SEO Articles

Not just for auto anymore: Google tests giant image search ads in new verticals.

Not just for auto anymore: Google tests giant image search ads in new verticals.

Remember when Google introduced that giant model automotive ad format to advertisers a few years ago? Well, it appears the format might be expanding to more verticals.

What they look like. A version of this format with a carousel of images was spotted on mobile by Search Engine Land columnist Glenn Gabe, who heads G-Squared Interactive. The ad, for Nike, appeared on a non-brand query for “what are the best running sneakers.”

Saw this crazy-immersive ad yesterday from Nike. 6 images that I could swipe through with the ability to launch a full page with those images. Not sure I've seen that before. @GinnyMarvin Have you seen this? pic.twitter.com/Aa9P8ZLZHA

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) February 22, 2019

The format features multiple headlines followed by a large carousel of images and a description below. Users can swipe through the set of images in the ad. Clicking on any of the images brings up a Google-hosted page of all the images and their captions. A card with a link to the advertiser’s site is at the bottom of that page. Just like any other text ad, clicking on the headline takes you to the advertiser’s site.

Testing, testing. This expansion is just a test for now. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers and users, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” a Google spokesperson said when we asked about this.

Why you should care. Google has tried images in search ads in several variations — visual sitelinks being the latest. This bigger, splashier format is high impact and demands little effort from advertisers, particularly in verticals likely to already have a diverse selection of high-quality product imagery.

Whether this is rolled out will depend on performance, of course. Bigger ads (RSAs anyone?) typically lead to higher engagement rates. And Google knows from Shopping ads that images can drive high engagement. But will these new ads convert? When the automotive ads launched, Toyota said it had seen higher conversion events at a lower CPA than standard text ads. The model automotive ads have now been in rotation since 2016, which means Google has more than three years of data on how they perform.

It’s also interesting to see this test showing up on a non-brand search query. Model automotive ads typically show only on brand searches.

The post Not just for auto anymore: Google tests giant image search ads in new verticals. appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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We’re Shutting Down Our Link Building Services

We’re Shutting Down Our Link Building Services

Hey guys,

So I’ve decided to permanently shut down our link building services and all other services which include the blogger outreach service, citation building service, curated links service, SEO audit service, and 1-on-1 SEO consulting.

Now the question is:

Why am I closing a division of my business that’s been growing consistently for 3 years?

There are a few reasons:

1. We are dedicating 100% of Gotch SEO’s energy and focus on Gotch SEO Academy

In 2017, I shut down all of my client SEO contracts despite the fact that I was making over $60,000/mo doing client SEO. Most would view this decision as “insane”.

But this was a necessary decision so that I could dedicate all of my time and energy towards Gotch SEO Academy.

I was willing to make less money for a short period of time because I knew that teaching is what I truly love doing and it’s best way I can serve people.

But the truth is…

Even in 2018, I was still one foot in and one foot out.

While I was no longer doing full service SEO, my team and I were still operating our link building services.

That’s why on February 28, 2019 we’ll be permanently closing these services.

2. It’s a conflict of interest

It doesn’t feel “right” for me to educate someone on the process of building backlinks and then turn around and try to sell them my company’s link building services.

That’s not genuine.

Plus, it makes me a lazy teacher because I can say “just use our service so you don’t have to do it”.

That’s not cool.

My job is to teach people how to do SEO and how to get results on their own.

That’s it.

Anything that takes away from that is unacceptable for me personally.

This doesn’t mean I’m against buying backlinks. I just personally can’t sell them because it doesn’t feel right.

3. I love punching fear in the face

Back in 2013, I packed my stuff and drove to St. Louis to pursue an SEO career. I was $40,000 in debt, had no job, had no clients, and had to live in my now mother-in-law’s house.

I applied to work at every SEO agency in St. Louis and only received one call back and interview. I didn’t get the job. Not to mention, I was applied for an SEO position when I was still in California and didn’t get hired then either.

I’m not going to lie… I was fearful at this time.

“What if this doesn’t work out?” “What if I have to get a normal job and I can’t do SEO (or what I actually want to do)?”

In hindsight, I’ve realized that:

Those thoughts are nothing more than lies. Fear doesn’t want you to succeed.

But here’s the interesting part…

Every time you push through the fear, those little thoughts get weaker and weaker.

That’s why back then, I decided that instead of trying to get hired as an SEO, I would take on clients instead.

And I’ll be honest… I had a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to teach the agencies that ignored me a lesson.

I’ve grown up since then, but it was definitely a driving force.

Within 30 days of making my decision to take on clients, I moved out of my mother-in-law’s house and got an apartment.

For all you stalkers, 14480 Tramore Dr, Chesterfield, MO 63017 is the address to my old apartment.

If you do some stalking online (just search “tramore” + “gotch SEO”), you’ll be able to find business listing using my old address.

Any way…

I went from $3,000/mo doing client SEO to making $18,000/mo + in less than 6 months working from that tiny apartment.

Now you might be wondering:

What’s the point of this story?

Well, hopefully it helps you to get an inside look into my journey because I know that can be super helpful.

But it’s also personal reminder to me that I’m conquering the third stage of fear in my career as an SEO and entrepreneur.

Stage 1 Fear – Deciding to take on clients (and not get a “real” job)
Stage 2 Fear – Deciding to fire all clients
Stage 3 Fear – Deciding to ONLY focus on Gotch SEO Academy

4. Focused energy works

Despite only be 50% focused on Gotch SEO Academy in 2018, last month (January 2019) was the biggest month I’ve ever had in my business (WITHOUT clients)!

So, while firing my clients may seem “stupid” in the short-term, it’s paid off in the long-run and will continue to.

Not only does focusing help your business, but it’s also better for your customers (which is all that matters).

I can now dedicate 100% of my time and effort on training, coaching, and supporting every single person who’s already in Gotch SEO Academy and who decides to join in the future.

That’s exciting.

Conclusion

Phew… I had get that off my chest, but here’s what’s going down over the next two weeks:

1. I’m going to do a “blow out” sale

That means you can save 20% on our blogger outreach service, citation building service, and curated links service for the next two weeks.

Use coupon code: “lastchance” (without the quotes)

2. This will also be the last time you can book 1-on-1 SEO consulting or audits

I’m also going to shut down all SEO consulting and SEO audits for the rest of 2019. There’s a chance I won’t accept new clients in 2020 either.

So, if you want my 1-on-1 SEO help or you need my team and I to audit an SEO campaign, then you need to jump on it in the next two weeks.

Like the link building services, use coupon code “lastchance” (without the quotes) at checkout to save 20%.

3. This isn’t some type of marketing ploy

The deadline to invest in our link building services or get 1-on-1 SEO help from me is on February 28, 2019. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.

4. THANK YOU

Thank to everyone who’s used our services throughout the years. I’m so incredibly grateful to have served you and I wish everyone the best of luck in their SEO endeavors!

5. Get started

Here are links to all the services we offer (and will no longer be offering after February 28, 2019):

Blogger Outreach Service – Get contextual links on real blogs without effort.

Citation Building Service – Business listings for local businesses.

Curated Links Service – Get contextual links in aged content on real blogs.

SEO Audit Service – Find out why your SEO campaign isn’t working (now with video walkthroughs from me).

1-on-1 SEO Consulting/Coaching – We’ll work together to improve your SEO and digital marketing performance.

Use coupon code “lastchance” (without the quotes) at checkout to save 20%.

You get unlimited uses of this coupon until the deadline.

Have some questions before you order?

Email me directly at nathan at gotchseo dot com and I’ll help you out.

Thanks again for everything guys & gals.

P.S. I have some insanely helpful stuff coming out soon. One thing that I’m really excited to show you guys is a new product that’s going to save you massive amounts of time and help you scale your SEO client services (faster than ever). BOLO.

– Gotch

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Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev

Oleg Shchgolev, CEO and Co-founder of SEMrush, also created SEOquake that was released in 2006. SEOquake was the inspiration to creating something more complex. Then SEMrush was born with the help of his partner, Dimitri Melnikov.

Today, SEMrush has 10 years in the market with 500 employees, revenues close to 100 million, and about 2 million users worldwide.

I had the pleasure to interview Oleg, including some questions beyond Search.

KT: What type of inspiration, vision, and loyalty did you see in Dmitri Melnikov that made you want to go in business with him?

OS: First and foremost, Dima is my friend. Second, he is a SEMrush co-founder; he’s been here right from the very beginning. We have always believed in the product that we’ve been working on and I totally admire him as my friend, my colleague, and co-founder.

We make most decisions together as CEO & co-CEO. Our temperaments are mutually reinforcing and this contributes greatly in allowing us to make balanced and informed decisions.

KT: How is your relationship with your partner Dmitri Melnikov?

OS: I’ve known Dmitri for more than 30 years. We grew up in the same neighborhood; we started programming together and over time our friendship expanded into a business partnership. We’ve gone through lots of ups and downs together.

KT: To be successful in the tech industry do you consider a person has to go to college or can they be self-taught?

OS: Formal education greatly enhances discipline and concentration, helps you socialize and find the right and important people — to network, if you like.

But a lot of leaders I know are self-taught. Back when I was a student, people had pretty much no idea what SEO was, or how important (and complicated) it would become over the years. Students should be aware that their knowledge gets outdated fast. They need to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to continuing self-education.

The IT industry is developing extremely quickly. That’s not to say that college education is not needed at all (it definitely doesn’t hurt to learn some basic stuff in college), but other than that…like I said, I don’t deem formal training to be absolutely essential. With all the online courses and workshops, it’s possible to study everything remotely.

KT: Does SEMrush have corporate social responsibility initiatives? Such as giving scholarships for people that dream with tech careers? Or any other?

OS: At the moment, we work closely with American and European universities and give students the opportunity to explore SEMrush. While learning digital marketing, they familiarize themselves with our tools and work on their projects with the help of SEMrush. Representatives of our company give a lot of master-classes to students, providing them with the insights about digital marketing.

We organize a lot of meetups, roundtables and conferences on digital marketing and agile. We always welcome other IT companies to take part in such events. Lots of lectures, a great deal of useful insight, plenty of opportunities for networking — these are just a few reasons to come by our events.

On a different note, we certainly care about ecological sustainability. We are going to implement waste separation in all our offices and  we encourage our employees to cycle to work to reduce CO2 emission.

It goes without saying that we give people the opportunity to work with us on paid internships. Pretty often, former interns become our full-time employees. We have plans for a large project on how to help novice specialists find work in the digital sphere, but we won’t reveal the details yet

KT: Where is SEMrush headed in the next 5 years?

OS: We are definitely going to add more features to SEMrush, while enhancing our content tools, along with local SEO and traffic analytics (Competitive Intelligence 2.0). We want to ensure that we remain the leading digital marketing software.

As for strategic plans, we are going to strengthen our global brand. At the moment we’re working diligently to enter emerging markets such as China — right now, we are updating our databases to cover Baidu data.

We’ll also introduce tools that help figure out how to rank better on Amazon and optimize for voice search.

This is just a minor part of what is coming. There are a lot of other things we are working on, but we’ll keep them quiet for a while! Hint: 2019 is going to be a big year for us.

KT: What are your biggest pain points as SEO thought-leader? What additional support/buy-in do you think most companies struggle with to get on board? Does this result in limiting their growth opportunities?

OS: SEO is multidimensional and its development is extremely rapid. 5 years ago we couldn’t even imagine that image search or voice search would be everywhere. Such technological growth involves non-stop education and creative thinking, both from my side as a thought-leader and from the side of companies trying to get on board.

One more indispensable thing to get on board successfully is to have some unique feature, to understand your uniqueness and, crucially, to communicate that knowledge to your audience. Such an environment of extrinsic value, created for your customers, will also help build strong and long-term relationships with them and will directly affect customer retention.

KT: What will impact the traditional SEO from Voice search devices in the coming years?

OS: The share of voice searches is growing, along with the amount of voice-activated smart speakers. Naturally, voice searches are different from the searches that are typed — the former are longer and the wording is different — more conversational.

Voice search is about questions, prepositions, and comparisons – the same as with featured snippets . If it’s not an informational query, people are likely to search for location-based info.

Backlinko’s study claims that 40.7% of answers come from the featured snippet. Our SEO clients are putting more and more emphasis on this feature. Questions, prepositions, and comparisons dominate featured snippet results. A whopping 52% of questions have featured snippets.

KT: Can we get a dashboard or report on voice search?

OS: There’s no single dashboard or report on voice search in SEMrush (at least for now) but some of our tools help find solutions for voice search optimization. For instance, featured snippet checks or mobile devices optimization — this contributes to voice search ranking.

KT: What’s the most popular SEMrush feature and why?

OS: Everyone loves us for Keywords Research tools, but there is so much more to SEMrush.

KT: What’s a feature of SEMrush that is less utilized and why?

OS: The features that are available in the Admin Mode only =)

KT: What is diversity like in the tech industry? Do you think there is gender bias in the tech industry?

OS: Judging by what the media says, there are indeed a lot of problems with diversity in the tech industry.  In SEMrush we want our company to be equally welcoming to people of any race or gender. About half of SEMrush C-level employees are women and we believe they are awesome specialists who help make SEMrush an industry-leading company.

Closing thoughts

My favorite answer is the last one because I am an advocate for equality and inclusivity.

In my conversation with Oleg I also learned that SEMrush’s headquarters is now in Boston.

To summarize the success of SEMrush, it is based on a great communication within its talented partners, a great culture of inclusivity, and the amazing people that work there.

The post Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

There are so many great plugins available, and it’s difficult to choose which are the best for you.

To help you decide which tools will make your work easier and more productive, I’ve asked SEO experts to share what they use.

Per the experts, I compiled this list of 17 of the best plugins and extensions for SEO — and they’re all free.

Here are the top plugins and extensions recommended by experienced SEOs
1. SEO TextOptimizer

Free extension

This plugin is perfect for those who deal with content. SEO TextOptimizer lets you measure the quality of texts you create for your website based on how search engines would evaluate it.

The tool shows you topics you should develop as well as those you’d better eliminate for search robots to understand the text is relevant to the specific queries. The plugin also suggests you a list of words you could add to improve your content. The best thing is that you don’t need great SEO expertise to use it.

2. SEOquake

Free extension

With SEOquake plugin, you can easily analyze your key SEO metrics. Moreover, the tool provides SEO audit, backlinks analysis, and other useful functions.

One of the factors why SEO professionals choose this tool is that you can get a comprehensive analysis of a SERP and even export its results. There’s a bar appearing below each search result which provides you with key metrics such as traffic, Alexa rank, social media shares, etc.

3. BuiltWith

Free extension

This extension lets you find what a website you are visiting at the moment is built with. It’s created to help developers, designers, and researchers to discover the technologies other pages are implementing and choose those they want to use for their sites.

The plugin tracks:

Widgets
Frameworks
Advertising
Publishing
Hosting
Analytics
Content Delivery Network
Document Standards

Experts also say it’s great you can easily get global trends on using specific technologies.

4. Serpstat Plugin

Free extension

It’s an extension which helps you conduct SEO analysis of a page. Serpstat Plugin provides the most critical information on keywords, traffic, and page visibility. You can also get the report on the top 10 keywords for which your page ranks at the top of search results.

Serpstat SEO & Website Analysis Plugin has now three tabs: Page Analysis, On-page SEO parameters, and Domain Analysis. Here are the most crucial parameters you’ll get with the plugin:

Domain’s traffic.
Domain’s visibility trend for a year.
The number of results on Google, Bing, and Baidu.
The number of images on Google Image Search.
Alexa Rank.
Page speed.
Site start date.
Meta tags.
The number of shares on social media networks (Facebook and Pinterest).

The plugin is free, but to use it, you need to create your Serpstat account, if you don’t have one yet.

5. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress plugin

This incredibly popular plugin by Yoast helps experts with on-site SEO needs. The tool will let you:

Add meta keywords, title, and description to your posts.
Provide clear site navigation for crawlers and users.
Analyze your on-page SEO. You can check your content, descriptions, and keywords.
See what your snippets will look like.
Create SEO-friendly Facebook Open Graph.

This WordPress plugin has a very quick and easy-to-use interface.

6. WAVE Evaluation Tool

Free extension

This tool evaluates web content accessibility within Chrome and Firefox browsers. WAVE provides 100% secure and private accessibility reporting. The plugin checks password-protected, intranet, sensitive or dynamically generated web pages.

7. Spark Content Optimizer

Free extension

Spark Content Optimizer is a tool designed to help you develop your site’s search experience. The plugin provides you with easy access to such a crucial data as:

Monthly traffic.
The performance of your site for all the keywords.
The technical audit which analyzes more than 40 hard-to-find issues.
Information on backlink authority.

8. Link Redirect Trace

Free extension

It’s a great tool for tracking redirect path. The tool analyzes HTTP Headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, link power, etc. You can use Link Redirect Trace extension to analyze your competitors, your on-page and off-page SEO, and other critical factors.

Here are the main tasks this plugin can help you cope with:

Identify and fix problems in your on-page/off-page SEO.
Analyze your competitors’ links.
See the redirect chain and fix problems to make your load time faster.
After your site was redesigned or migrated, you can check your links.
Check links from affiliate and advertising networks.

9. Ap – Data Layer Inspector+

Free extension

This plugin is a perfect toolkit for digital analysts. This add-on lets you monitor, debug, get detailed data not having to switch between the page, the code, and the developer console.

With this tool, you can inspect the dataLayer in real time, insert code into the page, analyze GA hits, ignore hits to individual properties, etc.

10. User-Agent Switcher

Free extension

The tool will help you switch quickly between user-agent strings. If you want to test how your page responds to different browsers, this plugin will let you do it. Due to User-Agent Switcher, you can browse with predefined user-agents or add your own ones.

11. Open SEO Stats

Free extension

This extension provides quick access to the most important SEO stats. The tool will show you:

Traffic stats. Graphs from Alexa Rank, Quantcast Rank, Compete Rank.
Information on your backlinks.
Cached pages.
Indexed pages. You’ll see the number of pages indexed in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.
Geolocation information, such as country, city, and IP address.
The shares on social websites.
Meta information, such as title, meta keywords, description, canonical tags, internal links, external links, and more.

12. Velvet Blues

Free WordPress plugin

This plugin will be handy for those who move their WordPress website to another domain and need to update internal links and references to pages. The plugin helps you fix the problem and change old links on your website. Experts say it’s great that you can find and replace any URL in your WordPress database without having to use phpMyAdmin directly.

With Velvet Blues Plugin, you can:

Update links which are embedded in excerpts, content, or custom fields.
Choose whether you want to update links for attachments or not.
View the number of items updated.

Install it only when you need to fix something and then uninstall it. The plugin treats everything it finds.

13. WP Rocket

Free WordPress plugin

Experts consider this plugin to be one of the best caching tools. Using WP Rocket to cache pages, your page load time decreases, and indexing improves. Moreover, the tool lets users reduce the weight of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

With WP Rocket, you can optimize your images, so that they’ll get loaded only when visitors scroll down the page. Such an action contributes to improving page speed.

14. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Free WordPress plugin

This tool will be useful for those who want to get rich snippets for their web pages. The plugin is created to help you make your page stand out in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results.

All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets supports most content types released by Schema.org. Here are eight different content types for which you can add schema:

Review
Event
People
Product
Recipe
Software Application
Video
Articles

15. Cloudflare’s plugin for WordPress

Free WordPress plugin

This free plugin helps to accelerate page loading time, improve your SEO, and protect against DDoS attacks.

Cloudflare plugin adds value for SMEs/Medium sized businesses, making it very easy to setup CDNs, DDoS Protection, and allow them to utilize edge SEO technologies like service workers.

16. WhatRuns

Free extension

This extension lets you find out what runs any website. You, ll get all the technologies used on websites you visit:

CMS
WordPress plugins
Themes
Analytics tools
Frameworks

Moreover, you can even get notified when websites start using new tools and services if you follow them.

17. Grammarly

Free extension

There are both free and paid access available for this plugin. The tool underlines your grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors for you to correct them. It also suggests you synonyms for overused words and gives you tips on how you can improve your texts. To get the most out of this plugin, you’d better use a paid version, as it’ll get you access to the most critical issues.

Choose the best for you

Remember that the more extensions you download, the slower your browser becomes. That’s why it’s essential to know which ones exactly are perfect for you.

Free WordPress plugins and Chrome extensions will help you make your work easier, but you may spend quite a significant time looking for those which are really useful for you. So, this list should have helped you circle out the tools you’ll try to implement into your working process.

Want more SEO tools?

Check out these articles as well:

7 social media monitoring tools to check out in 2019
8 free technical SEO tools you probably haven’t heard of
Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords
What people search for: Tools for trends
The top 10 tools for getting an insight into your website analytics
Tools to assist your SEO check-up
…. And many more!

The post 17 top plugins and extensions for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO

Is it worth your while making your text a pleasant read? Will it lead to higher rankings and more traffic? Is readability a ‘ranking factor’? At Yoast, we’re convinced that writing in plain and understandable language can get you more visitors. We’ve even developed a tool to help people write readable text. Here, we’ll explain why search engines love easy to understand copy, and we’ll give tips on creating it.

Well-written copy improves UX

At the risk of stating the obvious: unintelligible copy makes for bad user experience. Nobody likes to read something that’s incomprehensible, boring or stuffed with keywords. All your web copy should, therefore, be aimed and focused on your audience, giving them the information they need, a solution to their problem, or an answer to their question.

First and foremost, you should write great copy for your visitors. This fits in nicely with our vision of holistic SEO. If you write text people don’t understand, you won’t help people find what they need. What’s more, you’ll end up with unsatisfied visitors, that’ll probably bounce back to Google when they hit your site. Google analyses user signals like that to determine how visitors experience your site.

Search engines mimic humans

There used to be a time when stuffing keywords in your copy would work: if you’d just mention your keywords enough times in your text, Google would rank it high for those keywords. Those times are long gone.

Fortunately, Google got much better at recognizing quality content. For instance, after the Hummingbird update, Google started recognizing synonyms. It also understands which words, entities, and content are related to each other. In addition to that, search engines became better at predicting what people want to read: from the keywords in your query they can make an estimated guess on your search intent. You can learn how to semantically link entities to your content.

Overall, the algorithm of Google is trying to mimic a human. It tries to read text like a human being. As Google becomes more capable of understanding and scanning texts in a human-like way, the demands on the readability of text also rise.

Readability is important for voice search

The number of people using voice search is growing, so Google — and other search engines — are focused on voice. They present their results in a voice-like manner; they rank their results in a voice-like manner.

People searching for information with voice search could end up listening to a relatively long piece of information. Imagine a long paragraph consisting of meandering sentences and containing lots of difficult words, that’s read out loud. The voice result would become impossible to understand. Google wouldn’t want to use an answer like that. Neither in voice nor in normal results.

Google prefers understandable content because voice search is getting bigger. Whether it will be huge or not, doesn’t matter for the importance of understandable, readable content. Google simply dictates the search results and the algorithm. We just have to go with it. And in this case, it’s a good thing. Writing readable content is a blessing for the reader.

Read more: How to prepare for voice search »

What makes a text easy to read?

How do people read web copy? Visitors scan through texts, read subheadings and the first sentences of paragraphs. They look for transition words in order to quickly abstract what the main conclusion of an article will be.

All the things humans do while reading text are things Google will do. That means that the structure of your text, the way you write your paragraphs, will become increasingly important. Core sentences — the first sentence of every paragraph — will be crucial. Having a clear and logical structure in your text will be invaluable.

Tips to keep your text readable

How to create easy reads? Before you start writing your text, think about the structure. What are you going to tell your audience and in what order? Is that a logical order of topics? Will your audience be able to follow your arguments, your examples, your message? Maybe you should try writing content with the inverted pyramid style?

Read more: Setting up a text structure »

Write short rather than lengthy sentences, as lengthy sentences are much harder to process. Try to avoid or to limit the number of difficult words in a text. Try not to use complicated sentences and try to avoid the use of passive voice.

Keep reading: 5 SEO copywriting mistakes you should avoid »

Make sure to write in an appealing style. That can be really hard; not everyone has a talent for creative writing. Make sure to mix it up a little! Try to alternate long sentences with shorter ones. Use synonyms. Avoid starting sentences with the same word.

Read on: 5 tips to write a readable blog post »

We know writing readable copy is hard. That’s why we developed a readability analysis in Yoast SEO. It checks, for instance, if your sentences aren’t too long, if you don’t use passive voice too often, and if the length of your paragraphs is OK. We’ll give you tips for improvement and you can even see which sentences need a second look. We’re continuously tweaking it, adding new checks and getting it translated in as many different languages as possible. It’s available for free in the Yoast SEO plugin.

One last tip: read it out loud!

Google’s Gary Illyes once tweeted that you should read your text out loud. If it doesn’t read nicely or sounds strange, it probably won’t rank either.

Let’s be clear: your rankings won’t immediately soar if you improve the readability of your texts. But, writing a readable blog post is an essential part of every SEO strategy. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure your copy is easy to read. Posts that are nice to read will definitely result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. So in the long run: readability ranks.

Keep on reading: SEO copywriting: the complete guide »

The post Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO appeared first on Yoast.

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Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve

Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve

Posted by BritneyMuller

Page speed is an important consideration for your SEO work, but it’s a complex subject that tends to be very technical. What are the most crucial things to understand about your site’s page speed, and how can you begin to improve? In this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller goes over what you need to know to get started.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things page speed and really getting to the bottom of why it’s so important for you to be thinking about and working on as you do your work.

At the very fundamental level I’m going to briefly explain just how a web page is loaded. That way we can sort of wrap our heads around why all this matters.

How a webpage is loaded

A user goes to a browser, puts in your website, and there is a DNS request. This points at your domain name provider, so maybe GoDaddy, and this points to your server where your files are located, and this is where it gets interesting. So the DOM starts to load all of your HTML, your CSS, and your JavaScript. But very rarely does this one pull all of the needed scripts or needed code to render or load a web page.

Typically the DOM will need to request additional resources from your server to make everything happen, and this is where things start to really slow down your site. Having that sort of background knowledge I hope will help in us being able to triage some of these issues.

Issues that could be slowing down your site

What are some of the most common culprits?

First and foremost is images. Large images are the biggest culprit of slow loading web pages.
Hosting can cause issues.
Plugins, apps, and widgets, basically any third-party script as well can slow down load time.
Your theme and any large files beyond that can really slow things down as well.
Redirects, the number of hops needed to get to a web page will slow things down.
Then JavaScript, which we’ll get into in a second.

But all of these things can be a culprit. So we’re going to go over some resources, some of the metrics and what they mean, and then what are some of the ways that you can improve your page speed today.

Page speed tools and resources

The primary resources I have listed here are Google tools and Google suggested insights. I think what’s really interesting about these is we get to see what their concerns are as far as page speed goes and really start to see the shift towards the user. We should be thinking about that anyway. But first and foremost, how is this affecting people that come to your site, and then secondly, how can we also get the dual benefit of Google perceiving it as higher quality?

We know that Google suggests a website to load anywhere between two to three seconds. The faster the better, obviously. But that’s sort of where the range is. I also highly suggest you take a competitive view of that. Put your competitors into some of these tools and benchmark your speed goals against what’s competitive in your industry. I think that’s a cool way to kind of go into this.

Chrome User Experience Report

This is Chrome real user metrics. Unfortunately, it’s only available for larger, popular websites, but you get some really good data out of it. It’s housed on Big ML, so some basic SQL knowledge is needed.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse, one of my favorites, is available right in Chrome Dev Tools. If you are on a web page and you click Inspect Element and you open up Chrome Dev Tools, to the far right tab where it says Audit, you can run a Lighthouse report right in your browser.

What I love about it is it gives you very specific examples and fixes that you can do. A fun fact to know is it will automatically be on the simulated fast 3G, and notice they’re focused on mobile users on 3G. I like to switch that to applied fast 3G, because it has Lighthouse do an actual run of that load. It takes a little bit longer, but it seems to be a little bit more accurate. Good to know.

Page Speed Insights

Page Speed Insights is really interesting. They’ve now incorporated Chrome User Experience Report. But if you’re not one of those large sites, it’s not even going to measure your actual page speed. It’s going to look at how your site is configured and provide feedback according to that and score it. Just something good to be aware of. It still provides good value.

Test your mobile website speed and performance

I don’t know what the title of this is. If you do, please comment down below. But it’s located on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. This one is really cool because it tests the mobile speed of your site. If you scroll down, it directly ties it into ROI for your business or your website. We see Google leveraging real-world metrics, tying it back to what’s the percentage of people you’re losing because your site is this slow. It’s a brilliant way to sort of get us all on board and fighting for some of these improvements.

Pingdom and GTmetrix are non-Google products or non-Google tools, but super helpful as well.

Site speed metrics

So what are some of the metrics?

First paint

We’re going to go over first paint, which is basically just the first non-blank paint on a screen. It could be just the first pixel change. That initial change is first paint.

First contentful paint

First contentful paint is when the first content appears. This might be part of the nav or the search bar or whatever it might be. That’s the first contentful paint.

First meaningful paint

First meaningful paint is when primary content is visible. When you sort of get that reaction of, “Oh, yeah, this is what I came to this page for,” that’s first meaningful paint.

Time to interactive

Time to interactive is when it’s visually usable and engage-able. So we’ve all gone to a web page and it looks like it’s done, but we can’t quite use it yet. That’s where this metric comes in. So when is it usable for the user? Again, notice how user-centric even these metrics are. Really, really neat.

DOM content loaded

The DOM content loaded, this is when the HTML is completely loaded and parsed. So some really good ones to keep an eye on and just to be aware of in general.

Ways to improve your page speedHTTP/2

HTTP/2 can definitely speed things up. As to what extent, you have to sort of research that and test.

Preconnect, prefetch, preload

Preconnect, prefetch, and preload really interesting and important in speeding up a site. We see Google doing this on their SERPs. If you inspect an element, you can see Google prefetching some of the URLs so that it has it faster for you if you were to click on some of those results. You can similarly do this on your site. It helps to load and speed up that process.

Enable caching & use a content delivery network (CDN)

Caching is so, so important. Definitely do your research and make sure that’s set up properly. Same with CDNs, so valuable in speeding up a site, but you want to make sure that your CDN is set up properly.

Compress images

The easiest and probably quickest way for you to speed up your site today is really just to compress those images. It’s such an easy thing to do. There are all sorts of free tools available for you to compress them. Optimizilla is one. You can even use free tools on your computer, Save for Web, and compress properly.

Minify resources

You can also minify resources. So it’s really good to be aware of what minification, bundling, and compression do so you can have some of these more technical conversations with developers or with anyone else working on the site.

So this is sort of a high-level overview of page speed. There’s a ton more to cover, but I would love to hear your input and your questions and comments down below in the comment section.

I really appreciate you checking out this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and I will see you all again soon. Thanks so much. See you.

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