SEO Articles

Ways to improve your link building

With the right strategy in place, link building can be a hugely effective way of building strong authority to increase longer term, sustainable organic visibility. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to find yourself returning to old, outdated methods. With so many different approaches to link building, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to make the greatest impact.

There are a variety of link building tactics that don’t require a huge amount of resource or expense, so whether you’re working for an agency or in-house, dust away the cobwebs that are plaguing your strategy and step up. Below are just a few ways you can improve your approach to link building.

Don’t forget the basics

The first step is not to forget the basics, it’s so easy to forget these – particularly when you’re constantly being served with ‘inspirational content’ that promises to be the best and only method you’ll ever need. Revisiting old, unlinked brand mentions and fixing broken links can have a huge impact, particularly when from a strong authority site.

Immerse yourself in the brand

If you are working with an agency, having a ‘brand immersion’ or ‘discovery day’ can be incredibly useful if you approach it correctly. Start out with a full list of everything you’d want to know about a client, their product or brand – and pretty much interrogate them.

A client of ours recently said he’d been running his business for so long he assumed everyone knew everything he did about their business and products, when in fact they were probably only conveying 10% of their USPs digitally. If a client holds their cards close to their chest, a brand immersion day is an opportunity to get a grasp on who they are as a brand and how they work.

Even better, this is a chance to meet with their PR representatives and see how you can work together to make the best of each other’s work. There may be things you uncover that can be used as an asset, things that they would never consider telling you proactively. For example, new product launches or an existing relationship with a site that you’ve been trying to crack for months.

Future-proof your strategy

If only one thing is certain in life, it’s that Google will continually change its algorithm. Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future and may spend a long time securing a link, only for it to suddenly have no value.

Bend fate in your favor by thinking about the bigger picture, and developing strategies that are built solely on authenticity. Build good solid links from authoritative websites. Be real and genuine, provide value in your content and insights. Always drawback to why you’re building links, whether it’s for the brand awareness they could build, to the referrals they could bring.

Monitor your own backlink profile

Monitoring your own backlink profile is a vital part of growing it, and is surprisingly something a lot of link-builders put to the bottom of their to-do list. It’s essential to see which new sites are linking to you, so you can build that relationship and contribute more great content or insights.

Second to this, a lot of sites will link to you but won’t tell you, so it’s crucial to keep on top of this. It’s also vital to see which sites stop linking to you, as there will be opportunity to try and get that link back, or try and build a relationship with that site.

Relationships over anything else

Having a good relationship with a site or influencer is almost as important as how good a piece of content is. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their activity, be a familiar face and a name that is regularly in touch with pitches and ideas. You will find that they start coming directly to you for content and ideas – instead of the other way round.

Keep a close eye on the competition

Monitoring your competitors’ activity is a very cost and time-effective way of identifying new sites to contact, new content opportunities and outreach methods to use. Using competitor links for your own gains are always fruitful and don’t require a lot of time or creativity

To make things even easier, it’s something you can automate by setting up Google Alerts or backlink alerts and reports on tools like SEMRush. Competitors are always acquiring new links, so this is something that should be continually monitored.

Don’t be afraid of a nofollow link

As mentioned above, we should be focused on the bigger picture and future-proofing link building strategies. Sometimes this means getting a nofollow link or an unlinked citation now and again. Some sites have a policy, some sites do nofollow links automatically. If a citation is genuinely driving traffic and brand awareness, then the fact that it’s a nofollow or unlinked shouldn’t be troubling you too much.

Most link building tactics fall under the category of ‘quick-wins’, and the results can have a huge impact on your site’s authority and brand awareness. Fundamentally, staying wary of the latest link building developments is key, as an outdated strategy can distill your wider SEO strategy and hold back the success of your site.

 

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Ask Yoast: How to create an FAQ page?

Ask Yoast: How to create an FAQ page?

A page that is commonly found on all kinds of websites, is the FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Commonly asked questions or remarks from customers/visitors are addressed on this page. When you visit a site looking for an answer to a specific question, the FAQ page is probably one of the first pages you’ll check.

There are several ways an FAQ page can benefit your site. For starters, it can save you time, if you regularly have to answer emails asking similar questions. In addition, a good FAQ page shows professionalism and expertise, and therefore could help improve your visitor’s trust. A great answer to a potential buyer’s question might tip the balance toward a sale. So, you’ll understand that it’s certainly worthwhile to consider adding an FAQ page to your site, and give some thought to how you do that. Let’s dive in a bit further in this Ask Yoast!

Francesco Fredduzzi emailed us his question on FAQ pages and SEO:

From an SEO-perspective, what’s the best way to create an FAQ page for my website? Should I create a subdomain? Is it better to have a collapsible list (question + answer) on the same page, or a list of links to specific posts that answer each question?

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

Creating an FAQ page from an SEO perspective

“It really depends. First of all, do not create a subdomain. Make these pages on your own website. Second, if they’re long answers, then there’s nothing wrong with creating individual pages that answer those questions. But if they’re short answers, then the best user experience and thus, usually the best thing to do for Google is to put them on one page and create a larger FAQ page.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

$199 – Buy now » Info

Now there’s all these efforts going on in Schema to make things like FAQs more easily marked up so that we can detect what is a question and what is an answer. I suspect we’ll have better solutions for this within the next six months. So stay tuned, subscribe to Yoast.com and make sure that you get all our news. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: What is UX (and why bother)? »

The post Ask Yoast: How to create an FAQ page? appeared first on Yoast.

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Adapting to Google’s latest speed update

Page speed has always been a priority to maintain search visibility, but before Google’s latest Speed update, this was something predominantly associated with desktop sites.

Now that mobile sites are also being ranked on their page loading times, it is no surprise that websites need to be up to speed to avoid decreasing search ranking.

In today’s competitive, ever-changing marketplaces, establishing a great online presence is clearly of utmost importance. However, our report recently found that 87% of the UK’s top online retail brands alone are risking a significant drop in their visibility by neglecting mobile site performance; rating as ‘poor’ in terms of mobile site speed. Google’s own research supports this by revealing the average site takes five times longer than the ideal 3-second timeframe to load.

These slower sites notoriously see increases in bounce rates, as well as lower online visibility and search engine ranking.

So what can you do to rectify this issue and bolster a websites SEO?

Research suggests the key to addressing the above issues and adhering to the latest speed update, is by focusing specifically on the mobile site user journey and eliminating any potential pitfalls. By eradicating unnecessary desktop elements on mobile sites and specifically focusing on adapting material for smart phones, you can expect to boost page speed, online visibility and meet Google’s revised website requirements.

With this in mind, let’s explore how you can adapt to Google’s most recent speed update.

Lazy loading

A quick and effective way to improve page speed is by adopting ‘lazy loading’. By only showing images ‘below the page fold’ when a user scrolls to view them, as opposed to fetching and loading everything when a user lands on a page (regardless of whether they’re going to scroll down or not), a website’s efficiency is instantly increased.

Online brands that have adopted this format are already experiencing the benefits by enabling pages to be displayed on mobiles and tablets in a shorter timeframe. Eating up less mobile data is another advantage of this technique.

Unsplash is a prime example of a brand doing really well in this space. As an image dominated site, lazy loading has played a key role in maintaining its quick page speed.

However, this tactic alone is not enough to sufficiently decrease loading times and maintain search engine visibility.

Optimizing images

With images making up 65% of web content, it is widely recognized that high-resolution pictures are one of the main culprits for slow loading times.

To address this issue, you need to reduce file sizes and ensure that only the right images are shown to users based on the device they’re using. Adding image compression functionality to a site’s admin system achieves this by ensuring that uploaded files aren’t larger than necessary (without compromising quality).

In addition, you should work to ensure that size-appropriate image files will be served to mobile visitors and retina displays (where retina images are available).

Websites without optimized images run the risk of being penalized by Google for poor practice. This could clearly cause a drop in page visits due to reduced search engine ranking.

Removing hidden content

As space is limited on mobile devices, it has always been common practice to create a scaled down version of the desktop site when building a mobile version. However, the key to improving speed is to implement server-side mobile detection. By preventing the site in question from attempting to fetch and then hide desktop-only images and/or features, its perceptual speed to users will be improved.

By stripping away these unnecessary elements, space is freed up to incorporate mobile-enhancing features without detracting from page speed. One example of this is location awareness. Enabling brands to send relevant content, specific to a user’s surroundings using Geo-location API technology, helps sites stand out from competitors.

Font compression

Typography is typically an important element of design, however bloated font files can really slow a site down, so it’s important to strike a balance between aesthetic and performance.

You should switch to using WOFF2 web compression format for fonts (within applicable browsers), as it notably offers a significant reduction in file size.

Leading online marketplace Etsy has proven this does not detract from a website’s aesthetics. Despite opting for compressed font formatting, this site has achieved faster page loading while maintaining high-quality text.

Analyzing success

As with all site modifications, after carrying out the above changes you need to check that they are having the desired effect. For this reason, tools such as PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse are invaluable for tracking webpage performance.

These platforms allow you to easily detect both well-performing and ill-performing aspects of webpages. By closely analyzing these figures, you will be in much better stead to rectify any inefficient website elements. This will also enable you to rectify issues before issues begin to negatively impact SEO.

What happens next?

By adhering to the above tactics, research shows that websites can expect a 68% reduction on perceptual load times, a 64% reduction in homepage weight (which reduces bandwidth costs), a 43% overall load time improvement on 3G speeds and a 39% improvement in ‘first interactive’ (when a page is minimally interactive for users).

However, it is important to remember that site improvements should be actioned on an ongoing basis. By doing so, you are set to truly maximize search engine ranking, boost sales and future-proof excellent user experience.

 

Gavin Lowther, head of digital at ecommerce digital marketing agency, Visualsoft.

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How To Do Negative SEO Attack (And How To Defend Against It)

How To Do Negative SEO Attack (And How To Defend Against It)

Negative SEO Attack

We all know that ever since the release of Penguin Algorithm Update, Google deals harsh penalties for websites that use black hat SEO techniques, so here’s an idea to keep you up at night:

What if a malicious party (say, your closest competitor) starts using those techniques on your site just to try and get you penalized?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is something that is commonly known as Negative SEO.

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Deadliest SEO Mistakes
Revealed By Google Patent

“While not being a Black Hat is a no brainer, this book lets you know how not to let Google mistook you as one.” – Evander Wilmer
Cracking Methods Used By Google To Detect Black Hat Practices
4 Big Companies That Got Caught At Rank Manipulation
How You Can Avoid Being Penalized By Mistake

What Is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the act of using Black Hat SEO on other websites in order to get them penalized by Google. Negative SEO can also include reducing the effectiveness of a website’s SEO properties by disabling or altering them.

Negative SEO in a nutshell.

Dealing with Negative SEO tactics can be quite tricky since some of them is out of your control, like pointing bad links (a.k.a link bomb) to your site. Another thing is, they are also a bit hard to detect.

Unlike some hacking practices that aims to deface or simply take down a website, a Negative SEO attack doesn’t affect a website’s look and feel.

Instead, the effects are only apparent once your website takes a dip in search ranking and incoming traffic.

But Why Would Anyone Commit A Negative SEO Attack?

Similar to hackers, people who do Negative SEO attacks might do it for various reasons. It can be intentional, such as sabotaging a competitor’s website, extortion or simply for fun. Do not be surprised you will find plenty of these Negative SEO Services online easily.

And believe it or not, an unintentional Negative SEO attack can also happen. There are cases where family members, employees or even hired SEO agencies deliberately do obsolete Black Hat practices on behalf of the owner thinking it will help their website ranking.

Types Of Negative SEO Attack

Just like normal SEO, Negative SEO also have both on-page as well off-page aspect to it:

Negative Off-Page SEO

As the name implies, Negative Off-Page SEO attacks without internally changing your website. Mostly it revolves around using Black Hat or negative SEO link building practices and point them to the target website:

Link farms are a series of web pages created for the sole purpose of linking to another page on the web.

Ordinarily, inbound links are a good thing that help to improve your site’s ranking… but if you have a lot of links coming in from same unrelated, spammy websites, it tells Google that you are trying to artificially increase the number of links pointing to your page by creating link farms and you will get penalized.

No, not exactly like that..

In a Negative SEO attack, malicious parties will create obvious link farms and heavily link to the target website.

Sometimes they will also purchase link farm services or buy site-wide ads to achieve the same effect. Since it’s hard for Google to tell who’s responsible for the links, it can lead to a Google penalty on the target site when detected.

Copyright complaints are a bit more complex, but at their core, they usually involve a someone claiming that you’ve posted material that belongs to them.

In many cases, this can result in an automatic removal of the page for up to 10 days – and wouldn’t it be just awful if your landing pages vanished right in the middle of your biggest campaigns?

Finally, competitors can falsify duplicate content – basically just copying and pasting your web pages over and over, maybe even as part of those link farms we discussed above.

An influx of duplicated contents across domains might signal a manipulation attempt to get multiple different websites ranking with the same content. This used to be a popular Black Hat SEO technique before Google started cracking down on it.

Massive amount of duplicate content can land you a penalty even if you’re not the one responsible behind it.

As you can see, there are many different ways for negative SEO techniques to be done to your website… but no matter how tempting they might be, you should never even consider doing any of these yourself.

Even if it works in the short-term, it’s not going to be effective forever… and could land you in serious legal trouble if anyone can prove you were behind it.

Negative On-Page SEO

This form of attack is a little different, and generally focuses on hacking into your site and changing things around. With as little as a few minutes to start messing with your setup, a hacker could easily disrupt your site’s coding, introduce viruses, and generally wreak havoc on everything you’ve tried to build.

The real threats are the ones that are hard to see, though, and consist of the following:

Negatively altering your SEO properties: Let’s be honest – are you really that likely to notice if someone changes all the alt text on your pictures to be less effective? A lot of basic SEO techniques are intended to be “set and forget”, and that’s what can leave you vulnerable to on-page negative SEO strategies.

Changing the Robots.txt: This is easily one of the most important files on your site when it comes to SEO because it tells crawlers how to interact with your site. It is normally used to tell Google which part you don’t want them to crawl and index such as a live but unfinished page. An attacker with access to your site can easily modify the robot.txt to tell Google to ignore important pages or even the whole website.

A small change is all it takes to tell Google to completely ignore a website.

Modifying Redirects: Search engines have an opinion on certain error pages – namely, they’re bad. Sites that automatically redirect from bad pages generally aren’t penalized too much, but if your redirects are changed, disabled, or scrambled, you could find yourself plummeting down the ratings.

The good news, as we’ll discuss later, is that on-page negative SEO attacks are much harder to perform… and much easier for a competent programming team to fix, too.

The Likelihood of Negative SEO Attacks

Negative SEO services are not hard to find, but are they really worth it?

With all the stuff we’ve talked about here, you might be worried that there’s a rampant amount of negative SEO going on and you just haven’t caught up to it yet.

Well… not exactly.

Google is quite good at detecting when negative SEO is occurring. For example, if someone’s trying to do some Google Bowling and smash you over with site-wide links, there’s a good chance that the link from that site will only be counted as one vote from them – unlikely to do you any real harm.

Also, remember that while Google is actively hunting down Black Hat SEO practices, some might slip through for a while. This means that Negative SEO attempts won’t guarantee a penalty from Google for the victim. Not only that, it might even do the opposite and actually help the target to rank better!

Google have already taken into account the possibility of framing others when designing their algorithm.

Similarly, hacking attempts are not that hard to avoid as long as you are using a robust system securing your site (make sure they are updated). Also avoid using simple administrator passwords just because you think nobody is interested in ruining your humble site. You know what they say – better safe than sorry.

In general, Negative SEO can be costly, takes a lot of effort and is highly risky. The return on the other hand, isn’t even guaranteed and while it might work, it’s quite easy to fix once the target realize what is happening.

In short – Negative SEO is a high risk, low reward activity. Unless there’s a very compelling reason (revenge maybe?), it is quite unlikely for anyone to attempt on doing it.

The most likely websites to be targeted for SEO are those in highly-competitive, high-money fields – gambling sites are a common example of this. Sites that are in calmer niches are far less likely to be hit by negative SEO – indeed, anything that happens is more likely to be an accident or a remnant of an old advertising strategy instead of a deliberate attack on you.

That doesn’t mean you should be complacent, though. Constant vigilance is the best way to protect your site and your reputation, so let’s look at what you can do to help protect your site.

How To Protect Your Website Against Negative SEO
Detection

The first step in protecting your website is to detect any signs of attack such as a sudden drop in organic traffic. This is easy to notice if you are constantly monitoring your traffic through Google Analytics.

A sharp drop in organic traffic usually signifies a Google penalty.

You can also set up Google Webmaster Tools Email Alert. This will allow Google to notify you through email if your website is not indexed or receive a manual penalty.

If you haven’t done anything wrong, that can mean that your website is under attack. The sooner you know, the faster you can react and minimize the damage.

Disavowing

Google’s answer to Negative SEO is the Disavow tool. You can see the full process here – what it comes down to, though, is basically saying “I don’t like or trust that link, please don’t factor it into my rankings”. By disavowing low quality links, you avoid associating your website with them so that your ranking and reputation is protected.

Use the Disavow tool to let Google know you don’t want low quality links.

Utilizing the Disavow tool also tells Google that you care about the quality of links pointing to your site. This will be taken into consideration when Google’s Webspam Team is considering whether to penalize your site when they detect an influx of bad links pointing to it.

The Disavow tool is very useful against :

Link Farms
Google Bowling

Securing Your Administrator Login

Hackers generally require some sort of administrator access in order to mess around with your site, and by adding additional levels of security, you can drastically reduce the odds that they’ll be able to break in and start disrupting what you’re doing.

This will help you stop:

Altered SEO properties
Changes to important files
Modified redirects

Revising SEO Settings

This isn’t tied to a particular problem, but you should regularly revise your SEO properties. This includes checking out your robot.txt once in a while or performing random checks on your contents’ internal coding (headers, image alt tag etc).

It wasn’t this bad the last time I edit it!

If you are using SEOPressor, checking SEO properties will be much easier as each contents will have it’s SEOPressor score. If you regularly optimize your contents’ SEO properties to get high SEOPressor score, then you can easily spot the ones with bad score and fix them.

It is always better to be active and aggressive in searching for attacks on your site, rather than locking it up and expecting that nobody will be able to get in.

Final Thoughts

Make no mistake – negative SEO attacks are a real threat, they’re just not a common one. And even though you can disavow links or report them to Google, it might take some time before Google can conclude that you are innocent and not the one who’s behind the Black Hat practices.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Now that you know what is negative SEO, set aside some time every now and then to check for negative SEO, and if need be, resolve it using whichever technique is most appropriate. It is also a good idea to just be nice to others and avoid giving anyone any reason to attack you in the first place. After all, being nice is free.

This post was originally written by Azfar and published on October 28, 2015. It was most recently updated on August 2, 2018.

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Deadliest SEO Mistakes
Revealed By Google Patent

“While not being a Black Hat is a no brainer, this book lets you know how not to let Google mistook you as one.” – Evander Wilmer
Cracking Methods Used By Google To Detect Black Hat Practices
4 Big Companies That Got Caught At Rank Manipulation
How You Can Avoid Being Penalized By Mistake

Read More

Calculated Fields in Google Data Studio – Whiteboard Friday

Calculated Fields in Google Data Studio – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by DiTomaso

Google Data Studio is a powerful tool to have in your SEO kit. Knowing how to get the most out of its power begins with understanding how to use calculated fields to apply good old-fashioned math to your data. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we’re delighted to welcome guest host Dana DiTomaso as she takes us through how to use calculated fields in Google Data Studio to uncover more value in your data and improve your reports.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. I’m Dana DiTomaso, President and partner at Kick Point, and we love Google Data Studio at Kick Point. You may not love Google Data Studio yet, but after you watch this I think you probably will.

One of the first things that you think about Google Data Studio is: Why would I use this? It’s just charts. It’s the same thing I can get in Analytics or a billion other dashboarding tools out there. But one of the things that I really like about Google Data Studio is math. You can do lots of different stuff in Data Studio, and I’m going to go through four of the basic types in Data Studio and then how you can use that to improve your reports, just as you sort of dip your toes into the Google Data Studio pool. What I’ve done here is I have written out a lot of the formulas that you’re going to be using.

The types

It’s a lot of obviously written out formulas, but when you get into Data Studio, you should be able to type these in and they’ll work. Let’s start at the beginning with the types.

Basic math. This is pretty obvious. 1 + 1 = 2. Phone calls plus emails equals this, for example. You can add together different fields.
Transforms. Let’s say people are really bad at writing some things upper case and some things lower case. You have a problem with URLs being written a couple of different ways. You can use a transform to transform upper case into lower case. That’s pretty nice.
Formulas. Formulas is where you’re saying only show this subset of the data. Or how often does this happen? That could be things like the Count function, so count how many times this occurs, for example, and present that as a totally separate metric, which can be really useful for things like when you want to count the number of times an event occurs and then compare that against something else. It can just pull out that kind of data.
Logic. This is the more complex one. If X, then Y. If this happens, then that’s going to happen. There’s a lot of really complex stuff in there. But if you’re just getting started, start with this, and then look at the Google Data Studio documentation. You’ll find some cooler stuff in there.
1. Basic math

Here are some examples of how we use this in our Google Data Studio dashboards. So basic math, one of the things that a lot of people care about is: Are people getting in touch with me?

This is the basics of the reason why we do marketing. Are people getting in touch? So, for example, you can do some basic math and say, “All right. So I know on our website in Google Tag Manager, we have a trigger that fires whenever somebody taps or clicks a MailTo link on the site.” In addition to that, we’re tracking how many people submit a form, as you should.

Instead of reporting these separately, really they’re kind of the same thing. They’re emailing one way or the other. Why don’t we just submit them as one metric? So in that case, you can say grab all the mail to form completions and then grab all the form goal completions, and now you have a total email requests or total requests or whatever you might want to call it. You can do the same thing where it’s like, well, phone calls and emails, does it really matter if they’re in separate buckets?

Just put them all in one. The same thing with the basic math. Just add it all together and then you’ve got one total metric you can present to the client. Here’s how much money we made for you. Boom. That’s a nice one. The next thing — I’m just going to flip over here — is formulas.

2. Formulas

Okay, so formulas, one of the things that I really like doing is looking at your Google Search Console data. This is in Data Studio. You’re going to use Search Console for this, which is a nice data source. We all know Search Console data is not necessarily 100% accurate, but there’s always lots of keyword treasure in there to be found if it’s easy to find, which the Search Console interface isn’t super great.

So you can make a report in Data Studio and say regex match, and so don’t be afraid of regex. I think everyone should learn it. But if you’re not super familiar with it, this is a really easy way to do it. Say, okay, every time a keyword contains why, how, can, what, for example, then those are question searches. You may change it to whatever makes sense for you.

But this is just pulling out that subset of data. Then you can see, so if these are question searches, do we have content that answers that question? No. Maybe this is something we need to think about. Or we’re getting impressions for this. You could filter it and say only show questions searches where our average rank is below 20. Maybe if we improve this content, this is a featured snippet opportunity for us, for example. That’s a real gold mine of data you can play around with.

3. Transforms

The third one is transforms. As I mentioned earlier, this is a really nice way to take Facebook, for example. We had a client who had Facebook in all upper case and Facebook in title case and Facebook in lower case in their sources and mediums, because they were very casual with how they used their UTM codes. We just standardized them all to go to lower, and those are nice text transforms that you can do.

It just makes things look a little bit nicer. I do recommend doing some of this, especially if you have messy data.

4. Logic

Then the big one here. This is logic, and I’m just going to toss over here for a second. Now logic has a lot of different components. What I’m showing you right now is a case when else end transform or logic. We use this to tidy up bad channel data.

So that client that I mentioned, who was just super casual with their UTM tags and they would just put in any old stuff, I think they had retargeting ads as a medium. You can set up channels and whatnot in Google Analytics. But I mean, really, when it comes down to it, not everybody is great at following the rules for UTMs that you’ve set up. Stuff happens.

It’s okay. You can fix it in Data Studio. Especially if you open up Google Analytics and you see that you have this other channel, which I’m sure when we’ve inherited an Analytics account, we take a look at it, and there’s this channel, and it’s just a big bag of crap.

You can go in there and turn that into real, useful, actual channel data that matches up with where it should go. What I’ve got here is a really simple example. This could go on for lines and line and lines. I’ve just included two lines because this whiteboard is only so big.

So you start off by saying case. It is the case when, is the idea when, and then the first line here is source equals direct and medium equals not set or medium none, then direct. So I’m saying, okay, so this is the basics of how direct traffic happens.

If the source is direct and the medium is not set or the medium is none, like if I have no data whatsoever, now it’s direct traffic. Great, that’s basically what Google Analytics does. Nothing fancy is going on here. Now here’s the next thing. In this case, I’m saying now I’m combining a regex match, which we talked about up here, with the case, and so now what I’m saying is when regex match medium, and then I’ve got this here.

Don’t be scared of this. I know it’s regex and maybe you’re not super comfortable with it, but this is pretty elementary stuff, and once you do this, you will feel like a data wizard, I guarantee. The first time I did this I stood up from my computer and said “Yes” the first time it worked. Just play with it. It’s going to be awesome. So you’ve got a little … what’s the thing called? You’ve got a little up arrow thingy there, very bad mediums dollar sign.

What this is saying is that if you’ve got anything in there that’s sort of a weird medium, just write out all the crud that people have put in there over the years, all the weird mediums that totally don’t make any sense at all. Just put it all in there and then you can toss it in a bucket say called paid social. You can do the same thing with referral traffic. Or, for example, this is really useful if a client is saying, “Well, I want to know how this set of affiliate traffic compares to say this set of affiliate traffic,” then you can separate these out into different buckets.

This isn’t just for channel data. I’ve done this, for example, where we were looking at social data and we were comparing NFL teams as an example for another tool, Rival IQ. What I said was, okay, so these teams here are in the AFC East, and these teams are in the AFC West. If I’ve screwed up and I said AFC East and West, please don’t get mad at me in the comments. I promise I play fantasy football. I just don’t remember right now.

But you can combine different areas. This is great for things like sales regions, for example. So North America equals Canada plus the USA plus Mexico, if you’re feeling generous. This is NAFTA politics. It really depends on what you want to do with those sales regions and how your data, what is meaningful for you. That’s the most important thing about this is that you can change this data to be whatever you need it to be to make that reporting so much easier for you.

I mean, Else then, we don’t know if this might actually output. I haven’t tried this myself. If it does, please leave a comment and let me know.

Then you end up with an End. When you’re in Data Studio, when you’re making these calculated formulas, you’ll see right away whether or not it works or not. Just keep trying until you see it happen.

One of the great things about Data Studio is that if it’s right, you’ll see these types of colors, and I’ve used different color whiteboard markers to indicate how it should look. If you see red where you should be seeing black or green where you should be seeing black, for example, then you know you’ve typed in something wrong in your formula. For me, typically I find it’s a misplaced bracket. Just keep an eye on that.

Have fun with Data Studio. One of the great things too is that you can’t mess up your original data when doing calculated fields, so you can go hog wild and it’s not going to mess with the original data. I hope you have a great time in Data Studio. Tell me what you’ve done in the comments, please. Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Blogging during summer

Blogging during summer

I don’t know what the weather is like where you’re from, but we’re currently in the middle of a so-called heat wave. With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit), more people are found in pools and at their summer destinations. You might have the feeling that no one is online to read your blog post. Or perhaps you’re rather hanging out at the pool yourself. So why would you spend your summer blogging? And should you even be spending your time typing away? I don’t have the definite answer for you, but there are various things you could do this summer to still maintain a growing blog!

Keep posting as if the entire country isn’t at the beach

This is my plan for the summer: just keep posting as if it’s winter when everyone’s inside with their laptop or tablet surfing around. If your biggest competitors are currently on a summer blogging break, that means it’s easier for you to get the public’s attention. And if they do not read it now, they might read it later. So you can focus on writing evergreen posts, so you will rank higher in Google.

I’ll give you a quick peek into my planning. I’ve looked at my Google Search Console and found that a blog post I’ve written in March is getting a lot of clicks through Google since the summer began. How come? The blog post is about precision waxing. The blog post focuses on waxing your eyebrows, and I guess a lot of people apparently need this for summer. What does this mean? I’m going to write more summer related blog posts.

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Optimize old posts

If you don’t want to spend your time writing blog posts, might not have the inspiration, or don’t want to market everything like crazy during the summer, you might want to spend time optimizing your older blog posts. Revisit them, look at your orphaned blog posts, or try to see what your competitors rank for. Create small challenges in your mind and decide what you want to focus on. Do you want to have a more solid website? Perhaps a structured navigation or a faster website? Or do you want your posts to rank on the first page of Google? Whatever your goal is, you can spend time on it now! You can do it much more in chunks than you can do blog writing.

Write in advance

You might not want to publish this summer, or perhaps you just want to publish less. This doesn’t mean you should stop writing altogether. Now might be the best time to work on your Halloween or Christmas DIYs, so you don’t feel the pressure of competing at the beginning of the season. Just don’t expect to find any Halloween decorations or pumpkins in store just yet. Meal prepping might be a task you can acquire, but the same goes for blog prepping. Nothing is better than to enjoy the nice weather knowing you’ve written (and planned) enough blogs in advance.

Take a break

I’m in a few blogger groups on Facebook and I’ve seen the discussion multiple times: a summer break. Bloggers ask each other whether they should take a break or post less and how they should address that. Because let’s face it: keeping up a blog is hard work. It might be your full-time job, or it might be a project that you take on next to your paid job. You might need a break from it. But preferably without losing all your followers and visitors.

If you want to take a (partial) break, you do want to keep your social media profiles active. You could schedule older posts, funny quotes or questions to your audience. But if you want to republish old content, how do you go about that? First, make sure that the content you share, is still relevant. Next, write a compelling text to go on social media and then schedule your post.

Should you write that it’s a repost? I would advise against it. Would you click on a link if the company or blogger wrote that it’s an old post? Probably not. Your best bet is to just post it. Unless you’re reposting blog posts you’ve just put up last week.

Communicate about you summer schedule?

Do you communicate about your summer schedule? I’ve seen bloggers ask this question as well. The real question is: ‘Do my followers want to know that I’m not posting as frequently as before?’ and to answer this, you have to know your audience. Perhaps your audience is very loyal and might think something terrible has happened to you if you’re offline for a bit and will start an online – or worse: an offline – search for you. Before you know it, there’ll be tweets claiming they found you with an adjoining picture of you running screaming after your toddler, or downing three ice creams and some french fries while you have the perfect image online of a healthy calm mom blogger. There goes your reputation.

I know my following doesn’t care if I blog daily, blog once a month, or blog twice a year. Why? Because I am nowhere big enough for them to even notice. The only people who might notice, are my close friends.

Know your audience

I’m just a small fish in a big pond. They’ll just go to another blogger. So I could write a lengthy blog post about how I’m going to enjoy my summer, because I deserve it, because I work hard, because yadda yadda ya, but the truth is: my audience doesn’t care. Neither does your audience, most likely. Your audience wants a laugh, perhaps a DIY, or information about a certain lipstick, or a Lego project. No one will look on Google for: ‘Will [blog name] be blogging less this summer?’ And if you, for any reason, do decide that your followers need to know that you won’t be blogging today, but will send out an update on Saturday instead and you need to write a blog post for it, then please set it to noindex. Unless you can explain the value of letting this get indexed by Google to me. I, for one, do not want anyone to Google my blog name and have the first result be one where I’m announcing a temporary hiatus.

Whatever your plan is, keep yourself – and your audience – in mind. I’m hoping to jump in on the fact that my biggest competitors will have a summer schedule, perhaps that’ll bring me more visitors. And if not, I might just write a post next year about my summer plans and then close off my blog for an entire month 😉

I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this matter and if you’ve noticed a certain trend on blogs? Let me know how you combine the summer heat and blogging!

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