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How we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg

How we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg

With the launch of Yoast SEO 8.0, we’re revealing our first real integration with Gutenberg. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and it hasn’t always been easy. Today, we’d like to take you behind the scenes of what it took to bring Yoast SEO to Gutenberg, why we took the approach we did, and how you can follow in our footsteps. Find out how we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg.

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Don’t know what Gutenberg is? Catch up by reading our Gutenberg explainer article.

The long road

Before we get to the juicy details, a little history (feel free to skip ahead):

Around this time last year, I was made aware of the Gutenberg project by the Yoast leadership. My task was to envision how Yoast SEO could best integrate with this new editor experience. I spent some time playing around with it, and I was impressed by the new UI. The concept of blocks is really cool, both in design as well as functionality. Our conclusion at the end, however, was: this is nowhere near ready for any plugin to integrate with it.

The problem was two-fold:

Gutenberg was in its early stages, with layout and functionality changing every week.
It seemed as if minimal effort was put into thinking about how plugins should integrate.

It was understandable; the Gutenberg team was still prototyping. But their planning suggested it would launch by the end of the year, so we immediately treated it as an MVP that wasn’t ready.

Over the course of the next few months, we created a project team and started participating in the Gutenberg GitHub repo. We helped out in architecture discussions, made designs, and took the lead on building an API that allows plugins to register their sidebar, as well as building a modal component for when you need more space.

It took us a while to align our internal processes with that of the Gutenberg team. Over time we’ve become better at working together with them, and we’re still working side-by-side to improve the UI, UX and accessibility of Gutenberg to great effect.

We also started the Gut Guys video series, to inform people about this coming change to WordPress.

Best laid plans…

So how do you adapt a plugin as big as Yoast SEO to this entirely new environment?

Our initial plan was to integrate everywhere. Instead of being contained in a single metabox, could we break our plugin apart and put all the pieces in context? Maybe even some kind of SEO mode revealed at the flip of a switch like the gadgets in a James Bond car. This was a fascinating idea; it would mean we could give feedback exactly where it was relevant. Unfortunately, to date, this is still a bit difficult. We expect this will improve as Gutenberg gets closer to its release date.

So instead, we came up with a different solution: if every plugin has to integrate into the sidebar, the least we can do is give them their space, right? The sidebar isn’t very wide, and on small screens the default sections already fill the entire screen, let alone if you imagine a dozen plugins piling up in there, fighting for the top spot.

So we built the sidebar API. This gives you an entire blank sidebar to play with. You can pin it to the interface for quick access, and it puts your plugin in the spotlight.

After that, we began to adapt each feature of the Yoast SEO metabox to work in the sidebar.

Remastering Yoast SEO

We wanted to stick as close to the Gutenberg design language as we could so that the integration would appear seamless. Fortunately, Gutenberg uses a lot of modern design patterns and these mirrored things we were already doing in MyYoast. So merely by modernizing the UI and choosing JavaScript as the base, Gutenberg gave us the opportunity to unify our design across platforms much easier than we could before.

Needless to say though, having to fit a 640px metabox into a 280px sidebar isn’t easy. But it did force us to cut away a lot of the cruft. We used to have tabs above the metabox, tabs on the side of the metabox, sections within sections – it was a lot. When moving things to the sidebar, we had to be as economical with space as we could.

Collapsible headers

For the analysis, we introduced collapsible headers for each section. This vertical design helps keep things organized and focused. It’s also a much nicer pattern to work with in an increasingly mobile world. Similarly, Readability is no longer a separate tab but appears right above the focus keyword analysis.

And even when collapsed, you can see your focus keyword and the resulting SEO score at a glance. We hope to bring this back to the publish box again too, so you can always keep an eye on your SEO.

Because some of these sections have a lot of features, we had to bump the font size of the headings up to 16px (from the default 13px for sidebar text and headings). That was one of the details where we intentionally departed from Gutenberg’s design language to improve the clarity of our interface.

The toggle and the input fields, too, are little details where we chose to use our version instead of the default Gutenberg one to give things a bit more depth and usability.

New smileys

We also introduced smileys to the bullets, to improve the clarity for people with visual impairments. Our accessibility expert Andrea is very pleased with those.

Multiple focus keywords

Since we can’t do horizontal tabs anymore in the sidebar, we’ve made adding multiple focus keywords an inline action. Whenever you’ve added a keyword, the option to add another one appears just below it. It only shows precisely what is needed, and that saves space.

Cornerstone content

You’ll find the cornerstone content setting in its own section, with some extra explanation text. We’ve added this kind of context to every section so you can get a quick idea about what each section does, and a link to learn more if you want.

Internal linking

Internal linking is now also integrated into the meta box instead of being a separate section. We have a lot of exciting ideas with this feature in the future.

Snippet and social previews

The snippet and social previews present a unique challenge because you cannot reduce these to 280px. If we want to give you an accurate preview of a post on Facebook or Twitter, you have to see it exactly as it will appear. Therefore these functions are still in our ‘old’ meta box format. But we’ve got a plan for this in Yoast SEO 8.1 – which brings us to the next section:

What’s next

This new version of the Yoast SEO meta box is a big step forward in design, but you could argue that regarding functionality it hasn’t changed all that much, and you’d be right. But just as the Marvel Cinematic Universe operates in phases, so too is this just Phase One of our Gutenberg integration timeline.

The first thing we’ll be doing for Yoast SEO 8.1 (regarding our Gutenberg integration) is introducing modals.

This will put Google, Facebook, Twitter et al. into one convenient box that will appear over the content. This will provide plenty of space to house everything, and it will all be presented with the new UI and template variables introduced in Yoast SEO 7.7.

With these modals in place, we can entirely switch from our classic metabox to our new sidebar – that is, if you want, because we’ll offer the ability to toggle between the two. And that includes the classic editor. All of the above design improvements will come to the current WordPress editing experience too, so even if you decide not to use Gutenberg, you will still be able to enjoy our improved interface.

We’re also updating our extensions like News SEO and Local SEO to work with Gutenberg. These settings will soon also be available in the sidebar, and come with some accessibility improvements too.

Another thing we’re working on are some blocks that make it easy to add Schema support for specific types of content. The how-to block above is one of the first but we’ve got more planned, stay tuned.

What you can do now

You may not have a whole team of developers at your disposal, but you can still do a few things to prepare your plugin or theme for Gutenberg.

First of all, check if your plugin works well with Gutenberg

Like we said, plugins will by default appear as a classic metabox in Gutenberg, and should still work if they don’t do too many fancy things. But check that. Install the Gutenberg plugin right now and see how your plugin or theme handles it.

Learn how you can make your plugin or theme compatible with Gutenberg

Basic compatibility with Gutenberg shouldn’t be a lot of work. There isn’t a ton of official documentation yet, but here are a few helpful links:

Watch Linkedin Learning’s video about how Gutenberg and blocks work.
Find out what the design principles of Gutenberg are.
Read about how you can make your theme support Gutenberg.
Try the Block Unit Test plugin which generates a sample page with every available block, so you can see what they all look like in your chosen theme.

If you want to get a bit more technical:

Zac Gordon has a great course on developing for Gutenberg, and another course on theming for Gutenberg.
Learn how metaboxes work in Gutenberg
Learn how blocks work in Gutenberg
Daniel Bachhuber made a list comparing actions, hooks and filters between the classic editor and Gutenberg.

Start thinking in blocks

Not everything about a plugin needs to be put in the sidebar. You can solve a lot of things with custom blocks. We’re building a few too for specific Schemas and Local SEO widgets. So spend some time using Gutenberg and building different things with it, so you get a feel for how blocks work. It might give you some unexpected ideas.

As a designer, take advantage of this Sketch template for WordPress mockups by 10up. It already includes Gutenberg interface elements to get creative within your mockups.

For developers, there is a great block starter kit by Ahmad Awais, and Atomic Blocks has some fun custom blocks to look at for inspiration. Shortcodes too are an excellent fit for blocks. Gary Pendergast wrote a useful script that shows how you can convert shortcodes into blocks.

Start small

Above all, start small. If your plugin or theme isn’t broken, don’t go crazy rebuilding it in React. Try making a custom block, and play around with the sidebar elements until you are comfortable with this new design language. That design language is still evolving every day, so stick with the basics. Use what there is and see what you can build with it.

Dream big

The future of Gutenberg goes well beyond just text editing. Eventually blocks will also be available in sidebars and maybe even directly in the WordPress customizer. If you’re a little creative, you can already use Gutenberg for page layouts now. Atomic Blocks offers some useful layout blocks for example and a theme that goes with it. And heck, look at what XWP made with a few custom blocks. If you’re up for it, this could be a chance to pave the way for modern design in WordPress.

The future of WordPress is exciting. We can’t wait to see what you make with it.

Read on: What is Gutenberg? »

The post How we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg appeared first on Yoast.

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Get ready for our new Keyword research training!

Get ready for our new Keyword research training!

Yoast Academy proudly announces the newest addition to its SEO training catalog: the Keyword research training, coming August 23rd! In this training, you will learn about the first and most important step in SEO: keyword research. Before you start writing your website’s content, you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for. But how do you find out which terms you should optimize for? That’s exactly what you’ll learn in this training. So, mark your calendar: in exactly one week, you’ll be able to get access to the Keyword research training!

Why is keyword research important?

Proper keyword research is important because it will make clear which search terms your audience uses. You could be optimizing your website content for one set of words, while your target audience uses a completely different set of words. This means your site won’t be found by your potential customers. Or you could be optimizing for keywords that have competition from sites you can’t beat in the search results at this stage. Keyword research will help you find out what keywords work best for your site, so you can start ranking for the terms that help grow your site!

What will I learn?

In this course, you’ll learn exactly how to execute your own in-depth keyword research. It tackles the process of keyword research from start to finish. You’ll learn how to stand out from your competition with a clear mission and unique selling points (USPs). Additionally, you’ll learn how to take the perspective of your audience and use tools to find out what terms your audience uses. Once you’ve come up with keywords, you’ll learn how to discover which of your keywords have the most potential traffic, are most likely to lead to sales, and have the best chance of ranking high in the search results. We’ll even teach you how to create awesome landing pages, and how to analyze your website’s data to make sure your SEO strategy is paying off.

So, this course really covers it all. It not only teaches you the basics of SEO, but also the basics of marketing in general! We believe this is really important to help you get the most out of your blog or e-commerce site.

We’ll teach you the theory…

The course consists of six modules, which are divided into lessons. Each lesson contains interesting videos, in which SEO experts – like Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson – explain everything you should know about keyword research. To improve learning retention, we’ve also created reading materials. In these PDF files, we explore topics more broadly and we use different examples from the ones we use in the videos. To complete a lesson, you take a quiz. These quizzes test if you understand the theory and if you’re able to apply this new knowledge to realistic example cases.

And help you put it to practice!

We’ve also created four extra assignments, which really focus on putting your knowledge into practice. These assignments help you execute your own keyword research, step by step. They focus on formulating your mission and USPs, drafting your keyword list, researching the potential of your keywords, and gauging your competition. You’ll end up with a full-fledged keyword research list!

Every assignment is introduced by a Q&A video. In these videos, Joost de Valk himself will answer some practical questions that many people have when getting started with keyword research.

Get feedback from a Yoast SEO expert

If you want to make sure your keyword list is fully optimized, we even offer to have a Yoast expert provide feedback on your keyword research list. In this add-on, you’ll be able to hand in your assignment for feedback. Within two weeks, we’ll check whether you’re ready to start ranking, and give you ideas to improve on your keyword list!

Get ready for the launch!

If you want to stop wasting time and start optimizing for the right keywords, the new Keyword research training is for you. This online course allows you to learn about keyword research anytime and anywhere you like. So, get ready for the launch next week. We hope you’ll join us!

Read more: Keyword research for SEO: The ultimate guide »

The post Get ready for our new Keyword research training! appeared first on Yoast.

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How To Get Your Business On Google Knowledge Graph (For Free!)

How To Get Your Business On Google Knowledge Graph (For Free!)

Google Knowledge Graph

What Is Google Knowledge Graph?

Knowledge Graph is a visual infobox presented by Google to describe the introduction, data and connection of an entity to a relevant search. The information is gathered from a variety of sources to deliver more focused and relevant search results.

If you read my previous write up on Google’s use of Knowledge Graph to help provide users with richer and more helpful information, then hopefully you’re convinced that it’s in your best interest to have your company’s information available to Google’s Knowledge Graph – Because hey, who wouldn’t want a free billboard on the net right?

But the thing is, it’s easier said than done. Because Google sources a lot of its information for its Knowledge Graph from sources like the Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook and other large data websites, it can be a little challenging to control what information is presented about your company.

Hence, there are some who studies the methods needed to understand more about the Knowledge Graph and how to get yourself/your business/your brand featured by it. This topic is often referred to as Knowledge Graph Optimization (KGO) or Knowledge Graph SEO.

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Road To Google Knowledge Graph:
All The Resources You Need To Get Into The Knowledge Graph

6 Actionable Steps To Jump-Start Your Business Into The Knowledge Graph
Detailed Techniques And References From Highly Reliable Sources
Get Free Tools To Get You Started
Boost Your Way Beyond Basic By Using Recommended Paid Tools And Services

How Does Google Knowledge Graph Work?

Let’s first freshen up a bit on our knowledge about how the Knowledge Graph works. Basically, what happens is since 2012, Google is constantly on the move to collect vast amount of information from around the web and add it into its knowledge base (that would be the Knowledge Graph).

By piecing these scattered information together, Google tries to create a picture of each and every entity – from renowned individuals to big corporations, their attributes and how they relate to each other.

When an entity is successfully identified, Google will be able to generate a Knowledge Graph panel (also known as Knowledge Graph cards, answer boxes or rich answers) which contains a compilation of information gathered from many sources. Here’s an example of how a business is typically featured on a Knowledge Graph panel:

A typical Knowledge Graph display

As you can see, the Knowledge Graph display contains a number of components made out of text, images as well as links. The description noticeably is taken from Wikipedia and if you check the company logo, it is taken from Google’s Google+ profile (that’s a lot of Google). The sources can vary, but Google mainly extract information from places such as:

Trusted and high authority sites (Wikipedia, mainstream news sites, government sites)
Google’s own properties (Google+, YouTube, Google Maps etc.)
Even regular websites sometimes

How To Get Into Google Knowledge Graph

While you’ll never be able to completely control what a Knowledge Graph will display about your company, you certainly can influence it.

The following are some of the best ways to get information about your company on the right place to make it easier for Google to recognize your business as an entity and generate a Knowledge Graph panel for you:

1. Use Schema Markup To Tag Your Website Elements

Schema markup is a type of microdata, which is basically a fancy way of describing HTML codes you include in your website not to be displayed for normal viewing, but to be read by machines (search engines, web crawlers or browsers) for them to get extra informations.

A Schema Markup describing that the website represents an organization and also the location of the image that represents their logo.

By using schema to tag appropriate elements of your website, you’ll make it easier for search engines, such as Google, to organize and interpret the information that’s displayed on your webpages in a more effective manner, thereby allowing them to provide more relevant results to user search queries. It will also make it easier for Google to determine what kind of entity is represented by a website along with its attributes.

When Google have a clear picture of your company from the information derived from the Schema markup on your website, it will be more likely that a Knowledge Graph display will be generated on searches related to your company. Other than the type of organization and logo, Schema markup can also be used to describe products, events, important personnel and more.

By properly using Schema markup, you might end up with a highly detailed Knowledge Graph information like this Nutritional Fact on KFC’s Knowledge Graph display.

It’s worth noting that Schema is a collaboration between four major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex (a Russian search engine). Schema.org was established in order to standardize structured markup since there are a number of different formats used across the web. In other words, it is something that Google themselves initiate in order to make things easier for them. That alone is a huge reason to implement it.

While not necessarily a quality factor Google uses to consider when ranking pages on the internet, implementing Schema markup may also indirectly improve your SEO as it enables Google to understand your website better and as a result, produce a richer answer and more accurate snippets when returning your website in the search results.

A simple tutorial on adding Schema markup on your website.

An easier alternative is to use the new SEOPressor Connect’s Schema.org builder. The feature lets you select the Schema.org data type corresponding to your content and it will automatically generate and incorporate the markup in your website code.

SEOPressor Connect allows you to incorporate Schema.org markup in your website without having to write the code yourself.

You can also add other details such as headline, description and author’s name in easy to use form and SEOPressor Connect will translate them into Schema.org markups.

Additional details can also be inserted using easy to use interface.

Basically, you can now incorporate Schema.org markup automatically in your website even without having technical knowledge. Even if you already familiar with the markup, it saves you a lot of hassle of having to write them yourself and the need to refer to the documentation each time you’re writing them.

2. Get A Wikipedia Entry For Your Business

Wikipedia is the Internet’s encyclopedia trusted by all and as such, a valuable source of information for Google’s Knowledge Graph. Wikipedia regularly ranks in the top five search results on Google because its articles are longer, better researched and more cited than other online content. The unique thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can edit its pages. So basically, it’s a user-based encyclopedia.

Although anyone can edit anything in Wikipedia, everything is subject to both deletion and revision, which results in a high quality control. You can enter information about your company into Wikipedia, but you need to be somewhat notable to avoid having it deleted or revised. This means that your company needs to have been featured in mainstream press or on channels that are trusted, independent and neutral.

The content you post to Wikipedia must have a neutral point of view – this means that you can’t attempt to advertise or promote yourself – Wikipedia is purely for neutral information. One of the best strategies for obtaining an entry on Wikipedia is by compiling a list of citations and sharing them with the writers community on Wikipedia when suggesting an article.

Information from Wikipedia can often be found used on the details/description section of the Knowledge Graph.

Having your business featured on Wikipedia also comes with other perks. But before deciding on creating your own Wikipedia page, it’s best to first analyze the requirements, benefits and even the drawbacks of having a Wikipedia page for your business.

Should You Consider a Wikipedia Page for Your Business?

3. Get Your Business On Wikidata

Wikidata is different than Wikipedia in that it’s more oriented for the use of machines instead of actual humans, although both humans and machines can edit content on the database. It’s a data repository that was created to support Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia Wikisource and Wikivoyage. So far, Wikidata boasts almost 14 million data items, which is why it’s not difficult to understand why it’s one of Google’s Knowledge Graph’s main sources of information.

An example of Wikidata entry.

Creating an entry is not too hard, just keep in mind that the rules are in line with those of Wikipedia. It’s considerably easier to create a Wikidata entry as you only need to insert simple informations instead of writing whole paragraphs like in Wikipedia.

It’s worth noting that theres another similar public knowledge base used as a source of information for Google Knowledge Graph, called Freebase. Freebase was much more lenient compared to Wikidata in a sense that it is not subjected to the strict moderation and notability requirement of Wikipedia or Wikidata. Unfortunately it is now closed for edits and the database was migrated to Wikidata. So, if you managed to submit your business into Freebase back when it was open, it’s one less work for you.

4. Get Your Business On Local Listing

One of the easiest way to get on the Knowledge Graph is through the Local Knowledge Graph. In a way it is a little bit different to the ones mentioned before as like the name implies, it is emphasized more on local search. This means 2 things:

It is triggered by location-based query. For example, the searcher is located in the same area where your business are or they are including the area name when typing in the query.
The information shown on the Knowledge Graph display will include more location-based information such as map results, phone number and working hours instead of a more general information.

How a local Knowledge Graph panel looks like.

Depending on whether you are conducting business on-site or online, local Knowledge Graph display can be of different importance to your business. But either way, it is a good way to start if you want to get your business on the Knowledge Graph.

Showing up in local search results is a surefire way to spread awareness of your company throughout your area. People that have no idea about your business even though they live right around the corner from it may find it through the Knowledge Graph. The following steps will help ensure that your business pops up in Google’s Knowledge Graph for local searches:

Go through all of your online platforms, from your website to your social media channels, and make sure that your name, address and phone number (NAP) are displayed and consistent. It will be easier for Google to relate which online assets belongs to the same organization if they have something unique in common.

Using inconsistent NAP might confuse Google and as a result, your online assets remains separate in the eyes of Google.

Remember to use the same address format and avoid even minor differences like the use of .Inc in the company name or the dash and spaces used in the phone number. Pick one standard and use it across the board.

Once you’ve ensured that your company information is accurate and present across all platforms, launch a citation campaign in order to have your company’s information cited by as many local directories and authoritative websites as possible. Other than location-specific directories, here’s a list of top citation sites you can start submitting your business to:

Bing Places
Yelp
Yellow Pages
Yahoo Local
Manta
Better Business Bureau
FourSquare

And of course, it’s worth a separate mention to include your business in Google’s own assets:

Google Maps
Google+ Local
Google My Business

Having a complete set of submission in all of Google sites not only make it faster and easier for Google to recognize your business, but they also brings a lot of benefit for your SEO in general. Good customer reviews on Google-owned websites for example, are especially important as they are the ones to get shown on the local Knowledge Graph and the most starred results tend to rank the highest.

So strive to deliver the best service to your visitors and encourage them to drop a good review. It will be worth it!

You won’t see a 1 star result on the top ranking.

5. Get Your Business Featured In Online Press Releases

Releasing press releases is a great way to increase exposure of your brand in its own right, but they can also have a huge effect on your Knowledge Graph. This is because it does several things for you. First of all, if your press release is published by a reputable online news agency, then it will be more likely that it will be featured in Google’s “In the News” section.

A considerably smaller Knowledge Graph display, but still quite impactful.

Additionally, a press release will double as a reference material to help establish your company’s credibility when obtaining an entry on Wikipedia. Press releases aren’t difficult to create, especially if you use a press release distribution tool such as Marketers Media.

6. Get A Google+ Page

We mentioned the importance of using Google+ before when going over Google+ Local, but it’s worth reiterating why you should use Google+. Out of all the social media channels out there, it should make sense that Google+ has the most impact on your Knowledge Graph – they’re both run by Google, after all! Google used to use information obtained from Google+ much more extensively for the creation of its Knowledge Graph.

There was a time when the information included in the Knowledge Graph panel is derived mostly from Google+.

Although Google have since diversified the information source, the information on your Google+ page will still be one of the main contributors to Knowledge Graph. While you might think that it’s a little bit unfair for Google to “force” us to create a Google+ account, favoritism isn’t actually Google’s intention as it is proven that Google started to move away from relying just on Google+ when they are able to find alternative sources.

Establishing a Google+ page is so easy and because it has so many other benefits – such as the ability to engage with consumers and to spread awareness of your brand and content, it makes a great first step to take if you haven’t done any of the aforementioned steps to help influence your Knowledge Graph. The most important part of creating a Google+ page for your business though, is to link them to your website.

Linking your Google+ account to your website will make it even easier for Google to recognize your brand.

Basically here’s how you can do it:

Head over to your business’s Google Plus page, and click on “About.”
Scroll down to the “Links” section of the page. Click “Edit” on the bottom left-hand corner.
Enter your website domain in the field provided and click “Save.”
Google will send an email request to the webmaster. The owner of the site will see your email address and confirm the link in Webmaster Tools to get your website approved. If the site is approved, you should receive a verification email along with a checkmark next to your website in the “About” tab.

Conclusion

Google Knowledge Graph can have a huge impact on your company’s exposure when it comes to user search queries. I’d highly recommend that you use these tips in order to influence the information on your company that Google’s Knowledge Graph provides. Although it’s important to notice that while these steps are among the best practices to have in order to get your business on the Knowledge Graph, it won’t guarantee it.

Much like how practicing good SEO won’t magically get your website on the first rank on Google overnight, the same also applies here. In the end it all depends on Google’s own capability to synthesize all the information available across the web to improve the contents of its Knowledge Graph. And your job is to provide as much information as possible and get it in the right place.

Do tell me if these steps helps and if it managed to get you a Knowledge Graph display. I’d surely love to see them!

This post was originally written by Azfar and published on Sep 25, 2015. It was most recently updated on Aug 14, 2018.

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Road To Google Knowledge Graph:
All The Resources You Need To Get Into The Knowledge Graph

6 Actionable Steps To Jump-Start Your Business Into The Knowledge Graph
Detailed Techniques And References From Highly Reliable Sources
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Research finds B2B audiences discover content through search

Research finds B2B audiences discover content through search

Clutch’s survey of 384 consumers of online business content found that 87% of respondents frequently encounter business content using search engines, slightly more than the 85% who find business content through social media and 75% who encounter content most frequently on company websites.  

The study indicates that B2B audiences are avid consumers of business content online and use content to inform their purchasing decisions.  

By optimizing content for SEO and for their target customers, companies can engage B2B audiences online and work to transition them through their sales funnel to conversion.   

B2B audiences consume content frequently and according to their purchasing intent  

Clutch’s survey supports industry research that B2B customers extensively research companies and products online as part of their purchasing process.   

The survey found that 88% of B2B audiences consume business content online at least once a week.  

For the most part, the reasons why B2B audiences consume business content online reflects their buying intent and determines the type of content they prefer.  

For example, 45% of B2B audiences read business content online to stay informed about industry trends, the most common reason cited among respondents.  

  

This broad reasoning for consuming content demonstrates low purchasing intent. Thus, this group likely fits in the “awareness” stage of the conversion funnel and consumes content to learn more about a business or an industry before moving forward in their purchasing process.   

As a result, they reported blogs and articles as their preferred type of content, since blogs and articles are more likely to focus on broader topics such as industry trends.   

On the other hand, B2B audiences that read content to further research a company’s products or services, or to help them make a final purchasing decision, gravitate towards content that speaks to their high level of purchasing intent. Fittingly, this group prefers product descriptions and reviews more than other forms of online content.  

SEO services allow businesses to engage B2B customers 

The frequency at which B2B buyers use search as part of their purchasing journey, combined with the need to engage potential customers with broad content preferences, underscores the importance of effective SEO for B2B companies.   

Investing in SEO helps B2B companies engage their target customers where they are: search engines. If companies are able to optimize their site and content for key search terms, they increase their chances of engaging their target customers through search.  

“SEO remains an important way for B2B audiences to find content. Don’t forget, though, that it involves optimizing content not just for search engines, but also for the people behind the queries,” Kim Moutsos, vice president of editorial for the Content Marketing Institute, said in the report.  

To optimize for specific audiences, businesses need to optimize their content according to their various sets of target audiences. To do this, they need to have a very solid understanding of their target customers and how they consume online content.  

Customers at the bottom of the funnel, for example, are very intentional when they consume content online: they are specifically looking for content that discusses products, services, and providers that best fit their needs.   

Diverse content marketing strategies help maximize engagement  

As B2B audiences demonstrate such a broad range of content preferences, both in terms of topics and format, businesses that want to engage them online need a wide-ranging content marketing strategy.  

For example, creating a “state of the industry” report for a site blog helps to engage B2B buyers at the top of the funnel – those who read business content online to learn about industry trends.   

To engage buyers near the middle of the funnel – who read business content online to review whether a company’s products can benefit their business – B2B companies need to create and maintain product pages and descriptions on their websites.  

Finally, encouraging reviews from former clients and actively maintaining and populating listings on third-party directories helps businesses engage B2B customers at the bottom of the funnel – those who read content to make a decision about whether to purchase products or services from a business.   

Understanding how audiences engage with content provides benefits for B2B companies 

Clutch’s research ultimately underscores the value businesses can achieve when they understand how B2B audiences engage with content online.  

Specifically, understanding the online channels and type of content that B2B audiences prefer, in addition to the reasons why they consume business content, can help companies create a content marketing strategy optimized to engage their target customers at different stages of the buying journey.  

In addition, B2B companies also need to optimize their content for SEO to ensure that their target customers encounter it through search, their online channel of choice for finding business content.  

 

Grayson Kemper is a content developer at Clutch, a research and reviews platform for B2B marketing and tech services and solutions. He specializes in SEO research and writing.  

 

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Does URL Structure Affect SEO? See What Google Thinks About Them

Does URL Structure Affect SEO? See What Google Thinks About Them

The Importance Of URL Structure

One question that seldom gets asked or thought of is — “does URL structure have any effect on SEO?”

Well, not today. Today we’re going to ask this long-ignored question and find out if the URL structure of your page have any effect on its PageRank. Because the whole point of SEO is to optimize every single page element to get the maximum SEO juice out of it and get ranked as highly as possible.

We take pains to craft a website that offers engaging, original content that carefully incorporates a selection of targeted SEO keywords. Each design element is carefully analyzed for its effectiveness in acquiring and retaining visitors. Even the colors we choose are influential over the success of the website. What impact, then, does the URL structure have in boosting or hampering our search results?

Does Google really care about URLs?
What is a URL?

URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”, which means it tells you the specific address of a piece of content on the web.

The URL is stored on the Domain Name System (DNS) database that connects it to a specific IP address. When you enter the URL into the navigation bar of a browser, it sends a request to the DNS server for the IP address of the URL.

The Anatomy of a URL

URLs have particular structural rules to which they must adhere for the sake of historical IT design choices. They may not, for example, contain spaces or a few other specific characters. Forward slashes indicate directory layers, and the starting phrase of the URL informs you of the sort of content it is you are accessing.

1. Protocol: HTTP stands for ‘hypertext transfer protocol’, it’s the most commonly used application protocol.
2. Domain Name: The domain name is your address on the world wide web.
3. Subdirectories: These are the categories or subfolders that you create for your pages.
4. Specific Page Name: The specific name of your page. It is the easiest to adjust compared to domain name and directories.

7 Best Practices Of URL Structure For SEO

Does your URL structure affect your ranking? The answer is YES, but that, of course, begs the question, “How?”. Let’s examine all the ways in which you can produce a quality URL that gets your website traction:

URL structure does affect #SEO. Here are few great ways you can do to optimize your URL structure
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1. Keep it Short & Sweet

Lengthy URLs are a detriment to social sharing. While people are able to use shortening services such as TinyURL or Bit.ly to shrink down lengthy links to character lengths that won’t take over your tweets, most people are hesitant of clicking on links that doesn’t clearly indicate where it’s going to take them fearing it may be a malicious link or spam.

How you go about making a URL useful and short involves a host of factors. Are your folders well organized and named appropriately? Did you pick a concise page title that lines up with the content on the page? Can your potential visitor get what they need from the URL at a glance? Most of it is common sense once you start really digging into the subject.

Research:

If you still don’t think URL length is a big issue, look at these data taken from a research conducted by Quicksprout. They calculated the URL length of top 100 results of 1000 keywords and here are the results:

The average length of URLs ranked in top 10 result is 37 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 20 result is 35 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 30 result is 39 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 40 result is 41 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 50 result is 36 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 60 result is 32 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 70 result is 48 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 80 result is 45 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 90 result is 41 characters
The average length of URLs ranked in top 100 result is 38 characters

Based on these results, it is clear that URLs that contain 35-45 characters dominated the search pages. While this isn’t a clear indication of how Google look at length of URL, it’s definitely worth noting.

Aim for a length of around 35 to 45 characters. If you are near that, don’t sweat it. If you find most of your URLs are exceeding 80 characters or more, you should seriously consider rewriting them. You may be losing potential traffic to bad design. Try not to overuse abbreviations, since too many will result in ambiguous meanings that you might not intend.

2. Make it Readable

This should be quite expected as Google has been rewarding websites that are user-friendly. So making your URL easier to read for humans is also making it better for search engines.

So how do you determine whether a URL is readable or not? Look at the illustration below to have a rough idea:

The general idea here is that your URL doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect, but it should at least be easy to understand and at the same time, look interesting enough to make people click on it.

3. Make Good Use of Keywords

Research has shown that people make decisions about the sites they click through based on the relevance of keywords present in the URL. Including pertinent keywords improves the likelihood they’ll choose your site among their options when you fill their need best.

When they encounter your link through social media, email, or a website, they’ll get a clearer picture of what your link offers. This can build enough trust and engagement that they click through.

In websites where your link is not included with anchor text, the URL itself becomes the anchor text. A readable, keyword-focused URL can drive traffic to your site by both boosting your rankings and encouraging click-throughs.

4. Avoid Pointless Duplication

Nobody likes pointless duplication.

If two URLs are providing the same content, you are at risk of dividing your signal and reducing your traffic potential. It’s simple to resolve this with a 301 redirect (assuming the secondary page is of little independent value) or by using a rel=canonical (great if the second page has a use, like a printer-friendly option for the original content). This focuses all the search engine traffic to the first page and helps boost your visit potential.

Likewise, don’t fluff URLs with repetitive keywords. You are doing yourself no favors either in search result rankings and are discouraging some searchers from clicking on your link.

5. Use Hyphens instead of Underscores

Let’s start with Google’s own plea for web designers to use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) to separate keywords. Using hyphens makes it easier for their web crawler analytics to parse relevant information and produce solid results. The less your URL resembles gibberish, the greater chance it’s going to positively impact your search engine placement.

Here’s Matt Cutts explaining how Google sees hyphens as a separator and ignores underscores:

6. Eliminate Excess Words

Stop words like a, the, etc, and, or, but and others are unnecessary in a URL. They don’t necessarily hurt you, but they can make a URL unwieldy in some instances. Use your best judgment. If removing a stop word is going to confuse the subject, it’s worth leaving it in unless that will push your link to excessive length.

7. Avoid Folder Mania

You might be confused now if you still remember Matt Cutts saying that having your page deep in multiple layers of subfolders do not affect SEO in this video:

While having too many subfolder in your URL doesn’t hurt your SEO, you really don’t want your URL to look something like this:

Blog

This is just plain old sensible advice if you understand that shorter URLs are better and readability is important. The more folders you add, the longer your URLs will be by necessity and the more ambiguous your content may become. Streamline your content within sensible and well-named folders for the best results.

Conclusion

Google does care about URL construction. Your potential visitors care even more than Google does. These tips should get you started on the way to a well-designed URL. What tips, ideas, or suggestions do you have regarding URL construction?

You might also like:

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL
Single Vs Multiple Websites – Which Is Better For SEO?
[Case Study] Secret About Meta Description That Can Triple Your Click-Through Rate

This post was originally written by Zhi Yuan and published on August 24, 2015. It was most recently updated on August 14, 2018.

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I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand

I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand

Some of you who are reading this know who I am. And many of you don’t.

So, for those of you who don’t…

My name is Neil Patel, and I am the co-founder of an ad agency called Neil Patel Digital. I’ve also co-founded a few marketing technology companies.

I blog about marketing at NeilPatel.com, and in the last 31 days, I was able to reach 1,701,486 people through my blog.

I have a decent social following… 927,000 Facebook fans, 298,000 Twitter followers, 289,802 LinkedIn followers, and 159,588 YouTube subscribers.

And in the last 28 days, 43,196 people found me by Googling variations of my name.

So, can you see the issue with everything I am doing?

It’s all tied to my name.

None of my companies have as much traffic, and they don’t have anywhere near the social following as my personal blog that you’re reading right now.

And that’s not even the biggest issue, which I will get into later on.

But before I go into why I wouldn’t build a personal brand again, let’s go over how it all began.

Why did I build a personal brand?

I never planned on building a personal brand. I started my career in marketing at the age of 16.

My first website was a job board called Advice Monkey (no longer exists) that I started when I was 16 years old. I had no clue how to generate traffic… I just thought that you put up a website and people visit.

Boy, was I wrong!

Eventually, I saved up enough money from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms at a theme park to pay a marketing firm.

They ripped me off and provided little to no results.

From being broke and frustrated I had no choice but to learn online marketing.

I got so good at it that Advice Monkey started to rank on Google for competitive terms like job board, job search, and tech jobs. In essence, I was ranking for so many job and career terms that Advice Monkey started generating well over 100,000 visitors a month.

I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of traffic, but for a job board with no listings, the Internet not being as popular 17 years ago, and for me being a 16-year-old kid, I didn’t do too bad.

But here is the thing, I was never able to make Advice Monkey work out. I just didn’t know how to monetize it.

So, like any other nerdy 16-year-old, I did what my parents wanted me to do, I went to college. And I know I was a bit too young for college as I was still in high school, so I took night classes at a college nearby my home while still in high school.

My first class was Speech 101, and I gave a speech on how Google worked. Funny enough, someone in the class worked at a company that was looking to hire someone that knew how Google worked.

He asked me if I wanted a consulting job… I said yes… they paid me $5,000 a month. I was able to help them generate well into the 8 figures of additional yearly revenue because of my work.

The owner of the company was impressed, so he introduced me to his son, who owned an ad agency.

Soon enough, he outsourced some work to me, which lead me to generate $20,000 a month in income.

The start of my personal brand

I was happy with the money that I was making for my age, but I knew it wouldn’t last.

Just because someone is paying you money right now, it doesn’t mean they will pay you next year or even next month.

I had to figure out how to generate customers.

I wasn’t the best at sales, I wasn’t well connected… so I did what I knew best. I created a blog that focused on the topic of SEO in hopes that it would generate leads and sales.

The blog no longer exists, but it was called Pronet Advertising. Here’s what it looked like:

Over time, the blog started to grow in popularity and it would generate leads here and there. I never hit more than 150,000 monthly visitors, and I wasn’t satisfied with the results.

I wish I knew what I know now because I would have done simple things like leveraging exit popups and lead forms on the blog.

Seriously, I made so many basic mistakes back in 2006.

Because the blog wasn’t working out too well, I decided to speak at conferences in hopes that it would generate more clients. I literally applied to every marketing conference in hopes of landing a speaking gig.

The first conference I spoke at was Search Engine Strategies (it no longer exists). I was a bit nervous, but people enjoyed my speech.

I generated no new business from the event. 🙁

But that didn’t stop me, and I started to speak at more conferences and eventually, I drummed up business from a few events. Plus, I was building a personal brand in the marketing space (without realizing it).

Now when I say I started to build a brand, it wasn’t anything like it is right now and my goal wasn’t to build a brand… I just wanted to close new deals.

The software era

My ad agency grew to a few million a year in revenue, but by the time the recession hit in 2008, we started to lose a lot of clients.

Eventually, I shifted my focus to a marketing software company I co-founded, Crazy Egg.

At the same time, I stopped blogging on Pronet Advertising because it wasn’t generating any real income.

I started to focus all of my energy on getting Crazy Egg traffic and customers, while my business partner focused on making the product great.

At that time, Crazy Egg’s brand recognition was larger than mine. And I had no intention of growing my personal brand.

So, when I spoke at conferences, I talked about Crazy Egg. When I woke up in the morning, I spent my time trying to make Crazy Egg more popular.

As Crazy Egg was growing, I randomly decided to start a personal blog, Quick Sprout. I have no clue why I decided to do this… I just wanted a personal blog because I thought it would be a fun experience.

And if you are wondering why I didn’t name the blog Neil Patel it’s because I didn’t own NeilPatel.com at the time.

By January 2011, Quick Sprout grew to over 67,038 visitors a month:

And by November of 2012 I was generating 112,681 visitors a month:

My traffic was growing nice and steady at the time although my personal brand wasn’t really taking off yet.

But by January 24, 2013, my personal brand started to take off. That was when I started to publish in-depth marketing guides that were 20,000 to 30,000 words.

People thought I was crazy!

The first one was called The Advanced Guide to SEO.

It did so well, my traffic jumped to 244,923 visitors a month.

Once I realized that people loved these in-depth guides that were as long as a book, I kept publishing more and more. Eventually, I cranked out 12 of them and my personal brand started to skyrocket.

People would come up to me at conferences saying how they loved my content. People would even tell me how they would have discussions with their co-workers about my content. It was surreal!

Heck, it even got to a point where professors would email me asking if they could teach my content in their classrooms.

And luckily for me at that time, one of my Quick Sprout readers saw that the domain name, NeilPatel.com was being auctioned off for $900. Once I found out, I bought it. I didn’t do much with it… I just wanted to own my name.

Quick Sprout eventually grew to a point where it was generating over 500,000 visitors a month and I partnered with a few people to turn it into an SEO software company.

Once I brought on a few business partners, it hit me that Quick Sprout was no longer just my blog. I had business partners, which meant it wasn’t just my blog anymore.

There was nothing wrong with that, but I wanted a personal blog as well. Somewhere I could write whatever I wanted and not worry about the “business” aspect.

The start of NeilPatel.com

I started this blog in August 2014. When I started this blog, my personal brand was just taking off.

According to Google Trends, I was at a 6:

And currently, it’s roughly at a 22. Which means it is 3 to 4 times larger now than what it was when I started this blog.

But here is the thing, Google Trends doesn’t paint a full picture. It just tracks how many people are searching for your brand on a monthly basis.

There are a lot of people who have known about me for years who don’t Google my name on a monthly basis.

My personal brand has grown for a few reasons:

I blog consistently – I’ve been blogging for years on many different blogs. From Pronet Advertising to Quick Sprout to NeilPatel.com, I enjoy blogging about marketing. Just on NeilPatel.com, I have published 4,868 posts.
I have a daily podcast – Marketing School generated 725,044 listens last month. If you haven’t listened to an episode yet, make sure you check it out and subscribe to it.
I produce weekly video content – from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn, you constantly see videos from me about marketing. My Youtube channel alone generated 566,816 views in the last 28 days. If you add in LinkedIn and Facebook, I’m hitting over a million video views a month.
I still kind of speak at conferences – I’ve slowed down on the speaking circuit as it got so exhausting because I used to speak at over 50 conferences a year.
I guest posted weekly – I used to blog on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc, and Fast Company as it helped spread my brand. Over the years I have written 1,831 guest posts in three different languages.
I expanded internationally – NeilPatel.com is now translated in 4 languages, and I continue to add more each year. This has been helping my brand grow.
I keep giving back – I’ve been making marketing tools free, such as Ubersuggest and Subscribers. Who doesn’t like free? 😉

In other words, I’ve built a decent personal brand by just being consistent and putting in long hours for over 16 years.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t trying to build a personal brand… it just happened. It’s not huge, but it’s grown to a decent enough size where it’s larger than any of my corporate brands.

My personal brand has helped me generate millions in consulting deals, and I constantly get offered $25,000 to $50,000 for an hour speech at conferences each week.

So why do I regret building a personal brand?

Well, let me ask you this… think of a few of the brands you are very familiar with, which ones come to mind?

Apple?

Maybe Google?

Amazon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, American Express, Tesla… the list keeps going on and on.

Did you notice that you didn’t really think about a personal brand?

Now tell me one personal brand that’s bigger and more successful than any one of the companies I mentioned above?

Whether you pick Tony Robbins or famous athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo or reality TV stars like the Kardashians, none of them will ever be bigger than the companies I mentioned above, at least from a financial perspective.

And what’s sad is when the face of a personal brand passes away, in most cases so does the income. For example, Tony Robbins does well because he is Tony. But if Tony wasn’t around, who would speak on stage on his behalf?

It wouldn’t be the same if his company replaced him with someone else.

But on the flipside, look at Apple. Steve Jobs was the visionary who helped build this amazing company we all love, but since he passed away, Apple’s stock price has gone up roughly 4 times.

They are now worth a trillion dollars. That’s crazy!!!!

Yes, Steve Jobs was an amazing entrepreneur, but Apple has grown without him and has continually improved their products.

In other words, Apple will continually live and hopefully grow because it isn’t reliant on any one individual.

Now my company is named after me. I’m not the only person within the company… the team is what makes the company amazing, not me. If I wasn’t here tomorrow, the company would still be around, but it probably wouldn’t do as well.

Not because the team isn’t capable… the team does amazing work and they are better than me in many ways. It’s because, without me, many companies wouldn’t come on board as clients.

If I changed the name of the company it also probably wouldn’t do as well because my personal brand is influential within the digital marketing world.

And here’s the kicker: It’s also harder to sell a company when it is named after a person. And if you are one of the lucky people who are able to sell a business based off of a personal brand, the multiple won’t be as great because the buyer knows that when the personal brand leaves, so will some of the revenue.

I’m not saying it’s impossible… just much harder.

That’s why you see companies like GitHub being purchased for $7.5 billion when most people haven’t even heard of it (outside of the tech world).

Conclusion

If I took all of the time I spent building a personal brand into building a corporate brand, I would have been worth a lot more money.

I know money isn’t everything in this world, but in business, it’s the scorecard that everyone looks at.

If you want to build a lifestyle business then consider building a personal brand. It’s easier to build, and you can make good money from speaking, consulting, or partnerships.

But if you want to build something big, something that will continually live and move on without you, then focus on building a corporate brand.

I’ve slowly been transitioning. That’s why I spend more time building up the Ubersuggest brand than I spend building the “Neil Patel” brand. And I know my ad agency Neil Patel Digital is based on my name, but I’m ok with that as I never plan on selling it.

Now in an ideal world, what you want to do is leverage personal brands to grow your corporate brand. For example, Beats by Dre leveraged strong personal brands like Lebron James and the Kardashians to grow in popularity.

It’s a smart model because this made it so the company isn’t reliant on one brand, such as Dr. Dre. A lot of companies, like Pepsi, Nike, and Coca-Cola do this.

Even B2B companies do this… who wouldn’t want a testimonial from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, or Elon Musk. It’s probably harder to get their endorsement as they don’t need the cash, but you can get micro influencers within the B2B space.

For example, I was discussing with my business partner that we should hire a lot of the popular personal brands within the marketing niche and bring them under the Neil Patel Digital brand. That way the company isn’t as reliant on me.

When you also build a strong corporate brand you’ll notice that it may indirectly help you build a strong personal brand. But that shouldn’t be your goal as your company won’t be worth as much if it is fully reliant on your brand.

So, are you going to build a personal brand or a corporate one?

The post I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand appeared first on Neil Patel.

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