SEO Articles

A comprehensive guide on using Google Trends for keyword research

A comprehensive guide on using Google Trends for keyword research

30-second summary:

Keywords are still important for SEO, but what’s increasingly important is their relevance, uniqueness, and popularity over time.
Google Trends is a powerful tool that lets you gauge this and more.
With Google Trends, you can get a view of what keywords to include, what to avoid, and what to plan for.
You also get deeper dives into related topics, predictions, and how to overcome blind spots.

As an SEO professional, we’re sure that there’s one word you’ve heard and used often, and that is, “keywords”. After all, if you know what people are searching for, you can create content that guides them to your site. A great way to identify effective keywords is by using Google Trends, one of the world’s largest real-time datasets. It can give you an insight into what people are searching for, interested in, and curious about.

With more than 3.5 billion Google searches conducted every day, this is a powerful tool you can’t ignore. In the words of the Google Trends team, “you can now explore minute-by-minute, real-time data behind the more than 100 billion searches that take place on Google every month, getting deeper into the topics you care about.”

Now, you may be thinking that this sounds great — but where do I begin? Take a deep breath and pay attention because we’re going to outline the 11 best ways you can use Google Trends to come up with apt keywords.

Ready? Let’s go.

1. Understand keyword search volume

Keyword search volume refers to how many times specific words were searched for during a given time frame. If sites contain words with a high volume, it’s clear that they’re going to get more traffic.

If you enter any keywords into Google Trends, you get to see how interest in that topic has increased or decreased over the course of time.

Here’s an example. Type in “coronavirus” and see for yourself the peaks and valleys in consumer interest. You can also see which regions it is more or less popular in.

Here, we should point out that the popularity of the keywords shown is relative. The graph represents the ratio of the number of times that word was searched relative to the total number of all searches during that time.

2. Identify seasonal trends

One of the great advantages of having search data mapped on a graph is that you can easily spot the highs and lows of how many times keywords were searched for.

As a savvy marketeer which you must be, or you wouldn’t be reading this – you know that capitalizing on seasonal popularity means attracting more customers. You can craft campaigns around such trends and adjust your sales plans and inventory accordingly.

Here are some obvious examples. If you type in “pizza”, you get a graph that’s fairly consistent and more or less flat. But if you type in “Christmas pudding”, you’ll see a flat line rising to a very high peak in December.

Correctly identifying such trends means being able to plan in advance and then taking advantage of heightened interest. Sounds like something you’ll want to do.

3. Avoid jumping onto the trendy keyword bandwagon

When doing keyword research, you need to know whether a search term is going to remain popular or whether it’s just a result of short-lived buzz. Here again, Google Trends can help.

There’s a table on the page that lets you view search interest for a specific keyword over the last few years. This way, you’ll immediately see whether a topic has just spiked once and then dropped or whether it’s of lasting interest.

Here’s another example. Type in “fidget spinners,” and you’ll see that there was a huge spike in 2017 when no-one could get enough of those toys. So if you were counting on attracting people to your site using “fidget spinners” that isn’t going to happen.

4. Stay away from unicorn keywords

Hold on. Aren’t unicorns what they call start-ups valued at over USD one billion? Yes, that’s right, but there are other types. Unicorn keywords, for instance.

These are generic industry terms that may sound good to include in your content but don’t necessarily make much of a difference. They are high volume but low competition. For example, “cloud computing” or even “courier services”.

It’s always better to use more precise keywords. For example, you could modify unicorn keywords to more accurately reflect your services. Checking Google Trends will provide you with information on such generic keywords, which you can then adapt for your needs.

5. Find relevant trending topics

Trends. We all want to stay on top of them as this will attract more customers. Well, Google Trends can obviously help in this case, too.

You can check Google Trends to find out which topics are trending in your niche and then keep track of traffic.

6. Find related topics

Often, even keywords not directly linked to your business can be helpful. There are other keywords that may be related but will still boost traffic.

It’s simple to do this with Google Trends. After you type in a relevant keyword, you can scroll down to find tables of related topics and related queries.

Typing in courier services, for example, will show you rising and falling trends for this search phrase. But in the related queries section, you’ll see “overnight courier services”. If you can use this as a relevant keyword, chances are your traffic will increase. Overnight.

7. Use trends predictions

You can look at Google Trends as a mirror to show you what people are interested in at this moment. But this tool can also help you use forecasting and trend data to suggest which keywords are going to rise in popularity in the future. This lets you plan ahead and prepare for traffic boosting opportunities that will arise in the days to come.

As a start, you can look at this prediction from the Google team on themes that are rising in 2021: equality, data ethics, and reaching the at-home consumer.

8. Use local SEO tactics

You already know the importance of leveraging local SEO strategies. There are many consumers near you, and they are the ones that can easily be targeted with effective digital and keyword tactics.

Google Trends can be a great help with this approach, too. You can use local keyword trends to see which regions need your products or services. And then, you can fine-tune your strategy to reflect this.

For example, you could type in “cloud computing”, with a USA filter to get overall trends for that keyword phrase. And then drill down further to see in which towns and cities the phrase is most used.

9. Video SEO

A statistic on HubSpot indicates that 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. That’s not surprising, after all, 85% of all internet users in the United States watched online video content monthly on any of their devices. And 54% want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.

[Source.]

Hence, video SEO is critical. It’s the process of optimizing your video to be indexed so that it ranks on the results pages for keyword searches.

How can Google Trends help you with this?.

Enter your search term, and then change web search to YouTube search. You can find the relevance and also related queries, as well as which words are trending. This should give you invaluable insights to tweak your video titles and descriptions for better results.

10. Use long-tail key phrases

Long-tail keyphrases are defined as those that are different from general keywords. They are specific to whatever product or service you’re selling.

For example, while “running shoes” can be a generic keyword, a long-tail version of this could be “men’s running shoes with thick soles”.

As you can see, such phrases have low competition and high conversion. This is why they are so important for effective SEO.

With Google Trends, you can cross-reference the popularity of different keywords. And then, you can combine related terms to get a good idea of relevant long-tail keywords. Whether you’re into cloud computing or running shoes, it makes a difference.

11. Identify blind spots

Blind spots exist in life and also in keywords.

There are keywords that we feel are important, even though they may be generic and high-volume. There are other keywords that somehow never occur to us, even though they may be of interest to consumers.

Intelligent use of Google Trends means that you can probe these areas to arrive at insights that let you capitalize on what’s trending with your target audience.

Use various combinations of keywords, always check the related queries box, and get a wider view of the timeline. Combine these to check whether keywords are popular over time, whether there’s just a specific spike, and if there are other aspects that consumers feel are important.

All this will let you get over the blind spots to give you 20/20 vision.

In conclusion: Google Trends is your powerful keyword partner

At a time when every online expert is hunting for keywords, Google Trends can give you the edge.

You can use it to come up with powerful, popular keywords to boost traffic in surprising and positive ways. 

It can help you discover keywords that make sense in context. It can help you to spot profitable trends. And it can help you come up with long-tail keywords that consumers are searching for. 

The 11 principles outlined above should go a long way in setting precise and effective keywords for your business. After that, if you want more of a deep dive, head on over to Google’s own training center for more lessons.

Aayush Gupta is Sr. Manager, Brand & Marketing at Uplers. He likes to stay on his toes when it comes to marketing and doing things worth risk-taking. He loves traveling and exploring local cuisines. In his free time reading books with coffee is all he wants.

The post A comprehensive guide on using Google Trends for keyword research appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Case study: Schneider Electric’s digital transformation through centralized search

Case study: Schneider Electric’s digital transformation through centralized search

30-second summary:

Digital transformation affords businesses opportunities to make genuine connections with customers through personalized marketing experiences.
Digital buyer behavior is changing, with increased consumer expectations for digital-only interactions and reduced tolerance for traditional sales tactics like cold-calling.
Paid search is a fast-growing channel that warrants a data-driven approach to strategy and execution.
Evan Kent, VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric, and Kimberly Dutcher, SEM Manager at Merkle share their collaborative approach to a paid search strategy redesign that continues to drive positive business results.

There’s no more denying that digital transformation is here. It’s on the mind of every business leader, changing how businesses employ digital technologies and organize their business models to create more value for their brand. In the marketing space, digital transformation affords businesses countless opportunities to make a genuine connection with customers through personalized marketing experiences. By designing business organization, strategy, and technology around digital transformation, brands can ultimately deliver customer experiences that are contextually relevant and personally informed.

Schneider Electric and its paid search partner of five years, Merkle, tackled the digital transformation challenge head-on in 2019. They engaged in a more purposeful way than ever before to redesign the brand’s approach to paid search marketing in an effort to align with the business’s overall digital transformation initiatives.

Diving into digital transformation

Schneider Electric’s purpose is to empower everyone to make the most of their energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. As the global specialist in energy management and automation, it is the business’s mission to be a digital partner for sustainability and efficiency. To support this mission, the Schneider Electric team recognized an immediate need to redesign their search marketing program to improve the quality of traffic driven to the website.

With recent changes in digital buying behavior, the Schneider Electric team quickly recognized that overall search volume was outpacing their investment. The market was growing, yet Schneider Electric’s investment was shrinking. The brand’s soft voice in the market was compounded by a siloed approach to marketing investment. Paid search programs were defined by available investment from business units (BUs) versus starting with the available search volume and then defining an investment need. This resulted in campaigns that were under-funded, chasing search volume that simply did not exist, and a general lack of evergreen brand paid search.

The Schneider Electric team decided it was time for a change. To resolve its in-house challenges, the business created a team of dedicated search specialists to work side-by-side with its digital agency, Merkle. These specialists are the link between deep knowledge of Schneider Electric’s audiences and account optimization. The Schneider Electric paid search team made an intentional shift from creating and running reactive paid search campaigns to proactive market and industry-based planning. Their search mission changed to focus on traffic, landing pages, and the basic need to answer the questions searchers have.

Unifying digital transformation with paid search

Having worked with Schneider Electric for five years on paid search, the Merkle SEM team had valuable historical information on the business and its paid search trends. This data was invaluable to proposing a consolidated, centrally budgeted paid search account structure for the US. The restructure evolved Schneider Electric’s US paid search program from 14 paid search accounts and 22 budgets for seven BUs to one account with one budget. This drove considerable performance improvements and allowed for a robust test-and-learn environment.

The account redesign was also an opportunity for the unified paid search team across Schneider Electric and Merkle to lay the groundwork for future paid search marketing expansion and success. For the first time, the teams were able to take a big-picture, data-driven, strategic approach to the channel that gave all parties the information they needed to drive big results for the business, rather than driving localized results for individual BUs.

Key levers for successful transformation
1. Keywords

In creating a transformed US paid search account aligned to Schneider Electric’s business goals of driving the right search traffic to the right pages on the site, the unified paid search team wasn’t starting from square one. Years of historical data and analysis helped guide the teams on which keywords were historically the best performing. In the case of this paid search digital transformation, a keyword audit was a critical piece to start with, ensuring the team was focused on the right keywords for the brand and its critical products and solutions. Click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) were the team’s primary key performance indicators (KPIs), given the strong historical data in the engine and the wide breadth of optimization levers that could help improve those metrics in the early stages of account optimization.

2. URLs

The unified paid search team took a two-pronged initial approach to their paid search final URL selection. First, the team worked to identify whether they had assigned the most relevant URLs for the keywords. Boosting quality score was a critical KPI, as the quality score is a major factor in how often and how high your ads show on the search engine results page (SERP). Second, the Schneider Electric paid search team translated the quality score for the Schneider Electric web team to improve overall page quality and user experience on the site. It is these types of cross-channel collaborations that are necessary to drive continued marketing success; the business’s digital transformation can’t be successful without it.

3. Efficiency metrics and results

Continual monitoring and optimization of the team’s high-level KPIs, CTR, and CPC is what ultimately drove success for the business. Over the course of 2020, the paid search team drove a 137 percent year-over-year increase in CTR through keyword audits, URL audits, ongoing performance optimizations, and flexible allocation of budget to the most efficient keywords. Collaboration with the Schneider Electric site analytics team was critical for measurement as well, with bounce rate and site engagement becoming key user experience measurement metrics.

Continually evolving paid search with digital transformation

In 2020, the first year of the transformation, the paid search team was focused on the basics:

Who is the target audience?
Where on the site would they land?
Do we have the answer to the searcher’s question?
Are we bidding on the right keywords?
Is there an existing search volume? How much investment do we need?
How long should a program run? How do we integrate other media functions to optimize the buy?
Do we have the best ad copy?

Designing this customer-first approach took time and optimization is an iterative process, but the results have been exponential:

Lower cost per click
More traffic to the site
Searchers go deeper into the site

Now that the paid search team has a solid foundation, the door is open for experimenting with new and more advanced search techniques to further optimize audiences, bidding strategies, and cross-sell opportunities. With the right traffic coming to the site, the team can focus on monetizing that traffic by driving and measuring site engagement, leads, and contribution to revenue. Paid search is no longer a guessing game – data-driven and statistical techniques are used to optimize investment.

With a number of 2021 paid search marketing trends emerging, especially around automation in the industry, the Schneider Electric and Merkle paid search team is excited to dig into what opportunities exist for further expansion of their marketing efforts. B2B advertisers are changing the way they play the search marketing game in 2021, and those who innovate early and often are the ones who rise to the challenge, and, ultimately, capitalize on the opportunity.

Evan Kent is VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric and Kimberly Dutcher is SEM Manager at Merkle.

The post Case study: Schneider Electric’s digital transformation through centralized search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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What is orphaned content?

What is orphaned content?

If you want your content to rank in Google, it needs to know about the existence of that content. That means that you (or another site) should link to this content. Google follows these links and saves every post or page it finds through links to in the index. So, you’ll understand that it’s important you add contextual links to all of your content. That sounds simple, but if you’re creating and publishing a lot of content, your linking structure might not be a top priority, and some of your articles may not get any links. Here, we’ll explain all about this so-called orphaned content: what it is, why it matters for SEO and how to fix it with the Yoast SEO plugin!

Did you know our Site structure training helps you prevent creating orphaned content? Find out how to build the best possible structure for your site. You can get access to this training course, and all of our other SEO courses with Yoast SEO Premium.

What is orphaned content?

Orphaned content is content that doesn’t get any links from other posts or pages on the same website. As a result of that, this content is hard to find, for both Google and visitors. Posts and pages need internal links to them, to fit into a site’s structure and to be findable. Note that ‘links’ in this case means: contextual links. If content is linked to from the homepage, sitemap, or category and tag pages, but lacks text links, it’s still considered orphaned content. The reason for this is that text links provide both users and search engines with context and therefore, add more value.

Why does orphaned content affect your SEO?

To rank content, Google obviously needs to know about it. Search engines follow links and save all the content of pages in their index. Orphaned content has few meaningful internal links from other pages or posts to it. Google will consider this type of content less important. So, if an article is important to you, you should make that clear to Google (and your visitors). Link to that specific article from other (similar) content.

How is orphaned content created?

If you write a new blog post, publish it and then forget about it, you probably won’t link to it anymore in your new posts and pages. Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on the blog post. It is definitely a bad thing if you want people and Google to find this post because it’s important. In that case: make sure Google and your audience can find that orphaned blog post. Linking to it from articles that generate a lot of traffic in the search engines will help Google and your audience get to your blog post.

How do I use the orphaned content check?

You can find the orphaned content filter in your post overview. If you have Yoast SEO Premium installed, your post overview will look like this:

Clicking on the orphaned content filter will give an overview of all the posts without text links linking to them. On Yoast.com, we have quite a few orphaned articles as well (content team, are you reading this? We still have some work to do here ;-)).

Scrolling through our own orphaned articles, made me very aware of the fact that recent articles are often orphaned. We just don’t get around to adding links to these articles in our older blog posts. Still, for articles that are important to our SEO strategy or to our brand, we should make sure to add links in posts that generate a lot of traffic. That’ll help Google and our audience to find those important posts.

Should you always fix orphaned content?

For some articles, it isn’t that important to fix an orphaned content status. Some blog posts are only important for a short period of time. At Yoast, we sometimes write about our events that are coming up. Announcing such an event makes for a great blog post, but such a post probably has less value next year. It’s no problem for such a post to remain orphaned. In fact, perhaps you should consider deleting these pages (properly of course!) altogether. That’ll clean up your site a bit.

Conclusion: keep an eye on that orphaned content!

As I have shown, it’s easy to unwittingly create orphaned content, if you’re writing a lot of posts. Luckily, you can use the orphaned content feature of Yoast SEO Premium to stay on top of things. You can easily check which posts and pages are orphaned, and add links to important content, so both Google and your users can find it!

Read on: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

The post What is orphaned content? appeared first on Yoast.

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Yoast SEO 15.8: A free block for your breadcrumbs

Yoast SEO 15.8: A free block for your breadcrumbs

Yoast SEO 15.8 is out and it comes with a cool new gift: a breadcrumbs block for the WordPress editor. This makes it easy to just drop your breadcrumb in a page, without having to touch any code. Now available for everyone! We also have a cool new update for our Video SEO add-on that loads your videos in a much smarter way. Read all about it!

Free breadcrumbs block for the block editor

Blocks are the future. We’ve been big fans of the new block editor — a.k.a. Gutenberg — for a long time and we’re excited about what’s ahead! We loved using and building blocks that help us improve not only our own site, but yours as well. We built several blocks, like the table of contents block, the internal linking blocks and the structured data blocks for FAQ and how-to content. Today, we’re adding another one: a breadcrumb block.

With full-site editing (FSE) coming to the WordPress block editor soonish, we were looking for a way to simplify adding breadcrumbs. In addition, we also wanted to change the behaviour around breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs can help both Google and site visitors to more easily understand the way a site is structured.

One of the ways Google discovers breadcrumbs is by “reading” the Schema.org structured data on your site. After consulting with Google, Yoast SEO will start to output breadcrumb structured data by default — even if you haven’t activated the breadcrumb feature. This another way to make your site more understandable to Google.

Adding breadcrumbs via blocks

Adding breadcrumbs to your site was always a chore. Of course, Yoast SEO can generate breadcrumbs for you and we have had a shortcode for use with the classic editor for some time. What’s more, there’s even a widget for adding breadcrumbs in Elementor. Plus, many themes support Yoast Breadcrumbs out of the box, so for some it’s just a matter of activating the breadcrumbs feature.

But if your theme doesn’t support it, you need to add a bit of code to it to get it to work. We wanted to simplify that with a new breadcrumbs block that works without having to add code. As said, full-site editing in WordPress will make it possible to use this block to add those breadcrumbs where you want.

Even today, with a recent version of the Gutenberg plugin, you can drop the breadcrumbs block in the widget area to be more flexible in where you want it to appear. Simply go to Appearance > Widgets and add the block in your widget area of choice.

Of course, you add the block also simply add the breadcrumbs block to individual posts and pages. You can find the Yoast Breadcrumbs block in the list of blocks by typing Yoast or breadcrumbs. Simply pick a spot to drop in the block and select it from the list. Et voila, you have breadcrumbs on your page!

Yoast Video SEO 13.6: now in the sidebar, plus smarter video loading

The past couple of months, we’ve been giving our Yoast SEO add-ons special attention. We’re working on improving the user experience of the plugins and making it easier to use these inside the block editor. Among these, is an add-on that helps you make your videos appear in the search results: Yoast Video SEO.

For this release of the plugin, we had to rebuild the meta box to make the settings and features available in the sidebar of the block editor. In addition, we also improved the UX and interface. This makes the features more sensible for you and using it more self-explanatory.

Preventing your video page from slowing down

Last but not least, in Yoast Video SEO 13.6, we’ve changed the way we load the code necessary to embed videos. We now only load the thumbnail image for the video and, after that, we’ll only load the necessary JavaScript code when a user interacts with the video. This will keep pages with embedded videos from becoming slow to load — enhancing the user experience. Plus, it will keep your pages from performing badly in site speed tests because embedding YouTube videos in a post will immediately decrease that post’s Core Web Vitals scores. You can turn this feature on in the Embed settings.

Enable the YouTube embed feature in the Embed settings of Yoast Video SEO

Yoast SEO 15.8 is out today

Yoast SEO 15.8 is not a huge release, but it does bring a nice goodie: the Yoast Breadcrumb block. Simply drop this on any post or page and a fully-formed breadcrumbs will appear. Easy peasy!

The post Yoast SEO 15.8: A free block for your breadcrumbs appeared first on Yoast.

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The Definitive Guide to JavaScript SEO (2021 Edition)

The Definitive Guide to JavaScript SEO (2021 Edition)

Posted by PierceBrelinsky

The web is in a golden age of front-end development, and JavaScript and technical SEO are experiencing a renaissance. As a technical SEO specialist and web dev enthusiast at an award-winning digital marketing agency, I’d like to share my perspective on modern JavaScript SEO based on industry best practices and my own agency experience. In this article, you’ll learn how to optimize your JS-powered website for search in 2021.

What is JavaScript SEO?

JavaScript SEO is the discipline of technical SEO that’s focused on optimizing websites built with JavaScript for visibility by search engines. It’s primarily concerned with:

Optimizing content injected via JavaScript for crawling, rendering, and indexing by search engines.Preventing, diagnosing, and troubleshooting ranking issues for websites and SPAs (Single Page Applications) built on JavaScript frameworks, such as React, Angular, and Vue.Ensuring that web pages are discoverable by search engines through linking best practices.Improving page load times for pages parsing and executing JS code for a streamlined User Experience (UX).
 Is JavaScript good or bad for SEO?

It depends! JavaScript is essential to the modern web and makes building websites scalable and easier to maintain. However, certain implementations of JavaScript can be detrimental to search engine visibility.


How does JavaScript affect SEO?

JavaScript can affect the following on-page elements and ranking factors that are important for SEO:

Rendered contentLinksLazy-loaded imagesPage load timesMeta data
What are JavaScript-powered websites?

When we talk about sites that are built on JavaScript, we’re not referring to simply adding a layer of JS interactivity to HTML documents (for example, when adding JS animations to a static web page). In this case, JavaScript-powered websites refer to when the core or primary content is injected into the DOM via JavaScript.

App Shell Model.

This template is called an app shell and is the foundation for progressive web applications (PWAs). We’ll explore this next.

How to check if a site is built with JavaScript

You can quickly check if a website is built on a JavaScript framework by using a technology look-up tool such as BuiltWith or Wappalyzer. You can also “Inspect Element” or “View Source” in the browser to check for JS code. Popular JavaScript frameworks that you might find include:

Angular by GoogleReact by FacebookVue by Evan You
JavaScript SEO for core content

Here’s an example: Modern web apps are being built on JavaScript frameworks, like Angular, React, and Vue. JavaScript frameworks allow developers to quickly build and scale interactive web applications. Let’s take a look at the default project template for Angular.js, a popular framework produced by Google.

When viewed in the browser, this looks like a typical web page. We can see text, images, and links. However, let’s dive deeper and take a peek under the hood at the code:

Now we can see that this HTML document is almost completely devoid of any content. There are only the app-root and a few script tags in the body of the page. This is because the main content of this single page application is dynamically injected into the DOM via JavaScript. In other words, this app depends on JS to load key on-page content!

Potential SEO issues: Any core content that is rendered to users but not to search engine bots could be seriously problematic! If search engines aren’t able to fully crawl all of your content, then your website could be overlooked in favor of competitors. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.

JavaScript SEO for internal links

Besides dynamically injecting content into the DOM, JavaScript can also affect the crawlability of links. Google discovers new pages by crawling links it finds on pages.

As a best practice, Google specifically recommends linking pages using HTML anchor tags with href attributes, as well as including descriptive anchor texts for the hyperlinks:

However, Google also recommends that developers not rely on other HTML elements — like div or span — or JS event handlers for links. These are called “pseudo” links, and they will typically not be crawled, according to official Google guidelines:

Despite these guidelines, an independent, third-party study has suggested that Googlebot may be able to crawl JavaScript links. Nonetheless, in my experience, I’ve found that it’s a best practice to keep links as static HTML elements.

Potential SEO issues: If search engines aren’t able to crawl and follow links to your key pages, then your pages could be missing out on valuable internal links pointing to them. Internal links help search engines crawl your website more efficiently and highlight the most important pages. The worst-case scenario is that if your internal links are implemented incorrectly, then Google may have a hard time discovering your new pages at all (outside of the XML sitemap).

JavaScript SEO for lazy-loading images

JavaScript can also affect the crawlability of images that are lazy-loaded. Here’s a basic example. This code snippet is for lazy-loading images in the DOM via JavaScript:

Googlebot supports lazy-loading, but it does not “scroll” like a human user would when visiting your web pages. Instead, Googlebot simply resizes its virtual viewport to be longer when crawling web content. Therefore, the “scroll” event listener is never triggered and the content is never rendered by the crawler.

Here’s an example of more SEO-friendly code:

This code shows that the IntersectionObserver API triggers a callback when any observed element becomes visible. It’s more flexible and robust than the on-scroll event listener and is supported by modern Googlebot. This code works because of how Googlebot resizes its viewport in order to “see” your content (see below).

You can also use native lazy-loading in the browser. This is supported by Google Chrome, but note that it is still an experimental feature. Worst case scenario, it will just get ignored by Googlebot, and all images will load anyway:

Native lazy-loading in Google Chrome.

Potential SEO issues: Similar to core content not being loaded, it’s important to make sure that Google is able to “see” all of the content on a page, including images. For example, on an e-commerce site with multiple rows of product listings, lazy-loading images can provide a faster user experience for both users and bots!

Javascript SEO for page speed

Javascript can also affect page load times, which is an official ranking factor in Google’s mobile-first index. This means that a slow page could potentially harm rankings in search. How can we help developers mitigate this?

Minifying JavaScriptDeferring non-critical JS until after the main content is rendered in the DOMInlining critical JSServing JS in smaller payloads

Potential SEO issues: A slow website creates a poor user experience for everyone, even search engines. Google itself defers loading JavaScript to save resources, so it’s important to make sure that any served to clients is coded and delivered efficiently to help safeguard rankings.

JavaScript SEO for meta data

Also, it’s important to note that SPAs that utilize a router package like react-router or vue-router have to take some extra steps to handle things like changing meta tags when navigating between router views. This is usually handled with a Node.js package like vue-meta or react-meta-tags.

What are router views? Here’s how linking to different “pages” in a Single Page Application works in React in five steps:

When a user visits a React website, a GET request is sent to the server for the ./index.html file.The server then sends the index.html page to the client, containing the scripts to launch React and React Router.The web application is then loaded on the client-side.If a user clicks on a link to go on a new page (/example), a request is sent to the server for the new URL.React Router intercepts the request before it reaches the server and handles the change of page itself. This is done by locally updating the rendered React components and changing the URL client-side.

In other words, when users or bots follow links to URLs on a React website, they are not being served multiple static HTML files. But rather, the React components (like headers, footers, and body content) hosted on root ./index.html file are simply being reorganized to display different content. This is why they’re called Single Page Applications!

Potential SEO issues: So, it’s important to use a package like React Helmet for making sure that users are being served unique metadata for each page, or “view,” when browsing SPAs. Otherwise, search engines may be crawling the same metadata for every page, or worse, none at all!

How does this all affect SEO in the bigger picture? Next, we need to learn how Google processes JavaScript.

How does Google handle JavaScript?

In order to understand how JavaScript affects SEO, we need to understand what exactly happens when GoogleBot crawls a web page:

CrawlRenderIndex

First, Googlebot crawls the URLs in its queue, page by page. The crawler makes a GET request to the server, typically using a mobile user-agent, and then the server sends the HTML document.

Then, Google decides what resources are necessary to render the main content of the page. Usually, this means only the static HTML is crawled, and not any linked CSS or JS files. Why?

According to Google Webmasters, Googlebot has discovered approximately 130 trillion web pages. Rendering JavaScript at scale can be costly. The sheer computing power required to download, parse, and execute JavaScript in bulk is massive.

This is why Google may defer rendering JavaScript until later. Any unexecuted resources are queued to be processed by Google Web Rendering Services (WRS), as computing resources become available.

Finally, Google will index any rendered HTML after JavaScript is executed.

Google crawl, render, and index process.

In other words, Google crawls and indexes content in two waves:

The first wave of indexing, or the instant crawling of the static HTML sent by the webserverThe second wave of indexing, or the deferred crawling of any additional content rendered via JavaScript

Google wave indexing. Source: Google I/O’18

The bottom line is that content dependent on JS to be rendered can experience a delay in crawling and indexing by Google. This used to take days or even weeks. For example, Googlebot historically ran on the outdated Chrome 41 rendering engine. However, they’ve significantly improved its web crawlers in recent years.

Googlebot was recently upgraded to the latest stable release of the Chromium headless browser in May 2019. This means that their web crawler is now “evergreen” and fully compatible with ECMAScript 6 (ES6) and higher, or the latest versions of JavaScript.

So, if Googlebot can technically run JavaScript now, why are we still worried about indexing issues?

The short answer is crawl budget. This is the concept that Google has a rate limit on how frequently they can crawl a given website because of limited computing resources. We already know that Google defers JavaScript to be executed later to save crawl budget.

While the delay between crawling and rendering has been reduced, there is no guarantee that Google will actually execute the JavaScript code waiting in line in its Web Rendering Services queue.

Here are some reasons why Google might not actually ever run your JavaScript code:

Blocked in robots.txtTimeoutsErrors

Therefore, JavaScript can cause SEO issues when core content relies on JavaScript but is not rendered by Google.

Real-world application: JavaScript SEO for e-commerce

E-commerce websites are a real-life example of dynamic content that is injected via JavaScript. For example, online stores commonly load products onto category pages via JavaScript.

JavaScript can allow e-commerce websites to update products on their category pages dynamically. This makes sense because their inventory is in a constant state of flux due to sales. However, is Google actually able to “see” your content if it does not execute your JS files?

For e-commerce websites, which depend on online conversions, not having their products indexed by Google could be disastrous.

How to test and debug JavaScript SEO issues

Here are steps you can take today to proactively diagnose any potential JavaScript SEO issues:

Visualize the page with Google’s Webmaster Tools. This helps you to view the page from Google’s perspective.Use the site search operator to check Google’s index. Make sure that all of your JavaScript content is being indexed properly by manually checking Google.Debug using Chrome’s built-in dev tools. Compare and contrast what Google “sees” (source code) with what users see (rendered code) and ensure that they align in general.

There are also handy third-party tools and plugins that you can use. We’ll talk about these soon.

Google Webmaster Tools

The best way to determine if Google is experiencing technical difficulties when attempting to render your pages is to test your pages using Google Webmaster tools, such as:

URL Inspection tool in Search ConsoleMobile-Friendly Test
Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

The goal is simply to visually compare and contrast your content visible in your browser and look for any discrepancies in what is being displayed in the tools.

Both of these Google Webmaster tools use the same evergreen Chromium rendering engine as Google. This means that they can give you an accurate visual representation of what Googlebot actually “sees” when it crawls your website.

There are also third-party technical SEO tools, like Merkle’s fetch and render tool. Unlike Google’s tools, this web application actually gives users a full-size screenshot of the entire page.

Site: Search Operator

Alternatively, if you are unsure if JavaScript content is being indexed by Google, you can perform a quick check-up by using the site: search operator on Google.

Copy and paste any content that you’re not sure that Google is indexing after the site: operator and your domain name, and then press the return key. If you can find your page in the search results, then no worries! Google can crawl, render, and index your content just fine. If not, it means your JavaScript content might need some help gaining visibility.

Here’s what this looks like in the Google SERP:

Chrome Dev Tools

Another method you can use to test and debug JavaScript SEO issues is the built-in functionality of the developer tools available in the Chrome web browser.

Right-click anywhere on a web page to display the options menu and then click “View Source” to see the static HTML document in a new tab.

You can also click “Inspect Element” after right-clicking to view the content that is actually loaded in the DOM, including JavaScript.

Inspect Element.

Compare and contrast these two perspectives to see if any core content is only loaded in the DOM, but not hard-coded in the source. There are also third-party Chrome extensions that can help do this, like the Web Developer plugin by Chris Pederick or the View Rendered Source plugin by Jon Hogg.

How to fix JavaScript rendering issues

After diagnosing a JavaScript rendering problem, how do you resolve JavaScript SEO issues? The answer is simple: Universal Javascript, also known as “Isomorphic” JavaScript. 

What does this mean? Universal or Isomorphic here refers to JavaScript applications that are capable of being run on either the server or the client.

There are a few different implementations of JavaScript that are more search-friendly than client-side rendering, to avoid offloading JS to both users and crawlers:

Server-side rendering (SSR). This means that JS is executed on the server for each request. One way to implement SSR is with a Node.js library like Puppeteer. However, this can put a lot of strain on the server.Hybrid rendering. This is a combination of both server-side and client-side rendering. Core content is rendered server-side before being sent to the client. Any additional resources are offloaded to the client.Dynamic rendering. In this workaround, the server detects the user agent of the client making the request. It can then send pre-rendered JavaScript content to search engines, for example. Any other user agents will need to render their content client-side. For example, Google Webmasters recommend a popular open-source solution called Renderton for implementing dynamic rendering.Incremental Static Regeneration, or updating static content after a site has already been deployed. This can be done with frameworks like Next.js for React or Nuxt.js for Vue. These frameworks have a build process that will pre-render every page of your JS application to static assets that you can serve from something like an S3 bucket. This way, your site can get all of the SEO benefits of server-side rendering, without the server management!

Each of these solutions helps make sure that, when search engine bots make requests to crawl HTML documents, they receive the fully rendered versions of the web pages. However, some of these can be extremely difficult or even impossible to implement after web infrastructure is already built. That’s why it’s important to keep JavaScript SEO best practices in mind when designing the architecture of your next web application.

Note, for websites built on a content management system (CMS) that already pre-renders most content, like WordPress or Shopify, this isn’t typically an issue.

Key takeaways

This guide provides some general best practices and insights into JavaScript SEO. However, JavaScript SEO is a complex and nuanced field of study. We recommend that you read through Google’s official documentation and troubleshooting guide for more JavaScript SEO basics. Interested in learning more about optimizing your JavaScript website for search? Leave a comment below.

The web has moved from plain HTML – as an SEO you can embrace that. Learn from JS devs & share SEO knowledge with them. JS's not going away.

— ???? John ???? (@JohnMu) August 8, 2017

Want to learn more about technical SEO? Check out the Moz Academy Technical SEO Certification Series, an in-depth training series that hones in on the nuts and bolts of technical SEO.

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What is App Store Optimization? (ASO)

What is App Store Optimization? (ASO)

With more than 6 million mobile apps in the major app stores, getting your app discovered is one of the biggest issues facing mobile app publishers today. This is why understanding app store optimization (ASO) is so crucial.

But what is app store optimization, and how can you make the most of it? Here’s what you need to know to help your app rank well.

What is App Store Optimization (ASO)? 

App store optimization is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential customers.

That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.

The goal of ASO is to drive more traffic to your app’s page in the app store, so searchers can take a specific action: download your app.

The ASO process also requires a crucial understanding of your target customer base, including the keywords your potential customers are using to find apps similar to yours.

When you learn more about which keywords are being used, you will better understand your potential customers’ language so you can hone in on the best keywords to use.

App Store Optimization (ASO) factors to pay attention to include:

App name and titleKeywords DescriptionSubtitleTotal number of downloadsRatings and reviews

We’ll cover how to optimize for each of these factors below, but first let’s talk about why AOS matters.

Why Is ASO Important?

According to Google, 40 percent of apps are discovered through app store searches. This makes search in the app store the most used method for discovering and downloading new apps.

Simply put, this means that:

If you’re not using ASO to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

With hundreds of thousands of apps in each app store vying to rank above one another, the reality is most publishers are not investing in app store optimization.

So here’s my gift to you: ASO is your secret weapon. Spend time every week improving your ASO, and you will meaningfully impact your app’s ranking and overall success.

How to Help Your App Rank: The Basics of ASO 

Much of what I’m about to explain is actually SEO basics.

If you’re already familiar with these for web searches, there are still a few key differences within the App Store.

Let’s start by breaking down the various components that can affect your ASO:

Main ASO Factors

These factors have the largest impact on where your app ranks, so pay special attention to these factors.

App Name/Title: The keyword placed in the title should be the one with the heaviest search traffic. Spend time researching which keyword that is, because changing your title too often can be detrimental. As your app begins to rank higher and gain more reviews, your app’s news will begin to spread by word of mouth. Changing the title can make it difficult for word to spread about your app.Keywords: To improve your search rankings, you need to know which keywords are relevant and used most often by your target audience. It is helpful to monitor competitors to realize how you compare week to week.

Besides being the most important ASO factor, the title and keywords can be modified easily. so you’ll want to optimize them regularly.

Secondary ASO Factors

First impression matter — but there are several other factors that heavily weigh impact whether users tap that download button. These include:

Total # of Downloads: Your number of downloads are significant to ASO, but you don’t have complete control over them.Ratings and Reviews: Also important and difficult to control. However, there are ways to incentivize happy users to rate and review

Here’s a complete breakdown of all the factors to keep in mind when optimizing your app for better rankings.

1. App Title

The title is our first impression online. It’s what drew you to read this post, and it’s what will draw users to your app.

Optimizing with a keyword in the title increases search ranking for that title by 10.3%!

Obviously, some limitations apply, as the App Store is very regulated.

You’re given only 30 characters for a title in Apple, and keyword stuffing is a surefire way to risk being banned.

Users are also wary of downloading shady-looking apps for privacy concerns.

Think about it — would you rather have “Evernote” or “Note Taking Note App for Notes” on your smartphone?

Be smart about how you optimize.

Pandora, for example, does everything right.

Its icon is sleek and simple, and with a short name, it was able to fit in three essential keywords.

When searching the App Store for “free,” “music,” or “radio,” you’ll find Pandora at or near the top.

2. App Description

Here’s where things get a bit murky. Technically the App Store algorithm ignores the description.

Users, however, are a different story.

Rather than optimizing for SEO, focus on explaining the features and benefits of your product.

While it seems like you have a lot of space to do this, you actually don’t.

Truncated snippets are shown on your product page, and a few readers will ever click “more” to read beyond what you see here.

You have 252 characters to make your pitch and convince someone you’re worth downloading. So. you’ll want to keep it short and sweet.

There’s no room for fluff, and you may need to A/B test several iterations to find what works best.

3. Keyword Metadata

Apple provides you with 100 characters to enter keywords separated by commas.

These help your app get discovered through search and related content.

There’s no need to duplicate efforts here, so choose keywords you haven’t already used in the title.

Some in-depth keyword analysis can be done using Apple Search Ads.

This feature is only available to iOS app developers and is an essential tool for listing any project.

You can also use a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to find common key terms and test them.

4. App Subtitle

You’re given a subtitle below the title in search results. This is also limited to 30 characters.

It gives you another chance to use more descriptive keywords.

TypeShift, for example, uses the space to input its main search word.

This is a cleaner look and can work well.

I would’ve still taken the opportunity to use some keywords in the title, but that’s out of my control.

Which is a great segue to my next topic.

5. App Reviews and Ratings

Customer reviews and ratings are an important consideration for users, especially those unfamiliar with an app brand.

Apps with higher ratings also ranked higher. This raises a tricky dilemma: you want more ratings and reviews, but not if they are negative. So, you need a way to connect with your customers inside your app, giving them a place to vent and talk directly to the developer.

On the flip side, you want to guide happy customers to leave positive reviews for you.

The average rating of the top 100 free apps in the App Store is 4 stars!

Quality clearly matters.

The lower your rating, the fewer consumers who will be willing to consider downloading it.

Think about it. When was the last time you downloaded a one-star app?

You may have rated an app one star, but it was likely rated three or more stars when you downloaded it.

Ratings also affect conversions.

Maintaining a high rating is often easier than raising one from two or four stars.

That’s why it’s important to solicit reviews from customers within the app.

One time is all that’s necessary, and it needs to be done within the first 72 hours.

That’s how long 77% of users will use an app before never again turning it on.

It’s also important to wait until after the customer has a chance to use the app.

Instead of basing it on a timer, consider a push notification when the customer completes certain actions.

Examples of great times to do this are after the first level of a game or after a customer sends their first message through your encrypted messaging app.

Try not to be too spammy, though, and keep in mind your app’s performance can affect its rating.

Ultimately, you want a page full of glowing reviews.

Finally, don’t be shy about replying to negative reviews.

It’s possible a bad customer experience happened due to an error or glitch that’s since been corrected.

Thank users for their reviews whenever possible, good or bad, and correct issues brought up. This is your time to gather valuable user feedback.

This is your time to gather valuable user feedback.

6. App Downloads

Ultimately it’s a download that matters.

An app preview video and screenshots help convert indecisive users.

Both the App and Google Play stores use the number of times an app has been downloaded to determine ranking.

More specifically, it’s the current download rate.

For example, while an app may have one million overall downloads, a newer app can beat it by getting more downloads this month.

The preview video and images can be a major factor in this.

The majority of top apps in the App Store use app previews to increase customer conversions.

Once you have a user, however, you’ll need to keep them.

It’s harder than it sounds, and Apple is paying attention.

What can you do to get more downloads for your app?

Improving your app optimization is a great place to start. Beyond that, work on marketing your brand and app to improve recognition, awareness, and appeal, from app store description to images, ratings/reviews, and social media presence.

How Retention Impacts ASO 

Retention rates are important for mobile device rankings, but the bar isn’t set very high.

The average app has only a 29 percent retention rate after 90 days.

Further breaking things down, we can look at the retention rates by industry.

Media/Entertainment, Lifestyle/Travel, and eCommerce/Retail apps have the best three-month retention rates.

There are so many apps available in the App Store that users download plenty to never use them.

A study found Americans use an average of 30 apps each month out of the roughly 90 they have installed.

This means even if your app is downloaded, it’s unlikely it’ll ever be used beyond the first 72 hours.

How long your app stays installed and how many times it’s used while installed can help App Store search rankings.

Now that you understand how the search rankings work, it’s time to explore best practices for publishing an app to ensure it’s seen and downloaded.

Do Apps with Higher Ratings Rank Higher in Search Results?

Yes, higher rankings do result in higher search results. Here’s a test performed by taking a random sampling of keywords and categorizing them by difficulty related to rankings. 

An “easy” keyword results in fewer than 25 apps trying to rank for that keyword. “Medium” keywords are included in 25-100 apps, and “competitive” keywords are those in 100+ apps.

Based on this test, there is a clear trend showing that apps with higher ratings also rank higher for keyword difficulty.

Do apps with better ratings rank higher? Yes.

(But don’t beg for them; earn better ratings for your apps the right way.)

Conclusion 

Like SEO, ASO is a process that needs to be monitored and constantly tweaked over a period of time. Your optimal set of keywords rarely is the set that you first opt to put in the app store.

In most cases, little or no research on keyword searches occurs before the app submission, leaving most apps hidden, and the likelihood of discovery quite low.

To reap the rewards of ASO, you need to invest time and effort. If you do, you’ll have a consistent channel driving traffic to your app.

Being found is one of the most difficult challenges for mobile apps, but it is a problem you can actively solve with the tips above.

Have you found success with ASO? What has helped your app rank better? 

The post What is App Store Optimization? (ASO) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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