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Page speed optimization: Six areas to focus on for better SEO results

November 11, 2019 No Comments

Page speed optimization should be at the core of your SEO strategy. Your page speed is just as important as site speed is to SEO. Here, page speed should not be mistaken for website speed.

What is page speed optimization and how important is this factor to your overall website ranking? Your page speed is technically how long it takes the content of a specific page on your website to load completely – or in more technical terms, “time to first byte”, which the time it takes for your client’s browser to get the first byte of data from your web server. Just like site speed which measures how fast a sample of page views on your website, page speed is critical to your search rankings.

Several reports are saying, including Google admitting in 2010, that site speed due to the high relevance of page speed, is used as a web search ranking factor. Now that this is the case, how can you optimize page speed and improve your search rankings? Read on to learn more.

Site speed as Google’s page ranking signal

Since Google’s admission to the importance of page speed, we’ve seen several tutorials on how to understand page speed and improve it for your website. Given Google’s reputed tight-lipped stance on what makes for their ranking factors, it’s understandable to see the level of importance users have paid to page speed since the announcement.

In my view, page speed would be critical to Google owing to the fact that good user experience is one of its chief aim for its users. It’s now important to take measures to get your page speed right by focusing on the following areas.

1. Time to first byte (TTFB)

An area to focus on to get insight on how to improve your page speed is how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from your web server. This is what is technically known as “time to first byte”.

A perfect tool to evaluate this is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which measures reports from the FCP (First Content Paint) and DCL (DOM Content Loaded) by polling data from CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report).

Running a test using Google’s PageSpeed Insights doesn’t only provide you with site speed data but also includes suggestions on areas to work on to improve speed. An example is a test on NYTimes/section/politics which returned 45% for the desktop and 34% for mobile – which is actually more important.

2. Your web hosting

While most would go ahead and start tweaking their web design and looking at what plugins may cause a lag in page speed, the culprit is not always obvious.

Your web host would play the biggest role in how fast the pages of your website loads. You can run a lean one-page website on some hosting services and still come short on the page speed or website speed.

According to a guide on website speed published by Kinsta, mediocre web-hosting contributes significantly to how fast a website loads. Factors such as geographic proximity to users (cloud hosts are superior in this regard), the volume of clients on a single server and the size of a server’s RAM and bandwidth limit all contribute to the performance of a website hosted on any giving server.

Since 74% of users will never return to a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load, a poor hosting provider could cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue opportunities. This is not counting the loss of traffic as a result of negative search rankings from poor SEO.

3. Redundant and inactive plugins

Inactive plugins on your website are often serious culprits in slow site speed.

Although, the reason plugins have the option to “activate” and “deactivate” them is to make them dormant while you decide whether they may serve any need in the future, rather than deleting them. However, the most efficient way to prevent plugins that are not being used from dragging down your website is to remove it.

To prevent plugins from unnecessarily slowing down pages of your website, you can consider taking the following measures:

  • Only install plugins when they are absolutely necessary
  • Clear your website cache and Minified CSS/JS after removing a plugin
  • If a plugin hasn’t been active for three months, consider removing it from your website
  • Only install plugins that are up to date and marked as compatible with your WordPress version

Aside from causing lags in your website’s page speed, inactive plugins may cause vulnerability to the security of your website leaving you exposed to attackers and hackers. This undoubtedly will negatively affect your website’s SEO and rankings, costing you traffic and revenue.

4. Clean your website codes

Another area you should look out for when dealing with page speed is the codes that make up your website. While this is a more technical exercise and is better handled by technical professionals, taking care of your website codes and ensuring nothing is off can help you gain some speed.

When investigating website codes that could affect site speed, look into these areas:

  • JavaScript
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Theme files

Poorly configured theme files, for example, may conflict with your users’ browser, thereby negatively affecting how fast your website loads. Below are some aspects you may want to investigate to make sure your website codes are in proper shape:

  • Enable dynamic caching
  • Minify JavaScript and CSS files
  • Avoid making changes to parent theme files and opt for child theme instead

5. Content delivery network (CDN)

Using a content delivery network or content distribution network, commonly known as CDNs can significantly reduce the time it takes to fully load pages of your website. When users are browsing the internet, proximity to your server can affect how fast content is delivered to them.

What CDN does is host your website content in the cloud, and let the nearest server to your clients handle the delivery of the content when they access your website. Since geographic proximity is also a factor in the speed of content delivery, using a CDN takes care of this and eliminates the associated delays that come with loading a website’s content from a distant location.

CDNs also utilize caching to reduce your hosting bandwidth, making room for smooth content delivery and rendering. Plus, it also helps prevent downtimes with your website.

When you opt for a CDN, the following aspects of your website’s content are taken care of:

  • Images and videos on your server
  • Your website JavaScript files
  • HTML pages
  • Stylesheets

Apart from speeding up your website and helping you to improve your SEO, utilizing a CDN can also be beneficial in the following areas:

  • Security: Your website can be protected from hackers and random attacks targeting your website
  • Mitigation against DDOS attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks is the most common form of hacks launched against websites to date when a malicious agent tries to disrupt the service of your website. CDNs can fortify your website against this common attack.
  • Increases content redundancy and availability: Since CDNs keep content distributed, pages of your website will remain active and accessible should there be a malware malfunction or spike in traffic

 6. Images

Images are important components of every webpage. And roughly nine out of ten pages on a website would include at least an image. It also goes without saying that images consume the most bandwidth on a website.

To boost your website page speed and enjoy solid SEO dividends, you should optimize images on your website to consume as little bandwidth as possible. Heavy and oversized images are among the top reasons a website may experience slow page speed.

Images that are wider than the content area of your website would overlap on the screen, causing the user experience to suffer. Getting your image size right can make a huge difference in how your page loads.

6a. Image compression

According to findings reported by Blake Hawksworth for effective inbound marketing on how to improve website page speed, it is revealed that –

“Compression has the potential to have the largest impact on page speed, as on average, images make up a total of 65% of a website’s weight.”

This further solidifies the fact that getting your image size and compression right can have the biggest impact on your page speed optimization.

In order to see gains on your SEO, improving page speed by compressing images on your website should be a top priority. To get this right, use image compression plugins such as WP Smush (for WordPress users) or Mass Image Compressor to reduce the file size of images that are uploaded to your website. On image width, ensure you’re not uploading images that are wider than the frame of your website content display area.

6b. Google’s guidelines for image optimization for page speed

Another reliable way to ensure images are well optimized for page speed on your website is to follow Google’s guidelines for image optimization. Realizing the traffic generated by images and their impact on a website’s page speed, Google decided to release a set of guidelines for webmasters to adhere to meet content efficiency and page speed optimization.

And since Google is releasing a set of guidelines for image optimization, it’s safe to assume that images would have significant outcomes on a website’s rankings. Since the scope of this article would not allow me to go over everything in Google’s image optimization guidelines, I recommend visiting the resource for consultation. Rather, I’ll share a breakdown of the most important factors required in the “image optimization checklist”, as recommended by Google, in the next point.

6c. Image optimization checklist

Google declares that there is no definitive answer for how best to compress an individual image, but there are “well-developed” techniques and algorithms that can help see improvements in size reduction. Below are the tips they shared:

  • Prefer vector formats: to meet the demands of a multi-device and high-resolution world, vector images which are resolution and scale-independent are the best option.
  • Minify and compress SVG assets: Ensure your servers are configured to apply GZIP compression for SVG assets.
  • Pick the best raster image format: pick images based on the most-suitable functional requirements.
  • Experiment with optimal quality settings for raster formats: Google recommends dialing down the “quality” settings and you’ll see significant byte savings.
  • Remove unnecessary image metadata: Google concludes that many raster images contain unnecessary metadata such as geoinformation, camera information, etc. They recommend using appropriate tools to strip this data.
  • Serve scaled images: Google recommends that you resize your images on the server and ensure that the “display” size is close to the “natural” size of the image. Pay more attention to large images because they account for the largest overhead when resized.
  • Automate: Google recommends investing in automated tools that will ensure all image assets are always optimized.

Conclusion

Page speed is, as we’ve seen, an important factor in Google’s SEO rankings. And from this article, it’s obvious that getting image optimization right takes the lead in improving your website’s page speed. Try the tips I’ve shared in this article and let me know how your page speed has improved, and if it translates to better rankings for you.

Ayodeji is the founder and CEO of Effective Inbound Marketing, a leading digital agency. He recently acquired BoostMyMedia.com to help clients in the online reputation area.

The post Page speed optimization: Six areas to focus on for better SEO results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

November 7, 2019 No Comments

Google’s Matt Cutts declared guest blogging (and other tactics) as a way of generating SEO inbound links as a “spammy practice” that was dead and gone, way back in 2014. It was a statement that generated plenty of response, both defending and arguing against Cutts’ assessment of the practice.

Five years later, guest blogging — or guest posting if you prefer — hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.

Now as far as flooding your site with poor content that relies on tricking people with the anchor text, yes, those days are mostly behind us. Search engine algorithms have really wised up in recent years and the value of the inbound link hasn’t gone away. It’s only changed.

Before starting your link-building journey, it’s important to understand the primary objectives:

Value and quality take top priority

A guest post can be a great way to bring in new traffic and boost your SEO, but there’s a catch. It has to contain relative information that offers something of value to the audience. The choices on the internet are endless and in an age where everyone knows how to explore the internet, a clickbait guest blogging strategy doesn’t hold up for long.

As for what goes into that content, longer content tends to do better than the shorter stuff. This isn’t to say that an effective guest post needs to be 4,000 words. You don’t necessarily want to test the limits of your audience’s attention span, but the 125-word blurb isn’t likely to result in a lot of traffic.

The main focus is to provide value to the readers with the information and give them a reason to finish and share the content. Generally, the most successful guest posts tend to fall in the sweet spot of 300 to 1,600 words.

Grammar and voice of the content are also of importance. If you were writing a guest post for a medical journal, you would probably use a less conversational style than if you’re writing for “Parents Magazine”

Don’t go crazy with the keyword stuffing

Just because you have access to all the words, that doesn’t mean you need to use all the words. Throwing as many keywords into your post and finding a way to cram them into every sentence simply isn’t going to do much good in the long run. Google’s algorithms are going to pick up on this and if you really overdo it, the article could get marked as spam. Then all that hard work was for nothing.

It goes back to what we touched on earlier about adding value to the audience. Yes, keywords matter, but keyword stuffing is a frowned upon blackhat technique that works against your link goals. 

So how do you know when your content is in danger of falling under the keyword stuffing label? Say you’re working on a post and want to rank for “best gardening hose” and wrote something like this:

“If you’re looking for the best gardening hose the Acme Aqua 2000 is the best gardening hose on the market today and will meet all your needs. More people think it’s the best gardening hose than all the others and tell their friends that it’s the best gardening hose on the market today.”

Yikes! Not only will Google spot this as spam but your savvy readers will too. If you’re still unsure about how to recognize if you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, you may want to brush up on why it’s bad for SEO.

Target websites with a higher domain than yours

Just like we mentioned earlier in regards to content, quality counts as well when building in those links. The internet is a battlefield and websites are constantly vying for power in the form of higher search rankings. By guest posting for websites with higher domain authority, you’ll be giving yourself a leg up and getting the most value out of those blogging efforts — from an SEO perspective, of course.

Google cares not just about the number of links, but the quality of those backlinks. As to what makes a high-quality link in 2019, there are a few must-haves.

Consistent traffic flow is important because it shows that it’s active. Authority is also of importance and by that, we mean domain authority. Websites with a low domain authority as ranked by Moz, tend to have a low ranking of 0-20. They may be new or simply not very active. Whereas a website with a domain authority ranking of 60+ is going to be a well-established one that has a steady flow of traffic and is regarded for high-quality content.

All links are not created equal, so think critically about who you want to link to and who you want linking to you. Now that we understand this, it’s time to start on with link-building:

Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

So how to go about guest blogging with a strategy that actually works for you rather than throwing chance to the wind? Obviously, you need to find some places that would welcome a contribution to your knowledge.

1. Target keyword phrases

A Google search for a keyword phrase as simple as “write for us” or “become a contributor” is one way to go about it, but that approach can be a little tedious. A great way to hone in on potential places for guest posts is to check out relevant industry sites and competitor sites. Looking at where their inbound links are coming from can provide a valuable springboard to start with.

2. Use guest blogging platforms

If writing isn’t your forte or you don’t have the time, you can still use guest blogging as a viable means of high-authority link building. There are multiple outlets such as DFY Links that offer a variety of guest blogging campaigns with high-quality backlinks.

3. Build an authority content piece

Pitching a blogger for a backlink is a lot easier when it’s to a long-form resource page. Rather than just pitching a topical article to a blogger, focus on selling your existing authority content. Many bloggers have a “resource” section and are looking to populate it with the “right” content.

4. Provide a testimonial

Testimonial link building is a win-win scenario. On the one hand, this is a perfect way for them to build customer trust. Testimonials have an associated level of credibility that garners customer trust. Additionally, these mentions also include a rare backlink of high value that will pay dividends in your SEO strategy for years to come. Finally, some clients also find that these specific backlinks provide a steady stream of click-through traffic which augments their current SEO and paid ad efforts.

5. Using SERPs to find sites that accept guest posts

The internet is replete with a multitude of link building opportunities. Forums, blogs and millions of websites all host backlinks but one must be judicious in selecting which avenue to explore. After generating your list of potential opportunities, it’s time to start filtering by: 

  • Domain Authority 
  • Domain Rating 
  • Referring Domains
  • Spam Score (Moz)

By targeting sites of high domain authority and ones with low spam scores, you can develop a sound SEO strategy. Strong SEO strategies tend to remain relatively unaffected by search engine algorithm changes that may arise in the future.

A few search operations that I typically use

  • [target keyword] + “Become a Contributor”
  • [target keyword] + “Become a Guest Blogger”
  • [target keyword] + “Contribute”
  • [target keyword] + “Submit a Guest Post”
  • [target keyword] + inurl:guest-posts
  • [target keyword] + inurl:write-for-us

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, you should consider every link, both inbound and outbound as a potential place to establish a connection when building an effective guest posting SEO strategy.

The SEO shortcuts of just a few years ago are becoming a thing of the past. Trust and authority are more valued by today’s search engine algorithms. Thankfully, guest posting as an effective strategy for link building is still alive and well in 2019 and the years to come. It’s all about how one goes about it that determines its effectiveness. 

The post Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How to educate clients about SEO and earn their trust

November 5, 2019 No Comments

I’ve found that most of my clients know a little something about SEO, but they’re not exactly sure how to make it work for them as well as it should. Teaching SEO to clients should be part of the client management services that you provide during SEO sales presentations.

SEO is a broad topic that covers a lot of ground. The challenge lies in how to explain SEO is communicating all the ways that you can enhance SEO in terms that clients can understand so that it doesn’t seem so much like a foreign language. 

I’ve found that my clients have a better understanding of the value of SEO when I can help them understand its significance in today’s digital marketing plans and speak to them about it without being too technical with the terms. 

I’ve found some effective ways on how to pitch SEO services and with their help, I develop a custom SEO plan that’s designed for success. The points shared below will help you convey a lot of crucial information to your clients.

Why SEO is necessary for your business

When teaching new clients about SEO and demonstrating how to show SEO value, I keep three things in mind:

  1. Explain SEO using a language they’re familiar with
  2. Demonstrate that SEO is still relevant today
  3. Explain the value of SEO in the simplest way possible

In getting acquainted with my clients, I like to start by explaining that SEO is a vital tool for success as a jumping-off point to a more pointed conversation about how to show SEO value. 

Clients who don’t hurry to embrace SEO unless they fully understand one simple thing – online is the new offline. Virtually every business is now present online and people are used to doing everything online, too.

Why do SEOCustomers should focus on SEO because people go to Google to explore almost everything, from medical symptoms to new restaurants. This re-emphasizes that online is the new offline. Organiс search is the primary source of the traffic to most websites, and your online visibility depends heavily on how high you rank on Google. If you decide that you want to go out for dinner to a nice Italian restaurant this evening, you’ll browse online and find restaurants in your area in Google Maps, take a look at the pictures, the menu, and read the reviews.

Important points to refer when explaining why SEO is important

  1. Organic search is the primary source of web traffic
  2. SEO builds trust in your products and company
  3. SEO improves the buying cycle because it puts your business where the audience is

While most clients know what SEO means, they’re not usually as familiar with related terms. I try to gauge their knowledge base of SEO as quickly as I can, so I can help fill in their gaps in knowledge. 

Why educate clients about SEO?

Providing SEO services isn’t just about getting results, although, that’s a big part of it. Our society is more tech-savvy than they used to be. It’s important to give our clients credit for what they know and educate them on the “behind the scenes” factors that are at work with SEO.  

SEO is a valuable tool and when we can help our clients better understand how it works, they can more easily see its value. Our credibility, and livelihoods as SEO professionals, depend on our ability to explain and demonstrate value. 

I also recently had a conversation with Eugene Levin, CSO of SEMrush, who believes that it’s important to educate the leadership in companies. 

Here’s what he said

“We do our best to educate both our employees and our clients. Each of our employees should understand SEO and know how to use SEMrush and all its tools. While with the clients we often meet in person to find some tailored tactics that would help them increase online visibility and drive sales. We meet with companies’ SEO teams and figure out even more efficient ways to boost online rankings.”

Giving client education a deeper thought

SEO skills are important but don’t overlook the importance of assuring your clients that you have worth as a specialist who can help them take their business from good to great. Your clients aren’t going to be satisfied with you sending them links on marketing blogs, videos, or informational emails alone. It requires time, work, and energy to educate clients, but your client management skills will eventually pay off. 

As you spend more time with your clients, they will learn a little more from you each time about SEO which will bolster their trust in you as their SEO advisor and create a stronger mutual trust between you. While you are the SEO expert, don’t forget that they are the expert on their business. Their input during collaborations is a vital component of their ultimate success in SEO campaigns

1. Clarify goals and expectations

I make sure the goals and workflow are clear, so the report ties in with monthly deliverables. These are the details that prove how hard you are working behind the scenes for your clients. 

2. Share reports

During the course of planning for improving SEO results, clients will learn that much more time goes into it than they probably thought. To help them realize this, I always share reports as the ones mentioned below:

  • Reporting in calls
  • Emails
  • Reports with custom KPIs

3. Make SEO easy to understand for your clients

While I educate my clients as well as I can when I meet up with them, I supplement my teachings with blogs on my website that correlate to different aspects of SEO as resources if they’re interested in understanding more about a particular aspect of SEO. Over time, they will come to rely on my site for the latest information in SEO, which is a great way to reuse your content. They will probably even share it with others, which will help to expand your business.  

Every client is in a different place in understanding their digital marketing needs, so I try to cater my teaching to their level of understanding. 

My process of educating clients involves one or more of the following steps:

  • Learning how much the client knows about SEO and the internet 
  • Determining their learning style
  • Breaking down the meaning of SEO and what it does
  • Choosing an analogy that has meaning for them 

4. Gauge your client’s understanding levels

When having discussions with clients, I make eye-contact with them. If I start getting puzzled looks when I mention things like search engines and backlinks, it helps me pick signals whether I need to explain some of the technical terms or whether I can offer a simple definition and move on. 

5. Understand and choose an ideal learning style for your client

I know that there are three main learning styles – verbal, visual, and physical. Using one or more of these styles helps drive home certain points. 

I know that some of my clients do well when we have discussions in person or on the phone. Other clients need the help of a chart, diagram, or a simple drawing. Physical learners need me to demonstrate the concept. The best way to do this is by giving them an analogy or showing them an example on the computer. 

Clients that are new to technology may need to understand what SEO is, so I like to start by explaining that the acronym, search engine optimization is. I also explain what optimization means and how it helps to rank websites higher on a page and how authority gives the search engine a way to rank its importance.

6. Use analogies to make SEO relatable

Finally, an analogy is always a great teaching tool because it gives my clients a way to compare a challenging concept. In the course of the discussion, I usually grab onto a comment they made. If they mentioned they were late because they had to meet with their insurance agent – I present an example using the same context in which I can show how an insurance agent can use SEO to rank high on a web page.

His insurance agent has a website. Most likely the agent has a blog and some testimonials. The more content the agent has, the higher the site ranks. Ranking higher will mean that the agent’s site takes advantage of titles, product descriptions, and summaries. It will have photos and videos and it will link to other pages. Because the agent is looking for local business, he or she will target customers within a certain radius of the office. The agent may also have a target audience of married people who are homeowners, so it’s important for them to advertise in places that will attract that market rather than online locations that attract millennials. 

Extra tip

I often spend some time on my clients’ websites before a scheduled appointment. That gives me additional opportunities to apply some of the concepts we’re discussing to the work that we can begin doing together. 

Closing note

I never anticipated that teaching would be part of my job as a digital marketer. What I enjoy so much about the client management aspect of my job is that I’m continually finding out new information about SEO and it makes me eager to share it with my clients. It’s rewarding for both of us to share details that will help them to become a success. 

Which of these tips would you practice to help educate clients about SEO? Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and tips in the comments section.

Karina Tama is a contributor for Forbes, Thrive Global and the El Distrito Newspaper. She can be found on Twitter @KarinaTama2.

The post How to educate clients about SEO and earn their trust appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it)

November 3, 2019 No Comments

A few years ago I started a website and to my delight, the SEO efforts I was making to grow it were yielding results. However, one day I checked my rankings, and got the shock of my life. It had fallen, and badly.

I was doing my SEO right and I felt that was enough, but I didn’t know there was more. I hadn’t paid attention to my website security, and I didn’t even know that it mattered when it comes to Google and its ranking factors. Also, there were other security concerns I wasn’t paying attention to. As far as I was concerned back then, it didn’t matter since I had good content.

Obviously I was wrong, and I now know that if you really want to rank higher and increasing your site’s search traffic, then you need to understand that there is more to it than just building links and churning out more content. Understanding Google’s algorithm and it’s ranking factors are crucial.

Currently, Google has over 200 ranking factors they consider when they want to determine where to rank a site. And as expected, one of them is about how protected your site is. According to them, website security is a top priority, and they make a lot of investments all geared towards enduring that all their services, including Gmail and Google Drive, use top-notch security and other privacy tools by default all in a bid to make the internet a safer place generally. 

Unfortunately, I was uninformed about these factors until my rankings started dropping. Below are four things you can do to protect your site.

Four steps to get started on website security

1. Get security plug-ins installed

On average, a typical small business website gets attacked 44 times each day, and software “bots” attack these sites more than 150 million times every week. And this is for both WordPress sites and even for non-WordPress websites. 

Malware security breaches can lead to hackers stealing your data, data loss, or it could even make you lose access to your website. And in some cases, it can deface your website and that will not just spoil your brand reputation, it will also affect your SEO rankings.

To prevent that from happening, enhance your website security with WordPress plugins. These plugins will not just block off the brute force and malware attacks, they will harden WordPress security for your site, thus addressing the security vulnerabilities for each platform and countering all other hack attempts that could pose a threat to your website.

2. Use very strong passwords

As much as it is very tempting to use a password you can easily remember, don’t. Surprisingly, the most common password for most people is still 123456. You can’t afford to take such risks. 

Make the effort to generate a secure password. The rule is to mix up letters, numbers, and special characters, and to make it long. And this is not just for you. Ensure that all those who have access to your website are held to the same high standard that you hold yourself.

3. Ensure your website is constantly updated

As much as using a content management system (CMS) comes with a lot of benefits, it also has attendant risks attached. According to this Sucuri report, the presence of vulnerabilities in CMS’s extensible components is the highest cause of website infections. This is because the codes used in these tools are easily accessible owing to the fact that they are usually created as open-source software programs. That means hackers can access them too.

To protect your website, make sure your plugins, CMS, and apps are all updated regularly. 

4. Install an SSL certificate

installing an SSL certificate for website security SEO rankings

Image source

If you pay attention, you will notice that some URLs begin with “https://” while others start with “http://”. You may have likely noticed that when you needed to make an online payment. The big question is what does the “s” mean and where did it come from?

To explain it in very simple terms, that extra “s” is a way of showing that the connection you have with that website is encrypted and secure. That means that any data you input on that website is safe. That little “s” represents a technology known as SSL.

But why is website security important for SEO ranking?

Following Google’s Chrome update in 2017, sites that have “FORMS” but have no SSL certificate are marked as insecure. The SSL certificate, “Secure Sockets Layer” is the technology that encrypts the link between a browser and a web server, protects the site from hackers, and also makes sure that all the data that gets passed between a browser and a web server remains private.

why is website security important for SEO rankings, example with http vs https

Image source

A normal website comes with a locked key in the URL bar, but sites without SSL certificates, on the other hand, have the tag “Not Secure”. This applies to any website that has any form.

According to research carried out by Hubspot, 82% of those that responded to a consumer survey stated that they would leave a website that is not secure. And since Google chrome already holds about 67% out of the whole market share, that is a lot of traffic to lose.

research, how many users would consider browsing on a website that is not secure

Image source

Technically, the major benefit of having Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) instead of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is that it gives users a more secure connection that they can use to share personal data with you. This adds an additional layer of security which becomes important especially if you are accepting any form of payment on your site.

To move from HTTP to HTTPS you have to get an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer certificate) installed on your website.

why does an SSL certificate work for website securityImage source 

Once you get your SSL certificate installed successfully on a web server and configured, Google Chrome will show a green light. It will then act as a padlock by providing a secure connection between the browser and the webserver. For you, what this means is that even if a hacker is able to intercept your data, it will be impossible for them to decrypt it.

Security may have a minor direct effect on your website ranking, but it affects your website in so many indirect ways. It may mean paying a little price, but in the end, the effort is worth it.

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

The post Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Evolution of Google’s News Ranking Algorithm

November 1, 2019 No Comments

Image: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Did the Algorithm Behind How News Articles Rank at Google Just Change?

A Google Patent about how news articles are ranked by Google was updated this week, and in this case it suggests how entities in those documents can have an impact on ranking.

How Have News Articles Been Ranked at Google?

This patent was originally filed in 2003.

The beta version of Google News was first launched by Google in 2002, so this was one of the early patents that described how Google ranked news articles.

One of the inventors of the original patent was Krishna A. Bharat, known as a founder of Google News.

The newest version (a continuation patent) was just granted and is the Sixth Version of the patent. It can be found at:

Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles
Inventors: Michael Curtiss, Krishna A. Bharat, and Michael Schmitt
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,459,926
Granted: October 29, 2019
Filed: April 27, 2015

This version of the patent provides a history of previous versions of the patent, and when they were filed and what the patent numbers of the earlier 5 versions are:

This application is a

(1) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/140,108, filed on Dec. 24, 2013, which is a

(2) continuation of U.S. patent Ser. No. 13/616,659, filed on Sep. 14, 2012 (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,645,368), which is a

(3) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/404,827, filed Feb. 24, 2012, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,332,382), which is a

(4) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/501,256, filed on Jul. 10, 2009, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,126,876), which is a

(5) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/662,931, filed Sep. 16, 2003, (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,577,655),

the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein.

What A Continuation Patent is

Continuation Patents take the date of the filing of the patent they are continuing (or the ones those patents are continuing) and are intended to show how the process described by the patents have changed. The processes are set out in the claims sections of the patents, which are the parts of the patents that the prosecuting patent officer reviews when deciding whether or not to grant the new patents.

Often, looking at the very first claim of each patent can help identify important aspects that have changed from one version of a patent to another. It is somewhat rare (in my experience) to see a patent that has been updated 6 times as this one has. I recently wrote about Google’s Universal Search Interface patent which was recently updated a fourth time – Google’s New Universal Search Results.

What Caused A Recent Rankings Change at the New York Times?

A post on Twitter this week suggested that The New York Times may have been negatively impacted by a new Algorithm called Bert that was just released at Google, which was announced in Understanding searches better than ever before.

That Tweet does tell us that it is possible that BERT may have had an impact or a move to Mobile-First Indexing may have caused a loss of rankings at the Newspaper’s site. But seeing that tweet, and seeing that there was a new version of this patent made me curious to see what it contained, and what the changes it may have brought about were.

The Changing Claims from the Ranking of News Articles Patents

But it’s possible that other changes at Google could also have an impact on rankings at news sites. One way to tell how Google changed it how ranks articles is to look at how the patent covering the ranking of news articles has changed over time.

Compare How the first 4 claims from this patent have changed over time.

The latest first claim in this patent introduces some new things to look at

What is claimed is:

1. A method for ranking results, comprising: receiving a list of objects; identifying a first object in the list and a first source with which the first object is associated; identifying a second object in the list and a second source with which the second object is associated; determining a quantity of named entities that (i) occur in the first object that is associated with the first source, and (ii) do not occur in objects that are identified as sharing a same cluster with the first object but that are associated with one or more sources other than the first source; computing, based at least on the quantity of named entities that (i) occur in the first object that is associated with the first source, and (ii) do not occur in objects that are identified as sharing a same cluster with the first object but that are associated with one or more sources other than the first source, a first quality value of the first source using a first metric, wherein a named entity corresponds to a person, place, or organization; computing a second quality value of the second source using a second metric that is different from the first metric; and ranking the list of objects based on the first quality value and the second quality value.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the identifying the first source with which the first object is associated includes: identifying the first source based on a uniform resource locator (URL) associated with the first object.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the first source is a news source.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein computing the first quality value of the first source is further based on: one or more of a number of articles produced by the first source during a first time period, an average length of an article produced by the first source, an amount of important coverage that the first source produces in a second time period, a breaking news score, network traffic to the first source, a human opinion of the first source, circulation statistics of the first source, a size of a staff associated with the first source, a number of bureaus associated with the first source, a breadth of coverage by the first source, a number of different countries from which traffic to the first source originates, and a writing style used by the first source.

From the version of the patent that was filed on Sep. 14, 2012 (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,645,368):

What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: determining, using one or more processors and based on receiving a search query, articles and respective scores; identifying, using one or more processors, for an article of the articles, a source with which the article is associated; determining, using one or more processors, a score for the source, the score for the source being based on: a metric that represents an evaluation, by one or more users, of the source, and an amount of traffic associated with the source; and adjusting, using one or more processors, the score of the article based on the score for the source.

2. The method of claim 1, where identifying the source includes identifying the source based on an address associated with the article.

3. The method of claim 1, where determining the score includes accessing a memory to determine the score for the source.

4. The method of claim 1, where the score for the source is further based on a length of time between an occurrence of an event and publication, by the source, of an article associated with the event.

From the Version of the patent filed on Feb. 24, 2012, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,332,382):

What is claimed is:

1. A computer-implemented method comprising: obtaining, in response to receiving a search query, articles and respective scores; identifying, using one or more processors, for an article of the articles, a source with which the article is associated; determining, using one or more processors, a score for the source, based on polling one or more users to request the one or more users to provide a metric that represents an evaluation of a source and based on a length of time between an occurrence of an event and publication, by the source, of another article associated with the event; and adjusting, using one or more processors, the score of the article based on the score for the source.

2. The method of claim 1, where identifying the source includes identifying the source based on an address associated with the article.

3. The method of claim 1, where adjusting the score of the article includes: determining, using the score for the source, a new score for the article associated with the source; and adjusting the score of the article based on the determined new score.

4. The method of claim 1, where the score for the source is further based on a usage pattern indicating traffic associated with the source.

From the version of the patent that was filed on February 10, 2009, (Now U.S. Pat. No. 8,126,876):

What is claimed is:

1. A method, performed by one or more server devices, the method comprising: receiving, at one or more processors of the one or more server devices, a search query, from a client device; generating, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and in response to receiving the search query, a list of references to news articles; identifying, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each reference in the list of references, a news source with which each reference is associated; determining, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each identified news source, whether a news source rank exists; determining, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each reference with an existing corresponding news source rank, a new score by combining the news source rank and a score corresponding to a previous ranking of the reference; and ranking, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices, the references in the list of references based, at least in part, on the new scores.

2. The method of claim 1, where determining whether each news source rank exists includes accessing a database to locate the news source rank.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: providing the ranked list of references to the client device.

4. The method of claim 1, where determining the new score comprises: determining, for each reference with an existing corresponding news source rank, a weighted sum of the news source rank and the score corresponding to the previous ranking of the reference.

And the Very First Version of the patent filed on September 16, 2003, (Now U.S. Pat. No. 7,577,655):

What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: determining, by a processor, one or more metric values for a news source based at least in part on at least one of a number of articles produced by the news source during a first time period, an average length of an article produced by the news source, an amount of coverage that the news source produces in a second time period, a breaking news score, an amount of network traffic to the news source, a human opinion of the news source, circulation statistics of the news source, a size of a staff associated with the news source, a number of bureaus associated with the news source, a number of original named entities in a group of articles associated with the news source, a breadth of coverage by the news source, a number of different countries from which network traffic to the news source originates, or a writing style used by the news source determining, by the processor, an importance metric value representing the amount of coverage that the news source produces in a second time period, where the determining an importance metric includes: determining, by the processor, for each article produced by the news source during the second time period, a number of other non-duplicate articles on a same subject produced by other news sources to produce an importance value for the article, and adding, by the processor, the importance values to obtain the importance metric value; generating, by the processor, a quality value for the news source based at least in part on the determined one or more metric values; and using, by the processor, the quality value to rank an object associated with the news source.

2. The method of claim 1 where the determining includes: determining, by the processor, a plurality of metric values for the news source.

3. The method of claim 2 where the generating includes: multiplying, by the processor, each metric value in the plurality of metric values by a factor to create a plurality of adjusted metric values, and adding, by the processor, the plurality of adjusted metric values to obtain the quality value.

4. The method of claim 3 where the plurality of metric values includes a predetermined number of highest metric values for the news source.

How the News Ranking Claims Differ

An analysis of changes over Time to the patent for “Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles,” should reflect how Google has changed how they have been implementing that patent.

We can see that in the claims for the very first patent (filed in 2003) that Google was looking at metric values for different news sources to rank the content that those sources were creating. That very long first claim from that version of the patent list a number of metrics to use to rank news sources, and that ranking influenced the ranking of news articles. So a story from a very well known news agency would have a tendency to rank higher than a story from a lesser-known agency.

The version of the patent filed in 2009 still focuses upon news sources (and a “news source rank”), along with references to the news articles generated by those news sources.

The version of the patent filed in February 2012 again tells us about a score for a news article that is influenced by a score for a news source, but it doesn’t include the many metrics that the 2003 version of the patent does.

The version of the patent filed in September 2012 Holds on to the score for the source, but tells us that score is based on a metric that represents an evaluation, by one or more users, the amount of traffic associated with the source, and a score for the article based upon a score for the source.

The most recent published version of this patent, filed in April 2015, and granted in October 2019 introduces some changes in how news articles may be ranked by Google. It tells us about how articles covering different topics are placed in clusters (which isn’t new in itself), and how those articles may rank higher than other articles by covering more entities that aren’t covered by articles in the same clusters


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ROI of improving online reviews: +0.1 stars can boost conversion 25%

October 30, 2019 No Comments

A review rating increase of just 0.1 stars can boost a location’s online conversion rates – such as phone calls, website clicks or requests for directions – by 25%, according to new report from location marketing firm Uberall released yesterday.

A 25% rise in conversion can “also mean a 25% increase in foot traffic every day,” said Uberall SVP of Marketing Norman Rohr in a statement. The “Reputation Management Revolution Report” [free, registration required] also finds that a jump from a 3.5-star rating to 3.7 can see a disproportionate jump in conversions of 120%, the highest growth jump available.

A business’ priority on this front, then, should be to acquire 3.7 stars or above at all of its locations, Uberall said. Reviews and ratings of businesses are frequently posted by consumers on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and Google, among others.

‘Near me’ searches

Additionally, 4.0 and 4.4 stars also represent key review benchmarks in terms of affecting user actions. At 4.4 stars, bigger businesses start to achieve higher conversion rates than SMBs, which outperform larger businesses below 4.4.

Based in Berlin, Uberall offers a platform that helps businesses optimize for “near me” customers, including review management and making it easier to find relevant info, like directions or opening times.

The report also found that:

  • Mobile searches for brands and products “near me” have exploded, with 82 percent of users having conducted a “near me” search. Among millennials, the “near me” search rate is 92%.
  • Nearly half of all consumers have left a review online, and 95% report that reviews influence their buying decisions.
  • Replies by brands to their reviews can have a substantial effect on acquiring new customers. The report said that a 30% reply rate is the benchmark threshold. For example, enterprise locations that reply to at least 32% of their reviews were rewarded with 80% higher conversions than direct competitors.
  • Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that replied to only 10% of their reviews saw a similar impact. But SMBs have a higher average review reply rate (25%), compared to 12% for enterprises and 9% for global brands. Rohr noted that SMBs rely on customer reviews to drive brand awareness and visibility more than bigger brands, which can more readily buy visibility.

Asking for reviews

Rohr told SEW via email that businesses do better when they proactively ask for reviews. Without review solicitation, he said, “businesses will primarily face negative reviews,” because “customers aroused by an emotional experience tend to submit reviews on their own,” and that includes negative experiences.

Although this is Uberall’s first report on this kind of reputation management, it released a report last year about responding to customer reviews and a report last summer on reviews for SMBs.

This report analyzed sixty-four thousand large and small Google business profiles in the US, UK, France and Germany that utilized the Uberall platform.

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Creating SEO-friendly how-to content

October 26, 2019 No Comments

People are constantly craving useful information. Once you show them that you have a lot more to share through something like “how-to” content pages, you will be rewarded by sharing it with others and establish your company’s credibility.

Creating SEO-friendly how-to content is a good way to catch your audience’s attention, fuel SEO, foster deeper levels of engagement, and take on the customer journey from brand awareness to sales.

To understand how important how-to content is to your overall content creation game, let’s take a look at some interesting stats:

  • According to Think With Google, “how-to” videos get the most attention of any content type on YouTube, even more than video games and music clips.
  • Google has reported that “how-to” searches have increased by more than 140% over the last 13 years. 
  • The graphs from LawRank reveal more and more how-to searches on Google and YouTube.

So, how-to blog posts and articles become some of the most sought after and linked to content online. Even if you know the benefits of this content category, getting it right can be challenging. With these valuable tips given below, you’ll create SEO-friendly how-to content that strikes the target every time.

1. Perform some research

Before creating your how-to content, you need to do some research that allows you to find the right topics and lead you in the right direction. As it takes a lot of strategic work, planning and time, you can start by using content research tools like BuzzsumoAhrefs, and the others. Many of these tools provide insight into topic ideas that are trending in your niche. 


You can start with a little more interactive research. Using polls and quizzes is a great practice to raise audience engagement by asking for the type of how-to content they’re searching, find out weak points that your target audience has, and support your content with these unique insights. The tools like SurveyAnyplace or Survey Monkey help you engage people and get some insights in return.

When doing some research, check out the most popular communities and forums like Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and others. You can follow a specific category and regularly track the most trending how-to content people are interested in at present. You can also use these communities as an additional benefit to build meaningful relationships and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

Where SEO and content converge, you need to do keyword research. Start your how-to content generation by understanding and finding your keyword phrases that your potential customers look for. That’s where keyword research tools come into play. 

I recommend using SE Ranking’s Keyword Suggestion Tool to detect the most relevant keyword variations people are using across the web. The main advantage is that the tool has a particular algorithm that finds the best keywords for your niche, including traffic costs, monthly search volume, KEI, and other parameters. 

Finally, keep track of your competitors’ how-to content, and check out which content they are creating and which one has the highest engagement. Use their best experiences and improve your how-to content.

2. Use “how-to” structured data

Google has recently added the opportunity to properly mark up how-to content that lets you appear in rich results on Search and Google Assistant. Using HowTo structured data can distinctly tell Google that your content is related to a how-to and reaches the right users. 

The best thing about implementing HowTo structured data is the ability to get users through a gang of steps to finish a task successfully. Moreover, you can also feature text, images, and video. If you want to focus on the how-to on the page, HowTo structured data can help you add value to your content.

Here’s how it looks like in the search: 

To find out more about adding the markup to web pages that have step-by-step directions on, you can visit the developer docs for Google Search and a “how-to” action with markup for Google Assistant. Notice that you don’t need to create a separate web page to implement this structured data. You can do it without a page. 

Once Google marks up your page, you can visit a new enhancement report in the Search Console to track all issues, warnings, and errors related to your how-to pages.

3. Optimize your content for SEO

Any content needs SEO to stand out from the rest on the internet these days. Today marketers try to create less content for search engines, but more for people consuming them. But it isn’t possible to remove the SEO element completely. The effective content marketing strategy means focusing on keyword and user intent research.

Once you figure out what search queries your target audience is using and what sort of content they are searching for, you can develop a good content strategy that can solve their issues and keep them moving through your funnel. Taking into account this approach makes your content more informative and engaging – everything that search engines love today.

When you focus on content that appeals to your audiences, ensure to bring back to SEO naturally.

For example, you can use top-performing keywords like “how-to” or “how do I”. Including keyword phrases in a natural way and using the way your audience is asking for help can give you a double advantage.

What concerns word count, long content tends to rank better in organic search results, because it is detailed and meets the needs of your readers. According tBuffer1 600 words is considered as the ideal length of a blog post. Just try to create content that answers people’s questions at once, considers pain points, and fulfills the promises to your readers. To stir them into action, you can include an enticing call to action to show them to move off what they want.

4. Visualize your content

Sometimes people can stop reading your how-to content because it has a straight text. To liven up your dry content and make readers more engaging, including more visual appeal into your content can better explain the process and attract the reader’s attention. 

Visualizing your content is a great way to create a great user experience and shareable assets. That helps provide users with a clear idea to complete the process you’re explaining. Experiment with different types of visuals until you find the right combination for you.

Screenshots and graphics are effective for different guides and tutorials that give detailed steps for particular operations: where to click or what a spreadsheet should like. Infographics are great for breaking up your text into blocks to help users share a section that resonates with them. 

Whiteboard videos can be successful since they can easily break down large complex problems. For example, Lavent Law gives instructions on what to do after a car accident in a video format by creating a separate web page. You can find more examples here

5. Check the analytics

Once you’ve posted your how-to blog posts and articles, you need to go back in a few weeks and look at the analytics. You can easily find out whether your content is getting enough traffic, how long visitors stay on the page, where they go after reading your content, and what paths they are taking. 

All of this will help you get a glimpse at your success and improve your how-to content to better direct visitors to the page. To get advanced web analytics, you can use Finteza for tracking the activities you are interested in. 

The tool provides in-depth audience analysis from different perspectives, builds conversions funnels across all pages, and detects weak page zones. You can also set any conversion goals based on visited pages or events.

Final word 

Fortunately, there’s a lot of how-to content on the web, but it doesn’t mean that all of it is informative and engaging. Let’s imagine how much time we could save if illustrated, detailed, and useful how-to content had been available. Why not be the guide your visitors search for? Now you have everything to create SEO-friendly how-to pieces of content.

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

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Four steps to create an effective content marketing strategy for your eShop

October 22, 2019 No Comments

The importance of content marketing cuts across all niches and the e-commerce niche is not left behind. Content marketing is the kind of marketing that attracts your target audience or gets them to take a particular action through content.

In this article, you’ll learn four content marketing steps you can take as an ecommerce store owner that will lead you to an increase in your conversion rate and sales. Plus, thanks to technology, we’ll also be dropping some content marketing tools that’ll give you the backup you need.

P. S. You don’t need to be a guru to try content marketing.

But first, let’s lay some foundation before you take your first step.

You may run your eShop from the comfort of your computer on your secure browser, but just like any brick and mortar business, you’ve got to know your ideal customers like the palm of your hand.

The effectiveness of this content marketing strategy relies on how well you understand your target customers.

Who exactly are the products you’re selling on your eShop for?

Don’t give some vague answer like “women who like jewelry” or “men who like fun logo tees”. If you want to get the full benefit of content marketing then you need to get crystal clear with who you’re selling your products to and allow them to help you generate the kind of content that can grow your business too.

The reason why this is important is that knowing exactly who you’re targeting makes it so much easier to target them. You have a laser focus on who your customers are and you won’t have to waste time on people who aren’t your customers. So you need to be clear on their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Activities they’re interested in

And then form as clear a description of who your target customer is as possible. One smart tool that will help you get some insight into your target audience is Quora. You can use it as a search engine and search keywords relevant to your niche. What you get is a list of questions people ask around that keyword. When you go through the results and read through the responses, you’ll begin to get more insight as to who your ideal clients are.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s hop right into the content marketing steps you must take.

1. Zeroing in on consumers’ social media habits

Once you have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is, next on the agenda is to know where those ideal customers hang out.

Social media is a great place to put yourself right in the midst of your target customers. There are 3.5 billion people online and over two-thirds of those people are on social media.

To kickstart your content marketing efforts you have to know the kind of content that will appeal to your target audience. To do this, you need to find out which platform they spend their time on and study how they spend their time on social media.

This step is crucial because it will point you in the right direction of:

1. How they use each social media platform

You log in to a social media platform for various reasons like watching videos, scrolling through pictures or reading short captions. Knowing this will help you define the kind of content you should be posting on those platforms.

2. What kind of content attracts their attention on those platforms

Once you know which platforms your ideal customers spend time the most and why you’ll be able to know which content they enjoy consuming the most. This will help inform you of the kind of content you can create when you’re executing your content marketing strategy.

3. What time are they most active on those platforms

Each platform has its peak periods where your target audience is the most active on those platforms? That time is the best time to make posts, comment, and even schedule your ads. Being active during the times when your audience is the least active will kill your content marketing effort and it will be a complete waste of time. The infographic below will guide you when those peak periods are.

Source: Sumall.com

2. Mastering content formats

By now you should start having a deeper understanding of your target audience. Probably you’ve already started developing some content ideas that you’re sure they’d be interested in.

There are so many different types of content you can create to advance your content marketing strategy. Content primarily can come in the form of text, video or audio. Whatever form of content you decide to go with you need to bear in mind that your content must be something that educates, entertains or enlightens your audience. Providing value is the key.

Here are some ideas you can get started with:

  • Tutorials – Depending on the kind of items you sell in your ecommerce store, there are a lot of people out there who will appreciate a detailed tutorial on how to use it.
  • Product reviews – Before making a decision on whether to buy an item or not, people look up reviews on the product. This is a good way to capture the attention of your target customers.
  • Listicles – Who doesn’t like them? Listicles like “Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas” or “Six Things You Need to Start a Bullet Journal” are creative ways you can mention the items you sell in your eShop while providing value for your audience at the same time.

3. Reverse engineering competitor’s content portfolio

Who said taking a sneak peek of what your competitors are doing is a bad thing? As a newbie in content marketing, it’s a great way to get ideas on what works in the market and what your target audience finds interesting.

Check what kind of content other eShop owners (especially the big time e-commerce stores) are doing and how they are using their content to convert their target market to sales leads.

A handy tool that will show you the kind of content your competitors are creating is Buzzsumo. It gives you the ability to analyze which topics worked best for your competitor and, by extension, what kind of topics you should be creating content around. So ask yourself:

  • What is the common thing you notice?
  • How do your ideal customers respond to the content?
  • How can you put your own spin to their approach and enjoy the same results they’re enjoying?

Reverse engineering your competitors’ content will act as a guide on what you can apply in your business. They’ve done it and they’re getting the attention from your ideal customer, so why not you?

4. Boosting content distribution

Now you’ve got your content ready and published, what next? Content is basically useless unless visible and the way you do that is by increasing your content distribution efforts. This is where the information you gathered in the first tip will come in handy. Knowing the behavior of your ideal customers on social media and the peak periods when your ideal customer is active on social media will help you know just where and when to share your content.

Stick with two to three platforms to prevent yourself from spreading too thin. But note: Sharing your content once will not be enough! You have to push out your content regularly. This article by Louise Myers gives you a fair idea of how often you should post on each social media platform.

Scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Coshedule will help you ensure that you’re posting the recommended number of times per day. You can schedule your posts for the day, the week or even for the month and each post will be automatically posted at the exact time you schedule them.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to spam. The idea is to put your content in front of as many of your ideal customers as possible so that they know about you and buy from you too.

Now it’s your turn

Content marketing is a process. But when you follow through the steps you will be able to get the traction you need to help grow your e-commerce store and increase your sales. But remember you won’t see results overnight.

But as you learn more about your ideal client, create and distribute your content, slowly you’ll start to see that you not only build customers but also raving fans.

What better time to get started than now?

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

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Search transformation projects: Q&A with SAP’s Siddharth Taparia

October 14, 2019 No Comments

At The Transformation of Search Summit next month, we’ll be hearing from a panel on “Embarking on Search Transformation Projects.” One of those panelists will be Siddharth Taparia, SVP and Head of Strategic Transformation and Partner Marketing at SAP.

Siddharth has grown his career in marketing at various companies, including spending the past 11 years at SAP.

siddharth taparia, head of marketing transformation at SAP

For many search marketers, embarking on search transformation projects can seem daunting and unclear. Siddharth’s expertise lies in leading marketing transformation efforts, and he’ll share insights on what’s he’s learned along the way.

Tell us a bit about your role at SAP?

I serve as head of SAP Global Partner Ecosystem and SME Marketing. In this role, I oversee SAP’s entire global partner ecosystem – with nearly 20,000 partners – including companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Deloitte. We also market to the invaluable small and midsize space. My team is responsible for providing excellent support and resources for existing partners and helping to grow the network with new partners.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

My key priorities over the next 12 months will include supporting SAP revenue and growth aspirations through innovative partner marketing, communications, and enablement. We will continue to be laser-focused on creating great partner experiences, extending the company’s reach to more customers, and driving SAP brand value.

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those?

Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we stay focused and look at the big picture. We are a large team within a large, global company. The path to success comprises many components that must come together in a cohesive manner.

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

As with many areas in life, communication and collaboration is key. Everyone on the team needs to be on the same page when it comes to understanding the plan, the strategy, and the goals. More importantly, the communication has to be a two-way street. It is vital to establish a culture in which people feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

It is interesting to see the growth of AI and how it is becoming more and more sophisticated. AI is providing unprecedented personalization, which makes for memorable customer experiences. When it comes to search specifically, AI is helping to make it easier to find the information you need faster and with more accuracy than ever before.

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

The rate at which AI is evolving is truly astronomical. By its very nature, AI gets better with time. With more data and new algorithms over the next several months, accuracy will continue to improve and forecasting and anticipating customer needs will become even more precise.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

I am excited to be a part of the panel discussion, “Embarking on a Search Transformation Project.” It is crucial for companies to not only incorporate search into their overall martech strategy; they must continue to evolve their search strategy to include new search technology. Search needs to be a core part of every marketing strategy and tactics.

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

I enjoyed being a part of the Summit as the keynote speaker last year, and I am looking forward to sharing ideas around the fascinating topic of search. Search is such an important topic to all industries, and the Summit will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest developments within this field.

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why?

I have been following the development of voice search for quite some time now. It is my favorite search technology because it has come so far in such a short amount of time. Additionally, it’s an engaging, convenient, and fun way to obtain information!

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

I am a voracious reader. Every time I take a break from a meeting or a call I try to read something new or interesting that expands my horizons. I also love to learn new things — so whenever I am in a meeting I often have a lot of questions.


Thanks Siddharth for the insights, and looking forward to learning more at the event.

Hope to see you all there!

The post Search transformation projects: Q&A with SAP’s Siddharth Taparia appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Six social media marketing strategies that work and convert

October 10, 2019 No Comments

As an estimate, 3.499 billion people that make around 50% of the earth’s population are active social media users. Of that, Facebook alone has over 2.375 billion active users. WhatsApp, an instant messaging app by Facebook, has more than 1.6 billion users.

Other Facebook developments: Instagram has one billion, and SnapChat has 190 million daily users.

Despite the fact that Facebook owns a majority of leading social networks, there are many other social platforms where users love to engage and spend time. YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok are some of the most popular, non-Facebook social media platforms at present.

Marketing on social media is quite different from traditional marketing. In 2018 alone, $ 74 billion were spent on social media marketing worldwide. Why? Because social media marketing yields better visibility and ROI than traditional and TV advertising do.

This blog covers six new and proven social media marketing strategies on the following key areas. Implementing these strategies, you will be able to bring in new customers, build strong relationships and trust, and win back customers that seem to have been lost forever.

Start creating Instagram stories

As mentioned earlier, Instagram has over a billion users. And, roughly, half of its users use Instagram Stories every day.

And that’s where you have a chance to cash in via your Instagram Stories.

Considering the fact that you can build your audience and convert them through your stories, you should have a separate dedicated strategy for your Instagram Stories.

If you too are planning to use Instagram Stories, here are some of the best practices to create Instagram Stories that get views, engagement, and clicks –

  • Add hashtags (#)
  • Tag your location
  • Run polls and encourage users to participate
  • Use trending stickers and icons
  • Follow the right image and video formats so your stories look good on mobile screens
  • Put your popular updates, content, and stories in highlights
  • Add links to stories
  • Place strong CTAs

If you have a verified business account or more than 10000 followers, you could also set up your shop on Instagram. And then, you can promote your products through your Instagram Stories and ask watchers to take the desired action to buy.

Get started with YouTube Ads

With its 1.9 billion users, YouTube is the largest and most active video social network. At an average, its users spend at least 40 minutes every time they open YouTube.

If you are a YouTube user, you are already aware of YouTube ads being run before and during the videos you are playing.

Imagine your ads being shown to users chosen strategically based on whether they fit into your buyer definition.

Wouldn’t that be a great way to boost visibility and awareness?

You can target users – or show your ads to specific users – based on their Google search and YouTube watch history. Put simply, if a user has searched for a product or term on Google, and you have a product that falls into that category, you can choose to show your advertisement to that user.

YouTube reaches more people than any TV network in the world. Using YouTube Ads could give your brand massive visibility and your sales a big boost.

To set up your video ad campaigns, you will need to create attractive and meaningful videos to engage and delight your audience. Here is a complete guide to create and run your video ads campaign on YouTube.

Increase your reach with Facebook Ads funnel

Facebook’s more than two billion users access the platform eight times a day, either through web or mobile. That makes it the most active social network as well.

Given that, it becomes a platform with plenteous sales and marketing opportunities.

26% percent of users who click on Facebook Ads go ahead and make the purchase. 39% of users follow official brand pages expecting to receive the latest offers.

But, to be exact, Facebook is not a place where a user is ready to buy. It is certainly a platform to make a user a loyal customer that not only will buy from you in the future but will also spread your brand through the word of mouth.

If pitched right, Facebook Ads offer higher returns on investment meetings, and in most cases, surpassing your ad objectives and expectations.

The most important element of your Facebook ads is your content, which could be a blog post, infographic, video, live webinar, or eBook. The focus should be on producing quality content that you can pitch your audience.

You can also create the same content in multiple formats so that you can convince people at different stages in different ad formats through different ad sets. Creating and promoting segmented content by targeting it your lookalike audience is the basics of Facebook Funnel marketing.

Remarketing is probably the best feature of Facebook Ads. You could expose your brand (through your ads) to potential audiences multiple times till the time they make a decision.

TikTok Ads for a specific audience

TikTok rose to fame after a revamp, followed by the takeover of Music.ly a couple of years back. This Chinese social network allows users to create 15-second videos while lip-syncing on popular soundtracks, music, movie dialogs, and famous personalities. This fun app is largely popular among teens and those in their twenties.

The platform is available in 150 countries and in 75 languages. On Apple AppStore and Google Store, TikTok is one of the most downloaded free apps.

TikTok is an attractive marketing platform, especially if you have products that interest teens and tweens.

Of 500 million, 26.5 million are from the United States and 43% from India. 66% of its audience is below 30 years. These stats tempt marketers to use TikTok marketing to promote their brand.

IGTV for more views and actions    

IGTV is probably Instagram’s best feature from a marketer’s standpoint. Earlier, it was a standalone app.

Back then, using it was an uphill battle for marketers and a confusing affair for the user. It was challenging for marketers to generate engagement and views on their videos.

Now, things have turned easier.

What’s more interesting is: Users can now see IGTV previews on their Instagram feed. And by tapping the preview on their feed, they can move to and watch the video on the IGTV tab which is existent within the app’s interface.

Your videos are also shown in the search or discover section on Instagram – which gets you more views from users interested in videos, products, and services like yours. Strategic use of IGTV gives your brand a chance to showcase your product videos in an interactional manner and stand out.

With that, Instagram and IGTV offer a completely different approach to reach and convert. So gear up and create IGTV specific videos to deliver quality and value, and to gain more views and engagement.

Here are seven useful tips to get started with IGTV marketing

  • Create videos in Instagram-friendly (vertical) format
  • Keep your video content short and crisp – full of information
  • Choose different backdrops or locations to shoot your video. (it helps create visual interest for the audience)
  • Conduct game shows and interviews (make sure they are relevant)
  • Add subtitles to your videos (and make it easier for users, who watch videos with the sound off)
  • Use pop-up texts to send important messages during the video
  • Design your cover photo showcasing your title and keywords

Live video marketing

To make your marketing efforts perform, you will need to be different. Social media has transformed how businesses are run. The dominance of video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, SnapChat, and TikTok has ignited a new trend within social media.

Since users spend one-third of their time watching online videos, video marketing has now become an integral part of any successful social media marketing strategy. And for that reason, 87% of marketers use video to market their content and brands.

Evidently, every brand and marketer seems to be doing video marketing. So, now is the time to take a step further and indulge in live video marketing.

Live video is the future of video marketing. People love watching live videos more than pre-recorded videos, as it is more trustworthy. Users know that there is no editing involved and what they are seeing is true and unedited.

According to a survey, 80% of customers would be more interested in watching live videos rather than reading blogs, web pages or customer reviews. Videos are easy to digest, and live videos add a dash of reliability to easy understandability.

If you haven’t started a live video, put together a live video marketing strategy for all social networks that support live streaming.

Since you are managing multiple platforms, you would not want to spend all your time navigating from one platform to another. It makes perfect sense to introduce a social media marketing tool in your process. Not only will it save your time, but also streamline your process and makes it easier for you to analyze and develop future strategies.

The success of your social media strategies relies largely on the experience of the user first on your social media and second, on your landing page. This definitely includes, but is not limited to, the content, the navigation, the design, and the call to action.

To supercharge your social media marketing efforts, you could consider working on the SEO part as well. People still use search engines to find products and services they need. Installing an SEO extension on your website, you can improve its SEO-readiness and performance on search engines.

To end with, here is what you should focus on

  • Select the right platform(s)
  • Set your goals
  • Identify your target audience
  • Share what your audience likes to engage
  • Make your social media strategies flexible
  • Be consistent
  • Never leave a chance to interact with the audience

To identify what’s working and what’s not, you should keep a watchful eye on the performance and outcomes of your updates and social media ads. Make necessary changes in your social media strategy as and when needed.

I hope the ideas suggested in this article help you curate an effective social media marketing strategy for your brand. If you have some questions or if you would like to share something, drop a line in the comments section below.

Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is an Entrepreneur, internet marketer and Co-founder of Lbswebsoft. He can be found on Twitter @bskathayat.

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