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Simple guide to creating an expert roundup post that drives website traffic

November 28, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Roundup posts are pieces of content in which a list of selected experts give their insights on the same topic, in short descriptions that include their opinions, predictions, or reviews.
  • Creating an expert roundup post for your website or blog can take some preparation and organizing efforts, but it brings undeniable long-term benefits in terms of traffic, authoritativeness, and peer recognition.
  • In the following guide, I will take you through every step of creating an enticing expert roundup post for your website.

Publishing valuable content is a constant challenge when it comes to the formats and topics to cover. As a blogger, digital marketer, or content creator, you already know how much thought goes into offering your audience fresh, engaging content on a regular basis. Readers appreciate formats they are familiar with and can consume easily. A roundup post is an example of a successful approach to topics of interest in your industry.

Roundup posts are pieces of content in which a list of selected experts give their insights on the same topic, in short descriptions that include their opinions, predictions, or reviews.

Creating an expert roundup post for your website or blog can take some preparation and organizing efforts, but it brings undeniable long-term benefits in terms of traffic, authoritativeness, meaningful relationships, and peer recognition. By gathering a group of experts to answer the same question, you will not only generate relevant content for your website but build a strong relationship basis with experts in your industry.

Having a list of selected experts answer a well-placed question gives you a valuable piece of content that is highly shareable, so let’s see what it takes to do it right. In the following guide, I will take you through every step of creating an enticing expert roundup post for your website.

1. Brainstorm potential questions

The first step you need to take after deciding to publish an expert roundup post is to find the perfect question to ask the experts. This will be the key element of your post, and it will dictate whether it will be successful or not.

The perfect question might not be easy to find, but take enough time to find it. Brainstorm as much as you need before you decide who to invite in. All the further efforts of finding influencers and experts could be in vain if the topic you choose does not fit the roundup format, or doesn’t spark interest in your readers’ minds. So I’d recommend you find a question that resonates well with both your readers and experts.

Things to consider when brainstorming

To better understand what kind of questions are fit for a roundup post, you should picture the end result. You want to have your experts give your readers a piece of their own judgment, advice, or insight on a subject that your readers are familiar with. It won’t be a 101, a critical debate, or brain-picking for ultra-specialized information.

Your question needs to be:

  • Easy enough to give your respondents room to elaborate and get ample answers from them without the need for extra-questions.
  • General enough to give you a reasonably long list of influencers, experts, and peers. Go to niche and you might be able to talk to a handful of people about it.
  • Original enough to get your readers curious about the topic, and what experts have to say about it.

What about the topic will you be asking about? Naturally, it has to be specific to your website or niche and what you usually write about. The key is to find a subject that your audience is curious or interested in. Perhaps a trend, or a subject that usually sparks debate or behind-the-scenes type of information that regular posts don’t really get into.

You have the chance to get insights about the latest trends everyone is wondering about, or tips and tricks, good practices that expert peers have discovered through their experience and expertise.

Examples of questions:

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give to beginner bloggers?
  • What’s one thing you would’ve done differently when starting your blog?
  • What do you think the future of blogging is?

How to get ideas

Easier said than done? If you don’t already have a topic you’ve been pondering about, compile a list of possible questions for your roundup with a little research.

Use tools like the Ahrefs Content Explorer to find trends in your industry, and subjects that seem to attract a lot of readers. You can filter results by their social shares, number, and quality of referring industries so that this tool and similar ones can give you a good idea of what subject should be pursued.

With these things in mind fuel that creative engine and start putting ideas on paper, whether they seem perfect candidates or just potential pursuers. It’s best to have a long list to start from when drafting the winning question for your roundup post.

2. Find talented experts

After finding your question, you should have a good idea about the expertise of your respondents. Assuming that you are active in your industry for a reasonable time, you should already know who the experts in your niche are. You want to compile an extensive list of experts of at least 50+ because not all will reply to your inquiry.

Let’s make a profile for the ideal respondent in your expert roundup post:

  • They are directly related to the industry you are writing about
  • They have a good follower base and an audience that regards them as influencers
  • They have contributed to roundup posts in the past
  • They are continually sharing thought-provoking, original ideas on their social media and on personal or business blogs
  • They have authority in the field: company owners and founders, top positions in companies of the industry, public speakers, success bloggers, and more

A practical, fast way of identifying possible candidates for your roundup post is to check other roundup posts in the industry. Does this approach seem lazy at a first glance? The redundancy of a roundup article doesn’t come from the list of people contributing to it, but from the very topic, you will choose for it.

As long as you are able to provoke your respondents to bring something original to the table, selecting them from other roundup articles is absolutely fine.

Depending on your topic, you might find tens of experts already showing potential for accepting your invitation. But don’t put your eggs in one basket: there are other ways of finding strong, authoritative voices in your niche.

A simple search on social media can give you a good idea of who is interested in the topic you have selected and fits the ideal profile described above. Twitter and Facebook are also great platforms where you can find experts in your industry.

For our roundup post about blogging tips for beginners, we have gathered content from CEOs and founders of content marketing websites, authors, bloggers, and podcasters in digital marketing. They were all able to give us valuable insight into what blogging is like for beginners, and what they should do to thrive.

Web search is another simple solution to putting together your expert list. We were able to find several experts by simply typing in our keyword or phrase onto Google. Find bloggers who have been covering your subject, or similar ones, and dig a bit more in their previous posts, to have an idea of who you’re going to contact.

Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, and Hootsuite are other awesome tools to research hot topics and authoritative blogs, as they display real-time data on their referring industries, traffic value, and the number of shares they get for their posts.

3. Find their contact information

Once you have a list of experts, bloggers, and influencers who can give you valuable insight into the subject you want to cover, it’s time to start gathering their contact information.

It’s best to keep a database of their information, on a simple Google or excel sheet with their names, email addresses, URL to their website, the date when you contacted them, and a column where you check if they submitted content or not. You can get a little more advanced by using a CRM or email outreach tool like Mailshake.

Keeping your contact information organized will speed up the preparation process and will help you avoid awkward situations like sending an invitation twice, or forgetting to do a follow-up with them.

Some of the experts you’re trying to reach won’t have a visible email address but you can use tools like Hunter.io to find them by simply entering their first name, last name, and their domain name. It will give you a list of the results it found. Ideally, you would launch your invitation privately, but if you still can’t find their email address, don’t hesitate to send a tweet that mentions your plan or a simple message via the other social media platforms.

Here are more tips on how to find contact information for people who you want to reach, and what good practices you should follow.

4. Reach out to your experts

If it’s the first time you are contacting someone, it’s a good idea to look into the good practices of a cold email. Roundup posts are great for getting quality backlinks, and the persons you will contact are aware of the positive influence their contribution can have on your traffic and domain. But they can’t endorse a website or a blog that doesn’t prove to be valuable on a constant basis.

We can talk about cold email outreach best practices for days on end but that would take too long. What I highly recommend is that you be genuine, polite, and kind when reaching out to your experts. This goes a long way and they’ll be able to tell when someone is being genuine since they receive hundreds of spam emails every day.

I also recommend you personalize each and every one of your emails. Yes, this will take time but you will have a higher conversion rate than if you were to send the same bulk email to everyone.

I don’t have a template to help you get started, but below I have provided a screenshot of an email I sent out to one of the experts that we included in our roundup. Feel free to use it for some inspiration and to help garner some ideas.

Another fantastic way of reaching out to experts is by joining and engaging with them via their live streams. We used this tactic to reach one of our experts who had not replied via email. It worked out, and he gave us some awesome advice while on his live stream.

5. Put it all together

Getting enough contributions from the experts you have contacted is a great achievement in the process of creating a stellar roundup post. But your job is not finished yet. Putting together the content you have just received from your guests is very important, as it will have to be a high-quality presentation that they will gladly share on their channels, therefore getting you some exposure to new audiences.

Things you want to include

  • A headshot
  • Their reply
  • Short bio
  • Social media and website handles
  • And your own comments

As you can see in our roundup post example, each contributor’s section starts with a professional picture of the contributor, the content that they have submitted, finished with our own thoughts on their commentary. We have added easy-to-follow social media icons that take you to their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn profiles, the titles they hold, and links to their main projects: companies they work for, blogs, YouTube channels, and others.

We wanted to make it easy for our readers to follow and engage with our experts via their blogs, businesses, and social media accounts.

While you want to emphasize the value of each contributor, you must also have your reader’s interest in mind, and clearly answer a need or a question your audience has.

6. Promote your post

Promoting your posts should be done in the interest of all your contributors, yourself, and your audience. The effort you have invested in compiling these pieces of content will ideally be rewarded with significant organic traffic, a good number of quality backlinks, and most importantly the start of new and meaningful relationships.

You should also edit the content carefully so that each contributor gets the same level of attention and appreciation. Take your time to thank each one of them for their contribution and don’t hesitate to personalize your message with your personal impression of their content.

Backlinks are certainly welcome, but asking them explicitly might not be appreciated by all the persons you will contact. The best ways of getting your contributors to share the roundup post are to simply ask them if they could share it with their audience.

Infographics, tweets, quotes included in an image, newsletters, and paid ads are all great ideas for getting your content everywhere and promoting it like crazy.

Conclusion: Creating an expert roundup post is totally worth it

Publishing an expert roundup post might not be everyone’s style of content, but for certain industries and domains, it can be a long-term valuable resource, both for your audience and your peers. And, of course, for you.

Keeping your focus on the value your post should bring to your readers will help you choose an enticing topic, ask the right question, and select the right people to answer it. While no one can ignore the advantages a roundup post has for contributors and creators alike, backlinks and traffic should not be your singular concern.

Ultimately, the success of such a compilation is given by the shares, referrals, and traffic you get from your audience. Create a fantastic expert roundup post by asking a question your readers are interested in, and your contributors can easily answer.

Give this type of content the time and effort it needs and it will prove to be a fruitful initiative, both amongst your peers and as a relevant post for your website.

The post Simple guide to creating an expert roundup post that drives website traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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A Guide For Letting Go of Outdated Google Search Best Practices

October 5, 2020 No Comments

One Sr. Strategist makes the case against the old best practice of hyper-segmented account structures and outlines 11 new best practices for simple accounts.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Guide to using interactive 404s to boost your SEO

September 27, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Reducing bad user experience of 404 errors by branding and customizing them.
  • Including links to 404s allow users to navigate the website even when they come across a potential dead end.
  • Boost SEO by placing your sitemap, homepage tab, and search bar.
  • Usage of conversational language along with attractive visuals reduces user’s contempt and frustration.
  • Mention of blog on your customized 404 error page promotes your intellectual prowess for possible users who might be interested in your content.
  • Amanda Jerelyn shares some amazing methods to improve the SEO of your site even through 404 pages.
  • Lastly, some tips to help you avoid 404 errors wherever possible.

Bad user experience can lead to your website’s demise and can also adversely affect your website rankings. This is why 404 errors are considered deplorable when taking into their perspective regarding both user experience and the search engine rankings of your website.

However, there are ways through which you can use 404s to boost your SEO, as in some situations, it is not a broken link but an error by the user that can cause them.

A 404 can be generated when a user types in a faulty address, and this may result in an error being generated on their browser that may look bad, but you can definitely address the situation.

According to a recent study conducted by Gomez, a commercial platform that runs tests for web performance, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience.

In the light of this information, let us take a quick look at some of the ways you can use 404s to negate such inferences and strengthen your SEO.

1. Add links to them

Creating interactive 404s - Add links

Screenshot Credits

Perhaps one of the best ways to make use of 404s is to design them so that it can link random internal pages from your website. This will allow you to get more website pages indexed through your 404 error pages. This can be achieved by running an algorithm that can help you to link out to a random number of internal pages.

Hence whenever a 404 page is generated, the links also change each time. According to Neil Patel’s own practice, he was able to boost TechCrunch search engine traffic by 9% in just a matter of 30 days. As far as search engines go, Google itself encourages developers to create custom 404 pages.

Since it is a standard HTML page, developers can customize it the way they want to, hence adding links to 404 pages shouldn’t be a big hassle.

2. Brand and customize them

Creating interactive 404s - Brand and customize

Screenshot Credits

The inconvenience user experiences when they run into a 404 can be quite infuriating; however, this is also a moment where you can use creativity to capture their attention. By branding and customizing your 404 pages, one can actually boost their website revenues and increase their conversions.

However, this might involve additional effort where a 404 page has to be properly designed and optimized in order to turn lost visitors into loyal customers. A standard 404 page doesn’t look good at all. In fact, it seems like coming for an era that was far less progressive. We understand that visuals play a huge role in attracting customers.

Several social media and marketing statistics proclaim the power of visuals, such as the fact that 96% of online shoppers watch a video about a product or a service before making a decision and that 88% of marketers prefer visuals in their published content.

So why refrain from using visuals and not branding your 404s? The answer is that you should definitely not only brand them but also customize them to make them even more appealing for your users.

3. Put in a search bar

Creating interactive 404s - Add a search bar

Screenshot Credits

Another great tactic to follow with your 404 pages is to add in a search bar. This is further reflected by the study published by the Search Engine Journal, where 81% of users think less of a brand if it’s outdated, and that 40% of users consider search box as the most important feature.

Therefore this should be plenty of reasons for you to make this change happen. A search bar added to your 404 is like sweet candy to a small kid who just dropped their ice-cream.

Surely it is not what they were expecting, but with the power of search in their hands, they can begin their adventure anew. Plus, a nice consolidating message to go along with it would also work wonders.

It is all about compensating for the error they just ran into. Hence you are covering damages and making it easier for your users to recover from them.

4. Include mentions of popular landing pages

Creating interactive 404s - Add popular landing pages to encourage engagement

Screenshot Credits

Remember that your main goal is to create attention for your online users and direct them to your most profitable and viable landing pages. Hence even when your customers accidentally land themselves on a 404 error page, you can continue your efforts to divert their attention from the error and towards your most popular products and services. It is like a never-back down approach.

Sure, you would be offering them some comforting words to soften the impact created by the error. However, marketing is all about never quitting. Hence your 404 actually becomes like a landing page. It is true no one would actually land on a 404 with intention.

However, when they do, you will be prepared for them to divert the traffic to the most popular pages on your website. This can downright act out as a recommendation for your users. According to a recent report by McKinsey and Company, 35% of Amazon’s and 75% of Netflix’s revenues are generated by their recommendation engines, respectively.

5. Place your sitemap

Creating interactive 404s - Place your site map

Screenshot Credits

If you are from the SEO side of things and adept in the knowledge that encircles the mastery of search engine rankings, then you know for sure that sitemaps can be extremely good for your websites. Since they are listed in search control, there is no doubt that Google does pay attention to them. Hence it would be great for your 404s to include a sitemap on them.

This will allow users to easily navigate through your website without leaving your website or going back to the SERPs (search engine result pages) to start their journey all over again. Hence you would be effectively reducing pogo-sticking. This will thus enhance your users’ dwell-time.

6. Use conversational language

Creating interactive 404s - Use conversational language

Screenshot Credits

It must be pretty obvious by now that a remedy for a 404 lies in offering users a human touch that softens their impact, and this can be further augmented with the use of conversational language.

You want your customers and website visitors to feel less infuriated, and in order to do that, you need to spread out some comfort for them so that they do not feel agitated.

This can be reflected by a recent study by Business 2 Community, where they emphasize the use of conversational marketing. According to the study, 79% of consumers are willing to use messaging apps for customer service, 82% consider immediate response as extremely important, and 36% of companies are actively using live chat for marketing and sales.

Hence the idea over here is to make your users feel as if you are directly speaking to them, and this can help break the ice and reduce the tension created.

7. Get to homepage tab

Creating interactive 404s - Homepage tab

Screenshot Credits

Probably one of the easiest get around for your 404 pages is to link back to the homepage. What you are doing is here is giving your customers the easiest route to start their search all over again without letting them go and trying to keep them on your domain.

8.   Mention your blog

Mention your blog

Screenshot Credits

Blogs are considered a good choice for your audiences as well. While they may not be good for directly influencing their behavior, they can certainly create awareness that your domain does publish interesting content that users might find interesting to read.

It’s just a small nudge in the right direction. Obviously, customers who are looking to buy products or hire services would like to be directed to their requested pages, but mentioning your blog on a 404 is like saying, “hey there, we have more in store for you!”

Many students nowadays also go through blogs while they buy research papers online to increase their pool of knowledge relating to their field of study.

9.   Avoiding the 404 Error

Lastly, I would like to share some guidelines with you to help you avoid 404s where you can possibly manage to reduce them. This will only make your user experience skyrocket and help negate dissonance from users. Here are some quick tips:

  • Log into your Google Search Console account.
  • Check the Coverage report to see how many URLs are returning error codes.
  • Use the URL Inspection Tool to find more details about each error.
  • A 301 redirect is considered a good option for rectifying a 404 status.

Why are we doing this after all of the discussion above? This is because having too many 404s can prove to be detrimental to your user’s experience. Hence if you are notified about their existence, you should resolve them.

Conclusion

The 404 error codes undoubtedly leave a negative impact on your users and visitors. However, there are various ways you can make them add value for your customers.

I hope this post was able to offer you some meaningful ways through which you can use 404s in an interactive manner to boost your website’s SEO. For more questions regarding the topic, please feel free to post your queries in the comment section below.

Amanda Jerelyn currently works as a Marketing Manager at Dissertation Assistance, a perfect place for students to buy academic writing services from expert dissertation writers UK.  During her free time, she likes to practice mindful yoga to keep herself fit and healthy.

The post Guide to using interactive 404s to boost your SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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PPC Naming Conventions Guide [New Resource]

September 13, 2020 No Comments

We are releasing a new, free resource: The Complete Guide To Naming Conventions. This is a quick summary of its contents.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Voice search SEO guide: Trends and best practices

September 8, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • An optimized content and voice search SEO is crucial to rank higher in search engines.
  • Long-tail keywords are the backbone of voice searches.
  • Mobile optimization goes hand-in-hand with voice search optimization.
  • FAQ sections are your best friend.

Voice search is fast gaining popularity among online users. It is easier, faster, and more conversational as compared to traditional search.

As per ComScore, half of all smartphone users are engaging with voice search technology in 2020. Google also reports that 27% of online users are using voice search on mobile globally.

But to make it work, you will require optimized content and focus on voice search SEO. In this article, we will be digging into the eight best practices of optimizing just that.

Before that, what exactly is voice search SEO?

In simple terms, voice search SEO is a technique that optimizes the content, phrases, keywords, metadata, and more to enable your voice search to rank on top whenever a user asks questions. It mainly focuses on the natural language of users and delivers them answers accordingly.

The new 2020 voice search trends

1. Smart speakers are driving voice search adoption

As per emarketer, smart speaker usage is estimated to grow at a compound yearly growth rate of approximately 48% to meet the demands of more than 76 million users by 2020.

And it is said that 40 million Americans currently possess a smart speaker. Clearly, more and more households are using smart speakers these days.

Earlier, only a handful of products such as Alexa and Siri were popular. But over the years, voice technology has improved tremendously. As a result, many tech companies are releasing their own smart speakers.

2. Improvement in voice AI and machine learning (ML)

There is a remarkable improvement in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and it has changed how users interact with their smart devices and search the internet.

For instance, with Google’s RankBrain, you can recognize words and phrases to predict forecast results more accurately. When it encounters a new phrase, it makes its best guess and gives answers accordingly.

3. Used to search for local products and services

People are increasingly using voice search to search for local products and services. According to statistics, 58% of people have used voice search while finding information about a local business.

Also, as per Google reports, searches for “near me” business has increased drastically over the last few years. It is indeed great news for local businesses.

4. Increase in popularity of voice SEO

To emerge at the top, marketers are regularly fine-tuning their SEO strategy to optimize for voice search. Considering that Google’s voice recognition has 95% accuracy, businesses wanting to attract more inbound traffic to their site have to implement voice SEO.

And Google alone is not working on perfecting voice recognition to make the most of voice search. China’s iFlytek speech recognition system has an accuracy rate of 98%, and the team is working to achieve 99% accuracy.

5. Voice search is more mobile than ever

Google’s voice search is now available in more than 100 languages on mobile devices.

Moreover, statistics suggest that mobile phones are used nearly 40% more than smart speakers for voice search.

And with mobile phones, people usually use voice search in different environments like at the office alone, at a restaurant, at a party, or any other location.

Voice search SEO - stats

This trend of voice search on smartphones continues to rise – all thanks to advances in speech recognition technology.

Here are some best practices to optimize voice search SEO

1. Use long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific keywords that your target audience is likely to enter (and in this case speak) to the search engine.

People have been using long-tail keywords for a long time and seeing brilliant results with their search rankings.

Thus, it’s a great idea to use long-tail keywords to optimize voice search for a website.

In fact, according to statistics, they make up 70% of all web searches.

Voice search SEO - long tail keywords

In voice search, you can add long-tail keywords in a more conversational tone and specify what users are looking for.

The good news is that you can use plenty of online tools to search for relevant phrases and add them to your content. Some of them include:

  • Ubersuggest
  • SEMrush
  • HubSpot Content Strategy Tool

2. Implement schema markup

Also known as Structured Data, Schema Markup is a code that you can add to your website. It will allow search engines to understand your site’s content, what it means, and why it is there.

Schema Markup can also help search engines robots crawl and make it rank higher on search engines. Further, you can use it for improving and getting comprehensive search results that boost the user experience.

Just have a look at the example below

Voice search SEO - SEPR snapshot

The second search result has a star rating and a publication date, which has been added using Schema Markup. Since the result is illustrated, the users are likely to click on it readily.

You can also implement schema markup SEO best practices to provide more information about your site to the search engines and rank higher.

3. Curate content that gives direct answers

Users don’t do voice search like they do a text search. Instead, they will probably be making longer and more specific queries.

As per research, there has been a 61% growth in question keyphrases.

Voice search SEO - Graph

The statistics reveal how people are using question keywords to ask queries through voice search.

Thus, it’s an excellent idea to curate your content to answer their queries. However, make sure that you write great content that is valuable to your target audience. It will satisfy your user and, at the same time, increase the chances of appearing in featured snippets.

4. Optimize your Google My Business page

Another way to rank higher for voice searches is to optimize your Google My Business page.

Actually, it’s one of the easiest ways to get discovered by your target audience when they voice out their queries in Google. You just have to make sure that your content, images, and information are complete and precise.

Additionally, implement your prevailing local SEO strategy along with targeting how users are phrasing their queries. As per reports, 76% of smart speaker-users carry out local searches at least once a week. Thus, local SEO is as crucial as entering relevant info and images.

5. Work on increasing domain authority

Websites with many links pointing to them rank higher in regular search. And it is the same for voice search.

A study by Brian Dean, which examined 10,000 Google Home search results, found that sites with more links rank more often in voice search.

As soon as you put in your voice query, the Google search engine will provide results from high authority websites.

Here are some of the ways to increase your domain authority to rank higher in voice search:

6. Make your site mobile-optimized

Everyone surfs the internet via smartphones these days since it’s convenient and accessible. It is only evident that most users will do their voice search from mobile.

The graph below shows the different environments where people use voice search.

Voice search SEO - Stat

Since voice searches are mostly done via mobile phones, mobile optimization is crucial.

Some useful tips for mobile-optimization site include:

  • Optimizing your mobile pages with AMP
  • Checking your site’s speed using GTMetrix and working to boost it
  • Creating mobile-responsive web pages
  • Taking advantage of responsive landing page builders
  • Creating content to be more readable on smartphones
  • Regularly testing your website with Google’s mobile-friendly test tool

7. Optimize site speed

Your page speed is going to play a significant role in voice search SEO. Studies show that the pages that rank higher in search engines after doing a voice search load in 4.6 seconds. They are also 52% faster compared to average pages.

Thus, optimizing your site speed is essential if you want to rank higher in search engines.

To increase your page speed, you can implement tricks like:

8. Create voice search FAQ pages

Crafting voice search FAQ pages will benefit you a lot since question keywords are very popular.

According to statistics, voice search results come more from FAQ pages than desktops.

Voice search SEO - Stat showing FAQ pages

The best part is that FAQ pages can rank for several voice search queries. Moreover, they are concise and answer precisely what the users are looking for.

Therefore, Google usually pulls out the answer from your FAQ page whenever users do a voice search.

Wrapping up

Voice search is convenient and straightforward to use. No wonder it is gaining popularity among online users. But unless you optimize your voice search for SEO, users won’t be able to find your content.

Implementing all the eight tips mentioned in this article to optimize your site for voice search SEO can help you a great deal. These are tried and tested tips and will definitely work.

Plus, when you optimize your site for voice search SEO, you will be optimizing your website in general and rank higher in search engines either way.

Ricky Wang is a freelance content marketer and blogger at rickywang.com where he writes to readers about growing an online business. Connect with him on Twitter.

The post Voice search SEO guide: Trends and best practices appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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An SEO’s guide to event schema markup

August 15, 2020 No Comments

. Tha30-second summary:

  • From Google’s Cloud Next conference to Starbucks’ shareholder’s meetings, the live event industry has undergone a dramatic transformation in light of the global COVID-19 outbreak.  
  • As online services become more integrated into people’s lives, audiences expect more information that’s up-to-date and delivered quickly, including the events they plan on attending.
  • This is where event schema markup can really help optimize event web pages so they show up on search results pages. 
  • Superb Digital’s Managing Director, Paul Morris shares a comprehensive guide on how to implement event schema markups that can win SERP rich results.

The live event industry has undergone a dramatic transformation in light of the global COVID-19 outbreak 

From Google’s Cloud Next conference to Starbucks’ shareholder’s meetings to live music performances, organizations and performers have had to move their in-person events online to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus while still addressing their audiences’ needs. 

As online services become more integrated into people’s lives, audiences expect more information that’s up-to-date and delivered quickly, including the events they plan on attending. This is where event schema markup can really help.

What is an event schema markup?

Schema markup is code that helps search engines better understand what a web page is about in order to present more informative search results for users. 

Instead of just basic HTML that points out what is the text or an image on a web page, schema markup provides context to information so that search engines know what content on a web page means.

Event schema markup is code that specifically points out to search engine facts relating to events, such as the location, schedule, organizer, and performers. 

Schema markup is actually one of the multiple vocabularies that define terms and values in order to implement structured data (it just happens to be the most popular). In fact, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex have all collaborated to come up with Schema.org—an open community resource that provides schemas for their respective search engines to recognize. 

What are the SEO benefits of using event schema markup?

Event schema markup can help your website’s search results ranking in a number of ways: 

1. Rich results 

Event schema markup provides specific facts that are immediately apparent on SERPs as rich results. Rich results are the details that appear in addition to the default blue links and text descriptions. They show important facts to users about a particular webpage and can include a multitude of things from reviews to recipes. 

rich results example

 This has a two-pronged benefit. Rich results make for a better search experience for the users, first and foremost. Organizations, meanwhile, will stand out more in SERPs thanks to the eye-catching facts and visuals. On top of this, rich results also mean your webpage is occupying more screen real estate in the SERPs, pushing competitors further down the page. 

2. Click-through rate (CTR) increase 

One major effect of having rich results displayed for your webpages is that users are more likely to check out your site, instead of other sites that don’t show as much info. Your link will grab more attention.  

Even if there will be users who are satisfied with just getting the bare minimum from the rich results, there is still a percentage that will click on your link to get more in-depth info or sign up as an attendee and book a spot. 

3. Traffic boost

In line with getting higher CTR, your webpages that have event schema markup implemented can also enjoy higher traffic. Events platform Eventbrite is one of the strongest cases for event schema markup boosting traffic. They saw a 100% increase in the year-over-year growth of traffic from Google to their event listing pages. 

Allen Jilo, an Eventbrite product manager, said that they saw a “visual difference in event search results on Google” within two to three weeks of event schema markup implementation. 

4. Voice search optimization

Google Product Manager Aylin Altiok and Senior Engineering Manager for Google Search Will Lescszuk delivered a talk in Google I/0 2019 about the importance of structured data in improving the user search experience. In that talk, they mentioned that their motivation for schema markup was to be able to optimize content for both voice and search. 

When you use event schema markup, you do not have to create two separate experiences to optimize for text and voice search. Apply it once and you can reach a bigger audience.  

Google reported that voice made up 20% of searches in their app, and that was back in 2016. With digital voice assistants in use expected to reach eight billion by 2023, now is as good a time as any to start optimizing your event pages with schema markup. 

What types of events can you markup?

Event schema markup can be used for a wide range of events, but there are still limitations that you need to respect if you don’t want to be penalized. 

The event types that you can markup include: 

  • Business events 
  • Children events 
  • Comedy events 
  • Courses 
  • Dance events 
  • Deliveries 
  • Education events 
  • Exhibitions 
  • Festivals 
  • Food events 
  • Hackathons 
  • Literary events 
  • Music events 
  • Publication events 
  • Sale events 
  • Screenings 
  • Social events 
  • Sports events 
  • Theater events 
  • Visual arts events 

You can also mark up a series of multiple events that have a connecting theme. 

Do not markup business hours and promotions such as vacation packages, limited-time discounts, and coupons as events. Doing so runs the risk of your entire website being disqualified from showing rich results for any of your content. 

How do I get my events to show up on Google?

First of all, you need to make sure your event pages can be crawled by Googlebot. If you use robots.txt or robots meta tags, they should allow Googlebot to index your event pages. 

You should then implement schema markup in your event pages. Google only supports rich results for pages that feature a single event, so you should have individual pages for each of your events.  

Required schema markup properties

There are three properties that an event page’s code needs for the page to show rich results on Google.  

  • location 
  • Name – Name of the venue 
  • Address – Detailed address 
  • name — Use the full title. Don’t include prices or promotions. 
  • startDate — The start date and time (if available) in the local timezone. If you don’t have an exact time, don’t specify it. 

The following properties are not required, but they allow for more customization of rich results and a better overall user experience: 

  • description 
  • endDate 
  • eventAttendanceMode (critical for online-only events)  
  • image 
  • offers.availability 
  • offers.price 
  • organizer 
  • performer 

Adding event schema markup

There are generally three ways to add event schema markup: 

  1. Posting on third-party sites — The easiest way is to just post your events on big third-party events or ticketing sites like Eventbrite or Ticketmaster. These platforms are already integrated with Google, so they always show rich results for events related to particular search terms. Of course, these sites won’t be sending traffic to your website. 
  2. Use platforms with built-in tools for schema markups — Ecommerce platforms like Magento and OpenCart already have structured data integrated. If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, there are plenty of free plug-ins you can choose from to implement event schema markup easily. 
  3. Coding — The third and hardest way is when you have a custom website that you can’t just use a plug-in with. This requires some coding but thankfully, you don’t have to be an expert web developer if you want to do it yourself.  

How to add event schema markup yourself

The simplest method to add this code to your site is to use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. 

How to add event schema markup

In the Enter Page section, select “Events” and type or paste the URL of the events page you want to markup on the bottom bar and click on Start Tagging. 

In the Tag Data section, highlight the information you want tagged and choose the appropriate tag from the dropdown menu.  

Example tagging data to highlight event schema markup

If there is info that isn’t present in the page that you believe should be tagged, click on the “Add missing tags” button on the bottom right. Supply the missing information in the following window. 

Supply the missing information in the following window

Adding missing tags events schema tag

When you’re done adding all the important tags, click on the red “Create HTML” button on the top right. You should be taken to the View HTML section where you’ll see generated HTML code that has all the info you tagged.  

Structured data code snippet

Click Download to download the HTML code, which you can then copy and paste below the <head> section of your event page’s HTML. 

If you are hosting an online-only event, you will have to manually add a couple of lines of code since the Structured Data Markup Helper doesn’t have the option to indicate if the event is strictly virtual.  

The code is as follows, with the sample URL in “url” replaced with the actual URL you’ll be using for your online event. 

“eventAttendanceMode”: “https://schema.org/OnlineEventAttendanceMode”, 

      “location”: { 

        “@type”: “VirtualLocation”, 

        “url”: “https://sample.streamurl.com/” 

        }, 

How to test your event schema markup

Before you make wholesale changes to your site’s source code, you want to test the generated HTML to see if Google finds the corresponding page eligible for rich results. Fortunately, Google has just the tool for that—the aptly named Rich Results Test.

Click on the CODE tab, paste the HTML code generated by Structured Data Markup Helper onto the box, and click on the “Test Code” button. 

Testing events schema markup

If there are no errors in the code, the test results should show that the page is eligible for rich results.  

Rich results approval

Note that the tool will show warnings despite its eligibility, if you don’t include all of the recommended tags for events, such as the name of the performer, the end date, and offers. If you have that information available, it’s highly recommended that you tag them in Structured Data Markup Helper. 

Employ event schema markup for easy SEO wins

We may now be in a world where in-person events are a rarity, but that hasn’t curbed our desire for gatherings as we’re naturally social creatures. People will continue to want to take part in mass activities, whether that’s offline or online. Utilising event schema markup, your business can make the pivot towards more online events, whilst standing above the competition in the SERPs through rich results.  

After reading this guide, you should find that it’s not actually too hard to make a start. “Start” is the keyword here, however, as more familiarity with coding can lead you to even deeper customization of your event pages’ HTML for better event search optimization. Schema.org has a whole page dedicated to all the properties you can use for events with examples in different formats that, with some studying, can take up plenty of valuable space on Google’s SERPs with the most detailed rich results.

Paul Morris is Managing Director of UK based SEO agency, Superb Digital.

The post An SEO’s guide to event schema markup appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business

August 7, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Take advantage of Google’s search market domination with two spots on the first page of Google – Local pack and localized organic search results.
  • Optimize for high converting local keywords, establish a local content schedule, and more.
  • Founder of Digital Ducats Inc. shares a thorough guide on everything you need for a successful local SEO strategy.

For many companies, an effective SEO strategy for local business is the key factor for increasing revenue from high converting traffic. Local SEO can mean the difference in outranking authority websites for vital keywords within your city.

Along with the overall benefits of SEO, optimizing to compete locally improves your search visibility for keyword searches made from your location. 

Many aspects of local SEO have remained the same over the last few years however, the weight of local ranking factors has shifted creating new priorities for local businesses.  

One aspect that remains the prime focus for every local business is the significance of Google My Business. 

1. Gain instant visibility with GMB

Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business. Considering the search engine market share that Google holds, you’re literally losing money by not having a GMB listing. 

As of June 2020, Google tops the charts for search engine market share boasting 86% of desktop and 95% of total mobile searches.  

mobile market share

It should be clear that failing to prioritize your presence in GMB can cost your company thousands of dollars. 

One of the many advantages that Google My Busines allows is instant search visibility for a business operating in a locality. Rather than going through the process of ranking your own domain, your website receives instant search visibility from local searches within close proximity.   

The Possum update made proximity a primary ranking factor for achieving a top position in the Local Pack. Your company can appear on the first page of results based on the distance between your location and the location of a user.  

In 2020, according to the State Of Local SEO Industry Report, proximity has fallen to the third most influential ranking factor behind on-page optimization and reviews. The general consensus among those surveyed is that optimizing your listing is the top priority for ranking in the Local Pack. 

2. Optimize your GMB profile

Optimize your GMB listing just as you would your website in terms of providing as much information to search engines as possible. The more detail you can provide in your profile, the more information search engines have to reference your business for keyword related searches. 

NAP details

Fill in every option available to maximize your opportunities to appear in the Local Pack. Name, address, and phone number (NAP details) are extremely important to have spelled correctly. 

Obviously, this is important for users to receive the correct information. Search engines will also verify your business details with third party citations. 

Explore all category options

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is failing to include the correct categories. There has been a countless number of clients that have been able to rank in the Local Pack by simply adding the correct category for their business. 

Google updates the list of eligible categories your business can fall under. It’s advisable to check periodically for new categories that would enhance the accuracy of your listing. 

One way to explore any options you may have missed is to search Google for the local keywords you’re targeting. Check the Local Finder for the categories that your competition is using to rank in the top positions.  

Keyword optimization

It should be noted that on-page optimization is proving to be the strongest ranking factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This can be a source of frustration for those who operate under Google guidelines since Google has allowed keyword stuffing to trump other ranking factors.

If you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines, the name of your business should be the only thing in your GMB listing. What should be happening and what is actually working are two different things that have created somewhat of a loophole and a grey area for SEO. 

The fact is that using the keyword in the name of your business will get you results. It’s as simple as that. 

If you’re starting a business that operates in a specific city it’s highly effective to incorporate your main keyword in the name of your business. It’s been so effective that it’s led to keyword stuffing-which, in theory, should be penalized-but seems to be left unregulated. 

Here is an example of successful keyword manipulation for the phrase “bespoke suits Toronto”. Each of these sites outranks other sites based on the name used in the GMB profile. 

local SEO example - Bespoke suits Toronto

 It’s hard to say what will prevail in the long run because the evidence points to the fact that this is working to rank sites. After monitoring this listing for over 6 months, it continues to rank and undoubtedly reaps the benefits of local traffic from a prime placement in the local pack. 

3. Build your local presence with citations

Structured citations an essential element in local SEO despite the reduced effectiveness they once had as a ranking factor. Their purpose serves two functions; to validate your business information for search engines; to provide additional targeted traffic. 

List your business in well-known directories

List your business in the largest and most relevant directories for your city or region to get the most coverage from relevant citations. Some of the most obvious are Bing and Yahoo since they both have local business listings.  

Major directories will typically serve as a source of information for much smaller, but relevant websites. Your business information is essentially distributed to dozens of other directories that will help to establish the validity and credibility of your business. 

The major directories from each country and region can vary so it’s important to establish which sites will have the most impact with the least effort. 

In Canada, posting your business on Yellow Pages results in a wide distribution of sites that are relevant to Canada. Moz provides an excellent visual as an example of the distribution network Yellow Pages provides. 

local SEO guide - Canada citation ecosystem

Source: Moz

Here’s an example of the U.S. local ecosystem provided by Moz (keep in mind these images are now a few years old). According to this illustration below, there are many major directories that can have a large impact on your search visibility in the U.S. 

US local search ecosystem

Search for niche and local directories

Enhance the profile of your citations and improve your sources of traffic by searching for directories that are niche-specific and location-specific. 

Getting a few links from directories that are in your niche and location will improve the relevance of your site in both areas. Look for relevant directories by using the following in a search: 

[Your niche] + directories 

[Your location] + directories 

Qualify each directory

Make sure the sites you choose to place your business have a decent amount of traffic and authority. Even if a directory is unique in your city, if it has a high spam score (use Mozbar to filter these sites), or has extremely low domain authority it may do more harm than good. 

Local SEO strategy = Toronto directory options

SEMRush is also a good tool to use for a quick reference on the amount of traffic a website receives. If the organic search traffic is a bust, don’t list your company website on it. 

SEMrush organic traffic

You don’t need a lot of these sites to complete an effective citation profile. Google won’t give a whole lot of credit for acquiring easy links. The goal of this endeavor is to create significant ties to your city and industry and position your company on sites that get relevant traffic. 

4. Establish your content strategy

Your website is only as good as the content you publish. Create content to serve as a resource for clients. Educational content produces three times as many leads as paid ads. Keep in mind you will need to publish both educational content as well as local SEO content for more localized search result appearances. 

The initial stages of your content strategy should be to create the most important pages with local service areas in mind. Is your business focused on one location only, or will you service multiple areas? This determines whether you will be publishing location pages for multiple cities or have a central location. 

Single location businesses

If your business is focused on one location, you can incorporate geo-modifiers in your URLs and titles. Optimize your service/product pages to appear in city-specific searches using your location as part of your keywords. 

Businesses with multiple service areas 

For multiple service areas, you will need to publish location pages to target the areas you want your business to appear for in city-specific searches. Location pages should have unique content for each city and include the NAP details of each location. 

Publish content for each level of the marketing funnel 

The most important pages of your site are the bottom of the funnel pages that urge visitors to make a purchase. Focus your initial content strategy on publishing mid-funnel content that targets long-tail keywords. 

The sweet spot for identifying target keywords is low competition, high volume keywords. What determines “high volume” can vary depending on the industry. Aim to beat your competition with long-tail keywords that convert at a higher rate. 

Publish local content

Your local SEO content strategy can include a variety of options to increase the relevance to your location. Your content can include city-specific events that you’re company is involved in, or events that are related to your industry. 

Your local content strategy should include regular posts on Google My Business. Approximately 17% of businesses post to GMB on a weekly basis. Create a competitive advantage by sticking to a bi-weekly posting schedule. 

local SEO strategy: GMB posting

The posts don’t need to be extensive, persuasive essays to get the job done. They can even be excerpts from blog posts to lead users to the actual article on your site. Posting to GMB creates more entry poPosting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.ints to your website and promotes more user engagement through your business’s knowledge card. 

Local SEO strategy: GMB posts help with Knowledge cards

GMB has a category to post special offers, updates, and important information about your company. Capitalize on the areas that other companies are not doing well by including GMB posts in your local content strategy. 

Posting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.  

Post more images than competition

5. Local link building

The majority of local businesses have a backlink profile that is primarily made up of directory links and profile links. An effective link building strategy for a local business is one that appears natural and above all, demonstrates evidence of relevance to your industry and city. 

Build domain authority with linkable assets

The blog of every local business can be used to build authority in your industry. Publish linkable assets and insightful resources for both clients and amplifiers. 

Amplifiers, as explained by Rand Fishkin, have a significant impact on the backlinks you acquire since they are the people most likely to link to your site. Creating content for amplifiers gives your site more reasons to acquire links and increase the domain authority of your site.   

audience for content

Linkable, shareable content makes link building much easier. You can publish guest posts, submit press releases, and reach out to authority sites in your niche to link to the inner pages of your website to increase domain authority. 

Increase local ranking power with local links

Local links are considered the most powerful when it comes to localized search results as well as appearing in the Local Pack. Local links are also considered unstructured citations. Local links can come from local businesses, local newspapers, local chambers of commerce, and local event sites. 

Form a local business alliance

Finding businesses within your industry is ideal for creating a local alliance and boosting your ranking ability. For example, if you’re a hot tub retailer some of your best links would come from local businesses that sell swimming pools. 

 As long as you don’t compete for the same products, a local business in your industry or a close vertical is the most ideal source of links. 

Resource link building targeting vendors and client sites

You can improve the likelihood of obtaining local links by using your own network of resources. Companies you already do business with make for ideal link prospects. 

For example, a restaurant can ask the baker who supplies their bread rolls to link from their site.  

A plumber can ask his equipment suppliers and vice versa. 

Ideally, you want to target business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship.  

6. Review management

The reviews your business receives have the power to influence a user’s decision on whether or not to choose your company. Review management remains a top priority for local businesses to improve search visibility and maintain a good reputation. 

A review strategy should include a way to get more Google reviews as well as reviews on review sites that get search visibility for related keywords. If customers are reviewing your business on sites that are niche-specific it will impact search visibility as well as promote positive ranking signals. 

Identify the most important review sites in your industry 

There is a major review site for every industry. It’s important to identify what review sites get a lot of traffic and reviews to position your site to receive quality prospective clients. 

For example, people use Yelp or Trip Advisor to find a good restaurant in a city they’re no familiar with. People read the reviews and experiences of previous customers before making a final decision.  

If you’re in the home goods business Homestars would be important sites to ask a few clients to write you a review. Here’s a 10/10 review left for Canadian Home Leisure, a hot tub retailer in Whitby, ON. 

Homestars client review

Look at the domain metrics for a site like Homestars. Not only can you get a quality backlink, but there is a ton of traffic that goes through their site. 

Homestars traffic

If you’re not sure which review sites play an impact on search visibility, search for: 

best + [your keyword] + [your city] 

The intent of most searches that use best at the start indicates that users are looking for options, which trigger the major reviews and directory sites in your niche. Here’s a search for best suits in Toronto: 

Each of these sites could be an additional way for customers to find you. Yelp looks like it’s the only review site that you can manage for free.  

In fact, Yelp ranks #3 and #4. If you’re in the business of selling suits in Toronto, Yelp is definitely a site to put effort into building a detailed profile and customer reviews.  

In many cases, keywords that you’re targeting will display a few directory and review sites in the search result. These are indications that those sites are not only relevant to enhance your optimization, but they will drive traffic to your site as well. 

best suits in Toronto

Establish your review acquisition strategy

This doesn’t need to be a major operation but you should have a plan in place that consistently gets you reviews. Avoid mass emails or anything that would look spammy such as a review station at your location. Too many reviews from the same IP could cause red flags and result in your reviews being ignored and discounted. 

You can influence five-star reviews on the major review sites for your business by asking customers that you’re sure has had a good experience with your company. You can do this in a few ways: 

  • Train employees to ask for a review after the completion of a sale. 
  • Email satisfied customers thanking them for their business with links to a few different review sites. 
  • Hand out instructions on how to review your business along with a receipt. 

Respond to as many reviews as possible

Make it a point to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Approach each response as a form of advertising for your company and a chance to showcase your customer service. 

Customers will appreciate a thank you when they’ve taken the time to give you a good review.  

Negative reviews demand immediate responses in order to neutralize the damage that is being done to your reputation. Show every reader how you deal with a disgruntled customer by offering to fix the problem.  

People will understand when mistakes are made and offering a free service, free product or free meal can be the best form of advertising for your company. 

A local SEO strategy is worth the investment

Small businesses can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that a local SEO strategy has to offer. Following these guidelines and best practices, you can outrank authority sites (who aren’t local) and capitalize on high converting traffic. 

As competition intensifies so does the need to specialize in your area of expertise. Use your location to leverage more opportunities and promote long-term growth in your industry. 

Christian Carere is an SEO consultant in Toronto and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in traffic and lead generation. He can be found on Twitter @digitalducats.

The post Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO

August 4, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 
  • Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 
  • It offers a great backend administration that can be tailored. More important, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.
  • Growth Rocket’s Lead Outreach Specialist, Stefanie Slclot, walks you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify.

“If you build it, they will come”.  

This nugget of wisdom may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Field of Dreams’ when he’s spurned onward by a disembodied voice to pursue his dream of building a baseball field. 

But in reality, this sort of advice can prove disastrous for entrepreneurs. After all, businesses rely on strategy, planning, and development for long-term success. 

In today’s day and age where online shopping is the new normal, it takes more than just building a great store to draw in more customers. 

Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 

Does Shopify have good SEO?

Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 

Shopify is a great option for your online store because it offers easy backend administration and can be easily tailored to your specific requirements. More importantly, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.  

Optimizing your Shopify store for success

Keep in mind that boosting organic traffic to your online store is different from optimizing other websites for SEO. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify. 

1. Simplify site structure

The way you organize content on your page is crucial to SEO success. 

If shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, they tend to spend more time on your page. Longer dwell times tell Google that your site offers value, which can give you a solid rankings boost.  

To top that off, a logically structured site makes it easier for Google to crawl your website. Ideally, your site architecture should look something like this: 

Shopify for SEO site structure

If you look at the diagram closely, you’ll see that your product pages (third row)  are only a couple of clicks away from the home page (first row). In turn, organized and user-friendly web design makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. 

Poor site structure, on the other hand, makes it harder for search engine spiders to find and index all the pages on your site.  

Shopify for SEO simplify site structure

Meanwhile, if your site architecture is interlinked, spiders can easily follow your links. A simple site architecture also means that link authority flows a lot easier from pages with more backlinks (your home page) to lower-ranking pages (product pages). 

The graphic below shows what the site structure for a baking blog should look like: 

Shopify for SEO site structure example

2. Eliminate duplicate content 

Duplicate content happens when similar content exists on two separate URLs. The page could either be on your site or someone else’s. 

Duplicate content on Shopify can have a negative impact on your search performance. Search engines tend to be tolerant of internal site duplication. But if it appears as if you’ve copied text from another site, you could get hit by a search engine penalty.  

The good news is that once you’ve wiped your site clean of duplicate content, you can improve your search rankings significantly. 

Consider using tools like Copyscape to check for plagiarism and other external duplicate content. You can also conduct site audits to identify pages with similar content to other URLs. 

Or maybe your site is due for a redesign or content update. Break free from duplicate content by writing a new copy. 

3. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO success. Here are a few tips on how to generate relevant keywords for your store: 

  • Export your keywords from Google Ads, and optimize search terms that generate the most revenue and have the highest conversion rate. 
  • Use Google Search Console to identify keywords with the most impressions and clicks. 
  • Conduct SEO competitor analysis on tools like Ahrefs. Generate the “Content Gap” report to single out keywords your competitors are ranking for. 
  • Analyze buyer personas and track search forums related to your products for topic inspirations and keyword ideas.

4. Optimize product pages 

Now that you have a list of keywords and a simplified site structure, you can start optimizing your pages with your chosen search terms. 

Start with your top pages first, such as your home page and main product collections. The first step to optimizing them is by writing title tags and meta descriptions. Here are some general guidelines for you to follow: 

  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page 
  • Include a keyword when appropriate 
  • Avoid truncating descriptions and follow the prescribed character limit guidelines 
  • Craft copy that will entice visitors to click 
  • Keep your descriptions brief yet descriptive 

It also pays to add alt texts to your images. Since Google Images is the second largest search engine in the world, you can drive more traffic to your site through your images. That’s why it helps to add alt texts that describe what an image is about. 

Once you’ve finished optimizing your titles, meta descriptions, and alt texts you can work on creating unique content to your product pages.  

Keep in mind that your descriptions should be written from a user-focused POV. The best way to boost the relevance of your content is by discussing your product’s features and benefits. 

5. Set up 301 redirect pages

301 redirects tell search engines that a page is no longer available and that it’s moved permanently to a new URL. After all, you don’t want your customers to move to your competitors after they land on a ‘404 Not Found’ page on your site. 

The goal is for you to lead visitors to a new page, which you can do by creating a URL redirect through your Shopify admin portal. Follow these steps to add 301 redirects: 

  • Click Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects 
  • Select Add URL redirect 
  • Type in the old URL in Redirect from and the new URL in Redirect to 
  • Click add 

Keep in mind that before you can redirect users to the new URL, you’ll need to delete the existing webpage. 

6. Boost page load speed

If your website loads slowly, it could hurt your Google rankings. That’s why you need to put forth the effort to make your site load quickly. 

Check for your store’s site speed through tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. On Shopify, however, you have limited options when it comes to boosting site speed. Here are a few factors you can work with: 

  • Choose a theme from the Shopify Theme Store that loads quickly 
  • Compress your images before uploading them to Shopify 
  • Install only the apps you need so they don’t slow down site performance 

7. Build high-quality backlinks

Search engines rely on link building and outreach to determine how the community at large values your site. Think of backlinks as the word-of-mouth equivalent of SEO. With better quality backlinks, you can build your credibility and boost the organic traffic your shop receives. 

Below is a list of some backlinks you can obtain for your site: 

  • Supplier/Manufacturer links – If you sell products made or supplied by other companies, they may have a policy that lets them link to your store. Reach out in case you’re missing a backlink opportunity. 
  • Competitor links – Use tools such as Link Intersect from Ahrefs to find out who’s linking to your competitors. You have a high chance of obtaining a backlink for sites that already link to other people in your industry. 
  • Influencer voices – Get in touch with industry leaders for interviews that could help you generate better links and content. 
  • Brand mentions – Find out where your brand is being mentioned through websites like mention.com. It may be possible for you to earn a backlink if they choose to include a link to your site along with the mention. 
  • Broken links – Keep an eye out for broken links or services similar to what you offer. When you find one, you could reach out to the site owner telling them to link to your site instead.  

8. Focus on content marketing

Content is the reason why people visit your site. You may feel tempted to skimp on content marketing for your ecommerce site, but crafting content that delivers value adds to the overall user experience. 

People who are ready to buy the moment they visit your shop make up only a small percentage of the marketing funnel. Publishing informational content like blog posts can help you educate people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. In turn, it can also increase the chances of them buying from you in the future. 

Your content is a way for people to get to know your brand without selling to them directly. With well-written content, you can rank for more keywords and earn backlinks. 

Your Shopify store automatically includes a blog called “News.” If you want to create a new blog, select Blog Posts > Create a new post > Create a new blog. 

These steps will help you create a Shopify site experience that is also SEO-ready. Share your thoughts, tips, or queries in the comments section.

Stefanie Slclot is Lead Outreach Specialist at Growth Rocket.

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Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy

July 14, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
  • Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
  • Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
  • Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.

When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics. 

But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $ 10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?

The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.

If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.

How to create a customer journey map

A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.

Customer journey mapping chart

Source: NNGroup

You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.

For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.

The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.

1. Define user personas

Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping. 

Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:

  • Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
  • What problems do they solve with your product
  • What do they value from the product
  • Where do they get information

With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.

Tools to use

  • Sign-up forms
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Analytics
  • Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
  • Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)

You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.

If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.

Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.

The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.

That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.

2. Identify touchpoints

Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.

Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.

Tools to use

  • Google Analytics
  • Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
  • Sign-up forms

Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.

Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.

The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.

This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.

This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.

3. Draw the map

Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.

You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.

Tools to use

  • Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using

Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.

For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.

Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.

Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.

In the end, you’ll have something like this.

Example - Customer journey map

Source: Digital.gov

How to improve marketing strategy with CJM

There you have it,  you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.

1. Search for insights

No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.

There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.

Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.

2. Improve messaging

Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.

3. Focus tangential interests

If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.

Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.

4. Focus on high-converting channels

While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.

From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.

5. Improve on-site conversion

CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.

This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.

For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.

If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.

Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.

This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

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Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

June 27, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Podcasting can add a new dimension to your brand and content marketing strategy.
  • There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 
  • Georgi Todorov shares a comprehensive guide on podcast content which encompasses the benefits, SEO perks, types of podcast content, publishing and marketing platforms, and a lot more!

If you have a content marketing strategy already in place, you’re no stranger to the fundamental principles that guide it. Your goal is to naturally attract more readers, fans, and followers by providing them with information and/or entertainment they want to consume. There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd, reach new audiences, and capitalize on a medium with enormous momentum, you should consider starting your own podcast. But how can you integrate podcasting with the rest of your content marketing campaign? 

Why podcasts?

First, let’s talk about why podcasts are so valuable in the context of content marketing. A podcast is a series of pieces of audio content, usually released regularly in the form of episodes. These episodes vary in length and format, with some primarily unfolding as interviews and others attempting to provide an entire narrative experience.

Five big benefits of podcasting

In any case, there are several benefits to using podcasts: 

1. Current popularity

Podcasts have become incredibly popular in the past several years. There are currently more than a million podcasts, with 30 million episodes between them, and more than half of all households are podcast listeners. Podcasts still seem to be on a fast growth trajectory, as more people discover and become immersed in the medium. 

2. Ease of entry

Podcasts are also valuable because of how easy they are to create. Make no mistake, you’ll still need to put the effort in, just as you would with any kind of content. However, you can get started with a relatively inexpensive assortment of equipment, and you don’t need any special training in audio engineering to make an episode that sounds good. 

3. Cross-medium potential

Podcasts are also a gateway to produce multiple forms of content simultaneously. For example, you could record video of an interview you conducted with an industry leader, then release it as a video, a podcast, and as a blog (with a written transcript), capitalizing on the content in three ways. 

4. Collaborative potential

The interactive audio experience lends itself well to collaboration, you can benefit by going on other podcasts, and other industry experts can benefit from attending yours. This cross-pollination effect allows you to spread your influence more easily, while also getting help creating new content. 

5. New audience segments

Some people who prefer listening to podcasts may never discover your work unless you break them in with audio content. In any case, you’ll be able to reach new segments and existing segments in new ways, broadening your audience. 

Podcasting as a new content marketing channel

With those benefits in mind, the best way to think about podcasting in content marketing is to think of it as a new content marketing channel. Content marketing always has the same overarching goal. You want to give people content they want. This could mean providing them with answers to their questions (which is especially important if you’re optimizing for search engines), or merely entertaining them. 

Take ASAP Science as an example. The popular Youtube channel has racked up over 9.3 million subscribers since launching over seven years ago. About two years ago, they launched a podcast called Sidenote to supplement their popular video content.Podcasting example app science

Each content marketing channel represents some way for consumers to find your content and consume it. For example, there’s blogging, email marketing, social media marketing, and videocasting – in some ways, podcasting is just another lead generation channel to add to your repertoire

As with the addition of other channels, the best way to harness the power of podcasting is by treating each channel as a complementary unit in a broader whole. For example, you’ll use your email newsletter to showcase your best blogs, and you’ll call for email newsletter signups in the body of your blog posts. This allows channel-specific consumers to discover your other mediums and helps keep your brand top-of-mind in many areas. 

If you decide to podcast, you’ll need to take advantage of this, leveraging your existing channels to push your podcast and using your podcast to deliver listeners to other channels. 

This is what Neil Patel and Eric Siu did to launch their four-year-old podcast, Marketing School. Both are well-recognized experts in the field of online marketing, and they leveraged their existing content channels, including their blogs and email lists, to launch Marketing School, which now enjoys over 1 million downloads per month. 

Podcasts and SEO

Podcasting also requires attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in two main ways. First, if utilized properly, podcasting can boost the search engine visibility of your main site. 

You can list and distribute your new podcast episodes as individual pages of your site, much like a blog, and if you provide adequate titles, meta information, and episode transcripts, you’ll easily have a new way to optimize for specific keyword phrases. Each new podcast episode will also be a piece of content that can be discovered in search engines. This is the approach Shane Barker takes with his podcast, Marketing Growth Podcast.

Podcasting and SEO

Over time, as your podcast becomes more popular, it will attract more citations and other types of links. This is vital for improving your domain authority, which in turn will make it easier for your site to rank. If you’re interested in building a separate domain, you can do that too, using your podcast as an engine of exclusive support. 

There’s another way to think about SEO, however. Podcasts are an avenue to grow the authority and visibility of your main site—but you also need to think about promoting the podcast’s authority and visibility. Most people discover podcasts by browsing podcast distribution networks and conducting searches for topics that interest them. Accordingly, you’ll need to optimize for these podcast-specific search engines. 

The process for optimizing a podcast for podcast networks is very similar to website-specific SEO, you’ll need to optimize for specific keywords and improve your reputation. Take, for example, the aptly-named podcast The Fantasy Footballers, who rank very well in search results for their niche, “fantasy football.” 

Podcasting example fantasy foot ballers

In addition to your podcast’s name, you’ll need to collect as many ratings and reviews as possible, which means calling listeners to action each episode and ensuring you provide them with high-quality material. 

The saturation dilemma: Finding a unique angle

The 30 million podcast episodes currently in circulation are a sign of podcasts’ popularity, but this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good sign that you’re onto a hot channel, but it also means you’re facing a ton of competition. The podcast market is, in some ways, saturated, and if you want to succeed, you’ll need some way to stand out. 

Four ways your podcast can be unique in some way

1. A new topic

You could introduce an entirely new topic to the podcast world — something no one has covered before. Given the length of time podcasting has been around and the sheer number of people trying to do this, finding a truly unique topic may be exceedingly difficult. 

2. A different format

You may also try to take an existing topic and cover it in a different format. Instead of short episodes, you could do deep, two or three hour dives. You could also try to produce bite-sized segments, five minutes in length, to capitalize on audiences with minimal free time. If most people in this space are doing interviews, you could create a narrative or vice versa. It all depends on your goals. 

3. Strong opinions

It’s also possible to differentiate your podcast by offering strong opinions on a given subject. It’s okay to be controversial, even if some people disagree with you, they’ll be inclined to voice their contradicting opinions, which will only bring more attention to your work. Just make sure you’re still being respectful in your expression of your opinions. 

4. A different tone

You can also consider introducing your topics with a different tone. For example, if people usually treat this topic overly seriously, you could give it a cheeky, tongue-in-cheek spin. 

However, you choose to be unique, make sure you’re also showcasing your authentic self. People listen to podcasts in part because they feel like they get to know the hosts; if you’re trying too hard to put on airs or if you try to use a personality that isn’t your own, you’re going to turn people away. 

The quality factor

It should go without saying that your podcast needs to be “good,” or people won’t listen to it. But what exactly is a “good” podcast? 

As with written content, there are some easily identifiable hallmarks of “good” work, but also some harder-to-place subjective qualities you’ll need to consider. Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. 

The most important quality to strive for is value; are you providing listeners with something they find valuable? Beyond that, you’ll need to think about the integrity of your recording; are your voices coming through loud and clear, with little to no background noise? 

Distribution and promotion

Much of your podcasting success will depend on your ability to distribute and promote your work. Let’s say your podcast is objectively the best podcast ever recorded, it’s funny, informative, and has something for everyone. That’s still no guarantee of success. If people aren’t able to find and listen to it, they’ll never even know what they’re missing out on. 

Accordingly, you’ll need to make additional efforts to improve its visibility. As we already covered, it’s important to optimize your podcast for search engines. It’s also important to distribute your podcast on as many podcast distribution networks as possible. Spotify is the biggest podcast platform currently, but Apple Podcasts is also a major player, and there are several smaller platforms to consider. It doesn’t take much effort to list your work in these channels, so you might as well do it. 

You’ll also want to publish new work on a consistent basis. Many podcasters strive for a weekly new episode or even a daily new episode, but the frequency isn’t nearly as important as the consistency. Consistency is what allows you to retain your existing audience and snowball new listeners into your fanbase. 

In addition to distributing your podcast on multiple platforms, you’ll want to promote your work so people can find it easily. Again, cross-promotion on your other content channels is ideal here, but if you want a quicker route to early momentum, consider paying for advertising. 

As your podcast begins to mature, you’ll want to spend extra effort nurturing your existing audience to encourage their loyalty (and hopefully get more referrals). Respond to comments on your podcast episodes when you can, thank your listeners regularly, and get involved on social media; you can even consider starting a Facebook Group or similar network for your fans. Here’s a guide with 101 tactics to promote your podcast.

A note on monetization

This guide assumes that you’re using podcasting as a way to market your brand or website overall. Accordingly, it’s a form of advertising on its own. However, it’s worth noting that if your podcast accumulates a significant enough listener base, you may be able to monetize it. 

Ads, sponsorships, and affiliate deals can all help you offset the costs of recording and establish a separate stream of revenue — but they may also turn some audience members away. 

Content marketing touchstones: Measurement and analysis 

As with other elements of your content marketing strategy, the only way to tell if your podcasting strategy is working is to measure and analyze your results. How many new listeners and subscribers are you getting? How many times is each episode downloaded? Is your podcast responsible for generating new traffic to your site? How many site visitors eventually download a podcast episode? 

Set up Google Analytics or your platform of choice to track these metrics, then experiment. Do people respond better to a certain type of episode that you release? Did your numbers drop off when you took a big risk? More importantly, what trends do you see emerging over time? 

Conclusion

Podcasting is a powerful complement to your existing content marketing efforts, and it can stand on its own as a path to revenue generation if you treat it right. But to be successful, you’ll need some way to distinguish yourself from your numerous competitors, a high emphasis on quality, and constant refinement with the help of measurement and analysis. 

It’s a complex and nuanced content marketing channel, but getting started is easier than most people think. Give it a try, and see if it can work for your brand.

Georgi Todorov is a digital marketing specialist at Green Park Content. He can be found on Twitter @GeorgiTodorovBG.  

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