SEO Articles

20220105 SEL Brief

The post 20220105 SEL Brief appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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What Is a Metaverse?

In this article, we attempt to define what makes a platform a metaverse based on today’s successful platforms and broader movements in the tech industry towards digital transformations, immersive experiences, and digital identities.

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Yoast SEO to launch on Shopify

Yoast SEO will be available for Shopify on January 18, 2022, the company announced Tuesday. Unlike the WordPress version of the app, which operates under a freemium model, Yoast SEO for Shopify will cost $29 per 30 days.

Why we care. Yoast SEO is one of the most commonly used SEO apps in the WordPress ecosystem and the launch of an app for Shopify speaks to the rise of e-commerce (particularly over the last two years).

This app is primarily aimed at SMBs, just like the available Google and Bing Shopify integrations (more on those below). The proliferation of SMB-oriented apps for merchants makes it easier for smaller retailers to establish an online presence, even if they’re not working with an agency partner. Together, these products could increase overall competition both in shopping and traditional search results.

RELATED: Shopify SEO Guide: How to increase organic traffic to your store

Search visibility for retailers of all sizes is now a thing. Beginning in 2020, e-commerce took on a more crucial role for most people as pandemic-related safety precautions inhibited in-person shopping. That also caused many retailers to turn to platforms like Shopify so that they could offer their products online.

The search engines picked up on this trend: Google announced its expanded Shopify integration in May 2021 and Bing launched its Shopify integration in December 2021, offering Shopify merchants an easy way to get their products listed in organic shopping results.

Yoast SEO for Shopify offers features that are complementary to those integrations. Instead of enabling merchants to show product listings, it may help them optimize their pages to show in organic, non-shopping results (like the well-known WordPress version of the app).

The same Yoast SEO, but for Shopify. Yoast SEO for Shopify will offer much of the same functionality as its WordPress counterpart. This includes controls for your titles and descriptions in Google Search and social media, feedback on readability and Yoast’s schema graph.

While the functionality remains similar, the price points vary: At launch, Yoast SEO for Shopify will cost $29 per 30 days (after a free 14-day trial). The WordPress version operates under a freemium model, with the premium version costing $99 per year.

Why Yoast is launching a Shopify app. “An app on the Shopify platform is a huge business opportunity,” Thijs de Valk, CEO at Yoast, said, “Shopify is growing fast. It makes sense to build an app and profit from the growth of that specific platform.”

de Valk also cited risk-diversification as a motivator for Yoast’s Shopify app, explaining that the company’s growth up until now has been highly dependent on WordPress.

The post Yoast SEO to launch on Shopify appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How marketers can prepare for and respond to Google’s algorithm updates

How marketers can prepare for and respond to Google’s algorithm updates

The Google Search ecosystem is constantly evolving. It introduces many algorithm updates every year, ranging from changes targeting specific search elements to broad core updates.

“Google periodically adjusts what types of information it deems to be most important, which can sometimes have a big effect on which results are shown on the web,” said Crystal Carter, senior digital strategist at Optix Solutions, during her session at SMX Next.

Many marketers believe Google primarily relies on websites when creating and deploying each succeeding batch of algorithm updates. But, to improve searchers’ experiences, it actually focuses more on entities — a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable, according to Google.

“Websites are important to Google, but that’s not the only way that it organizes information,” she said. “This is important for thinking about why and how Google makes updates.”

Image: Crystal Carter

The information landscape is always growing, says Carter, and Google uses a variety of sources to present the most relevant results: “Google’s algorithms are taking into account where the search is made, where the information is coming from when the search is made and when the information was written. They also look at how the person is searching, whether they’re on their phone or their smartwatch or their smart refrigerator, as well as who wrote the content.”

“When we look at their algorithm updates, they’re essentially trying to direct people to highly accessible information from the best sources,” she added.

What happens during Google algorithm updates

Many Google algorithm updates address specific issues relating to an industry or SERP feature. These are usually easy to spot.

“When there’s a targeted update, which is my term and not Google’s, you’re likely to see changes to SERP features,” Carter said.

Carter calls these updates “targeted” because they usually focus on updating specific features of the SERP, such as how results are displayed and which sites are preferred for queries.

Image: Crystal Carter

“If you look up a COVID testing site, you’ll see some of the targeted work that it’s [Google] done around that SERP,” she provided as an example of a “targeted” update, “It’s curated the results so that you’re seeing information from the government rather than seeing commercial results, and the maps that it’s showing are specifically targeted at medical elements.”

Core updates, on the other hand, are algorithm changes that alter how Google indexes and ranks sites broadly. These usually occur less frequently, but their impact can be enormous.

“Generally speaking, you might see changes to the types of domains which show in the SERPs,” Carter said. “You may see a sudden increase or decrease in domain visibility or a sudden increase or decrease in traffic across the domain.”

“So, rather than one page suddenly falling in rank, you might see a lot of pages change or increase in rank,” she added.

Identifying what type of algorithm update place took place is the first step in responding to ranking fluctuations. This allows marketers to plan a strategy that best addresses the issue.

How marketers should respond to updates

How you respond to a Google update not only depends on what type of change occurred but also on how it affected your online properties as well.

“If you’re on the winning end of this, it’s all smiles,” said Carter. “This is a good sign that you are on the right track with regards to the quality of your information, the demonstrable credibility of your website, and that Google thinks that you have good technical accessibility.”

“Doing well on Google algorithm updates gives you the opportunity to build and compound your SEO capabilities over time,” she added.

Image: Crystal Carter

Yet when things don’t go as planned with these updates, brands often find themselves scrambling for solutions. This is when it helps to pinpoint the root cause, which can take many forms.

“One of the reasons is that the criteria for your vertical may have changed,” Carter said, referencing a former client who was negatively affected by Google’s update to medical-related results: “They were a reputable, fantastic medical business, and they were selling a test server health test. Then there was a change in the SERP — Google decommercialized this service. For that particular query, they were prioritizing people like the Mayo Clinic, the World Health Organization and the CDC.”

“When Google does that, you have to take a strategic approach to your SEO, which is different from your standard competitive keyword research,” she added.

Although verticals can change often, there’s also a good chance the SERP visibility drop was caused by a problem with your own properties.

“You might have missed something, and this often happens with in-house teams because you’re busy,” Carter said. “You might have missed a particular directive or instruction or rule, or a new element from Google. It might be that you need to play catch up.”

When your site is hit by a core update, it’s important to stay focused on best practices. Carter says this will future-proof your properties for the next round of changes.

“Don’t argue with the algorithm and don’t expect improvements until the next update,” she said. “Sometimes people want to throw everything at it. But generally speaking, the core of the core algorithm updates are around the domain, so Google makes it a quality assessment of your approach to SEO.”

Image: Crystal Carter

What to expect from future changes

Successful marketing strategies don’t simply identify and respond to algorithm changes — they’re able to expect the trends shaping future updates. And from what many SEOs can tell, Google seems to be leaning more into AI modeling.

“Google introduced MUM [Multitask Unified Model] — the latest powerful AI tool and it helps it [Google] understand the information in a way that it’s not been able to do so before,” said Carter. “Not only does it process natural language, but it does so in 75 languages, and it’s also able to process text and also images and it’s also going to set up to be able to grow to process video and audio as well, so Google is already future-proofing this AI tool.”

“What we’re likely to see in the short term is more AI-powered large-scale updates,” she added.

Image: Crystal Carter

The more Google leans into these models, the more marketers will need to stay on top of their online assets. And that means keeping them in tip-top shape — all the time. It’s the best way to prepare for whatever comes next.

“If you’re thinking about how to prepare for it,” Carter said, “I would say it’s worth making sure that your site is healthy all the time. Make sure that you have good, quality content rolling out in a consistent manner.”

Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (free registration required).

The post How marketers can prepare for and respond to Google’s algorithm updates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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We have big news: Yoast SEO is coming to Shopify!

For over 10 years, Yoast SEO has helped WordPress users all around the world with their SEO. And we’re quite proud to say that with more than 12 million active users, it’s one of the most popular SEO plugins in the WordPress community. We’re not going anywhere, our WordPress plugins will remain one of our main focuses. But we are bringing Yoast SEO to another platform: Shopify! Just like our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, this Shopify app will help users work on their own SEO and create pages that both people and search engines will love. And to properly launch our newest product, we’re hosting a Shopify event!

The Yoast SEO app will soon be on Shopify

In two weeks, on the 18th of January, we’ll release our new Yoast SEO on Shopify app and we’re super excited! We can’t wait to bring our product to a whole new platform and help its users with their SEO. At the moment, we’re still dotting the last few i’s, but it’s almost ready to go. So if you have a Shopify store, or know someone who does, make sure to keep an eye on our website or the app store in Shopify. Yoast SEO will be joining Shopify very soon! If you want to read more about why we’re introducing this new product, make sure to read the blog post in which our CEO Thijs de Valk explains why we’ve brought Yoast SEO to Shopify.

But what can this new Shopify app do for me?

Now you might be wondering what you can expect from this new app on Shopify. Similar to our WordPress plugin, it helps you optimize your pages by giving you feedback on the findability and readability of your pages. This feedback helps you improve your pages to get them higher in the search results and improve your sales. In addition to this feedback, the Yoast SEO for Shopify app also gives you control over how your pages are shown on Google and social media. And last but certainly not least, it actually outputs all the needed SEO meta data and a complete Schema graph for your site, which search engines can use to understand your pages even better. There are a few other functionalities that come with this new app. If you want to dive into that, make sure to check out our Yoast SEO for Shopify product page.

Join our free online Shopify event

To celebrate and kick off our new product, we’re hosting a very special YoastCon this year. An online YoastCon – Shopify edition on the 20th of January that will be chockfull of lots of interesting SEO talks by experts in this field. You can expect to learn more about how to improve the SEO of your online store and how Yoast SEO in Shopify works. And if you’ve ever been to a Yoast event, you’ll know that we also like to have fun. So you can also expect some sort of entertainment!

Speakers from Shopify and renowned SEO companies

We want to make sure that everyone takes something away from this event. That’s why we’ve invited guests from different companies that will talk about SEO for online stores. We’ll kick off the event with a welcome and product demo by our CEO Thijs de Valk and CPO Joost de Valk. After that, Aleyda Solis will talk us through the worst SEO issues of online stores in 2022 and how to fix them. Another topic that will be discussed is how to make a perfect ecommerce website, a talk by our own Jono Alderson.

But that’s not all. We’ll also have talks by Shopify’s Kevin Indig & Jackson Lo and Mike King. More information on these talks and the schedule will follow soon! Just keep an eye on our event page.

Practical information

This event, the online YoastCon – Shopify edition, will take place on Thursday, the 20th of January 2022. It starts at 4:30 pm CET / 1:30 pm EST and will be a few hours long. But you can tune in whenever you like! And if you can’t make it that day, don’t worry, it’s also possible to watch the event at a different time.

Register for the Shopify event now!

The post We have big news: Yoast SEO is coming to Shopify! appeared first on Yoast.

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The not-so-SEO checklist for 2022

The not-so-SEO checklist for 2022

30-second summary:

With several Google algorithm updates in 2021 its easy to fall into a dangerous trap of misconceptions
One factor that still remains constant is the value Google places on great content
Core Web Vitals aren’t the end-all of ranking factors but a tiebreaker
Read this before you create your SEO strategy for 2022!

The year 2021 was a relatively busy one for Google and SEOs across the world. The search engine behemoth is improving itself all the time, but in this past year, we saw a number of pretty significant updates that gave digital marketers cause for paying attention. From rewarding more detailed product reviews to nullifying link spam, Google keeps thinking of ways to improve the user experience on its platform.

Speaking of user experience: the biggest talking point of the year was June’s Page Experience update, which took place over a few months and notably included the Core Web Vitals.

After that happened, tens of thousands of words were published around the web instructing people on how to modify their websites to meet the new standards.

Mobile-friendliness became even more important than before. Some more inexperienced SEOs out there might have started looking to the Core Web Vitals as the new be-all ranking factor for web pages.

With all this new information on our hands since last year, it’s possible that some misconceptions have sprung up around what is good and bad for SEO in 2022.

In this post, I want to bring up and then dispel some of the myths surrounding Google’s bigger and more mainstream 2021 updates.

So, here it is – the not-so-SEO checklist for your 2022. Here are three of the things you shouldn’t do.

1. Don’t prioritize Core Web Vitals (CWV) above quality content

It’s no secret that Google’s Core Web Vitals are among the elements you’ll want to optimize your website for in 2022 if you haven’t done so already.

As a quick reminder, the Core Web Vitals are at the crossroads between SEO and web dev, and they are the measurements of your website’s largest contentful paint, first input display, and cumulative layout shift.

Those are the parts of your website that load first and allow users to start interacting with the site in the first few milliseconds. Logic tells us that the slower your load times are, the worse your site’s user experience will be.

First of all, this isn’t exactly new information. We all know about page speed and how it affects SEO. We also know how vital it is that your Core Web Vitals perform well on mobile, which is where around 60 percent of Google searches come from.

Google takes its Core Web Vitals so seriously as ranking factors that you can now find a CWV report in Google Search Console and get CWV metrics in PageSpeed Insights results (mobile-only until February of 2022, when the metrics roll out for desktop).

Given that, why am I calling it a misconception that Core Web Vitals should be at the top of your SEO-optimization checklist for 2022?

It’s because Google itself has explicitly stated that having a top-shelf page experience does not trump publishing killer content. Content is still king in SEO. Being useful and answering user questions is one of the most crucial ranking factors.

So, it’s a misconception that Google will not rank you well unless your Core Web Vitals are all in solid, healthy places.

However, having it all is the ideal situation. If you have great web content and optimized Core Web Vitals, you’ll probably perform better in organic search than would a page without strong Core Web Vitals.

In 2022, therefore, work on your Core Web Vitals for sure, but develop a detailed content marketing plan first.

2. Don’t assume your affiliate product-review site is in trouble

Another misconception that might have followed from a 2021 Google update is that affiliate sites, specifically product-review sites, were in some hot water after the Product Reviews update from April.

Google meant for the update to prioritize in-depth and useful product reviews over reviews that are spammy and light on details. In other words, just as in organic search, higher-quality content is going to win here.

If there was ever a point when someone actually made money by running a shady, low-quality affiliate site that featured nonsense product reviews that were then essentially spammed out to thousands of people, Google’s April 2021 product reviews update started to kill that.

The search engine now prioritizes long-form, detailed reviews, the kind that generates trust from users. Those are the types of affiliate content that stand to benefit from Google’s update, while the spammy sites will continue to vanish from top rankings.

Therefore, we can forget about the misconception that good, honest, hard-working affiliate product reviewers would somehow be hurt by the update.

As long as you are presenting something relevant and legitimately useful to users, you may have even seen your rankings rise since the April of 2021.

3. Don’t assume Google will rewrite all your titles

The last misconception I want to address here is the idea that you don’t need to put effort into your pages’ title tags because Google is going to rewrite them all anyway following its August of 2021 title tag-rewrite initiative.

First, some explanation. Back in August, many of you know that SEOs across the industry started noticing their page titles being rewritten, as in, not as they had originally created them.

Google soon owned up to rewriting page titles, but only those it believed were truly sub-par for user experience. In Google’s view, those junky title tags included ones that were stuffed with keywords, overly long, boilerplate across a given website, or just plain missing.

But SEOs still noticed that seemingly SEO-optimized title tags were still being rewritten, and the new titles didn’t always come directly from the original title. Sometimes, as Google has been doing since 2012, the search engine would use semantics to rewrite a title to be more descriptive or just simply better.

In other cases, Google’s new titles came from H1 text, body text, or backlink anchor text.

Google saw these efforts and still does, as one great way to improve user experience during the search.

Many SEOs, however, did not see it that way, especially given that Google’s rewrites were sometimes responsible for drops in traffic.

To put it mildly, there was uproar in the SEO community over the change, so much so that Google explained itself a second time just a month later, in September 2021.

In that blog post, Google said that it uses marketers’ own title tags 87 percent of the time (up from just 80 percent in August). The other 13 percent would be rewrites done to improve:

too-short titles,
outdated titles,
boilerplate titles,
and inaccurate titles.

And now to bring things back to the crux of this: it is a misconception that you’re wasting your time writing title tags after August of 2021.

Google does not actually want to rewrite your title tags. It clearly stated this in its September blog post.

What Google wants is for you to write high-quality page titles on your own, ones that are descriptive, truthful, and useful. Give users what they need, and Google will leave your titles alone.

However, throw a bunch of keywords in there, or use boilerplate titles all over your site, and you can expect Google to do some cleaning up on your behalf. The trouble is, you may not personally like the results.

Title tags matter in SEO, big time. Don’t think that your efforts are futile just because of the 2021 change. Focus on creating title tags that matter for users, and you should be just fine.

Going forward

The three misconceptions I have covered here can be dangerous to fall into in 2022.

Now, are Core Web Vitals, quality affiliate links, and title tags important to Google? You can bet they are. But SEOs also just have to be smart when approaching these matters. Everything Google Search Central does has the user in mind.

Optimize for Core Web Vitals, but still, put quality content creation first.

Run your affiliate marketing site, but ensure the reviews are useful.

And write amazing SEO title tags so that Google won’t want to rewrite them.

Following these guidelines can only help you in the year to come.

Kris Jones is the founder and former CEO of digital marketing and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay Enterprises in 2009. Most recently Kris founded SEO services and software company and has previously invested in numerous successful technology companies. Kris is an experienced public speaker and is the author of one of the best-selling SEO books of all time called, ‘Search-Engine Optimization – Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing’, which has sold nearly 100,000 copies.

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The post The not-so-SEO checklist for 2022 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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