SEO Articles

Barnacle SEO in 2019: A Short and Comprehensive Guide

Barnacle SEO in 2019: A Short and Comprehensive Guide

What is Barnacle SEO in 2019

If you are a small local business, or just a new business trying to get a hand into SEO you might want to try out barnacle SEO.

What is barnacle SEO?

Well, let’s put it this way.

Go ahead and type in some kind of keyword from your niche to the Google Search Bar.

Look at the top 10 results. It’s all the big names in the industry right? Do you think you can fight them for the top 10 places? You can try, but it’s gonna be hard.

Admittedly the whole search ecosystem now is much much different compared to 10 years ago. But you can still see the list of big names, informational or directory sites seating on the organic, non-paid positions.

So instead of trying to fight them, why not try to take advantage of them instead?

That is barnacle SEO.

It’s basically a game of leverage. Where you’ll use an influential and highly visible website to promote your own business. So you’ll be ranking and getting the exposure that otherwise can’t be achieved.

Barnacle SEO is a term coined by Will Scott of Search Influence, back in the early 2000s. You can check out the original article here if you’re interested, Barnacle SEO – Local Search Engine Optimization for The Sam’s Club Crowd.

It’s an old article but the skills noted are still absolutely relevant to jump-start your local business’s search engine presence.

Sounds good? Hooked? But not quite sure how to start?

Let’s show you some ways to start on barnacle SEO.

1. Look for high ranking directory sites

Now obviously before you start anything, you need to know what are the big names or big sites that are currently sitting on that first page comfortably for your keyword, your niche, your industry.

I have a couple big names coming off my mind, for the SEO industry, it’s gotta be Moz, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Journal to name a few.

For the hotel industry, there are tons of directory style websites that you can piggyback on like, Trivago, Agoda and much much more.

Now that you have a list of big names that have a high enough domain authority, and a big number of quality backlinks to have them constantly placed on the top of the SERP.

The next thing you need is to identify how you can get on their site.

If it’s a directory site, you can request to have your business listed on their site.

If it’s a website like Moz, where they run a blog or an active community, you can try reaching out for a guest posting.

How can you do that?

Well, that brings us to point number 2.

2. Guest posting

Guest posting is an essential step to get yourself a place in already high ranking non-directory websites.

But the main idea behind this is you’re looking for organic, inbound traffic.

Organic, inbound traffic starts with content.

If you can get a kick-ass content, that’s great.

If you can get a kick-ass content, and make it as a guest posting on an already high ranking website, even better.

Because you can know for sure that your content is gonna get the readers it deserves.

You may ask, ok so the other website is actually getting all the views from my content, how is that a good thing? Because that is actually what you have on your plate to bargain for a place on their website.

Well, you see, reputable websites will make it clear that firstly it is a guest post and secondly who wrote this awesome content and finally where you can reach this amazing writer directly.

And that’s why you need to find a reputable, high ranking website that will have all these rules that they adhere to that ends up helping you.

That’s the essence of barnacle SEO. In this industry, we help each other out right? (right.)

The first step to guest posting is outreach.

Basically, you’re reaching out to all these sites, showing your interest in guest posting on their website.

And it goes from there.

Like any sincere communication, an outreach will only be successful if you are actually offering them something of value, not simply asking to barge into their website to drop a link.

Keep in mind that, even by leveraging their website’s domain authority, a content won’t rank if it’s not of a good quality and provides the answers that the readers want.

3. Content sharing sites

Now that you have an awesome content that is getting some steady views and climbing up the SERP as we speak.

Why not use that same content and get more views? This time on a different website? There are a whole different set of big players in a slightly different niche.

If your content was in a blog post format, it also has the potential to be presented as a slideshow or even a video.

For a site like Slideshare. All you need to do really is to just spin your content into a presentation and share it.

Now, a better way is to do this the other way round.

You got a kick-ass content, you made them into this easy to share and easy to understand set of slides, embed it in your content itself and share it to the big name site that you’re guest posting on.

You can also make it into a video, for example, Moz’s whiteboard Friday showcases videos where experts talk about all sorts of SEO topics.

Upload it to YouTube, Vimeo or your Facebook. That way you can broaden your reach to a different crowd.

You can also opt for content syndication. There are often articles crossed posted on sites like medium and LinkedIn Groups, so that’s definitely doable.

By simply syndicating, you also spend less effort since you don’t have to reformat your content.

You’re also putting your content on multiple big websites and greatly increased your exposure.

So now the readers have more places to find your awesome content.

Which means more visitors and more exposure.

I call it awesome.

One thing to keep in mind is to check the canonical options you have while publishing your content on a site like medium.

Here’s a medium help page on SEO and duplicate content that goes into the details on how they handle this issue.

Not quite sure what canonical means? Check out this post here for a quick explanation, What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

4. Comment on web 2.0

If you have a blog, you’ve most probably had some unwelcomed spam comment.

We’re kinda going that path. As in we’re gonna go around leaving comments about our own business too.

Now, like any other sane people on the planet would know. No one likes spammy comments. A comment saying “Thank you for this awesome article.” is not gonna cut it.

That’s downright offensive.

No one likes spam…

The main point of dropping comments on web 2.0 is not to force people to go visit your website, it’s even further away from dropping a link hoping to get that link juice.

It’s about building up your persona. Yes, yours.

You’re gonna share what you know about your own industry, and perhaps ask questions, engage with others.

The comment section of a piece of content is where the community is. You’re dropping a comment because you’re making yourself known as a part of the community.

And try to leave comments that are actually helpful and insightful, comments on sites like Quora or Reddit can end up ranking high for a specific keyword.

Treat your comment as if you’re writing a blog post. Give valid and actionable points. Then, when it’s backed up by the high domain authority of the website that you’re commenting on, you’ll have a bigger chance to rank.

Wait, here comes the main point.

If you come upon a situation where it’s totally ok to link your own content there, do it.

You have already established yourself as an active member of the community, not just a link dropper. People will actually take it seriously and pay it a visit, cause it’s actually gonna be relevant and reliable.

That way, you’ll have both link building and barnacle SEO by being active in one community, killing two birds with one stone.

5. Press Release

Press Release is an official announcement issued by a company or a business. Simple as that.

Digital press release service is often used as a great way to expand your brand exposure and pike interest from journalists.

A press release is not just one press release, there are usually plans selling press release service that syndicates it across hundreds of websites.

Do you see where this is going?

Sending out a digital press release is borderline white hat link building.

Syndicating a press release over hundreds of media sites would build up your link profile like mad.

And a bunch of businesses is using this exact technique to build their digital presence.

You should too.

So, are you on the board now?

Now, the first stop in this press release journey is, of course, looking for a reliable press release service provider.

Just a search on Fiverr and you’ll find a ton of sellers selling this service, are they the one you need? Well, that’s the million dollar question.

Fiverr sellers usually offer their service at a lower price. Downside? You can’t really expect how the quality will be.

Yes, you can kinda gauge by reading the reviews left by other buyers and you’ll only be losing a hundred dollar if they do a bad job.

You can also find bigger and more reputable press release service firms such as MarketersMEDIA. Do be prepared that the price listed will be double or maybe triple the price you see on Fiverr.

But hey you get what you paid.

When you’re paying for a press release service, you want the links to be varied, if they have a couple of big names on their distribution list, even better.

What difference with a press release with a content is that you don’t really need to pour days into creating an informational post.

A press release is simply an announcement, things are kept short to the point and professional.

Something as simple as announcing that your business now added SEO as a part of your marketing effort can be a good enough topic to write for a press release.

By sending out a press release you’re leveraging all the links you got from these websites to extend to your search engine visibility.

There are even services out there offering to syndicate your piece of content to top branded sites like Reuters, Google News, Yahoo News and more.

You can definitely make good use of them if you have the budget to jump-start your SEO effort.

Let’s conclude this post with an excellent guide on how to look for a suitable barnacle site. Since getting the correct site to jump on is the core of barnacle SEO.

Now start your journey!

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Chrome 70 Update: HTTPS Site Security and the Full Symantec Distrust

Chrome 70 Update: HTTPS Site Security and the Full Symantec Distrust

As of October 17, 2018, Google has released Chrome 70, and with it, they have once again increased their security warnings for sites that are not fully HTTPS secure. The language used by the browser has also become increasingly severe over the last couple of years:

Attackers are going to trick you!

One of the most specific targets of these new security warnings has to do with a company called Symantec. From the Google Online Security blog:

“[U]sers will start to see full screen interstitials on sites which still use certificates issues by the Legacy Symantec PKI. Initially this change will reach a small percentage of users, and then slowly scale up to 100% over the next several weeks.”

Chrome has been planning this depreciation of trust in Symantec security certificates for more than a year now thanks to some shady practices that compromised users’ security when they visit apparently secure, trusted sites. From Google Online Security blog’s ominously titled Chrome’s Plan to Distrust Symantec Certificates:

“On January 19, 2017, a public posting to the newsgroup drew attention to a series of questionable website authentication certificates issued by Symantec Corporation’s PKI. Symantec’s PKI business, which operates a series of Certificate Authorities under various brand names, including Thawte, VeriSign, Equifax, GeoTrust, and RapidSSL, had issued numerous certificates that did not comply with the industry-developed CA/Browser Forum Baseline Requirements.

During the subsequent investigation, it was revealed that Symantec had entrusted several organizations with the ability to issue certificates without the appropriate or necessary oversight, and had been aware of security deficiencies at these organizations for some time.”

Apparently, Symantec certificates were being handed out by Symantec’s authorized partners like they were Halloween candy…

What do we do about Chrome 70’s Symantec Distrust?

The chances are slim that we have any clients that are using the affected Symantec HTTPS certificates. After all, this has been a known, impending change for some time and competent site operators have already updated their SSL certificates well in advance. But, there is no reason to leave it to chance and just assume that everything is OK on the sites we care about.
Checking for the depreciated Certificate Authorities (CA) is a pretty simple task that only requires a few clicks per website. Here at Portent, we put together a small team to run through our entire book of clients and took the following steps:

Check your SSL Certificate Authority

Launch Chrome
Go to the website you want to check
Click on the lock next to the URL in the browser bar

Check to see if the certificate is valid and click on ‘Certificate’

See who shows up in the ‘Issued by’

If you are already running Chrome 70, and you find an offending site, there’s a chance you’ll get to see the full-screen interstitial mentioned earlier. That’ll make the check process a lot faster.

Alas, and huzzah, none of our clients are using a legacy Symantec SSL certificate!

There are, however, a handful of sites that are on HTTP or are unsecured on HTTPS for varying reasons. For anyone who has yet to migrate to HTTPS or have had trouble doing so, our Development Architect Andy Schaff put together a comprehensive guide to make the switch to HTTPS.

Security is a Ranking Factor

So, why bother checking for a valid SSL certificate on our clients’ sites?

Well, first off, HTTPS is a ranking factor! Going all the way back to 2014, HTTPS has been a ranking factor. It started as a tie-breaker between otherwise equally ranking sites, now, it’s even part of the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (my emphasis added):

Low quality pages often lack an appropriate level of (Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness) E-A-T for the purpose of the page. [For example the] MC [Main Content] is not trustworthy, e.g. a shopping checkout page that has an insecure connection.

Secondly, if not us, then who? We can’t afford to leave anything to assumption and chance. By checking in on the little things that matter we can prove that we care about the well-being of each of our clients, it’s one less thing that they have to worry about. After all, that’s why we we’re here.

The post Chrome 70 Update: HTTPS Site Security and the Full Symantec Distrust appeared first on Portent.

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Featured Snippets: Tips and tricks on reaching the top

Featured Snippets: Tips and tricks on reaching the top

Most companies with a presence on Google will have an interest in appearing at the top of search results. Naturally then as SEOs, we are often asked how featured snippets can be acquired. If you’re currently working on winning some featured snippets, this blog post will give you some tips and processes to get you started.

In this post I am going to share some current featured snippets stats and trends, and go through my own method on how to win them. I’ll cover the different tools I found useful, how I determine what queries to prioritise, and how I decide what changes to make to the content.

If you didn’t already know, featured snippets are a summary of an answer to a search query that Google scrapes from a web page, typically one that organically ranks on the first page. When a page owns a featured snippet, it will sit at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and look like this:

Often following featured snippets are People Also Ask (PAA) boxes, which are also relevant to define for this blog post. PAAs are a set of related queries that display an answer in a format similar to a featured snippet when selected, as seen in the following image. They are also dynamic, so whenever you select one, a new one will load.

Featured snippets current stats and trends

Featured snippets are of course appealing to own, and they are also a Google feature that seems to be here to stay and evolving constantly. In his SearchLove San Diego talk, Rob Bucci from STAT gave a great overview of the current featured snippet landscape, based on findings from their continued study of 1 million high CPC keywords (you can see the full presentation by creating a free Distilled account). Here are some important takeaways:

31% of the 1 million keywords they are tracking have a featured snippet, representing a 230% increase over time since STAT began the study in January 2016
Of those featured snippets, 31% were awarded to the top ranking organic search result
60% are awarded to pages on the first page of organic search results, with subsequent positions receiving less than the previous. Only 1% were awarded to a page that ranked beyond the first page of the SERPs (see image below for distribution)
68% of the snippets studied by STAT have shown no volatility (meaning the query consistently had a featured snippet and the page winning it did not change), whereas 32% either disappeared, reappeared, or changed hands within the period tested
“Does” and “cost” queries primarily were answered with a paragraph format, “how” and “best” queries were most commonly answered with a list format, and rates and abbreviations were answered with a table format

These are important findings to keep in mind when you are researching featured snippet opportunities.

The below image from Rob Bucci’s slide deck shows the ranking distribution of pages that are winning featured snippets. This graph includes featured snippets and People Also Ask (PAA) boxes in the rankings. The second and third positions had the most featured snippets in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The graph has shifted over by one in 2017 due to the appearance of PAA boxes.

Gathering your data

The first thing I start with on almost any research task is getting all the data I need into one place. For featured snippets, this data is a list of relevant keywords that you rank at least 10th for (ideally higher than 4), and queries that have featured snippets on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In this list, I also make sure to keep a note of what snippets we currently own and which ones we don’t.

The main tools I use are STAT, ahrefs, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer. These are all tools you need subscriptions for, although Keyword Explorer does have a limited free version.

Using these tools, create a Google Sheet or Excel document where you can keep all your data in one place. When compiling a lot of data into a document that has lots of different sheets, it’s really important to label each tab with where you got the data and what the data shows, or else you run the risk of forgetting and needing to redo work.

In each sheet have the following columns:

The keyword
What position you rank
Your landing page that ranks
The current featured snippet owner
The search volume
Whether it is an owned or unowned snippet
Whether it was volatile or non-volatile (when you have this information)
And the type of snippet (paragraph, list or table)

An overview of the tools

In STAT, on the main view, there is a “SERP Features” tab, which displays data that looks something like the below.

In addition to these features, STAT’s PAA reports can also be useful for generating more keyword ideas.

For ahrefs, this blog post goes in-depth on how to use their platform for research on featured snippets. I find it most useful for tracking what featured snippets you do and don’t own and for working out who my competitors are.

For instructions on how to use Moz’s Keyword Explorer, read this blog post from 2016. The tool can be used for both tracking what keywords have featured snippets, and also for generating new query ideas.

Deciding which queries to focus on

Once you have a list of keywords that have featured snippets, and an idea of what ones you do and don’t already own, you need to whittle that list down to the most important queries. First filter down to keywords where you rank at position 4 or better, then prioritise those based on search volume.

What search volume limit to choose will likely vary by client / site, but typically you can bin anything with a search volume less than 20. From what is left over consider the relative search volume. For the most part, I only keep keywords with a search volume of 100 or more.

Your time is best spent on volatile snippets, so you should try to track who is winning the featured snippet for a query you may want to target across a period of time. If that changes during the time you are watching, or if the snippet disappears and reappears, that’s a good indication it presents an opportunity.

Another thing to make a note of are featured snippets you don’t own, but where you rank higher than the page winning the featured snippet. The logic being that in those instances your answers (or lack thereof) are more likely causing you to lose out, rather than your ranking position.

For example, in the below image both National Geographic and Thought Catalog rank higher than Smithsonian Magazine, the featured snippet owner.

Within your spreadsheet, create separate pivot tables for both your owned and unowned snippets, with the landing page as your rows and the number of keywords that landing page ranks for as your values.

These will tell you if you have pages that appear in the SERPs for a lot of different keywords. Improvements to those pages could have a bigger potential payoff, and therefore may be worth prioritising. On the flipside, it can also indicate landing pages that are already doing well and thus are better left untouched – especially if they own non-volatile snippets.

Hacks to win snippets

It’s all well and good to have all that data, but the main reason you are here is that you want to steal featured snippets. Because featured snippets that are static often remain static, your attention is best focused on those that are more volatile because it means Google hasn’t made up its mind yet on who to feature.

When doing this work, you will begin to find yourself doing what feels like competitor research, as current featured snippet owners are your best resource for discovering what Google likes.

Once you know what keywords you want to focus on, begin to dig into who currently owns the featured snippets, and often you will find that many of these were winning multiple of the keywords you are targeting.

When you have an idea of the pages you are competing with, compare these pages with your own to try and see if you can find any obvious differences. If you’re ranking well and you don’t have content on your page that answers the specific query, adding in content to answer that query and modelling it off of your competitors is a good place to start.

If you’re in a situation where you already have that content on your page, but you still aren’t winning the featured snippet, then differences to look out for between you and your competitors are the format of the answers, the headings, and the general informativeness of your answers.

As I noted above, if you find yourself with a lot of “how to” or “best” queries that you’re focusing on, changing your formatting into lists if they’re not already can be an easy win, as shown in this 2016 blog post from Builtvisible.

You may find that the format you are using and your competitors are using are the same. In these instances, try stealing things like the headings that your competitors are using to lead the featured snippet content with, or other small differences in wording.

The last thing to try and consider is whether the content in the featured snippet owned by a competitor gives a more informative answer than yours. Does it better answer the query? Are our answers more commercial than informative? That sort of thing. Remember that Google above all else wants to provide the most informative answer for its users, so the more closely your featured snippet content aligns with Google’s agenda, the better.

If you are working with a large website that has a lot of unique landing pages ranking making it too gruelling to look at these on a case by case basis, I’d recommend prioritising twenty to examine. If within that sample you find there are a lot of instances of commercial or salsey content, more likely than not this will be the case across the site.

Wrapping up

Winning featured snippets can be finicky and involves a fair bit of trial and error. I have found though that with featured snippets little changes really make a big difference. The changes that work for me are more often changing headings or changing formatting rather than changing the content.

As with most of SEO, there’s no one size fits all approach on how to win a featured snippet, but hopefully this blog post helped to steer you in the right direction. Alternatively, if you have other methods you’ve successfully used, I’d love to hear them – feel free to comment below.

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Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

We invited Michael Akkerman, Global Head of Partners Program at Pinterest, to our NY office yesterday evening to speak on visual search.

He talked about discovery over search, audience engagement over audience size, less time more well-spent over more total time spent, and social communities over social networks. It was an insightful, instructive, and *obviously* visual-heavy session.

Here were some of the key takeaways / highlights.

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine — discovery over search

When people come to our platform, they’re trying to discover new pieces of information.

Our Pinners are not looking to connect with friends or post at parties. They’re doing home renovations. They’re in the market for something. They want to go and actually discover something.

Google is great for when I know what I want, but it’s really crappy when I don’t know how to articulate it. How do I describe a style I’ve only seen, a city I don’t know, a specific color?

Like this:

Or this:

I know them when I see them.

Pinterest is visual-first. We wanted it to be able to take images instead of words.

Pinterest = possibilities

What do I want to eat? What do I want to wear? How should I decorate my house? What’s my style? We help people understand their taste.

Total numbers of pins: 23 billion food and drink. 18 billion home and garden. 8 billion beauty. 23 billion style. 4 billion travel.

Are you in one of these categories? Your customers are on Pinterest.

“Even if you think your brand’s content isn’t on Pinterest, your customers are probably already bringing it there. Seems like those are people you might want to go and chat with.”

What keeps people from buying? They’re still trying to figure out what they want — they’re still discovering.

For us, the camera is the new keyboard.

Let the image be the SERP.

Shop the look. Discover products inside an image.

Personalization not as a feature, but rather the underpinning of the platform

On Pinterest, we understand that every single person has different interests. We don’t want personalization as just a feature. We want it as the underpinnings of the entire platform.

The way we’re doing it is we’re bringing what’s called the taste graph. The hipster guy from Williamsburg? His garden board doesn’t look like everyone else’s. My travel board? I want to go to Morocco. Not everyone does.

When you interact on Pinterest, it feels like it knows you.

What storytelling was on search versus what storytelling is on Pinterest. Driving people closer to an engaging experience.

Audience engagement over audience size

Content at scale:

250 million monthly active users
170 billion pins — 5x the library of congress every single day
3 billion boards

We have the largest human focus group in the world, curating content into boards.

“We’re 250 million people, not 2 billion. It’s really looking at the intent. You’ll find platforms with much larger audiences, but they’re not there to engage. We’re a smaller audience size, but people are there with intent.”

More time well-spent over total time spent

The visual revolution. 50% of the brain is dedicated to understanding visual information.

People retain 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.

At Pinterest, that “do” part is very interesting. We’re about time well-spent. We want you off the platform as soon as possible — we want you to solve your problem as quickly as possible.

“When people use Pinterest, they feel positive. It’s about what you can build and achieve. Go make that recipe. Go build that birdhouse. Go nuts. Get off our platform as quickly as possible.”

Purposeful communities over social networks

We’re not a social network — but communities are naturally springing up all the time around given topics, images, ideas, and brands.

Most people call Pinterest “my time.” Not about my social network.

Ads within the context of purpose-based community versus in a social network

1. Annoyance: “People use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context.”

2. Value: “With Google, you know the intent but not the person. With Facebook, you know everything about the person but less about the intent. I was drawn to Pinterest because it combines both.”

Ads often don’t add value, and they feel disruptive, disjointed.

Why not make them additive? If you’re searching for a certain type of shoes, we’ll show you ads for those shoes.

“If the content is valuable, I don’t mind that it comes from a brand. It solves my problem.”

How people shop: convenience and need over loyalty, bundles over individual items

Example of REI: They saw that normal human beings shop in bundles. If they’re going camping, they don’t need ten jackets and ten tents. They need a bundle of assorted things. Thus, they started highlighting and bundling trending Pinterest products on their own site.

Loyalty is elusive in today’s market

Most purchases are driven by shopping, not by loyalty to a brand. People who switch from brand A to brand B do so because brand B was present the second they were looking for a product.

Marketers like Pinterest because you can reach customers so early on in their buying journey

Pinners start the Black Friday hunt in August.

Most people start pinning, searching, saving 12 weeks before an event. That’s great for a marketer. You can drive interest incrementally over time.

When someone is designing their perfect home, looking for the perfect bag, planning their next vacation — you should be there. They’re discovering your product.

Agnostic cross-channel insight

Last-touch vs multi-touch attribution, in pictures:

“Last-touch attribution is like a shopkeeper looking out the door and seeing a bunch of customers lined up outside and saying “oh, if I had two more front doors, I’d have three times as many customers.” It doesn’t work that way.”

You need to do multi-touch attribution. You’re trying to engage customers, build brand, drive sales. But that looks different in every channel.

Kenshoo found that Facebook was undervalued by as much as 30%. We see the exact same thing on Pinterest right now.

The full livestream is available on our @Sewatch twitter here as well as online here.

The post Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

You know how important online presence is to any business and how valuable it is to deliver performance. But how well do you understand your users’ path and what makes them engaged? How often has it happened to you to find out specific things about your traffic and make correlations but didn’t know the steps for filtering your data?


Understanding your Google Analytics results can be hard and tricky, but Google Analytics Insights is the everyday solution. It’s like training for the race and come home with the medals.



The great side of GA insights is the personalized list of marketing tips and tricks you get based on the activity of your business. It uses a machine learning algorithm, named Analytics Intelligence, which makes it easier for the business owner to discover what’s important in the pile of data and then take meaningful action. And the best thing of all is that you can ask questions and get directions.


Understand Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value
Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now
Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged
Find Any Anomalies for Your Website
Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services


Google Analytics Insights offers great guidelines for your website. For starters, you can select some questions from a standard list to get some directions. Straight form the Insights go to list of questions regarding users, traffic trends, content analysis, users behavior, product performance and technical performance.



Creating great campaigns and improving your digital marketing results is mandatory for success, that’s why you should keep an eye on Google reports for insights.


1. Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value


For e-commerce websites, Average Order Value (AOV) is one of the most important metrics that should be tracked. It a metric that measures the total average of all the transactions made by a customer each time they place an order on the website, within a specific period of time.


AOV is determined by measuring sales per order, not sales per customer. Although one customer may come back multiple times to make a purchase, each order would be counted separately in the AOV.


Keeping track of Average Order Value would help business owners to be aware of key business decisions such as advertising spend, store layout, and product pricing.




To find out the year over year growth of AOV you need to go to insights. You can access it from all the google analytics dashboards; it doesn’t matter where you are.



Then, you can search for “year over year growth of Average Order Value” or go to Conversions » Ecommerce » Overview. There you can see something similar to the next graphic.



You can see if your AOV has increased or suffered a drop. In the first case, a higher AOV will increase your ecommerce store’s profitability. In the last case, it means that this year’s orders (according to the graphic, it is 2018) are fewer than the ones from the previous year (2017).


You can increase the AOV by a few improvements/tricks in your selling process, such as:

Offer free shipping. There are lots of websites that offer free shipping with regard to the period of shipment.
Offer limited free shipping for a specific order value. For example, chose a free shipping value of $25 or $30 depending on what type of products you sell. If you’re selling luxury products, unfortunately that doesn’t apply.
Offer additional products right in the card after the customer placed a product. If you give recommendations based on what the customer ordered, you might encourage additional spending
Give coupons to loyal customers to inspire them to make purchases.
Start a loyalty program. You can create fidelity cards with points and for each purchase, the customer can collect points.


The beautiful side of this Overview panel form Analytics is the Marketing section, where you can see what campaigns are performing in terms of transactions, revenue, and AOV. You can see here what online marketing strategy (promotion, coupon codes, affiliation) works best:


2. Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now


If you want to know who is interested in buying right now from the whole list of leads, then In-Market Segments is the choice you should make. In-Market Segments reflect the users who are interested in a product and close to converting. They can help you decide what to promote or how to remarket.


Simply click on Insights and search for “Know what users are interested in purchasing right now” and you’ll see a similar report for your website:



In the screenshot above, you can see the In-Market Segments for Aug 1, 2018-Aug 31, 2018. And if you look at the number, you can see that they have grown significantly over the past month. By clicking on Go to Reports from your Google Analytics Account, you will be redirected to Audience » Interests » In-Market Segments.


Here you can create segments and keep track of what you’re interested in. This way you have an easy management and a clear sight of who is more active and who needs a little help. You can see Google Analytics data regarding behavior, e-commerce conversions or goals completition.



Based on the results above you can use remarketing, and focus your lower-funnel marketing (e.g., promotions, discounts, product bundles) on these users. For example, create audiences with conditions like “In-Market Segment exactly matches Financial Services/Investment Services”. You can then use these audiences in AdWords, DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DoubleClick Search remarketing campaigns.


If you want to create audiences, you have to go to your Admin panel » Property » » Audience Definitions » Audiences.



After you select Audiences, you can set up the steps for Remarketing and create your first audience.


3. Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged


Loyal customers are hard to achieve and once you gained their hearts you must keep their engagement rate high. If you want to see the percentage of loyal users, you can search for “How loyal were your users from September?” in the GA insights section.


On the site we analyzed we could see that the loyality rate was 5.87% in September compared to August.



To follow up on these numbers, you can see the exact number or users if you go to Audience » Behaviour » New vs. Returning and select the last 28 days or check the monthly trend of users over the last 12 months.


You can always compare these results with the previous year and for that you have to look at the year over year growth of users. For the analyzed site, we have an increase of 4.11%.



In case there was a decrease there are some things to consider, such as adding new site features, product strategies, or marketing activities.

4. Find Any Anomalies for Your Website


If you think something strange happened to your users or your website, you can search to see if there were any anomalies in users, sessions, impressions, transactions and more. Google uses a specific model –  Bayesian state space-time series model – to forecast values that stand out beyond the normal trend in the time series data:


Analytics Intelligence Anomaly Detection is a statistical technique to identify “outliers” in time-series data for a given dimension value or metric.




Go to Google Analytics Insights and search for “Any anomalies in the number of users last week?” and your question will be answered. For the website we analyzed we can see there is nothing abnormal regarding users.



There are two types of anomalies presented in Google Analytics:

for sites that experience a spike;
for sites that had a drop in sales or some metrics perform poorly.


In case you find anomalies in your account that signal some negative performance, then you should look at the results and the period of time. As you can see in the screenshot below, Google detected 1 anomaly in the time series analyzed marked with a red dot. It identified it as an anomaly because it wasn’t accurate regarding historical data.




You probably know about Google Analytics alerts. You could find them at Customization » Custom Alerts » Manage Custom Alerts » New Alert. And you could add alerts to keep an eye on the problems that appear. For example, you can have an alert in case your transactions dropped to a specific value.



5. Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate


Finding pages that don’t bring any commercial benefits can be hard to spot and Analytics insights has the information on that. For the site we used on this analysis we received some recommendation of what needs to be improved and one of them was the poor landing pages in terms of ecommerce conversion rate.


We saw that some of your top landing pages performed >25% worse on ecommerce conversion rate this month.



Over the time period analyzed, the overall ecommerce conversion rate of the site was 0.57%, according to the Google Analytics results. Tracking this type of data helps you see the conversion rate and the directions for improving it. For keeping the numbers high you have to keep the content relevant for the type of traffic you have for those pages. You need to answer the following questions:


If there have been changes in the traffic sources to these pages, have you made sure the content is relevant to that traffic?
If you changed the content on these pages, did you notice a change in user behavior?


To see the type of traffic you have for your pages, go to Behaviour » Site Content » Landing Pages. Here chose the secondary dimension: Traffic Type.


6. Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services


Once you understand the popularity of certain products and discover what’s accounting for your highest ROI, your business will grow.


Tracking the revenue trend for your products can be really helpful in understanding what’s working and what products didn’t bring so much revenue. If you search for “Trend of Product Revenue by Product” you’ll see a chart similar to the one below:



As you can see in the picture above there is a spike in revenue. This chart is very efficient in discovering which products are most effective. So in our case, we should look at the product that had a drastic increase and go further in discovering what we did that day or during the previous days.


I performed the search once more to see if this spike appeared again in the last 3 months by going to Conversions » Ecommerce » Product Performance. And it seems it happened again in October so it wasn’t just a one-time thing, but still the spike is pretty high comparing to the normal growth of the website.





Google Analytics Insights is the online guide that helps you see the missing opportunities, the lacking performance, the anomalies and get recommendations and straight answers to your questions with direct reference to the reports and graphs. Following the above actionable insights we talked about, and looking through the customized reports will give you the chance to improve your Google analytics data, increase sales and perform conversion rate optimization


It is very easy to use. You can ask questions or look for specific metrics and dimensions and Google Intelligence will give you directions to the analytics reports. You’ll get recommendations and see what you should do to improve the metrics and the parts of your website that aren’t performing so well in the sales funnel.



The post Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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Avoid these site structure mistakes!

If you take your SEO – and users – seriously, you’ll be working on a kick-ass site structure. But, setting up a decent site structure can be difficult. Maintaining a solid site structure when your site is growing, is even harder. It’s easy to overlook something or make a mistake. In this post, I will share 5 common site structure mistakes people often make. Make sure to avoid all of these!

Don’t know where to start improving your site’s structure? Our brand new site structure training will help you! You can currently get the course for $129!

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#1 Hiding your cornerstones

Your most important articles – your cornerstones – shouldn’t be hidden away. Cornerstone articles are the articles that you’re most proud of; that most clearly reflect the mission of your website. But some people forget to link to their most precious articles. That’s not good: if an article receives no or few internal links, search engines will find it less easily (as search engines follow links). Google will regard articles with few internal links as less important, and rank them accordingly.

Solution: link to your cornerstones

Ideally, you should be able to navigate to your cornerstone articles in one or two clicks from the homepage. Make sure they’re visible for your visitors, so people can easily find them.

Most importantly, link to those cornerstone articles. Don’t forget to mention them in your other blog posts! Our internal linking tool can help you to remember your cornerstones at all times.

#2 No breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are important for both the user experience and the SEO of your website. And yet, some people do not use them. Breadcrumbs show how the current page fits into the structure of your site, which allows your users to easily navigate your site. Breadcrumbs also allow search engines to determine the structure of your site without difficulty.

Solution: add those breadcrumbs

No excuses here! Just add those breadcrumbs. Yoast SEO can help you do that!

#3 HUGE categories

Categories should be relatively similar in size. But, without noticing, people can sometimes write about one subject way more often than about another. As a result, one category can slowly grow much larger than other categories. When one category is significantly larger than other ones, your site becomes unbalanced. You’ll have a hard time ranking with blog posts within a very large category.

Solution: split categories

If you’ve created a huge category, split it in two (or three). To keep categories from growing too large, check the size of your categories every now and then, especially if you write a lot of blog posts.

#4 Using too many tags

Don’t create too many tags. Some people want to make tags very specific. But if every post receives yet another new unique tag, you’re not adding structure, because posts don’t become grouped or linked. So, that’s pretty much useless.

Solution: use tags in moderation

Make sure that tags are used more than once or twice, and that tags group articles together that really belong together. You should also ensure that visitors can find the tags somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article. Tags are useful for your visitors (and not just for Google) to read more about the same topic.

Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

#5 Not visualizing your site structure

A final site structure mistake people make is forgetting to visualize their site’s structure. Visitors want to be able to find stuff on your website with ease. The main categories of your blog should all have a place in the menu on your homepage. But don’t create too many categories, or your menu will get cluttered. A menu should give a clear overview and reflect the structure of your site. Ideally, the menu helps visitors understand how your website is structured.

Solution: dive into UX

To create a good and clear overview of your site, you should dive into those aspects of User eXperience (UX) that could use improving on your site. Think about what your visitors are looking for and how you could help them to navigate through your website. You could, for instance, start with reading our blog posts about User eXperience (UX).

Fix your site structure mistakes!

Site structure is an essential aspect of an SEO strategy. The structure of your website shows Google what articles and pages are most important. With your site’s structure, you can influence which articles will rank highest in the search engines. So, it’s important to do it right. Especially if you’re adding a lot of content, the structure of your site could be changing quickly. Try to stay on top! And if your site’s structure is starting to look good, you can check for other common SEO mistakes as well.

Did we forget a site structure mistake that you encounter often? Please share it with us in the comments!

Keep reading: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

The post Avoid these site structure mistakes! appeared first on Yoast.


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