SEO Articles

The Ultimate Guide to Google Cache Text Strings

We have a client site whose SEO often defies description, along with canonicalization.

We often have to check Google’s cache of various URLs to see what in fact Google is getting, but sometimes when you view the Full Version of the cache it just rapidly reloads like a blinking strobe light. Kind of like this:

And there’s no way to get to the Text-Only or View Source versions of the cached URL as the links don’t stay in place long enough for your cursor to recognize the link and make it clickable.

The good news is there’s a simple way to get the desired view of a cached URL in Google – add text strings to the end of the URL in your browser’s address bar. And here they are in their full Instant Answer/Featured Snippet glory:

How To View The Text-Only Version Of A URL In Google’s Cache

Replace the text string at the end of the Full Version of the cache URL with &num=1&strip=1&vwsrc=0. For example, here’s the Full Version cache URL for our homepage using a Safari browser with the text string to be replaced bolded:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uEClgfqmc7cJ:www.localseoguide.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari
To see the Text-Only version, replace the bolded string with &num=1&strip=1&vwsrc=0, so http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uEClgfqmc7cJ:www.localseoguide.com/&num=1&strip=1&vwsrc=0.
If you want to see what it looks like in different languages, countries or browsers you can add the following parameters to the string:
&client=safari (or whichever browser you want):
&hl=en (or whichever language you want)
&gl=us (or whichever country you want)
So it would look like http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uEClgfqmc7cJ:www.localseoguide.com/&num=1&client=safari&hl=en&gl=us&strip=1&vwsrc=
You could also just use our free Text-Only Cache bookmarklet for Chrome.

How To View The View Source Version Of A URL In Google’s Cache

Replace the text string at the end of the Full Version of the cache URL (or the Text-Only version URL) with &num=1&strip=0&vwsrc=1. You can also use the same browser, language and country parameters as mentioned above.
If you want to go back to the Full Version, just replace the text string with &num=1&strip=0&vwsrc=0.

And that’s pretty much it for the basics.

 

 

The post The Ultimate Guide to Google Cache Text Strings appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

Read More

Checklist for performing a basic SEO audit

Checklist for performing a basic SEO audit

Keeping up with the latest SEO practices can be overwhelming for someone who has just started out as a new website owner. Furthermore, making sure that the existing SEO implementations are regularly taken care of as per the latest Google algorithm changes can be a nerve-wracking task for some.

To make sure that you are not missing out on them, you should perform an SEO audit of your website/blog regularly. By keeping a checklist handy, you maintain a standard SEO audit task list that ensures none of the crucial points are missed.

In this articles, we will brief you with a complete checklist that will help you perform the SEO audit of your website effectively and efficiently.

The advantages of having an SEO audit checklist are:

Helps you identify the site’s weakest points and work on them
Helps you with your site’s off and on-page optimization
Helps you increase your site’s loading speed after you implement conclusions drawn out of the checklist
Self-auditing your own website
Helps you increase the organic traffic for your business
The checklist helps you scan your website for any SEO omissions or SEO wrongdoings
This SEO audit checklist will help you improve the website ranking factors by providing checkpoints.

We have tried our best to create a comprehensive checklist so that you don’t miss out on the major aspects of SEO. However, there will be certain checkpoints that we have liberally skipped from the checklist.

Now, let’s dive right into the content of the checklist for your next SEO audit.

Determine the objectives of your site’s SEO audit

This is the most important task for your SEO audit checklist where you determine the objective or the purpose as to why you are in need of an SEO audit. These objectives will eventually define the extent of this checklist and maybe, make things a bit different.

For example, if your website is not yielding the desired speed results, you might want to conduct an SEO audit and figure out what’s causing the trouble. On the other hand, if there is a sudden downfall in the traffic metrics, you might want to fix things through an SEO audit. Well, there are many similar objectives behind this activity and by carefully assessing them, you will be able to perform an SEO Audit more effectively.

Keyword analysis

SEO begins with keywords so it is a good idea to begin your audit with the analysis of the keywords your site is using and if you’re targeting the right ones.

Make sure that you are using less competitive, long tail keywords that are very specific to the industry you are dealing in. The right keyword will be relevant, measurable, and obviously not a shot at the moon i.e. it will help you rank better.

A few tools that you can use are UberSuggest, SEMrush, Google keyword planner and Google trends.

You must run a keyword strategy that targets time bound keywords simply due to the fact that as your website grows, you will need to amplify the keyword research and look for other extensive keywords that will help you rank better.

Too many keywords on the website will kill your SEO game. Revamp the keyword count of needed. Include keywords in the URL to help your pages/posts rank better and make sure that these URLs are short.

Keyword cannibalization is yet another SEO degrading factor for your website. It occurs when two pages of your website compete for the same keyword. Make sure that you implement decisions to take care of it.

Later in the audit, you will be required to analyze the competition for these keywords.

Content analysis

We all know that the content pushed out by your site must be unique and free of plagiarism. Well, there are several other content analysis checks that must be ensured.

Begin by checking the presence of duplicate content on your site and seek help from tools such as Siteliner.com. By providing a match percentage, it shows result for pages that match other pages. You can also choose to opt for Copyscape premium services to see if any of your content has been plagiarized over the Internet.

A good content that helps your website rank better is engaging and SEO optimized. Make sure that you are using the target keywords on all the right places throughout a page on your website.

Keyword in the title of the post/page
Keyword in the first paragraph
Keyword appearances in the H1 Tag
Use of keyword in the meta description of the post
Keyword appearances in the URL structure
Keyword in the alt text of the first image used
Keyword appearances towards the end of the post’s content.

To make sure that your content is engaging, always refresh the user generated data on the comment section of your blogs. Keep interacting with the audience so that you are able to churn a fair share of SEO juice from it as well.

Making sure that your content is of the right length is just as important as using quality content. Create the right content strategy which is well balanced with short-form, mid-length, and long-form articles. Regularly publishing content is also a huge SEO booster. If you feel like your schedule needs a boost, you can revise it during the next SEO audit.

UX analysis

The UX furnished by a website is a huge determinant of the site’s traffic and the average time spent by visitors on it.

Google Analytics can help you have a look at what the UX on your website likely is. Alternatively, you can figure out a great navigation for your site’s audience so that they can seamlessly surf through the pages of your website without having to struggle for the information they are looking for.

Another crucial site UX ranking factor is the presence of any broken links or pages on your site. Link checker Tools can help you remove such links and ensure that your users don’t encounter them.

Image optimization check

Make sure that you are optimizing the images present on your website. There are various plugins available which can help you optimize images. And don’t forget to implement the following:

Use high resolution images
Resize them to declutter your site’s database
Use a relevant image that matches your text
Name your image file appropriately by using the target keyword
Use image alt text.

Content promotion analysis

If your website is employing content promotion services to share its updates via social media channels, make sure that they are well integrated and are working as intended.

Web hosting check

The right web hosting service boosts your site’s SEO efforts by complementing its server reputation, website uptime, and obviously the loading speed it offers. Every SEO audit must be an event where you review the performance of your existing web host and if there is a need, make the switch and choose a better service provider.

Resources like HostingBooth can be very helpful when you are looking to compare the performance of the existing hosting service providers.

Website loading speed check

Use a tool like Pingdom to determine the existing speed of your website. If it is taking more than 2-3 seconds to load, make sure that you fix it by following the necessary steps at the earliest.

Don’t skip out the website loading time for mobile devices.

Site uptime

During all of your site’s SEO audits, you must check the site uptime offered by your website to its users. Site uptime is the duration of the time your website is available to its users for access. A website with frequent downtime will cause the traffic to go down and affect your site’s ranking. To take care of your site’s uptime and maintenance, you can rely on tools like Uptime Robot, Site 24*7, and Pingometer.

Link analysis

Make sure that your backlinks are relevant and of high quality. Majestic is a great link checker if you want to ascertain the relevancy, authority, and the quality of the backlinks on your website. It’s Backlink History Checker tool will help you determine the number of backlinks detected by its sophisticated web robots for given domains, subdomains or URLs.

You must also assess the presence of all the outbound and internal links present on your website and get rid of all the low-quality links.

URL check

The right URL structure is crucial for your website as it tells quite a lot about the SEO on your site. All the URLs on your website must be SEO optimized yet not over-optimized. Take care of all the capital vs. lowercase URLs on the website.

Google penalty check

The truth is that Google is at the liberty of penalizing your website for not adhering to its regulatory updates or other instructions. A Google Penalty can cause a lot of damage to your site’s online reputation and your site’s SEO may go haywire. And in a situation where you are not aware of such a penalty being levied on your website, any efforts to rectify low SEO score can go to the gutter.

 

Hence, during every SEO audit, you must run a Google Penalty check to see if your website has been penalized. There are several tools available that can help you figure that out such as the Panguin Google Penalty Check Tool and the Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool.

 Sitemaps

Sitemaps help Google better understand the structure of your website by giving it the access to your site. Once you have a sitemap setup correctly, you will be required to keep it free of any errors.  assuming it’s set up correctly.

Begin by checking the presence of your site’s sitemap file by by adding sitemap.xml or sitemap.html to the browser. A Google Search Console search will help you figure out how many URLs were successfully indexed when you previously submitted the sitemap. It will also notify you of any problems or issues. Use tools like CodeBeautify and XMLValidation to check your sitemap for errors before submitting it.

Site security check

A site’s security is a compulsive factor that determines the ranking of your website. If yours is an ecommerce website, security is even more important. Since an SSL certificate is now an object of great importance for the impression of a website, make sure that your websites have it and while performing your next SEO audit, take steps to

Conclusions

Once you are doing everything right, monthly or quarterly SEO audits will help you revamp your SEO strategy and make sure that you are not left behind. With the checklist furnished above, you will be able to perform a more efficient SEO audit for your site and ensure that it ranks well.

Read More

The Ideal Length For Every Online Content

The Ideal Length For Every Online Content

Time to nail it.

At one point or another, content producers and writers may find it difficult to determine the exact length when producing online contents. There is a big possibility that these questions have got you wondering before:

How much will my reader actually read?
What is the ideal length that will keep them interested?
Am I writing enough or am I putting my audience to sleep?
What should an ideal blog post length be?
What is the optimum length of an eye-catching headline?
Should I use up all the characters in a tweet?
Are long-form social media updates better than short-form ones?

More often than not, many of us have to depend on our instinct and experience to figure out the answers to the questions above. The good news is, a solid research has been done on the topic of ideal length and there is information available about the value of writing or posting at certain lengths. Following the ideal lengths for every online content might just save you from the clutter.
Nobody wants to put limits on one’s creativity, but having guidelines backed by research will help make sure your posts are seen by the most amount of people and result in higher engagement. Remember, every character counts.

Here comes the answer.

What’s The Ideal Length For Every Online Content?
A) Social Media
1. Facebook

There was a time when the Facebook status length was limited to less than 420 characters. That all changed when the social networking giant has decided to increase the facebook post length limit to 63, 206.

When you post on Facebook, you’re competing with thousands of other brands for your audience’s attention. Not only that, but the amount of attention your audience has available to give you is limited. With all of this going against you, brands need to do whatever they can to stand out and grab their audience’s attention. Make it too short and you risk getting overlooked. Go too long and you might reach the Facebook character limit. So what’s the sweet spot for the length of a Facebook post?

Image Credits: Jeff Bulas

Studies show that posts containing 80 characters or less earn a higher engagement. The key is to keep your posts short and concise. Longer posts get cut off in a user’s feed which forces them to expand them the text if they want to read the full story. It’s more difficult than ever to get your audience’s attention on Facebook when they are being bombarded with news all the time. So, the easier it is for them to see your message, the stronger your chances of getting them to bite on your posts.

Ideal Length of A Facebook Update: 40 – 80 characters

2. Twitter

Twitter has more than 284 million users and the platform sees 500 million tweets daily. For years, Twitter was famous for imposing the 140 character limit. If you haven’t known already, in 2017, the network increased the limit to 280 characters. In order to determined the optimal length of a tweet, why go anywhere else when Twitter has the answer to your question?

A spike in retweets among those in the 71 -100 character range – so called “Medium”.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “71-100 characters is really short,” you’re right. Getting your Tweets down to under 100 characters can be challenging at first, but the positive side is it forces you to be concise. Being succinct and clear is key for Twitter since it moves ever so quickly. You literally only have seconds to catch your audience’s attention. A tad bit harder than on Facebook.

Ideal Length of a Tweet: 71 – 100 Characters

3. Instagram

Like most brands, you may have never even thought of character limits on Instagram. If you’ve read through captions of the top brands, you’ll notice they tend to run on the shorter side.

BMW adhering to the KISS rule – Keep It Short and Simple.

To maximize engagement on your Instagram posts, stick to 138-150 characters in your captions. While posts can be 2,200 characters long, Instagram isn’t really focused on text-based content but rather great visuals. Nonetheless, captions provide context and can compel people to engage with you. Just the first three lines of a post appears in users’ feeds, so front load your caption and leave extraneous information for the end. So do everything you can to make your captions as great as possible.

Ideal Length of Instagram Captions: 138 – 150 Characters

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn dominates the professional social network segment. It is one of the oldest having started in 2002. Almost the grandfather of social networks. Generally, LinkedIn updated will link to an article rather than it being a stand-alone piece.

LinkedIn is different from all the platforms mentioned above, in that it’s not as visual, When you take a look at status updates on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that most consist of a headline and a link to an article. So it’s not a surprise that the optimal length of a LinkedIn status update is about 25 words.

There are also a number of guidelines around the length of articles on the publishing platform.Headlines should stick between 150 characters or less and the body should not exceed 120,000 characters.

Ideal Length of LinkedIn Status Update: 25 Words

Ideal Length of LinkedIn Post: 500 – 1,200 Words

5. Google+

On Google+, the audience there is highly engaged and they have a low tolerance for spam. So don’t expect to phone it in or put your Google+ activity on autopilot and get a good response. But when you take the time to put a little craftsmanship into your posts, it really pays off.

The limit per post for Google+ appears is 100,000. It is best to keep your Google+ text within one line as it enhances the appearance and readability of your posts. In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see the “Read More” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More”.

Ideal Length of Google+ Headlines: 60 Characters

Ideal Length of Google+ Content: 200 – 400 Characters

B) Streaming Media
1. Presentations

Those of you who had the experience to do a presentation might have asked yourself this question before: “When I’m giving a talk, how long should my presentation be?”. If you don’t know the answer to it previously, fret not because I’m about to tell you the optimum length of a presentation.

Now, are you familiar with TED Talks I’m pretty sure you do given the fact that the videos are streamed more than 2 million times per day. But, have you ever wondered why are most of the presentations maintained at about 18 minutes? Just so you know, there is a scientific reasoning behind it.

The reason behind the magic number is the factor that leads to TED Talk’s immense success. Scientists are beginning to identify how long most people can pay attention before they tune out. The result? Most of us switch off at around the 10 – 18 minute mark.

Here are some examples of TEDTalks that are maintained below 20 minutes.

The 18-minute rule also works because the brain is an energy hog. The average adult human brain only weighs about three pounds. As the brain takes in new information and is forced to process it, millions of neurons are firing at once, buring energy and leading to fatigue and exhaustion. At the same time, it also teaches the presenters on the epitome of discipline.

Tell everything and they’ll remember nothing. 18 minutes is short enough to hold people’s attention, including on the Internet and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it’s also long enough to say something that matters.

Ideal Length of Presentations: 18 minutes

2. Podcasts

Podcasts have a lot of freedom: no gatekeepers, fewer rules and no broadcast schedule dictating how long or short each episode needs to be. As a result, podcasts range from as short as a minute to as long as 3 hours. But what do listeners want? Can tweaking your episode length get you more listeners?

If you look closely, some popular podcasts are 60 seconds, others are several hours. The top 10 business podcasts range from 15 minutes to an hour, averaging 42 minutes. According to a research by Stitcher, the average podcast listener stays connected for 22 minutes on average.

It isn’t surprising as studies show students zone out after 15 – 20 minutes of lecture time. After 20 minutes, attention and retention rates crash. Nonetheless, don’t get so tied up with the length instead, make the show you want to make and one that you’re capable of making on a regular basis.

Ideal Length of Podcasts Per Episode: 22 minutes

3. Tutorials/ Explainers

There are various types of tutorials out there. Let’s talk about the most common type of videos – the tutorial, or informational video. The main goal of a tutorial is not to show how something works in absolute detail, but just to give an overview of it in today’s fast-paced world. That also means that the video ought to be short and simple.

Like it or not, your audiences have better things to do with their time and it’s easy for them to navigate away from your video to do something else it is too long. Too many web videos this days are losing videos before they even get to the point.

Here’s a 2.5 minute video from SEOPressor Connect.

SEOPressor Connect

That is why the recommended length would be about 2 to 3 minutes. You need to make sure your video is long enough to convey your message but there is no reason you cannot get it done below 120 seconds.

In general, the less time your video takes ton watch, the more people will watch. This isn’t to say that you should cut a 10-minute video down to 2 minutes—some content warrants longer videos— but it does suggest that you’d be better off cutting 30 seconds from a 3 minute 30 second video to keep viewer’s attention.

Ideal Length of Tutorial/ Explainer Video: 2 to 3 minutes

C) SEO
1. Blog Post

How long should a blog be? Something us, as writers often ask ourselves. In December 2013, a research was conducted by Medium contained the average number of seconds that readers spend on an article versus the length of the blog post.

An ideal blog post should not exceed a time limit of more than 7 minutes which makes an average or 2,100 words. That aligns with research previously conducted by serpIQ, which indicated that on average, the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

Theoretically, longer content has a better chance of giving search engines an idea of the quality and topic of the page. Here, you might be thinking “What about Seth Godin? He often writes short blog posts!” Well, Seth Godin writes like Seth Godin. You write like you.

A person’s reading behavior is never all-the-time consistent but is based on factors such as how much time you have, your emotional state on the day, interest levels, and if you’re killing time. This doesn’t mean we should all start forcing our posts to match the ideal blog post length which goes by 7 minutes. There is no one-size-fits-all blog post length. Great posts perform well regardless of length, and bad posts certainly don’t get better when you stretch them out.

Ideal Blog Post Length: 2100 words, 7 minutes

2. Title Tag

The title tag is what is used in the search engine result pages; so not only is it important for rankings, it is also important to catch the eye of searches to influence click-through. Of course, you’ll want to optimize which keywords you include in your title tag, but also be aware of the length.

The title length is 55 characters before Google will truncate the title with ellipses (…). Depending on the length of the words, that is an additional 2-4 words that can be added to the title tag. The cutoff point is around 60 characters. So use the target keyphrase and keep it short.

Ideal Length of Title Tag: 55 characters

3. Domain Name

Like everything else on your site, your domain is either long or short. And just like everything else, length has a correlation with popularity. Here, a domain name is considered good if it is short and spells easy.

If you look at the top 250 high quality websites on the Internet, the average number of characters in their domains is 7-15. That’s pretty short. Here’s the data from a study conducted by Daily Blog Tips. The red line shows the average.

A survey done on the top 250 popular websites on the Web.

More than 70% of these domains are eight characters or fewer. Also, 86% were .com domains.
This clearly tells us that the optimal length for a domain name is 8 characters. Great domains are short, .com extensions and easy to remember.

Ideal Length of Domain Name: 8 characters

4. Headline

It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in. Most of us are interested in the actual material of the article rather than its headline. It is the first thing a reader sees thus, having an attention grabbing phrase is vital.

Bnonn, a headline expert suggests that only the first three words are absorbed by most readers reading any headline. He recommends that in order to get your headline completely read, it is best to keep it within 6 words.

Ideal Length of Headline: 6 words

5. Meta Description

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

An example of meta description of our latest blog post: https://seopressor.com/blog/5-ways-ai-impact-the-future-of-seo/

Google seems to cut off most meta descriptions — which are sometimes called snippets, after roughly two lines of text. In any case, it amounts to about 160 characters, though some particular outlet recommends keeping it at 155.

Up until recently, the maximum allowable characters in the meta description tag stood at 160. You might or might not know this but the length has increased by double to 320. In 2018, Moz’s data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters and I believe that is something that all of us can experiment on. Here’s an extra read from Moz (2018 edition) about how long should your meta description be: https://moz.com/blog/how-long-should-your-meta-description-be-2018

But until further data and acknowledgement (where every single result shows 300), I would suggest that you to try maintaining at an optimum of 160 characters. In the meantime, we will observe ourselves and update you when we have a conclusion.

Ideal Length of Meta Description: 160 characters

Extra Tip: Email Subject Line

Most of our inboxes are a complete madhouse, so getting potential customers to open your marketing email is harder said than done. They say first impressions matter. This is certainly true for email subject headlines. One of the general best practice when writing it is to keep it in less than 10 words.

Need a convincing statistic? In September 2012, MailChimp published the following headline on its blog: Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing.This was quite the authoritative statement, but MailChimp had the data to back it up. Their research found no significant advantage to short or long subject lines in emails. Clicks and opens were largely the same.

Clearly, there are a ton of different ways to approach writing a subject line, and length is equally as important to test as the rest of the elements. If you’re looking for a place to start your tests, the optimal length of 28 to 39 characters is a good bet.

Ideal Length of Email Subject Line: 28 to 39 characters

Bottom Line

I hope you’ve found some good insights through this blog. What’s right for many others in terms of best practices might not be exactly what your specific audience needs. Experiment according to what fits you and your audience best. Those are not strict rules that you have to abide by but it sure is nice to have a guideline to begin, though.

What do you think of the ideal length for every content mentioned above? Would love to hear from you so do comment below and get the conversation rolling!

#optin-template-3{
float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
}
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 99%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
color:#2d3fab;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
font-size:2.2em;
}
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 40%;
max-width: 230px;
min-width: 150px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: bottom;
}
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
min-width:196px;
height: 270px;
background: url(https://seopressor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/checklist-sm-engagement.png);
background-size: contain;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-position: 0px 33px;
}
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 70%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 320px;
padding: 20px 5% 30px;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
}
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
margin-top: 20px;
}
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #3a3a3a;
}
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #fff;
background: #E53935;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #E53935;
cursor: pointer;
}

Get Your “Checklist to Increase Social Media Engagement” Now

“Great checklist, gives me tons of suggestions to improve my social marketing that I could never have thought of. I’m gonna work on checking the whole list off now!” – Ryan Godfrey

Read More

Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO?

Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO?

I’ve had a number of comments questioning the usefulness of outbound links recently, so I wanted to create an official space for that discussion, and help people understand the uses and benefits of outbound links.

If you’re looking for a quick answer to the question in the title: Yes.

Now that’s out of the way, we’ll look at why, and how, to get the best out of your outbound links.

DISCLAIMER: Outbound links will be useless if they aren’t wrapped up in high quality original content. Outbound links are, in that way, only as good as the piece they’re in.

If you’re looking for writing advice on how to create great articles, we have plenty of that.
If you’re looking for strategic advice on content planning, we have that too.

This is a great article for those who want to make sure their high-quality content is as muscular as possible, creating the greatest impact on search engines and readers alike.
Cool? Cool.

First, a primer.

What Are Outbound Links?

Outbound links are links that directs you elsewhere.

Outbound links, or external links, are links that will send your readers from your website to other sites across the internet. Commonly, these are used to verify facts, backup sources, or simply point people toward resources.

These are the opposite of Inbound Links, which direct your readers to other parts of your own website.
Simple!

So far, anyway.

There Are Actually Two Kinds of Outbound Links

The two kinds of outbound links are: nofollow and dofollow.

Which of the two do you normally use?

This is usually defined by simply putting rel=”nofollow” (or not) into the HTML of the link.

nofollow tells search engines not to follow links – as you’d expect.
dofollow links pass on ranking power from your website to the targeted page.

A good way to think about these links is that they’re like votes, accrediting the pages you link to with a measure of authority.

If you pass people over to another site, you’re giving them a vote of confidence, increasing their authority.

If you choose to use a no-follow link, you’re blocking that vote from being passed on.

Nofollow links can help you avoid some of the penalization systems that Google and other search engines use to moderate the overuse of certain kinds of links.

But first, let’s talk about the advantages of outbound links SEO.

When Should I Use Nofollow Links?

Nofollow links should be a minority of your outbound links. Nofollow links essentially break the chain between your site and the source you’re sending people to. This can be useful, even valuable, in navigating some of the finer points of SEO algorithms, and general etiquette.

Paid links – if people buy links on your site, Google can penalize you for that practice, and these penalties can do damage to your ranking and exposure.

Links in comments – defaulting these to nofollow means spammers putting links to disreputable sites can’t get credit from your site, which if they’re found to be fraudulent, can also result in penalties against your site.

User generated content – If you allow guest posts or user generated content on your site, no-follow links can prevent you from inadvertently “vouching” for the content. This is a great bit of insurance from a PR perspective, too. It’s one thing to host an open space to communicate ideas, but another entirely to promote and endorse controversial or offensive material.

Embeds – it’s good to embed content from other sources, but if you aren’t fully behind the wider content and you’re only using an excerpt, nofollow links can help save readers’ time by not sending them off to an otherwise low quality piece of material.

Other times – Essentially, use nofollow any time you think there might be a problem, whether for readers or for algorithms, with you endorsing another website.

The majority of the time, however, outbound links can be invaluable, and while nofollow limits the damage these outbound links might be able to do, they also eliminate any benefits. Here’s why you shouldn’t just nofollow every link.

Why Are Outbound Links Important?

For a number of reasons. Here are our top four:

1) They Increase Relevance

Search engine algorithms can learn a lot about your site from who you link to and how. You can think of your links as a providing clues to the industry you’re in, the problems you’re attempting to solve, the competitors you have, and how relevant a page will be to people searching online.

If you provide backlinks to high authority pages, you build a search engine’s trust in your website that you are a legitimate player in your field, which will increase a search engine’s confidence when serving up your page as a result to their users.
2) They Improve Reputation

By including outbound links to relevant, high authority sources, you can boost your own reputation in the process.

Think of it as a form of association – you are saying you operate in the same circles as the biggest names in your industry.

It’s also very common that people don’t have time to visit five different high authority websites to get all the information they need, so providing shortcuts to where they can find that information will help you be seen as an authority and an expert.
3) You Can Boost Value

Quality content is what is going to differentiate you from your competitors, and linking to other quality content provides a fast, instant value-boost for your readers. People are far more likely to come back and read your blogs when, in doing so, they also get a guided tour of the best material currently available on the web for that topic.

As more people keep coming back, you will see a big authority bump from the algorithms, which will see the trust people place in your site.
4) It Encourages Backlinks

Using outbound links helps you begin to establish a network with other bloggers, journalists, websites and companies. Endorsing their work will encourage them to do so in return, and the more other websites engage with and link to you content, the higher up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) you will go. Being on the first search engine result page will in turn help more of the general public interact with businesses.

One caveat: the backlinks themselves aren’t all that useful in garnering direct traffic. Only a small percentage of people actually click the links. It’s more about the ranking bump you get from search engines that helps you net more organic traffic.

So, to return to our original question for a moment…

Will Outbound Links Affect SEO?

How does it affect…er… SEO?

Yeah, big time. In fact, outbound links are one of the most important and versatile sources of ranking power, because search engines view them as third-party endorsements of your website.

The one thing you don’t have to do is include keywords in your outbound links – this will help those other sites with their SEO, but not necessarily do you any favours. It’s your call if you want to be generous.

You have to give to receive, so, here are some outbound linking best practices for you to follow when you write your posts. With these, you’ll be gaining authority and networking like a pro in no time.

Here Are Your Outbound Linking Best Practices

Let’s look at 6 practices we should adhere to.

1. Look For Natural Linking Opportunities

First things first, don’t force links into your text. Linking can actually help you be more focused and rigorous in your writing, which in turn will improve the overall quality of your articles. If there’s a tangent that you think would be of value to your readers, but it isn’t the focus of your article, then link to someone who’s already discussed it in detail, and everybody wins. Equally, if you make an assertion, back it up with a link to your sources.

These kinds of natural links will help you keep everything relevant, while further supporting your point. Like a math problem, this kind of linking helps you “show the work”, so your readers can see the kind of commitment you have to researching your articles. Building links should be organic, not forced. If you’re doing the writing part right, there’ll be ample opportunities without having to force it.
2. Use Tools To Find Related Links

If you’re struggling to come up with outbound links organically, consider using Google’s related link tool. In the Google search bar, just enter “related: ‘thenameofyourwebsite’” to be furnished with a series of results Google thinks is relevant to your website. Sidebar: if this list is completely irrelevant, it will also give you a good indication that your SEO isn’t pitching you into the right industry.
3. Don’t Use Backlink Networks

Google’s Panda update broke up the mutual backlinking blog and website networks that helped sites quickly ‘fake’ authority and hike their rankings. People still do this, but if Google spots too many mutual backlinks, these will be devalued and their power lost, even dropping into the negative. This may be an appealing way to rush the system, but slow and steady wins the race.
4. Ensure Links Open In New Tabs

Because outbound links deliberately send people away from your site, you have to make sure your site isn’t abandoned in the process. This can be damaging for you and frustrating for readers – I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been irritated by having to hit back, right click, then open in a new tab manually. To open links in a new tab, simply add target=”_blank” to your link HTML. Your readers will thank you, and you’ll save a lot of engagement that would otherwise be lost.
5. Avoid Too Many Outbound Links

To paraphrase Paracelsus, “everything is a poison, it just depends on the dose”. You can have too much of a good thing. If you overdo it with your outbound links, you’ll end up distracting your reader and repeatedly pushing them away from your site and towards the sites of others. If you spam links, you’ll also undo your outbound links SEO benefits.

Only include links that are relevant and helpful to your readers. Keep them relatively sparse, and emphasize the content of the link within the sentence you’re linking from. This way, people know what they’ll get if they click the link.

If you’re linking to support an assertion, often people will just assume you’ve done the research and not click it. If you’re saying “this will help you” they’re a lot more likely to click.
6. Be Strict With User-Generated Links

If linking to well-respected, influential sites and posts can increase your perceived authority, then linking to low quality user generated posts like blogs, comments, forums and sub-reddits is going to erode people’s confidence in your work.

What’s more, don’t allow links in your comments. I’d even go so far as to manually monitor and approve comments when you’re starting out, to ensure only constructive conversation is nurtured. Users won’t want to become part of a community choked out by spammers, self-promotional guest bloggers, trolls and so forth.

Protect the quality of your content, and you protect your image too.

Pro-tip: use a outbound link checker to ensure all your links are current and up to date. Broken links will be held against your ranking by the algorithms.

Here at SEOPressor, we provide the smart link manager service for those of you who are not aware of this element. It allows you to monitor and design your optimum link profile that will increase your reader’s retention and reduce bounce rates.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to miss this!

By accessing through SEOPressor’s dashboard, you will be shown the statuses of your links that are broken like this:

You may want to read a detailed post about this awesome feature here: https://seopressor.com/blog/how-to-fix-broken-links-to-improve-seo/

Instead of having to check your links one by one (imagine doing that to all the blogs posts you’ve written), you can now get it all done efficiently in one place – SEOPressor’s Link Manager.

Increase Your Authority, Audience and Ranking With Outbound Links

By now, you should be convinced of the value of Outbound Links to your SEO strategy and the future of SEO. Using them, and more importantly, using them well, will help you make a real difference to your website’s bottom line. Just make sure to compose your links so they’re always relevant, easily navigable, and increase convenience for your readers.

With this achieved, you’ll be building your profile, authority and ranking in no time.

Do you have an outbound linking strategy I’ve missed? Share it with our readers in the comments below. Any questions? Throw them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

#optin-template-3{
float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
}
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
padding-bottom: 16px;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
color:#232b33;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
font-size:2.2em;
}
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 100%;
max-width: 270px;
min-width: 270px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: top;
padding-top: 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
min-width:270px;
height: 280px;
background: url(https://seopressor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/step-by-step-7-backlink-building.png);
background-size: contain;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
}
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
}
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #795548;
}
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #000000;
background: #faa500;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #faa500;
cursor: pointer;
}
#optin-template-3 .container .align-justify { text-align:justify !important;}

Download Free Step-by-Step Link Building Tutorial Now!

Discover 7 of the most effective link building strategies that even experts use.
Detailed and helpful step-by-step tutorials.
Start building quality backlinks within days!

Read More

Using the Flowchart Method for Diagnosing Ranking Drops – Whiteboard Friday

Using the Flowchart Method for Diagnosing Ranking Drops – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Being able to pinpoint the reason for a ranking drop is one of our most perennial and potentially frustrating tasks as SEOs. There are an unknowable number of factors that go into ranking these days, but luckily the methodology for diagnosing those fluctuations is readily at hand. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome the wonderful Kameron Jenkins to show us a structured way to diagnose ranking drops using a flowchart method and critical thinking.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins. I am the new SEO Wordsmith here at Moz, and I’m so excited to be here. Before this, I worked at an agency for about six and a half years. I worked in the SEO department, and really a common thing we encountered was a client’s rankings dropped. What do we do?

This flowchart was kind of built out of that mentality of we need a logical workflow to be able to diagnose exactly what happened so we can make really pointed recommendations for how to fix it, how to get our client’s rankings back. So let’s dive right in. It’s going to be a flowchart, so it’s a little nonlinear, but hopefully this makes sense and helps you work smarter rather than harder.

Was it a major ranking drop?: No

The first question I’d want to ask is: Was their rankings drop major? By major, I would say that’s something like page 1 to page 5 overnight. Minor would be something like it just fell a couple positions, like position 3 to position 5.

We’re going to take this path first. It was minor.

Has there been a pattern of decline lasting about a month or greater?

That’s not a magic number. A month is something that you can use as a benchmark. But if there’s been a steady decline and it’s been one week it’s position 3 and then it’s position 5 and then position 7, and it just keeps dropping over time, I would consider that a pattern of decline.

So if no, I would actually say wait.

Volatility is normal, especially if you’re at the bottom of page 1, maybe page 2 plus. There’s going to be a lot more shifting of the search results in those positions. So volatility is normal.
Keep your eyes on it, though. It’s really good to just take note of it like, “Hey, we dropped. Okay, I’m going to check that again next week and see if it continues to drop, then maybe we’ll take action.”
Wait it out. At this point, I would just caution against making big website updates if it hasn’t really been warranted yet. So volatility is normal. Expect that. Keep your finger on the pulse, but just wait it out at this point.

If there has been a pattern of decline though, I’m going to have you jump to the algorithm update section. We’re going to get there in a second. But for now, we’re going to go take the major rankings drop path.

Was it a major ranking drop?: Yes

The first question on this path that I’d want to ask is:

Was there a rank tracking issue?

Now, some of these are going seem pretty basic, like how would that ever happen, but believe me it happens every once in a while. So just before we make major updates to the website, I’d want to check the rank tracking.

I. The wrong domain or URL.

That can be something that happens a lot. A site maybe you change domains or maybe you move a page and that old page of that old domain is still listed in your ranking tracker. If that’s the case, then the rank tracking tool doesn’t know which URL to judge the rankings off of. So it’s going to look like maybe you dropped to position 10 overnight from position 1, and that’s like, whoa, that’s a huge update. But it’s actually just that you have the wrong URL in there. So just check that. If there’s been a page update, a domain update, check to make sure that you’ve updated your rank tracker.

II. Glitches.

So it’s software, it can break. There are things that could cause it to be off for whatever reason. I don’t know how common that is. It probably is totally dependent on which kind of software you use. But glitches do happen, so I would manually check your rankings.

III. Manually check rankings.

One way I would do that is…

Go to incognito in Google and make sure you’re logged out so it’s not personalized. I would search the term that you’re wanting to rank for and see where you’re actually ranking.
Google’s Ad Preview tool. That one is really good too if you want to search where you’re ranking locally so you can set your geolocation. You could do mobile versus desktop rankings. So it could be really good for things like that.
Crosscheck with another tool, like Moz’s tool for rank tracking. You can pop in your URLs, see where you’re ranking, and cross-check that with your own tool.

So back to this. Rank tracking issues. Yes, you found your problem. If it was just a rank tracking tool issue, that’s actually great, because it means you don’t have to make a lot of changes. Your rankings actually haven’t dropped. But if that’s not the issue, if there is no rank tracking issue that you can pinpoint, then I would move on to Google Search Console.

Problems in Google Search Console?

So Google Search Console is really helpful for checking site health matters. One of the main things I would want to check in there, if you experience a major drop especially, is…

I. Manual actions.

If you navigate to Manual Actions, you could see notes in there like unnatural links pointing to your site. Or maybe you have thin or low-quality content on your site. If those things are present in your Manual Actions, then you have a reference point. You have something to go off of. There’s a lot of work involved in lifting a manual penalty that we can’t get into here unfortunately. Some things that you can do to focus on manual penalty lifting…

Moz’s Link Explorer. You can check your inbound links and see their spam score. You could look at things like anchor text to see if maybe the links pointing to your site are keyword stuffed. So you can use tools like that.
There are a lot of good articles too, in the industry, just on getting penalties lifted. Marie Haynes especially has some really good ones. So I would check that out.

But you have found your problem if there’s a manual action in there. So focus on getting that penalty lifted.

II. Indexation issues.

Before you move out of Search Console, though, I would check indexation issues as well. Maybe you don’t have a manual penalty. But go to your index coverage report and you can see if anything you submitted in your sitemap is maybe experiencing issues. Maybe it’s blocked by robots.txt, or maybe you accidentally no indexed it. You could probably see that in the index coverage report. Search Console, okay. So yes, you found your problem. No, you’re going to move on to algorithm updates.

Algorithm updates

Algorithm updates happen all the time. Google says that maybe one to two happen per day. Not all of those are going to be major. The major ones, though, are listed. They’re documented in multiple different places. Moz has a really good list of algorithm updates over time. You can for sure reference that. There are going to be a lot of good ones. You can navigate to the exact year and month that your site experienced a rankings drop and see if it maybe correlates with any algorithm update.

For example, say your site lost rankings in about January 2017. That’s about the time that Google released its Intrusive Interstitials Update, and so I would look on my site, if that was the issue, and say, “Do I have intrusive interstitials? Is this something that’s affecting my website?”

If you can match up an algorithm update with the time that your rankings started to drop, you have direction. You found an issue. If you can’t match it up to any algorithm updates, it’s finally time to move on to site updates.

Site updates

What changes happened to your website recently? There are a lot of different things that could have happened to your website. Just keep in mind too that maybe you’re not the only one who has access to your website. You’re the SEO, but maybe tech support has access. Maybe even your paid ad manager has access. There are a lot of different people who could be making changes to the website. So just keep that in mind when you’re looking into it. It’s not just the changes that you made, but changes that anyone made could affect the website’s ranking. Just look into all possible factors.

Other factors that can impact rankings

A lot of different things, like I said, can influence your site’s rankings. A lot of things can inadvertently happen that you can pinpoint and say, “Oh, that’s definitely the cause.”

Some examples of things that I’ve personally experienced on my clients’ websites…

I. Renaming pages and letting them 404 without updating with a 301 redirect.

There was one situation where a client had a blog. They had hundreds of really good blog posts. They were all ranking for nice, long tail terms. A client emailed into tech support to change the name of the blog. Unfortunately, all of the posts lived under the blog, and when he did that, he didn’t update it with a 301 redirect, so all of those pages, that were ranking really nicely, they started to fall out of the index. The rankings went with it. There’s your problem. It was unfortunate, but at least we were able to diagnose what happened.

II. Content cutting.

Maybe you’re working with a UX team, a design team, someone who is looking at the website from a visual, a user experience perspective. A lot of times in these situations they might take a page that’s full of really good, valuable content and they might say, “Oh, this is too clunky. It’s too bulky. It has too many words. So we’re going to replace it with an image, or we’re going to take some of the content out.”

When this happens, if the content was the thing that was making your page rank and you cut that, that’s probably something that’s going to affect your rankings negatively. By the way, if that’s happening to you, Rand has a really good Whiteboard Friday on kind of how to marry user experience and SEO. You should definitely check that out if that’s an issue for you.

III. Valuable backlinks lost.

Another situation I was diagnosing a client and one of their backlinks dropped. It just so happened to be like the only thing that changed over this course of time. It was a really valuable backlink, and we found out that they just dropped it for whatever reason, and the client’s rankings started to decline after that time. Things like Moz’s tools, Link Explorer, you can go in there and see gained and lost backlinks over time. So I would check that out if maybe that might be an issue for you.

IV. Accidental no index.

Depending on what type of CMS you work with, it might be really, really easy to accidentally check No Index on this page. If you no index a really important page, Google takes it out of its index. That could happen. Your rankings could drop.So those are just some examples of things that can happen. Like I said, hundreds and hundreds of things could have been changed on your site, but it’s just really important to try to pinpoint exactly what those changes were and if they coincided with when your rankings started to drop.

SERP landscape

So we got all the way to the bottom. If you’re at the point where you’ve looked at all of the site updates and you still haven’t found anything that would have caused a rankings drop, I would say finally look at the SERP landscape.

What I mean by that is just Google your keyword that you want to rank for or your group of keywords that you want to rank for and see which websites are ranking on page 1. I would get a lay of the land and just see:

What are these pages doing?
How many backlinks do they have?
How much content do they have?
Do they load fast?
What’s the experience?

Then make content better than that. To rank, so many people just think avoid being spammy and avoid having things broken on your site. But that’s not SEO. That’s really just helping you be able to compete. You have to have content that’s the best answer to searchers’ questions, and that’s going to get you ranking.

I hope that was helpful. This is a really good way to just kind of work through a ranking drop diagnosis. If you have methods, by the way, that work for you, I’d love to hear from you and see what worked for you in the past. Let me know, drop it in the comments below.

Thanks, everyone. Come back next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Read More

SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business?

SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business?

When it comes to digital marketing, especially if you’re just starting out, there’s always the question about SEO vs. PPC. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? And, more importantly, which one is better for you?

 

The general consensus is that PPC costs money and it brings immediate results, while SEO is free, but takes time. So it’s a simple trade, time for money. Well, the truth is that it’s more to that than you might expect. I’ll clarify everything below.

 

 

SEO Advantages & Disadvantages

SEO Pros
SEO Cons
When Should You Choose SEO?

PPC Advantages & Disadvantages

PPC Pros
PPC Cons
When Should You Choose PPC?

SEO vs. PPC Recap (side by side comparison)
Mixing SEO with PPC

 

Since we’re cognitiveSEO and we have SEO oriented tools, you might think we’ll try to push SEO as being better than PPC. However, this article won’t show advantages and disadvantages so that you may choose one over another, but to help you better understand which are the strong and weak points of each promotion method.

 

In the end, you’re better off using a mix of both. I’ll tell you exactly why, so keep reading.

 
SEO Advantages & Disadvantages

 

Search Engine Optimization is growing more and more popular, especially with startups. Everyone wants to have an optimized website that ranks well because, in their minds, it’s free. However, if you’ve been in business for a while, you very well know that time = money. This isn’t just a phrase. It’s true.

 

Although SEO might be considered a cheaper way of promoting your website and products, that can actually be far from the case, depending on the niche you’re in and the toughness of your competition. SEO involves content, which is not cheap to create (at least not at a high level).

 

For example, creating a high quality article on cognitiveSEO can take up to one week (if not more if you count in proofreading and editing). Remember, time = money. But, while ads are an easier way of promotion, we earn a lot more trust by ranking and generating traffic organically, since we’re an SEO oriented company.

 

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of SEO, to better understand what you’re dealing with when you get started.

 
SEO Pros

 

SEO covers the biggest part of search marketing. SEO work is like planting the seeds of a forest. You plant them now but you see the results very far into the future. Although you can speed up the process, that requires a lot more work than just installing WordPress and writing quality content.

 

It’s free if you do it yourself: As long as you’re prepared to continuously improve your knowledge and spend a lot of time writing your own content, then you can rank high without any investment (except for hosting and a theme).

 

Gradual learning curve: This can also be seen as a disadvantage, in the way that it can take a long time to learn it. However, what I’m trying to point out here is that you don’t have to master it fast to see results. You can start by doing some simple keyword research and writing your content. Mix that with image optimization and a good server and you’re set. Most Content Management Systems today have a lot of SEO plugins, be it for content or technical issues.

 

Good ROI: If you take the free path and do everything yourself, SEO has the potential to bring very good results, especially in the local business field, where competition can be less harsh. Even when paying for your services, considering you get to rank on a high search volume keyword, you can get up to 15x the amount of clicks you would get if using paid search. Top organic results can bring over 25% of the organic searches for a keyword. On the other side, paid ads only get about 2-3%. Here’s a screenshot from Sparktoro where Rand Fishkin analyzes the Organic vs. Paid CTR in US.

 

 

This discrepancy could be caused by many factors, such as people’s preference for organic results over paid ads (they view them as more trustworthy) and frequent use of ad blocking softwares.

 

Long term results: If you do your homework and you’re consistent for about 6 months to one year, the results you get can last for years. It’s a good idea to update and improve content from time to time though, especially if something better shows up in the SERPS. However, if you keep sharing your content and get a backlink here and there, chances are you’ll keep your ranks, if not improve them over time.

 

Good for brand awareness: People often search for information on the web. Even when they want to purchase something, they first look for reviews and guides. If you want to take advantage of that, you need to write informational content that meets their expectations, in order to rank. Over time, this can lead to people remembering your brand. On average, first time clients often need to be brought on your website up to 7 times (if not more) before they trust you enough to make a purchase.

 

More control over content: When doing SEO, you can rank for virtually anything. You don’t have restrictions on what content you have to display. Also, titles and descriptions can be longer, which leads to better CTRs. You can do virtually anything. However, send clients to a bad page using ads and you’ll be kicked out in no time.

 
SEO Cons

 

It takes time to see results: For some, 6 months to 1 year might sound really good, but for others it might sound like an eternity. You need results and you need them fast. Now. If that’s the case, then your focus should be on paid search. However, it’s a good idea to put the basis of SEO as soon as you start. Remember, it takes time to see results, so the sooner you start, the faster you’ll see them. If you postpone SEO, when you do decide to start, you’ll just hear the same 6 months story again.

 

Hard to master: If you really want to call yourself an SEO expert, you’ll need to learn a lot more than just basic keyword research and link building. HTML and CSS skills might be required, at least at a basic level and JS and PHP come in handy as well. Those don’t include all the other technical things you need to master like sitemaps, indexing, URLs, redirects, multiple language issues and many others. With links getting harder and harder to obtain without a lot of $$$, your content creation and persuasion skills also need to improve significantly. There’s just so much more you have to master with SEO that it can actually be overwhelming. There are even categories, such as Technical SEO and Content SEO. Mastering these both can be very challenging. If you think of PPC like playing an instrument, then SEO is sort of like conducting an entire orchestra.

 

 

Hard to scale: If you’re a one man gang, getting things to the next level isn’t very easy. It’s true that you don’t necessarily have to post more to get more traffic, but it’s also true that if you do post more, you do get more traffic. You can only do so many things in 24h. Scaling that requires help, which involves money. If you’re building an authority website and need hundreds of articles per week, editors and a content marketing team then the results will pay off. However, if you’re trying to compete with Dyson to sell your unknown vacuum cleaner, you’re better off with paid search.

 

High uncertainty: Google works with algorithms. This means that at any time, for any reason, your site might drop from its rankings, or worse, even be removed from the index. Usually this happens if you get involved with BlackHat SEO techniques. If you stick to Google’s Guidelines, you should generally be fine. Still, there are so many reasons for which your website’s organic traffic could drop that it would take another article to list them. We actually have one, mostly limited to 2018 SEO updates.

 

Less buyer oriented: People search a lot on the web, but most of the time they search for information. Even when they search for things to buy. That’s why it’s a good idea to also build an e-mail list, to be able to bring clients back on your website. Harder to do now, especially in Europe, with the new EU GDPR law.

 

Hard to A/B test: Although you have full control over your content, A/B testing in an organic searches environment isn’t easy. Google isn’t very fond of duplicate content and you can’t simply ask Google to show another page for one week either. Well, you actually can using canonical tags. However, the canonical tag wasn’t designed for that and it’s very risky to use it that way. You might think that you could simply change the same page and then switch it back. However, any change to a page can result either in an increase or a decrease in rankings. Generally, when people rank high they avoid making any changes to their pages.

 

SEO

Advantages
Disadvantages

It can be ‘free’
It takes time to see results

Gradual learning curve
Hard to master

Good ROI
Hard to scale

Long term results
High uncertainty

Good for brand awareness
Less buyer oriented

More control over content
Hard to A/B test

 
When Should You Choose SEO?

 

Unless you purposely don’t want to be on search engines, SEO is, simply put, for everyone. You should start it as soon as possible, because it takes time for it to work. To be more precise, the SEO planning process should start before even building the website, if you take structure and platform into account.

 

The later you start with SEO, the later you will see the results. It’s a good idea to start optimizing as soon as possible.

 
PPC Advantages & Disadvantages

 

On the other side, we have PPC (Pay Per Click) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Some SEOs blame it for being less efficient and costing way more than SEO. However, those claims can be false due to bias. The truth is PPC can be a great method of promoting your website, especially if you’re an eCommerce store or selling a product.

 
PPC Pros

 

Generally, people think of PPC as regular advertising, but it’s much more than that. Having the opportunity to show an ad only when someone searches for a specific keyword and, even more, pay for it only when they click, is priceless. There are a ton of good things about PPC. Hadn’t it been so successful, people wouldn’t pay for it.

 

You can see results instantly: The greatest thing about Pay Per Click is that you can see results right away. That is, of course, as long as your landing page is decent. You need a call to action, so make sure your phone number and contact forms are visible. You will usually pay more depending on the competition. However, there are other factors that are taken into consideration, such as the quality of your titles and content. Either way, ranking in the top 3 with SEO in a day is virtually impossible to achieve.

 

 

Easier to master: I’m not saying that you can become an expert overnight but, on the long run, PPC is easier than SEO. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. You still have to learn a lot of things and you also learn those things by burning money usually. However, once you’ve set up a proper campaign and optimized if for a couple of months, you’re kind of set. You also get professional support from official Google employees that help you set campaigns, a luxury that you don’t have in the SEO field. Luckily, there’s guys like us, here at cognitiveSEO. Obviously, there are also advanced tweaks that you can do to your campaigns, things you won’t learn very easily. But there’s a higher chance of finding someone that will create you a decent Pay Per Click campaign than finding someone who will build and execute a good SEO strategy.

 

You can scale up quickly: Scaling up in Google Adwords is pretty easy. Just pay more money. There are two ways of paying more money. The first is to target more keywords. The second is simply adjusting your daily budget to over 9.000 and become overpower. Then, your competition will be very frustrated:

 

 

No uncertainty: You don’t have to fear any updates from Google. In the PPC world, the updates are upfront and not secret. You also spend between 5-10 minutes to set up an ad and another 5-10 to find out if it has been approved or not. You’ll also know exactly what’s allowed and what isn’t. Remember, you also get support from Google itself.

 

Buyer oriented: Most of the clicks you will get from PPC are buyer oriented. It’s not necessarily that people click Google ads more when they want to buy something (although it’s possible), but because you’ll only be targeting commercial keywords when you place your ads. We all know that search traffic has higher conversion rates. Same goes for paid search advertising. It has higher conversions than social media and Facebook advertising. Google only shows ads if it thinks it’s relevant to the potential customers. So, the user intent dictates whether an ad should show or not. If the keyword is a buyer keyword, there’s a higher chance of an ad displaying.

 

Easy to A/B test: A/B testing with PPC is really easy. All you have to do is set up two ads and let them run. Whichever gets the most CTR wins. It’s simple. You have to keep doing this to improve your results. A 1% increase in CTR can be a game changer in some situations.

 
PPC Cons

 

Like with anything, there must also be downsides. PPC has a few, but depending on who you are and what you do, some might not even seem to be disadvantages. If you have a high profit margin, for example, you can afford to pay ads. However, if you only make 1$ per sale but you have to pay $0.98 to get it, it might not be such a great deal, especially after taxes.

 

You pay for every click: Well… there’s not much to say here. It’s pay to play. For every click that you get you have to pay. So, as long as you profit from it, the more you spend the more your earn. The math is pretty simple. You need to think in Click Through Rates. Let’s say that you earn $10 per sale. In this case, depending on your demands, you could be spending anything from $0.01 to $9.99 for a sale. However, the money will only bring you traffic. It doesn’t guarantee sales. You need high conversion rates. If you bring in 100 people and your conversion rate is 1%, then you have to make sure those 100 visitors cost less than what you earn for one sale. Otherwise you will be throwing money out the window.

 

It’s not that it’s bad to pay for every click. It’s just that with SEO you don’t have to

 

Steep learning curve: When you first go into the Google Adwords platform, things might be overwhelming. There are a lot of new things to digest: campaigns, ad groups, keywords, negative keywords, budgets, bids, CTR, CPC and many other. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you can burn a lot of money. A recent client of mine set up the campaign on his own and wasted around 75% of his budget because he didn’t set any negative keywords.

 

 

However, after having a basic understanding of them, you can easily set up campaigns that run for a profit. There are also official courses from Google which you can attend and even get certified into.

 

Lower ROI: We’ve talked about how, with SEO, results are a little bit slow but last longer? Well, it’s the exact opposite with PPC. The ROI on PPC is calculated short term, by subtracting how much you spend on the paid search advertisements from how much you earn by selling a product. When you stop paying, you stop displaying so the ROI won’t grow the same way it does with SEO, long term.

 

Growth is tied to budget: Although it’s easy to scale, PPC is tied to budget. That means if you want to sell more, you also have to pay more. This doesn’t sound so bad, but considering that growth often involves other expenses such as better servers, personnel or even warehouses, you’ll always be short on money.

 

Not great for brand awareness: When you pay for clicks, you usually want to sell. Fast. Once the user purchases once, it’s anyway easier to retarget them. Even if they ultimately buy from you, chances are they came from someone else’s informational website, either through Adsense or some sort of affiliate link (websites they trust).

 

Less control over content: If you want your ad to display, you’ll have to respect some rules. Not only with the titles and descriptions, but also with the content. There are certain niches in which you can’t even display ads at all and some words are banned.

 

PPC

Advantages
Disadvantages

Very fast results
You pay for every click

Easier to master
Steep learning curve

Easy to scale
Lower ROI, more short term

No uncertainty
Growth is tied to budget

Buyer oriented
Not great for brand awareness

Easy to A/B test
Less control over content

 
When Should You Choose PPC?

 

Well, you can definitely use PPC all the time. The best time to use it, if you have a little bit of budget, is when you’re starting out. The boost can help you keep the business going while you also growing your organic traffic.

 

However, even when you’re already established, you can’t rank for all the keywords. For those on which you don’t rank, you can pay. You can also use it on keywords you already rank for to increase your CTR. If you have position 1, why not have position 1 and 2?

 

Best time to use PPC is when you’re starting out, but you can always use it for keywords you don’t rank for or to maximize CTR.

 
SEO vs. PPC Recap (side by side comparison)

 

Green = Advantages
Red = Disadvantages

SEO
PPC

Can be ‘free’
Very fast results

Gradual learning curve
Easier to master

Good ROI
Easy to scale

Long term results
No uncertainty

Good for brand awareness
Buyer oriented

More control over content
Easy to A/B test

It takes time to see results
You pay for every click

Hard to master
Steep learning curve

Hard to scale
Lower ROI

High uncertainty
Growth is tied to budget

Less buyer oriented
Not great for brand awareness

Hard to A/B test
Less control over content

 
Mixing PPC with SEO

 

Most of the time, people start with PPC because it brings immediate results. They miss out on SEO because they don’t start doing it as soon as possible. If you postpone it, it will only take longer to rank. You can start with it by doing the basic things. For example, having a blog is one of them. Implementing a content marketing strategy for your site is a great way of growing your brand and authority.

 

People often neglect SEO. I have one client that spends over $2.000 on PPC, whereas the budget for SEO is only about $100. It actually was 0 before I convinced them to start with something basic. Had they spent 25% of his PPC budget on SEO these past 10 years, they would have had a huge authority website with hundreds if not thousands of useful articles. However, they only have service pages and a badly implemented multi language module which I can’t seem to fix without a programmer.

 

On the other side, small businesses and SEO enthusiasts might also miss out a lot themselves by never taking advantage of PPC. There could be a huge opportunity in selling your products through PPC.

 

On the long run, it’s true that SEO is much more powerful than PPC. You can rank high with one article for hundreds if not thousands of keywords and the CTRs tend to be a lot higher. But on the short term, PPC is a really good way of gaining some initial traffic and sales and the best way of keeping your positions consistent. The longer a campaign runs, the better CTRs and CPC it scores, as it gets to be really well optimized.

 

Conclusion:

 

As you see, both SEO and PPC are good methods to market your products. Now, if you’re starting out with SEO, there’s plenty of content on our blog from which you can learn it. However, we’re lacking a bit on the PPC and SEM side. Maybe we’ll publish more soon. But the idea is that if you mix them, you’ll get the best results.

 

What’s your experience? Have you tried both PPC and SEO? Which one brought the best results? Let us know in the comments section.

The post SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Read More