How To Rank YouTube Videos (On The First Page Of Google, Fast!)

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Here’s a new training video for you. It’s call How To Rank YouTube Videos On The First Page Of Google In Less Than 24 Hours… For Free… Using A Secret Backdoor That Google Left WIDE Open For You!” Here’s a hint: It’s all about taking what I taught you in the last video about YouTube […]

On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now

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On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now

Here’s something you should have known by now –

There are a number of aspects of a given web page that influence search engine rankings. And by optimizing these aspects (namely, on-page SEO), you will get higher rankings on search engines.

Some of these factors which comprise on-page optimization include:

  • writing great content which fills a need, and making it linkable
  • having a catchy page title with your top keyword in it
  • creating a URL which accurately reflects the hierarchy of your website
  • using your image alt text to help search engines understand your content better

These are considered the fundamental factors of on-page SEO optimization, but they are by no means the only things you can do to improve your website’s rankings with search engines.

In this post, I will talk about three on-page optimizations, proven by case studies and SEO experiments, which will create an immediate impact on how well your site gets ranked on search engines – in particularly, Google.

1. Better click-through-rate, better search rankings

SEO is never a pure-science subject in my opinion. However, it has been possible to guesstimate what Google wants, by considering patents it has submitted in recent years, and by experimenting with various factors for their effect on rankings.

One of the known on-page factors, proven by Rand Fishkin’s study, is your page click-through-rate on Google search results (I call it Search CTR). Search CTR is a percentage that identifies how often people view your page on search engine, and then actually click on it to see more.

According to Rand’s experiment, when Google sees that the CTR for a given page is higher than normal, it assigns it a higher ranking.

From this, it stands to reason that one great way to boost your site rankings would be to improve your CTR on the search results page. Some ways you can go about that include the following approaches:

Optimize your page title for more clicks

There are some very specific things you can do to optimize your title, for example, including the current month or year in your title.

4 out of 5 top search results for “Best Laptop Brands” contain the year in the page title

You can also experiment with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising to see which version of your title works best and appeals most to your target audience. For instance, titles using the phrase “step-by-step” or “how-to” usually have greater appeal than the mere mention of how to do something in my experience.

One of our top performers this year. This Facebook post (both paid and organic) got 6x better engagement rate compare to our average.

Shorter, more concise titles also lead to better CTR and higher rankings, according to a study conducted by Etsy, and those which performed the best were titles that included only the target search keyword phrase.

Include schema markup on your site

Schema markup gives meaning to your data. It helps search engines to understand your data better and display your data differently on their search results. Hence, more users’ attention and (hopefully) clicks.

Put ‘breadcrumbs’ in your blog

Breadcrumbs help users navigate back to the main topic, and to locate themselves in whatever blog they’re reading, and have been explicitly stressed by Google as important to the overall user experience.

Example of Google showing a site’s breadcrumb navigation in its search result.

2. Broken links and 404-errors

Broken links and 404 errors signal Google two things –

  1. Your site is poorly maintained.
  2. Google users are more likely to bump into broken pages.

In result, Google assumes your website is simply not being maintained to a high standard, and users would be better served by another site which has high quality content.

In an actual case history of a site clean-up published in Blizzard Press, a comprehensive site improvement was undertaken. The clean-up initiative repaired more than 1,000 broken images, setup more than 100 301-redirects, corrected dozens of broken internal links, and tracked more than 280 keyword phrases for effectiveness.

As a result of the corrections made, the client’s website climbed more than 1,700 places in the search rankings.

On average, each of the 286 keyword phrases being tracked advanced six full places.

Not only was this an astonishing climb for the website, but it all happened within the space of one week!

This should serve as proof positive that timely correction of navigation issues can have an immediate and profound effect on the ranking of your website.

Taking Actions

404 errors and broken links are easily fixed, so such problems should be avoided.

In the case of a wrong URL, simply correct the address. If the target page no longer exists, a 301-redirect can be used to point to a page with similar content. To determine whether or not your site has such errors embedded in its pages, a site-crawling tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider or SEM Rush can be used.

3. Get mobile-optimized

In April of 2015, Google rolled out an update which boosted the rankings of mobile-friendly websites. This gave preference to sites having high-quality content for mobile devices, without the need to zoom, scroll, or otherwise re-position their screens for readability. This was of course in deference to the fact that the usage of mobile devices and smartphones were being used so much for web browsing.

Within 18 months, Google was prepared to roll out another update, this one making their primary indexing and evaluation centered on the mobile website’s characteristics rather than the desktop version of the same website. While not ignoring the desktop website, focus was then centered squarely on the kind of user experience provided to owners of mobile devices instead.

It is not at all surprising therefore, that a number of case studies have confirmed the fact that optimized mobile site presentation now has a direct correlation to being ranked higher in search engine results. When my site’s (WHSR) new mobile-friendly site design went live on December last year, search traffic surged for more than 20% (in particular, our host review index page – which took us more than three weeks to create such a big mobile-friendly table).

 

Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #1

One study conducted by Stone Temple was particularly telling, because it captured rankings information for thousands of websites before and after Google’s update. As might be expected, 46% of sites considered non-mobile friendly slipped down in the rankings, and more than 30% of those which were considered mobile-friendly rose in the rankings. The rise for mobile-friendly sites would have been much more dramatic, except for the fact that many of the sites tracked were already ranked #1 in their specific area of interest.

Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #2

In a second case study involving retail company Offspring, a major re-design of their website was undertaken to provide users with a responsive website.

Previously the company had no mobile-friendly presentation, and it had become painfully obvious that Offspring was missing out on a huge sector of the consuming public.

After wading through all the expected trials and tribulations of such a massive project, the results were even more impressive than company officials had hoped for.

Within three months of the new mobile-friendly site launch, first-page visibility had increased almost 78%. In addition, the Google site usability score jumped from 60 to 100, the company had a 103% increase in mobile revenue, and there was a 15% increase in their mobile conversion rate.

Take Actions

It’s no exaggeration to say that getting mobile-optimized is not really an option anymore, it’s a requirement. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile traffic, you’re missing out on the largest segment of Internet traffic. To find out just how mobile-friendly your website is, use this handy tool: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/.

Sample of Google Mobile Friendly Test.

All you have to do is plug in your site URL, and Google will evaluate everything about your site. Then you’ll be provided with a percentage figure on its mobile friendliness, its mobile speed, and its desktop speed. You will also have the option to request a free report which details how those figures were arrived at, and some recommendations on what you can do to improve your scores.

The post On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

April 26th 2017 Search Engine Optimization

How to Optimize Your Online Product Catalog for Search

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by Jayson DeMers

Consumers have increasingly turned to online stores to do their shopping, but with so much competition in play, it’s hard for ecommerce business owners to remain competitive. Your online catalog exists to showcase your products to an interested audience, but if that audience never gets their eyes on your offers, it won’t matter how good your deals or products are.

One solution is to optimize your online product catalog for search engines, which will help you rank higher, achieve more brand visibility, and get more traffic to your pages. So how can you do this without spending a fortune?

Strategies for Catalog Optimization

These strategies will help you build a bigger online audience:

1. Use printed and online catalogs together.

If you’re used to operating exclusively online, using a printed catalog may seem foreign to you, but catalog printing is relatively inexpensive through sites like Printing Center USA. It’s a good way to quickly advertise the existence of your online catalog to an audience who may otherwise miss it (demographics who rely on printed advertisements and news), and start directing traffic to your site. This, in turn, creates a synergy between your digital and physical campaigns and jumpstarts your SEO efforts with new traffic, shares, and social media buzz.

2. Use specific product names in your page titles.

Your page titles and descriptions will be the main sources of information that search crawlers use to judge the relevance of your page. Including the specific name of your product will ensure that your page is considered when consumers search for that name; for example, you’ll want to include the brand, the model, the model number, and the variation (if applicable). You’ll also want to briefly describe the product in the meta description.

3. Include at least two paragraphs of descriptive text for each product.

You’ll also want to include lots of descriptive text–at least two paragraphs’ worth–for each of your product pages. According to Spotify’s guide, this not only gives more content for search crawlers to consider and index, it also helps consumers by giving them more information to make a final decision.

4. Optimize your images and videos.

Including images and videos on your product pages is a good way to secure more customer engagement, and you’ll likely earn more backlinks, which are vital if you want to build your authority over time. You can optimize images and video by giving them a descriptive name, including alt text (for images), and including a meta description that describes what’s happening (in the video). You may also consider hosting your videos on YouTube and embedding them on your pages, giving you another outlet of optimization; Backlinko has an excellent guide on YouTube optimization if you’re interested in more information.

5. Include reviews and testimonials.

Reviews and testimonials will make your site seem more authoritative, and as an added bonus, they’ll help push consumers to make a decision. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so the more reviews you’re able to collect, the better.

6. Answer common consumer questions on-site.

You should also include a brief Q&A section on each of your product pages. Here, you’ll list at least a handful of common consumer questions with common phrasing, alongside detailed answers that address those concerns. Again, the information may help consumers make a decision, but they’ll also optimize your pages for long-tail keyword searches, making you more likely to rank when customers submit those queries.

7. Employ Schema.org microformatting.

Microformatting, sometimes called “structured markup,” is a way to format your backend code in a way that allows Google to better understand and categorize it. For example, you can point out what portion of your page is a collection of reviews, and feed information like star ratings and review text to search engine crawlers. This makes it more likely that these features will show up as “rich answers” or “rich snippets,” the sampled bits of onsite content that sometimes appear above regular search results in SERPs. Schema.org is still the best name in microformatting, and they have an excellent guide on how to get started.

Investing in SEO

SEO is a complex strategy, and if you want to get serious with it, you’ll need to hire an expert or start educating yourself in more advanced technical areas. As you can see, however, you don’t need to be an expert to get started. These strategies should be able to help you refine the audience you’re targeting, differentiate yourself from your competitors, and start building the authority you need to outrank them. Remember, this is a long-term strategy, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t see results right away.

Stick with it, and eventually you’ll see your traffic rise.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

April 12th 2017 Search Engine Optimization, SEO

The Complete Guide to HTTP Codes and Redirects

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HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP codes and redirects, are vital to your SEO efforts. Status code 400 and 500 errors can derail your web traffic, and cause Google Panda penalties.

HTTP codes and redirects can be caused by DNS errors, server errors, and robots failure.

“Sitemaps that contain bad URLs are called “dirty sitemaps”, and they can lead to the engines losing trust in those sitemaps,” according to Search Engine Watch. “For example, providing URLs that 404, 302, 500, etc.”

Understanding HTTP codes and redirects will allow you to avoid status code errors, dirty sitemaps, and Google penalties, allowing you to optimize your search engine results and ranking.

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects | ProBlogger.com

Let’s take a closer look at how this complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects can move your SEO marketing strategy forward in a powerful way.

What are HTTP codes and redirects, and why are they so important for marketers?

HTTP codes are essentially notes from a web server that is added to a webpage. They are not part of the webpage itself, however, HTTP codes and redirects are vital messages from the server, according to Lifewire.

The server uses HTTP codes and redirects to let you know how your request to access a specific webpage went. These little server messages are like sticky notes. Once your browser gets them from the server, they are returned.

It may not sound all that interesting, but make no mistake, HTTP codes and redirects can make a big impact when troubleshooting website configuration errors. They are also helpful for marketers to boost SEO efforts as well.

HTTP Codes and Redirects Happen Every Time You Click

You may not notice HTTP codes and redirects, but they are always there. Every time you click or whip something up in a URL, your browser is requesting access from a web server.

Once the server receives your request to view a webpage, it processes the request, and then allows you access with the HTTP header for that webpage. All this happens behind the scenes, unless there is a problem.

HTTP codes and redirects go relatively unnoticed. That is, unless the web server finds an issue with your request as it processes it to send back. If a problem arises, you will see an HTTP code instead of gaining access to the webpage.

The Google 404 code is the most common of all HTTP codes and redirects. You probably have seen this at least once or twice during your browsing history. And marketers need to know how to locate these errors.

Google support explains, “The Crawl Errors report for websites provides details about the site URLs that Google could not successfully crawl or that returned an HTTP error code.”

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects | ProBlogger.com

Classes of HTTP Codes and Redirects Marketers Need to Know

There are more than 40 unique server codes. However, you will most likely only see a handful. HTTP codes 404 and 301 are two you may be familiar with already.

Getting an idea of what each HTTP code and redirect is pointing to can help your SEO efforts, and keep your website Panda penalty free. These five classes of HTTP codes and redirects are certainly worth exploring.

  • 100 status codes. Any HTTP codes and redirects in the 100s is a message from the server that your browser request is still processing and ongoing.
  • 200 status codes. These codes are the ones that point toward success. They let you know that your request was received and processed by the server without issue.
  • 300 status codes. These redirect codes are sent by the server to indicate that a new resource was submitted, replacing the webpage initially requested.
  • 400 status codes. Status codes in the 400s are important to recognize, since these are problematic. They let you know there is an issue with your request to access a webpage.
  • 500 status codes. These status codes are also essential to understand. They appear when your request to view a webpage was successful, but there is an issue in the server.

Each class of status codes has several, more specific codes within them, highlighted by Mozilla Developer Network. Each specific code has a very important meaning. Knowing where to find HTTP codes and redirects is a valuable asset if you are running a website with SEO in mind.

Where to Find Specific HTTP Codes and Redirects

Finding specific HTTP codes and redirects that don’t appear due to an error with the webpage or server is not as challenging as you may think. You can utilize browser extensions like Firefox or Chrome, or employ a header-fetching tool and other online HTTP checkers.

Understanding specific HTTP codes and redirects is essential to marketers. You can see how the webpages you are overseeing check out periodically. Here are a few important for marketers to embrace.

  • 200 is the server’s way of giving you a thumbs up. It means everything is operational and your request is successful.
  • 301 means that the resource you requested has been reassigned. It has essentially been moved to a new URL. 301 redirects are common, and it is used when a URL needs to be redirected to another URL. 301 redirects still give your links SEO juice and they are certainly important.
  • 302 is telling you that the server found your request, but is currently dealing with a page from a different location. Even though the site has been moved, requests are still using the prior location. You may lose a bit of your link juice when using a 302 redirect, compared to a 301 redirect.
  • 404 simply means that the page you requested is not found. The URL you requested didn’t come up with any matches, and the condition is unknown.
  • 410 tells you that the requested resource is gone. It is like moving and leaving no forwarding address. This is not good for SEO.
  • 500 is a code used for server problems. If you see 500, you can bet there is an internal issue with the server, and it is unable to process your request.
  • 503 means your server is not in good shape. Either it is overloaded at that moment, it is undergoing maintenance, or not operational at all. The 503 HTTP code can be useful, letting search engines know the page is down for server maintenance and not gone forever.

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects | ProBlogger.com

When Marketers Should Use 301 HTTP Code Redirects

Using 301 HTTP code redirects can be useful for marketers. A 301 redirect is simply an HTTP code that is used when a page or URL has been permanently moved to a new one.

There are also useful redirect HTTP codes like 302 and the Rel canonical tag, which is like a 301 redirect. And each of these unique redirects can serve a specific purpose in your SEO efforts.

For example, a 301 redirect will move your inbound links and page records for one URL to another. In theory, it will transfer the prior URL’s past benefits with it.

A 302 HTTP code redirect can be used to temporarily redirect your site visitors while you are doing maintenance or running tests. It will not redirect bots, however, you will be able to keep your traffic value and rankings with a 302 redirect.

The Rel canonical tag is another useful redirect for marketers. It is like a reverse 302 redirect, when bots will be redirected, but visitors will not. However, you will be allowed to have duplicate content users without Google Panda penalties.

HTTP Code and Redirect Tips for Marketers and SEOs

Marketers and SEOs should have a plan in place for dealing with HTTP code errors, and when using redirects. Using 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects may help maintain your link juice.

When you come across an HTTP code 404 errors, you should manually review those pages to get a clearer picture of why the request was not successful. HTTP code 404 errors with valuable links that are up for long periods should be 301 redirected as well.

Customizing 404 pages with navigational options is best practice. This will allow your visitors to reroute their request. Utilizing a Rel canonical tag instead of a 404 page can also save your from a Panda penalty.

Remember that 500 and 503 HTTP code errors are server related. If you come across these error messages, it is a good idea to inspect your server or connect with your web host.

HTTP codes and redirects are not always the bearers of bad news for marketers. Redirects are often quite useful when it comes to keeping your pagerank, mozrank, and traffic value.

Understanding the most common HTTP codes and redirects will help you troubleshoot and keep the Google Panda off your back too. Marketers who succeed simply never stop learning, and this guide aims at facilitating that SEO success.

Marcela De Vivo, CEO of Gryffin Media,  is a search veteran who has been in the industry since 1999. Marcela draws on an deep expertise in both organic and paid search to help companies large and small increase their revenue from digital marketing. Her emphasis has been in creating integrated marketing strategies that include paid, organic, social, and PR to build authoritative domains that have strong visibility across a variety of channels.

The post The Complete Guide to HTTP Codes and Redirects appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

April 11th 2017 Search Engine Optimization

Has Google’s ‘Fred’ Update Left Your Rankings Dead?

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Has Google’s ‘Fred’ Update Left Your Rankings Dead? | ProBlogger.comRecently, Google’s ‘Fred’ ranking update hit the search pages. While Google hasn’t confirmed the update, it’s certainly live. Webmasters across the board have been impacted by Fred, but not every page is created similarly.

Low-value content and poorly configured sites are taking a heavy blow. Meanwhile, SEO-jammed pages prioritising revenue over quality material are running for the hills. Fred targets websites seeking a high rank among the hundreds of affiliate-link-sprinkled, meta-tag-riddled, and SEO-exploiting pages abroad. Many of the sites impacted by Fred aren’t industry expert sites. That said, some websites might be impacted by Fred. Here’s what we know:

What is Fred, Anyway?

The Fred Update, while still obscure, has been described as likely a spam algorithm established around links.

I disagree though. Every site I have looked at that suffered a rankings drop on March 8/9 had other quality issues. Fred, itself, is a name coined by Google’s Gary Illyes. For a while, Google has targeted “black hat” SEO practices without scrutiny, banishing page-pushers who exploit Google’s intuitive keyword relevancy system. These days, Google rarely confirms algorithm updates. Fred can still be identified for what I believe it is, a heavier weighting on known quality issues.

Fred’s Impact on Websites

Google’s yet-to-be-confirmed Fred Update, allegedly, has reduced traffic directed towards low-quality sites by as much as 50 to 90 percent. This is a massive organic rating decrease, and it likely reflects websites that have ignored basic quality issues like internal duplication, content quality and/or visibility.

While the Fred Update was likely spawned from good intentions, it has hit quality websites with penalties, too. Sites with quality content that was duplicated are also experiencing ranking declines. Some webmasters, indeed, have reported great recoveries after removing either all or specific advertisements. This is most likely a Panda-related issue and making the content more visible has returned rankings.

We’ve worked with other webmasters where simply removing duplication of content, titles and headings has seen rankings return. There’s a chance Fred is still too new to target low-quality websites with precision. Either way, Google’s newest algorithm update may be a difficult pill for some to swallow.

Will You Be Affected?

None of our clients suffered a ranking drop with this latest update. We had one phrase drop significantly on our own site. It was an outlier phrase with not much importance for us. On closer inspection, it had a near duplicate title with another post.

The Google Fred Update—that was first sighted on March 8th—is still hard at work and will likely only increase in efficiency as time goes on. If you have a content-driven website, via either blogs or cross-channel content marketing, you may be hit by Fred’s broad sweep if you are not paying attention to the structural quality of your site and its content.

Fear not, however, because you might have been targeted due to your display advertisements that are taking up too much screen real estate. If your content was created to establish links, pull traffic and prioritise SEO over quality, you may have a problem.

If You are Hit, Do the Following:

To recover your webpage’s rankings, and to protect it from future algorithm updates, keep a few things in mind.

First, do a site:mywebsite.com check in Google. Look for pages that should not be there and remove them. If you are on WordPress make sure you don’t have all your tag pages or archives indexed. Check Google Search Console HTML suggestions and look for Google complaining about duplication or missing titles. Fix those things. Make sure your sitemaps only have in them what you want in them.

Check out your display ads, and make sure you are not cluttering above the fold. If you’re tracking your site’s keyword performance, look for any fluctuations. Then, check out your Google Search Analytics in Search Console and do a date comparison before and after March 8 to get an idea of the keyword groups that dropped. This will give you some idea of where you need to focus. That data only lasts for 90 days though so the clock is ticking.

You should adopt a wholehearted “quality over quantity” mantra. Your backlink quality matters and it’ll sustain your traffic in upcoming years. Just make sure you focus on building your audience NOT your backlinks and the great backlinks will follow. 

 

The post Has Google’s ‘Fred’ Update Left Your Rankings Dead? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

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How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

In the final part of our three-part series on the WhatWhy and How of SEO and how it can be used to improve your blog’s rankings, we’ll be exploring how SEO can help your blog rank well.

Ranking well in the major search engines means added visibility for your blog. Visibility should eventually turn into conversions, so you are making money by learning SEO. The rules change often. The major search engines, led by Google, generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of all web traffic on the Internet. New viewers are much more likely to find your blog through Google than through any other medium, including friendly word of mouth. Obviously, ranking well is of vital importance!

Learning the nuances of how SEO helps the search engines rank pages can be incredibly helpful for SEO noobs. Once you learn the basic rules of why other blogs are winning, you can modify your strategies to win as well! Here are the ways that SEO can help your blog rank well.

Natural Organisation / The Macro theme

The major search engines are always looking to provide the most relevant results to its audience. To this end, Google created an unofficial ‘trust’ system, that takes into account a site’s trust, authority and expertise. The purpose is to give greater visibility and rankings to sites that are widely acknowledged as leaders or authorities in their chosen fields. While it has to be said that no one can say with certainty the metrics used to determine ‘authority’ it is thought to be based on aspects such as your social presence and quality of links that your site receives. It is Google’s way of recommending a site, or piece of content, that it determines would best answer a search query.

Part of SEO is learning how to organise your blog around relevant keywords so that the search engines associate your entire blog with an overall theme. Blogs that skip around from dog food to beach living to auto parts will find it difficult to rank for any of those subjects.

In Australia we have a saying: “jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies to your blog. The blog that picks one subject and talks about every nuance of it will gain more visibility by becoming an authority on the subject. Creating a theme (the macro theme) is your first discipline when learning SEO.

Relevant Keywords in Individual Blogs

Within a macro theme, the search engines are looking to drill down even more. In order to provide even better results for their audiences, the search engines will place special relevance on blogs that answer a specific query. What are people asking about? Local topics and specific questions. As you write your blogs, you should look to answer specific questions in each of your pieces. This is what people are looking for, and if the search engines match your topic to a popular question, you will gain a great deal of visibility and may even achieve a Featured Answer position.

You signal the topic of your blogs to the search engines through keywords. Keywords are words that are the focus of your blog. For instance, if you are blogging about cat food, you are likely to use the terms “chicken” or “flavouring” more than “ignition” or “light fixture.”

Google has been around long enough to have accumulated masses of data regarding search terms and the predictive nature of searchers. Their algorithms can accurately predict relevant keywords associated with previous searches, making it easier for searchers to find relevant content that answers their query. It is imperative that you include accurate keywords relevant to your content, as the search engines will be looking for those keywords and phrases when determining the relevancy of your blog. Matching your keywords to the search engine’s assumptions of what your blog should contain is great SEO technique and boosts the visibility of your blog post.

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well | Featured Answer vs Number One Organic

Bringing Relevant Traffic to Your Blog

While the search engines are checking for keywords and other technical aspects of your writing, you should also check what real human traffic is doing. Search engines have the ability to track how long a visitor stays on your page with a metric known as the bounce rate. A high bounce rate means a visitor has left the page quickly, while a low bounce rate means the opposite. While the question of whether the bounce rate affects your rankings has long been dispelled (it doesn’t!), you can still use it to your advantage.

Bounce rate is not an accurate metric in the first instance, as many sites don’t utilise Google Analytics, leaving Google unable to track bounce rate information across the board. In other instances, a high bounce rate may be good for one page and bad for another. For example, if a contact page has a high bounce rate, then it may simply be that it is fulfilling its purpose; visitors complete the contact form before leaving.

What you can use bounce rate for is to monitor the quality of your site. Bounce rate can be an indicator of quality, but not as a weighting factor. A high bounce rate doesn’t equate to low rankings, but you can monitor pages on your site for a high bounce rate. That high rate may be due to low quality pages that you can improve to lower the bounce rate and improve your overall ranking.

Search engine optimisation is a complex discipline that people have written entire books about. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject and the nuances of the process are only becoming more complicated as time goes on. However, the basics of SEO will never change.

Your main job is this: Create content that people want to see, and market it to them honestly! Do this, and SEO will work in your favour to make your blog rank well!

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

The post How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

March 28th 2017 Search Engine Optimization

How Accurately Can You Predict the Results of an SEO Campaign?

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by Jayson DeMers

If you’re thinking about launching an SEO campaign, one of your biggest concerns is going to be whether it will yield a positive ROI … and how fast you can make it happen.

If you’re planning a campaign for a client, you’ll also want to be able to estimate your effectiveness as a selling point. But is it possible to estimate or predict SEO results with any accuracy?

Why SEO Results are So Hard to Predict

As you’re well aware, the SEO industry is extremely variable. Not only can Google push activity in an entirely new direction with little more than a simple algorithm update, but trying to figure out what the search engines want often seems like trying to shoot a moving target.

There are plenty of signs that suggest how you might proceed, but you aren’t likely to stumble upon the perfect solution.

Herein lies the problem. As an SEO specialist, you have a fairly advanced grasp of what does and doesn’t work, but many factors remain outside of your control.

You can make all the right moves, but at some point, you have to let events happen on their own and trust that the process will unfold according to your plan. In addition, you have to assume there won’t be any significant changes between the moment you execute and the period when the results start to pour in.

“SEO is highly technical and creative at the same time. You can’t just follow a formula and expect to get the same results every single time,” explains Kyle Sanders of CWR SEO. “As any experienced professional in this industry knows, every campaign deals with a unique set of factors. It would be foolish and irresponsible to make wide, overarching projections when there’s so much variance.”

It’s not just the search engines that shift over time, though. You also have to consider the butterfly effect of content popularity.

One small, uncontrollable alteration in the marketplace can have an outsized impact on the type of content that will be most effective thereafter. Thus, while you might be able to design a stellar SEO campaign around a promising set of keywords and topics, only a small shift could suddenly transform your best predictions into anyone’s guess.

Obviously, there will be factors outside of your control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make any predictions. Clients have a right to request an estimate and hold you to it. After all, they’re paying for a service and expect value. Your mission is to tap into your experience and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

SEO thought leader Stephan Spencer likens SEO to a fitness routine. It’s possible to create a plan, but everyone’s body responds differently.

You can tell someone that he or she will lose weight by burning more calories than the person consumes, but specific steps will still have to be executed and results may vary depending on such details as metabolism, body type, and age.

Furthermore, in order for the desirable results to be achieved, you have to stick to the routine and take it slow.

Four Tips for Estimating Results as Best You Can

Refusing to offer predictions probably isn’t an option. When a client asks you to project future results, you should be prepared to provide an informed answer. The essential strategy is to proceed with caution and avoid making promises you can’t possibly keep.

Here are a few tips that many in the SEO industry have found helpful over the years:

1. Focus on Achievable Goals

“As with your own personal fitness, often it is best to focus on small, achievable goals that are right in front of you. Doing so allows progress to happen, less inhibited by the constant worry of where you are in comparison to the mountain of work ahead of you,” Spencer says.

“Instead of trying to succeed at SEO with a single herculean effort, you can create something great, measure its performance, and then create another starting point from which to continue improving.” In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

When you break the SEO campaign down into digestible bits for your client, you can make more accurate predictions and enjoy plenty of small “wins” along the way.

2. Compare Apples to Apples

If you’re going to go out on a limb to make a prediction for a particular SEO campaign, make sure you compare apples to apples. Just because you achieved a specific result last month with another client, this doesn’t mean you can replicate it utterly today.

Take all of the vital factors into account and only make cross-campaign comparisons when the proper details line up accordingly.

3. Look for Actionable Changes (Not Win-Loss Results)

It’s crucial that you set up clients for positive changes that you can control, especially in the early stages of a campaign. Identify items you are fairly certain you can fix immediately, such as correcting 404 errors, improving site speed, and fixing NAP information on major directories. This will enable you to make concrete projections on the front end and looser estimates on the back end.

4. Project With Past Experiences and Results in Mind

We’ve all had those moments when we read a new article written by a respected expert in the SEO industry, and become excited about applying a new technique or concept. Sometimes these new techniques work and other times they don’t.

The point is you can’t possibly know until you try them out. Avoid making predictions about an SEO concept you’ve never personally employed. It’s best to project with past experiences and results to back you up.

Transparency is the Best Policy

It’s always preferable to under-promise and over-deliver. Clients may try to pressure you into providing quantifiable projections, but do your best to avoid placing yourself in a position you’re liable to regret later.

It’s impossible to predict SEO results to perfection, but you should be able to make fairly accurate projections by leveraging the right resources and sticking to the techniques outlined above.

At the end of the day, transparency is the best policy. Explain to clients why it’s difficult to make accurate predictions, then supply them with the most realistic projections you can.

That’s how to convey value without getting yourself in trouble down the road.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

March 10th 2017 Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Which Is More Important: Technical SEO or Reputation Management?

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by Jayson DeMers

There are many moving pieces in an SEO campaign, but only a handful of broad categories of tactics to use regularly. For example, most people intuitively group tactics into the categories of on-site optimization and off-site optimization, which are clearly defined by whether a given tactic takes place on your site or somewhere else. But there are different dimensions to consider as well–for example, you can think of a split between technical SEO and reputation management tactics.

Which of these are more important to the success of your overall campaign?

Reputation Management

Reputation management, as the name suggests, is all about building up your brand’s image online. This could involve a number of tactics, including the publication of valuable content on other websites, the promotion of your brand name and image, and the establishment of personal relationships with your customers.

For example, MediaOne suggests optimizers create LinkedIn Groups and post regularly to enhance their reputation; not only will you gain more social followers, you’ll also earn backlinks and establish ground for publishing content in the future.

There are a number of benefits to these tactics:

  • Brand visibility and recognition. Obviously, your reputation will grow with reputation management tactics. More people will see your brand, you’ll rank higher for branded searches (and see more of them), and the visitors you attract will be more acquainted with your business. That means higher click-throughs for all your rankings, and more conversions when they get to your site.
  • Backlinks. Reputation building is also a good way to earn more inbound links. If people read your content and value it, they’ll be more likely to link to you as a credible source, which will boost your domain authority.
  • Guest posting and future potential. Building your reputation also opens the door to bigger and more authoritative publishers for guest posting opportunities. These give you immediate benefits of brand visibility and inbound links, but also a path to even better opportunities in the future.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO, on the other hand, is all about making precise adjustments to your site to improve its visibility in search engines. Here, you could update your site’s code to be cleaner and easier to crawl, target specific keywords and include them in your page titles and meta descriptions, and even rebuild different areas of your site.

For example, QuickSprout notes the importance of user retention, and encourages optimizers to make tweaks to their websites so they load faster and preserve a worthwhile user experience.

There are several benefits here:

  • Real search visibility. Google can’t rank your site if its search engine bots can’t see it. Your biggest priority with technical SEO is making sure that search engines are able to process your site to index and display it accurately.
  • Precise targeting. Technical SEO also gives you the ability to make and reach for precise targets. You’ll have the opportunity to research various keywords and keyword phrases, and reorganize your site to rank for them.
  • Troubleshooting. If something goes wrong with your site, technical SEO will give you the tools to analyze the problem and eventually correct it.

The Problems With One Over Another

After reading this far, you may intrinsically favor one over the other. However, there’s a problem with identifying one set of tactics as “better” or “more important.” If you focus exclusively on technical SEO, you won’t have the opportunity to develop your brand reputation; you may slowly climb the ranks for a handful of specific keyword terms, but your visitors will be apathetic to your brand, and you won’t grow nearly as quickly without reputation management.

On the other hand, if you ignore technical SEO and focus only on reputation management, you could overlook a key fixture that’s necessary for search engine visibility. For example, you might update your robots.txt file incorrectly or accidentally make your site uncrawlable. You’ll get a respectable volume of customers from other areas, but your direct rankings in SERPs will tank.

The truth is, no SEO campaign can survive while only pursuing one of these sets of tactics. You’ll need both if you want to establish a wider presence. Technical SEO is necessary to be seen and properly “understood” by search engines, but reputation management is necessary if you want to reach people and grow at a reasonable pace.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid

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SEO Checklist to Avoid Mistakes

With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second—as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers—competition to capture your audience’s attention has never been more fierce.

As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

But as seasoned marketers know, SEO has gone through a tremendous evolution since its early days of keyword-focused content. With more than 2 trillion searches happening on Google every year, today’s SEO is about finding the perfect balance between user-centric content and convincing search engine crawlers that your content is supreme.

Of course, on the journey to creating the perfect content for both humans and search, you may make some mistakes. But the good news is that may are easily avoidable.

Below we dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid or remedy them.

#1 – Optimizing content around one keyword.

In the “old days” of SEO, it was common practice to optimize web pages with a specific keyword that you wanted to rank for. Today, that practice not only provides a poor user experience for your audience, but it’s simply ineffective since search engines are becoming increasingly better at determining search intent.

Tip: Simply put: Do not optimize any pages for just one keyword. Instead, think bigger about the need your content can fill and hone in on keyword topics that include a variety of relevant and related search terms.


Think bigger about the need your #content can fill and hone in on keyword topics. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#2 – Neglecting dated content.

Let’s face it. You’ve probably created a ton of content in the last couple years that you haven’t touched since it first published. But you could be leaving opportunity on the table if you’re not regularly looking for ways to refresh it and keep it relevant for searchers.

Tip: Dig into your analytics to find your top and worst performing pages and blog posts, paying special attention to evergreen topics. Then conduct some keyword research to discover new opportunities for updating that existing content to continue or improve ranking momentum.

#3 – Forgetting mobile users.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, much of your audience is likely using a mobile device to find good content. If your content isn’t mobile friendly, the user experience will be negatively impacted.

Tip: Take steps to ensure that your website and its content is mobile friendly and responsive. Also, focus on creating content for users that would typically use a mobile device.

#4 – Not optimizing for site speed.

This one is pretty simple. Faster sites have a better crawl rate and provide a better user experience.

Tip: Use site speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to analyze your site speed score. Some of the most helpful tips to improve site speed include leveraging browser caching, optimizing images and minifying JavaScript.

#5 – Failing to include relevant and helpful internal links.

If you’ve attracted people to your content, you have a captive audience that’s interested and probably looking for more. As a result, internal links are critical to keeping people engaged and signaling that you have more to offer.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other content on your website. In addition, use keyword variations for anchor text to expand visibility for the keyword topic that content represents.


Be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other #content on your website. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#6 – Failing to include relevant and helpful external links.

Just like internal links, external links have the ability to provide your users with more helpful and relevant content. In addition, quality external sources can also signal credibility to search engines and users.

Tip: Make sure that all external links open in new windows to allow users to venture to other content, but also make it easy for them to go back and stay engaged with your content.

#7 – Serving up hard-to-read blocks of content.

Users are often looking to find and absorb content quickly, and move on if they are unable to easily see the value in the content they’ve clicked on. In addition, studies show that people read online content in an “F” pattern. As a result, large blocks of text can be a big turn-off for many, especially those using mobile devices.

Tip: Utilize headline tags to break up content. This will not only make it easy for users to scan content, but also send a positive signal to search engines.

8. Forgetting about image optimization.

The images on your website or blog add an important visual element that can positively impact user experience. But they can also help you tell your story to search engines.

Tip: Cover all your bases by making sure image filenames and alt text contain relevant keywords. Also, to ensure your page loads quickly, optimize the image size for each screen size and/or lazy load the images.

9. Not having unique content.

While it can be tempting to reuse some of that great content you’ve already created, be careful. Search engines will not be fooled, and you could be penalized if you duplicate content across pages.

Tip: Don’t publish duplicate or similar content to your site, including title tags and meta descriptions. When it comes to the technical stuff such as title tags and meta descriptions, just take the little bit of extra time it takes to create something unique. When it comes to full pages of content, if you have existing content that fits, take a repurposing approach to make it personalized and different.

10. Focusing on quantity over quality.

In today’s competitive world of content, it can be tempting to try to out-create your competition. But publishing more content than the next guy doesn’t guarantee results, especially if that content isn’t a quality piece that actually helps your audience.

Tip: Create a content strategy that includes audience and keyword topic research. In addition, study the other content that is already out there and look at what your competitors are doing. This will allow you to identify content gaps and help you create content that fills them. In addition, shoot for writing longer pieces (600 to 1,000+ words), that are optimized for scanability and include visual elements.

11. Not optimizing URLs or site structure.

Many marketers leave the title of the page or the post as the URL, which can lead to long URLs that do nothing to help your search rankings.

Tip: Keep URLs short, concise and optimized with keywords. In addition, make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl.


Make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl. #SEO
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12. Neglecting broken or redirecting links.

During our technical crawls and site evaluations, TopRank Marketing often finds that many sites have broken links or links that redirect instead of linking directly to the target page.

Tip: Conduct a technical audit to identify all broken links and internal links that redirect to a different page. Then update with links that connect directly to a target page. This will help search engines crawl your site more efficiently.

13. Not auditing the redirect rules for a site.

For websites with multiple redirect rules, there’s an opportunity to remove redirect chains and errors that make it more difficult for search engines to crawl.

Tip: Audit the redirect rules to make sure you’re properly using 301 or 302 redirects and remove any redirect chains you might have.

14. Focusing on meta keywords.

Meta keywords are not used by Google and can be a sign of spam from Bing.

Tip: There typically isn’t a reason to add meta keywords to your site. If you choose to utilize the meta keywords field, make sure you limit the amount of keywords to less than five.

15. Forgetting analytics or misusing metrics.

Data is an incredible tool to not only measure the impact of our marketing efforts, but also help inform those efforts. So, neglecting our analytics reports outright or not using the right metrics can have a costly impact.

Tip: Use the right metrics to inform your content and SEO strategy, and decrease the importance you put on vanity metrics. In addition, leverage Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to get a better understanding of what people are actually searching for.

16. Not allowing your site to be crawled

This one is pretty obvious. If you’re site is blocking search engines, your content will not be found in search results.

Tip: It’s simple. Don’t block your site from search engines in your robots.txt file or a “noindex” meta tag.

17. Not taking advantage of Local SEO.

All businesses have an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO and visibility. At the very least, your business should claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Tip: At the very least, focus on getting local citations by using tools like Moz Local or Whitespark.

18. Incorporating too many PDFs.

While PDFs are a great way to provide users with information that can be easily downloaded, it’s not ideal for search. First of all, most websites don’t track PDF views in Google Analytics, making it difficult to see if that content is having an impact on users. In addition, PDFs don’t allow you to create a custom experience for users easily.

Tip: Change PDFs to HTML format to be able to create a consistent experience and get the most search benefit from each content asset on your site.

19. Not optimizing for other search engines.

While Google is pretty much the King of Search, other search engines—including those within social media channels—deserve your attention, too.

Tip: Take steps to optimize your content for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. In addition, optimize the content you’re putting out on social media sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube.


Optimize the #content you’re putting out on #socialmedia sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube. #SEO
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20. Not focusing on getting quality backlinks.

While link building and link earning gets a bad rap sometimes, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines and links deliver interested users to your content.

Tip: Conduct outreach to relevant influencers and websites to earn quality links back to your quality content.

21. Having too many blog categories or tags.

When you create a blog category or tag, you’re essentially creating a new page on your website that can be indexed by crawl bots. However, if those categories or tags don’t have a decent amount of content associated with them, you could be signaling thin content to search engines and it could potentially hurt your crawl budget.

Tip: Remove categories or tags that contain orphaned content, and retag or recategorize that content within a relevant and more robust category.

How do you find the perfect balance between quality, user-centric content and optimizing for search? Share your tips in the comments section below!


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February 7th 2017 Search Engine Optimization, SEO

SEO for Bloggers: A Basic Explanation

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SEO for Bloggers: A Basic Explanation | ProBlogger gives you the lowdown

By ProBlogger SEO Expert Jim Stewart of StewArt Media.

Search Engine Optimisation. Just reading that phrase can make some bloggers break into cold sweats. You know how to blog, and you know you have to incorporate SEO in your pages somehow to be successful, but the technical aspects of SEO are daunting, at best.

This is the first part of a three-part series on the What, How and Why of SEO and how it relates to your blog. Use these pieces to learn the cornerstones of search engine optimisation and you’ll be better able to use SEO to improve your blog.

 

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a way of crafting your blog that focuses on growing your search engine results organically. In other words, it’s a method of writing and building web pages that allows them to rise in the Google rankings, instead of attracting traffic through paid ads. It’s not a way to cheat or game the system. It’s the best way to create your pages to deliver a great user experience, both to your readers and to search engines.

Writing great content with relevant information gives your users what they want. Creating clear information that Google can understand gives it the same thing. The more concise information Google can find on your page, the more it will reward you with higher rankings.

SEO for Bloggers: A Basic Explanation | ProBlogger gives you the lowdownWhat Does Google Want?

Google’s search algorithm is secret and constantly in a state of flux, but we can figure out elements of it by seeing what has worked for other sites similar to your own.  In general, search engines want to refer searchers to sites that are the most relevant to their search requests. It can be determined in many ways, all of which warrant your attention.

  • Content:  Is the information on all your pages relevant to the search keywords? What about the titles and image descriptions?
  • Performance:  Does your site load quickly? Are your images optimised? Do your links all work correctly?
  • Authority:  Do other respected sites consider your blog good enough to link to?
  • User Experience:  Is the site easy to navigate? Are there dead links? How long does the average user stay on your page?

All of these factors combine into what Google and other search engines consider a good blog, one worthy of a high ranking in their search engine pages. The higher your site ranks on this list of positive factors, the closer your site will get to that coveted number one position.

What SEO is Not

Too often, people try to game the system, piling on more and more SEO-friendly details in an effort to get a higher search engine ranking. The result is often worse than if they do nothing at all. Google’s search algorithm is very sophisticated; it can’t be lured by cheap tricks. Well, not in the long run, anyway.

More often, bad SEO is a matter of bloggers thinking, “more is better.” If one item works, why not five of the same kind? It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s a quick way to sink your blog’s rankings. Some more items to stay away from:

  • Buying links:  Having good, solid links to relevant sites will always boost your rankings, but you can’t buy that kind of respect. Stay away from sellers offering to raise your rank by selling you dozens of links. More likely than not, they’re links to sites that have nothing to do with your niche, which is a black mark in Google’s view.
  • Keyword stuffing:  Using a keyword naturally in a blog post is one of the key ways for you to rank that post in Google. The key is to do it delicately. Always use the phrase without forcing it into the sentence, and don’t over-use the phrase in any post. As a good rule of thumb, if you read the post and the phrase is easily noticed among all the other writing, you’re using it too much.
  • Overall bad user experience:  Approach your blog page with a fresh eye occasionally. Do you have ads lining both sides of your page? Do they compete with the blog post for space? Is it tough for readers to find anything? Check your bounce rate. If 80 percent or more of people who click on your blog leave within 5 seconds, there’s something wrong that needs to be rectified.

Think of SEO as the recipe for the best way to create your blog pages. It tells you the ingredients to add to the mix and the techniques to use when preparing them. After that, it’s up to you to create your own dish for readers and search engines to experience. The closer you follow the recipe, the better your results will be.

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

The post SEO for Bloggers: A Basic Explanation appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

February 7th 2017 Search Engine Optimization