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Picking an ecommerce platform: WooCommerce or Shopify?

Picking an ecommerce platform: WooCommerce or Shopify?

Nowadays, building an online store is easier than ever. Picking the right tool to power your new store isn’t. There are many tools out there, but for most people, the choice will be between the two market leaders: Shopify and WooCommerce. Although both ecommerce platforms have a comparable feature set, they have a different philosophy. Let’s take a look at both.

Table of contentsTLDR: There’s no perfect solutionWhat is Shopify?What is WooCommerce?A managed platform vs. a self-hosted oneComparing Shopify vs. WooCommercePricingEase-of-useAppearance: themesFlexibilityAppsPayment providersMarketingContent marketingSEOPerformanceSecurityShopify vs WooCommerce conclusion

TLDR: There’s no perfect solution

Let’s start with the conclusion. The answer to the question of which ecommerce platform you should pick is those two words that every SEO expert likes to utter regularly: it depends! It’s almost a philosophical battle between two different worlds: open and flexible, and closed and “rigid”. In general, you can achieve the same things on both platforms. Both WooCommerce and Shopify are great platforms that help site owners build awesome online stores. The main difference is how they do it and the philosophy behind it.

WooCommerce gives you great flexibility and total ownership over your shop and data. This is a great option if you want to control everything — and if you embrace the open-source mentality. Plus, if you already have a WordPress site then it makes much more sense to add a WooCommerce store to it than to start a new store on Shopify. And, if you want a hosted version of WooCommerce, there are plenty of great hosting providers that can provide you that option.

With Shopify, you get a closed system — also known as a SaaS, or Software as a Service. Everything is arranged for you and everything is set up in such a way that you can literally build and launch an online store in minutes. A closed framework like Shopify has many benefits as you get a system that is perfectly tuned to its task: getting you to sell as much as possible. It does mean that Shopify owns your data and that you lose flexibility. Everything you can do is inside the platform and its apps.

Simply put, it’s not that one is better than the other. You simply need to pick the platform that fits your goals and preferences.

What is Shopify?

Launched in 2006, Shopify is an ecommerce platform that powers around 1.7 million online stores worldwide. Shopify is a hosted web application, which means that it’s Software as a Service (SaaS), carefully fine-tuned to make it very easy to build and run online stores. It offers a ton of tools that shop owners can use to start and run their online store.

Over the years, Shopify built many in-house solutions to common ecommerce problems, like payment systems (Shopify Payments) and fulfillment networks. Today, Shopify is a full-service ecommerce platform that makes a lot of sense and gives enough options for a lot of people.

Shopify helps you set up an online store in an instant

What is WooCommerce?

Launched in 2011, WooCommerce firmly has its roots in the open-source WordPress community. WooCommerce is a complete ecommerce plugin that you can simply bolt onto your WordPress site. It’s full-featured and robust, with tried and tested performance. Since 2015, WooCommerce is part of the Automattic family.

WooCommerce is a very popular and cost-efficient way of running an online store. On this basis, WooCommerce doesn’t cost anything and even many of the extensions are free to use. There’s a whole economy built around WooCommerce, with thousands of services, themes, and plugins at various price points. People value the freedom they feel while building a store with WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a popular e-commerce platform that gives you a lot of freedom

A managed platform vs. a self-hosted one

The biggest difference between Shopify and WooCommerce is the way they host your site. With WooCommerce, you can download the free WordPress plugin and install it on any given server. Simply pick a good hosting plan and you are good to go. You have full control over the way WooCommerce works and you can scale your tech stack if your site is doing great.

This does also have its drawbacks, of course. For instance, you are fully responsible for every part of your store. You need to keep everything safe and secure and you are the one making the performance optimizations needed to perform well. Of course, there are services to help you do this, but it still requires some extra effort. So, while WooCommerce is free to use, it’s not without cost. This is something to take note of. And, if you really want a hosted solution with WooCommerce, you can always sign up for the ecommerce plans on different WordPress hosting providers.

When you choose Shopify, you sign up with them, pay them a monthly fee to host and run your store. Everything you do is inside their “walls”, so to say. Shopify comes with restraints purposely built in to make sure that their stores all function properly. Shopify takes care of everything, from payment to backup and security.

If you do want to expand a bit, Shopify comes with an app store that features many helpful tools, like SEO apps, email marketing, inventory management, and much more. These range from free to a monthly added cost that’ll quickly increase the price you pay for your store. Another thing to remember is that Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee on the cheapest plan, when not using Shopify Payment. More on that later.

The Yoast online store is powered by WooCommerce

Comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Shopify and WooCommerce haven’t become the two leading e-commerce platforms in the world by chance. Both platforms are very robust, easy-to-use, secure, and offer loads of features. The features are comparable, and so is the way they think about ecommerce. The biggest difference is in the flexibility of open-source versus the solidness of closeness. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.

Pricing

Shopify is paid software and doesn’t come with a free plan. There are three plans to choose from, starting from $29 a month up to $299 a month. The different plans come with different options, for instance, the basic plan doesn’t come with reports and internationalization features. For the enterprise-level businesses, there’s also Shopify Plus. Another plan is Shopify Lite that lets you add products to an existing blog for a small fee.

The kind of plan you get, also influences what you pay Shopify for handling transactions. For instance, the transaction fee if you are not using Shopify’s own payment system is 2% for the Basic plan, 1% for the middle plan, and 0.5% for the Advanced plan. There are also different rates for online handling of credit cards, starting at 2.9% + 30¢ USD per transaction.

Shopify comes with different payment rates for different plans — you’ll pay a surcharge if you’re not using Shopify Payments

If you use WooCommerce Payments, you don’t pay a fee to handle credit cards but there is a regular charge of 2.9% + 30¢ USD per transaction. WooCommerce itself is free to install and use, but will come with a lot of added costs. For instance, you need to pay for hosting (pick a good WordPress host — that’s essential), a domain, themes, plugins, development costs, et cetera. It is possible to keep it low budget and do most of it yourself, but if you can’t you will need to invest.

Still, a WooCommerce store will probably turn out cheaper — especially if you are on more expensive Shopify plans and need some expensive app subscriptions to get your store to run properly.

Ease-of-use

While both products are pretty easy to use, Shopify is on another level. One of the biggest advantages of a hosted ecommerce platform is that after you sign up, you can immediately start to work on your site. Shopify is set up to guide you from A to Z in such a way that you can launch your site in minutes. You won’t see any code and you can just click around to get your store looking like you want.

With WooCommerce, it might take a little more to get going because you need to go through the process of installing it. What’s more, if you don’t have a WordPress site you need to set that up as well. Luckily, there are plenty of high-quality web hosts that offer all-in-one plans for WooCommerce shops. Once you’ve set up everything, you can run through the settings, install WooCommerce add-ons, pick a theme et cetera, et cetera.

As WooCommerce is proud of its flexibility, it comes with everything and the kitchen sink, giving you detailed control over the store. What WooCommerce doesn’t have out of the box, you can add via add-ons. All of this does mean that WooCommerce is less beginner-friendly than Shopify.

Appearance: themes

Having a great, functional look for your online store is important. If your site appears messy, potential customers will likely not trust it. Luckily, both ecommerce platforms come with ample choice to get the design you want for your products to stand out.

Shopify has around eighty themes available in the Theme Store, both free and premium. Not too long ago, Shopify announced Online Store 2.0, a completely redesigned theme architecture — including a cutting-edge new default theme. This makes it a lot easier to customize themes as you can now edit every section of your site, not just your homepage. Shopify will use a Gutenberg-like block system to help you build those pages. All of this will help you get more done, without touching any code.

The new Shopify Online Store 2.0 in action

WooCommerce benefits from having a massive market built around it. While there are about forty themes available in the official marketplace, resellers like ThemeForest and TemplateMonster offer thousands of WooCommerce themes in all shapes and sizes. Not to mention high-quality individual WooCommerce-proof WordPress themes like Astra. This being the WordPress space, you simply have a ton of options. But, of course, this can also be overwhelming if you are trying to find something quickly.

WooCommerce comes with a solid theme called Storefront, but there are thousands of other options for themes out there

Flexibility

Is it possible to take control of your online store and change little details or are you stuck in a system someone else controls? It’s good to have options and, while both WooCommerce and Shopify have ample settings to explores and extensions to add, Shopify feels a bit more limited.

Of course, offering flexibility is great as it gives the user the power to tune the ecommerce site to their liking. On the other hand, it adds complexity and it takes time and effort to set it up and keep it running like a well-oiled machine. As mentioned, Shopify is a closed platform that is built to give you everything you need, but not too much. While WooCommerce is open, free to adapt and turn into something unique. The choice is yours.

Apps

The concept of apps or add-ons is well-established by now. In many solutions, you get a program that is set up to give you the minimal amount of tools you need to get your store going. If you want, you can work within these constraints and build a successful store. But, if you want more control, more insights, more features — you need apps to extend the platforms.

Shopify has a great set of apps you can use, from advanced analytics to email marketing. Some of those are free to use, but the best ones are paid services you sign up for with a monthly fee. These are not cheap and the price level is different from what we see in the WordPress space. Our WordPress plugin Yoast SEO Premium, for instance, costs just $89 a year, while, on average, a Shopify app costs around $20 to $30 a month. Sign up for a couple of apps and you are racking up the cost of your Shopify store. Also, keep in mind that it’s not wise to install more apps than you need as this can affect performance.

You can find everything you need in the Shopify app store

WooCommerce is WordPress, with all its pros and cons. WooCommerce comes with a lot of ecommerce tools built-in, but you can add specific features via add-ons. There are a ton of extensions for WooCommerce, in all shapes and sizes — built by WooCommerce, as well as any third parties. In general, these add-ons are less costly than their Shopify counterparts. Pricing is just different in the WordPress space.

Whatever you choose, both platforms let you extend your online store with specific and sometimes niche apps or add-ons that help you make the most of it.

Payment providers

Accepting payments is at the heart of every online store — without it, there is no store. It’s also the part where the costs and availability of (local) payment providers will play a big role. Rest assured, both WooCommerce and Shopify shine on this front. But, one is not like the other.

Shopify is adamant of you using Shopify Payments. You’re not required to use it, but it does have a cost-benefit. Shopify offers tons of payment options and almost every provider in the world is taken care of. But, Shopify would rather have you use Payments as that is within their walls. If you choose a different provider, you’ll notice that Shopify will add transaction fees that might rack up for you. Unfortunately, Shopify only offers Payments in a couple of territories, so in many cases, you have to use a payment provider specific to your locale. This will cost you extra.

Last year, WooCommerce introduces its own version of Shopify Payments called WooCommerce Payments. Yes, really. It doesn’t support everything for every locale, but you can extend this with add-ons for almost every payment provider in the world. WooCommerce doesn’t charge extra for using a different payment provider. Except for the costs that the provider itself charges. WooCommerce Payments doesn’t require a monthly fee, but it does incur costs per transaction.

WooCommerce Payments lets you collect credit card payments in an instant

Marketing

Setting up your store is only part of the journey, of course. Marketing will play a big role in how and if you can reach an audience that will buy in your store. Having marketing at your disposal right from the backend makes a lot of sense.

Shopify comes with a number of cool marketing tools, like a Facebook channel, the option to sell on Amazon, email marketing, gift card options, sales and discounts, and much more. Marketing is also where the Shopify apps shine as there are many dedicated tools that are aimed at getting more customers — or to get current customers to spend more. Shopify also comes with an abandoned cart recovery feature in every plan.

WooCommerce comes with fewer marketing features out of the box, but it has a whole app store full of marketing extensions. WooCommerce doesn’t come with its own email marketing feature but does integrate with things like MailPoet and Mailchimp. That means that you will be able to set up your marketing the way you want to, it will just take you a bit more effort to find the right extensions.

Content marketing

Marketing your shop isn’t just about writing an engaging product description. It’s also good to find a way to tell your story and produce content that will do well in the search engines. This makes it easier for potential customers to find you, even if they are not looking for your products yet. One of the tools you can use for this is having your very own blog.

Shopify has a blog feature and it’s pretty easy to get started with. Unfortunately, it’s also very basic and bare-bones. It’s good that it’s there and that it gives you the option, but you shouldn’t expect this to have to power of WordPress.

Of course, WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress so it uses the block editor. Adding a blog to your site with WooCommerce is easy and it gives you a very powerful tool to tell your story. You’ll also get to use all those cool tools, like the Yoast SEO plugin to make sure that the content is well-written and ready for the search engines. What’s more, the block editor will let you build even more cool stuff, like landing pages and the like. WooCommerce even comes with its own blocks for the block editor.

SEO

SEO is essential in bringing in customers. Of course, SEO is more than just setting up permalinks and working on your site structure. It also contains user experience, content writing, performance optimization, and much more.

Shopify comes with a default setup that is pretty SEO-friendly. You can work on your meta descriptions, canonicals are generated automatically, redirects work properly and you can even edit your robots.txt file, if necessary. If you want to do more, there are several SEO plugins in the Appstore that can help you. Of course, not everything is perfect and there are certainly improvements to make to the default setup. For instance, duplicate content can turn out to be a nasty issue in Shopify.

WooCommerce has a major advantage: because it is built on top of WordPress you can do a lot to improve your WordPress SEO. WooCommerce is pretty good at SEO and you get a lot more control over it — especially if you install a plugin like the Yoast WooCommerce SEO add-on. This plugin helps you set up the metadata for your products properly, including the necessary structured data markup. It also optimizes the product XML sitemap for your site and helps you visualize your products in Google.

Help your online store stand out!

Get this and much more in the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin!

Get WooCommerce SEO »Only $69 USD / per year (ex VAT) for 1 site – incl. 1 year free updates and support

Performance

A fast site offers a good user experience and a good user experience helps turn visitors into customers. It’s important to focus on improving the performance of your online store as much as possible. Again, Shopify and WooCommerce do this in different ways.

As Shopify is a managed web app, performance optimization is in their hands. There are not that many things you can do to enhance it, except for making sure that everything is set up properly and that you limit the use of apps, have a well-built theme, and optimize your images. Luckily, performance is one of the focal points for the Shopify development team and they are rolling out enhancements all the time. Another cool thing is that Shopify comes with a Fastly/Cloudflare CDN by default. If you need more control over the performance, you can always upgrade to the enterprise-level Shopify Plus plan.

With WooCommerce, you can control the performance in great detail. That’s awesome, but it’s also a drawback as you are responsible for the performance. This means you have to choose where to host it and to make sure that even more is set up properly. You need to pick a fast theme, manage your plugins, optimize scripts, get a CDN, et cetera, et cetera. This is awesome because you get to choose which knobs to turn. Of course, it is a lot less beginner-friendly. Luckily, with great WordPress hosting, your WooCommerce store will probably perform pretty well without having to finetune too much stuff.

SiteGround is one of the best hosting providers out there and also offer a WooCommerce plan

Security

Security is paramount for an online store. You don’t want your store to leak your customers’ credit card details, do you? It makes all the sense in the world to take extra care of security. Security is a major trust factor and if your customers can not trust your site, they won’t buy anything.

Because of their different approaches, Shopify and WooCommerce are not equal regarding security out of the box. Shopify is a web-based service so it controls everything it does. They take care of the hosting and security of your site. All the standard security things are available right away, like SSL certificates and 2-factor authentication. Shopify is also PCI-DSS compliant right out of the box, meaning you can accept credit cards right away.

With WooCommerce, things are different. WooCommerce as software is very secure, but you need to take care of it yourself. You install it on a server that you need to maintain, you’re responsible for getting an SSL certificate, keep your software updated et cetera. Of course, there are many tools and services that can help you secure your site in a professional way. None of this is really hard, but it is something to take note of.

Shopify vs WooCommerce conclusion

There are no answers to the question of whether Shopify or WooCommerce is better. Both are awesome tools to power your ecommerce store. Both have their merits and drawbacks, but the main difference is how it runs your online store.

With Shopify, you live and breathe on its platform, while WooCommerce lets you take control over everything. WooCommerce might be more cost-effective, but Shopify is a more lean-back solution. It’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just a choice you need to make depending on your skills, budget, and goals.

Read more: Check out our blog posts on ecommerce SEO »

The post Picking an ecommerce platform: WooCommerce or Shopify? appeared first on Yoast.

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How to optimize keywords and SEO titles with popular keywords

30-second summary:

Title optimization of articles, blogs, or webpages is critical to get traffic and earn money from Adsense and affiliates
The standard advice is to stick to one keyword phrase per page to maintain strict relevance and avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing
Adding extra related keywords, however, apart from the modifiers and words to create a sensible title has the potential to get more traffic to websites
Here are some good insights and tips on how you can optimize your keywords titles

Optimizing titles of articles, blogs or webpages is critical for getting traffic and earning money from Adsense and affiliates. The standard advice is to stick to one keyword phrase per page to maintain strict relevance and avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing. But adding extra, related keywords, apart from the modifiers and words to create a sensible title, has the potential to get more traffic to your site.

In this article, I’ll review, my own experience in crafting carefully multiple keyword titles.

Keep the title short – one keyword phrase to a page

As a golden tip, start targeting individual keywords on separate pages and use multiple pages for related words. General landing pages for mixed or general topics generally will not work because you will not be able to compete for popular single keywords without adding phrases for longtail titles. The general advice is that you should keep the title short (less than 70 characters) and only target perhaps two or three primary keywords that are highly relevant to the content of the page and its objective. You can of course develop long-tail keywords that include your primary keywords plus a series of modifiers to make a ‘sensible’ title that makes sense to humans and the test the bots use to evaluate your sites.

Avoid keyword stuffing

There is a lot of information on the dangers of keyword stuffing, which means over-use of your keyword or keywords in the title, description, and the body copy. Google invokes a penalty for keyword stuffing, though the threshold keyword density is not exactly known. There are various tools for counting keyword use frequencies. Keyword Density is simply measured as the relative number of times your search term (Keyword or Keyword phrase) occurs as a percentage of the total number of words on a given page. The ideal Keyword Density must not be greater than 5.5 percent. But various search engines have different thresholds before they apply penalties. Reasonably, high Keyword Densities can help boost page rankings but you don’t have to overdo it.

Keyword Density can be boosted by using your keywords repeatedly in the:

Title tag
Header tag
Comment tag
Body tag
Anchor tag
Image tag
Alt tag
Domain name, and
Paragraph tag

Another general piece of advice for titles is not to exceed using the identical keyword in the title more than twice.

How Google and other search engines crawl and rank your keywords in the title

It is not widely understood, but Google and other search engines register and rank every individual keyword in your title and every combination – including various orders and positions for the keywords. Although there is a priority for phrases with the keywords in the order they are in the Title, and for words that appear first, Google will register all the keywords and phrases and derive a ranking for them.

Dilution of the weight of the keywords in the title

Google also appears to regard long titles as more likely to be Spammy (especially very long titles). Longer titles may also appear keyword-stuffed. Research has shown that the first keyword in the title has the highest weight; the second keyword has somewhat less weight and so on. By adding more words you may dilute the weight applied to each of them. For targeting two-word searches and phrases, it is important to keep keywords close to each other and in their ‘natural’ order. Try to match the likely order of the terms in the search phrase, to the order in the title.

Use multiple keyword phrases multiply your traffic

If Google derives a rank for all the words in the title, surely, by including two or three keywords rather than one will be more likely to get more traffic. The traffic for each word should add up and multiply. Understanding when this is appropriate and when it is not is the crux of optimizing titles. As explained previously the weight or value of the keyword appears to fall rapidly as you move from the first word to the last. More keywords appear to dilute the weight given for each word. Also, there is the important issue of relevance. Your page may be penalized if the words you use are not highly relevant to the content of the page.

The key aspect is competition – only use a single phrase if the competition is high

If there is a lot of competition for a keyword then it is best to only use a single keyword or phrase. Stick to the keyword phrase you have found using the Google Keyword Planner for use in the title. You know the statistic and competition for that exact phrase and it is unwise to fiddle with it. Various tools can be used to estimate competition for the phrase and the likely traffic. The Keyword Research tool shows how even minor changes in the phrase can dramatically affect traffic and competition.

If the competition is high you have to maintain the strength of your page and title to compete. Adding extra phrases will dilute the weight applied to the keyword. You will be competing against pages that are likely to be strongly targeted on that keyword phrase as well. You could lose the battle if you don’t have that singular, highly focused title for the keyword.

If there is moderate competition enrich your title with more keywords

For moderate competition, there are several ways you can go to use multiple keywords in the title.

1. Use two or more Modifiers

The solution to not duplicating the keyword is to add one or two extra modifiers or action words. If you look at the competitive keyword phrases shown by the Google Keyword Tool you will often find that two phrases look promising that both contain the primary keyword or phrase.

[action word 1 keyword] + [keyword action word 2] = [action word 1 keyword action word 2]

Let’s say, for instance, you are after a keyword title for your article about Green Tea health benefits and you want to use a longtail keyword narrowing the search to extracts. The obvious solution is:

Health Benefits of Green Tea Extracts

This provides a title for four phrases

Benefits of Green
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green Tea Extracts
Health Benefits of Green Tea Extracts

Another example is a title about Professional Make-up Artists

Reviews of Professional Make-up Artists + Make-up Artist Portfolios = Reviews of Professional Make-up Artist Portfolios

This makes the title target four phrases in one:

Reviews of Professional Make-up Artists
Make-up Artist Portfolios
Professional make-up artist portfolios
Reviews of Professional Make-up Artist Portfolios

In both cases, this very simple tactic makes it possible to create a short concise title that is enriched by optimizing it for more than one key term and narrowing down your target audience. Perhaps your article is about creating portfolios and how to find and review make-up artists and this title targets these keywords. Of course, it is often hard to find word combinations similar to these and it emphasizes that title design is a real art. These examples also show how the use of action keywords and modifier phrases to target buyers who are ready to buy, which will fulfill the aim of your website.

2. Long tail action based keyword choices

Long-tail titles using action words are generally more effective, as action-based queries usually attract users that have already got their credit card out and are hungry to find what they want and to buy it. Targeting your audience will lose part of the potential audience but the ones you have filtered for will be more likely to buy.

The role of SEO title optimization is to enrich the keywords in the title that potential buyers might use when conducting a search to target the group that is interested in your product or services.

The best strategy is to build the longtail keyword title, not by using poorly selected action words as modifiers, but by researching the action words and phrases as well for maximum benefit.

Combine competitive keyword phrases to enrich the title

The Google Keyword Planner Tool might show two promising keyword phrases essentially related to the same topic. Let say, for instance, that you are trying to market green tea extracts using their health benefits, particularly to help people having issues with losing weight. The Google Keyword Planner Tool shows three competitive phrases

green tea health benefits
green tea extract
green tea health benefits for weight loss

These phrases can be combined in ways that retain the order of the words (with green tea as the first phrase) but allow all these phrases to work in your title.

For example

Green Tea Extract: Health Benefits for Weight Loss

This longtail keyword is optimized for all three competitive phrases.

The ideal separator for two phrases

What is the ideal separator when using multiple keyword phrases? It does not really matter. You can use a pipe (|), a colon (:) a dash (-), or a comma (,)

However, don’t use the underscore ( _ ) as search engines don’t recognize it as a separator. These characters have no ranking benefit, but they help make your title readable.

Dealing with plurals and synonyms

In some cases, you may want to expand the keywords in the title to include plurals, synonyms, and other expressions for your topic. For example “architect supply”, “architectural supplies” and “technical drawing equipment” essentially deal with the same topic. You will need to craft the title to include these variants if you can.

For example: “Architectural supplies: Technical Drawing Equipment for Architects”

One of the potential dangers with targeting a single term in your title is that it creates a tendency for over-optimization, even when it’s not intended. You may use that single keyword everywhere on your page. If you include variants this is less likely to happen.

Don’t overdo it!

You need to be careful because adding more keywords can mean that each of them will have less and less impact. The more you try to stuff extra keywords into the less natural it is going to sound. For example, if you use the following title it will appear in the search results as –

Cheap Coffee | Gourmet Coffee | Ground Gourmet Coffee

Google won’t like it as it will be interpreted as keyword stuffing. Your potential customers won’t like it because they will see it as unnatural and likely to provide useless promotional material

Much better would be:

Low Price Ground Gourmet Coffee and Fresh Roasted Bean Suppliers

Which version looks better in the search results? Which one is less likely to be seen as keyword stuffing and deception?

If you have a keyword ‘Recycling Information – How And Where To Recycle

What if you want to optimize an article for the keyword “Recycling Tips” as well?

You could build a title such as

Recycling Information – Recycling Tips – How and Why Recycling is Better

But this is clearly keyword stuffing and Google will probably penalize it.

A better option is

Recycling Information – Tips, Tricks and How to Recycle

You can see that your second keyword recycling tips is in the title, but with the keyword word information in between. This will be slightly less effective but Google will still list you page for the keyword Recycling Information – Tips. If you look at the search results where the matching keywords are shown in ‘bold’, you will notice that this often occurs even for pages that appear high up in the search results.

Final thoughts

Building traffic is important, but it is conversion rates that really matter
The keyword “tail” should not “wag” your dog (marketing strategy). Keep the focus on the major keyword and keep it at the front of your title.
Use association and keyword matching to group keywords. Rank your potential phrases for search popularity, but make sure you can compete for them and cascade down by adding modifiers to build a longtail title that will work.
Never forget that a human user will determine your conversion rates, not the search engines
Your titles must be readable and appealing

If you do all this along with writing high-quality content intended for people and optimized for Google, your articles, blog, or webpages will suddenly be ranking for multiple keywords with high conversion rates. You may even end up being in the first spot for a keyword that was never your main focus.

Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, inbound marketing consultant, and founder of Write Minds. He can be found on Twitter @jmcmillen89.

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The post How to optimize keywords and SEO titles with popular keywords appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Microsoft Advertising CVP Rik van der Kooi announces departure

After more than a decade leading Microsoft Advertising, Rik van der Kooi, the platform’s corporate vice president, announced his departure on Wednesday. Rob Wilk, vice president at Microsoft Advertising, will step up to lead the platform.

Why we care

van der Kooi’s departure signals the end of an era of leadership at Microsoft Advertising and the start of a new one. “[van der Kooi’s] leadership has been instrumental in Microsoft Advertising’s growth over the last 10+ years,” John Lee, head of evangelism at Microsoft Advertising, told Search Engine Land.

“The decision to promote Rob Wilk into the leadership role is significant for continuity and the ongoing success of the Microsoft Advertising business [and] platform,” Lee said, adding, “In short, Microsoft Advertising is in a very good place with growth and momentum for the future.”

Additionally, new leadership often brings change, which may affect many (if not all) advertisers on Microsoft’s platform. It’s not clear what changes Wilk will make, but it’s something marketers should expect in 2022.

More on the news

Rob Wilk has led Microsoft Advertising’s global strategic sales team for the last six years and has more than 25 years of advertising and media experience. Prior to working at Microsoft, he was the vice president of sales at Foursquare.During his tenure, van der Kooi helped to launch the Microsoft Audience Network (which is now available in 25 markets worldwide) and played a role in the acquisition of e-commerce advertising vendor PromoteIQ, among other accomplishments.

The post Microsoft Advertising CVP Rik van der Kooi announces departure appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Messy SEO: Fixing site structure while a Google title change sinks clickthroughs

Messy SEO: Fixing site structure while a Google title change sinks clickthroughs

Messy SEO is a column covering the nitty-gritty, unpolished tasks involved in the auditing, planning, and optimization of websites, using MarTech’s new domain as a case study.

This installment of “Messy SEO” details my process of working with our marketing, content and development teams to further clean up the search engine results pages for MarTech. In Part 4, we discussed the issues arising from Google’s title changes and the tactics taken to address them.

RELATED: Non-stop updates: SEOs share the impact on their day-to-day, work-life balance and career outlook

SERP title change fallout and improvements

Google’s SERP title changes from August did a number on our MarTech mission page, pulling in irrelevant alt text from our site header logo, making the title link read “Martech is Marketing Logo.”

We tried many tactics to combat this change: resubmitting the page via Google Search Console, adding contextual internal links and updating the title tag every few days to see if anything changed. And, after months of edits and monitoring the SERPs, Google finally updated the MarTech title tag to reflect our chosen version (shown below).

Google SERP displaying our chosen MarTech mission page title.

Our original chosen page title tag read “What is MarTech? …This is MarTech.” We believed Google’s algorithm felt this tag wasn’t clear enough for searchers, so we tweaked it a bit to better highlight the main topic of the page. In a sense, we answered the question we posed in the same tag, inviting searchers to view the page to learn more.

We were thrilled to see Google update this important page’s title in the SERPs. But, after digging into the original change’s effects on MarTech search performance, we saw the true impact of Google’s SERP title alteration.

Clicks and impressions for MarTech’s mission page after Google’s change to our SERP title.

After Google’s edit to our title in early November, we saw a major drop in organic clicks to the page (shown above). We compared the period when we first noticed the change to when we saw it reflect our updated title tag (all rough estimates). We found that total clicks to the page decreased by 41% and the CTR dropped from 3.1% to 1.7% when compared to the previous period (shown below).

Decrease in clicks to MarTech’s mission page.

Fortunately, the search numbers appear to look much better following Google’s decision to display our new title. But with so little data to go on right now, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Issues of site structure

The change to major page titles wasn’t the only issue we noticed affecting MarTech’s SERP display. Yet another consequence of our consolidation of Marketing Land and MarTech Today came in the form of Google’s chosen sitelinks for the MarTech domain (shown below).

Google SERP sitelinks for MarTech

While our mission page is certainly important (as evidenced by our work on its title tag), each of the other displayed links plays secondary roles for the site — with those toward the bottom being even more irrelevant. It looks like Google considers these pages more important than our designated top-level topic pages, which serve as relevant silos for all our content.

This shows that building your site using a horizontal structure isn’t always enough to help Google recognize your chosen hierarchy of pages. A site like MarTech contains many mixed signals from the years of publishing on Marketing Land and MarTech Today. Clearly, Google still thinks pages relating to them are important due to the signals built up over the years.

Sending site structure signals to Google

The only way to address these old site indicators is the ensure our new signals are conveying the correct information about our site layout. Here are some of the tactics we’re using to give Google a clearer view:

Adding breadcrumbs to articles. While our MarTech pages already feature the top-level category, we decided more information was needed for crawlers. We’re rolling out breadcrumb links to each article to help Google and users gain a better understanding of our site structure.Fleshing out content on top-level pages. Our topic and category pages originally only featured the header text and the associated posts. Now, we’re adding relevant content blurbs to the tops of these pages to highlight their importance — and hopefully improve their rankings as well.Internal linking. We may sound like a broken record at this point, but internal linking is a critical factor for improving page rankings. Our breadcrumbs and menu links already point to many of these, but we want to link from the body text in article content as well to give more context.

Have you had continued title tag issues or site structure problems affecting the SERPs? How are you addressing them? Email me at [email protected] with the subject line “Messy SEO Part 5” to let me know.

More Messy SEO

Read more about our new MarTech domain’s SEO case study.

Part 1: Navigating a site consolidation migrationPart 2: The importance of canonicalizationPart 3: How to find cached images and improve user experiencePart 4: When Google’s title change goes wrong

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20211222 SEL Brief

The post 20211222 SEL Brief appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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