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Introducing Advanced Analysis in Google Analytics 360

May 19, 2018 No Comments
In our conversations with marketers, we consistently hear that they are looking to gain deeper insights into the customer journey and then turn those insights into better customer experiences. 

Today we’re excited to announce Advanced Analysis, a new tool in beta for Google Analytics 360 customers. Advanced Analysis offers more detailed analysis techniques and deeper exploration capabilities, so you can improve your understanding of how people interact with your site and use those insights to deliver better experiences and reach your business goals.

Our top priority is to help you discover business insights while respecting user privacy. So, as with all Analytics capabilities, data utilized in Advanced Analysis is treated confidentially and securely.

Three ways to support sophisticated analysis

Advanced Analysis offers three new powerful techniques to help surface actionable insights about how people use your site: Exploration, Funnel Analysis, and Segment Overlap. And you can build audiences using any of the techniques, making it seamless to take action on the learnings that come out of your analysis.

With the Exploration technique, deeper analysis can be done in just a few clicks. Easily drag and drop multiple variables (segments, dimensions, and metrics) into the analysis canvas and see instant visualizations of your data. Exploration allows you to view and compare multiple analysis tabs in a single view — helping you test and refine your insights as you go.


Create multiple tabs and compare your analyses.

Use the Funnel Analysis technique to understand the steps users take to complete actions on your site. For example, you can quickly see how users progress through your purchase process and identify steps where it can be improved. With the current Custom Funnels in Analytics 360, you can add up to 5 steps (e.g. Visited Site, Added Product to Cart, Started Checkout, Started Payment, Purchased), but Advanced Analysis lets you add up to 10 steps. These extra steps – along with the ability to add multiple segments and dimension breakdowns – give you a deeper look at how different groups of people interact with your site.

The Segment Overlap technique allows you to see how segments you’ve created in Analytics 360 intersect with one another. For example, suppose you ran a major display campaign last month that led to a lot of new first-time purchasers, and now you want to know if they’re sticking around to become repeat customers. Segment Overlap allows you to compare how much this group of first-time buyers overlaps with users who have made a purchase in the past month and with users who are now returning to your site.


See overlap between different audience segments.

Advanced Analysis in action

Let’s review an example of how you can use these techniques together to uncover helpful new insights and put them into action. Imagine you manage an ecommerce store that sells to people around the world. You want to know if there are opportunities to improve your site experience for international customers and drive more sales.

With Advanced Analysis, you can get those answers easily. Starting with Exploration, you organize your Analytics 360 data to show number of users and revenue by country. You realize that you have a lot of new users in India but no revenue — so there may be an opportunity to improve the checkout process and boost conversions.


Organize data by country to determine your top countries by traffic.

From there, you investigate further with the Funnels technique to compare conversion rates at each step of your purchase funnel for US and India users. In doing so, you see there is a steep drop in completion rate on the checkout step for the India group. This confirms what you suspected, that the checkout flow can be improved for these users.

With just two clicks, you build an audience of India users who have added a product to their cart but didn’t purchase. Once the audience is created, you can use Optimize 360 to test a new checkout experience for that group. And then, with just a few more clicks in Analytics 360, you can push that audience to AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager to run a remarketing campaign, taking advantage of the now optimized checkout flow.


Identify conversion rate drop off, and build a custom audience based on that segment.

For enterprises looking to better understand customer journeys, Advanced Analysis helps surface hard-to-find insights and makes it easy to put those insights into action. Advanced Analysis will be rolling out over the coming weeks as a beta to all Analytics 360 users.

Happy analyzing!

Posted by Dan Stone, Product Manager, Google Analytics 360



Google Analytics Blog


Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

May 15, 2018 No Comments

Directory submission is a tactic that has evolved dramatically since it first became known. Firstly, it is no longer referred to as a directory submission, simply because the term has received some negativity over the years.

Secondly, the goals have changed: we no longer focus on link acquisition. When you come to think of it, the whole link-building strategy has undergone the same evolution: it has become more integrated, meaning that we now pursue non-link-building tactics while still hoping to get some links anyway.

Some of the non-link-building benefits of getting listed that may still result in links include:

  • Proactive reputation management (i.e. making sure your business name is mentioned a lot across the web)
  • Discoverability (i.e. making sure your business is there when people use the directory search to find what they need). This comes with traffic and leads, which is always nice.

Getting listed: the opportunities

If you think directories are dead, think again: there are plenty of new and old directories out there that can send you traffic and leads. Here are just a few categories to look into.

SaaS and B2B directories

Business directories

These come in several types and forms. Some are more traditional (free but with the option of charging you once for premium review):

While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:

Local directories

These deserve a separate article (which you can find here). Apart from the ability to send local traffic (from people trying to discover a local service), they are also quite useful for so-called local citation building – in other words, they help search engines associate you with important locations.

Getting listed: the smart way

There are many more useful directories out there that can still drive sales, but choose wisely; in many cases, it’s an investment of some sort. In addition, it’s paramount to stay away from penalized directories. Here are a few tools I use to evaluate whether any directory or platform is worth the investment:

Find whether the platform ranks in Google

Does Google think a directory is good enough to rank it high in search results? Search positions are the most reliable sign of a site’s health.

There are not many sites that will let you see the stats for free, and Serpstat is one of the most affordable.

Simply run the domain in Serpstat to quickly see where it ranks and how its rankings are distributed among different search engines. There are also tools to analyze whether the domain is ever featured in Google, which is an important signal of health too. Here is the list of tools you can use.

Find whether the platform has any traffic

Since creating an alternative traffic source is one of the main goals here, this is vital. There aren’t many reliable ways to evaluate a website’s traffic unless you own it, but these are decent:

  • Alexa.com: its major data source is their own toolbar, which may mean it’s somewhat limited. Yet, it is the oldest player in the field, and therefore quite trustworthy
  • SimilarWeb.com: read more about their data sources here: “global ISP data, and thousands of add-ons, extensions, apps and plugins, plus a team of web crawlers that scan thousands of websites”.

Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere

I wouldn’t be an SEO if I paid no attention to backlinks, but in my defense, links are not just a sign of SEO ‘authority’ – they signal quality too; if someone links to it, it must be a good page.

I use Ahrefs bulk backlink analysis feature to quickly run a lot of pages and section to choose the best ones.

[NB: I only mention directories that have proven worth the investment based on their rankings and traffic.]

Have you listed your website in some directories and seen some solid traffic and leads? Share your tips and resources in the comments.

 

Search Engine Watch


Introducing the Data Studio Community Connector Codelab

May 12, 2018 No Comments

Posted by Minhaz Kazi, Developer Advocate, Google Data Studio

Data Studio is Google’s free next gen business intelligence and data visualization platform. Community Connectors for Data Studio let you build connectors to any internet-accessible data source using Google Apps Script. You can build Community Connectors for commercial, enterprise, and personal use. Learn how to build Community Connectors using the Data Studio Community Connector Codelab.

Use the Community Connector Codelab

The Community Connector Codelab explains how Community Connectors work and provides a step by step tutorial for creating your first Community Connector. You can get started if you have a basic understanding of Javascript and web APIs. You should be able to build your first connector in 30 mins using the Codelab.

If you have previously imported data into Google Sheets using Apps Script, you can use this Codelab to get familiar with the Community Connectors and quickly port your code to fetch your data directly into Data Studio.

Why create your own Community Connector

Community Connectors can help you to quickly deliver an end-to-end visualization solution that is user-friendly and delivers high user value with low development efforts. Community Connectors can help you build a reporting solution for personal, public, enterprise, or commercial data, and also do explanatory visualizations.

  • If you provide a web based service to customers, you can create template dashboards or even let your users create their own visualization based on the users’ data from your service.
  • Within an enterprise, you can create serverless and highly scalable reporting solutions where you have complete control over your data and sharing features.
  • You can create an aggregate view of all your metrics across different commercial platforms and service providers while providing drill down capabilities.
  • You can create connectors to public and open datasets. Sharing these connectors will enable other users to quickly gain access to these datasets and dive into analysis directly without writing any code.

By building a Community Connector, you can go from scratch to a push button customized dashboard solution for your service in a matter of hours.

The following dashboard uses Community Connectors to fetch data from Stack Overflow, GitHub, and Twitter. Try using the date filter to view changes across all sources:

This dashboard uses the following Community Connectors:

You can build your own connector to any preferred service and publish it in the Community Connector gallery. The Community Connector gallery now has over 70 Partner Connectors connecting to more than 400 data sources.

Once you have completed the Codelab, view the Community Connector documentation and sample code on the Data Studio open source repository to build your own connector.


Google Analytics Blog


SEO strategies and keyword rankings: mobile versus desktop

May 8, 2018 No Comments

As if we didn’t already have enough to think about in any given SEO campaign, it is now imperative to separate and refine your approaches to mobile and desktop search.

While mobile has become hugely significant over the last couple of years, this shouldn’t be to the neglect of desktop. Although SEO for mobile and desktop follow the same basic principles and best practices, there are nuances and discrepancies that need to be factored in to your overall strategy.

Part of this is the keyword rankings: you won’t ever know how to adapt your strategies if you’re not tracking the rankings separately for each. Research from BrightEdge found that 79% of listings have a different rank on mobile devices compared with desktop, and the top-ranking result for a query is different on desktop and mobile 35% of the time. These are statistics that simply cannot be ignored.

Why do they do differ?

Before delving into how to compare keyword rankings on mobile and desktop, it’s first important to acknowledge the why and the what: why they are different and what it means for your SEO strategy.

It’s paramount to understand that desktop and mobile searches use different algorithms. Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best user experience for searchers, whatever device they are using. This means creating a bespoke device-tailored experience and in order to do that, we need to delve deeper into user intent.

It’s all about user intent

The crux of the mobile versus desktop conundrum is that user intent tends to differ for each device. This is particularly important when considering how far along the funnel a user is. It’s a generalization, but overall mobile users are often closer to the transactional phase, while desktop users are usually closer to the informational phase.

For example, we can better understand user intent on mobile by understanding the prevalence of local search. If a user is searching for a product or service on mobile, it is likely to be local. In contrast, users searching for a product or service on desktop are more likely to be browsing non-location-specific ecommerce sites.

Let’s also consider the types of conversions likely to occur on each device, in terms of getting in touch. Users on mobile are for more likely to call, by simply tapping the number which appears in the local map pack section. Alternatively, desktop users would be more inclined to type an email or submit a contact form.

What on earth is a micro-moment?

To better understand the different ways in which consumers behave, it may help to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with micro-moments. These refer to Google’s ability to determine a searcher’s most likely intent, and is particularly important for mobile users, when a consumer often needs to take immediate action.

For example, if a user is searching for a local product or service, the local map pack will appear, but if they are searching for information then the quick answer box will appear. These micro-moments therefore have a significant impact on the way the SERPs are constructed.

Once you’ve understood the user intent of a given searcher, you can ensure that you are providing content for both mobile and desktop users. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that content with longer word counts continues to perform well on mobile, despite the general consensus that people on mobile simply can’t be bothered to consume long form content. This harks back to Google’s prioritization of high quality content. Besides, anybody who has a long train commute into work will understand the need for a nice, long article to read on mobile.

Rankings tools

With that context, we can now return to the matter at hand: rankings. Of course, you could record the rankings for both desktop and mobile the old-fashioned, manual way, but who has time for that? In short, any good SEO tool worth its salt will enable you to track both desktop and mobile rankings separately. Here are some favorites:

  • SEMRush is a personal favorite among the plethora of fancy SEO tools. SEMRush provides a comprehensive breakdown of mobile vs desktop results (as well as tablet if you really want to geek out) and displays the percentage of mobile-friendly results for your domain.
  • SearchMetrics offers Desktop vs. Mobile Visibility metrics, detailing individual scores for desktop and mobile, as well as overlap metrics which show how many keyword search results appear in exactly the same position for both. You can also drill down further to view how a website performs with regard to localized results.
  • Google Search Console. Don’t have access to any of the above tools? Don’t worry as you can still rely on the trusty Google Search Console. When looking at your search analytics, filter devices by comparing mobile and desktop. Even if you do have access to an SEO tool that allows you to do comparison analysis, it’s definitely still worth checking in on your Search Console insights.

Rankings are only part of the picture

It’s important to remember that rankings are only a tiny part of the picture; it’s essential to take a more holistic approach to the mobile vs desktop issue. This means taking the time to dig around Google Analytics and unearth the data and meaning beyond the vanity metrics.

You may have higher rankings for mobile, but those users might be bouncing more regularly. Is this a reflection of the user intent or is it a poor user experience? Does higher rankings for one device correlate to higher conversions? If not, then you need to consider the reasons for this. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so you must take a tailored approach to your strategy.

Quick tips for differentiating your strategies

You’ve got your mobile and desktop rankings sorted. Now you need to create or amend your strategies for both devices. Here are some quick tips to do so:

  • Separate mobile and desktop-specific search terms in your keyword research
  • Factor in voice search for mobile devices
  • Consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages where appropriate
  • Carry out a mobile SEO audit on your site
  • Include mobile vs desktop into your tracking and reporting, going beyond the rankings
  • Revisit your content strategy to ensure you are factoring in both mobile and desktop optimized content – cater for both types of user.

In short, tracking your keywords on mobile and desktop is absolutely essential for both reporting accuracy and supporting separate SEO strategies for each device. But don’t stop there; it’s more important to understand why the rankings differ and how you can use that information to refine your SEO strategies.

Search Engine Watch


Richer Google Analytics User Management

May 5, 2018 No Comments
Today we are introducing more powerful ways to manage access to your Analytics accounts: user groups inside Google Analytics, and enforceable user policies. These new features increase your ability to tightly manage who has access to your data, and amplify the impact of the user management features we launched last year.

User Groups

User groups can now be created from and used within Google Analytics, simplifying user management across teams of people. This is a big time saver if you find yourself repeatedly giving out similar permissions to many people, and simplifies granting permissions as individuals rotate into or out of a team.

To start with user groups, visit either Suite Home or Google Analytics, navigate to the user management section, and click the “+” button. You will then see an option to add new groups, which will walk you through creating a user group, adding people to it, and assigning permissions to the group. Here is a full list of steps to make a user group.

Google Analytics User Management page highlighting the new option to create a user group


Enforced User Policies

Google Analytics 360 Suite user policies let you define which users will have access to your Analytics accounts, and which do not. When a user violates a policy, you will be warned of this through the user management section in Google Analytics or Suite Home and have the option to remove that user from your organization.

We have enhanced these policies so you can choose to block policy-violating users from being added to your Analytics accounts. While policies aren’t enforced by default, you have the option to block violator additions.  When you create or edit your organization’s user policy, you will see a toggle switch like the one below:

User policy setup showcasing the new enforced policy option

User groups and enforced user policies are supported in Google Analytics today, and support for more products is coming, as we continue to plan features that help customers better manage access to their critical business data.

Posted by Matt Matyas, Product Manager Google Analytics 360 Suite


Google Analytics Blog


The best alternative keyword research tools

May 1, 2018 No Comments

Keyword research is an integral part of any search engine optimization strategy – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Keyword research takes up a significant chunk of time, and this is the case for many marketers, website owners and content creators. But it is something that has been expanding outward toward small and medium business owners as well, as having a fully optimized website is a necessity in running a company with any kind of online presence.

In the past, it was a matter of putting in the leg work – often for hours a day – to find the best keyword strategy. Today it is much simpler as more tools have been developed to make the job much faster and easier than ever before. Unfortunately, many of those tools are costly and over budget for anyone but enterprise level brands.

To keep things more affordable you can use alternative tools – often several to compensate – that are low cost, or even completely free. Here are some keyword research tools that you won’t believe don’t cost a cent.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest can be used for both content research (and to help surpass any idea blocks) and keyword research tool. By entering a phrase or keyword, choosing the medium (i.e. web, images, Yahoo) and language preference, the platform will give you a list of related searches, along with search volume, CPC, and rate of competition by percentage.

For example, searching for “content marketing” gives 913 results with an overall volume of 18,100, a CPC of $ 23.25, and a competition rate of 0.58. Scrolling down gives you a breakdown of all the variants and how that changes, such as “affiliate ads” having a volume of 140, CPC of $ 4.70, and a competition rate of 0.36.

The tool requires no login and, unlike Keyword Planner (which shows a range), it shows the actual search volume and competition level.

Google Correlate

Everyone knows about Google Keyword Planner and probably uses it, as it is the most accurate keyword tool on the web if your aim is to target Google search.

However, you may not have heard about Google Correlate, which is a very helpful and effective tool that works by taking searches and correlating them with trends happening both on the web and out in the real world. It establishes patterns that you might have never realized existed, and even lets you compare based on time period – both long and short term.

Keyword.Guru

Do you want to know what is popular on all major search engines, and not just Google? Keyword.Guru is a great tool that takes live searches and lets you know the moment you start typing what suggestions it has, so you can see what people are searching for at any given time.

There aren’t any real metrics, but not everyone likes to deal with numbers. This tool is less technical than some, but more accessible if you just want to see what searches are most common without all the associated information, which can be overwhelming to even seasoned keyword researchers.

Soovle

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia, and YouTube: what do they have in common? Soovle covers all of them, which makes it easier to get a good grasp of what is going on through multiple channels.

Being able to search YouTube for video content, Wikipedia for educational articles, and Amazon for sales info is especially helpful for getting a broader glimpse of the current state of search on the web. Soovle doesn’t generate any numbers for each keyword, but lets you quickly get a general idea of what interests your audience across a range of channels.

Akin to Keyword.Guru, it does it on the same page and with live search updates.

Bulk Keyword Suggest Tool

Bulk Keyword Suggest Tool allows you to dig into auto-suggest results from Bing, Amazon and YouTube. It was created by SEOchat and uses core terms to build a wider circle of phrases for use.

It is simple to use, easy to read and very fast to search. You can run a second or third bulk suggest and compare, then export your results or only specific ones based on how you click.

Bonus: Awesome freemium tools

Serpstat

Serpstat is a growth-hacking tool, and an effective at that. It has paid versions starting at $ 19 per month, allowing you to graduate to new levels as your business grows. However, there is also a free version that works with different iterations of Google based on country.

Serpstat calculates keyword difficulty for each search query, shows “special elements” (which inform us on search intent) and social media domains ranking for each term, and offers advanced filters to dig deep into each keyword list. It is also one of the few tools that also works on Yandex.

The graphs that are generated are simple bar graphs that effectively break things down and make it easy to understand at a glance.

WordStream

WordStream has a freemium model and its full featured tool is around $ 260 per month with a discount option to pay annually. However, it also has a free, limited version that I like to use because it allows you to specify industry if you wish.

That makes it a little bit easier if the key phrase you are working with it more general and could apply to unrelated fields. You can also specify based on country, which is great if you don’t want to automatically target a US audience (something that many tools do since it is the largest Google market).

Do you have a tool you feel deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comments.

 

Search Engine Watch


Google’s mobile-first index: six actions to identify risks and maximize ranking opportunities

April 28, 2018 No Comments

Google’s mobile-first index is here, causing fresh uncertainty about potential SEO impacts – but there are a number of proactive steps to take to manage risk and maximize ranking opportunities.

Rather than passively wait to feel the impact of the shift to mobile-first indexation, we advise companies to take six specific actions to prepare for opportunities and protect site performance as the mobile-first index is rolled out throughout 2018.

Brands that have been prioritizing mobile performance shouldn’t experience a negative impact from the mobile-first index, but an honest and systematic re-evaluation is required. Companies who have allowed the mobile and desktop experience to diverge over the years will likely experience change – rankings could be lost (or gained) as a result of the switch.

Before diving in and making changes to prepare for the mobile-first index, we recommend running a full audit of current desktop and mobile rankings in all the regions your company does business in, along with top performing pages.

 

Tracking this performance over time, any losses or gains in keyword visibility should be clear to see – along with potential causes. Across the six actions below the common thread is Google’s determination to provide accurate answers to users, in the channel that is used most frequently – mobile.

Keeping that at the heart of your SEO strategy and things should be fine – but having a plan certainly helps.

Identify risks

  • Action one go mobile-responsive

Even today, too few marketers and SEO professionals meaningfully differentiate between responsive, mobile-friendly and standalone mobile sites – but that difference will become especially important in 2018.
A responsive website adjusts (or responds) based on user activity and the device used. Typical features of a responsive site include minimal navigation, images optimized for mobile and content that shifts seamlessly according to the size of the display.

In comparison, a mobile-friendly design is often anything-but mobile-friendly, attempting to show content on a mobile device as they do on a desktop, and so give users the frustrating experience of having to manually zoom in, or squint at small fonts.

Finally, some brands still operate standalone mobile sites, completely separate from the desktop experience. With responsive and mobile-friendly sites, there shouldn’t be any difference in content from a desktop version of a site.

However, a mobile-friendly site may be disproportionately skewed towards the desktop experience with an impact on factors like mobile site speed, navigation and general usability – and these are all areas of concern when considering how Google evaluates quality in 2018.

With a separate mobile site, marketers need to make sure that the mobile version contains everything (useful) that your desktop site does which could be a lot of work depending on your mobile strategy so far.

For some brands still lingering with standalone mobile sites, the shift to the mobile-first index may be the nudge needed to move to a fully responsive approach to the site.

Whether you operate responsive, mobile-friendly or a standalone mobile site, the first action we recommend is to identify any differences and either add to or completely overhaul the mobile sites you manage.

While desktop site continue will factor into rankings as a secondary consideration (and it is vanishingly unlikely that longstanding sites with many well-earned rankings will be wiped off the SERPS) making sure the mobile experience contains all the relevant content of the desktop experience – including all structured data/meta description/alt text/schema –  is an important protective step.

  • Action twooptimize site speed versus competitors

The mobile-first index flips previous logic – when 80% of evaluations about rankings were based on desktop crawling and indexing, site speed considerations were less of a concern.

However, as Google crawls mobile sites while mimicking (a not-very-good) mobile connection, slow performance, elements that struggle to load and broken links will quickly use up crawl equity and indicate that your site is less efficient at delivering the answers that users want relative to your competitors.

In addition to Google tools, we regularly use platforms like GTMetrix, Pingdom, DareBoost and WebPageTest.org to get a complete view of speed issues.

Particularly for international sites, testing mobile speed from different locations and comparing these measurements to those of your key competitors will help establish practical targets to aim for. Although Google frequently mentions a target page speed of under three seconds as being ideal, in practical reality and SEO terms, aiming to be better than your competitors should be enough.

Like with SEO in general, speed optimization is similar to an old joke –  ‘you don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.’

As ever, the quickest wins in terms of speed are usually to be found in reducing image and video size, managing JavaScript and other moving elements, minimizing tracking codes and scripts and doing what you can to reduce any slowdown caused by bolt-ons like booking and payment platforms.

The challenge for SEO professionals is to identify elements like these that can be improved without too much damage to the brand experience or taking away content useful for users.

  • Action threeoptimize the customer journey

Understanding the intent of site visitors and reducing barriers from their first click in the SERPS to the information they are looking for should result in positive user experiences – and minimize the risk that comes from a site experience that causes confusion, fruitless clicking around and pushes customers away.

Although there’s some fuzziness about quite how Google interprets the quality of a user’s visit – and how it rewards that quality in terms of rankings – we advise researching the different types of mobile journeys your customers take in a systematic way and making them more efficient.

Though much ‘best practice’ SEO advice has in the past been based around engagement and keeping visitors on the site, we all know that site visitors often stick around because they’re being frustrated by unclear navigation and a poor approach to customer journey planning.

Users are more impatient of poor customer journeys on mobile – and we must anticipate that Google will feel the same too. Though helping visitors to get the answers they seek more quickly may actually decrease dwell time, we’re confident that Google and other search engines will differentiate between a short visit and a swift return to the SERPS, and a short visit that successfully ends the user’s search.

Evaluating bounce rates and the success of the mobile user journey using heat-mapping tools like Hotjar or user research panels like Peek User Testing will bring in objective data to answer whether your visitors are engaged and loving your content, or hitting barriers and getting increasingly annoyed.

In the mobile-index era, we predict that this annoyance will have a greater impact on rankings – and so is a risk to be managed carefully.

Maximising opportunities

While taking steps to understand your assets and protect your rankings is important, the shift to the mobile-first index is also a big opportunity to get ahead of competitors who are less prepared. Knowing that others will be slow to react really gives an extra incentive to put real effort into SEO strategies that will positively differentiate your brand from competitors.

  • Action four prioritize content formatting that excels on mobile.

A lot of content marketing (such as infographics, interactive microsites, mega pages and even video, depending on the platform) produced by brands still display poorly on mobile devices.

Taking a mobile-first mindset and prioritizing everyday content and content marketing assets that work particularly well on mobile devices will resonate best with both customers and search engines. Fortunately, there are a lot of methodologies that can be used to provide depth of content that is engaging and easily navigable on mobile.

One of the biggest changes is the resurgence of expandable content areas like tabs, accordions and other filters. Use filters to hide content not relevant to a visitor’s specific query, tabs that reveal further information when clicked and accordions that expand the page are all familiar to site visitors – and allow for a single web page to be seamlessly used in multiple ways by multiple audiences.

While these have been seen by Google and other search engines as a potentially sneaky way to cram in content to a page, Google is on record as stating that content that is hidden to make a mobile site more efficient and speedier to explore will be taken into full consideration.

While competitors may have a responsive or mobile-friendly site and feel that this is enough preparation, many will likely still take a desktop-first mindset, creating overloaded pages that are tedious to wade through on mobile devices.

Thinking with a customer and mobile-first mindset to arrange content that can be skimmed easily through logical headings, bolding of main points and pull-out quotes, numbered lists, bullet-points and more will support mobile visitors and and differentiate from competitors while allowing search engine bots to crawl effectively.

  • Action fiveevaluate AMP and progressive web apps

Again capitalizing on the slowness of competitors, the move to the mobile-first index means a re-evaluation of progressive web apps and accelerated mobile pages could bring up big opportunities.

As a recap, Accelerated Mobile Pages allow web pages to load especially quickly by loading page elements asynchronously and removing out elements of JavaScript that cause delays.

AMP templates are easily applied in the code with well-established procedures to provide the speedy AMP version to search engines, with the slower (but perhaps more visual) non-AMP still being recognized for ranking purposes with a canonical tag.

Progressive Web Apps use browser feature detection to give a fast, app-like experience that can be loaded from a mobile home screen or simply visited with a direct link. Websites that have a lot of moving parts and a lot of returning traffic, for example in e-commerce or other transactional sites, are the most well suited for Progressive Web Apps as they can massively streamline the user experience.

In both cases, although implementation is comparatively straightforward, you can bet that a minority of companies in your industry will have a systematic approach to using these technologies.

Being fast, being relevant and being right are key watchwords for future mobile-first SEO and using technologies that help speed, indexation and the user experience is a positive and proactive step.

Action six –  identify competitors to beat

As discussed, not every competitor will be thinking systematically about the mobile-first index, or the changing nature of SEO in general. That opens up the possibility that by being faster and more focused, some previously difficult to rank for keywords will become more obtainable.

Using your business and industry knowledge, we advise clients to identify competitors who have rankings ahead of your own that may be less responsive to change, and underprepared for the mobile-first index.

Building these target keywords into your mobile strategy and wider SEO strategy – including off-site SEO and link earning – should result in some strong opportunities.

Conclusion – manage risk, capitalize on opportunities

For some, the mobile-first index won’t result in anything transformational – if you’ve been following best practice for years and your main competitors have been doing likewise there probably won’t be any game-changing shifts.

However, in any period of uncertainty there are opportunities to take advantage of and risks to manage – and in competitive SEO niches, taking every chance to get ahead is important.

Whatever your starting point – the mobile-first index is the new normal in SEO, and now is the time to get to grips with the challenge – and potential.

 

 

 

 

Search Engine Watch


How to select the best caching solution for WordPress

April 24, 2018 No Comments

There is no denying that the existence of an appropriate website is justified primarily by its loading speed: the faster, the better. Forty-seven percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, which is quite a task to accomplish as a new website owner.

Interestingly, even a single second of delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, and Google’s algorithms favour fast-loading websites in the form of search engine rankings. With so much at stake with regard to your website’s loading time, the pain is real. So, how does one make sure that WordPress websites are fast to load?

Caching is an efficient solution

Caching serves the purpose of creating and keeping a static version of your website and serving it to a requesting visitor when they access your website for the second time or more. It enhances your site’s user experience by swiftly presenting the static version without any delay.

This delay, otherwise, is simply caused when a visitor is trying to access a website from their browser and all the website elements such as the posts, slider, headers, CSS files, JavaScript, images, videos, etc., take their own time to get downloaded on the browser. When caching is in place, your website is ever-ready to deliver a cached/static version – quickly.

If you are new to website creation, how do you implement Caching on your website? What are the ways and means? Are their tools that can help you do it?

To start, you must test your website for its speed monitoring using tools such as:

These tools are a great way to figure out anything that might not be going well on your website’s backend when it comes to its loading time and similar issues. Since WordPress websites have their own share of down time owing to a number of factors, you cannot always act laid back when it comes to the performance and WordPress security of your digital property. If you would like to learn about striking a balance with your WordPress site’s security apart from its performance, you can read more here.

Broadly divided into two, WordPress Caching can be determined as:

  1. Browser Caching: Reducing the load on the server is a great way of optimizing your website’s speed and that is what Browser Caching does. It reduces the number of requests per page, resulting in the superpower where your website loads faster.
  1. Server Caching: Used by websites that have spiked traffic rates, Server Caching is largely about when data is cached on the server itself, helping with the loading revisions.

The best plugins to incorporate caching onto your WordPress site

You can choose from the following list of plugins to manage caching on your WordPress website.

  1. WP Super Cache

Total number of downloads: 2+ million

One of the best caching plugins in the WordPress repository, WP Super Cache is a great cache management plugin. Generating static HTML files for your WordPress website, the plugin serves cached files in three ways, which are based on speed. It employs methods like Apache mod_rewrite and a modification of your .htaccess file to serve supercached static HTML files.

 

  1. W3 Total Cache

Total number of downloads: 1+ million

Highly recommended by web hosts and developers, this plugin has continued to reign the WordPress caching market for a number of years. By employing browser caching, it renders pages quickly, which results in reduced page load time, and further garners more page views and increased time on site.

A great plugin in itself, W3 Total Cache contributes to improvement in your site’s SEO, offers content delivery network (CDN) integration, and overall user-experience on the WordPress site.

  1. WP Fastest Cache

Total number of downloads: 600,000+

The plugin serves the usual caching functions, offers SSL and CDN support, allows Cache Timeout for specific pages, enable/disable cache option for mobile devices and for logged-in users. Available in over 18 languages, the plugin does not require the user to modify the .htacces file and is pretty simple to set up. However, it does not currently support WordPress Multisite, but it is hoped that the plugin developers are working towards introducing this. Also, their premium version has much more to offer.

  1. Cache Enabler

Total number of downloads: 40,000+

Working its way to improving the performance of your website, the Cache enabler plugin offers WordPress multisite support. Its disk cache engine is efficient and fast and the plugin can be easily setup. One of the unique features of this plugin is its ability to create two cached files: plain HTML one and gzipped (pre-compressed files). It also offers the features of clearing the cache in either a manual or an automated manner.

  1. Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization

Total number of downloads: 10,000+

A great speed optimization caching plugin by WPMU Dev, the Hummingbird plugin features file compression, minification and full-page, browser and Gravatar caching. It also provides performance reports for your WordPress site so that you can maintain its speed. Its scanning feature keeps a check on files that might be slowing your site and provides probable fixes.

NOTE: While caching is great, you will also need to implement other efforts if you really want to increase your website’s speed. Some of the things that you can easily do are:

  • Invest in a reliable web hosting service and go with a hosting plan that suits the size of your business website
  • Getting a CDN service is a great way to cater to your site visitors from various geographical locations without having them to wait up a bit too long for the server to fetch your site data
  • Declutter your website’s database, uninstall plugins and themes that you no longer need
  • Always use a WordPress theme that has been optimized for speed.

Conclusions

Website speed matters, and caching is one of the easiest ways out there to accomplish a fast loading site. Since your site’s speed has a direct relationship with user experience and the traffic it drives in, it follows that search engine optimization also slides in. Therefore, you must direct all your efforts into making sure that your website is capable of impressing its visitors with an unmatched speed.

Lucy Barret is an experienced Web Developer and passionate blogger, currently working at WPCodingDev. 

Search Engine Watch


How to force Google to recrawl your website

April 21, 2018 No Comments

If you have launched a new website, updated a single page on your existing domain, or altered many pages and/or the structure of your site, you will likely want Google to display your latest content in its SERPs.

Google’s crawlers are pretty good at their job. If you think of a new article on a big domain, for example, the search engine will crawl and index any changes pretty quickly thanks to the natural traffic and links from around the web which will alert its algorithms to this new content.

For most sites, however, it is good practice to give Google a little assistance with its indexing job.

Each of the following official Google tools can achieve this. And each are more or less suitable depending on whether you want Google to recrawl a single or page or more of your site.

It is also important to note two things before we start:

  1. None of these tools can force Google to start indexing your site immediately. You do have to be patient
  2. Quicker and more comprehensive indexing of your site will occur if your content is fresh, original, useful, easy to navigate, and being linked to from elsewhere on the web. These tools can’t guarantee Google will deem your site indexable. And they shouldn’t be used as an alternative to publishing content which is adding value to the internet ecosystem.

Fetch as Google

Google’s Fetch tool is the most logical starting point for getting your great new site or content indexed.

First, you need to have a Google account in order to have a Google Webmaster account – from there you will be prompted to ‘add a property’ which you will then have to verify. This is all very straightforward if you have not yet done this.

Once you have the relevant property listed in your Webmaster Tools account, you can then ‘perform a fetch’ on any URL related to that property. If your site is fetchable (you can also check if it is displaying correctly) you can then submit for it to be added to Google’s index.

This tool also allows you to submit a single URL (‘Crawl only this URL’) or the selected URL and any pages it links to directly (‘Crawl this URL and its direct links’). Although both of these requests come with their own limits; 10 for the former option and 2 for the latter.

Add URL

You might also have heard of Google’s Add URL tool.

 

Think of this as a simpler version of the above Fetch tool. It is a slower, simpler tool without the functionality and versatility of Fetch. But it still exists, so – it seems – still worth adding your URL to if you can.

You can also use Add URL with just a Google account, rather than adding and verifying a property to Webmaster Tools. Simply add your URL and click to assure the service you aren’t a robot!

Add a Sitemap

If you have amended many pages on a domain or changed the structure of the site, adding a sitemap to Google is the best option.

Like Fetch As Google, you need to add a sitemap via the Webmaster search console.

[See our post Sitemaps & SEO: An introductory guide if you are in the dark about what sitemaps are].

Once you have generated or built a sitemap: on Webmaster Tools select the domain on which it appears, select ‘crawl’/’sitemaps’/’add/test sitemap’, type in its URL (or, as you can see, the domain URL appended with sitemap.xml) and ‘submit’.

As I pointed out in the introduction to this post…

Google is pretty good at crawling and indexing the web but giving the spiders as much assistance with their job as possible makes for quicker and cleaner SEO.

Simply having your property added to Webmaster Tools, running Google Analytics, and then using the above tools are the foundation for getting your site noticed by the search giant.

But good, useful content on a well-designed usable site really gets you visible – by Google and most importantly humans.

 

Search Engine Watch


Is Optimize set up correctly on your site? Let us double-check for you.

April 17, 2018 No Comments
Google Optimize helps businesses determine which website experiences work best for their customers. With easy-to-use A/B testing capabilities, marketers can use Optimize to create and launch a test in minutes — and manage the entire process on their own.

A/B testing with tools like Optimize drives results. In a recent survey, 72% of marketers found A/B testing to be a highly valuable method for improving conversion rates.

But we’ve heard from businesses that while testing in Optimize is easy, setting it up could be easier. 

Good news: We’re introducing a new feature that helps make sure Optimize is set up and working the way it’s supposed to.

Let Optimize double-check your code 

With Installation Diagnostics, Optimize will automatically alert and advise you on potential issues with your Optimize code each time you create a test. At a glance, you’ll see if your Optimize setup is correct and if you’re ready to run a test.

Let’s say you create a new page on your site but forget to add the Optimize code. Later, when you are creating a test for that page, Optimize will tell you that the necessary code isn’t installed. You’ll have the opportunity to fix the issue and then launch your test. Moving forward, you can be confident that your test results won’t be disrupted by an incorrect setup.

Optimize will alert you about other issues too – including if Google Analytics code isn’t installed on a page, or if an old version of Analytics code is installed. Then you can make changes to ensure you’ll be able to measure the performance of your experiment. Learn more.

Try it yourself 

Today’s top businesses are testing their way to success. They’re valuing data over opinions. They’re constantly learning — even from failures and mistakes. And they’re using their findings to improve the customer experience.

Whether your business is big, small, or somewhere in between, you can follow their lead. Try Optimize now and get ready to gain deep insights about your customers so you can enhance their web experiences like never before.


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