SEO Articles

Aggregate & Automate Performance Reporting With Lighthouse & Google Data Studio

WTF Dan? I can’t even say that title, it’s a mouthful!

Sorry, random internet stranger but it sounds smart!

Anyways, performance reporting is good for SEO right? Speed is a critical ranking factor, it’s good for users, and we all just want to feel the need for it. But enterprise-class performance reporting dashboards are tough. Especially ones that are easy to spin up automatically, low resource and actionable.

Do these look like something you would want to have?

Would surfacing performance opportunities automatically and at scale like this be helpful?

Well, have no fear, because that’s what I’m here to walk you through!

So first, check out the end product. Here is a performance dashboard we created for Target (sorry for outing you Target SEO, but hey free report!):

https://datastudio.google.com/open/17bU954JKOK-7xCeSZuipEdgnTYhRYh2-

This dashboard was created by taking a simple two-column spreadsheet (one column with a URL and another with the label), passing it via-.CSV through our Slackbot Jarvis running it through our process, and then outputting it as a Google Data Studio Report. Yes, we have a bot named Jarvis. Don’t you?

It took me about 15 minutes to classify the URLs and about 10 for the report to be run/created. Isn’t living in the future cool? I guess a human could compile all this, but this seems like a real time-saver to allow the human brain to do what it’s best at – analyzing!

Just to get into some of the features, most of the charts can be drilled down into, diagnostic and performance metrics can be looked at holistically or with any subset of templates, and you can track over time to see improvements.

IMHO this is a much better way of doing performance reporting as you can look at not just snapshots of resources on a page, but how they perform across a whole template or even a site. It makes the real costs of particular performance issues much more clear.

Anyway, enough talking.

We are also open sourcing this!

If you want to spin it up for yourself

check out the documentation and get some!

Dan, why did you build this?

Pretty simple it saves us a ton of time on performance reporting in our audits and is a spiffy deliverable for clients that shows them how badass we are at technical SEO. Plus we can iterate on it super easy. Just as an example, adding in competitors to benchmark templates against is gonna be in our next iteration. If you do cool stuff, please share it with me @danleibson on Twitter!

Remember kids technical SEO = local SEO when your queries are local and your web stack is complicated and Google is rapidly localizing search more then they are rolling out any other feature. Don’t put yourself in a box. I don’t let my teammates!

Like most things, this isn’t done in a vacuum so I just want to shout out people like Jamie Alberico for talking me through a bunch of her elvish wizardry around the topic and Hamlet Batista for being willing to just throw stuff out there into public so others can learn.

The post Aggregate & Automate Performance Reporting With Lighthouse & Google Data Studio appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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DTC, SEO & Sexy Content ROI

This Smells Like My Vagina Candle

We had a bad client call last week.

The client is a sexy DTC start-up. They had asked us to put together an editorial strategy to improve their ability to target potential customers via SEO, but when we presented our recommendations which were primarily focused on high-intent-to-purchase queries, the CEO’s first question was “Why can’t we make sexy content like Goop, Away Travel, Food52 and Casper?”

Instead of targeting things you would ask before you bought the product, he wanted more “interesting” content that people would bond with. For example, if we were targeting people in the market for laptops, we wanted to target “what is a good laptop for everyday use?” and he wanted to target “best coffee shops in West Hollywood to work from,” with the idea that the person doing that search is their target customer and they would appreciate the brand’s POV on where they should hang out.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with his approach. It’s just a much longer, indirect play that targets a broad audience, most of which will likely not be in the market for his product any time soon. This is the kind of strategy Mercedes employs when it starts marketing to children so that when they grow up and have cash, they’ll subconsciously desire their cars. But it definitely helps to be Mercedes. And it definitely helps that Mercedes has money to burn.

But IMO this is not a great SEO strategy to get results in the near term.

There are plenty of good non-SEO reasons to invest in content, but if you are looking to rank well in Google for intent-to-buy queries, you’ll want to consider how well search intent aligns with your brand strategy. Looking at the DTC brands our client mentioned, you can see their content & SEO strategies are not all alike:

AwayTravel.com: Targeting The Top of The Funnel

According to SEMRush, AwayTravel.com gets almost no non-branded organic traffic. They do rank well for “carry on luggage,” but I believe that is mostly because one of their products is called “The Carry On Luggage.” They don’t appear to rank on page one of Google for any other significant non-brand queries and get barely any non-brand organic traffic:

AwayTravel.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

It appears they put all of their “brand” content on https://www.heremagazine.com/ which according to SEMRush gets ~8K SEO visits/month from queries like “la to oregon road trip.” According to Ahrefs.com, they have done an aggressive backlinking program to this site over the past 6 months (4K+ links):

It looks like they have published north of 700 articles. Away branding on this site is almost invisible. I’d argue they get virtually no business directly from it. I am guessing the role of this site is to get email addresses so they can market the luggage to subscribers.

FOOD52.com & GOOP.com: When Brand Strategy Aligns With Search Intent

The folks at Food52 are either SEO geniuses or just lucky because they picked a niche where “brand” content – recipes, travel, home design, etc. – aligns perfectly with search queries like “matcha shortbread cookies” or “things to do in hudson, ny“:

Food52.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

If you wanted to start a DTC business with an SEO strategy, you’d want to figure out a niche like Food52’s where the brand and the search intent are one and the same.

Goop.com
Goop is similar to Food52 in that it publishes a ton of content much of which is designed to lead you to a product, such as this post on why you’re not losing weight, which basically pitches their products as the cure. It also publishes City Guide content like https://goop.com/city-guide/the-mini-los-cabos-guide/ that ranks for “cabo itinerary,” which could hit travelers as they are planning a trip and might be in the mindset to buy a travel kit from them. Like with Food52, the travel part of this is not a bad SEO strategy if you are willing to invest in a ton of content plus promotion (aka links) and are looking to use this is as an awareness builder. Goop’s non-brand traffic looks pretty good:

Goop.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

CASPER.com: The Opposite of Sexy


Casper feels almost 100% focused on “SEO” v “brand.” Most of their “brand” content lives on their blog, and much of the content appears to be focused on not-very-competitive keywords somewhat related to sleeping such as “what to do in the middle of the night,”  “plants in bedroom benefits,” etc. Most of these have low search volume, but you can see how someone might find Casper through these queries. This is not a bad strategy, but it’s not one we would choose as a primary SEO strategy, and I don’t think it’s Casper’s real SEO strategy.

Casper is prioritizing decidedly non-sexy “intent to buy” queries like “queen mattress size” and “how often should I replace my mattress.” According to the SEMRush data, https://casper.com/mattress-size-comparison-guide/ generates more than 50% of Casper’s non-brand traffic.

While Casper’s mattress size page looks about as sexy as Rudy Giuliani,

(sorry) it’s SEO performance looks super sexy to me:

Casper.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

I would argue Casper may be over-reliant on a small number of URLs to do their SEO work. If that mattress-size page gets displaced in the SERPs, I wonder what that would do to their business.

So when you are thinking about investing in sexy content, before you pull the trigger, make sure you know exactly what you want that content to do for you. If it’s for social media, brand-building, etc., make it as sexy as you possibly can. But if it’s for SEO, make sure it’s at least targeting some sexy search queries.

The post DTC, SEO & Sexy Content ROI appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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5 Common Causes of a Slow WordPress Site – What to Know

A slow WordPress site is anyone’s nightmare. For both website owners and visitors, a slow website means more time wasted waiting for pages to load, not to mention the impatience that grows and the frustration that causes anyone not to revisit the site ever again.

Browsing a website is like shopping in a store. Customers want a very streamlined and quick experience when they are looking to buy something or simply just having a look around. If your WordPress site is loading slow this can really harm the visitor experience. If you are selling something on your website this could really harm your bottom line and financial future. It is so important to put a huge focus on WordPress speed to make sure that you are not dealing with a slow WordPress site.

There are many causes to a slow WordPress site, including the images displayed on the site that aren’t compressed or way too many plugins installed. In this article, we’ll talk about four common causes of a slow website:


Slow WordPress Site

1. Website Isn’t Cached

When a visitor enters your website, their browser sends a request to the server to receive the files of the site to load in for the visitor to see. These files include pictures, scripts, design elements, and all sorts of other files. If you have a lot of files on your website, loading will take a while, especially if its content is dynamic as well.

Generally, dynamic content takes a lot longer to load compared to static content. When you cache your website, you store a static version of your website, allowing visitors to retrieve that file to load quicker. In other words, if your website isn’t cached, the server will slow down trying to respond to multiple requests at one time, which, in turn, increases the visitor’s loading time too.

There are some amazing caching plugins available out there that you can easily install on your WordPress website and get instant results and a huge speed increase. There is a range of free plugins that you can find at wordpress.org and there is also our favorite premium plugin Swift performance Pro. We highly recommend investing in a premium caching plugin so you can get the most out of your speed. Speed is such a good investment to make towards the success of your website.


Slow WordPress Site

2. Outdated PHP Version

Updates are often carried out for many reasons—enhanced security, increased performance, additional features, and so on. Even if all your website’s components are up to date, it will still be slow if the foundation of it all is outdated. The foundation? PHP.

It is the underlying language of WordPress websites, which means that an outdated version of it will hamper the performance of the overall site severely. That said, your website host should always be utilizing the latest PHP in their servers. If they aren’t, or you’re hosting it yourself, you’ll need to upgrade it manually. Just remember that if your website is quite old, you will need to first check to see if it is compatible with the latest version.

We see this often when helping customers here where they are running a very old version of PHP on their web hosting server. You should always be running the most recent version of PHP that is available. We are talking about speed here but there are also several security enhancements that come with new version of PHP.


Slow WordPress Site

3. Too Many Plugins

While plugins are useful in terms of adding features to your website, too many will eat up the server’s resources. Over time, you’ll end up with more plugins than you’ve started with. That means that not only will you end up with plenty of plugins to run, but that some of these them may not be updated, which can slow down the performance of your site even more.

An excessive amount of plugins installed and activated on a WordPress site can be the death of speed. You have to remember that for each plug and you have installed and activated it is likely adding some type of server request when it functions. Each of these requests take time to complete. The more requests that you have running the slower your website is going to take to render and view for your visitor. Make sure that you are not bloating your website with a large amount of active plugins that are not necessary for its success.

Speed is also about sacrifice and while there may be a really cool plugin with a really cool feature that you want to have on your WordPress site it might slow it down. So what would you rather have speed or this cool feature that the plugin offers. Speed is about sacrifice in some cases. Do not overload your website with too many active plugins that are not needed 1000%.

Take a look at the 10 plugins you should stay away from at the link below.
https://wpfixit.com/wordpress-plugins-to-stay-away-from/


Slow WordPress Site

4. Cheap Hosting Providers

While trying to find solutions with the lowest cost is a goal for many businesses, it isn’t necessarily a good one when it comes to choosing a hosting provider for your website. From uptime to security, your host is pretty much what ensures that your website keeps on existing. If you have opted for a cheap plan, it might be because you’re starting small and don’t require the extra resources or features to run the site.

However, your website will grow over time, and if you still stick with the cheap hosting plan, your website is going to struggle. Server resources are eaten up, slowing down response times and increasing loading speeds. When you feel like your hosting plan isn’t enough to keep up with your needs, upgrade it.

When it comes to WordPress website hosting you really get what you pay for. We fully understand that many business owners and other WordPress users are on a tight budget when it comes to the development and hosting their website. But your hosting decision is the very foundation of having your website be successful. Do not cut corners or go the cheap route with that decision. Invest in a good web hosting company that will become part of your team and there when you need support for any of your website hosting needs.

Read what our owner Jarrett Gucci said about a hosting company he would trust his kids with at the link below.
https://wpfixit.com/siteground-hosting-review/


Slow WordPress Site

5. Malware

A malware infection site is not only a security threat, but also a menace to business. Clearing your site of any malware will ensure that it’s performing at its best. There are several ways to do this. For one, plugins. It’s wise to clean your website of these plugins occasionally, removing ones that you don’t need and updating ones that you require. Your plugin needs may change, but it’s best to keep a WordPress malware removal plugin installed at all times. Such plugins can help you detect intrusions to your site security, making it easier for you to eliminate those threats.

If you find that your website is currently overrun with malware, consider bringing on the help of a WordPress malware removal service. A human touch will do wonders for ensuring your website is performing at its best. On that same note, a fantastic way to improve your site’s loading speed is to choose a hosting provider that offers malware removal services. This ensures that your site isn’t compromised or bogged down with malware stealing server resources.

If you’re looking for a WordPress malware removal service, get in touch with us today to see how we can help.


Bottom Line

There are many causes of a slow website. You can start checking for the above factors to figure out what’s causing your site to load forever, then do your best to try and solve it. After all, a slow website is a website that’s just as good as dead. People are going to be frustrated while trying to use one, so they would most likely never come back again. That said, if you’re having trouble speeding up your website, there are plenty of services you can find, just like ours, to help you get what you want—a faster website.

NO NEED TO STRESS
WE CAN SPEED UP YOUR SITE!

WE WILL START MAKING IT BLAZING FAST RIGHT AWAY

 

The post 5 Common Causes of a Slow WordPress Site – What to Know appeared first on WP Fix It.

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Social media strategy: Where to begin?

Social media is not to be ignored these days: it’s everywhere! So, when you’re working on building and growing your website, you need to take social media into account. Not sure why? Check out how social media can influence your SEO. Now, where do you begin? In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of determining a social media strategy that fits you and your brand.

The goal of your social media presence

What is your goal for being on social media? Beware: what type of content you’ll be sharing is not your goal. That’s a means to reach your goals. What are you hoping to accomplish by sharing? Do you want followers to learn about your products? Increase sales, possibly by sharing discount codes or promotions? Are you looking to educate them? For example, the blog you’re currently reading is important to one of Yoast’s social media goals: We want to share our SEO knowledge with everyone. 

There are many goals to choose from, and you can pick more than one. Try to maintain some focus though, start by selecting a few that you can focus on first. If you find it hard to pinpoint your goals try turning it around: what content would you like to share? What goals could you deduce from that?

If you want to learn more about using social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it’ll help you put these skills into practice!

What type of content do you share on social media?

So, you’ve decided on your goal(s). On to the next question: What kind of content are you going to offer? Are you going to share your own blog posts? Or, articles written by others, that you find relevant for your audience? Product information? Behind the scenes footage from your company? Information about you as a person? There’s so much you can do – and again, you don’t have to pick just one! 

Pro tip: Don’t forget content you might already have, that you could turn into social posts!

Mindmapping can help with this phase. Sit down to a piece of paper (or use a digital tool) and start writing. Let your ideas flow! Write down all types of content you can think of, that would fit your brand and/or products.

After that, it’s time to choose. What are you going to focus on? Keep in mind that engaging your customers with interesting content will increase their affinity for your brand. Think about what your audience would like to see, read, and preferably even share with others. In general, engaging content will do better than posts written mainly because you want to sell.

Determining content buckets

Now, you know what you want to accomplish with your social media presence. You also know what type of content you’re going to gather or create to do so. If you order these types of content, do you see any overarching themes? Try to combine all you have up till now by deciding on content categories or topics, also known as content buckets. Here are some examples of content buckets that we could choose to focus on at Yoast:

  • Product information
  • SEO knowledge
  • Our company culture
  • Engaging with customers

Other categories could be sharing the latest news, or announcements for events, or podcast episodes, and so on. But for this example, let’s say these are our four main focus topics. The first three are subjects we’d like to create posts about, the fourth differs slightly. Rather than just broadcasting, it’s about engaging in existing online conversations related to our brand or products. This is probably one of the most important focus points for brands anyway, as people these days expect to be able to connect through social media.

So, basically, you want to end up with a few content buckets for your social media presence. The goal is that every post you put out there should contribute to at least one of these content buckets. That’ll help you keep focused.

Prioritize and allocate your time

Another trick to help you keep focused is allocating a percentage of your time to each of the content buckets you determine. For example, engaging with (potential) customers could be very valuable, but also more time-consuming. We could decide to spend 40% of our social media time on that, and 20% each on the other three subjects.

That doesn’t mean flexibility is impossible, it just serves as a guideline for yourself. It helps you focus on what you find most important, and to make sure that you give that the attention it needs. When planning your content, check up on this. Are you keeping to it? Do you need to focus a bit more on one or the other? In a later blog post, we’ll come back to evaluating and reassessing your social media strategy.

Which social media platforms for your business?

Not every social medium fits your brand or your message. If you’re in the recruitment game, LinkedIn is an awesome network to build your presence on. If you’re in tech, definitely check out Twitter. If you offer products that look nice or like to share recipes, Pinterest just might be your best fit.  

Do a little research, look into the different platforms. The web is full of up-to-date reports on what platforms work best for wat content! Figure out what platforms fit your goals, and if they accommodate for content you’re looking to create. Would it be easier for you to create textual content? Or mainly visuals? Thoughts like these should help you figure out what fits your brand best. 

Decide what platforms you’d like to focus on first anyway, you can always add more. It’s harder to keep up when you need to tend to a lot of different platforms. Some platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, also offer ways to advertise. That could help you make your brand and company known way beyond the scope of your actual followers. Advertising isn’t just for selling products, you could also use it to promote some of the interesting and fun content you publish. Or to grow your audience!

Which social media does your (desired) audience use?

Unfortunately, you could be out there sharing the best content you can offer, without it getting any traction. You need to reach the people that actually need or want your content! For example, if you’re aiming for a corporate, older audience, TikTok probably isn’t the platform you should focus on. For now, at least!

To know where to find your audience, you first need to know what your (desired) audience is. So, you start by analyzing your audience. When you know who you’d like to reach, you look into the platforms they use most. There are numerous online sources, like Sprout and Business Insider, that regularly publish numbers on social media usage. Combine this data with your own goals and the platforms that fit those, and decide what you’ll be publishing on with what type of content.

Your brand voice and social media style 

Based on your audience and brand as a whole: think about the way you’d like to communicate on social media. Is your tone formal or playful? Would you use emojis regularly? Could your posts contain words like “gonna”, rather than “going to”? Decide what fits your brand and the content you’d like to put out there, as well as what fits your audience. If you think about this thoroughly now, it’ll make writing all your future posts so much easier.

Engaging with your followers

Basically, all you need to contact a company through their social media is an Internet connection. That means: People will ask you questions, post complaints, share their enthusiasm, publish reviews, and so on. Decide how you want to handle those. Are you going to respond to every message that people send to you? Are you going to keep an eye on all mentions of your brand name, even if your profile wasn’t specifically tagged?

The latter could be a great way to grow your brand awareness. Here’s an example of where someone mentioned Yoast SEO without tagging @yoast. We weren’t even mentioned at all, in the original tweet. For us, responding to this is a great way to reach more people and spread even more SEO knowledge.

Be realistic

Reading all of the above might have you all pumped up and ready to go. Or, a bit anxious as it might seem like a lot of work. Don’t fret! Now’s the time to be realistic. How much time would you be able to allocate to your social media presence every week? Or every day? Realistically.

You need to put the effort in, so don’t try and ‘do social media’ as an extra, or an afterthought. By doing so, you probably won’t reach your goals anytime soon! If you want to chime into all kinds of conversations online, it’s going to cost you a lot more time and energy. If you set up WordPress so that it automatically posts your new blog posts to Facebook, that would save you time. Automated posts differ from when you manually share by adding a fun or intriguing description, though. 

Think about a process that would work for you. How many posts would you want to publish on what platforms? Are you going to sit down once a week to write all of them, or take some time every day? Will you only post your own content, or collect and share articles by others? It’s easier to generate more content if you repost others’, but it could also cost you more time if you’re not already reading those other sources. Plus, it’ll send traffic to other sources than your own. That doesn’t have to be a problem, depending on your social media goals.

Make a social media plan

You’ve decided on where you’re headed: that’s the strategy. Now the plan is how you’ll get there. You have collected a lot of very useful information up till now. Time to turn it into an action plan! Think of a concrete and actionable plan that would fit in with your regular weekly schedule. You can always alter it along the way, but it’s great to have a plan to get you started. 

To help your future self and others to understand what you’re aiming for, it’s a great idea to write up a short document with your findings. Your goals, the brand voice you decide on, the content buckets you’d like to focus on, and so on. If you have several larger goals, you might want to prioritize them.

Concrete goals for social media presence

You’ve decided on your strategic goals, like “spreading SEO knowledge”, for example. You could do with more concrete, actionable goals in your social media plan. A few examples:

  • In the next 12 months, traffic from social media to my website will increase by 25%.
  • In the next 6 months, my profile on Google My Business will have 10 new reviews.
  • In the next 3 months, I will share at least one post on Facebook every day.

Be bold, dare to try! If you don’t reach these goals, you set new ones for the next period of time. You need something to aim for to keep you motivated.

There’s a lot you can do, as you can see. In a future post, we’ll look into measuring and evaluating your social media efforts. Good luck for now!

Read more: Does social media influence SEO? »

The post Social media strategy: Where to begin? appeared first on Yoast.

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How to Scale Your Content Marketing: Tips from Our Journey to 100,000 Words a Month

Posted by JotFormmarketing

In the fall of 2018 our CEO had a simple yet head-exploding request of the JotForm marketing and growth teams: Produce 100,000 words of high-quality written content in a single month.

All types of content would count toward the goal, including posts on our own blog, help guides, template descriptions, and guest posts and sponsored articles on other sites.

In case you don’t think that sounds like a lot, 100,000 words is the length of a 400-page book. Produced in a single month. By a group of JotFormers who then numbered fewer than eight.

Why would on Earth would he want us to do all that?

My colleague and I trying to calculate how many blog posts it would take to reach 100,000 words.

It’s important to understand intent here. Our CEO, Aytekin, isn’t a crazy man. He didn’t send us on a mission just to keep us busy.

You see, for many months we’d dabbled with content, and it was working. Aytekin’s contributed posts in Entrepreneur magazine and on Medium were big hits. Our redesigned blog was picking up a lot of traction with the content we already had, and we were starting to understand SEO a lot better.

Still. Why would any software company need to produce that much content?

The answer is simple: infrastructure. If we could build a content engine that produces a high volume of quality content, then we could learn what works well and double down on creating great content. But in order to sustain success in content, we needed to have the pieces in place.

He allocated a sufficient budget and gave us the freedom to hire the staff we needed to make it happen. We were going to need it.

A full year later, I’m very proud to say we’ve officially crossed over the 100,000-word count in a single month [hold for applause].

However, it didn’t come without some painful learnings and mistakes.

Here’s what I figured out about scaling content through this process.

Develop a system early

Our old editorial calendar was a Google sheet. I started it back when JotForm was publishing one or two blogs per week and needed a way to keep it organized. It worked.

Back then, the only people who needed to view the editorial calendar were three people on the marketing staff and a couple of designers.

However, no spreadsheet on earth will be functional when you’re loading up 100,000 words. It’s too complicated. We discovered this right away.

After much discussion, we migrated our editorial workflow into Asana, which seemed like the closest thing to what we needed. It has a nice calendar view, the tagging functionality helped keep things orderly, and the board view gives a great overview of everyone’s projects.

This is where our marketing team lives.

Counterintuitively, we also use Trello, since it’s what our growth team had already been using to manage projects. Once the marketing team finishes writing a post, we send a request to our growth team designers to create banners for them using a form that integrates with their Trello board.

The system is intricate, but it works. We’d be lost if we hadn’t spent time creating it.

Style guides are your friends

Speaking of things to develop before you can really grow your content machine. Style guides are paramount to maintaining consistency, which becomes trickier and trickier the more writers you enlist to help you reach your content goals.

We consider our style guide to be a sort of living, ever-changing document. We add to it all the time.

It’s also the first thing that any legitimate writer will want to see when they’re about to contribute something to your site, whether they’re submitting a guest post, doing paid freelance work, or they’re your own in-house content writer.

Things to include in a basic style guide: an overview of writing style and tone, grammar and mechanics, punctuation particulars, product wording clarifications, and formatting.

Cheap writing will cost you, dearly

If you want cheap writing, you can find it. It’s everywhere — Upwork, Express Writers, WriterAccess. You name it, we tried it. And for less than $60 a blog post, what self-respecting marketing manager wouldn’t at least try it?

I’m here to tell you it’s a mistake.

I was thrilled when the drafts started rolling in. But our editor had other thoughts. It was taking too much time to make them good — nay, readable.

That was an oversight on my end, and it created a big bottleneck. We created such a backlog of cheap content (because it was cheap and I could purchase LOTS of it at a time) that it halted our progress on publishing content in a timely manner.

Instead, treat your freelance and content agencies as partners, and take the time to find good ones. Talk to them on the phone, exhaustively review their writing portfolio, and see if they really understand what you’re trying to accomplish. It’ll cost more money in the short term, but the returns are significant.

But good writing won’t mask subject ignorance

One thing to check with any content agency or freelancer you work with is their research process. The good ones will lean on subject matter experts (SMEs) to actually become authorities on the subjects they write about. It’s a tedious step, for both you and the writer, but it’s an important one.

The not-so-good ones? They’ll wing it and try to find what they can online. Sometimes they can get away with it, and sometimes someone will read your article and have this to say:

Screenshot of feedback for article saying it feels like it was written by a content creator, not a photographer.

That was harsh.

But they had a point. While the article in question was well-written, it wasn’t written by someone who knew much about the subject at hand, which in this case was photography. Lesson learned. Make sure whoever you hire to write will take the time to know what they’re talking about.

Build outreach into your process

Let’s be real here. For 99.9 percent of you, content marketing is SEO marketing. That’s mostly the case with us as well. We do publish thought leadership and product-education posts with little SEO value, but a lot of what we write is published with the hope that it pleases The Google. Praise be.

But just publishing your content is never enough. You need links, lots of them.

Before I go any further, understand that there’s a right and a wrong way to get links back to your content.

Three guidelines for getting links to your content:

1. Create good content.

2. Find a list of reputable, high-ranking sites that are authorities on the subject you wrote about.

3. Ask them about linking or guest posting on their site in a respectful way that also conveys value to their organization.

That’s it. Don’t waste your time on crappy sites or link scams. Don’t spam people’s inboxes with requests. Don’t be shady or deal with shady people.

Create good content, find high-quality sites to partner with, and offer them value.

Successful content is a numbers game

One benefit to creating as much content as we have is that we can really see what’s worked and what hasn’t. And it’s not as easy to predict as you might think.

One of our most successful posts, How to Start and Run a Summer Camp, wasn’t an especially popular one among JotFormers in the planning stage, primarily because the topic didn’t have a ton of monthly searches for the targeted keywords we were chasing. But just a few months after it went live, it became one of our top-performing posts in terms of monthly searches, and our best in terms of converting readers to JotForm users.

Point being, you don’t really know what will work for you until you try a bunch of options.

You’ll need to hire the right people in-house

In a perfect world JotForm employees would be able to produce every bit of content we need. But that’s not realistic for a company of our size. Still, there were some roles we absolutely needed to bring in-house to really kick our content into high gear.

A few of our content hires from the past 12 months.

Here are some hires we made to build our content infrastructure:

Content writer

This was the first dedicated content hire we ever made. It marked our first real plunge into the world of content marketing. Having someone in-house who can write means you can be flexible. When last-minute or deeply product-focused writing projects come up, you need someone in-house to deliver.

Editor

Our full-time editor created JotForm’s style guide from scratch, which she uses to edit every single piece of content that we produce. She’s equal parts editor and project manager, since she effectively owns the flow of the Asana board.

Copywriters (x2)

Our smaller writing projects didn’t disappear just because we wanted to load up on long-form blog posts. Quite the contrary. Our copywriters tackle template descriptions that help count toward our goal, while also writing landing page text, email marketing messages, video scripts, and social media posts.

Content strategist

One of the most difficult components of creating regular content is coming up with ideas. I made an early assumption that writers would come up with things to write; I was way off base. Writers have a very specialized skill that actually has little overlap with identifying and researching topics based on SEO value, relevance to our audience, and what will generate clicks from social media. So we have a strategist.

Content operations specialist

When you aim for tens of thousands of words of published content over the course of a month, the very act of coordinating the publishing of a post becomes a full-time job. At JotForm, most of our posts also need a custom graphic designed by our design team. Our content operations specialist coordinates design assets and makes sure everything looks good in WordPress before scheduling posts.

SEO manager

Our SEO manager had already been doing work on JotForm’s other pages, but he redirected much of his attention to our content goals once we began scaling. He works with our content strategist on the strategy and monitors and reports on the performance of the articles we publish.

The payoff

JotForm’s blog wasn’t starting from scratch when Aytekin posed the 100,000-word challenge. It was already receiving about 120,000 organic site visitors a month from the posts we’d steadily written over the years.

A year later we receive about 230,000 monthly organic searches, and that’s no accident.

The past year also marked our foray into the world of pillar pages.

For the uninitiated, pillar pages are (very) long-form, authoritative pieces that cover all aspects of a specific topic in the hopes that search engines will regard them as a resource.

These are incredibly time-consuming to write, but they drive buckets full of visitors to your page.

We’re getting more than 30,000 visitors a month — all from pillar pages we’ve published within the last year.

To date, our focus on content marketing has improved our organic search to the tune of about 150,000 additional site visitors per month, give or take.

Conclusion

Content isn’t easy. That was the biggest revelation for me, even though it shouldn’t have been. It takes a large team of people with very specialized skills to see measurable success. Doing it at large scale requires a prodigious commitment in both money and time, even if you aren’t tasked with writing 100,000 words a month.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make it work for you, on whatever scale that makes the most sense.

There really aren’t any secrets to growing your content engine. No magic recipe. It’s just a matter of putting the resources you have into making it happen.

Best of all, this post just gave us about 2,000 words toward this month’s word count goal.

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SEO Insights on Salesforce Community Cloud Behavior

The Salesforce Community Cloud is a content management system (CMS) specialized for support or community-focused websites. It is a powerful CMS that allows brands like NASAAncestryPlayStationIntel, and many others to share information in a concise and organized way for their communities.

A well-implemented CMS complements a website’s SEO. The CMS platform is a medium through which a business presents content to its users. However, the content reach and indexability through Google can be impacted by a CMS’s technical limitations. Content management systems’ ability to improve a website’s SEO depends on its capacity to support the implementation of SEO best practices.

One of our clients had come to us for help after they noticed their organic reach had dropped. They suspected their recently implemented CMS had something to do with it, so we decided to investigate further. To identify the concerning behavior, we conducted a technical audit of our client’s website, as well as five other sites that use Salesforce Community Cloud. We found the following issues, which are fairly standard but nothing too unusual.

SEO Issues in Salesforce Community Cloud

  1. Status codes served differently for user and user-agent: A page a user sees as a 200, gets picked up by Googlebot as a 302.
  2. No Canonicals: None of the pages we observed are using canonical tags, but Salesforce support indicates that it is possible to implement them.
  3. JavaScript Rendering: Pages using Salesforce Community Cloud are rendered in JavaScript, possibly slowing down the index rate of a website.
  4. Redirect Limits: We believe Salesforce Community Cloud has a limit on redirects. They do not have any public documentation stating that they do.

Although I wish I could share what client, and what websites I found this behavior in, I am not allowed. I was, however, able to find this behavior on OpenTable, which is a website that Salesforce publicly announces as using their platform. Let’s dig deeper as to why these issues are showing up on Salesforce and what we recommend your team does to handle them.

Status codes served differently for user and user-agent

Status codes represent the communication between a browser and a server. When a user submits a browser request, the site server is asked for information, and it returns a status code.

The behavior we noticed in websites with Salesforce Community Cloud was that our crawler was classifying most URLs with a 200 status code.

In theory, if a user would visit that page, the information would be visible, and the user can interact with the website. We clicked into some URLs to confirm that they were a 200 status code, and we identified misclassification on status codes. We got the “User” status code by opening up the link in our browser and found the status code with the Redirect Path extension for Chrome. To get the “Crawler” status code, we used the Mac Terminal. In Terminal we executed a curl command with additional filters, to get the status code and HTML source code as Googlebot.

Our Terminal command:

curl -v https://help.opentable.com/s/article/Account-Management-Incomplete-Reservation-History-1481744282490?language=en_US -H “User-Agent: Googlebot”

The following are examples of how URL status codes were different for the user and crawler.

Examples:

OpenTable Dinner Help

https://help.opentable.com/s/article/Account-Management-Incomplete-Reservation-History-1481744282490?language=en_US

Crawler: 200 Status Code

User: 302 Status Code

https://help.opentable.com/s/article/How-do-I-view-change-or-cancel-a-reservation-1505260327125?language=en_US

Crawler: 200 Status Code

User: 200 Status Code

No canonicals

Canonical tags are used to help Google identify which URL we want them to index. This is helpful when multiple URLs have the same information. Implementing the canonical tags helps Google identify and index the URL we want. These tags prevent Google from labeling multiple URLs as duplicate content.

The behavior we picked up on Salesforce Community Cloud was that out of the multiple websites we crawled only one was using canonical tags in three of its URLs. Supporting documents on Community Cloud’s page state that adding canonical tags is possible with the platform.

We recommend that those who are using Community Cloud implement canonical tags as soon as they know which URLs they want to be in the index.

JavaScript Rendered Page

The relationship between Googlebot and JavaScript has always been very uncertain. Recently the Search Engine Journal published an article titled “JavaScript Indexing Delays Are Still an Issue for Google”. In this article, they test and confirm that Googlebot is still taking longer to index a page that is rendered using JavaScript. We recommend that if your page is using JavaScript the source code visible to the bot should include the links that are found within that page. This allows for the Googlebot to more efficiently crawl its way through your website.

The behavior we found on Salesforce Community Cloud is that all those using it have their pages rendered in JavaScript. It is often that tabs or actions a user may take are linked to by using a JSVoid(0) command. Another essential behavior we noticed was that the source code that is visible to the user does not contain the same information as the source code available to Googlebot. We can confirm that Salesforce Community Cloud was designed to be this way, and they are single-page applications according to Salesforce’s Blog on Lightning Communities.

While this does not mean that Google cannot index or crawl your site, it does mean it will take longer for new content to be indexed. At this point, there is not a lot that can be done, so either Salesforce optimizes their CMS to make HTML crawlable, or Google speeds up indexing JavaScript-rendered pages.

Redirect Limits

We have worked with clients in the past that have had a limited amount of redirects available when using Salesforce Community Cloud. Although we are not able to confirm this with current public Salesforce documentation, we were still able to find a solution for our client. They wanted to redirect all their previous links and met the threshold. Our recommendation to them was to use a CDN to manage the redirects beyond the limit.

If you are thinking of using Salesforce Community Cloud, we recommend making sure that they can redirect all of your current links.

In Conclusion

Salesforce Community Cloud is a great CMS allowing businesses to efficiently and quickly show content to their users. However, some of its behavior may significantly impact your site’s search performance. While the behaviors highlighted in this article are not necessarily bad, they are helpful to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about Googlebot crawling and indexing your site. For businesses interested in using Salesforce Community Cloud, I recommend asking questions around the common behaviors to a Salesforce Sales Representative and making sure that this CMS will work for your business.

If you have any questions about this behavior or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected] This project would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of Lydia Gilbertson.

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