Web Optimization

The SEO Cyborg: How to Resonate with Users & Make Sense to Search Bots

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Posted by alexis-sanders

SEO is about understanding how search bots and users react to an online experience. As search professionals, we’re required to bridge gaps between online experiences, search engine bots, and users. We need to know where to insert ourselves (or our teams) to ensure the best experience for both users and bots. In other words, we strive for experiences that resonate with humans and make sense to search engine bots.

This article seeks to answer the following questions:

How do we drive sustainable growth for our clients?
What are the building blocks of an organic search strategy?
What is the SEO cyborg?

A cyborg (or cybernetic organism) is defined as “a being with both organic andbiomechatronic body parts, whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements.”

With the ability to relate between humans, search bots, and our site experiences, the SEO cyborg is an SEO (or team) that is able to work seamlessly between both technical and content initiatives (whose skills are extended beyond normal human limitations) to support driving of organic search performance. An SEO cyborg is able to strategically pinpoint where to place organic search efforts to maximize performance.

So, how do we do this?

The SEO model

Like so many classic triads (think: primary colors, the Three Musketeers, Destiny’s Child [the canonical version, of course]) the traditional SEO model, known as the crawl-index-rank method, packages SEO into three distinct steps. At the same time, however, this model fails to capture the breadth of work that we SEOs are expected to do on a daily basis, and not having a functioning model can be limiting. We need to expand this model without reinventing the wheel.

content

The enhanced model involves adding in a rendering, signaling, and connection phase.

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You might be wondering, why do we need these?:

Rendering: There is increased prevalence of JavaScript, CSS, imagery, and personalization.
Signaling: HTML <link> tags, status codes, and even GSC signals are powerful indicators that tell search engines how to process and understand the page, determine its intent, and ultimately rank it. In the previous model, it didn’t feel as if these powerful elements really had a place.
Connecting: People are a critical component of search. The ultimate goal of search engines is to identify and rank content that resonates with people. In the previous model, “rank” felt cold, hierarchical, and indifferent towards the end user.

All of this brings us to the question: how do we find success in each stage of this model?

Note: When using this piece, I recommend skimming ahead and leveraging those sections of the enhanced model that are most applicable to your business’ current search program.

The enhanced SEO modelCrawling

Technical SEO starts with the search engine’s ability to find a site’s webpages (hopefully efficiently).

Finding pages

Initially finding pages can happen a few ways, via:

Links (internal or external)
Redirected pages
Sitemaps (XML, RSS 2.0, Atom 1.0, or .txt)

Internet Applications

Side note: This information (although at first pretty straightforward) can be really useful. For example, if you’re seeing weird pages popping up in site crawls or performing in search, try checking:

Backlink reports
Internal links to URL
Redirected into URL
Obtaining resources

The second component of crawling relates to the ability to obtain resources (which later becomes critical for rendering a page’s experience).

This typically relates to two elements:

Appropriate robots.txt declarations
Proper HTTP status code (namely 200 HTTP status codes)

John Mueller

Crawl efficiency

Finally, there’s the idea of how efficiently a search engine bot can traverse your site’s most critical experiences.

Action items:

Is site’s main navigation simple, clear, and useful?
Are there relevant on-page links?
Is internal linking clear and crawlable (i.e., <a href=”/”>)?
Is an HTML sitemap available?

Side note: Make sure to check the HTML sitemap’s next page flow (or behavior flow reports) to find where those users are going. This may help to inform the main navigation.

Do footer links contain tertiary content?
Are important pages close to root?
Are there no crawl traps?
Are there no orphan pages?
Are pages consolidated?
Do all pages have purpose?
Has duplicate content been resolved?
Have redirects been consolidated?
Are canonical tags on point?
Are parameters well defined?
Information architecture

The organization of information extends past the bots, requiring an in-depth understanding of how users engage with a site.

Some seed questions to begin research include:

What trends appear in search volume (by location, device)? What are common questions users have?
Which pages get the most traffic?
What are common user journeys?
What are users’ traffic behaviors and flow?
How do users leverage site features (e.g., internal site search)?
Rendering

Rendering a page relates to search engines’ ability to capture the page’s desired essence.

JavaScript

The big kahuna in the rendering section is JavaScript. For Google, rendering of JavaScript occurs during a second wave of indexing and the content is queued and rendered as resources become available.

online customers

Image based off of Google I/O ’18 presentation by Tom Greenway and John Mueller, Deliver search-friendly JavaScript-powered websites

As an SEO, it’s critical that we be able to answer the question — are search engines rendering my content?

Action items:

Are direct “quotes” from content indexed?
Is the site using <a href=”/”> links (not onclick();)?
Is the same content being served to search engine bots (user-agent)?
Is the content present within the DOM?
What does Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool’s JavaScript console (click “view details”) say?
Infinite scroll and lazy loading

Another hot topic relating to JavaScript is infinite scroll (and lazy load for imagery). Since search engine bots are lazy users, they won’t scroll to attain content.

Action items:

Ask ourselves – should all of the content really be indexed? Is it content that provides value to users?

Infinite scroll: a user experience (and occasionally a performance optimizing) tactic to load content when the user hits a certain point in the UI; typically the content is exhaustive.

Solution one (updating AJAX):

1. Break out content into separate sections

Note: The breakout of pages can be /page-1, /page-2, etc.; however, it would be best to delineate meaningful divides (e.g., /voltron, /optimus-prime, etc.)

2. Implement History API (pushState(), replaceState()) to update URLs as a user scrolls (i.e., push/update the URL into the URL bar)

3. Add the <link> tag’s rel=”next” and rel=”prev” on relevant page

Solution two (create a view-all page)Note: This is not recommended for large amounts of content.

1. If it’s possible (i.e., there’s not a ton of content within the infinite scroll), create one page encompassing all content

2. Site latency/page load should be considered

Lazy load imagery is a web performance optimization tactic, in which images loads upon a user scrolling (the idea is to save time, downloading images only when they’re needed)
Add <img> tags in <noscript> tags
Use JSON-LD structured data

Schema.org “image” attributes nested in appropriate item types
Schema.org ImageObject item type

CSS

I only have a few elements relating to the rendering of CSS.

Action items:

CSS background images not picked up in image search, so don’t count on for important imagery
CSS animations not interpreted, so make sure to add surrounding textual content
Layouts for page are important (use responsive mobile layouts; avoid excessive ads)
Personalization

Although a trend in the broader digital exists to create 1:1, people-based marketing, Google doesn’t save cookies across sessions and thus will not interpret personalization based on cookies, meaning there must be an average, base-user, default experience. The data from other digital channels can be exceptionally useful when building out audience segments and gaining a deeper understanding of the base-user.

Action item:

Ensure there is a base-user, unauthenticated, default experience

organic search strategy

Technology

Google’s rendering engine is leveraging Chrome 41. Canary (Chrome’s testing browser) is currently operating on Chrome 69. Using CanIUse.com, we can infer that this affects Google’s abilities relating to HTTP/2, service workers (think: PWAs), certain JavaScript, specific advanced image formats, resource hints, and new encoding methods. That said, this does not mean we shouldn’t progress our sites and experiences for users — we just must ensure that we use progressive development (i.e., there’s a fallback for less advanced browsers [and Google too ☺]).

Action items:

Ensure there’s a fallback for less advanced browsers

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search

Indexing

Getting pages into Google’s databases is what indexing is all about. From what I’ve experienced, this process is straightforward for most sites.

Action items:

Ensure URLs are able to be crawled and rendered
Ensure nothing is preventing indexing (e.g., robots meta tag)
Submit sitemap in Google Search Console
Fetch as Google in Google Search Console
Signaling

A site should strive to send clear signals to search engines. Unnecessarily confusing search engines can significantly impact a site’s performance. Signaling relates to suggesting best representation and status of a page. All this means is that we’re ensuring the following elements are sending appropriate signals.

Action items:

<link> tag: This represents the relationship between documents in HTML.

Rel=”canonical”: This represents appreciably similar content.

Are canonicals a secondary solution to 301-redirecting experiences?
Are canonicals pointing to end-state URLs?
Is the content appreciably similar?

Since Google maintains prerogative over determining end-state URL, it’s important that the canonical tags represent duplicates (and/or duplicate content).

Are all canonicals in HTML?

Presumably Google prefers canonical tags in the HTML. Although there have been some studies that show that Google can pick up JavaScript canonical tags, from my personal studies it takes significantly longer and is spottier.

Is there safeguarding against incorrect canonical tags?

Rel=”next” and rel=”prev”: These represent a collective series and are not considered duplicate content, which means that all URLs can be indexed. That said, typically the first page in the chain is the most authoritative, so usually it will be the one to rank.
Rel=”alternate”

media: typically used for separate mobile experiences.
hreflang: indicate appropriate language/country

The hreflang is quite unforgiving and it’s very easy to make errors.
Ensure the documentation is followed closely.
Check GSC International Target reports to ensure tags are populating.

HTTP status codes can also be signals, particularly the 304, 404, 410, and 503 status codes.

304 – a valid page that simply hasn’t been modified
404 – file not found
410 – file not found (and it is gone, forever and always)
503 – server maintenance

search program

Google Search Console settings: Make sure the following reports are all sending clear signals. Occasionally Google decides to honor these signals.

International Targeting
URL Parameters
Data Highlighter
Remove URLs
Sitemaps

Rank

Rank relates to how search engines arrange web experiences, stacking them against each other to see who ends up on top for each individual query (taking into account numerous data points surrounding the query).

SEOs

Two critical questions recur often when understanding ranking pages:

Does or could your page have the best response?
Are you or could you become semantically known (on the Internet and in the minds of users) for the topics? (i.e., are you worthy of receiving links and people traversing the web to land on your experience?)

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On-page optimizations

These are the elements webmasters control. Off-page is a critical component to achieving success in search; however, in an idyllic world, we shouldn’t have to worry about links and/or mentions – they should come naturally.

Action items:

Textual content:

Make content both people and bots can understand
Answer questions directly
Write short, logical, simple sentences
Ensure subjects are clear (not to be inferred)
Create scannable content (i.e., make sure <h#> tags are an outline, use bullets/lists, use tables, charts, and visuals to delineate content, etc.)
Define any uncommon vocabulary or link to a glossary

Multimedia (images, videos, engaging elements):

Use imagery, videos, engaging content where applicable
Ensure that image optimization best practices are followed

If you’re looking for a comprehensive resource check out https://images.guide

Meta elements (<title> tags, meta descriptions, OGP, Twitter cards, etc.)
Structured data

Schema.org (check out Google’s supported markup and TechnicalSEO.com’s markup helper tool)
Use Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
Use semantic HTML (especially hierarchically organized, relevant <h#> tags and unordered and ordered lists (<ul>, <ol>))

there

Image courtesy of @abbynhamilton

Is content accessible?

Is there keyboard functionality?
Are there text alternatives for non-text media? Example:

Transcripts for audio
Images with alt text
In-text descriptions of visuals

Is there adequate color contrast?
Is text resizable?

Finding interesting content

Researching and identifying useful content happens in three formats:

Keyword and search landscape research
On-site analytic deep dives
User research

they

user

Visual modified from @smrvl via @DannyProl

Audience research

When looking for audiences, we need to concentrate high percentages (super high index rates are great, but not required). Push channels (particularly ones with strong targeting capabilities) do better with high index rates. This makes sense, we need to know that 80% of our customers have certain leanings (because we’re looking for base-case), not that five users over-index on a niche topic (these five niche-topic lovers are perfect for targeted ads).

Some seed research questions:

Who are users?
Where are they?
Why do they buy?
How do they buy?
What do they want?
Are they new or existing users?
What do they value?
What are their motivators?
What is their relationship w/ tech?
What do they do online?
Are users engaging with other brands?

Is there an opportunity for synergy?

What can we borrow from other channels?

Digital presents a wealth of data, in which 1:1, closed-loop, people-based marketing exists. Leverage any data you can get and find useful.

users

Content journey maps

All of this data can then go into creating a map of the user journey and overlaying relevant content. Below are a few types of mappings that are useful.

Illustrative user journey map

Sometimes when trying to process complex problems, it’s easier to break it down into smaller pieces. Illustrative user journeys can help with this problem! Take a single user’s journey and map it out, aligning relevant content experiences.

your

Funnel content mapping

This chart is deceptively simple; however, working through this graph can help sites to understand how each stage in the funnel affects users (note: the stages can be modified). This matrix can help with mapping who writers are talking to, their needs, and how to push them to the next stage in the funnel.

content

Content matrix

Mapping out content by intent and branding helps to visualize conversion potential. I find these extremely useful for prioritizing top-converting content initiatives (i.e., start with ensuring branded, transactional content is delivering the best experience, then move towards more generic, higher-funnel terms).

google

Overviews

Regardless of how the data is broken down, it’s vital to have a high-level view on the audience’s core attributes, opportunities to improve content, and strategy for closing the gap.

Internet Applications

Connecting

Connecting is all about resonating with humans. Connecting is about understanding that customers are human (and we have certain constraints). Our mind is constantly filtering, managing, multitasking, processing, coordinating, organizing, and storing information. It is literally in our mind’s best interest to not remember 99% of the information and sensations that surround us (think of the lights, sounds, tangible objects, people surrounding you, and you’re still able to focus on reading the words on your screen — pretty incredible!).

To become psychologically sticky, we must:

Get past the mind’s natural filter. A positive aspect of being a pull marketing channel is that individuals are already seeking out information, making it possible to intersect their user journey in a micro-moment.
From there we must be memorable. The brain tends to hold onto what’s relevant, useful, or interesting. Luckily, the searcher’s interest is already piqued (even if they aren’t consciously aware of why they searched for a particular topic).

John Mueller

This means we have a unique opportunity to “be there” for people. This leads to a very simple, abstract philosophy: a great brand is like a great friend.

We have similar relationship stages, we interweave throughout each other’s lives, and we have the ability to impact happiness. This comes down to the question: Do your online customers use adjectives they would use for a friend to describe your brand?

online customers

Action items:

Is all content either relevant, useful, or interesting?
Does the content honor your user’s questions?
Does your brand have a personality that aligns with reality?
Are you treating users as you would a friend?
Do your users use friend-like adjectives to describe your brand and/or site?
Do the brand’s actions align with overarching goals?
Is your experience trust-inspiring?
https://?
Using Limited ads in layout?
Does the site have proof of claims?
Does the site use relevant reviews and testimonials?
Is contact information available and easily findable?
Is relevant information intuitively available to users?
Is it as easy to buy/subscribe as it is to return/cancel?
Is integrity visible throughout the entire conversion process and experience?
Does site have credible reputation across the web?

Ultimately, being able to strategically, seamlessly create compelling user experiences which make sense to bots is what the SEO cyborg is all about. ☺

organic search strategy

tl;dr
Ensure site = crawlable, renderable, and indexable
Ensure all signals = clear, aligned
Answering related, semantically salient questions
Research keywords, the search landscape, site performance, and develop audience segments
Use audience segments to map content and prioritize initiatives
Ensure content is relevant, useful, or interesting
Treat users as friend, be worthy of their trust

This article is based off of my MozCon talk (with a few slides from the Appendix pulled forward). The full deck is available on Slideshare, and the official videos can be purchased here. Please feel free to reach out with any questions in the comments below or via Twitter @AlexisKSanders.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Read more: tracking.feedpress.it

Online Advertising

What Mobile Native Ads Need

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 What-Mobile-Native-Ads-Need

Advertisers remain in a defining moment in time.

There is a myriad of brand-new methods for brand names to reach their target market thanks to the various online outlets and emerging innovation. At the very same time, customers have actually ended up being savvier than ever about marketing –– and particularly ways to prevent it.

The usage of advertisement blockers is on the increase, and forecasts reveal the numbers just growing. How can you reach your audience when most of them are utilizing software application particularly to conceal your advertisements?

One service that has actually shown to be reliable is to utilize native advertisements , which can appear much like editorial material or which take a type that mixes in with the remainder of the material on the website. Advertisement blockers frequently put on’’ t flag these advertisements, and lots of users are more happy to click through on these advertisements.

Mobile marketing provides a lot more obstacles. Not just are mobile users a lot more most likely to utilize advertisement blockers than PC users, however advertisements put on’’ t appear the exact same on mobile phones, which indicates that they might not be as reliable when they are seen.

Here are a couple of things that market specialists concur that mobile native advertisements have to work:

.Responsive Design.

What a banner advertisement appears like on a PC is not the like exactly what it will appear like on a mobile phone, which is likewise not the like exactly what it will appear like on a tablet.

If you develop advertisements that are sent non-discriminately to all platforms, you are not getting the outcomes you desire.

Improperly formatted advertisements are going to obstruct mobile material and interrupt the user experience, which will make users click far from the advertisements, leave the website, and most likely not go back to the website.

You should develop advertisements that have a responsive style to instantly get used to each format, or –– even better –– you ought to create advertisements particularly for the format on which you prepare to release them.

Ads need to be produced with the platform and the requirements of those users in mind. That method, the advertisements will incorporate flawlessly into the environment and will interest the requirements of those users.

.Consist Of Multiple Assets.

Not all components work for advertisements on all platforms. You require to have numerous properties prepared to go for all your advertisements if you desire to make your advertisements genuinely responsive.

That suggests that you have to have images, videos, typefaces, graphics, headings, and copy alternatives for your advertisements. These can then be included, deducted or changed around depending upon the requirements of the platform and the particular positioning of the advertisement.

For example, an in-body advertisement for a cellular phone must likely consist of a picture and an appealing yet brief heading. Extra graphics ought to be reduced, and the best sized picture must be utilized.

By offering several properties, you can preserve the total appearance and tone of your advertisement while likewise remaining real to your project style.

.Usage Contextual Targeting.

Native advertisements need to be as much a part of the website style and material as possible. That indicates likewise utilizing contextual targeting to show advertisements that relate to the material.

Ads must pertain to the page on which they appear, not simply the subject of the website itself. Simply since your item is for weight loss doesn’’ t imply it can reveal on any website about health –– it requires to reveal on a particular page about weight loss approaches or advantages.

The more carefully lined up the material is with the advertisement, the more reliable the advertisement will be.

.Usage Programmatic Placement.

Many website owners put advertisements by hand, or they pick pre-programmed places. You select the area you desire when you purchase advertisements.

However, these positionings put on’’ t have the exact same effect on every user. Some users might be more responsive to seeing an advertisement in a sidebar, while others will be most likely to act if they see the advertisement in body.

For the finest efficiency, your advertisements ought to be put immediately based upon user signals . You can do this by picking programmatic positioning, which utilizes algorithms to position your advertisements in the best location at the correct time for the ideal user.

With the ideal software application putting your advertisements, you will get a much greater return and more direct exposure for your brand name.

Mobile users are not going anywhere. The huge bulk of individuals on earth own mobile phones and utilize them frequently, and you should adjust your internet marketing techniques to them if you are going to stay competitive. Utilizing native advertisements for your mobile marketing can assist you reach more individuals, and utilizing these suggestions can assist you get more from those native advertisements. Start your brand-new project today and see how these modifications make a huge distinction to your outcomes.

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Read more: business2community.com

Web Optimization

Getting Traction for Your Newly Launched Website

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Day 1. Your website is now live. It is the very best thing ever. Set Up Google Analytics. Keep in mind to compose a personal privacy page and disclaimer page about Cookies and analytics. Sit glued to your Analytics represent the remainder of the day tweaking every element in the Analytics console. Oh yeah, while we’re at it, put on’’ t forget to include the website to Google search console too. Great. Done. Relax and unwind. Have a beer. You have actuallysucceeded young Padawan.

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Day 2. Enthusiastically dive into your Analytics account. “Hmm, very few views today. Okay I will provide it a long time.”

Day 3. Open Analytics. “Oh I have a number of clicks. No, wait – – those were me. Doh. “Hound a bit on social networks about how terrific your website is … Check back on Analytics.

Day 4. WHY YOU NO VISIT MY SITE?!?!?!?

 y-u-no-visit-my-site

Day 5. Distress, unhappiness, and a frustrating sensation of failure. “Maybe I’’ m not cut out for this website design lark?”

.The Freelance Designer ToolboxUnlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes &Design Assets.

google DOWNLOAD NOW hereNewsflash.

You remain in this for the long run and I hesitate to state there are no simple paths to success here. I am here to inform you it’s going to be difficult. Maybe harder than you believe. Have you got exactly what it requires to prosper? Great! I appreciate your decision. Now, continue reading and discover attempted and checked methods to obtain traction for your site.

.I dislike to state this, however without visitors your site is dead.

No matter how ingenious the service or product is, or how asthetically pleasing the style , if individuals are not visiting your site the basic reality is – – it is a dead site . The important things is however, you believe your website is dazzling, and do you understand exactly what? It most likely is! Who cares ?! Who understands about it? Why should a best complete stranger be intrigued in it?

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You might send out or utilize social media out news release, however with many brand names clamouring forattention, those messages can typically have little impact.

. Without Good Content Your Website is Dead.

Again, it might be aesthetically the very best thing ever, however if there is no material, absolutely nothing of genuine compound, it is a dead site. Material is whatever. Believe thoroughly about headings for page posts. Keyword research study will assist you a bit here however utilize it as a guide just.

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If your website is not mainly a blog site, think of including a blog sitearea . It can be difficult and hard work, however a blog site is essential. Compose a minimum of 1 or 2 posts about your field each week. Let the world understand you are a specialist in your field. Offer them another factor to check out if you are not a professional. Matthew Inman gets visitors by making individuals laugh. It may not work for everyone, however it sure worked for him.( 5 million regular monthly views).

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Give individuals exactly what they desire. Make your ‘ about page ‘about the visitor, not about you, i.e. composed with them in mind. Get the assistance of a proficient copywriter if you ‘feel out of your convenience zone. The majority of web designers most likely remain in this regard. They can make a website work well and look good, evaluating the code in depth. When it comes to discussing themselves and their service in a appealing and engaging method, that’s another matter completely.

. Things to do After Your Site is Launched.

Get your website indexed. Send your url to Google. You must likewise think about sending it to Bing and Yahoo . You do not always need to do this as the online search engine will get your site in time. This action will frequently speed up the procedure. (We offer Google specific attention as they are the greatest gamer with over 70% of the world ’ s market share of search.)

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Submit a sitemap in the Google search console and inspect that there are no concerns with the website which your website has a robots.txt file.

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Keep calm. Desperately altering things around prematurely will not do you any favours in the search results page, specifically if it is a recently signed up domain.Offer it a long time. Keep drip feeding brand-new, quality posts occasionally over the next few weeks.

. Mistakes to Avoid.

1 )Write for your users, not for robotics. It’s okay to pay attention to SEO recommendations however if you are not cautious your short articles willlose their appeal and end up being spammy and your readers will dislike it. This has actually been stated prior to, and lots of so called SEO specialists that have actually focused on particular things are needing to continuously re-evaluate their technique.

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If you desire your website to do well in the long term, filling your page and website with spam is not going to work. Google is continuously taking a look at this. Do it best and you will be rewarded. Compose material for your user initially, and for online search engine 2nd.

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2) Avoid any tool that states it is simple, fast, or inexpensive. Anybody making you guarantees because regard will just do you hurt in the long run.

. Tested and attempted Tips that Work. Occurs people individuals, #ppppp> Here are some leading pointers from individualsat the top of their game video game have either tried attempted or witnessed seen very first what happens. These are not simply my words, they are things that have actually been shown to work.

1) Invest in a brief, visually pleasing video .

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” If there’s something every start-up ought to buy, it needs to be a brief, visually pleasing video that discusses precisely how its item works. As a reporter covering start-ups, I ensure no quantity of offering a principle over the phone is as efficient as a well-produced video that plainly interacts the advantage of the app or software application. I nearly constantly embed it in my post if there’s a great video. Bonus offer points if it’s amusing. “ Omar Akhtar is the senior editor for The Hub, based in San Francisco

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2) Write a post for a popular online resource in a comparable field. Typically you will get a credit and connect to your site.

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3) Offer something totally free: Like an ebook, site design template or plugin (possibly you have some code for a task that never ever saw the light of day )then strongly promote it. It will absolutely bring in a great deal of brand-new visitors. For web designers, aim to get a totally free style included on WordPress.org and ensure to connect to your site, or produce a totally free style in a specific niche that individuals are trying to find and include it plainly straight on your website. It will assist tremendously.

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4 )Submit your page to StumbleUpon. Be prepared to anticipate a high bounce rate, however it can develop interest( in some cases a great deal of interest at the same time). That stated, it can be extremely struck and miss out on, so there are no warranties here. Individuals have actually likewise reported success with their paid outcomes, however here we are especially taking a look at natural techniques.

. Other Tips. Efficiency. Take a look at page speed( or website speed). Yes Google has actually made page speed part of its search algoritm , so it’s going to impact your online search engine outcomes (to exactly what degree I am not exactly sure, however it’s a reality). More significantly, individuals aren’t most likely to stick around or come back for more if your page takes an eternity to load. This uses much more so to mobile. Start with your style, keep it practical and tidy. Do not make with an image that might be finished with css. Optimise images( particularly for little screen widths). Look thoroughly at your typography and guarantee it checks out well on all gadgets. HTTPS? Concerning online search engine results, the jury is still out on this one for lots of people. If you are offering online or passing delicate info an SSL is a must, plainly. Considering that you are simply starting you will not have the concern of losing your position in Google so it’s most likely a great idea to begin with HTTPS from the off instead of need to change down the line. The web is definitely moving that method, and it will reveal that you value your visitors security, which is constantly an advantage, and can go a long method to constructing trust. Link structure. Simply to be clear here, we are discussing constructing significant relationships with other site owners and working to develop a significant brand name online. This requires time. We are not speaking about synthetic control of the online search engine with spammy link structure projects. Get social. Love it or hate it, you can not truly pay for to overlook social networks. Promote your site on Twitter and Facebook. Whilst you might wish to make use of some automatic tools for sharing your posts( time is valuable after all) keep in mind to keep the human component, engaging with your fans whenever possible. Gain from your errors. Naturally, success originates from doing things “ right ”, however when youare simply beginning you will likely make numerous errors. Do not let worry of failure stop you. Effective individuals have actually frequently made a great deal of errors, however the crucial thing is that they put on ’ t stopped. They keep moving till they come to their objective. Above all else – Be client, be consistent and keep favorable.

Let’s admit it, there are few over night experiences when it concerns “a site. There might be the odd exception obviously, however if you resemble the huge bulk people, it is going to take some time. Attempt to prevent the temptation to take faster ways – to the dark side you will wander off!

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Ok –, there is absolutely nothing brand-new here.It has actually all been stated prior to often times, however it deserves duplicating. Be identified, and your effort will settle. 3-6 months of following the above suggestions and your website is bound to be getting appropriate traffic and traction.

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Read more: 1stwebdesigner.com

Web Optimization

NEW On-Demand Crawl: Quick Insights for Sales, Prospecting, & Competitive Analysis

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Posted by Dr-Pete

In June of 2017, Moz released our completely restored Site Crawl , assisting you dive deep into crawl problems and technical SEO issues, repair those concerns in your Moz Pro Campaigns (tracked sites), and keep track of weekly for brand-new concerns. Lot of times, however, you require fast insights beyond a Campaign context, whether you’re evaluating a possibility website prior to a sales call or attempting to examine the competitors.

For years, Moz had a laboratory tool called Crawl Test. The problem is that Crawl Test never ever made it to prime-time and experienced some disregard. Fortunately is that I’m delighted to reveal the complete launch (since August 2018) of On-Demand Crawl, a completely brand-new crawl tool developed on the engine that powers Site Crawl, however with a UI created around fast insights for prospecting and competitive analysis.

While you put on’’ t require a Campaign to run a crawl, you do have to be logged into your Moz Pro membership. If you wear ’ t have a membership, you can sign-up for a complimentary trial and provide it a try.

brand-new crawl tool

How can you put On-Demand Crawl to work? Let’s stroll through a brief example together.

All you require is a domain

Getting begun is simple. From the “Moz Pro” menu, discover “On-Demand Crawl” under “Research Tools”:.

content

Just go into a root domain or subdomain in package on top and click the blue button to start a crawl. While I do not wish to badger anybody, I’ve chosen to utilize a genuine website. Our current analysis of the August 1st Google upgrade recognized some websites that were struck hard, and I’ve chosen one (lilluna.com) from that list.

crawl

Please keep in mind that Moz is not connected with Lil’ Luna in any method. For the a lot of part, it appears to be a good website with fairly excellent material. Let’s pretend, simply for this post, that you’re aiming to assist this website out and identify if they ‘d be an excellent suitable for your SEO services. You’ve got a call arranged and have to spot-check for any significant issues so that you can enter into that call as notified as possible.

On-Demand Crawls aren’t instant (crawling is a huge task), however they’ll normally complete in between a couple of minutes and an hour. We understand these are time-sensitive circumstances. You’ll quickly get an e-mail that appears like this:.

Crawl tool

The e-mail consists of the variety of URLs crawled (On-Demand will presently crawl as much as 3,000 URLs), the overall problems discovered, and a summary table of crawl problems by classification. Click the [View Report] connect to dive into the complete crawl information.

Assess crucial problems rapidly

We’ve developed On-Demand Crawl to help your very own human intelligence. You’ll see some fundamental statistics at the top, however then instantly move into a chart of your leading concerns by count. The chart just shows concerns that take place a minimum of as soon as on your website –– you can click “See More” to reveal all the concerns that On-Demand Crawl tracks (the leading 2 bars have actually been truncated) …

demand

Issues are likewise color-coded by classification. Some products are cautions, and whether they matter depends a lot on context. Other problems, like “Critcal Errors” (in red) generally require attention. Let’s examine out those 404 mistakes. Scroll down and you’ll see a list of “Pages Crawled” with filters. You’re going to choose “4xx” in the “Status Codes” dropdown …

google

You can then quite quickly spot-check these URLs and learn that they do, in reality, appear to be returning 404 mistakes. Some seem genuine material that has either external or internal links (or both). Within a couple of minutes, you’ve currently discovered something helpful.

Let’s take a look at those yellow “Meta Noindex” mistakes next. This is a difficult one, due to the fact that you cannot quickly identify intent. A deliberate Meta Noindex might be great. An unintended one (or numerous unintended ones) might be obstructing spiders and triggering major damage. Here, you’ll filter by problem type …

internal search pages

Like the leading chart, concerns appear in order of occurrence. You can likewise filter by all pages that have problems (any concerns) or pages that have no problems. Here’s a sample of exactly what you return (the complete table likewise consists of status code, concern count, and a choice to see all concerns) …

into

Notice the “? s=” typical to all these URLs. Clicking a couple of, you can see that these are internal search pages. These URLs have no specific SEO worth, and the Meta Noindex is most likely deliberate. Since you do not have internal understanding of a website, great technical SEO is likewise about preventing incorrect alarms. On-Demand Crawl assists you semi-automate and sum up insights to put your human intelligence to work rapidly.

Dive much deeper with exports

Let’s return to those 404s. Preferably, you ‘d like to understand where those URLs are appearing. We cannot fit whatever into one screen, however if you scroll as much as the “All Issues” chart you’ll see an “Export CSV” choice …

issues

The export will honor any filters embeded in the page list, so let’s re-apply that “4xx” filter and pull the information. Your export ought to download practically right away. The complete export includes a wealth of details, however I’ve zeroed in on simply exactly what’s vital for this specific case …

laboratory tool

Now, you understand not just exactly what pages are missing out on, however precisely where they connect from internally, and can quickly pass along recommended repairs to the consumer or possibility. A few of these end up being link-heavy pages that might most likely gain from some clean-up or upgrading (if more recent dishes are a great fit).

Let’s shot another one. You’ve got 8 replicate content mistakes. Possibly thin material might fit theories about the August 1st upgrade, so this deserves digging into. If you filter by “Duplicate Content” concerns, you’ll see the following message …

pages

The 8 replicate concerns really represent 18 pages, and the table returns all 18 impacted pages. In many cases, the duplicates will be apparent from the title and/or URL, however in this case there’s a little bit of secret, so let’s pull that export file. In this case, there’s a column called “Duplicate Content Group,” and arranging by it exposes something like the following (there’s a lot more information in the initial export file) …

site

I’ve relabelled “Duplicate Content Group” to simply “Group” and consisted of the word count (” Words”), which might be beneficial for confirming real duplicates. Take a look at group # 7 –– it ends up that these “Weekly Menu Plan” pages are really image heavy and have a typical block of text prior to any special text. While not 100% duplicated, these otherwise important pages might quickly appear like thin material to Google and represent a more comprehensive issue.

Real insights in real-time

Not counting the time invested composing the post, running this crawl and diving in took less than an hour, as well as that percentage of time invested discovered more prospective problems than exactly what I might cover in this post. In less than an hour, you can stroll into a customer conference or sales call with thorough understanding of any domain.

Keep in mind that a number of these functions likewise exist in our Site Crawl tool. If you’re searching for long-lasting, project insights, utilize Site Crawl (if you simply have to upgrade your information, utilize our “Recrawl” function). If you’re searching for fast, one-time insights, have a look at On-Demand Crawl. Requirement Pro users presently get 5 On-Demand Crawls each month (with limitations increasing at greater tiers).

Your On-Demand Crawls are presently kept for 90 days. When you return to the function, you’ll see a table of all your current crawls (the image listed below has actually been truncated):.

some

Click on any row to return to see the crawl information for that domain. Congratulations if you get the sale and choose to move forward! You can port that domain straight into a Moz project.

brand-new crawl tool

We hope you’ll attempt On-Demand Crawl out and let us understand exactly what you believe. We ‘d enjoy to hear your case research studies, whether it’s sales, competitive analysis, or simply aiming to resolve the secrets of a Google upgrade.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10 , a semimonthly mailer upgrading you on the leading 10 most popular pieces of SEO news, suggestions, and rad links revealed by the Moz group. Consider it as your special absorb of things you do not have time to pursue however wish to check out!

your

Read more: tracking.feedpress.it

Web Optimization

Rewriting the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Chapter 2: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

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Posted by BritneyMuller

It’s been a few months since our last share of our work-in-progress rewrite of the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, but after a brief hiatus, we’re back to share our draft of Chapter Two with you! This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Kameron Jenkins, who has thoughtfully contributed her great talent for wordsmithing throughout this piece.

This is your resource, the guide that likely kicked off your interest in and knowledge of SEO, and we want to do right by you. You left amazingly helpful commentary on our outline and draft of Chapter One, and we’d be honored if you would take the time to let us know what you think of Chapter Two in the comments below.

Chapter 2: How Search Engines Work – Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking First, show up.

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, search engines are answer machines. They exist to discover, understand, and organize the internet’s content in order to offer the most relevant results to the questions searchers are asking.

In order to show up in search results, your content needs to first be visible to search engines. It’s arguably the most important piece of the SEO puzzle: If your site can’t be found, there’s no way you’ll ever show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

How do search engines work?

Search engines have three primary functions:

Crawl: Scour the Internet for content, looking over the code/content for each URL they find.
Index: Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant queries.
Rank: Provide the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query. Order the search results by the most helpful to a particular query.
What is search engine crawling?

Crawling, is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots (known as crawlers or spiders) to find new and updated content. Content can vary — it could be a webpage, an image, a video, a PDF, etc. — but regardless of the format, content is discovered by links.

The bot starts out by fetching a few web pages, and then follows the links on those webpages to find new URLs. By hopping along this path of links, crawlers are able to find new content and add it to their index — a massive database of discovered URLs — to later be retrieved when a searcher is seeking information that the content on that URL is a good match for.

What is a search engine index?

Search engines process and store information they find in an index, a huge database of all the content they’ve discovered and deem good enough to serve up to searchers.

Search engine ranking

When someone performs a search, search engines scour their index for highly relevant content and then orders that content in the hopes of solving the searcher’s query. This ordering of search results by relevance is known as ranking. In general, you can assume that the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site is to the query.

It’s possible to block search engine crawlers from part or all of your site, or instruct search engines to avoid storing certain pages in their index. While there can be reasons for doing this, if you want your content found by searchers, you have to first make sure it’s accessible to crawlers and is indexable. Otherwise, it’s as good as invisible.

By the end of this chapter, you’ll have the context you need to work with the search engine, rather than against it!

Note: In SEO, not all search engines are equal

Many beginners wonder about the relative importance of particular search engines. Most people know that Google has the largest market share, but how important it is to optimize for Bing, Yahoo, and others? The truth is that despite the existence of more than 30 major web search engines, the SEO community really only pays attention to Google. Why? The short answer is that Google is where the vast majority of people search the web. If we include Google Images, Google Maps, and YouTube (a Google property), more than 90% of web searches happen on Google — that’s nearly 20 times Bing and Yahoo combined.

Crawling: Can search engines find your site?

As you’ve just learned, making sure your site gets crawled and indexed is a prerequisite for showing up in the SERPs. First things first: You can check to see how many and which pages of your website have been indexed by Google using “site:yourdomain.com”, an advanced search operator.

Head to Google and type “site:yourdomain.com” into the search bar. This will return results Google has in its index for the site specified:

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 5.19.15 PM.png

The number of results Google displays (see “About __ results” above) isn’t exact, but it does give you a solid idea of which pages are indexed on your site and how they are currently showing up in search results.

For more accurate results, monitor and use the Index Coverage report in Google Search Console. You can sign up for a free Google Search Console account if you don’t currently have one. With this tool, you can submit sitemaps for your site and monitor how many submitted pages have actually been added to Google’s index, among other things.

If you’re not showing up anywhere in the search results, there are a few possible reasons why:

Your site is brand new and hasn’t been crawled yet.
Your site isn’t linked to from any external websites.
Your site’s navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively.
Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives that is blocking search engines.
Your site has been penalized by Google for spammy tactics.

If your site doesn’t have any other sites linking to it, you still might be able to get it indexed by submitting your XML sitemap in Google Search Console or manually submitting individual URLs to Google. There’s no guarantee they’ll include a submitted URL in their index, but it’s worth a try!

Can search engines see your whole site?

Sometimes a search engine will be able to find parts of your site by crawling, but other pages or sections might be obscured for one reason or another. It’s important to make sure that search engines are able to discover all the content you want indexed, and not just your homepage.

Ask yourself this: Can the bot crawl through your website, and not just to it?

Is your content hidden behind login forms?

If you require users to log in, fill out forms, or answer surveys before accessing certain content, search engines won’t see those protected pages. A crawler is definitely not going to log in.

Are you relying on search forms?

Robots cannot use search forms. Some individuals believe that if they place a search box on their site, search engines will be able to find everything that their visitors search for.

Is text hidden within non-text content?

Non-text media forms (images, video, GIFs, etc.) should not be used to display text that you wish to be indexed. While search engines are getting better at recognizing images, there’s no guarantee they will be able to read and understand it just yet. It’s always best to add text within the <HTML> markup of your webpage.

Can search engines follow your site navigation?

Just as a crawler needs to discover your site via links from other sites, it needs a path of links on your own site to guide it from page to page. If you’ve got a page you want search engines to find but it isn’t linked to from any other pages, it’s as good as invisible. Many sites make the critical mistake of structuring their navigation in ways that are inaccessible to search engines, hindering their ability to get listed in search results.

Common navigation mistakes that can keep crawlers from seeing all of your site:

Having a mobile navigation that shows different results than your desktop navigation
Any type of navigation where the menu items are not in the HTML, such as JavaScript-enabled navigations. Google has gotten much better at crawling and understanding Javascript, but it’s still not a perfect process. The more surefire way to ensure something gets found, understood, and indexed by Google is by putting it in the HTML.
Personalization, or showing unique navigation to a specific type of visitor versus others, could appear to be cloaking to a search engine crawler
Forgetting to link to a primary page on your website through your navigation — remember, links are the paths crawlers follow to new pages!

This is why it’s essential that your website has a clear navigation and helpful URL folder structures.

Information architecture

Information architecture is the practice of organizing and labeling content on a website to improve efficiency and fundability for users. The best information architecture is intuitive, meaning that users shouldn’t have to think very hard to flow through your website or to find something.

Your site should also have a useful 404 (page not found) page for when a visitor clicks on a dead link or mistypes a URL. The best 404 pages allow users to click back into your site so they don’t bounce off just because they tried to access a nonexistent link.

engines

Tell search engines how to crawl your site

In addition to making sure crawlers can reach your most important pages, it’s also pertinent to note that you’ll have pages on your site you don’t want them to find. These might include things like old URLs that have thin content, duplicate URLs (such as sort-and-filter parameters for e-commerce), special promo code pages, staging or test pages, and so on.

Blocking pages from search engines can also help crawlers prioritize your most important pages and maximize your crawl budget (the average number of pages a search engine bot will crawl on your site).

Crawler directives allow you to control what you want Googlebot to crawl and index using a robots.txt file, meta tag, sitemap.xml file, or Google Search Console.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt files are located in the root directory of websites (ex. yourdomain.com/robots.txt) and suggest which parts of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl via specific robots.txt directives. This is a great solution when trying to block search engines from non-private pages on your site.

You wouldn’t want to block private/sensitive pages from being crawled here because the file is easily accessible by users and bots.

Pro tip:
If Googlebot can’t find a robots.txt file for a site (40X HTTP status code), it proceeds to crawl the site.
If Googlebot finds a robots.txt file for a site (20X HTTP status code), it will usually abide by the suggestions and proceed to crawl the site.
If Googlebot finds neither a 20X or a 40X HTTP status code (ex. a 501 server error) it can’t determine if you have a robots.txt file or not and won’t crawl your site.
Meta directives

The two types of meta directives are the meta robots tag (more commonly used) and the x-robots-tag. Each provides crawlers with stronger instructions on how to crawl and index a URL’s content.

The x-robots tag provides more flexibility and functionality if you want to block search engines at scale because you can use regular expressions, block non-HTML files, and apply sitewide noindex tags.

These are the best options for blocking more sensitive*/private URLs from search engines.

*For very sensitive URLs, it is best practice to remove them from or require a secure login to view the pages.

WordPress Tip: In Dashboard > Settings > Reading, make sure the “Search Engine Visibility” box is not checked. This blocks search engines from coming to your site via your robots.txt file!

Avoid these common pitfalls, and you’ll have clean, crawlable content that will allow bots easy access to your pages.

Once you’ve ensured your site has been crawled, the next order of business is to make sure it can be indexed. That’s right — just because your site can be discovered and crawled by a search engine doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be stored in their index. Read on to learn about how indexing works and how you can make sure your site makes it into this all-important database.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is just what it sounds like: a list of URLs on your site that crawlers can use to discover and index your content. One of the easiest ways to ensure Google is finding your highest priority pages is to create a file that meets Google’s standards and submit it through Google Search Console. While submitting a sitemap doesn’t replace the need for good site navigation, it can certainly help crawlers follow a path to all of your important pages.

Google Search Console

Some sites (most common with e-commerce) make the same content available on multiple different URLs by appending certain parameters to URLs. If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ve likely narrowed down your search via filters. For example, you may search for “shoes” on Amazon, and then refine your search by size, color, and style. Each time you refine, the URL changes slightly. How does Google know which version of the URL to serve to searchers? Google does a pretty good job at figuring out the representative URL on its own, but you can use the URL Parameters feature in Google Search Console to tell Google exactly how you want them to treat your pages.

google

Indexing: How do search engines understand and remember your site?

Once you’ve ensured your site has been crawled, the next order of business is to make sure it can be indexed. That’s right — just because your site can be discovered and crawled by a search engine doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be stored in their index. In the previous section on crawling, we discussed how search engines discover your web pages. The index is where your discovered pages are stored. After a crawler finds a page, the search engine renders it just like a browser would. In the process of doing so, the search engine analyzes that page’s contents. All of that information is stored in its index.

Read on to learn about how indexing works and how you can make sure your site makes it into this all-important database.

Can I see how a Googlebot crawler sees my pages?

Yes, the cached version of your page will reflect a snapshot of the last time googlebot crawled it.

Google crawls and caches web pages at different frequencies. More established, well-known sites that post frequently like https://www.nytimes.com will be crawled more frequently than the much-less-famous website for Roger the Mozbot’s side hustle, http://www.rogerlovescupcakes.com (if only it were real…)

You can view what your cached version of a page looks like by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the URL in the SERP and choosing “Cached”:

localYou can also view the text-only version of your site to determine if your important content is being crawled and cached effectively.

Are pages ever removed from the index?

Yes, pages can be removed from the index! Some of the main reasons why a URL might be removed include:

The URL is returning a “not found” error (4XX) or server error (5XX) – This could be accidental (the page was moved and a 301 redirect was not set up) or intentional (the page was deleted and 404ed in order to get it removed from the index)
The URL had a noindex meta tag added – This tag can be added by site owners to instruct the search engine to omit the page from its index.
The URL has been manually penalized for violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines and, as a result, was removed from the index.
The URL has been blocked from crawling with the addition of a password required before visitors can access the page.

If you believe that a page on your website that was previously in Google’s index is no longer showing up, you can manually submit the URL to Google by navigating to the “Submit URL” tool in Search Console.

Ranking: How do search engines rank URLs?

How do search engines ensure that when someone types a query into the search bar, they get relevant results in return? That process is known as ranking, or the ordering of search results by most relevant to least relevant to a particular query.

To determine relevance, search engines use algorithms, a process or formula by which stored information is retrieved and ordered in meaningful ways. These algorithms have gone through many changes over the years in order to improve the quality of search results. Google, for example, makes algorithm adjustments every day — some of these updates are minor quality tweaks, whereas others are core/broad algorithm updates deployed to tackle a specific issue, like Penguin to tackle link spam. Check out our Google Algorithm Change History for a list of both confirmed and unconfirmed Google updates going back to the year 2000.

Why does the algorithm change so often? Is Google just trying to keep us on our toes? While Google doesn’t always reveal specifics as to why they do what they do, we do know that Google’s aim when making algorithm adjustments is to improve overall search quality. That’s why, in response to algorithm update questions, Google will answer with something along the lines of: “We’re making quality updates all the time.” This indicates that, if your site suffered after an algorithm adjustment, compare it against Google’s Quality Guidelines or Search Quality Rater Guidelines, both are very telling in terms of what search engines want.

What do search engines want?

Search engines have always wanted the same thing: to provide useful answers to searcher’s questions in the most helpful formats. If that’s true, then why does it appear that SEO is different now than in years past?

Think about it in terms of someone learning a new language.

At first, their understanding of the language is very rudimentary — “See Spot Run.” Over time, their understanding starts to deepen, and they learn semantics—- the meaning behind language and the relationship between words and phrases. Eventually, with enough practice, the student knows the language well enough to even understand nuance, and is able to provide answers to even vague or incomplete questions.

When search engines were just beginning to learn our language, it was much easier to game the system by using tricks and tactics that actually go against quality guidelines. Take keyword stuffing, for example. If you wanted to rank for a particular keyword like “funny jokes,” you might add the words “funny jokes” a bunch of times onto your page, and make it bold, in hopes of boosting your ranking for that term:

Welcome to funny jokes! We tell the funniest jokes in the world. Funny jokes are fun and crazy. Your funny joke awaits. Sit back and read funny jokes because funny jokes can make you happy and funnier. Some funny favorite funny jokes.

This tactic made for terrible user experiences, and instead of laughing at funny jokes, people were bombarded by annoying, hard-to-read text. It may have worked in the past, but this is never what search engines wanted.

The role links play in SEO

When we talk about links, we could mean two things. Backlinks or “inbound links” are links from other websites that point to your website, while internal links are links on your own site that point to your other pages (on the same site).

Links have historically played a big role in SEO. Very early on, search engines needed help figuring out which URLs were more trustworthy than others to help them determine how to rank search results. Calculating the number of links pointing to any given site helped them do this.

Backlinks work very similarly to real life WOM (Word-Of-Mouth) referrals. Let’s take a hypothetical coffee shop, Jenny’s Coffee, as an example:

Referrals from others = good sign of authorityExample: Many different people have all told you that Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town
Referrals from yourself = biased, so not a good sign of authorityExample: Jenny claims that Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town
Referrals from irrelevant or low-quality sources = not a good sign of authority and could even get you flagged for spamExample: Jenny paid to have people who have never visited her coffee shop tell others how good it is.
No referrals = unclear authorityExample: Jenny’s Coffee might be good, but you’ve been unable to find anyone who has an opinion so you can’t be sure.

This is why PageRank was created. PageRank (part of Google’s core algorithm) is a link analysis algorithm named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page. PageRank estimates the importance of a web page by measuring the quality and quantity of links pointing to it. The assumption is that the more relevant, important, and trustworthy a web page is, the more links it will have earned.

The more natural backlinks you have from high-authority (trusted) websites, the better your odds are to rank higher within search results.

The role content plays in SEO

There would be no point to links if they didn’t direct searchers to something. That something is content! Content is more than just words; it’s anything meant to be consumed by searchers — there’s video content, image content, and of course, text. If search engines are answer machines, content is the means by which the engines deliver those answers.

Any time someone performs a search, there are thousands of possible results, so how do search engines decide which pages the searcher is going to find valuable? A big part of determining where your page will rank for a given query is how well the content on your page matches the query’s intent. In other words, does this page match the words that were searched and help fulfill the task the searcher was trying to accomplish?

Because of this focus on user satisfaction and task accomplishment, there’s no strict benchmarks on how long your content should be, how many times it should contain a keyword, or what you put in your header tags. All those can play a role in how well a page performs in search, but the focus should be on the users who will be reading the content.

Today, with hundreds or even thousands of ranking signals, the top three have stayed fairly consistent: links to your website (which serve as a third-party credibility signals), on-page content (quality content that fulfills a searcher’s intent), and RankBrain.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm. Machine learning is a computer program that continues to improve its predictions over time through new observations and training data. In other words, it’s always learning, and because it’s always learning, search results should be constantly improving.

For example, if RankBrain notices a lower ranking URL providing a better result to users than the higher ranking URLs, you can bet that RankBrain will adjust those results, moving the more relevant result higher and demoting the lesser relevant pages as a byproduct.

Like most things with the search engine, we don’t know exactly what comprises RankBrain, but apparently, neither do the folks at Google.

What does this mean for SEOs?

Because Google will continue leveraging RankBrain to promote the most relevant, helpful content, we need to focus on fulfilling searcher intent more than ever before. Provide the best possible information and experience for searchers who might land on your page, and you’ve taken a big first step to performing well in a RankBrain world.

Engagement metrics: correlation, causation, or both?

With Google rankings, engagement metrics are most likely part correlation and part causation.

When we say engagement metrics, we mean data that represents how searchers interact with your site from search results. This includes things like:

Clicks (visits from search)
Time on page (amount of time the visitor spent on a page before leaving it)
Bounce rate (the percentage of all website sessions where users viewed only one page)
Pogo-sticking (clicking on an organic result and then quickly returning to the SERP to choose another result)

Many tests, including Moz’s own ranking factor survey, have indicated that engagement metrics correlate with higher ranking, but causation has been hotly debated. Are good engagement metrics just indicative of highly ranked sites? Or are sites ranked highly because they possess good engagement metrics?

What Google has said

While they’ve never used the term “direct ranking signal,” Google has been clear that they absolutely use click data to modify the SERP for particular queries.

According to Google’s former Chief of Search Quality, Udi Manber:

“The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, 80% of people click on #2 and only 10% click on #1, after a while we figure out probably #2 is the one people want, so we’ll switch it.”

Another comment from former Google engineer Edmond Lau corroborates this:

“It’s pretty clear that any reasonable search engine would use click data on their own results to feed back into ranking to improve the quality of search results. The actual mechanics of how click data is used is often proprietary, but Google makes it obvious that it uses click data with its patents on systems like rank-adjusted content items.”

Because Google needs to maintain and improve search quality, it seems inevitable that engagement metrics are more than correlation, but it would appear that Google falls short of calling engagement metrics a “ranking signal” because those metrics are used to improve search quality, and the rank of individual URLs is just a byproduct of that.

What tests have confirmed

Various tests have confirmed that Google will adjust SERP order in response to searcher engagement:

Rand Fishkin’s 2014 test resulted in a #7 result moving up to the #1 spot after getting around 200 people to click on the URL from the SERP. Interestingly, ranking improvement seemed to be isolated to the location of the people who visited the link. The rank position spiked in the US, where many participants were located, whereas it remained lower on the page in Google Canada, Google Australia, etc.
Larry Kim’s comparison of top pages and their average dwell time pre- and post-RankBrain seemed to indicate that the machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm demotes the rank position of pages that people don’t spend as much time on.
Darren Shaw’s testing has shown user behavior’s impact on local search and map pack results as well.

Since user engagement metrics are clearly used to adjust the SERPs for quality, and rank position changes as a byproduct, it’s safe to say that SEOs should optimize for engagement. Engagement doesn’t change the objective quality of your web page, but rather your value to searchers relative to other results for that query. That’s why, after no changes to your page or its backlinks, it could decline in rankings if searchers’ behaviors indicates they like other pages better.

In terms of ranking web pages, engagement metrics act like a fact-checker. Objective factors such as links and content first rank the page, then engagement metrics help Google adjust if they didn’t get it right.

The evolution of search results

Back when search engines lacked a lot of the sophistication they have today, the term “10 blue links” was coined to describe the flat structure of the SERP. Any time a search was performed, Google would return a page with 10 organic results, each in the same format.

page

In this search landscape, holding the #1 spot was the holy grail of SEO. But then something happened. Google began adding results in new formats on their search result pages, called SERP features. Some of these SERP features include:

Paid advertisements
Featured snippets
People Also Ask boxes
Local (map) pack
Knowledge panel
Sitelinks

And Google is adding new ones all the time. It even experimented with “zero-result SERPs,” a phenomenon where only one result from the Knowledge Graph was displayed on the SERP with no results below it except for an option to “view more results.”

The addition of these features caused some initial panic for two main reasons. For one, many of these features caused organic results to be pushed down further on the SERP. Another byproduct is that fewer searchers are clicking on the organic results since more queries are being answered on the SERP itself.

So why would Google do this? It all goes back to the search experience. User behavior indicates that some queries are better satisfied by different content formats. Notice how the different types of SERP features match the different types of query intents.

Query Intent

Possible SERP Feature Triggered

Informational

Featured Snippet

Informational with one answer

Knowledge Graph / Instant Answer

Local

Map Pack

Transactional

Shopping

We’ll talk more about intent in Chapter 3, but for now, it’s important to know that answers can be delivered to searchers in a wide array of formats, and how you structure your content can impact the format in which it appears in search.

Localized search

A search engine like Google has its own proprietary index of local business listings, from which it creates local search results.

If you are performing local SEO work for a business that has a physical location customers can visit (ex: dentist) or for a business that travels to visit their customers (ex: plumber), make sure that you claim, verify, and optimize a free Google My Business Listing.

When it comes to localized search results, Google uses three main factors to determine ranking:

Relevance
Distance
Prominence
Relevance

Relevance is how well a local business matches what the searcher is looking for. To ensure that the business is doing everything it can to be relevant to searchers, make sure the business’ information is thoroughly and accurately filled out.

Distance

Google use your geo-location to better serve you local results. Local search results are extremely sensitive to proximity, which refers to the location of the searcher and/or the location specified in the query (if the searcher included one).

Organic search results are sensitive to a searcher’s location, though seldom as pronounced as in local pack results.

Prominence

With prominence as a factor, Google is looking to reward businesses that are well-known in the real world. In addition to a business’ offline prominence, Google also looks to some online factors to determine local ranking, such as:

Reviews

The number of Google reviews a local business receives, and the sentiment of those reviews, have a notable impact on their ability to rank in local results.

Citations

A “business citation” or “business listing” is a web-based reference to a local business’ “NAP” (name, address, phone number) on a localized platform (Yelp, Acxiom, YP, Infogroup, Localeze, etc.).

Local rankings are influenced by the number and consistency of local business citations. Google pulls data from a wide variety of sources in continuously making up its local business index. When Google finds multiple consistent references to a business’s name, location, and phone number it strengthens Google’s “trust” in the validity of that data. This then leads to Google being able to show the business with a higher degree of confidence. Google also uses information from other sources on the web, such as links and articles.

Check a local business’ citation accuracy here.

Organic ranking

SEO best practices also apply to local SEO, since Google also considers a website’s position in organic search results when determining local ranking.

In the next chapter, you’ll learn on-page best practices that will help Google and users better understand your content.

[Bonus!] Local engagement

Although not listed by Google as a local ranking determiner, the role of engagement is only going to increase as time goes on. Google continues to enrich local results by incorporating real-world data like popular times to visit and average length of visits…

Screenshot of Google SERP result for a local business showing busy times of day

Undoubtedly now more than ever before, local results are being influenced by real-world data. This interactivity is how searchers interact with and respond to local businesses, rather than purely static (and game-able) information like links and citations.

Since Google wants to deliver the best, most relevant local businesses to searchers, it makes perfect sense for them to use real time engagement metrics to determine quality and relevance.

You don’t have to know the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm (that remains a mystery!), but by now you should have a great baseline knowledge of how the search engine finds, interprets, stores, and ranks content. Armed with that knowledge, let’s learn about choosing the keywords your content will target!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Web Optimization

The Rules of Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by BritneyMuller

Are you building links the right way? Or are you still subscribing to outdated practices? Britney Muller clarifies which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time (or downright harmful) in today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.

The Rules of Link Building

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Happy Friday, Moz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going over the rules of link building. It’s no secret that links are one of the top three ranking factors in Goggle and can greatly benefit your website. But there is a little confusion around what’s okay to do as far as links and what’s not. So hopefully, this helps clear some of that up.

The Dos

All right. So what are the dos? What do you want to be doing? First and most importantly is just to…

I. Determine the value of that link. So aside from ranking potential, what kind of value will that link bring to your site? Is it potential traffic? Is it relevancy? Is it authority? Just start to weigh out your options and determine what’s really of value for your site.

II. Local listings still do very well. These local business citations are on a bunch of different platforms, and services like Moz Local or Yext can get you up and running a little bit quicker. They tend to show Google that this business is indeed located where it says it is. It has consistent business information — the name, address, phone number, you name it. But something that isn’t really talked about all that often is that some of these local listings never get indexed by Google. If you think about it, Yellowpages.com is probably populating thousands of new listings a day. Why would Google want to index all of those?

So if you’re doing business listings, an age-old thing that local SEOs have been doing for a while is create a page on your site that says where you can find us online. Link to those local listings to help Google get that indexed, and it sort of has this boomerang-like effect on your site. So hope that helps. If that’s confusing, I can clarify down below. Just wanted to include it because I think it’s important.

III. Unlinked brand mentions. One of the easiest ways you can get a link is by figuring out who is mentioning your brand or your company and not linking to it. Let’s say this article publishes about how awesome SEO companies are and they mention Moz, and they don’t link to us. That’s an easy way to reach out and say, “Hey, would you mind adding a link? It would be really helpful.”

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