Where paywall content stands with SEO: A focus on user experience

Publishers are increasingly adopting the paywalled content approach as a monetization strategy. If there’s anything, paywalled content has helped publishers generate more revenue online. But user experience may have suffered as a result.

Paying for content may sound arcane on the Internet, but it’s not a new thing. Newspapers thrived on subscription plans. And high subscription numbers are how publishers justify their ad rates. But with the way the internet has democratized access to knowledge, hardly does anyone pay for content anymore. But that is changing.

Adopting the content subscription strategy is on the rise. And it is being endorsed by decision-makers at major media outlets. However, both from an SEO perspective and a user experience angle, paywalls may create concerns.

How do paywalls work and are they sustainable?

“Can publishers sustain their paywalls?”, this is the question to ask. It’s understandable that introducing sudden changes to a platform may cause user apathy. But is that the case with publishers who use paywalls? Or rather, should content marketers begin to adopt this approach?

Interestingly enough, some major publishers report seeing their ad revenues improve once they added a subscription service. Why this is the case is still not clear.

Let’s breakdown the different types of paywall strategies and how they function

  • Freemium: This approach is popular with media outlets with a fairly sizable audience. Here free content is separated from premium content, allowing the free content to be available to everyone while premium content such as in-depth analysis is reserved for subscribers.
  • Metered paywall: Metered paywall is the most adopted approach and is the type used by major outlets such as Medium and The Times. Users are allowed to access a limited amount of content in a given month until they are required to become subscribers to continue to enjoy more content.
  • Hard paywall: The hard paywall blocks the entire website’s content for non-subscribers. Typically, readers will only get to see the headline and nothing beyond the infamous “read more” link. Users can still use the search feature of the website but cannot access any of its content or comments unless they become subscribers.

example of paywall free content on BetterHelp Advice blog

Source: Betterhelp.com

Over at Betterhelp, where I oversee content creation we’ve only tried the “Freemium” approach and will continue to split-test between free content and putting back paywalls. So far, from professional experience, putting content behind paywalls has not helped our users, who rely heavily on our advice blog. While our experiment with a paywall is yet to be concluded, we can draw from other media outlets to see what works.

Why publishers adopt paywalls

Example of paywall content on WSJ

Source: The Wall Street Journal

If you’re on the homepage of The Wall Street Journal website, you’re immediately prompted to register to start reading an article. Of course, to register means to pay to gain access to the content. On a website like WSJ.com, it’s easy to justify paying to read an article. They employ professional journalists who must keep producing high-quality content round the clock to meet the standard the newspaper is known for. Readers that enjoy it will not budge at the idea of paying to keep their subscription to The Journal. However, to understand why mainstream publications put their content behind paywalls, we need to look at how their business model works.

Revenue driven decisions

It’s obvious, monetization is the chief factor in why publishers adopt paywalls.

In print, established outlets like The New York Times, WSJ, and The Post rely on advertisers and subscribers to keep their business running. On the internet, however, advertisement is not a sustainable revenue model for large publishers as users are trained to seek fast bloggy content that is difficult to monetize. Further crippled by the wave of Adblockers, digital advertising generates less than the revenue that similar ads will generate in print. With this, publishers are willing to throw UX under the bus for revenue.

Should content marketers also put up paywalls?

Defiance and reports of success after implementing paywalls may tempt marketers to adopt the approach. As in our case, we had to shelve the idea after a brief experiment with the freemium approach.

AdWeek on content paywall

Source: Twitter

Most publications have reported success after adopting the paywall program. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, has over 1,550,000 paying registered online subscribers that have opted to pay to read their content. In 2018, The New York Times also reported hitting 3,000,000 registered subscribers, with digital contributing the most to its revenue source.

Results may not be typical

Now, you need to understand that The Time and WSJ’s approach involves a lot of testing and engineering. WSJ, for instance, scores readers based on an average of 60 data points to judge their readers. This pool of data is then used to determine when the paywall is introduced. Data helps WSJ to determine whether to nudge a reader into subscribing, offer them a “Freemium”, or even put up a “Hard Paywall”.

For content marketers, especially those whose existence relies on educating their audience through content as we do at Betterhelp, putting valuable content behind a paywall may be risky. Paywalled content could become a hindrance in the decision maker’s ability to consider your brand for opportunities. Decision-makers may even think your brand is not serious when content that is meant to educate your customers is put behind a paywall.

How does paywall affect SEO and UX?

Google tried to rein in on paywalled content practice by forcing publishers to follow their “first-click-free” policy. Basically, readers coming from a Google search result must be allowed to get the first premium content for free, or you lose your rankings. Of course, this rule gave room for misuse by some users and placed publishers in a tight spot, forcing many to ignore the controversial policy at the risk of losing their search rankings. In 2017, Google dropped the first click free policy and allowed publishers to decide how their content is seen.

Poor user experience is the bane of paywalls

It’s important to note that the way search engine crawlers interact with content is not the same way humans interact with content. This means publishers must carefully consider user experience in making content strategy decisions. Should an article that is crucial to the free content you’re allowed to read from search be put behind a paywall? How does that affect the experience? Ultimately, user experience is critical to SEO performance.

Side doors may mitigate poor UX

Studying the pattern of the largest online newspapers that have prioritized subscription services, it’s noticeable that they understand the negative impact of this approach on UX. For instance, there is hardly any publisher that has employed the “Hard Paywall” approach without leaving room for numerous “side doors” for non-subscribers to still access their content.

The downside of poor user experience for an online brand is so significant, it goes beyond the website alone. It can as much as hurt the brand itself. This is where the impact could be felt in search rankings. Google predominantly favors higher organic click-through rates (CTRs) in ranking search results. And once users have been trained to ignore a brand’s links in the search result pages, it’s only a matter of time before Google starts dropping the website for others with higher CTRs.

Whether publishers are aware of the several “side doors” non-subscribers are actively taking advantage of, or perhaps are they intentionally leaving room for content leaks is not clear. The upside to this “loophole” is near parity with what Google expects from publishers versus what they get.

How do content creators factor in their users’ experience while still accounting for revenue generated from their content? The key is this – when deciding which content to put behind a paywall, think about its primary purpose first.

Marie Miguel has been a contributor and a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Some of her write-ups can be found on BetterHelp.com.

The post Where paywall content stands with SEO: A focus on user experience appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

WooCommerce 3.7 and Gutenberg 6.3 updates

The past week was all about two big plugins releasing important updates. Both WooCommerce and Gutenberg got significant improvements. Gutenberg saw another accessibility improvement and WooCommerce now has even more integration with, well, Gutenberg 😄. Let’s dive in and see what’s what!

WooCommerce introduces more Block Editor integration

WooCommerce 3.7 was released last week and it brings deeper integration with our new Block Editor. While WooCommerce already provided the option to use a Featured Category, Featured Product, and Best Selling Category blocks, for instance, this version added three more blocks:

  • Product Categories List block; this block allows you to show product categories in a list or dropdown.
  • Featured Category block; this block lets you select one or multiple categories to feature on your site, and it displays the category and a link to its category archive page to customers.
  • Products by Tag(s) block; this block gives you the option to feature a selection of products linked to a specific tag or set of tags.

Of course, the rest of the plugin also saw overall refinements. You can now, for example, find all WooCommerce Blocks more easily when you click on the plus symbol to create a new block by typing “WooCommerce”.  Read up on what these integrations look like in the WooCommerce 3.7 introduction post.

Gutenberg version 6.3

One of the areas where the Block editor still needs improvement is the accessibility of the editor. The block user interface introduces navigation from within the block itself, as well as from one block to another, which can be complex. This makes it very challenging for screen reader users to navigate the content of their posts. Gutenberg 6.3 fixes this with what they call a Navigation Mode. Or in their words:

To address that issue, we’re introducing the Navigation Mode. By default the editor is loaded in this mode, it allows you to move from block to block using a single Tab press. You can also use the arrow keys to navigate between blocks. Once you reach the block you want to edit, you can enter the Edit Mode by hitting the Enter key. The Escape key allows you to move back to the Navigation Mode.

Riad Benguella

This is a great start to make the editor more accessible for many different types of users. You can read more about why accessibility matters here.

As with the WooCommerce update mentioned above, this new Gutenberg release also comes with smaller improvements. Things like support for text alignments in table block columns, and border color support for the separator block. As usual, you can find out more about what’s new in Gutenberg 6.3 in their release post.

Bonus links

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Google’s Knowledge Panel: What is it and how to get one?

Google’s Knowledge Panel is the block you’ll find on the right side of your screen in the search results. Nowadays, you’ll see it for a lot of queries. It presents the results of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which can be seen as an engine connecting all kinds of data Google finds on the web. If you have a local, branded or personal panel, you might be able to influence what Google shows in the panel. Here, we’ll explain how.

What is a Knowledge Panel?

Knowledge Panels are a type of rich results in Google’s search results pages. They can show information about all kinds of things: businesses, people, animals, countries or plants, for instance. Such a panel appears on the right side of your screen in the desktop search results. It shows details on the particular entity you’re searching for. What you see in this panel is powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph.

example knowledge graph panel
An example of a knowledge panel

Why should we care about Knowledge Panels?

If you want to be found for search terms like your name, brand or business name, a Knowledge Panel is really useful! If Google decides to show you or your business in this panel, you pretty much dominate the search results on the right side of the screen in desktop search. In mobile, the panel will appear between other results but is pretty dominant as well.

A Knowledge Panel will, therefore, make sure your company or brand will stand out in the search results when people are specifically searching for it. That’ll give you lots and lots of clicks. This does make sense: if people are searching for you or your brand name, they probably want to find your website. So Google’s providing them with the best result.

How do you get a Knowledge Panel for your business?

As with all types of search results, Google will decide whether or not it’ll show a knowledge panel in the search results. If you’re a local business, you can do some things to increase your chances to rank with a knowledge panel. For the branded and personal panels, it is much harder to obtain such a knowledge panel.

Local panels

If you want a chance of Google displaying a local panel for your business, the first step is to open a Google My Business account. You’ll then be able to verify that you are the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos.

What also helps, is to verify your site with Google Search Console and to add structured data markup for businesses, as our Local SEO plugin does.

In the end, Google will decide whether or not to show a Knowledge Panel. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business are all important aspects for Google in determining if it’ll show one Making sure your website is working well and on a high-authority domain could enhance your chances.

Read more: Improve your local SEO with Google My Business »

Branded/personal panels

It’s not possible to apply for a branded or personal panel. Google will decide whether you or your brand is worthy of a Knowledge Panel. If you or your brand have enough authority, a panel will appear. Brands and people who are well-known and have, for instance, Wikipedia pages, often have Knowledge Panels as well.

For Yoast, we do have a Knowledge Panel. Joost de Valk also has a personal panel and since a while, as you can see, I have one too!

My own personal knowledge panel!

There are ways to increase your chances of getting in, as discussed in this webinar with a.o. Jason Barnard, but it will take lots of time and effort and success isn’t guaranteed, unfortunately.

Yoast SEO and the Google Knowledge Panel

As of our 11.0 release, Yoast SEO outputs a complete Structured data graph for the pages on your website. Structured data offers Google information about you, your business and your website in a way that’s understandable for machines and therefore it’s a great help for Google’s Knowledge Graph.

By doing so, Yoast SEO’s structured data graph helps Google’s Knowledge Graph connect the dots. This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get a panel, but you’ll offer the data for the panel in the best possible way.

In Yoast SEO, you can also add your social profile information. Yoast SEO will use this data to output the correct Schema markup. This means that, if you get a panel, the right social profiles are shown.

How to verify your panel?

If you have a personal Knowledge Panel, make sure to verify it. Verifying is not all that hard. Follow the steps Google has outlined for you in this article. You need to log in to your Google account and sign in to one of your official sites or profiles to get verification for your business. Once verified, you’ll be able to suggest changes in the panel to influence what it looks like.

Conclusion on Google’s Knowledge Panel

Knowledge Panels are a great asset to have in the search results. For local panels, you should make sure you’re doing everything you can to get one. For branded or personal panels, it is much harder to influence your chances of getting one. It all depends on your level of authority, and that’s something that probably won’t be fixed overnight.

Keep reading: What is Google’s Knowledge Graph »

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Quick wins for Magento SEO

Whether you’re migrating your existing online store or starting a new one, Magento is considered the ecommerce platform. In this post we are going to dive into SEO best practices to follow, looking at technical considerations and touching on content strategy. We will predominantly be concentrating on Magento Open Source.

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform developed by Varien. The first beta was launched in 2007. Since then it has had a number of owners (or maybe “custodians” would be a better term) including eBay, a private equity firm and, most recently, Adobe.

It’s a beast

In 2017, four years after its initial proposed launch date, Magento 2 was released. This may sound like a long delay, but with 1.84 million lines of PHP code and 239,000 lines of JavaScript – before you even consider HTML, CSS, XML, and other entities – you can appreciate the sheer scale of the task.

Given its size, it’s not the easiest ecommerce platform to get to grips with but, when it comes to sheer grunt, there isn’t much out there that can out-punch Magento.


Before we start, if you are migrating from another platform then you might find our post “The site migration tool for redirecting URLs like a boss” helpful.

Is Magento SEO-friendly?

Magento has many SEO-friendly features. However, first and foremost it is an enterprise ecommerce platform that can connect (via APIs and extensions) to a whole host of the world’s most popular payment gateway, order fulfillment, stock management, and CRM systems.

However, regardless of how SEO-friendly, it is out of the box, you’ll always want to be one step ahead of your competitors, right?

Let’s get optimizing. First, start with your theme.

The biggest consideration for any theme is how it handles the main navigation. A good test is to disable CSS and JavaScript (the Web Developer toolbar makes this easy), this then enables you to view the HTML structure. The out the box product Magento offers a pretty elegant solution that uses a semantically pleasing, nested unordered list. We would suggest using a theme that doesn’t deviate too far away from this convention if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be looking for.

Another area to check is to run the theme through Google’s mobile-friendly test. With Google’s mobile-first index nearly fully rolled out, making sure your site is fully mobile-friendly is a must.

Configuration setting

Considering the power of Magento, the backend isn’t too complicated and the options are split quite intuitively. All the following settings can all be found in the “Store – Configuration”.

General – Web – URL Options – Auto redirect to base URL

Selecting “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)” will mean non-www traffic is automatically redirected to www or vice versa.

General – Web – Search Engine Optimization – Use web server rewrites

Magento’s code is based upon a variation of the MVC framework. For non-devs, in simple terms, this means templates are called via the URL structure. This doesn’t always lend itself to human or SEO-friendly URLs. Ensuring this setting is set to “yes” means Magento will tidy up the structure. For example, “storename.com/index.html/page-name” will become “storename.com/page-name”.

General – Web – Base URLs – Base URL

If you are running with an SSL certificate, which all e-commerce sites should be these days, then this should be set to the same as the Secure Base URL that is “https://sitename.com“. This will mean anyone attempting to access HTTP will be redirected to HTTPS.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Default Robots

This might seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen development sites pushed live having a global meta robots tag with the “noindex, nofollow” value. So, ensue when going live this is changed to “index, follow”.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Edit custom instruction of the robots.txt file

This is where custom amends to the robots.txt file can be made. You can disallow any pages or directories you do not want search engines to index.

Catalog – Catalog –  Search Engine Optimization  – Use Categories Path for Product URLs

Let me use the much-coined SEO phrase – “it depends”. If this is set to “no” all products will appear in the root directory which is “storename.com/product-name”. This option is the most manageable and trouble-free setting to use, especially if your products appear in multiple categories.

When set to “yes” the URL will show the path of categories and subcategories, that is “storename.com/categry-name/product-name”.

If you are familiar with the concept of content silos and think it is a strategy you want to employ, then you will want to set this option to “yes”.

You should be aware of potential duplicate content issues though. If you are unsure then it’s really not worth the risk.

Catalog – XML sitemap

This section allows you to set frequency values and priority settings for categories, products, and CMS pages. For most applications the default values are sufficient.

In the “Generation Settings” section, you can also set the sitemap to auto-generate/update by setting “Enabled” to “Yes”. This is usually a good option with the frequency set, depending on how often you add new pages to your site.

Catalog – XML sitemap – Search Engine Submission settings –  Enable submission to Robots.txt

This will add a line to your robots.txt file informing the search engines where to find your XML sitemap. You can submit it via the Google Search Console, but a bit of automation is always good. So unless you have a specific reason not to then this should be set to “Yes”.

Site speed, the elephant in the room.

It’s no secret that Google likes a fast site, and it’s also no secret that due to the size of Magento’s code base it doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for speed. However, there are some quick wins you can make.

1. Host server

This will largely come down to your budget. Magento does run a basic shared server environment, but if you can stretch to a dedicated server then you will have so much more processing power at your fingertips

2. Caching

Magento has a sophisticated caching system that should be implemented. If you navigate to “System – Cache Management” you will want to make sure that all caches are set to “Enabled”. Often in the development stage, these can be switched off.

3. Flat catalog

By default, Magento uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) database system. This means that products and their attributes can be split over many tables. It’s a very flexible model but also slower when compared to a flat system. For this reason, Magento has the option to switch to using a flat catalog. The more categories, products, and attributes you have, the bigger the benefit you will see here. To enable this feature go to – “Configuration > Catalog > Storefront”. Here you will find two options, “Use Flat Catalog Category” and “Use Flat Catalog Product”, set both of these to “Yes”.

4. Image optimization

Ensure that all images are sized no larger than they will appear at their maximum size within your responsive theme. Images should also be saved in the correct format with SVGs used for logos and graphics where possible.

5. Browser caching

This isn’t something that is an option in the backend of Magento. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by manually updating the .htaccess file. There are plenty of resources on the net that can provide guidance on this… just remember to make a backup on the .htaccess before you amend it.

6. HTTP/2

If you know, then you know. If not, it’s best to pop a support ticket into your hosting provider on how to implement this. HTTP/2 allows browsers to perform multiple requests over a single connection. With a basic Magento home page requiring around 200 requests, this is a no-brainer.

7. Extensions

It’s good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation of an extension. You can also do this retrospectively by disabling existing extensions. If you do find an extension that is causing speed problems then you will need to weigh up the benefit vs site speed cost.

Layered navigation

What is generally referred to as faceted navigation is known as layered navigation in Magento. It lets users filter down products in a category by their predefined attributes. This is a feature that users have grown to expect when navigating ecommerce sites. It’s also a feature that has given search marketers more than a few headaches over the years.

If you take as an example a category page with 20 products, and within those products, there are five colors, five sizes, and four styles. When you consider you can filter by any combination of attributes, one category page has now turned into more than 100, all with their own URL. To compound this, you can then also order the products by name, price or number, and then select where you want them ascending or descending. As these options generally also update the URL, we are now up to 600 URLs. When you consider this is just one category you can appreciate it could cause problems with indexing.

Don’t get stuck in the spider web

We have seen ecommerce sites with millions of pages needlessly indexed, due to faceted parameters, on more than one occasion. Not only does this cause issues for Google being able to figure out what are the important pages on your site are, but they can also become spider traps.

This is where search engine bots will spend so much time crawling they essentially give up on your site and go somewhere else.

Managing this issue is where search marketers earn our keep. So, how can we accomplish this in Magento?

Unfortunately, there is not a completely elegant solution that’s straight out of the box. There are extensions that you can install that do make the job a little easier or you could even write some custom code yourself with the help of user forums.

Ultimately what you are looking to achieve are any of the following solutions

  • Add a canonical tag that references the non-filtered page
  • Nofollow all links to filtered pages and add a “noindex” tag on the linked pages
  • “Disallow” the pages in your robots.txt file

Another solution is declaring the URL parameters within Google’s Search Console. At the time of writing, you still have to do this via the old interface.

Which solution you choose, can depend upon the site. For instance, the canonical tag might be a good solution if you have only a few filterable attributes in your layered navigation, but as it still requires Google to crawl the pages to find these tags, if you have 100s of attributes it could use a large proportion of your crawl budget (even though the pages aren’t being indexed).

We have a dedicated post on faceted navigation if you would like to read more on the subject.

What next?

So you’ve got the right products at the right price, you’ve got your technical SEO sorted but so has your competition. How do you set yourself apart so you stand out in the SERPs?


A solid content strategy is what we do best here at Zazzle Media. We won’t dig too deep into this subject here, as we have numerous other posts we will point you in the direction of, and it’s not a topic exclusively related to Magento. What we will do is cover some of the areas you should be looking to cover:

Functional content

You can read up on the importance of having engaging functional content here.

Category content – In the admin area navigate to – Catalog – Categories – [Category] – Content – Description

Category pages will often drive a good proportion of traffic to your site. Categorizing your catalog to align with your keyword research will be worth the time and effort and help your site realize its full potential. When generating copy for the pages, a top tip is to look at the TF*IDF using a tool such as Ryte. This will highlight any words that are over or under-optimized for our page based upon the main topic.

Product descriptions – These descriptions can be added on your mass import CSV file or by navigating to – Catalog > Products > [Product] > Content > Description in the admin area.

Try to steer clear of using descriptions provided directly from the suppliers or manufacturers, as you can bet they’ve already been used on numerous other websites. This can be a big task with larger catalogs, but set a certain amount of resources aside every month and concentrate on your most popular items to start with.

Informational content

There are various ways of publishing news/blog content on Magento. A popular solution is to integrate WordPress using the Fishpig extension. This has been around for years and there are versions for Magento 1 and 2. It allows one-click login to both platforms and lets you associate posts with specific products which is a useful feature.

This is the area where a good strategy can pay dividends. Performing a gap analysis on your top competitors is an effective way to identify quick wins. Some comprehensive informational keyword research will also highlight questions and topics users are searching for. All this information can help you put together a content calendar that should align with business focuses and seasonal trends. Considering the different stages in your sales cycle, and the questions your users might have at these points will enable you to create a comprehensive resource of information.

In summary

Developing a site on the Magento platform isn’t always the cheapest solution to launch an ecommerce website, however, on the flip side, you’ll never want for a more powerful solution or be short of advice from the vast developer community. You also should have any issue in integrating it with the product information management (PIM) tool of your choice.

With a little bit of configuration, you should also have a site that is SEO-friendly. Regardless of the platform, the output is simply a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images and other resources. So fundamentally the same rules apply. Also, remember SEO isn’t a one-hit solution, it’s a strategy that is constantly evolving. Stand still and your competitors will catch you up and take your customers.

Mark Chisholm is an SEO Executive working within the Search & Data Team at Zazzle Media.

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8 Best YouTube Keyword Tools (Free and Paid)

Quick links

Looking for a list of the best keyword tools for YouTube keyword research? It’s here.

YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine, with over one billion hours of video watched daily.

But the question is, what are people searching for?

And what should you create videos about?

Keyword research is the only way to answer that, but unfortunately, there’s no official research tool for YouTube as there is with Google. Even worse, many popular third-party tools do nothing but kick back useless numbers from Google Keyword Planner.

Luckily, there are some good tools.

Below, we’ll talk about what these are, how they work, and how to use them.



TubeBuddy is a freemium browser extension for Chrome. It adds a sidebar to the YouTube UI with additional keyword data.

On the search results, you’ll see the “Search Explorer” overlay. This shows estimated global search volume, competition, and an overall keyword score out of 100. According to TubeBuddy, their keyword score tells you “how good a keyword is to target based on search volume and competition.”


TubeBuddy doesn’t explain how they gauge competition, so take this with a pinch of salt.

We’ve also found that their search volumes estimates are often overinflated. For example, we consistently rank in positions 1–2 for “SEO” on YouTube—a keyword for which TubeBuddy shows a search volume of 7.12 million searches per month.

serp overlay youtube

serp overlay youtube

Yet we get nowhere near that amount of impressions in YouTube search…

… which proves that true search volume is nowhere near the number suggested by TubeBuddy.

You’ll also see keyword stats, which give you a high-level view of the search results:

keyword stats tubebuddy

keyword stats tubebuddy

Below this, there’s a list of related searches and the most used tags from the top-ranking videos.

related searches tags

related searches tags

This is useful for discovering long-tail keywords to optimize your video for, or even to find other less competitive topics that you might not have considered.

Unfortunately, both of these are limited to three results for free users.

On video pages, you’ll see the “Videolytics” overlay. This shows a bunch of stats about the video and publisher (e.g., social shares across major social networks, the number of videos on the channel, etc.).



It also tells you if the uploader has followed “best optimization practices,” and pulls the full list of video tags.

You can copy and save tags to a list with a couple of clicks.

This is useful when trying to build up a list of tags for a video. Just look for common and relevant tags across top-ranking videos, add them to a tags list, then copy-paste the final list into the tags section of your video.

Tag lists get deduped automatically, so you won’t end up pasting a list of duplicate tags.

It’s also worth noting that TubeBuddy does suggest tags when you upload a video.

tubebuddy tags suggestions

tubebuddy tags suggestions

Beyond tags, another useful TubeBuddy feature is their rank tracker tool.

Here, you can track YouTube search rankings for yours and your competitors’ videos. You can even schedule downloadable weekly or monthly reports.

Keyword Ranking Report Display

Keyword Ranking Report Display



vidIQ is another freemium Chrome extension that adds additional data to the YouTube UI.

Much of its functionality is similar to TubeBuddy. In the search results, it shows search volume, competition, overall keyword score, related queries, keyword stats, and the tags from the top-ranking videos.

vidIQ doesn’t tell us the precise formula they use for the “competition” score. However, they do state they look at the “total amount of engagements (across YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook), view velocity of that video, and views.”

On video results, the stats you see are almost identical to TubeBuddy.

However, one small but useful difference is the ability to export video tags to CSV in a single click (without adding to tags lists first).

video tags export

video tags export

vidIQ also shows channel tags alongside video tags, whereas TubeBuddy doesn’t.

channel tags

channel tags

This is useful for getting a sense of the main topics a channel covers, and whether it’s worth analyzing more of their videos for potential video ideas.

Like TubeBuddy, vidIQ also suggests tags when you upload a video.

vidiq recommended tags

vidiq recommended tags

All in all, most of the functionality between vidIQ and TubeBuddy is so similar that it mostly comes down to personal preference.

But one unique feature worth mentioning is their trending videos feature, specifically for channels.

What this allows you to do is see any competing channel’s top videos by view velocity (i.e., the average views per hour).

To see it, head over to the channel’s page and hit the “Trending” tab.

trending vid iq

trending vid iq

This information is valuable because newly-published YouTube videos tend to get most of their traction in the first 48 hours—which is when YouTube promotes the video to subscribers.

After that, if the video performed well, it gets promoted to other audiences via browse features.

This is important. It means that if you see old videos with a high view velocity, then those may be good topics/keywords to target on your own channel.

Reason being, the overarching topic/keyword clearly has longevity.

Here’s an example from Tasty’s YouTube channel:

high view velocity

high view velocity

Their video about easy 3‑ingredient recipes still gets over 3,000 views per hour on average, despite being published over ten months ago.


The free version of vidIQ only shows you a limited number of videos.



Morning Fame is an invite-only YouTube tool focused on analytics and keyword research.

Looking for an invite? Click here. If that doesn’t work, Google “morning fame invite code”—you’ll soon find one.

Once you’re in, the first month is free. After that, it costs a few dollars per month.

So how does this tool work?

Unlike TubeBuddy and vidIQ, Morning Fame does keyword research in a four-step process. The idea is to go through this whenever you want to create a new video, and it begins with choosing a topic.

There are two ways to do this. You can either enter a search term that fits your topic…

morning fame topic

morning fame topic

… or, if you’re stuck for ideas, paste in the URL of a video that inspired you:

inspiring video morning fame

inspiring video morning fame

From here, the tool pulls a list of keyword ideas from similar and related videos, then divides them into two lists: good keywords for larger channels, and good keywords for smaller channels.

keyword options

keyword options

Choose a keyword to go to the next step, where you’ll see a “Ranking Opportunity Rating” based on your chosen keyword’s search volume.

The tool states that higher is better, although it’s worth noting that this is quite a simple metric and doesn’t take into account any other variables. What’s more, it doesn’t show actual search volumes but rather a score between 0–100. This serves as a rough indication as to whether search volume is high or low.

ranking opportunity

ranking opportunity

It also attempts to further estimate “ranking opportunity” based on four of your channels current stats: subscribers, views, likes & comments, and relevance.

Our advice? Ignore these grades. They don’t mean much.

The fourth and final step guides you through writing a title, description, and adding relevant tags to your video.

adding tags in morning fame

adding tags in morning fame

ahrefs ke youtube

ahrefs ke youtube

Keywords Explorer runs on a database of over 640 million YouTube keywords.

You can search for almost any keyword and see metrics powered by clickstream data, including local and global search volume (for nearly every country), clicks, click percentage, and more.

What does that mean in real terms? It means you can see how many people search for a query on YouTube every month, and also how many of those searches result in clicks on search results.

metrics ke

metrics ke

Looking at clicks and volume together can tell you more than looking at search volume in isolation.

For example, the search volume for “ramen recipe” is ~20% higher than “palak paneer recipe,” but the latter gets more clicks than the former:

search volume vs clicks

search volume vs clicks

That means you’re probably better off showing people how to make palak paneer than ramen.

Keywords Explorer also lets you check SEO metrics for up to 10,000 keywords at a time. Just paste them in or upload a file.

10000 keywords

10000 keywords

Or, if you’re short of keyword ideas, search for a seed keyword and check one of the five keyword ideas reports.

phrase match keywords

phrase match keywords

The reports at your disposal are:

  • Phrase match: Keywords containing the exact seed word or phrase.
  • Having same terms: Keywords containing all words in your seed query, but not necessarily in the order entered. E.g., If you seed is “salmon recipe,” then both “easy salmon recipe” and “recipe with salmon” will match.
  • Newly discovered: Keywords added to the database recently.
  • Questions: Keywords phrased as questions.
  • All keyword ideas: Keywords from all the reports above in one.

There are filters across all reports so you can narrow down hundreds or thousands of ideas quickly and easily.

filters ke

filters ke

Learn more about YouTube keyword research in this post or this video:


google trends youtube

google trends youtube

Google Trends shows whether interest in a topic on YouTube is rising or declining over time.

For example, let’s search for “apple watch,” select “YouTube search” from the dropdown, set the country to the United States, and set the range to the past three years.

apple watch google trends

apple watch google trends

What we see is that interest in this topic, on YouTube, is slowly rising.

It’s also clear that there semi-regular spikes in interest. If we analyze these spikes further, we see that they occur at roughly the same time each year—Christmas.

apple watch google trends december

apple watch google trends december

Putting two and two together, it’s likely that these spikes occur because lots of people get an Apple Watch for Christmas. After which, they head to YouTube to learn how to use it.

The takeaway? If you run a tech channel, publishing a video about “how to use an apple watch” on December 25th wouldn’t be a bad strategy because that’s when the most people are searching for this.

Google Trends also lets you compare the relative popularity of two or more keywords.

For example, if we compare “how to use iPhone XS” with “how to use Galaxy S10,” we see there are more searches for the former on YouTube than the latter…

youtube trends comparison

youtube trends comparison

… although interest is on the rise for the S10.

This is a useful exercise if you have a few video ideas and are unsure which one to prioritize.

You can also use Trends to find new topics for videos. Just look at the related queries section.

rising searches

rising searches

These are all queries that have seen an increase in searches recently on YouTube.

6. YouTube (Autosuggest)

youtube autosuggest

youtube autosuggest

Head over to YouTube and type any keyword into the search box.

You should see a dropdown like above.

These suggestions are based on relevant queries people have previously searched on YouTube, and they’re a great source of inspiration for videos.

For example, if I type “vegetarian,” I see results like “vegetarian ramen” and “vegetarian lasagna,” which are great ideas for standalone videos.

vegetarian youtube

vegetarian youtube

For even more ideas, use an underscore (_) between words. This acts as a wildcard.

wildcard search

wildcard search

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t show search volumes. Nor does it show the relative popularity of the queries (i.e., how much more popular one term is than the other).

For precise search volumes, you can copy results into a paid keyword tool like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

youtube ke

youtube ke

Alternatively, use Google Trends to see their relative popularity.


It’s best to exclude the seed query when doing this because it’s often way more popular than the autosuggest results.

keyword tool

keyword tool

KeywordTool.io is a freemium tool that is essentially a bulk YouTube autosuggest scraper.

What do we mean by bulk? Well, it scrapes the autosuggest results for the keyword you search for. But it also appends and prepends the query with various letters and numbers, and scrapes the autosuggest results for those.

It then divides the keywords into four tabs:

  1. Keyword Suggestions: All autosuggest keywords (excluding those formatted as questions).
  2. Questions: Autosuggest keywords formatted as questions.
  3. Prepositions: Autosuggest keywords containing propositions (from, for, after, etc.). Note that you can also see these in the Keyword Suggestions tab.
  4. Hashtags: Autosuggest keywords with hashtags. (This is usually a rather pointless tab from what I can see).

Usually, you end up with a list of a few hundred keyword ideas.

You can filter these results with ease, and also add “negative keywords” to filter out queries containing specific words or phrases.

negative keywords

negative keywords

Keywords are also exportable to Excel or CSV at the click of a button.

export keywords

export keywords

The downside is that search volumes aren’t available for free users. If you want those, you’ll have to pay.

Paid users also see up to twice as many keyword suggestions compared to the free version.  

That said, I’ve never seen the free version kick back more than 800–900 keywords. So I’m reasonably sure that even the paid version will max out at around 2,000 keyword suggestions.

Content Explorer is a searchable database of over one billion web pages.

How is this relevant to YouTube keyword research?

Because there are currently over 60 million videos from YouTube in the database, and you can see which of them get lots of traffic from Google search. Like this one:

ce high traffic video

ce high traffic video

By creating videos about such topics, you can “double dip” and get traffic to your videos from Google as well as YouTube.

Does it work? Yes. Here’s the traffic we get to our videos from Google:

2 Analytics YouTube

2 Analytics YouTube

How do you do it?

Just search for the following in Content Explorer, then filter only for pages with organic traffic:

site:youtube.com inurl:watch title:”topic”

For example, here’s one of the results from a search on protein powder:

protein powder video

protein powder video

It’s a homemade protein powder recipe, and it gets an estimated 2,000 visits from Google every month. That happens because it ranks for keywords like this…

video ranking keywords

video ranking keywords

… where Google shows videos in the search results:

google video result

google video result

Final thoughts

If you want more views on YouTube, then targeting keywords with search volume is crucial.

How do we know? In early-2019, we launched a series of product-related videos for our Marketing with Ahrefs course. None of these were optimized around keywords with search volume. As such, they didn’t perform well from an organic search perspective.

But here’s what happened to our views after we started taking a keyword-focused approach to our channel:

channel views youtube

channel views youtube

So, use the tools in this post to your advantage and find relevant keywords people are searching for, then create videos around them.

Did we miss any cool YouTube keyword tools? Give me a shout in the comments or on Twitter.

Our New PPC Tool Saves Clients Money 24/7

The $17.4 Billion Problem

Google generated ~$116 Billion on ads alone in 2018.*

We mined through millions of data points across 30 paid search accounts. On average, we found that these companies were wasting 15% of their budget on irrelevant keywords. If this holds true across the industry, that means there’s a $17.4 billion business built on irrelevant keywords. That’s almost equal to Starbucks’ 2018 revenue.†

What would you do with 15% more marketing budget?

How Does This Happen?

Pop culture and news references bring new meaning to existing words and new words into the SERPs everyday. Like when a rapper dropped a song called “Bank Account” that cost the finance industry millions.

The problem gets worse with Google’s recent play to expand “same meaning” close variants to broad match modifier and phrase match keywords, in addition to the exact match close variants that rolled out late last year.

We were bidding on [ga 360] and with this new update, Google matched us to 360 Georgia. People looking for a powerful web analytics tool are probably not going to have their questions answered by a site that sells peach flavored vodka.

This is happening everyday, but Google is not giving us the tools to find it.

So we built our own…

What is Saving Benjamin Pro?

Seer built a tool with the help of some outside developers called Saving Benjamin Pro, which pulls search query data directly from each client’s Google Ads account using the Google Ads API. We then use chi squared statistics to determine word relevancy, utilizing competitor rankings for our paid search terms as inputs. The tool lists out search query themes and how often they’ve been searched, then you can classify them based on whether they should be negated or not.


Ultimately, Saving Ben Pro is a more efficient way to identify themes to negate at scale, or themes to dig into for keyword and content expansions.

Clients go after search terms with high amounts of exact match in order to hit goals and avoid wasting money on high ranking keywords.

As a result, they’re missing out on conversions.

But, as soon as you lean more toward Phrase or Broad Match keywords, your ads are triggered by search queries that are less in line with the user’s intent, thus, wasting spend.

Saving Benjamin Pro allows search practitioners to confidently test broad or phrase match keywords because they can catch irrelevant search terms quickly and at scale.

This automated tool allows us to save ad spend, increase conversions, and find additional opportunities, all while reducing the time it takes for account teams to run manual search query analyses.

Saving Spend

Implementing negative keywords at scale across a search account can save our clients some serious money over time.

For example, if a client was spending $3K / quarter in search terms that never converted, negating these terms would save that client $12K / year.

Finding this wasted spend decreases costs without hurting conversion volume, since these negative keywords have never produced conversions to begin with.

That extra $12,000 saved per year could be used for things like:

  • Re-allocating to higher performing keywords
  • Testing a new initiative, platform, or strategy
  • Expanding into new keywords and content

Improving Conversion Metrics

Continuing from the above example, the client now has an extra $12K a year back in their marketing budget, and decides to reinvest that budget more efficiently into their existing campaigns.

Let’s break that down further.

When negating irrelevant and/or poorly performing keywords in an account, it prevents a client’s ads from showing for queries containing those keywords, and allows that client’s ads to show for even more relevant queries than before.

Say this client has a campaign that is budget capped, in which the campaign is missing out on potentially relevant and valuable queries that could drive conversions. Now the client can re-invest that $12K here on more relevant search terms.

The result is an increase in conversion volume, and a decrease in CPA.

💡  By reinvesting savings found from Saving Ben Pro, a client can increase the conversion impact of their existing budget-capped campaigns.

This increase in conversion metrics can be especially prevalent in branded campaigns. The negation of irrelevant keywords allows these campaigns to serve to more users with a significantly higher level of intent than those in non-brand campaigns.

Saving Time For The Account Team

1- 2 hours is how long it takes to pull a standard Search Query Report and dig through hundreds to thousands of rows of data.

10 minutes is how long it takes to run Saving Ben Pro and review recommended negative keywords.

Similarly to how the tool saves clients money, it also saves time for Seer account teams.

Saving Ben Pro combs through millions of data points each night, essentially completing most of the work by the time our team wakes up. Wouldn’t you like to do an analysis in your sleep?!

With these extra two to four hours a month, an account team can reinvest their efforts in other optimizations to improve client performance. This is helping teams to accomplish larger tasks that would otherwise be delayed due to time constraints.

How About Some Examples?

So now you’re thinking, “Well, Saving Ben Pro sounds cool, but does it actually work?” You tell us…

As we’ve been rolling out the tool across Seer, client teams have been utilizing Saving Ben Pro weekly to find wasted spend.

To measure the long-term impact, we have a running dashboard that measures the savings at a 1 and 3 year scale:

 In total, on this day, our clients will have saved $1,116,154 a year, equating to $3,348,464 over 3 years.

As mentioned, the dashboard is running, so this number continuously grows as our teams utilize the tool to identify more and more irrelevant keywords for our clients.

Client Highlights

One particular client is projecting to have $16.6k in yearly savings after looking at only two months of data from Saving Ben Pro. While the percentage of total savings to spend doesn’t seem significant at around 1%, this equated to roughly 75 incremental conversions when these savings were reinvested.

These are conversions that the client would not have had the budget to capture without the improved efficiency of the Saving Ben Pro negative keyword additions.

So let’s take this one-step further… let’s say that client’s conversion is worth $500 each.

75 Conversions x $500 = $37,500 in revenue

It’s not just about saving $16,600 – it’s about the ripple effect of then investing that properly and turning it into $37,500! Then continuing to invest that revenue and growing that number further. There’s a multiplier effect at play when you can save and re-invest at scale.

In ~10 minutes over the span of two months, the Seer team was able to generate 75 additional yearly conversions for this client with the money saved from irrelevant queries.

Another client saw conversion rate increase by 29% month over month after adding negative keyword recommendations from the SB Pro tool.

With only a few other minor optimizations made during that month, the SB Pro negatives had a significant impact on this increase in conversion rate.

The total savings for this client came out to be even greater at around $17.7k per year which equated to over 9% of monthly spend.

In total, this client could potentially see 93 additional conversions as a result of 5 minutes of work using Saving Benjamin Pro.

We experienced a 29% increase in MoM conversions, with a -22% lower avg. CPC after negating irrelevant search traffic identified by Saving Ben Pro from another client.

And that’s just to name a few…

Save Some Benjamins On Us With Saving Ben Lite

Our team is constantly evolving Saving Benjamin Pro to further enhance speed and efficiency, which allows us to keep saving at scale for our clients!

But this is also about advancing our industry. Our industry helps curate searches, and our goal is to make that experience as easy as possible. We don’t want users clicking on irrelevant ads — it doesn’t help them!

In that vein, we created a FREE PUBLIC TOOL called Saving Benjamin Lite. We hope it helps you save some money and create better experiences for searchers.

Check it out. Save yourself some Bens.

*Source; †Source

How to use Yoast SEO’s content analysis tool

The content analysis in the Yoast SEO plugin assesses crucial aspects of the posts and pages you add to your website. In particular, it checks how SEO friendly and easy to read your content is. Here, we’ll go through the most important features of this tool. Check out our step-by-step guide on to optimize your page and learn how to interpret the feedback you’ll get.

The content analysis: readability and SEO

You’ll find our readability and SEO analysis in the Yoast SEO meta box and the Yoast SEO sidebar (the latter only if you use the WordPress Block editor). So, when you’re working on your post or page just scroll down to find them in the meta box below your post:

The Yoast SEO meta box you’ll find below your post

Or, in the Block Editor, click on the Yoast icon in the upper right corner of your screen to see the Yoast SEO sidebar:

The Yoast SEO sidebar
The Yoast SEO sidebar

Here, we’ll be focusing on the SEO and readability analysis. But we’ll also have a quick look at the Social tab and the Cornerstone content section because it’s important to use those correctly when you’re optimizing your post or page.

The readability analysis

The readability analysis aims to help you write text which is easy to read and understand. Foremost, this is crucial if you want readers to stay, read your text and understand what you’re writing about. Or perhaps even take action, for instance, if you’re explaining how to perform a certain task in your post. Secondly, search engines love readable copy! That’s why you should invest some time in writing in plain language.

The readability analysis includes several checks based on the characteristics of a text that is easy to read and understand:

If you write a readable text, based on the criteria above, the plugin will reward you with a green bullet.

The SEO analysis

Readability is essential, but there’s more to focus on if you want to create a search-engine-friendly page on your website. That’s why we have an SEO analysis too!

The SEO analysis of Yoast SEO

To get the most out of the SEO analysis, you’ll have to enter a focus keyphrase first. The focus keyphrase is the phrase you’d like your post to rank for. You should determine what phrases you’d like to rank for by doing keyword research.

Once you’ve entered your focus keyphrase, the SEO analysis checks the presence of your focus keyphrase in:

The plugin calculates the number of words and frequency of the focus keyphrase in your article. In addition to this, Yoast SEO Premium checks how you distributed the keywords on your page. Your article should contain your focus keyphrase or its synonyms evenly throughout the text.

And it checks whether you’re using the exact same focus keyphrase on other pages of your website so you don’t accidentally compete with yourself. If you were to optimize two different articles for the same focus keyphrase, you could have both posts turn up in the same search on Google. Read why you shouldn’t use your focus keyphrase more than once.

And, last but not least, Yoast SEO has several links and image checks for your article.

If you write a relatively SEO-friendly article – based on the above criteria – the plugin will reward you with a green bullet. If you follow the instructions and craft your pages and posts so they get green bullets, they have a better chance of ranking high in search.

On a special note: the cornerstone analysis

Because your cornerstone articles should be the best articles on your site, and you want them to rank high in the search engines, Yoast SEO provides a specific cornerstone content analysis. If you mark an article in Yoast SEO as cornerstone content, the content analysis will be a little stricter — your article will need to be longer, for example. You can also check if these articles are linked to often enough elsewhere on your site with the text link counter in Yoast SEO.

8 steps to optimize your post or page

Enough with the theory, let’s get to work! If you follow the steps below, you’re making your post or page reader and SEO friendly.

Step 1: Enter your focus keyphrase

First, enter your focus keyphrase – the keyword you want your post to rank for – in the Yoast SEO meta box or the sidebar. This should be a keyphrase which came from your keyword research and which you’ll keep in mind throughout the writing process.

Read more: How to choose the perfect focus keyphrase »

Yoast SEO Premium lets you optimize an article for more than just a single focus keyphrase – you can add synonyms and related keyphrases as well. Yoast SEO Premium recognizes these related keyphrases, synonyms and even different word forms in your text. Using synonyms and different word forms makes your text easier to read. Using related keywords provides context to your article, helping search engines to understand what it’s about.

Step 2: Put your text in the WordPress backend

Distraction free writing

WordPress has a distraction-free writing mode that enables you to write in the WordPress backend without being distracted by the menu, the toolbar, the categories box, etc.Distraction free writing mode

You can write your article directly in the post editor of WordPress or write in any text editor and copy and paste it into the WordPress backend. Either way is fine!

If you choose to paste your text into the WordPress backend, don’t forget to check if your headings are transferred well (H1 should be your post title, H2 is the subheading etc).

Step 3: Check your readability scores

We believe your audience comes first, so readability comes before SEO! This means that, first and foremost, you have to write content people like to read. Put effort into writing an attractive, well-structured and original article. Then use our readability checks to make sure your text is nice and easy to read.

Click on the readability analysis tab and you’ll see your scores for the readability checks. The green bullets show which aspects of your content are good, while orange and red bullets indicate where you can make improvements.

readability analysis yoast seo

Clicking on the eye icon will highlight the sections where the analysis identified a problem:

Unnecessary use of passive voice found by the readability analysis

Now let’s solve this in step 4!

Step 4: Make readability adjustments

The readability analysis checks tell you where your article’s readability could be improved. If you tend to write long sentences, our analysis will show you which ones to rewrite. Split long sentences up into shorter sentences. If your paragraphs are too long, divide them up too. If you use a lot of passive voice, rephrase a few sentences. Here you can find all Yoast SEO’s readability assessments and instructions on how to get great scores.

Make sure that the overall bullet – the one on the upper right in the backend of your post – is green. The overall bullet will turn green if you have covered most of the readability aspects.

Step 5: Optimize your snippet

In Yoast SEO’s snippet preview you can see what your page might look like in the search results. If you click on edit snippet, you can adjust the SEO title, the URL and the meta description. By doing so, you can make your search result more enticing and convince people to click on your result.

the snippet preview in yoast seo
The snippet preview in Yoast SEO

Keep reading: How to use the snippet preview of Yoast SEO »

Step 6: Check your SEO bullets

Go to the SEO analysis and check out those SEO bullets. Again, green tells you which aspects of your SEO are good, while orange and red indicates where you can improve your SEO strategy.

The SEO analysis in Yoast SEO

Have some red bullets? Don’t panic, we’ll help you with that in step 5. Whatever you do, don’t change your focus keyword now! Why? Read The temptation of the green bullet to find out.

Step 7: Make SEO adjustments

The checks in the SEO analysis will show you where you can improve your SEO. Look critically at your title, the headings, and subheadings of your article. Do they include your focus keyphrase? If not, can you edit them (without changing the structure or content of your article) to include your focus keyword? Don’t go crazy and put your focus keyphrase in every heading, because that’s too much!

Your article should also include the focus keyphrase a couple of times, and if it’s not in your first paragraph, add it. As a general rule of thumb: try to use your search terms in about 1 to 2 percent of your text. Moreover, try to use synonyms and related keywords, as they’ll make your text easier to understand and can even enhance SEO.

Also, don’t forget to add links to related posts on your site and to check your images. Have you added an alt text? And are they the right size?

Remember, you don’t have to keep on optimizing until all of the bullets are green. Posts on Yoast.com often have a few orange bullets and sometimes even one or two red ones. The important thing is that the overall bullet should be green, which happens if most of your SEO aspects are covered.

Step 8: Fill out the social data

The final step is to add social data for your article. This means that you can instruct social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, what to show when you share a page. You can add a social description, title, and an image with Yoast SEO. In Yoast SEO Premium you can even check what your page will look like when shared on social:

the social preview of yoast seo
Social previews in Yoast SEO Premium

Time to publish!

Great, you’re ready to hit publish! Go ahead and go live. When it’s live, take a second to check what it looks like on your site. You might see things you haven’t noticed before. Also, don’t forget to monitor how your post or page is doing, because this will give you valuable input for improvement of the post at hand or future posts.

But what if you have all green bullets and still no rankings?

SEO copywriting with Yoast SEO

SEO copywriting is still hard work, but the content analysis tool in Yoast SEO makes the process of writing awesome, SEO-friendly articles much easier. For more practical tips, make sure you read SEO copywriting: the Ultimate Guide.

The post How to use Yoast SEO’s content analysis tool appeared first on Yoast.

Data-Driven Marketing: Your Ultimate 4-Step Guide

When done well, data-driven marketing is the best way of making marketing processes efficient, performance-oriented and successful. Our ultimate guide explains in four clear steps how you can approach the challenges of building a data-driven strategy in the right way and which tools you need to reach your objectives.

Looking to see what advantages a data-driven approach could bring to your marketing activities? Then something big is heading your way:

Find out more!

This guide covers the following topics:

Definition: What is data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing is an approach to online marketing that uses data to increase the level of targeting, personalization and ultimately the success of campaigns and communications. Data helps create marketing activities that are precisely tailored to the needs of the user: Less scatter-gun, more sniper rifle.

A data-driven marketing strategy is one that is based on a solid data analysis. Insights arm digital marketers with genuine understanding of the behavior and interests of their users. This enables businesses to reach potential customers with relevant messaging, at the right time and at each specific point of the customer journey, creating as personal as possible an experience for each user.

With data, marketing is transformed from a traditional mass-market approach to a personalized approach.

Hypothesis: Marketing decisions that are made based on a solid data analysis are good decisions. Data insights increase reach, branding and user engagement in a measurable way.

  • Customers are addressed in a more individual way which improves the customer experience.
  • Performance is measured more precisely and efficiency/ROI are increased.
  • Performance is improved.


Background: Why did data-driven marketing evolve?

Data-driven marketing evolved because three central aspects of marketing changed: The user, the user journey and the data basis.

The central character in any marketing story is the user – the person who marketing activities are trying to reach. Today’s user is better informed, better connected and more demanding than ever before. They expect personalized messages that are created just for them and that appear relevant to their specific needs. To make this possible, marketers obviously have to know exactly who their users are.

Know your users!

If they hope to reach their users, marketers can no longer rely on traditional, linear customer journey structures. Today, people jump between numerous touchpoints on all kinds of devices and channels. At each touchpoint, it is the marketer’s task to reach out with an attractive message. This can only be successful if marketers know where their users are and what they are looking for there.

Know their journey!

At each touchpoint, the user leaves an information trail that can be used to gain valuable insights. The data can be used to create user profiles that analyze and understand consumer behavior. This shows us:

  • who they are, what their world looks like, what their needs are and what they are looking for.
  • which point of the user journey they’re currently, how and when they’re accessing which kinds of information.

Use the data!

This lets marketers target users with messaging and products that are relevant for each touchpoint.



Data-driven content marketing lets us engage in a dialogue with our customers. We are interacting with them. We want them to value our companionship and perceive us as someone they can talk to whenever they like to gain offer new insights, inspiration and relevant information.” – Michael Dziewior, Team Lead Content Services, Searchmetrics Digital Strategies Group

Why is data-driven marketing important?

So you can address customers efficiently and individually, meaning that you are right on point. Data is knowledge is power is success. Today, data are the foundation of long-term value creation. They make it possible to gain insights that enable the precise adaption of marketing activities to the needs of the consumer.

The advantages at a glance

Data-driven marketing helps to…

  1. reach customers more effectively
    • Understand interactions with customers at all touchpoints of the customer journey
    • Personalize communication at all touchpoints of the customer journey
    • Adapt communication to current and important trends
    • Increase customer service, satisfaction and loyalty
    • Strengthen brands and improve branding
  2. increase efficiency
    • Precisely measure the success of campaigns
    • Measurably increase the Return on Investment (ROI) of campaigns
    • Save resources by investing media budget in a more focused way, targeting high-potential audiences with a higher likelihood of conversion
  3. improve performance
    • Significantly increase the success of campaigns
    • Encourage purchase decisions by creating personalized offers

According to 57% of those surveyed for a Forbes Study, the ROI of their data-driven marketing campaigns had seen a measurable increase.

How does data-driven marketing work?



The aim of data-driven marketing is finding out what works and then doing more of it. To achieve this, data is pooled from numerous sources and transformed into actionable insights. These form the basis for a marketing strategy that includes all important channels: paid media, corporate media and earned media.

The process can be viewed in four steps:

  1. Collecting data
  2. Compiling and analyzing data
  3. Turning data into strategy
  4. Measuring success.

1. Collecting data

There are countless possible sources that data can be taken from and the volume of data is enormous. New contact points between companies and customers emerge constantly; new information is generated at each stage of the customer journey: online and offline, mobile and social, locally and through market research.

To collect customer data effectively, there are two questions that need answering:

  1. Which data is needed in order to understand the user and their decision-making process?
  2. Which data sources are available and relevant?

Traditional marketing sorts users into rough target groups. The data-driven approach is more precise: Personas are used to create micro-targets, that – thanks to detailed data – are extremely clearly defined. In this way, online marketers generate different content for a tech-savvy student than they do for a music-loving student.

Target group Persona
Demographic and socio-economic categories:

Age, gender, marital status, place of residence, family size, education, occupation, income.

Additional psychographic factors, such as:

Life style, values and opinions, interests, hobbies and purchase behavior.

Data sources

Data for generating personas can come from online and offline sources. These are:

  • First-party
    • The company’s own data, such as CRM data or user data from tracking on the company website – web-browsing behavior, website navigation or online interactions and purchase behavior in the company’s online shop.
  • Second-party
    • Company data, but gained using non-proprietary services, such as data from marketing partners or online search behavior data measured using Google Analytics or the Google Search Console.
  • Third-party
    • Data from professional data providers, collected using various methods and purchased by the company. Could include data on search volume, trends, seasonality, user intent etc.

2. Compiling and analyzing data

The biggest challenge of data-driven marketing is turning Big Data into Smart Data – this means filtering out the relevant information from the vast amounts of data collected from online and offline sources, and converting this information into insights that can be used to drive actions.

Big Data Analytics is the magic word. It is used in the field of Business Intelligence to optimize internal company processes. Data is extracted from various sources, centralized and compiled in a uniform format so that it can then be meaningfully categorized.

For marketing that aims to be driven by data, the technical complexity has to be minimized as much as possible. Efficient analysis requires the right tools that interact seamlessly with each other. Also, organizational structures also need to be in place that work in a connected, integrated way, rather than operating in silos.

3. Turning data into strategy

The insights gained from the data analysis are used to create an integrated marketing strategy. This should include a clear definition of the goals and KPIs, and establish where the greatest opportunities are. It should be clear whether the (primary) aim is brand awareness, lead generation, sales or web traffic. It should be clear from the data where most traffic comes from, which channels and pages convert the best and at which stage of the customer journey most users exit the sales funnel.

The marketing strategy should be composed in a holistic way to incorporate and integrate different digital and analogue channels. These could include email marketing and SEO, partnerships and events, as well as SEA, display advertising, retargeting, influencer marketing and offline advertising. Data-driven content can also be part of this mix: Which questions does the user have, which features do they want, which content are they looking for?

Examples of application:

  • Identify personas
  • Use seasonality and trends to create editorial and paid media calendars
  • Use seasonality and trends to create relevant website content
  • Run personalized email campaigns targeting customers’ specific preferences
  • Promote the right products on the right marketing channels by predicting which product a customer will be interested in
  • Set up automatically triggered emails following specific actions that a user makes on the company website
  • Increase efficiency of advertising purchases

Read about Casper’s data-driven content strategy

3. Measuring success

As one of a company’s key objectives is increasing efficiency, measuring performance is clearly of central importance. The factors to be measured depend on the company‘s objectives.

The following is a summary of the most important performance KPIs for online marketing:

  • Objective: Customer loyalty and traffic quality
    • Bounce rate
    • Average session length
    • Average page views per session
    • Retention rate: Active customers today / active customers a defined length of time ago
  • Objective: Customer satisfaction
    • Bounce rate
    • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Objective: Profitability
    • Cost per buy (ROI): Profit / Total cost of an investment
    • Conversion rate for each channel and each page, based on target conversions, such as
      • Newsletter sign-ups
      • Whitepaper downloads
      • Trial version registrations
  • Objective: Gain new customers
    • Cost per acquisition
    • Acquisition rate
  • Objective: Strengthen brand
    • Impressions
    • Rankings
    • Mentions on social media channels
  • Objective: Website visits
    • Traffic
    • Sessions

The right tools for the right task

Data-driven marketing can only be successful if it is approached holistically. To achieve this, the market offers a huge number of tools that can be used for different purposes, such as collecting, compiling, analyzing, preparing, visualizing and utilizing data. The tools can be sorted into seven main areas of application:

  1. Web analysis: e.g. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Searchmetrics Suite
  2. Social media listening: e.g. Buzzsumo, Brandwatch, Sysomos, Meltwater, Vico, Buffer, Oktopost
  3. Marketing automation platforms: e.g. Oracle Eloqua, Marketo, Hubspot, Silverpop
  4. Customer relationship management (CRM): e.g. Salesforce, Sugar
  5. Reporting and analysis: e.g. DataHero, DataStudio, Tableau, Domo, Qlik
  6. Lead generation: e.g. LeadFuze, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, Rapportive
  7. Content strategy and creation: e.g. Searchmetrics Research Cloud and Content Experience, Atomic Reach, Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Curata, Canva

Don’t miss your chance to data-charge your marketing!

DMP: Untangling the web and joining the data dots

With the huge number of tools available, the demand for a central platform is growing. Companies hope to move away from silos and enable cross-departmental cooperation – with marketing, IT, business analytics and product development working together. The idea is that different data should no longer be restricted to different areas, but that all data should be accessible for all systems.



The solution to this challenge is provided by Data Management Platforms, or DMPs, also known as Marketing Data Warehouses. These technologies act as a “data headquarters”, and help companies to extract information from different sources so that it can then be consolidated, organized and analyzed. A DMP contains a database and an array of features used for data processing. The main features of a DMP are:

  • Collecting, saving and classifying data from different data sources
  • Data analysis, creating reports and data visualization
  • Data segmentation e.g. along target group lines
  • Data activation
  • Data optimization to continually fine-tune targeting criteria

Relevant tools include The Adex, Adobe Audience Manager, Lotame, Mediamath and OneID from Neustar.


A data-driven marketer can reach their high-potential customers with the right marketing messages at the right time in the right place. Instead of implementing individual measures, holistic eco-systems are created with the customer at its center. This makes campaigns more efficient, more successful and more measurable.

If you are looking for support in developing your marketing strategies, then we will be happy to help. Just set up an appointment with an expert consultant from our Digital Strategies Group, and we can see where we can assist:

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