondering what important types of schema markup are there? Well, there’s pretty much a markup for anything you can probably imagine.

 

However, there are only a limited number of rich snippet types that Google has developed and improved over the years, each unique in its own way.

 

Organization Schema Markup

 

The Organization Schema markup isn’t a rich snippet on it’s own but it is a very important part of it because it is found in almost all the snippets. It represents the author of the content so it can also be a single person, such as an author, for example.

This is good for making sure the content is associated with the proper brand / name.

 

Breadcrumbs Markup

 

The Breadcrumbs Schema Markup is crucial for representing website structure. The structure of the site is represented 

However, you can also point that out.

We know that Google constantly adjusts how the search results display.

BreadCrumbs Schema Markup

Review, Product & Offer Schema Markup

 

The most popular markup out there is probably the review & product one. I’ve presented it in the beginning of the article. There are multiple items that can be added to the product rich snippet, from the product name and price to details, such as the lowest price and highest price, or offer expiry dates.

Review Schema markup

Recipe Schema Markup

 

I’ve also shown an example of the recipe snippet above. You can specify things such as ingredients and how much time the recipe takes.

Recipe Schema markup

FAQ Schema Markup

 

The FAQ Schema Markup lists answers to the related questions around your topic / page in a drop down format. Neil Patel used this FAQ schema technique to greatly improve his search engine traffic. However, it seems like this can be abused and Google might fix it.

FAQ Schema Markup

 

How to Schema Markup

 

Similar to the FAQ Schema Markup. A drop down type snippet with step by step answers.

 

Q&A Schema Markup

 

The Q&A Schema Markup is specially designed for websites like Quora or Yahoo Answers. It can also  be applied in other scenarios, of course. Google recommends linking to individual answers (via anchors, for  example) to provide the best user experience. 

Q&A Schema markup

 

Article Schema Markup (related to AMP)

 

A carousel in which your article can be displayed at the top of the page that can be swiped, above ads and organic search results. Visible only on mobile devices.

AMP Carousel Schema Markup

 

Video Schema Markup

 

A visual snippet which displays the thumbnail of a video next the the title and description. It is very useful for organic video marketing.

 

Event Schema Markup

 

A visual snippet where the date is very visible and with quick access to Google Calendar bookings.

Event Rich Snippet Schema Markup

Local Business Schema Markup

 

If you have a local business or are doing local SEO for a client, then you might want to add local business schema markup to the website. The markup itself is formed out of multiple data items, such as Organization, Description, Logo, Address, Phone and even Reviews.

You can check a list created by Schemaapp.com of how to properly add schema markup for local businesses in this Google Sheet.

 

Other Types of Schema Markup

 

A list of full rich snippets that Google supports can be viewed here (browse them from the menu).

Also, note that different search engines such as Yandex and Yahoo! (Bing) might also use other types of structured data or schema markup on their platforms.

However, we do know that both Yandex and Bing accept and recommend schema.org, so it’s a good idea to only implement this one, unless other 3rd party apps that you use require other types of markup.

 

 

7. How To Add Schema Markup On Your Website (The Right Way)

 

If you’re interested in schema markup, you’re probably also wondering how to use Google structured data on your website.

 

If you want to use structured data markup on your website so that Google can pick it up, you’ll either have to code it or make use of some plugins / extensions that will add the structured data for you.

 

The thing is, you have to implement it correctly, otherwise it might do more harm than good.

 

If you implement structured data wrong, your rich snippets might display the wrong information, they might not display it at all and you might even get penalized for it.

 

Here’s how you can implement structured data correctly on your website, on different platforms:

 

How to add schema markup in WordPress & Blogs 

 

As you know, adding things on WordPress is generally very easy because there’s a ton of plugins you can choose from and, best of all, most of them are free. Implementing Schema Markup doesn’t make an exception.

 

To add Schema Markup to your WordPress blog, check out the structured data & schema markup plugins in the WP repository. Choose the one with the features you need and with good reviews. The SEO plugin also adds basic structured data functionality to most of your pages, so make sure you don’t have duplicate codes.

 

Note that these plugins implement basic structured data for your articles & pages. You might want to look for something specific if you have a recipes website, for example. If you have an eCommerce store on WordPress, the WooCommerce plugin already implements products structured data for you.

 

How to add schema markup in Magento & eCommerce

 

As for WordPress websites, most eCommerce platforms such as Magento, OpenCart or Prestashop will come with structured data already integrated.

 

If you’re not sure that your site has the proper structured data, use the structured data Google Structured Data Testing Tool. You should see something like this:

 

Structured Data SEO Tool

 

If there’s no Product section, it means your implementation is missing. There are always plugins and extensions so do a Google search and find what suits your platform.

 

Make sure to fix the warnings too, although they won’t stand in the way of your rich snippets displaying.

 

Local SEO structured data

 

If you have a local business, structured data can really help your local SEO. You can mark up your NAP (name, address, phone) so that search engines can better understand that information.

 

This plugin for WordPress seems to support structured data for Local Businesses.

 

Custom schema markup implementation

 

Sometimes, adding markup to your website can be more difficult. If you have a custom platform, you don’t have a plugin to simply… plug in.

 

Step 1: Find out the type of page you have and which type of schema markup fits it best. For example, informational pages go well with FAQ or How to schema markup. Products on eCommerce sites, on the other hand, go well with the Product schema markup.

 

Note that it’s important not to try to trick Google into making your result more appealing if it doesn’t make sense. So only pick what Google recommends from the types of rich snippets it supports.

 

Step 2: Generate the schema markup. Generating JSON LD structured data is pretty easy. You can use an online schema markup generator such as this one to easily generate your code.

 

However, you’ll have to manually add it in your head section. Which means this would be a static implementation.

 

If you have thousands of pages, that might not be easy. You’re better off developing a dynamic system with a programmer, where the platform automatically picks up the information from the database and compiles it into a JSON format to display it in the HTML for each product/page.

 

So although the template for the Product Schema Markup in the JSON-LD format stays the same the values such as Price, Currency, Product name or Rating might change from page to page and website to website.

 

Sometimes, you can also manually add schema into your HTML with Microdata. However, it’s best if you use the JSON-LD format, as suggested by Google. 

 

Step 3: Validate everything.

 

If you’re planning on adding markup manually, make sure to validate your code with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

 

 

 

8. Structured Data Vocabularies

 

For structured data, you need two things: a list of item names and a way to display them. So we have vocabularies and formats which, together, result in markup.

 

The list of items is called vocabulary. You can think of it as languages. Different words can mean different things in different languages and not everybody speaks every language.

 

There are multiple types of schema and vocabularies available:

 

Schema.org

 

Schema.org is the most popular vocabulary for structured data. Why? Well, because it has been accepted by major search engines and companies, such as Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc. It’s sort of an… international language, like English.

 

As I said above, because Schema Markup is so popular, SEOs often refer to structured data directly as Schema Markup. You could have structured data implemented on your website without Schema Markup, by using another vocabulary. However, you will use Schema Markup of your own free will 🙂 Got it?

 

The Schema.org Markup supports a very big variety of items and elements. You can view the entire list of supported items on http://schema.org. We’ll soon discuss which ones are the most important schema markup elements, which Google actually uses in the search engine results.

 

Open Graph

 

You might be familiar with Open Graph. It’s not used for search engines, but social media platforms, such as Facebook, use it to display titles and images.

 

Facebook Open Graph Markup

 

They are useful for SEO & Facebook Marketing because you can separate the regular <title> tag used for search engines from the Facebook title. This way, you can keep the keywords in the <title>, which is important for SEO, and you can also have a catchy headline for social media, which is important for clicks & engagement.

 

Dublin Core

 

Dublin Core is another vocabulary, similar to schema.org but much more limited. It’s probably the second most popular one. Unless you have solid motives to use Dublin Core, such as a 3rd party app your site is hooked to uses it, use schema.org vocabulary instead.

 

9. Schema Encoding Types & Examples

 

First let’s take a look at how the information for the address of an organization would look without any structured data, in plain HTML code:

 

The following information was taken from http://schema.org/address. You can view examples for most of the schema.org vocabulary properties there (some of them are still marked as “To Do”).

 

Address Structured Data Plain HTML code (source: schema.org)

 

JSON-LD

 

JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) is a method of encoding and presenting structured data information using JSON. This is recommended by the W3C, which means it is standardized.

 

Here’s an example of how the above information would be displayed using JSON. Google also recommends using JSON LD for displaying structured data on your website. Again, it looks complicated but you won’t have to write it yourself, as it can be generated with tools we’ll soon talk about.

 

Address Structured Data in JSON LD Format

Address Structured Data in JSON LD Format (source: schema.org)

 

Microdata

 

With Microdata you can specify the structured data information within the HTML code itself, using HTML tag attributes. This makes it easier for many people to understand. However, while this is easy to add manually on a case by case basis, it’s difficult to scale and automatize when required for bigger websites (such as eCommerce ones).

 

Address Structured Data in Microdata Format

Address Structured Data in Microdata Format (source: schema.org)

 

With JSON LD, you’ll have a lot of standardized plugins for different purposes on most platforms. However, if the element you’re trying to specify isn’t included in the plugin and thus doesn’t display in the outputted JSON LD code, you can add it easily in the HTML using Microdata.

 

RDFa

 

RDFa is similar to Microdata, which means it’s also added through HTML tag attributes. The difference is that RDFa is older and more complex. It has other uses outside of the HTML realm and this means integration with other apps/platforms/servers is easier if they use the technology.

 

Address Structured Data in RDFa Format

Address Structured Data in RDFa Format (source: schema.org)

 

Whether you want to go with RDFa or Microdata is your choice, they’ll both do just fine. However, do it as an alternative. Using JSON-LD is the recommended way to go.

 

Notice how all the formats above, although different, use the Schema.org data markup vocabulary.

 

 

10. Why Doesn’t My Website Display a Rich Snippet?

 

So you’ve finished implementing structured data on your website, but the rich snippets don’t show up in search. What do you do?

 

Implementing structured data on your website correctly doesn’t guarantee rich snippets.

 

Unfortunately, Google picks up only what it wants. If it’s your Homepage you’re worrying about, worry no more! Google doesn’t display rich snippets for Homepages.

 

First, make sure that your code is implemented correctly by testing it. You can do this using the following tools from Google:

 

Google Structured Data Testing Tool: This is the most popular tool for testing out JSON LD markup and structured data.

 

structured data testing tool

 

 

Rich Snippet Validator: This is still in beta, but it’s useful. You can find it here.

 

Rich Results Testing Tool

 

10.1 What is Unparsable Structured Data?

 

Unparsable structured data is data markup on your website that could not be properly parsed (or understood) by Google. This, most likely, means that you have not implemented things correctly on your site.

 

In programming, parsing is the separation of a cluster of strings into separate ones. In other terms, the strings could not be correctly read or understood, which indicates an error in how the strings were presented.

 

These errors shows either in the Google validator as an error, or in the Google Search Console, under Enhancements > Unparsable Structured Data.

 

Unparsable Structured Data

 

Compared to the other validators above, it’s very useful because it will highlight errors for multiple pages at once, although it doesn’t highlight all the details of the issue.

 

Unparsable Structured Data SEO Search Console

 

Make sure you use Google’s SEO Tools to your advantage when implementing schema markup and structured data on your website.

 

 

10.2 Structured Markup Penalties

 

If you implement structured data wrong, you probably won’t get penalized. However, if you try to cheat, Google might apply a structured markup penalty on your website.

 

For example, if you just want the star ratings and number of reviewers, you can simply add them manually to your page. Your product could be 3 stars, but you might want to display 5 stars in the search engines. You could also add a smaller structured data price, while on the website, the real price is higher.

 

That’s not fair and the Google algorithm updates might punish you! 

 

search-console-manual-actions-warning

 

If you get a similar message in your Search Console or your organic traffic to all the pages with structured markup has suddenly dropped, make sure to read this article about structured markup penalties to find out how to fix things.

 

11. Common Schema Markup Myths

 

There are a few myths that go around regarding rich snippets and structured data. Most of them are simply implementation mistakes and misconceptions.

 

However, even though we’ve already talked about this and covered these topics above, it’s a good idea

 

1. Schema markup guarantees rich snippets: They don’t. Google will pick whatever it wants regardless of whether you have structured data on your website or not. That’s why it’s a good idea to implement other, more important things first instead of focusing on structured data.

 

2. Schema markup is a ranking factor: It’s not. At least, that’s what the Google officials have stated over and over again. However, CTR is a ranking factor and since Structured Data can affect the CTR, your rankings might improve. But Google won’t care if you simply implement markup on your website.

 

3. You need schema for answer boxes: You don’t. Answer boxes and structured data might have something in common since Google has recently implemented the Q&A markup but that doesn’t mean you can’t get an answer box without structured data.

 

Conclusion

 

Since major search engines recommend adding structured data, go ahead and add it, especially if you have an eCommerce website. Make sure to implement it correctly and validate it with the above-mentioned tools. However, you should prioritize other important SEO tasks first.

 

What’s your experience with structured markup? Do you use it in your SEO & digital marketing strategy? Does it help with your clickthrough rates? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

The post Schema Markup for SEO → The Complete Guide appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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1,083,219 People Per Month and Counting: My New Favorite SEO Strategy

Podcasting.

You’ve heard about it before and I bet you’ve even listened to a handful of podcasts. But you probably haven’t created one yet.

Just think of it this way…

There are over 1 billion blogs and roughly 7 billion people
in this world. That’s 1 blog for every 7 people…

On the other hand, there are roughly 700,000 podcasts. That means there is only 1 podcast for every 10,000 people or so.

Podcasting is 1,428 times less competitive than blogging.

So, should you waste your time on podcasting?

Well, let me ask you this… do you want a new way to get more organic traffic from Google?

I’m guessing you said yes. But before I teach you how to do that, let me first break down some podcasting stats for you, in case you aren’t convinced yet.

Is podcasting even worth it?

From a marketing and monetization standpoint, podcasting isn’t too bad.

I have a podcast called Marketing School that I do with my buddy Eric Siu. We haven’t done much to market it and over time it’s grown naturally.

Here are the stats for the last month.

We got 1,083,219 downloads or “listens” last month. To give you an idea of what that is worth, Dream Host paid us $60,000 for an ad spot…

They’ve also been paying us for a while, technically we have a 1-year contract worth $720,000.

Now on top of the ad money, Eric and I both have gotten clients from our podcast. It’s tough to say how much revenue we’ve made from the podcast outside of advertising, but it is easy to say somewhere in the 7-figure range.

Keep in mind, when I make money through ads or generate revenue for my ad agency, there are costs so by no means does that revenue mean profit.

Sadly, my expenses are really high, but I’ll save that for a
different post.

But here is the cool thing: Eric and I only spend 3 hours a month to record podcast episodes for the entire month. So, the financial return for how much time we are spending is high.

And if that doesn’t convince you that you need to get into podcasting, here are some other stats that may:

  • 32% of Americans listen to a podcast at least
    once a month.
  • 54% of listeners think about buying products advertised
    in podcasts.
  • Businesses spent $497 million on podcast ads in
    2018 (probably much larger now).
  • 51%
    of monthly active podcast listeners
    have an annual household income of at
    least $75,000.

If you haven’t created a podcast, this guide will
teach you how
. And this
one
will teach you how to get your first 10,000 downloads.

Alright, and now for the interesting part…

How to get more SEO traffic through podcasting

Back in 2019, Google saw how podcasts were growing at a rapid pace and they didn’t want to miss out.

They wanted people to continually use Google, even when it came to learning information that is given over audio format. So they decided to make a change to their search engine and algorithm and started to index podcasts and rank them.

And depending on what you search for and the more specific you get, you’ll even notice that Google is pulling out details from specific episodes. This clearly shows that they are able to transcribe the audio automatically.

This shouldn’t be too much of a shocker as they’ve already had this technology for years. They use it on YouTube to figure out what a video is really about.

But here is the thing, just recording a podcast and putting
it out there isn’t going to get you a ton of search traffic.

So how do you get more SEO traffic to your podcast?

It starts with topics

Podcasting is a lot like blogging.

If you create a blog post on any random topic that no one
cares to read about, then you aren’t going to generate much traffic… whether it
is from social or search.

The same goes for podcasting. If you have an episode on a random topic that no one cares to listen to, then you won’t get many downloads (or listens) and very little SEO traffic as well.

Just look at the stats for a few of our episodes.

Look at the screenshot above, you’ll see some do better than
others.

For example, the episode on “7 Secrets to Selling High Ticket Items” didn’t do as well as “The 7 Best Marketing Conferences 2020” or even “How to Drive More Paid Signups In Your Funnel.”

You won’t always be able to produce a hit for every podcast
you release, but there is a simple strategy you can use to increase your success
rate.

First, go to Ubersuggest
and type in a keyword or phrase related to what your podcast is about.

Once you type in your keyword or phrase, hit search.

You’ll land on a screen that looks something like this:

Then in the left-hand navigation, click on the “Content Ideas” option.

From there, you’ll see a list of popular topics on the subject you are researching.

This report breaks down popular blog posts based on social shares, SEO traffic, and backlinks.

Typically, if a blog post has all 3, that means people like the topic. Even if it has only 2 out of the 3, it shows that people are interested in the topic.

What we’ve found is that if a topic has done well as a blog post, it usually does well as a podcast episode.

See with the web, there are so many blogs, most topics have been beaten to death. But with podcasting, it is the opposite. Because there are very few podcasts, most topics haven’t been covered.

And if you take those beaten-to-death blog topics and turn them into podcast episodes, it is considered new, fresh content that people want to hear. And they tend to do really well.

Now you have to dive into keywords

Hopefully, you are still on the content ideas report and you’ve found some ideas to go after.

If not, just scroll down to the bottom of the Content Ideas report and keep clicking next… even if only a few numbers show, don’t worry, there are millions of results and as you go to the next page, more pages will show up.

Once you find a topic, I want you to click the “Keywords” button under the “Estimated Visits” column.

This will give you more specific keywords to mention and so you can go even more in-depth during your podcast episode.

Remember that Google is able to decipher your audio and knows what topics and keywords you are covering.

So, when you mention a keyword within your podcast, your podcast episode is more likely to rank for that keyword or phrase.

But there are a few things I’ve learned through this whole process:

  1. You don’t have to keyword stuff – you don’t have to mention a keyword 100 times or anything crazy if you want to rank well organically. Mention it whenever it is natural.
  2. Episodes titles that contain popular keywords tend to do better – do your keyword research and include the right keywords within your title (I’ll show you how in a bit).
  3. Episode titles that contain questions do well – eventually, you’ll also see these episodes perform even better because when people ask questions in the future on smart assistants like Alexa and Google Home, you’ll eventually start to see them pull from podcasts.

So how do you find the right keywords and questions to
incorporate into your podcasts?

Head back to Ubersuggest and type in a keyword or phrase related to a podcast episode you want to create. This should be a bit easier now because you’ve already leveraged the Content Ideas report to come up with popular topics that people want to hear about. 😉

This time, I want you to click on the “Keyword Ideas” report in the left-hand navigation.

You’ll then see a list of suggestions that look something like this.

As you scroll down, you’ll continually see more and more keywords.

Don’t worry about the CPC data, but you will want to look at the SEO difficulty score as the easier the score the better chances you will have of ranking your podcast episode on Google. Also, look at search volume… the higher the number the better as that means more potential listens.

My recommendation for you is to target keywords and phrases that have an SEO difficulty of 40 or less.

Once you have a list of keywords, I want you to click on the “Related” navigational link on that report.

Now, you’ll see a much bigger keyword list.

In this case, you’ll see 405,513 related keywords that you can target. Again, ignore the CPC data but target keywords with an SEO difficulty of 40 or less and the more popular the keyword the better.

Lastly, I want you to click on the “Questions” navigational link…

Then scroll through the list and you’ll see a list of
questions that you can target.

According to Comscore, over 50% of the searches are voice searches. A large portion of those are questions, so covering them within your podcast or even labeling your titles based on questions is a great way to get more traffic.

If you don’t think going after questions is a good strategy
to get more traffic, just look at Quora.

With roughly 111,114,424 estimated visits a month from Google, Quora is getting a lot of traffic by optimizing their site for question-related keywords.

Conclusion

Google
is the most popular site in the world
. Whether you love SEO or hate it, you
have no choice but to leverage it.

One way to get more SEO traffic is to write tons of content and leverage content marketing. It’s a competitive approach and you should consider it.

But another solution that’s even easier is to create a podcast and rank it well on Google.

And ideally, you should be doing both.

Do you have a podcast? Have you tried ranking audio
content on Google?

The post 1,083,219 People Per Month and Counting: My New Favorite SEO Strategy appeared first on Neil Patel.

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