SEO Articles

All You Need to Know About Website Architecture

All You Need to Know About Website Architecture

Ever wondered why as a freelancer, you delve into some websites and you feel like you have finally reached your haven, while on the other hand, you open some and you can’t even wait for a second to close them immediately?

Well, the latter was my case last week when I was looking for some ideas on how to design my outdoor space in a minimalist way. The home page was jumbled up and this is just to say the least.

I couldn’t wait for another second to close the website and continue my search. This is how profound your site architecture is to driving traffic and as in the example above- customers.

It is essential that in your quest for building an online presence, you don’t get too excited and build a dormant website with little or no traffic.

This article will show you how your site architecture relates to search engine optimization (SEO) and how you can improve your site structure to get you your desired result- traffic!

What is Site Architecture?

Website architecture, otherwise known as site architecture or simply site structure, refers to how your website is structured. It covers every aspect of your website from the overall design to usability.  

Importance of Site Architecture

My friend has worked with a few clients over the years and often times we wonder why business owners and their web designers trivialize site architecture.

On the one hand, the site architecture covers the visual, functional and technical aspects of a website and as such, it is what makes a website good or bad.

A medical blog (name withheld) that was created about three years ago had so great difficulties in getting past fifty readers per article posted. About ten months ago, my friend was called to review the website and we changed nearly everything from the choice of colors, the navigation, content organization, management and a host of others.

We also introduced site maps, improved the interactivity and changed the URL link.

All these changes, however little they might seem, shot up traffic to the website brought big changes as they have been getting now get up to 600 viewers consistently per article for the last 7 months with the figures increasing.

On the other hand, there are just a few web designers and developers who understand what it takes to have a site structure that enhances search engine optimization (SEO).

There are other great reasons you should pay maximum attention to your site structure asides the visuals, and we are going to cover a few in this article.

1. Better crawling

Having a superb website architecture not only improves your traffic, but it also aids crawling.

In simple terms, a good site structure equals good crawling. Crawling basically refers to an automated fetching of some website page by a software program commonly called a crawler.

Other names include spider, robot, bots etc.

Search engines like google do not automatically know what exists on your website. It is with the aid of a crawler or a bot that search engines get access to your website and index them.

By getting access to your website, your web page can pop up on the search list whenever an internet user searches something related to one of your website content.

It is no longer enough to write content every week on your blog. The discoverability highly depends on their SEO quality with depends on whether they were seen by crawlers which in turn depends on the structure or architecture of your website.

To put things in layman terms, crawlers do not magically detect everything on your website, even google has once disclosed that there are some web pages that may not be discoverable by their normal crawling process.

You can then imagine how things would look like for a website with poor architecture. It is important to point out that this is not to undermine the importance of keywords in your website contents.

Keywords, over the years, have proven to be one of the most effective tools to get your web pages to rank favorable on your search engines (what you call search engine optimization).

But at the same time, it is quite essential that you understand the process by which web pages appear on your favorite search engine and align your website properly so you can get your desired outcome.

Suffice to say that with a correct site structure, crawlers won’t have a hard time getting through your website and indexing the pages for the ultimate reason- search engine optimization.

2. Easy navigation

Easy navigation to what the website has to offer from one drop-down menu.

The importance of interactivity and usability of your website cannot be overemphasized. I cringe at the thought of going through a website where I have to concentrate all my brain cells to get to my desired web page. Yuck!

These horrible websites with poor navigation still exist and if yours is one of them, you should get it done as soon as possi… scratch that- immediately!

The key to getting traffic and likes is the ease of use of your websites. And again, so many factors come into play when it comes to improving the interactivity of your website.

A good structure improves user experience and reduces your website’s overall bounce rate. Wondering what that means? Remember that time I hurried out of that disgusting website that caused me so much distress? Yes, that simply is a bounce rate.

It is an index that measures the total number of people that land on your website page without actually interacting with it and leave. Now, it is important to know how this affects your website in the SEO race.

Search engines especially Google can detect when users click on your web page. Want to know how?

Well, that is beyond the scope of the article. But looking at it, google knowing that users clicked on your webpage is logical since they showed users your page in the first instance.

So, when users click on your page and leave without any iota of interaction, this is a sign that users do not enjoy your website (not just the content, can be the structure as we have been discussing).

This leaves negative feedback, all culminating into one thing- lower ranking for your page. When you have a decent site structure, users visit your page, interact with it and overall, your bounce rate reduces, shooting up your page in the rankings.

3. Increased link juice across a site

Ever been glued to a website so much that you can stop reading their content? Well, I bet that most of the time, the attention they got from you as a result of the internal links they included in their articles.

What are the internal links? Internal links are links that go from one page on a website to another page on the same website.  

These internal links are very important for three reasons:

They aid readers in navigating a websiteThey establish a content hierarchy for the websiteThey spread link juice around the site.

Now, unto the next question: what is link juice? Link juice is an informal SEO term that refers to the value passed from one page to the other.

Internal Link Juice Credit:WooRank

Internal links are most useful for establishing a website structure an increasing the link juice. A well-defined website helps improve your link juice or equity in no small way.

First, there is nothing sweeter than a reader knowing that they are not lost in a pool of contents. Your site structure being top-notch automatically translates to a great organization of content.

Inserting internal links between these contents just serve as connections literally, upgrading your linking juice.

Now I am aware that this is such a bold statement to make but a decent site structure magically translates to increased linking juice.

Best Practices

Here are some of our recommended practices to build or maintain a site with great architecture:

1. Fewer clicks

Everyone on earth –or at least almost everyone- would like to surf on the internet, hit a website, and click just two or three times to reach their chosen destination.

This wish is even heightened when it comes to huge content websites where a click doesn’t even guarantee they are one step close to the end. There have been studies that greatly support this practice.

Fewer clicks have been shown to result in higher sales for e-commerce websites

Now, this is one central recommendation for good website architecture. There is a good practical approach to this and I’m going to lay it bare. Say you have a website that sells foot wares, here are some steps to decrease the multiple click mantra and expand your sales.

i. Ensure that customers can get to your products within two clicks

Not a lot of things are worse than having to click through a dozen categories and sub-categories to find one’s desired good.

I’d recommend that you present your goods as customers reach the second or third level of your grouping. This ensures they see their products within two or three clicks.

ii. Ensure your customers can see major items in one click

One thing that puts me off is seeing so much hype about a particular link and finally clicking and discovering that it’s not even worth it. You have made your pages worth it.

Make consumers know that you value their click by putting major stuff at each page level

iii. Keep your customer moving forward

Although this comes to align a bit with a decent site structure, an active effort still has to be put in ensuring that your shopper is not lost in the middle of anywhere.

That’s a rather simplistic approach to ensuring fewer clicks for e-commerce websites. It is noteworthy to mention that the same applies to writing blogs and a host of others. I have just picked e-commerce as an example because people tend to complain about the lack of customers very often.

2. Plot out a navigation structure

As I mentioned earlier, a good structure means better crawling and better SEO. If you are just starting out, you should plot out your navigation structure in the best way possible.

If you already have a website, you will do well with some editing too. I will be going right into the points.

i. Have a hierarchy

A site hierarchy means a way to arrange your information. It is crucial that your hierarchy is logical and simplistic. Also, I would recommend that you keep the number of your main categories between two and six, or max-seven. You don’t want to create this complex-sophisticated impression to your visitors except you are Amazon.com. you should try to even out the number of subcategories in each main category too. It adds some special, untold, beauty to your website.

ii. Have a URL structure that is exactly the same has your navigation structure.

Say you are into shoe sales and under your Sneaker’s section(as a main category), you have Nike as a subset, let your URL look like www.websitename.com/sneakers/nike. It’s far better off this way has your URL links will have real names and not some strange symbols.

iii. Use HTML or CSS

Keep the coding simple. These two recommendations are about your safest options.

iv. Create a header that lists your navigation page

Usually, I would recommend that you have a top header that lists out your main pages. This even infuses some sense of seriousness in your visitor as they go through your homepage.

3. Use a sitemap

XML sitemap tell search engines the complete hierarchy of your webpages. This will ensure all pages are crawled.

Imagine going to where you have never been to, have no relative or friend or somewhere very far away without a map. Yes, that’s how it usually feels like for some visitors.

Sitemaps have been shown to increase the overall engagement of visitors thereby increasing SEO. They have also been found out to increase your site’s crawlability.

Remember what we said about that yeah? Well, the good news is that you can manually create a sitemap on your website. There are relatable ways to create them all over the internet. 

SEOPressor Connect has an XML-sitemap generator and it can generate sitemap for you automatically. 

Next, if you’re not using WordPress, you can use XML-sitemaps,a third-party sitemap generator tool that can save you a lot of headaches.

It easily produces an XML file that you can use as a sitemap. You then need to submit it to Google.

To do this, simply search for and select your website on Google search console homepage, click sitemaps on the menu, type sitemap.xml in the text area next to your domain name and click submit. Easy-peasy right? Yeah, that’s how pleasant things have become.

Conclusion

Site structure is a function of the visual, functional and technical aspects of your site. It is, therefore, an indispensable tool to increase your site’s SEO.

The best time to get a good site structure is before you design it. However, there’s still hope for you if you already have a website. If you have a great site architecture, your desired result will follow.

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Deep SEO Thoughts For 2021

Deep SEO Thoughts For 2021

When I worked at NBC in the 90’s, The Clapper spent a boatload advertising on Seinfeld, and Friends, and probably even on The Cosby Show. Of course they would spend millions in advertising on TV as would the George Foreman Grill, as would Ron Popeil and his amazing Pocket Fisherman, as would pretty much any brand that wanted to sell the entire country something. Moms spent a lot of time watching As The World Turns, so it made sense that Cool Whip would want to be there. The problem with Cool Whip is it wasn’t as entertaining as Donny & Marie*:

Then again, those adorable Osmonds couldn’t help you if last minute company was arriving in 30 minutes and you needed a tasty dessert that also signaled you were not a failure as a mother, or worse, as a hostess.

So brands kind of did their thing, solving life’s problems for you, while the media did their thing, helping you avoid all of life’s problems for as long as possible.

Enter the Internet.

I like to imagine that in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee was sitting in his office at CERN around lunchtime thinking “Damn that grilled cheese looks incredible. If only I could send a picture of it to the entire world, then everyone would see what an amazing life I am leading and I could die happy.”**

Enter Google.

Suddenly, while watching Notre Dame get their ass kicked by Bama, you could actually search for what is the best damn beer in the world instead of drinking beer-flavored water just because a team of horses gave you all the feels***.

So SEO in 2021 is not too different than SEO in 2020 or in previous years. Your SEO program will be somewhere on this graph:

The problem with beginning of the year SEO predictions posts is that most brands have already set their SEO budgets for 2021, and I guarantee 99% of them did not include building an in-studio ice rink for dancing skaters to help rank #1 for “queen sized mattress” in their Powerpoint decks.

If you are not prepared to be as entertaining as Donny & Marie, you should be prepared to be at least as informative as WikiHow****. Better yet, be prepared to be both.

Marginalia:

*Thank you Todd Mintz

**According to Herodotus, the happiest man is he who dies happy

***The origin of the Clydesdales is pretty great. Bud should do a Superbowl ad with the Clydesdales delivering Bud to quarantined homeowners; like an equestrian DoorDash.

****Full disclosure: At some point in time, LSG may have helped Wikihow figure out how to do SEO

The post Deep SEO Thoughts For 2021 appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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Should you use Google’s updated Disavow Links tool?

30-second summary:

In early November, Google made a UI update to its Disavow Links tool.
The core functionality hasn’t changed, meaning that some SEO practitioners will continue to use it incorrectly.
Disavow continues to have no impact on fixing negative SEO and often won’t make your website do better in search.
However, it can reduce the chances of being served with manual actions as a result of your backlink profile.

Once upon a time, Google’s Disavow Links tool seemed like a godsend to SEO practitioners everywhere. Hailed on its launch in 2012 — not long after the Penguin algorithm update — as the search engine’s “best spam reporting tool yet”, disavow links allowed webmasters to instruct Google to ignore all links from certain domains.

Flash forward eight years and the feature, which has seen its fair share of controversy, has been incorporated into Google’s updated Search Console. In the words of Google analyst John Mueller,

“the core functionality has not changed…it’s a UI update.”

However, the revised Disavow tool does include some new features, such as the ability to download your disavowed links as a .txt file, as well as improved support.

The response from SEO practitioners has been somewhat tepid, whether because it won’t change the way the tool has been misused to this point, or simply because there are other, more pressing matters Google could have attended to first. Here, we’ll go through the pros and cons of Google’s Disavow Links tool, and whether these new changes that have been made are worth it.

How webmasters were using the Disavow Links tool wrong

Coming as it did in the wake of the Penguin update, many people saw disavowal as an easy way to remove spammy backlinks from their site’s profile, encouraging the revised algorithm to look more kindly upon their sites. That said, there were still some inherent issues with the way that many site owners tended to use it. The disavow tool was only meant to be used in exceptional circumstances when all other avenues of removing low-quality links had been exhausted.

Google itself pointed out in its Help Center at the time that “most sites will not need to use this tool”, but that didn’t stop many from wantonly adding all manner of backlinks to their lists for disavowal. Yet, the tool acts more like a signpost for the algorithm, rather than a way to formally avoid any backlink penalties or combat any perceived negative SEO.

What has changed about Disavow Links?

The main differences between the updated and the old version of Disavow are in its location, now that it sits within Search Console. There are also a few new basic functions, such as the ability to download your complete list of disavowed links in .txt format and an unlimited number of files you can see when you request an error report.

That ultimately means that little has changed for SEO practitioners, other than further encouragement against using it to improve their sites’ rankings outright. In fact, this might explain the Twitter response from the public who, as outlined by Search Engine Journal, seem more interested in an update to the Request Indexing tool, which was discontinued in October 2020. Indeed, without the request indexing tool, site owners who have requested to have some of their backlinks discontinued will have to wait until the next time their site is crawled for the changes to take effect, rather than be able to flag them with Google immediately.

Is the new Disavow Links tool worth using?

Put simply, the changes that Google has made to Disavow Links shouldn’t make a significant enough impact on the majority of webmasters to warrant using it any differently. However, it might be the revision that discourages more people from using the tool incorrectly, especially since one of its other new features makes it easier to get rid of your list of disavowed links altogether and start again.

When it comes to improving your site’s performance, there are arguably far more important things to focus on before you start disavowing links. Considering how little it will actually help those who think it’s a reliable way to boost their chances with the algorithm — which doesn’t even take disavowals into account — the best course of action would be to use the tool exactly as you were before the update. That means sparingly, and only when absolutely necessary, with no misconceived notions that it could improve your negative SEO, or your rankings altogether.

The post Should you use Google’s updated Disavow Links tool? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Simple Ways to Improve User Experience

Simple Ways to Improve User Experience

What gets under your skin whenever you land on a website? It must be those huge banners that block all content, requesting your email address before you even start reading.  It could also be the obligation to remove your ad blocker before you can proceed to the content.

In these and similar instances, you immediately click out of the site, right? We all do. No one can blame you. Now, as a marketer or business owner, you realize just how critical user experience can be for the success of your business.

What is User Experience (UX?)

UX is a term used in design, including of apps, websites, products, and machines—pretty much everything that involves a human as the end-user. User experience refers to the quality of interaction the user gets with your website, app, or product. The goal for UX designers is to create pleasant, easy, exciting, and successful interactions for the user.

In a nutshell, UX on a website entails aspects such as:

Branding and appearanceDesign and feelUsability and responsiveness

What Does User Experience mean for SEO?

User experience and Search Engine Optimization are peas in a pod. And because 2 in every 3 businesses rely on a website for customer interactions, you can expect that good or bad user experience will have a big say on your bottom line.

In the example in our introduction, you exited a site that requested your contacts before you could access their content. Customers can exit from your website too if you try their patience with ‘annoying’ ads, poor navigation, ‘mobile unfriendliness,’ or pages that take too long to load.

When users suddenly leave your site after landing on it, it’s termed as a high bounce rate in SEO. Search engines will get suspicious of the relevancy, freshness, and quality of your site. They will begin to doubt your ability to satisfy user’s queries and needs. If the high bounce rate continues, eventually, your organic search engine ranking will get revised downwards. 

Other consequences of a bad user experience on SEO include:

Tanked leads—eventually, bad UX  leads to low SERPs ranking and limited inbound linksLow conversion rates—dissatisfied  users are hard to convertBad reviews—exasperated users may leave bad ratings on  your site or products

Good user experience, on the other hand, leads to all the desirable SEO metrics that most marketers dream about. These include longer user duration on site, repeated visits, high SERPs ranking, more inbound links, and higher conversion rates. An excellent user experience is the key to successful digital marketing. In the long run, it facilitates growth and expansion for your business.

Ways to Improve User Experience

Now that you understand just how critical user experience is, and how closely Google other search engines track it, shouldn’t you do something about it? There are many ways to improve the user experience. Some are as easy as placing your sign up forms and social media widgets in the right place.  Others are involving and might need an overhaul of your entire site’s design.

i. User Journey Mapping

There is no room for guesswork when optimizing your website. That’s the plain truth. You have to get everything right from the word Go. Proper UX optimization, therefore, demands the tracking of the user journey and their behaviors on the site.  This monitoring helps to reveal how users navigate your site, interact with your content, and fill your forms. 

User journey visualization similarly allows you to see the amount of time users spend on your site, whether they come back and the pages they visit. You can follow your user’s journey using Google Analytics or similar SEO metrics tools. These tools reveal who your users are, their location, demographics, their intent, and behaviors when they visit your site.

With the information gathered, you will be able to identify aspects on your site that need improvement and how that can be done. For instance, to improve UX you might need to:

Shorten sign up formsImprove site speed on desktop or mobileShorten article length or  provide more details Increase or minimize the use of video

ii. Usability Test

As hinted before, usability is one of the foundational pillars of user experience.  The test is done to find out how easy a person can load, navigate, and interact with your website. A website with a poor UX will have low usability.  It then discourages users from staying longer or coming back on your site. Search engines, in turn, lower your rankings when they catch a whiff of it.

During a usability test, you track and evaluate how people of average or low skill can use your product (in this case, your site) without much struggling. The test should be done on both desktop and mobile devices.

iii. Desktop

Usability tests on the website are used to measure and optimize UX before Murphy’s Law calls. Essential elements to be included in the survey are navigability, accessibility, readability, and speed, among many others. Your survey participants should not know that they are being tested on these things.

iv. Mobile

Because mobile devices live in their own realm, a desktop usability test is not enough. Find out how your site appears on a small screen and how easily users can access it, read it, navigate in it, or communicate through it.

v. Design

Design is everything on a site. It births a user interface through which a person can then have a user experience. Design tricks to make your website more user friendly on both desktop and mobile include:

Simplifying navigation Improving responsivenessImproving page speedUsing the right colors Using photos and videos

vi. Have a clear CTA

The main objective behind your UX optimization efforts is to improve the conversion rates. That cannot happen without a clear CTA. Users can still bounce out of your sites regardless of your beautiful content and smooth navigation if there is no clear direction for the next step in their journey.

Make your CTA clear and easy to find. Statistics show that colorful and well-designed CTAs perform better than the regular type. An orange CTA, experts believe, can boost conversion by 32.5% while a CTA that’s been made to look like a button can increase click rates by 45%.

How to Measure User Experience

Tests and measurements are critical in any endeavor to improve user experience. Here are some of the ways to measure the UX on your site:

i. Feedback from customers

It’s all about the customers. Hear them when they speak or push them to say something when they do not. You can go about collecting user feedback by requesting for comments at the end of each of your pages. You can install a chatbot on your site so users can ask questions and find help in real-time.

You might also have to go through reviews left on your site or third-party review sites. User feedback reveals customers’ pain points when they are on your website and can provide direction on how to fix those issues.

ii. Check Google Analytics

As mentioned before, Google Analytics is a reliable source for metrics on user experience. The analytics tool tracks and records user behavior on your site. You can measure UX by looking at Google Analytics’ metrics, such as:

Click-through rates Page load  speedTime on siteBounce rate

For traffic-related UX metrics, go to Conversion, Goals then Overview to generate a full report on sessions, bounce rate, and conversions.

For user-behavior-related UX metrics, go to Analytics, Behavior then Behavior Flow to identify the exact scenarios causing the high bounce rates and click-through behaviors.

iii. Heatmap

Heatmaps show how users navigate your site and where they spend most of their time. Tracking this UX metric can provide insights on how to improve and create an excellent experience throughout your site.

Several SEO tools have a heat map feature, or you can use the free version with Google Analytics’ Page Analytics.

iv. Test again

A one-time test for your user experience is not enough. It should be a continuous process after each alteration on your website. User needs are always changing, and your website’s branding, design, and usability should keep up with the dynamism.

The bottom line

User experience is a critical part of search engine optimization. An SEO strategy that doesn’t address UX is incomplete and poses a significant risk to your business’ growth objectives.

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How to Use Listicles in Your Content Marketing

How to Use Listicles in Your Content Marketing

There are many different forms of content you can utilize throughout your content marketing strategy.

One very effective form of content is the listicle. Listicles can help to present a large amount of information in an easy to read and digest article. They’re also incredibly shareable and tend to rank higher in the search engines, which means more traffic for your website.

In this post, you’ll learn what a listicle is, why it’s so effective, and how you can create and optimize listicles to improve your content marketing strategy.

I’ll also give you some examples, so you can see what effective listicles look like and how they appear in the search engines.

What Is a Listicle?

Put simply a listicle is an article that includes a list of items. Sites like Buzzfeed have made this style of content incredibly popular, but it’s been around for a long time.

Each item of your list will include a few sentences, or multiple paragraphs to explain the list item.

The goal of your listicle could be a pure delight, like “50+ Travel Destinations You’ve Never Heard Of”, or for educational purposes like “20 Best Sites To Find Awesome Online Courses (Free & Paid)

No matter your niche, you’ll be able to come up with a topic idea that has the chance to be a popular list post.

Why are Listicles so Effective in Content Marketing?

Readers are naturally drawn to the style of a list post. The headline style can be compelling, plus the promise to learn how to do something new, or be entertained in a unique way is hard to pass up.

The use of multiple headlines makes listicles very easy to scan and digest. Even though a lot of listicles contain a ton of content, they aren’t as overwhelming to the reader.

With a listicle, the readers know what to expect. Without the list element, your readers don’t know how long the post will be, it could be three tips or up to 50.

Listicles can also help make drier, or more dense, articles easier to read. Since the article will be broken up into numerous sections. For example, if you have a post titled, “How to Speed Up Your Website” you could turn it into a listicle titled “How to Speed Up Your Website in 10 Easy Steps”.

The listicle version is much more accessible and less intimidating to the reader than the first version.

Listicles are easy to scan and the use of a number-based headline will get you more clicks than a standard headline.

Now that you’ve seen how listicles can be a valuable addition to your content marketing strategy let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of the process.

7 Tips for Writing a Great Listicle

Follow these tips to create awesome listicles.

Choose a popular topic suitable for a listicle
Perform keyword research and pick a keyword
Choose the format for your listicle
Make your listicle title H2
Format your individual list items with H3 tags
Create named sitelinks to improve search engine appearance
Add how-to schema markup

1. Choose a popular topic suitable for a listicle

The first thing you need to do is pick a suitable topic for your listicle. Even though listicles work for every niche, they won’t work for every topic.

Some topics will naturally fit better into a list, while others will be better suited for different styles of content.

One quick way to determine if a topic is going to work in a listicle format is to see what type of content Google is currently ranking.

If list posts are already ranking for that search term, then you know that you can rank if you create a post that’s better than what’s currently ranking.

On the other hand, if you do a search for a keyword and find it populated with other types of content, like “ultimate guide” style posts, then you’re probably better off staying away from a listicle for that topic.

If you do move forward with a listicle, make sure that every list item you include matches the topic of the list. Don’t add extra list items just to make your headline more compelling.

You can also look at keyword traffic data to see if a keyword could benefit from a listicle post (I’ll go in-depth on this below).

Only include valuable takeaways

It’s no secret, a lot of list posts are filled with fluff. To truly make your listicle a valuable asset for your business make sure every point you’re adding contributes value. If it’s a how-to post, then each item needs to be actionable.

Your listicle shouldn’t be a to-do list for your readers, it should also include how to do each of the items on your list.

Another way to expand the depth of your list post is to add additional resources for each of your sections. This allows you to link out to additional posts on your site while providing more value to your readers.

2. Perform keyword research and pick a keyword

Once you’re set on creating a listicle post you need a keyword and related keywords, to build the post around.

With keyword research, you’ll be able to find what people are already searching for and ensure your post ranks for those keywords.

Here’s a general approach you can follow to uncover the perfect keywords:

Dig deep into your niche on Google to better understand your competitors and what your readers want
Write down topic ideas and group topics together to create topic buckets
Use a keyword research tool like SEMRush and insert your keyword ideas from above and filter out the high competition and lower volume keywords
Look for long-tail keywords that are less competitive and have more words in the phrase
Research your competitors in SEMRush to uncover what keywords are bringing them the most traffic

The process above is just a quick overview, this keyword research guide will guide you through finding the perfect keywords in depth.

The final step for creating a listicle is finding keywords that are well-suited for a list post.

To do this you’ll have to type your keywords into Google and analyze the search results.

For example, here are the search results for the keyword “marketing tips for eCommerce”.

Listicles in Google Search Results

You’ll notice how all of the search results are listicle style posts. You can use these posts to inform your content and determine how many items you should include in your list.

Beyond finding the right keywords to write about, you’ll also need to optimize your post around your keywords.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your listicle:

Add your target keyword to the beginning of your article title
Write a meta description for your article that includes your target keyword(s)
Include your target keyword within the first 100 words of your article
Add related keywords throughout your post and within your headings
Add your target keyword to your URL

3. Choose the format for your listicle

There are a variety of different formats your post can take. The intent of the keyword will help to inform the format of the post.

Keyword intent is what type of information searchers are looking for when they search for a specific keyword. The best way to figure out what someone is searching for is to examine the first page of the search results.

This will show you the type of content that users want.

Since listicles can come in many forms, here are some of the most popular forms to model your article after:

Short and sweet list post

This style of post is commonly associated with Buzzfeed. This is where you’ll create a long list of items with very short descriptions. Usually, this includes compelling images and other media as well.

Simple lists don’t tend to do as well for SEO purposes, since there’s not that much content. However, they can perform very well across social media and can be used in other forms of promotion.

Expanded list post

Expanded list posts are similar to the short description list post above, but instead of having a small description, this post will go into each step in great detail.

This will give your reader everything they need to take action on every step. This style of post is best for how-to style content, where you’re showing your reader how to do something.

Best of list posts

Best of list posts are also on the shorter side of content length, but they can be effective for building backlinks to your site.

With this style of post, you create a list of things like best bloggers, best quotes, best websites, best resources on a given subject.

Then, you email that person, or company, and let them know they’ve been featured on your list. Often, this will lead to a ton of shares across social media or even backlinks.

Roundup list post

Roundup list posts, or interview list posts, compile helpful advice from a bunch of experts. To create this style of post you reach out to a bunch of experts and ask them a question, then compile their answers into a list.

This is similar to the “best of” list post above and can be used to generate backlinks and a ton of social shares.

4. Make your listicle title H2

One thing that a quality listicle needs are proper formatting and the use of headings. Your article needs to be broken up so it’s easy to scan and digest.

Your headings need to stand out from the rest of the body content, especially if you have a long list post, like “39 Ways to Promote Your New Blog Post.”

To help the search engines understand the type of post you’re writing you’ll want to use simple formatting techniques.

For the post title, you’ll want to use an H1 tag and an H2 tag for the title of your list.

Here’s how the HTML of your article will look when formatted properly:

List Elements HTML

Now, there is some debate about the impact that using multiple H1 tags has on rankings. However, only using a single H1 tag per page makes sense from a user experience point of view.

A hierarchical headline approach helps both your readers and the search engines better scan and digest your content.

Even though this might seem like a small change, every bit helps when it comes to SEO. The higher you can rank in the search results, the more traffic your website will receive.

If you’re writing a how-to listicle, then this is the type of post formatting you’ll want to use.

5. Format your individual list items with H3 tags

To further optimize your content for the search engines you can identify the main areas of your list using an HTML list. This will further highlight the most important areas of your post.

An HTML list has a great chance of being picked up as the featured snippet, especially for list posts, and how-to posts that educate readers on a step-by-step process.

By using the HTML list element you can increase your chances of your post being used as the featured snippet.

Here’s an example of what the list element will look like with HTML:

Listicles Title Formatting

The list above is formatted using an H2 tag, while the individual list items will use H3 tags. This helps the search engine crawlers identify your list items, even when your article has other headings present.

Using the list element makes crawling your website easier, and it makes it easier for your readers to digest your content.

If you’re writing a listicle that lists out steps or includes a list of items, then this is the formatting you’ll want to use. You can also use this style of formatting within each of your main list items to create lists within lists to further explain how-to content.

Additionally, make sure you include the following elements with your list post:

Use an H1 heading for your post title
Use the H2 heading for the title of your list
Use H3 headings for your list items
Include related keywords in your H2 and H3 tags

Here are some ideas for improving the value of your content and making it more useful to your readers:

Adding actionable steps with bullets
Including screenshots
Embedding YouTube videos that go deeper into the idea
Adding infographics
Including tangible examples

6. Create named sitelinks to improve search engine appearance

How your site appears in the search results will influence the number of people who click on your article. There’s no point in ranking high in the search engines if searchers aren’t clicking through to your website.

Another way to further optimize your content is to create internal links for each of the items in your list. This helps to enhance your search engine listing in the search results.

This is similar to the step above, but you’ll be adding an additional anchor text that links to a section of your list.

This not only helps your readers better navigate your content, but it can enhance your search engine appearance (as you’ll learn below).

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Wrap your list elements in <ul><li> tags
Use H3 tags for every element on your list
Add internal links to each item on your list that points to each H3 heading within your content.

This is how the HTML version of your post will look:

Named Anchors in Listicles

Now when your post ranks in the search engines, each part of your list will also display in the search results. If searchers are looking for a specific step of the process, they can navigate to it directly in the search results.

Overall, this will enhance your search engine appearance and improve your CTR. Your CTR is the percentage of people that click on your search engine result from the search engines.

This can also provide a better user experience across the board, since your visitors will be able to find the exact content they’re looking for, instead of having to scroll through the entire article.

7. Add how-to schema markup

This final step is a bit more complicated, so only move forward if you feel comfortable adding a few lines of code to your article.

Schema markup helps Google better understand your site’s content, so it can be used as a featured snippet, or even be utilized in voice search (which is a growing trend).

Understanding how-to schema

How-to schema is a form of structured data offered by Google. Structured data gives clues to Google about the meaning of the content on a page. All you have to do is add a small piece of code to your page, which tells the search engine bots the “type” of content to expect.

Google offers how-to schema instructions that guide you through the process of adding schema to your site.

It’s important to note that adding how-to schema to your page doesn’t influence the appearance of your page, but only communicates with the search engine crawlers about what your page is about.

Adding how-to schema to your site

Here’s a quick process to follow to add schema to your site:

Go through the schema markup requirements to determine if your content is eligible.
Write the schema script (you can use this template and customize it with your site information)
Use the Google Rich Results test to test your code

There are also a handful of free schema generators you can use to generate the code for you.

Finally, you’ll need to embed the <script> in the <head> section of your page. If you’re using WordPress you can add the script on a per-page basis, or use a plugin that lets you add individual scripts to individual pages.

Here’s an example from Google of what your post could look like with the proper schema markup:

Google HOW-TO Schema Example
Examples of Listicles that Perform Well in Google

Listicle content is not only very popular with readers but loved by the search engines as well. Search engines like Google are trying to provide the best and most relevant content possible, since readers enjoy list posts, it only makes sense they’ll perform well in the search engines too.

Here are some examples of listicles that perform well in Google:

The 10 Best Online Courses on Digital Marketing (Free & Paid)

This article ranks high for a variety of keywords related to “best digital marketing courses”.

Here’s how it appears in the search results:

Example of a Listicle in Google Search Results

Here’s an example of the individual article links being added to the post:

Example of a Listicle

Top 10 Search Engines In The World (2021 Update)

This article ranks highly for the keyword “top search engines” and related keywords. Here’s how it appears in the search results:

Example of a Listicle in Google Search Results

This post what takes could be a shortlist into an expanded version with detailed explanations of each of the search engines.

Example of a Listicle
Key Learnings

Listicles are a very effective type of article to use throughout your content marketing. By strategically using listicles you can create high-ranking content that delights your readers and brings your site a ton of traffic.

List posts can be created across nearly all niches and most topics. List posts are easier to read and skim, plus they can break down complex topics for your visitors.

To start you’ll need to choose a popular topic in your niche that’s big enough to support a list post. You’ll also need to make sure that list posts are currently ranking in the search engines for that given topic.

Next, you’ll need to perform keyword research to determine which keyword(s) you’ll be targeting with this post. Since list posts are great at picking up backlinks and social shares, you’ll want to take advantage of this by targeting as many relevant keywords as possible.

Finally, you’ll want to optimize your post properly to make it easier for readers to skim your content and the search engine bots to crawl your site.

By creating listicles for your website you’ll grow your traffic levels while creating content your readers will enjoy.

The post How to Use Listicles in Your Content Marketing appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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SEO Pricing: The Hard Truth about the Cost of Search Engine Optimization

SEO Pricing: The Hard Truth about the Cost of Search Engine Optimization

It’s a question every SEO asks at a certain point. Why? Because like any other marketing activity, SEO costs money and the expenses can sometimes pile without much to show for it. Being a shrewd business owner, you must always find ways to maximize your returns while minimizing expenses.

So, what constitutes a “good SEO deal?”

Is it $500 per month? $5,000 per month? Or should you do your SEO on your own to eliminate expenses altogether? Let’s begin with what others are paying.

A Look at Industry Data

Since this is a question millions of digital marketers struggle with every year, there’s been considerable research on SEO pricing.

For example, I recently bumped upon one survey where 70% of small businesses said they spend under $100 on SEO per month. Another 17% of the respondents, meanwhile, said they spend between $101 and $199. According to this survey, therefore, close to 90% of small businesses spend under $200 on SEO per month.

More surprisingly, about 54% of the respondents said they spend nothing ($0.00) on SEO. Of the businesses in this category;

The majority do SEO on their ownThe others disregard SEO entirely!

An even more detailed study report, however, was released recently by Ahrefs. Ahrefs’ study wasn’t focused on what marketers pay, but rather SEO pricing among agencies. The two key survey questions were;

How much do you charge for SEO services?What SEO pricing model(s) do you use?

In total, 357 SEO agencies were interviewed, though at the end, only 348 “clean” submissions were accepted. The following were the key takeaways from the study;

Most agencies (74.71%) charge a monthly retainer$501-$1,001 is the most popular retainer rangeAbout 36.78% charge an hourly rateHourly rates rarely exceed $150 (88%)At least 50.44% charge $75-$150/hour

It’s worth noting that more experienced SEOs charge a higher price compared to the newer guys. The average hourly rate for agencies that have been in the industry for;

<2 years is $79.39/hour2-4 years is $110.69/hour4-10 years is $118.85/hour>10 years is $142.50/hour

In summary, therefore, for a regular project, you’ll likely pay, on average;

$110/hour$501-$1,001/month, or$1,001-$2,000/project

Making the Right Decision

Now that we know what agencies charge, we can focus on finding that “sweet deal.” Let’s begin by getting the paid vs. DIY SEO debate out of the way.

Pay or Do It Yourself?

A tough question, right?

The truth is that DIY SEO is cheaper. You don’t have to pay someone to do the job for you. So, you may not even have to allocate a budget for the SEO.

However, we also want to stress that DIY SEO isn’t free. Just because you’ve saving the budget doesn’t mean it’s free.

You’ll need to (according to Blue Corona);

Educate yourself – 80+ hours/yearPerform keyword search – 3 hours/weekEngage in blogging – 24 hours/weekMaintain your social media – 8 hours/week

The total time spent on DIY SEO, therefore, is 80 + (35/week x 52) = 1,900 hours per year. If your digital marketing ROI is $50/hour, 1,900 hours spent on SEO would equate to a $95,000 investment. So, is it free? NO. Is it cheaper? With regards to upfront costs, yes.

The biggest advantage of DIY SEO, however, is that once you get into the grove, you can achieve a lot more than you’d ever get from an agency or SEO consultant because of the greater dedication and will to succeed.  

So, How Much Should You Spend on SEO Services?

Well, we’ve already established what other marketers pay on average (i.e. $1,001 to $2,000 per project). You can always use that as a reference point.

However, you don’t have to pay that much. Indeed, depending on the type and size of your business, your location, and whether you choose to outsource or DIY your SEO, the cost will vary significantly.

What we want to stress is that;

Cheap SEO is a trap and costly; avoid itSEO is a broad term. It’s not just about keywordsYour SEO will need to grow as the business grows

Why is Great SEO an Important Investment for Your Business?

Since it’s impossible to put a fixed price on SEO, the best approach is to look at it as an investment which is just as important as the rest of your marketing. Here’s what makes great SEO vital;

Organic search is often the primary source of website trafficSEO boosts brand trust and credibilityGood SEO means a more satisfying user experienceGood SEO boosts engagement and conversions

How Can You Invest in Your SEO for the Highest ROI?

Whether you choose to outsource or DIY, there are several steps you can take to establish and run a highly profitable SEO campaign.

Aim to rank for evergreen and money keywordsImprove your site navigationOptimize your website and content for mobile searchesOptimize your site for speed. Faster sites get more trafficWrite high-quality content that adds valueInvest in inbound and outbound link buildingConsider using SEO tools to boost your ROI

DIY Search Engine Optimization with SEO Tools

If, like the majority of small business owners, you choose the DIY route, search engine optimization tools can prove invaluable. An SEO tool is a software program designed to help you with things such as spying on the competition, auditing your SEO strategy, keyword search, SEO tracking, and data mining.

Some of the popular SEO tools to consider are;

Google keyword plannerGoogle analyticsGoogle trendsSEMRushAhrefsMoz ProScreaming FrogYoast SEO for WordPress

BiQ: Demystifying SEO Pricing and Paying Only for What You Use

Finally, you should also consider the new kid on the block – BiQ! Still in the beta stage, the BiQ SEO tool is different from the other SEO tools because you only pay for what you need.  

Traditionally, when you decide to start doing SEO, you go online, pick an agency, pay whatever they’re demanding, and then work begins. So, you never really get the chance to discuss the specific SEO services that you need because, you know, SEO is just SEO. It comes as a package, right?

Well, it doesn’t. SEO is an umbrella term. It comprises several elements, including keyword search, competitor analysis, SEO auditing, and so forth. What happens if you only use a few of these services? What if you need keyword analysis but not auditing?

With traditional SEO tools, you’d still pay the whole “SEO” cost, meaning that you end up paying even for services you don’t need.

That ends with BiQ.

With BiQ, SEO pricing is dependent on the specific services you need. Is it keyword intelligence? Content intelligence? Link intelligence? BiQ allows you to choose from these features (there are six in total) and pay only for what you need. Sign up for the closed Beta test at https://app.biq.cloud/sign-up.

Conclusion

SEO is a foundational pillar for any successful digital marketing campaign. And, it can be expensive. Fortunately, with tools such as Google Analytics and BiQ, you don’t have to worry about SEO pricing anymore. These tools make it possible to plan and execute an incredibly successful, low-cost SEO campaign – even on your own!

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