SEO Articles

February 2020 SEO News Updates – Google says URL Length is Not a Ranking Factor

SEO Weekly Updates - February 2020

Google said URL length is not a ranking factor and there’s a claim my business option despite having already claimed the Google My Business listing? The start of February sees some pretty confusing news, so let’s get into it.

Google Announcements

5/2/2020 – URL Length is not a Ranking Factor?

Google’s John Mueller has said on Twitter that URL length is not a ranking fraction. This is his exact tweet and it was a response to a user’s concern about CMS autogenerate URL often being longer than what is recommended for SEO.

Yes, Google can handle URLs as long as 2000 characters or so, but it’s pretty obvious that Google prefers short URLs when it comes to ranking. Besides, keeping your URL short and sweet can only create positive impact as fewer words will make it more specifically relevant. Seems we are not on the same boat with John this time.

SERP Updates

6/2/2020 – Is Google Testing a New Open Design?

Since Google reported that it will be doing some tests to the search results page in the upcoming weeks, some people have spotted what seems like Google’s new test of a more open-style search results page design. In fact, the new SERP listing follows a design similar to AMP articles. Here’s a screenshot

The new SERP listing follows a design similar to AMP articles. Here’s a screenshot
Google tests new AMP SERP

Local SEO Updates

6/2/2020 – New Google My Business Feature: Own This Business? Claim It Now

Users have spotted Google launched a new feature (or it could still be in its testing phase) a new feature to help business owners reclaim and login to their Google My Business listing.

The confusing thing about this is that it shows up even if the listing has already been claimed ?! Krystal Taing went to Twitter to explain that this function is intended to be an easier path to begin claiming process for users that have mislocated their account info.

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How to Deliver a RockStar WordCamp Presentation

How To Deliver A Rockstar Wordcamp Presentation
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Owner of WP Fix ItHello Jarrett Gucci here, owner and founder of WP Fix It and very excited presenter at many many WordCamps over the past 10+ years. I wanted to put together a post on the five things that I focus on most to deliver an amazing WordCamp presentation in hopes of helping others to be very successful in the way that they present their information during their WordCamp presentation.

It is a fact that many people are more prettified of public speaking than death itself. Standing in front of a room full of people that have their total attention on you can shake up the nerves of most people regardless of their confidence level.

Speaking at a WordCamp is a wonderful way to give back to the WordPress community and give yourself some visibility with your peers.  In the past 10 years, I have had the honor of speaking at over 15 different WordCamps throughout the United States.  Now even looking back on my first WordCamp, I had a bit of an advantage.  For many years I was part of a business networking group and would help train members how to do their keynote presentations and did over 50 presentations myself as a member.  This past experience equipped me to deliver a well polished and engaging presentation.

Now, I have spoke at many WordCamps but I have been also been an audience participant as well for tons of presentations.  My overall impression is that the majority of presenters have room for improvement to allow them to get the most out of their talk and improve the actual WordCamp experience for attendees.  I have wanted to for awhile now put together an article to outline some things that with help those that have been selected to speak at WordCamp to deliver their presentation like a RockStar!  Please allow me to say that what I am about to share is complied from a lot of experience and audience feedback.  So let’s get into it.

Let me start with a very simple list of items that YOU MUST do if you want to get the most out of your presentation and then I will dive in deeper to each one.  Sounds good?

  1. Have Energy Like BIG TIME
  2. Stop Talking About Yourself
  3. Know The Audience’s Skill Set
  4. Keep Control of Audience
  5. Be Prepared and Polished

Simple enough right?  Pretty confident that you can do these things?  How about I explain a bit further the details of each in an effort for you to see how important they are?  I am going to anyways, so no need to answer…;)

Our Company History Since 2009

WordCamp Presentation

1. Have Energy Like BIG TIME

Have you ever attended a live sports event and fell asleep in your seat?  I am guessing not, because any live sport is packed with excitement, action and most importantly ENERGY.  This alone makes you pay attention.  Now you may not like what you are watching depending on who is wining but even so you will not lose attention.  Think of your WordCamp presentation along the same lines.  An audience wants to see that you are excited about the content in your talk or they will not be excited either.  Something simple you can do to project excitement is highs and lows in your volume as you speak.  Raise the volume of your voice on certain points that you want your audience to take notice to.  An even better technique for energizing your audience is to look excited yourself.  Start with simply smiling and project exciting body language.  I am not a fan of standing behind podiums because it makes me feel disconnected with the audience.  I like to be in front of them and allow them to connect with how I am moving and speaking in full form.  The animated actions of a speaker will project ENERGY.  Don’t expect your audience to have ENERGY unless you have it first.


WordCamp Presentation2. Stop Talking About Yourself

Your talk content is precious and the time to deliver it is limited.  Do not spend that time talking about yourself or your company.  The people in your audience are there to listen to the details of the talk description.  They are not there to learn about you, your services or your products.  I have seen many talks where the presenter uses the first 5-10 minutes talking about themselves and I can tell you this is where I shut off and jump on my phone or laptop doing other things and not engaged anymore.  Audience members can read about you online and approach you for more info about yourself.  You can also display subtle self-branding items in your presentation slides.  Some of these might include company logo, company website and twitter handle or other social media profiles.  I’m one that believes it is best when others boast about you but when you do this yourself in a presentation, it is self indulgent.  Another good way to talk about yourself in the right forum would be during open networking between WordCamp talks and before or after the event.


WordCamp Presentation3. Know The Audience’s Skill Set

If you are giving a WordCamp talk to beginners, be very careful not to use WordPress jargon that is very likely the audience will not understand because they are not as advanced as you.  A very good rule of thumb here is that if you are not giving a developer talk, make sure that no matter what you are saying, even someone who has never heard of or worked with WordPress would be able to understand and be interested.  When preparing your slides, think about dating someone new for the first time.  How will you act on that first date?  You will not know who they are and what they like or dislike.  You will hopefully have a few insights to this person from a pre-date conversation and will use that info to have a pleasant date.  Your audience is new to you as well and it’s important you cater your presentation to the the skill set of that audience for the greatest impact.  The majority of WordCamp attendees that I have talked to over the years have been using WordPress for less than 12 months.


WordCamp Presentation4. Keep Control of Audience

I have 5 daughters and when our family sits down to dinner each night, it can be really hard for each of them to say what they want and interact in the conversation.  My wife and I have to referee most nights or dinner gets sidetracked and dragged on longer then needed.  The same thing can happen with your WordCamp presentation.  If you are delivering a presentation that involves audience participation, you may not know what they will say or ask.  It’s hard to stay on track without know the exact reactions of your audience when you call on them for something.  At one WordCamp, I witnessed an audience member ask the presenter to explain how to install WordPress manually on a Windows server.  Not to mention that the talk itself was about SEO techniques but the presenter spent about 5-10 minutes back and forth with this audience member and during this time, it felt like the rest of us were not even there.  We were somewhere else waiting for the talk to resume.  This also goes for questions time at the end.  I am split 50/50 with a presenter polling the audience for questions because when you do this, there is a potential for loss of presentation control.  Audience members love to tack on to your talk and in most cases a positive way, but I have seen audience members try to one up the presenter or discredit info that was presented.  It is OK to ask for audience participation and audience questions, just be certain you can rein them in if they get your presentation off track.


WordCamp Presentation5. Be Prepared and Polished

This one seems like it would be common sense right?  Well common sense is not so common!  Being prepared is so important if you want to execute your presentation like a ninja.  The first part of this is not completed at WordCamp.  That part is your slides.  Your presentation slides can play a pivotal role in not only how your presentation is received but your confidence as well.  Imagine showing up to a job interview wearing sweat pants.  How confident would you feel with the person interviewing you?  Now imagine showing up with a brand new professional outfit that you were really proud of.  You will have a much higher confidence level and your chances of new employment just increased big time because of it.  Create slides that you are proud of.  Not slides that you made at the last moment in a hurry.  The second part of being prepared is also completed before you step foot in front of your audience.  PRACTICE!!!!  You must practice your presentation before you deliver it.  Sounds silly right.  NO!!!!!  It is a very smart thing to do.   Practicing also builds confidence and allows you to live it out before you deliver it.  Doing this might show you areas of your presentation you can either improve on or remove all together.  It’s also so important to practice it because you must know if you can finish in the alotted time.  I have seen it way more times than I like to remember that the room monitor tells the speaker they have 5 minutes left and the speaker has another 15 slides so they try to rush through them and it just shuts people off.  You must time your presentation and make sure that you can complete it without going over the time given or disrupt it by rushing through slides or even never getting to them.


In Summary

There are even more things you can do to make sure you deliver a RockStar WordCamp presentation but I just wanted to highlight the ones I strongly believe will give you the most impact.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have about this article or a presentation you may have coming up.  Please comment below and I am here to help. Take a look at another article we wrote at the link below which tells you the things that you should never do in a WordCamp presentation.

https://wpfixit.com/presenting-wordcamp

If you would like to see more articles about how to be successful with a WordCamp Presentation comment below with the topic and the hurdles that you are experiencing and I will gladly wrap an article around those.

Some examples for you below of a few presentations that I’ve done following the guidelines above.

See Me Speaking About WordPress

The post How to Deliver a RockStar WordCamp Presentation appeared first on WP Fix It.

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Favicon SEO

Google recently copied their mobile result layout over to desktop search results. The three big pieces which changed as part of that update were

  • URLs: In many cases Google will now show breadcrumbs in the search results rather than showing the full URL. The layout no longer differentiates between HTTP and HTTPS. And the URLs shifted from an easily visible green color to a much easier to miss black.
  • Favicons: All listings now show a favicon next to them.
  • Ad labeling: ad labeling is in the same spot as favicons are for organic search results, but the ad labels are a black which sort of blends in to the URL line. Over time expect the black ad label to become a lighter color in a way that parallels how Google made ad background colors lighter over time.

One could expect this change to boost the CTR on ads while lowering the CTR on organic search results, at least up until users get used to seeing favicons and not thinking of them as being ads.

The Verge panned the SERP layout update. Some folks on Reddit hate this new layout as it is visually distracting, the contrast on the URLs is worse, and many people think the organic results are ads.

I suspect a lot of phishing sites will use subdomains patterned off the brand they are arbitraging coupled with bogus favicons to try to look authentic. I wouldn’t reconstruct an existing site’s structure based on the current search result layout, but if I were building a brand new site I might prefer to put it at the root instead of on www so the words were that much closer to the logo.

Google provides the following guidelines for favicons

  • Both the favicon file and the home page must be crawlable by Google (that is, they cannot be blocked to Google).
  • Your favicon should be a visual representation of your website’s brand, in order to help users quickly identify your site when they scan through search results.
  • Your favicon should be a multiple of 48px square, for example: 48x48px, 96x96px, 144x144px and so on. SVG files, of course, do not have a specific size. Any valid favicon format is supported. Google will rescale your image to 16x16px for use in search results, so make sure that it looks good at that resolution. Note: do not provide a 16x16px favicon.
  • The favicon URL should be stable (don’t change the URL frequently).
  • Google will not show any favicon that it deems inappropriate, including pornography or hate symbols (for example, swastikas). If this type of imagery is discovered within a favicon, Google will replace it with a default icon.

In addition to the above, I thought it would make sense to provide a few other tips for optimizing favicons.

  • Keep your favicons consistent across sections of your site if you are trying to offer a consistent brand perception.
  • In general, less is more. 16×16 is a tiny space, so if you try to convey a lot of information inside of it, you’ll likely end up creating a blob that almost nobody but you recognizes.
  • It can make sense to include the first letter from a site’s name or a simplified logo widget as the favicon, but it is hard to include both in a single favicon without it looking overdone & cluttered.
  • A colored favicon on a white background generally looks better than a white icon on a colored background, as having a colored background means you are eating into some of the scarce pixel space for a border.
  • Using a square shape versus a circle gives you more surface area to work with.
  • Even if your logo has italics on it, it might make sense to avoid using italics in the favicon to make the letter look cleaner.

Here are a few favicons I like & why I like them:

  • Citigroup – manages to get the word Citi in there while looking memorable & distinctive without looking overly cluttered
  • Nerdwallet – the N makes a great use of space, the colors are sharp, and it almost feels like an arrow that is pointing right
  • Inc – the bold I with a period is strong.
  • LinkedIn – very memorable using a small part of the word from their logo & good color usage.

Some of the other memorable ones that I like include: Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Google Play & CNBC.

Here are a few favicons I dislike & why

  • Wikipedia – the W is hard to read.
  • USAA – they included both the logo widget and the 4 letters in a tiny space.
  • Yahoo! – they used inconsistent favicons across their sites & use italics on them. Some of the favicons have the whole word Yahoo in them while the others are the Y! in italics.

If you do not have a favicon Google will show a dull globe next to your listing. Real Favicon Generator is a good tool for creating favicons in various sizes.

What favicons do you really like? Which big sites do you see that are doing it wrong?

Categories: 

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Using the Apriori algorithm and BERT embeddings to visualize change in search console rankings

One of the biggest challenges an SEO faces is one of focus. We live in a world of data with disparate tools that do various things well, and others, not so well. We have data coming out of our eyeballs, but how to refine large data to something meaningful. In this post, I mix new with old to create a tool that has value for something, we as SEOs, do all the time. Keyword grouping and change review. We will leverage a little known algorithm, called the Apriori Algorithm, along with BERT, to produce a useful workflow for understanding your organic visibility at thirty thousand feet.

What is the Apriori algorithm

The Apriori algorithm was proposed by RakeshAgrawal and RamakrishnanSrikant in 2004. It was essentially designed as a fast algorithm used on large databases, to find association/commonalities between component parts of rows of data, called transactions. A large e-commerce shop, for example, may use this algorithm to find products that are often purchased together, so that they can show associated products when another product in the set is purchased.

I discovered this algorithm a few years ago, from this article, and immediately saw a connection to helping find unique pattern sets in large groups of keywords. We have since moved to more semantically-driven matching technologies, as opposed to term-driven, but this is still an algorithm that I often come back to as a first pass through large sets of query data.

Transactions
1 technical seo
2 technical seo agency
3 seo agency
4 technical agency
5 locomotive seo agency
6 locomotive agency

Below, I used the article by Annalyn Ng, as inspiration to rewrite the definitions for the parameters that the Apriori algorithm supports, because I thought it was originally done in an intuitive way. I pivoted the definitions to relate to queries, instead of supermarket transactions.

Support

Support is a measurement of how popular a term or term set is.  In the table above, we have six separate tokenized queries. The support for  “technical” is 3 out of 6 of the queries, or 50%. Similarly, “technical, seo” has a support of 33%, being in 2 out of 6 of the queries.

Confidence

Confidence shows how likely terms are to appear together in a query. It is written as {X->Y}. It is simply calculated by dividing the support for {term 1 and term 2} by the support for {term 1}. In the above example, the confidence of {technical->seo} is 33%/50% or 66%.

Lift

Lift is similar to confidence but solves a problem in that really common terms may artificially inflate confidence scores when calculated based on the likelihood that they appear with other terms simply based on their frequency of usage. Lift is calculated, for example, by dividing the support for {term 1 and term 2} by ( the support for {term 1} times the support for {term 2} ). A value of 1 means no association. A value greater than 1 says the terms are likely to appear together, while a value less than 1 means they are unlikely to appear together.

Using Apriori for categorization

For the rest of the article, we will follow along with a Colab notebook and companion Github repo, that contains additional code supporting the notebook. The Colab notebook is found here. The Github repo is called QueryCat.

We start off with a standard CSV from Google Search Console (GSC), of comparative, 28-day queries, period-over-period. Within the notebook, we load the Github repo, and install some dependencies. Then we import querycat and load a CSV containing the outputted data from GSC. 

Click to enlarge

Now that we have the data, we can use the Categorize class in querycat, to pass a few parameters and easily find relevant categories. The most meaningful parameters to look at are the “alg” parameter, which specifies the algorithm to use. We included both Apriori and FP-growth, which both take the same inputs and have similar outputs. The FP-Growth algorithm is supposed to be a more efficient algorithm. In our usage, we preferred the Apriori algorithm.

The other parameter to consider is “min-support.” This essentially says how often a term has to appear in the dataset, to be considered. The lower this value is, the more categories you will have. Higher numbers, have less categories, and generally more queries with no categories. In our code, we designate queries with no calculated category, with a category “##other##”

The remaining parameters “min_lift” and “min_probability” deal with the quality of the query groupings and impart a probability of the terms appearing together. They are already set to the best general settings we have found, but can be tweaked to personal preference on larger data sets.

Click to enlarge

You can see that in our dataset of 1,364 total quereis, the algorithm was able to place the queries in 101 categories. Also notice that the algorithm is able to pick multi-word phrases as categories, which is the output we want.

After this runs, you can run the next cell, which will output the original data with the categories appended to each row. It is worth noting, that this is enough to be able to save the data to a CSV, to be able to pivot by the category in Excel and aggregate the column data by category. We provide a comment in the notebook which describes how to do this. In our example, we distilled matched meaningful categories, in only a few seconds of processing. Also, we only had 63 unmatched queries.

Click to enlarge

Now with the new (BERT)

One of the frequent questions asked by clients and other stakeholders is “what happened last <insert time period here>?” With a bit of Pandas magic and the data we have already processed, to this point, we can easily compare the clicks for the two periods in our dataset, by category, and provide a column that shows the difference (or you could do % change if you like) between the two periods.

Click to enlarge

Since we just launched a new domain at the end of 2019, locomotive.agency, it is no wonder that most of the categories show click growth comparing the two periods. It is also good to see that our new brand, “Locomotive”, shows the most growth.  We also see that an article that we did on Google Analytics Exports, has 42 queries, and a growth of 36 monthly clicks.

This is helpful, but it would be cool to see if there are semantic relationships between query categories that we did better, or worse. Do we need to build more topical relevance around certain categories of topics?

In the shared code, we made for easy access to BERT, via the excellent Huggingface Transformers library, simply by including the querycat.BERTSim class in your code. We won’t cover BERT in detail, because Dawn Anderson, has done an excellent job here.

Click to enlarge

This class allows you to input any Pandas DataFrame with a terms (queries) column, and it will load DistilBERT, and process the terms into their corresponding summed embeddings. The embeddings, essentially are vectors of numbers that hold the meanings the model as “learned” about the various terms. After running the read_df method of querycat.BERTSim, the terms and embeddings are stored in the terms (bsim.terms) and embeddings(bsim.embeddings) properties, respectively.

Similarity

Since we are operating in vector space with the embeddings, this means we can use Cosine Similarity to calculate the cosine of the angles between the vectors to measure the similarity.  We provided a simple function here, that would be helpful for sites that may have hundreds to thousands of categories. “get_similar_df” takes a string as the only parameter, and returns the categories that are most similar to that term, with a similarity score from 0 to 1. You can see below, that for the given term “train,” locomotive, our brand, was the closest category, with a similarity of 85%.

Click to enlarge

Plotting Change

Going back to our original dataset, to this point, we now have a dataset with queries and PoP change. We have run the queries through our BERTSim class, so that class knows the terms and embeddings from our dataset.  Now we can use the wonderful matplotlib, to bring the data to life in an interesting way.

Calling a class method, called diff_plot, we can plot a view of our categories in two-dimensional, semantic space, with click change information included in the color (green is growth) and size (magnitude of change) of the bubbles.

Click to enlarge

We included three separate dimension reduction strategies (algorithms), that take the 768 dimensions of BERT embeddings down to two dimensions. The algorithms are “tsne,” “pca” and “umap.” We will leave it to the reader to investigate these algorithms, but “umap” has a good mixture of quality and efficiency.

It is difficult to see (because ours is a relatively new site) much information from the plot, other than an opportunity to cover the Google Analytics API in more depth. Also, this would be a more informative plot had we removed zero change, but we wanted to show how this plot semantically clusters topic categories in a meaningful way.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we:

  • Introduced the Apriori algorithm.
  • Showed how you could use Apriori to quickly categorize a thousand queries from GSC.
  • Showed how to use the categories to aggregate PoP click data by category.
  • Provided a method for using BERT embeddings to find semantically related categories.
  • Finally, displayed a plot of the final data showing growth and decline by semantic category positioning.

We have provided all code as open source with the hopes that others will play and extend the capabilities as well as write more articles showing other ways various algorithms, new and old, can be helpful for making sense of the data all around us.

The post Using the Apriori algorithm and BERT embeddings to visualize change in search console rankings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 takeaways for marketers from Google’s Q4 2019 earnings

Google reported revenues of $45.8 billion, up 17% year-over-year for the fourth quarter of 2019 on Monday. Including “other bets,” Google’s parent Alphabet reported total revenues grew 23% to $46.1 billion for the quarter. For the first time, the company disclosed YouTube advertising (and Cloud) revenues. It was also Sundar Pichai’s first earnings release since becoming Alphabet CEO.

Google Q4 advertising highlights:

  • Google search and other advertising revenues were $27.2 billion for the quarter, an increase of 17% year-over-year.
  • YouTube generated $4.7 billion in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, up 31%.
  • Network advertising revenues were $6.0 billion, up 8%. The company said shifted its ad mix to favor Google properties and that growth in this segment was led by Google Ad Manager.

YouTube growing fastest, but still smallest share. Google has long been saying YouTube advertising has been growing, but we haven’t had an insights into just how much it contributes, until now.

Google reported annual YouTube advertising revenues of $15.1 billion, or 11% of total ad revenues in 2019. That compares to a whopping 72% share for Google Search and Other (includes Maps, Gmail, Play and Shopping) at $98.1 billion and 16% share from Google Network Members’ properties (third-party publisher sites), which generated $21.6 billion in 2019.

Google search & Other revenues grew by 15% year-over-year in 2019, while YouTube ad revenues increased by 36% for the year. Network revenues grew by just 8% compared to the previous year.

Expect more commerce advertising on YouTube. Brand advertising continues to account for the majority of ad spend on YouTube, but direct response is growing faster, executives said. In early November, Google opened up YouTube inventory on the home feed and in search results to Shopping ads.

“I think direct response is a huge growth area for us,” said Pichai on the earnings call. “And increasingly, I think when you look at the fact that people are consuming a lot of goods and services as part of their experience in YouTube, how can we create better commerce experiences also is a big opportunity for us.”

In January, Google brought in former PayPal COO Bill Ready to head up Commerce products, and Ready will be working closing with advertising teams.

In addition, YouTube “now has over 20 million Music and Premium paid subscribers, and over 2 million YouTube TV paid subscribers — ending 2019 at a $3 billion annual run rate in YouTube subscriptions and other non-advertising revenues,” Pichai said.

Shopping Actions participation grew. The ability for users to “Buy on Google” — indicated by shopping cart logos on Shopping ads — is a major focus on the revamped Google Shopping experience in the U.S. It’s powered by Google Shopping Actions, and the company said the number of U.S. merchants participating in that program has increased four-fold.

“Throughout the entire holiday shopping season, we also expanded the selection of products on Google due to a 4x uptick in the number of US merchants participating in our Shopping Actions program.”

Record shopping search touted. “Over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday weekend, we had the largest number of daily shoppers on Google.com ever in our history,” Pichai noted. Google has been facing pressure from the rapid growth of Amazon’s advertising business (even if still relatively small) as well as from social commerce offerings from the likes of Instagram and other platforms.

CPC declines slowing on Google properties. The company said growing engagement with YouTube ads “where cost-per-click remains lower than on our other advertising platforms” continued to contribute to overall lower cost-per click down across Google properties. However, the declines have lessened significantly this year. For 2019, CPCs on Google properties were off by just 7 percent compared to 25% drop year-over-year in 2018.

The post 5 takeaways for marketers from Google’s Q4 2019 earnings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How to Start Getting Organic Traffic to Your Blog

Writing a blog that no one ever reads is the internet equivalent of throwing a party, where half the people who’ve marked themselves as attending on Facebook don’t turn up. 

That moment when you log into Google Analytics and see that your posts have had three visitors in the past month, and two of them were you, is exactly like watching the hummus you decided to make from scratch (that’s a thing) remain untouched by the four guests that come to your house; two of whom are already claiming they’ve got another birthday party to go to and are making for the door.

There are two questions here. The first is whether Facebook RSVPs can ever be an accurate way of knowing how many people are actually coming to your event (absolutely not). And the second: what’s stopping people turning up? 

Let’s now transfer this clunky metaphor to the marketing world and get to the point of this post: why is no one turning up to read the content on your blog?

We’ve all seen brand and company blogs that lean too far towards being salesy, unrelatable and self-serving. They answer the company’s needs (here’s why you should buy hummus!) rather than those of potential readers (how do I make hummus from scratch?) – and the amount of organic traffic they get suffers as a result.

Which is why getting people to arrive on your blog requires planning, research, and having a bit of a clear out. And a lot of this needs to happen before anything even goes live. 

So if you’re wondering how to get organic traffic to your blog, here are some steps to follow. Done right, it’ll increase visits over time, build your company’s reputation as an authority on topics within your niche, and help your site’s SEO as a result. 

(Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee it’ll also make people come to your party).

1. Audit your existing content

This is the necessary bit of cleaning before you invite people over.

Except in this scenario, you’re using a big spreadsheet to work out what needs to stay, and what needs to go. My colleague Ben has helpfully created a content audit template which makes life a lot easier, so take a look at that before you get started. But I’ll go through some basics below.

Hopefully, you’ll already have Google Analytics running on your blog, so head to 

Behaviour > Site content > All pages 

…and change the date range to at least the last year. This should bring up a list of all your blog posts, and the traffic they’ve received over that time. Export it. You’re going to use this list to find out what blog posts are already getting traffic, and which ones aren’t. 

You might also want to check other metrics on these posts, like whether they’ve got any backlinks – because that might also inform what content you want to keep. To do this, you could combine backlinks detected in Google Search Console with data from either Ahrefs or Majestic.  

Then, starting with the highest to lowest traffic, one by one, go through each of the posts in terms of content and note/look out for the following:

  • What posts are getting consistent traffic? 
  • Which posts have seasonal spikes in traffic
  • Which posts get no traffic at all
  • Are there any popular topics/themes/categories

Make a note to fix:

  • Outdated content 
  • Broken images
  • Strange formatting
  • Broken links

And ultimately against each one, mark whether to:

  • Keep it 
  • Keep it, but update/repurpose it
  • Delete it completely
  • Delete it + redirect to a more useful post

By the end of this stage, you’ll have a list of actions to go through to help your existing content work harder. 

2. Keyword research

Next, you need to find out which topics it makes sense for your brand to be writing about in the future. And within that, the specific terms people are actually actively searching for. 

Spoiler alert: it might not directly relate to whatever you sell. 

There are a number of tools you can use to do this (free and paid) – and we’ll go into those in a future post. But essentially, it’ll involve using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Keyword Planner to identify:

  • Relevant search terms within your niche
  • Their monthly search volumes
  • What your competitors are writing about 
  • Seasonal trends where traffic might spike

And once you’ve got a list of search terms to write content around, it’s time to start turning these into long tail ideas for evergreen blog posts. It’s these that, little by little, will build up traffic to your blog over time. 

3. Brainstorm topic ideas 

Your keyword research will leave you with a list of questions or informational non-branded terms and their search volumes, and an idea of when they peak. 

But the tricky bit is turning those terms into useful, relevant blog post ideas that fit neatly into a content calendar and align with your brand’s demographic. Remember, your aim here is to answer queries, become an authority on a particular topic, and provide relevant information. 

No one wants to come to a party and have the host do a hard sell. 

To rank in the SERPs, the posts will need to be detailed and well researched – so keep your business’ expertise in mind when you’re coming up with ideas. Don’t be afraid to go niche. 

Again, you might want to use some tools here to help you. Sites like Answer the Public can give you suggestions, or ‘People also ask’ on the Google SERPs. 

Let’s take an example: you’re a hotel brand, and your keyword research says that “things to do in London” is a good, high volume keyword to target. 

But it’s also a highly competitive term. So perhaps there’s a better way to narrow things down even more:

What other things dictate someone’s need for a hotel in London?

  • Time of year / seasonality
  • Specific interests, activities or events
  • Location: particular areas/boroughs

Your list of potential blog post ideas could a bit like this:

  • Things to do in London when it’s raining 
  • Baby-friendly museums in London
  • Where to take mum for her birthday in London

Do this until you’ve built out a big list of blog post ideas covering all the different topic areas you identified in your keyword research. Next step: plan it out. 

4. Plan out the content

Once you’ve got a huge list of blog post ideas and an idea of when their search volumes peak, use a content calendar to plan out what you’re publishing month by month. Here’s a useful guide to creating a content calendar which you can feed these organic traffic posts into.

When you’re planning out your content, consider:

  • Resource and time: to stand a chance of ranking, these posts will be comprehensive, well researched, and detailed (more on that next)
  • Posts will need to be written and published before the search volume peaks
  • Aim to publish at least 4 weeks beforehand, e.g. a post about Halloween outfit ideas would need to be published around mid September to catch the upward tick

5. Research the competition

Ok, let’s see what’s happening at that party. Not yours; no one’s at yours. The other, better one your guests are off to instead. You do some digging, and find out that party’s got a proper DJ and a decent sound system, while you’re putting your iPhone speaker in a wine glass. Where would you rather be?

Basically, before you start writing: know what you’re up against.

Take the blog post title you want to rank for (e.g. “things to do in London when it’s raining”), Google it, and see who and what is already ranking.

  • Format: are they numbered listicles (if so, how many ideas do they list?), long form pieces, or step-by-step guides? 
  • How recent is the article? 
  • Who currently has the featured snippet and what could increase your chances of getting the top spot? 
  • What’s the word count? How many items are they listing?

Remember: depending on your niche, your blog content competitors might not be your direct business competitors. 

So, Booking.com might be your competition when you’re selling hotels in London, but when you’re informing people about things to do in London, you could be up against established authorities like Time Out, travel magazines, or tourist boards. This gives you an idea of how detailed and well researched your post needs to be to compete.

Once you’ve got an idea of what your blog post needs to include, write a strong brief. 

5. Training for copywriters

Unless you’re working for one of the media outlets above, the chances are you don’t have a team of journalists working in-house.

And as I said, depending on your niche and industry, your competition might be lifestyle publications staffed by journalists.

The shift to writing more editorial-style content can be tricky if you’re working with in-house copywriters who are used to writing quite short, salesy product-focused copy. 

Depending on the competition, these evergreen, organic traffic driving posts are going to need to be more than 500 words of generic fluff. It’ll require research, sometimes resulting in upwards of 1,000 words, to be able to compete with whatever’s ranking on page 1. 

So if you don’t have the expertise in-house, consider where you might be able to get it. 

  • Who in your company can add expertise? 
  • Can you interview them and shape their answers into a post? 
  • Do you have the budget to source external freelance resource? 
  • Can you invest in basic SEO training for your copywriting team to help them along?

If you’re stuck, here’s a post on how to write high quality content to get you started.

7. Optimise, optimise, optimise

Before you publish, there’s a last bit of admin. Here are some things to check:

  • Whether you’re linking to other relevant blog posts (internally or externally)
  • If you’ve included a call to action at the end of the post
  • Whether your titles and meta descriptions are optimised for search (if you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast allows you to specify different titles and descriptions for search and social)
  • Avoid putting dates in the URL (i.e. best-things-to-do-London-winter-2019) so you can update the same post next year without it looking out of date
  • Images are consistently named, spaced and formatted, the file sizes are low 

8. And last but not least, keep it updated

Kind of like getting people to turn up to your party, having an organic content strategy requires planning and work along the way.

It’s not a short term plan. It can take a good few months for a blog post to start getting organic traffic, and you might find you need to revisit the posts every so often to keep them updated and relevant.

So once you’ve written a post, keep a calendar note for seasonal posts that can be updated each year / as appropriate instead of creating new ones. 

That’s just an overview of the steps you need to take, and we’ll be going into more details in future guides. 

If you’ve got any questions in the meantime, or are wondering why your blog isn’t getting the organic traffic you think it should, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 

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