Archives November 2019

6 Things You Need to Know From the Google Webmaster Conference

Google held the first Google Webmaster Conference in Mountain View, CA on November 4, 2019. The Monday was filled with lightning talks from Googlers from various teams, with Danny Sullivan as the MC.

Conference Recap

The conference followed Chatham House Rules, meaning that I cannot share the names of anyone who spoke. However, I can share what I learned with you all. There were lightning talks, Q&As, and presentations about structured data, emojis in search, deduplication, crawling and rendering, search language and more. There was even a product fair, where webmasters got to spend a chunk of time talking to various Google Search Product Managers one on one, and ask questions and provide feedback. While each session was valuable, I’m sharing what I found to be the most valuable sessions, with the biggest takeaways.

google webmaster conference

Language Used for Search

Synonyms for Search:

One Googler shared how Google uses synonyms to understand queries, but sometimes they get it wrong. Google did a great job of breaking this down.

  • How synonyms in queries work:

synonyms in search

Image Courtesy: Google

  • Contextual: Synonyms depend on other query words
  • Google shared a story about a time when their top result for the query “united airlines”  was Continental Airlines (rivals, and did not mean the same thing). This is one example of how Google identified that similar ≠ interchangeable. Google then developed their “Siblings,” which are oftentimes rivals (cats and dogs).

Non-Compositional Compounds in Search:

  • A compositional compound is “a phrase of two or more words where the words composing the phrase have the same meanings in the compound as their conventional meanings.” A non-compositional compound is one where the meanings differ.
  • One example of a non-compositional compound is “New York,” which cannot be shortened to “New” or “York.” New Jersey, on the other hand, can be shortened to “Jersey” while keeping the same context of the query.

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

Emojis in Search

  • Search ignored the use of emojis and other special characters initially. The reasons were:
    • Nobody searches for them
    • Expensive to index if they’re not used

pasted image 0 51

  • Over time, the “nobody searches for them” narrative changed. Google estimated that people were using emoji in >1 million searches per day
  • Now, emoji can be searched for and can even carry link equity if used as “anchor text” (although I would still recommend using regular text to link)

Structured Data in Search

We had the pleasure of hearing from the Product Manager for Structured Data who shared the evolution of search and the importance of structured data. This lightning talk discussed how SERPs have looked in the past vs. today to highlight the increase in SERP features meant to better engage the searcher, and why structured data is important for gaining visibility in these features.

There wasn’t much revealed that most SEOs don’t already know around structured data.

Why You Should Implement Structured Data

SERPs Are Changing

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

Google’s goal is to provide the best search experience available so that users keep using their search engine instead of competitors like Bing or Duck Duck Go. Part of the search experience includes providing visually-appealing results to help users in the discovery portion of their search and guide them to a site that can answer their query. Adding structured data helps Google understand your page and enable special features.

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

Web Deduplication

Web deduplication is the process of identifying and clustering duplicate web pages, picking a representative URL and indexing unique pages, and forwarding signals to the representative URL, otherwise known as the canonical URL. Google deduplicates because users don’t want the same page repeated to them, it leaves more room for distinct content in the index, you retain signals when you redesign your site, and Google can also find alternative names.

A Googler walked through the deduplication process and shared these suggestions:

Tips for Deduplication:

1. Use redirects to clue Google into your site redesign

2. Send Google meaningful HTTP result codes

3. Check your rel=canonical links

4. Use hreflang links to help Google localize

5. Keep reporting hijacking cases to the forums

6. Secure dependencies for secure pages

7. Keep canonical signals unambiguous

Rendering

Rendering allows Googlebot to see the same thing on the internet as we do. To no surprise, Googlebot renders with Chrome. So, Chrome renders a page and loads content, then Googlebot fetches that content and loads it. Once the content is loaded, Google takes a snapshot of the content and that is what’s indexed.

Google faces two challenges when rendering content; Fetching and JavaScript.

Fetching

Fetching is a problem due to limited access (robots.txt) and limited crawl volume (Google does take your servers into account and won’t over crawl your site to help you avoid server issues).

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

The Googler did say that when fetching, corners will be cut by:

  1. Google does not obey HTTP caching rules (so don’t rely on clever caching)
  2. Google might not fetch everything (minimizes fetches)

JavaScript

There is a lot of JavaScript (JS), so Google has to run a lot of it. Google is constrained with CPU so they don’t want to waste resources. Google will interrupt scripts if they need to. Basically, don’t overload with JS and make sure it’s all useable.

Popular Ways to Fail with JavaScript

  • Error loops (robots.txt, missing features)
  • Cloaking
  • Cryptocurrency Miners

Googlebot & Web Hosting

This lightning talk was separated into 3 sections; How has HTTP serving evolved?, Robots.txt explained, and Google crawl rate.

How Has HTTP Serving Evolved?

Google shared HTTP server popularity changes from 2008 – 2019 and we can see that Apache is losing market space to Nginx and MicrosoftIIS (see image below). They shared that traffic is shifting to HTTPS (no surprise there) and that HTTP fetching is getting faster.

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

Robots.txt Explained

Robots.txt is a common way for webmasters to specify access to their websites. This is not a standard and is interpreted in a different way by different search engines. Google is working with other search engines to define a standard for robots.txt files, but it’s not there yet.

Googlebot has to check the robots.txt for every single URL that they crawl. The robots.txt has to be fetched before the content, but sometimes that fetch can fail. If the fetch fails and Google gets a 200 or 404 error, no worries. If Google fetches and gets a 5xx error, it’s OK, but only if it is transient. If the robots.txt is unreachable, that’s bad.

google webmaster conference

Image Courtesy: Google

26% of the time, a robots.txt is unreachable (you can’t get indexed if you can’t be reached)!

google webmaster conference

Crawl Rate Limiting

Googlebot has a sophisticated way to determine how fast to crawl a site. As a webmaster, you can set a custom crawl rate in search console if needed, but it’s only recommended to use this feature if you need crawling to slow down. Googlers said to leave crawling to Google unless your server is being overloaded.

Action Items from the Google Webmasters Conference

  • Focus on people, not search engines
  • Continue to monitor your Robots.txt
  • Index bloat is real. Keep your site structure clean to help Google deliver your content
  • Make content more “cacheable”
  • Reduce wasteful JS
  • Utilize structured data
  • Focus on people, not search engines (it’s that important)

To summarize everything in one paragraph, Google is trying to provide the best answer to a query while also providing an optimal experience for the searcher. Make sure your site is technically sound (proper robots.txt, sitemaps, canonicalization, etc.) while writing the actual content for people and use structured data to help Google understand your content and how it should be displayed. Google is constantly making updates to their algorithm and other search products, so it doesn’t do any good to “chase the algorithm.” Focus on giving people what they are looking for in the appropriate channel and medium.

Other Summaries of the Event

Staying Up to Date With Search

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11 Deadly SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020

SEO is extremely important for growing your brand in 2020. This is especially after social media’s importance in driving traffic reduced and Google became the major source of referral traffic in 2017 by driving 35% of site visits

By using SEO, you can improve your website’s ranking in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and reach the top rankings. You must do this because the first search result gets more clicks than other results.

While doing SEO of your website, there are a few things to be kept in mind and these are the SEO mistakes. If you commit any of these errors, you might end up harming your reputation. Here are some of the most deadly SEO mistakes that you must avoid in 2020. 

1. Unsatisfied search intent

While you may write helpful content, if it isn’t well-targeted, the people finding your website may not find it useful after all. You may have figured out your target audience as well but if you don’t take search intent into account, all your efforts may go into vain. 

Search intent is essentially the intent behind the search. Your website and content need to satisfy this intent by providing a solution. This is why it’s crucial to understand what the searcher is thinking when they search for something. Your website needs to provide the answer to this thought. 

For example, if a user searches “SEO” on Google, it means that the user wants to know what is SEO? But, if a user searches “SEO services” then that person is looking to hire an SEO expert or company. Both keywords (SEO & SEO Services) have a different intent. So, if you’re targeting the keyword “SEO Services” but asking “what is SEO?” you can’t succeed with that content because you are unable to satisfy the intent behind that search phrase. 

2. Traditional SEO techniques

Just the way the internet is changing, SEO is developing and changing too. To stay at the very top of the search results, you need to keep up with these changes and apply modern SEO techniques. 

If you keep applying the traditional SEO techniques, then you may end up getting penalized. Those days are gone when you can rank by using keyword stuffing, PBNs, and other traditional methods. 

Today, Google is smarter than before. Now, it can rank for those keywords that you have not mentioned in your content too. Recently, Google made an algorithmic update called Google BERT that helps Google to better understand the content and user-queries.

If you want to succeed with SEO, then you should adopt modern SEO techniques. Traditional SEO techniques can penalize your site but can’t outrank your competitors.

3. Not updating yourself

As mentioned above, SEO is a dynamically changing field and you need to keep yourself up-to-date with all the latest happenings. This is necessary because Google keeps bringing out new updates every now and then. If you miss out on a major update, your website might get affected and you may lose out on valuable traffic.  

You should keep yourself updated with the latest SEO changes and updates. Google released various updates this year including broad core updates like 3rd June Core Update, Google BERT, and many others. You must keep yourself updated about them. 

4. Ignoring structured data and search features

Structured data is essential to stand apart from the crowd, especially when you reach the first page of the search results. Through structured data, your search result may end up featuring even above the first search result. Additionally, the result would look bigger than all the other listings and may become the go-to choice for your searchers.

 

Similarly, you must concentrate on improving your website’s internal search functions as well. People who come to your website must find it easy to look for relevant information and the search feature can help with this. Try to incorporate search into your website and also try to optimize your listings such that your searchers find exactly what they were looking for. 

There are different types of structured data for different types of content that you can use on your site. Like as,

  • Product Review (for product review)
  • How to (for “how-to” content)
  • FAQ (for FAQ content)
  • Address (for company address)
  • Books (for books)
  • Events (for events)

5. Ignoring conversion optimization

The end goal of all businesses is to get customers and for that, you need to first generate leads and then convert them. However, many businesses end up ignoring conversion optimization and only concentrate on the top of the funnel. 

Instead, it’s necessary to provide everything that your leads need to become paying customers. Load them up with reviews, case studies, and show them why they must purchase from you. Make it easy for them to make the purchase as well. By ignoring conversion optimization, you may end up losing loads of customers and hence, revenue. 

It is the most important and no-cost strategy to increase your revenue that you shouldn’t ignore in 2020.

6. Not focusing on branded anchor text

Anchor texts are important for your SEO and make up a huge part of your link building strategy. While you may get loads of backlinks from reputed sources, the anchor texts of these links are extremely important.

You might use anchor texts that relate to your pages or blogs. However, by ignoring the branded anchor texts, you might not be able to improve your brand’s authority. Branded anchor texts can help in improving your brand recognition and through that, your brand may start ranking higher on search results too. 

Also, branded anchors look more natural than keyword-optimized anchor texts. I found that most of the sites that saw a boost in their rankings during the Google 3 June update had more branded anchor texts than others. That’s why you should focus on branded anchor texts. 

7. Only text is the content to focus

Probably you have heard that videos are the future.

It is true! Because videos are the easiest way to learn and people prefer to watch videos over any other content format. This is the biggest reason for the popularity of YouTube. 

But you must have noticed that videos appear on Google’s SERPs too. Google knows that videos are the future and people like to watch videos. That’s why Google shows them on the SERPs.

Videos also take less time to rank on Google than text content and are more engaging content format. 

Google has also started adding podcasts on Google SERPs. These two content formats are still growing and less competitive than text content. That’s why you should also focus on these rather than only writing blog posts.

8. Not focusing on branding and brand searches

“Brands are the solutions” and Google loves brands.

SEO is becoming more brand-centric day by day. Now, SEO is not just about getting traffic. You need to do it to build a brand too. If you want to win the SEO game and make your business a trustable and profitable brand then you need to focus on branding. 

You should increase brand searches for your business. When more people start searching for your business on Google, then it will automatically start to rank you on top. This is an evergreen strategy to grow your business and establish yourself as an authority.

9. Not ready for mobile

Nearly 50% of all traffic comes from mobiles. If your website isn’t ready for mobiles, Google will automatically consider it unfriendly for its searchers. Ensure that your website is responsive and build it for mobiles in the first place. By tapping into the mobile traffic, you’ll also be able to increase your website’s visibility. 

Mobile-friendliness and page speed are considered as ranking factors of Google search. So if you want to grow your business and get SEO success then you shouldn’t ignore the mobile.

10. Unclear SEO goals

It’s essential to have clear SEO goals before you set out doing SEO for your website. If you don’t know what you wish to achieve from doing your website’s SEO, you’ll probably never be able to grow it. The key is to identify what you want from your website and SEO and then plan out your SEO strategy. A haphazard strategy will get you nowhere. 

11. Prefer people over search engines

Last but not least, write your content and plan your SEO strategy for the real user not for the search engines. Because ultimately, you need real customers to generate sales and revenue to run your business. Search engines are nothing. Your business depends on customers and not on the search engines. 

Search engines like Google are just a medium to get new customers. No one knows when Google will penalize a site and drop its rankings. But if you prefer your customers more, then there are enough chances that your customers will promote you as well as Google will also love you and rank you higher. That’s why you need to keep your customers satisfied with your services and products. 

Conclusion

Now that you know all the deadly SEO mistakes, try to put conscious effort into avoiding them in 2020. If you don’t design your website for mobiles, have clear goals, focus on different forms of content, you may end up suffering. Try using modern SEO techniques and keep yourself updated with the latest ones to stay ahead of the competition

What are the other deadly SEO mistakes that you must avoid in 2020? Let us know in the comments.

Harpreet Munjal is an entrepreneur who is helping businesses to outrank their toughest competitors and grow their revenue online. He can be reached out on Twitter @munjalharpreet.

The post 11 Deadly SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


2019 Content Performance Evaluation Strategies – John Lincoln // Ignite Visibility

Episode Overview: Google’s algorithm updates shook up the SEO landscape in 2019, forcing expert SEOs to question what the best method is to evaluate their content’s performance throughout a year full of changes. Join Ben as he chats with SEO expert John Lincoln from Ignite Visibility, who was recently named the Search Marketer of the Year by Search Engine Land, as he shares his expertise on the best way to evaluate your content’s performance in 2019 and how to create a new content marketing roadmap for 2020 inspired by the year’s changes.

Summary:

  • In a year over year performance evaluation, it’s best to gauge SEO efforts by segmenting your website’s pages and evaluating each based off the number of new visitors, conversions, revenue, seasonality, keywords, and landing pages.
  • Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have their own respective top to bottom funnel, awareness to conversion, processes that content needs to be evaluated against when planning future content marketing efforts.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                 Welcome to Planning Month on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this month we’re taking a minute to evaluate our 2019 performance and set our SEO plans for 2020. Joining us today is an SEO who was recently named the Search Marketer of the Year by Search Engine Land. John Lincoln is a returning guest to the Voices of Search podcast. He’s also the cofounder and CEO of Ignite Visibility, which is a digital marketing agency that offers a suite of services including earned and paid media campaign optimization, website development and creative design. John is also the author of the recently published Forecaster Method book which is available on Amazon. And today he and I are going to talk about how you can evaluate your content performance for this year.

Ben:                 But before we hear from John, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions to support you our loyal podcast listeners we’re offering a free trial of the Searchmetrics suite, which gives you access to not only search metrics as research cloud, it also gives you access to the content experience tool as well, which will help you optimize all of your content. To sign up for your free trial, go to searchmetrics.com/freetrial. Okay, on with the show. Here’s my conversation with John Lincoln co-founder and CEO of Ignite Visibility. John, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

John:                Hey, thanks so much for having me on, beautiful day today. I’m here in Utah actually standing outside of a conference and staring at the snow and excited to be chatting with you about digital marketing, all things measurement.

Ben:                 It’s in the low seventies here in the suburbs of San Francisco, early November. It’s beautiful and I hope you’re enjoying your event. I appreciate you making the time. I know you’ve got a busy schedule, so let’s dive into it. Lots going on. First off, you published a book. Tell us a little bit about it.

John:                Yeah, so I’ve been working for a long time on what I feel is the perfect way to measure all things digital marketing. Ignite Visibility, you know, we’ve grown a lot. We’re 80 employees, manage over a $100 million in advertising. You know, we’ve got a 30 person SEO team and we work with a lot of bigger businesses now. So when you’re looking at the overall marketing mix, it gets a little complicated. How do you actually measure the success of every single source of traffic that comes to your website online? How do you pin it against each other? And how do you figure out what’s the best place to spend your money so that you can accurately scale from where you want to go.

John:                So the book for the first time ever, I believe, allows you to plot a very clear roadmap for performance-based marketing on how you can scale three to six channels, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google pay per click, SEO, email marketing. How can you invest in each channel and where can you put the least amount of money in so you can scale for the largest return. And it allows you to accurately measure all the different channels, pin them against each other, and then create a diversified portfolio traffic.

John:                So that’s what the Forecaster Method is all about. It’s about really putting those things in place. And then once you have it in place, how do you convert the traffic for less? How do you generate audiences that you have reliable places that you can go and you can advertise at any time to get more sales. How do you improve your conversion rates once they hit the website? And what are all the most innovative and best ways to advertise and how should you be measuring each type of advertising as you go deeper into each one. So that’s kind of the gist of the book.

Ben:                 So, little did we know, I thought we were going to be talking to an SEO expert and as it turns out you’re a performance evaluation expert as well. Which is great because we’re doing our planning month. I want to double click into how you think about evaluating content performance and SEO. As the SEO community looks back on 2019 they’re trying to figure out what their performance was, how should they evaluate themselves, and then how should they compare themselves to some of the other channels that are in their company’s marketing.

John:                Yeah, so my role has really changed. You know, I’m a digital marketing strategist at this point. I’ve been doing it for 16 years. SEO I think is what a lot of people originally think of before. But let’s talk about that. So the thing when it comes to measuring SEO performance, it’s always year over year, right? And you always are looking at the margin from where it started and where you are now.

John:                So, for example, if a client comes to you or if you start doing SEO and you’re down 10% right? And six months go by and then you’re up 10% you have a marginal increase of 20% that’s happened there. And I think what people really need to look at is not just overall traffic, not just overall sessions. SEO should really be gauged off of new visitors. They should be gauged off of conversions and they should be gauged off of revenue. And they should be gauged off of keywords and landing pages that have the biggest impact on the business.

John:                So, some of the things that I feel a lot of people don’t do is they don’t break the website down by segment. That’s really, really important too, because every single website has different areas that have a higher contribution margin to the business. So any given website might have five to 10 different segments of landing pages that have different subjects. And each of those subjects basically feeds into a funnel that then has a conversion.

John:                So, generally what people want to look for is they want to look at growth, they want to look at year over year, they want to make sure they’re taking into account seasonal adjustments. They want to look at top landing pages, segments. They want to look at buckets of keywords from top of funnel to bottom funnel and for most profitable to least profitable. And you know, the way you know it’s working is for me with our team and just in general, I mean I feel like generally we try to shoot for 30% to 80% growth for clients and even ourselves year over year. So if you’re doing that, you’re doing a pretty good job.

Ben:                 So, tell me a little bit about how you view this year for SEO. You have a 38% to 80% benchmarks. Is that something that’s standard every year or was there anything specific that happened this year that you think is interesting?

John:                SEO has really changed this year. Thanks for asking that. And the main thing is with all of these different updates that have happened. So you know, you’ve got these updates that have occurred that have really hurt certain financial sites, certain medical sites, and they’ve taken huge dives. So E-A-T, expertise, authority and trustworthiness. If you didn’t have that in place, that really hurt a lot of people as a result.

John:                So, I think that that’s really important to keep in mind. And then also we’re seeing the rise of no click. So one of the things that our company’s been working on a lot is how do you get involved with Google even when there’s not the click, how do you get involved in Google Assistant, Google Action, how do you show up when all of these features that are within Google now? And so I believe measurement for SEO is going to be changing a little bit in some ways to a bit of an impression count, for some of these additional features that you can create. So things are changing a little bit.

Ben:                 You mentioned that you want to segment some of your keywords and your portions of site. One of the things that I’ve talked about with Jordan Koene, CEO of Searchmetrics is thinking about what the purpose of your queries are. Is it an informational query, is it a transactional query, is it a navigational query, are those are the types of segments that you’re talking about or how do you recommend SEOs break up their pages to evaluate them effectively?

John:                Yeah, so it is definitely based off of those type of things. So a coupon website, for example. A coupon website would be broken down by category. It would be broken down by brand, you know, the brand of coupon. It would be broken down by, from the brand, it would be broken down by the deviation. So is it a printable, is it a coupon code? And then type, you know, and that’s that whole kind of lower funnel conversion focus keyword. But we’re seeing a lot of content marketing of course as well. So that’s another segment also.

John:                So generally, what I like to do is break down the content marketing into one bucket and then if it becomes a really big website, like a news site, you might break that down further into the subject of the content. But generally content’s in one bucket and then the other buckets on the other segments are just based off of the subject matter.

Ben:                 So, you bring up content marketing, which is something that I want to separate out from SEO here because I think as we’ve talked about it more and more this year, content really has utility outside of just organic growth in what’s happening with the performance marketing channels. People don’t want to be advertised to. So you’re seeing more brands starting to use their content as a promotional vehicle.

John:                Correct.

Ben:                 Outside of just organic growth, how are you thinking about evaluating your content, the efficiency, the effectiveness, so you can figure out what your plan is for next year.

John:                So, things are really changing with content. So what I want everybody who’s listening to this to think about is Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Every single website out there that has the ability to send you traffic has a top of funnel to bottom funnel. And within the top of funnel to bottom funnel from awareness all the way down to conversion, all the way down to remarketing you want to think about what’s that perfect piece of content that you can get in front of that user to start them on the journey with your brand.

John:                So, when it comes to content marketing, sure I could write an article on how to choose the best SEO company or something like that. It’s been written a million times. Or I could create this amazing article and I could have that be a component of my paid traffic for Google pay per click. I could have it be something that I promote on LinkedIn. I could have it be a YouTube video. I could have it be a Facebook ad. And the more exciting the better because people have fatigue from too much just direct click. And if you want to get them before the journey even starts and in that buying process, that’s how you really want to craft your content. So it’s really just important with your content marketing, you think about upper funnel and then integrating it more with your advertising strategy.

Ben:                 Yeah, that’s really the confusing thing to me in terms of evaluation for content. Is, you know, for the SEO community we think I created a piece of content, I can evaluate it based on how many clicks Google sent me, how many visitors I use, where does that page rank. But the utility of that piece of content might not actually be in driving organic traffic. It might be that it’s great content for Facebook. And we’re going to pay a ton of advertising budget to promote that piece of content because the conversion rate is outstanding. And as an SEO or the person that suggested that was going to be an interesting piece of content or right credit isn’t always attributed to that. How do you factor in the value of a piece of content from an organic perspective and the value it has across other channels?

John:                Sure, so I think all SEOs now they need to have a digital strategy component and I taught analytics at UC San Diego for six years. And one of the things I love to teach inside of that class is multichannel funnel and attribution modeling. So here’s the thing, in any given analytics profile, generally you’re going to see SEO is going to be about 30% to 40% of the breakdown. Paid media is going to be 20% to 30% if you’re going to have referral, direct display and then social traffic that are going to make up the rest of that. And what’s to note is SEO is still generally the biggest piece of the pie there. So you need to be measured on that. But I highly recommend people look up the multichannel funnel report. That’s going to show you how many different touches it takes across all the different sources before conversion happens.

John:                And if you’re on the content creation team and you are making stuff that other people are using, you should get some credit for that. Especially if you came up with the idea, you publish the article, you made this great piece of content. And then it turns into a three-touch user path until somebody converts. So I think that’s the way to think about it. And you really need to be integrated nowadays. You cannot not be because the customer journey has changed. It’s not top of funnel, you know, one click you’re in, you’re done. It’s this helix now where people are jumping inside and out. And the role of SEO has never been more important, but it’s mixed now. And SEOs need to understand that.

Ben:                 So as you think about figuring out the value of your content and what your SEO performance was, how do you think that should dictate what your plans are for the upcoming year?

John:                So I have seen huge success in investing in more content. I mean we’re a three time Inc. 5,000 company ourselves. You know, we’ve grown significantly. I work with large businesses often to help them scale. So for me, and a lot of the stuff I talk about in the forecaster method book is how to establish a model just like any business model and then how do you scale it.

John:                So if you can determine the return on ad spend for the content for each source and you develop a report on that, he makes a nice easy report inside of a Google Data Studio Dashboard so that you can actually see those numbers. Once you know that it’s just as simple as going to your executive or your team and just showing them, “Look, this is how much you pay for this. If you pay this much more, it’s going to take you to this.” And now for the first time ever, we can do that for digital. So for me, I am investing personally and encouraging clients to invest more in content creation and more in advertising. And when you do those two things together, it works really, really well. And that’s the way to think about it.

Ben:                 I think my biggest takeaway is that as you think about your SEO and content strategies and you’re evaluating what happened last year, this is not just as simple as, “Okay, what’s the organic traffic value.”

John:                It’s not.

Ben:                 It is not. What’s the content I produced? How did it have any impact on Google? Did it drive a click? What were the impressions? Is there a zero click? And then also what was the value of that piece of content to the other channels. So it really is more of a multitouch attribution tracking exercise than it is just looking at webmaster tools or something like search metrics to figure out what your visibility is. You have to think about multitouch attribution and think about your content and your SEO strategies more broadly.

John:                Correct. And I’ll make one last comment on that. I mean one of the things that I really like to do, go into Google Analytics, look at the landing page report, your top landing pages, and then set a secondary dimension for source. And what that’s going to show you is that’s going to show you the different sources that are contributing to the conversions on that landing page. And it’s basically the individual business model for that one landing page.

John:                And if you’re in charge of content creation, you want to know those numbers and you want to be able to scale them. And you know, one of the things that we’ve been doing more and more, which I’m so excited about, we call it customer journey mapping. I know that’s general term, but you know, looking at every segment of the website, every template, the conversion rate, the sources and mediums that are hitting them and understanding that whole business model. And when you have that in a snapshot, you can scale and have, you know, much more just credibility. You can ensure that you get to those places you want to go. So SEO is going to be great going into 2020, be excited, and 2021. There’s no question about that. But I think the technology is evolving and people are getting smarter and SEOs need to think about the whole strategy. That’s my main point. So…

Ben:                 Yeah, and I’ll add that, you know, SEOs are not as siloed as they used to be. It’s not just a separate channel. Advertising and content and SEO and PR, they’re all getting blended together. So not only, evaluate your content, but learn a little bit from the rest of your team. We’re going to talk about that more than this month. John, before we let you go, give me one last little fact about the Forecaster Method book. Sounds like a great resource. Tell the SEO community here a little bit about it and where they can find it.

John:                The Forecaster Method is on amazon.com, go check it out. It’s really inexpensive. It’s not a long book, it’s an hour read. I did that on purpose. It starts slow and then it ends super, super advanced. And it’s going to really give you the tools that I’ve used for a long time to scale businesses online, digitally. And there’s a pretty good component of SEO in there, but it’s really everything. So I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, do me a solid leave me a review. I’m not making tons of money off the book, just looking to add value to people. So…

Ben:                 I appreciate it. Ordering my copyright now, looking like $5.99 as we stand today, paperback, great picture of our buddy John on the front. John, thanks for coming on back to the Voices of Search Podcast and for being our guest.

John:                Yeah, thanks for having me. See you soon. Bye.

Ben:                 All right, that wraps up this episode and the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with John Lincoln, the cofounder and CEO of Ignite Visibility and the author of the book, The Forecaster Method. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting John, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can send him a tweet where his Twitter handle is John E. Lincoln, J-O-H-N-E-L-I-N-C-O-L-N. Or you can visit his company’s website, which is ignitevisibility.com. And of course look for his book on Amazon. It is The Forecaster Method.

Ben:                 And if you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, or if you’re interested in being a guest on the Voices of Search Podcast, you can shoot me a tweet @BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you’re interested in learning about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial for your free trial of their SEO suite and content experience software. And if you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon with more SEO tips. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


Grow your business with ratings and reviews

Reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior. In this post, I’ll take a look at how reviews work and how structured data can help bring them to the search results.

A testimonial tells you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, as I’ll explain in this post. Moreover, I’ll show how you can help Google show ratings and reviews in the search results, with the right Schema.org markup.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!

Ratings

Ratings for your website or online shop can be twofold:

  • For your entire business
  • For a specific product

Business ratings

Made.com’s Trustpilot score is highlighted in Google’s search results

Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business. Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information.

The time that Google added stars to search result pages for any website that added these ratings in Schema.org is over. Google was simply flooded with ratings, and it made less sense to add them to all the results anymore. That doesn’t mean they are entirely gone, as the opinion of your visitor or customer is still equally valuable to Google. So where it makes sense, like for hotels, Google will still show that rating. Google also tends to show shop ratings in their Google Shopping results, by the way.

Product ratings

Product ratings are a bit of a different breed, although they work pretty much the same. Have people rate your product, and add an Aggregate rating on a nice spot on your product page. Next to Google picking up on that rating and showing it in, for instance, the Google Shopping result, it increases trust in a product.

Google Shopping shows a score for the product as well as the seller

Besides, in the search results, you can also find product reviews from major websites in the search result pages, like this one from CNET:

The CNET reviews appear highlighted in the search results

CNET is a trusted source for Google, so they feel comfortable showing that rating and link these reviews on page one in the search result pages.

Obviously, it’s key to monitor these ratings and act if a product is just getting negative reviews. Either contact the reseller and ask them to fix the issues or stop selling that specific product.

Reviews

Most of the times the ratings we discussed earlier are just half of a package deal. Ratings are great, and great ratings even greater. But if that rating is accompanied by a detailed review as well, people will be able to relate to the experience another customer had even more. Regardless if that’s for a product or an entire website. These reviews influence the decision-making process of your visitor. If they come to your website and see only negative reviews, written by real people that speak from experience, they will think twice. If these reviews are all raving about the product, people will might be a little less hesitant to hit that buy button.

Reviews influence local ranking

Especially for local rankings, or local products, reviews are important. They tell Google the public perception of a brand or website. Google can process these reviews and take them into account for rankings if needed. Websites like Yelp and Tripadvisor help people from all over the world to find the right coffee shop or bakery. Sites like Booking.com tell people where to stay and allow people to share their experiences afterward. If you have sufficient reviews, Google shows these ratings and allows you to pick right from their search result pages already. If you search for a specific hotel in Google, you’ll find even more reviews in the search result pages:

Reviews and ratings aplenty in the travel business

It’s up to you which source you trust more. But we think you can’t go wrong with this hotel, right?

In addition to the usual suspects, you shouldn’t rule out reviews from Facebook as well. Maintain an active page and allow for reviews. Again, monitor these. All this positive ‘word of mouth’ combined will contribute to Google liking and ranking your online shop even better.

Ratings, reviews, and Schema.org

Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from a vocabulary called Schema.org. A combined effort of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Yandex, this open data format’s goal is to offer structured data that search engines can consistently use to present rich results. This could be product information, ratings, and reviews, or information about your local business. You can find in-depth information about structured data and how to apply it in our ultimate guide to structured data.

To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. There are a couple of ways of doing that: Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. According to Google, the latter is the easiest way of adding metadata to sites these days. JSON-LD is a lightweight data-format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines. You can test your code in Google’s Structured Data Test Tool. Yoast SEO builds a big graph of structured data for your site automatically. You can append your reviews to it. We have documentation on how to integrate with the Yoast SEO Schema implementation.

Reviews and ratings

By adding certain Schema.org elements to your code, it’s possible for Google to add reviews and ratings to your search results. You need to tell which parts are about the review and what that element represents. In Schema.org a rating is the aggregate value a product gets. A review is a rating, with an explanation in text.

Recently, Google put the squeeze on how they look at reviews and which types of Schema it supports. For the LocalBusiness and Organization types, it is no longer possible to add self-serving reviews to your site. These are reviews about businesses you collect yourself and put on your own site. It’s also not allowed to add external reviews via a widget. Of course, other types of content can still get reviews. You won’t be in violation if you have self-serving reviews on your site right now, but Google will simply not show your reviews in search anymore. Do follow Google’s guidelines or else you will get a penalty.

Google also limited the types for which it accepts review structured data. It now supports the following items:

Let’s take a look at a small review structured data example.

Review structured data example

In the example below, you see a typical Schema.org review in JSON-LD format. A couple of highlights:

  • type: The schema.org type (a review)
    • itemReviewed: What you are reviewing
    • type: The schema.org thing (a thing)
    • Any subsets to specify the thing
  • reviewRating: Is it a review or a rating?
    • type: It’s a rating
    • ratingValue: The number of stars (1-5)
  • name: The title of the review
  • author: Who wrote it?
    • type: It’s a person, of course
    • name: Name of the author
  • reviewBody: The body of the review
    • publisher: Where was the review published?
    • type: Most of the time it’s an organization
    • name: Name of the organization
<html>
<head>
<title>Yoast SEO Review</title>
<script type="application/ld+json">
{ "@context": "http://schema.org/", "@type": "Review", "itemReviewed": { "@type": "SoftwareApplication", "operatingSystem": "Web", "applicationCategory": "WebApplication", "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png", "name": "Yoast SEO" }, "reviewRating": { "@type": "Rating", "ratingValue": "5" }, "name": "The best SEO plugin ever!", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Calvin Jones" }, "reviewBody": "I love working with it.", "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "WordPress.org" }
}
</script>
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

Products

The same can be done for product listings. If you use the right markup, Google can pick up the data and show it in the results. You can add specifications, price, availability, reviews and ratings, and more to your listings. The code to use is comparable to the one above. Running WooCommerce? The Yoast SEO WooCommerce SEO plugin does a lot of hard work for you so you can focus on improving your site.

Local businesses

Reviews are a godsend for local businesses. That’s why it’s rather important to add them to your listings. Using Schema.org and, for instance, JSON-LD, you give Google the opportunity to add your ratings to the search results. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine. Need a helping hand with your local SEO efforts? Our Local SEO plugin might do the trick!

Read more: Use JSON-LD to add schema.org to your website »

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What are YouTube Tags and Which Ones Should You Add?

Quick links

Looking for a simple but logical process for adding tags to your YouTube videos?

There are two ways to add YouTube tags to your videos.

  1. Add tags that you think make sense and hope for the best;
  2. Use a logical process to add tags that make sense.

In this guide, we’ll explain the process we use to add tags to our videos in 5–10 minutes.

But first, let’s cover a few basics.

What are YouTube tags?

YouTube tags are words and phrases that describe your video and provide more context to help people find your content.

youtube tags

Why are YouTube tags important?

Everything points to the idea that YouTube tags aren’t that important.

Here’s what YouTube says:

Your video’s title, thumbnail and description are more important pieces of metadata for your video’s discovery. These ‚main pieces of information help viewers decide which videos to watch. Tags can be useful if the content of your video is commonly misspelled. Otherwise, tags play a minimal role in your video’s discovery.

This is probably why most studies, like this one from Briggsby, show only a small positive relationship between the usage of keywords in tags and a video’s ranking position.

youtube seo broad match video keywords 1024x517

youtube seo broad match video keywords 1024x517

That same study found that only ⅓ of the top-ranking videos use the keyword in their tags. As Justin Briggsby points out, this “may imply that keyword tags are less critical than titles and descriptions.”

Of course, correlation ≠ causation, but either way, you might be wondering, should I bother adding YouTube tags at all?

Short answer: Yes. Just don’t spend too much time on it.

How we add tags to our YouTube videos

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s important to note that our “process” for adding YouTube tags is quite simple and by no means definitive. It’s what we do, but we have no hard evidence that it played a significant role in the growth of our channel of the past couple of years.

We use this process only as a rough guide, and we spend no longer than 5–10 minutes adding tags to each video. Any longer is just a waste of time, in our opinion.

Here’s our three-step process:

1. Set your primary target keyword as the first tag

This study of 1.3 million YouTube videos found a small relationship between rankings and the presence of the keyword in the video’s tags.

keyword in tag chart

keyword in tag chart

Now, correlation ≠ causation, so it’s worth taking these results with a pinch of salt. That said, it does echo the findings from Briggsby’s study mentioned in the previous section.

Some also believe that YouTube pays the most attention to your first tag.

Whether this is true is anyone’s guess. But given that YouTube’s official guidance for tags is to “use the words and phrases that make the most sense for your video,” your target keyword is a good starting point.

So we almost always use our primary keyword as our first tag.

For example, look at the tags for our keyword research video:

keyword research video tag

keyword research video tag

The first tag is “keyword research” because that’s what we want to rank for.

It’s the same story for our SEO checklist video. We want to rank for “SEO checklist,” so that’s our first tag.

seo checklist tags

seo checklist tags

2. Add common, relevant keywords from top-ranking videos

Install the free vidIQ browser extension (or TubeBuddy), then search for your target keyword on youtube.

Open up 3–5 of the most relevant top-ranking videos in new tabs.

Usually, these are the first few videos, but not always.

For example, let’s say that your target keyword is “iPhone apps,” and you’ve created a video listing 10–20 of the top apps to try to rank for that.

Here are the top-ranking results for that keyword:

iphone apps youtube videos

iphone apps youtube videos

You can see that while the videos in positions 2–5 are topically similar, that’s not the case for the video ranking in the top spot. The angle is entirely different, and it doesn’t even look to be targeting this keyword.

So let’s ignore that one and open the next few.

You should see the tags for each video on the vidIQ overlay on the right.

best iphone apps video tags

best iphone apps video tags

Consider adding relevant common tags to your video.

3. Add relevant keywords with search volume

Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and set the search engine to YouTube.

Paste in all the tags from the videos you opened in the previous step, then hit search.

Sidenote.

Don’t worry about deduplicating them. Keywords Explorer does this automatically.

You should now see the estimated monthly search volume for each keyword, sorted in descending order.

youtube keywords

youtube keywords

Look down the list for relevant and descriptive keywords with search volume.

If we were doing this for our iPhone apps video, these might be “best iPhone apps,” “must have iphone apps,” and “iOS apps.”

Sidenote.

We also sometimes add a couple of generic tags. For example, our SEO tips video has tags like “SEO tricks” and “SEO techniques” that are closely related to the main target keyword. But there are also a few more generic ones like “SEO” and “google SEO.” However, we usually only do this if we feel that the video has the potential to rank for such terms.

Best practices

Here’s our general advice for adding tags to your videos.

Don’t go overboard with tags

YouTube places no limits on the number of tags you can add to videos. But there is a total character limit of 500.

However, just because you can add 500 characters doesn’t mean that you always should.

According to Briggsby’s analysis of 100,000 YouTube videos, the sweet spot is around 200–300 characters.  

youtube average rank by keyword tag length 1024x506

youtube average rank by keyword tag length 1024x506

Here’s what Justin Briggs says about that:

I don’t think this is a direct factor but is suggestive of optimization issues associated with more prolonged keyword tag fields (off-topic terms, keyword stuffing, etc.)

Bottom line: Add relevant tags but don’t stuff keywords or go overboard.

Don’t mislead people

Using tags to “trick users into believing the content is something it is not” is against YouTube’s spam policy and could result in your video being taken down

What constitutes a misleading tag?

They don’t give examples, but chances are any of these things fit the bill:

  • Celebrities names
  • Competitors’ names
  • Irrelevant keywords (e.g., “android apps” for a video about iPhone apps)

Bottom line: Keep your tags relevant.

Don’t add tags to your video description

YouTube’s lists “placing excessive tags in the video description (“tag stuffing”) rather than placing them as tags upon upload” as another example of misleading users.

keywords in youtube description

keywords in youtube description

Bottom line: Don’t place lists of tags in your video description.

Don’t overthink things

Use common sense. If a tag looks relevant, add it. If it doesn’t, don’t.

Final thoughts

While it’s definitely worth adding relevant and descriptive tags to your YouTube videos, it’s not something worth spending a lot of time on. YouTube themselves freely admit that video tags are unimportant compared to your video’s title, thumbnail, and description. So invest more of your time and efforts into those things and, above all else, into creating engaging videos that retain viewers’ attention.

Looking to learn more about YouTube SEO? Start here.

Got questions? Give me a shout in the comments or on Twitter.


Nofollow, Sponsored, and UGC Links Guide

Nofollow, Sponsored, and UGC Links Guide

In September 2019, Google announced that the currently 14-year-old “nofollow” attribute is set to receive two significant new siblings: the “sponsored” attribute and the “ugc” attribute (UGC stands for “user-generated content”). So, why improve something if it’s not broken? Why two new attributes where before one was seemingly working perfectly well? Let’s get into it.


The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them

Imagine visiting a website that takes more than 10, no two seconds to load. We know that the mouse is going to hover to the top right corner because honestly, no one has the time to wait nowadays. 

A Forbes article mentioned that a mere one-second delay in page load time means a seven percent decline in sales, 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a seven percent loss in conversions. 

Your website may be a work of art with awesome features. It can have lightning speed chat responses but with slow loading time, none of that matters. 

Attention spans are growing smaller and patience is thinner than ever. Other than that, slow loading sites impact your SEO because it affects how Google sees your page. Speed is a ranking factor Google uses to measure your page. Sure, content may be king, but speed can change how your content performs in search. 

We’ll dig deep and find the silent killers of loading time – both common and uncommon causes.

1. Uncompressed images and bizarre image dimensions

The quality and size of an image affects its loading time. Having a high-resolution image on every page means your site will load slower.

How you can fix this

A couple of ways we found included installing plugins. The first one is with a jQuery Lazy Load plugin. This plugin allows the images that are only appearing to load “above the fold” or on a part a visitor is currently viewing. 

The second option is by using image optimizers such as Yahoo!’s Smush.it or use the WP Smush.it plugin which compacts images without altering their quality. With the WP plugin, it can be done automatically when you add graphics to your site.

2. Unnecessary plugins

If you have a WordPress site you’ll know that there are tons of plugins wandering around and sometimes you might feel the need to download every one because they’re “helpful” to your site. 

Before you know it, you’ll have plugins running your site and you might even have a plugin for your plugin.

Plugin overload can be a problem because the more plugins your site has, the more work it has to do when it loads. Also, not all plugins are as awesome as they claim to be. Beware of outdated plugins that can slow down your site instead of improving its performance.

What you can do to solve this problem is by evaluating your current plugins to figure out which ones you actually need. You might have multiple plugins that have the same function or have some that you’re no longer using. 

When you’re deleting plugins check to see if

– The plugin is relevant and updated

– Whether it has another similar plugin with same functions

– Whether you’re still using it the respective plugin

You can also check the performance of your plugins using the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) which shows you the impact of each plugin has on your WordPress site load time.

3. An excessive homepage

Your homepage is the face of your brand. So, we get it if you want it to look the best. However, when you try to impress new visitors with a bunch of widgets, content, and state-of-the-art imagery, it’s going to compromise your loading time.

When you want to make an impressive site, keep in mind that a clean design can do wonders. We’re not telling you to ban widgets completely (save them for the end of your blog posts or site pages) but we’re just telling you to keep it simple.

Another thing you can do to speed up load times is by altering the WordPress options to show excerpts instead of full posts and limiting the posts per page by five to seven each.

4. Free third-party WordPress themes

Free WordPress themes may sound like the best thing since sliced bread but free things come with a price tag. When you’re looking for a theme on WordPress, you’re likely to click on those free ones made by a third-party. They’re free anyway, so what can go wrong? Right?

Apparently, a lot of things. Like how free music and movies can come with spyware or malware, free third-party WordPress themes may be one of the causes for your slow website.

How you can fix this

One of the best ways is to only use themes from the official WordPress theme repository. If you want something more personalized, consider allocating less than $100 in a premium theme you can customize to your heart’s desire.

5. Unreliable web hosting

Having a web hosting server that’s not properly configured can harm your loading times. When picking a web hosting server, more often than not, we’ll try to choose the most budget-friendly option. That may be good in the beginning when you’re just starting out. 

However, once the amount of traffic you’re receiving suddenly spikes, your host and server won’t be able to handle a huge amount of users at a single time. Sudden spikes can happen especially during times you launch a new online marketing campaign or a new product. 

Instead of looking for a free or cheap web hosting solution, it’s best to use a well-known host that usually runs between four to eight dollars a month, which isn’t so bad. 

Other than the price, you should also keep in mind how fast the server responds when it deals with problems. Sometimes your site can have emergencies and filling in forms just won’t cut it. Do your research thoroughly and read reviews about the company and its support. 

6. Invisible loading images or videos

When you’re scrolling through a page, there is some content you can’t see immediately. Some are still at the bottom of the page and are visible after a visitor arrives at the exact spot. 

So, how is this a problem? The more images you tell your server to fetch, the slower your site will load. The reality is, the server usually fetches all of these images and videos (even the ones you can’t see yet). This is a huge factor for mobile devices since they have limited speed and data.

This can be fixed with “lazy loading” which means fetching the file only if it’s needed and only when it’s on the screen. A couple of plugins you can use for your WordPress site are BJ Lazy Load and LazyLoad. 

7. Coding issue

Your website is made of code. The more elaborate your site is, the more coding is necessary. Just because you want your website to be ideal, that doesn’t mean the coding should be over the top. Irrelevant or unnecessary code will only slow down your site since the server has to work through more data in order to get to a page.

An example of a coding issue

Unnecessary redirects which happen when the code refers to two different forms of the website URL. Although this seems like something trivial, it makes a huge difference.

When a redirect takes place, a user has to wait for the page to load twice. Using too many redirects means you’re doubling the load time.

To fix this, you need to review your code in detail. Most of the time, the root cause of slow load times could be from a coding issue. This occurs when the code isn’t consistent and causes too many redirects.

8. Not using a content delivery network (CDN)

CDN is a network of independent servers deployed in different geographic locations that serves web content to visitors. Depending on the location of your website visitors, the content requested gets served by the node that’s at the nearest data center. 

The problem with not using a CDN is that many sites can be slow, especially if they have visitors from around the world. Although a CDN isn’t necessary, it can help serve your web content much faster and reduce the loading time.

Now that you’re aware of some of the most and least obvious loading time killers, it’s time to get cracking with fixing them for your website.

Got some more load time killers that you wish to add to this list? Share them in the comments.

Nat McNeely is Digital Marketing Manager of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. 

The post The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Yoast SEO 12.5: Behind the scenes improvements

These last couple of months here at Yoast SEO HQ have all been about building better things. Behind the scenes, we’re making good progress at getting our flagship plugins ready for the future. While we’re busy building the future, we also stick to our regular two-week release schedule, which means it’s time to introduce Yoast SEO 12.5.

Fixing bugs and behind the scenes scaffolding

Yoast SEO 12.5 is one where most of the work went on behind the scenes. We’re working on improving our codebase and will be releasing something cool pretty soon. To get that done, we need to do some cleaning up. 

Besides getting ready for future releases, we’ve fixed a number of bugs. One of those bugs happened for terms where keywords and snippet preview data would be synced across all languages in a MultilingualPress multisite environment. Another bug misplaced visually hidden text in several elements inside the Snippet Preview. We’ve also deprecated the old Search Console integration as that won’t be returning in that same shape or form.

A reminder about support for older versions of WordPress 

With yesterday’s release of WordPress 5.3, we will return to our initial position of only supporting the latest two versions of WordPress. In this case, that’s WordPress 5.2 and WordPress 5.3, and not versions before that. This means we’ll end our support for WordPress 4.9, which we’ve supported longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and ease over people to the classic editor or block editor. Luckily, the vast majority of you have probably updated to the latest versions.

In WordPress 5.2, the core team upped the minimum PHP requirements from an ancient 5.2 to the slightly less ancient 5.6. By supporting the last two versions of WordPress, we can now develop our software using PHP 5.6. This means that we can develop faster and more securely. Read Joost’s post on supporting older versions of WordPress.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.5

Yoast SEO 12.5 is a fairly basic release with lots of stuff going on in the background. We’ve fixed a number bugs and helped Yoast SEO get ready for future improvements.

The post Yoast SEO 12.5: Behind the scenes improvements appeared first on Yoast.


5 Steps To Track SEO Recommendations With Blended Data in GDS

Do you find it hard to keep track of all of your SEO recommendations after they’re implemented? Do you want to show the value of your SEO recommendations to clients? Well, it’s easier than ever now with Data Blending in Google Data Studio.

Today I’m going to walk you through five steps on how to build a Data Studio dashboard to track SEO recommendations.

What is Data Blending in Google Data Studio?

Data blending allows you to connect and compare data from separate sources to find common values and patterns. With this feature, you can combine multiple data sources into a single visual, like a chart or graph.

As stated by Google, “Blending can reveal valuable relationships between your data sets. Creating blended charts directly in Data Studio removes the need to manipulate your data in other applications first, saving you time and effort.”

Data Sources

Before we dive into building the dashboard, it’s important to make sure we have the correct data. Here’s what we need to get started:

  • Google Sheet:
    • Column 1 – Type:
      • Specify the deliverable if necessary. For example: Content Outline, Content Audit, Keyword Matrix, etc. This helps determine which tactic is associated with each page.
    • Column 2 –  Date Implementation:
      • Write out the date the changes were made.
    • Column 3 – URL:
      • Specify the page where updates were made.
  • Google Analytics Profile:
    • Add whatever data you need from Google Analytics, but for now, we will focus specifically on Organic Sessions and Conversions
  • Google Data Studio  – Don’t forget to sign up for Data Studio – it’s free!

How to Build an SEO Recommendation Google Data Studio Dashboard

Ok, you have the data, now let’s talk about how to build your dashboard.

Step 1. Connect Your Data Sources

The first step is to connect both your data sources into Google Data Studio. We need to connect your Google Analytics profile and the Google Sheet that has a full list of your SEO recommendations.

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Resources > Manage Added Data Sources > Add New Data Source

Step 2: Blend your Google Analytics & Google Sheets Data

Now, this is where the magic happens. Let’s blend your data together! For the Blended Feature to work the data sets need to have something in common to join them. In this case, we will have the Page URL as the common identifier to join Google Analytics & Google Sheets.

*Pro Tip: Make sure your URLs in your Google Sheet match up exactly how it’s listed in Google Analytics.

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To blend your data, click on Resources > Manage Blended Data > Add a Data View > Pop in your Google Analytics Data Source & Google Sheet Data Source

Here’s the breakdown of your data source connections:

  • Google Sheets:
    • Join Key:
    • Dimensions:
      • Type
      • Date of Implementation
  • Google Analytics:
    • Join Key: Landing Page
    • Dimensions:
      • Month of Year
    • Metrics:
      • Sessions
      • Your Conversion

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Click Save & close! Congrats, you’ve completed the data blending process! Now it’s time to create your visuals.

Step 3: Create Your Visuals

I typically create two different visuals. The first visual is a table. I like to build tables so I can sort and/or export if necessary. The second visual is a line graph to see changes/trends over time.

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Table: Click on Add Chart > Table > Add Data

The data source is the Blended Data. The dimensions should include URL, Type, Implementation and the Metrics are Sessions and Conversions. You can pick your date ranges and even include month-over-month or year-over-year changes.

Important: For both the chart and table, scroll to the bottom of the Data column. Click on Interactions and check off Apply Filter. Filters refine or reduce the data shown to report viewers. This is useful when we click on a specific URL to see the trendline.

Note that filters do not transform your data in any way. They simply reduce the amount of data displayed in the report.

*Pro Tip: For your charts click on the Style option and apply heat mapping for your columns to see which pages drive the most conversions/sessions.

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Line Graph: Click on Add Chart > Time Series > Add Data

You will have to create two separate graphs, one for sessions and one for conversions. All you need to do is swap out the metric.

The data source is the Blended Data. The dimensions should include Month of Year and Sessions. You can pick your date ranges. Don’t forget to check off the Apply Filter!

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To analyze one specific URL, click the URL in the table & the line chart will only show that specific URL change. That’s why we applied the Filters!

Step 5: Set Up Your Filter Controls

This step isn’t mandatory but it does help me filter by Type, URL or Date Implemented. All you have to do is set up a Filter Control. pasted image 0 36

Click the Filter Control. Your data source is your Google Sheet and you can pick a specific Dimension. In this case, I am showing you Type, URL and Date Implemented.

You can repeat the above step for each filter you want to create. The output should look like this.

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A World Of Possibilities

Congrats! Your dashboard is complete. Now you can accurately track your SEO recommendations.

What I’ve explained is just the start. There are so many opportunities to combine data sources into one dashboard with blended data. We’d love to hear how you use the blended data option to report on SEO performance.

If you haven’t jumped on the Google Data Studio bandwagon, now is the time. I recommend you start with this awesome beginners tutorial of Google Data Studio. If you’ve already dabble in Google Data Studio, check out some other quick win tips for SEO reporting here.

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