SEO for Business: What Google Analytics Can Tell You

My Post - 2020-03-18T124254.139.pngIf you’re an individual or business looking to amplify your presence in the digital space, chances are you’ve looked into search engine optimization (SEO) as one of the first steps to drive more traffic to your business’ website. It’s important to produce content for the keywords which are related to your industry. For example, SimplyRest which is primarily a mattress guide website also continuously  produces quality sleep related content.

For any website whose goal is to rank, keywords are important – the more keywords you own or rank for organically, the better your scorecard will be. As a digital marketer, one of the best and easiest tools to navigate when improving SEO is Google Analytics. But how are you sure that you’re maximizing all of its features to give your business what it needs?

Search engine optimization is one part of improving your site’s traffic, but don’t ignore the numbers: data gives you a drilled down version of what matters beyond high-traffic words. It’s going to allow your marketing team to connect the dots and see where your users drop off, what organic search words bring the most traffic to your site, and even identifying which pages are actually hurting your rankings.

Here are 5 ways to maximize Google Analytics for your business:

If you want to see the whole picture, connect your Analytics account to Google Search Console.

Although GA gives you the basic data to work from such as how many users visit your site, the average time they spend on each page, and even where your readers are from, the Google Search Console together with Google Analytics takes your efforts a step higher.

It gives you information such as who is linking to your site, what technical errors you have to fix, and the juiciest parts of digital and content marketing, like what keywords people are using to find your content. Additionally, it also tells you what websites your target audience usually lands on, and where your content ranks on Google.

This gives you the ammo to identify opportunities for your business to rank organically. And your goal to rank on the first page of search engines will be that much easier to plan for. Think of it this way: GA gives you the numbers, but GSC gives you the skeleton for a great SEO strategy.

Measure organic keywords, but don’t forget to segment organic visitors and review the quality of your organic traffic.

One of the main things that SEO experts track is organic traffic.

This is done by setting up a custom dashboard in Google Analytics that will segment your organic visitors, and will show you only the important metrics for your business.

This means removing spam traffic that will skew your raw data such as fake referrers and crawlers. You also have ghost spam that comes from your direct traffic, so make sure you exclude traffic that doesn’t match your TLD.

It might seem like segmenting organic traffic is a lot of work, but it’s every SEO expert’s best friend. We know that it’s hard to consistently target a specific demographic, but in GA, you can filter through demographics, affinity segments, and in-market data that are used for ad targeting on Google AdWords.

Additionally, you can easily measure the quality of your organic traffic by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Conversion rate column (for organic search). One of the first things to check is your engagement rate – if it’s low, you may be attracting the wrong audience, or your content isn’t working for your site visitors. – Read more

What is Anchor Text? Everything You Need to Know for SEO

My Post - 2020-03-17T184137.406.pngMost marketers know link building is one of the countless critical factors for boosting your search engine rankings in the eyes of the Google Gods.

However, the words you choose for linking out and into your site matter too – and quite a lot! Those words are called anchor text, and Google’s algorithms pay more attention to them than newbies (and even some marketing veterans) realize.

In the early days, you used to be able to game the Google system by keyword stuffing anchors. Well, Google noticed and now carefully watches not only which words you choose to link, but also how often you use them and the surrounding text.

Yes, the technical details are complicated, but the basics are easy enough for everyone to understand and apply.

By optimizing—but not over-optimizing—your anchor words and learning the best practices, you can fine-tune your SEO and watch your rankings climb. If you break the rules, Google can penalize your site. (Not good.)

This post will:

  • Explain what anchor text is
  • Go over all the anchor text best practices you should know
  • Explain how anchor words impact SEO
  • Provide a few tips for perfecting your anchor strategy
  • Offer examples of good and bad anchors

What is Anchor Text, and Why is it Important?

SEO is a complex matter that consists of a thousands of little details Anchor text is one of these details. Before starting to learn this theme I recommend you to read our master-guide – What is SEO.

An anchor is a text you click to move from one internet destination to another; it literally anchors two different locations on the internet together.

While anchors typically link webpages, they can also initiate downloads and link to documents like PDFs or files in Google Drive. That is why you should only click anchors from sites you trust, and hover over the link with your mouse – but don’t click! – to make sure the URL looks legitimate. – Read more

Top Three SEO Predictions For 2020

My Post - 2020-03-09T172614.995.pngWith more and more websites popping up (and with Google tweaking its algorithm constantly), the online landscape is getting much more competitive. I’m the founder of six businesses, all revolving around search engine optimization, and I believe that if you want to rank in 2020, you’ll have to be one step ahead of everyone else.

It’s a new year and a new decade — and that means it’s time to tackle search engine optimization (SEO) in a new way. Read on to learn more.

1. Authority is king.

Domain authority has always been a huge ranking factor, and it’s no different in 2020. What has changed, however, is how you earn it.

Links used to be the building blocks of a site’s authority. Collecting backlinks was the name of the game. The more backlinks you had, the higher your domain authority.

Does this still apply in 2020? Well, yes and no.

Links are still very important, but it’s more about trust signals and representing yourself as a brand.

If you want to compete with the big sites that dominate the search engine results page rankings, you’ll need to play like the big sites do — by creating amazing content and building up your brand.

So how do you demonstrate your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness?

First things first: Focus on creating accurate, relevant and interesting content within your field of expertise. Then, clean up your site by getting rid of thin content, broken links and other technical errors. Be transparent about who you are; set up “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages. Finally, build your credibility by getting off-site citations and backlinks from high-ranking or high-authority sites.

Focus on trust, and you will build up your domain authority naturally, organically and sustainably.

2. Organic search real estate will become smaller.

Remember when Google’s search engine results were populated by actual pages, and you had to climb your way up to #1 just to be seen? Today’s search engine results page couldn’t be more different, thanks to Google AdWords, quick answer boxes, knowledge panels and, of course, the coveted featured snippet.

This means that there’s less room for you to rank organically … but it also means that you have more ways to get noticed by searchers.

Featured snippets are a great way for you to outrank your competitors without actually having to reach the #1 rank. Snippets are placed at the top of the results page above the #1 result, which is  also called rank 0. – Read more

Google Says Keywords In Google My Business Descriptions Impacts Local Rankings; Local SEOs Say No

My Post - 2020-03-03T131505.112.pngHere is an interesting move by Google. Google updated its improve your local rankings help document to show an example of how keywords in your business description can help improve your local rankings. But local SEO experts say that is not how it works and keywords in the description have no impact.

Firstly @StefanSomborac spotted the original change in the document, which set off this whole thing. What was added?

For example, if someone who lives in Dublin, California is looking for a NY Pizza restaurant and you also own that business, it’d be easier for the customer to find your listing on Google if your description included, “Harry’s NY Pizza in Dublin, CA,” instead of only “Harry’s Pizza in CA.”

Google also previously had a line in there that read:

Think about the words customers would type to find your business, and make sure that your listing actually includes those keywords within it.

Google has removed that line about keywords.

Why? Well many local SEOs said it is not true. Keywords in business descriptions do not impact your local rankings.

The Local Search Forums has tons of comments on this change. Ben Fisher said ” I can say, in our testing of 100’s of profiles, I have not seen the description impact ranking… at all. The description is great for the user though that reads them.” DJ Baxter added “Indeed, for Google to use that as a ranking factor would be to invite and encourage even more spam listings – like there isn’t enough of that already.” – Read more

Paid Media & Privacy: What’s Changing & What It Means for Marketers

My Post - 2020-02-17T185119.218.pngPrivacy. This is a word that’s likely to elicit different reactions from consumers versus those of us who work in marketing.

For marketers who live in Europe, the last eight years or so have been spent trying to wrap our heads around different pieces of privacy-focused legislation and how to best be compliant.

Our cousins in America have watched this process with feelings ranging from relief, to bemusement, to mild envy.

For all the change we’ve seen so far, 2020 is going to be the year where we see the biggest shifts yet.

It’s likely to have a profound impact on anyone who works in marketing, but particularly for those of us who work in paid media – regardless of which side of the Atlantic you live on.

So what’s going on?

Let’s take a quick look at what’s covered by GDPR and the upcoming e-Privacy Regulation, which affect Europe, but also take a look at the California Consumer Privacy Act and how this is likely to affect our industry.

Europe

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018. In a nutshell, it covers how we collect, store and use personal data.

If you’re a company based within the European Economic Area (covers slightly more countries than are in the European Union), or you’re based outside and the EEA and ever process the personal data of someone who lives in the EEA, then it applies to you.

It covers personally identifiable information – anything that relates to an identifiable individual and could be used to trace or distinguish them – such as:

  • Name.
  • Social security number.
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Biometric data.
  • Education history.
  • Anything financial, medical or employment-based.

In the EU, it also includes your IP address.

As scary as GDPR been, there’s something even scarier on the horizon – the E-Privacy Regulation (ePR).

ePR is significantly more impactful when it comes to digital.

The last time regulation specific to the Internet was put in place, was 2003 and the online world has changed so much in the last 17 years.

ePR will apply to your business if you use online tracking tech, engage in electronic direct marketing, or provide online communication services.

It also expands the definition of PII to include anything that can identify an entity online – including cookies and metadata.

CCPA

The good news for those State-side is that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is much closer in scope to GDPR than it is ePR (lotta Rs in that sentence) when it comes to what it counts as personal data.

It applies to your business if you’re based in California and meet at least one of the following:

  • Has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million.
  • Buys or sells the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers or households.
  • Or earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.

If you’re one of the companies covered, here are some of the things you’ll have to do to comply (I cheated and copy-pasted this for legal ease!):

  • Implement processes to obtain parental or guardian consent for minors under 13 years and the affirmative consent of minors between 13 and 16 years to data sharing for purposes
  • “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on the home page of the website of the business, that will direct users to a web page enabling them, or someone they authorize, to opt out of the sale of the resident’s personal information
  • Designate methods for submitting data access requests, including, at a minimum, a toll-free telephone number
  • Update privacy policies with newly required information, including a description of California residents’ rights
  • Avoid requesting opt-in consent for 12 months after a California resident opts out

So, it’s similar to GDPR, but also more specific when it comes to handling the sale of data.

Check and see if it will apply to you and what work you’d need to do in order to become compliant.

What Does This Mean?

Ultimately, the key thing that both of these pieces of legislation covers are ways that we track users which aren’t personally identifiable.

GDPR in Europe generally applied to information that could be used to pinpoint someone based on their real-life identity – so anything that would help a company keep track of me, Arianne Donoghue.

What it didn’t cover, and is now going to be covered, is anything that tracks me as an entity online.

To many data and tracking services, I won’t be known by my real identity – but they’ll have a user ID that identifies this 35-44-year-old woman who lives in the north of England, loves cats, and spends far too long browsing Wholesome Memes on Reddit.

They’ll know almost everything about me – except who I actually am, but they don’t need to.

If you have a Google account it’s always worth taking a look at the Ads Preferences and information Google has stored on you. It highlights how well services are able to profile us without knowing who we are. – Read more

8 Things That Are Wrong with Google Search Today

My Post - 2020-02-17T183208.888

Regardless of what you do with your days and nights, you’d be hard-pressed to never have used Google at some point in your life.

Chances are, as we’re off and running in the year 2020, you’re using the “free” internet database and information machine on a weekly basis – most likely daily – and for good reason.

Google is an information powerhouse, serving up billions of searches a day and many-thousands of searches per second. It is second to none.

Its “hundreds of billions of webpages” that have been crawled and make up its always-expanding Search index are proof of that.

But for all its good, Google still gets plenty wrong every day.

Some problems are worse than others, depending on how often you use Google, how familiar you are with the search engines, and, basically, who you are.

A digital marketer is going to (typically) have a much more extensive understanding of how Google works than a middle-aged security guard, a stay-at-home mom, or even a police officer or a firefighter.

When considering the eight call-outs below, it is mostly considered from an everyday, average Google Search user.

That said, there will certainly be deeper explanations for seemingly basic concepts to show just how wrong Google has gotten it on several critical occasions.

1. Always Testing/Changing

Whether you’re an everyday user, sometimes user, or in-the-trenches search marketer, you most likely know Google doesn’t sit still.

The world-leading search engine makes hundreds of changes per year to its platform through thousands of updates that included more than 3,200 updates in 2018, a number that has increased each year for decades.

It has confused users, angered SEO professionals, and ultimately transformed the way nearly every human on Earth interacts with the World Wide Web.

Thus, there is likely never just one reason for any – or all – of the changes Google makes a year.

But, while many average users can easily illustrate examples of why they were ever displeased with a change Google made, there are plenty of times when those changes worked in favor of the user in terms of a better experience on the search engine.

As a search marketer, we not only appreciate many of the changes Google makes due to their impact on the overall search experience; we also appreciate these thousands of changes per year because it keeps us in demand and employs us – directly and indirectly – every day.

2. Glitchy, Like All Computer Programs

Like any technological entity, Google, too, endures glitches, bugs, broken parts, and pint-sized disasters.

In early April 2019, Google had to fix a technical issue that caused pages to be deindexed.

Later that same month, a Google issue caused the search engine to select unrelated canonical URLs that were sometimes reflected in the breadcrumb trails on mobile. In rare cases, this may have prevented proper indexing of content by Google.

The following month, Google announced it was experiencing indexing issues that lasted through much of a day.

While temporary, it was still a major issue that prevented new content from being indexed in search results and make those results far less useful than they typically are.

Search Engine Journal staff writer Roger Montti pointed out how even though “Google has suffered outages in the past, Google has not experienced so many outages in such a short period of time,” as it did in the first half of 2019, suggesting the series of problems could be tied to a larger issue like an infrastructure update.

In July, Google had to fix a bug that caused search results to not fully render for some people over a span of several days.

Then, in the following month, it fixed another a bug that prevented newly-published content from being indexed again (same issue as May).

And, just as recent as February 2020, Google experienced glitches with Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager that caused some sites to become unverified in Search Console.

Clearly, this isn’t a problem most Google users would even recognize, but it was another issue that had some sort of impact on search, its users, and Google.

3. Never 100% Accurate

No search engine is perfect.

But they have all been impressive at one point or another with the results they serve up, and Google is certainly no exception to that.

While it doesn’t need a specific name or entity title to get the answer you’re looking for, Google is able to connect the dots for people more often than not when delivering an answer with a limited amount of information for many informational-type searches.

Other, more-granular searches that are guided with specific details – like a person’s name – can result in a short, simple answer that usually becomes a featured snippet.

These answers are a work in progress – that is, building out the database tied to the entities referenced in those answers.

More often than not, featured snippet answers are correct, or at least mostly correct.

There are certainly times when the answers, or at least parts of the answers, are incorrect, though.

Like the example below (which is now fixed), Google referenced Ice Cube’s net worth, but then suggested some other similar searches, which include a photo of rapper Vanilla Ice as the representation for (a different) rapper, Ice-T. – Read more

5 Ways SEO & Web Design Go Together

My Post - 2020-02-13T165102.133.pngWhen you’re trying to improve your website’s performance, it’s important to remember that you have to focus on numerous factors simultaneously.

In both life and digital marketing, we tend to give all of our attention to one or two important elements while neglecting something else that can turn out to be equally as important.

If you want to do better in the SERPs, it takes more than just SEO.

Your website also needs to be designed well, or you risk squandering all of that organic equity you have been building.

SEO and web design work together more seamlessly than many people might realize.

Their components mingle and flow together so well that, when executed correctly, your website visitors should not actually notice anything about what you have created; they should simply start navigating through your site.

So, what are those elements where SEO and web design collaborate? Check out these five ways they are used together.

1. Mobile-Friendliness

Anyone who’s even slightly familiar with SEO or web design should already know the importance of making your website mobile-friendly.

In fact, if this isn’t something you’ve taken the time to do yet, you’re already a few years behind.

Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in 2015. That’s half a decade ago.

The search giant then introduced mobile-first indexing in 2017. It’s clear to see how importantly Google views mobile-friendliness, but many websites still haven’t caught on.

The number of people searching on desktops has been declining for a few years now, while the number of people searching on mobile devices has been steadily increasing.

More than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices, which means that more than half of your audience is also likely to be on their mobile phones.

Without a mobile-friendly website design, you could be accidentally alienating half of your users. That is massive.

A website with a high bounce rate due to not loading properly on a phone or tablet is going to send bad signals to Google, and your rankings could plummet.

2. Easy-to-Read Design

If you’ve been working on improving your SEO, content is likely something that you have spent a lot of time on.

Some people might not realize what a huge impact the design of a website can have on your content, or at least the presentation of it.

Poor web design can make it impossible for users to read what they came to your website to do.

Pages with blocks of content in strange places, with too many hyperlinks that don’t serve a clear purpose, essentially erases any audience that you managed to bring onto your site.

And if no one can get the information they want, what’s the point?

At some point, you’ve probably been on a website that had text that was impossible to read because of the page design.

Maybe it was a light-colored text on a pure white background or a dark color on black. Those kinds of designs recall the often terrible websites of the mid- to late 1990s.

But the issue is not always color. The text may also be too big or small, or written in a hard-to-read font.

Like websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, sites that are difficult to read on any device or desktop are going to turn people away quickly.

Web designers understand how to create websites that make it easy for users to take in your content so you get the most for your money.

White space, line length, and any extra elements such as images can all affect how people pay attention to your site. Also, remember to consider people with disabilities by going for an inclusive web design format. – Read more

SEO In 2020: What To Expect For The Year Ahead

My Post - 2020-02-13T124714.689.pngAt the close of the decade and the start of a brand new year, I have taken some time to reflect on SEO trends that emerged in 2019 and those that I believe will define the year ahead.

SEO is one of the most exhaustive topics in the world of digital marketing, and there are a plethora of sources promising the latest information regarding updates to Google algorithms and the dynamic nature of consumer practices. The best advice I can offer is this: Find an in-house digital marketing expert or hire a third-party company that proves to be forward-thinking. When it comes to hiring an SEO expert, look for someone who demonstrates an understanding that trends are constantly changing and is committed to staying on top of the latest updates. SEO techniques from the previous decade will be wholly insufficient in the roaring ’20s ahead.

Did you know that Google, the most popular search engine in North America, updates its search algorithm, on average, 500 to 600 times per year? Your SEO strategy should follow a similar trajectory if you want to have the best rankings. Let’s dive into the most important aspects of SEO and what trends to expect in 2020.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO is a marketing approach that focuses on improving online visibility. While the term is widely used, it is also commonly misunderstood. When it comes to SEO trends to watch for in 2020, one of the most significant for organic SEO is the importance of advanced links.

Advanced link-building strategies can increase your website’s Domain Authority (the score given to your site between 0 and 100) and thereby improve your overall visibility online. Advanced link-building goes beyond establishing generic directories and includes guest blogs, paid links and web 2.0 blogs. Each of these strategies involves placing content on third-party sites with links back to your website.

The more websites that point to yours with a substantial DA, the more visible your website will become. If you’re looking for a digital marketing company to promote your brand, ask about their network of partnerships, websites and forums that they use for guest blogging and paid advertising.

Local SEO

Local, or map search, SEO has emerged as a distinct form of SEO over the last few years. Through internal research, our company found that 30% to 40% of customers, on average, now find local companies through maps. As such, strong map visibility is crucial.

Instead of a website, local SEO requires that your Google My Business (GMB) profile be optimized with keywords and links. The strategies for improving local SEO include NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency, link-building, image geotagging and further engagements with your GMB profile (such as reviews).

This year, SEO experts and digital marketers will need to be extra diligent in ensuring consistency and giving the appropriate time and energy to local optimizations, especially for small businesses and local service providers.

Content And Blogging

If one thing is for sure, Google’s updated deep-learning algorithms are getting smarter and smarter. Some experts believe they will soon surpass human understanding in terms of natural language processing. In recent years, Google’s algorithms have been placing more and more emphasis on well-written content, encouraging strategies such as natural language keywords and quality over quantity; 2020 will see this emphasis continue to rise. Google is becoming more sensitive to the nuances of language with a focus on understanding search query intent. Thus, in 2020, content should be concise and informative as well as targeted. As always, content also needs to indicate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

While my team has always helped clients by creating consistent content to add to their websites, our research has found that guest blogging, and building links with additional high DA websites, is even more effective. I would recommend a shift in strategy to include more link-building supplemented by high-quality content that focuses on specific query topics. Answering questions clearly and concisely will go a long way for any SEO strategy (especially with voice search optimization on the rise as well).

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click advertising includes Google AdWords and social media advertising. Pay-per-click ads get your message in front of already-interested consumers. Depending on your industry and budget, getting to the No. 1 result on Google organically isn’t always possible. Utilizing PPC allows your company to show up at the very top, regardless of your organic ranking.

In the field of remarketing, I anticipate two trends to be of special significance in the year ahead. Due to the Rule of Seven, a theory developed by marketing experts that states customers require seven touches with your brand before making a decision, remarketing is gaining traction within the marketing world as a necessity for some industries. If your business is highly competitive with a mid to long sales cycle, a remarketing campaign will effectively follow consumers around the internet until they’re ready to make the decision.

Advertising promotions are also a great way to convert customers. As the economic downturn continues, consumers will be looking for any way to save a few dollars. A marketing company may help determine and implement effective promotional offers and supplement any existing advertising efforts to increase awareness and conversion. – Read more

5 of the Most Complex SEO Problems & How to Fix Them

My Post - 2020-02-11T160929.590.pngToday, running a thorough and comprehensive SEO campaign is paramount for ranking. If you aren’t optimizing your website and keeping up with the trends, then your ranking competitors surely are.

I feel that it’s useful to think about SEO as simply the amalgamation of best practices that are recognized by the search engines.

And a lot of the time the ranking of a website can be ruined by accidentally not following a best practice.

So this article is about those SEO mistakes that we all make from time to time.

If you find yourself committing those mistakes, you’ll be able to fix those, and if you haven’t yet, you’ll know to avoid them.

Problem 1: Improper Indexing of Your Pages

What it is: We all want Google to rank our pages higher. But Google’s hands can’t rank what its bots can’t see.

5 of the Most Complex SEO Problems & How to Fix Them

The best way to see if you have any indexation issues is to use Google Search Console.

In the absolute vast majority of cases, your indexation problem will be internal: perhaps the page hasn’t been allowed in your robots.txt file by a developer working on the page, or a NOINDEX tag has been added to a page.

A DNS error or a 404 error are the most likely culprits for your pages not being indexed, and Search Console will show as much in its “Error” column.

Simply removing the NOINDEX tag manually for the pages in question, or allowing them in robots.txt, and allowing some time for Google bot to recrawl in peace, will get those pages to show up without a hitch.

If you end up in a situation where the entirety of your website is patently crawlable, with index tags, but still the actual Google search gives you only a fraction of the results you expect – you might have been hit by a manual action.

Start the recovery process by running a full website-wide audit.

Using an audit tool, you’ll get a nice layout of your website’s SEO health, with all of the pages that are and aren’t indexed in there.

See what pages are violating Google’s best practices, and which simply didn’t have the correct tagging and/or robots instructions. It’s generally a good practice to check your website for crawling issues every month or so.

Problem 2: Keyword Cannibalization

A common problem stemming from the fact that some of us marketers start to “overcrowd” the same topics, publishing extremely similar materials, which more or less target the exact same keywords.

What ends up happening is that various pages compete in ranking for the same keywords. This, in turn, hurts the ranking chances of all the pages involved.

This problem is complex enough for me to write an entire article on it. This is not a casual issue, and it should be fixed as soon as possible by turning to a keyword mapping tool.

Your keyword map would look along the following lines (disclosure: this is a screencapture from Rank Tracker, a tool my team created):

5 of the Most Complex SEO Problems & How to Fix Them

With the three columns, one for the keywords you’re targeting, one for the webpages connected to those keywords, and another for general SEO information.

Sort out your website with a keyword map in hand, and make sure that all of your content is targeting a different set of keywords.

Consolidate the pages targeting similar topics, and create a single page, incorporating a number of different ones.

That way you’ll ensure that you don’t have to compete with yourself on top of everybody else creating content in your niche.

Problem 3: Wrong Page Structuring for Its Target Topic

Fact: even if you have many more backlinks than your competition, you might still be ranking lower than them.

This one might even seem counterintuitive to some, it certainly did to me when I first started handling SEO problems.

But the truth of the matter is that it’s not just about backlinks to your webpage.

Today, with all of Google’s efforts to combat quid pro quo linking strategies, simply amassing a huge backlink catalog is not enough.

Ranking higher is now, and has been for a while, not just about doing things right, but also about avoiding some punishing mistakes. It’s not only about the content, but also very much about the acceptable form.

For example, if you’re writing an article on the best footwear, and you create it as a listicle of round-about 2,000 words, and you can’t rank, you should look at your competition currently ranking.

Let’s just say that you posted a beautifully written and informative article on the best cities to live in. It’s a big piece of text with a couple of images. Names of the cities are woven throughout the text, The New Yorker-style.

Then you find out that on every page in the top-5 results for “best cities to live in” the information is presented as an image gallery with very little text. That means that Google considers this to be the best format covering that particular topic.

Simply edit your own content to fit these criteria: make it a gallery of images sporting short, clear descriptions, and see your page rise through the ranks!

And it’s a whole different conversation if we’re talking about the keywords for which Google has SERP features. What we see more and more is that Google is trying to answer users’ queries right on the SERP.

For that, it’s using such instruments as Google’s featured snippets, People also ask, Knowledge panels, and so on.

Now, getting into those is crucial, and crucially dependent on structure.

So, first, find out if it’s possible for your chosen keywords to get a SERP feature.

That’s easily done by any rank tracking software, but also by simply searching the terms you’re looking to rank for.

Go to Google’s Search Settings, and simply disable the Private results feature. Then, adjusting your region as necessary, look up your keywords.

If you see a Knowledge panel or a featured snippet in there, that means it’s on!

A huge part of getting into a SERP feature is using structured data markup.

Remember: Google’s priority is presenting its user with a quick and coherent answer to their question.

Apply structured data markup, make use of bullet points, lists, numbers, etc.

The search engine will recognize that you are providing a quick and easy answer, and will use you as a source of a featured snippet.

Adding also such structural elements as FAQ is also very helpful, as getting into any of the SERP features will increase your traffic, page views, and CTR.

It simply isn’t enough that you’ve come up with a brilliant content idea and know in your soul how to present it in the best way possible. That piece of content should also conform to what Google considers appropriate for the content.

Problem 4: Incoherent Internal Linking

We all know about setting up functional navigation.

A user has to be able to come back to homepage from anywhere, have an understanding in what section of the website they currently are, and, ideally, be able to get anywhere on the website from any page, following just the links.

But proper internal linking goes a bit deeper than that.

The reality is that we all have the “necessary”, the “core”, or, more generally, the “money” pages.

Those are the ones that we consider the pages that bring in the “real money”.

So we tend to concentrate only on them when working on our site structure instead of building large “thematic clusters” which would connect a bunch of pages together.

And, well, that isn’t exactly the best way to go about internal linking. You have to spread the wealth of links around!

Look for ways to link not just to your core pages, but from them to your smaller, “supplementary” pages.

Go back and create new links from your old content to the new.

You need to conceptualize your content as clusters of pages each supporting the other.

For example, say you have a “core” page describing your software’s feature. Put some links from it to your supplementary content about using those features in the real world, to some guides, how-to’s and guest posts as well!

And, well, if you don’t have any supplementary content – create some for your core pages, then create a nice web of internal links that would connect your website into a coherent web.

While doing this, remember to make sure to not over-optimize your anchors.

This means that you should avoid the anchors containing the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and aim for naturally suitable anchors instead (although anchors like “read here” are obviously not the best).

A nice way to improve your internal linking is to have some sort of neat visualization tool, like the one presented in Website Auditor (disclaimer: my tool), with all of your pages shown as a web of connections.

That way, you immediately see where you have the most important “nodes”, and which pages could use a little more linking. – Read more

How to Overcome Technical SEO Issues on a Budget

My Post - 2020-02-10T163117.527.png“How can I overcome technical SEO issues on a budget?”

While some technical issues will require allocating a budget to tackle, others are pretty simple to address yourself.

Identify Your List of Technical SEO Issues

First off, you are going to need to identify the site issues.

If you’ve already had a technical audit performed, excellent.

Start by transferring the list of the technical problems into a spreadsheet.

Next, add a column so you can assign who is capable of fixing each issue.

Can you or another teammate handle the fixes, or do you need a developer?

Then include a column and format with checkboxes so you can quickly check off the tasks once done.

Fire Up Your Favorite SEO Tool(s)

If you have not had a recent site audit performed and the budget doesn’t allow for one, have no fear.

You can use some tools to help identify some of the most common technical SEO issues.

Screaming Frog’s crawler is handy for identifying common problems like a poor HTTPS implementation, broken or redirected internal links, duplicate content, and missing title tags or H1s.

SEMrush’s site audit tool is fantastic for identifying thin content, orphaned content, poor internal linking, redirect chains, crawl issues, and more. This tool is also excellent for sending you emailed updates to alert you when new problems arise.

Considering that you are on a tight budget, make sure to use Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, as both are available for free.

Both search engines have provided us with invaluable information about our websites. Use them.

One of the first things I do when performing a site audit is to do a site search on Google.

Entering site:example.com can make it easy to spot a lot of issues. If your site has been compromised, this is the easiest way to detect a hacked website.

Your Google Analytics account is a fantastic tool for identifying pages on your site that are loading slower than the other ones.

Make sure to inspect slow ones in the Google Page Speed Tool and or Google Lighthouse.

Some of the slowest loading pages are usually due to an oversized image or two. Maybe the pictures aren’t compressed.

These are pretty simple technical fixes that you can handle fixing your self, and it makes a huge difference. – Read more