Web Optimization

Best Internal Linking Structure & Strategy to Boost Your SEO

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It’s interesting for me to see that even experienced SEO specialists forget about the power of internal linking. As backlinks from other websites become harder and harder to obtain (because people focus on the wrong techniques), using an internal linking strategy with the right combination of anchor texts can bring great SEO results.

 

Best_Internal_Linking_Structure_to_Boost_Your_SEO

 

But what makes a good internal linking strategy? Well, the answer varies from site to site but, generally, it’s the foundation that matters. Build it right from the start and understand the basic concepts and you’ll be set for having a good internal linking structure forever.

 

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know, so keep reading!

 

What Is Internal Linking & Why Is It Important for SEO?
How Does Google Treat Internal Links?

Page Rank
Anchor Texts
Link Location / Position
Click Depth
URL Path
Broken Links & Orphan Pages

Types of Internal Links

Contextual links
Image Links
Navigational & Footer Links
JavaScript Links

Internal Linking Strategy

Blogs & Informational Sites
eCommerce & Other

Silos & Topic Clusters

 
What Is Internal Linking & Why Is It Important for SEO?

 

Internal links are just like backlinks, but within your own website. They are links that go from one page on a web domain to another page on the same domain. They are most commonly observed in navigation menus, sidebars and footers, but also within the article body.

 

Search Engines look at a lot of things when they are trying to determine which pages they should rank. One of the things it looks at are internal links.

 

website internal linking structure

 

Through internal linking your website vouches for your own pages. I know, it’s kind of narcissistic, but it’s really helpful for search engines and SEO!

 

If we go after the same rules as in off-page SEO, namely that a page with more backlinks is more valuable in the eyes of other sites, in on-page SEO a page with more internal links is more valuable in the eyes of your own website.

 

So if you said “My eyes are beautiful 252 times per day” and “My nose is beautiful 9 times per day” people would naturally figure out that you REALLY like your eyes and that they’re very important to you.

 

But enough about how pretty I am, let’s get back to serious stuff!

 
How Does Google Treat Internal Links?

 

Generally, it’s enough to just do internal linking in order to benefit from it. That’s because many people ignore it completely! However, it’s important to understand exactly how Google treats internal links if you really want to take advantage of them.

 
Page Rank

 

PageRank, although it sounds ancient, is still used. So when you link to a page from another page, be it internally or externally, you pass PageRank. It’s Google’s score for… ranking pages (actually, I think Larry Page really wanted his name in one of the algorithms).

 

Larry Page (Google co-founder). Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

When you add more than one link, the PageRank splits evenly. This means that if, hypothetically, the PR score was 100 and you added 3 external links, each would get a score of 33.3.

 

The way Page Rank works has changed over time. Normally, a while ago, people would ‘sculpt’ Page Rank by using rel=”nofollow” tags. This meant that you could link to 50 pages but only follow one link to pass the entire equity to it. However, when you use a nofollow tag today, that PageRank will vanish, so you won’t win anything.

 

The PR algorithm is complicate, but it’s important to understand that it doesn’t only apply to backlinks, but also to internal links.

 
Anchor Texts

 

In one of my last articles I mentioned how you can create really strong pages by linking them in boilerplate content.

 

However, as Nikola Roza mentioned in a comment, you should take note that only the first link’s anchor text is taken into account by Google.

 

This is very important when thinking your internal linking structure, especially if you’re trying to rank for multiple keywords.

 

For example, it doesn’t really matter that I link to the domain analysis tool under a different anchor text now, because the navigation already links to it under the anchor text “Site Explorer” in the navigation section.

 

internal links in navigation menu

 

Don’t take this assumption for granted though! Many tests have been made and Google officials ‘kinda confirmed this, but as of today we aren’t really sure if that’s still the case.

 

In SEO, things might change over time. The truth is that it’s hard to believe Google only takes the first anchor text into account, especially because Google keeps endorsing the contextual links found in the body. However, it’s safer to assume at this point that the first link is the one that matters, so make sure you use the most valuable anchor text if you plan on adding important pages to your Navigation.

 

Quick Tip 1: If you want to avoid that, you can just link to a general services page (without any drop-downs to separate services) where you can then list each service and link to its specific page.

 

Quick Tip 2: If you do link to your important pages in the navigation section, consider diversifying your off-site links (backlinks) anchor texts in order to target multiple phrases. So if you secure a guest post, don’t link back to your article always using the same anchor text as in the navigation (although you should use it from time to time as well).

 

If you want to check your internal links’ anchor text distribution, the CognitiveSEO Site Audit makes it really easy. Just go to the Site Architecture section > Linking Structure and then go to Anchor Text Distribution. Make sure to view the Internal Links.

 

internal linking anchor text 

 
Link Location / Position

 

Google treats links differently depending on where they are located on the website. From what we know, Google values contextual links in the body of the page more.

 

It’s also important that the link is positioned higher in the content (but not necessarily in the Header section).

 
Click Depth

 

What also matters when you interlink between your pages is the click depth. If a page is only found 27 level deep in your website, there are big chances that Google will consider it less important.

 

The Site Audit makes it really easy for you to see the click depth of your pages in order to spot non-prioritized important pages.

 

click depth internal linking

 

In our case, those are mostly blog pages number 8, which are found 9 clicks away from the homepage. This is normal and those pages aren’t actually important. However, if we found an article there, it means that we probably should interlink it more so that Google can pick it up faster from more recent posts.

 
URL Path

 

A thing that can also help you build a good interlinking strategy is your site URL path structure. We know that shorter URLs tend to rank better in Google.

 

However, when stuffing all the URLs immediately after the root domain, it’s harder to see the bigger picture when you’re trying to segment sections of your website.

 

Having a root only URL structure might work well for a blog, but having a hierarchy in your URL path might be more helpful for an eCommerce site.

 
Broken Links & Orphan Pages

 

A very important thing regarding your internal linking structure is taking care of your broken links & orphan pages.

 

Broken Links are actually 404 pages. They can be easily fixed by replacing them or by using 301 redirects. The CognitiveSEO Site Audit makes it easy to identify your broken links and resources:

 

Broken Links Internal Linking

 

Google doesn’t like broken links & pages because it sends users to an unsatisfying location.

 

Oprhan Pages are pages that aren’t linked to from anywhere in the site. The CognitiveSEO Tools can also help you find some orphan pages:

 

orphan pages seo interlinking

 

However, the truth is that it’s impossible to identify all orphan pages on a site because… there are no links to them. Usually, there might sometimes be backlinks to them pointing to other sites (but no internal links) or they might be in the sitemap but not in the site structure. 

 
Types of Internal Links

 

There are multiple types of internal links that you can use when improving your interlinking structure.

 
Contextual Links

 

Contextual links are the most important ones. They are hyperlinks found in a <a> tag which wraps around a relevant anchor text.

 

So in HTML it would look like this: <a href=”https://cognitiveseo.com”>SEO Tools</a> and in the article itself it would look like this: SEO Tools.

 

When using contextual links to interlink between your articles, make sure you include keywords in your anchors, to tell Google what the link is about. However, don’t use that as your main focus. The purpose of a link is to be clicked on! Try to get the user to click your link.

 
Image Links

 

Image links are pretty simple to understand. You click an image it’s’ going to take you to a link. Here’s an example. Click it and it will take you somewhere nice.

 

cognitiveSEO talks podcast

 

The general consensus is that contextual links have greater value than image links. I agree. I rarely click on images to go to another article or read about something. I actually expect the image to enlarge if I’m clicking it so that I may view it better.

 

However, despite being less valuable, image links hide an important technique which you can take advantage of!

 

You see, the problem with contextual links is that you can’t really use the anchor texts exactly as you want. Sometimes, the queries people use don’t have verbs or don’t really make sense. Or the keyword you want to target might simply not fit in your sentence.

 

Well, in case you can’t fit your desired anchor text anywhere in your content, you can definitely use the keyword in the image alt tag, which will be viewed as an anchor text. This is also a good way of adding hard to write keywords into your content, even without links.

 

I’m not necessarily recommending image links and definitely not recommending exploiting alt tags. Try to keep things useful and relevant.

 

However, keep in mind that blind people might get a bad experience because content readers often use image alt tags to describe an image. You can save your soul by at least describing the image in the image title tag, which content readers might also pick up.

 
Navigational & Footer Links

 

Navigational links mainly refer to the structure of the site, since they are kept within lists (<ul> & <li> tags). Make sure you structure you site.

 

Regarding footer links, the main rule would be not to spam too much. People have a bad habit of doing that.

 

Also, footer links don’t always have to be the same on every page! Kayak.com uses footer links to its advantage in the car rental section. You can see some cities in the following screenshot. However, those will change depending on the page the user is viewing, to show only the closest or most relevant cities.

 

footer links

 

The same criterion goes for the sidebars. Use them to your advantage, but don’t abuse spamming all your categories in there. Only the most important ones or the most relevant to the current page the user is viewing.

 
JavaScript Links

 

Google is improving everyday. It can render JavaScript, however it’s a better idea to display the HTML in order to make sure your content is well understood.

 

However, when it comes to links, Google has made it clear that it won’t follow JavaScript links. So if you want, you can try to use them instead of adding the rel=”nofollow” tag. It’s safer to keep your links in a classic A tag.

 

If you like to live your life on the edge… you might think it’s a way of bypassing the “first link priority”. Well… I haven’t tested this so I can’t say for sure, but what I know is that links placed after a nofollow link to the same page will be ignored as well. Also, it’s sneaky and can get you into trouble. 

 
Internal Linking Strategy

 

Developing a long term interlinking strategy is important because as your site grows, you have to make sure Google is able to find the pages easily.

 

The best internal linking strategy is to do internal linking.

 

Note that the following statement applies generally, not only for blogs and informational sites. It’s a foundation for any other strategy.

 

However, there are more specific cases in which different strategies work better. These are actually entire topics for other articles, but I’ll touch them briefly.

 
Blogs & Informational Sites

 

After following the boilerplate content tips mentioned above, the rest is pretty simple:

 

When you write new articles, always link to old ones. After you finish writing new ones, edit old ones and link to the new one.

 

Interlink between articles only when relevant and remember to use the proper anchor text.

 

The secret here is to create a habit of doing this. Without a habit, you’re always going to be frustrated. The truth is I don’t always edit old articles to interlink to the new ones I post, but I remember to do it when I update old articles, as it’s a habit.

 
eCommerce & Other

 

When your site is big and it has thousands of pages, things aren’t that easy. You can’t add all the pages in the Navigation.

 

A good strategy I always recommend for eCommerce website (which few actually do) is having a blog. This will not only enable the site to target more keywords as more content gets published, but it also opens the opportunity to link to subcategories product pages that don’t fit in the navigation as well.

 

Take advantage of Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are a great way of strengthening more important pages such as category pages. Why? Because each subcategory will link to its parent, but not to its child.

 

Considering the following pattern, you can see how the Category page is linked to 4 times, while the product page only one time. Naturally, I’ll assume that in most cases, the Category page is the most important page, targeting a broader and more competitive keyword, which is the main anchor text used in the internal linking strategy.

 

Home > Category > Subcategory > Sub Subcategory > Product
Home > Category > Subcategory > Sub Subcategory
Home > Category > Subcategory
Home > Category

 

Moreover, it’s very important to correctly implement canonical tags on your pages, because parameters & search filters also often create links which can leak if the canonical tag isn’t properly set.

 

Furthermore, consider using dynamic footer links depending on your categories instead of just using the same footer links on every page. Is the user on the Guitars page? Link to Effect Pedals in the footer. Is the user in the Drum Kits section? Link to Drum Sticks.

 

Having an internal linking strategy is crucial when you have a huge website, with hundreds of thousands of posts, products, categories and pages.

 

However, when your site is smaller, you shouldn’t stress too much over it.

 

If you have a small services website, internal linking shouldn’t really be an issue. Google will be able to crawl 25-50 pages pretty easily.

 

What you should focus on is developing a content strategy that will expand your website. Keep using the general rule of “just interlink”.

 
Silos & Topic Clusters

 

There’s one point I still want to touch in this article. There are two main ways of building sites. You can either structure them hierarchically (silo) or use topic clusters, which are very useful for informational sites and blogs.

 

A silo structure site looks something like this:

 

Home

Category

Subcategory
Subcategory
Subcategory

Category

Subcategory
Subcategory
Subcategory

etc.

 

This works really well for services websites & eCommerce sites. Then you have topic clusters which look something like this:

 

topic clusters and content hubs

 

With topic clusters, you need to write what is known as a pillar piece of content, such as “SEO Guide” which is then surrounded by other less important topics such as “keyword research” or “link building”.

 

In the picture above, the arrows should be bidirectional. So the “SEO Guide” will mention a little bit about every topic, but link to a more detailed content about that topic which also links back to the main SEO Guide, strengthening it. The cluster can repeat, so “Keyword Research” might be surrounded by its own set of topics and so on.

 

You can always combine both silo structure (for your services section) with topic clusters (for your blog section). 

 

And that wraps it up. The basics of internal linking, how it helps your site rank better and how to properly do it. How do you prefer to structure your site? Do you use internal linking to your SEO advantage? How? Let us know in the comments section, we’re curious to find out!

 

 

 

The post Best Internal Linking Structure & Strategy to Boost Your SEO appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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Web Optimization

eCommerce Faceted Navigation | How It Affects SEO & Google Search Results

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eCommerce navigation or faceted navigation in SEO. There are phrases the Gods of SEO themselves squint at when they hear them. Why? Because it involves duplicate content and very big sites. And we all know how difficult that is to fix.

 

The subject is hard to master and it comes with a lot of confusion on the side. Faceted search or filtered search? What is the difference between facets and filters? Which pages should I index? These are all questions webmasters ask themselves. So prepare for a ‘headachy’ journey as we’ll try to explain a couple of things in this article, such as the difference between filters and facets, which pages you should and shouldn’t index and best practices for different scenarios.

 

eCommerce_Navigation

 

Hopefully, by the end of this article you’ll have understood everything you need to know about how to set up facets for eCommerce websites and how to manage your URL parameters for best SEO results and Google rankings.

 

Beware: This article is about very advanced stuff and it will twist your brain a little. It can also twist your rankings, in a good way or in a bad way, depending on whether you implement modifications the right way. The best implementation depends on the website and it differs from one case to another. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s better to ask for an expert’s opinion!

 

Faceted Search vs. Filtered Search: What Is the Difference Between Search and Filters?
Faceted Search Problems & Challenges
How Google Handles URL Parameters & How It Affects SEO
Which URL Parameters to Index & Which Ones to Not
How to Fix Faceted Search Issues & Have a Good Navigation Structure

 
1. Faceted Search vs. Filtered Search:
What Is the Difference Between Search and Filters?

 

It took me myself a long time to figure out this difference. Why? Because I didn’t know what facet means. And I’m not talking about its meaning in eComm, I’m talking about its meaning in general.

 

So let’s start with that:

 

A facet is one side of a many-sided thing. Like a gem or a dice. We can also say it’s a particular aspect or feature of something.

 

Ok, so what does that have to do with filters and search?

 

Well, in eCommerce, the products of a website are usually split into categories. Sometimes, that’s enough to be able to browse it. However, in cases where there are very many products, it might not be enough.

 

In order to be able to browse the website efficiently, you’ll have to be able to sort those products according to different attributes. You know, like size, color, weight, etc.

 

To see only results that match certain criteria, you have to apply something which is known as a filter. A filter can include items that only contain the specified attribute, or it can exclude items that don’t.

 

Ok, so what does that have to do with facets?

 

Well, when you apply a filter, you can call each result page returned a facet of the category you’re currently browsing. 

 

There are many websites that try to explain the difference between filters and facets. One explanation is that facets are unique pages and they are extensions to the category pages, while filters are just used to refine item listings.

 

While that’s true, one thing they seem to get wrong is that facets should be indexed and filters should not be indexed.

 

In the articles I’ve found (not going to give the names, though) the writers used the following example:

 

Dresses

Going out
Evening
View all

Filter by

Shipping
Size
Price

Brand

Brand A
Brand B
Brand C

 

The writers argued that Dresses and Brands are Facets, therefore they should be indexed, while Shipping, Size and Price are filters and should not be indexed.

 

My counterargument is: What if a lady searches for “evening dresses size M under 400$”?

 

Now this might be far fetched, but it can very well be the case! The best example I personally know is in the used car industry. People search a lot for things like “used cars under xxx”.

 

In the following example you can clearly see that Google auto-suggests these types of results:

 

Google faceted search keywords

 

So we can clearly see that people search for these keywords. Let’s do a search for “used cars under 10000” and see what results we get:

 

filters vs facets in search and seo

 

Hmm… interesting. It seems like Google is returning an answer box for this result. This is cool! I can click on More items to get to Carmax.com.

 

I’ve highlighted the URL above to show which site is ranking in the answer box. Carmax is also ranking #1 so it has multiple positions on Google.

 

But wait! Is that a URL parameter? Could it be a filter for price? It sure looks like it. Let’s check out the site.

 

price filter facet indexed in google for seo

 

It’s seems they consider it a filter! Had Carmax taken the advice above and used a noindex tag on their price filters, they wouldn’t be ranking #1 right now and we would not have landed on their page.

 

Good thing they didn’t do that. Actually, Carmax does a pretty good job at telling Google which pages it actually wants indexed and which it doesn’t. We’ll use it more as an example.

 

So the difference between filters & facets is that facets are a result of filtering products. You use filters and they generate facets.

 

While the definition of facets in search is “sorting by multiple dimensions simultaneously”, which actually means using multiple filters, I like to define facets as the pages that result from filtering a search.

 

In my opinion, it’s not about having one filter or multiple filters. I can have a single filter: it will still create a facet. This way, it’s very easy to differentiate between them.

 

For example, I can apply a single sorting filter, by price, which will create a facet. The problem, however, is that the facet isn’t unique! And that’s when Google has a problem with it.

 
2. Faceted Search Problems & Challenges

 

Faceted navigation and search are great. They help you find exactly what you need pretty easily. In the following video you can see how you can take advantage of faceted search to filter out exactly the books you might want to read, from over hundreds of thousands of results to only 7.

 

 

Ideally, the site shouldn’t create these types of pages at all. Sure, we might think it’s mostly bad for search engines but useful for users.

 

However, search engines try to favor the user. If you think about it, how good would a user’s experience be if you kept showing them the same products every time they apply a new filter?

 

Or how good is it for them if no products are shown? For example, if you don’t have any products Size M, should you show that size as being available?

 

The problem with faceted navigation search is that it can cause duplicate content issues. And with facets, the number of pages grows exponentially.

 

Hypothetically, let’s say you have two filters in a book store:

 

Fiction
Historical

 

If we were to combine them, you’d probably say that there are 3 possible options:

 

Only Fiction
Only Historical
Both Historical & Fiction

 

However, there is a 4th option: it’s Both Fiction & Historical.

 

So if you have 5 attributes (color, size, weight…), each containing about 5-10 variables (red, green, M, S, 10kg, 20kg…) you would have to multiply the variables to get the total amount of possible facets that can be generated.

 

If we have 15 colors, 10 sizes we already have 150 possible combinations. Add another 3 types of material and we end up with 450 combinations. Sort that by 8 different brands and we already have 3,600 products which is exactly the number of seconds there are in an hour… the Illuminati must be on me.

 

Exponential Duplicate Content Growth

How fast facets can create duplicate content.

 

You get the point, too many filters, too many facets, too many URLs with duplicate content.

 

But aren’t those pages the same? I mean… both 1+2 and 2+1 equal 3, right? Well, while users might find those pages as being the same, search engines don’t! Why? Because of URLs.

 
3. How Google Handles URL Parameters & How It Affects SEO

 

Depending on which order the users choose to select the filters of a facet, some platforms generate different URLs for the same content. This is usually done using parameters.

 

Google treats URLs with parameters as separate pages, not an extension of the root URL, unless a canonical tag is specified.

 

So, in Google’s eyes, domain.com/books?filter=historical&fiction and domain.com/books?filter=fiction&historical are separate pages with duplicate content.

 

This is an issue because one of the pages doesn’t provide any extra value to the user.

 

Google doesn’t like duplicate content because it doesn’t provide much value to the users.

 

If you already have a page covering a set of products, why would you have a second page covering the exact same set? Why would Google want to display the exact same thing from the exact same website twice?

 

Sure, that happens, but Google is always trying to fix it. For example, Mihai Aperghis from Vertify notified John of some issues that kept appearing in the search results in Romania. After not much time, Dan Sullivan announced that they’re working on a diversity change. Sure, these two things might be unrelated, but it sure seems like a big coincidence.

 

There are ways to fix that. For example, you can use a canonical tag from one version to another to tell Google which is the original version that should be indexed and ranked. But Google sees canonical tags as recommendations, not as absolute rules, so it might ignore them!

 

However, there is another issue that content duplication creates, which won’t be fixed by adding canonical tags: Burning through Crawl Budget.

 

burning through google crawl budget seo

How facets can burn through & create a wasting of Crawl Budget.

 

When Google crawls your site, it allocates a certain budget for how many pages it will crawl, depending on certain factors, such as how popular your site is, how much traffic it gets how big it is and how relevant it is.

 

If you’re wasting that budget on pages that will anyway perform poorly because they don’t provide any value, important pages that are unique and relevant might not get crawled, losing the chance to rank higher.

 

That’s why it’s important to address these issues and make sure you don’t index irrelevant pages. But which parameters and facets should you index and which should you not? How do you deal with these problems? And why do some sites, like Amazon, index everything and do so well?

 
4. Which URL Parameters to Index & Which Ones to Not

 

Deciding which pages you should let Google index and which pages you shouldn’t is important for best SEO performance.

 

If you’re thinking about indexing ‘facets’ but not indexing ‘filters’ think again. Indexation has nothing to do with those things, but with search intent, volume and product supply.

 

World renowned SEO expert Aleyda Solis explains this very well in the following video of her SEO lessons series Crawling Mondays:

 

 

If your site has many pages, then you should only let Google index the ones that either:

 

Have enough demand: These pages should actively target a specific keyword or set of keywords that has a search demand. If users don’t search for it or never reach that page through organic search (you don’t see any impressions or clicks for it in Google Search Console) then maybe it’s a better idea not to index them.
Have enough supply: These pages should not result in empty pages. If you only have 1-2 products or none at all in the facet while other facets provide 10-20 results, then maybe it’s a better idea not to index it. 
Are unique in the most part: These pages should not be very similar. Sure, there will be similarities, but if applying a second or third filter only results in a 5-10% difference, then maybe it’s better to not index those pages. This usually is also related to supply. Not enough products might lead to duplicate results.

 

That’s exactly why Amazon is doing so well, even though they are indexing all their pages. It’s because they have such a big supply of products that most of their facets have enough uniqueness to not be considered duplicate.

 

Sure, some are probably identical but, for example, even after filtering by 7-8 different dimensions I still get about 7 results, which is great.

 

Amazon Faceted Search

 

Amazon is also a very popular site with high amounts of traffic going to it each day, which means Google will allocate more crawl budget for it that it will allocate for a smaller eCommerce site.

 

But for smaller sites, this might not always be the case. So you want to follow the best practices for best results.

 
5. How to Fix Faceted Search Issues & Have a Good Navigation Structure

 

Fixing a complex duplicate content issue might require both time and budget. It’s not easy to manage hundreds of thousands of pages.

 

Here are Google’s official tips on faceted navigation pages. However, Google gives more specific examples on how things should look, but not on how to implement them.

 

There’s a very big difference between the effects of 301 redirects, canonical tags, noindexing and disallowing pages entirely in Robots.txt.

 

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how to implement things, because this can differ from one case to another. However, I can outline the best practices and give you a hint on how implementation could be done.

 

But the first thing you have to do is create a spreadsheet of your categories, subcategories and filters. Then you should do an extensive keyword research and map keyword clusters to the categories and filters.

 

Did You Know

To have a general idea of which facets you should index and which not, you need to perform an in-depth keyword research. You can use tools like the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool or even the Google Search Console to find keywords. Along with other keyword ideas, the tool will give you great keyword insights, such as the volume of the search, their relevancy, the cost per click, etc. 

 

 

The quickest solution would be to not have any filters at all. Just use category pages with enough demand & supply. If you don’t have many products, not having filters might work for you. Simply create categories for the keywords that users search for and add products in multiple categories.

 

A nicely implemented example comes from FilmJackets, a site that sells leather jackets.

 

No filters no facets

 

It only took me a couple of scrolls on a desktop to see all the jackets, although on a mobile device that might be harder. Anyway, the site’s design is visually oriented, which makes me want to see all the jackets to see which design I like.

 

However, if they had had a lot more products and a bigger variety (such as multiple materials), filters might have been useful. The user is also led to believe that the store has all the sizes and colors in stock, as that type of filtering is made on the product page, right before placing the order.

 

But overall, the user experience with the current amount of products should be good. It’s a simple solution for a smaller eCommerce website and it is elegantly implemented on this website.

 

If you’re a big site, then you have multiple options of dealing with the problem, depending on your platform’s possibilities. Serge Stefoglo from Distilled.net did a great post on Moz showcasing the effects of different methods that deal with/fix duplicate content.

 

Duplicate content & Facets Fixes for eCommerce

 

So, the best fix seems like a JavaScript setup. But what does that mean? And how can it be implemented? Well, this is up to your development team. 

 

Eric Enge from StoneTemple tells us how Ajax and jQuery work together to fix faceted navigation duplicate content issues.

 

Javascript Ajax fixes duplicate content

 

Carmax, our previous example, uses a similar JavaScript technique to generate its filtered pages. It’s not identical but it uses JavaScript to direct users to the facets. This means that Google won’t see those links when crawling the pages, so they can’t burn through crawl budget.

 

JS Faceted Search

 

However, this can lead to another problem. Faceted pages can’t be found by search engines anymore! That’s because the JS doesn’t generate <a> tags in the HTML anymore, so Google’s crawler might have a hard time getting to the important pages.

 

When using AJAX and JavaScript for your facets, you have to make sure your important links can be easily crawled by Search Engines.

 

Carmax does this flawlessly, by stating its most important facets near the Homepage, at just 1 click away on their cars page. There are also some footer links to different locations on category or facet pages.

 

Crawlable links for Google

 

With this implementation, Google won’t have to crawl millions of possible combinations and it will still find the most important facets the site wants indexed. The same result can be obtained with a sitemap, but it’s better if you have a direct crawl path to them.

 

But what if someone links to those pages? Can they still get indexed? Yes. As long as they don’t have a noindex meta tag or are blocked in robots.txt, they can. But that’s not an issue because you can use canonical tags!

 

Pages can still get indexed if other websites link to them. Using canonical tags can help prevent duplicate content issues.

 

Carmax also takes advantage of canonical tags. For example, the page /cars?location=norcross+ga&price=10000 is canonicalized to /cars?price=10000&location=norcross+ga.

 

Ideally, the links should always be generated in the same order. For example, if I choose the order to be price, location, size, then even if the user selects location first and then price and size, the URL will still be generated in the initial order.

 

If you have a lot of pages, you want to focus on fixing the crawl budget issue. On the other side, if you have a lot of backlinks pointing to different filters of your pages, then you want to also pass link equity from external websites.

 

Start with canonical tags. These should be set up regardless if you then decide to index those pages or not.

 

Most pages should have a self referencing canonical, but if these pages are duplicate, then a canonical version is required.

 

Noindex and canonical tags will still be wasting your crawl budget, so if you can’t do a JavaScript implementation, you might want to block the pages from being crawled in robots.txt.

 

However, also take into account that using Robots.txt will dilute link equity, so make sure those pages don’t have internal links nor backlinks pointing to them.

 

A good way of doing this is by adding an extra parameter (noindex=1) to facets with more than 1 or 2 filters. Then you can add the following line:

Disallow: /*noindex=1

This way, any URL which contains the noindex=1 string will be blocked from crawling.

 

So for example, search by size will be:

site.com/category?size=m

Search by color will be:

site.com/category?color=black

Search by size and color will be:

site.com/category?size=m&color=black&noindex=1

 

However, keep in mind the supply and demand rule, if there are searches for “black category size m” then maybe you should not block those pages!

 

If your pages are already indexed and you want them to not get indexed and not burn crawl budget, you’ll first have to set up a noindex meta tag on the page and then add the pages to robots.txt.

 

Since robots.txt block crawling altogether, there’s no way for the search engine crawler to see the noindex meta tag!

 

So first, make sure you let the search engine find those pages to see the noindex meta tag, and after they’re removed from the index, you can add them to the robots.txt file to prevent them from burning the crawl budget.

 

Conclusion

 

Hopefully, you now have a better idea on which pages in your faceted search navigation menu you should index and which ones you should not.

 

You can use a JavaScript setup to prevent the links from being created as long as you ensure the most important ones which have demand and supply can be found by search engines.

 

You can also use robots.txt to disallow crawlers from accessing those URLs, saving up crawl budget. However, keep in mind that if you have or get backlinks to those pages, they won’t help your site anymore!

 

What’s your experience with faceted navigation search? Do you use JavaScript or do you use a mix of canonical tags, noindex meta tags and robots.txt? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post eCommerce Faceted Navigation | How It Affects SEO & Google Search Results appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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Web Optimization

When & Why Net-New Content Creation Makes Sense—And When It Doesn’t

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When New Content Creation Makes Sense

When New Content Creation Makes Sense

1996: The year content was named “king” in a burgeoning digital world.

2001: The year “content marketing” was officially coined and the modern content revolution began.

130 trillion and counting: The number of webpages currently indexed by Google.

One zillion infinities: The number of pieces of content you stand to create during your B2B content marketing career.

Zero: Perhaps the number of times you’ve asked yourself, “Do I really need to create a new piece of content?”

If the last one strikes a little too close to home, we’re not passing judgement — rather we’re reminding you that you don’t always have to start from scratch.

Consistent quality content creation comes with the territory; it’s an integral part of your B2B content marketing strategy. Content is how we reach, help, and educate our buyer audience. Furthermore, as buyers and buyer committees evolve, there’s always going to be a place for net-new creation.

But many times, refreshing, repurposing, and optimizing can play a major role in the creation process, and sometimes you may just need to stand down.
Do You Really Need a New Piece of Content? Yes. No. Maybe So.
If you need to fill your editorial calendar…
Stop, collaborate, and listen.

via GIPHY

While no content marketer wants to admit they’ve created content for the sake of filling a spot on the editorial calendar, it happens all the time. Again, no judgement here. But we had to call it out.

So, before you feel tempted to fill a calendar opening, consider channeling that time and effort into more research or an audit. For example, performing an SEO and content audit, a task that aims to assess the current state of your internal content ecosystem as well as external variables, can unearth unique opportunities that can fill your editorial calendar with net-new and refresh ideas.
If a relevant and previously uncovered topic, trend, or paint point presents itself…
Go for it.

Your goal is to be the best answer for your audience. In order for your content ecosystem to thrive, you have to have your basics covered (i.e. product explainers or resource guides) and within reach for your audience. If you see gaps in those core areas, you need to fill them.

But as buyers become more empowered and voice search and assistants gain increasing popularity, they’re regularly uncovering new problems they need solved and more pointed questions they need answered. This means regular review of who your audience is and the questions they’re asking is more important than ever.

You should be regularly leveraging website analytics, Google Search Console, question analyzer tools, and the list goes on to unearth and inform content creation opportunities.
If no one’s talking about those relevant topics, trends, or pain points …
Then you should absolutely go for it.

Remember the legendary wisdom of Ricky Bobby’s pop: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

via GIPHY

It’s rare that you’re given the opportunity to create thought leadership and demand around something that’s new to your internal and external content ecosystem. Of course, that window of opportunity won’t be open for long. HubSpot’s Brian Halligan famously did this with the term “inbound marketing” — a term that every marketing department now accepts, understands, and uses.

One note of caution, however: Creating demand around an original idea or rising topic requires vigilance, creativity, and integration with a range of content marketing tactics (i.e. influencers, paid and organic social media, email marketing, etc.) SEO is a long-term factor, but in the short-term, don’t let low search volumes deter you.
And if everyone’s talking about those relevant topics, trends, or pain points …
Proceed with cautious ambition.

Tackling a highly-publicized or popular topic is worth it when you’re confident in your ability to provide new and/or better insight and expertise than your direct and indirect competition. Becoming the best answer for a topic, trend, or niche is both art and science: You need the right expertise and the topic needs to be relevant to your audience. You need credibility and authenticity. And it all needs to be backed by relevant data insights.
If you think that your existing content is too old to be relevant …
Table net-new content creation … for now.

Instead of throwing out or forgetting about the old, consider giving it a revamp. Refreshing content has numerous benefits — from sending positive SEO “freshness” signals to search engines to boosting your efficiency and productivity.

Analyze the performance of that blog post, downloadable asset, or web page to understand traffic, rankings, engagement, and so on. Then couple those findings with first-hand research on other similar content in the external ecosystem. If you determine your existing content has potential for a second life, add new content, insight, resources, and so on. You can then republish and repromote, and continue to optimize.

If you determine it’s a lost cause, recreate and redirect the old content to pass any remaining authority onto your new content.
If you’re trying to reach a new audience…
Net-new or net-old, this one’s a personal call.

Talk of content personalization has reached a fever pitch. That means B2B marketers have more reason and opportunity than ever to create tailored content for new or specific audience.

Identifying a new audience segment fills your content pipeline with additional repurposing opportunities — or it can be the repurposing opportunity. Have you seen the rise of a new purchasing stakeholder group? Develop specialized content just for them. Do you have targeted content on financial management for healthcare companies? Repurpose and personalize your content for your legal or technology verticals.
If your content will target a keyword you already own search real estate for …
Press pause.

Target keywords that are already mapped to other pages — especially your service pages — could hurt your search footprint and cannibalize traffic from other content.

The good news is that your concept can be saved and utilized in a different way in the future.

However, that’s not to say your content concept shouldn’t be saved and utilized for the future. For example, you could evolve your concept to target a longer-tail query that’s related to your original idea. And using the hub and spoke content model, you can build out your authority around the overarching topic and implement strategic cross-linking to turn it into a smart SEO play. Long-tail keyword phrases also allow you to more closely match your audience’s search intent, creating the potential for rising in the (search) ranks.
If new content runs the risk of being duplicative…
Stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Duplicative content is a no-no, and has been and will be forever.

via GIPHY
If you want to launch a new content type …
You have the green light.

Introducing new content types diversifies how your audience can discover, interact with, and digest your content. New content types also cater to changing audience preferences for content consumption. Maybe you want to evolve several statistical roundups into a single infographic. Or perhaps you want to enable your audience to solve problems and find answers to their questions through an interactive quiz.

But a quick note here: This may also be an opportunity for refreshing, repurposing, or optimizing existing content. So, be intentional.

Read: B2B Brands Go Bold: 7 Great Examples of Interactive B2B Content
Key Word: New
Net-new content creation should always be top of mind for content marketers. You should always be thinking about how you can inform, engage, and inspire your audience to action. But new content needs to provide new value — not fill an editorial gap. And not all new content needs to be built from scratch, rather there are several opportunities to refresh, repurpose, republish, and optimize for performance.

If you’re ever in doubt on what to do, we hope this piece lends some perspective. But if doubt persists, remember this tidbit from the incomparable Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs:

“We don’t need more content. We need better content!”

[bctt tweet=”We don’t need more content. We need better content! @annhandley of @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

Want to identify areas where your content can be better? Use these Best Answer Content Examples to see how your internal and external content ecosystem measures up.

The post When & Why Net-New Content Creation Makes Sense—And When It Doesn’t appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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Web Optimization

The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complimentary

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Social media marketing and seo are frequently considered as 2 diverse elements of a holistic digital method. In some methods, they stand out, however there is even more merging and crossover than we’’ re typically led to think. I discover that taking a look at one side through the lens of the other inevitably assists me much better comprehend the more uncertain elements of each. Today I believed I’’d share this point of view, with a focus on how these tactical locations can work cohesively to enhance your brand name’’ s presence and effect on the web. Resemblances Between Social and SearchLet’’ s start by checking out some commonness in between social networks and social engines.Both are enormously popular web entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Almost the exact same variety of individuals ( 3.48 billion ) are active social networks users. That’’ s approximately half the world’’ s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, show why digital online marketers all over require to represent both search and social. They’’ re the top places many people go when they hop online.Individuals utilize both to respond to concerns. All of us understand this is the main function of online search engine. Whether users are typing in an actual semantic concern, or merely inputting keywords in hopes of discovering details, they are searching for responses and resolve issues. Social network doesn’’ t always provide the very same direct question-and-answer format, however we generally visit to please some kind of interest. (What are individuals speaking about today? What do my connections and buddies need to state about current occasions? Is this gown white and gold, or blue and black?).Both are crucial brand name touchpoints. 2 of the simplest methods for any client to veterinarian a business are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social networks accounts. It’’ s quite simple to inform based upon a brand name’’ s search rankings, SERP screen, and website structure whether they have a sound digital technique. The very same holds true of a fast glimpse at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’’ s challenging to discover your business through search or social —– or if you release a bad impression on either front —– that ’ s an instant credibility-crusher.Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically.SEO and social networks marketing are essentially various. There are task titles, and whole business, devoted particularly to each. In an incorporated digital marketing technique, it’’ s crucial to acknowledge where these 2 aspects match and converge one another.# 1: Keyword Research and Application.Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the foundation of a best-answer material method . The intel originated from these efforts can likewise be used to social networks marketing. As discussed above, individuals utilize both these channels to address concerns.With a specified understanding of which search expressions and inquiries concern our audiences, we can much better line up the material we offer. This is real on social. When you utilize the ideal keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more often in your posts, driving discussions and engagement around them, your brand name will be most likely to appear on the feeds of individuals thinking about them.In either circumstances, it boils down to the exact same fundamental core of practically any material method: What do your clients wish to know, and how can you provide it?# 2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search.Attempt entering your business’’ s name into a Google search. What ’ s the very first outcome? Ideally your site’’ s homepage. The 3rd and 2nd may likewise be pages from your own domain. Really regularly, the very first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing listed below as a case in point.).LinkedIn * is an especially impactful platform in this regard; online search engine crawl it, so integrating smart SEO techniques on your business’’ s LinkedIn Page can really benefit your rankings. This hasn’’ t been rather as real for other networks, which were when nearly unnoticeable to Google, however research study from HootSuite did discover a remarkable boost in the look of Facebook and Twitter material in SERPS beginning in late 2015:.““ Admittedly, the bulk of social links within the SERPs stand for top quality search terms, however this must not be marked down,” ” composes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. ““ If we remain in truth taking a look at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we need to guarantee that your top quality search terms lead to high click-through rates from search.””. # 3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search.It’’ s been a fiercely discussed subject in the digital marketing world. Google has actually declared for several years that social signals are not a ranking element. HootSuite’’ s experimentation discovered that ““ there appears to be a strong connection in between social activity and rankings.” ” Another research study in 2015 from Searchmetrics reached the exact same conclusion.We still put on’’ t have total clearness around this relationship, which would make a Facebook status of ““ It ’ s made complex. ” Although we put on ’ t think social signals straight affect search rankings, there is absolutely a connection, which is commonly credited to the by-products of extremely effective social material. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, ““ Social media might not be a ranking element for Google, however it can magnify the ranking aspects that Google DOES think about.””. Simply put, when a link to your material gains traction on social networks, it tends to acquire more basic prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand name authority, and so on. This, in turn, assists the page make more presence in the eyes of Google.The secret is merely getting individuals to click through on those links, which brings us to the last point of merging.# 4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial.Seo today isn’’ t a lot about keyword-stuffing; Google is too wise to be gamed by it. The engine’’ s sole objective is to provide the most acceptable outcomes for an offered inquiry, suggesting it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more greatly than text plan. That’’ s why an alluring heading and meta description are so crucial to SERP success.This is likewise at the heart of social networks marketing. In a sea of contending ephemeral material, you’’ ve truly got ta stick out to record somebody’’ s attention and oblige a click. (Especially because social networks networks, unlike online search engine, aren’’ t all that thinking about sending out users over to your site, so the algorithms will typically work versus you for outbound links.).If you discover a specific angle or message is particularly resonant on social platforms (even if simply for driving engagement, not clicks), you may think about embracing it for your meta descriptions to see if it enhances CTRs, and vice versa.Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom.These are different tactical locations of digital marketing, however to treat them as totally independent would be an error. At TopRank Marketing, we see SEO and social networks marketing as 2 complementary elements of a completely incorporated material marketing technique, with various intersectional chances and practical resemblances. Comprehending how to take full advantage of both in unison contributes to releasing your brand name’’ s complete capacity.Wish to find out more about how various strategies can collaborate harmoniously in today’’ s digital methods? Take a look at our current post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO &&Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know .* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing customer

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’’ s Complicated … and Complimentary appeared initially on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®® .

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Web Optimization

How to Rank New Content Faster

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domain score

If I write a blog post on any topic, what do you think happens?

It typically gets indexed by Google the same day I publish the content and within a week it tends to rank high on Google.

Then again, I have a domain score of 94 and I have 633,791 backlinks. Just look at the image above. (If you are curious what your link count or domain score is, put in your URL here.)

But if you have a lot fewer backlinks and a much lower domain score, what do you think would happen?

Chances are your content won’t get indexed fast and it won’t rank as high as you want.

But there has to be a way to change this, right? Especially without building more backlinks because we all know that’s time-consuming and hard.

To find the most ideal solution, I decided to run a little experiment.

Around five months ago, I sent out an email to a portion of my mailing list asking people if they wanted to partake in an SEO experiment.

As you could imagine, I had well over a thousand websites who were willing to participate. I had to narrow down the list because for this experiment to be effective, a website had to have a domain score of 30 or less and no more than 40 backlinks.

That way it’s at least a challenge to figure out how to rank new content higher.

In addition to that, the site couldn’t be a subdomain, such as domain.wordpress.com. It had to be a standalone site.

Once I removed all of the outliers, I was left with 983 people who agreed to participate in the experiment. Of those, 347 stopped replying or backed out of the experiment due to time commitments, which means I was left with 636.

How did the SEO experiment work?

For all of the sites, we had them write a piece of content. We didn’t make it a requirement that the content had to be about any specific topic or that it had to be written a certain way… we just had them write one piece of content that was between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length.

We enforced the minimum and maximum length limit because we needed the post to be long enough to naturally include keywords, but if it was too long… such as 10,000 words, it would have a higher chance to rank on Google.

Each site had 30 days to write the piece of content and publish it on their site. Within 30 days of the content being published, we looked up the URL in our Ubersuggest database to see how many keywords the post ranks for in the top 100, top 50, and top 10 spots.

We also repeated this search 60 days after the article was published to see if there were any major differences.

The Ubersuggest database currently contains information on 1,459,103,429 keywords from around the world in all languages (a lot of keywords have low search volume like 10 searches per month). But for this experiment, we focused on English speaking sites.

We then split the sites up into 9 groups. Roughly 70 sites per group. Each group only leveraged 1 tactic to see if it helped with rankings.

Here’s a breakdown of each group.

Control group – this group just published the article and didn’t leverage any promotional or SEO tactics. Having a control group allows us to compare how specific tactics affect rankings.
Sitemap – all this group leveraged was a sitemap. They added the article to their sitemap, and we made sure the sitemap was submitted to Google Search Console.
Internal linking – this group added 3 internal links from older pieces of content to the newly written article.
URL Inspection – within Google Search Console you can request that they Crawl and index a URL. That feature is called URL Inspection.
Social shares – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit were the social sites that this group submitted and promoted their content on.
Google Chrome lookup – for each site in this group, we had 40 people type in the URL directly into their address bar and look up the site. This could have been done on either mobile or desktop versions of Chrome. I added this group in there because I was curious to see if people visiting your site from Chrome browsers affects your rankings.
Meta tags – my team optimized the title tag and meta description for everyone in this group. Based on the article, we crafted the optimal meta tags to not only include keywords but also to entice clicks.
URL – with this group we only optimized their article URL to include keywords and we tried to keep the length around 50 characters as that is what they supposedly prefer.
Everything – this group combined all of the tactics above other than the control group as they didn’t do anything.

Before I dive into the data, keep in mind that if someone was in one of the groups, we did our best to make sure that they weren’t leveraging any other tactic. For example, for everyone who wasn’t in the sitemap group, we had them remove their existing sitemaps for Google Search Console (other than the everything group).

Control group

So how many keywords does an average website with a domain score of 30 or less rank for in Google within a month and even two months?

control

I was shocked at how many keywords a site could rank for when it barely has any links and a low domain score.

But what wasn’t as shocking is how a web page’s ranking can increase over time. The orange line shows the number of keywords that ranked within the first 30 days and the green line shows the number over the first 60 days.

Sitemap group

You know how people say you need an XML sitemap, well it is even more important if you have a low domain score. At least, that is what the data shows.

sitemap

When your site has very few links and a low domain score, you’ll find that Google may not crawl your site as often as you want. But by leveraging a sitemap, you can speed up the indexing process, which helps decrease the time it takes for your site to start ranking for keywords.

Internal linking group

Links, links, and more links… it’s what every site needs to rank well. Technically they are external links, but internal links are better than nothing.

When you add internal links from your old content to your newer articles, it helps them get indexed faster and it helps push them up in the rankings.

Especially when these internal links come from relevant pages that have some decent rankings on Google.

internal links

Articles that leveraged 3 internal links had more page 1 rankings than sites that just used an XML sitemap.

URL inspection group

If you aren’t familiar with the URL inspection feature within Google Search Console, it’s a quick way to getting your content index.

Just log into Search Console and type in your article URL in the search bar at the top. You’ll see a screen that looks something like this:

url inspection

All you have to do is click the “request indexing” link.

url inspection

Leveraging this feature has a similar result to using the sitemap.

Social shares group

I’ve noticed a trend with my own website, in which if I create a piece of content that goes viral on the social web, my rankings for that new piece of content skyrocket to the top of Google… at least in the very short run.

And after a few weeks, I notice that my rankings drop.

Now, my site isn’t a large enough sample size and there are many reasons why my site ranks really well quickly.

Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how much social shares impact rankings.

social shares

Getting social shares substantially performed better than the control group, but similar to my experience with NeilPatel.com, the rankings did slip a bit in month 2 instead of continually rising to the top.

Social shares may not have a direct impact on rankings, but the more people who see your content the higher the chance you build backlinks, increase your brand queries, and build brand loyalty.

Google Chrome lookup group

Do you know how people are saying that Google is using data from Google Analytics and Chrome to determine how high your site should rank?

Well, I wasn’t able to prove that from this experiment.

I had 40 random people directly type in the URL of each new article into Google Chrome. I spread it out over a week, making sure they clicked around on the site and stayed for at least 2 minutes.

google chrome

The ranking results were very similar to the control group.

Meta tags group

Now this group performed very similarly to the group that leveraged internal linking. And the month 2 results outperformed all other groups.

meta tags

User metrics are a key part of Google’s algorithm. If you can create a compelling title tag and meta description, you’ll see a boost in your click-through rate and eventually, your rankings will climb.

If you want to boost your rankings through your meta tags, it’s not just about adding in the right keywords, you’ll also want to boost your click-through rate. Follow these steps to do just that.

URL group

The 8th group tested if URL length impacts how high a new piece of content ranks on Google.

url

Based on the graph above, you can see that it does. It didn’t have as much of an impact as internal linking or meta tags, but it did have an impact.

The key to creating SEO friendly URLs is to include a keyword or two and keep them short.

If your URL is too long and descriptive, such as:

neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-optimize-your-meta-tags-for-search-engines

The article will rank for very long tail phrases but will struggle to rank for more popular terms like “meta tags” compared to URLs like:

neilpatel.com/blog/meta-tags/

The beautiful part about the short URLs is that they rank well for head terms and long tail phrases.

Conclusion

The charts clearly show that little things like meta tags, URLs, internal linking, social shares, and even sitemaps help.

But the key to doing well, especially if you want your new content to rank well is to not just do one of those things, but instead do them all.

everything

As you can see from the chart, doing everything gives you the best results. Now sure, some of the things are redundant like using an XML sitemap and using the URL inspection feature, but you get the point.

You’ll also notice that when you leverage everything together your results aren’t exponentially better… SEO is competitive and has turned into a game where every little thing adds up.

If you want to do well and have your new AND old content rank faster and higher, you need to do everything.

I know the tactics above aren’t anything revolutionary or new, but it’s interesting to look at the data and see how specific tactics affect rankings.

So, what do you think?

The post How to Rank New Content Faster appeared first on Neil Patel.


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Web Optimization

How to Nail a Relationship Marketing Strategy for Your Business Success

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Relationship marketing is important in every business. Clients keep your business running. Getting them is one thing, but keeping them is a whole different story.

 

Customer loyalty can ensure a strong long-term relationship with your clients. Having the right tools to manage them and deliver what they need can lead you into that direction. We think that business success relies on the number of satisfied customers, plus other ingredients that make the strategy “spicier” – more elaborated and powerful.

 

How_to_Nail_Relationship_Marketing_Strategies

 

Check out these effective relationship marketing strategies to maintain, engage and convert your clients.

 

Market Your Customers the Right Way
Build a Great Customer Service Team
Create Customer Service Q&A Templates
Implement the A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop
Build an Automated Customer Support Process
Always Improve Customer Experience
Setup Specific Customer Retention Actions
Reward Loyal Customers
Set up a Referral Program
Follow Sales Number and Customer Feedback Metrics
Invest in CRM and Other Technology
Create Valuable Content Based on Customers’ Questions

 
1. Market Your Customers the Right Way

Market Your Customers the Right Way

 

 

Before you start building a relationship marketing strategy, you need to know your audience to connect with it. If you’re struggling to figure out your niche, you can follow the following instructions:

 

 

Identify your interests, what you’re good at and what you sell. It is important to know your skills very well, as well as your products or services.
Identify what problem you can solve, whether there’s a market for your niche and if your services can help the user.
Research your competition and see what they’re doing, what they are promoting and what their asset is.
Test your niche.

 

Your clients are an important asset to your business; they make your business work. Your business will exist as long as you have clients. More benefits come from your loyal customers because they continue to bring monetary value to the company. You need to maintain your customers engaged to keep them loyal.

 

According to Gallup’s customer database, half of all customers are satisfied and only 38% of them say they are engaged.

 

Customer engagement doesn’t automatically follow satisfaction.

 

Loyal customers need attention to keep their engagement rate high. According to Experience Matters, loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering. Loyal customers are more likely to create customer lifetime value (CLV).

 

Customer-lifetime-value-curve

Source: Kissmetrics

 
2. Build a Great Customer Service Team

Build a Great Customer Service Team

 

It all starts with building a team to execute quality experience. Helping your customers understand the value of your services is highly important. You need to help them learn your services by making it easier. It’s just like in UX design, the users have a path and your website should follow that path. The picture below is a good representation:

 

User experience

 

As we all probably already know, UX is very important for SEO, too. Many experts think that UX is crucial in the future of SEO, especially with all the evolution of machine learning technology. And UX goes beyond SEO, your team must see what the user wants, what they need, how your services benefit them and achieve their goal.

 

Helping customers understand and value your product over your competitors’ is not a sales tactic.

 

Your support team is in the first line, talking and keeping contact with your customers. Building a great customer service team is number one in developing relationship marketing. Promote a customer-centric policy to your team and try to engage them in providing high customer support services. Your team should know how to deal with both negative and positive situations and offer satisfaction to the user.

 
3. Create Customer Service Q&A Templates

Create Customer Service Q&A Templates

 

To know how to deal in both negative and positive situations you’ll need a Q&A template, that can be modified depending on the user’s needs. There are lots of companies specialized in all sorts of activities, but every single one of them receives lots of questions about what they do, and how they can help the user. A template offers great support.

 

There might be cases when the conversations can be nuanced and get a little tricky. That’s why it is good to have a plan: you can get some ideas, keep you out of trouble and please the customer at the same time.

 

HelpScout created helpful customer service questions and answer template picturing all sorts of situations.

 

For small businesses, it is easier to talk with customers and you don’t require an elaborated Q&A template. In case you have a SaaS or a business that is more complex, it would be awesome if you had some documentation. It could benefit both your team and your customers for future reference.

 

There are lots of situations when you don’t need to play by the book, and let the master team do the job. Skyscanner did an amazing job responding to a man who got stuck with a 47-year flight connection:

 

skyscanner customer-service

 
4. Implement the A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop

Implement the A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop

 

 

Short for Ask, Categorize, Act, and Follow-up, the ACAF Customer Feedback Loop is a business strategy that centers itself on the customer. It has 4 steps:

 

 

Ask for customer feedback to see what they need and if their needs are satisfied by your product.
Categorize the feedback. It can be positive or negative, but usually there are 3 main categories: feedback regarding the product, customer service and marketing & sales. You need to see the reasons behind the words.
Act on the feedback: share the feedback with the people in charge.
Follow-up with customers who shared feedback.

 

customer feedback loop

Source: Hubspot

 

Feedback is very important in every business. It helps you evolve and correct the mistakes. Ask for valuable and personal customer feedback from your customers to see what you’re doing right and what’s wrong.

 

Always thank the customer for the feedback and make them feel appreciated. Not to mention feedback creates innovative opportunities, by hearing what your users need and you could develop in your product.  

 
5. Build a Customer Support Process

Build a Customer Support Process

 

Having a plan to provide quality customer support doesn’t require advanced technologies. You need to set up a process: the user sends a message, you need to assign conversations to other people, think about how to engage with the users, how to do the follow-up. After that, think about what to do with the email addresses to send them newsletters or send them special offers.

 

The customer support process tends to be more complex. You’ll need the following:

the right team, that knows their responsibilities;
a solid plan for dealing with issues;
relevant metrics that need tracking and performance analysis;
the right tools for dealing with customer queries and issues.

 

If you’re a small or mid-sized business, then you could use some free options. But an enterprise needs more advanced technologies. Having an automated customer support process can ease your work a lot. Practically, it can be a service such a help center or chatbot or any artificial intelligence, which will elaborate more at point 12.  

 
6. Always Improve Customer Experience

 

Think of this: happy clients that had a good experience will return, unhappy clients that had unsatisfactory experience won’t return and can spread the bad word about the company. Studies show that almost 13% of unhappy clients tell to over 20 people about their bad experience.

 

Knowing what to say to your customers can be a daunting task. You can always improve your customer experience by providing excellent customer service, quickly offering answers, solutions and trying to maintain a strong relationship with your customers.

 

It doesn’t really matter if your product or services are impeccable if user experience is shitty. It is highly important to resolve issues when they appear and provide a clean experience on site without any problems and errors.

 

More than that, you should actively engage customers on social media or blogs. It will strengthen the customer relationship and they can promote your business afterward.  

 
7. Set up Specific Customer Retention Actions

Setup Specific Customer Retention Actions

 

Customer retention shows the companies’ ability to keep their customers for a period of time. A high retention rate means people (users, customers) that continue to bring revenue to the company and buy products.

 

Studies show that acquiring a new customer, however, is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Retaining customers is a pretty important thing. Every single person thinks about the benefits they have when choosing a brand, a product or certain services. And the brand must think about how to keep those customers.

 

There are lots of customer retention strategies you can personalize for your clients to keep and bring ROI, but some of the most profitable are:

personalized messages;
social media interaction;
persuade them through newsletters;
keep the highest standard for customer support services;
appreciate your clients;
collect feedback;
build loyalty programs.

 

These actions can be developed into campaigns and create something really interesting depending on your niche and business. These may come in addition to the strategies we’ve elaborated in the whole article to lead you into setting up a more specific customer retention plan.

 
8. Reward Loyal Customers

 

Reward Loyal Customers

Since we’ve mentioned brand loyalty, you must know it is a good strategy for relationship marketing. Customer loyalty works very well and can strengthen the relationship you have with your clients. Basically, a loyalty program shows you care about your customers first. Loyal customers are hard to acquire, but once you got them, it costs the business about 5-25x less to sell to an existing client than to acquire a new customer.

 

Every business should aspire to customer loyalty. It is a virtue of their existence. There are lots of ideas you could generate by building a loyalty program. You can send the message by email, using an App (if your business has something like that), to the user’s account and so on. It can be a discount, a gift, or something else depending on your creativity. You can also find lots of ways to reward loyal customers in the digital marketing space. 

 

Uber, for example, rewarded Gold members with some interesting perks, not available for all members. The membership levels are Blue (0 points to qualify), Gold (500 points to qualify), Platinum (2500 points to qualify), and Diamond (7500 points to qualify). So, all the member that hit 500 points and join Uber Gold get flexible cancellations that refund your $5 cancellation fee if you rebook within 15 minutes. In addition, members get priority support.

 

Uber-Rewards Loyal Customers

 

The Platinum and Diamond get a lot more services that make the ride more pleasant, such as:

price protection on a route between two of your favorite places regardless of traffic or surge;
priority pickups at airports;
premium support with a dedicated phone line and fast 24/7 responses;
complimentary upgrade surprises  in high-end cars;
no delivery fee for orders and many more.

 

Loyalty programs can boost your ROI and keep the customers that really matter.

 
9. Set up a Referral Program

 

Set up a Referral Program

Creating a referral program is born from customer satisfaction. People that are pleased with the services might tell other people about their experience, so why not take advantage of that? Encourage them and don’t leave room for second thoughts. Satisfied customers are willing to make referrals. Those who receive such referrals are more likely to pay attention to them rather than to the brand.

 

If you got the referrals engaged, then you’ll get some of the best new customers you can get.

 

If you want, we can set aside our reasons why you should use a referral program, and listen to the studies. R&G Technologies discovered that referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels. More than that, referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value.

 

There are lots of businesses that use the referral program. Booking, for example, gives you $15 if you recommend it to a friend. You have to invite your friends by sending them the referral link. They book and stay at the accommodation, then after their stay, you and your friend both get the $15 for the next booking.  

 

Booking referral program

 

Your customers can become true advocates, by connecting and sharing your product with others when they have a good experience. Rewarding a satisfied customer through a referral marketing program doesn’t require so much work, and it can bring lots of benefits for everybody involved.

 
10. Follow Sales Number and Customer Feedback Metrics

Follow Sales Number and Customer Feedback Metrics

 

Even if you focus on relationships, you shouldn’t miss customer data and numbers. In order to keep track of your business’s success, you’ll have to follow sales numbers and customer feedback metrics.

 

Some of the most important metrics in this situation is customer lifetime value (CLV). The formula for the metric is:

 

Estimated Average Lifetime Value = (Average Sale) x (Estimated Number of times customers purchased)

 

There are free tools that calculate the metric. Google Analytics, for example, measures lifetime value for users acquired through different channels. You need to select two Google Analytics metrics and compare them to identify the date range during which you acquired users. These are the metrics available:

goal completions per user
pageviews per user
revenue per user
session duration per user
sessions per user
transactions per user

 

Lifetime value analytics

 

You can compare LTV in relation to the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) to measure how long it takes to regain the investment to get a new customer.

 

Marketers agree that growing CLV is essential to the health of their organization and a key success metric.

criteo logo
CRITEO

 

 

Conversion rate is another important metric that should be tracked. Conversions could be under lots of forms, depending on what business goals you’ve set. It can be:

a newsletter subscription;
signing up for an event;
downloading white paper or guideline or something available on the website;
sign-up for a live meeting/webinar;
purchasing a product;
creating an account on the website;
calling the company and so on.

 

The are lots of other metrics you could follow, that can be tracked automatically with lots of services available that regards to the:

experience with the brand;
experience with the customer support team;
experience with the product/services.

 
11. Invest in CRM and Other Technology

Invest in CRM and Other Technology

 

Businesses are more likely to become successful if they build a long-term relationship with their customers. Having a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy in place will bring lots of benefits in the future. You can say goodbye to tangled messages, no customer history in one place, hard customer management, no customer support flow, bad organization and many more. And you can create long-term customers more easily. 

 

There are lots of customer relationship management tools that come in handy when you want to have an efficient and easy management with your customers. You can see customer’s history, lots of data and conversion numbers. Below you can see an example from such a CRM tool.

 

CRM software

 

These tools can save you a lot of time to organize and customize your process. You are able to track and organize every stage of your sales pipeline, manage a large number of contacts, customize the steps as you wish.

 

For managing contacts and conversations you can use apps and services that include customer support technology. Intercom is an example. The messaging platform makes it very easy to:

converse with clients;
see lots of information about the contacts;
look at the latest conversations;
create auto messages;
setup labels and filtering options for conversations;
get reports;
use chatbots and many more.

 

Intercom messages

 

The tool is great for engaging and retaining customers.

 
12. Create Valuable Content Based on Customers’ Questions

Create Valuable Content Based on Customers’ Questions

 

Customer feedback, questions and conversations can be a great starting point for a new documented article. Generating article ideas based on your customers’ question will lead to a high open rate because you’ll talk about something that lots of people search. Imagine if all your articles answered your readers’ questions: the CTR would be very high.

 

There might times when marketers don’t write for the customers but rather for the industry, and they might lose a big part of the audience. If you write for your actual clients you could manage to acquire new customers.

 

Customers’ questions create content marketing gold.

 

When your current customers ask you questions it’s like finding our their needs very easily. You can see if there’s been a confusion, feedback, improvement, something they want to learn or any other thing. More than that, you can use that piece of content in the future as a reference in case there are other customers that ask you similar questions.

 

Conclusion

 

Maintaining a strong customer relationship isn’t the job of a single department. Everybody should work in order to fulfill customers’ needs. Sales teams are not entirely responsible. It should be a synergy.

 

Relationship marketing is a strategy that will foster customer loyalty and ensure long term engagement. You need to master this in order to bring customer retention and satisfaction.

 

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