SEO Articles

The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

Link building is one of the most essential aspects of SEO, yet also one of the most misunderstood and difficult pieces of the search marketing equation. We all know that acquiring high-quality links with White Hat Link Building to your website is one of Google’s primary ranking factors, but not all links are created equally and link building has changed considerably in recent years. Gone are the days of link farms, article directories and blog comment links designed to boost your sites’ rankings. With each tweak of the algorithm, Google has grown considerably smarter in how it evaluates and values…

The post The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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The Essence of SEO: What Is High-Quality Content?

The Essence of SEO: What Is High-Quality Content?

In the wake of Google’s Hummingbird update (and all the other animal-related updates too), there’s one question that needs to be revisited… What exactly is high-quality content? To answer that question, you can’t simply talk about content marketing. You have to understand Google’s ultimate aim for search. Let take a deeper look at search, how it’s evolving, and how that affects us as marketers. Then we’ll review the challenges you face as a content creator and what you need to do to create higher quality content on a consistent basis. Google’s apparent anti-SEO stance Hummingbird wasn’t the only major change…

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The rise of the modern B2B marketer

The rise of the modern B2B marketer is changing the way marketing and sales teams work together to generate new business and deliver ROI. 

New research from Contentive, a global B2B marketing and events company, found that the role of the modern B2B marketing professional is rapidly shifting owing to the explosion of data, analytics and automation tools.

Contentive surveyed its trusted community of B2B marketing professionals to learn more about their key challenges and for a glimpse for what the future holds for B2B marketing.

The top three trends that are influencing emerging strategies are personalization, artificial intelligence and influencer marketing. The survey found that 57% of B2B marketers consider personalization as the key trend that will influence their marketing strategy for the next 12 months. With an increasing focus on using data and technology to craft personalized, tailored messages, the modern B2B marketer is constantly testing, iterating and optimizing different marketing channels to analyse the success of their marketing campaigns.

As a result, marketing budgets are no longer fixed, with 48% of marketers allocating budgets on an ongoing basis to effective channels. In many cases, this means marketing budgets are increasing, with 66% of respondents expecting their marketing budget to increase for the year.

Collaboration between sales and marketing is also increasingly important, with ever stronger focus on new business conversion as well as ROI from existing customers and website traffic. Top of the funnel leads are no longer the preferred campaign outcome. Marketers are increasingly challenged to deliver nurtured, or even sales qualified leads.

Key findings from the survey were:

57% of B2B marketers think personalization is the key trend influence over the next 12 months
50% of B2B marketers are now demanding leads that are fed into the middle and bottom – not just the top – of the funnel
ROI priorities are clear, with conversation rates, yield growth and site traffic top of mind
Collaboration with colleagues is more critical than ever. As marketing becomes more visibly integral to business success, five colleagues now typically have input on investment decisions
Content marketing is here to stay. Like social media and email marketing, these channels remain critical to delivering on ROI goals.

To download the key findings from the 2018 B2B Marketing Survey, click here.

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Ask Yoast: Hreflang for sites with different domains

Ask Yoast: Hreflang for sites with different domains

If you have two very similar sites in two different languages, you may wonder whether you need to implement hreflang. Will Google recognize both sites as ‘stand-alone’ websites, and is that what you want? While translated content isn’t considered duplicate content, it may still be worth your while to actively point users to the right domain with hreflang.

For those that aren’t well versed in technical SEO, implementing hreflang will probably take a lot of time and something might even break. If that’s the case for you, should you still go to great lengths to implement hreflang? I’ll dive into that in this Ask Yoast!

Moria Gur sent us her question on using hreflang:

I have two sites with two different domains for coloring pages, one in Hebrew and one in English. The images and text are similar (but in a different language). Should I use hreflang in this case? Or will Google recognize both as ‘stand-alone’ websites?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

When to use hreflang

Optimizing your site for multiple languages? You need our Multilingual SEO training! »

$199 – Buy now » Info “Well, yes, Google will recognize both as stand-alone websites and there’s nothing wrong with them. Adding hreflang might give you a bit of an edge on both sites, but it’s also a lot of work. So, if you’re doing well with both sites right now, I would not do that, just because all the work involved is probably more work than it will return in terms of investment.

If you are not doing too well, or one is doing much better than the other, then maybe it’s worthwhile trying that. And you could just try that on a subset of the pages, and hreflang those properly to the other one. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to [email protected], and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: hreflang: The ultimate guide »

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Google’s August 1st Core Update: Week 1

Google’s August 1st Core Update: Week 1

Posted by Dr-Pete

On August 1, Google (via Danny Sullivan’s @searchliaison account) announced that they released a “broad core algorithm update.” Algorithm trackers and webmaster chatter confirmed multiple days of heavy ranking flux, including our own MozCast system:

Temperatures peaked on August 1-2 (both around 114°F), with a 4-day period of sustained rankings flux (purple bars are all over 100°F). While this has settled somewhat, yesterday’s data suggests that we may not be done.

August 2nd set a 2018 record for MozCast at 114.4°F. Keep in mind that, while MozCast was originally tuned to an average temperature of 70°F, 2017-2018 average temperatures have been much higher (closer to 90° in 2018).

Temperatures by Vertical

There’s been speculation that this algo update targeted so called YMYL queries (Your Money or Your Life) and disproportionately impacted health and wellness sites. MozCast is broken up into 20 keyword categories (roughly corresponding to Google Ads categories). Here are the August 2nd temperatures by category:

At first glance, the “Health” category does appear to be the most impacted. Keywords in that category had a daily average temperature of 124°F. Note, though, that all categories showed temperatures over 100°F on August 1st – this isn’t a situation where one category was blasted and the rest were left untouched. It’s also important to note that this pattern shifted during the other three days of heavy flux, with other categories showing higher average temperatures. The multi-day update impacted a wide range of verticals.

Top 30 winners

So, who were the big winners (so far) of this update? I always hesitate to do a winners/losers analysis – while useful, especially for spotting patterns, there are plenty of pitfalls. First and foremost, a site can gain or lose SERP share for many reasons that have nothing to do with algorithm updates. Second, any winners/losers analysis is only a snapshot in time (and often just one day).

Since we know that this update spanned multiple days, I’ve decided to look at the percentage increase (or decrease) in SERP share between July 31st and August 7th. In this analysis, “Share” is a raw percentage of page-1 rankings in the MozCast 10K data set. I’ve limited this analysis to only sites that had at least 25 rankings across our data set on July 31 (below that the data gets very noisy). Here are the top 30…

The first column is the percentage increase across the 7 days. The final column is the overall share – this is very low for all but mega-sites (Wikipedia hovers in the colossal 5% range).

Before you over-analyze, note the second column – this is the percent change from the highest July SERP share for that site. What the 7-day share doesn’t tell us is whether the site is naturally volatile. Look at Time.com (#27) for a stark example. Time Magazine saw a +19.5% lift over the 7 days, which sounds great, except that they landed on a final share that was down 54.4% from their highest point in July. As a news site, Time’s rankings are naturally volatile, and it’s unclear whether this has much to do with the algorithm update.

Similarly, LinkedIn, AMC Theaters, OpenTable, World Market, MapQuest, and RE/MAX all show highs in July that were near or above their August 7th peaks. Take their gains with a grain of salt.

Top 30 losers

We can run the same analysis for the sites that lost the most ground. In this case, the “Max %” is calculated against the July low. Again, we want to be mindful of any site where the 7-day drop looks a lot different than the drop from that site’s July low-point…

Comparing the first two columns, Verywell Health immediately stands out. While the site ended the 7-day period down 52.3%, it was up just over 200% from July lows. It turns out that this site was sitting very low during the first week of July and then saw a jump in SERP share. Interestingly, Verywell Family and Verywell Fit also appear on our top 30 losers list, suggesting that there’s a deeper story here.

Anecdotally, it’s easy to spot a pattern of health and wellness sites in this list, including big players like Prevention and LIVESTRONG. Whether this list represents the entire world of sites hit by the algorithm update is impossible to say, but our data certainly seems to echo what others are seeing.

Are you what you E-A-T?

There’s been some speculation that this update is connected to Google’s recent changes to their Quality Rater Guidelines. While it’s very unlikely that manual ratings based on the new guidelines would drive major ranking shifts (especially so quickly), it’s entirely plausible that the guideline updates and this algorithm update share a common philosophical view of quality and Google’s latest thinking on the subject.

Marie Haynes’ post theorizing the YMYL connection also raises the idea that Google may be looking more closely at E-A-T signals (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust). While certainly an interesting theory, I can’t adequately address that question with this data set. Declines in sites like Fortune, IGN and Android Central pose some interesting questions about authoritativeness and trust outside of the health and wellness vertical, but I hesitate to speculate based only on a handful of outliers.

If your site has been impacted in a material way (including significant traffic gains or drops), I’d love to hear more details in the comments section. If you’ve taken losses, try to isolate whether those losses are tied to specific keywords, keyword groups, or pages/content. For now, I’d advise that this update could still be rolling out or being tweaked, and we all need to keep our eyes open.

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Three ways to maximize the SEO impact of user-generated content

Three ways to maximize the SEO impact of user-generated content

SEO and user-generated content have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, user-generated content can give search engines more information to work with, improve your rankings for long tail search traffic, and encourage community activity that generates links and other positive off-site signals. On the other hand, user-generated content can be low quality, redundant, spammy, it can dilute authority, and sometimes it can even earn you a manual action from Google.

Here are three ways how to best to leverage your user-generated content for positive results.

1. Consolidate your user-generated content

It’s well known in the SEO industry that pages with more words tend to rank better, while it’s also typically acknowledged that this isn’t always the case, since a page with a higher word count isn’t always the most useful page for a user based on their query.

The correlations are quite clear, however. Backlinko found that the average word count of a Google first page result was 1,890 words:

 

There are many potential reasons for this correlation. The one I find most convincing is by way of a related correlation. According to a study by Ahrefs, top ranking pages in Google typically tend to also rank for thousands of other related keywords:

Pages that users seem to enjoy for multiple related queries give Google more data to work with than pages that only do well for a handful of queries. Search engines have a more convincing reason to rank pages these. Since pages with long-form content generally go more in depth and approach a topic from more angles, they also tend to reference a wider number of queries. This creates a snowball effect whereby Google ranks the page for more and more keywords until it becomes a central hub for a topic.

One potential issue with user-generated content is that its comprehensiveness can be hit or miss. Some users may write 10,000 word essays, while others might write a dozen words or less. A good solution to this is to pool together user-generated content, consolidating related content onto a single page.

Consider what Patrick Curtis of Wall Street Oasis had to say about how they achieved a 32% boost in search traffic. A full 99% of the content on their site was user-generated, with the obvious issue of creating inconsistent quality and depth. A primary goal of reworking the site was “merge and purge,” consolidating the content from multiple discussions about the same topic into only the two or three URLs that were performing the best.

To accomplish this, they migrated the user-generated content from the lower-performing pages into the higher-performing pages, unpublished the low-performing pages, and set up 301 redirects from the low-performing pages to the high-performing ones.

Using statistical analysis, they found that consolidating pages resulted in an average boost of 14%, while updating the title and H1 tags boosted them by 9%. This got them out of a five-year “plateau of pain”:

To consolidate content, we recommend the following:

Identify URLs that are ranking for related queries, or that use similar words in the title tag.
Migrate all of the related user content into a consolidated page. The consolidated page should be an existing URL, the URL of the highest performing one of these pages.
If, for UX reasons, it still makes sense to keep up the lower performing pages, breadcrumb link them to the consolidated page as a “parent” or “category” page. Either canonicalize them to the consolidated page or noindex them (but never both).
If it doesn’t make sense to keep the “child” pages for UX purposes, take them down, 301 redirect them to the consolidated page, and update any internal links to the old pages so that they point to the new page.
Moderate user discussions and remove content that doesn’t meet community standards to keep your quality score high.

2. Enable user reviews

If you are running a marketplace or selling products, you should strongly consider incorporating user reviews into your product pages or otherwise on your site. Like consolidation, user-reviews boost the word count on your pages and give the search engines more information to work with.

User-reviews also align very well with Google’s quality rater guidelines. Aside from directly mentioning reviews as a way of judging the reputation of a site, Google’s quality rater guidelines are driven in large part by how well the purpose of the page aligns with the purpose the searcher is seeking with their query, and how well the content meets that purpose.

On-page user reviews, so long as they aren’t suspect, help users evaluate the quality of the product in a more trustworthy fashion than anything you can provide alone. In fact, 84% of users trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends.

If you’re concerned that anything less than a perfect five-star rating is going to hurt sales, this fear is unfounded. Surprisingly, product purchases are most positively influenced by reviews with an average star rating between 4.2 and 4.5, presumably because excessively high ratings are seen as suspicious.

Various studies tell us that user reviews on average boost sales by 18%, that 63% of users are more likely to buy from a site with user reviews, that visitors who interact with reviews are 105% more likely to make a purchase, and that 50 or more reviews can lift conversions by an additional 4.6%.

When it comes to a boost in search engine traffic, the data shows the correlation as well. A study by Yotpo found that search traffic for 30,000 businesses improved quite dramatically over a nine-month period:

To incorporate user reviews, we recommend the following:

Use a platform like Trustpilot (whose own reviews are incidentally within that2 to 4.5 range) to implement user reviews on your site.
Whatever platform you use, it should be easy to verify that the reviews are created by users and not hand selected by your company. This is why third-party platforms are preferred to in-house solutions that users may be suspicious of.
It should be easy for users to leave a review on your site (provided they are verified purchasers).
Features such as being able to sort reviews are recommended.
Allow users to rate the usefulness of reviews.

3. Content curation

Related to the idea of consolidating your user-generated content is the idea of curating your user-generated content.

Curated content is content that you create by collecting, organizing, reworking, and republishing content created by others. This is often thought of in terms of curating content created by other publishers, such as when a blog posts a monthly list of editorially selected top blog posts in the industry.

But content curation is by no means limited to repackaging content created by other professionals. You can also curate content created by your own audience and obtain positive SEO results in response.

CognitiveSEO lists National Geographic’s “YourShot” as a great example of this. They ask their audience to send them photographs as part of a contest, and publish the best photos to their YourShot subdomain. CognitiveSEO notes that this strategy has worked very well for National Geographic, earning them 649 referring domains, nearly 190k backlinks, and high page and domain influence.

Strategies like this require an audience, but not necessarily one as large as National Geographic’s. The University of Missouri Alumni Association, for example, was able to achieve a 15% lift in site traffic by leveraging image galleries. To do so, they:

They reworked an existing image gallery to make it easier for users to upload their photos to the site, and used a system that would allow them to host the images on their own site instead of a third party platform.
A system was set up to pull images from social media with University hashtags and host them in the image gallery.
They leveraged contests, including a Halloween costume contest, to encourage image sharing.
Ideas for new contests were regularly brainstormed.

The reason content curation like this works so well for attracting links is because it puts the users in the spotlight. Since a large number of users could potentially see their photographs published in YourShot, they get excited about the project and share the site on their platforms.

This creates buzz that earns natural links from users as well as from the press.

Meanwhile, curating the content editorially ensures that it is of high quality, resulting in a positive impact on how search engines interpret your site content.

Here are some pointers regarding curating user-generated content:

The link-earning potential is highest if the curation is something users are expecting, which is why contests or something similar are usually the best way to go. They build buzz and attract attention from the largest user base.
The goal is to make the user the star. Do not place too much emphasis on branding, at least not in the traditional sense of making sure your logo is facing the camera. Focus on lifestyle marketing instead.
The contest should be entertaining or interesting enough to override any cynicism people may have about working with a brand. Contributors should feel like they are taking part in something fun and interesting rather than contributing to soulless corporate exploitation.

Conclusion

Properly deployed, user-generated content can be a massive benefit for your site.

User reviews can bump up your uniqueness score and help you rank for a wider variety of queries. Consolidating and moderating user discussions produces in-depth, comprehensive pages that pull in long tail. User contests and curation lead to link earning and other positive off-site signals.

Take advantage of these opportunities and make the most of your audience.

 

 

Manish Dudharejia is the president and founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego based digital agency that specializes in website design & development and ecommerce SEO. Follow him on Twitter.

 

 

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