SEO Articles

How To Perform an SEO Audit of Your Website (Checklist Included)

seo audit

Performing a search engine optimization audit (SEO Audit) of your website is important for many reasons.

First, you can identify problematic areas that need improvement and create an action plan to correct them. Second, a good SEO audit will keep your website up-to-date with the latest developments in search marketing and on top of the competition.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

Before getting into the details on how to perform a website SEO audit, it is necessary to understand the meaning of it and what to expect as the end result.

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit is a process for evaluating the search engine friendliness of a website in a number of areas. The main goal of an SEO audit is to help you optimize a website so that it can achieve higher rankings in the search engine results.

While there are various tools you can use to SEO audit a website, the best approach is to either perform the audit by following a guide (like the one you are reading now) or hire an SEO Auditor to do the work for you.

The SEO auditor will manually review the website and come up with recommendations of what needs to be fixed (because it is wrong) and what needs to change so that the performance of the website in search engines is improved.

Why is SEO Audit Important?

Things change very quickly in the SEO industry and what is working today may not work in 6 months from now. Google reportedly makes thousands of updates to their ranking algorithm per year and an SEO audit will help you stay in synch.

It is necessary to perform regular SEO audits (at least 2 times per year) to ensure that your website is up-to-date with the latest developments.

SEO Audit Checklist

Now that you are convinced that an SEO audit is a must for every website, let’s see how you can perform your own website SEO audit.

After reading almost all available articles on how to SEO audit a website and testing a number of audit tools, I came up with a number of steps that cover everything you need to check to evaluate the SEO readiness of your website.

Our SEO audit checklist is complete and includes everything you need to know to perform a manual SEO audit.

Download SEO Audit Checklist as a PDF

You can download the SEO audit checklist as a Free PDF. It includes all 66 checks in detail and is also in a print-friendly format.

THE COMPLETE SEO AUDIT CHECKLIST
This is by far the most comprehensive SEO Audit Checklist online. Get the list in print-friendly format (PDF).

Step 1: Check for Google Penalties

The first step is to check whether your website is penalized by Google.

If your website is under a manual or algorithmic penalty, your rankings will be negatively affected.

Note: If you don’t know the difference, between a manual and algorithmic penalty, read this.

You should find out when the penalty was imposed, why your website was penalized and create an action plan to correct the issues and remove the penalty.

There are two easy ways to check for Google penalties.

First, log in to Google search console and then select ‘Manual Actions’ from the left menu. If there is a manual action imposed on your website, you can see the reason(s) here.

Manual Actions Report
Manual Actions Report – Google Search Console

The second way is to compare your Google organic traffic for the dates Google released an algorithmic change.

A sudden drop (or increase) in organic traffic is a clear sign that your website was affected by the changes.

Login to your Google Analytics, go to ACQUISITION / ALL TRAFFIC and select SOURCE / MEDIUM from the left menu.

Google Organic Traffic Report
Google Organic Traffic Report – Google Analytics

Click Google / Organic from the right panel and set the dates to cover a long period of time.

Compare the dates that you see big changes in traffic with the dates Google released an algorithmic change.

What to do if you are under a Google penalty?

If the above tests indicate that you are indeed into trouble, then the best approach is to find out as many details as possible about the Google updates and adjust your SEO audit accordingly.

For example, if a site is penalized by Google because of thin content (very popular these days), then in the on-page SEO audit section, you should check the quality of your content and either improve, redirect or remove pages that don’t meet the quality standards.

Step 2: Check Domain Search Appearance

The second step is to search for your brand name in Google and review the results.

This is how it looks when I search for ‘reliablesoft’ on Google:

Search Appearance
Brand Search Appearance in Google Results

Things to check:

  • Does your homepage come up first in the results?
  • Does Google show sitelinks along with your listing?
  • Are the descriptions below your homepage and other pages accurate?
  • Does Google show a knowledge graph entry (Google My Business Listing) on the right panel for your brand?
  • Is the name and other information on your GMB page correct?
  • Are the rest of the pages listed on the first page of Google results relevant to your brand?

Scroll down to the bottom of the results and in particular the section “searches related to”.

Brand Related Searches
Brand Related Searches

Things to check:

  • Are the ‘related searches’ relevant to your brand?
  • Do you see any related searches you can utilize by creating dedicated pages? Typical examples are ‘brand name reviews.’

What to do if you don’t get the expected results?

If you don’t get a nice listing as explained above then this means that there are a number of issues with your website.

The best approach is to fix these issues before proceeding any further by:

Step 3: Perform a Technical SEO Audit

Technical SEO and SEO
Technical SEO and SEO

The next step in the process is to do a thorough review of your website, starting with Technical SEO.

Technical SEO comes first because you need to make sure that search engines can access and index your pages without any issues.

Pro Tip: If you are not familiar with how search engines work, I suggest you take a moment and read my previous guide and watch the video. It will help you get a better idea of what we want to achieve with the SEO Audit.

Don’t worry, although it is called technical, you don’t have to be a developer or system administrator to go through the steps.

Technical SEO Checklist

Here is your technical SEO checklist. If any of the tasks are difficult to understand, use the links provided to get more information.

Is your website registered with Google search console and Bing webmaster tools?

If not, then this is a top priority.

Google search console is a free tool provided by Google which gives information to webmasters about their websites.

Everything that Google knows about your website is available in the various tool options and reports.

Things like:

  • How many pages are submitted to Google and how many pages are actually indexed.
  • For which keywords your website is ranking.
  • Which keywords generated Google traffic.
  • Security or other indexing issues related to your website
  • Mobile usability issues
  • And many more.

Some of the settings/reports of Google search console will be covered below.

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE
How to use Webmasters Tools – The complete guide for beginners.
Bing Webmaster Tools – A step-by-step guide on how to use bing webmaster tools.

Did you specify a preferred domain in Google Search Console?

Google considers websites starting with www in front of the domain i.e. https://www.example.com and with no www in front of the domain i.e https://example.com as two different websites.

To avoid any duplicate content issues, you should specify your preferred domain by setting your canonical URLs correctly.

Is your robots.txt file optimized?

All websites have a robots.txt and it is used to control which pages should be accessible by search engine crawlers.

A mistake in robots.txt can cause serious indexing issues, so robots.txt optimization should be high on your list.

Do you have SEO Friendly URLs?

Although nowadays most website development platforms and CMS have this correctly configured, it’s always a good practice to review your URL structure and make sure that you have SEO friendly URLs.

You should check that the URLs for each page are unique and properly formatted. For example:

This is a non-optimized URL: http://www.example.com/12/badformattedurl/121358898

This is a good URL: http://www.example.com/good-formatted-url

Good URLs include keywords (but they are not keyword-stuffed), include hyphens (‘-‘) to separate the keywords, are unique for each page and are less than 255 characters (including the domain name).

Breadcrumb menu activated?

The breadcrumb menu is usually shown at the top of a page and it helps users navigate back to the homepage by following the menu links.

Google always recommends having a breadcrumb menu as it makes site navigation easier for users.

Check and make sure that your breadcrumb menu is properly configured.

Read: What are breadcrumbs and how to optimize them for more details.

Do you have structured data enabled?

Structured data is a very trending topic these days and will continue to be for years to come.

With the addition of structured data markup to a page, you help Google understand the context and meaning of your content and this creates additional ranking benefits.

Google uses structured data to enhance the presentation of a website in search results and for voice searches (think Google Assistant Questions).

As part of the SEO Audit you should check that you have structured data enabled for:

  • Your homepage (Logo, Website, and Company)
  • Your breadcrumb menus
  • Your articles
  • Your products (see also Product Page SEO)

You can read here more information about structured data and what is supported by Google.

To add structured data on your website, read What is Schema Markup

Do you have a canonical URL set for all your pages?

what is a canonical url
what is a canonical url

A canonical URL helps Google identify the most important pages of a website and webmasters can use it to deal with duplicate content issues.

Best SEO practices indicate that each and every page of your website should have a canonical URL.

Read: What is a canonical URL to learn how to correctly implement canonical URLs.

Is your 404 Page Optimized?

A 404 page is the page shown to users when they reach a page that is not found on your website.

A properly optimized 404 page is good for smooth user experience and it’s very easy to optimize.

Read the section ‘The 404 page’ in my SEO Tutorial for more information.

Is your XML Sitemap optimized?

An XML sitemap is a list of all your website pages that Google needs to know about.

The XML sitemap is generated by your CMS and it is submitted to Google via Google Search Console.

The XML sitemap should not contain all your website pages but only the ones that are important for your website.

Read my previous guide on XML Sitemap optimization to learn how to generate and optimize your XML sitemap.

Is your website HTTPS?

Https is a known ranking signal. This means that websites that have a secure certificate installed and their URLs start with https, have an advantage over non-secure websites.

If your website is not https yet, this is a task to add to the top of your list.

When you make your website https, make sure that you do it correctly so that your rankings will not be affected.

Is your website fast enough?

Mobile Speed and Conversions
Google Study: Mobile Speed and Conversions

From my experience talking to clients, handling web site page speed is one of the most difficult tasks at least for non-technical users.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most important SEO factors and HAS to be addressed successfully.

Study after study outlines the importance of page speed (especially for mobile) and how it can affect both your rankings and conversion rates.

Your website should load fast and preferably faster than your competitors.

There are tools by Google that can give you recommendations about page speed but in general, what you can do is the following:

  • Compress all your website images using tools like optimizilla or squoosh (by Google). These tools can dramatically reduce the size of an image without sacrificing quality.
  • If you have a lot of images, consider using a CDN
  • Minimize Http calls by using sprites and browser caching
  • Minify your CSS and HTML to make their size smaller
  • Use a caching plugin or page speed service to serve cached pages to users.
  • Remove unnecessary JavaScript from pages
  • Update to the latest version of PHP.
  • Update your website and software to the latest versions.

If the above list does not make much sense to you, you better hire a developer or SEO expert to do the work for you.

It will not cost you a lot and it is something you have to do if you want to improve your rankings.

Is your website mobile friendly?

With the increasing use of mobile devices, this sounds like an unnecessary question. You would expect that all websites are now mobile friendly but that’s not the case.

There are websites not yet optimized for mobile and this translates to a loss of traffic and rankings.

With the introduction of the Google Mobile First Index, websites that are not optimized for mobiles are ‘excluded’ from mobile searches.

Your starting point is to check your website with the Google Mobile friendly test tool and follow their recommendations.

Consider adopting Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a new way of creating mobile pages. It’s a format created and supported by Google (and other companies).

AMP pages load faster than normal HTML pages, but there are restrictions as to the functionality you can use.

There is a long debate in the SEO industry as to whether you should adopt AMP on your website.

My recommendation is to consider AMP if you are a ‘News’ publisher. If you have a corporate website, blog, or eCommerce store then going the AMP way will increase your costs without providing any additional advantages.

Is your website available in more than one language?

Websites that are available in more than one language should have the necessary SEO settings defined in the HTML code otherwise Google may consider translated content as a duplicate content.

For more details, read this guide from Google.

Is your web site structure optimized?

Regardless of the type of website, there are certain elements common to all, necessary for SEO purposes and good user experience.

What I usually check is the following:

  • Does the website have a clear content structure? Is the content grouped into relevant categories and pages?
  • Does it have a contact, privacy policy, disclaimer and about page?
  • Are important pages linked to from the webpage?
You can read detail explanations for all the above factors in my SEO Tips for beginners guide, which also includes real website examples.

Step 4: Perform an On-Page SEO Audit

Once you are done with the technical SEO audit and fixed all issues, the next step is to deal with the content of your website.

On-Page SEO is the most important part of the SEO Audit. In fact, many audits cover this part only but our approach, as explained above, is for checking other areas as well.

On-Page SEO Techniques
On-Page SEO Techniques

The main goal of on-site SEO is to help search engines understand the meaning of your content.

On-Page SEO Audit Checklist

As a website owner, your job is to provide search engine crawlers with the right signals through the use of keywords and other on-page SEO elements.

Check and Optimize your titles and descriptions

Are the titles and descriptions unique for each page and within the specified size?

Can the user tell from the title what the page is all about and is the description an advertisement of what the page has to offer?

Check your headings and text formatting

Make sure that you don’t just have plain text in your pages.

Any text should be properly formatted using H1 (for the main title) and H2 (for the main headings), bold and italics for the important parts, lists where necessary, etc.

To learn more read: Optimizing the H1 Tag

Check your Content SEO

The content of your website has to be unique. You can use copyscape to check all your pages for uniqueness and if you find duplicate content you have to remove or de-index these pages.

Use Google Analytics to find the most popular pages (both landing pages and with the most visits) and make sure that these have high-quality content (free of spelling and grammar errors, properly formatted, properly promoted in social media, etc.).

You also need to check the content length and content freshness.

If you have pages with little or no content or pages with similar content, you need to merge them together using 301 redirects.

If your content is old or out-of-date, create a publishing plan and make sure that your website is updated on a frequent basis.

You don’t have to post daily but you need to maintain a steady posting scheduling.

Check your Internal link structure

Linking your pages together is useful to both search engines and users.

Check and make sure that you are indeed linking related pages together by considering these 4 factors:

  1. That you are not only using keyword anchor text for the internal links but you use both the full page title and non-keyword anchor text.
  2. The pages you want to rank better in search have a greater number of internal links.
  3. The pages you want to rank better in search are linked from your home page.
  4. You have between 2 – 10 internal links per page.

Check Image SEO

Images are useful for making a web page easier to read and more attractive to social media (especially Pinterest and Instagram) but they can work against your SEO efforts if they increase the loading time of a page.

In general, you need to check 3 things when it comes to images:

  1. Image filenames are descriptive of what the image is about. You can use keywords in the filename but do not overdo it.
  2. All images need to have an SEO Optimized ALT text defined
  3. All images are compressed to minimize their size. If you are using a lot of images in your pages you may need to consider using a content delivery network (CDN).

Check for broken links

Broken links are bad for the user experience and thus not good from an SEO perspective.

There are 2 ways to check for broken links:

Use a tool like Xenu for checking all your external links. The tool is free and can give you a report of all broken links. You can then fix them by either removing them completely from your website or redirecting them to a valid URL.

Use the ‘Crawl errors’ report in your Google Search Console to find broken links within your website. You can also fix them by correcting the links or doing 301 redirects to a valid URL.

Crawl Errors Report
Crawl Errors Report – Google Search Console.

Check for proper use of banner ads

A few years ago, Google started penalizing websites that have too many ads above the fold.

While they are not specifying exactly what do they mean by ‘too many ads’ you can use this guide from AdSense to get an idea of what is allowed and what is not (even if you are not using AdSense, the examples in the guide are still useful).

If your ad implementation is not according to standards you have to remove or change the position of the ads.

Check for User-friendliness

Although it is difficult to judge what is a user-friendly web site and what is not, as this depends on the type of website and how it is designed, there are a few checks you can make:

  1. What happens when a user types a wrong URL? Is the 404-page friendly?
  2. Can the users find what they want is less than 3 clicks?
  3. Does it have a clearly defined main menu?
  4. Can you distinguish between Site content and ads?
  5. Does it have a consistent interface across all pages?
  6. Does it have a user sitemap?

Step 5: Perform an Off-Page SEO Audit

Off Page SEO
Off Page SEO

Off-Page SEO refers to methods and techniques you can use to promote your website on the Internet. It is usually referred to as link building.

SEO Backlinks are considered by the Google algorithm as ‘votes of trust’ and websites with good quality backlinks tend to rank higher in Google results.

Off-site SEO is important but if you are not careful of what you are doing and if you don’t know exactly what you are allowed to do and what not, it is also very risky.

Low-quality incoming links can be a very good reason for Google to penalize your website

Off-Site SEO checklist

Although there are only 3 items in the checklist, you need to do a bit of analysis before having a clear picture of your off-site SEO current state.

Evaluate your incoming links and identify toxic links

You can find out about your incoming links either by using a tool like SEMRUSH or by using the ‘Links to your site’ report from Google Search console.

Backlinks Audit Report
Backlinks Audit Report – SEMRUSH

While reviewing your incoming links report, answer the following questions:

  • How many unique domains are linking to you?
  • Which of these domains are considered trusted domains?
  • How many links are pointing to your home page and how many links to your internal pages?
  • Which of your pages have the most incoming links?
  • What percentage of the links is keyword based?
  • What is the ‘toxic score’ of each link?

Depending on the answers, you may have to take some corrective actions so make sure that these are included in your action plan.

For example, if only a few domains are linking to you, you need to get links from related domains so you need to create a list of possible websites to be used for guest blogging or blogger outreach campaigns.

If you don’t have links from trusted domains you need to get in touch with the leaders in your niche and let them know that you exist (it’s easier said than done but if you get noticed by the big fish you have more chances surviving in the pot).

If all the links are pointing to your homepage, you need to ensure that links are pointing to your internal pages as well. You can do this by either removing links from the home page or by building more links to the internal pages.

If all the incoming links are keyword-based (and Google did not penalize you yet) you need to urgently change them by making them more natural by using your domain name only, your full post title and things like ‘click here’,’ link’ etc.

Unlike on-site SEO, off-site SEO is not a straightforward task and that’s why you need to know exactly what you are doing.

Links are important if you want high rankings but you really don’t have to go out and build links like crazy.

Instead, you should concentrate your efforts on building good websites (with good content) and links will flow in naturally.

Step 6: Perform a Social Media Audit

It’s difficult to survive online without having a decent social media presence; it is as simple as that.

If you neglect social media and depend solely on search marketing then it’s like putting all your eggs in one basket and your risk is higher.

To make a living online, you have to differentiate both your traffic and income sources and dependency on a single source (i.e. Google) is not the way to go.

You may be wondering, how is social media related to an SEO audit?

That’s a good question and there is a very simple answer.

Social media affects your SEO efforts both directly (in the form of links) and indirectly (more exposure which may create more natural links and direct visits), so it is a factor that can influence your efforts to have a properly optimized web site.

Basically, what you have to check in this section is whether you have a proper presence in the most important social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest), whether it’s easy for people to find and follow you in those channels.

Manual VS Automated SEO Audits

What to expect from a manual SEO Audit?

From what you have read above, it’s easy to understand the value of a manual audit VS an automated audit performed by a tool.

A tool is running an audit based on a number of predefined rules and does not have the experience and expertise of an SEO specialist.

Having an expert review your website has a number of added advantages. If you want to find out more, you can check our SEO Audit Service packages.

The cost of a manual audit is reasonable and recommendations are specific to your website and are not generic like those produced using a tool.

You should expect 3 things:

  1. A description of the current state of your website – This is a detailed analysis of how your website is performing in search, social media, number of internal/external links and any other information related to your website’s existing state.
  2. A list of actions based on an SEO audit checklist together with explanations for each and every item on the list.
  3. A report describing a complete Internet marketing strategy for taking advantage of all available sources of traffic and opportunities on the Internet and not just SEO.

Conclusion

For all those who have made it to this point, congratulations! If you follow the recommendations above, it is almost certain that you will improve your rankings and organic traffic levels.

If something is not clear or there is a point you did not understand, let me know in the comments below and I would be more than happy to answer it.

The post How To Perform an SEO Audit of Your Website (Checklist Included) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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Free web-based robots.txt parser based on Google’s open source C++ parser

The punchline: I’ve been playing around with a toy project recently and have deployed it as a free web-based tool for checking how Google will parse your robots.txt files, given that their own online tool does not replicate actual Googlebot behaviour. Check it out at realrobotstxt.com.

While preparing for my recent presentation at SearchLove London, I got mildly obsessed by the way that the deeper I dug into how robots.txt files work, the more surprising things I found, and the more places I found where there was conflicting information from different sources. Google’s open source robots.txt parser should have made everything easy by not only complying with their newly-published draft specification, but also by apparently being real production Google code.

Two challenges led me further down the rabbit hole that ultimately led to me building a web-based tool:

  1. It’s a C++ project, so needs to be compiled, which requires at least some programming / code administration skills, so I didn’t feel like it was especially accessible to the wider search community
  2. When I got it compiled and played with it, I discovered that it was missing crucial Google-specific functionality to enable us to see how Google crawlers like the images and video crawlers will interpret robots.txt files

Ways this tool differs from other resources

Apart from the benefit of being a web-based tool rather than requiring compilation to run locally, my realrobotstxt.com tool should be 100% compliant with the draft specification that Google released, as it is entirely powered by their open source tool except for two specific changes that I made to bring it in line with my understanding of how real Google crawlers work:

  1. Googlebot-image, Googlebot-video and Googlebot-news(*) should all fall back on obeying Googlebot directives if there are no rulesets specifically targeting their own individual user agents – we have verified that this is at least how the images bot behaves in the real world
  2. Google has a range of bots (AdsBot-Google, AdsBot-Google-Mobile, and the AdSense bot, Mediapartners-Google) which apparently ignore User-agent: * directives and only obey rulesets specifically targeting their own individual user agents
[(*) Note: unrelated to the tweaks I’ve made, but relevant because I mentioned Googlebot-news, it is very much not well-known that Googlebot-news is not a crawler and hasn’t been since 2011, apparently. If you didn’t know this, don’t worry – you’re not alone. I only learned it recently, and it’s pretty hard to discern from the documentation which regularly refers to it as a crawler. The only real official reference I can find is the blog post announcing its retirement. I mean, it makes sense to me, because having different crawlers for web and news search opens up dangerous cloaking opportunities, but why then refer to it as a crawler’s user agent throughout the docs? It seems, though I haven’t been able to test this in real life, as though rules directly targeting Googlebot-news function somewhat like a Google News-specific noindex. This is very confusing, because regular Googlebot blocking does not keep URLs out of the web index, but there you go.]

I expect to see the Search Console robots.txt checker retired soon

We have seen a gradual move to turn off old Search Console features and I expect that the robots.txt checker will be retired soon. Googlers have recently been referring recently to it being out of step with how their actual crawlers work – and we can see differences in our own testing:

Google Search Console robots.txt checker is wrong

These cases seem to be handled correctly by the open source parser – here’s my web-based tool on the exact same scenario:

This felt like all the more reason for me to release my web-based version, as the only official web-based tool we have is out of date and likely going away. Who knows whether Google will release an updated version based on their open source parser – but until they do, my tool might prove useful to some people.

I’d like to see the documentation updated

Unfortunately, while I can make a pull request against the open source code, I can’t do the same with Google documentation. Despite implications out of Google that the old Search Console checker isn’t in sync with real Googlebot, and hence shouldn’t be trusted as the authoritative answer about how Google will parse a robots.txt file, references to it remain widespread in the documentation:

In addition, although it’s natural that old blog posts might not be updated with new information, these are still prominently ranking for some related searches:

Who knows. Maybe they’ll update the docs with links to my tool 😉

Let me know if it’s useful to you

Anyway. I hope you find my tool useful – I enjoyed hacking around with a bit of C++ and Python to make it – it’s good to have a “maker” project on the go sometimes when your day job doesn’t involve shipping code. If you spot any weirdness, have questions, or just find it useful, please drop me a note to let me know. You can find me on Twitter.

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7 Biggest WordPress.org Differences vs. WordPress.com vs

WordPress is a household brand now and it powers most of the internet—32% of the internet uses it! WordPress is the most recommended site powerhouse of them all. It is software that you can apply as your website’s operating system. Think of WordPress as the Microsoft or MacOS to your desktop. It is not shocking how the top blogging sites use WordPress for their blogs. However, there are two kinds of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Yes, they look identical, but they are actually two different things. Not everyone can tell the difference between com and org, so in this article, we will shed some light and discuss how wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org fares. 

But before we dive into wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org, let us quickly define the differences between the two:

  • The ‘org’ stands for organization. WordPress.org is open-source software for websites—it is akin to an operating system for your blog or site. This software does not burn a hole through your pocket by itself, but you do need to have a web server or a hosting account if you want to use it, which will cost you.  

As mentioned, WordPress.org is self-hosted and is a content management system. You just do not log in and make a website, you install the software and then host the website you make. It is considered to be more advanced than WordPress.com and it lets you create any kind of website you want. You can even create e-commerce stores but you would need to buy extra plug-ins to do it. 

  • The ‘com’ stands for commercial. WordPress.com is a build-your-own-website, all-in-one platform. It does not cost you anything, to begin with, and you do not need any external domain name or hosting for your website. All you need to do is head over to WordPress.com, create an account, and you can begin creating your blog or website immediately. 

It applies the software that WordPress.org uses but it hosts for you and serves more like other website builders such as Squarespace or Wix. WordPress.com has every built-in component you would need to build a blog, however, you can also furthermore add plug-ins to enhance your website. This applies to the theme or the layout of the website as well, which you can find for free or for a set price tag.  

Now that we have the basic explanations of wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org out of the way, read on to know how we breakdown the differences between these two. We will look at the top 7 ways they differ. 


Ease of Use

Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com require a specific level of technical expertise to use, but the question is: which is easier for you to learn? 

We should begin with how simple it is to actually make a website. Both have page builders that help structure and design every web page, you will need to have some knowledge of code. This is specifically true when it comes to WordPress.org—when it comes to wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org, the latter can be more back-breaking than the other. But why this complication? It is mostly because of the fact that with .Org, you can make any kind of website, so your coding knowledge levels need to be higher naturally. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is actually created for blogger websites, so it is structured to help you post blogs and edit them. The primary difference in this regard shows up in how easy it is to set up either.


Web Hosting

Since WordPress.com is self-hosted, you just have to worry about designing your website. Once you accomplish that, you can post it online without bothering about anything else—like a hosting provider.

There are plenty of hosting providers, however, out there for WordPress. They cater their hosting requirements specifically for WordPress websites. So, if you choose the right host, you will breeze through the whole setup process.

For WordPress.org hosting, many consider Siteground to be the best. It has features like one-click downloads, which implies that you can link your websites with just one click. It also instantly update your website in line with updates from WordPress, so you do not have to manually do anything.


Which is better?

Though they are both similar when it comes to ease of use but WordPress.com is perhaps more streamlined. It is only for blogs, implying everything you would need is already present and you do not need to bother about hosting your website yourself.   


Designs and Themes

Customizations and theme designs are all about how your website feels and looks like—the appearance, the selections available to you and how much you can edit them. 

WordPress.com works a  lot like any other website builder. It is an online tool that enables anyone to make their own website and has a varied range of pricing plans. The higher the price, the more things you will get. With themes, it is the same. WordPress.com has precisely 91 themes for free and in-built features that you can apply on the lower-priced plans. You can also make simple edits to such themes but you will require an upgrade if you want access to code or wish to apply any of the 200 WordPress premium themes. And for plugins, you will also require to move to a higher-priced plan to able to download extras like Google Analytics.  

WordPress.org is open-source, so personalization is basically unlimited. You can apply any theme, or add another one created by a third party. You can also create your own personal theme, although this can be complicated, so we do not recommend this unless you can hire a developer to do it on your behalf. The same applies to plugins. You can attach any feature to your website, whether it is created by a third party, WordPress or something you made yourself. 


Which is better?

For complete control creatively in wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org, the latter wins. Customization with WordPress.org is unlimited, and you can code from scratch if you want. On the other hand, WordPress.com serves an out-the-box option—you can create fundamental changes but you will have to choose a high-pricing plan if you want to make extensive modifications to your website.    


Plugins

Firstly, if you are not aware of what a plugin is, it is a feature, like analytics, email marketing or ecommerce that you can download through WordPress and apply on your site. Since WordPress.org and WordPress.com both apply the same directory of plugins, you are selecting from an identical supply of plugins.  

The plugin qualities are all over the place because anyone can design one, so there are plenty of useless plugins out there. The best way to choose is to select WordPress’ personal plugins, apply the plugins created by highly trained developers, or hire a developer to create one for you. 

A solid method of assessing the plugin’s quality is through the number of downloads and reviews. If you see a plugin that has 4.5 stars rating and has been downloaded by more than a million people, you can be confident in that plugin and use it yourself. With WordPress.com, you can only use the directory if you are on the Business plan or on a more expensive plan. Otherwise, you only get the in-built, default features to use. Since it already has what a basic blog needs, and if that is what you want, then you don’t have to worry about all the extra stuff anyway. 

WordPress.org provides you complete access to the directory. You can download any plugin or even make your own that is customized for your website. However, this will require plenty of technical knowledge. 

When it comes to pricing, plugins can differ. Many of them are free but some can be as expensive as 1000 USD a year. It is important to know what exactly you will be needing prior to starting on your website. This way, you can estimate the total cost of your website before time and make your budget based on that.


Which is better?

Since both WordPress.com and WordPress.org use the same directory of plugins, it is impossible to say who wins here. There is no monthly fee to apply plugins with WordPress.org but on the other hand, WordPress.com is for blogging and for that, default and in-built plugins are enough.   


SEO Ranking

Search Engine Optimization is the process of modifying your website to help it get ranked higher on search engines such as Bing and Google. WordPress is among the best platforms for SEO and provided that it powers so many websites, search engines trust it. This implies that by only using WordPress, you get a head-start over everyone else. WordPress will design sitemaps and send them across to Google, so it is simpler for the search engine to crawl on your website and comprehend what it is about. However, quite like e-commerce sites, you will need to download plugins for enhanced SEO.   

Yoast is among the more popular plugins for SEO and it comes with plenty of features that can boost your site up the Google search engine rankings. From basic changes like editing and adding metadata (the text and link that shows on results pages on search engines) to helping you determine fruitful internal linking possibilities and keywords. Yoast does have a free version but if you are seriously looking for a better ranking, you will need to probably invest in the priced plan that charges around 100 USD annually.   

If this is beyond your budget, you might fare better with other website builders such as Squarespace or Wix who have in-built SEO features and also have considerably more affordable apps available for advanced things. 


Which is better?

Again, since you are depending on plugins—which are accessible both on WordPress.org and WordPress.com—this round of wordpress.Com vs wordpress.Org has no clear winner. What we can conclude is that WordPress.org gives you more control, you can make changes manually to better SEO, which you cannot do with WordPress.com.   


Analytics

Even the best blogging websites have room for enhancement, and without analytics, you will never know how you can make your site better. WordPress, however, doesn’t have its own analytics. You can monitor the basics, like traffic, but for any extra insight, you will need to browse through the plugin directory.  


Google Analytics

Google Analytics, without a doubt, is the best plugin for analytics. Since you can’t access plugins on basic plans on WordPress.com, you will need to upgrade to download it. On WordPress.org, you can download it, set it up and use it directly. It allows you to track things such as visitors, bounce rates, conversion rates, and time spent on a page. 

Everything can be broken down by separate pages or a particular time period. This allows you an extensive report about your website’s performance and emphasizes how the modifications have impacted your site. It is a good way to keep tabs on your earnings, traffic, and your progression over time.


Which is better?

It is obvious that WordPress doesn’t have good analytics. It is basic, so you need Google Analytics no matter what, especially if your site isn’t casual or personal. You can download Google Analytics for free on WordPress.org, so this is the better for website analytics. 

Maintenance

The way an award-winning garden needs constant maintenance so does your WordPress website. If you can’t do it properly, much like an invasive weed, your website will be in trouble. 


Web Hosting

One critical observation of continuous maintenance on WordPress is that you have to find a hosting provider yourself and keep watching it. As mentioned before, a robust provider will do it for you and keep things simple. This primarily accomplished through automatic plugin and software updates.

WordPress does minor updates every fortnight, while bigger updates happen every two months. The smaller updates never impact your site’s functionality, but if you don’t make the needed changes to comply with the bigger ones, your site will be in hot water. On .com, these updates are done for you, however, on .org, you are responsible for it.

Bluehost is a provider who does it for you but you still need to be on top of it. 


Security

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is vital. This secures guest personal data while they browse on your website and it is displayed as the tiny padlock icon next to a URL. 

Not only does it reassures your visitors, but it is also something Google prefers when deciding your website’s ranking. SSL certificate are incorporated in the monthly expense of WordPress.com websites. On WordPress.org, you will have to obtain it and renew it separately. 

Like updates, most hosting providers will also throw in an SSL certificate free of cost as part of the monthly billing. 

Which is better?

If your website brings you an income, WordPress.org is the safer choice. You don’t have to be continually suspicious when using WordPress.com, but it does make you somewhat uncomfortable knowing that anyone could harm your website in a second.  

Pricing

WordPress.org and WordPress.com can be utilized for free. For both, the truth is, you will have to spend something to get your website working.


WordPress.com Cost

You get 6 different pricing plans with WordPress.com that range from free to 45 USD every month. You need to pay for all plans upfront annually, so you do need to consider this in your final decision.

Before you can get a free plan, there is something you will have to buy: a domain. A free domain (for a year) is included in every plan but it is something you need to pay if you choose a paid plan. Domains aren’t usually expensive—10 to 15 USD for a year—but it is something you will have to pay for.   

  • WordPress.org Cost

There is some obscurity around WordPress.org’s pricing. While the download, installation, and usage are free, in some cases, to actually make and design your website, you will have some overheads. Below, we have prepared a typical budget in designing and publishing a WordPress.org site:

  • Domain- 10-15 USD/year 
  • Hosting- 5-300 USD/year
  • Security- 5-250 USD/year
  • Premium Plugins- 10-1000/year
  • Premium Theme- 35-200/year (one-time cost)

Which is better?

Technically, the most affordable way to make a WordPress site is by applying a free plan and then just buying a domain name for WordPress.com. Other than that, it is actually down to what you need for your website. Either way, a good WordPress site with enhanced customization will cost you. 


Final Words

At the end of this, all we can say is that it truly depends on what you want your website for. If you want it just for casual blogging purposes, WordPress.com is for you. But if you want, for example, an e-commerce website, then WordPress.org is for you.

The post 7 Biggest WordPress.org Differences vs. WordPress.com vs appeared first on WP Fix It.

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How to Get More Organic Traffic Without Doing Any SEO (Seriously)

You
all know SEO is a long-term game… at least when it comes to Google.

And yes, who doesn’t want to be at the top of Google for some of the most competitive terms? But the reality is, we don’t all have the budget or time.

So
then, what should you do?

Well, what if I told you there were simple ways to get more organic traffic and, best of all, you don’t have to do one bit of SEO?

Seriously.

So,
what is it? And how can you get more organic traffic?

Well,
this story will help explain it…

The
old days

When
I first started my journey as an SEO, I got really good at one thing.

Getting
rankings!

Now to be fair, this was back in 2003 when it wasn’t that hard to rank on Google (or any other search engine for that matter).

Stuff some keywords into your page, your meta tags, and build some spammy rich anchor text links and you were good to go.

You
could literally see results in less than a month.

SEO wasn’t too complicated back then. So much so, that I even started an SEO agency and created a handful of sites.

I was starting to rank my sites at the top of Google but they didn’t make a dollar. Literally, not a single dollar.

In fact, I was actually losing money on them because I had to pay for the domain registration expenses and hosting.

So, one day I decided that I was tired of losing money and I was going to do something about it. I took the keywords that I was ranking for and started to type them into Google to see who was paying for ads for those terms.

I hit up each of those sites and tried to get a hold of the owner or the person in charge of marketing.

I asked them how much they were paying for ads and offered them the same exact traffic for a much lower price. I was able to do this because I already had sites that ranked for those keywords.

In other words, I offered to rent out my website for a monthly fee that was a fraction of what they were paying for paid ads.

Next thing you know I was collecting 5 figures in monthly checks and my “renters” were ecstatic because they were generating sales at a fraction of the costs compared to what they were spending on paid ads.

So, what’s the strategy?

Well, it’s simple. Back in the day, I used to rent out my websites… the whole site.

These
days I’ve learned how to monetize my own site, so I don’t rent them out.

But you know what, most of the sites that rank on Google are content-based sites. Over 56% of a website’s organic traffic is typically going to their blog or articles.

So why not rent a page on someone else’s site? From there, modify that page a bit to promote your products or services?

I
know this sounds crazy, but it works. I have one person that just reaches out
to site owners asking if we can rent out a page on their site. We do this for
all industries and verticals… and when I look at how much we are spending
versus how much income we are generating, it’s crazy.

Here are the stats for the last month:

Rental
fees: $24,592

Outreach costs: $3,000

Legal
costs: $580

Copywriting
and monetization costs: $1,500

Total
monthly cost: $29,672 

Now
guess what my monthly income was?

It
was $79,283.58.

Not
too bad.

Now
your cost on this model won’t be as high as mine because you can do your own
outreach, monetize the page you are renting on your own, and you probably don’t
need a lawyer.

And don’t be afraid of how much I am spending in rental fees as you can get away with spending $0 in the first 30 days as I will show you exactly what to do.

Remember, it’s also not what you are spending, it’s about profit and what you are making. If it won’t cost you any money in the first 30 days and you can generate income, your risk is little to none.

Here
are the exact steps you need to follow:

Step
#1: Find the terms you want to rank for

If
you already know the terms you want to rank for, great, you can skip this step.

If you don’t, I want you to head to Ubersuggest and type in a few of your competitors’ URLs.

Head
over to the top pages report and look at their top pages.

Now
click on “view all” under the estimated visits column to see a list of
keywords that each page ranks for.

I want you to create a list of all of the keywords that contain a high search volume and have a high CPC. Keywords with a high CPC usually mean that they convert well.

Keywords
with a low CPC usually mean they don’t convert as well.

When
you are making a list of keywords, you’ll need to make sure that you have a
product or service that is related to each keyword. If you don’t then you won’t
be able to monetize the traffic.

Step
#2: Search for the term

It’s
time to do some Google searches.

Look
for all of the pages that rank in the top 10 for the term you ideally want to
rank for.

Don’t
waste your time with page 2.

What
I want you to look for is:

  • Someone who isn’t your competitor. Your competition isn’t likely to rent out a page on their site to you.
  • A page that isn’t monetized. Not selling a product or service. (If the page has ads, don’t worry.)
  • A site owned by a smaller company… a publicly-traded company isn’t likely to do a deal. A venture-funded company isn’t likely to do a deal either (Crunchbase will tell you if they are venture-funded).

Step
#3: Hit up the website

Typically, through their contact page, they should have their email addresses or phone number listed. If they have a contact form, you can get in touch that way as well.

If
you can’t find their details, you can do a whois
lookup
to see if you can find their phone number.

What’ll
you want to do is get them on the phone. DO NOT MAKE YOUR PITCH OVER EMAIL.

It
just doesn’t work well over email.

If
you can’t find their phone number, email them with a message that goes
something like this…

Subject: [their website name]

Hey [insert first name],

Do you have time for a quick call this week?

We’ve been researching your business and we would like to potentially make you an offer.

Let me know what works for you.

Cheers,

[insert your name] [insert your company] [insert your phone number]

You
want to keep the email short as I have found that it tends to generate more
calls.

Once you get them on the phone, you can tell them a little bit about yourself. Once you do that, tell them that you noticed they have a page or multiple pages on their website that interest you.

Point
out the URL and tell them how you are interested in giving them money each
month to rent out the page and you wouldn’t change much of it… but you need
some more information before you can make your offer.

At this point, you’ll want to find out how much traffic that page generates and the keywords it ranks for. They should have an idea by just looking at their Google Analytics (you’ll find most of these sites don’t use Google Search Console).

Once
you have that, let them know that you will get in touch with them in the next
few days after you run some numbers.

Go back, try to figure out what each click is worth based on a conservative conversion rate of .5%. In other words, .if 5% of that traffic converted into a customer, what would the traffic be worth to you after all expenses?

You’ll
want to use a conservative number because you can’t modify the page too
heavily or else you may lose rankings.

Once
you have a rough idea of what the page is worth, get back on the phone with
them and say you want to run tests for 30 days to get a more solid number on
what you can pay them as you want to give them a fair offer.

Typically,
most people don’t have an issue because they aren’t making money from the page
in the first place.

Step
#4: Monetize the page

If
you are selling a product, the easiest way to monetize is to add links to the
products you are selling.

For
example, if you are selling a kitchen appliance like a toaster, you can add
links from the article to your site.

Just
like this article
.

The easiest way to monetize a blog post is to add links to products or services you are selling.

Don’t delete a lot of the content on the page you are modifying… adding isn’t too much of an issue but when you delete content sometimes you will lose rankings.

As
for a service-based business, linking out to pages on your site where people
can fill out their lead information is great.

Or you can just add lead capturing to the page you are renting out. Kind of like how HubSpot adds lead forms on their site.

I’ve actually found that they convert better than just linking out to your site.

When monetizing the page you are renting, keep in mind that you will need disclaimers to let people know that you are collecting their information for privacy purposes. You also should disclose you are renting out the page and nofollow the links.

Once you are monetizing the page for a bit, you’ll have a rough idea of what it is worth and you can make an offer on what you’ll page.

I recommend doing a 12-month contract in which you can opt-out
with a 30-day notice.

The reason you want a 12-month agreement is that you don’t want to have to keep renegotiating. I also include the 30-day opt-out notice in case they lose their rankings, you can opt-out.

And to clarify on the op-out clause, I have it so only I can opt-out and they are stuck in the agreement for a year.

Conclusion

SEO isn’t the only way you can get more organic traffic.

Being creative, such as renting pages that already rank is an easy solution. Best of all, you can get results instantly and it’s probably cheaper than doing SEO in the long run.

The only issue with this model is that it is really hard to
scale.

If I were you, I would do both. I, of course, do SEO on my own site because it provides a big ROI. And, of course, if you can rent out the pages of everyone else who ranks for the terms you want to rank for, it can provide multiple streams of income from SEO.

The beauty of this is model is that you can take up more than one listing on page 1. In theory, you can take up all 10 if you can convince everyone to let you rent their ranking page.

So, what do you think of the idea? Are you going to try it out?

The post How to Get More Organic Traffic Without Doing Any SEO (Seriously) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Google Ads to end customer support via social Jan 1, 2020

Earlier this year, Google Ads announced it is shifting customer support requests to an online form and will no longer supporting customer service through Facebook and Twitter. On Friday, Google said that, as of January 1, 2020, direct messaging on the Google Ads’ Facebook and Twitter accounts will be deactivated, and users will see a pinned post directing them to the online support form.

Why we should care

These social channels were popular ways for advertisers to often get quick responses or clarifications about issues. Google said it is making the changes to streamline the support process as well as to improve security around phishing and spam concerns.

“Customer security and success is paramount. Due to the growing global concern around spam and phishing, we are making an effort to resolve all Google product customer questions via 1:1 communication through direct email, phone or chat,” a Google spokesperson said. “Streamlining these channels will provide faster and more secure responses for all global customers.”

More on the news

  • The pinned posts on Twitter and Facebook will direct advertisers to fill out the online form that also aims to direct users to Help Center pages.
  • The advertiser can then opt to call, email or chat with a representative to get support.

The post Google Ads to end customer support via social Jan 1, 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Bing partners with flight booking sites to bolster flight search offerings

Bing has partnered with airlines to provide a more comprehensive flight search experience, the company announced on Tuesday. It makes use of real-time data and direct integrations with airlines to facilitate flight search, comparison and booking.

Why we care

Bing’s flight search will look familiar to those familiar with Google’s flight search offering. The flight search interface on Bing is very prominent on the page, which may have some booking sites concerned. It may hurt traffic to online travel agencies (OTAs) sites such as Expedia and TripAdvisor as the flight search interface pushes those listings down the page.

More on the news

  • To browse flights, users can conduct a search (e.g., ‘flights from New York to Las Vegas’) right from the Bing homepage. This surfaces an interactive feature that allows users to specify details such as their travel dates, seating class preference, number of passengers, etc.
  • Clicking on one of the flight results takes users to a more comprehensive flight search page with more filtering options.
  • Similar to Google Flights, reservations are not actually booked through Bing, but through their respective airlines.

The post Bing partners with flight booking sites to bolster flight search offerings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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