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Why site speed is critical for your SEO success and how to make it happen

September 6, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The fact alone that the search engine giant has deemed site speed important should be enough for you to make it a priority.
  • As your page load speed increases second-by-second, the bounce rate also increases a lot.
  • It’s challenging enough to craft a call-to-action that convinces your site visitors to buy your product or services without adding any additional hurdles.
  • Sprinkle in a bit of slow page load time, and you could be missing out on a ton of revenue.
  • A walk through how to identify your site speed issues and fix them.

Google has confirmed site speed as one of the 200+ factors that Google uses to determine your website’s position in search. The fact alone that the search engine giant has deemed site speed important should be enough for you to make it a priority. Beyond that, however, there are other reasons you should place a focus on the speed of your site.

Let’s look at a couple of other critical reasons why you need to focus on your site’s speed for the success of your SEO efforts and the success of your business.

Keep visitors on your site

In a recent report, Google noted that 53% of mobile users will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s where we’re at in this world in regard to our attention spans. Think about all the traffic you could lose if over half of the visitors to your site leave simply because they don’t have the patience to stick around longer than three seconds for your site to load.

And with every second it takes for the pages on your site to load, the chances that your visitors will bounce increases. Take a look at this chart from the same study. It shows that, as your page load speed increases second-by-second, the bounce rate also increases, a lot.

site speed stats on mobile speed

Source: Think with Google

Reducing your site’s bounce rate is a focus for virtually every site owner or it should be anyway. So, make sure to pay attention to site speed to avoid issues in this area.

Stop losing business

It’s challenging enough to craft a call-to-action that convinces your site visitors to buy your product or services without adding any additional hurdles. Sprinkle in a bit of slow page load time, and you could be missing out on a ton of revenue.

In fact, in 2012, Fast Company had conducted a study showing that even a one-second increase in page load time could cost Amazon $ 1.6 billion in lost revenue. Granted, your business likely doesn’t bring in the same revenue as Amazon, but you can still work the formula backward from Amazon’s actual revenue, determine what percentage that loss accounts for and then apply that to your revenue.

Site speed and bounce rate

Source: Fast Company

Whatever that number is, I can guarantee you it’s not a number you want to lose when it comes to revenue. No business wants to lose revenue, no matter how large or small.

What causes slow site speed and how do you fix the issues?

You get the importance by now of making sure your site loads quickly. So, now let’s look at a few reasons why your site might be bogged down.

1. Large media files

Videos, images, graphics, and other large media files can take up a lot of space. When a visitor hits your site, your site begins to serve up images, graphics, videos, and other media files that are supposed to exist on the page on which the visitor lands. If the files are super huge, this can slow down the speed of your site.

The fix

Host your video files elsewhere. Rather than hosting them on the site, host them in places like YouTube, Vimeo, and other such services. Then, embed the videos on your site. That way, visitors can still play the video right there on your page, but they won’t deal with any lag in load time. Regarding optimizing your images, try to use file types like JPEG, PNG, and GIF. These tend to load much more quickly than less optimized file types.

2. Avoid slow hosting services

While you may be tempted to cut costs in an area like website hosting, I strongly advise against doing so. There are some affordable hosting options that do offer decent site speed, but often the cheap, cost-saving hosting services come with slow page load speeds.

The fix

First, look to avoid shared servers if you want your site to load fast. Shared servers are ok for smaller sites, but if you want to avoid the lag time, opt for another type of hosting. There are a variety of options here depending upon your site and your particular needs. So, do your research and figure out what the best option for hosting is for your site.

3. Not picking the right CMS

There are tons of great CMS options for creating your website. Options such as Joomla, WordPress, Wix, and others are higher quality options and often help with your site’s load speed. There are less reliable CMS options, however, which can slow your site down.

The fix

WordPress is my personal preference for all the great plugins and other available tools at your disposal to help you boost your site’s performance. Avoid some of the lesser-known options, especially those with reputations for being highly unreliable. Focus instead on more proven options. If you’ve never heard of a particular CMS, do some digging, look at reviews, ask your peers, and make the best choice for your business.

4. Having too many redirects

Redirects are an easy way to point site visitors away from content like a 404 page and toward relevant content that actually exists and might meet their needs. The problem is, if you have too many redirects on your site, you can start to aggravate your site visitors. Think about the extra second or two a redirected link causes as it finds the new content. Those seconds could lose a visitor’s attention.

The fix

I’m not saying don’t use redirects. They are a highly useful tool. That said, try to use them sparingly. Also, try to limit multiple levels of redirects which can add even more seconds on to the page load time.

5. Too much code

Too much code can bog down your site.  Javascript, CSS, and HTML can all include unnecessary code that can lead to your site slowing down.

The fix

Cut down on any unnecessary characters like commas and spaces. This alone can help speed up your site. Also, get a skilled developer to look at your code. There are potentially a lot of lines of code on your site that are unnecessary. One example of how this can happen is when someone copies and pastes something from a Word Document right into your site. This can add lots of lines of unnecessary code. In this instance, it’s best to instead copy and paste the text into a text editor, then bring the copy into your site.

These are just a handful of the many things that can slow down your site. Start here, as each of the above can have a significant impact. Then take it a step further and bring in an expert to dig through your site and analyze any other issues that might be impacting your site’s load time.

Wrapping things up

You’ve seen the evidence. Now I highly recommend digging around and checking out the page speed on your own website. Fortunately, that task is simple. Here are a few great tools to easily check the load speed of your website.

  • Google’s Pagespeed insights
  • YSlow
  • Pingdom
  • Uptrends
  • Dotcom-Monitor

I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on the speed of your website. Why put your site at risk of turning visitors away and missing out on revenue critical to the growth of your business. Even if you run a blog and don’t sell services or products directly on your site, your revenue likely comes through Google AdSense clicks or affiliate marketing, thus you still need to rely on high traffic levels and people sticking around your site.

So, no matter what niche you are in, get focused on site speed now, and address the issue before it becomes a major problem.

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

The post Why site speed is critical for your SEO success and how to make it happen appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Eight great tips for internal site search optimization

June 21, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • An under-optimized UX can sometimes limit the user’s journey by creating roadblocks to conversions.
  • Internal site search is one of the hidden gems every SEO should know about. 
  • Not only does it improve UX and conversions but literally shows us what’s missing in our content strategy and product range.
  • CRO Expert Marco Bonomo reveals the top eight tips on internal site search optimization.

Making content easy to access and discovering content gaps are one of the greatest challenges in SEO. Aside from that, an under-optimized UX can sometimes limit the users journey by creating roadblocks to conversions. Thankfully, Internal site search can be used to reveal these gaps, and help in making the most of the existing traffic. Here are the top eight tips to take advantage of: 

1. Make internal site search part of your optimization routine 

Once you’ve set up the internal site search functionality and mastered the internal site search basicsit’s time to make site search part of your optimization routine. Important metrics such as exit rates, search refinements, or the “zero-result” search queries are particularly relevant in adding an extra layer of information to your audits and reports and help you in making more data-driven recommendations. 

2. Dive into users’ behavior using the Google Analytics segments 

Google Analytics segments come in handy when you’re looking to filter a portion of the traffic by a specific behavior, for example by selecting “Organic  Only” visitorsWhat is less known though, is that Google updated the default segment “Performed Site Search” from “sessions” to “users” not long ago. Even if this might seem like a small change, it means that you might look at users with several sessions and purchases in their history, but who are still looped in this segment because of the way it is measured. 

To mitigate this issue, you can copy the “Performed Site Search” segment and make it more targeted in two simple steps. The first one would be switching from “users” to “sessions”, while the second one (optional) consists in adding a “Bounces = 0” condition to exclude users that are less relevant for your site search analysis. For more info about the implementation, I recommend having a read at this piece from Loop54.

Sessions performed site search Google Analytics custom segment

3. Analyze the internal site search flow in Google Analytics  

Another report I recommend dive into is the Audience’s “Users Flow”. This particular report allows you to analyze the user’s behavior like never before and reveal further gaps in your UX and internal linking. To access the report, click on Audience > Users Flow and add your site’s custom search path (for example “/?s”) into the pop-up window from the node you are interested in querying, as per the screenshot below. 

Internal site search flow in Google Analytics

As a result, you should be able to see the specific path the visitors made after triggering the on-site search (see example below). For more information about the setup, I recommend having a look at this post from Bounteous 

Internal site search flow screenshot example

4. Use Google Tag Manager to unveil zero-result search queries 

Looking at search terms is a great way to have an understanding of what users are looking for, but what about the internal search queries that produced no results at all? Luckily, there’s a quick fix for this as creating a custom Google Tag Manager tag and an event on Analytics enables you to track these queries and identify even more gaps in your content or product rangesTo have this implemented (Analytics does not come with “zero-result” reports out of the box), have a read of the guide ‘How to implement the zero-result google analytics track’ by Dmitri Ilin.

Zero result search queries with analytics and tag manager

5. Implement a smart site search solution  

Using third-party software can enhance internal site search like never before. Especially for ecommerce websites, navigating through thousands of products can now be done in a more efficient way by simply implementing features that help improve the conversion rate. Features like auto-suggest or providing query results for different categories (see screenshot below) are now a must-have for ecommerce brands, as they aid in maximizing the site search revenue. 

Smart site search solution ecommerce example

6. Add a voice search functionality to your internal site search 

Especially if you’re working in a B2C niche, it’s definitely worth considering adding a voice search feature to your internal site search. Considering that mobile and tablet are now already generating over 50% of your traffic, it makes sense to make site search even more accessible by adding a feature that can only grow over time.   

Voice search feature for internal site search ecommerce

7. Consider disabling the Google search box 

Even though disabling the Google search box might sound like a bizarre idea, I recommend considering this in particular cases. For example, big ecommerce like Amazon might want to leverage the homepage to display personalized deals. Doing so, Amazon encourages users to purchase items they didn’t even think about, but that was made irresistible by a clever combination of search history and flash discounts. To have a look at this, simply follow the Google site links search box guidelines and test it for a short period of time to see if this solution works for your ecommerce too. 

Google sitelinks search box Amazon example

8. Use Google Data Studio for internal site search reporting 

In order to make sure that an on-site search is part of your optimization routine, I also advise you to create a dedicated Google Data Studio dashboard for your weekly or monInternal site search reporting with Google data studiothly reporting. The key metrics I suggest to display are the top search terms, search exits, search refinements, revenue, with the ability to filter by country and dates.  

Wrapping up 

Internal site search is one of the hidden gems every SEO should know about. It not only represents another way to improve UX and conversions but literally shows us what’s missing in our content strategy and product range. So why not start using these practical tips, and make the most of this underrated tool today? 

Marco Bonomo is an SEO & CRO Expert at MediaCom London. He can be found on Twitter @MarcoBonomoSEO.

The post Eight great tips for internal site search optimization appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Faster pages, stronger sales: Optimizing ecommerce site speeds

April 3, 2020 No Comments
  • Research from Google suggests that the correlation between page load times and conversion rates is strong, especially on mobile web pages.
  • One of the simplest changes you can make to your website is limiting the data loaded as a visitor navigates through product listings.
  • If you can identify that pages are loading a lot of third-party Javascript files ahead of your body content, you’ll want to see how that can be rearranged.
  • More simple yet surprisingly quick things that can help speed up your ecommerce site.

For online retailers, the abandoned site/cart problem has many factors. Reducing the number of clicks to checkout, eliminating surprises in price displays and offering guest checkout options are some well-known ways to fight cart abandonment on an ecommerce site, but smart merchants are always searching for ways to keep potential customers from leaving the site before making a purchase.

Research from Google (among other surveys conducted in the last few years) suggests that the correlation between page load times and conversion rates is strong, especially on mobile web pages. In short, slow loading times are stopping sales in their tracks.

Speeding up page load can have a huge impact on your business. Just check out Google’s Test My Site tool, which can help you estimate load time’s impact on revenue based on the number of visitors to your site, your average conversion rate and average order value. Depending on your results, you may want to start small or jump into wholesale site adjustments to reclaim revenue lost to site abandonment. Let’s go through speed-oriented changes at three different levels of difficulty.

Level one: Simple yet quick changes you can make yourself 

Images on your website create the biggest data transfer need when someone loads up your page on their browser. One of the simplest changes you can make to your website is limiting the data loaded as a visitor navigates through product listings. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should remove images, it just means you should be smarter about how they’re used.

The simplest way to do this is to make sure your customer’s browser is loading the right size image for their needs. If they’re on mobile, they don’t need the same size product images as they would on desktop. You can manually add differently-sized images and set parameters for when they’re displayed, but your ecommerce platform should offer a way to make images responsive to the customer’s device. You upload the highest-quality image you have, and the user gets the size they need based on the device they are using.

Another best practice is to limit the number of items displayed at one time on each page. Don’t load 100 results per page when only 15 can fit on-screen at once. Instead, use “Load More” buttons and let shoppers tell your site when they’re ready for more. This allows shoppers to scroll segments of your product listings, without feeling daunted by dozens of pages of results to sift through, while also keeping load times ultra fast. Your page will only need to load a handful of images at a time when the user is ready to view them, and their overall scrolling and the shopping experience will be simplified.

Level two: You might need the help of your partners

As with images, reducing the amount of other data that needs to load when a user first visits your website will help speed up their experience. The content they encounter first on your site is called “above-the-fold” content and should be what loads first. You might be surprised to learn that plenty of websites load third-party widgets before getting to the actual content.

It’s easy to identify the way your HTML is structured – just open the developer tools on your browser and look through the page code. Near the top, you want CSS to load first, which appears as <link>. This controls the basic appearance of your site and you can use CSS in place of certain images or graphics to make your pages even less hefty to load. Next, you want to see the <body> of your page – the content your customer is waiting for – or, potentially, some javascript files, <script>, if some are absolutely required for the rest of the page to load.

This is where your partners come in. If you can identify that pages are loading a lot of third-party Javascript files ahead of your body content, you’ll want to see how that can be rearranged. However, going into your site backend and messing with code isn’t usually advisable. Create sandboxes for testing to make sure a change on one page doesn’t break the rest of your website. If you don’t have developer resources in-house, work with your ecommerce platform provider or domain host. They can help you set up sandboxes for your own testing, or identify and correct any page structure mishaps that might have been created as you added different tools and functions to your site.

Level three: Teamwork makes the dream work

Consistent experiences across desktop and mobile have been the goal for merchants since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 launched the era of mobile browsing. In the 2010s, responsive design delivered significantly better mobile experiences and played a significant role in the shift of internet access taking place mostly on desktop to mostly on mobile.

Now, blending the functionality of websites with the simplicity of apps is the latest move to provide fast, simple mobile commerce experiences. Progressive web apps, (PWAs) which were introduced several years ago but are seeing more significant adoption now, have a few attributes that make them unique, and uniquely-suited to online sales.

PWAs are responsive and load incredibly fast, giving the sensation of instantaneous load times. They can work offline, thanks to progressive updates through service workers, and are secure because service workers require encrypted data transmissions. PWAs can be installed on mobile device home screens and support push notifications like apps, but can also be accessed and shared using URLs like websites.

In short, PWAs can solve the problems of slow page load speeds on desktop or mobile, but also unlock new ways for merchants to interact with shoppers, provide great digital experiences, increase loyalty and empower customers to advocate for the brand. You probably aren’t going to build a PWA alone, but brands who do find many benefits in the process.

When a potential customer visits an online store, it’s typically because they have some level of interest in the products sold there, which is why it’s frustrating for merchants to lose a sale once they have come that far. Don’t let page load times be the reason bail. There are many factors and many fixes like the ones we’ve reviewed here that can impact load speeds and keep customers happily shopping on your ecommerce site.

Jimmy Duvall is Chief Product Officer at BigCommerce.

The post Faster pages, stronger sales: Optimizing ecommerce site speeds appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Nine site audit issues we always see and tips to tackle them

March 17, 2020 No Comments

After carrying out thousands of site audit activities across varying industries and site sizes, there are some stand out issues that are repeated over and over again.

Certain CMS platforms have their downfalls and cause the same technical issues repeatedly but most of the time these issues are caused by the sites being managed by multiple people, knowledge gaps, and simply the factor of time.

We tend to use two crawlers at Zazzle Media which will be mentioned throughout this post. The first being Screaming Frog, which we make use of when we need raw exports or need to be very specific with what we are crawling. The second being Sitebulb, which is much more of a site audit tool, rather than a crawler. We tend to make use of Sitebulb more due to being able to manage projects and the overall progress a site is making.

So let’s get started, with the issues we see time and time again.

1. Broken internal links

One of the more simple issues, but something that can be missed, if you aren’t looking out for it. Broken links can disrupt the user journey, and for the search engines, this disables crawl bots from connecting pieces of content.

Internal links are mainly utilized to connect pieces of content, and in terms of Google’s algorithm, internal links allow link equity to be distributed from one page to another. A broken link can disrupt this as if the link is broken causing failure of equity transfer from one page to another. In terms of PageRank, Google’s algorithm evaluates the number of high-quality links to a page in order to determine page authority.

Put simply, a broken internal link can negatively affect page authority and stop the flow of link equity.

The scale of this issue will vary dramatically depending on the type of site you are running. However, on most sites there will be some form of broken links.

Quick tip

A simple crawl will pick these up, running a tool such as Screaming Frog with a basic configuration will provide a full list of broken links, alongside the parent URL.

2. Meta title length

Based on the number of times this occurs, it can be a very minimal problem or something that could dramatically alter a whole business.

Short meta titles could indicate a lack of targeting while long titles would cause truncation and in turn, lower click-through rates.

Quick tip

To write the perfect meta title and descriptions which maximize pixel usage and CTA, we recommend using the Sistrix SERP generator tool.

3. Redirecting internal links

Redirecting internal links can cause problems for your site architecture as it takes slightly longer for users and search engines to find content. With content changing or products becoming sold out, either a permanent (301) or temporary (302) redirection is used. A 302 redirection tells a search engine to keep the old page, as the 302 redirection is simply a temporary measure. A 301 redirection instructs the search engine that the page has permanently moved, and will be replaced at the new location.

Redirection loops are when your browser tells the search engine to redirect to a page, which once again tells your browser to redirect to another page – which can happen over and over again until it hits the final destination. Redirection loops should be avoided at all costs, as this will increase crawl time and can send mixed signals to search bots.

The problem isn’t with redirecting a URL (if completed correctly), the issue lies within the links pointing to the URL redirection. For example, URL A redirects to a new URL B. But URL C still points to URL A – which is incorrect.

Sitebulb can crawl and find all the URLs that currently link to the redirecting URL, where you can then change the href target to point to the new URL via the CMS.

Quick tip

Redirecting URLs should be avoided where possible, as this can increase a search bots crawl time, in turn, potentially leading to the website’s URL being skipped within the allocated crawl.

4. Outdated sitemaps

XML sitemaps do not have to be static, as with larger websites to continuously update the XML file directory will be very time-consuming. It is recommended to use a dynamic .xml sitemap, as this ensures every time a piece of content, or media is added, your CMS automatically updates this file directory. A Sitebulb audit will highlight that your website has a missing sitemap.

It is really important to use Dynamic XML sitemaps correctly, as in some cases, the dynamic sitemap can end up adding URLs you do not want in the sitemap

Quick tip

If you are using a standard CMS such as WordPress search/sitemap.xml to the end of your domain, this should show your website’s sitemap.

5. Orphan URLs

Orphan pages, otherwise known as “floating pages” are URLs that are indexed and published but can neither be found by users nor search engines by following internal links. This means that an orphan page can end up never being crawled. A typical scenario of an orphan page could be a winter sale, where the page was once needed, but now due to the season isn’t needed anymore.

Essentially, when there are a few this is not harmful, however, when there is a large amount this it can bloat your website. The result, poor link equity distribution, keyword cannibalization (for which we have a separate guide here) and a poor internal linking experience for both search bot and user.

Quick tip

As this is a specific type of crawl, Zazzle Media uses Screaming Frog to crawl the sitemap data. At the same time, we run another crawl with either Screaming Frog or Sitebulb to find the orphan pages by comparing the two data sets.

Read our quick guide that concerns orphan URLs and how to deal with them for a more in-depth approach.

6. Site speed

Google has previously indicated that site speed is a crucial ranking factor, and more specifically is a part of its ranking algorithm for search engine results. This is because site speed is closely related to good user experience, slow websites have high bounce rates due to content taking a long time to load. A benefit from improving your websites site speed is that it will better the user experience, but also could reduce website bounce rate too.

Page speed checking during site audits

Source: Search Influence, 2017

Additionally, as site speed is directly related to lowering bounce rate, this should in turn boost revenues – as users are actively remaining engaged on your website for longer.

Quick tip

To check your website’s site speed, we recommend using Google’s very own page speed insights tool, where this will not only give you a page speed score, but also a host of recommendations on how to best improve your site speed and how you compare to search competition!

7. Hierarchy/structure

A website’s Hierarchy structure, otherwise known as information architecture, is essentially how your website’s navigation is presented to a search engine or user. The fundamental issue that most websites suffer from is page rank distribution.

Websites’ main pages or most profitable pages should be within three clicks from the homepage. Pages that are more than three clicks away from the homepage, subsequently receive less page rank distribution, and in other scenarios will only occasionally be crawled (if ever).

Without an effective hierarchy, crawl budget can be wasted. This can mean for pages within the depths of your website (more than three clicks away from the root) could rank poorly as Google is unsure of the importance of the page and link equity could be spread thinly.

Quick tip

An SEO and user-friendly site architecture is all about allowing search bots and users to seamlessly navigate your website. Flattening your site architecture can increase indexation, allow more keyword rankings, and in turn boost organic traffic.

8. Internal linking

Internal linking is an important feature of a website as this allows users to navigate your website, and most importantly (from an SEO perspective) allows search engine crawlers to understand the connections between content. An effective internal linking strategy could have a big impact on rankings.

It is no surprise to us when a Sitebulb audit states to review your internal linking strategy, as complex sites, with thousands of pages can get messy. A typical example of a messy internal linking structure could be anchor texts that do not contain a keyword, URL linking inconsistencies in volume (for PageRank distribution), and links not always pointing to the canonical version of a URL. Issues such as the ones listed can create mixed signals for search engine crawlers and ultimately confuses a crawler when it comes to indexing your content.

Quick tip

Sitebulb can complete an audit where this highlights any issues with link distribution, shows which pages receive the most internal links, shows any broken internal links / incorrectly used and so much more. We then digest this data to devise a strategy of how we can best optimize your website’s internal linking strategy.

9. Thin content

Writing unique pieces of content that provides value to a user can be incredibly challenging, and most importantly time-consuming! Hence, this is one of the most frequent issues we always see on website audits. More specifically, thin content is directly against Google’s guidelines and can result in a penalty worst-case scenario.

Search engines when crawling your website are looking for functional pieces of content to understand your business services and product offerings. Not only are search engines looking for functional pieces of content, but search bots also want to see your expertise, quality, and trust. Google has a huge 166 page ‘Search Quality Guidelines‘ document that explains what search quality constitutes. We recommend familiarizing yourself with this document to ensure that you write quality content for your website which is in line with Google’s search guidelines.

This is a regular issue that many websites overlook, but is a critical route to organic success.

Quick tip

A Sitebulb audit will identify any URLs with thin content, and prioritize the severity of the issue. Aim for about 350 – 500 words per page to succinctly communicate your information. However, the quality of this content is still a very important factor.

In conclusion

These are just some of the most common types of issues discovered from an SEO audit, and technical changes can be tricky as well as incredibly time-consuming to implement at times. Completing a technical audit of your website, and correcting any issues can lead to improving keyword rankings, organic traffic, and if the products/services are right, achieve more sales.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to search engine optimization and with the landscape constantly changing, this is a superior strategy to achieve long term competitive advantage in the digital landscape.

Fraser Gilbey is a Senior SEO Executive at Zazzle Media.

The post Nine site audit issues we always see and tips to tackle them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Four essential ecommerce site optimizations that drive sales

March 7, 2020 No Comments

The whole point of marketing is to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. But what about conversion optimization? How do you know which tool to use in which area of your ecommerce site that’s key to the customer journey? What’s better for a particular campaign?

In this article, we cover a list of ecommerce site optimization suggestions and tactics that can boost your sales.

1. Design and UX

A. Optimize your home page

So, there’s the home page of your ecommerce site. The first thing your target visitor expects to see on it is the product/service you’re selling.

Since a person’s eye first falls on the center of the page, it is better to attract his attention with a bright thematic image of the main product.

Suppose the image has worked and the user has decided to stay. Now he would like to know what shop he got into, whether it’s worth buying here. The vision moves to the bar in the top of the site, where it’s necessary to place:

  • Company logo – always in the upper left corner
  • The search bar
  • Contact details (obligatory – phones, in addition – addresses and hours and other means of communication, button to order a call). According to the survey results, 90% of respondents confirmed that they once became the victim of fraudsters when making online purchases. This means that the trust of customers must be earned, and detailed information about the store – one of the effective ways.
  • Shopping cart (always on the right)

Here you can also find a horizontal menu with product categories or information pages (delivery and payment, reviews, FAQs).

Becoming acquainted with your shop, the visitor will surely want to explore a variety of products. As usual, on the left side of the screen, they will look through the category menu. A left sidebar is an appropriate place not only product categories, but also news, promotional, and top products, if necessary – the benefits of buying.

B. Simplify your product categories

The visitor gets to the category page in one of three ways – goes from the main page, goes from the search, goes from advertising. In each case, they want to see exactly the products they’re looking for.

On this page, everything should be extremely simple, clear, and convenient – especially the images of goods to make sure that the person got to the address.

The left-side docket provides the advantage of sorting products in customized searches and detailed views.

Important: If the product is out of stock, it’s better to gently notify the client – to offer to buy under the order or notify about the receipt of goods.

If the visitor opened the product card, the main thing they want to see here is a good photo, price, a button to buy. These are the elements that need to be highlighted and worked through.

Therefore, only high-quality professional photos may convince the customer to make a purchase, with the possibility of magnification, taken from different angles. Place a photo in the left upper part of the card. Being acquainted with appearance, the client for certain will be interested in the description of the goods.

The card should be compact but filled with the basic characteristics, feedback and evaluation of the product by customers (psychological trigger of social evidence). This will increase confidence in the store.

The order of placement of all elements in the product card should follow the logic of the client: What is the product/service? How much does it cost? How to buy and get?

This information is offered to the person consistently, which corresponds to the AIDA marketing model:

Attention → Interest → Demand → Action

2. Understand and fix server site errors

Much has been written about the usability of the site. Today, anyone who has their own ecommerce site understands what is needed at the start. But, even working with large sites, you can notice a certain tendency of repetition in usability shortcomings. One of them is related to displaying server errors.

A. Error 404 is helpful

The 404 error page is one of the most common and yet undeservedly forgotten errors. Keep in mind that our main task is to ensure the longest interaction between a user and the site. That’s why even the 404 page should not lose a user at least but redirect them to another useful section of the site.

Act as a guide and prompt your site visitor the following steps: “Return to Home”, “Order a call”, “Pick up similar ones?”

Again, act creatively – it’s a whole free page on your resource. Ask yourself, “what can be placed there?” Once again remind your target audience about the company with the logo, give a coupon/discount to the “Top Sales”, make an announcement of upcoming promotions, lotteries or the opening of new sites.

Do not forget about the correct title for pages 404 error. For example, “404 Not Found”. In a series of open tabs in the browser is much more convenient to see immediately “broken” URLs.

And, of course, check that all links on your 404 page are working.  If you redirect the user to the main page or directory, the links must be correct and working. Finally, owners of ecommerce sites, in particular, should know basic information about HTTP code errors and how to fix them.

3. Improve the shopping experience

A. Setup structure so visitors can easily find products

If you have a good understanding of your business, it will be easy to identify the main product categories and divide them by their key attributes.

But if you are just starting your online business, you may have problems forming the structure of the catalog. In this case, you need to arm yourself with your own buying experience and proven recommendations for building a directory structure, analysis of competitors and their comparison with popular search engine queries.

Try to form a directory tree by keeping a balance between sections. There are some rules to follow when creating a directory structure:

According to the psychology of perception of information, 7 is the optimal number of sections of the highest level in the directory, in which the user can simultaneously capture the view.

In each subsection, there should be no more than 100 items. If any category has hundreds of items, and there are only 10-20 product cards in the neighbouring categories, it means that you should divide a large section into subdivisions or create a handy filter for key features.

The maximum level of nesting sections – no more than three: The buyer should go from the catalog to the product card in three clicks:

Section – First click > Subsection – Second click > Product – Thirsd click

The catalogue should be balanced: in each section, there should be an approximately equal number of subsections, and in each subsection – an approximately equal number of goods.

4. Tweak and test your ecommerce checkout process

A. Offer a variety of ways to buy wisely

Let’s start with the fact that there is no and can’t be a single ideal list of payment instruments for all sites. The list of payment methods is formed depending on several key factors:

  • The size of the average check
  • The geography of business
  • Goods or services
  • Habits of clients (buyers)

Next, we will give you some tips that will make the page of choice of payment methods as effective as possible.

B. Do not follow the logic of “the more, the better”

In most cases, only a couple of payment instruments are really in demand. The largest selection of payment methods provides its customers with coupon services, online software stores, ticket offices, and other services. In the vast majority of cases, 99% of online payments will fall on two-to-three payment instruments. Do not forget that most customers prefer to pay for large physical goods on delivery and check the quality of goods before buying.

C. Structure your payment methods

If you provide your clients with a wide range of payment instruments, create a separate section for bank cards, a separate section for electronic money, and a separate section for payments via mobile operators. Visualize payment methods with icons and logos. In large amounts of text, attention dissipates, sometimes it is difficult to understand how they differ. All discounts and commissions should be immediately converted into the final amount of the order.

D. Don’t scare the client with terminology

Your buyer does not have to know the terminology common among Internet entrepreneurs. Separately, it should be noted that even payment service providers, not to mention stores, often use completely different terms to denote certain phenomena of “payment reality”. Talk to customers in their language, and get rid of rejections at the stage of choosing a payment method and at the stage of payment, the additional burden on the call center and other consequences of misunderstanding.

E. Do not pass on your work to the customer

Often ecommerce businesses that accept payments through several payment services (aggregators, payment service providers, bank-acquirers) offer their customers to choose, but most likely, they hear about any for the first time.

F. Do not overload the payment page with unnecessary links

The buyer should not be distracted by unnecessary information and leave the payment instrument selection page. This breaks the conversion chain and negatively affects the proportion of successfully paid orders.

G. Let customers checkout as guests

Do you need to force a user to remember another login and password? I don’t think so. You should not create another obstacle to the client’s way of payment. Forcing users to register an account on your site is too obsessive, especially for first-time buyers. Mandatory registration is another winner of the “killer conversion” rating.

Usability research conducted by Smashing Magazine has shown that the main reason why users dislike registering accounts is waiting for unwanted spam. The study also noted that many customers do not understand why they need to register at an online store to buy something, while in offline stores they do not require registration when buying. Another disadvantage of registration is that it adds a few additional fields to fill, which delays the process of ordering and negatively affects the conversion. To make life easier for customers and increase the chances of a favorable outcome, it is necessary to minimize the customer’s time for ordering and request only the necessary minimum information from them.

In conclusion

The answer to increasing online sales is simple, use the tools listed above. All of the tips on internal and external factors we’ve covered in this article are based on a long experience with customers and the term of world-renowned online stores.

Feel free to share your thoughts and queries in the comments section.

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

The post Four essential ecommerce site optimizations that drive sales appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Going international with SEO: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly

February 7, 2020 No Comments

International expansion is an expected ambition for progressive websites. The online nature of this global reach means that the uncertainties, legal dangers, and cultural hazards are minimized. The world is at your fingertips, and the costs in reaching it successfully are minimal. The rationale for reaching out to a new audience, readership, viewership or listenership, maybe one of opportunity, exciting new prospects, high growth potential, or to escape a domestic audience that has become too saturated or competitive.

With only some limitations, the internet is a global phenomenon that effectively ties us all together with invisible strings. Send a Tweet from Prague and reply to it in Illinois. Publish an ebook in Seattle and share it with your friends in Beirut. There are practically no boundaries when it comes to sharing content online.

When it comes to your WordPress website, the one you’ve dedicated time, money and energy building, I expect that you will want it to possess the maximum global reach possible. This doesn’t just happen by chance and requires some key features within your site to make this happen. The following tips and suggested plugins should set you and your website on the path to international influence.

Four tips to help make your site globally friendly

1. Globalize your content

The foundation of an internationally appealing website is its content transcreation. This does not focus on the mere translation of words but ensures the recreation of meaning, intent, and context.

It is important to make sure that the meaning of the content does not change when translated into another language and does not convey your message wrongly. Cultural hazards are rife when it comes to the international expansion of any kind. To be accepted and welcomed in a different geographical area, you cannot afford to display misunderstood and potentially offensive content.

Unsurprisingly, over 73% of the global market prefers websites with content in their native language. If people cannot understand the content on your website, you cannot hope to keep their interest. In the same vein, inaccurate translations just won’t cut it. The best option is to find a content writer who can craft the copy in a specific language for better quality content.

2. Avoid rigid localized options

Some websites choose the default website domain and language based on dynamic Geolocation IP tracking. Others do not have rigid local settings and allow their websites to be accessed by users from anywhere. If you are hoping to reach as many readers as possible, this option is best. No matter the country from which your website is browsed, it can be accessed without limitations of location.

3. Avoid using text on images

Google cannot translate text on images. This is the same for logos, headings, and other information. This can be majorly off-putting for readers who do not understand some parts of your website. Further, no translator or software that runs on your multilingual site can translate graphical text. Therefore, avoid it altogether for the best results, or keep it to a minimum for a more international audience.

4. Localize checkout and shipping factors

Whether your WordPress site is an online store or sells software as a service that doesn’t require any shipping at all, your checkout process should be appropriately localized. Currency options are fundamental to users taking that final step to make the purchase. There are WordPress plugins available to allow for multiple currencies to be displayed and chosen from.

If you are giving the option of international shipping then inform the buyer beforehand whether or not the product is available for shipping to his local address. Make the option to convert the currency clear and choose a suitable API tool for currency conversions. In order to keep on track of abandoned cart figures, allow the user to view the delivery charges and taxes prior to checking out. Finally, remember that people from different locations are more comfortable with different payment methods- so ensure to provide multiple options.

Plugins to help make your site globally friendly

1. TranslatePress

This full-fledged WordPress multilingual plugin translates every aspect of your website. Its main feature is that it allows you to translate directly from the front-end. It allows you to easily switch languages during the translation- and the live preview is updated instantly. All translations of content, theme, plugins and even meta-data can be made without changing the interface.

It is ideal for manual translations. Do it yourself or assign a custom translator ‘user role’ to any user on your site. Users will then be able to translate as and when they want, without needing access to the admin area.

Lastly, the plugin creates SEO friendly URLs for all languages and boosts you up the local SEO results. Ranking well will make this extra effort to globalize your site worth all the while. Once you have established yourself as an authoritative and respectably ranking website abroad, you’re in and can continue the normal operation of your site.

2. Multi-currency for WooCommerce

As discussed, the need for multiple currencies on your international online store is unchallenged. This plugin allows users to easily switch to different currencies and make use of currency exchange rate converter with no limits. It can be used to accept only one currency or all currencies. Multi-currency for WooCommerce will enhance your site’s user experience and will do so for free. It’s a no brainer.

Implementing these can surely get you some good traction for your WordPress site on a global scale.

Feel free to share your thoughts and queries in the comments section.

The post Going international with SEO: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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11 Proven PPC strategies for your ecommerce site

December 9, 2019 No Comments

This article is very critical if you have an ecommerce store. Ecommerce marketing, if not done properly, can lead to complications because there are just so many different things that you can do. The increasing competition makes it essential that you use advanced or latest strategies to stand out from your competitors.

Stat on ecommerce retail

Source: Statista

In this article, I’m going to discuss 11 PPC strategies which, if executed well, can surely boost your PPC campaigns.

1. Greet your customer

Send your customer a nice package that has a handwritten note. It has a coupon in it for a future purchase. It may have a referral card in there they can give to a friend, this is going to be a nice experience for the customer, and it is really going to give them a good sense of feeling towards your brand, and probably get them again for you.

If you are seeling on other channels like Amazon or Flipkart, you send those products with a care package, the coupon, and whatnot should recommend they come back to your branded website to make future purchases.

This will increase your profitability and also increases revenue and get your brand going on your own website, which is what you want to do. So take advantage of these care packages.

2. Optimize your product pages

Spend a considerable amount of time in optimizing your product pages. Optimizing your product pages also helps in SEO. Write a good product title. Add the keywords in the title tag that people are searching online.

Search the keywords that are relevant to your products, and add them in your description as well. Write good, unique, and relevant descriptions of your products. If you are not comfortable with SEO work, then you can contact a professional and reliable SEO services company to get your work done.

3. Update your product pages

Your product page should never look outdated. It works through the weekends and the holidays. Every time when someone visits your product page, they want your perfect sales pitch, so put some time into that.

Good product photography is also very important, ensure that the images of your product should be very clear, clean, and well optimized. Adding a product video can be very helpful, it not only increases the chances of sales but also adds value.

You should highlight the main benefits like fast shipping, free shipping, cash on delivery, and other such options. Also, get reviews of your products. Studies have shown that having a review section on your product page increases the conversion rate by 400%. Make sure that you have a review section on your page.

4. Optimize your product feed

You can optimize your product feed using the Google merchant center. You can use the Google merchant center to run Google shopping ads.

Make sure that you have good information in there with regards to your product title, description, keywords, those sort of things so that you are showing up when people are searching on Google shopping when you are running your ads. You don’t want to be not in the game when somebody is looking for your product because your product feed in not very well optimized.

5. Use a good shopping cart

There are mainly three types of shopping carts you should check these out if you are not already in these carts. Shopify, woo commerce, and big commerce. These three carts are really good for the SEO, design, and for paid search as well.

It has everything that you need to scale your business. It also has a support team to back you up when you need help. So make sure that you check out one of those carts if you don’t already have them.

6. Run Google shopping ads

It’s very popular people go to Google they’ll search something like black shoes, they’ll click the shopping tab, those are all ads, they’ll click the shopping tab, those are all ads. So if you want to be in that shopping tab, make sure that you are running Google shopping ads. So, invest in running product ads.

Optimize your product ads based on results. Use an ecommerce tracking set up, and you can see the revenue generated from each product, you can see your ROI – per product, and on your product ads. Turn off the ads that aren’t doing as well, the products that aren’t doing as well, and increases the budget on the products that are doing well.

7. Run dynamic targeting campaigns

A dynamic campaign feature is a new option for the multiple campaigns feature. With this, you can run different campaigns on the same website. The dynamic ad automatically organizes your website into groups that are customized to your products and services like “sports shoes”, “phones”, and “computers”. Select the category or groups that are relevant to your website.

So, if someone comes to your website and they look around, and they don’t do anything that night when they are on Facebook kind of looking through their feed all of a sudden, they will see an ad of your brand. This way retargeting dynamically can bring a lot more sales back to your business.

8. Optimize your shopping ads

You should optimize your shopping ads. Differentiate the types of ads you are using for ecommerce. Add negative keywords – this will be a list of keywords that are not relevant to your add.

9. Run PPC ads on Facebook and Instagram

Social media has huge channels today and they have a chunk of audience.

Stat on social media ad spending for PPC strategy success

Source: Invespcro.com

People are on Facebook all the time so if you target people on Facebook and targeting is so intense that you can get right in front of a person that would be perfect for your product.

You could use custom audiences, life events targeting, lookalike audience, and other such techniques. Check out this article to get a better idea of Facebook ad targeting.

10. Schema markup on your product pages

When someone searches on Google, right there on the Google search page before they even go to your website, they are going to see what Google calls product rich cards, which is going to show your product image and some information right there on the search page. This is going to give you an advantage over your competitors and make you a little more visible organically to people as they are searching for things like Google.

Use the schema markup testing tool. Search “schema markup tool” in Google and you’ll land on the site. Just enter your product page URL in there, and it’ll tell you if you have the proper schema markup or not. If not, it will show you some of the warnings and tips to improve the on how to make sure you add that.

The big carts like Shopify, Big-commerce, and Woo-commerce already provide a good schema markup.

11. Automate email marketing

It is very important, many ecommerce stores fall short because they spend a lot of money to get that customer to make the first purchase, but they don’t remarket people via email marketing and other channels to get them to come back and make future purchases. So with email marketing, it allows us an automated way to make that happen. Set an automated campaign for holidays. By this, you can also build product review content in an automated way.

Using automated email marketing can help to scale your business as well.

As mentioned, these are some great ways to get your PPC strategies to succeed provided you implement them correctly.

Feel free to share your PPC campaign experiences and tips in the comments.

The post 11 Proven PPC strategies for your ecommerce site appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Going international: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly

November 21, 2019 No Comments

International expansion is an expected ambition for progressive WordPress sites and ones of similar likes. The online nature of this global reach means that the uncertainties, legal dangers, and cultural hazards are minimized. The world is at your fingertips, and the costs in reaching it successfully are minimal.

The rationale for reaching out to a new audience, readership, viewership or listenership, maybe one of opportunity, exciting new prospects, high growth potential, or to escape a domestic audience that has become too saturated or competitive.

With only some limitations, the internet is a global phenomenon that effectively ties us all together with invisible strings. Send a Tweet from Prague and reply to it in Illinois. Publish an eBook in Seattle and share it with your friends in Beirut. There are practically no boundaries when it comes to sharing content online.

When it comes to your WordPress website, the one you’ve dedicated time, money and energy building, I expect that you will want it to possess the maximum global reach possible. This doesn’t just happen by chance and requires some key features within your site to make this happen. The following tips and suggested plugins should set you and your WordPress site on the path to international influence.

Four tips to help make your WordPress site globally friendly

1. Globalize your content

The foundation of an internationally appealing website is its content transcreation. This does not focus on the mere translation of words but ensures the recreation of meaning, intent, and context.

It is important to make sure that the meaning of the content does not change when translated into another language and does not convey your message wrongly. Cultural hazards are rife when it comes to the international expansion of any kind. To be accepted and welcomed in a different geographical area, you cannot afford to display misunderstood and potentially offensive content.

Unsurprisingly, over 73% of the global market prefers websites with content in their native language. If people cannot understand the content on your website, you cannot hope to keep their interest. In the same vein, inaccurate translations just won’t cut it. The best option is to find a content writer who can craft the copy in a specific language for better quality content.

2. Avoid rigid localized options

Some websites choose the default website domain and language based on dynamic Geolocation IP tracking. Others do not have rigid local settings and allow their websites to be accessed by users from anywhere. If you are hoping to reach as many readers as possible, this option is best. No matter the country from which your website is browsed, it can be accessed without limitations of location.

3. Avoid using text on images

Google cannot translate text on images. This is the same for logos, headings, and other information. This can be majorly off-putting for readers who do not understand some parts of your website. Further, no translator or software that runs on your multilingual site can translate graphical text. Therefore, avoid it altogether for the best results, or keep it to a minimum for a more international audience.

4. Localize checkout and shipping factors

Whether your WordPress site is an online store or sells software as a service that doesn’t require any shipping at all, your checkout process should be appropriately localized. Currency options are fundamental to users taking that final step to make the purchase. There are WordPress plugins available to allow for multiple currencies to be displayed and chosen from.

If you are giving the option of international shipping then inform the buyer beforehand whether or not the product is available for shipping to his local address. Make the option to convert the currency clear and choose a suitable API tool for currency conversions. In order to keep on track of abandoned cart figures, allow the user to view the delivery charges and taxes prior to checking out. Finally, remember that people from different locations are more comfortable with different payment methods- so ensure to provide multiple options.

Plugins to help make your WordPress site globally friendly

1. TranslatePress

This full-fledged WordPress multilingual plugin translates every aspect of your website. Its main feature is that it allows you to translate directly from the front-end. It allows you to easily switch languages during the translation- and the live preview is updated instantly. All translations of content, theme, plugins and even meta-data can be made without changing the interface.

It is ideal for manual translations. Do it yourself or assign a custom translator ‘user role’ to any user on your site. Users will then be able to translate as and when they want, without needing access to the admin area.

Lastly, the plugin creates SEO friendly URLs for all languages and boosts you up the local SEO results. Ranking well will make this extra effort to globalize your site worth all the while. Once you have established yourself as an authoritative and respectably ranking website abroad, you’re in and can continue the normal operation of your site.

2. Multi-currency for WooCommerce

As discussed, the need for multiple currencies on your international online store is unchallenged. This plugin allows users to easily switch to different currencies and make use of currency exchange rate converter with no limits. It can be used to accept only one currency or all currencies. Multi-currency for WooCommerce helps enhance your site’s user experience and will do so for free. It’s a no brainer.

These tips and plugins will help you achieve your international SEO goals. Wish to add more tips and plugins to this list? Mention them in the comments.

The post Going international: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Utilizing Google’s Test My Site Tool to Improve Mobile Performance

April 23, 2019 No Comments

Google updated their Test My Site tool to include custom recommendations for mobile sites. Read more to find how this tool can improve your mobile performance.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Using Python to recover SEO site traffic (Part three)

April 20, 2019 No Comments

When you incorporate machine learning techniques to speed up SEO recovery, the results can be amazing.

This is the third and last installment from our series on using Python to speed SEO traffic recovery. In part one, I explained how our unique approach, that we call “winners vs losers” helps us quickly narrow down the pages losing traffic to find the main reason for the drop. In part two, we improved on our initial approach to manually group pages using regular expressions, which is very useful when you have sites with thousands or millions of pages, which is typically the case with ecommerce sites. In part three, we will learn something really exciting. We will learn to automatically group pages using machine learning.

As mentioned before, you can find the code used in part one, two and three in this Google Colab notebook.

Let’s get started.

URL matching vs content matching

When we grouped pages manually in part two, we benefited from the fact the URLs groups had clear patterns (collections, products, and the others) but it is often the case where there are no patterns in the URL. For example, Yahoo Stores’ sites use a flat URL structure with no directory paths. Our manual approach wouldn’t work in this case.

Fortunately, it is possible to group pages by their contents because most page templates have different content structures. They serve different user needs, so that needs to be the case.

How can we organize pages by their content? We can use DOM element selectors for this. We will specifically use XPaths.

Example of using DOM elements to organize pages by their content

For example, I can use the presence of a big product image to know the page is a product detail page. I can grab the product image address in the document (its XPath) by right-clicking on it in Chrome and choosing “Inspect,” then right-clicking to copy the XPath.

We can identify other page groups by finding page elements that are unique to them. However, note that while this would allow us to group Yahoo Store-type sites, it would still be a manual process to create the groups.

A scientist’s bottom-up approach

In order to group pages automatically, we need to use a statistical approach. In other words, we need to find patterns in the data that we can use to cluster similar pages together because they share similar statistics. This is a perfect problem for machine learning algorithms.

BloomReach, a digital experience platform vendor, shared their machine learning solution to this problem. To summarize it, they first manually selected cleaned features from the HTML tags like class IDs, CSS style sheet names, and the others. Then, they automatically grouped pages based on the presence and variability of these features. In their tests, they achieved around 90% accuracy, which is pretty good.

When you give problems like this to scientists and engineers with no domain expertise, they will generally come up with complicated, bottom-up solutions. The scientist will say, “Here is the data I have, let me try different computer science ideas I know until I find a good solution.”

One of the reasons I advocate practitioners learn programming is that you can start solving problems using your domain expertise and find shortcuts like the one I will share next.

Hamlet’s observation and a simpler solution

For most ecommerce sites, most page templates include images (and input elements), and those generally change in quantity and size.

Hamlet's observation for a simpler approach based on domain-level observationsHamlet's observation for a simpler approach by testing the quantity and size of images

I decided to test the quantity and size of images, and the number of input elements as my features set. We were able to achieve 97.5% accuracy in our tests. This is a much simpler and effective approach for this specific problem. All of this is possible because I didn’t start with the data I could access, but with a simpler domain-level observation.

I am not trying to say my approach is superior, as they have tested theirs in millions of pages and I’ve only tested this on a few thousand. My point is that as a practitioner you should learn this stuff so you can contribute your own expertise and creativity.

Now let’s get to the fun part and get to code some machine learning code in Python!

Collecting training data

We need training data to build a model. This training data needs to come pre-labeled with “correct” answers so that the model can learn from the correct answers and make its own predictions on unseen data.

In our case, as discussed above, we’ll use our intuition that most product pages have one or more large images on the page, and most category type pages have many smaller images on the page.

What’s more, product pages typically have more form elements than category pages (for filling in quantity, color, and more).

Unfortunately, crawling a web page for this data requires knowledge of web browser automation, and image manipulation, which are outside the scope of this post. Feel free to study this GitHub gist we put together to learn more.

Here we load the raw data already collected.

Feature engineering

Each row of the form_counts data frame above corresponds to a single URL and provides a count of both form elements, and input elements contained on that page.

Meanwhile, in the img_counts data frame, each row corresponds to a single image from a particular page. Each image has an associated file size, height, and width. Pages are more than likely to have multiple images on each page, and so there are many rows corresponding to each URL.

It is often the case that HTML documents don’t include explicit image dimensions. We are using a little trick to compensate for this. We are capturing the size of the image files, which would be proportional to the multiplication of the width and the length of the images.

We want our image counts and image file sizes to be treated as categorical features, not numerical ones. When a numerical feature, say new visitors, increases it generally implies improvement, but we don’t want bigger images to imply improvement. A common technique to do this is called one-hot encoding.

Most site pages can have an arbitrary number of images. We are going to further process our dataset by bucketing images into 50 groups. This technique is called “binning”.

Here is what our processed data set looks like.

Example view of processed data for "binning"

Adding ground truth labels

As we already have correct labels from our manual regex approach, we can use them to create the correct labels to feed the model.

We also need to split our dataset randomly into a training set and a test set. This allows us to train the machine learning model on one set of data, and test it on another set that it’s never seen before. We do this to prevent our model from simply “memorizing” the training data and doing terribly on new, unseen data. You can check it out at the link given below:

Model training and grid search

Finally, the good stuff!

All the steps above, the data collection and preparation, are generally the hardest part to code. The machine learning code is generally quite simple.

We’re using the well-known Scikitlearn python library to train a number of popular models using a bunch of standard hyperparameters (settings for fine-tuning a model). Scikitlearn will run through all of them to find the best one, we simply need to feed in the X variables (our feature engineering parameters above) and the Y variables (the correct labels) to each model, and perform the .fit() function and voila!

Evaluating performance

Graph for evaluating image performances through a linear pattern

After running the grid search, we find our winning model to be the Linear SVM (0.974) and Logistic regression (0.968) coming at a close second. Even with such high accuracy, a machine learning model will make mistakes. If it doesn’t make any mistakes, then there is definitely something wrong with the code.

In order to understand where the model performs best and worst, we will use another useful machine learning tool, the confusion matrix.

Graph of the confusion matrix to evaluate image performance

When looking at a confusion matrix, focus on the diagonal squares. The counts there are correct predictions and the counts outside are failures. In the confusion matrix above we can quickly see that the model does really well-labeling products, but terribly labeling pages that are not product or categories. Intuitively, we can assume that such pages would not have consistent image usage.

Here is the code to put together the confusion matrix:

Finally, here is the code to plot the model evaluation:

Resources to learn more

You might be thinking that this is a lot of work to just tell page groups, and you are right!

Screenshot of a query on custom PageTypes and DataLayer

Mirko Obkircher commented in my article for part two that there is a much simpler approach, which is to have your client set up a Google Analytics data layer with the page group type. Very smart recommendation, Mirko!

I am using this example for illustration purposes. What if the issue requires a deeper exploratory investigation? If you already started the analysis using Python, your creativity and knowledge are the only limits.

If you want to jump onto the machine learning bandwagon, here are some resources I recommend to learn more:

Got any tips or queries? Share it in the comments.

Hamlet Batista is the CEO and founder of RankSense, an agile SEO platform for online retailers and manufacturers. He can be found on Twitter @hamletbatista.

The post Using Python to recover SEO site traffic (Part three) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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