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How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

Have a website? Then you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO) — the process of making your site easier to find, crawl, and rank for search engines.

The better your SEO, the higher your website ends up on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) — as a result, the greater the chance of your site being noticed by potential customers.

And with 68% of all website traffic coming from organic and paid searches — rather than through social media shares and other marketing channels — the right SEO strategy is critical.

Many SEO techniques are straightforward: Don’t keyword stuff. Keep your content relevant. Improve your website’s user experience (UX) by cutting complexity and boosting speed. But other metrics also matter.

Case in point? Redirect chains. These interconnected Internet issues cause problems for search engine spiders, frustration for users, and potential problems for your page ranking.

But what exactly is a redirect chain? Why is it potentially problematic? And how do you find and remove these unintentional website course corrections? Here’s what you need to know.

Learn about what web optimization is and how to do it with this free course. 

What is a redirect chain?

A redirect chain occurs when there’s more than one redirect between the initial link users click on and the eventual destination page.

There are two common types of redirects: 301 and 302.

301 redirects happen when the destination page permanently links to a new URL and 302 redirects point to temporary pages while new content is created or websites are built. From an SEO perspective, both are treated the same.

Consider a backlink from a reputable site that leads to a page on your site, which we’ll call URL A. If users click on the link and are taken directly to URL A, it’s considered to be a single 301 redirect. Perfect.

But what happens if the content on URL A needs a refresh? You update the content with URL B, then set URL A to redirect users to the new page. This causes a redirect chain — your backlink leads to URL A which redirects to URL B. Add new pages and the chain gets longer and longer, and longer…

Two Reasons for Redirects

In most cases, redirect chains are unintentional, and they typically happen for one of two reasons:

1. Content Updates

Since changing backlinks on other sides isn’t easy — you’d need to get in contact with the site owner, ask them to amend the link, and hope they have the time to do so — it’s often quicker to simply redirect the initial backlink to a new URL. As websites grow and content changes, however, the number of steps between the initial click and eventual destination can increase dramatically.

2. URL Specifics

Redirect chains also occur when businesses rapidly scale up their website and small issues with URL specifics turn into larger redirect problems. For instance, consider the URL:

http://www.yoursite.com/products

Since it lacks the https now expected for secure website browsing, you update the URL to:

https://www.yoursite.com/products

This creates a redirect, but there’s another issue — no trailing slash after “products”. So what happens? You amend the URL again:

https://www.yoursite.com/products/

The result? You’ve gone from one to three redirects with only minor changes. Combined with new content generation and applied to your site at scale, it’s easy to see how redirects can quickly get out of hand.

The Negative SEO Impact of Redirect Chains

What’s the big problem with redirect chains, anyway? Since the links point users and search engine crawlers in the right direction, what does it matter if it takes a few extra steps?

As is turns out, large redirect chains can significantly impact your spot in SERPs for three reasons:

1. Link Juice Loss

The “boost” your site gets from reputable backlinks is often called “link juice” — the more juice you get, the better for your search rankings.

With just one redirect from a backlink to your site, you get 100% of the juice. Add another 301 redirect and you’re getting (on average) about 85% of the link juice. Add another and you get 85% of 85%, or just over 72%. The more links, the less juice.

2. Reduced Site Performance

It makes sense: The longer the chain, the more time it takes your destination page to load as browsers work their way through link after link. And with site performance now a critical factor in boosting SEO, more redirects mean lower rankings for your page.

3. Crawling Concerns

Search engine bots will only crawl so much before giving up. Called their “crawl budget”, most smaller websites don’t need to worry about search spiders spending their entire budget before reaching the end of the site — unless redirects start to ramp up.

The bigger and more numerous your redirect chains, the longer it takes for search engines to reach the end. Eventually, they’ll just stop looking.

Also worth mentioning are redirect loops. Here, initial links lead to URL A, then URL B and the URL C, and then back to URL A — causing a loop. Eventually, browsers stop redirecting and users end up with no content. Not surprisingly, your SEO suffers.

How to Find Redirect Chains

While you could go through your site manually and evaluate every page, every link, and every redirect, this is both time and resource-intensive — especially if you’re in the middle of site expansion or rolling out a new content strategy.

Best bet? Use online redirect checker tools to determine where your links are working as intended and where they create potentially problematic chains. Some popular solutions include:

1. Redirect-checker.org

Simply type in your http:// or https:// URL to discover any 301 or 302 redirects for a specific page. This free tool is great if you’re only worried about specific URLs but isn’t ideal for checking your entire site.

2. Sitebulb

Sitebulb delivers a host of reports that evaluate how crawl-friendly your site is, where redirect issues exist, and how links are distributed across your site. Sitebulb offers a 14-day free trial followed by a monthly subscription model.

3. Screaming Frog

The SEO Spider from Screaming Frog lets you find broken links, audit link redirects, and discover duplicate content. SEO Spider comes in both free and paid versions — the biggest difference is that the free version will only crawl 500 URLs while the paid version offers unlimited redirect reports.

4. DeepCrawl

DeepCrawl bills itself as the “world’s best website crawler” and offers three plans: Light, Light Plus, and Enterprise. The Light plan is designed for one project and 10,000 URLs per month, while Light Plus offers 40,000 URLs, and Enterprise comes with unlimited redirect reconnaissance.

How to Remove a Redirect Chain

Once you’ve found redirect chains, removing them is straightforward — simply change the redirect link of the first destination page to the final URL rather than pointing it toward another redirect.

In practice, this means changing the redirect of URL A, in our example above, to URL C rather than URL B — in turn, skipping the middle step and ensuring your site doesn’t lose any link juice or SEO ranking. If URL B is still backlinked by other sites, you can leave its redirect to URL C intact. If it only exists as a bridge between the older URL A and the newer URL C, it’s worth removing redirects entirely and deleting or archiving the page.

Remember — every 301 redirect after the initial jump costs your site approximately 15% of potential link juice. Fill your SERP cup by cutting down redirects wherever possible.

How to Prevent Redirect Chains

To prevent redirect chains from building up over time, it’s worth regularly checking your site with redirect tools like those mentioned above. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of new URLs as they’re created — either by using a shared spreadsheet or by leveraging automated tools for this purpose — to help ensure that new URLs are connected to the first 301 redirect rather than those further down the chain.

Breaking Bad (Chains)

Although it’s not possible to entirely avoid redirect chains from backlinks and other dofollow sources, SEO starts to suffer the longer these chains become. Best bet? Use robust redirect tools to find long-tail chains, break them into smaller pieces wherever possible, and develop URL management frameworks to reduce redirect risks.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

10 free SEO tools for discoverability

When creating content online, it’s important to have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy alongside your content strategy. Doing so will ensure your posts are as optimized as possible. SEO tools can help you identify ways to improve the discoverability of your site.

SEO can seem daunting to novices, but there are several free SEO tools are are just as powerful as their paid counterparts.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 of the best free SEO tools and software.

Best free on-page optimization tools

Rank Math Plugin

Rank Math is a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website content. It lets you add meta titles, descriptions and structure your data more easily. Simply download and install this plugin to your WordPress website to begin using it.

Benefits

Rank Math gives your content an SEO score for each page. When you indicate what keyword you’re targeting, this plugin suggests ways to increase your ranking for that keyword. You can also identify and fix dead links on your site and redirect URLs to new pages.

Screenshot of the Rank Math WordPress plugin

Yoast SEO Plugin

The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to optimize your WordPress site and identify gaps in your content. If your site runs on WordPress, install and activate the Yoast plugin to begin.

Benefits

The Yoast plugin allows you to improve and modify your content in three ways: SEO, readability and social. With Yoast, you can set meta descriptions, titles, canonical URL, and label index/no-index pages and other backend settings on your site. This plugin will assign every post a readability score by measuring sentence and paragraph length and other criteria. And Yoast also has excellent features to help you improve the shareability of your posts on social media. 

Screenshot of Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Best free keyword research tools

Google Trends

As the name suggests, Google Trends helps you track the popularity of topics and trends in your industry over time. Use this tool to identify current trends and use that information to craft a timely and relevant content marketing strategy.

Benefits

Google Trends gives you a clear picture of how specific trends change over time and how people’s searching patterns around it change. To use Google Trends, start by typing in a keyword. You’ll see the interest in that topic over time, which regions show the most interest, and other keywords people are searching for related to that query. This tool works best when combined with other keywords to show comparisons of trends over time.

Screenshot of Google Trends dashboard for they keywork "football" and its trend ranking over time and by U.S. region

Ahrefs Keyword Generator

Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator is a lite version of Ahrefs full tool and will show you the top 100 related keyword ideas when searching a keyword or phrase. To use this free tool, enter up to 100 keywords or phrases in the search bar. You’ll see a list of the top 100 keywords related to your search as well as their search volume from when the data for that keyword was last updated, and keyword difficulties for the first 10 keywords on the list.

Benefits

This tool gives users a taste of what Ahrefs’ full tool can do and is perfect for people who want to explore some industry keywords. In addition to the keywords, you can also see the top 50 questions related to that keyword.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Keyword Generator and results for the keyword "social media"

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool that helps users generate new keywords and content ideas. This tool will give you a high-level overview of the keyword you’re searching for. It’s a great tool to use when looking for new ways to fill your social media or content calendar because the tool also shows you related long-tail keywords and suggests content ideas based on the keyword.

Benefits

When you do your keyword search, you’ll see the monthly keyword search volume, how competitive it is to rank for, and the average cost per click. The tool will also provide you the average number of backlinks that a site should have to rank for that keyword.

Screenshot of Ubersuggest keyword tool for the keyword "yoga"

Best free SEO tools for analytics

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC), previously known as Google Webmasters, helps you understand how Google crawls and indexes your site. To use the Google Search Console, create an account and add your website as a property within the account. Once you’ve added your domain, verify you’re the site owner before you can access all of its features.

Benefits

There are several features to highlight about Google Search Console, one of which is that it can help you diagnose technical errors on your website. It can also help you understand what keywords or content are ranking for your site.

Screenshot of Google Console dashboard

Bing Webmaster Tools

An often overlooked tool, Bing Webmaster also has a full suite of analytics to help you analyze your website and search analytics. Create your free Bing Webmaster Tools account, add your website and verify your ownership of the site. Then create or upload your sitemaps. Once complete, you’re able to start optimizing your site and its content using Bing Webmaster Tools’ features and suggestions.

Benefits

Bing Webmaster Tools can provide useful keyword research, reporting, and can crawl your website to identify issues. It’s a good way to get a virtual second opinion on your site or find any new information that Google Search Console didn’t reveal.

Screenshot of Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard

Google Analytics

To know if your SEO efforts are working, you need to analyze your site’s findability to see where your traffic is coming from. You may notice a spike in traffic after making post optimizations, but that traffic could be coming from another source like social media. Google Analytics provides you with in-depth details about your website visitors, as well as real-time activity.

With an existing Google account, sign into Google Analytics and connect with your website. To get the most helpful SEO information, pair it with your Google Console account. When you link the two tools, you’ll be able to see the keywords people are using to find your site, identify your click-through-rates on those keywords and more.

Benefits

Google Analytics lets you see how people interact with your website. Using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your site, where your traffic is coming from, how long people are spending on the page and so much more.

Screenshot of Google Analytics

Best free tools for link building

Ahrefs Backlink Checker

Like their Keyword Research tool, Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a free version of their full tool that shows you the top 100 backlinks to any website you search. To use this tool, enter a URL into their search bar and you’ll see the site’s domain rating, the number of backlinks, and the number of referring domains.

Benefits

This free tool is great for some light backlink checking as well as analyzing your competitors. Even though you’re limited to viewing 100 links, it’s still a great place to start. You’ll see the total number of backlinks, links from referring domains, the site’s Domain Rating, and its URL rating.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Backlink Checker homepage

SEM Rush

Similar to the other tools mentioned above, SEM Rush has a free version of their robust tool. Not just for link building, SEM Rush can provide help with keyword research, on-page SEO audits, content optimizations, rank tracking and much more. Create a free account and access these features.

Benefits

The SEM Rush’s Backlink Analysis and Link Building Tool provides you an in-depth look at your backlink profile. The free version limits you to 100 domains in the Link Building Tool but you’ll be able to identify your referring domains and backlinks overtime, including gains and losses, and your backlink authority score. The tool helps you identify areas to improve your link building efforts or where you can gain more visibility online.

Screenshot of SEM Rush's backlink analytics tool

Final thoughts on free SEO tools

While SEO is a crucial part of the content process, it works best when combined with other marketing strategies like content and social media marketing. You’ll get the most out of your optimizations when using both SEO and social monitoring software together. And these free SEO tools help you build a foundation to these strategies.

Throw in some social media keyword search tools and you’ll be able to cast an even broader net to learn more about what your audience wants. For more on how to marry your social media and SEO strategies, check our post on how SEO can inform social media marketing and vice versa.

This post 10 free SEO tools for discoverability originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

PPC 2020 in review: COVID leaves its mark on e-commerce and paid search

Platforms pivoted to accommodate advertising during a crisis and automation continued to be at the heart of paid search changes.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Google algorithms vs Google penalties, explained by an ex-Googler

This former Google quality analyst explains the difference between Google’s algorithms, manual actions, quality and penalties.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Brand reputation and the impact of Google SERP selections

How Google treats company navigational brand searches and the impact they can have on consumer perceptions.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Will COVID vaccine rollout bring back in-person conferences?

With hope for immunity on the horizon, please take our survey to help us understand how this changes your outlook for 2021.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

How to Schedule a Post on Facebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

While platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok have gained significant user ground over the past few years, one social channel is still the market leader: Facebook.

Recently, the Pew Research Center revealed that nearly 70% of all U.S. adults use Facebook, while 74% log on daily. Worldwide, Facebook has more than 2.7 billion users.

And, today, regularly posting timely and relevant content on Facebook is key to reaching its big and broad audiences. 

Why? Trends, content, and discussion on any social media channel move much faster than they do on older platforms, like television or radio.

While content is vital to winning over audiences, quickly and consistently creating new social posts can overwhelm even tech-savvy social media managers.

While creating content manually comes with the advantage of right-now relevance, it also requires site owners to constantly track trends and interactions on Facebook, then craft relevant posts to leverage current conditions.

But what happens if site owners aren’t online? What if users halfway around the world are just waking up and looking for content while social managers are still asleep. Scheduled posts can help.

There’s a solution for many of the problems above: Scheduled Facebook posts. 

Facebook’s post scheduling tool lets you to launch pre-created content on your Facebook Business page on a predetermined date and time. By scheduling a few posts in advance each week, you and your team can keep normal work hours while even free yourselves up for brainstorming new social media strategies. 

While it’s still critical to create manual posts that speak to specific events or emerging market conditions, scheduled posts can help streamline your social efforts at scale.

Not sure how to schedule an engaging Facebook post? We’ll walk you through how to to do this, as well as how to solve common scheduling issues below.

We’ll start with the steps for scheduling a standard post. If you’re interested in learning how to schedule a share of another page’s post, click here to go to that section.

Step 1: Log into your Facebook Business page.

The first step in making a scheduled Facebook post is making sure you’re logged into your business page. Currently, personal pages don’t offer the same range of publishing tools.

Step 2: Click on “Publishing Tools.”

In the left menu of your business Facebook page, click on “Publishing Tools.” This will bring up a list of all published posts, as well as options to see your scheduled posts, drafts, and expiring posts.

Step 3: Create a compelling post.

Select “Create Post” at the top of your post. Write your post in the provided text box and add any images or links — you’ll get a real-time preview of the post as you create it to help identify any potential issues. 

Click Create Post or view older posts in publishing options pafe

As you draft your post copy, don’t over-complicate your scheduled posts. Design them the same way as on-demand posts — be engaging, personable, and relevant. 

Step 4: Set a publish time. 

When you’re satisfied with your new post, select “Schedule” in the drop down menu under News Feed. This will open a box that allows you to pick an exact date and time.

Click schedule post in drop down menu.

Step 5: Consider putting spend behind your content.

Worth noting? You can also increase the reach of your Facebook post by paying the social media site to advertise it for a specific length of time. Select the “Boost” option next to “Publish” to select your budget, target audience, and desired post duration.

To learn more about how to promote Facebook content and run ads, click here. 

Step 6: Track and adjust your schedule.

The Publishing Options menu lets you keep track of what you’ve already posted and when new posts will be published. Check it regularly to make sure scheduled posts still make sense.

For example, if you’ve suddenly run into production or supply issues, you might want to unschedule posts about big sales on lower-stock items.

Step 7: Consider cross-promotional scheduling.

It’s also worth noting that scheduled posts don’t automatically trigger any other notifications — such as Tweets. If you want Facebook posts to go out in tandem with other social media posts, ensure you know your publish dates so you can boost the impact of cross-platform promotions.

Additionally, you can also use helpful tools like HubSpot’s Social Media Software to schedule posts across multiple platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Step 8: Embrace scheduling tools.

While you can create and manage all scheduled posts manually, this can get very complicated very quickly as the impact of your Facebook page expands. 

As mentioned above, it’s worth considering social media management tools like HubSpot or Oktopost to help streamline scheduling while you focus on the creation of more compelling, on-demand content.

Step 9: Don’t over-schedule.

It might be easy to think you can schedule all of your posts for weeks at a time, and then not deal with social media for days. But, that’s far from the truth. 

If you’re making multiple scheduled posts per day, customer interest can quickly dry up as your page starts to look more like a sales vehicle than a social platform. While it’s worth calling out the debut of new products or big business changes, don’t over-schedule yourself.

Step 10: Compare your scheduled content to the competition.

Want to schedule posts ahead of time, but worried about inauthentic or robotic copy? Look at what your best competition is doing. 

Check out the frequency and content of their posts and use that knowledge to improve your social efforts. 

The goal of analyzing your competition isn’t to create carbon copies, but rather take a cue from their scheduling to make the best use of social platform potential.

Interested in scheduling a post that shows Facebook content already shared by a brand partner or company you’re working with? Learn how to schedule shared posts below. 

1. Go to the post you want to share and click the three dots.

This will show you all of the settings related to a post. Please note that some posts, such as those on personal Facebook accounts might have different settings options and might not be shareable.

2. Click “Copy link.”

HubSpot Post with copy link drop down

3. Go to Post Publishing Tools.

As noted above, hit the “Create post” CTA to open a post creation page. 

4. Go to Settings to access the older version of the tool.

Here’s where things get tricky. When we tried sharing a post with Facebook’s new tool, the previews looked a bit glitchy. For the best preview options and to ensure the post will look normal, click the settings icon on the lower left to access the tool’s older version while it still exists. 

click classic tool to access the older version of facebook's post creation tool

5. Insert the link into the post text box.

You should instantly see the business’ post appear below the text box. If you’d like to share a caption about that post, you can also include it as this HubSpot blogger did below:

Screen Shot 2020-12-08 at 1.12.49 PM

6. In the drop-down menu under News Feed, select “Schedule.”

This will allow you to schedule a post similarly to how you schedule your own. 

toggle to schedule in news feed drop down

Why Can’t I Schedule a Post on Facebook?

Running into problems scheduling your post on Facebook? There are several common culprits.

First, check to make sure you’re logged into the right account. If you’re logged into a personal rather than business page — or if you’re not a page administrator — you won’t be able to schedule posts. 

Next, make sure you’re looking in the right place. Until recently, the post scheduling feature moved from the “Create Post” box on Facebook Business pages to the “Publishing Options” page. 

If you try to create a scheduled post from your front page, you won’t see the scheduling button, but you should see an information box that directs you to the Publishing Options page. 

an information box directs Facebook business page users to schedule posts from the Publishing Tools dashboard.

What can’t be scheduled on Facebook?

Unfortunately, you can’t schedule everything you publish on Facebook. 

While posts with links, photos, and videos can be scheduled, photo albums, polls, or events can’t be set to launch automatically. You also can’t schedule Facebook Stories

Creating an Effective Facebook Schedule

Scheduling Facebook posts is a great way to boost your business impact and drive user engagement. 

Remember to keep content simple and relevant, don’t over-schedule, cross-promote posts where possible, and leverage best-in-class tools to streamline scheduling at scale.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Google confirms passage indexing is not yet live

We expected this to roll out in 2020 but that seems unlikely now.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Four website usability elements that improve your search rankings

30-second summary:

  • Website usability refers to how easy or intuitive a website is for visitors to interact with, and usability lies at the heart of delivering a compelling user experience (UX).
  • Incorporating relevant keywords and building backlinks to your website is still crucial, but Google’s algorithm is continually evolving to reward websites that render top-notch UX.
  • In this post, we’ll discuss four core elements you must optimize to gratify both human visitors and search engine crawlers so as to attain top rankings and stay there.

There was a time when usability — how easy-to-use and functional your website is — was seen as a separate concern from SEO.

Usability was often regarded as something that improves visitor engagement and conversions on your website and was not associated directly with SEO — the process used to improve your search engine rankings and organic traffic.

While the former part of the previous statement is still true, Google’s ranking algorithm has changed significantly in the last few years — with an increasingly stronger focus on determining the level of user experience of websites and delivering the most user-friendly results at the top.

Make no mistake — all the mainstream SEO tactics such as guest blogging, link building, and keyword optimization are very much applicable today — and you need to continue working on these as you’ve been doing since you first started optimizing your website for search engines.

But if you wish to reach the very top of the SERPs and stay there in 2021 and beyond, you must shift your focus toward optimizing the various usability elements on your website, such as the ones discussed below.

1. Site speed

Site speed has been a pivotal ranking factor for more than a decade. So, if your pages take too long to load — anything more than three seconds — not only will your visitors bounce away out of frustration but your rankings on Google will also floor.

In other words, ensuring optimal page load speed is critical for both usability and rankings. There’s a lot you can do in this regard, such as:

  • Keep your code clean, minify CSS and JS
  • Use browser caching
  • Improve server response time by using a CDN and fast hosting
  • Optimize bulky image files with image compression tools
  • Minimize page redirects

Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to evaluate your current site speed. The tool will provide you with a list of recommendations that you can then work on to improve your speed. For instance, you may have bulky images that need to be compressed or too many unnecessary redirects.

Essentially, PageSpeed Insights helps you pinpoint where your site is lacking and tells you exactly what you need to do to satisfy the need for speed.

Knowing that even a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact mobile conversions by up to 20%, site speed is a super important usability element that you must get absolutely right.

Talking about mobile…

2. Mobile-friendliness

Today, mobile devices (excluding tablets) account for more than half of the global website traffic, 50.81% to be precise.

Unsurprisingly, due to Google’s mobile-first indexing, the mobile — not the desktop — version of your website is the benchmark for how Google indexes and ranks your site. Simply put, your mobile usability can effectively make or break your website’s rankings on Google.

Here’s how you can improve your site’s mobile-friendliness:

  • Optimize your content’s layout for one-handed use: 75% of users touch the screen only with one thumb, and 10% of users hold their phone in one hand and tap with a finger of the other hand. So, put primary interactions front and center (easy-to-reach areas of the screen), and less crucial ones at the edges. This makes it easy to use your website and constitutes a better mobile experience.
  • Get rid of the navigation bar: A navbar can take up a lot of space that could otherwise be used for displaying other important content. Instead of keeping it as is, incorporate a hamburger menu, which turns your space-hungry navbar into an expandable menu.
  • Minimize the amount of typing required: Good mobile usability means minimal touch-screen typing. Minimize the number of form fields on the mobile version of your site, enable autofill wherever possible, and provide the option to connect existing accounts (such as Facebook or Google) rather than asking to sign up from scratch.
  • Disable popups: Popups on mobile devices can be extremely annoying and seriously hurt the user experience. Google may also penalize you for popups or similar “intrusive interstitials” that make the content less accessible, so disable them right away.

Furthermore, avoid common mobile usability mistakes, such as:

  • Unplayable video content due to Flash
  • Font size too small
  • Touch elements too close to each other

You can check how mobile-friendly your website is with Google’s mobile-friendly test.

3. Content quality

As you’d expect, the quality of the content on your website is strongly linked to the usability of your website. Poor quality content doesn’t inspire visitors to take action or engage with your offerings, and consequently, won’t help your website rank well.

To create high-quality content, you first need to understand your target persona — get to know your audience, their desires, questions, and pain points. Analyze the search phrases that bring people to your site and understand what your visitors are looking for in order to create content that’s relevant and aligns with their intent.

Make sure to get the following pointers right.

Layout

Proper content layout is vital for a better user experience. For that, you can use different font sizes, bullets and numbered lists, and an F-shaped pattern as shown below.

Also, be consistent with your layout throughout your website to avoid user confusion.

layout and how it helps website usability and search rankings

Hierarchy

Use subheadings — H2, H3,…, H6 — to create a logical content hierarchy on all pages. This aids readability and scannability by breaking up your content, which makes for better usability.

Also, make sure to have a unique H1 title tag for each page that is inviting for search engine users to click on.

Comprehensiveness

All your content should be in-depth, answering all the questions on the topic so the visitor doesn’t feel the need to refer to other sources and is satisfied with their search experience.

That being said, don’t add fluff to increase the word count — visitors will easily recognize if you do and this will lead to a poor user experience.

Links

Link to reputable and authoritative websites to improve your site’s credibility in the eyes of Google and visitors. Back up your claims with recent statistics and facts from reliable sources.

Have a logical internal linking structure to guide visitors to relevant pages from your content.

Also, broken links (“404 not found”) also harm usability and rankings, so find and fix them immediately.

Format

Publishing long-form articles and text-based content is obviously crucial to rank high on Google.

But what if your target audience prefers more visual content, such as vlogs or infographics? For optimal usability, create content in the format that your audience prefers.

4. Site navigation

Regardless of what your website is about, its navigation structure plays a key role in its usability.

For example, if your website is a blog. How are your blog posts organized? Can visitors search for a specific post? How many clicks does it take to reach from point A to point B? Or, if it’s a web app, does it have easy onboarding for seamless digital adoption by users?

Keep these questions in mind to improve your site’s navigation.

Use menu bars, recognizable icons, and clickable links to aid navigation. For instance, if the text on your homepage is clickable and brings visitors to a particular landing page, it needs to be evident. Make it descriptive, change its color, underline it, or turn that text into a button.

Intuitive navigation means your visitors don’t have to think when browsing your site. They are less likely to get frustrated and easily find what they need — all of which means great usability and thus, rankings.

Wrapping up

Better website usability translates to better rankings, plain and simple.

With each update, Google’s ranking algorithm is having an increasing focus on rewarding websites that contribute to “delightful” web experiences for its users — on fast, intuitive, and engaging experiences across all devices.

So, don’t just fixate on incorporating keywords and building backlinks in the hopes of better search rankings. While doing that is important, prioritize the various usability elements outlined above too in order to ensure you stay on top of the SERPs in the long run.

Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.

The post Four website usability elements that improve your search rankings appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher

30-second summary:

  • The pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before.
  • Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online since the beginning of 2020.
  • We caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.
  • Know how CMOs can find value in SMM efforts, conduct market analysis, and run social media campaigns that actually succeed in the eyes of top management.

From learning banana bread recipes to connecting with loved ones, hunting jobs, and now shopping holiday gifts, the pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before. 2020 has shown us how people have resorted to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn. While Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online, we caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.

Q. Paid ads have their own cons like reduced page reach, how do you maintain an upward graph for organic page reach and boost relationships, engagement, and direct sales?

Henk Campher: Never take a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing, especially with organic content. To reach a large audience, organic posts need to be optimized. To do this, you need to understand the platform and audience you are optimizing for. Start by focusing on the platforms that make the most sense for your business. For example, if you’re a B2B company, you may find the most value on LinkedIn or Twitter whereas a B2C company may gravitate towards Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok to reach a younger crowd. 

If you want organic content to perform well on social media, create engaging and personalized content that is fitting for the platform you are using. Give people a reason to follow and engage with your social posts. To better understand what content resonates with your audience, start by using social listening tools—at Hootsuite, we integrate directly with Brandwatch so our customers can navigate social intelligence capabilities directly from their dashboard.

Case study:

Securian Financial, a Hootsuite financial services customer, was able to leverage social listening to determine that their key demographics shifted away from complaining about quarantine to sharing positive content around being connected. What arose was Life Balance Remix, a UGC campaign encouraging people to share content that highlighted their “new normal” and garnered thousands of participants with over 2.5 million campaign impressions across Twitter and Instagram. 

Beyond creating the right content for the right platform, it’s essential to connect with people. Show your audience the human side of your brand. You can do this by lifting up your employees on social media and sharing their stories or connecting with the wider community through an employee advocacy tool, like Hootsuite’s Amplify tool. If you want to boost engagement on posts, ask your audience relevant and interesting questions. This is also a great opportunity to learn about what interests them. If you focus on value and creating the right content, you’ll be able to successfully develop relationships with your audience, boost engagement, and drive sales.

Q. What are the top social media metrics that can help CMOs see direct value in marketers’ social media marketing efforts?

Henk Campher: For both B2C and B2B brands, the key to successful social measurement is to keep your metrics simple. Trust classic cross-platform metrics like return-on-ad spend and lifetime value, as these measures also tie directly to your organization’s business goals. Once you choose the content you think will resonate with your audience, test your ideas to identify which posts generate the most engagement, shares, and impressions, and do this for each social platform. Continue to test, learn, and optimize. But when it comes to measuring your efforts on social, it is important to keep your business objectives in mind and develop KPIs that match the overall goals and expectations of your organization. Metrics such as impressions and reach should be analyzed consciously.

If your goal is to build brand awareness, focus on overall engagement and how long visitors are staying on your website. This will help evaluate if your content isn’t just “content-for-content-sake” but is actually resonating with your audience and driving conversions. 

Q. What are the typical touchpoints/aspects marketers must include in their social media campaigns to reflect value for the brand and meet CMO expectations?

Henk Campher: One of the most important aspects of a social media campaign is social listening. A robust social listening tool allows you access to real-time insights into consumer sentiment, shifting trends, and competitive intelligence. These insights are key to helping a brand better understand how consumers feel about a campaign and what they want from your brand.  

The best social media campaigns also have specific goals in mind and are purpose-driven. You must understand the customer segment you’re trying to reach through a specific campaign. To achieve this, create profiles or personas for your core constituencies that integrate data and insights from marketing channels (including social) and CRM. Understanding how, where, and when to engage with your constituents requires a clear picture of their motivations and their needs.

Another important aspect is social data integration. Our ‘Social Transformation Report uncovered that only 10% of marketers feel they have mature practices around integrating social data into enterprise systems like Adobe, Microsoft, Marketo, or Salesforce. However, according to our ‘2021 Social Trends Report, 85% of organizations that integrate social data into their other systems have the confidence to accurately quantify the ROI of social media. While data integration is a complex process, a much more accessible entry point that can help marketers better connect social engagement to customer identity and measurable ROI is integrating paid and organic social media activity.  We found that mature organizations with completely integrated paid and organic social strategies are 32% more confident in quantifying the ROI of social media. 

Q. How important is it for any brand to have involvement in social matters and social investments?

Henk Campher: The most successful brands this year didn’t put themselves front and center of the conversation—they decided to listen instead. After taking the time to listen, brands must find creative and empathetic ways of adding value to the conversation instead of trying to lead it. Brands should stay true to their identities and their audience by asking:

  • “What is my role?”
  • “What conversations make sense for me to weigh in on and why?”
  • “How can social media contribute to my business objectives?”

Having a voice in important conversations is powerful for a brand. However, if a brand is posting about topics that don’t align with the brand’s personality and identity, customers will notice. As a wealth of different conversations are taking place across social media at all times, it’s important to create a blueprint for how to comment on a conversation, if at all. 

Q. What methods can CMOs implement to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for effective market analysis?

Henk Campher: There are various tried-and-true methods CMOs can implement when using social media platforms for market analysis. Before you begin your analysis, always have a clear goal in mind. It’s important to look at what exactly you want to analyze whether it’s your brand, product, or competitors. Doing a quantitative content analysis by assessing the engagement rate of your social posts can give companies an idea of if a message or product is resonating with your followers. Social listening is another incredibly powerful tool for analysis. Through social listening, you can zero in on how people are talking about your brand.  It’s also important to not be shy. Be empowered as a brand to implement tactics like polls and surveys on social to get in touch with customers and glean informative insights into how your audience is thinking about your brand. 

Q. How would you push an online event that involves employee referral on social media for a maximum turnaround?

Henk Campher: Develop an effective social media strategy in advance and provide your employees with the right resources and tools to promote the event. You can do this by crafting the content and social platform guidelines in advance so it is easy for employees to spread the word on social media. At Hootsuite our Amplify tool allows brands to extend their social reach and increase employee engagement. Using platforms that are suited for employee advocacy will garner the most successful results. 

Q. What are your expert tips on the most effective ways to run a social media campaign, especially during the holiday season 2020?

Henk Campher: The holidays are a great opportunity for brands to increase engagement and drive sales on social media. Here are my four tips to create an effective social media campaign and stand out from the competition: 

  1. Tweak your social media posting schedule to accommodate changing workdays or times. B2B businesses often have higher engagement rates during the day, as employees are leaving early and working less in the evening. B2C companies generally have a better reach when it’s not during typical work hours. 
  2. Continue to curate content over the holidays, even if there might be a downturn of activity on social channels across the board. If you go quiet on social, your customers will notice. 
  3. Maintain community engagement as relationships, connections and engagement are key to any successful social media campaign. Always respond to customer issues or comments promptly.
  4. The holidays are a great time to showcase the ‘human’ side of your business. Take advantage of platforms like Instagram to showcase the company, employees, and interact with the community at large. 

Q. What are the most common mistakes you see brands making in their social media pushes?

Henk Campher: The most common mistake brands make is thinking of social media merely as a broadcast medium. With nearly three billion people on Facebook every month, more than one million on Instagram, and hundreds of millions more on Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat, it’s tempting to think that way. While social media started with organic posts and later turned to paid social advertising, brands should never lose sight of social media’s core value: establishing and maintaining relationships. Take the time to invest in relationship building, as this helps brands build strong bonds with their audiences and boost customer loyalty, which ultimately benefits their business. Rather than pump out promotional content, take the time to establish your brand’s personality, and connect with customers by taking on an empathetic “human-first” approach.

How is your brand making the most of social media marketing this holiday season? Are there challenges you’re facing with regards to creating value from a board room perspective? Feel free to share your thoughts on our interview, drop a comment!

The post How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com