SEO Articles

Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Correctly redirecting your URLs is one of the most important things you can do to make a site migration go smoothly, but there are clear processes to follow if you want to get it right. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins breaks down the rules of redirection for site migrations to make sure your URLs are set up for success.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, guys. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and I work here at Moz. What we’re going to be talking about today is redirects and how they’re one way that you can make or break your site migration. Site migration can mean a lot of different things depending on your context.

Migrations?

I wanted to go over quickly what I mean before we dive into some tips for avoiding redirection errors. When I talk about migration, I’m coming from the experience of these primary activities.

CMS moving/URL format

One example of a migration I might be referring to is maybe we’re taking on a client and they previously used a CMS that had a default kind of URL formatting, and it was dated something.

So it was like /2018/May/ and then the post. Then we’re changing the CMS. We have more flexibility with how our pages, our URLs are structured, so we’re going to move it to just /post or something like that. In that way a lot of URLs are going to be moving around because we’re changing the way that those URLs are structured.

“Keywordy” naming conventions

Another instance is that sometimes we’ll get clients that come to us with kind of dated or keywordy URLs, and we want to change this to be a lot cleaner, shorten them where possible, just make them more human-readable.

An example of that would be maybe the client used URLs like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it to something a little bit cleaner, more natural, and not as keywordy, to just /plumbers or something like that. So that can be another example of lots of URLs moving around if we’re taking over a whole site and we’re kind of wanting to do away with those.

Content overhaul

Another example is if we’re doing a complete content overhaul. Maybe the client comes to us and they say, “Hey, we’ve been writing content and blogging for a really long time, and we’re just not seeing the traffic and the rankings that we want. Can you do a thorough audit of all of our content?” Usually what we notice is that you have maybe even thousands of pages, but four of them are ranking.

So there are a lot of just redundant pages, pages that are thin and would be stronger together, some pages that just don’t really serve a purpose and we want to just let die. So that’s another example where we would be merging URLs, moving pages around, just letting some drop completely. That’s another example of migrating things around that I’m referring to.

Don’t we know this stuff? Yes, but…

That’s what I’m referring to when it comes to migrations. But before we dive in, I kind of wanted to address the fact that like don’t we know this stuff already? I mean I’m talking to SEOs, and we all know or should know the importance of redirection. If there’s not a redirect, there’s no path to follow to tell Google where you’ve moved your page to.

It’s frustrating for users if they click on a link that no longer works, that doesn’t take them to the proper destination. We know it’s important, and we know what it does. It passes link equity. It makes sure people aren’t frustrated. It helps to get the correct page indexed, all of those things. So we know this stuff. But if you’re like me, you’ve also been in those situations where you have to spend entire days fixing 404s to correct traffic loss or whatever after a migration, or you’re fixing 301s that were maybe done but they were sent to all kinds of weird, funky places.

Mistakes still happen even though we know the importance of redirects. So I want to talk about why really quickly.

Unclear ownership

Unclear ownership is something that can happen, especially if you’re on a scrappier team, a smaller team and maybe you don’t handle these things very often enough to have a defined process for this. I’ve been in situations where I assumed the tech was going to do it, and the tech assumed that the project assistant was going to do it.

We’re all kind of pointing fingers at each other with no clear ownership, and then the ball gets dropped because no one really knows whose responsibility it is. So just make sure that you designate someone to do it and that they know and you know that that person is going to be handling it.

Deadlines

Another thing is deadlines. Internal and external deadlines can affect this. So one example that I encountered pretty often is the client would say, “Hey, we really need this project done by next Monday because we’re launching another initiative. We’re doing a TV commercial, and our domain is going to be listed on the TV commercial. So I’d really like this stuff wrapped up when those commercials go live.”

So those kind of external deadlines can affect how quickly we have to work. A lot of times it just gets left by the wayside because it is not a very visible thing. If you don’t know the importance of redirects, you might handle things like content and making sure the buttons all work and the template looks nice and things like that, the visible things. Where people assume that redirects, oh, that’s just a backend thing. We can take care of it later. Unfortunately, redirects usually fall into that category if the person doing it doesn’t really know the importance of it.

Another thing with deadlines is internal deadlines. Sometimes maybe you might have a deadline for a quarterly game or a monthly game. We have to have all of our projects done by this date. The same thing with the deadlines. The redirects are usually unfortunately something that tends to miss the cutoff for those types of things.

Non-SEOs handling the redirection

Then another situation that can cause site migration errors and 404s after moving around is non-SEOs handling this. Now you don’t have to be a really experienced SEO usually to handle these types of things. It depends on your CMS and how complicated is the way that you’re implementing your redirects. But sometimes if it’s easy, if your CMS makes redirection easy, it can be treated as like a data entry-type of job, and it can be delegated to someone who maybe doesn’t know the importance of doing all of them or formatting them properly or directing them to the places that they’re supposed to go.

The rules of redirection for site migrations

Those are all situations that I’ve encountered issues with. So now that we kind of know what I’m talking about with migrations and why they kind of sometimes still happen, I’m going to launch into some rules that will hopefully help prevent site migration errors because of failed redirects.

1. Create one-to-one redirects

Number one, always create one-to-one redirects. This is super important. What I’ve seen sometimes is oh, man, it could save me tons of time if I just use a wildcard and redirect all of these pages to the homepage or to the blog homepage or something like that. But what that tells Google is that Page A has moved to Page B, whereas that’s not the case. You’re not moving all of these pages to the homepage. They haven’t actually moved there. So it’s an irrelevant redirect, and Google has even said, I think, that they treat those essentially as a soft 404. They don’t even count. So make sure you don’t do that. Make sure you’re always linking URL to its new location, one-to-one every single time for every URL that’s moving.

2. Watch out for redirect chains

Two, watch out for chains. I think Google says something oddly specific, like watch out for redirect chains, three, no more than five. Just try to limit it as much as possible. By chains, I mean you have URL A, and then you redirect it to B, and then later you decide to move it to a third location. Instead of doing this and going through a middleman, A to B to C, shorten it if you can. Go straight from the source to the destination, A to C.

3. Watch out for loops

Three, watch out for loops. Similarly what can happen is you redirect position A to URL B to another version C and then back to A. What happens is it’s chasing its tail. It will never resolve, so you’re redirecting it in a loop. So watch out for things like that. One way to check those things I think is a nifty tool, Screaming Frog has a redirect chains report. So you can see if you’re kind of encountering any of those issues after you’ve implemented your redirects.

4. 404 strategically

Number four, 404 strategically. The presence of 404s on your site alone, that is not going to hurt your site’s rankings. It is letting pages die that were ranking and bringing your site traffic that is going to cause issues. Obviously, if a page is 404ing, eventually Google is going to take that out of the index if you don’t redirect it to its new location. If that page was ranking really well, if it was bringing your site traffic, you’re going to lose the benefits of it. If it had links to it, you’re going to lose the benefits of that backlink if it dies.

So if you’re going to 404, just do it strategically. You can let pages die. Like in these situations, maybe you’re just outright deleting a page and it has no new location, nothing relevant to redirect it to. That’s okay. Just know that you’re going to lose any of the benefits that URL was bringing your site.

5. Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs

Number five, prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs, and I do that because I prefer to obviously redirect everything that you’re moving, everything that’s legitimately moving.

But because of situations like deadlines and things like that, when we’re down to the wire, I think it’s really important to at least have started out with your most important URLs. So those are URLs that are ranking really well, giving you a lot of good traffic, URLs that you’ve earned links to. So those really SEO valuable URLs, if you have a deadline and you don’t get to finish all of your redirects before this project goes live, at least you have those most critical, most important URLs handled first.

Again, obviously, it’s not ideal, I don’t think in my mind, to save any until after the launch. Obviously, I think it’s best to have them all set up by the time it goes live. But if that’s not the case and you’re getting rushed and you have to launch, at least you will have handled the most important URLs for SEO value.

6. Test!

Number six, just to end it off, test. I think it’s super important just to monitor these things, because you could think that you have set these all up right, but maybe there were some formatting errors, or maybe you mistakenly redirected something to the wrong place. It is super important just to test. So what you can do, you can do a site:domain.com and just start clicking on all the results that come up and see if any are redirecting to the wrong place, maybe they’re 404ing.

Just checking all of those indexed URLs to make sure that they’re going to a proper new destination. I think Moz’s Site Crawl is another huge benefit here for testing purposes. What it does, if you have a domain set up or a URL set up in a campaign in Moz Pro, it checks this every week, and you can force another run if you want it to.

But it will scan your site for errors like this, 404s namely. So if there are any issues like that, 500 or 400 type errors, Site Crawl will catch it and notify you. If you’re not managing the domain that you’re working on in a campaign in Moz Pro, there’s on-demand crawl too. So you can run that on any domain that you’re working on to test for things like that.

There are plenty of other ways you can test and find errors. But the most important thing to remember is just to do it, just to test and make sure that even once you’ve implemented these things, that you’re checking and making sure that there are no issues after a launch. I would check right after a launch and then a couple of days later, and then just kind of taper off until you’re absolutely positive that everything has gone smoothly.

So those are my tips, those are my rules for how to implement redirects properly, why you need to, when you need to, and the risks that can happen with that. If you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share, pop them in the comments and share it with all of us in the SEO community. That’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one. Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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

Read More

Uncovering SEO Opportunities via Log Files

Uncovering SEO Opportunities via Log Files

Posted by RobinRozhon

I use web crawlers on a daily basis. While they are very useful, they only imitate search engine crawlers’ behavior, which means you aren’t always getting the full picture.

The only tool that can give you a real overview of how search engines crawl your site are log files. Despite this, many people are still obsessed with crawl budget — the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.

Log file analysis may discover URLs on your site that you had no idea about but that search engines are crawling anyway — a major waste of Google server resources (Google Webmaster Blog):

“Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.”

While it’s a fascinating topic, the fact is that most sites don’t need to worry that much about crawl budget —an observation shared by John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) quite a few times already.

There’s still a huge value in analyzing logs produced from those crawls, though. It will show what pages Google is crawling and if anything needs to be fixed.

When you know exactly what your log files are telling you, you’ll gain valuable insights about how Google crawls and views your site, which means you can optimize for this data to increase traffic. And the bigger the site, the greater the impact fixing these issues will have.

What are server logs?

A log file is a recording of everything that goes in and out of a server. Think of it as a ledger of requests made by crawlers and real users. You can see exactly what resources Google is crawling on your site.

You can also see what errors need your attention. For instance, one of the issues we uncovered with our analysis was that our CMS created two URLs for each page and Google discovered both. This led to duplicate content issues because two URLs with the same content was competing against each other.

Analyzing logs is not rocket science — the logic is the same as when working with tables in Excel or Google Sheets. The hardest part is getting access to them — exporting and filtering that data.

Looking at a log file for the first time may also feel somewhat daunting because when you open one, you see something like this:

Calm down and take a closer look at a single line:

66.249.65.107 – – [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] “GET /contact/ HTTP/1.1” 200 11179 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”

You’ll quickly recognize that:

66.249.65.107 is the IP address (who)
[08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] is the Timestamp (when)
GET is the Method
/contact/ is the Requested URL (what)
200 is the Status Code (result)
11179 is the Bytes Transferred (size)
“-” is the Referrer URL (source) — it’s empty because this request was made by a crawler
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) is the User Agent (signature) — this is user agent of Googlebot (Desktop)

Once you know what each line is composed of, it’s not so scary. It’s just a lot of information. But that’s where the next step comes in handy.

Tools you can use

There are many tools you can choose from that will help you analyze your log files. I won’t give you a full run-down of available ones, but it’s important to know the difference between static and real-time tools.

Static — This only analyzes a static file. You can’t extend the time frame. Want to analyze another period? You need to request a new log file. My favourite tool for analyzing static log files is Power BI.
Real-time — Gives you direct access to logs. I really like open source ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana). It takes a moderate effort to implement it but once the stack is ready, it allows me changing the time frame based on my needs without needing to contact our developers.
Start analyzing

Don’t just dive into logs with a hope to find something — start asking questions. If you don’t formulate your questions at the beginning, you will end up in a rabbit hole with no direction and no real insights.

Here are a few samples of questions I use at the start of my analysis:

Which search engines crawl my website?
Which URLs are crawled most often?
Which content types are crawled most often?
Which status codes are returned?

If you see that Google is crawling non-existing pages (404), you can start asking which of those requested URLs return 404 status code.

Order the list by the number of requests, evaluate the ones with the highest number to find the pages with the highest priority (the more requests, the higher priority), and consider whether to redirect that URL or do any other action.

If you use a CDN or cache server, you need to get that data as well to get the full picture.

Segment your data

Grouping data into segments provides aggregate numbers that give you the big picture. This makes it easier to spot trends you might have missed by looking only at individual URLs. You can locate problematic sections and drill down if needed.

There are various ways to group URLs:

Group by content type (single product pages vs. category pages)
Group by language (English pages vs. French pages)
Group by storefront (Canadian store vs. US store)
Group by file format (JS vs. images vs. CSS)

Don’t forget to slice your data by user-agent. Looking at Google Desktop, Google Smartphone, and Bing all together won’t surface any useful insights.

Monitor behavior changes over time

Your site changes over time, which means so will crawlers’ behavior. Googlebot often decreases or increases the crawl rate based on factors such as a page’s speed, internal link structure, and the existence of crawl traps.

It’s a good idea to check in with your log files throughout the year or when executing website changes. I look at logs almost on a weekly basis when releasing significant changes for large websites.

By analyzing server logs twice a year, at the very least, you’ll surface changes in crawler’s behavior.

Watch for spoofing

Spambots and scrapers don’t like being blocked, so they may fake their identity — they leverage Googlebot’s user agent to avoid spam filters.

To verify if a web crawler accessing your server really is Googlebot, you can run a reverse DNS lookup and then a forward DNS lookup. More on this topic can be found in Google Webmaster Help Center.

Merge logs with other data sources

While it’s no necessary to connect to other data sources, doing so will unlock another level of insight and context that regular log analysis might not be able to give you. An ability to easily connect multiple datasets and extract insights from them is the main reason why Power BI is my tool of choice, but you can use any tool that you’re familiar with (e.g. Tableau).

Blend server logs with multiple other sources such as Google Analytics data, keyword ranking, sitemaps, crawl data, and start asking questions like:

What pages are not included in the sitemap.xml but are crawled extensively?
What pages are included in the Sitemap.xml file but are not crawled?
Are revenue-driving pages crawled often?
Is the majority of crawled pages indexable?

You may be surprised by the insights you’ll uncover that can help strengthen your SEO strategy. For instance, discovering that almost 70 percent of Googlebot requests are for pages that are not indexable is an insight you can act on.

You can see more examples of blending log files with other data sources in my post about advanced log analysis.

Use logs to debug Google Analytics

Don’t think of server logs as just another SEO tool. Logs are also an invaluable source of information that can help pinpoint technical errors before they become a larger problem.

Last year, Google Analytics reported a drop in organic traffic for our branded search queries. But our keyword tracking tool, STAT Search Analytics, and other tools showed no movement that would have warranted the drop. So, what was going on?

Server logs helped us understand the situation: There was no real drop in traffic. It was our newly deployed WAF (Web Application Firewall) that was overriding the referrer, which caused some organic traffic to be incorrectly classified as direct traffic in Google Analytics.

Using log files in conjunction with keyword tracking in STAT helped us uncover the whole story and diagnose this issue quickly.

Putting it all together

Log analysis is a must-do, especially once you start working with large websites.

My advice is to start with segmenting data and monitoring changes over time. Once you feel ready, explore the possibilities of blending logs with your crawl data or Google Analytics. That’s where great insights are hidden.

Want more?

Ready to learn how to get cracking and tracking some more? Reach out and request a demo to get your very own tailored walkthrough of STAT.

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

Read More

A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing

A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing

Nonprofit organizations have tough jobs. They’re busy saving the world one creative idea at a time and often have few resources to devote to developing or managing a digital strategy.

Through all the work we do – consulting, training, and blogging – we want to help demystify digital marketing and empower teams to do make efficient strategy decisions so they can spend time promoting good in the world. Our community outreach efforts range from give-back days, fundraising, and perhaps our favorite – sharing information with local organizations and nonprofits about our specialty areas. Learn how a few quick-hitting digital marketing wins could set up your organization for similar success.

Four Hours of Learning, Questions and Discussion

A few weeks ago, we invited 412FoodRescue to our offices for a half-day digital training session. We shared information about SEO, Paid Search and Google Analytics. Our goal was to equip the nonprofit team with best practices and provide quick wins to support their ever-expanding mission.

Having an in-person training allowed for a day that was about collaboration and team brainstorming instead of a one-sided lecture. As Becca from 412FoodRescue noted, “It was great to have an open learning environment where we could jump in and ask any question we needed.”

How 412FoodRescue Helps Pittsburghers

412FoodRescue is a 3-year old start-up that began–as the name suggests–in the “412”: Pittsburgh, PA.

Their business model is simple, yet so effective.

They partner with local businesses like grocery stores and restaurants to “rescue” surplus food that’s about to go to waste. When they identify an over-abundance of food, they leverage their network of 1,300+ local volunteers to complete same-day deliveries. This is coordinated through their app where volunteers receive real-time notifications when there’s a local delivery in their area.

Think of it as Uber for browning bananas!

Since 2015, 412FoodRescue’s volunteers have rescued 3.3 million pounds of food, generating 2.8 million meals. Their app is gaining national attention and they’re looking to roll out their business model to other cities. Some of our employees are food rescue-ers, so it became a cause we wanted to contribute to digitally. If you’re in the  Pittsburgh area, you can sign up for their volunteer opportunities, too.

Optimizing Your Site to Find Volunteers

We began the day with SEO, sharing tips for writing unique, tightly focused title tags, meta descriptions and H1s. The goal of these fields is to reflect a page’s theme. With a little keyword research, we work-shopped writing title tags and meta descriptions for a few of their key pages.

Their site scored a 70/100 on our 13 question, “Mini SEO Checklist”, which is a great score, so we spent time improving their on-page tags instead of delving into advanced technical items.

After using Google’s Keyword Planner, The “Volunteer” page changed to “Volunteer Opportunities” and the meta description was refreshed to include a stronger call to action. When we took a look at Google Search Console, we saw their CSA program–lovingly dubbed, “Ugly CSA”–actually had search demand. We added “in Pittsburgh” to help the title be more locally relevant.

It’s these small changes that can make a huge difference to a nonprofit site. Especially when there’s a critical need to be focused locally.

As a next step, the team plans to update metadata for their top 15 pages and think of future content opportunities as they conduct keyword research.

Does your business have a few key pages that could benefit from a little keyword research and some data analysis? Start small by taking cues from Google Search Console and optimizing pages by incorporating the keywords that users are already typing in to get to your pages.

Reaching a Larger Audience with Google Grants

Next up was paid search.

The team was curious to learn about creating better campaigns. Their agency had set up a Google AdWords Express account a few months ago, but we encouraged them to change their account to a “typical” Google Ads account and to sign up for a Google Grants account for additional bidding options, better management tools, and more detailed insights.

With a monthly Grants budget of $10,000, we found they could amplify their coverage by expanding their campaigns, defining important goals, choosing audience targeting and experimenting with ad formats. Having this capability will significantly change the way 412FoodRescue communicates with Pittsburghers via advertising.

Get Free Advertising For Your Nonprofit with Google Grants

By: Heather Post
Published: June 1, 2017

Together, we outlined a search campaign designed to encourage people in the Pittsburgh area to volunteer. We chose keywords, wrote ad copy and decided on the best targeting to get their ads in front of the right people.

The team was also excited to learn about remarketing opportunities that would allow them to communicate a different message to people who had already been to their site and had shown interest in their app. This option will be a quick win, especially in the volunteering space.

To complete the paid search portion of the training, we provided a template report in Data Studio to help 412 Food Rescue quickly analyze their Google Ads data to facilitate future marketing and advertising decisions.

Take a minute to think about what relevant ad copy might look like for your users. Are you trying to rally an army of volunteers or drum up additional donations? Crafting ad copy to speak to each group of users and applying the targeting options in Google Ads can ensure you’re delivering appropriate advertising.

Seeing the Big Picture with Google Analytics

We closed the day with an overview of Google Analytics. We saved the most complicated, most detailed project for last.

The goal here was to really empower the team on where to begin with their overall analytics strategy and what resources are available to learn more about GA. We provided them with a customized list of “homework” items to help plan out their overall analytics solution and links to great resources to learn how to accomplish those tasks.
We started with a discussion of 412FoodRescue’s business objectives and how to define them. Their goals revolve around engagement, user interactions, and downloading the app to become a Food Rescuer. To plan out your own strategy, check out Sam’s amazing post A Simple Start to a Powerful Analytics Strategy.

From there we went into the importance of a solid foundation and taking advantage of everything there is to offer out of the box within GA. We provided some recommendation of things to enable and update before starting to implement more customized features. For example, filtering out extra query parameter and setting up site search.

The true power of analytics comes from customization, your needs are different from the needs of the person next door; it’s impossible for Google to make an all-encompassing solution. Events and custom dimensions are the easiest tools to unlock more in-depth insights for your site or app. We walked through the site and talked about important event to start tracking now, such as clicks on download the app.

Finally, we ran through the Google Analytics interface together – answering reporting questions, showing the team our go-to reports, and making quick easy updates to their settings. One quick change we made was setting up a test view or making updates to filters.

Applying These Tactics to Your Nonprofit

Digital marketing can be overwhelming, but it can be approachable! The first step, like learning any new skill, is making it a priority.

As 412FoodRescue’s CEO and co-founder Leah Lizarondo noted, “We learned so much from our session and also learned that there is so much more to sink our teeth into. “

“We learned so much from our session and also learned that there is so much more to sink our teeth into. “

Leah Lizarondo
CEO & Co-Founder, 412FoodRescue

Setting aside time for keyword research and analyzing your existing site data can help you focus your marketing efforts and make sure you’re maximizing your limited resources.

Even a few hours can make a big impact. This is especially true for smaller organizations like nonprofits where time is valuable and resources are scarce. Our advice is to start small and scale what works.

Below are a few quick wins that you can apply to up your digital marketing:

Conduct keyword research for each page to determine a priority term. Write an optimized title tag and meta description centered around that term. Ensure you’re using your full character limit and include a descriptive, compelling call-to-action. Think about how your audiences might search, from volunteers to donors for those researching about your mission. Learn how to write effective title tags.
Write compelling ad copy for target audiences. Use compelling call-to-action verbs to active your audience. Terms like “Volunteer,” “Donate,” “Learn,” or “Help” can speak to the specific audiences you’re targeting. For ideas, view our call-to-action cheat sheet.
Define and implement event tracking. The standard metrics that come with an analytics install are great, but to get in-depth knowledge of your users implement customizations like events. Check out our event naming post to understand best practices for event tracking.
Apply for a Google Ad Grant. If you are an eligible nonprofit, a Google Grant can go a long way in helping create awareness for your cause.

Our team here at Lunametrics–Kristina, Megan and Jayna–so enjoyed our morning with 412FoodRescue. Our one regret is that the day ended too soon! We could have brainstormed for another couple hours.

Leah, Sara and Becca are a team of tenacious learners with a passion to end food insecurity in Pittsburgh and we’re happy that we could be a small part of 412FoodRescue’s digital journey. We can’t wait to see what they’ll dream up next!

Local to Pittsburgh? Learn more about 412FoodRescue and join their mission to end food insecurity in our communities and neighborhoods.

The post A Day with 412FoodRescue: Tips for Managing Nonprofit Digital Marketing appeared first on LunaMetrics.

Read More

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

 

Adding images to your articles encourages people to read them, and well-chosen images can also back up your message and get you a good ranking in image search results. But you should always remember to give your images good alt attributes: alt text strengthens the message of your articles with search engine spiders and improves the accessibility of your website. This article explains all about alt tags and title tags and why you should optimize them.

Note: the term “alt tag” is a commonly used abbreviation of what’s actually an alt attribute on an img tag. The alt tag of any image on your site should describe what’s on it. Screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out this text and therefore make your image accessible.

What are alt tags and title tags?

This is a complete HTML image tag:

<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>

The alt and title attributes of an image are commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text and title tag – even though they’re not technically tags. The alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page. So if you are using an image as a button to buy product X, the alt text should say: “button to buy product X.”

The alt tag is used by screen readers, which are browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. The title attribute is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element, so in the case of an image button, the image title could contain an extra call-to-action, like “Buy product X now for $19!”, although this is not a best practice.

Each image should have an alt text, not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people won’t otherwise know what the image is about, but a title attribute is not required. What’s more, most of the time it doesn’t make sense to add it. They are only available to mouse (or other pointing devices) users and the only one case where the title attribute is required for accessibility is on <iframe> and <frame> tags.

If the information conveyed by the title attribute is relevant, consider making it available somewhere else, in plain text and if it’s not relevant, consider removing the title attribute entirely.

But what if an image doesn’t have a purpose?

If you have images in your design that are purely there for design reasons, you’re doing it wrong, as those images should be in your CSS and not in your HTML. If you really can’t change these images, give them an empty alt attribute, like so:

<img src=”image.png” alt=””>

The empty alt attribute makes sure that screen readers skip over the image.

alt text and SEO

Google’s article about images has a heading “Use descriptive alt text”. This is no coincidence because Google places a relatively high value on alt text to determine not only what is on the image but also how it relates to the surrounding text. This is why, in our Yoast SEO content analysis, we have a feature that specifically checks that you have at least one image with an alt tag that contains your focus keyphrase.

Yoast SEO checks for images and their alt text in your posts:We’re definitely not saying you should spam your focus keyphrase into every alt tag. You need good, high quality, related images for your posts, where it makes sense to have the focus keyword in the alt text. Here’s Google’s advice on choosing a good alt text:

When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.

If your image is of a specific product, include both the full product name and the product ID in the alt tag so that it can be more easily found. In general: if a keyphrase could be useful for finding something that is on the image, include it in the alt tag if you can. Also, don’t forget to change the image file name to be something actually describing what’s on it.

alt and title attributes in WordPress

When you upload an image to WordPress, you can set a title and an alt attribute. By default, it uses the image filename in the title attribute, which, if you don’t enter an alt attribute, it copies to the alt attribute. While this is better than writing nothing, it’s pretty poor practice. You really need to take the time to craft a proper alt text for every image you add to a post — users and search engines will thank you for it. The interface makes it easy: click an image, hit the edit button, and you’ll see this:There’s no excuse for not doing this right, other than laziness. Your (image) SEO will truly benefit if you get these tiny details right. Visually challenged users will also like you all the more for it.

Read more about image SEO?

We have a very popular (and longer) article about Image SEO. That post goes into a ton of different ways to optimize images but is relatively lacking in detail when it comes to alt and title tags — think of this as an add-on to that article. I recommend reading it when you’re done here.

Read more: Optimizing images for SEO »

The post Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization appeared first on Yoast.

 

Read More

It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy

It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are very important because, for most retailers, Black Friday is one of the biggest revenue generators of the year, but it’s surprising (except perhaps to most SEOs) how many of them neglect the basics. If you fall into that category, you still have a few days to try to turn that lemon into lemonade with some very simple updates to your site.

If you search for “black friday sale near me” you will likely see a Local Pack like this:

Notice how Google calls out that these sites mention black friday sales, deals, etc.

While most retailers likely already have a Black Friday Sale page and mention it on their home page, two out of the three sites above, Macy’s and Walmart, also mention Black Friday on their store location pages. For example:

Macy’s Black Friday:
https://l.macys.com/stoneridge-shopping-center-in-pleasanton-ca

Walmart Black Friday:
https://www.walmart.com/store/2161/pleasanton-ca/details 

While Kohl’s shows that you don’t need the location pages to be optimized for Black Friday to rank for these queries, updating your location pages to target Black Friday & Cyber Monday queries in both the title tag and in the body copy should likely improve your chances of appearing in localized Black Friday SERPs.

Even if your site is in code freeze, you (hopefully) should be able to make these updates and maybe next week you’ll find yourself with more than just some leftover turkey…

The post It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

 

Read More

10 Local SEO Predictions for 2019: Job Security For Local SEOs

10 Local SEO Predictions for 2019: Job Security For Local SEOs

 

 

SMBs As a Group Will Continue To Not Get SEO
A little over a year ago, my dentist moved his office but never thought about updating his listing in Google Maps, Apple Maps or his website. I showed him how to fix the issue, but this morning on the way to my end of the year teeth cleaning, not only was his old location back on Apple Maps, but he had also decided to change his business name from Joseph A. Grasso DDS to San Ramon Valley Cosmetic & Family Dentistry (perhaps for SEO reasons?), but had not bothered to update either his GMB or Apple Maps listings, let alone his Facebook page or any other citations. I mentioned this to his receptionist. Her response was “Wow, I didn’t know anything about that stuff.” I envisioned my kids’ future tuition bills and sighed with relief.
Voice Search Will Continue To Be YUGE, But So What?
We keep seeing reports of how everyone is increasing their use of voice search to find information and buy stuff. Outside of being the default app for specific type of query on the various assistants, the end result is still often position #1 or #0 for a Google SERP. For local businesses this means you’ll want to be #1 or #0 for relevant local queries, and if there’s an app (e.g. Apple Maps, Yelp, etc.) that shows up in that position, then you’ll want to be #1 in those apps. Kind of like the way local search has been working for years…
Some Of Your Clients May Actually Ask For Bing SEO Help
If people are asking Alexa a lot more questions, per the previous prediction, Microsoft’s Cortana recently announced integration with Alexa may lead to more Bing results surfacing via Alexa. So those clients who have a data issue on Bing and the CEO happens to hear their kids looking for their business using Cortana on Alexa might send you that urgent message for “Bing SEO ASAP!” OK, we know – we just needed an extra prediction to get the right number for an Instant Answer result…
Google My Business Posts Will Be Where The Action Is
Since the roll out of GMB Posts, we have been calling them “the biggest gift to SEO agencies in years.” The ability to add minimal content to appear on a business’ GMB/Knowledge Panel that can attract clicks, most of which are from brand queries, and show clients how these impact performance will be hard to resist for most agencies that are currently blogging for their clients and praying someone cares about their 250-500 words of cheaply written brilliance. Expect GMB posts to be standard in most Local SEO packages, until of course Google deprecates them later this year.Bonus Prediction!: And while we are on the subject of GMB, I expect to see a lot more functionality, and promotion thereof, poured into this service. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Super Bowl ad this year that shows how a business uses all Google services (websites, GMB messages, Q&A, Local Service Ads, GMB Post Videos, Reviews, etc.) to run its business and get customers.
Retailers Will Invest More In Local SEO
Google will continue to cannibalize SERPs with ads and “owned and operated” content such as GMB (which is basically training wheels for ads) making it easy for brands to increase their ad spend to eye-popping levels. Sooner or later multi-location brands who are tired of having to re-buy their customers every week will realize that for about 1% of their Google Ads budget, they can make a serious dent in their organic traffic and revenue. Topics like rebuilding their store locators, rewriting location pages, local linkbuilding and GMB optimization (including feeding real-time inventory to GMB) will no longer cause the CMO’s eyes to glaze over.
Links Will Still Be The Biggest Line Item In Your Local SEO Budget
There are only so many ways you can publish the best content about how to hire a personal injury attorney, before and after bunion surgery photos, or local SEO predictions. I am sure there are some cases where E-A-T trumps links, but sooner or later, in 2019 we will all need a link or two, or twenty…
We Will See More Consolidation In Local Listings & Review Management
While the business has become somewhat commodified, there is just too much value to owning the customer relationship attached to thousands of locations. Yext appears to be continuing its focus on high-value verticals (healthcare & financial services), international expansion to serve global brands and adding related functionality like Yext Brain. Over the past year, Uberall gobbled up NavAds and Reputation.com grabbed SIMPartners. Any big digital agency serving global multi-location brands sooner or later will want to own this functionality. Look for Asia to be a big growth area for these services.      (7.5)And I Wouldn’t Be Surprised If One Or More Of The Review Management StartUps Gets Acquired
While online review management feels like something of a commodity, kind of like listings management, it’s also a great gateway drug for multi-location brands & SMBs to eventually buy more of your services. I recall Ted Paff, founder of CustomerLobby, once telling me “the value of review management is trending towards $0.” Of course, that was right before he sold CL to EverCommerce and took off to Nepal to find his Chi. Fast-growing services with review management and related services that are not trending towards $0 are prime targets. Keep an eye on Broadly, BirdEye, Podium, GatherUp, NearbyNow and others.
Google Search Console Will Specify Local Pack Rankings In The Performance Report
Yeah, right. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll get regex filtering?
Apple Maps Will Continue To Be The Biggest Local Search Platform Everyone Ignores
Apple made a big deal in 2018 about its new map platform and while it is exciting to have more vegetation detail, Apple still shows little sign of giving a shit about its business data. In the four years since Maps Connect launched, the functionality for businesses to control their Apple Maps profiles has barely changed. While I find Apple Maps generally fine to use (except for that time it led me straight into a dumpster in San Francisco), I still see plenty of people criticizing it. At some point perhaps Apple will realize that businesses and their agencies can help make Apple Maps much better. It would be great if we could get actual analytics, ability to enhance profiles, true bulk account management, etc., but I am skeptical that will happen in 2019.
Amazon Will Not Buy Yelp!
But if the stock price goes below $25, it seems like there’s a private equity play here. cc: David Mihm.

So in 2019, Local SEO will pretty much look like this:

The post 10 Local SEO Predictions for 2019: Job Security For Local SEOs appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

Read More