Friday, March 23, 2018

5 easy but smart SEO wins to boost content and link-building efforts

Don't ignore the basic, everyday technical SEO issues that pop up when marketing a website, suggests contributor Jeremy Knauff. Take care of the fundamentals and you'll see better SEO results.


Are you looking for some smart and easy SEO wins in 2018?

Who isn’t? This is a great time to knock down the cobwebs in your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts with some good old-fashioned spring cleaning.
Sure, producing great content can be loads of fun, and link building can deliver powerful results, but sometimes you just need to get down to the fundamentals of SEO.
Certain tasks that fall on the technical side can be more difficult, but they are every bit as important as content development and link building. Still, they tend to be ignored until they cause a major problem.
You can change that by making an effort to take care of technical SEO fundamentals before they become a problem. When the fundamentals are taken care of, we tend to get better results from all of our SEO efforts.
Let’s look at five smart tactical fundamentals that, when leveraged, will boost the effectiveness of our content development and link-building efforts.



Thursday, March 22, 2018

How Search Engines Crawl & Index: Everything You Need to Know

How Search Engines Crawl & Index: Everything You Need to Know
Optimizing websites without first understanding how search engines function is akin to publishing your great novel without first learning how to write.
Certainly a thousand monkeys at typewriters will eventually create something useful (at least this monkey likes to think he does from time to time), but it’s a lot easier if you know the core elements of a task beforehand.
So we must understand how search engines work to fully understand how to optimize for them.
While we will be focusing on organic search, we must first briefly talk about one critical truth about search engines.

Paid Search Results

Not Google, not Bing, nor any other major search engine is in the business of providing organic listings.
That is to say, organic results are the means to the end, but do not directly generate revenue for Google.
Without organic search results Google’s paid search results would appear less relevant, thus reducing eyeballs and paid clicks.
Basically, Google and Bing (and the others) are advertising engines that happen to draw users to their properties with organic listings. Organic, then, is the means to the end.
Why does this matter?
It’s the key point driving:
  • Their layout changes.
  • The existence of search features like knowledge panels and featured snippets.
  • The click-through rates (CTR) of organic results.
When Google adds a fourth paid search result to commercial-intent queries it’s because of this.
When Google displays a featured snippet so you don’t have to leave to get an answer to your query… it is because of this.
Regardless of what change you may see taking place it’s important to keep this in mind and always question not just what it will impact today but what further changes do they imply may be on the horizon.

How Search Engines Work Today: The Series

Alright, now that we have that baseline understanding of why Google even provides organic results let’s look at the nuts-and-bolts of how they operate.
To accomplish this we’re going to look at:
  • Crawling and indexing
  • Algorithms
  • Machine learning
  • User intent
This piece will focus on indexing. So let’s dive in…


Indexing is where it all begins.
For the uninitiated, indexing essentially refers to the adding of a webpage’s content into Google.
When you create a new page on your site there are a number of ways it can be indexed.
The simplest method of getting a page indexed is to do absolutely nothing.
Google has crawlers following links and thus, provided your site is in the index already and that the new content is linked to from within your site, Google will eventually discover it and add it to its index. More on this later.
But what if you want Googlebot to your page faster?
This can be important if you have timely content or if you’ve made an important change to a page you need Google to know about.
One of the top reasons I use faster methods is when I’ve either optimized a critical page or I’ve adjusted the title and/or description to improve click-throughs and want to know specifically when they were picked up and displayed in the SERPs to know where the measurement of improvement starts.
In these instances there a few additional methods you can use:

1. XML Sitemaps

There are always XML sitemaps.
Basically, this is a sitemap that is submitted to Google via Search Console.
An XML sitemap gives search engines a list of all the pages on your site, as well as additional details about it such as when it was last modified.
Definitely recommended!
But when you need a page indexed immediately?
It’s not particularly reliable.

2. Fetch and Render

In Search Console (the old version, and presumably in the new version), you can “Fetch as Google”.
In the left navigation, simply click Crawl > Fetch as Google.
Enter the URL you want indexed, then click Fetch.
After it’s fetched your URL you’ll be presented with the option to “Request Indexing.”

Fetch And Render

Click the button.
Generally within a few seconds to a few minutes you can search the new content or URL in Google and find the change or new content picked up.

3. Submit URL to Google

Too lazy to log into Search Console or want your shiny new content on a third party site to get picked up quickly?
Just Google it.
Simply Google [submit URL to Google] and you’ll be presented with a URL submission field:
Submit URL To Google
It seems to work about as quickly as going through the Search Console.
To be fair, you can do the same with Bing here.

4. Google Plus

You know there had to be some reason to use it right?
Posting a new URL into Google Plus will see it indexed in seconds.
Google has to fetch the URL to pull the images, description, etc. and in doing so discovers it if it wasn’t already known.
This is probably the second faster way to get content indexed by Google.
The fastest (and often least doable) way is…

5. Host Your Content On Google

Crawling sites to index them is a time and resource consuming process.
One alternative is to host your content directly with them.
This can be done a few different ways but most of us (myself included) have not adopted the technologies or approaches required and Google hasn’t pushed us to them.
We’re seeing the ability to give Google direct access to our content via XML feeds, APIs, etc. and unplug our content from our design.
Firebase, Google’s mobile app platform, gives Google direct access to the app content, bypassing any need to figure out how to crawl it.
This is the future – enabling Google to index content immediately, without effort, so it can then serve it in the format most usable based on the accessing technology.
While we aren’t quite where we need to be in our technologies to stress too much about this side of things, just know it is coming.
I cannot recommend enough following Cindy Krum’s Mobile Moxie blog, where she discusses these and mobile-related subjects in great detail and with great insight.
So – that’s almost everything what you need to know about indexing and how search engines do it (with an eye towards where things are going).

Crawl Budget

We can’t really talk about indexing without talking about crawl budget.
Basically, crawl budget is a term used to describe the amount of resources that Google will expend crawling a website.
The budget assigned is based on a combination of factors, the two central ones being:
  • How fast your server is (i.e., how much can Google crawl without degrading your user experience).
  • How important your site is.
If you run a major news site with constantly updating content that search engine users will want to be aware of your site will get crawled frequently (dare I say … constantly).
If you run a small barber shop, have a couple dozen links, and rightfully are not deemed important in this context (you may be an important barber in the area but you’re not important when it comes to crawl budget) then the budget will be low.
You can read more about crawl budgets and how they’re determined in Google’s explanation here.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Google’s John Mueller Reveals New Details About Mobile-First Index

Google’s John Mueller Reveals New Details About Mobile-First Index

Google’s John Mueller announced several new pieces of information about the mobile-first index at SMX Munich this morning.
SEJ team members Brent Csutoras and Vahan Petrosyan were in attendance and passed along all the key details. Here’s what you need to know.

Google will notify users when a site is moved to the mobile first index

Contrary to what has been stated in the past, Google does intend to notify webmasters via Search Console when a site has been moved to the mobile-first index.
Google has already started moving sites to the new index, so presumably the messaging is still being worked on because no one has been notified yet. However, you can look for the following signals which may confirm whether your site has been moved:
  • An increase in activity from the mobile version of Googlebot
  • A noticeable drop-off in desktop traffic
It doesn’t sound like the decrease in desktop traffic should be a cause for concern. Mueller says no one has noticed that a significant number of sites have been moved to the mobile-first index. This could be an indication that the loss of traffic is negligible.
In addition to sending direct messages, an annotation will be added to Search Console reports indicating when the site was moved to the new index. That way site owners will be able to easily compare data before and after the switch.

Still moving individual sites that are “ready”

Google intends to continue moving individual sites to the mobile-first index that are the most ready for it.
To understand what Google means by “ready,” look at what’s working in mobile search right now. A site that is optimized for mobile search will be ready for the mobile-first index. Responsive and AMP content is preferred.

Markup on mobile sites is important

Mueller emphasized that markup on mobile sites will be important going forward, because Google will no longer be referencing the desktop version of a site.
This was mentioned because developers and/or site owners will sometimes choose to not include the same markup on the mobile version of a site as the desktop version. For example, they may believe alt tags are not important on mobile because you can’t hover a cursor over an image like you can on desktop.
When there is both a mobile and desktop version of a site, include the same markup on both versions to ensure Google is able to see it.

A good desktop site is better than a bad mobile site

Still not ready for mobile-first? Now is not the time to panic and crank out a mediocre mobile site. Mueller says if you have a good desktop site, stick with it for now until you have a quality mobile-friendly site ready.
Remember, relevancy supersedes everything. If your content is highly relevant to an individual query, it may still be surfaced in the new index even if it’s not on a mobile-friendly site.
See below for a selection of slides from this morning’s keynote presentation.
Google’s steps to mobile indexing
How Google determines whether a site is ready for the mobile-first index
Are you fully ready? Or maybe ready?
Google’s next steps
Specific notes for separate mobile sites
Track mobile indexing with this PHP code
For further consideration

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

advanced PPC features
Google AdWords is a highly effective marketing channel for brands to engage with customers.
The auction-based pay-per-click (PPC) model has revolutionized the advertising industry, but beneath the seductive simplicity of this input-output relationship lies a highly sophisticated technology.
Within this article, we round up five advanced features that can help you gain that vital competitive advantage.

Google AdWords has undergone a host of changes over the past 12 months, some cosmetic and some functional. Google’s prime revenue-driver has a new, intuitive look and feel that makes it even easier for marketers to assess performance and spot new opportunities.New-Adwords-InterfaceUnder the hood, AdWords is home to some increasingly sophisticated machine learning technology. Everything from bid adjustments to audience behavior and even search intent is now anlyzed by machine learning algorithms to improve ad targeting and performance.
All of this is changing how we run search campaigns, largely for the better.
Meanwhile, there are broad trends that continue to converge with search. Voice-activated digital assistants, visual search, and the ongoing growth of ecommerce all center around Google’s search engine.
At the intersection of Google and these emerging trends, paid search will evolve and new ways to reach audiences will arise.
Though this future-gazing reveals just how exciting the industry is, marketers also need to keep one eye firmly on the present.
As it stands, AdWords provides a vast array of features, all of which can impact campaign performance. Though automation is taking over more aspects of the day-to-day running of an account, there is arguably more need than ever before for seasoned paid search experts how know how to get the most out of the platform.
Below are five advanced AdWords features that can boost any PPC campaign.

Demographic targeting

For all of AdWords’ virtues, it has not been able to rival Facebook in terms of sheer quantity of demographic targeting options.
As part of Google’s ongoing shift from a keyword focus to a customer-centric approach, demographic targeting has improved very significantly.
This feature now allows advertisers to target customers by income and parental status, along with gender and age. Targeting by income is only available for video advertising and is restricted to the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand for the moment.
Nonetheless, this is a noteworthy update and provides an advanced feature that many brand will welcome.
The available options now include:
Demographic targeting for Search, Display or Video campaigns:
  • Age: “18-24,” “25-34,” “35-44,” “45-54,” “55-64,” “65 or more,” and “Unknown”
  • Gender: “Female,” “Male,” and “Unknown”
Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:
  • Parental status: “Parent,” “Not a parent,” and “Unknown”
Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:
  • Household income (currently available in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand only): “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”
Combined with the improved user interface, this can lead to some illuminating reports that highlight more detail about audiences than we have ever seen in this platform.
It’s not perfect yet and has some drawbacks in practice, as creating audiences can be quite labor-intensive when combining different filters. Nonetheless, demographic targeting is improving and will be an area of focus for Google this year.
Our previous article on demographic targeting goes into more detail on how to set this feature up.


A very natural byproduct of the increase in mobile searches has been an explosion in the number of calls attributed to paid search.
In fact, BIA/Kelsey projects that there will be 162 billion calls to businesses from smartphones by 2019.
Search forms a fundamental part of this brand-consumer relationship, so businesses are understandably keen to ensure they are set up to capitalize on such heightened demand.
Click-to-call can be an overlooked opportunity, as it does require a little bit of setup. If advertisers want to add call extensions, report specifically on this activity, and even schedule when these extensions appear, it is necessary to do this manually within AdWords.
Helpfully, it is now possible to enable call extensions across an account, simplfying what was once a cumbersome undertaking.
This is becoming an automated process in some aspects, whereby Google will identify landing pages that contain a phone number and generate call extensions using this information. However, some manual input will be required to get the most out of this feature.
Our step-by-step guide contains a range of handy tips for marketers who woud like to enable click-to-call campaigns.

Optimized ad rotation

Google made some very notable changes to its ad rotation settings in the second half of 2017.
In essence, ad rotation constantly tests different ad variations to find the optimal version for your audience and campaign KPIs.
Google’s machine learning technology is a natural fit for such a task, so it is no surprise that Google wants to take much of the ad rotation process out of the hands of advertisers and turn it into a slick, automated feature.
Perhaps this focus on the machine learning side of things has led advertisers to beleive that the process now requires no input from them.
A recent study by Marin Software across their very sizeable client base found that many ad groups contain fewer than three creatives:
Ad rotation
This is very significant, as Google recommends providing at least three ads in every ad group. Their official stance is, “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”
Creating a range of ads provides the resources Google needs to run statistically significant tests. No matter how sophisticated the machine learning algorithms are, with only one or two ads in each group there is very little they can do to improve performance.
There is a broader lesson to be taken here, beyond just getting the most out of this AdWords feature.
Even the most advanced technology requires the right quantity and quality of inputs. Although more and more elements of AdWords management can be automated, this doesn’t mean we can leave the machines to their own devices.
There are plentiful best practices that we still need to follow. Optimizing your ad rotation by including at least three ads in each group certainly counts as one of these.

Custom intent audiences

Google is clearly making a play for more of the traditionally ‘top of funnel’ marketing approaches.
The launch of more granular custom intent audiences with the Google Display Network is part of a wider strategy to take on the likes of Facebook by providing greater control over target audiences.
Google’s guidelines provide clear definition over how this recently launched feature works:
For Display campaigns, you can create a custom intent audience using in-market keywords – simply entering keywords and URLs related to products and services your ideal audience is researching across sites and apps.

In-market keywords (Display campaigns)

  • Enter keywords, URLs, apps or YouTube content to reach an online audience that’s actively researching a related product or service.
  • It’s best practice to add keywords and URLs (ideally 15 total) that fit a common theme to help AdWords understand your ideal audience.
  • Avoid entering URLs that require people to sign in, such as social media or email services.
  • Include keywords related to the products and services that this audience is researching; these will be used as the focal point for building the custom intent audience.

Custom intent audiences: Auto-created (Display campaigns)

To make finding the right people easy, Google uses machine learning technology to analyse your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.
For example, insights from existing campaigns may show that people who’ve visited a sporting goods website have also actively researched all-weather running shoes. AdWords may then auto-create a new ‘waterproof trail running shoes’ custom intent audience to simplify the process of reaching this niche segment of customers.
Once more, we see the addition of machine learning into a core Google product.
These automated audience lists are generated based on activity across all of your Google marketing channels, including YouTube and Universal App Campaigns, along with Search and the Google Display Network.
Although this does not yet provide the level of targeting that Facebook can offer, custom intent audiences do dramatically improve the product and they move Google closer to a truly customer-centric approach.
Sophisticated advertisers will find thata this advanced feature improves performance for both prospecting and remarketing.

Smart bidding

Smart bidding has some crossover with the other AdWords features on our list. In a nutshell, smart bidding uses machine learning to asses the relationships between a range of variables and improve performance through the AdWords auction.
It is capable of optimizing bids to ensure the best possible return on investment against the advertiser’s target KPIs. Smart bidding does this by looking at the context surrounding bids and isolating the factors that have historically led to specific outcomes. Based on this knowledge, it can automatically bid at the right level to hit the advertiser’s campaign targets.
These targets can be set based on a target CPA (cost per acquisition), ROAS (return on ad spend), or CPC (cost per click).
The latest option available to brands is named ‘maximize conversions’ and this will seek to gain the optial number of conversions (whatver those may be for the brand in question) against their set budge.
As we have noted already, these algorithms require substantial amounts of data, so this is a feature best used by this with an accrual of historical AdWords performance data.
Smart bidding is also not quite a ‘set and forget’ bidding strategy. Some marketers will still prefer the control of manual bidding and it would be fair to say that smart bidding levels the playing field somewhat across all advertisers.
Nonetheless, it is a hugely powerful AdWords feature and can create multiple account performance efficiencies.


Monday, March 19, 2018

How to Understand & Audit Your Bounce Rate

Understanding Bounce Rate & How to Audit It

Many people talk about how important it is to have a “low bounce rate.”
But bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics in digital marketing.
This article will explore the complexities of bounce rate and why it’s not as straightforward as you might think.
You’ll also learn how to audit your bounce rate and what you can do to improve website engagement.

What Is a Bounce?

The short and simple answer is: “A bounce is when a user enters your website on a particular page and leaves from that very same page without taking any other actions.”
But if only it were as simple as that. Let’s dig a little deeper.

How Is Bounce Rate Calculated?

First things first, we need to understand how we come up with this metric. There are three ways to look at it:
  • Page level Bounce Rate: Total number of bounces on a page (in a particular date range) divided by the total number of entrances (first pageview hit) on the page (in that same date range).
  • Sitewide Bounce Rate: Total number of bounces across all the pages on the website (in a particular date range) divided by the total number of entrances across all the pages on the website (in that same date range).
  • Segmented Bounce Rate: Total number of bounces across all the pages on a particular segment (selection of pages) of the website (in a particular date range) divided by the total number of entrances across all the pages on that segment of the website (in that same date range).
To put it simply, if I landed on your homepage and left without taking another action, that would produce a 100 percent bounce rate for my session.
If I landed and visited a second page, that would mean the bounce rate for that session was 0 percent.
The calculations above put that logic into practice at a larger scale.

Bounce Rate Isn’t What You Thought

However, it’s not only visiting a second page which brings bounce rate down.
Did you know that you can have a 0 percent bounce rate even if a user left after only visiting one page?
Yup, when setting up Events, you can make Google Analytics (GA) count any Event hit as an ‘Interaction’ and therefore reduce ‘Bounce Rate’ even if a user didn’t visit a second page of your website.
For example, if you had an Event on a particular element of a page (like playing a video), and set GA to count the Event as an ‘Interaction’, users could visit that one page where the video features, click play, and then leave from the same page (without navigating further).
But the bounce rate for that session would be 0 percent (even though the user didn’t actually move to a second page on your site).
This is known as ‘Adjusted Bounce Rate’ (when you adjust the default settings for the way Google Analytics handles Interactions).

Further Complications

So, it’s not as straightforward as saying “ has a bounce rate of 43 percent and has a bounce rate of 57 percent, therefore performs better.”
In actual fact, it may be that performs way better but has set up their Events as Non-Interaction Hits (and therefore even if the user plays the video, the bounce rate in a session like the one mentioned above would be 100 percent unless the user navigated to a second page).
On top of that, what use is there in measuring bounce rate for the whole website when you have lots of different templates, which are laid out and designed in different ways?
Your bounce rate for blog pages is going to be higher than the bounce rate for product pages or service pages and so on.
For example, Google says: “If you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.”

Traffic Source Makes a Big Difference

Bounce rate can be wildly different depending on the source of traffic.
For example, it’s likely that search traffic will produce a low bounce rate while social and display traffic might produce a high bounce rate.
So you also have to consider bounce rate on a channel level as well as on a page level.
Bounce rate from social and display is almost always higher than “inbound” channels for these reasons:
  • When a user is on social media looking through their news feed, they are (often) not actively looking for what we are promoting.
  • When a user sees a banner ad on another website, they are (often) not actively looking for what we are promoting.
However, for inbound channels like organic and paid search, it’s logical that the bounce rate is lower as these users are actively searching for what you are promoting.
So you capture their attention during the “doing” phase of their buyer’s journey (depending on the search term in question).

High Bounce Isn’t Always Bad

As Google mentioned (quoted above), high bounce rate is not always bad.
If you’re Googling [what’s on at the cinema…], then land on a website and have to dig through five pages of the site to find what’s showing, you’re having a bad experience and the cinema would see a 0 percent bounce rate on their website.
In this case, that’s misleading if you consider low bounce rate to be good.
Now, if you Google that same phrase, then find a page which gives you the answer and then exit from that very page, go to the cinema, and buy four tickets, you’re having a good experience.
The cinema is having an even better one by transacting four tickets, but they had a 100 percent bounce rate on their website for that particular session!
All that to say, all is not as it may seem with bounce rate. You need to analyze it at a much deeper level to fully understand if your bounce rate is “good” or “bad.”

Bounce Rate Isn’t Part of Google’s Ranking Algorithm

Don’t worry, despite the “professional opinion” of many SEO cowboys, bounce rate isn’t part of Google’s algorithm.
No, having a low bounce rate won’t give you “ranking benefits.”
Google has told us numerous times over the past decade.
Yes, Google likely uses some sort of engagement measurements in their algorithm, but it isn’t bounce rate from Google Analytics.
In fact, they don’t use any metrics from Google Analytics as we know them, as Googler Gary Illyes tweeted:

How Low Can Your Bounce Rate Go?

All that said, I must confess, 9 times out of 10, I would rather have a low bounce rate.
In most cases, it shows your marketing is effective and well-targeted and visitors are engaging with your content and want to know more.
But how can you change bounce rate and give visitors a better experience?
Read on and find out.

Bounce Rate Audit

Next time your boss or client asks you “why is my bounce rate so high?” – first, send them this article.
Second, conduct an in-depth bounce rate audit to understand what’s going on.
Here’s how I do it.

Set the Dates

Look at bounce rates on your website for a particular time period. Dig deep into different segments to see if one particular segment is higher than others.
Maybe there was a particular change you made to the website that had an influence on bounce rate.
Google Analytics will help you find out.

Compare Against Others in Your Industry

Check Google Analytics: Audience > Behaviour > Benchmarking > Channels.
Choose your vertical and compare the time period you’re interested in.
There you’ll see something like this and be able to get a good idea of how your website’s bounce rate performs by channel.
Analysing Bounce Rate Benchmarks

Analyze Your Bounce Rates by Channel

On that chart above you are looking at bounce rates by channel, but compared to other Google Analytics accounts (Properties) in your industry.
You can go deeper into this by looking at: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Click the ‘Comparison’ button on the right as shown below and filter by ‘Bounce Rate’ to see which Channels are above or below average.
Then, dig deeper into each one.
Compare Bounce Rates by Channel

Analyze Bounce Rate on a Page Level

On Google Analytics: Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages.
Then filter by highest bounce rate first by clicking the top of the bounce rate column.
Note: To ensure the data you’re mining is statistically significant, it’s worth filtering to only show data with Sessions greater than say 200 (or whatever number you deem suitable).
Otherwise, you’ll be looking at bounce rates on some pages with only one or two sessions, which doesn’t tell you anything.
You can do this using a Secondary Dimension as shown below: Include > Sessions > Greater than > 200.
Ensuring Data is Statistically Significant
Once you’ve done the above, do the same again per channel to get an even more rounded understanding of what kinds of content/source combinations produce the most or least engaged visits.

Something Fishy Going On?

Sometimes you’ll find pages which rank in search engines for terms that have more than one meaning.
For example, a recent one I discovered was a page on a website I manage which ranks first for the search term ‘Alang Alang’ (the name of a villa), but, Alang Alang is also the name of a film.
The villa page had a high bounce rate and one of the reasons for this is down to some of the visitors landing on that page actually looking for the film, not the villa.
By doing some keyword and competition research to see what kinds of results your target keywords produce, you can quickly understand if you have any pages that rank well for terms that could be intended for other topics.
When you identify such pages, you have three options:
  1. Completely change your keyword targeting.
  2. Remove the page from the SERPs.
  3. Overhaul your title and meta description so searchers know explicitly what the page is about before they click.

Connect the Dots

Now dig deeper into the data you’ve found by looking for patterns or reasons that one page or set of pages/source or set of sources has a higher or lower bounce rate.
Compile the information in an easy to read format and ping it to the powers that be and head for a congratulatory coffee.

How to Increase Website Engagement

Now you’ve figured out what’s going wrong, you’re all set to make some changes.
All of this depends on the findings of your study so not all of these points are relevant to every scenario, but this should be a good starting point.
  1. Design and user experience improvements.
  2. Conversion rate optimization.
  3. Improving calls to action.
  4. Better copywriting.
  5. Create outstanding content.
  6. Communicate special offers.
  7. Speed up page load time.
  8. Improve your targeting for paid advertising.
  9. Reassess your keyword targeting for SEO.
  10. Ensure landing page messages match targeting.
  11. Implement live chat to coach visitors to your goals.
  12. Focus more on marketing channels with low bounce.
  13. Weed out pages from your website which have a high bounce.
  14. Create certain events as “interaction” hits so things like playing a video result in Google Analytics classifying that as a none bounce even if the user didn’t visit a second page.
I personally don’t like to do point 14 as it can skew data to look better than it actually is to the untrained eye. But that’s up to you.


Hopefully you now understand why bounce rate isn’t simply “high” or “low.”
Bounce rate is much more complex and depends on so many factors.
Never assume anything. Do your research.
The moral of the story: don’t judge a book by its cover, for once you start turning pages you’ll discover a whole different story.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Google’s Top 5 SEO Tools

Google’s Top 5 SEO Tools

Chrome Lighthouse

Lighthouse is a “lite” version of a site review tool. It currently provides feedback on ten SEO metrics.  The Lighthouse SEO tool can also be downloaded and installed in Chrome as an extension  Lighthouse is limited in scope but it provides a snapshot of ten metrics that matter to Google.

Ten Metrics Chrome Lighthouse Currently Reports On:

  1. Viewport Meta Tag
  2. Title Element
  3. Meta Description
  4. HTTP Status Code
  5. Descriptive Text on Links
  6. Page Status for Successful Crawling & Indexing
  7. Validates Hreflang
  8. Validates rel=canonical
  9. Validates font legibility for mobile devices
  10. Checks if document avoids browser plugins for viewing

Why You Should Use Lighthouse SEO Tool

It’s easy to dismiss Chrome Lighthouse as a lightweight site review tool. I won’t deny it, Lighthouse is a lightweight site review tool. But, it’s an important site review tool because it represents Google’s opinion of ten metrics you should be looking at. If Google feels that these metrics are important, then you should too.


This site auditing tool offers two metrics:
  1. Estimated loading time on a 3G mobile network
  2. Estimated visitor loss due to poor loading time.
This is a good tool for obtaining a quick snapshot of the speed health of a website. It’s a good starting point metric.
The tool also offers to email a full report containing suggestions for speeding up your specific web page. But it also requires signing up for a newsletter.

Why You Should Use TestMySite

You can obtain the same information by using the Page Speed Insights too. Nevertheless, the TestMySite tool is a great shortcut for getting a thumbnail overview of a web page’s speed. If you want granular details about what needs fixing, then head over to Google’s Page Speed Insights.

Page Speed Insights

This online tool provides a score and offers specific tips for speeding up a web page. It tells you which scripts and style sheets are slowing down your site, which images are too big, and offers many other tips for speeding up your web pages.

Why You Should Use Page Speed Insights

Page Speed Insights not only offers useful solutions for hidden technical issues impacting page speed. It is also a resource for learning what those issues are. Each highlighted issue links to a Google Developers page that offers in depth information.

Safe Browsing Test

This tool tests if there is any malware on a site. However… an interesting thing about this tool is that it also reveals the last date a site was tested. I don’t know what the criteria is for how often a site is tested. Some sites are tested more often than others.

Presumably the last date of testing is based on some metric of importance. I suspect it may have something to do with how often a site is updated which in turn may influence how often a site is crawled.

Why You Should Use the Safe Browsing Test Tool

I wouldn’t worry if your site hasn’t been updated lately and the date corresponds to the last time the site was updated.  But the tool does provide valuable information about whether it’s hosting malware and may give an indication of how often the site is updated and crawled.

Google Trends

Google Trends provides information about keyword popularity and also segments the information by time and geography.
The time segment can give you an idea of how seasons may affect keywords. It can also show you if a keyword is losing popularity. If you see a downward trend in a keyword, this could indicate that a product or trend is causing searchers to lose interest in that search.

Why You Should Use Google Trends

Google Trends is also important for competitive research. It shows you how often people are searching Google with a competitor’s brand name. The trend line by time will show you how steady this trend is, if it’s going up, down or steady.  Obviously, a competitor trend line that is trending down is good. A trend line that is trending up is bad. A trend line that is steady (the most common) means a competitor is doing well and you’ll have to identify their weaknesses and make those your strengths- among many considerations.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to Rank Your Mobile App and Increase Visibility

How to Rank Your Mobile App and Increase Visibility
Retail products that have popular mobile applications are really benefiting from the prominent visibility of mobile apps in the organic search results of Google. Along with the brand site listings, social profile, and local listings, searchers are beginning to see the links to the Android, iPad, and iPhone app profile pages of these brands, right on Google's first page. The URL pages of these apps are presenting powerful opportunities to occupy the first page of Google SERPs for mobile and desktop searchers.
App Popularity Optimization via Organic Search
The opportunity is a product of the collision between mobile and desktop worlds. The increasing popularity of mobile applications is reshaping the link graph of the Web around the Android Market websites and App Store. It is not a surprise that apps with high popularity listed in the Android Market sites and App Store are driven by their rating quality and their download volume. But the profile pages of these applications and the directories are also web pages.
As search engines continue to rank, display, and index pages of apps for mobile users that are search-dominant, app-mania is also promoting geometric expansions of the links and popularity of these web pages, giving them more influence over Google organic search results. The popularity of App Store gets rewarded by the increase in Google visibility. The higher Google visibility an app as, the more download it induces. Increase in download results in an increase in the popularity app Store or Google Play Store.
This might not be good news for some mobile app development companies that have good mobile applications, but not among the most popular applications listed. This is sometimes due to poor SEO. But the truth is, this shows the urgency and opportunity for a mobile app development company to optimize the pages of their apps for organic search rankings, this will help increase the popularity of the app as well as other benefits.
Here some mobile application SEO tips to help you optimize your applications for the first page of Google rankings on queries of brands.
The name of the application doubles as the anchor text link in the Android Market and App Store. Using the name of your brand as a link, getting these websites to link to the profile page of your app, is vital for tapping into their very large equity of link. For instance, see eBay, Amazon, and Groupon, make sure you feature the name of your brand in the URL of the download page as well.
Link to the Profile Page of Your App from the Homepage and the Footer of Your Site
You should aim the equity of link of your most relevant and vital pages at the download pages of your app. A lot of brands tend to ignore these vital links. Consider developing a section dedicated to your application or a landing page to your applications with the feature, reviews, and screenshots, etc. But your application should also have links from the most relevant and vital pages of your website, and adhere to the rest of the tips here get your mobile app on the first page of Google organic search results when brand queries are made.
Include the Name of Your Brand in the Link Text That Leads to the Download Pages of Your App
A lot of brands and mobile app development companies make the SEO mistake of linking to the profile page of their application without adding the name of their brand or company, as in something like this "Download Android App" leaving no trace to the brand or company that owns the app. It is even worse in some cases, as some brands just link via the "Available on App/Android store" graphics. This is a great opportunity you can use to promote your brand or company, so use your anchor text wisely. Make sure the name of your brand is included in the link text that leads the download pages of your mobile application. You have to indicate that Android app page or App Store is all about your company or brand, for instance, "Get the "brand-named" App for Android" or "Download the "brand-name" iPhone app."
Create a QR link for the Download of the App from the Landing Page of Your Desktop Site
Create QR codes on your desktop site to give visitors quick access to your mobile application. The QR has to trigger the download of the app on the right device once the QR is scanned. Do not forget to compress the download link before you generate the QR. The URL pages of traditional Android and Apple Applications exceed 40 characters; this produces high-density QRs that can't scan when links are displayed in small sizes. To get the best result, make sure you compress your link or use a QR platform that will show the crawl requests of bot QR. QR will become a mobile SEO ranking signal in a couple of years to come. So it is better you start experimenting it now.
You Should Cross-Promote Your Mobile Application to Mobile Users, Bots, and Searchers
Here is how it works. You already have a lot of active mobile audience waiting for you to make it easier for them to find relevant mobile apps or your web pages. When Android, iPad, or iPhone browsers visit your website (mobile or desktop), you should make a link available at the top or footer of your homepage for them to download the right application made for their device (based on the platform of the device that landed on your page). Even if the pages of your site indexed in search engines adequately redirect searchers to the appropriate mobile page, you don't have to stop there. Make sure the new smartphone Googlebot of Google is crawling the links of the apps from your mobile pages also, using anchor text that is appropriately branded (not photos).
Android Play Store/Market app pages and App Store are new ranking opportunities that are powerful for mobile and desktop searchers. Media brands and retailers that have a lot of traffic, link networks, social popularity, or page content can easily use these SEO digital assets to influence the relevance of the profile page of an application, and they can also use it to influence the popularity of an application at the same time.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Google Images update: Captions added to images, pulled from the page title tag

To add more context to image results, Google will now display a caption with images in mobile Images search results.


Google Images search results continue to evolve — from the rollout of badges last summer to the related searches box this past December and the removal of the “view image” and “search by image” buttons last month. Google has been rapidly expanding visual search features.
Beginning today, Google Images results will now include captions for each image. The rollout is global and will be available for mobile browsers and the Google app (iOS and Android). The caption displayed with an image will be pulled from the title of the page that features the image.
As shown in the image below, the caption will be shown below the image and above the page URL.
Google Images: without captions / with captions
From the announcement:
This extra piece of information gives you more context so you can easily find out what the image is about and whether the website would contain more relevant content for your needs.
When asked if these titles might be rewritten by Google for display with images, a Google spokesperson said, “We use web titles right now, but we’re continually experimenting with ways to improve the experience.” I also asked if Google might at times use captions for the images from the publisher’s page instead of the title tag content and was advised, “Currently we use the web page’s title and nothing more.”
In discussing examples that, while they might be outliers, will likely exist, I inquired about relevancy between the page title tag and the image itself. I asked if quality issues (from the user perspective) arise from any disparity. I used a fictional example — say, there’s a page titled, “The best baby shoes ever” that includes pictures of baby shoes, but also a photo of the author’s Labrador retriever. A person searching “labrador retriever” and getting “The best baby shoes ever” title with the labrador image may assume there’s something wrong with the results.
In regard to this type of scenario, I asked whether any validation was being done between the evaluated content of the image and the content of the page title that would prevent the example above from being returned in a “labrador retriever” Google Images search. The spokesperson replied: “No changes to ranking for this launch. We already use a variety of signals from the landing page to help deliver the most relevant results possible for users.”



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Technical SEO: Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Be Technical

Technical SEO: Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Be Technical

A good SEO strategy should cover both on-page and technical SEO factors. Yet an SEMrush study found that a significant number of websites are still plagued with technical SEO issues.
It’s a best practice to regularly perform an in-depth technical SEO audit on your website to make sure that search engines are able to crawl and index your pages without a hitch.
Ruth Burr Reedy, director of strategy at UpBuild, emphasized the importance of investing in technical SEO now and for the long-term when she spoke recently at PeepCon 3.0 in Manila, Philippines.
According to Burr Reedy, here is why technical SEO matters, how to make sure your website’s technical SEO elements are on point, and what the future of technical SEO holds.

Why Focus on Technical SEO

“SEO is like accounting,” according to Burr Reedy. “For the complicated stuff, you should hire a professional.”
While search engines are getting better at crawling, indexing and understanding information, they are not perfect.
And if, for some reason, they have a hard time figuring out what your website is all about or if you have what searchers want, they’ll move on.
“Just create good content” doesn’t matter anymore if nobody can find or see it. Good website content should be complemented by a strong technical SEO foundation.
Getting SEO wrong can be bad for business so you have to make sure its technical aspects are spot on.

What Good Technical SEO Looks Like

These three elements of technical SEO should always be taken into consideration:
  • Performance.
  • Crawlability.
  • Indexation.


Site Speed
How fast should pages load?
“As fast as possible,” according to Burr Reedy.
Ideally, your pages should load under 2 seconds.
On top of that, you also want to check your website’s “waterfall” using or GTmetrix. These tools show you how your site comes together as it loads.
There are also other page speed metrics worth tracking and optimizing for, such as:
  • First Byte
  • First Paint
  • First Meaningful Paint
  • First Interactive
  • DOM Content Load
  • Page Load
  • Interactive
Code Bloat
Many sites have unnecessary, long-forgotten code that continues to exist.
With the help of Chrome Developer Tools, you can review, then remove, any unused CSS and JavaScript code.
Consider Implementing AMP
Also, consider implementing AMP and responsive design on your websites.
Burr Reedy said the AMP project exists because Google couldn’t wait for us to get our act together. Users need sites to load fast now.
BUT, don’t rest on your laurels once you’ve implemented it. AMP might eventually go away in the future.
Implement Responsive Design
Responsive design, on the other hand, makes user experience (UX) better on all devices so doing it for your website makes so much sense in the mobile-first era.
Don’t forget to test and use your site on different devices so you can spot and fix issues that can negatively impact UX.

Crawlability & Indexation

Crawl budget is the amount of time, money, and resources that Google is willing to spend on your site.
Gary Illyes, in a Google Webmaster Central Blog post, says there are various factors that can negatively affect crawl budget but mainly they are caused by “having many low-value-add URLs.”
Some examples of these include:
  • Facets, parameters, and session identifiers.
  • On-site duplicate content.
  • Infinite spaces (i.e., events calendars that go on 100 years into the future).
Regularly monitor the Index Coverage report and Crawl Stats in the new Google Search Console so you can easily spot and resolve indexing and crawling issues.
Ask your developers to give you server log files in order to analyze what Googlebot is doing on your site and what you need to improve on. Crawl tools such as Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl are useful in this area.
Also, try headless browsing if you want to know what the bots see when crawling your site.

The Future of Technical SEO

Now that Google is starting to rollout the mobile-first index and the modern web doesn’t always use a keyboard, a URL or even the Internet, the main idea we should remember is device-agnostic information.
There is a vast opportunity beyond the traditional concept of web search.
We need to be optimizing for device-agnostic information and ask ourselves: “How easy is it for my content to be extracted by search engines and displayed from device to device?”
Ranking for featured snippets is a good way to find out if your content passes the mark as they indicate that Google is successfully extracting data from your site.
Likewise, using semantic markup makes it easier for Google to interpret the content you’re publishing and figure out what they can do with it.

Making Technical SEO Work

To make technical SEO work, SEO professionals, developers, and designers must be on the same page.
  • SEO pros should know how to speak developer, understand the inner workings of a site, and learn about codes.
  • Developers should learn how to speak SEO and figure out how their code affects profitability.
  • Designers should understand UX. A beautifully designed website is useless without it.
The main goal of SEO is to earn money – improving user experience will help us achieve that.
Technical SEO is not the be-all, end-all of SEO. You need more to succeed but an on-point technical SEO makes everything else easier.


Monday, March 12, 2018

When to start using national SEO?

If you have been looking for ways to drive more customers to your business, then you have probably stumbled upon local SEO multiple times – and for a good reason.
Local SEO proves to be a cost-effective option for business owners who want to attract prospective customers in a particular area. But what if your business caters to a much wider audience? Or maybe you now have several branches across different locations? These cases call for a much-needed transition to national SEO.

Local vs National SEO: What’s the Difference?

As its name suggests, local SEO is geared toward businesses that offer products or services in a specific area. On the other hand, national SEO is used by businesses whose audience isn’t restricted to one location alone. Basically, the one you should choose primarily depends on your target market.
Although there’s a stark difference between the two, it’s worth noting that they share similarities as well. The basic principles of SEO can be seen in both strategies including content marketing and link building.

Should You Start the Transition?

The transition from local SEO to national SEO can prove to be time-consuming. But before you do anything, you must make sure that it’s the right choice for your business. SEO Resellers Canada warns that national SEO doesn’t fit the requirements of all businesses.
If you’re offering a localized service, then it doesn’t make any sense to veer off your local SEO strategy. Having multiple branches also doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make the switch. You can simply optimize your content based on the locations in which your business can be found.
Always ask yourself who you are trying to reach. If it’s a national audience, then national SEO proves to be the best option for your business. However, be prepared for the challenges that come with the transition.

The Challenges in National SEO

One of the biggest problems you might face is how difficult it is to rank for your target keywords. Coming from local SEO, you might be used to rank your pages without much effort. But since your target keywords are no longer location-based, expect the competition to be more challenging. It’s easier to rank for “best seafood restaurant in New York” than “best seafood restaurant” alone.
And if you plan on setting up an AdWords campaign, you should have deeper pockets. This is also because of the more competitive keywords.
When it comes to link building, focusing on local links alone wouldn’t do you any favors. It’s time to think bigger and start earning links from other sources. Of course, you still need to focus on high-quality and relevant links. Just try to pay more attention to link diversity since you are no longer trying to rank for local keywords.

Summing It Up

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether your business is ready to make the switch to national SEO. The idea of extending the reach of your business is exciting, but the process doesn’t come easy. But if you implement an effective strategy and stay consistent with it, you just might see your website attracting more visitors than ever sooner than you think.