- Brand health is an umbrella term for metrics that shows you how well your brand is doing.
- These metrics include – Net promoter score, share of voice, brand reputation, unprompted brand recall, prompted brand recall, purchase intent, and brand equity.
- Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, walks you through the calculations for each of the metrics.
- There are three common ways to measure brand health – focus groups, questionnaires, and social listening tools.
Brand health is a collection of metrics that shows how much your branding contributes to achieving your goals. It applies equally to multinational corporations and tiny new Instagram businesses: no matter the size of your company, your clients are either affected by your branding, or they aren’t, or they are affected to some extent. Knowing the details of your brand health will help you see the strengths and weaknesses of your branding, and help you decide on the future actions regarding it.
In this article, we’ll go through the metrics that determine brand health.
Each of the metrics is important in its own way and reveals a different aspect of brand health. It may be that your brand awareness is superb, but the purchase intent is suffering. It might be that your customers love your brand, but the overall brand reputation is not that good (perhaps, there was a reputation crisis some time ago). Unless you look at each metric closely and calculate the numbers behind the vague concepts such as “brand awareness” and “brand reputation”, you’ll never know what’s hurting and what’s benefiting your sales when it comes to branding.
So let’s dive into calculations.
1. Net promoter score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score is calculated based on your customers’ responses to the following question:
How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
The scoring is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale. The responders are then grouped into three categories:
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal customers that spread the word about your brand.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers that don’t promote your brand and are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand reputation.
To calculate your NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
The results could be from -100 (if every customer is a “Detractor”) to +100 (if every customer is a “Promoter”), therefore, a positive NPS is considered a good result. However, the score should be 50 and more to clearly show that the word of mouth is working for you.
Companies are also encouraged to ask follow-up questions to reveal the reasons behind the scores they get.
2. Share of voice
One important brand health metric is brand awareness. To know if your branding is working, you have to discover how much people talk about your brand, if at all. However, the number is ambiguous on its own. You might discover that people talk very little about your brand of toilet paper. Is it due to the unpopularity of your brand, or is it because people generally don’t talk about toilet paper? It’s hard to tell. That’s why you need to factor in a share of voice metrics.
Share of voice shows how much your brand is dominating the conversation compared to other brands in your niche.
To calculate the share of voice, all you need is a good social listening tool like Awario or Brandwatch (full disclosure these are my tools). Once you create an alert for your brand and your competitors, a social listening tool will go through conversations on social media networks, news sites, blogs, forums, review sites, and the web and calculate the percentage of conversation that’s dominated by your brand. As the tool will also calculate the percentage of conversation dominated by each of your competitors, you can then dig deeper to analyze what the successful competitors are doing better in terms of branding.
3. Brand reputation
While we’re on the subject of social listening tools, let’s talk about the third most important metric – brand reputation. While it’s important that people talk about the brand and that the customers are satisfied and willing to recommend your product, it’s also vital to know how the audience perceives your brand in general.
In our age of instant information, the news about brands travels fast and far, building the reputation and creating problems that the company could not be aware of.
Social listening tools usually have a built-in feature. To perform sentiment analysis, create an alert for your brand. The tool will analyze band mentions on social media networks, news sites, blogs, forums, review sites, and the web to discover brand sentiment: the percentage of good, bad, and neutral mentions around the brand over time.
You can look at spikes of negative mentions to spot reputation crises (and attend to issues that have caused it), and look through positive mentions to get positive user feedback.
For the overall idea of brand health, you might want to calculate a sentiment score. To do that, exclude neutral mentions altogether, and calculate the percentage of positive mentions.
Alternatively, you can calculate the net sentiment score. Simply exclude neutral mentions and use the formula:
Net Sentiment = (% of Positive Mentions – % of Negative Mentions) / (% of Positive Mentions + % of Negative Mentions).
4. Unprompted brand recall
Unprompted brand recall is a measure of how many people think about your brand when asked to think about your industry.
Unprompted brand recall is a metric that usually works well for the most popular brands. However, it’s worth striving for unprompted brand recall, even if you’re far off at the moment.
To calculate the metric, ask participants the following question:
“Thinking about [industry], what’s the first brand that comes to mind?”
Then sum up all participants who named your brand. Divide this number by the total number of people asked and multiply it by 100 to get a percentage score.
5. Prompted brand recall
While big brands will probably be more successful in the first category, this one gives the opportunity for smaller brands to once again assess their brand awareness and/or purchase intent. It also includes a single question that can change depending on whether you’re interested in further metrics on brand awareness or purchase intent:
Please tick all the [industry] brands that you’ve heard of / Please tick all the [industry] brands you would consider buying [product] from.
Then, you list your brand along with your competitors’ brands and see which ones the participants will pick. A low score on this metric is definitely a bad sign.
6. Purchase intent
Purchase intent shows how likely are people to go from knowing your brand to buying your products. As many other metrics in this article, this one requires a place in a questionnaire.
The calculation is very straightforward, ask participants the following question:
“Based on what you know about [brand], how likely are you to buy from them?”
Measure the results on a Likert scale. Sum up the number of people who answered “very likely” and divide it by the total number of people asked to get a Purchase Intent score.
7. Brand equity
Brand equity is the result of combining two metrics from this list. When looking at the overall brand health, brand equity is something that companies pay the most attention to.
First, you calculate what’s known as Brand Strength. This is a measure that combines the net promoter score and purchase intent.
The formula looks like that:
Brand Strength = (Purchase Intent + NPS) x 100.
The result is then multiplied by the figure of the Unprompted Brand Recall:
Brand Equity = (Brand Strength x Unprompted Recall) x 100.
Organize your results
Use a good old Excel sheet to organize your data. Look at the low numbers and dig deeper into the areas of your branding that are falling behind. Turn to competitor research when you’re out of your own ideas for improvement. Or maybe before you get to that state.
Let’s sum up what you’ll need for measuring brand health metrics.
- Focus groups
- A social listening tool
This is a shortlist for measuring something as huge and as important as brand health. Don’t put this off – the sooner you start measuring your results, the sooner you’ll know how to improve your branding and increase sales.
Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.
The post Seven brand health metrics and how to measure them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are a huge part of the SEO industry and whilst getting backlinks is still a key driver in the Google search algorithm, PBNs will always be the source of debate and interest amongst SEO practitioners.
- PBNs have different uses and interpretations but can be used to point links to your site, sell links, or just simply add your home page links on them.
- Will you get penalized if you use PBNs? Should you consider using it? Read on to find out what experts and Tudor Lodge Consultants say.
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are a huge part of the SEO industry and whilst getting backlinks is still a key driver in the Google search algorithm, PBNs will always be the source of debate and interest amongst SEO practitioners.
If you have ever bought a domain or run a website that ranks on Google, you are probably accustomed to getting emails from PBNs on a daily basis and they will tend to offer you a list of links that you can buy. The emails you receive will typically be called:
- “High Quality Guest Posting”
- “Guest Posting Service”
- “High DA Quality Sites”
But should you be paying to add these links to your website? And what is the damage?
Content created in collaboration with Tudor Lodge Consultants.
What Are PBNs?
PBNs are very simply blogs or old websites with domains that have expired, but still, have a lot of value due to gaining thousands of historical backlinks.
Anyone can buy these domains once they expire or sometimes they are bought via an online auction.
But it is the ability to use this expired site, maybe re-design it, add some fresh content, and then start adding or selling links from this site to boost your SEO rankings or for commercial gain.
XYZ.com suddenly expires but has generated thousands of backlinks over the years. Now the site is available to buy, I will redesign it, add some new content, and start pointing links to my own sites and then start selling the links to other people too.
People will sell links on PBNs anywhere from $ 10 to $ 1,000 per link and when you are looking to justify or scale your SEO spend, it is easily measurable to know what you get for $ 1,000, $ 5,000 or $ 10,000.
Equally, a PBN can just be a news site or blog that purposely sells links for income.
Prior to 2014, buying links from PBNs was a quick and highly successful way to rank any website, in any industry across finance, money, fashion, insurance – you name it.
However, over the last few years, Google has started to penalize any PBN site and who they link to, considering this a quick gaming of the system and anti-Google guidelines. Get on the wrong side of Google and you are looking at a serious penalty in your rankings or total blacklisting altogether. Wake up one morning with a penalty and your business model changes overnight.
Different uses of PBNs
PBNs have different uses and interpretations, but can be used in the following ways:
1. Point links to your site
Take an expired domain, set up a new website and start writing articles and include links to your own websites.
2. Sell links
You can sell links to other SEO companies or practitioners – however, this is considered malpractice and anti-Google guidelines.
3. Just add them to your homepage
You can purchase multiple PBN sites, re-design them and just add your links on every homepage (which is considered the highest trust flow).
Will my website improve if I use PBNs?
In the world of grey hat or black hat SEO, using PBNs can theoretically improve your website’s search results.
Certainly in the short-term, an influx of links from websites with high DAs will give you an instant boost.
For many SEO businesses and online companies, PBNs is the way they conduct an SEO strategy and essentially do business.
If they can stay clear of penalties, PBNs are attributed to ranking some of the top search positions on Google – certainly for industries that attract shady techniques such as loans, web hosting, casinos and pornography.
Will I get penalized if I use PBNs?
If you are using PBNs to acquire links, you are walking on a constant tightrope and risk of getting penalized by Google. You may not be automatically downgraded – but all it takes is one Google update or algorithm shift for this to change overnight.
Presumably, if you did nothing but by links from PBNs for years and years, at some point, you will face a penalty and then need to look at removing them to restore your rankings.
In some respect, more experienced SEOs are able to balance PBNs with a clean approach – and this might include creating natural content, a strong user experience, generating clean and natural links and also doing regular link disavows.
Source: DP TECH Group
What the experts say
Seb Atkinson, Head of SEO at Know Your Money explains,
“PBNs are seen as a quickfire way to buy links and boost your rankings – but this is very much an old technique and today is likely to attract penalization. Your best approach is to create unique, interesting content that provides real insight into a topic, making it genuinely link-worthy so people can naturally link back to it.”
Ian Sims, Director of Badger Loans commented,
“Working in the payday and short term loan space, I am inundated daily by emails with people offering me links from PBNs. I tend to stay clear of this because although it might give me a quick boost in rankings, a potential penalty could be very costly for our business. I get annoyed when I see other sites ranking on page 1 and they have clearly used this approach – but I know that their success may be short-lived.”
Andrew Speer, Consultant for Fund Ourselves explains,
“I have worked in SEO for almost a decade and originally PBNs were a proven source of link-building and the status quo. It wasn’t until algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin that started to reward clean content and link-building and with this PBNs have gone out of favour with Google, despite still being used by tonnes of people across the US and the world. But if you were to start learning about SEO today, this is something that you would stay clear of for sure.”
There is an argument that using PBNs as part of your link building strategy could be successful for more experienced SEOs.
But in reality, Google is known to changing their goalposts and revelling in such a high-risk strategy is unlikely to go down well with investors, clients and business partners.
It may not be if you get a Google penalty, but when.
Our conclusion? Stay away from PBNs.
The “will I get penalized” section suggests PBNs could be used by experienced SEOs but the conclusion doesn’t really support this.
Maybe the main downside of PBNs could be highlighted more, for example, you will always have a risk of a penalty on your site as Google is known to move the goalposts over time. This could be a risk that your investors/clients/business partners are not comfortable with.
- Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for ecommerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
- The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving.
- Some things the search trends have shown is that consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for.
- leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
- Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
- As a “topic”, interest in instrument playing tutorials has increased by 72%.
- Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
- Director of SEO at Stella Rising, John Morabito shares lots of insights and shines a light on how businesses can use these trends in their content creation.
With the coronavirus pandemic now nearing its peak in many parts of the U.S., search trends are rapidly evolving in ways many search marketers have never seen before. Changes are happening almost daily, and traditional search volume as a monthly average metric has become practically useless. Google Trends, however, offers useful, daily analysis of what’s trending in search. At present, Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for e-commerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
In this post, we’ll cover ways that search marketers can use Google Trends and other tools to discover opportunities in today’s fast-moving landscape, and review how the team at Stella Rising has been using Google Trends to inform our strategy during the pandemic.
The obvious Google Trends
Medical suppliers will be aware that, amidst the overall demand for masks, behaviours have shifted from favouring N95 masks to surgical masks. The CDC recently revised their recommendation. In this case, we see that search demand for masks is already starting to decrease.
Surgical Masks (7 Day View) – Down 68% (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)
Full Year View
The less obvious: Search evolution in unexpected places
The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving. For example, at first glance, one might not think that the beauty segment would find success in a pandemic. However, social distancers are turning to self-care. “Peel masks” are seeing a huge increase in interest with a 58% increase in over the last few weeks.
Searches for skincare are skyrocketing, as are those for foot care. Consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for. Note the following trends from Spate:
Hand moisturizer has similarly seen an even larger increase, jumping up 156% since February (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22).
Leveraging the trend
When it comes to the growth in demand for skincare products, skincare brands have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to their content efforts. Make sure your product pages are being listed in Google shopping’s new free listings, and ensure that you have robust on-page content for each of your skincare product or category pages. Lastly, in a time where making returns is not an easy task, and consumers want to minimize contact with the outside world, content that helps guide users to the right product selections can be extremely valuable.
For example, this article from Bucklers Remedy, a skincare brand ranks top three for “choosing the right hand lotion”. In another example, we see a Vaseline article about how to deal with dry cracked hands ranking for a total of 1,100 keywords.
For apparel companies
Apparel companies should shift their messaging as consumers browse for clothing on their devices. Right now, leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
Leveraging the trend
Everyone from publishers to apparel and beauty brands can get in on the need for Zoom/video conferencing related content. If you fall into one of those categories, consider producing looks and tutorials for your captive audience.
For instrument makers
For instrument makers like Fender and Les Paul, there has never been more interest than now in learning how to play the guitar.
Leveraging the trend
Fender and Les Paul both offer instructional content, but now is the perfect time for them to ramp-up efforts and even consider partnering with musicians who are out of work and can easily produce tutorial content on their behalf.
People are also interested in learning about all sorts of topics. As a “topic”, interest in tutorials has increased by 72%.
Leveraging the trend
If you’re a brand with a product that has any sort of instructions or bares any type of explanation in how to use it, I would recommend using this time to produce tutorial content for each of your products or for the things your products help people to do. For example, makeup brands can not only product tutorials on how to use a specific product which can help them to rank for both nonbrand and branded terms, but they can also target things like “zoom makeup looks” which can help them to rank for an even broader set of nonbrand terms.
Sometimes, search trends are influenced by necessity. We’ve seen more interest in “how to cut your hair” than ever before.
The not so fun part
While there are search trends dealing with keeping consumers busy, there are also new trends around more serious subjects. Some of our clients at Stella Rising are writing about these. One of our clients in the small business formation space is writing about how their customers can get loans and stay in good corporate standing. Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
Estate lawyers may want to consider online-only services as “get a will online” has seen a steep rise.
How to get started
Now that you’ve seen some of the ways that search trends are evolving—and how to check—start by inspecting your website’s most valuable target keywords and see how searches are moving for those items. You may be surprised by what you find. Finding interesting trends can be tough, so think carefully about how behaviour will evolve in the future, not simply how it has changed today.
Bonus tool tip
Explodingtopics.com is a tool that shows exploding topics using Google Trends data and provides two key metrics: gradient and exponent. Essentially, the exponent is a mathematical expression that defines how much like a “hockey-stick” a curve is. The tool breaks up Google Trend data by category and presents which topics are “exploding” versus which have peaked in interest. This analysis is useful when wishing to stay relevant with content writing.
John Morabito is Director of SEO at Stella Rising. John has over nine years of experience in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing channels.
The post Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The post Nine site audit issues we always see and tips to tackle them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
If robots are to help out in places like hospitals and phone repair shops, they’re going to need a light touch. And what’s lighter than not touching at all? Researchers have created a gripper that uses ultrasonics to suspend an object in midair, potentially making it suitable for the most delicate tasks.
It’s done with an array of tiny speakers that emit sound at very carefully controlled frequencies and volumes. These produce a sort of standing pressure wave that can hold an object up or, if the pressure is coming from multiple directions, hold it in place or move it around.
This kind of “acoustic levitation,” as it’s called, is not exactly new — we see it being used as a trick here and there, but so far there have been no obvious practical applications. Marcel Schuck and his team at ETH Zürich, however, show that a portable such device could easily find a place in processes where tiny objects must be very lightly held.
A small electric component, or a tiny oiled gear or bearing for a watch or micro-robot, for instance, would ideally be held without physical contact, since that contact could impart static or dirt to it. So even when robotic grippers are up to the task, they must be kept clean or isolated. Acoustic manipulation, however, would have significantly less possibility of contamination.
The problem is that it isn’t obvious exactly which combination of frequencies and amplitudes are necessary to suspend a given object in the air. So a large part of this work was developing software that can easily be configured to work with a new object, or programmed to move it in a specific way — rotating, flipping or otherwise moving it at the user’s behest.
A working prototype is complete, but Schuck plans to poll various industries to see whether and how such a device could be useful to them. Watchmaking is of course important in Switzerland, and the parts are both small and sensitive to touch. “Toothed gearwheels, for example, are first coated with lubricant, and then the thickness of this lubricant layer is measured. Even the faintest touch could damage the thin film of lubricant,” he points out in the ETHZ news release.
How would a watchmaker use such a robotic arm? How would a designer of microscopic robots, or a biochemist? The potential is clear, but not necessarily obvious. Fortunately, he has a bit of fellowship cash to spend on the question and hopes to spin it off as a startup next year if his early inquiries bear fruit.
Imagine visiting a website that takes more than 10, no two seconds to load. We know that the mouse is going to hover to the top right corner because honestly, no one has the time to wait nowadays.
A Forbes article mentioned that a mere one-second delay in page load time means a seven percent decline in sales, 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a seven percent loss in conversions.
Your website may be a work of art with awesome features. It can have lightning speed chat responses but with slow loading time, none of that matters.
Attention spans are growing smaller and patience is thinner than ever. Other than that, slow loading sites impact your SEO because it affects how Google sees your page. Speed is a ranking factor Google uses to measure your page. Sure, content may be king, but speed can change how your content performs in search.
We’ll dig deep and find the silent killers of loading time – both common and uncommon causes.
1. Uncompressed images and bizarre image dimensions
The quality and size of an image affects its loading time. Having a high-resolution image on every page means your site will load slower.
How you can fix this
A couple of ways we found included installing plugins. The first one is with a jQuery Lazy Load plugin. This plugin allows the images that are only appearing to load “above the fold” or on a part a visitor is currently viewing.
The second option is by using image optimizers such as Yahoo!’s Smush.it or use the WP Smush.it plugin which compacts images without altering their quality. With the WP plugin, it can be done automatically when you add graphics to your site.
2. Unnecessary plugins
If you have a WordPress site you’ll know that there are tons of plugins wandering around and sometimes you might feel the need to download every one because they’re “helpful” to your site.
Before you know it, you’ll have plugins running your site and you might even have a plugin for your plugin.
Plugin overload can be a problem because the more plugins your site has, the more work it has to do when it loads. Also, not all plugins are as awesome as they claim to be. Beware of outdated plugins that can slow down your site instead of improving its performance.
What you can do to solve this problem is by evaluating your current plugins to figure out which ones you actually need. You might have multiple plugins that have the same function or have some that you’re no longer using.
When you’re deleting plugins check to see if
– The plugin is relevant and updated
– Whether it has another similar plugin with same functions
– Whether you’re still using it the respective plugin
You can also check the performance of your plugins using the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) which shows you the impact of each plugin has on your WordPress site load time.
3. An excessive homepage
Your homepage is the face of your brand. So, we get it if you want it to look the best. However, when you try to impress new visitors with a bunch of widgets, content, and state-of-the-art imagery, it’s going to compromise your loading time.
When you want to make an impressive site, keep in mind that a clean design can do wonders. We’re not telling you to ban widgets completely (save them for the end of your blog posts or site pages) but we’re just telling you to keep it simple.
Another thing you can do to speed up load times is by altering the WordPress options to show excerpts instead of full posts and limiting the posts per page by five to seven each.
4. Free third-party WordPress themes
Free WordPress themes may sound like the best thing since sliced bread but free things come with a price tag. When you’re looking for a theme on WordPress, you’re likely to click on those free ones made by a third-party. They’re free anyway, so what can go wrong? Right?
Apparently, a lot of things. Like how free music and movies can come with spyware or malware, free third-party WordPress themes may be one of the causes for your slow website.
How you can fix this
One of the best ways is to only use themes from the official WordPress theme repository. If you want something more personalized, consider allocating less than $ 100 in a premium theme you can customize to your heart’s desire.
5. Unreliable web hosting
Having a web hosting server that’s not properly configured can harm your loading times. When picking a web hosting server, more often than not, we’ll try to choose the most budget-friendly option. That may be good in the beginning when you’re just starting out.
However, once the amount of traffic you’re receiving suddenly spikes, your host and server won’t be able to handle a huge amount of users at a single time. Sudden spikes can happen especially during times you launch a new online marketing campaign or a new product.
Instead of looking for a free or cheap web hosting solution, it’s best to use a well-known host that usually runs between four to eight dollars a month, which isn’t so bad.
Other than the price, you should also keep in mind how fast the server responds when it deals with problems. Sometimes your site can have emergencies and filling in forms just won’t cut it. Do your research thoroughly and read reviews about the company and its support.
6. Invisible loading images or videos
When you’re scrolling through a page, there is some content you can’t see immediately. Some are still at the bottom of the page and are visible after a visitor arrives at the exact spot.
So, how is this a problem? The more images you tell your server to fetch, the slower your site will load. The reality is, the server usually fetches all of these images and videos (even the ones you can’t see yet). This is a huge factor for mobile devices since they have limited speed and data.
This can be fixed with “lazy loading” which means fetching the file only if it’s needed and only when it’s on the screen. A couple of plugins you can use for your WordPress site are BJ Lazy Load and LazyLoad.
7. Coding issue
Your website is made of code. The more elaborate your site is, the more coding is necessary. Just because you want your website to be ideal, that doesn’t mean the coding should be over the top. Irrelevant or unnecessary code will only slow down your site since the server has to work through more data in order to get to a page.
An example of a coding issue
Unnecessary redirects which happen when the code refers to two different forms of the website URL. Although this seems like something trivial, it makes a huge difference.
When a redirect takes place, a user has to wait for the page to load twice. Using too many redirects means you’re doubling the load time.
To fix this, you need to review your code in detail. Most of the time, the root cause of slow load times could be from a coding issue. This occurs when the code isn’t consistent and causes too many redirects.
8. Not using a content delivery network (CDN)
CDN is a network of independent servers deployed in different geographic locations that serves web content to visitors. Depending on the location of your website visitors, the content requested gets served by the node that’s at the nearest data center.
The problem with not using a CDN is that many sites can be slow, especially if they have visitors from around the world. Although a CDN isn’t necessary, it can help serve your web content much faster and reduce the loading time.
Now that you’re aware of some of the most and least obvious loading time killers, it’s time to get cracking with fixing them for your website.
Got some more load time killers that you wish to add to this list? Share them in the comments.
Nat McNeely is Digital Marketing Manager of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company.
The post The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Now that you have your basic PPC account set up and running, you will need to implement some negative keywords. If you aren’t familiar with what those are or how to find them, you have come to the right place! In this blog, I cover basic strategies for implementing and finding negative keywords for your accounts.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Alison Johnston didn’t plan to build a startup around death. An early employee at Q&A app Aardvark that was bought by Google, she’d founded tutoring app InstaEDU and sold it to Chegg. She made mass market consumer products. But then, “I had a family member who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I thought about how she’d be remembered” she recalls. Inventing the next big social app suddenly felt less consequential.
“I started looking into the funeral industry and discovered that there were very few resources to support and guide families who had recently experienced a death. It was difficult to understand and compare options and prices (which were also much higher than I ever imagined), and there weren’t good tools to share information and memories with others” Johnston tells me. Bombarded by options and steep costs that average $ 9,000 per funeral in the US, families in crisis become overwhelmed.
Johnston’s startup Ever Loved wants to provide peace of mind during the rest-in-peace process. It’s a comparison shopping and review site for funeral homes, cemeteries, caskets, urns, and headstones. It offers price guides and recommends top Amazon funeral products and takes a 5 percent affiliate fee that finances Ever Loved’s free memorial site maker for sharing funeral details plus collecting memories and remembrances. And families can even set up fundraisers to cover their costs or support a charity.
The startup took seed funding from Social Capital and a slew of angel investors about a year ago. Now hundreds of thousands of users are visiting Ever Loved shopping and memorial sites each month. Eventually Ever Loved wants to build its own marketplace of funeral services and products that takes a 10 percent cut of purchases, while also selling commerce software to funeral homes.
“People don’t talk about death. It’s taboo in our society and most people don’t plan ahead at all” Johnston tells me. Rushing to arrange end-of-life logistics is enormously painful, and Johnston believes Ever Loved can eliminate some of that stress. “I wanted to explore areas where fewer people in Silicon Valley had experience and that weren’t just for young urban professionals.”
There’s a big opportunity to modernize this aging industry with a sustainable business model and empathy as an imperative. 86 percent of funeral homes are independent, Johnston says, so few have the resources to build tech products. One of the few big companies in the space, the $ 7 billion market cap public Service Corporation International, has rolled up funeral homes and cemeteries but has done little to improve pricing transparency or the user experience for families in hardship. Rates and reviews often aren’t available, so customers can end up overpaying for underwhelming selection.
On the startup side, there’s direct competitors like FuneralWise, which is focused on education and forums but lacks robust booking features or a memorial site maker. Funeral360 is Ever Loved’s biggest rival, but Ever Loved’s memorial sites looked better and it had much deeper step-by-step pricing estimates and information on funeral homes.
Johnston wants to use revenue from end-of-life commerce to subsidize Ever Loved’s memorial and fundraiser features so they can stay free or cheap while generating leads and awareness for the marketplace side. But no one has hit scale and truly become wedding site The Knot but for funerals.
I’ve known Johnston since college, and she’s always had impressive foresight for what was about to blow up. From an extremely early gig at Box.com to Q&A and on-demand answers with Aardvark to the explosion of online education with InstaEDU, she’s managed to get out in front of the megatrends. And tech’s destiny to overhaul unsexy businesses is one of the biggest right now.
Amazon has made us expect to see prices and reviews up front, so Ever Loved has gathered rate estimates for about two-thirds of US funeral homes and is pulling in testimonials. You can search for 4-star+ funeral homes nearby and instantly get high-quality results. Meanwhile, funeral homes can sign up to claim their page and add information.
Facebook popularized online event pages. But its heavy-handed prerogatives, generalist tone, and backlash can make it feel like a disrespectful place to host funeral service details. And with people leaving their hometowns, newspapers can’t spread the info properly. Ever Loved is purpose-built for these serious moments, makes managing invites easy, and also offers a place to collect obituaries, photos, and memories.
Rather than having to click through a link to a GoFundMe page that can be a chore, Ever Loved hosts fundraisers right on its memorial sites to maximize donations. That’s crucial since funerals cost more than most people have saved. Ever Loved only charges a processing fee and allows visitors to add an additional tip, so it’s no more expensive that popular fundraising sites.
Next, “the two big things are truly building out booking through our site and expanding into some of the other end of life logistics” Johnstone tells me. Since the funeral is just the start of the post-death process, Ever Loved is well positioned to move into estate planning. “There are literally dozens of things you have to do after someone passes away — contacting the social security office, closing out bank accounts and Facebook profiles…”
Johnston reveals that 44 percent of families say they had arguments while divvying up assets — a process that takes an average of 560 hours aka 3 months of full-time work. As the baby boomer era ends over the next 30 years, $ 30 trillion in assets are expected to transfer through estates, she claims. Earning a tiny cut of that by giving mourners tools outlining popular ways to divide estates could alleviate disagreements could make Ever Loved quite lucrative.
“When I first started out, I was pretty awkward about telling people about this. We’re death averse, and that hinders us in a lot of ways” Johnston concludes. My own family struggled with this, as an unwillingness to accept mortality kept my grandparents from planning for after they were gone. “But I quickly learned was this was a huge conversation starter rather than a turn off. This is a topic people want to talk about more and educate themselves more on. Tech too often merely makes life and work easier for those who already have it good. Tech that tempers tragedy is a welcome evolution for Silicon Valley.”
The top listing in Google’s organic search results draws 33 percent of traffic while the second spot garners 18 percent, a study by online ad network Chitika confirms.
After that, it’s a fight to see who secures enough traffic, and of course, in this sort of scenario you need all the help you can get.
Being penalized by Google and experiencing a drop in SEO rankings is one of the worst things that can happen to a website. Now, fluctuations are par for the course, especially considering the rapidly evolving Google algorithms.
When your search rankings take a huge tumble, you need to adopt a proactive approach before your site gets lost organic search obscurity. And this “approach” involves fixing the seven cardinal SEO mistakes listed below:
Avoid keyword stuffing
Use the same keywords repeatedly? You might want to stop! Of course, if it is necessary for your content to make sense, then you’ve got no other choice. But if you seek to optimize your copy in this manner, then you’re in for a rude awakening.
Not only does it discourage visitors from reading or interacting with your content but it signals the search engines that you’re attempting to outsmart their algorithms. And that is not something Google takes lightly.
The above comic strip reimagines keyword stuffing as part of a normal conversation. See how many times the man uses “lunch,” “fine,” “talking funny,” and “mean” in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th panels, respectively. If it’s THIS irritating in regular dialog, imagine how your readers would feel reading content like this.
Use an online tool like Live Keyword Analysis or Addme.com to calculate the keyword density. Remove excess keywords to keep your density around 1.5 percent. Mention your keywords in the title, the description, your opening paragraph, and once or twice in the body of your content. Make sure it all sounds natural. That should do the trick and help you regain some of your lost SEO rankings.
Check your website speed
Almost half of the online users expect a web page to load within 2 seconds or less, and they abandon your website if it does not load in 3 seconds, revealed a survey by Akamai and Gomez.com. So, ensure quick load times for your website by leveraging browser caching, optimizing images, minifying codes, and activating resource compression. A
chieve all this by using a free tool like PageSpeed Insights from Google to determine the current speed of your website. Also, look at the actionable recommendations offered by the tool to increase your load times.
Never buy links
Give your website enough time to become successful. Creating good content is hard work but it pays off in the end. Resort to shortcuts and you get penalized.
One of these no-no shortcuts involves buying backlinks, especially from unreliable sources. As soon as Google finds out, they cut your rankings significantly. 22 percent of web admins still buy links without disclosure, according to a survey.
So, the next time you spot an SEO ad promising hundreds of links along with a first page ranking for a ridiculously low price, ignore it. Links from social networking accounts and spammy, untrustworthy sites hurt your website. A few of these companies claim to protect you by creating a “link pyramid” or “link wheel” that point to an intermediary page.
The truth is, these might work for some time, but as Google continues to evolve and deal more strictly with spam content, they will learn about this practice and shut you down.
Become mobile friendly
With Google prioritizing a mobile-first approach, make sure your website is mobile friendly. According to Google, 85 percent of all websites in mobile search results now adhere to the mobile-friendly label. Become a part of the trend and enjoy a smooth flow of traffic.
Otherwise, if your site is not responsive and people are unable to view you on tablets and smartphones, then not only will your rankings suffer, but your customer inquiries and conversions will too. That’s because users will leave your website and visit one that actually fits this requirement.
Get rid of ads
Recent changes made to AdSense rules by Google indicate that stricter rules are going to be put in place for sites “with more advertising than publisher-provided content.” So, if you’ve been indulging in this practice, get ready to bid your SEO rankings goodbye.
Ads prompt users to leave your website and impacts your experience metrics. Once your user experience metrics become critically low, it is usually a sign to Google that your website holds no value for your visitors. They will demote you over time.
Plus, ads have led to the rise of ad blocking. In fact, a report by Adobe and PageFair concluded that the approximate loss of worldwide Internet revenue because of blocked advertising in 2015 was $ 21.8 billion. So, unless you want to be penalized without any payoff, all you need to do is get rid of the ads and your site will be fine.
Handle technical issues immediately
Technical problems like network outages, poor hosting, slow connectivity, and server downtime can affect your site rankings.
If Google constantly abandons attempted crawls on your site, in due time, your SEO rankings will go down. Of course, short server outages don’t matter, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, then you need to look for a new host.
Identify the problem first. This might not be easy, but it becomes quite obvious if your site goes down every 10 minutes. Or, use an online tool like Downforeveryoneorjustme to check whether your page is up or down. Determine if the problem lies with your host and not your Internet plan. You will find plenty of decent web hosting options, like Liquidweb.
Maintain the quality of your guest posts
Guest blogging can be a great tool for SEO and lead generation. Unfortunately, as of 2015, only 6 percent of bloggers published original content as guest posts. That’s a dismal number when you consider what an amazing way it is to give your website an edge against the competition.
Use scraping tools like the one from Guestpost.com to conduct automatic scrapes of every website that accepts guest posts related to your keywords. However, when it comes to your own website, make sure you accept only high-quality guest posts.
Feature fresh writers on your site and post original and relevant content that appeals to your audience. Also, make sure you maintain a balance between content produced from the site and content offered to your page in lieu of an author bio and a link.
If you want to survive the virtual world and stay relevant, then you need to focus on raising your SEO rankings. Follow the steps given above to help you fix bad SEO and regain your rankings.
The post 7 things that hurt your SEO rankings and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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