What’s New in Facebook’s Redesigned Ads Manager

In an effort to make advertising easier for advertisers, Facebook is rolling out a new redesigned Ads Manager, including a handful of shiny new features! ✨

Keep in mind that the old Ads Manager will be available until May 1st, but we recommend using the redesigned UI as much as possible to get acclimated to the new interface, and to take advantage of the new features.

While this is similar to the sidebar pane available when you edit a campaign, this pane is permanently fixed on the left side of Ads Manager and allows you to select campaign, ad set, and ad without the loading time.pasted image 0 3

View Nested & Collapsible Campaign, Ad Set, and Ad Results

You’re now able to open and close your campaigns or ad set to see the hierarchy of items beneath without switching your view (i.e. select campaign to see all ad sets, select ad set to see all ads).

This means you can also open and view multiple campaigns at once!

Ads Manager Update 2 Nested Campaigns

Permanent Combined Search & Filter Bar at the Top of Ads Manager

Need to find a particular campaign or ad name? Facebook has made it all the more easy with a permanent search bar at the top.

Ads Manager Update 3 Search Bar

New Keyboard Shortcuts

For the mouse-averse or for marketers who are working with large campaign builds, Facebook has introduced keyboard shortcuts including the ability to cut and paste campaigns, ad sets, and ads in the interface.

Shortcut keys Description
Alt + 1 Navigate to campaigns.
Alt + 2 Navigate to ad sets.
Alt + 3 Navigate to ads.
Ctrl + Y View insights charts for your selected campaigns, ad sets or ads.
Ctrl + U Open editing for your selected campaigns, ad sets or ads.
Ctrl + I View activity history for your selected campaigns, ad sets or ads.
Ctrl + R Review all changes.
Ctrl + C Copy your selected ads set or ads to the clipboard.
Ctrl + V Paste copied items into the current selection.
Ctrl + D Quick duplication for your selected campaigns, ads set or ads.
Ctrl + Shift + D Open duplicate dialog for selected campaigns, ads set or ads.
Ctrl + Shift + C Open “Export as Text” dialog for selected campaigns, ads set or ads.
Ctrl + Shift + SLASH Show all available keyboard shortcuts.
Ctrl + BACKSPACE Delete selected campaigns, ad sets, or ads.

Need help navigating the world of Paid Social, beyond just Facebook Ads Manager? Reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you!



Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance

YouTube is not just a social media platform. It’s a powerful search engine for video content. Here’s how to make the most of its SEO potential.

There are more than 1.9 billion users who use YouTube every month. People are spending over a billion hours watching videos every day on YouTube. This means that there is a big opportunity for brands, publishers and video creators to expand their reach.

Search optimization is not just for your site’s content. YouTube can have its own best practices around SEO and it’s good to keep up with the most important ones that can improve your ranking.

How can you improve your SEO on YouTube? We’ve organized our advanced YouTube SEO tactics into three key areas:

  • Keyword research
  • Content optimization
  • Engagement

Advanced YouTube SEO tips to drive more traffic and improved rankings

Keyword research

It’s not enough to create the right content if you don’t get new viewers to actually watch it. Keywords can actually help you understand how to link your video with the best words to describe it.

They can make it easier for viewers to discover your content and they also help search engines match the content with the search queries and their relevance.

A video keyword research can help you discover new content opportunities while you can also improve your SEO.

A quick way to find popular keywords for the content you have in mind is to start searching on YouTube’s search bar. The auto-complete feature will highlight the most popular keywords around your topic. You can also perform a similar search in Google to come up with more suggestions for the best keywords.

Example of using YouTube's auto-fill feature to find the best keywords

If you’re serious about keyword research and need to find new ideas, you can use additional online tools that will provide with a list of keywords to consider.

When it comes to picking the best keywords, you don’t need to aim for the most obvious choice. You can start with the keywords that are low in competition and aim to rank for them.

Moreover, it’s good to keep in mind that YouTube is transcribing all your videos. If you want to establish your focus keywords you can include them in your actual video by mentioning throughout your talking. This way you’re helping YouTube understand the contextual relevance of your content along with your keywords.

Recap

  • Use the auto-complete search function to find popular keywords
  • Perform a Google search for more keyword ideas
  • You can even use SEO tools for additional keyword ideas
  • Say your keywords as part of your videos

Content optimization

There are many ways to improve the optimization of your content and here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1. Description

Example of using video descriptions to rank on YouTube

Your description should facilitate the search for relevant content. A long description helps you provide additional context to your video. It can also serve as an introduction to what you’re going to talk about. As with blog posts, a longer description can grant you the space to expand your thoughts. Start treating your videos as the starting point and add further details about them in the description. If your viewers are genuinely interested in your videos then they will actually search for additional details in your description.

2. Timestamp

Example of using time stamps to rank videos on YouTube

More videos are adding timestamps in their description. This is a great way to improve user experience and engagement. You are helping your viewers to find exactly what they are looking for, which increases the chances of keeping them coming back.

3. Title and keywords

Keywords are now clickable in titles. This means that you are increasing the chances of boosting your SEO by being more creative with your titles. Be careful not to create content just for search engines though, always start by creating content that your viewers would enjoy.

4. Location

If you want to tap into local SEO then it’s a good idea to include your location in your video’s copy. If you want to create videos that are targeting local viewers then it’s a great starting point for your SEO strategy.

5. Video transcripts

Video transcripts make your videos more accessible. They also make it easier for search engines to understand what the video is about. Think of the transcript as the process that makes the crawling of your content easier. There are many online options to create your video transcripts so it shouldn’t be a complicated process to add them to your videos.

Engagement

Engagement keeps gaining ground when it comes to YouTube SEO. It’s not enough to count the number of views if your viewers are not engaging with your content. User behavior helps search engines understand whether your content is useful or interesting for your viewers to rank it accordingly.

Thus, it’s important to pay attention to these metrics:

  • Watch time: The time that your viewers are spending on your video is a good indicator of its appeal and relevance to them.
  • Likes, comments, and shares: The starting point of measuring engagement is to track the number of likes, comments, and shares in your videos. They don’t make the only engagement metric anymore but they can still serve as a good indication of what counts as popular content. Likes may be easier to achieve but comments and most importantly shares can skyrocket the engagement and views of your videos. It’s not a bad idea to encourage your viewers to support your work. It is actually a common tactic. However, make sure that you’re not trying too hard as this is not appreciated. Every call-to-action needs to feel natural in your videos.
  • Subscribers after watching a video: The number of subscribers serves as an indication of your channel’s popularity. People who actually subscribe to your channel after watching a video make a very good indication of your content’s engagement.
  • CTR: The click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks your video is receiving based on the impressions, the number of times that it’s shown. For example, if you optimize your content to show up high in rankings but it still doesn’t get too many clicks, then it means that your viewers don’t find it appealing enough to click on it. This may not be related to the quality of your content but on the first impression that it gets. You can improve the CTR by paying attention to your title and your thumbnail. Bear in mind that YouTube is not encouraging you to clickbait your viewers, so you shouldn’t create misleading titles or thumbnails if you want to aim for higher rankings in the longer term.

Learning from the best

A good tip to understand YouTube SEO is to learn from the best by looking at the current most popular videos. You can also search for topics that are relevant to your channel to spot how your competitors are optimizing their titles, their keywords, and how thumbnails and descriptions can make it easier to click on one video over another.

Examples of using thumbnails and optimizing titles and descriptions to improve CTR

Have any queries or tips to add to these? Share them in the comments.

The post Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


How to Leverage Google’s Smart Bidding

It’s no secret that the digital marketing industry can and does change rapidly. As digital marketers, we need to be aware of it, embrace it, and learn how to thrive in this ever-changing landscape to stay competitive for the success of our audience.

Google has been moving forward with more and more automation for Google Ads, formerly AdWords, with more pushes quickly coming our way. One of the biggest, and no doubt most daunting to marketers, is automated smart bidding.

According to Google, about 80% of digital marketers’ time is spent on manual tasks like bidding, while only 20% is spent on strategy.

In this post we’ll break down a full updated overview of what smart bidding is, why you should use it, how to successfully test it, and Seer’s thoughts on it moving forward.

PPC Manager, Ali Wilson, wrote an initial post about smart bidding when it first rolled out last year. Check that out for more info and also some case study examples.

What is smart bidding?

Smart bidding is a cumulation of automated bidding strategies that is intended to capitalize on user intent. It utilizes machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in every ads auction based on signals. The most common signals Google takes into consideration are:

  • Demographics
  • Device
  • Geographic location
  • Browsing history
  • Account performance
  • Audience membership
  • User/site history

Google will then evaluate any or all of these signals to determine if this ad auction could be considered valuable to your business. If so, it will customize a bid based on your selected bidding strategy.

Okay Google, show me my options…

There are 5 different categories of smart bidding strategies that you can test on Google:

  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Maximize conversions
  • Impression share
  • Enhanced CPC

Target CPA

Target CPA (tCPA) sets bids at a flexible level to help acquire as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) set by the advertiser. tCPA automatically optimizes bids and offers real-time bidding capabilities to customize bids for every auction.

How it works

tCPA uses historical data from your account along with contextual signals present at the time of auction. It will find an optimal bid for your ad, which is set to achieve an average CPA equal to your tCPA. Some conversions may cost more than your target and some will cost less, but overall Google will try to keep your cost per conversion equal.

Target CPA bid strategy report

💡 Seer Tip: If your campaign has historical conversion data, Google will recommend a target CPA for you!

💡 Seer Tip x2: It’s recommended to have at least 30 conversions in the last 30 days to utilize this strategy.

Target ROAS

Target ROAS (tROAS) is slightly different as it lets you bid based on a targeted return on ad spend. This helps you get more conversion value or revenue at the target ROAS you set. Similar to the above strategy, your bids are automatically optimized at auction time, allowing customized bids for every auction.

Before you can apply a tROAS bid strategy to your campaigns, $$ values will need to be set for the conversions you wish to track. Additionally, your campaigns must have a minimum of 20 conversions in the past 45 days to be eligible for this strategy.

💡 Seer Tip: Google recommends that for optimal performance, you have at least 50 conversions in the past 30 days. Mo’ data, mo’ betta, amiright?

How it works

tROAS predicts future conversions and associated values using your reported conversion values, which are reported through conversion tracking. Google Ads will then set max CPC bids to maximize your conversion value, all while trying to achieve an average ROAS equal to your set target.

Try setting a target ROAS based on historical conversion value per cost data for the campaigns you’d like to test this on.

Maximize conversions

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Maximize conversions automatically sets bids to get the most possible conversions for your daily allotted budget. It optimizes similarly to the above strategies as it offers auction-time bidding capabilities. This is a great option to utilize if you have low conversion volume or if the campaign is limited by budget.

How it works

Max conversions uses historical information about your campaign and evaluates the signals present during real-time ad auctions. It will find an optimal bid for your ad and then will help get the most conversions for your daily budget.

💡 Seer Tip: Additionally, you can utilize this strategy for campaigns that need help spending. Maximize conversions will always try and fully spend your daily budget.

Impression share bidding

Google announced earlier this year that they will be sunsetting average position in favor of bidding towards new impression share metrics. There are 3 new impression share bidding options available on Google:

Target impression share

  • This strategy has three options that automatically sets bids with the goal of showing your ad at three different places on the SERPs:
    • Absolute top of the page
    • Top of the page
    • Anywhere on the page of Google search results

💡 Seer Tip: Your max CPC bid is a cap for this bid strategy, so be sure to not set this limit too low.

Target search page location

  • Automatically sets your bid across multiple campaigns to show your ad at the top of the page or on the first page of the SERPs
  • Keep in mind, placement isn’t guaranteed. These are estimates and although the bid strategy will attempt to achieve your targeted location, final placement is ultimately determined by the outcome of the ad auction.

Target outranking share

  • The goal of this strategy is to help your ads outrank ads from another domain
    • You can only target one domain to outrank for each bid strategy

💡 Seer Tip: Use the auction insights report to see which domain is most frequently participating in the auction with your ads.

Enhanced CPC

Last but not least, enhanced CPC (eCPC) is the least automated of all four bidding strategies. eCPC helps you get more conversions from manual bidding by automatically adjusting your manual bids for clicks that seem more or less likely to lead to a sale or conversion on your website. Unlike tCPA which sets bids based on your target cost per conversion, eCPC is constrained by the max CPC that you set manually. eCPC helps increase conversions while trying to keep your cost-per-conversion the same as you would get with manual bidding.

How it works

eCPC works by looking at any ad auction that it thinks is more likely to lead to a conversion, then raises your max CPC bid to be more competitive in winning those clicks. On the other hand, if a click seems less likely to convert, Google will lower your bid. eCPC will always try and keep Avg. CPC below the max CPC you set, but can possibly exceed that limit sometimes.

eCPC uses insights such as demographics, browser, location and time of day to customize bids to a user’s unique context, but not to the full extent of other smart bidding strategies.

💡 Seer Tip: Keep in mind, eCPC works differently for search and display campaigns than it does for shopping.

Smart bidding for shopping campaigns

PPC Manager, Rebecca Carey, gave us some insights into smart bidding for shopping as there are a few differences in the capabilities. The main differences are mostly in the sense of what platforms you can use them on and how they work.

The two most utilized shopping bid strategies are:

  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target ROAS

eCPC bidding for shopping ads works only on the Google search network. For best results, test this out on campaigns that generate more than 20 conversions per month.

Although eCPC is a great option, Seer recommends testing out tROAS in shopping campaigns as we’ve seen great success from some of our agency clients. According to Google, shopping campaigns that utilize tROAS see an average increase in conversion volume of +35%, and a +19% increase in ROAS.

tROAS sets bids at the query-level for each shopping auction in order to maximize revenue at your set target. This automated bid strategy takes both Google signals and retailer insights (brand, price, product category, creative, etc.) into consideration when choosing a bid for each auction. It’s common to see click volume die down when utilizing this strategy, but this is expected due to the bid strategy reducing bids for clicks that don’t meet your target.

💡 Seer Tip:  When testing tROAS on shopping campaigns, be sure to wait out the 15 day calibration period before evaluating performance.

Why should I use it?

Automation is rapidly becoming the way of the future, and by utilizing smart bidding, marketers will gain four key benefits, along with time saved and increased campaign performance.

Benefits:

  • Advanced machine learning
    • Algorithms are trained on data at a vast scale to help make more accurate predictions across your account, i.e. increased performance
  • Wide range of contextual signals
    • Insights into a user’s search needs to tailor bids to increase conversions
  • Flexible performance controls
    • Ability to customize settings to your unique business goals.
  • Transparent performance reporting
    • Access to reporting tools that give deeper insights into your bidding performance allowing you to quickly troubleshoot any issues
      • These tools consist of detailed bid strategy statuses, campaign drafts and experiments, bid simulators, alerts and notifications with clear action items, and performance rich reports

Things to keep in mind for testing & implementing

Before jumping right in and changing up your current bid strategy, there are a few ways to test the waters before making any changes. These options can give you a glimpse into how a particular strategy might perform.

  • Estimating your results with bid simulators
    • These simulators will show you how different bids might change your weekly performance. They collect and analyze data from ad auctions on the search & display network while considering information such as quality score, keyword traffic, and competition. This information is then used to estimate how your ads might perform in terms of key metrics such as cost, impressions, clicks and conversion volume.
  • Test smart bidding with a campaign experiment
    • This is an easy way to gather data to make an informed decision before physically rolling it out to your campaigns.

Campaign experiment performance comparison

  • Bid strategy reports
    • This is probably the most important tool to take advantage of. Google tailors these reports’ key metrics to show you what’s most relevant to each type of bid strategy. You’ll be able to see these reports at the portfolio level for bid strategies used on multiple campaigns or you can also access a standard bid strategy report for individual campaigns.
    • A bid strategy report includes a scorecard with key metrics and charts with customizable columns.
      • Scorecard: Snapshot of metrics specific to the type of bid strategy you’re looking at.
      • Ex: Target CPA Report will show you a snapshot of conversions and cost/conversion
      • Performance: Compare the performance of up to two metrics overtime. Choose any two columns that matter to your campaign and adjust the date range

Target outranking share bid strategy report

  • Set targets carefully if using tCPA or tROAS
    • Smart bidding works best when optimizing towards realistic goals. If you set your target far below what your actual CPA or ROAS goal is, it can lead to a significant drop in volume
  • Identify your learning period
    • Average time for the algorithm to calibrate is 1-2 weeks, although this can depend on the amount of conversion data present
      • The bid strategy report will show you how many days are left in your calibration period
  • Limit the number of changes made to your campaigns immediately after applying a new strategy
    • You’ll want to allow time for the algorithm to settle in without too much influence from manual adjustments
  • Be mindful of seasonality
    • Short-term sales and periods of high activity can drastically shift performance which will impact the algorithm
  • Give smart bidding a chance to learn before analyzing results
    • It needs time to learn and adjust to your campaign goals. Google recommends 2-3 months to get significant experiment results for a campaign with an average of 10 conversions per month. That equates to ~75 conversions for significant test results.
    • Additionally, keep in mind conversion lag time

When you’re ready to implement a new bid strategy, just select the campaign(s) you want to change, hit “edit” and select a new strategy within the platform.

If you’re not comfortable moving top-performing campaigns over, start with mid-performing campaigns with high conversion volume.

Evaluate bidding performance

After you have allowed a sufficient period of time for the algorithm to learn and for your conversions to register, here are a few good ways to analyze performance

  • Target metric comparison
    • Check out the bid strategy report to see if the campaign is meeting the CPA/ROAS target that you’ve set.
  • Check out your drafts and experiments!
  • Pre/post metric analysis
    • Compare performance from two weeks before the switch to that of two weeks after the waiting period. Then compare the key performance metrics.
      • Keep in mind there can be many additional variables affecting performance as well, and we would recommend using another evaluation method along with this.

What do I do with all my free time?

Now that you are spending less time manually managing your bids, you can redirect efforts to more strategic forms of account optimizations. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

Takeaways

The bottom line: smart bidding is a great outlet for getting more value for less effort. Google’s machine learning is giving us as marketers the tools to work faster, smarter, hit our goals and accomplish more in less time.  Research which automation strategy would be the best fit for you, take note of the implementation tips and the calibration window, and test out one of these automated bid strategies. You’ll be happy you did.

If you’re looking for more help with your bid strategies or other aspects of PPC, check out our blog or give us a shout!



Using Python to recover SEO site traffic (Part three)

When you incorporate machine learning techniques to speed up SEO recovery, the results can be amazing.

This is the third and last installment from our series on using Python to speed SEO traffic recovery. In part one, I explained how our unique approach, that we call “winners vs losers” helps us quickly narrow down the pages losing traffic to find the main reason for the drop. In part two, we improved on our initial approach to manually group pages using regular expressions, which is very useful when you have sites with thousands or millions of pages, which is typically the case with ecommerce sites. In part three, we will learn something really exciting. We will learn to automatically group pages using machine learning.

As mentioned before, you can find the code used in part one, two and three in this Google Colab notebook.

Let’s get started.

URL matching vs content matching

When we grouped pages manually in part two, we benefited from the fact the URLs groups had clear patterns (collections, products, and the others) but it is often the case where there are no patterns in the URL. For example, Yahoo Stores’ sites use a flat URL structure with no directory paths. Our manual approach wouldn’t work in this case.

Fortunately, it is possible to group pages by their contents because most page templates have different content structures. They serve different user needs, so that needs to be the case.

How can we organize pages by their content? We can use DOM element selectors for this. We will specifically use XPaths.

Example of using DOM elements to organize pages by their content

For example, I can use the presence of a big product image to know the page is a product detail page. I can grab the product image address in the document (its XPath) by right-clicking on it in Chrome and choosing “Inspect,” then right-clicking to copy the XPath.

We can identify other page groups by finding page elements that are unique to them. However, note that while this would allow us to group Yahoo Store-type sites, it would still be a manual process to create the groups.

A scientist’s bottom-up approach

In order to group pages automatically, we need to use a statistical approach. In other words, we need to find patterns in the data that we can use to cluster similar pages together because they share similar statistics. This is a perfect problem for machine learning algorithms.

BloomReach, a digital experience platform vendor, shared their machine learning solution to this problem. To summarize it, they first manually selected cleaned features from the HTML tags like class IDs, CSS style sheet names, and the others. Then, they automatically grouped pages based on the presence and variability of these features. In their tests, they achieved around 90% accuracy, which is pretty good.

When you give problems like this to scientists and engineers with no domain expertise, they will generally come up with complicated, bottom-up solutions. The scientist will say, “Here is the data I have, let me try different computer science ideas I know until I find a good solution.”

One of the reasons I advocate practitioners learn programming is that you can start solving problems using your domain expertise and find shortcuts like the one I will share next.

Hamlet’s observation and a simpler solution

For most ecommerce sites, most page templates include images (and input elements), and those generally change in quantity and size.

Hamlet's observation for a simpler approach based on domain-level observationsHamlet's observation for a simpler approach by testing the quantity and size of images

I decided to test the quantity and size of images, and the number of input elements as my features set. We were able to achieve 97.5% accuracy in our tests. This is a much simpler and effective approach for this specific problem. All of this is possible because I didn’t start with the data I could access, but with a simpler domain-level observation.

I am not trying to say my approach is superior, as they have tested theirs in millions of pages and I’ve only tested this on a few thousand. My point is that as a practitioner you should learn this stuff so you can contribute your own expertise and creativity.

Now let’s get to the fun part and get to code some machine learning code in Python!

Collecting training data

We need training data to build a model. This training data needs to come pre-labeled with “correct” answers so that the model can learn from the correct answers and make its own predictions on unseen data.

In our case, as discussed above, we’ll use our intuition that most product pages have one or more large images on the page, and most category type pages have many smaller images on the page.

What’s more, product pages typically have more form elements than category pages (for filling in quantity, color, and more).

Unfortunately, crawling a web page for this data requires knowledge of web browser automation, and image manipulation, which are outside the scope of this post. Feel free to study this GitHub gist we put together to learn more.

Here we load the raw data already collected.

Feature engineering

Each row of the form_counts data frame above corresponds to a single URL and provides a count of both form elements, and input elements contained on that page.

Meanwhile, in the img_counts data frame, each row corresponds to a single image from a particular page. Each image has an associated file size, height, and width. Pages are more than likely to have multiple images on each page, and so there are many rows corresponding to each URL.

It is often the case that HTML documents don’t include explicit image dimensions. We are using a little trick to compensate for this. We are capturing the size of the image files, which would be proportional to the multiplication of the width and the length of the images.

We want our image counts and image file sizes to be treated as categorical features, not numerical ones. When a numerical feature, say new visitors, increases it generally implies improvement, but we don’t want bigger images to imply improvement. A common technique to do this is called one-hot encoding.

Most site pages can have an arbitrary number of images. We are going to further process our dataset by bucketing images into 50 groups. This technique is called “binning”.

Here is what our processed data set looks like.

Example view of processed data for "binning"

Adding ground truth labels

As we already have correct labels from our manual regex approach, we can use them to create the correct labels to feed the model.

We also need to split our dataset randomly into a training set and a test set. This allows us to train the machine learning model on one set of data, and test it on another set that it’s never seen before. We do this to prevent our model from simply “memorizing” the training data and doing terribly on new, unseen data. You can check it out at the link given below:

Model training and grid search

Finally, the good stuff!

All the steps above, the data collection and preparation, are generally the hardest part to code. The machine learning code is generally quite simple.

We’re using the well-known Scikitlearn python library to train a number of popular models using a bunch of standard hyperparameters (settings for fine-tuning a model). Scikitlearn will run through all of them to find the best one, we simply need to feed in the X variables (our feature engineering parameters above) and the Y variables (the correct labels) to each model, and perform the .fit() function and voila!

Evaluating performance

Graph for evaluating image performances through a linear pattern

After running the grid search, we find our winning model to be the Linear SVM (0.974) and Logistic regression (0.968) coming at a close second. Even with such high accuracy, a machine learning model will make mistakes. If it doesn’t make any mistakes, then there is definitely something wrong with the code.

In order to understand where the model performs best and worst, we will use another useful machine learning tool, the confusion matrix.

Graph of the confusion matrix to evaluate image performance

When looking at a confusion matrix, focus on the diagonal squares. The counts there are correct predictions and the counts outside are failures. In the confusion matrix above we can quickly see that the model does really well-labeling products, but terribly labeling pages that are not product or categories. Intuitively, we can assume that such pages would not have consistent image usage.

Here is the code to put together the confusion matrix:

Finally, here is the code to plot the model evaluation:

Resources to learn more

You might be thinking that this is a lot of work to just tell page groups, and you are right!

Screenshot of a query on custom PageTypes and DataLayer

Mirko Obkircher commented in my article for part two that there is a much simpler approach, which is to have your client set up a Google Analytics data layer with the page group type. Very smart recommendation, Mirko!

I am using this example for illustration purposes. What if the issue requires a deeper exploratory investigation? If you already started the analysis using Python, your creativity and knowledge are the only limits.

If you want to jump onto the machine learning bandwagon, here are some resources I recommend to learn more:

Got any tips or queries? Share it in the comments.

Hamlet Batista is the CEO and founder of RankSense, an agile SEO platform for online retailers and manufacturers. He can be found on Twitter @hamletbatista.

The post Using Python to recover SEO site traffic (Part three) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


How to use headings on your site

Headings help users and search engines to read and understand text. They act as signposts for the readers, and make it easier for people to understand what a post or page is about. Headings also define which parts of your content are important, and show how they’re interconnected. Here, we’ll give you pointers on how to think about and use headers to improve your content.

Why use headings?

Use headings to show text structure

Headings are signposts that guide readers through an article. Because people tend to read them carefully, they should indicate what a section or paragraph is about, or people won’t know what to expect. Also, headings may help them get back on track if they get lost.

For web copy, it’s good practice to make sure that your headings are informative to the reader. Some people like to tease their audience in the headings, trying to entice them to read further. While that can work very well, it’s easy to get wrong. Remember that the main focus of headings should be on the content – and the main purpose of headings should be to make the text easier to read and understand.

Read more: Why text structure is important for SEO »

Use headings to improve accessibility

Heading structure is important for accessibility as well, especially for people who can’t easily read from a screen. Because headings are in HTML, a screen reader can understand the article structure and read all the headings out loud.

By reading or listening to the headings in an article, visually impaired people can decide whether or not to read an article. Screen readers also offer shortcuts to jump from one heading to the next, so headings are used for navigation as well.

Don’t forget that, in many cases, what’s good for accessibility is also good for SEO!

Read more: 5 easy accessibility improvements »

Use headings to improve SEO

It’s generally agreed that how you use headings doesn’t specifically impact your SEO; making minor tweaks to individual headings likely won’t help your performance. There are indirect benefits, though. Using headings creates better quality, more easily readable text. Better text is better for users, which is better for your SEO.

And headings give you a great chance to use your focus keyword (or its synonyms) prominently, to make it really clear what the page is about. But it’s important not to over-do it. It shouldn’t feel unnatural or weird, and if it does, that’s probably because you’re trying too hard, or over-optimizing.

So with headings, you should always put the user first. Use them to add structure and signposts to your content, and to describe what each section is about. If your headings let users know what your article is about, they’ll help Google to understand, too.

How to use headings in content

How headings work in WordPress

NOTE: There are two different sets of ‘rules’ when it comes to how to use HTML heading tags; the ‘classic’ approach (from the HTML4 standard), and, the ‘modern’ approach (from the HTML5 standard). We’re going to focus on the classic approach, as there are some usability and SEO challenges with the modern approach (you can read more about that here).

When you’re editing an article in WordPress, you’ll usually see different ‘levels’ of headings in the text editor – from ‘Heading 1’ to ‘Heading 6’. These are ordered by size, and by importance. A ‘Heading 2’ is more important than a ‘Heading 4’.

Behind the scenes, these are converted into HTML heading tags; from `<h1>` to `<h6>`. Your theme probably uses these HTML tags in its templates, too.

That’s why, when we talk about how to structure headings and content well, we talk about ‘H1’ tags, ‘H2’ tags, and so on. We’re referring to the underlying HTML code.

Learning the rules

Your H1 isn’t the same thing as your page title. For more information, you can read about the difference between and H1 and the SEO title.

Firstly, you are limited to using one H1 heading on each page – Yoast SEO’s content analysis checks this. The H1 heading should be the name/title of the page or post. On this page, that’s “How to use headings on your site”. You can think of your H1 like you would think of name of a book. On a category page, your H1 would be the name of that category. On a product page, it should be the product name.

Then, as you write your content, you can use H2 and H3 headings to introduce different sections – like the “Learning the rules“ section which you’re currently reading, which sits within the “How to use headings in content” section. Think of H2 headings like the chapters of a book. Those individual sections might also use more specific headers (h3 tags, then H4 tags, etc) to introduce sub-sections.

It’s rare for most content to get ‘deep’ enough to need to use H4 tags and beyond unless you’re writing really long, or really technical content.

An example heading structure

Let’s say that we have a blog post about ballet shoes. We’ve chosen “ballet shoes” as our focus keyword, and written an article about all of the reasons why we like ballet shoes.

Without headings, there’s a risk that we might end up writing a really long, rambling piece which is hard to understand.

But if we structure things logically using headings, we not only make it easier to read, we help focus our writing.

Here’s what the structure of that post might look like:

  • H1: Ballet shoes are awesome
    • H2: Why we think ballet shoes are awesome
      • H3: They don’t just come in pink!
      • H3: They’re good for more than just dancing
      • H3: They’re not as expensive as you think
    • H2: Where should you buy your ballet shoes?
      • H3: The 10 best ballet equipment websites
      • H3: Our favourite local dancing shops

See how we’ve created a logical structure, using H2 tags to plan out sections, and H3 tags to cover specific topics? You’ll see that we’ve done the same thing in the post you’re reading, too!

We’ve also tried to mention our focus keyword – as well as some related terms – a few times (but only when it makes sense), and to outline the structure of the page. We’ve also tried to promise the reader something in each section, to encourage them to read through.

This is a good example of how your headings should be structured in medium-length article. For a shorter article, you should use fewer (or more general, high-level) headings. If you want to go into much more detail, there’s nothing stopping you from using H4 tags to create even ‘lower-level’ sections!

Headings in WordPress themes

Most themes will use headings as part of their HTML code, but some don’t follow best practice.

Almost all themes will automatically use the name of your article in a H1 tag. This is helpful, because it means you don’t need to repeat the post name inside your content.

Unfortunately, some themes use tags incorrectly – they use tags in an illogical order (e.g., a H4 then a H2), or use tags messily in sidebars, headers and footers. This can cause problems for accessibility, as the order of your headings might not make sense. Users, search engines and assistive technologies usually look at the whole page, not just your content area.

If you have a custom theme, you might be able to fix this by adjusting your HTML code. If you’re using an off-the-shelf theme, you may need to reach out to the developers.

Either way, you should check that your headings make sense on each template type!

Check your blog’s headings

Using headings well is helpful for your users, increases chances of people actually reading your article, improves accessibility and might even contribute to SEO. So add them into your copy – just make sure you use them correctly! If you want to check if you do, go and use the now to check your blog’s outline. When you’ve read and understood all the above, you should now be able to determine whether your theme is doing a good job.

If you’re still using the Classic Editor in your WordPress website, you can test your published article via the W3 Validator.

If you’re using the Block Editor in WordPress, there’s a handy button in the upper left of the content editing screen, which shows an outline of the page you’re editing.

If you’ve structured your content well, it should look something like this!

Headings in the block editor in WordPress

Read more: WordPress SEO: the definitive guide to higher rankings for your WordPress site »

The post How to use headings on your site appeared first on Yoast.


Google’s work in progress with health care rankings

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Episode Overview

When it comes to Google rankings, the health care industry has emerged as one of the most experimental. It’s a sector that Google traditionally hasn’t focused on a lot, but as the competition in the space grows, the ranking factors are changing rapidly. Whether you’re a major player like a WebMD or Healthgrades, or a research institution or university, or a chiropractor, what does it take to rank with Google? In this last podcast of our April Searchmetrics Content Ranking Factors series, SEO strategist Jordan Koene CEO of Searchmetrics analyzes the sector, with information every health care marketer should know.

You’ll learn:

  • In terms of best practices, what is the difference in approach between local providers like a dentist and the content providers like a WebMD?
  • How is the Wikipedia approach working in the healthcare sector?
  • What is holistic content, and why is high density, high volume content becoming more successful?
  • Who and what are the authority factors that are influencing Google rankings?
  • What is Google’s strategy in determining the individual authority of a Dr. Smith over brand authority of a WebMD?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Episode Transcript

Ben:                 Okay, here’s the last installment of Ranking Factors Week with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics CEO and lead SEO strategist.

Ben:                Jordan, welcome back to the final day of Industry Ranking Factors Week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Jordan:               I think a few weeks ago, you and me, Ben, we spent a lot of time talking about our back pain.

Jordan:              And I think that hopefully through learning about the ranking factors in health, that will go away.

Ben:                You know, I have to say this is my fifth podcast recording today, and I might need a doctor so, let’s get into it and talk about what’s happening in the

Ben:                Let’s start off high level. health care industry, major players, who’s making waves.

Ben:                 Tell me about the health care industry.

Jordan:               So high level about the health care industry.

Jordan:                Really unique category.

Jordan:               You’ve got a collection of very independent, local providers of data and content and then you’ve got the aggregators of the world that provide a lot of high-level content.

Jordan:               So we’re,

Jordan:               On the high-level side, we’re obviously thinking more WebMD, Healthgrades type level experience, on a local more base, we’re actually talking about like a specific chiropractor, speaking of back health, specific chiropractor in a very local, a local place.

Ben:                 Okay so, you have major players like the WebMD’s of the world who are creating descriptions of every disease, every symptom, right?

Ben:              Tons of content, long form, short form how to self-diagnose and then you’re getting individual more localize providers like your local health care provider, so talk to me about the ranking factors.

Ben:                 It seems like there are some really gigantic sites and then a lot of small sites as well.

Ben:             How are the ranking factors for the industry as a whole?

Jordan:               Yeah so, some of the interesting things that we notice in terms of the ranking factors as a whole here is that, what’s driving a lot of the success here is what we like to call at Searchmetrics, holistic content.

Jordan:               So really, a big body, long form piece of content.

Jordan:                So, we actually see high density, high volume content is very, very successful in this category, and it really shouldn’t be a, a huge surprise.

Jordan:               This is a category where users are, want to be heavily, heavily informed and are seeking very, very, very detailed and specific answers.

Jordan:                It would be safe to assume even that I don’t actually have any validation for this assumption, but I think it would be safe to assume that this is the one industry where the direct answer or the knowledge graph probably gets the most clicks.

Jordan:               So, like a lot of times you look up like how old is an actor or you know, what year was this built and you just look at the direct answer or the knowledge graph and you just move on.

Jordan:                You never click on any page.

Jordan:                But in this category, I bet you there’s a lot of clicks.

Ben: :                 I feel like there is the you know, say WebMD Searchmetrics client. There’s the self-diagnosis, where it’s like, what does the red rash on my foot mean?

Ben:                And when the response comes back it’s you know, possibly cancer, yeah, that’s generating a click real fast.

Jordan:               Real fast.

Ben:                 Yeah

Jordan:               I mean, instant reaction, (laugh)

Ben:               (laugh) okay so, so content density and you know, more focus on long form content is obviously going to be a primary ranking factor, you know.

Ben:                How much does accuracy matter here?

Ben:                 I mean.

Ben:                 You would think that this is something that’s going to have a real material impact on people’s well-being at the fundamental level, you know.

Ben:                In terms of understanding what’s the right content and who’s telling the truth, how does that factor in?

Ben:                Is that a ranking factor?

Jordan:                Wow that’s a powerful question.

Jordan:                What we do know from the data is that the majority of the keywords in the space are very informational based in nature and informational based queries are, they’re really hard to, it’s really hard to decipher accuracy.

Jordan:               It’s much easier to decipher accuracy when there’s a conversion event. Alright?

Jordan:              Because then the user actually completed what they wanted.

Jordan:  :               But in this case, it’s very difficult to understand that when the majority almost nearly all the keywords are informational based in nature, but the one thing that I can say is that Google has found various authority factors to really help determine who is generally speaking, the stronger authority and providing a, a more quality experience to their users.

Jordan:                So, in the history of, of search, there, there used to be like this authorship, a notion, and I’m sure that Google is using a version of that to make decisions in this particular category.

Jordan:               If you have a specialist or a doctor who writes an article about something that he or she is an expert in, that’s going to receive a lot more authority than just a blanket publication that’s community driven on a community site like Wikipedia.

Jordan:               And so that authorship and that authority piece, authority may be coming from say, a research institution who’s talking about this form of cancer or a specific hospital.

Jordan:              Those things matter and they are distinguishing ranking factors that we see in our data.

Ben:                 So does that get down to the individual author or is that at a brand level?

Ben:                 Is it the Mayo Clinics of the world, the Children’s Health of the world are going to have inferred credibility because they are a recognizable brand in the health care industry or does it matter that Dr. Jones is a well-established researcher as opposed to Dr. Smith who is a new doctor.

Jordan:               Yeah, you know.

Jordan:                This is a territory that’s a bit subjective because;

Jordan:              A. Google doesn’t really, really share a lot of information about what’s going on here and then also the, the reality is that this is a strong ranking factor, something that we notice here.

Jordan:               But what we also notice is that Google’s using other signals to kind of formulate this.

Jordan:                And what I mean by that is Google can test their way through this theory by incorporating these pages in say, the direct answer or the Knowledge Graph and then seeing if that specific piece of content is soliciting a positive response.

Jordan:               So, there’s one way that Google’s kind of going through that cycle.

Jordan:                But to answer your first piece of that question is like; is Google going down to that of a level?

Jordan:               Absolutely.

Jordan:               Google is now getting matches to the URL level and interpreting what is creating value for the consumer, but they’re actually getting down to the element or experience level on these pages and saying “hey, this statement or this quote from this doctor is what really matters and I want that to be in my search result.”

Jordan:                And so, Google’s, Google’s really, has really become so specific that they’re actually absorbing the most valuable piece of data from the content, this long form, typically long form piece of content and then displaying that directly to users in the SERP.

Ben:                That’s fascinating and it makes sense that Google is going down to the individual sentence and paragraph level to provide answers to the consumer but they’re able to interpret not only what brand has authority, but what author has authority within those brands as well.

Ben:                So tell me a little bit more about the SERP experience, what data are you saying?

Jordan:               So, like, in order for Google to surface that information, right?

Jordan:              They need an experience.

Jordan:               And what we see is like over thirty percent of the result in this keyword set, the health keyword set that we have, are being displayed with direct answers.

Jordan:                So direct answers are Googles way of saying “hey, we can incorporate this data right into our SERP, we don’t need you to read this entire article about this red rash, cancerous, possible cancerous rash.

Ben:                Hopefully not cancerous rash.

Jordan:               Hopefully not cancerous rash, exactly.

Jordan:                But they’re going to take that and they’re going to incorporate that right into the SERP with a direct answer and I wouldn’t be surprised if Google keeps tweaking this.

Jordan:               So in a couple of our earlier episodes we talked about Google creating very specific experiences for industries and health is one that I definitely believe Google will be doing a lot of experimentation on, is not a place where they traditionally played a lot in but as  more and more competitors grow in this space, I mean, we’re seeing research institutions, we’re seeing universities, we’re seeing content publishers, we’re even seeing non-profit organizations getting more and more aggressive in this category.

Jordan:                Google’s going to want to find a way to organize that and create a good, good experience for users who are trying to understand anything from diseases and symptoms to health care providers to the right type of medication and treatment for illnesses and health conditions.

Ben:                 So just to summarize I think the big take away here is that the health industry covers a lot of obviously complicated topics and so, in terms of the content the keyword dense, rich, long form content tends to be the content that performs the best and Google is grabbing the most important short snippets, the answers out of that content and displaying them in their answer box at incredibly high rate relative to other industries.

Ben:                Jordan, are there any other ranking factors that I’m missing here?

Jordan           No, I, I just want to  again, going off the theme of our last episode, give a little word of encouragement here, and I think that for this health category there is so much room to experiment around experience and I think that how your experience is being displayed is probably the greatest opportunity for growth because a lot of these sites have authoritative authors and have great content and is more informed and that how you distinguish yourself, you create a great experience around that.

Ben:                Well on that note, Jordan, I hope the red rash is non-cancerous and that wraps up Industry Ranking Factors Week on the Voices of Search Podcast.

Ben:                 Thanks to you for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics CEO and lead SEO strategist.

Ben:                We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find the link to his bio in our show notes or you can send him a Tweet where his handle is JTKoene.

Ben:                If you have general marketing questions, or if you want to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes.

Ben:                 Or you can send me a Tweet at BenJShap.

Ben:                And if you’re interested in attending our Custom Ranking Factors Webinar on April twenty-fifth, head over to searchmetrics.com/webinar.

Ben:                If you liked 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 next week.

Ben:                Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcast.

Ben:                Okay, that’s it for today and that’s it Industry Ranking Factors Week.

Ben:                Until next time.

Ben:                Remember, the answers are always in the data.


HTTP vs. HTTPS: How Your Decision Impacts SEO

There’s a website attack every 39 seconds, affecting one in three Americans every year.

But if you’re not protecting the information being passed through your website, you could be skyrocketing the chances of a cyber attack happening to your site, your website dropping down Google’s ranks—and sacrificing your customers’ data.

(Which, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge GDPR issue.)

Preventing that security catastrophe starts with learning the difference between HTTP and HTTPS: A type of website certification that impacts how a website collects, stores and uses visitor data.

In this guide, we’re sharing the answer, and listing how you can use security certificates and encrypted connections to boost your SEO.

What is HTTP?

Simply put, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is what makes the internet work.

A variation of the protocol is needed to access any website—hence why website URLs usually start with “http://www…”—and works by sending a command to a website server to fetch the webpage your URL corresponds to.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) works in the same way as standard HTTP.

The only difference? All of the data sent through a webpage using HTTPS has an additional layer of security. This is called a Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, and protects any third-parties from eavesdropping on any type of data being passed through the secure website.

HTTPS gives websites extra protection because the data being submitted to and from the server is encrypted—meaning nobody has the ability to steal, hack or view private data.

Plus, data being passed through HTTPS sites can’t be changed or corrupted.

You can check whether your website has HTTPS protection by viewing the URL in your browser. If there’s a green padlock before your domain name, your site is secure:

HTTPS Example

(Your customers check this, too: 28% of internet users look for the green address bar.)

In order to make your website run on HTTPS, you’ll need a Security Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This certificate, originally developed by Netscape, is what encrypts the site’s data and proves to website visitors that you’re a secure website.

SSL as a Google ranking factor

WhyNoHTTPS found many of the top 100 websites still don’t load securely—including Baidu, ESPN, and MyShopify.

Does that make HTTPS completely irrelevant for SEO?

Not necessarily. In fact, those websites are an anomaly.

Google’s team have expressed the need for HTTPS time and time again. So much so, they’ve released an algorithm update based around it—causing sites without HTTPS security to struggle on their quest to rank highly in the SERPs.

Google’s statement read:

“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

It seems they’re taking their own advice. Over 90% of sites owned by Google—including Google News, YouTube, and content promoted through their Google Ads network—send encrypted traffic:

encrypted traffic

…But Google have said they’re working hard to make this figure closer to 100%.

4 Key SEO Benefits of Using HTTPS

These days, there’s more to SEO than HTTPS certificates.

It’s unlikely that a switch from HTTP to HTTPS will skyrocket your rankings to page one. It takes an entire strategy—including on-page SEO, acquiring backlinks, and creating SEO content —to see SEO success.

However, there’s no doubting that making the switch has SEO benefits. Those include:

1. It Gives Better User Experience

It’ll come as no surprise to hear that user experience (UX) is a huge part of SEO.

If people are landing on your website through organic search and you’re greeting them with flashing text, bouncing icons and countless pop-up ads, they aren’t going to stick around. Chances are, they’ll be mad that Google pointed them there.

Google don’t want that reputation, which is why UX forms a huge part of SEO strategies.

Unsecure sites without a HTTPS certificate don’t fit the “high-quality, trustworthy and reliable” criteria that Google set for sites to achieve high rankings.

In fact, Google are so against insecure sites that a recent Chrome latest update now tells users when they’re visiting a site without a HTTPS certificate, labelling the unencrypted website as “Not Secure”:

Not Secure

Source

Seeing that warning sign would give you a fright, right?

You’d think twice about continuing to the website after knowing your data is at-risk, which isn’t going to lead to great user experience—nor high rankings.

2. Secure Websites Can Increase Dwell Time

Dwell time is an important factor for SEO. It’s determined by the amount of time a searcher spends on your website before clicking back to the SERPs, which tells Google how accurate your result was for their query.

Websites without HTTPS could be sabotaging their own dwell time.

The content you’re sharing could be the perfect fit for your searcher. But if they’re being faced with an ugly “Not Secure” message, you won’t have the chance to show them your awesome content.

They’ll simply head back to their SERPs, and contribute to a low dwell time.

Google’s spiders will then view your site as low-quality, or totally irrelevant to that search term, and your URL will drop down the ranks—even if your content is top-notch.

3. Sites with HTTPS Load Faster

When you click a link and land on a website, how long do you wait for the content to load before your patience runs out?

Research by Incapsula found that 55% of people are willing to wait a maximum of five seconds. Combine that with the 7% of people who expect a page to load immediately, and you’ll see why site speed is a critical ranking factor.

(Remember: Google want to point searchers in the direction of sites that are fast, reliable, and trustworthy.)

There’s such a huge importance on site speed that Google rolled out a “speed update”, impacting how mobile SERPs would be produced. Their announcement said:

“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”

Using HTTPS gives you an SEO advantage because websites using HTTP are 824% slower than HTTPS:

HTTPS Loading Speed

Granted, you can use techniques like compressing files, optimizing images, or reducing redirects to boost your website speed.

But using HTTPS is a quick win that could see huge returns from one change.

4. HTTPS Leads to Accurate SEO Reporting

You’ll need to regularly check-in and audit your SEO results to find out what’s helping your rankings, what isn’t, and tweak your strategy accordingly.

That’s the tried-and-tested process of any marketing campaign, right?

It’s not an easy task though; SEO is notoriously difficult to report on. But switching to HTTPS can help.

That’s because referral information is stripped when a site isn’t secure. Traffic sources aren’t named on sites with HTTP, meaning you’ll see a bunch of visitors who’ve come from “direct” source—when in reality, they’ve probably been referred from social media, organic search, or paid ads.

Secure websites using HTTPS, on the other hand, protect (and show) this referral information in your analytics dashboard. You’ll be able to clearly pinpoint the best sources of traffic to your website, making reporting more accurate.

Referral Traffic

You can therefore tweak your SEO strategy based on reliable referral traffic information.

How to Migrate to HTTPS Without Losing Your Traffic

Are you ready to take advantage of the SEO benefits that HTTPS provides?

Unfortunately, migrating from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t as simple as contacting your website host to change your URL. The switch means the links you’ve built to your old domain are no longer working—hence why many site owners worry about losing their organic traffic during the migration.

Here’s how you can make the switch without that happening.

1. Install an SSL certificate

Ready to start protecting the data being passed through your website, and experience the SEO benefits of HTTPS?

You’ll need to install an SSL certificate.

Platforms such as WP Engine have SSL certificates available as add-ons if you’re already using them for your website hosting. You might need to pay extra for this, but don’t treat SSL certificates as an unnecessary expense that you can avoid.

Google are actively rewarding secure websites with higher rankings, and 85% of internet users avoid shopping on unsecure websites—meaning the SEO benefits you’ll get in return will outweigh (small) cost of installation.

Alternatively, you could also use a free service like:

Once you’ve got the SSL certificate for your domain, you’ll need to install it on your website.

You can either use a WordPress plugin like Really Simple SSL to do this (which will automatically detect your new SSL certificate), or ask your hosting provider to activate the certificate on your website.

Really Simple SSL

Once you’ve enabled the SSL certificate for your domain, it’s time to set the HTTPS version as the default URL for your website.

Sign into your WordPress dashboard, click Settings, and make sure your WordPress and Site URL include the HTTPS prefix:

Wordpress URL Settings

(The Really Simple SSL plugin might do this for you automatically, but it’s worth double-checking.)

2. Automatically redirect HTTP to HTTPS

Your old HTTP URL is no longer in use, but people still might land on the unsecure version. So, as soon as you’ve changed your default URL, you’ll need to automatically 301 redirect people landing on the old URL to the new one.

For example: If someone visits http://gotchseo.com, a redirect would automatically send them to the secure version at https://gotchseo.com.

The hosting provider you’re using will likely make this redirect once they’ve installed your SSL certificate. But if you’re installing SSL manually, follow this guide to redirect HTTP to HTTPS, depending on your server.

3. Add the new URL to Search Console

You probably already know that Google Search Console is the primary way Google will communicate with you about your website. Not only that, but it contains tons of valuable data that SEOs can use to understand (and improve) their rankings.

That’s why when you’re migrating to HTTPS, you’ll need to add the new URL to Google Search Console as a new “property”:

Google Search Console

When you get to this stage, take special care to include the URL exactly as you see it in your web browser—including the https://www. prefix.

You’ll then see two properties in your Google Search Console account: The HTTP and HTTPS versions of your website.

(Bare in mind it might take a while for Google to crawl the new version, but from now on, your website SEO data will be found in the HTTPS account.)

4. Find and replace external backlinks

You’ve automatically redirected your website from HTTP to HTTPS, and Google has started to crawl the new version of your website.

What happens next?

The answer lies within backlinks: Arguably the most important factor of any SEO strategy, because external links prove to Google that your website is trustworthy.

…But the backlinks you’ve previously built point to the unsecure version of your domain. And even if you’ve redirected your old URL to the new HTTPS domain, you’ll still need to check (and replace) external backlinks pointing to the HTTP version.

Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to audit your backlink profile:

Link Profile

For every link you find on an external website, check to see whether you’re automatically redirected from the HTTP to HTTPS version of your website. If you’re not, don’t panic.

Simply install the Redirection plugin for WordPress and create the link yourself.

Redirect Plugin for WordPress

Redirecting these backlinks makes sure you’re not losing any link juice.

Since the backlink leads people to the secure version of your website instead of the unsecure HTTP version (or worse, a 404 error page), Google will crawl the backlinks—and take them into consideration when determining your rankings.

5. Scan for crawl errors

Now you’ve checked that your site’s external backlinks are in check, let’s confirm you’re not losing any SEO value with the internal links littered around your website.

Sign into your Google Search Console account and head to the Coverage report.

Here, you’ll find broken internal links that Google doesn’t recognize, and that you’ll need to redirect to the secure page:

Crawl Errors

Redirect broken internal links to the same page on the HTTPS version of your website.

This works similar to external links in the fact that Google can now crawl your site, and understand what it should rank for, without dead ends blocking their tracks.

Final Thoughts

Are you convinced to make the switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

Follow this guide and you’ll make the migration easy—without losing your organic traffic in the process.

Not only are you protecting your blog, business or entire website from a website attack, but installing SSL certificates and encrypting data is bound to support your SEO strategy.


Study: How ready are businesses for voice search?

“So… most businesses know about voice search. But has this knowledge helped them optimize for it?”

An interesting report recently released by Uberall sought to address that exact question. For as much as we talk about the importance of voice search, and even how to optimize for it — are people actually doing it?

In this report, researchers analyzed 73,000 business locations (using the Boston Metro area as their sample set), across 37 different voice search directories, as well as across SMBs, mid-market, and enterprise.

They looked at a number of factors including accuracy of address, business hours, phone number, name, website, and zip code, as well as accuracy across various voice search directories.

In order, this was how they weighted the importance of a listing’s information:

the most important business information to optimize for voice search

And pictured below are “the 37 most important voice search directories” that they accounted for.

Uberall analysts did note, however, that Google (search + maps), Yelp, and Bing together represent about 90% of the score’s weight.

the 37 most important voice search directories

How ready are businesses for voice search?

The ultimate question. Here, we’ll dive into a few key findings from this report.

1. Over 96% of all business locations fail to list their business information correctly

When looking just at the three primary listings locations (Google, Yelp, Bing), Uberall found that only 3.82% of business locations had no critical errors.

In other words, more than 96% of all business locations failed to list their business information correctly.

Breaking down those 3.82% of perfect business location listings, they were somewhat evenly split across enterprise, mid-market, and SMB, with enterprise having the largest share as one might expect.

only 3.82% of business locations had no critical errors, breakdown according to size

2. The four most common types of listing errors

In their analysis, here’s the breakdown of most common types of missing or incorrect information:

  • Opening hours: 978,305 errors (almost half of all listings)
  • Website: 710,113 errors (almost one-third of all listings)
  • Location name: 510,010 errors (almost one-quarter of all listings)
  • Street: 421,048 errors (almost one-fifth of all listings)

the most glaring business listing errors and missing data

3. Which types of businesses are most likely to be optimized for voice search?

industries that are most voice search ready

Industries that were found to be most voice search ready included:

  • Dentists
  • Health food
  • Home improvement
  • Criminal attorneys
  • Dollar stores

Industries that were found to be least voice search ready included:

  • Consumer protection organizations
  • Congressional representatives
  • Business attorneys
  • Art galleries
  • Wedding services

Not much surprise on the most-prepared industries relying heavily on people being able to find their physical locations. Perhaps a bit impressed that criminal attorneys landed so high on the list. Surprising that art galleries ranked second to last, but perhaps this helps explain decline in traffic of late.

And as ever, we can be expectedly disappointed by the technological savvy of congressional representatives.

What’s the cost of businesses not being optimized for voice search?

The next question, of course, is: how much should we care? Uberall spent a nice bit of their report discussing statistics about the history of voice search, how much it’s used, and its predicted growth.

Interestingly, they also take a moment to fact check the popular “voice will be 50% of all search by 2020” statistic. Apparently, this was taken from an interview with Andrew Ng (co-founder of Coursera, formerly lead at both Google Brain and Baidu) and was originally referring to the growth of a combined voice and image search, specifically via Baidu in China.

1. On average, adults spend 10x more hours on their phones than they did in 2018

This data was compiled from a number of charts from eMarketer, showing overall increase in digital media use from 2008 to 2017 (and we can imagine is even higher now). Specifically, we see how most all of the growth is driven just from mobile.

The connection here, of course, is that mobile devices are one of the most popular devices for voice search, second only perhaps to smart home devices.

graph daily hours spent with digital media per adult user 2008-2017

2. About 21% of respondents were using voice search every week

According to this study, 21% of respondents were using voice search every week. 57% of respondents said they never used voice search. And about 14% seem to have tried it once or twice and not looked back.

In general, it seems people are a bit polarized — either it’s a habit or it’s not.

over the last year, how often have you used voice search?

Regardless, 21% is a sizable number of consumers (though we don’t have information about how many of those searches convert to purchases).

And it seems the number is on the rise: the recent report from voicebot.ai showed that smart speaker ownership grew by nearly 40% from 2018 to 2019, among US adults.

Overall, the cost of not being optimized for voice search may not be sky high yet. But at the same time, it’s probably never too soon to get your location listings in order and provide accurate information to consumers.

You might also like:

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How to Sell $470,998 Worth of Backlinks

Wondering how to sell more stuff online?

Perfect because I’m going to show you how I sold $470,998 worth of backlinks and acquired 507 customers.

Sales Revenue

Get access to proven emails that drove $33,245 in revenue.

Let’s jump right in.

12 Easy Ways to Sell More Stuff Online

1. Position Your Service Differently

Back in 2016, there was still a lot of fear and negativity around the concept of “guest posting” because of Matt Cutts.

Guest posting is dead

That’s why I knew I had to position my service differently. Plus, there were already tons of guest posting services.

So I decided to call my service a “Blogger Outreach Service”.

positioning

I didn’t magically come up with this idea either. I simply did some keyword research and found it. More on this in a second.

2. Map Out an SEO-Focused Content Marketing Funnel

Understanding and executing a proper content marketing funnel is the key to driving sales online.

Here’s what a traditional content marketing funnel looks like:

Content Marketing Funnel

The key difference that I focus on is to create SEO-driven content at the top of the funnel. In other words, I create keyword-targeted content.

Create ToFu Content

I’m a strong believer of the concept of “results in advance”. I learned it from Frank Kern and it’s extremely simple (yet powerful).

Here’s how it works:
  • You show a prospect how to achieve a result (so they can get results in advance)
  • You then offer a product or service that helps them achieve that result easier, faster, etc.

It’s that simple.

That’s the exact approach I used on my Gotch SEO blog.

I created content targeting informational keywords like “backlinks“, “anchor text“, “PBNs“, and “buy backlinks“.

Then within the content and at the end, I would pitch my blogger outreach service.

Create MoFu Content

If I were to restart this service today, I would have created more middle of the funnel content like webinars or lead magnets.

The only MoFu action I pushed was for prospects to create a free account.

Leads

1,436 people created free accounts. This was big because I was able to push promotions to them.

Create BoFu Content

Bottom of the funnel content is anything that’s going to persuade a prospect to buy.

That’s when a sales page comes into play.

Here’s what I did:
  1. First, I identified transactional keywords related to my service.
  2. Secondly, I created a long-form sales page targeting “blogger outreach service” as my transactional phrase. This phrase gets around 150 searches per month.

Search Volume

Now before you roll your eyes at that search volume, you need to understand that all searches are not created equally.

If you were new to SEO, you would probably think it’s smarter to focus on “backlinks” (9,400 searches/mo) instead of “blogger outreach service” (150 searches/mo) because it gets over 6,000% more searches.

The truth is:

You should focus on keywords that have transactional intent because they drive direct sales.

They’re also easier to rank for.

Informational keywords are great for long-term sales, but they rarely drive direct sales. That’s because most people searching informational keywords are early in the buying cycle (“Awareness” stage).

buying cycle

You’ll need to spend time nurturing these people before they’re ready to buy.

That’s also why it’s critical to have a lead capture strategy. The best way to capture leads is to create a valuable lead magnet and then a high-converting squeeze page.

The other thing to consider is:

Search volume numbers aren’t always accurate.

Here are the organic search traffic numbers from my blogger outreach service page from October 2016 to February 2019:

Organic Search Traffic

That averages out to 935 pageviews per month. Or, 523% more organic search traffic than the search volume estimate of 150.

3. Emphasis the Key Benefit

Outsourcing your link building has several benefits, but the biggest is time savings. That’s why I emphasized how much goes into a proper link acquisition campaign:

Benefit

I wanted to show the prospect how much time and effort they would be saving by using our service.

4. Call Out Your Target Market

Who is the absolute best person to use your product or service? Once you’ve figured out, make it clear:

Ideal Customer Avatar

No product or service is for everyone. That’s why you need to spend an enormous amount of time thinking about your perfect customer. It’s time well spent.

5. Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

How is your product or service different than your competitors?

I spent a ton of time analyzing the feedback from customers who purchased services from link vendors on Black Hat World.

Black Hat World

My goal was to see if there were common complaints or issues. That way I was creating a service based on real user feedback (instead of guessing).

Here are the common “problems” I tried to solve with my service:

Unique Selling Proposition

6. Do Anything to Get Social Proof

Don’t even try to sell a product online without social proof. It’s fundamental.

In fact:

It’s so important that I offered huge discounts for customers that wrote testimonials for my service.

Testimonials

Discount your product or give it away for free to acquire more testimonials.

Do whatever it takes to get them because they’ll have a huge impact on sales.

7. Price Intelligently

Pricing is a topic within itself, but I’ve learned a few things over the years.

1. First, identify what the “competitive” prices are for your product or service.

Then, in most cases, make yours more “expensive”.

Pricing

That means you’ll need to have some type advantage to demand higher prices. Sometimes that’s your brand’s equity. Other times it’s going to be additional features that are hard to replicate.

2. Secondly, use a price anchor.

A price anchor is a price-point that is substantially more expensive than the rest.

Price Anchor

As a result, your mid-to-lower packages seem more affordable.

One other micro tactic that I learned from Priceless is to remove the dollar sign.

Remove Dollar Sign

This could reduce buyer resistance even further.

8. Add Value on Your Sales Page

This might be the most odd tip of all, but you should try to educate on your sales page (if it makes sense).

Add Value

Not only does this increase your word count (which benefits SEO performance), but it can also act as a sales vehicle. You’re essentially giving results in advance on your sales page.

9. Be Liberal With CTAs

Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. I had 15 calls to action on my sales page.

CTAs

Excessive? Maybe, but I would rather have too many, than too little.

10. Leverage Scarcity

People are way more motivated by the fear of loss than the possibility of gain. I leveraged this principle to drive sales in two ways.

First, I ran discount promotions about every quarter like this “Anniversary Sale” (from 5/14/2018 to 5/25/2018):

Sale

Secondly, I used Deadline Funnel to push first time visitors into action.

For example, if they visited my blogger outreach service page for the first time, they would see a special discount offer.

deadline funnel

This worked well because a lot of the traffic going to that page was from organic search and through my blog.

The later was more effective because I built rapport through my blog content and warmed them up.

11. Sell to Existing Customers

Ever heard the statistic that “it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one”?

This needs to be permanently implanted into your mind.

Not only is it easier to sell to existing customers, but it’s more profitable (because you don’t have to spend money on advertising or invest time on nurturing them).

Probability of selling

For example, I offered a lifetime 20% discount on all our link building services to existing Gotch SEO Academy members.

Selling to existing customers

This discount code was used more than all the promotions I’ve ran throughout the years.

12. Don’t Do the Work

There’s no way I could have sold as much if I was doing the work.

bill gates lazy quote

You need to build systems and get help from other people. Identify what your core strength is (for me it’s SEO and marketing) and focus on that.

Everything else should be systemized and delegated.

What I Would Have Done Differently

Sometimes to have to walk away from a project to know what you would have done differently.

Want to know what I discovered after some reflection?

My marketing execution for these services was terrible!

That’s why I want to share two things I would have done differently if I were starting today (with what I know now)…

1. I Would Have Created a Lead Nurturing System

Taking the time to build out a lead nurturing process is so incredibly worth it.

lead nurturing

The truth is that ~97% of your websites visitors are NOT ready to buy. You need to take the time to nurture them, gain their trust, and then maybe (if you did things right), they’ll give you a shot. Don’t rush it.

2. I Would Have Used Video

None of my sales pages used video. This was a big mistake.

Here’s the truth:

I was still super insecure about being on video when I created these services.

I know for a fact that my insecurity hurt sales. That’s because I now know the positive impact video has on building relationships with your prospects and for driving sales.

Moral of the story? Don’t let self-imposed limitations and fear hurt your business.

Some Background & Questions

As of March 1, 2019, I no longer offer link building services. The post explains it all, but I needed my mind to be clear so I could focus 100% of my attention on Gotch SEO Academy.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quite the scatter brain. Sometimes I jump from one idea to the next.

That’s why I have to train myself to focus because otherwise I won’t get anything done. I’ve also learned that the ability to consistently focus on high-impact actions is a huge factor in success.

That said, let me tackle some questions that I’m sure you have:

Is the $470,998 revenue or profit?

That’s total revenue. My profit margin on link building services was between 46-50%.

Was $470,998 the total you made?

No. It was much more because I originally sold my services using WuFoo forms before moving to Service Provider Pro. I also had several clients that paid monthly retainers for link building services outside of the SPP platform.

What did you sell?

My primary product was the blogger outreach service, but I sold some other supplementary services. Here’s a breakdown of the revenue by service:

Sales

Did you only sell link services?

From 2013 – 2016, I only sold full-service SEO. I stopped taking on new clients at the end of 2017. From 2017 – February 2019, I only sold link services and Gotch SEO Academy.

Now I only sell Gotch SEO Academy and my SEO audit template (which is being discontinued because it will only be available for members after April 30th).

Let me say this before I sign off…

I don’t consider myself a “good” salesperson. I just stand on the shoulders of giants by executing the principles I’ve learned from Influence, Frank Kern, Cashvertising and too many others to list.

There are link vendors that crush these numbers and that’s awesome.

My goal isn’t to have a d*ck measuring contest with everyone else.

My goal is to share my experiences with you because I hope it helps you avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made over the years.

In short:

All you can do is take action and iterate based on the feedback you receive.

Do that and your business will always get better.

P.S. If you enjoyed this please share it! Thanks for reading.

Want access to the emails I sent that drove $33,245 in revenue? Go here to get them for free.


Why storytelling is good for SEO

Once upon a time, there was this woman – let’s call her Mia – and she wanted to write beautiful stories for her blog. Mia noticed she was not getting much traffic from Google, while other bloggers seemed to attract a lot of visitors. She wondered what she was doing wrong. One day, at a blogging conference Mia heard about a wonderful thing called SEO. She learned that she should use the words her audience was using, she learned she needed to think about the words she wanted to be found for. And she needed to use those exact words. It was a game changer for Mia. After applying these tips, Mia attracted much more traffic to her blog. Eventually, she even started making money with her blog. Mia blogged happily ever after.  

Stories are nice to read. Storytelling is a great tactic. But what does it have to do with SEO? Is it a good idea to use storytelling if your main goal is to rank for a specific term? In this blog post, the fourth in a series about storytelling, I am going to explain how storytelling can be an effective SEO tactic.

Storytelling and SEO may seem counterintuitive

An important part of SEO is focused on using the right words – the words you want to be found for- in your text. But if you use storytelling, if you use metaphors.  If you tell a story by making an example, chances are that you are not using your focus keyphrase then.

At the beginning of the post you are reading right now, I shared a little story about Mia. In that story, I am not using my focus keyphrase – the words I want to rank with, with this particular post. I want to rank with ‘storytelling SEO’. But in the entire first paragraph, the word ‘storytelling’ does not pop up. That, in itself, is not beneficial for your SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin will definitely suggest using the focus keyword in your first paragraph. So, you’ll have one bullet that’ll not turn green. That’s okay. It is totally okay to have a paragraph – or two – that does not contain the focus keyphrase.

So why is storytelling a good SEO tactic?

Storytelling is good for SEO because it will make your post nice to read. And, creating content that people like is exactly what Google wants. If you’re writing blog posts people enjoy reading, you’ll increase your chances to rank high in Google. In my previous post about storytelling, I’ve explained how you can use storytelling in a blog post.

If people like your content, you’ll also have a higher chance that people will remain on your website. Your time on page increases and your bounce rate will decrease. These factors will help tremendously with the ranking of your post.

Next to making your blog post more fun to read, storytelling is beneficial for SEO for another reason. If people like your post, they’ll be more likely to engage with it. They’ll leave a comment; they’ll share it on their social platforms. That’ll already increase traffic to your post. But these things will also increase the likelihood Google will rank a post. Google loves content that is written with people in mind. Google will notice that people like to read your text and that will result in higher rankings in the long run.

Conclusion

Use little stories as metaphors and examples. It’ll make your content so much nicer to read. Don’t worry about having an orange or red bullet. As long as your overall bullet in Yoast SEO is green, it’ll work out fine. Stories are beneficial for your SEO, more beneficial than a perfect keyword density or keyword distribution. Storytelling will allow you to write content that is so good that people will want to stay on your page. That’s very, very good for SEO!

Read more: Using storytelling op product pages »

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