SEO Articles

How High Page Load Time Is Affecting Your Conversion

How High Page Load Time Is Affecting Your Conversion

Let’s say you need to check out something real quick. You type out your query in your browser on your laptop or pc. Google loads your search results page and you pick the top ranking ones to get your answer. Then you wait for the load time… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds have passed but the page continues to load at its own pace. What do you do after that?

The likely scenario is, you would leave and try another page.

We live in the era of instant gratification. People want things fast and now. By the way, when I say website page speed, I mean how long your web page needs to complete its rendering. If your web page load time is too slow, then you’ve probably already lost a lot of users who have gone on to someone faster.

Can A Few Seconds Affect Bounce Rates?

According to Think With Google, those 1 or 2 seconds you’re missing out on are pretty important. By the time your loading time hits 6 seconds, the probability of the bounce rates has already exceeded 100%.

Image Source: Think From Google

Coming back to your consumers, Forrester Consulting’s survey actually found that people expect your page load time to be within 2 seconds or less. 40% of them won’t wait longer than 3 seconds before abandoning a website.

Online shoppers are a fickle lot but more than half of those have stated that their loyalty is dependent on the short load time. This is especially true for high-spending shoppers. If your website page speed is low, then your shoppers would become distracted. 14% of them would start straying to other sites and shopping there instead. 23% of them will stop shopping and walk away from their computer altogether.

Retail and travel sites are some of the most affected when their website page speed is low. Almost 8 out of 10 would not buy again if they felt dissatisfied with this aspect. What’s worse is, 64% of those would bring their business elsewhere and buy from someone else.

So if you have not done any web page optimization, you’re definitely losing leads and conversion. Even if you’re ranking high in Google search at the moment, your content is failing to bring you sales because your consumers have left your website even before your content has loaded.

How Slow Is A Slow Load Time?

Google’s page speed penalization goes back as far as 2009 so it’s been around for a long time. But, mobile usage has outstripped desktop usage and has been projected to continue doing so from now onwards. Google has taken this trend into account and has announced that they will start accounting for mobile page speed in their ranking algorithm starting from July 2018.

So what does this mean for you? Being in business means you have to move with the times. If you’re not advertising or optimized for mobile devices, then you’re losing out on many prospects.

Then your next question would be “what is considered slow?”. That depends on your niche and how fast you are compared to your competitors. Google themselves have experimented with page speed and have discovered a deep 20% traffic drop when the results page loaded for just half a second slower. While having relevant content helps you in terms of ranking, it’s just a shame to be ranked lower for seconds of difference.

Your Load Time is Affecting Your Adwords

What?! Yup, it is. Google claims that the update will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. But your Quality Score will be affected because your Landing Page Experience will be impacted by low website page speed.

The reasoning is simple. If Google brought prospects to your website but your information doesn’t load quickly enough (assuming that your content is relevant and useful), you’re going to end up paying more or failing to show an ad altogether.

Relevant and compelling content is important but optimizing your page load time is equally vital to help your users get where they’re going faster and more efficiently.

What’s Lowering Your Website Page Speed?

There is a long list of reasons on what’s likely to cause your page’s load time to be long. Some of the possibilities are:

Huge Images – Some images are too heavy to load and is pulling your website page speed down
Cheap Host – Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Go for the one that’s good for your business size
External Media – Some media like videos can really add to the value of your content but can also negatively affect your load time. You can try hosting on your own server to speed things up a bit
Overwhelming Ads – There’s such a thing as too much. Having too many ads will annoy your users, make your content look thin, and also slow down your page speed
Theme Design – Some themes are so pretty with all the effects but it can also cause a slow down page speed wise

Tools to Test Your Page Speed

If you need a website load test tool, you’re in luck. There’s quite a lot of tools on the Internet that you can use to measure your website page speed. Some that we find best (easy and free to use) are:

1) PageSpeed Insights

Google has developed their own tool that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to help you make your page faster. It’ll be divided conveniently into desktop and mobile to help you identify which end needs more work. You simply need to enter your web page URL.

2) WebPagetest

Also a tool by Google, it’s an open source project that they made in their efforts to make the web faster. It’s hosted by companies and individuals around the globe. Enter your URL, choose a test location, and a browser, and it will run 3 tests and give you the performance results.

3) Mobile Site Speed Test

Yet another Google related speed test tool (they’re taking it seriously, you should too), this one is for mobile speed. After entering the URL, they will test and show you how quick you need to load, the estimated percentage of visitor loss, your mobile site speed compares to those in the same industry, and how much loading time can be reduced through a few fixes.

Speed Optimization Techniques You Can Try

After testing your website with the tools above, you should receive some suggestions on how to improve your website page speed. Here are some website optimization tips you can try to trim off a few more seconds of load time:

Optimize your images

You can reduce the size of your images if you use the “Save for Web” option offered by programs like Photoshop. If you don’t have that program, you can opt for free ones like Web Resizer or Pic Resize. Try not to use HTML to resize images (I’m talking about WordPress blogs). The picture may look smaller, but the process still calls for the whole image to be loaded, and then resized to what you want. So, there won’t be a reduction in load time.

Cache your pages

Rather than generating the page every time someone visits, you can consider using plugins that content management systems have (like WordPress). It can cache your pages and just displays that to your users.

Code Minification

Minification for computer languages means to get rid of all unnecessary characters from the source code without changing the functionality. It would mean fewer things to load, which translates to fast load time.

Quick Loading Above-The-Fold Content

For those of you who are wondering, Above-The-Fold (ATF) Content is the portion of your page that you can see without scrolling. Most people may not even scroll to view the rest of your content, so put more effort into making sure at least this portion loads fairly quickly.

Getting rid of render-blocking Javascript and CSS

You might see this when you try the tools above. What the tools are telling you, is that you have Javascript and CSS scripts that are slowing down your page load time unnecessarily. The scripts are not part of the ATF content and need not come into play. So just say goodbye and do away with them.

Compress your pages

Your files will load faster if your files are smaller. Enable GZIP Compression and you will be able to load at 70% faster without loss of quality for images, video, or website. Most browsers do support this software application, but you can always test it out before using.

Conclusion

While website page speed isn’t going to be the reason that bumps you up to the first page, it does become a detracting factor which lowers your ranking and definitely drag down your conversion rates. It affects how your users will experience your website. For anyone you want to inspire confidence in and build trust, you shouldn’t keep them waiting for you. Give them a good experience and they will tell their friends and family about your page.

Although reducing the page load time is definitely going to be challenging, it will surely impact your website positively. Rome isn’t built in a day, so you don’t have to do everything today. But do make the effort to work through the recommended actions. They’re totally worth it!

With the upcoming mobile speed soon to come into play in July 2018, mobile responsiveness and speed optimization become the next thing to watch out for. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make your preparations and ride the waves of change!

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#2 – High-Impact vs. Low-Impact SEO Actions

There are hundreds of actions you can take in a single SEO campaign, but not every action is created equally. That’s why in Episode #2 of The SEO Life podcast, I’ll be explaining the difference between high-impact and low-impact SEO actions.

Understanding the difference will not only save you precious time, but will also dramatically improve your SEO results.

Let’s jump in.

6 High-Impact SEO Actions to Focus on

I’ll start with the high-impact actions that every SEO should be focusing on or giving to a team member.

1. Creating Content Assets

The first and most important high-impact SEO action is creating SEO content assets. Content is the lead domino for any effective long-term SEO campaign. Not only can creating content around specific keyword phrases drive traffic to your website, but your content can also be your primary asset for acquiring backlinks as well.

It’s extremely challenging to acquire backlinks without content assets. But they will make your life a hell of lot easier when you have them.

I truly believe most of the focus on an SEO campaign should be on creating incredible content assets.

2. Performing Content Audits

The second high-impact action in my experience is performing content audits. Most websites don’t create content with SEO in mind and that’s why performing a content audit is critical in most cases.

An effective audit will help you identify pages that are outdated, thin, duplicate, or just outright bad. You can then decide to delete the pages, redirect them, or improve them and that decision is based on the existing data.

For example, if a page sucks, but it has 20 linking root domains, it may be worth the effort to improve it. However, if it isn’t worth improving or it’s no longer relevant, then you can redirect it to a relevant page on your website. This will help you retain the backlink equity.

3. Optimizing Site Architecture

The third high-impact action you can take is optimizing your website’s architecture. In short, an effective website architecture will help Google crawl your website more efficiently, will help users flow through your website effortlessly, and will flow backlink equity through your website. This alone will make your website more authoritative without needing a ton of backlinks.

You should be trying to squeeze as much authority of every backlink you get, so your website becomes an authoritative powerhouse. Acquiring backlinks is expensive and time-consuming, so it’s a wise idea to try to get the most out of them as you can. That’s why developing an effective site architecture is a good use of your time and effort.

4. Optimizing Technical/UX Performance

The fourth high-impact SEO action is to optimize your site’s technical and User Experience (UX) performance. Now this one is tricky because there are high-impact and low-impact actions within it.

I’ll focus on the high-impact actions because I’ll be hitting the low-impact ones in a second.

The high-impact technical issues that you must tackle are site loading speed, mobile friendliness, and crawling/indexing. Medium impact actions include fixing redirect issues, fixing broken links, and handling 404s (that have link equity).

5. Acquiring Backlinks

The fifth high-impact SEO action is trying to acquire backlinks. Backlinks are the necessary fuel for almost every successful SEO campaign. Out of the thousands of keywords I’ve tackled over the last 5 years, I’ve only had a couple that ranked without backlinks. You need quality backlink in almost every scenario (whether you like it or not).

As I mentioned before, using a content-centric approach is the most scalable link acquisition strategy. But some non-content dependent link building tactics include landing guest posting, getting media mentions about your company, participating in expert roundups, getting listed in a relevant blogroll, or contributing to HARO requests.

6. Building Systems

The sixth and final high-impact SEO action is to build systems. I focused on this topic in Episode #1 of the SEO Life podcast, so make sure listen to that one to learn more. But to recap, there are many micro actions within the larger actions I mentioned above that can be documented, systemized, and outsourced so that you can spend your time on high-level strategy and high-impact actions.

4 Low-Impact SEO Actions to Avoid

Now it’s time for me to cover the low-impact SEO actions that you should either outsource, avoid, or don’t even think about.

1. Rewriting META Descriptions, Messing with ALT Tags, Etc

The first low-impact action is spending your time rewriting meta descriptions, messing with ALT tags, or fixing broken links. ANYONE can do these actions and that should be your basis for what you should be spending your time on. If ANYONE can do what you’re doing with little effort, thought, or guidance, then it’s a low-impact action.

As I mentioned in Episode #1, you need to be careful not to spend your time on Minimum Wage Activities. This isn’t a jab at people who work for minimum wage because I’ve worked for minimum wage several times in my life. But I also learned that if you want to maximize your time, grow your business, and make more money, you need to be extremely careful with what you spend your time on.

Think about how you can be more effective, not more efficient, as Peter Drucker has said.

Don’t forget that you cannot get your time back. That’s why it’s critical that you think about every assignment you get or attempt to give yourself. Can you systemize the assignment and hand it out to someone else? Always ask yourself similar questions before you get into the weeds of a project.

2. Caring About Keyword Density

The second low-impact action is spending your time manipulating or caring about keyword density. Do you know how much time I spend on keyword density for every new keyword-targeted content asset I create…?

…0 seconds because it’s a huge waste of time. Place your target keyword in the title, the URL, the first sentence, and then focus on writing naturally.

You’ll end up mentioning the keyword phrase or variations without even thinking about it. In fact, I create my content FIRST and then add the target keyword in the places I mentioned above.

Focus on creating incredible content, not trying to trick Google’s algorithm into thinking your content is worthy. Just make it worthy and your Google keyword rankings will stick.

3. Getting Non-Editorial Backlinks

The third low-impact action is spending your time getting non-editorial backlinks such as profile links, forum signature links, or any submission-based links. I’ll admit there are some diamonds in the rough on the niche and local level, but 99% of these links are a waste of time and will have little or no positive impact on your results. Plus, even if you want to get these links, it’s a process that can be easily systematized and outsourced.

4. Caring Too Much About Third Party Metrics

The last low-impact action that I can think of is caring too much about third party metrics.

Wow, I really hate this one a lot.

It makes me cringe every time someone asks me “how can I increase my DA?” or they frantically ask “My Trust Flow dropped, what do I do!?!” These are THIRD PARTY METRICS.

The only KPIs that should care about when it comes to SEO performance is your organic search traffic.

Listen to me carefully: THIRD PARTY METRICS DON’T MATTER.

You can have a successful SEO campaign without caring about DA, DR, or Trust Flow even for a second. Ahrefs, Majestic, Open Site Explorer, and SEMRush are fundamental tools for an SEO campaign, but their in-house metrics should NOT be guiding your SEO decisions or fueling any insecurities you might have about your campaign.

Focus on organic search traffic inside Google Analytics. If that goes up, you’re doing well. If it goes down, then you need to diagnose it. Simple as that.

That’s It!

I hope you enjoyed Episode #2 of The SEO Life Podcast! If got value from it, please subscribe and share because I want to help as many people as possible. We’ll talk soon! Thanks for listening.

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Rewriting the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Chapter 2: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

Rewriting the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Chapter 2: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

Posted by BritneyMuller

It’s been a few months since our last share of our work-in-progress rewrite of the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, but after a brief hiatus, we’re back to share our draft of Chapter Two with you! This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Kameron Jenkins, who has thoughtfully contributed her great talent for wordsmithing throughout this piece.

This is your resource, the guide that likely kicked off your interest in and knowledge of SEO, and we want to do right by you. You left amazingly helpful commentary on our outline and draft of Chapter One, and we’d be honored if you would take the time to let us know what you think of Chapter Two in the comments below.

Chapter 2: How Search Engines Work – Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking First, show up.

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, search engines are answer machines. They exist to discover, understand, and organize the internet’s content in order to offer the most relevant results to the questions searchers are asking.

In order to show up in search results, your content needs to first be visible to search engines. It’s arguably the most important piece of the SEO puzzle: If your site can’t be found, there’s no way you’ll ever show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

How do search engines work?

Search engines have three primary functions:

Crawl: Scour the Internet for content, looking over the code/content for each URL they find.
Index: Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant queries.
Rank: Provide the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query. Order the search results by the most helpful to a particular query.
What is search engine crawling?

Crawling, is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots (known as crawlers or spiders) to find new and updated content. Content can vary — it could be a webpage, an image, a video, a PDF, etc. — but regardless of the format, content is discovered by links.

The bot starts out by fetching a few web pages, and then follows the links on those webpages to find new URLs. By hopping along this path of links, crawlers are able to find new content and add it to their index — a massive database of discovered URLs — to later be retrieved when a searcher is seeking information that the content on that URL is a good match for.

What is a search engine index?

Search engines process and store information they find in an index, a huge database of all the content they’ve discovered and deem good enough to serve up to searchers.

Search engine ranking

When someone performs a search, search engines scour their index for highly relevant content and then orders that content in the hopes of solving the searcher’s query. This ordering of search results by relevance is known as ranking. In general, you can assume that the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site is to the query.

It’s possible to block search engine crawlers from part or all of your site, or instruct search engines to avoid storing certain pages in their index. While there can be reasons for doing this, if you want your content found by searchers, you have to first make sure it’s accessible to crawlers and is indexable. Otherwise, it’s as good as invisible.

By the end of this chapter, you’ll have the context you need to work with the search engine, rather than against it!

Note: In SEO, not all search engines are equal

Many beginners wonder about the relative importance of particular search engines. Most people know that Google has the largest market share, but how important it is to optimize for Bing, Yahoo, and others? The truth is that despite the existence of more than 30 major web search engines, the SEO community really only pays attention to Google. Why? The short answer is that Google is where the vast majority of people search the web. If we include Google Images, Google Maps, and YouTube (a Google property), more than 90% of web searches happen on Google — that’s nearly 20 times Bing and Yahoo combined.

Crawling: Can search engines find your site?

As you’ve just learned, making sure your site gets crawled and indexed is a prerequisite for showing up in the SERPs. First things first: You can check to see how many and which pages of your website have been indexed by Google using “site:yourdomain.com”, an advanced search operator.

Head to Google and type “site:yourdomain.com” into the search bar. This will return results Google has in its index for the site specified:

The number of results Google displays (see “About __ results” above) isn’t exact, but it does give you a solid idea of which pages are indexed on your site and how they are currently showing up in search results.

For more accurate results, monitor and use the Index Coverage report in Google Search Console. You can sign up for a free Google Search Console account if you don’t currently have one. With this tool, you can submit sitemaps for your site and monitor how many submitted pages have actually been added to Google’s index, among other things.

If you’re not showing up anywhere in the search results, there are a few possible reasons why:

Your site is brand new and hasn’t been crawled yet.
Your site isn’t linked to from any external websites.
Your site’s navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively.
Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives that is blocking search engines.
Your site has been penalized by Google for spammy tactics.

If your site doesn’t have any other sites linking to it, you still might be able to get it indexed by submitting your XML sitemap in Google Search Console or manually submitting individual URLs to Google. There’s no guarantee they’ll include a submitted URL in their index, but it’s worth a try!

Can search engines see your whole site?

Sometimes a search engine will be able to find parts of your site by crawling, but other pages or sections might be obscured for one reason or another. It’s important to make sure that search engines are able to discover all the content you want indexed, and not just your homepage.

Ask yourself this: Can the bot crawl through your website, and not just to it?

Is your content hidden behind login forms?

If you require users to log in, fill out forms, or answer surveys before accessing certain content, search engines won’t see those protected pages. A crawler is definitely not going to log in.

Are you relying on search forms?

Robots cannot use search forms. Some individuals believe that if they place a search box on their site, search engines will be able to find everything that their visitors search for.

Is text hidden within non-text content?

Non-text media forms (images, video, GIFs, etc.) should not be used to display text that you wish to be indexed. While search engines are getting better at recognizing images, there’s no guarantee they will be able to read and understand it just yet. It’s always best to add text within the <HTML> markup of your webpage.

Can search engines follow your site navigation?

Just as a crawler needs to discover your site via links from other sites, it needs a path of links on your own site to guide it from page to page. If you’ve got a page you want search engines to find but it isn’t linked to from any other pages, it’s as good as invisible. Many sites make the critical mistake of structuring their navigation in ways that are inaccessible to search engines, hindering their ability to get listed in search results.

Common navigation mistakes that can keep crawlers from seeing all of your site:

Having a mobile navigation that shows different results than your desktop navigation
Any type of navigation where the menu items are not in the HTML, such as JavaScript-enabled navigations. Google has gotten much better at crawling and understanding Javascript, but it’s still not a perfect process. The more surefire way to ensure something gets found, understood, and indexed by Google is by putting it in the HTML.
Personalization, or showing unique navigation to a specific type of visitor versus others, could appear to be cloaking to a search engine crawler
Forgetting to link to a primary page on your website through your navigation — remember, links are the paths crawlers follow to new pages!

This is why it’s essential that your website has a clear navigation and helpful URL folder structures.

Information architecture

Information architecture is the practice of organizing and labeling content on a website to improve efficiency and fundability for users. The best information architecture is intuitive, meaning that users shouldn’t have to think very hard to flow through your website or to find something.

Your site should also have a useful 404 (page not found) page for when a visitor clicks on a dead link or mistypes a URL. The best 404 pages allow users to click back into your site so they don’t bounce off just because they tried to access a nonexistent link.

Tell search engines how to crawl your site

In addition to making sure crawlers can reach your most important pages, it’s also pertinent to note that you’ll have pages on your site you don’t want them to find. These might include things like old URLs that have thin content, duplicate URLs (such as sort-and-filter parameters for e-commerce), special promo code pages, staging or test pages, and so on.

Blocking pages from search engines can also help crawlers prioritize your most important pages and maximize your crawl budget (the average number of pages a search engine bot will crawl on your site).

Crawler directives allow you to control what you want Googlebot to crawl and index using a robots.txt file, meta tag, sitemap.xml file, or Google Search Console.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt files are located in the root directory of websites (ex. yourdomain.com/robots.txt) and suggest which parts of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl via specific robots.txt directives. This is a great solution when trying to block search engines from non-private pages on your site.

You wouldn’t want to block private/sensitive pages from being crawled here because the file is easily accessible by users and bots.

Pro tip:
If Googlebot can’t find a robots.txt file for a site (40X HTTP status code), it proceeds to crawl the site.
If Googlebot finds a robots.txt file for a site (20X HTTP status code), it will usually abide by the suggestions and proceed to crawl the site.
If Googlebot finds neither a 20X or a 40X HTTP status code (ex. a 501 server error) it can’t determine if you have a robots.txt file or not and won’t crawl your site.
Meta directives

The two types of meta directives are the meta robots tag (more commonly used) and the x-robots-tag. Each provides crawlers with stronger instructions on how to crawl and index a URL’s content.

The x-robots tag provides more flexibility and functionality if you want to block search engines at scale because you can use regular expressions, block non-HTML files, and apply sitewide noindex tags.

These are the best options for blocking more sensitive*/private URLs from search engines.

*For very sensitive URLs, it is best practice to remove them from or require a secure login to view the pages.

WordPress Tip: In Dashboard > Settings > Reading, make sure the “Search Engine Visibility” box is not checked. This blocks search engines from coming to your site via your robots.txt file!

Avoid these common pitfalls, and you’ll have clean, crawlable content that will allow bots easy access to your pages.

Once you’ve ensured your site has been crawled, the next order of business is to make sure it can be indexed. That’s right — just because your site can be discovered and crawled by a search engine doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be stored in their index. Read on to learn about how indexing works and how you can make sure your site makes it into this all-important database.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is just what it sounds like: a list of URLs on your site that crawlers can use to discover and index your content. One of the easiest ways to ensure Google is finding your highest priority pages is to create a file that meets Google’s standards and submit it through Google Search Console. While submitting a sitemap doesn’t replace the need for good site navigation, it can certainly help crawlers follow a path to all of your important pages.

Google Search Console

Some sites (most common with e-commerce) make the same content available on multiple different URLs by appending certain parameters to URLs. If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ve likely narrowed down your search via filters. For example, you may search for “shoes” on Amazon, and then refine your search by size, color, and style. Each time you refine, the URL changes slightly. How does Google know which version of the URL to serve to searchers? Google does a pretty good job at figuring out the representative URL on its own, but you can use the URL Parameters feature in Google Search Console to tell Google exactly how you want them to treat your pages.

Indexing: How do search engines understand and remember your site?

Once you’ve ensured your site has been crawled, the next order of business is to make sure it can be indexed. That’s right — just because your site can be discovered and crawled by a search engine doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be stored in their index. In the previous section on crawling, we discussed how search engines discover your web pages. The index is where your discovered pages are stored. After a crawler finds a page, the search engine renders it just like a browser would. In the process of doing so, the search engine analyzes that page’s contents. All of that information is stored in its index.

Read on to learn about how indexing works and how you can make sure your site makes it into this all-important database.

Can I see how a Googlebot crawler sees my pages?

Yes, the cached version of your page will reflect a snapshot of the last time googlebot crawled it.

Google crawls and caches web pages at different frequencies. More established, well-known sites that post frequently like https://www.nytimes.com will be crawled more frequently than the much-less-famous website for Roger the Mozbot’s side hustle, http://www.rogerlovescupcakes.com (if only it were real…)

You can view what your cached version of a page looks like by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the URL in the SERP and choosing “Cached”:

You can also view the text-only version of your site to determine if your important content is being crawled and cached effectively.

Are pages ever removed from the index?

Yes, pages can be removed from the index! Some of the main reasons why a URL might be removed include:

The URL is returning a “not found” error (4XX) or server error (5XX) – This could be accidental (the page was moved and a 301 redirect was not set up) or intentional (the page was deleted and 404ed in order to get it removed from the index)
The URL had a noindex meta tag added – This tag can be added by site owners to instruct the search engine to omit the page from its index.
The URL has been manually penalized for violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines and, as a result, was removed from the index.
The URL has been blocked from crawling with the addition of a password required before visitors can access the page.

If you believe that a page on your website that was previously in Google’s index is no longer showing up, you can manually submit the URL to Google by navigating to the “Submit URL” tool in Search Console.

Ranking: How do search engines rank URLs?

How do search engines ensure that when someone types a query into the search bar, they get relevant results in return? That process is known as ranking, or the ordering of search results by most relevant to least relevant to a particular query.

To determine relevance, search engines use algorithms, a process or formula by which stored information is retrieved and ordered in meaningful ways. These algorithms have gone through many changes over the years in order to improve the quality of search results. Google, for example, makes algorithm adjustments every day — some of these updates are minor quality tweaks, whereas others are core/broad algorithm updates deployed to tackle a specific issue, like Penguin to tackle link spam. Check out our Google Algorithm Change History for a list of both confirmed and unconfirmed Google updates going back to the year 2000.

Why does the algorithm change so often? Is Google just trying to keep us on our toes? While Google doesn’t always reveal specifics as to why they do what they do, we do know that Google’s aim when making algorithm adjustments is to improve overall search quality. That’s why, in response to algorithm update questions, Google will answer with something along the lines of: “We’re making quality updates all the time.” This indicates that, if your site suffered after an algorithm adjustment, compare it against Google’s Quality Guidelines or Search Quality Rater Guidelines, both are very telling in terms of what search engines want.

What do search engines want?

Search engines have always wanted the same thing: to provide useful answers to searcher’s questions in the most helpful formats. If that’s true, then why does it appear that SEO is different now than in years past?

Think about it in terms of someone learning a new language.

At first, their understanding of the language is very rudimentary — “See Spot Run.” Over time, their understanding starts to deepen, and they learn semantics—- the meaning behind language and the relationship between words and phrases. Eventually, with enough practice, the student knows the language well enough to even understand nuance, and is able to provide answers to even vague or incomplete questions.

When search engines were just beginning to learn our language, it was much easier to game the system by using tricks and tactics that actually go against quality guidelines. Take keyword stuffing, for example. If you wanted to rank for a particular keyword like “funny jokes,” you might add the words “funny jokes” a bunch of times onto your page, and make it bold, in hopes of boosting your ranking for that term:

Welcome to funny jokes! We tell the funniest jokes in the world. Funny jokes are fun and crazy. Your funny joke awaits. Sit back and read funny jokes because funny jokes can make you happy and funnier. Some funny favorite funny jokes.

This tactic made for terrible user experiences, and instead of laughing at funny jokes, people were bombarded by annoying, hard-to-read text. It may have worked in the past, but this is never what search engines wanted.

The role links play in SEO

When we talk about links, we could mean two things. Backlinks or “inbound links” are links from other websites that point to your website, while internal links are links on your own site that point to your other pages (on the same site).

Links have historically played a big role in SEO. Very early on, search engines needed help figuring out which URLs were more trustworthy than others to help them determine how to rank search results. Calculating the number of links pointing to any given site helped them do this.

Backlinks work very similarly to real life WOM (Word-Of-Mouth) referrals. Let’s take a hypothetical coffee shop, Jenny’s Coffee, as an example:

Referrals from others = good sign of authority
Example: Many different people have all told you that Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town
Referrals from yourself = biased, so not a good sign of authority
Example: Jenny claims that Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town
Referrals from irrelevant or low-quality sources = not a good sign of authority and could even get you flagged for spam
Example: Jenny paid to have people who have never visited her coffee shop tell others how good it is.
No referrals = unclear authority
Example: Jenny’s Coffee might be good, but you’ve been unable to find anyone who has an opinion so you can’t be sure.

This is why PageRank was created. PageRank (part of Google’s core algorithm) is a link analysis algorithm named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page. PageRank estimates the importance of a web page by measuring the quality and quantity of links pointing to it. The assumption is that the more relevant, important, and trustworthy a web page is, the more links it will have earned.

The more natural backlinks you have from high-authority (trusted) websites, the better your odds are to rank higher within search results.

The role content plays in SEO

There would be no point to links if they didn’t direct searchers to something. That something is content! Content is more than just words; it’s anything meant to be consumed by searchers — there’s video content, image content, and of course, text. If search engines are answer machines, content is the means by which the engines deliver those answers.

Any time someone performs a search, there are thousands of possible results, so how do search engines decide which pages the searcher is going to find valuable? A big part of determining where your page will rank for a given query is how well the content on your page matches the query’s intent. In other words, does this page match the words that were searched and help fulfill the task the searcher was trying to accomplish?

Because of this focus on user satisfaction and task accomplishment, there’s no strict benchmarks on how long your content should be, how many times it should contain a keyword, or what you put in your header tags. All those can play a role in how well a page performs in search, but the focus should be on the users who will be reading the content.

Today, with hundreds or even thousands of ranking signals, the top three have stayed fairly consistent: links to your website (which serve as a third-party credibility signals), on-page content (quality content that fulfills a searcher’s intent), and RankBrain.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm. Machine learning is a computer program that continues to improve its predictions over time through new observations and training data. In other words, it’s always learning, and because it’s always learning, search results should be constantly improving.

For example, if RankBrain notices a lower ranking URL providing a better result to users than the higher ranking URLs, you can bet that RankBrain will adjust those results, moving the more relevant result higher and demoting the lesser relevant pages as a byproduct.

Like most things with the search engine, we don’t know exactly what comprises RankBrain, but apparently, neither do the folks at Google.

What does this mean for SEOs?

Because Google will continue leveraging RankBrain to promote the most relevant, helpful content, we need to focus on fulfilling searcher intent more than ever before. Provide the best possible information and experience for searchers who might land on your page, and you’ve taken a big first step to performing well in a RankBrain world.

Engagement metrics: correlation, causation, or both?

With Google rankings, engagement metrics are most likely part correlation and part causation.

When we say engagement metrics, we mean data that represents how searchers interact with your site from search results. This includes things like:

Clicks (visits from search)
Time on page (amount of time the visitor spent on a page before leaving it)
Bounce rate (the percentage of all website sessions where users viewed only one page)
Pogo-sticking (clicking on an organic result and then quickly returning to the SERP to choose another result)

Many tests, including Moz’s own ranking factor survey, have indicated that engagement metrics correlate with higher ranking, but causation has been hotly debated. Are good engagement metrics just indicative of highly ranked sites? Or are sites ranked highly because they possess good engagement metrics?

What Google has said

While they’ve never used the term “direct ranking signal,” Google has been clear that they absolutely use click data to modify the SERP for particular queries.

According to Google’s former Chief of Search Quality, Udi Manber:

“The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, 80% of people click on #2 and only 10% click on #1, after a while we figure out probably #2 is the one people want, so we’ll switch it.”

Another comment from former Google engineer Edmond Lau corroborates this:

“It’s pretty clear that any reasonable search engine would use click data on their own results to feed back into ranking to improve the quality of search results. The actual mechanics of how click data is used is often proprietary, but Google makes it obvious that it uses click data with its patents on systems like rank-adjusted content items.”

Because Google needs to maintain and improve search quality, it seems inevitable that engagement metrics are more than correlation, but it would appear that Google falls short of calling engagement metrics a “ranking signal” because those metrics are used to improve search quality, and the rank of individual URLs is just a byproduct of that.

What tests have confirmed

Various tests have confirmed that Google will adjust SERP order in response to searcher engagement:

Rand Fishkin’s 2014 test resulted in a #7 result moving up to the #1 spot after getting around 200 people to click on the URL from the SERP. Interestingly, ranking improvement seemed to be isolated to the location of the people who visited the link. The rank position spiked in the US, where many participants were located, whereas it remained lower on the page in Google Canada, Google Australia, etc.
Larry Kim’s comparison of top pages and their average dwell time pre- and post-RankBrain seemed to indicate that the machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm demotes the rank position of pages that people don’t spend as much time on.
Darren Shaw’s testing has shown user behavior’s impact on local search and map pack results as well.

Since user engagement metrics are clearly used to adjust the SERPs for quality, and rank position changes as a byproduct, it’s safe to say that SEOs should optimize for engagement. Engagement doesn’t change the objective quality of your web page, but rather your value to searchers relative to other results for that query. That’s why, after no changes to your page or its backlinks, it could decline in rankings if searchers’ behaviors indicates they like other pages better.

In terms of ranking web pages, engagement metrics act like a fact-checker. Objective factors such as links and content first rank the page, then engagement metrics help Google adjust if they didn’t get it right.

The evolution of search results

Back when search engines lacked a lot of the sophistication they have today, the term “10 blue links” was coined to describe the flat structure of the SERP. Any time a search was performed, Google would return a page with 10 organic results, each in the same format.

In this search landscape, holding the #1 spot was the holy grail of SEO. But then something happened. Google began adding results in new formats on their search result pages, called SERP features. Some of these SERP features include:

Paid advertisements
Featured snippets
People Also Ask boxes
Local (map) pack
Knowledge panel
Sitelinks

And Google is adding new ones all the time. It even experimented with “zero-result SERPs,” a phenomenon where only one result from the Knowledge Graph was displayed on the SERP with no results below it except for an option to “view more results.”

The addition of these features caused some initial panic for two main reasons. For one, many of these features caused organic results to be pushed down further on the SERP. Another byproduct is that fewer searchers are clicking on the organic results since more queries are being answered on the SERP itself.

So why would Google do this? It all goes back to the search experience. User behavior indicates that some queries are better satisfied by different content formats. Notice how the different types of SERP features match the different types of query intents.

Query Intent

Possible SERP Feature Triggered

Informational

Featured Snippet

Informational with one answer

Knowledge Graph / Instant Answer

Local

Map Pack

Transactional

Shopping

We’ll talk more about intent in Chapter 3, but for now, it’s important to know that answers can be delivered to searchers in a wide array of formats, and how you structure your content can impact the format in which it appears in search.

Localized search

A search engine like Google has its own proprietary index of local business listings, from which it creates local search results.

If you are performing local SEO work for a business that has a physical location customers can visit (ex: dentist) or for a business that travels to visit their customers (ex: plumber), make sure that you claim, verify, and optimize a free Google My Business Listing.

When it comes to localized search results, Google uses three main factors to determine ranking:

Relevance
Distance
Prominence
Relevance

Relevance is how well a local business matches what the searcher is looking for. To ensure that the business is doing everything it can to be relevant to searchers, make sure the business’ information is thoroughly and accurately filled out.

Distance

Google use your geo-location to better serve you local results. Local search results are extremely sensitive to proximity, which refers to the location of the searcher and/or the location specified in the query (if the searcher included one).

Organic search results are sensitive to a searcher’s location, though seldom as pronounced as in local pack results.

Prominence

With prominence as a factor, Google is looking to reward businesses that are well-known in the real world. In addition to a business’ offline prominence, Google also looks to some online factors to determine local ranking, such as:

Reviews

The number of Google reviews a local business receives, and the sentiment of those reviews, have a notable impact on their ability to rank in local results.

Citations

A “business citation” or “business listing” is a web-based reference to a local business’ “NAP” (name, address, phone number) on a localized platform (Yelp, Acxiom, YP, Infogroup, Localeze, etc.).

Local rankings are influenced by the number and consistency of local business citations. Google pulls data from a wide variety of sources in continuously making up its local business index. When Google finds multiple consistent references to a business’s name, location, and phone number it strengthens Google’s “trust” in the validity of that data. This then leads to Google being able to show the business with a higher degree of confidence. Google also uses information from other sources on the web, such as links and articles.

Check a local business’ citation accuracy here.

Organic ranking

SEO best practices also apply to local SEO, since Google also considers a website’s position in organic search results when determining local ranking.

In the next chapter, you’ll learn on-page best practices that will help Google and users better understand your content.

[Bonus!] Local engagement

Although not listed by Google as a local ranking determiner, the role of engagement is only going to increase as time goes on. Google continues to enrich local results by incorporating real-world data like popular times to visit and average length of visits…

…and even provides searchers with the ability to ask the business questions!

Undoubtedly now more than ever before, local results are being influenced by real-world data. This interactivity is how searchers interact with and respond to local businesses, rather than purely static (and game-able) information like links and citations.

Since Google wants to deliver the best, most relevant local businesses to searchers, it makes perfect sense for them to use real time engagement metrics to determine quality and relevance.

You don’t have to know the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm (that remains a mystery!), but by now you should have a great baseline knowledge of how the search engine finds, interprets, stores, and ranks content. Armed with that knowledge, let’s learn about choosing the keywords your content will target!

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!

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Laying the foundations of good SEO: the most important tasks (part 2)

SEO is not easy to master. It keeps evolving, with new specifics and techniques added almost daily.

However, it is imperative to lay the foundations of good SEO by accomplishing time-tested tasks that both beginner and advanced SEOs usually follow in their daily routines.

In part one of this series, the author explained the most important SEO tasks related to SEO tools, keyword research, and on-site optimization.

It is now time to tackle technical SEO, content, and off-page optimization.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is vital to your site’s success. For example, one single error in your robots.txt file can prevent your site from being indexed.

Though technical SEO covers a broad range of subjects concerning the elements needed for optimization, you should primarily prioritize the following areas:

Crawl errors. If you keep receiving Crawl error reports, this means that Google cannot crawl your site’s URLs and, consequently, cannot rank it. Regularly check Crawl error notifications in the Google Search Console and be sure to fix them as soon as possible

Google’s access to pages. Unfortunately, crawling error reports do not necessarily indicate that all unreported pages have been scanned and indexed nicely. Sometimes Google is unable to access a page at all. Regularly check all of your pages to ensure they are visible to Google in the Google Search Console

Broken links. Broken links are a big red flag to Google. Regular checks for broken links should become a vital part of your SEO routine. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools to find and fix broken links (e.g. Netpeak Spider, Serpstat, Screaming Frog SEO Spider)

HTTPS has been a ranking signal since 2014, so if you want to give your site an SEO boost, implement HTTPS. Additionally, it will provide your site with a layer of security, which your visitors will appreciate. Check out this guide to make sure you correctly migrate from HTTP to HTTPS

Duplicate metatags. Google doesn’t appreciate duplicates of anything — be it content, URLs, or metatags. So access the Google Search Console and go to the HTML Improvements tab to find duplicates of title tags and meta descriptions, and then fix them

Mobile-friendliness. Google has started to use the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking, so making your site’s pages mobile-friendly is highly advised. If your site is not optimized for mobile, it can still rank nicely in search, but its chances of topping the SERPs will not be as high. So test your pages and make them mobile-friendly

Loading speed. Page speed for both desktop and mobile is a key ranking factor. Make sure to check your website’s loading speed with the PageSpeed Insights tool, and then move forward by implementing any optimization suggestions it provides. Otherwise, you may risk appearing lower in the SERPs.

Content

Content is the fuel that feeds Google. Content is an important ranking factor, and sites that consistently craft high-quality content are more likely to have better rankings (but it is not a single decisive ranking factor).

To succeed with content SEO-wise, you should prioritize the following areas:

Duplicate content. Duplicate content is a big no-no. Check your site with Copyscape or Siteliner to find all pages that are similar or have content that is partially featured at a third-party website (i.e. plagiarized content). Otherwise, a Google penalty is inevitable

Keyword use. Optimizing your content around core keywords (or a set of keywords) might be hard, but it is absolutely necessary to get your content seen by your target audiences. Figure out which core and support keywords to place on specific pages of your website, and track their performance regularly
Content structure. It is hardly a secret that customers skim, rather than read content. For this reason it’s important to properly structure your content:

Use shorter sentences
Break down longer paragraphs
Use subtitles and bulleted lists
Include multimedia elements, such as images, videos, GIFs and audio files.
This will make your content easier to digest and should keep visitors on a page for longer.

Audience personas. Never start putting together a piece of content without having a clear picture of your audience persona in mind, including gender, age, occupation, responsibilities, challenges, and problems they need to solve. Additionally, be mindful of the stage in the buyers’ journey your audience may be at, and enhance your content accordingly

In-depth, high-quality content. The importance of high-quality content cannot be overemphasized. If you cannot produce quality content, you will lose a considerable portion of your ranking potential in Google and any other search engine. Put out expert content that is supported by data and your own research, such as surveys, reviews, links or traffic analysis. Only high-quality content will matter to your readers, journalists, and eventually to search engines

Schema markup. Want to help Google understand your content better? Use Schema markup. Though it is not a ranking factor per se, adding rich snippets may increase CTR and, accordingly, benefit your appearance in the SERPs. To do the heavy lifting, Google offers its Structured Data Testing tool

Multimedia elements. The more images, videos, GIFs, Twitter embeds, and other visuals you use in your content, the better. They allow you to illustrate your point, keep users on the page, and help your site to rank better.

Off-site optimization

Links are the bread and butter of SEO. No matter how important other ranking signals may become, links will remain crucial to calculating a website’s ranking in the SERPs, since they are viewed as external citation authority.

Off-site optimization and link building are not easy to master. To increase ranking, you need to attract high-quality backlinks from relevant, trustworthy resources – and links like these are not easy to come by.

Here are a few practical steps you can take to start driving backlinks:

Analysis of existing links. Before building new backlinks, look through existing ones. It will help you:

Understand which sites link back to you
See which pages attract backlinks and which do not
Disavow backlinks that negatively impact your appearance in the SERPs because of their lack of relevance and trustworthiness
Delete broken backlinks.
To run the analysis, you can use Ahrefs, MajesticSEO, Netpeak Spider, or any other backlink analysis tool you may have access to

Analysis of competitor links. One of the most efficient approaches to driving backlinks from your niche is to analyze your competitors’ backlinks and emulate their strategy. Your goal is to find which websites and pages are most linked to, and which of the linking sites drive the most traffic. After that, you need to drive backlinks from the top-performing resources

Guest posting. Featuring your content in established media and on respected sites is one of the best long-term strategies for driving high-quality links and traffic to your website. Get invested with guest posting, and you may never run out of backlinks

The problem with guest posting is that you need to become a contributor first, and only then will you get a coveted author box with a link to your website. To get on the radar of established media or industry thought leaders, you have to master outreach – featured posts, links, and mentions will follow (provided your guest posts are good enough)

Directories and listings. Registering your business on directories and listings is the easiest way to improve your site’s positions in local search. All you need to do is identify top-tier business directories in your niche, fill out and optimize your directory accounts, and make sure that all information you submit is consistent across all directories, listings, and CDAs

Google My Business. A claimed and properly optimized account at Google My Business (and Bing Places for Business) can make all the difference for your company. It will help you secure a spot in Google’s local three-pack, which means more local traffic and improved rankings

Link-worthy content. Finally, it is worth noting that content can make or break your link building efforts, specifically when it comes to outreach and guest posting. You will not be able to create contributor accounts and garner backlinks if your content is repetitive and does not offer actionable advice to users. You need to stand out to succeed in the content department.

Conclusions

In this article the author has shared perspectives on the most important SEO tasks with regard to technical SEO, content, and off-page optimization.

These three areas of SEO knowledge are essential to master if you want to succeed in increasing your site’s SERPs, driving traffic, and attracting valuable leads. However, bear in mind that you need to set up and fine-tune your SEO tools, do your keyword research, and improve your on-page SEO first.

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Google Business Account, Why and How to Get Started

Google Business Account, Why and How to Get Started

WHY GOOGLE MATTERS TO YOU AS A BUSINESS OWNER

Why does every local business owner should own a Google business account? Google has its presence in every premise of the digital world. That’s a fact that we all know. As a business owner it is vital to be aware of the effect that Google can have on your business. Why not lend the power of Google to give it a little push?

Let’s look at an example.

Now, let’s say you wanted to look for a nice cafe near you to have a cup of coffee. Would you Google it? The answer is most probably yes.

You can also ask your friends. However, the search engine would definitely give you the quicker answer. What’s more, address, opening hours, phone numbers, photos of the premise and even customer reviews will be in your palm the moment you tap on the cafe of your choice. Super neat right?

I myself based my shopping and dining choices on local business listing most of the time. Especially when I’m in an unfamiliar area. When a store offers all the information I need with a tap coupled up with good reviews, you can bet I’ll pay it a visit.

If you haven’t tried googling your own business, I suggest you do it right now. If it doesn’t appear on the Google business list, imagine all the potential customers that you’ve lost .

Claiming your business on Google

Create a business account on Google is a good idea. That is the first step to get your business listed on Google search page. However, if your business does appear in the search result, claiming that as yours and start managing it will be a good step to take for your business.

WHAT IS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

It is a powerful tool where you can manage and profile your business across Google. It’s also free. All those information of all those cafes that appeared on a search result? That’s Google My Business’ working.

Your local cafe search result page

Open up that Google map, zoom in to your current location. Those businesses and public locations you can tap on and get their information at a glance? That’s also Google My Business’ working.

Local business and locations on your Google map

Basically, you have the power to control how you want your business to appear on Google (more or less). You will have the ability to edit your listing. From operating hours to what kind of amenities you provide.

Google My Business will also lend you tools. Use them to keep a tap on your profile. You can see how people found your business: whether they typed in the name of your premise directly, or they made a “…near me” search where your business popped up.

This is only one of the many data that Google can gather. Other useful information includes: how many users visited your website, how many of them requested direction to your premise etc.

All these data is important to understand user behavior. Take that into consideration. Plan your marketing strategy accordingly. Couple up with Google AdWords and Google Analytics you can definitely have a bigger outreach.

Now, if you agree with me that having a Google business account is important. Let’s get started.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

First and foremost, you will need to have a google account. If you don’t, sign up for one. It costs nothing.

Click here to get an overview of the whole Google My Business package by yours truly – Google itself.

Now, click again on that green start now button to get to the fun parts.

First and foremost, type in the name of your business. Take in mind that you would want to insert the name exactly as it appears on your physical premise. You don’t want people traveling to your location for a visit on Bloom Florist and Gifts but got confused because on the signboard it simply says, Bloom.

Bloom vs Bloom Florist & Gifts

Next, type in your address the exact same way you have it printed out on your business card, or listed on your website, yelp, or foursquare etc. If you don’t, it will be confusing to your potential clients and also Google itself. If Google is confused, you’re not gonna get on that search list. Not getting on that search list; not getting that business.

Here’s an important little tip. At the bottom of the page, there will be a tick box that says I deliver goods and services to my customers. If you provide services such as piping, gardening or pest control a.k.a the kind of services that require you to be personally present at your client’s location, tick that box.

If you provide food delivery, gift delivery etc also tick that box.

After that there will be another option to hide your address. DON’T tick this if you have a brick and mortar front where transactions can be made.

A map will appear where you can pinpoint your exact location.

This will be helpful for customers who rely on GPS to reach your location. Make sure it’s correctly pinned yourself because Google could mess it up in a few meters radius.

Later, you will be able to set up your radius of services.

Moving on, you’ll be asked to choose among an intensive list of categories where your business falls in. For example, are you a florist, a wholesale florist or a flower delivery. Choose it accordingly, what you can provide and what the customers will need should be taken into consideration. Be specific is better than being vague.

After that, you have the option to input your phone number and website URL. Those are great ways for customers to get in touch with you directly. Although Google says it’s optional, make sure you fill it up.

Google will ask to keep you up to date and send you some tips from time to time. Yes or no, that’s your own free will.

Lastly, Google will need you to verify that you really do own that business premise. You can get an automated call to the phone number you’ve listed or a mail being sent to your shop lot’s address. Both ways can get you a verification code to make sure you’re the legit owner of the business.

Now that you’ve successfully set up your Google My Business account, you can go ahead and manage your free website, profile, reviews etc. Visual is important. Update photos of your business on Google. That would definitely help.

Keep in mind, if you haven’t verified your business, you have no control over the listing.

Signing up only takes minutes, while the verification process could take a couple days. At the end of the day, a little effort goes a long way.

1. Click start now on Google My Business homepage.
2. Type in the exact name of your business.
3. Type in your address the exact way it appears on your business card or your website.
4. Tick or untick the box “I deliver goods and services to my customers”. If you do, follow from step 6, otherwise skip step 5 and step 7.
5. Tick or untick “Hide your address”.
6. Pinpoint your exact location on Google Maps.
7. Tick your choice of delivery and type in information regarding service area.
8. Type in your business category. (Specific is better than vague)
9. Type in your phone number or/ and your website URL. (Get in touch directly with your potential customers!)
10. Verify your connection to the business via phone or mail. (No verification, no control)

TIPS AND TRICKS ON MANAGING YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PROFILE

First of all, to make it to that search list you have to be active. Interact with your customers often.

Make sure to post at least weekly. Posts are like the window of your storefront. Show them the latest batch of roses that you have in. Post on that Valentine’s promotion. Treat it like how you would on your shop window to grab attention.

Reviews is another important aspect. Made it known to your visiting customers that they can leave a review for you on Google. Be responsive to reviews to showcase good customer service. If you got a bad review, say sorry and ask how you can do better. If you got a good review, thank them and welcome them for another visit.

Be genuine in your interactions. Don’t leave a generic thank you for every review. Google likes it when there’s real communication.

What I find charming from these little interactions is when the business is being genuine and real. Owning up to your own little shortcomings is better than sweeping it under rug.

One more simple trick. Make sure your business is also listed on websites other than Google. Let’s say you have your own company website and a Facebook page. You can do more by listing your business into reviews and check-in websites. For example Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor etc.

As mentioned before, you can link users to your business website. It is important to make sure your website is optimized.

One of the simple SEO steps includes using keywords. LSIGraph is a great website to check for related keywords. Having multiple thematic keywords on your website can make it more relevant to Google.

Another way to SEO your website is via schema. This ensures your website is giving all the correct signals and direction to Google. Make sure that your html is clearly tweaked.

I repeat, if Google is confused, you’re not gonna get on that search list.

1. Post weekly.
2. Be responsive to reviews.
3. Be genuine in your responds.
4. Get your business listed on sites like Yelp, Foursquare etc.
5. Optimize your website utilizing LSIGraph and Schema.

TL;DR

Google’s influence is bigger than ever. Utilize Google My Business to gain more exposure. It’s free! Be consistent with the info you put online, treat it like how you would your actual store. Be responsive, interactive, honest and up-to-date. Get featured in multiple review or check-in websites. Lastly, seo your business homepage. Do all that and you’ll have a bigger chance to get listed at the search front page!

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How to Twitter Hashtag for Your Small or Medium-Sized Business

How to Twitter Hashtag for Your Small or Medium-Sized Business

Twitter marketing can be easily utilized by every small or medium-sized business owner. With 330 million active users, Twitter is one of the biggest social media sites of the century.

There is no reason for you to not set up a Twitter account for your business. It’s free and it has an insane amount of users. There are 69 million users in the US alone. You can actively engage with your potential customers through this platform.

25.4% of users decided to make a purchase after they discovered a business through Twitter. Though Twitter can be a little tricky to get used to, that conversion rate should fuel you enough to get started.

How does a hashtag works?

One example of a hashtag on Twitter is #ThrowbackThursday. A hashtag is a short phrase, usually made up of less than 3 words following a # symbol. No space, no comma in between. Capitalization doesn’t differentiate a hashtag from one another. Therefore, #ThrowBackThursday will be treated just like #throwbackthursday. However, capitalization does make it easier to read. So keep that in mind while creating a hashtag.

The list of worldwide Twitter trending hashtags

A hashtag that gets a huge number of tweets stands a chance to be trending. The trending list includes that most tweeted hashtags in an area. You can also tailor trends according to location. A tip here, Twitter desktop only shows you 10 trending hashtags, while the App version gives you 20. Try chime into the community by tweeting about something relevant while tagging in a trending hashtag.

Tailor trends according to your location

Why does Twitter hashtag matters to your business?

Twitter utilizes hashtag as a mean to index tweets. A hashtag can be tracked by any Twitter user.

Let’s look at an example, you have a weekend sale every Saturday. You decided to utilize the hashtag #SalesSaturday on Twitter. So you tweeted something like this.

” Roses of every color to fit everyone that you love with only HALF the price! #SalesSaturday”

A user decided to do a little shopping. So they use Twitter search to track the #SalesSaturday hashtag and discovered your tweet. They liked it so they click on your website link listed on your profile and made a purchase.

Meanwhile, they also retweeted your tweet. One of their followers saw it and decided they want to surprise their loved one with a rose too. So now you gained two happy customers. One via the hashtag. Another via the amplification power of retweet.

The purpose of a hashtag is for users to track on a certain topic. Utilizing relevant hashtag makes you more discoverable.

Here’s a list of popular hashtags on Twitter that can be easily utilized to interact with other Twitter users.

#MondayMotivation #Mondaze #MondayMadness

#BeautyTipTuesday #TransformationTuesday

#WednesdayWisdom #HumpDay

#ThrowbackThursday or #TBT #ThursdayThoughts

#FridayFeeling #TGIF #FollowBackFriday or #FBF

#SocialSaturday #Weekend

#SundayBlogShare

Now that you know what hashtags to use. Let’s get down to business.

What compose a Twitter profile?

You got your basics: profile picture, handle, bio, header picture, and a pinned tweet.

Let’s take Wendy’s Twitter page as an example, starting from 12 o’clock respectively: header, pinned tweet, bio, handle, display name and display picture.

Handle: This is your username and unique URL. This should not be simply changed.

Display picture: This should be your company logo. Something from your latest promotional campaign works too.

Display name: Your display name can be different from your handle. It could be easily changed while bearing no substantial effect on your account.

Bio: Provide a precise introduction to your company. You can also set your location and link to your website.

Header: A horizontal picture should be fitted here. Choose a photo that can showcase your product. Again you can change it to fit your promotional campaign from time to time.

Pinned tweet: This is the first tweet on your profile. Meaning everyone who clicked on your profile will never miss it. Pin important tweet like announcement, sales period etc. You can only have ONE pinned tweet, so choose wisely.

Tricks and Tips on how to use Twitter for your business

1. Utilize hashtags

As mentioned before, the hashtag is a big part of the Twitter community. It is a major feature for users to track on a certain topic. It also acts as a means for Twitter itself to keep track of the 500 million tweets being tweeted every single day.

First and foremost, you should take advantage of hashtags to learn from others. Tags like #smallbiz, #startup or #marketing may contain useful information, sources, and latest news of the industry. Take this chance to be more intuned with your sector and mingle with your fellow entrepreneurs.

Twitter accounts can give you a shout out by mentioning you in a tweet and introducing you to their followers. Giving you exposure. Therefore, expanding your social network through Twitter is a pretty good idea.

An example on a Twitter shout out

However, make sure you’re in good terms with each other before requesting for a shout out. Repay the favor by introducing them to your followers too!

An important reason to hashtag your tweets is to be engaged with the community.

Let’s say you own a company selling beauty products you can make use of #BeautyTipTuesday in your tweet. That way, you will be discovered by people tracking the hashtag. If they are intrigued by your tweet, they might click on your profile. Make sure to set up a good profile and pin a relevant yet appealing tweet. That way there is a high possibility that the user would become a follower. A follower would, in turn, become a customer. That’s why hashtagging your tweets are important.

However, abusing multiple hashtags in your tweet is a big no-no. Most Twitter users deem a tweet made up of mostly hashtags as spam and pay it no attention. Therefore, be selective on which hashtag to use. Use at most 2 hashtags per tweet. Make sure to pick one that can you can maximize to reach the most users while still stay relevant to your business.

You can also create your own hashtag for your company or a promotional campaign. The tips for creating a hashtag is: keep it simple. There should be three words or less in a hashtag. As mentioned before, capitalize it accordingly so it’s easier to read.

Nike, for example, has created the #ChooseGo hashtag on the conjunction of their newest campaign. Users are actively hashtagging their post with #ChooseGo to showcase their active lifestyle. There you have a good example of creating and utilizing a hashtag to engage with the community while also actively promoting your product.

Nike’s newest campaign promoted using the #ChooseGo Twitter hashtag

At the end of the day, a little effort goes a long way. Send a tweet daily to promote your business and engage with the community while intricately utilizing relevant hashtags to boost discoverability.

2. Be engaging

Twitter is a free platform for you to interact with the crowd. Any Twitter users can mention you (by utilizing the @ symbol). It could be a suggestion, a query or simply for fun. You can interact with the tweet in a few ways.

For one, click on the heart symbol to like it. You can also retweet it, as in reposting it on your account for your followers to see. Quote tweet, as opposed to a retweet, means you can add a comment while retweeting. Nevertheless, you can also go for the good old reply.

Wendy’s engaging with the Twitter community via retweeting.

If you’d like to keep things more private, you can always utilize DM. DM stands for direct message. Everything in DM will be kept only between those involved. Make sure you keep your DM open, or else users you are not following won’t be able to send you a DM.

3. Set a tone

Next, you need to establish a character for your Twitter in order to stand out. One famous business Twitter account that has a strong character is Wendy’s. Yes, the fast food chain restaurant with a sweet looking little girl as a mascot.

Wendy’s is famous on Twitter for one reason. They’re ruthless.

Wendy’s roasting McDonald’s while utilizing the hashtag #NationalFrozenFoodDay. A tactic to both promote their promise on only ever use fresh, never frozen meat and creating drama with one of their major competitor to attract public attention.

They’re so dedicated to agitating their competitor. They actually created a whole thread (a link of continuous tweets) roasting EVERY SINGLE BURGER of McD’s.

Wendy’s roast thread on McDonald’s

You don’t have to go roasting your competitors like Wendy’s. But the point is, having a character or a specific tone tied to your Twitter. That will really make it stand out. Standing out means more attention. More attention means more people are likely to be checking out your page. More people checking out your page means more customers! WIN!

Your targeted customer demographic should be considered while setting the tone. If you’re selling baby products, a sarcastic tone would not be considered appropriate.

TL;DR

Twitter is free and has an insane number of users. Reach a bigger audience by creating a Twitter account and utilizing hashtags. Set up your handle, display name, display picture, bio, header and pinned tweet. Fit in 1 or 2 relevant hashtags for your tweets to engage with the community while still staying relevant to your business. Excess hashtags in a tweet are treated as spam. 3 tips on using Twitter for your business: utilize Twitter hashtag, be engaging and set a tone that suits your business image.

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