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Anchor text variations: Your key to link profile diversity

January 14, 2020 No Comments

Anchor text variation is one of the best ways to tell Google what a specific web page is about. It is used to help readers find more information about a topic and also factors into ranking your web pages. While it is a great tool, it can be the downfall of your SEO efforts if not used correctly. 

Many people have tried (and are still trying) to manipulate search results. One way to do this is to link from specific anchor text in an attempt to rank for the specific word or phrase. Unfortunately for these folks but fortunately for those of us doing it right, we are no longer in the olden days of SEO and these types of black-hat techniques no longer work. In fact, they are likely to get you penalized. 

One of the best ways to stay out of a penalty is by practicing link diversity. There are many ways to do this – you could try linking from various domain extensions, different domain authorities, and using a mixture of “follow” and “nofollow” links. For the sake of this article, however, I want to focus specifically on varying anchor text. 

Why vary your anchor text?

Because. Google…

That’s the simple answer, but let’s go a little more in-depth. Google looks at your link profile when deciding how to rank your web pages. Part of your link profile involves the anchor text used to link to your website. 

Google's list of ranking factors

Source: SparkToro

So, you should have specific anchor text that talks about your web pages, right? Well, sort of.

Using specific anchor text is fine, but when you start to use the same anchor text, Google will get suspicious. It will make your backlink profile look unnatural and likely lead to lower search rankings, if not a Google penalty. 

When linking to your website, you need to vary the anchor text. Natural links will come from various anchor texts as webmasters link differently. There is no way all websites got together and decided to link to your website from the exact same anchor text. Google knows this, which is why you will be going down the road of a Google penalty if you don’t incorporate diversity. 

Using long-tail in your anchor text variations

So, how do you choose anchor text variations? There are many ways to do this, but I will show you some that will keep the meaning of your anchor text to best help with SEO. The first is mixing in long-tail keywords with your exact match anchor text. 

Example

Let’s use the keyword phrase “anchor text” as our example. Instead of linking from that exact phrase, use the following long-tail variations:

  • “using variations of anchor text in your backlink profile”
  • “how to vary your anchor text for better link diversity”
  • “how anchor text variations matter in your link profile”

I just made those up, but you can see how we use the exact match keyword within a long-tail anchor text. Google will still see the main anchor text and take that into account, but you also have a variation so as to show a natural link profile (and not artificial link building). 

Using LSI Keywords

The above examples I just made up on the fly, but you can get more technical if you want to vary your anchor text and ensure you keep the meaning of the term you are trying to rank for. What do I mean by that?

Sometimes people simply choose anchor text variations that they think are similar. While they may be similar in wording, they may not be similar in meaning. And yes, it makes a difference. The term “anchor text variation” and “exact match anchor text” contain the same keyword, but they will return very different results when you search Google. 

Example of using LSI for anchor text variations

Source: Google Search

That is where LSI keywords come into play. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing and is a term used to describe keywords that Google feels are similar to each other. And hey, if Google says they are similar, then they are (since Google is the one who determines where they rank). 

You can find LSI keywords in a number of ways. Use an online LSI keyword generator or go to your Google AdWords account and search for specific keyword variations in your ad campaign. You can also simply Google your main term and then look at the bottom of the page for similar searches suggested by Google. 

Using the last suggestion mentioned above, I found the following LSI keywords for “anchor text variation”:

  • “how to create anchor text”
  • “anchor text best practices”
  • “anchor text generator”

This means you can use all three of these to link to the same webpage and Google will see them as the same or similar, without penalizing you for using the “exact” same anchor text. Make sense?

Final word on anchor text variation

There are a number of techniques and strategies available to you when it comes to SEO, but building a diverse link profile is one of the highest impacts. Even within the context of diversifying your anchor text, there are multiple strategies, as you can see. For example, you can add advice such as isolating your current anchor text structure to ensure it is diverse. Without going too far and adding a layer of confusion, however, I think you get the main point which is you must vary your anchor text. By doing so you are creating a diverse link profile that will show Google your links are coming naturally, and you aren’t involved in any link building schemes. 

What variations have you used for anchor text diversity?  

Anthony Gaenzle is the Founder of AnthonyGaenzle.com a marketing and business blog. He also serves as the Head of Marketing and Business Development at Granite Creative Group, a full-service marketing firm.

The post Anchor text variations: Your key to link profile diversity appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM)

January 11, 2020 No Comments

Before anybody does business with you, they’d have Googled your name. The links and information that appear on the first few pages of Google when your name is searched for are what potential partners perceive you are. That’s why online reputation management is key.

According to Eric Schmidt, “Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens of the future and it will exist primarily online.”

Curating a positive online reputation is no longer optional. Successful online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) companies help their clients achieve results through proactively coordinating content, websites, and search engine results pages (SERPs).

In this article, I will share how the right SEO-driven content strategy will boost your digital reputation.

Why online reputation is important to your business’ existence

1. Consumers trust user-generated content more

Research by TurnTo revealed that 99% of consumers would consider user-generated content before making a purchase decision. At Blue Ocean Global Tech, we consistently receive emails from executives, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who have realized too late how one comment or negative link adversely impacts their revenue and bottom line.

2. Your online reputation affects your business offline too

Yes, this is important. Prospective patrons research a restaurant before walking into the physical venue to experience the real thing. According to BrightLocal consumer survey research, 82% of consumers read online reviews for a local business before booking an appointment.

3. Talents will only work with a business that has a great reputation

Businesses may view their online reputation from a customer-acquisition standpoint. However, digital presence affects almost everything, including the perception of potential employees.

How to augment your online reputation by building on SEO efforts

1. Optimize content for a successful ORM campaign

People are influenced by what they read about you. This is where it is necessary to ensure positive content ranks higher for your names or brand keywords.

What is the difference between SEO and ORM, then? Since highlighting your positive content alone does not guarantee that your potential customers or partners will see the most representative information, you need effective SEO to rank and feature the strengths of your brand. Consistently publishing content without implementing effective SEO tactics is a common practice, which we refer to as “spray and pray”.

Keep in mind that the most successful reputation management campaigns rank specific articles, videos, blogs, and websites that highlight your expertise.

An effective SEO strategy will accomplish the following areas:

  1. Optimize pages of your website to appear atop of SERPs and rank for target keyword phrases.
  2. Feature your genuine social profiles representing your company or brand name.
  3. Optimize company-hosted and third-party review website pages to populate when an interested person Googles “your brand name + reviews.”
  4. Influence search engines to highlight positive content and simultaneously push negative or irrelevant content down beyond the third or fourth page.

2. How to optimize content for better discovery on the internet

2a. Types of content to optimize for optimal results

What type of content is best optimized for optimal results? Authentic and concise writing attracts back-links from credible websites. Naturally, optimizing these digital assets insulates you from defamatory content and suppresses negative or erroneous links. Below are several examples of concentrated SEO content.

  1. A guide or tutorial article: Guides are content that takes the reader through the process of understanding a subject. Guides may be harder to create but will rank higher for keyphrases over time. They earn backlinks easily.
  2. Video review of your product/company/industry: According to a study by Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to achieve organic page rank in Google than plain text. With video content, you can easily rank positive content for targeted phrases. Additionally, the best offense is a strong defense. Authentic video digital assets inoculate your brand against future malicious or defamatory posts, whether anonymous or not.
    Using client testimonial videos for SEO and online reputation management
  3. Whitepapers: Releasing an original-content white paper is a widely accepted strategy for positively impacting search results. Similar to an actionable guide, the white paper can offer in-depth forecasts and developed arguments, which will further establish you as a reputable authority.
  4. Website bearing your name with a press page: If you do not already have a website bearing your name, now is the time you should create one. Nourish this cornerstone digital asset with SEO-rich content about yourself and your brand. Begin with the end in mind so that you eventually rank on multiple keywords organically. Even if someone wants to do business with Blue Ocean Global Technology, whether through a referral, email outreach, or direct phone call from me, they often Google “Sameer Somal” because I am the CEO. Investing the time to create SameerSomal.com pays ongoing dividends in credibility and trust. Prospects and new friends often thank me for that website because they were able to read so much about me in one place.
  5. An author page or brand page on an authority publication: Publications and sites such as Wikipedia, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.com often rank on page one for your name in search results. Individuals can have author bylines in Inc.com while companies can be listed on the Inc. 5000 list. Since these high-domain-authority websites allow you to have a biography of yourself on your author page, they are compelling options for concentrated SEO content.

SEO benefit of having an author bio page on authoritative sites for online reputation management

2b. Scores to target for achieving higher content discovery

Connect your goals with the creation of authoritative SEO content to best support your online reputation management campaign. While originating SEO-rich content will rank favorably with Google, consider these benchmarks to drive measurable results:

  1. Aim for depth: You want your content to be as in-depth as possible, giving your readers all the necessary summary information they would want on a single page. Supplement the main points with detailed content that includes technical details and action steps for implementation. Google’s algorithm will understand the depth and subsequently rank the comprehensive material higher for target keywords.
  2. Link to credible sources: With in-depth content, you will notice that you’re making claims that would need to be backed by sources. More so, when you’re attempting to win readers over to your side, ensure your facts and data are referenced from credible sources.
  3. Break your content into digestible formats: You do not want your content to be skimmed over and abandoned because it is difficult to read. Aside from the fact that in-depth SEO content would help you dominate search results, it’s an opportunity to have all of your positive sides ingrained in the minds of your readers, helping you to earn their trust once more.

3. Where brands should focus on when optimizing content for reputation enhancement

To ensure your content performs well, make sure you’re publishing them on high-authority websites. This goes for both visual and text-based content.

For the content hosted on your personal or company website, ensure that all of your website properties are optimized and maintained and update plug-ins monthly. SEO and reputation campaigns will yield relatively marginal results if users are driven back to a website that is not functional or responsive. Furthermore, foundational opportunities to rank on Google and reach people who want your help are missed when you don’t perform regular technical maintenance on your website.

After optimizing your website to perform highly in search results, you should also level up your reputation campaign and promote best-performing content. The next step is to identify positive pillar content sources.

3a. Identifying positive content – Best practices

You want to make sure you’re not only creating rich SEO-driven content but are actually putting your optimal effort into promoting the type of content that highlights your strengths. To identify positive content that may benefit your brand image, consider these milestones you may overlook:

  1. Received congratulatory wishes when they were released – Such as completing a successful acquisition, receiving an award, reaching a new industry milestone, getting featured in an important publication, and so on.
  2. Celebrated the fulfillment of a personal goal – Such as hitting a weight-loss goal, completing a book you’ve been working on, hiring that star employee you’ve always dreamed of working with, and others.
  3. Documented a partnership goal – Has your brand always dreamed of working with another brand, and have you always talked openly about this? Such content could augment your brand’s reputational image by investing SEO efforts into it.
  4. Documented the process it took to achieve a huge goal – Completing your major office headquarters or complex would fall into this category, as would the content that documents the process it took to develop your flagship product from scratch to finish.

4. How to use image search ranking to augment online reputation efforts

Images are often ignored in ORM efforts by marketers because it’s assumed that it is difficult to rank images. Images still provide many opportunities to claim your branded keywords, create authentic back-links, and build a strong reputation within search engines.

Consider this: Why is it that most of the time, when you run a query of a famous person’s name in Google, images of them usually rank at the top of the results? And images often dominate the Knowledge Graph area for popular names such as celebrities, brands, or popular destinations.

Below are some techniques for using images to dominate search results for your online reputation repair campaign.

 4a. Optimize alt tags and keywords

Alt tags in images are strings of connected texts that help search engine crawlers to understand what an image is about. When adding images to your content, always include your branded keywords in the alt text area of the images. For the most effective results, keep the texts connected to each other by adding the underscore sign “_” after every string of text. So, say I was to add an image of myself in content, I’d add the following text to the alt text area: “Sameer_Somal_CEO_of_Blue_Ocean_Global_Tech”, instead of just including random text or just barely adding my name to it.

4b. Name the image after the branded keywords

If you’re uploading an image to your website as a part of your SEO content, you’ll be missing out on keyword ranking opportunity if you’re saving such images with random texts, or, in some scenarios, with numbers. Instead, use the branded keywords you want to rank for as the name of the images. This means you’d have to locate the image file destination on your local storage—that is, your computer or hard drive – and change the name of the image to the branded keyword you want it to rank for. Again, you can use the alt tags approach to optimize it by linking the texts together.

Naming images after branded keywords to use SEO for online reputation management

Conclusion

The ORM process helps aligns your sales, marketing, and technology efforts. SEO content is a key pillar for achieving the results you seek on the internet. By learning the top-performing SEO strategies to rank atop search results for your branded keywords, you’ll be able to maintain a clean image on the internet and create opportunities.

Sameer Somal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology, a global leader in online reputation management. He is a recognized international keynote speaker and an internet defamation subject matter expert witness. Sameer can be reached on LinkedIn.

The post The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020?

January 4, 2020 No Comments

With every year seeing new technological developments that shift the boundaries of business, working to take advantage of the new opportunities can be a challenge in digital marketing. One of these transformations in the market has been caused by the widespread adoption of voice search technology and its effects on internet usage.

As a consequence, this has had an impact on search engine optimization, where following SEO best practices is essential for most businesses in the current era. Internet voice search could be set to disrupt SEO conventions, so businesses would be well-advised to stay informed of the changes and plan accordingly.  

The rise of voice technology

The introduction of IBM’s Watson in 2010 paved the way for voice technology devices. Watson is a powerful voice recognition question-answer computer system that stunned the world as a super-intelligent, thinking, and speaking robot that was able to beat Trivia grandmasters on the TV quiz show, ‘Jeopardy’. In the following year, Google launched its Voice Search and Apple released Siri for the iPhone 4S, the first digital personal assistant. 

This was followed in 2014 by Cortana from Microsoft and Amazon Echo, a voice speaker powered by the personal assistant, Alexa. Google Assistant was launched in 2016, as well as the smart speaker Google Home. Initial figures showed Amazon Alexa to be leading the market, though Google Home is forecast to take the lead by 2020. Other prominent digital assistants on the global stage include Alice from Yandex, and AliGenie from Alibaba.  

Voice recognition technology has significantly improved since its inception. Google claims 95 percent accuracy, while the Chinese iFlytek speech recognition system has an accuracy of 98%. 

Voice technology has also spread to devices that fall under the umbrella term, the Internet of Things (IoT), such as a smart TV, a smart thermostat or a home kit. While it may be possible, internet voice search doesn’t have direct applications for most of these devices yet, and by far the greatest share of searches are currently made on either a smartphone or a smart speaker.

Twenty percent of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are made with voice, while 31% of smartphone users use voice at least once a week, according to Statistica. 

Media analytics firm Comscore predicts that half of all online searches will be made through voice by 2020, while Gartner predicts that in the same year, 30% of online searches will be made on devices without a screen. This suggests an enormous rise in voice search, as well as the increased adoption of smart speakers. Earlier this year, Juniper Research predicted that 3.25 billion voice assistants were in use – a figure they forecast to reach eight billion by 2023. 

The effects of voice on SEO

Voice is, therefore, transforming our approaches to technology and the internet, but what impact is it having on search engine optimization?

Natural language

With improved and reliable voice recognition systems, voice technology is well adapted to follow everyday language use, so users can give commands as if they were speaking to a human. For any areas of potential confusion, emerging technologies are seeking to improve the user experience. The 2018 Internet Trends Report by venture capitalist and internet trends specialist, Mary Meeker, found that 70% of English language voice searches were made in natural or conversational language. 

Keyword length

Spoken language usually isn’t as concise as the written word, so queries will be longer than the three or four keyword searches more common to graphical user interfaces (GUI). Voice searches currently average 29 words in length, according to Backlinko. SEO strategists will need to adjust by using more long-tail keywords, with the added benefit that the longer the keyword phrases are, the higher the probability of conversion. 

Graph showing voice search query phrase length

Source: Neilpatel.com

Question words

Voice searches will more frequently include the question words who, which, when, where, and how, that are usually omitted in written searches. Marketers need to ensure content can deliver accurate and relevant answers to voice search queries, and distinguish between simple questions and those that require more comprehensive answers. Queries that can be answered with very short responses typically won’t generate traffic to a website because Google will often provide the required information via featured search snippets. 

According to SeoClarity, 20% of voice searches are triggered by just 25 keywords. These include question words and other commonly used verbs, such as make, do and can, as well as key nouns and adjectives, including a recipe, new, easy, types and home. These can be worked into SEO strategies, and question-form queries can show user intent to a higher degree. Marketers are therefore able to optimize content according to questions of a higher value. 

Search query trends by Bright Local

Source: Brightlocal.com

Semantic search

As opposed to lexical searches that look for literal matches of keywords, semantic searches attempt to find the user’s intended meaning within the context of the terms used. This understanding can be aided by user search history, global search history, the location of the user and keyword spelling variations. 

Google’s RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system designed to recognize words and phrases in order to improve internet search outcomes. This independent thinking quality of RankBrain helps it take query handling to a more sophisticated level. Hummingbird is another Google technology that helps natural language queries. It helps search result pages be more relevant based on context and intent, causing relevant pages to rank higher. 

Local search

Voice technology has brought an increased emphasis on the use of local search. Consumers are three times more likely to search locally when searching by voice. Research carried out over the last year shows that 58% of consumers find local businesses using voice search, and 46 percent use voice technology to find information on local businesses daily. Marketing strategies should account for this change and optimize for “near me” queries. 

SERPs

Around 75% of voice search results will rank in the top three positions in search engine results pages (SERPs). Most voice searches are answered by Rich Answer Boxes shown at the top of results pages. Featured snippets are included in 30 percent of Google queries. These are extracts from any website on the first page of SERPs, and brands are given credit in voice search as well as usual GUI searches. Brands only need to be on the first page to be used in featured snippets, rather than position zero.

Ecommerce

Ecommerce is especially impacted by voice, as consumers are much more likely to use voice to make purchases. Sixty-two percent of voice speaker owners have made purchases through their virtual assistant, and 40 percent of millennials use voice assistants before making online purchases. Digital assistants – and the best ways to optimize for them – should, therefore, be a priority for online retailers. 

Adapting to voice search

With voice technology impacting SEO in various ways, here are a few recommended steps brands can take to adapt accordingly.

  1. Google Voice prioritizes quick-loading websites, so brands should ensure images are optimized, files are compressed, response time is reduced, and the site is fully responsive. 
  2. Content should be optimized with long-tail keywords that reflect popular queries used in voice search. Focus on natural language. 
  3. Featured snippets are summary answers from web pages that may be used in position zero. To optimize content for this, include identifiable extracts to be featured and make content easier for Google to read by using H-tags and bullet points. 
  4. Structured data and schema markup provide more information about a brand and drive traffic. They help pages appear in rich snippets, which will increase the chances of being the first result delivered in voice searches. 
  5. Local information for your brand should be provided to meet the increased search volume for local businesses with voice – using Google My Business will help.  
  6. Increasing domain authority will help with search rankings – this can be improved by including high-quality links.

The impact of voice technology on SEO is certain. Given the huge rise in the adoption and use of voice, the impact on businesses will be considerable. Those brands that can anticipate and stay ahead of the changes before they happen will surely reap the benefits in years to come.

Roy Castleman is founder and managing director of EC-MSP Ltd., a London-based IT support organization focusing on small and medium-sized businesses.

The post What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


10 Tips for improved guest blogging in 2020

December 31, 2019 No Comments

As link building becomes a more cautionary practice it’s necessary to get a clear idea of how to acquire the best links for your website, in light of this guest blogging in 2020 can be a good method. 

Although Google has openly placed more scrutiny on guest blogging, there is undoubtedly still value in acquiring a link from a recognizable high-authority site in your niche. That being said, it’s not easy to secure links from top sites-especially when you need to scale up your efforts. Many sites only offer nofollow links and with growing competition, there is no shortage of good writers to populate these blog sites with high-quality articles.

This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost in the world of guest blogging. It just means your efforts need to be planned and strategized. Here are some top tips to get the most out of your guest blogging in 2020.

  1. Create a master list of guest blogging sites
  2. Qualify relevance
  3. Qualify authority
  4. Check search visibility
  5. Combine outreach tactics to land opportunities
  6. Research your target sites blog
  7. Strategize your topic
  8. Create an enticing storyline with your headings
  9. Submit infographics
  10. Make your links count

1. Create a master list of guest blogging sites 

Be extremely organized with your approach to guest blogging to streamline the process. Create a master list on a spreadsheet in order to keep track of your efforts. Record the sites you’ve made contact with, the dates you’ve submitted articles or pitches and any notes on the efforts you’ve made to help you avoid duplicate efforts.

Start with a pre-existing list 

There are dozens of sites that have created a list of the top guest blogging sites for multiple industries. You can start your master list with the most popular authority sites in your niche by exploring a few pre-existing lists. 

A few examples that offer a list of guest blogging sites are Lilach Bullock, Izideo, Advanced Web Ranking, and Solvid. This will start you off with a solid base of top sites to work from that are well known within your niche. 

Scrape Google

It’s impossible to know about every website that offers guest blogging without doing some background research. One method of discovery is to use command operatives to scrape Google.

Use the following commands paired with a keyword to find guest blogging sites:

  • “inurl” will tell Google to look for keywords in the URL
  • “intitle” will find sites with the keyword in the title

Mix and match commands to produce different results:

Inurl: “digital marketing” + “write for us”

Intitle: SEO + “guest post”

Check out guest post sites from your competition

It’s no secret that you can use any backlink report to get the inside scoop on the strength of your competitions backlink profile. Use Moz, SEMRush, Ahrefs or any tool of your choice to produce to see what links your competition has acquired. In the digital marketing space, a typical backlink profile will yield a number of guest blogging sites your competition found in which you can also submit an article.

2. Qualify relevance

If there were no authority transferred by links, what sites would you link to? This type of approach to link building will help you seek out the sites that are highly relevant to your website without being blinded by domain authority.

It happens quite often that at first glance a website DA will influence your perception of the quality of the link which is not always an accurate indication of whether that link will benefit your site. 

Make sure the website you are submitting to is in your niche or a direct vertical. Confirm they are publishing content similar to yours so that a clearly defined relationship can be established that indicates relevance to your content.

3. Qualify authority

The DA of a site is the first indicator of a quality link. Although it doesn’t provide the entire picture of what makes up a quality link, you can use this indicator to prioritize your submission sites. 

Use the Mozbar for a quick view of a website’s metrics before making a submission.

Using Moz bar to find high DA sites for guess blogging in 2020

Target sites that will have a positive impact on your authority. Certain keywords will require links from higher DA sites and others you can get away with links from lower DA sites. 

4. Check search visibility

The search visibility of a website indicates how well the site is performing by ranking for keywords and driving traffic. A site that has good metrics won’t necessarily be a good link if it doesn’t have any visitors reading its content.

The authority gained from a link is an important aspect of link building, but the overarching goal behind the practice is to build streams of relevant traffic and awareness of your website. 

5. Combine outreach tactics to land opportunities

Not every site will advertise that they accept guest posts but that doesn’t mean they won’t be happy to publish some great content you’re offering. Adam Envoy was able to secure 8 DA60+ sites in 15 days in his guest-posting project and attributed a portion of his success to targeting site owners with an outreach email before proposing a guest post. 

Use LinkedIn and Facebook to make initial contact with content managers and editors and let them know you’re interested in link building and guest blogging. In most cases, you will get a response that will lead you to the right person and a link building opportunity. 

Even if you don’t get the desired response, making contact is the first step in building a mutually beneficial relationship further down the line.

6. Research your target sites blog

One of the top reasons why site owners don’t respond to an outreach email is because “They didn’t read my blog”. Get a feel for the type of content they’re publishing by scanning through titles and reading relevant content. You can pick up on trends and characteristics that will make your pitch much more targeted to your prospect’s website.

7. Strategize your topic

Choose a topic that hasn’t been covered in-depth on your prospects’ blog. This presents more value for a blog owner to be presented with the option of adding content their site is lacking. 

The topic you choose to write about should be something suited to your strength. Apart from making a list-style article, dive deep into a relevant topic that can be broken down and optimized for a specific keyword topic. Writing optimized SEO content is a bonus for publishers when the article is already primed and ready to rank.

8. Create an enticing storyline with your headings

Most online readers are scanners by nature, in fact, 43% of people admit to skimming through articles when they read them. which is a trait you can capitalize on with an original title and descriptive subtitles. Your outline should reflect a storyline that clearly describes the content of your article.

The first impression of your article an editor (and their audience) will have is the headline of your proposed article. This should clearly convey to the reader what they will get from reading your post and how will it will benefit them. Use headline strategies that are proven to improve click-through rates by appealing to the various types of readers.

Follow up the headline with your main points emphasized as subtitles. Make your article actionable and complete for a person who scans through your content.

9. Submit infographics

Although the numbers will show that infographics peaked in 2014 and 2015, they are still an effective means of creating backlinks. In many cases, infographics receive exceptional consideration as a guest post because publishers know that the potential to attract backlinks improves tremendously.

Stat showing why infographics work for guest blogging in 2020

Image source: Moz

Use an infographic tool from companies like Venngage, Visme or Piktochart to add more appeal to your article submissions.

10. Make your links count

The links you insert in your article should provide value to the reader by taking them somewhere that enhances their understanding of a particular point or topic. 

Contextual links are more valuable than the link in the author’s box. Make sure to give yourself a link to content that is relevant to your article. Avoid being overly self-promotional by making sure the links you give yourself are truly beneficial to the reader. 

Keep in mind excessive anchor text to the same page will result in a negative effect on your ranking. Mix up your links to appear natural with a brand link, long-tail, and naked URL wherever applicable.

Promote previously published articles

Link to previously published articles to increase the DA of those pages and create more powerful links to your site. 

Linking to articles you’ve published is less conspicuous than linking to your own site, which gives you more leeway in the number of links you create. 

The value of your work as a future guest author increases when site owners see you link to your published work thereby promoting their site as well.

Link to prospects and influencers

Make it a point to link to the people who are in a position to help you in your backlinking strategies. Separate yourself from the masses by showing an influencer quality links you’ve sent to their work. Keep track of the links you accumulate and make it part of your outreach strategy to build powerful alliances and partnerships.

Enjoy the benefits of guest blogging

There is no doubt that despite the scrutiny placed on guest blogging by Google, it is still one of many effective methods of link building

A well-executed strategy will provide your site targeted referral traffic as well as improved authority and ranking ability. Use guest blogging opportunities to brand your business, demonstrate thought leadership and build mutually beneficial relationships through your link building efforts in 2020.

Christian Carere is an avid contributor to the digital marketing community and a social media enthusiast. He founded Digital Ducats Inc. to help businesses generate more leads and new clients through custom-designed SEO strategies.

The post 10 Tips for improved guest blogging in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How to utilize holiday season traffic for 2020’s Q1 growth

December 28, 2019 No Comments

Q4 is the most competitive time period for ecommerce businesses, deals and promotions offered to capitalize on holiday season traffic bring hordes of potential purchasers to your site.

One of the most valuable groups of users that comes out of the holiday season is net-new users, who could have found out about the product from an ad, friend, influencer, or some other referral. These users are more expensive to acquire because they have no knowledge of the brand, so they need more touchpoints when compared to your current customers.

Whether or not you convert those new users into customers in Q4, convincing them to be long-term customers should be an important part of your Q1 strategy. In this post, I will walk through the value of some of these different holiday audiences and how to engage with them in Q1 to turn them into paying customers.

Holiday audiences

Often, the largest and best-converting Q4 audiences are current customers who are loyal to the brand and looking for some type of discount during major holiday times like Cyber Monday and Black Friday. These audiences are highly valuable, and you don’t have to pay much to bring them back to your site, but there are other audiences you should consider to help you reach your goals in Q1. These pointers will help you figure out how you can engage them.

1. Potential customers who visited but didn’t convert

Plan to re-engage potential customers who visited the site but didn’t purchase.

This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • They didn’t find the product they were looking for
  • Increased competition
  • They didn’t think the deal was enticing enough, and others

With this audience, your lowest-hanging fruit is the group of users who added something to their cart or added payment information but didn’t convert. I recommend getting in front of them with special promotions or discounts.

2. First-time purchasers from Q4

First-time purchasers from Q4 will be even more valuable if converted into long-term customers. Consider two segments: those who purchased during Cyber weekend and new customers in general. You can infer that customers that purchased during Cyber weekend are more inclined and driven to purchase when there is a deal, so make sure to target them with ads that speak to this.

All of the audiences above represent retargeting audiences. In order to help reach acquisition goals in Q1, I recommend using data from these audience segments to build acquisition audiences as well – notably, building Facebook lookalike audiences from your segments of highest-life-time value (LTV) and most frequently engaged customers.

Other interesting LAL audience tests for Q1 could include building audiences off of first-time customers and potential customers who visited the site but didn’t convert.

Messaging

Now that you’ve established the holiday customers to re-engage in Q1, it’s time to develop the messaging and offers to advertise to those users. Since many of these customers converted because of the discounts and sales offered in Q4, messages to consider would be incorporating Q1 holidays into the media plan and offer another discount or sale.

Audiences to target with these ads include

  • First-time purchasers
  • New users generated from lookalike audiences
  • Users who visited the site without converting

For longer-term customers, consider showcasing new products or top products to retarget customers. To see what resonates the best with users test these with a variety of creatives – carousels, videos, and single images that feature these different product groupings.

Another strategy is to showcase complementary products to users who purchased a specific product or product type during the holiday season. For example, if someone purchased an Xbox, retarget them with Xbox games in Q1.

The holiday season brings increases in traffic, new customers, and site revenue. Don’t just celebrate these wins, use the data to keep winning by building strong audience segments and messaging to help push growth in Q1 2020.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

The post How to utilize holiday season traffic for 2020’s Q1 growth appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Content optimization using entities: An actionable guide

December 24, 2019 No Comments

They’re by no means a secret, and entities’ role in SEO has been heavily documented – entity optimization just isn’t the trendy topic you might see every time you check your Twitter timeline.

We’d much rather discuss less impactful concepts, like whether content within a subfolder will rank better than a subdomain or whether it’s important for an SEO to learn Python (am I right?).

But entity optimization should be getting the same amount of press as the other topics and concepts we SEO’s drive into the ground week after week. I want to help us understand why, and how to approach content with entities in mind.

What is an entity?

Google defines an entity as, “A thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.” An entity can be an event, idea, book, person, company, place, brand, a domain, and so much more. You might ask, “Isn’t that the definition of a keyword? What’s the difference?”

An entity isn’t bound by language or spelling, but rather a universally understood concept or thing. And at the core of an entity is its relation to other entities. Google uses an illustration of “nodes” and “edges” to explain entities, with entities as nodes and relationships as edges. Let’s look at a search to see how this plays out:

How Google uses entities example Justin Trudeau search

How Google uses entities example 2 Justin Trudeau search

A search for “Justin Trudeau” displays a knowledge panel where he carries the title “Prime Minister of Canada”. And a search for “prime minister of Canada” displays a knowledge panel of Justin Trudeau. So we know that Justin Trudeau is associated with Prime Minister of Canada and vice versa. Trudeau is the current prime minister, so what if we search for the same entities with a different relationship?

Example searching same entities with a different relationship

Here we see a different set of results, based on a different relationship between the nodes.

How are entities used by search engines?

We believe Google uses a model called Word2Vec (referenced in this patent regarding keyword extraction) to break down entities, map them to a graph, and assign a unique ID. In a sense, Word2Vec turns language into a mathematical computation, allowing Google to properly identify concepts and map them appropriately – regardless of language – in a way traditional models simply can’t.

We don’t know exactly how entities fit into search results right now but based on a model introduced in a patent titled “Ranking search results based on entity metrics“, we know one of the biggest factors is relatedness.

Relatedness is judged primarily by something called co-occurrence (the linked patent is still pending, but helpful in understanding co-occurrence). Co-occurrence judges the strength of relationships based on the frequency of the entities appearing together in documents around the web. The more frequently two entities are mentioned together, and the more authoritative the document that mentions them, the stronger the relation.

Are entities a ranking factor?

Entities aren’t necessarily a ranking factor – at least in the traditional sense. And we don’t really know exactly how much weight they carry as quality signals. But we know there are two key categories of ranking factors (among many others) heavily influenced by the entity graph.

Content

Keywords have historically been the judge of the relevance and quality of content. Keywords aren’t dead, but entities give better insight to search engines on the relationship between words in a search.

For example, let’s look at the search “best shoes for basketball in Atlanta.” Sure, we could create a post and stuff it with the keyphrase. But in a world of entity-based indexing, Google is looking for semantics around each of these entities, and signals that indicate their relationships.

You might recall the explosion of “LSI keywords”. Whether or not latent semantic indexing is used in Google’s algorithm, this fascination with semantics is rooted in entities. All search is now semantic.

Links

It’s pretty common knowledge in the world of SEO that not all links are created equal. Entity-based indexing amplifies this sentiment. A post aiming to rank for “best shoes for basketball in Atlanta” needs links and references from authoritative sources on shoes, basketball, and the city of Atlanta in order to really own that SERP.

How long have entities been used in algorithms?

We’ve seen patents on entities surfacing for over ten years, and most believe entities have played a role in search algorithms for quite a long time. The question is when did entities become core to indexing?

Cindy Crum of Mobile Moxie wrote a brilliant five-part series on entities. She makes a strong case for entities becoming a strong ranking signal at the same time as Google rolled out Mobile-First Indexing. In fact, she terms the entire update Entity-First Indexing.

BERT and entities

Did BERT have anything to do with entities? Though I believe BERT got a little more attention than it probably deserved, its use in Google’s algorithm can help us understand the importance of entities.

BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a Natural Language Processing model that Google introduced in 2018 and began rolling out in October 2019. BERT has the ability to consider the full context of a word based on the words that come before or after named entities.

We won’t dive deep, but we’ll look at an example Google gave to help us understand what BERT means for search. Google called out the query “2019 Brazil traveler to USA needs a visa” in a recent post. The preposition “to” is crucial here, and more crucial is its relationship to the entities found before and after it. Before BERT, Google would have returned results about US citizens traveling to Brazil. Post-BERT, Google can recognize that nuance and return a more relevant and helpful result:

2019 Brazil traveler to USA needs a visa before and after BERT

Source

Entities are at the core of Natural Language Processing models like BERT.

How to optimize content for entities

Before we dive into some actionable tips, know that entities have far more implications than content. Entity optimization is crucial for building brands, establishing domains, and all kinds of other online endeavors. Having said that, there are massive implications for content.

*Quick preface: I’ve used this approach to rank articles and have seen success, but this is by no means foolproof and battle-tested. I don’t at this time have or know of research that proves a direct correlation between an approach like this and high rankings. Nonetheless, I believe in it and believe a knowledge of entities gives SEOs a leg up.

Choose and research a topic

For starters, we need a topic and keyphrase for which we want to rank. We won’t dive into how to do keyword research or topic research, but let’s stick with our example above and aim to rank for “best shoes for basketball.”

If we want to aim to rank for this keyphrase, we need to gather insight on what other topics and concepts Google deems related in their entity graph. Where can we gain insight like this? A few places:

Wikipedia: We know entities are the foundation of Google’s Knowledge Graph – and we know Wikipedia fuels a lot of their knowledge on entities. We can assume that if Google leans on Wikipedia to help them understand topics, the attributes and sources found within Wikipedia may help guide our content.

Google images is another goldmine for entity insight:

Using Google images for entities

Beneath the search bar, we find entities Google positively associates with “best shoes for basketball.” These aren’t the shoes or attributes of shoes you must list in your article, but logic would say the mentioning of these topics will help Google associate your article with them.

“People Also Ask” is another helpful source for entity optimization. These are the other topics and questions Google associates with your target keyphrase:

Example of using "People Also Ask"

Use Google’s NLP API demo to analyze the competition

Identify the top two or three ranking articles for your target keyphrase. Now we will look at how Google views the entities found within their articles. We’re going to use Google’s NLP API demo:

Google's NLP API demo

This is just a sample demo of their NLP cloud product. Nonetheless, it provides really valuable data. Before we dive in, we need to define a key term.

Google’s API demo looks at a handful of things: salience, sentiment, syntax, and categories. We’re really only focusing on salience in this article.

Salience is a score of how important the entity is in the context of the whole text. The higher the score, the more salient the entity is. We’ll use salience to help guide our content. Here’s what to do:

  1. Click on one of your competing posts in the SERP
  2. Copy and paste the content into the demo editor
  3. Click “Analyze”
  4. Check out for which entities Google reveals high salience

Google's NLP API demo

We see the entities with the highest salience are “player,” “best basketball shoes,” and “basketball shoes.” Seeing as Google ranks this page well for the keyphrase we desire, we can conclude these are entities we should seek to optimize for in our post.

Provide context throughout

How can you optimize for these entities? As you begin writing, your goal should be to establish the relationship between the entities you’re targeting in your keyphrase and give Google all the context you can to associate your target keywords with their entity graph. This isn’t done by keyword stuffing, but by using some of the language and semantics we’ve gleaned from the above sources.

Google Images and Wikipedia should help you choose semantically related keywords and language to use throughout your article, while “People Also Ask” can help guide your overall topics and headings. Again, the aim is not to stuff keywords in, but to have a toolbox of individual words, phrases, language, and topics to guide our writing in a way that prioritizes our target entities.

Once you’ve finished writing, run your own article through Google’s NLP API demo to get a feel for how you stack up. If the desired entities show low salience, it may be worth going back to the drawing board. At the very least, you can analyze articles that show more entity success to gain insight into how Google associates your targets.

Update content as needed

Because entity optimization is a bit more complex than keyword optimization, there’s a stronger case for updating content on a regular basis as new topics arise around your entities. For example, as new basketball shoes come out, and Google establishes their place in the entity graph, it would help the salience of your entities to add them to your post.

BERT is another great example. As it blew up across the internet, if you had a post on Natural Language Processing, Google would expect to see mention of it.

The future of search

There is still a lot myself and the industry have to learn on the topic of entity optimization. And again, the implications expand far beyond content optimization.

But I do believe a focus on entities has already begun, and the signals will only grow in prominence for Google and other search engines.

Here’s to better content, more relevant SERPs, and the future of search.

Brooks Manley is a Digital Marketing Specialist and SEO Lead at Engenius, a marketing agency in Greenville, SC. When he’s not panicking about ranking drops and algorithm updates, you can find him watching NBA games and eating tacos.

The post Content optimization using entities: An actionable guide appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How to use the art of storytelling to boost content marketing results

December 21, 2019 No Comments

No story, no sales. Think it’s an exaggeratedly bold statement? I dare not. In fact, according to Arianna Huffington, “People think in stories, not statistics, and marketers need to be master storytellers”.

Moreso, statistics have it that storytelling can boost conversion rates by 30%. Even 62% of B2B marketers hold storytelling in high regard as an effective content marketing tactic.

Since marketers trust the power of storytelling so much, there must be something to it, right?

This article will be aimed at studying exactly what makes storytelling an insanely effective content marketing tool. In the process, I’ll also share some practical ways content marketers can weave in stories to their content that will drastically improve their conversion rates.

Why storytelling?

Storytelling is part of the human framework. The history of storytelling helps us know that telling stories is how we have been passing valuable information for centuries. Our ancestors were smart. They knew that there was something about the power of using stories to pass across information to their audience, and they made the most of it. That is why folklores were very popular in many cultures. And in the Bible, Jesus made most of his illustrations using stories, or what we call parables.

So, what makes storytelling so powerful? Stories make it easier for people to relate to your content. Why? Because a story told well creates a picture in the mind of your target audience and they see things play out in their mind.

For instance, after reading “There was this playful dog wagging its tail in excitement” you won’t be able to stop yourself from creating the picture of the dog in your mind. There is nothing hypnotic about that, it is just how our minds work.

So when you’re talking about a product or service and you start describing the experience in the form of a story, your audience sees it play out in their minds. They feel the same emotions they would have felt if they had the product or experienced the service. And if they can picture themselves having a great experience from what you offer, it creates a longing to buy from or hire you.

How can storytelling change the game in content marketing?

If storytelling is that powerful, imagine infusing it into your content. As content marketers, we’re constantly looking for ways to develop content that can efficiently reach the target audience and obtain the desired results. And judging from the statistics in the introduction, storytelling seems to do the trick.

Chris Haddad is an interesting case study. He was able to get his conversions up 400% just through the use of stories in the landing page of his product.

How did he do it?

Chris sold information products that taught women how to attract the perfect partner. Initially, the landing page of his product listed the benefits of buying his product. That was responsible for the two percent conversion rate. That wasn’t good enough. So, he switched his strategy.

Instead of just listing out the benefits, Chris shared the story of how his wife (who was his girlfriend at the time) was able to get him interested in her and keep him. That simple adjustment resulted in an eight percent conversion rate.

Three ways to introduce stories in your content

Chris is just one out of several other people who were able to do wonders to their conversion rates just by using the art of storytelling or what I call “story-selling”. Now that you know what storytelling can do to your conversion rates here are some ways you can weave a story in your content.

1. Let your customers tell their story about their experience with you

research conducted by Nielsen revealed that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they know while 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know. This means that we’re more inclined to believe what other people say about a product or service.

So, when a client shares their experience with your product, service or brand, then it will have a great effect in influencing the decision of your target audience.

Patagonia does a great job of sharing their customer’s testimonials. Former customers are encouraged to share their stories around WornWear clothing and it makes the reader all warm and fuzzy inside (pun intended).

Patagonia example using storytelling in content marketing

2. Make your ideal client the hero

Did you know that you can use a story to get your target audience to play a more active role in the use of your product or service?

Every story has a hero and most times the hero is the most loved character in the story. You can create a story that paints a picture of your customer’s journey to solve a problem they’re facing and make that customer the hero in the story.

This will require you to take the focus off yourself and your business and put the spotlight on your potential customer. You’re only a partner to their success and not the one who “did the work” that contributed to the success of your customer. (I know you know the truth. Just don’t tell anyone.)

Salesforce captured this reality when they shared the story of how Room & Board, a brick and mortar furniture business was able to give their own customers a more personal in-store experience online.

Room & Board used customer experience stories to drive results

3. Take them on a journey

Take the hand of your potential customers and lead them on a journey. There are different journeys you can take them on. You can take them on the journey through their problem and show them the path to finally solving the problem they’ve been battling with.

As they follow you on that path, your ideal customer will be able to identify where they’re at in the journey and see you as the bridge to where they want to be.

Another way is to take them on a journey through your story. How did you start the business and why? What challenges did you face and how were you able to surmount them? This can inspire a sense of purpose and meaning in such a way that they will associate your offers not just with what they gain from you but with a greater cause.

Where can you place your story in your content?

Now that you know the ways to introduce stories into your content, as a bonus, let me give you a quick hint on where exactly in your content you can insert your story. There are three places your story can show up:

1. At the opening

This is one that’s quite common. As you start reading, watching or listening to content, it starts off with a story. In this instance, the story is the hook that will get your audience wanting to read, watch or listen to all your content.

A classic example of this is Jon Morrow’s article titled ‘On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas’. It perfectly captures the attention of the readers and reels them in.

 

2. At the closing

After dishing out great value to your target audience, you may decide to end your content with a story to clearly illustrate what you’re talking about. Stories that you put at the end of your content should be one that practically shows how the value you shared comes to play or gives a picture of why you shared such value to your audience.

3. As part of the explanation

This may be more common than the other two I just shared with you. While sharing an important fact in your content, you may want to give it a bit more context with a story. The story helps explain the concept in such a way that your target audience can relate with the explanation you shared.

Example of sharing facts with context of stories

 

For example, the screenshot above is an article I wrote on how to turn your hobby into a profitable business, I made five points and weaved in a different story in each point. And using those stories my readers found it easier to understand the point I was trying to make. And by understanding these points, I could take them on the content marketing journey that ultimately converts readers to leads.

Check out this other example by Neville Medhora from his blog post titled ‘How to Publish Your Book Online for Free’. In this blog post, he shares how he was able to write his own book. You’ll see him refer to how he set a completion date for his book.

Example of sharing experience of writing a book

 

Wrapping it up

Storytelling is an age-old tool that was used to educate, entertain and encourage anyone who cared to listen to the stories. These stories were shared with others, thus increasing the pace at which they were shared.

Now that you know the power of storytelling, you can replicate the same effect when you work stories into your content. Because according to Brian Eisenberg, “Effective content marketing is about mastering the art of storytelling. Facts tell, but stories sell.”

It will take a lot of practice to be an expert storyteller, I know, but you’ll realize it’s worth it in the end.

The post How to use the art of storytelling to boost content marketing results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Six tools to quickly check website SEO

December 17, 2019 No Comments

Any digital marketer knows that SEO becomes more important than ever before. With the advent of new trends (for example, voice search, mobile-first indexing, AI revolution), you need to take control of your website SEO performance from the very beginning and fix any possible issues to stay afloat today. 

But the big problem is that many digital marketers know a lot about SEO, but they don’t have a clear picture of their website SEO. According to this report, 61% of marketers continue checking and improving their SEO performance and organic presence as their top marketing priority. So, if you want to fit into this 61%, it is high time to take SEO seriously and start tracking your progress.

As a savvy marketer, you want to complete more SEO tasks in less time. Whether it’s tracking your rankings or checking how well your web pages are optimized for certain search queries, SEO tools can be a real lifesaver for any marketer.

Fortunately, there are many useful tools available online that help to see your own website the way that Google looks at it and identify the areas that need some improvement. 

I hope that these six tools will make your job so much easier to stay ahead of your competition. 

1. Check the site load time

Many website owners often underestimate the importance of this parameter or even aren’t aware of it. According to Google researches, the probability of a visitor leaving a website enhances by 90% after 5 seconds after page load. After 6 seconds, bounce likelihood increases by 106%

For small businesses, if your website is slow, then your SEO is going to be poor. This means that you can meet different problems, including Google Rankings drops, high bounce rates, and low sales results. 

For big companies like eBay or Walmart, quality content and interesting offers are not quite enough. Time means billions of dollars per second. For example, Amazon pointed out that it could lose $ 1.6 billion in sales each year due to a page load slowdown of just once second.

Slow site speed impacts your website rankings and requires to make improvements for SEO. In November 2019, Finteza analyzed the waiting time of 850 million users who scrolled 12 billion total pages. Here are some interesting research findings:

Finteza report on global page load speed research - website seo

To identify your website loading speed, you can use Finteza to find out real results. It shows how long it takes for your users to access all web page features, how quickly they can download your content, what type of resources slow down your webpages the most, and how your website loads on various devices and in various counties.

The tool provides real analytical data and reliable diagnostics. It allows you to detect any possible issues and fix them at any time. 

2. Track keyword rankings for certain keyword phrases

It’s essential to know how each of your web pages is performing based on keyword phrases to help you increase more traffic. Finding the right keywords, making sure to thoroughly respond to the search query and satisfy the user intent is the best way to long-term SEO success.

Once you know your keyword rankings, you can determine whether you’re on the right track. One of the quickest ways to check the page ranking for a specific keyword is to look in SE Ranking. The software offers different toolkits, one of which is a keyword rank tracker. 

The tool allows seeing for what keywords your website page is ranking, keywords’ monthly search volume, KEI, traffic forecast, and visibility rating. You can also compare your page performance to competition, find more profitable keywords, monitor quality backlinks, and get the most out of similar on-page website SEO opportunities. 

Together with global rankings, SE Ranking monitors Google SERP features, Map results, and Google Ads positions for different locations and devices. 

Quality backlinks report to check website SEO

3. Check the mobile-friendliness

In the age of the mobile-first index, mobile-friendliness is a must, not a want.  It’s no surprise that mobile users take up the majority share of online users. According to this research, 72.6% of users will access the internet using their mobile devices by 2025, equivalent to almost 3.7 billion people.

It’s important to optimize your website for mobile users as Google still considers mobile-friendliness as one of the most significant ranking factors. Designing for mobile users, make sure to avoid long-scrolls, take into account different devices and screen sizes, and different considerations for surfing on mobile. You can check out Google’s new resource for improving mobile experiences. To check if your site is mobile-friendly, Varvy has the answer. It’s a great tool for website owners to test your site within seconds and see their websites’ performance. The tool is free of charge so you need to enter URL to start using it

Through this process, it will come with recommendations and guidelines on how users can improve the mobile-friendliness of your website and increase mobile rankings. Besides, Varvy offers a bunch of other useful features, including page speed optimization, page security, paid links finder, search engine optimization, and many more. 

Checking the mobile-friendliness for website SEO

4. Check the technical structure

How do you think? What makes a successful website? The quality content, visual and functional appeal of your website, backlink profiles, keyword research, good navigation, and many other things. But the one thing they all have in common: their technical structure. It affects your keyword rankings and user engagement.

As Marc Robles pointed out on the LawRank blog, technical SEO helps build your solid foundation and forms a hierarchy. If you don’t want to crumble your house, you need to fulfill each level of the hierarchy of technical SEO needs (URL’s crawlability, indexability, accessibility for bots and users, rankability and clickability). 

To better understand how your technical SEO performs, you can use HubSpot’s Website Grader. It’s a free tool that helps website owners detect search engine optimization opportunities. The tool builds personalized reports based on website performance, on-page SEO,  mobile, and security. 

You just need to enter your URL and email to get a score (1-100) and a detailed report. The tool also comes up with actionable recommendations and guidelines on how to increase your website grade. To better direct your SEO efforts, HubSpot offers a bunch of paid SEO tools. 

5. Check content relevance

Creating awesome content is not enough to generate traffic from search engines and rank high for your target keywords. It’s important to understand user content and use it to improve your SEO. As Ahrefs pointed out in the study, 91% of online content gets zero traffic from Google.

To do this, you need to create the right content that resonates with your target audience, optimize it for relevance, and publish it where you want to see it. We’ve already viewed some of the advantages it can offer using the knowledge graph, answer boxes, local packs, and other different search results for broad matched keywords.

If you don’t optimize your content for user intent, it can get devalued. Ensure to better understand the intent of target keywords, perform the SERP analysis of these keywords, figure out what type of content is ranking well, research semantically related keywords, answer all questions users may have, and optimize content for these terms.

According to this HubSpot study, content with a word count between 2250 and 2500 words generates the most organic traffic. So, creating long-form content can be valuable for SEO and can help you become a thought leader in your niche.

To receive valuable data about questions people may ask online, I recommend a nifty free tool called ‘Answer the Public’. It provides popular keyword variations based on search queries and visualizes an awesome graphic with questions and phrases people often use when searching for that keyword. To get unlimited searches, you can learn more about the Pro plan.

Checking content relevance with 'Answer the Public' for website SEO

6. Audit internal links

Internal linking is crucial from different SEO perspectives. Internal links open the doors that allow you to move from one room to another room. But once a website grows older, it becomes difficult to keep a solid interlinking structure and maintain consistency through your website.

As John Mueller pointed out, the way your web pages are interlinked helps Google understand how your pages are related and its roles. Choose the optimal type of structure that greatly meets your business needs.

To make sure that your links on a web page work, you can consider Check My Links. It’s a cool Chrome Extension to crawl through the web page and detect which ones are valid and which ones are broken. The tool highlights good links in green and bad links in red to make it easy to spot and take immediate measures to fix them.

 

Bottom Line

I haven’t mentioned every element of SEO, but this should be key areas to check your website’s SEO. Along with the right tools, you can look at it from a more holistic point of view, survive and outsmart changing algorithms. Here I’ve collected six tools that offer a lot of useful features and can reach remarkable results when used properly. Whichever tool you choose, make sure to maximize all the value you can get from it.

Irina Weber is Brand Manager at SE Ranking. She can be found on Twitter @irinaweber048.

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Search Engine Watch


Hootsuite social trends report for 2020

December 14, 2019 No Comments

Vancouver, BC – December 11, 2019​ – ​Hootsuite​, the leader in social media management trusted by more than 18 million customers and employees at 80 percent of the Fortune 1000, today released its ‘​Social Media Trends 2020’ report. The company’s fourth annual report on global social trends reveals the biggest opportunities for brands to deliver winning social marketing strategies in the coming year.

“The new year is a time to refocus and energize your strategies for the year ahead,”

says ​Hootsuite VP Corporate Marketing Henk Campher​.

“The social trends we’ve identified at Hootsuite provide the sharpest tools needed to create the most exceptional and meaningful employee and customer experiences in 2020 and beyond.”

Brands are starting to act more like people on social, sometimes interacting one-on-one and sometimes in groups. The key is for organizations to make the experience seamless across both worlds.

Brands are also taking a stand on the most important issues facing our planet, becoming beacons of trust to their employees, who in turn are using social to amplify their company purpose.

And TikTok, the short-format video sharing platform, is shaking up the social media landscape in unexpected and delightful ways. Even if TikTok’s Gen-Z user base isn’t your target, marketers should think about diversifying their audience targeting beyond just the major social platforms.

Campher further added,

“Combined, these trends represent tremendous new opportunities for brands to establish deeper, more authentic, and longer-lasting connections with customers, with social at the center of everything they do,”

Hootsuite’s 2020 social trends for businesses large and small

1. Brands strike a balance between public and private engagement

The rise of private behaviors like 1:1 and group messaging has not diminished the importance of public social media feeds, which remain a critical space for brand discovery and customer acquisition. The key is ​creating multi-touch, personalized, and ​seamless experiences across both worlds, while balancing automation at scale and human connection to build deeper customer relationships.

2. Employers take center stage in a divided world

As our world becomes increasingly divided, employees are looking to their organizations to take a stand. Globally, employers are significantly more trusted than NGOs, businesses, government, and the media. Progressive organizations will take advantage of this new role, building strong internal cultures while amplifying their company’s purpose with employee and customer advocacy.

3. TikTok shakes up the status quo

With more than 800 million monthly active users and a median age of 16-24, TikTok continues its incredible rise. Whether or not it lasts, TikTok’s popularity brings valuable insight into the future of social culture, content, and collaboration. Social marketers should keep an eye on TikTok while using these insights to adapt their strategies on established networks for the next generation on social.

4. Social marketing and performance marketing collide

As social marketers face pressure to expand the scope of their skill sets, established champions of brand awareness and community building must also become fluent in performance marketing, finding a balance between driving short-term conversions and long-term strategies to build brand equity, customer happiness, and differentiation.

5. The social proof gap closes

New social commerce features are bridging the top and bottom of the sales funnel, creating a wealth of data around the conversion side of the customer journey. This bottom-of-the-funnel data can now be added to brand awareness activities, giving an invaluable holistic view of how people move through the entire buying journey.

Conducted in the third quarter of 2019, Hootsuite’s ​’Social Media Trends 2020′ report is based on a survey of more than 3,100 marketers and interviews with industry specialists. The research report includes not only the trends but also Hootsuite’s recommendations for seizing the opportunities that the trends represent, along with comprehensive examples of best-in-class brands getting it right. Hootsuite’s 2020 Social Trends report can be found ​here​.

Hootsuite is the leader in social media management, trusted by more than 18 million customers and employees at more than 80 percent of the Fortune 1000.

The post Hootsuite social trends report for 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Seven iron-clad methods to drive traffic to your website

December 10, 2019 No Comments

You’ve written and published an awesome blog post, and now you’re waiting for that website traffic to start pouring in?

Well, I hope you’re comfortable because it’s going to be quite a wait.

While the benefits of content marketing are well-known, they are well-known to everyone. Blog posts, case studies, and white papers are published left and right (four million pieces each and every day, actually) so getting through the clutter can be difficult.

How do you get noticed in such an oversaturated environment? You master these two important skills:

  • Writing educational, engaging, and timely content, and
  • By working hard on driving traffic to your website.

I’ll assume that you know how to write engaging content (if you don’t, this article could help you) and focus here on seven methods of driving traffic to your website.

Some are conventional (like social media and email) but it’s the unconventional ones that I hope you will put to good use. Ultimately, it’s a mix of both that will help you generate a steady stream of website traffic, and I hope that you’ll find some of the ideas here inspirational enough to try them out.

Conventional methods to drive website traffic

1. Organic Traffic (SEO)

Organic search engine traffic is the Holy Grail of website traffic.

Most authority sites in your niche get the bulk of their visits from organic Google searches but this is an important traffic channel for every type of website (see screenshot below – 12% traffic from organic is nothing to be scoffed at for an ecommerce store).

Here are a couple of evergreen tips for you to keep in mind when writing content and doing SEO for your website:

  • Keyword research – Spend some time learning how people search for content in your niche. Identify keywords that you have a chance to rank for (long-tail keywords with low competition, for example), and write content around them.
  • On-page and technical SEO – Work on your headings, keyword density, meta descriptions, load times, and similar. Most importantly, make your content engaging, informative, and fun to read. For more on on-page SEO, check out this guide that we published recently.
  • Backlinks – Backlinks are the votes that other websites cast that tell Google that your content is worthy of that top spot in the search engine results pages (SERPs). They can occur naturally but you don’t want to depend on it – make sure you have a couple of backlinking strategies up your sleeve whenever you publish a really good piece of content.

2. Promotion on social media platforms

Social media is dominating the web, and if you’re not there promoting your content and your website, you’re missing out on a very important source of website traffic.

Depending on your niche, you’ll want to consider (at least) making an appearance on the following social media platforms:

  • Facebook – Set up your Facebook business page as soon as possible, and start working on growing your base of followers. Regularly publish your content here but make sure to cross-post to other relevant groups and pages on Facebook. Check out this post for more tips on how to get the most out of your Facebook business page.
  • Instagram – To interest your Instagram audience, you will need to become a visual storyteller (think infographics and beautifully designed images). Since Instagram doesn’t allow links, get creative and use your bio section, Instagram Stories, and IGTV video descriptions to drive traffic to your website (for more details, read this Instagram traffic generation guide from Tailwind).
  • Twitter – This is a very cluttered and noisy social platform but it’s still great for sharing bite-sized pieces of your content. Use a post scheduler like Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite or others to get several tweets out automatically during the day. On Twitter, it pays to be provocative, funny, and on time (think about hijacking trending topics and hashtags) if you want people to click on the links you share.

When using social media to drive website traffic, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re on all of the platforms where your target audience(s) tend to hang out.

3. Email marketing

Marketing your content and your offers to a curated list of people who have already expressed an interest in what you have to say is a no-brainer, right?

To drive traffic to your website using your email list, consider the following:

  • Send out a newsletter regularly, highlighting your recently published blog posts, unique tips and tricks, or special offers.
  • Segment your list and send special reminders to different subsections when you publish something that might be of particular interest to that group.
  • Add social media buttons to your email blasts so that your subscribers are reminded to follow you on your preferred networks. Encourage them to share your newsletters with friends either via social networks or by forwarding the emails.

Unconventional methods to drive traffic to your website

4. Slack communities

Slack is a tool that teams use to communicate but it’s also home to Slack Communities where like-minded people hang out. Even if a group has only 1000 members, a lot of them will be active at any given time, which means that your potential audience will have a chance to see and interact with your link in real-time.

How to do it

First, find Slack communities that fit your niche.

Note that you will quickly get a feeling whether or not Slack is the right traffic channel for you – communities mostly revolve around marketing, tech, business, SEO, and similar digital topics (check out this list of great SEO Slack communities from Ahrefs).

Don’t get discouraged if you’re not in marketing: photography, writing, design, web dev, community management – if you publish content in any of these niches, you’re golden.

When you find a community that interests you, send a request to join.

Here’s some advice on how to use Slack to drive traffic to your website (without getting booted out of a community on day one):

  • Introduce yourself and let people know what it is that you do, and what you expect from joining the community.
  • Don’t just spam your links everywhere – answer questions in full, and only add a link to your content if it adds context and details to your answer.
  • If a question has a weird angle (not exactly something you talk about in your content) but it’s related to a piece of content you’ve written, consider updating the post and then answering the question and adding your link.

Slack communities are searchable. If your comments are particularly valuable, you can expect other users to share them with newcomers from time to time. Because of this, even older comments can yield a small trickle of website traffic from time to time.

5. Blog and forum comments

Blog comments may not be a very reliable SEO link building technique, but they still work for traffic generation.

How to do it

First, look for blog posts related to your content. Pull up recent articles by clicking on the “tools” box on the search result page.

Copy the URL of interesting posts to a spreadsheet (do the same with interesting forum topics). Keeping these links in one place helps you build a database of sites in your niche for future reference.

The key is to make thoughtful comments and only link to your content when it’s actually relevant. Try to add real value to the blog post with every comment that you make.

Each blog comment may only drive a few visitors to your site. But, if the post goes viral or sits on Google’s page one for a long time, that’s enough to get a steady stream of visitors to your website every month.

6. Appear as a guest on popular podcasts

Podcasts are huge – around 51% of the US population has listened to one or more in the last few months. Somewhere around 35% of them listen to the entire episode once they start it.

This means that podcasts are a great opportunity for savvy marketers.

And, what’s best, you don’t even have to record one, you can simply pitch your ideas to hosts of existing podcasts to try to secure an invite to a future episode.

How to do it

  • Do a quick Google search – just type in “top [your niche] podcasts” and go through the list while recording URLs (and requirements to guest star) in a spreadsheet.

  • Craft an interesting (and personalized) pitch, and send it to the host, outlining why you should be invited to star in one of their future episodes.
  • When appearing, be informative, interesting, and educational. But, above all else, be shameless when promoting your content and your website. Answer questions thoroughly but don’t be shy about adding “By the way, you can read all of this on my blog, which you can access if you visit [your website]”.
  • Ensure that the episode description mentions your name clearly, as well as links to your website and some of the more interesting pieces that can be found there.

7. Use QR Codes to drive traffic to your website

QR codes (or quick response codes) are another great, but a severely underutilized way to drive traffic to your website.

By placing a QR code on business cards, flyers, and posters (and even your Facebook and LinkedIn pages), you give people a quick way to access your website. All they have to do is scan it and their phone will open up any URL associated with the code.

How to do it

Use a free QR code generator to create a unique code that people can scan. Add a general code that leads to your website to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

If you’re visiting a conference or a meet-up, consider adding content-specific codes (meaning, the ones that link to a piece of content on a specific topic) so that people scanning them land on something that will feel a bit more personalized and tailored to them.

Closing note

Driving traffic to your website is an 80/20 game  – 80% of your traffic comes from 20% of your actions. Once you have enough data to determine where that 80% of traffic is coming from, it will be easy to ramp up your efforts in that area. But, to get there you will have to experiment with both conventional and unconventional methods of driving website traffic. Try some of the ones listed here and then comment here to let me know what worked best for you.

The post Seven iron-clad methods to drive traffic to your website appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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