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Google did several search algorithmic updates; somewhat confirming update rumors

Google said “We did, actually several updates” this week.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

[Hero Academy Video] Dynamic Search Ads for Beginners

In this new, short video on Hero Academy Hanapin Account Manager, Shannon Macklin, walks you through a summary of what Dynamic Search Ads are, how to set them up, and how they can be used alongside remarketing.

Read more at PPCHero.com

Reblogged 4 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition?

On September 30th, Google turned off average position as a metric for search campaigns and now requires advertisers to transition to new impression share and impression rate tools.

The news was first announced in February as an effort to establish more accurate and transparent forms of measurement. Advertisers now get to experience how often ads are appearing for eligible searches (share) and how often ads are showing at the top of the search results page (rate)—and while these new tools will ultimately be beneficial, the forced change from Google will undoubtedly stir up routine for many advertisers.

Here are a few ways advertisers can get set up with the rollout of new metrics.

Understanding the basics

To understand the impact of this change, let’s first define impression share and impression rate. Impression share is the percentage of impressions an ad receives compared to the total number that the ad is qualified for on the search engine results page (SERP). Impression share is a novel way to discover room for ad performance improvements—it displays any missed opportunities by showing how often a certain ad showed up in the top search results.

In contrast, the average position did not properly measure whether ads showed up above the organic results or not; it just showcased their order compared to other ads. Advertisers were left with a guessing game.

Impression rate shows advertisers how often their ads show up at the top of the SERP based on their total impressions—in other words, what percent of the time an ad is in the very top spot (absolute top) or shown anywhere above the organic search results (top). These details address another shortcoming of average position since even an ad in position two might be at the bottom of the page.

Measuring impression share and impression rate

There are three versions of impression share, all which measure ad impressions divided by the total eligible impressions for that ad, but based on different locations on the SERP:

  • Search (abs.) top IS: The new impression an ad has received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is new.
  • Search top IS: The impressions an ad has received anywhere above the organic search results compared to the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is also new.
  • Search impression share: This already-existing metric measures impressions anywhere on the page.

For the impression rate, there are two metrics that are only based on ad impressions, not the total number of eligible impressions.

  • Impr. (absolute top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

Optimizing for awareness and performance

If an advertiser is more focused on driving awareness than ROI, impression share and impression rate are both greatly valuable, as they guarantee the ads are meeting a visibility threshold and can boost awareness.

On the other hand, advertisers using Google’s new impression share options in Smart Bidding should be cautious. The impression share data is not accessible on the same day, so it’s hard to track performance – and setting a high target may significantly boost spending by making an ad eligible for additional, unwanted auctions. A better strategy for Smart Bidding is to bid to impression rate, which has data available intraday. This approach allows advertisers to optimize their impressions showing at the top of the SERP.

As a general starting point, the easiest way for advertisers to set targets is to look at recent performance for campaigns across the three impression % (rate) metrics. This should ensure the smoothest transition from targeting a position to targeting impression share.

Setting up for the transition

Advertisers using Google have been encouraged to focus on the impression metrics for some time. Still, many advertisers probably feel an impact from the shift to these metrics, particularly because of the new obstacles it presents for bidding strategies. Therefore, advertisers should set the right bids to achieve their shared goal.

With this switch to the new metrics, advertisers should check any rules that support average position, and update reports and saved columns that include the average position. The following applications may include average position:

  • Bidding settings and AdWords rules
  • Custom columns
  • Saved reports (especially any with filters)
  • AdWords scripts
  • Saved column sets
  • Scorecards that use average position in dashboards
  • URLs using the {ad position} parameter

Google announced it will be automatically migrating “Target Position on Page” bid strategies, but there’s no certainty on a timeline or details regarding the migration. Therefore, advertisers should watch for any campaign targeting average position from now on to ensure they’re getting the expected results.

Wes MacLaggan is SVP of Marketing at Marin Software.

The post Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 4 days ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well

Who better? Many business people faced with the task of writing for marketing purposes are quick to say: “Hey, I’m…

The post Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well appeared first on Copyblogger.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feeds.copyblogger.com

Which SEO software is right for your company?

Let MarTech Today’s ‘Enterprise SEO Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide’ help you make the informed choice.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Video: Danny Sullivan, Google Public Liaison of Search, on his transition from Search Engine Land to Google

It was an honor and privilege to interview Danny Sullivan, someone I have worked closely with at this site for about 15 years.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2019

What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas? What about when you decide it’s time to change the way you keep the books finally? Or even notice a flat tire in the car?

My guess, you turn to Google.

But did you know that 89% of B2B buyers and 81% of online shoppers do the same?

Faced with a problem, challenge or even a choice, they google it. Simply.

And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence in Google, your business is unlikely to survive long.

In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build this presence – Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)

You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.

But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.

So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, focus on advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.

I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.

In the following pages, I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends, check out HubSpot’s Skill Up podcast.)

Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.

When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone googles your product or service category, they find your website.

But this simplifies the discipline a bit. It doesn’t take elements like different customer information needs into consideration. However, it does reveal its essence.

In short, SEO drives two things — rankings and visibility.

Rankings

This is a process that search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in SERPs.

Visibility

This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in search engine results. With high visibility, your domain is prominent in SERPs. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries.

Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and conversions.

There is one more reason why you should be using SEO.

The discipline helps you position your brand throughout almost the entire buying journey.

In turn, it can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior.

Because, as Google admitted themselves – customer behavior has changed forever.

Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel. 18% more shoppers choose Google over Amazon. 136% more prefer the search engine to other retail websites. And B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches, on average, before engaging with a brand.

What’s more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own.

For example, in recent survey from HubSpot Research, we found that 77% people research a brand before engaging with it.

Forrester revealed that 60% of customers do not want any interaction with salespeople. Further, 68% prefer to research on their own. And 62% have developed their own criteria to select the right vendor.

What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.

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Source: Forrester Research

Finally, DemandGen’s 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search. In comparison, only 56% go directly to a vendor’s website.

But how do they use search engines during the process?
 

Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.

Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.

And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.

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How Does Google Know How to Rank a Page?

Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.

Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.

To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:

Relevancy between the search query and the content on a page. Search engines assess it by various factors like topic or keywords.  

Authority, measured by a website’s popularity on the Internet. Google assumes that the more popular a page or resource is, the more valuable is its content to readers.

And to analyze all this information they use complex equations calledsearch algorithms.

Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.

As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.

Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy

To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.

1. Technical Setup

For your website to rank, three things must happen:

First, a search engine needs find your pages on the Web.

Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.

And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.

Seem simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?

Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.

To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.

As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.

Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.

seo-3

Notice some things about it:

  • The page is just text. Although we carefully designed it, the only elements a search engine sees are text and links.
  • As a result, it cannot see an image on the page (note the element marked with an arrow.) It only recognizes its name. If that image contained an important keyword we’d want the page to rank for, it would be invisible to the search engine.

That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in.

It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems.

And the most important factors affecting it include:

Website navigation and links

Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.

Simple URL structure

Search engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.

Page speed

Search engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions how to improve your pages.

 

 

Dead links or broken redirects

A dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.

Sitemap and Robots.txt files

A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.

Duplicate content

Pages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it near impossible to determine what content they should display in search results. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor. And upon finding it, can penalize a website by not displaying any of those pages at all.

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2. Content

Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content — information on a particular issue or problem, for example.

True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.

It’s all content.

And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.

Here are two reasons why:

For one, content is what customers want when searching. Regardless of what they’re looking for, it’s content that provides it. And the more of it you publish, the higher your chance for greater search visibility.

But also, search engines use content to determine how to rank a page. It’s the idea of relevance between a page and a person’s search query that we talked about earlier.

While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.

The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.

Keyword Research

SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.

However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.

That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.

The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.

We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.  

With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.

Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.

You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.

Note: Since blog content prevails on most websites, when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.

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i. Keyword Optimization

First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:

Post’s title: Ideally, place it as close to the start of the title. Google is known to put more value on words at the start of the headline.

URL: Your page’s web address should also include the keyword. Ideally, including nothing else. Also, remove any stop words.

H1 Tag: In most content management systems, this tag displays the title of the page by default. However, make sure that your platform doesn’t use a different setting.

The first 100 words (or the first paragraph) of content: Finding the keyword at the start of your blog post will reassure Google that this is, in fact, the page’s topic.

Meta-title and meta-description tags: Search engines use these two code elements to display their listings. They display meta-title as the search listing’s title. Meta-description provides content for the little blurb below it. But above that, they use both to understand the page’s topic further.

Image file names and ALT tags: Remember how search engines see graphics on a page? They can only see their file names. So, make sure that at least one of the images contains the keyword in the file name.

The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.

Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.

Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?

Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?

That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.

ii. Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization Factors

On-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:

External links: Linking out to other, relevant pages on the topic helps Google determine its topic further. Plus, it provides a good user experience. How?  By positioning your content as a valuable resource.

Internal links: Those links help you boost rankings in two ways. One, they allow search engines to find and crawl other pages on the site. And two, they show semantic relations between various pages, helping to determine its relevance to the search query better. As a rule, you should include at least 2-4 internal links per blog post.

Content’s length: Long content typically ranks better. That’s because, if done well, a longer blog post will always contain more exhaustive information on the topic.

Multimedia: Although not a requirement, multimedia elements like videos, diagrams, audio players can signal a page’s quality. It keeps readers on a page for longer. And in turn, it signals that they find the content valuable and worth perusing.

3. Links

From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.

In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.

The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevancy (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)

Links, however, are responsible for popularity.

But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.

What Is a Backlink?

Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.

For example, this article in Entrepreneur.com mentions our marketing statistics page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.

seo-4

Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.

But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.

Links Quality Factors

Low quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.

That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on building any links. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.

Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:

  1. The popularity of a linking site: Any link from a domain that search engines consider an authority will naturally have high quality. In other words, links from websites that have good quality links pointing to them, work better.
  2. Topic relevance: Links from domains on a topic similar to yours will carry more authority than those from random websites.
  3. Trust in a domain: Just like with popularity, search engines also assess a website’s trust. Links from more trustworthy sites will always impact rankings better.

Link Building

In SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.

Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.

Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.

Here are some strategies to do it:

Editorial, organic links. These backlinks come from websites that reference your content on their own.

Outreach. In this strategy, you contact other websites for links. This can happen in many ways. You could create an amazing piece of content, and email them to tell them about it. In turn, if they find it valuable, they’ll reference it. You can also suggest where they could link to it.

Guest posting. Guest posts are blog articles that you publish on third-party websites. In turn, those companies often allow including one or two links to your site in the content and author bio.

Profile links. Finally, many websites offer an opportunity to create a link. Online profiles are a good example. Often, when setting up such profile, you can also list your website there as well. Not all such links carry strong authority, but some might. And given the ease of creating them, they’re worth pursuing.

Competitive analysis. Finally, many SEOs regularly analyze their competitors’ backlinks to identify those they could recreate for their sites too.

Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.

The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.

How to Monitor & Track SEO Results

Technical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.

Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:

  • Organic traffic growth
  • Keyword rankings (split into branded and non-branded terms)
  • Conversions from organic traffic
  • Average time on page and the bounce rate
  • Top landing pages attracting organic traffic
  • Number of indexed pages
  • Links growth (including new and lost links)

Local SEO

Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.

And it’s well worth it.

97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.

What’s more, they act on this information: 75% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.

But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?

Yes and no.

Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.

Local search results look different too:

  • They appear only for searches with a local intent (for example, “restaurant near me” or when a person clearly defined the location.)
  • They contain results specific to a relevant location.
  • They concentrate on delivering specific information to users that they don’t need to go anywhere else to find.
  • They target smartphone users primarily as local searches occur more often on mobile devices.

For example, a local pack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.

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Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:

  • Business name
  • Description
  • Image
  • Opening hours
  • Star Reviews
  • Address

Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.

All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.

Local Search Ranking Factors

When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.

Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.

Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.

Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.

Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.

What is Black Hat SEO?

The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.

Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.

Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.

So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.

Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.

But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.

And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.

SEO Resources & Training

This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.

Here are online training resources to try next:

You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:

Over To You

Without actively positioning its content in search results, no business can survive long.

By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales. And that’s well worth the time spent becoming an expert in SEO. 

Reblogged 5 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2019

So, you’ve read dozens — if not hundreds — of SEO articles online. You’ve digested countless tips and tricks for improving your website’s SEO. You’ve even (over)paid that self-proclaimed “expert” to help you develop an SEO strategy that aligns with your business goals.

But after all of the reading and learning and strategizing, it dawns on you: You haven’t actually done anything yet. Perhaps you’re intimidated. Maybe you’re crunched for time.

Regardless, when it comes to on-page SEO, there’s no excuse for dragging your feet. On-page SEO has the power to bring countless new visitors — and customers — right to your website.

On-page SEO is also completely up to you: You get to establish what the topic and/or goal of each page will be. You get to decide on the target audience for that page. And you get to choose the target keywords and phrases you want to focus on.

All you have to do is get started, and we built this guide to help you.

Google’s algorithm ranks your website on three main factors: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO:

Note: This SEO “trilogy” isn’t always divided into three clean sections; some of these SEO elements will overlap. You’ll see how and why throughout this piece.

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO is important because it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. It helps your site be optimized for both human eyes and search engine bots.

Merely creating and publishing your website isn’t enough — you must optimize it for Google and other search engines in order to rank and attract new traffic.

On-page SEO is called “on-page” because the tweaks and changes you make to optimize your website can be seen by visitors on your page (whereas off-page and technical SEO elements aren’t always visible). 

Every part of on-page SEO is completely up to you; that’s why it’s critical that you do it correctly. Now, let’s discuss the elements of on-page SEO.

All on-page SEO elements fall into three main categories:

You’ll see these elements divided into sections below.

Content Elements

Content elements refer to the elements within your site copy and content. In this section, we’ll focus mostly on crafting high-quality page content that benefits your visitors and tells Google that your website provides value.

High-quality page content

Page content is the heart of on-page SEO. It tells both search engines and readers what your website and business is all about and how you can help.

The first step to creating high-quality content is choosing relevant keywords and topics. Conduct keyword research by searching Google for terms and seeing what surfaces for competitors and other websites. You can also use tools like Ahrefs, AnswerthePublic, and UberSuggest.

Also, read our Beginner’s Guide on How to Do Keyword Research for SEO.

Next, consider how your page content falls into the buyer’s journey and visitors’ search intent. These will affect how you will use your keywords and what types of content you will create:

Stage in the Buyer’s Journey Suggested Content/Website Pages
Awareness

Blog posts, videos
Homepage

Consideration

Buyer’s guides, case studies
About page

Decision

Product demos, comparison tools
Product or pricing pages, contact page

Now, it’s time to write your page content or clean it up if you’re currently auditing your on-page SEO.

Here are a few best practices for writing high-quality page content:

  • Incorporate short and long-tail keywords naturally.
  • Add engaging and relevant visual content.
  • Write for your specific buyer persona(s).
  • Actively solve your audience’s problem.
  • Develop content people will share and link to.
  • Optimize for conversions with CTAs to offers and product pages.

Page content is your opportunity to communicate value to Google and your site visitors; it’s the heart of the on-page SEO process. All other on-page SEO elements stem from high-quality page content, so invest ample resources to develop and optimize it.

HTML Elements

HTML elements refer to the elements in your source code. Note: To see the source code for any page in your browser, click View > Developer > View Source in the top menu.

Page titles

Your website page titles (also known as title tags) are one of the most important SEO elements.

Titles tell both visitors and search engines what they can find on the corresponding pages.

To ensure your site pages rank for the proper intent, be sure to include the focus keyword for each page in the title. Incorporate your keyword as naturally as possible.

Here are some best practices for when developing a page title:

  • Keep it under 70 characters (per Google’s latest update) … any longer and your title will be cut off in search results. Mobile search results show up to 78 characters.
  • Don’t stuff the title with keywords. Not only does keyword-stuffing present a spammy and tacky reading experience, but modern search engines are smarter than ever — they’ve been designed to specifically monitor for (and penalize!) content that’s unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
  • Make it relevant to the page.
  • Don’t use all caps.
  • Include your brand in the title, i.e. “The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2019 — HubSpot Blog“.

Check out our free data-driven guide to writing effective page titles.

Headers

Headers, also known as body tags, refer to the HTML element <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, and so on.

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These tags help organize your content for readers and help search engines distinguish what part of your content is most important and relevant, depending on search intent.

Incorporate important keywords in your
headers, but choose different ones than what’s in your page title. Put your most important keywords in your <h1> and <h2> headers.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the short page descriptions that appear under the title in search results. Although it’s not an official ranking factor for search engines, it can influence whether or not your page is clicked on — therefore, it’s just as important when doing on-page SEO.

on-page-seo-meta-descriptions

Meta descriptions can also be copied over to social media when your content is shared (by using structured markup, which we talk about below), so it can encourage click-throughs from there, too.

Here’s what makes for a good meta description:

  • Keep it under 160 characters, although Google has been known to allow longer meta descriptions — up to 220 characters. (Note: Mobile devices cut off meta descriptions at 120 characters.)
  • Include your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
  • Use a complete, compelling sentence (or two).
  • Avoid alphanumeric characters like —, &, or +.

Image alt-text

Image alt-text is like SEO for your images. It tells Google and other search engines what your images are about … which is important because Google now delivers almost as many image-based results as they do text-based results.

That means consumers may be discovering your site through your images. In order for them to do this, though, you have to add alt-text to your images.

Here’s what to keep in mind when adding image alt-text:

  • Make it descriptive and specific.
  • Make it contextually relevant to the broader page content.
  • Keep it shorter than 125 characters.
  • Use keywords sparingly, and don’t keyword stuff.

Structured markup

Structured markup, or structured data, is the process of “marking up” your website source code to make it easier for Google to find and understand different elements of your content. 

Structured markup is the key behind those featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other content features you see when you search for something on Google. It’s also how your specific page information shows up so neatly when someone shares your content on social media.

Note: Structured data is considered technical SEO, but I’m including it here because optimizing it creates a better on-page experience for visitors.

on-page-seo-structured-markup

Site Architecture Elements

Site architecture elements refer to the elements that make up your website and site pages. How you structure your website can help Google and other search engines easily crawl the pages and page content.

Page URLs

Your page URLs should be simple to digest for both readers and search engines. They are also important when keeping your site hierarchy consistent as you create subpages, blog posts, and other types of internal pages.

on-page-seo-page-url

For example, in the above URL, “blog” is the sub-domain, “hubspot.com” is the domain, “sales” is the directory for the HubSpot Sales Blog, and “startups” indicates the specific path to that blog post.

Here are a few tips on how to write SEO-friendly URLs:

  • Remove the extra, unnecessary words.
  • Use only one or two keywords.
  • Use HTTPS if possible, as Google now uses that as a positive ranking factor.

Internal linking

Internal linking is the process of hyperlinking to other helpful pages on your website. (See how the words “internal linking” are linked to another HubSpot blog post in the sentence above? That’s an example.)

Internal linking is important for on-page SEO because internal links send readers to other pages on your website, keeping them around longer and thus telling Google your site is valuable and helpful. Also, the longer visitors are on your website, the more time Google has to crawl and index your site pages. This ultimately helps Google absorb more information about your website and potentially rank it higher on the search engine results pages.

Download our free guide to Internal Linking for SEO.

Mobile responsiveness

Did you know over the last year, Google has started favoring sites that are optimized for faster mobile speeds — even for desktop searches? Mobile responsiveness matters.

It’s critical to choose a website hosting service, site design and theme, and content layout that’s readable and navigable on mobile devices. If you’re not sure about your own site’s mobile readiness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

on-page-seo-mobile-responsiveness

Site speed

Whether being viewed on a mobile device or desktop, your site must be able to load quickly. When it comes to on-page SEO, page speed counts big-time.

Google cares about user experience first and foremost. If your site loads slowly or haphazardly, it’s likely your visitors aren’t going to stick around — and Google knows that. Moreover, site speed can impact conversions and ROI.

Check your website’s speed anytime using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your website is movin’ slow, check out 5 Easy Ways to Help Reduce Your Website’s Page Loading Speed.

Note: Mobile responsiveness and site speed are considered technical SEO, but I’m including them here because optimizing them creates a better on-page experience for visitors.

on-page-seo-site-speed

Now that you understand the different on-page SEO elements, let’s talk through the steps of auditing and improving your on-page SEO.

One of the more difficult parts of this process is organizing and tracking all of these various on-page SEO elements.

If you’ve been in search of a solution, you’re in luck: The HubSpot marketing team recently released an updated version of our On-Page SEO Template, an Excel document that allows you to coordinate pages and keywords — and track changes — all in one place.

In this section, we’ll be using this template as a guide as we walk you through a checklist for your on-page SEO management, step by step. Download the template now and follow along.

(Note: The fictional website “http://www.quantify.ly” will be used as an example throughout this post. It’s simply meant to help you imagine how your own website will fit into the template.)

1. Crawl Your Website

Get an overview of all of your website pages that search engines have indexed. For HubSpot customers, our Page Performance tool (under Reports) will allow you to do this. If you’re not using HubSpot, you can try using a free tool like Xenu’s link crawler.

After crawling your site and exporting the results into an Excel (or .csv) file, there will be three key columns of data that you should focus on:

  1. The web address (a.k.a. URL)
  2. The page title
  3. The page meta description

Copy and paste these three columns into your template.

The URL should be pasted into column B, the page title into column C, and the description into column E.

on-page-seo-checklist-1

2. Conduct an SEO Audit and Define Your Site Architecture

Now that you have a basic index of your site in the template, you’ll want to organize and prioritize your web pages. Start by defining where within your site architecture your existing pages currently sit. Do this in column A.

Note whether a page is your homepage (ideally you’ll only have one of those), a page in your primary (or secondary) navigation menu, an internal page, and so on.

on-page-seo-checklist-2

3. Update URLs, Page Titles, and Meta Descriptions

Review your current URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions to see if they need updating. This is the beauty of using a template to organize your SEO: You get a broad overview of the type of content you have on your website.

on-page-seo-checklist-3

Notice how column D and column F automatically calculate the length of each element. The recommended length for page titles is anything under 60 characters. (And, actually, a quick and easy optimization project is to update all page titles that are longer than 60 characters.)

The recommended length for page meta descriptions is 155-160 characters. This is the perfect length to ensure none of the description is cut off by the ellipses. Make sure you’re not too repetitive with keywords in this space. Writing a good meta description isn’t tough, but it deserves just as much consideration as the page content itself.

(Note: For some sites, you may also have to update the URLs, but that’s not always the case and thus was not included as part of this optimization template.)

4. Establish Value Propositions for Each Page

A very important next step, which is often overlooked, is establishing a value proposition for each page of your website. Each page should have a goal aside from just ranking for a particular term. You’ll do this in column G.

on-page-seo-checklist-4

5. Define Your Target Audience

In column H, you have the opportunity to define your page’s target audience. Is it a single buyer persona or multiple personas? Keep this persona in mind as you optimize your site’s pages. (Remember, you are optimizing for humans, too — not just search engine robots.)

on-page-seo-checklist-5

6. Plan New Page Titles

Now that you’ve documented your existing page titles and have established value propositions and target audiences for each of your pages, write new page titles (if necessary) to reflect your findings in column K. People usually follow the formula of “Keyword Phrase | Context.” The goal of the page title is to lay out the purpose of the page without being redundant. Double check each title length in column L.

on-page-seo-checklist-6

7. Add New Meta Descriptions

If you need to create new meta descriptions, do so in column M. Each meta description should be a short, declarative sentence that incorporates the same keyword as your page’s title. It should not reflect the content verbatim as it appears on the page. Get as close as you can to the 150-character limit to maximize space and tell visitors as much as possible about your page.

on-page-seo-checklist-7

8. Track Keywords and Topics for Each Page

Think of your target keyword as the designated topic for a particular page. In column O, define just one topic per page. This allows you to go more in-depth and provide more detailed information about that topic. This also means that you are only optimizing for one keyword per page, meaning you have a greater chance to rank for that keyword.

There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. Your homepage is a classic example. The goal of your homepage is to explain what your entire website is about, and thus you’ll need a few keywords to do that. Another exception is overview pages like services and product pages, which outline what all of your products and services may be.

on-page-seo-checklist-8

9. Review and Edit Page Content as Needed

Good copy needs to be thorough, clear, and provide solutions … so, be compelling! Write for your target audience and about how you can help them. Compelling content is also error-free, so double check your spelling and grammar.

Aim to have at least 500 words per page, and format content to make it easier to read and digest with the use of headers and subheaders. Columns P through R can be used to keep track of changes that you’ve made to your content or to note where changes need to be implemented.

on-page-seo-checklist-9

10. Incorporate Visual Content

Content can be more than just text, so consider what kind of visual content you can incorporate into each page (if it adds value and serves a purpose, of course). Columns S and T allow you to note which visual elements need to be added. When adding an image to a page, be sure to include a descriptive file name and image alt-text.

on-page-seo-checklist-10

11. Add Internal Links

Incorporating links throughout your pages is a must, but it’s often something that’s easily overlooked. Use columns U through W to plan for these elements if you don’t already have them, or to document how you’ll improve them.

on-page-seo-checklist-11

Make sure that your anchor text includes more than just your keywords. The goal isn’t to stuff in as many keywords as possible, but to make it easy for people to navigate your site.

12. Optimize for Conversions

If you’re also not optimizing your site to increase the number of leads, subscribers, and/or customers you’re attracting … you’re doing it wrong.

Columns X through AF allow you to plan for conversions. Remember that each page of your website presents a conversion opportunity. That means every page of your website should include at least one call-to-action (CTA), though many pages may have multiple CTAs.

Be sure that your site has a mix of CTAs for different stages of the flywheel.

(Note: The On-Page SEO Template refers to the stages of the buying funnel — top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. If you are a HubSpot customer, you can even use Smart Content to display these specific CTAs only to people in a specific part of the funnel.)

Also, as you add, edit, or update CTAs, be sure to note conversion rate changes in columns Z, AC, and AF.

on-page-seo-checklist-12

Put Your On-Page SEO to Work

Once you finalize your SEO plans, implement these changes on your website or pass them along to someone to implement for you. This will take time to complete, so aim to work on 5 to 10 pages per week.

Remember: SEO is not a one-and-done deal. It’s something you should continually improve upon. You should treat this On-Page SEO Template as a living, breathing document that will help guide your SEO strategy for months (or years) to come.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 5 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

DuckDuckGo joins World Wide Web Consortium

The search engine says it will contribute to global standards with privacy in mind.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The Marketing Tactics People Love (And Love to Hate) [Exclusive Survey]

Posted by amandamilligan

I’ve always considered the most challenging part about digital marketing to be prioritizing.

There are hundreds of tactics available to you, and it can be overwhelming to determine which of them are most appropriate for your marketing goals and your target audience. (And we all know what happens when you try to do too much — you do it all poorly.)

It’s critical to analyze the attitudes and behaviors of your current and potential clients/customers in order to best communicate with them in the methods they prefer.

But every now and then, it’s also helpful to zoom out and see how different marketing tactics are faring in general.

That’s why we surveyed 500+ Americans, asking them their thoughts on a variety of inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

Our objective was to better understand which tactics might be most effective on a broad scale and how people might feel about the various tactics they encounter.

Here are the biggest insights.

1. Very few channels “die”

Here’s the thing: The marketing industry experiences a constant ebb and flow. A tactic like email marketing becomes popular, everyone does it, the space becomes diluted, and then other tactics start to gain traction as people seek out “quieter” channels.

That doesn’t mean those tactics no longer work. It just means it becomes harder for your message to be seen because the volume of content out there for people to read is expansive. You have to work harder for it, have an intimate understanding of the information your audience wants, and test relentlessly.

Fractl surveyed 500+ people and asked them, “What is the most effective way for a company to attract your business?” The top result at 54.33% was “Appearing in search results when I’m looking for something I need or want.” The bottom result at 20.71% was “Being promoted or endorsed by an influencer on social media or elsewhere.”

The prime example of this revealed in this survey is that when asked what people think is the best way to attract their business, they picked snail mail (53.31%) over email (38.37%).

A couple of years ago, I’d never have thought to consider direct mail over email. It’s costly and people tend to find mail cumbersome, sending a lot of it straight to the trash.

But over time, some have started to feel that way about email. It’s hard to filter out all of the spam, discern between good pitches and bad ones, and just sort through what feels like an endless stream of messages. Direct mail has started to feel more like a novelty. In fact, 28% of our respondents said they’ve never clicked on the “Promotions” Gmail tab.

The takeaway: Don’t let anyone tell you a channel is dead (except for maybe MySpace and other sites that are abandoned.) Take advantage of “quiet” channels but only if it makes sense for your audience. Focus on them, and the appropriate channel for you will become more obvious.

For example, some brands are seeing success endeavoring into the print magazine realm, a “quieter” channel that appeals to their specific audiences. (And how many times have we heard that print is dead?)

2. Don’t seem intrusive

Privacy has certainly been a hot topic these days, but we shouldn’t be focusing solely on GDPR and other regulations (that’s where don’t be intrusive comes in). It’s not just about what’s legal — it’s also about what’s off-putting. Unsurprisingly, people don’t like to feel like they’re being oddly approached or “followed” online (or anywhere).

That probably explains why our survey found that of the 78% of people who said they notice retargeted ads, 56% have negative feelings toward them. That’s a pretty large amount of negativity for a tactic. In a separate question, 53% said they have ad blockers, choosing to bypass ads altogether.

Outbound marketing is about reaching out to people cold, but there’s an art to this.

Fractl surveyed 500+ people and asked them if they felt positively, negatively, or neutrally about different marketing tactics. Website and blog articles had the best sentiment. Website ads had the worst sentiment.

Traditional advertising achieves No. 2 on the sentiment scale, and my interpretation of this is that people are so used to seeing advertisements on television and hearing them on the radio that it no longer has an intrusive vibe.

Email, sponsored social media posts, and ads still can carry that feeling, though.

Does that mean you shouldn’t utilize these tactics? Of course not. It does mean you have to be very strategy in applying them, though, or you’ll turn off your audience almost immediately.

The takeaway: When utilizing outbound strategies, make sure the recipients understand why they’re receiving the information and ensure what you’re providing speaks to a want or need of theirs. Make the value you’re providing immediately clear.

For example, I made a reservation at an Italian restaurant called Osteria Morini about a year ago. I received an email from them with the subject line “Fall Pasta Classes are Here!” Even though I didn’t remember signing up for their updates, I opened the email because I knew exactly what they were trying to tell me and I was interested. I also just went back and checked; they’ve only emailed me once since the reservation. That’s an extreme — I don’t advocate you sending one email a year — but only send emails with real value.

3. Prioritize search

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that search engine optimization won out as one of the strongest strategies out there.

Notice in the first graph in the article that appearing in search results was listed as the best way to earn respondents’ business, and in the second graph, you’ll see that reading the type of content you’d find on those results carries the best sentiment.

Not only is it effective, but it’s also a common practice.

Fractl surveyed 500+ people and asked them, “In the last week, have you done any of the following?” The top result at 89% was “Used online search to find information about a company or product.” The bottom result at 30.4% was “Read a company or brand blog post.”

Using search engines to find answers is essentially an inherent online experience; nearly everyone does it, and if you’re not showing up in the SERPs, you can be missing out on massive opportunities to increase your brand awareness, connect with potential clients/customers, and build authority in your space.

I’d say authority is a huge piece of why search is so important to people. When you rank highly, it’s almost like the online equivalent of being published — “people” (other sites and Google) — vouch for you.


Fractl surveyed 500+ people and asked them, “How do you learn about a company or product?” The top result at 86.4% was “Do an online search.” The bottom result at 15.8% was “Download content from their site.”

The authority piece is greater represented in the graph above. Reading customer reviews comes in right behind performing searches for how people learn more about a company or product, because people are constantly looking for authority and quality indicators in order to make the best decisions possible. (This is why E-A-T has been such a hot topic lately.)

The takeaway: SEO should always be a primary objective of your marketing team. If you’re in a competitive space and finding it difficult to rank for your target keywords, focus on the long-tail for queries that are directly relevant to your business. That way, you’re building authority with people who are already close to becoming customers/clients.

For example, when searching for daily planners, I noticed there are a few related keywords regarding daily planners that start as early as 5 a.m. The Better Dayplanner has an article that ranks for these types of keywords, meaning that people looking for something very specific will see them first. Sure, the search volume is low, but the traffic is as relevant as you can get.

Conclusion

After reading through this article (and reviewing the full inbound and outbound marketing survey), you can get a sense of which of your tactics may need modifying and which opportunities may be present. There’s no universally right or wrong answer; it’s highly dependent on the specifics of your brand and your target audience. But knowing general trends and preferences can help you shape your strategy so it’s as effective as possible.

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!

Reblogged 5 days ago from feedproxy.google.com