Archives July 2019

Screaming Frog Guide to Doing Almost Anything: 55+ Ways of Looking at a Tool

Updated by: Richie Lauridsen & Allison Hahn.

So, I admit it: When we started looking at our own blog traffic, we realized this was one of the most historically popular blog posts on the Seer domain. After a brief moment of reflection and a swell of enthusiasm for the ever-present greatness of the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, a tool that’s been a loyal companion in our technical SEO journey, we realized we were doing a disservice–both to our readers and to the many leaps forward from the great Screaming Frog.

Though this original guide was published in 2015, in the years since, Screaming Frog has evolved to offer a whole suite of new features and simplified steps to conduct technical audits, check a site’s health, or simply get a quick glimpse of info on a selection of URLs. Below, you’ll find an updated guide to how SEOs, PPC professionals, and digital marketing experts can use the tool to streamline their workflow.  

To get started, simply select what it is that you are looking to do:

How to crawl an entire site

When starting a crawl, it’s a good idea to take a moment and evaluate what kind of information you’re looking to get, how big the site is, and how much of the site you’ll need to crawl in order to access it all. Sometimes, with larger sites, it’s best to restrict the crawler to a sub-section of URLs to get a good representative sample of data. This keeps file sizes and data exports a bit more manageable. We go over this in further detail below. For crawling your entire site, including all subdomains, you’ll need to make some slight adjustments to the spider configuration to get started. 

By default, Screaming Frog only crawls the subdomain that you enter. Any additional subdomains that the spider encounters will be viewed as external links. In order to crawl additional subdomains, you must change the settings in the Spider Configuration menu. By checking ‘Crawl All Subdomains’, you will ensure that the spider crawls any links that it encounters to other subdomains on your site.

Step 1:

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Step 2:

In addition, if you’re starting your crawl from a specific subfolder or subdirectory and still want Screaming Frog to crawl the whole site, check the box marked “Crawl Outside of Start Folder.”

By default, the SEO Spider is only set to crawl the subfolder or subdirectory you crawl from forwards. If you want to crawl the whole site and start from a specific subdirectory, be sure that the configuration is set to crawl outside the start folder.

Pro Tip:

To save time and disk space, be mindful of resources that you may not need in your crawl. Websites link to so much more than just pages. Uncheck Images, CSS, JavaScript, and SWF resources in order to reduce the size of the crawl.

How to crawl a single subdirectory

If you wish to limit your crawl to a single folder, simply enter the URL and press start without changing any of the default settings. If you’ve overwritten the original default settings, reset the default configuration within the ‘File’ menu.

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If you wish to start your crawl in a specific folder, but want to continue crawling to the rest of the subdomain, be sure to select ‘Crawl Outside Of Start Folder’ in the Spider Configuration settings before entering your specific starting URL.

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How to crawl a specific set of subdomains or subdirectories

If you wish to limit your crawl to a specific set of subdomains or subdirectories, you can use RegEx to set those rules in the Include or Exclude settings in the Configuration menu.

Exclusion:

In this example, we crawled every page on seerinteractive.com excluding the ‘about’ pages on every subdomain.

Step 1:

Go to Configuration > Exclude; use a wildcard regular expression to identify the URLs or parameters you want to exclude.

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Step 2:

Test your regular expression to make sure it’s excluding the pages you expected to exclude before you start your crawl:

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Inclusion:

In the example below, we only wanted to crawl the team subfolder on seerinteractive.com. Again, use the “Test” tab to test a few URLs and ensure the RegEx is appropriately configured for your inclusion rule.

This is a great way to crawl larger sites; in fact, Screaming Frog recommends this method if you need to divide and conquer a crawl for a bigger domain.

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I want a list of all of the pages on my site

By default, Screaming Frog is set to crawl all images, JavaScript, CSS and flash files that the spider encounters. To crawl HTML only, you’ll have to deselect ‘Check Images’, ‘Check CSS’, ‘Check JavaScript’ and ‘Check SWF’ in the Spider Configuration menu.

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Running the spider with these settings unchecked will, in effect, provide you with a list of all of the pages on your site that have internal links pointing to them.

Once the crawl is finished, go to the ‘Internal’ tab and filter your results by ‘HTML’. Click ‘Export’, and you’ll have the full list in CSV format.

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Pro Tip:

If you tend to use the same settings for each crawl, Screaming Frog now allows you to save your configuration settings:

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I want a list of all of the pages in a specific subdirectory

In addition to de-selecting ‘Check Images’, ‘Check CSS’, ‘Check JavaScript’ and ‘Check SWF’, you’ll also want to de-select ‘Check Links Outside Folder’ in the Spider Configuration settings. Running the spider with these settings unchecked will, in effect, give you a list of all of the pages in your starting folder (as long as they are not orphaned pages).

How to find all of the subdomains on a site and verify internal links.

There are several different ways to find all of the subdomains on a site.

Method 1:

Use Screaming Frog to identify all subdomains on a given site. Navigate to Configuration > Spider, and ensure that “Crawl all Subdomains” is selected. Just like crawling your whole site above, this will help crawl any subdomain that is linked to within the site crawl. However, this will not find subdomains that are orphaned or unlinked.

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Method 2:

Use Google to identify all indexed subdomains.

By using the Scraper Chrome extension and some advanced search operators, we can find all indexable subdomains for a given domain.

Step 1:

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Start by using a site: search operator in Google to restrict results to your specific domain. Then, use the -inurl search operator to narrow the search results by removing the main domain. You should begin to see a list of subdomains that have been indexed in Google that do not contain the main domain.

Step 2:

Use the Scraper extension to extract all of the results into a Google Sheet. Simply right-click the URL in the SERP, click “Scrape Similar” and export to a Google Doc.

Step 3:

In your Google Doc, use the following function to trim the URL to the subdomain:

=LEFT(A2,SEARCH(“/”,A2,9))

Essentially, the formula above should help strip off any subdirectories, pages, or file names at the end of a site. This formula essentially tells sheets or Excel to return what is to the left of the trailing slash. The start number of 9 is significant, because we are asking it to start looking for a trailing slash after the 9th character. This accounts for the protocol: https://, which is 8 characters long.

De-duplicate the list, and upload the list into Screaming Frog in List Mode–you can manually paste the list of domains, use the paste function, or upload a CSV.

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Method 3:

Enter the root domain URL into tools that help you look for sites that might exist on the same IP or search engines designed especially to search for subdomains, like FindSubdomains. Create a free account to login and export a list of subdomains. Then, upload the list to Screaming Frog using List Mode.

Once the spider has finished running, you’ll be able to see status codes, as well as any links on the subdomain homepages, anchor text and duplicate page titles among other things.

How to crawl an e-commerce site or other large site

Screaming Frog was not originally built to crawl hundreds of thousands of pages, but thanks to some upgrades, it’s getting closer every day.

The newest version of Screaming Frog has been updated to rely on database storage for crawls. In version 11.0, Screaming Frog allowed users to opt to save all data to disk in a database rather than just keep it in RAM. This opened up the possibility of crawling very large sites for the first time.

In version 12.0, the crawler automatically saves crawls to the database. This allows them to be accessed and opened using “File > Crawls” in the top-level menu–in case you panic and wonder where the open command went!

While using database crawls helps Screaming Frog better manage larger crawls, it’s certainly not the only way to crawl a large site.

First, you can increase the memory allocation of the spider.

Second, you can break down the crawl by subdirectory or only crawl certain parts of the site using your Include/Exclude settings.

Third, you can choose not to crawl images, JavaScript, CSS and flash. By deselecting these options in the Configuration menu, you can save memory by crawling HTML only.

Pro Tip:

Until recently, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider might have paused or crashed when crawling a large site. Now, with database storage as the default setting, you can recover crawls to pick up where you left off. Additionally, you can also access queued URLs. This may give you insight about any additional parameters or rules you may want to exclude in order to crawl a large site.

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How to crawl a site hosted on an older server — or how to crawl a site without crashing it

In some cases, older servers may not be able to handle the default number of URL requests per second. In fact, we recommend including a limit on the number of URLs to crawl per second to be respectful of a site’s server just in case. It’s best to let a client know when you’re planning on crawling a site just in case they might have protections in place against unknown User Agents. On one hand, they may need to whitelist your IP or User Agent before you crawl the site. The worst case scenario may be that you send too many requests to the server and inadvertently crash the site.

To change your crawl speed, choose ‘Speed’ in the Configuration menu, and in the pop-up window, select the maximum number of threads that should run concurrently. From this menu, you can also choose the maximum number of URLs requested per second.

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Pro Tip:

If you find that your crawl is resulting in a lot of server errors, go to the ‘Advanced’ tab in the Spider Configuration menu, and increase the value of the ‘Response Timeout’ and of the ‘5xx Response Retries’ to get better results.

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How to crawl a site that requires cookies

Although search bots don’t accept cookies, if you are crawling a site and need to allow cookies, simply select ‘Allow Cookies’ in the ‘Advanced’ tab of the Spider Configuration menu.

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How to crawl using a different user-agent

To crawl using a different user agent, select ‘User Agent’ in the ‘Configuration’ menu, then select a search bot from the drop-down or type in your desired user agent strings.

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As Google is now mobile-first, try crawling the site as Googlebot Smartphone, or modify the User-Agent to be a spoof of Googlebot Smartphone. This is important for two different reasons:

  1. Crawling the site mimicking the Googlebot Smartphone user agent may help determine any issues that Google is having when crawling and rendering your site’s content.
  2. Using a modified version of the Googlebot Smartphone user agent will help you distinguish between your crawls and Google’s crawls when analyzing server logs.

How to crawl pages that require authentication

When the Screaming Frog spider comes across a page that is password-protected, a pop-up box will appear, in which you can enter the required username and password.

Forms-Based authentication is a very powerful feature and may require JavaScript rendering in order to effectively work. Note: Forms-Based authentication should be used sparingly, and only by advanced users. The crawler is programmed to click every link on a page, so that could potentially result in links to log you out, create posts, or even delete data.

To manage authentication, navigate to Configuration > Authentication.

In order to turn off authentication requests, deselect ‘Standards Based Authentication’ in the ‘Authentication’ window from the Configuration menu.

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If you do not need to check the images, JavaScript, flash or CSS on the site, de-select these options in the Spider Configuration menu to save processing time and memory.

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Once the spider has finished crawling, use the Bulk Export menu to export a CSV of ‘All Links’. This will provide you with all of the link locations, as well as the corresponding anchor text, directives, etc.

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All inlinks can be a big report. Be mindful of this when exporting. For a large site, this export can sometimes take minutes to run.

For a quick tally of the number of links on each page, go to the ‘Internal’ tab and sort by ‘Outlinks’. Anything over 100, might need to be reviewed.

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Need something a little more processed? Check out this tutorial on calculating the importance of internal linking spearheaded by Allison Hahn and Zaine Clark.

If you do not need to check the images, JavaScript, flash or CSS of the site, de-select these options in the Spider Configuration menu to save processing time and memory.

Once the spider has finished crawling, sort the ‘Internal’ tab results by ‘Status Code’. Any 404’s, 301’s or other status codes will be easily viewable.

Upon clicking on any individual URL in the crawl results, you’ll see information change in the bottom window of the program. By clicking on the ‘In Links’ tab in the bottom window, you’ll find a list of pages that are linking to the selected URL, as well as anchor text and directives used on those links. You can use this feature to identify pages where internal links need to be updated.

To export the full list of pages that include broken or redirected links, choose ‘Redirection (3xx) In Links’ or ‘Client Error (4xx) In Links’ or ‘Server Error (5xx) In Links’ in the ‘Advanced Export’ menu, and you’ll get a CSV export of the data.

To export the full list of pages that include broken or redirected links, visit the Bulk Export menu. Scroll down to response codes, and look at the following reports:

  • No Response Inlinks
  • Redirection (3xx) Inlinks
  • Redirection (JavaScript) Inlinks
  • Redirection (Meta Refresh) Inlinks
  • Client Error (4xx) Inlinks
  • Server Error (5xx) Inlinks

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Reviewing all of these reports should give us an adequate representation of what internal links should be updated to ensure they point to the canonical version of the URL and efficiently distribute link equity.

After de-selecting ‘Check Images’, ‘Check CSS’, ‘Check JavaScript’ and ‘Check SWF’ in the Spider Configuration settings, make sure that ‘Check External Links’ remains selected.

After the spider is finished crawling, click on the ‘External’ tab in the top window, sort by ‘Status Code’ and you’ll easily be able to find URLs with status codes other than 200. Upon clicking on any individual URL in the crawl results and then clicking on the ‘In Links’ tab in the bottom window, you’ll find a list of pages that are pointing to the selected URL. You can use this feature to identify pages where outbound links need to be updated.

To export your full list of outbound links, click ‘External Links’ on the Bulk Export tab.

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For a complete listing of all the locations and anchor text of outbound links, select ‘All Outlinks’ in the ‘Bulk Export’ menu. The All Outlinks report will include outbound links to your subdomains as well; if you want to exclude your domain, lean on the “External Links” report referenced above.

After the spider has finished crawling, select the ‘Response Codes’ tab from the main UI, and filter by Status Code. Because Screaming Frog uses Regular Expressions for search, submit the following criteria as a filter: 301|302|307. This should give you a pretty solid list of all links that came back with some sort of redirect, whether the content was permanently moved, found and redirected, or temporarily redirected due to HSTS settings (this is the likely cause of 307 redirects in Screaming Frog). Sort by ‘Status Code’, and you’ll be able to break the results down by type. Click on the ‘In Links’ tab in the bottom window to view all of the pages where the redirecting link is used.

If you export directly from this tab, you will only see the data that is shown in the top window (original URL, status code, and where it redirects to).

To export the full list of pages that include redirected links, you will have to choose ‘Redirection (3xx) In Links’ in the ‘Advanced Export’ menu. This will return a CSV that includes the location of all your redirected links. To show internal redirects only, filter the ‘Destination’ column in the CSV to include only your domain.

ProTip:

Use a VLOOKUP between the 2 export files above to match the Source and Destination columns with the final URL location.

Sample formula:

=VLOOKUP([@Destination],’response_codes_redirection_(3xx).csv’!$A$3:$F$50,6,FALSE)

(Where ‘response_codes_redirection_(3xx).csv’ is the CSV file that contains the redirect URLs and ‘50’ is the number of rows in that file.)

Need to find and fix redirect chains? @dan_shure gives the breakdown on how to do it here.

I am looking for internal linking opportunities

Internal linking opportunities can yield massive ROI–especially when you’re being strategic about the distribution of PageRank & link equity, keyword rankings, and keyword-rich anchors.

Our go-to resource for internal linking opportunities comes down to the impressive Power BI dashboard created by our very own Allison Hahn and Zaine Clark. Learn more here.

How to identify pages with thin content

After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘Internal’ tab, filter by HTML, then scroll to the right to the ‘Word Count’ column. Sort the ‘Word Count’ column from low to high to find pages with low text content. You can drag and drop the ‘Word Count’ column to the left to better match the low word count values to the appropriate URLs. Click ‘Export’ in the ‘Internal’ tab if you prefer to manipulate the data in a CSV instead.

Pro Tip for E-commerce Sites:

While the word count method above will quantify the actual text on the page, there’s still no way to tell if the text found is just product names or if the text is in a keyword-optimized copy block. To figure out the word count of your text blocks, use ImportXML2 by @iamchrisle to scrape the text blocks on any list of pages, then count the characters from there. If xPath queries aren’t your strong suit, the xPath Helper or Xpather Chrome extension does a pretty solid job at figuring out the xPath for you. Obviously, you can also use these scraped text blocks to begin to understand the overall word usage on the site in question, but that, my friends, is another post…

If you’ve already crawled a whole site or subfolder, simply select the page in the top window, then click on ‘Image Info’ tab in the bottom window to view all of the images that were found on that page. The images will be listed in the ‘To’ column.

Pro Tip:

Right-click on any entry in the bottom window to copy or open a URL.

Alternatively, you can also view the images on a single page by crawling just that URL. Make sure that your crawl depth is set to ‘1’ in the Spider Configuration settings, then once the page is crawled, click on the ‘Images’ tab, and you’ll see any images that the spider found.

How to find images that are missing alt text or images that have lengthy alt text

First, you’ll want to make sure that ‘Check Images’ is selected in the Spider Configuration menu. After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘Images’ tab and filter by ‘Missing Alt Text’ or ‘Alt Text Over 100 Characters’. You can find the pages where any image is located by clicking on the ‘Image Info’ tab in the bottom window. The pages will be listed in the ‘From’ column.

Finally, if you prefer a CSV, use the ‘Bulk Export’ menu to export ‘All Images’ or ‘Images Missing Alt Text Inlinks’ to see the full list of images, where they are located and any associated alt text or issues with alt text.

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Additionally, use the right sidebar to navigate to the Images section of the crawl; here, you can easily export a list of all images missing alt text.

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How to find every CSS file on my site

In the Spider Configuration menu, select ‘Crawl’ and ‘Store’ CSS before crawling, then when the crawl is finished, filter the results in the ‘Internal’ tab by ‘CSS’.

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How to find every JavaScript file on my site

In the Spider Configuration menu, select ‘Check JavaScript’ before crawling, then when the crawl is finished, filter the results in the ‘Internal’ tab by ‘JavaScript’.

How to identify all of the jQuery plugins used on the site and what pages they are being used on

First, make sure that ‘Check JavaScript’ is selected in the Spider Configuration menu. After the spider has finished crawling, filter the ‘Internal’ tab by ‘JavaScript’, then search for ‘jquery’. This will provide you with a list of plugin files. Sort the list by the ‘Address’ for easier viewing if needed, then view ‘InLinks’ in the bottom window or export the data into a CSV to find the pages where the file is used. These will be in the ‘From’ column.

Alternately, you can use the ‘Advanced Export’ menu to export a CSV of ‘All Links’ and filter the ‘Destination’ column to show only URLs with ‘jquery’.

Pro Tip:

Not all jQuery plugins are bad for SEO. If you see that a site uses jQuery, the best practice is to make sure that the content that you want indexed is included in the page source and is served when the page is loaded, not afterward. If you are still unsure, Google the plugin for more information on how it works.

How to find where flash is embedded on-site

In the Spider Configuration menu, select ‘Check SWF’ before crawling, then when the crawl is finished, filter the results in the ‘Internal’ tab by ‘Flash’.

This is increasingly more important to find and identify and content that is being delivered by Flash and suggest alternate code for the content. Chrome is in the process of deprecating Flash across the board; this is really something that should be used to highlight if there are issues with critical content and Flash on a site.

NB: This method will only find .SWF files that are linked on a page. If the flash is pulled in through JavaScript, you’ll need to use a custom filter.

How to find any internal PDFs that are linked on-site

After the spider has finished crawling, filter the results in the ‘Internal’ tab by ‘PDF’.

How to understand content segmentation within a site or group of pages

If you want to find pages on your site that contain a specific type of content, set a custom filter for an HTML footprint that is unique to that page. This needs to be set *before* running the spider. @stephpchang has a great tutorial on segmenting syndicated content from original content using custom filters.

How to find pages that have social sharing buttons

To find pages that contain social sharing buttons, you’ll need to set a custom filter before running the spider. To set a custom filter, go into the Configuration menu and click ‘Custom’. From there, enter any snippet of code from the page source.

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In the example above, I wanted to find pages that contain a Facebook ‘like’ button, so I created a filter for facebook.com/plugins/like.php.

How to find pages that are using iframes

To find pages that use iframes, set a custom filter for <iframe before running the spider.

How to find pages that contain embedded video or audio content

To find pages that contain embedded video or audio content, set a custom filter for a snippet of the embed code for Youtube, or any other media player that is used on the site.

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How to identify pages with lengthy page titles, meta descriptions, or URLs

After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘Page Titles’ tab and filter by ‘Over 60 Characters’ to see the page titles that are too long. You can do the same in the ‘Meta Description’ tab or in the ‘URI’ tab.

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How to find duplicate page titles, meta descriptions, or URLs

After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘Page Titles’ tab, then filter by ‘Duplicate’. You can do the same thing in the ‘Meta Description’ or ‘URI’ tabs.

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How to find duplicate content and/or URLs that need to be rewritten/redirected/canonicalized

After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘URI’ tab, then filter by ‘Underscores’, ‘Uppercase’ or ‘Non ASCII Characters’ to view URLs that could potentially be rewritten to a more standard structure. Filter by ‘Duplicate’ and you’ll see all pages that have multiple URL versions. Filter by ‘Parameters’ and you’ll see URLs that include parameters.

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Additionally, if you go to the ‘Internal’ tab, filter by ‘HTML’ and scroll the to ‘Hash’ column on the far right, you’ll see a unique series of letters and numbers for every page. If you click ‘Export’, you can use conditional formatting in Excel to highlight the duplicated values in this column, ultimately showing you pages that are identical and need to be addressed.

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How to identify all of the pages that include meta directives e.g.: nofollow/noindex/noodp/canonical etc.

After the spider has finished crawling, click on the ‘Directives’ tab. To see the type of directive, simply scroll to the right to see which columns are filled, or use the filter to find any of the following tags:

  • index
  • noindex
  • follow
  • nofollow
  • noarchive
  • nosnippet
  • noodp
  • noydir
  • noimageindex
  • notranslate
  • unavailable_after
  • refresh

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How to verify that my robots.txt file is functioning as desired

By default, Screaming Frog will comply with robots.txt. As a priority, it will follow directives made specifically for the Screaming Frog user agent. If there are no directives specifically for the Screaming Frog user agent, then the spider will follow any directives for Googlebot, and if there are no specific directives for Googlebot, the spider will follow global directives for all user agents. The spider will only follow one set of directives, so if there are rules set specifically for Screaming Frog it will only follow those rules, and not the rules for Googlebot or any global rules. If you wish to block certain parts of the site from the spider, use the regular robots.txt syntax with the user agent ‘Screaming Frog SEO Spider’. If you wish to ignore robots.txt, simply select that option in the Spider Configuration settings.

Configuration > Robots.txt > Settings

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How to find or verify Schema markup or other microdata on my site

To find every page that contains Schema markup or any other microdata, you need to use custom filters. Simply click on ‘Custom’ → ‘Search’ in the Configuration Menu and enter the footprint that you are looking for.

To find every page that contains Schema markup, simply add the following snippet of code to a custom filter: itemtype=http://schema.org

To find a specific type of markup, you’ll have to be more specific. For example, using a custom filter for ‹span itemprop=”ratingValue”› will get you all of the pages that contain Schema markup for ratings.

As of Screaming Frog 11.0, the SEO spider also offers us the ability to crawl, extract, and validate structured data directly from the crawl. Validate any JSON-LD, Microdata, or RDFa structured data against the guidelines from Schema.org and specifications from Google in real-time as you crawl. To access the structured data validation tools, select the options under “Config > Spider > Advanced.”

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There is now a Structured Data tab within the main interface that will allow you to toggle between pages that contain structured data, that are missing structured data, and that may have validation errors or warnings:

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You can also bulk export issues with structured data by visiting “Reports > Structured Data > Validation Errors & Warnings.”

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How to create an XML Sitemap

After the spider has finished crawling your site, click on the ‘Siteamps’ menu and select ‘XML Sitemap’.

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Once you have opened the XML sitemap configuration settings, you are able to include or exclude pages by response codes, last modified, priority, change frequency, images etc. By default, Screaming Frog only includes 2xx URLs but it’s a good rule of thumb to always double-check.

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Ideally, your XML sitemap should only include a 200 status, single, preferred (canonical) version of each URL, without parameters or other duplicating factors. Once any changes have been made, hit OK. The XML sitemap file will download to your device and allow you to edit the naming convention however you’d like.

Creating an XML Sitemap By Uploading URLs

You can also create an XML sitemap by uploading URLs from an existing file or pasting manually into Screaming Frog.

Change the ‘Mode’ from Spider to List and click on the Upload dropdown to select either option.

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Hit the Start button and Screaming Frog will crawl the uploaded URLs. Once the URLs are crawled, you will follow the same process that is listed above.

How to check my existing XML Sitemap

You can easily download your existing XML sitemap or sitemap index to check for any errors or crawl discrepancies.

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Go to the ‘Mode’ menu in Screaming Frog and select ‘List’. Then, click ‘Upload’ at the top of the screen, choose either Download Sitemap or Download Sitemap Index, enter the sitemap URL, and start the crawl. Once the spider has finished crawling, you’ll be able to find any redirects, 404 errors, duplicated URLs and more. You can easily export and of the errors identified.

Identifying Missing Pages within XML Sitemap

You can configure your crawl settings to discover and compare the URLs within your XML sitemaps to the URLs within your site crawl.

Go to ‘Configuration’ -> ‘Spider’ in the main navigation and at the bottom there are a few options for XML sitemaps – Auto discover XML sitemaps through your robots.txt file or manually enter the XML sitemap link into the box. *Important note – if your robots.txt file does not contain proper destination links to all XML sitemap you want crawled, you should manually enter them.

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Once you’ve updated your XML Sitemap crawl settings, go to ‘Crawl Analysis’ in the navigation then click ‘Configure’ and ensure the Sitemaps button is ticked. You’ll want to run your full site crawl first, then navigate back to ‘Crawl Analysis’ and hit Start.

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Once the Crawl Analysis is complete, you’ll be able to see any crawl discrepancies, such as URLs that were detected within the full site crawl that are missing from the XML sitemap.

How to identify why certain sections of my site aren’t being indexed or aren’t ranking

Wondering why certain pages aren’t being indexed? First, make sure that they weren’t accidentally put into the robots.txt or tagged as noindex. Next, you’ll want to make sure that spiders can reach the pages by checking your internal links. A page that is not internally linked somewhere on your site is often referred to as an Orphaned Page.

In order to identify any orphaned pages, complete the following steps:

  • Go to ‘Configuration’ -> ‘Spider’ in the main navigation and at the bottom there are a few options for XML sitemaps – Auto discover XML sitemaps through your robots.txt file or manually enter the XML sitemap link into the box. *Important note – if your robots.txt file does not contain proper destination links to all XML sitemap you want crawled, you should manually enter them.
  • Go to ‘Configuration →  API Access’ → ‘Google Analytics’ – using the API you can pull in analytics data for a specific account and view. To find orphan pages from organic search, make sure to segment by ‘Organic Traffic’pasted image 0 66
  • You can also go to General → ‘Crawl New URLs Discovered In Google Analytics’ if you would like the URLs discovered in GA to be included within your full site crawl. If this is not enabled, you will only be able to view any new URLs pulled in from GA within the Orphaned Pages report.

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  • Go to ‘Configuration →  API Access’ → ‘Google Search Console’ – using the API you can pull in GSC data for a specific account and view. To find orphan pages you can look for URLs receiving clicks and impressions that are not included in your crawl.
    • You can also go to General → ‘Crawl New URLs Discovered In Google Search Console’ if you would like the URLs discovered in GSC to be included within your full site crawl. If this is not enabled, you will only be able to view any new URLs pulled in from GSC within the Orphaned Pages report.
  • Crawl the entire website. Once the crawl is completed, go to ‘Crawl Analysis –> Start’ and wait for it to finish.
  • View orphaned URLs within each of the tabs or bulk export all orphaned URLs by going to Reports → Orphan Pages

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If you do not have access to Google Analytics or GSC you can export the list of internal URLs as a .CSV file, using the ‘HTML’ filter in the ‘Internal’ tab.

Open up the CSV file, and in a second sheet, paste the list of URLs that aren’t being indexed or aren’t ranking well. Use a VLOOKUP to see if the URLs in your list on the second sheet were found in the crawl.

How to check if my site migration/redesign was successful

@ipullrank has an excellent Whiteboard Friday on this topic, but the general idea is that you can use Screaming Frog to check whether or not old URLs are being redirected by using the ‘List’ mode to check status codes. If the old URLs are throwing 404’s, then you’ll know which URLs still need to be redirected.

How to find slow-loading pages on my site

After the spider has finished crawling, go to the ‘Response Codes’ tab and sort by the ‘Response Time’ column from high to low to find pages that may be suffering from a slow loading speed.

How to find malware or spam on my site

First, you’ll need to identify the footprint of the malware or the spam. Next, in the Configuration menu, click on ‘Custom’ → ‘Search’ and enter the footprint that you are looking for.

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You can enter up to 10 different footprints per crawl. Finally, press OK and proceed with crawling the site or list of pages.

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When the spider has finished crawling, select the ‘Custom’ tab in the top window to view all of the pages that contain your footprint. If you entered more than one custom filter, you can view each one by changing the filter on the results.

How to verify that my Google Analytics code is on every page, or on a specific set of pages on my site

SEER alum @RachaelGerson wrote a killer post on this subject: Use Screaming Frog to Verify Google Analytics Code. Check it out!

How to validate a list of PPC URLs in bulk

Save your list in .txt or .csv format, then change your ‘Mode’ settings to ‘List’.

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Next, select your file to upload, and press ‘Start’ or paste your list manually into Screaming Frog. See the status code of each page by looking at the ‘Internal’ tab.

To check if your pages contain your GA code, check out this post on using custom filters to verify Google Analytics code by @RachaelGerson.

How to scrape the meta data for a list of pages

So, you’ve harvested a bunch of URLs, but you need more information about them? Set your mode to ‘List’, then upload your list of URLs in .txt or .csv format. After the spider is done, you’ll be able to see status codes, outbound links, word counts, and of course, meta data for each page in your list.

First, you’ll need to identify the footprint. Next, in the Configuration menu, click on ‘Custom’ → ‘Search’ or ‘Extraction’ and enter the footprint that you are looking for.

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You can enter up to 10 different footprints per crawl. Finally, press OK and proceed with crawling the site or list of pages. In the example below, I wanted to find all of the pages that say ‘Please Call’ in the pricing section, so I found and copied the HTML code from the page source.

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When the spider has finished crawling, select the ‘Custom’ tab in the top window to view all of the pages that contain your footprint. If you entered more than one custom filter, you can view each one by changing the filter on the results.

Below are some additional common footprints you can scrape from websites that may be useful for your SEO audits:

  • http://schema\.org – Find pages containing schema.org
  • youtube.com/embed/|youtu.be|<video|player.vimeo.com/video/|wistia.(com|net)/embed|sproutvideo.com/embed/|view.vzaar.com|dailymotion.com/embed/|players.brightcove.net/|play.vidyard.com/|kaltura.com/(p|kwidget)/ – Find pages containing video content

Pro Tip:

If you are pulling product data from a client site, you could save yourself some time by asking the client to pull the data directly from their database. The method above is meant for sites that you don’t have direct access to.

How to find and remove session id or other parameters from my crawled URLs

To identify URLs with session ids or other parameters, simply crawl your site with the default settings. When the spider is finished, click on the ‘URI’ tab and filter to ‘Parameters’ to view all of the URLs that include parameters.

To remove parameters from being shown for the URLs that you crawl, select ‘URL Rewriting’ in the configuration menu, then in the ‘Remove Parameters’ tab, click ‘Add’ to add any parameters that you want removed from the URLs, and press ‘OK.’ You’ll have to run the spider again with these settings in order for the rewriting to occur.

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How to rewrite the crawled URLs (e.g: replace .com with .co.uk, or write all URLs in lowercase)

To rewrite any URL that you crawl, select ‘URL Rewriting’ in the Configuration menu, then in the ‘Regex Replace’ tab, click ‘Add’ to add the RegEx for what you want to replace.

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Once you’ve added all of the desired rules, you can test your rules in the ‘Test’ tab by entering a test URL in the space labeled ‘URL before rewriting’. The ‘URL after rewriting’ will be updated automatically according to your rules.

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If you wish to set a rule that all URLs are returned in lowercase, simply select ‘Lowercase discovered URLs’ in the ‘Options’ tab. This will remove any duplication by capitalized URLs in the crawl.

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Remember that you’ll have to actually run the spider with these settings in order for the URL rewriting to occur.

How to know which pages my competitors value most

Generally speaking, competitors will try to spread link popularity and drive traffic to their most valuable pages by linking to them internally. Any SEO-minded competitor will probably also link to important pages from their company blog. Find your competitor’s prized pages by crawling their site, then sorting the ‘Internal’ tab by the ‘Inlinks’ column from highest to lowest, to see which pages have the most internal links.

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To view pages linked from your competitor’s blog, deselect ‘Check links outside folder’ in the Spider Configuration menu and crawl the blog folder/subdomain. Then, in the ‘External’ tab, filter your results using a search for the URL of the main domain. Scroll to the far right and sort the list by the ‘Inlinks’ column to see which pages are linked most often.

Pro Tip:

Drag and drop columns to the left or right to improve your view of the data.

How to know what anchor text my competitors are using for internal linking

In the ‘Bulk Export’ menu, select ‘All Anchor Text’ to export a CSV containing all of the anchor text on the site, where it is used and what it’s linked to.

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How to know which meta keywords (if any) my competitors have added to their pages

After the spider has finished running, look at the ‘Meta Keywords’ tab to see any meta keywords found for each page. Sort by the ‘Meta Keyword 1’ column to alphabetize the list and visually separate the blank entries, or simply export the whole list.

If you’ve scraped or otherwise come up with a list of URLs that needs to be vetted, you can upload and crawl them in ‘List’ mode to gather more information about the pages. When the spider is finished crawling, check for status codes in the ‘Response Codes’ tab, and review outbound links, link types, anchor text and nofollow directives in the ‘Outlinks’ tab in the bottom window. This will give you an idea of what kinds of sites those pages link to and how. To review the ‘Outlinks’ tab, be sure that your URL of interest is selected in the top window.

Of course you’ll want to use a custom filter to determine whether or not those pages are linking to you already.

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You can also export the full list of out links by clicking on ‘All Outlinks’ in the ‘Bulk Export Menu’. This will not only provide you with the links going to external sites, but it will also show all internal links on the individual pages in your list.

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For more great ideas for link building, check out these two awesome posts on link reclamation and using Link Prospector with Screaming Frog by SEER’s own @EthanLyon and @JHTScherck.

So, you found a site that you would like a link from? Use Screaming Frog to find broken links on the desired page or on the site as a whole, then contact the site owner, suggesting your site as a replacement for the broken link where applicable, or just offer the broken link as a token of good will.

Upload your list of backlinks and run the spider in ‘List’ mode. Then, export the full list of outbound links by clicking on ‘All Out Links’ in the ‘Advanced Export Menu’. This will provide you with the URLs and anchor text/alt text for all links on those pages. You can then use a filter on the ‘Destination’ column of the CSV to determine if your site is linked and what anchor text/alt text is included.

@JustinRBriggs has a nice tidbit on checking infographic backlinks with Screaming Frog. Check out the other 17 link building tools that he mentioned, too.

Want to figure out if a group of sites are linking to each other? Check out this tutorial on visualizing link networks using Screaming Frog and Fusion Tables by @EthanLyon.

Set a custom filter that contains your root domain URL, then upload your list of backlinks and run the spider in ‘List’ mode. When the spider has finished crawling, select the ‘Custom’ tab to view all of the pages that are still linking to you.

Bonus Round

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Did you know that by right-clicking on any URL in the top window of your results, you could do any of the following?

  • Copy or open the URL
  • Re-crawl the URL or remove it from your crawl
  • Export URL Info, In Links, Out Links, or Image Info for that page
  • Check indexation of the page in Google, Bing and Yahoo
  • Check backlinks of the page in Majestic, OSE, Ahrefs and Blekko
  • Look at the cached version/cache date of the page
  • See older versions of the page
  • Validate the HTML of the page
  • Open robots.txt for the domain where the page is located
  • Search for other domains on the same IP

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Likewise, in the bottom window, with a right-click, you can:

  • Copy or open the URL in the ‘To’ for ‘From’ column for the selected row

SERP Mode allows you to preview SERP snippets by device to visually show how your meta data will appear in search results.

  • Upload URLs, titles and meta descriptions into Screaming Frog using a .CSV or Excel document
    • If you already ran a crawl for your site you can export URLs by going to ‘Reports → SERP Summary’. This will easily format the URLs and meta you want to reupload and edit.
  • Mode → SERP → Upload File
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  • Bulk export updated meta data to send directly to developers to update

It’s becoming more common for websites to be built using JavaScript frameworks like Angular, React, etc. Google strongly recommends using a rendering solution as Googlebot still struggles to crawl javascript content. If you’ve identified a website built using javascript, follow the below instructions to crawl the website.

  • ‘Configuration →  Spider → Rendering → JavaScript

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  • Change rendering preferences depending on what you’re looking for. You can adjust the timeout time,  window size (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc)
  • Hit OK and crawl the website

Within the bottom navigation, click on the Rendered Page tab to view how the page is being rendered. If your page is not being rendered properly, check for blocked resources or extend the timeout limit within the configuration settings. If neither option helps solve the how your page is rendering, there may be a larger issue to uncover.

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You can view and bulk export any blocked resources that may be impacting crawling and rendering of your website by going to ‘Bulk Export’ → ‘Response Codes’

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View Original HTML and Rendered HTML

If you’d like to compare the raw HTML and rendered HTML to identify any discrepancies or ensure important content is located within the DOM, go to ‘Configuration’ → ’Spider’ –> ‘Advanced’ and hit store HTML & store rendered HTML.

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Within the bottom window, you will be able to see the raw and rendered HTML. This can help identify issues with how your content is being rendered and viewed by crawlers.

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Tell us what else you’ve discovered!

In closing, I hope that this guide gives you a better idea of what Screaming Frog can do for you. It has saved me countless hours, so I hope that it helps you, too!

By the way, I am not affiliated with Screaming Frog; I just think that it’s an awesome tool.

Still nerding out on technical SEO?

Check out our open positions.

More about me:

Aichlee Bushnell is a Seer alum. Follow her on Twitter!

For more SEO tutorials and the latest digital marketing updates, subscribe to the Seer newsletter!


How encryption can enhance your SEO ranking

Two of the biggest continuum any business faces are how to rank high and how to maintain the ranking. Incidentally for both, you are indirectly dependent on search engines and hackers. However, the question is, for how long do you want to continue being dependent? 

On one hand, you have both on-page technical best practices and off-page methods to enhance your ranking, while you can use encryption to fight cybercriminals.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be about only performing on-page technical best practices. You also need to come up with out-of-the-box ideas that will enhance your website’s visibilities.

In as much as social media is a means of communication, it shouldn’t ordinarily improve organic search rankings. But be as it may, you need social media platforms to share your content since your website alone cannot give you the required reach.

You need social media platforms to boost traffic to your site as well as to enhance the profile. While the business world is still grappling with whether Google looks at social signals when determining the rank of a web page, the fact remains that if a large number people are able to share your content on social media, then it’s expected that more people will link to it, and links are a hugely important SEO ranking factor.

On the other hand, Google according to an article, as of October 2019, Google dominated US search queries but Bing was also able to achieve more search in a fair share. This should be interesting to marketers because according to Bing, social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results.

Whether you are grappling with on-page technical best practices or off-page methods to increase your website’s visibility in order to enhance SEO and ultimately your ranking, the most important thing is ensuring that your website is up and running. One thing that can bring your website crashing faster than any other thing is the activities of cybercriminals.

Encryption

As you plan to use social media to enhance your ranking, it’s important you know that cybercriminals earn nearly $3.25 billion per year violating social media. This is a good reason for you to consider encryption which is a surefire means of converting information into secret code thereby, hiding the true meaning.

The technology involved in encryption and decryption of information is called cryptography.

While your unencrypted data can also be referred to as plaintext, the encrypted one is known as ciphertext in the computing world.

You make use of encryption algorithms or ciphers to encode and decode messages. Before an unauthorized person can make any sense out of your encrypted message (if it is intercepted), such an entity has to guess which cipher you used to encrypt the message and also work out what keys were used as variables.

While it may sound outlandish to you, the simple truth is that the task can be very herculean and frustrating. This is why encryption has become such a valuable security tool.

The following are two of the best methods of encryption you can use to secure your website and enhance your SEO rankings.

1. End-to-end encryption (E2EE)

E2EE is a means of ascertaining that data being transmitted by you to another party cannot be viewed by an attacker that may probably intercept the means of communication. However, ordinarily using an encrypted communication circuit, as provided by Transport Layer Security (TLS) between the web client and web server software, is not always an assurance that you have an E2EE. The actual information you are transmitting must be by client software before being passed to a web client and decrypted only by the recipient.

Messaging apps such as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems’ Signal provide E2EE. It is also possible for Facebook Messenger users to get E2EE messaging with the “Secret Conversations” option.

2. Quantum cryptography

What could be more heartwarming than knowing that your website and social media account can’t be messed with? This is what quantum cryptography can do for you.

Based on the quantum mechanical properties of particles, your data is protected. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle postulates that the two properties you can use to identify a particle, both its location and its momentum, cannot be measured without changing the values of those properties.

This means that once you quantum-encode your data it cannot be copied and if an intruder attempts to access the encoded data, the data will change. Since you will be alerted by any attempt to copy or access the data the aim of the intruder is roundly defeated.

With encryption, you are secured from SEO spam-infected sites that typically redirect visitors to spam pages. The motivation behind this method for cyber attackers is simple – its ease.

One thing attackers won’t be able to do to your website is to gain access and steal your hard-earned SEO ranking as they consider it a big task to start from scratch to build up their own new rankings from the ground up. You are also protected from damages to your SEO rankings and brand reputation that will definitely lead to loss of traffic from SEO spam.

Access to your website for the purposes of SEO and comment spam which can be very tricky to detect is checkmated. Usually, hackers tend to inject spammy links on a website knowing fully well that they are visible only to Search Engines and visitors, whereas, you may not even be aware of it.

The end result would have been that malware will steal your domain authority and tarnish your reputation to boost their own.

Being an entrepreneur or a decision-maker, encryption is surely something you should get started with to safeguard your business from losing its reputation, credibility, and dollar bills. Feel free to share your queries in the comments section.

John Ejiofor is the founder and editor in chief at Nature Torch. He can be found on Twitter @John02Ejiofor.

The post How encryption can enhance your SEO ranking appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Custom LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Increase CVR by +31%

Seasonality Got You Down?

To find a solution, you need to first identify the problem.

In this case, a client at Seer was entering their off-peak season, which began impacting conversion rates in their LinkedIn campaigns. While this can certainly be an expected trend in seasonality, it can also be a great time to test new strategies or hypotheses, rather than just sit back and watch your goals slowly but surely decline in your off-peak season. Therefore, we knew that now was the time to get a little creative.

Hello Problem. Meet Solution.

Initially, we were testing LinkedIn Sponsored Content versus Lead Generation Forms and found that Forms performed significantly better in terms of driving qualified leads for this particular client.

These two content types look similar in the engine, however, a Lead Gen Forms include a Call-to-Action Button which, when clicked, auto-populates your information based on your LinkedIn profile. Once the Lead Gen Form is submitted, you can directly receive a link or email to the content or offer, without ever having to leave LinkedIn.

But as conversion rates began to slow down, we wanted to take it one step further. 

While our campaigns had unique ad copy and landing pages tailored by audience, we were only using one generic Lead Gen Form for all of our active campaigns:

Sure, the messaging on the generic Lead Gen Form could work for any of our active ads, but we couldn’t help but pose the question: 

What would happen if we created unique Lead Gen Forms for all of our ads?

So we did exactly that. And let’s see what happened.

Using unique Lead Gen Forms on LinkedIn resulted in a +31% improvement in overall conversion rate, despite lowering budgets.

Here’s some additional background information to help paint the whole picture:

  • Timeframe: 12-week test, with a 6 week period before and after Lead Gen Forms were implemented.
  • Hypothesis: Unique Lead gen Forms that ladder up to the ad copy and landing pages of unique audiences will create a more frictionless user path to their conversion
  • KPI Measurement: Conversion Rate increases during this client’s off-peak season.

Problem

Conversion rates began to decrease on LinkedIn as peak season ended.

Solution

Along with a creative refresh, Seer recommended testing unique lead forms on LinkedIn for each specific Whitepaper download to create a tailored user experience. 

We hypothesized that if that content on the Lead Gen Form mirrored the content on the ad rather than use the same generic Lead Gen Form for each ad, that would create a better experience for the user, and CVR would increase.

Test Results:

  • +5.6% stronger CVR of whitepaper-specific forms vs. original generic forms.
  • +31.4% higher CVR Period Over Period, despite a decrease in budget.

Now it’s Your Turn

If you’re advertising on LinkedIn with the goal of driving higher qualified leads, start testing Lead Gen Forms. And if you’re already using Lead Gen Forms, try testing customized ad copy on your form that’s tailored to the copy on your LinkedIn ad.

New to LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and want to start testing? Check out our blog on getting started with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. Or are you brand new to LinkedIn advertising? Reach out – we’re here to help!


The Secret to Agency Life Success – Chris Long // Go Fish Digital

Episode Overview: A key aspect to developing a career in SEO is finding the right agency for you that is credible and offers plentiful opportunities to explore. Join host Ben as he continues his discussion with Go Fish Digital’s Senior SEO Manager Chris Long reviewing the best practices for working for, or with, an SEO agency and how to find one that aligns with your career goals.

Summary

  • “So, you want to partner with an agency that’s going to first, talk about your specific needs. What do you think is the biggest issue with your SEO? Do you have a problem with users generated content or something like that? So, an agency that really takes the time to dive in to the problems that you specifically think are the biggest problems with your SEO, as well, agencies that are going to give you an indication of priority on things.” – Chris Long, on how to evaluate whether an agency is right for you.
  • On partnering with a credible agency: “One, for me personally, I would want to partner with an agency that kind of thinks like I think, right? Are they data focused? Have they written things before and that kind of showed that their data focus? Maybe you can look for, ‘Hey, does this agency speak at industry events like SMX or MozCon or Pubcon?’ If you see that a lot of their employees are speaking to those events, it could be kind of a good sign that they may be a little bit more of a credible agency.”
  • On the most surprising aspect of working with an agency – “I would think the constant mind shifting that it takes to put yourself from one client to another within the same day. Right? So, in the same eight to 10 hour period, we might have to think about five to 10 different clients, and whether that’s thinking about a particular implementation, whether that’s popping on a client call and actually getting an ID and findings, this kind of ability to constantly shift your thinking from one problem to the next.”

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                 Welcome to agency month on The Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this month we’re discussing the best practices for working for, or with, an SEO agency. Joining us again today is Chris Long who is the senior manager of SEO at Go Fish Digital, which is a leading agency for online reputation management, providing their clients with expertise in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing and more. Yesterday Chris and I have talked about his career and how he’s gone from entering the working world to growing up in an agency, and leading SEO at Go Fish Digital. Today we’re going to talk more about what life is really like working inside an agency. Okay. On with the show. Here’s my conversation with Chris Long, senior manager of SEO at Go Fish Digital. Chris, welcome back to The Voices of Search podcast.

Chris:               Yeah, I appreciate you having me back Ben.

Ben:                 Great to have you here. Yesterday we talked a lot about you and your career and you’ve got a quickly developing career. You’ve gone from breaking into the working world, to working for multiple agencies at this point and also specializing in SEO. This month we’re talking a lot about what life is like working with and finding the right agencies, and I wanted to take a second and flip the table around and talk about what life is like finding the right agency and building great agency relationships from the agency partner perspective. You’ve had a handful of experiences going through this. Let’s talk a little bit about how you figure out what the right agency for you is and what to expect when you’re actually starting. Give us your thoughts on evaluating an agency from an agency employee’s perspective.

Chris:               Right. Yeah, so that’s a great question. I mean, I would say one of the biggest things for people evaluating an agency would be, “how does that agency specifically try to tailor their solutions to your problems?” I would think you would maybe want to partner with an agency that is just going to give you this blanket advice. “Hey, you need to fix all of these redirects. You need to low index all of these pages.” It’s a very kind of boilerplate solution. I think one thing that sets us a bit apart is that we try to come up with very custom solutions. So you want to partner with an agency that’s going to first, talk about your specific needs. What do you think is the biggest issue with your SEO? Do you have a problem with users generated content or something like that? So an agency that really takes the time to dive in to the problems that you specifically think are the biggest problems with your SEO, as well, agencies that are going to give you an indication of priority on things.

Chris:               One of the most dangerous things of I think a lot of a lot of SEO audits is, once again, they’re fairly boilerplate, right? There’s a lot of tools out there that can say, “Go fix these 256 meta descriptions.” But the issue might be is there could be way higher priority things to fix that might be more specific to your situation. So finding an agency that’s going to tailor solutions to your problems, and to give you an idea of kind of the priority on things and be able to confidently tell you why they’re making certain recommendations and why they’re higher priority.

Ben:                 So for sure I understand why it’s important for the in-house SEO, or marketer, to make sure that their agency is customizing their solutions. But let’s play out a scenario here and I want your take on how to evaluate the validity of an agency from somebody who’s worked in them. Hypothetically, let’s say Go Fish Digital just ceased operations tomorrow, and you’re out in the world and you’re starting to look for a new agency. What are some of the things that you’re looking for to evaluate whether it’s a credible agency as a place of employment?

Chris:               Yeah, so there’s numerous things. One, for me personally, I would want to partner with an agency that kind of thinks like I think, right? Are they data focused? Have they written things before and that kind of showed that their data focus? So, you could spend a lot of time reading their blogs to get an idea of kind of how their process seems and an idea, of hopefully, a post on how the agency thinks. As well, things that kind of establish some form of credibility. Maybe you can look for, “Hey, does this agency speak at industry events like SMX or MozCon or Pubcon?” If you see that a lot of their employees are speaking to those events, it could be kind of a good sign that they may be a little bit more of a credible agency.

Chris:               Taking a look at the brands that they work with on their websites. Also kind of another sign of credibility there. I think that personally, the number one would be reading posts, seeing do they think like I think, and as well if you’re interested in looking at another agency, I think one of the best solutions is to reach out to members who used to work there for their opinion on the agency. What was it like? What was the culture like? Especially if they have a new role, they’re a little more likely to be less bias and give you an honest and genuine answer.

Ben:                 The culture is obviously a very important part. You mentioned a couple of different important aspects here. One, how much credibility does the agency have? Do they think like you think? And also the culture. As you’re evaluating the culture of an agency, how much do you look for who your direct manager is, what the brand is, or who the leadership is? How do you prioritize those three things?

Chris:               Sure, so I think the most important of those three would be one, who your direct management would be, the person that you’re going to be working with and interfacing day to day. That’s probably going to have one of the biggest impacts in terms of your quality of life at work, but two definitely, who the overall ownership, and I truly believe that kind of everything trickles down from there, right? That the owners or partners, they’re going to set the tone for the culture and if that vibe isn’t as positive, then I think it’s going to be reflected in the rest of the company. However, vice versa, the owners or partners can set definitely a great culture, a great vibe for the company, and I think it does affect and reaches the rest of management all the way down to maybe more entry level employees.

Ben:                 One of the things, and this isn’t agency specific, but I think that organizations do take on the culture of their founders, right? It all starts with them and grows from there. Generally when you’re working for an agency, the founders are out shaking the trees, trying to drum up new business, right? Working on strategic problems and they’re very infrequently primary operators in the company. With limited time and exposure to them, how do you evaluate your connection with an agency founder?

Chris:               Yeah, so there’s multiple ways to do it. One in terms of just seeing how they think, I mean a lot of agencies, while they might be 50, 100, 200 people now, that wasn’t always the case, right? So a lot of times there is evidence out there online of previous publications that they’ve written for, previous speaking engagements that they’ve had, maybe they were doing that stuff to generate new business before it started happening a little bit more automatically for the company.

Chris:               So you can start to still look for previous work from agency owners like that, to see if there’s a connection between you and the agency. As well, going back to reaching out to former employees, while a lot of people might not have day to day direct access with kind of ownership, they likely still have had quite a few interactions with them, and they will probably be able to tell you, “Hey, here’s what I thought of the owner, here’s what I thought of leadership,” based on maybe a little bit more limited interactions. There’s definitely still ways to get that information despite maybe less ease of access.

Ben:                 Not all agencies are created the same. Once you feel like there is a cultural fit and you’re thinking about evaluating an agency role, how do you understand how to make a fit and carve out a role that works for you? It seems like you’ve done a great job of this at Go Fish Digital, you’ve had multiple promotions and new iterations of your role. When you do find the right agency, how do you figure out where you can make a difference in the organization?

Chris:               Yeah, I mean I truly believe it’s just whatever interests you, right? Whatever you find yourself doing more often. Whichever tasks or initiatives that you wake up on Monday and actually look forward to doing, and don’t push off till maybe a day or two later. Those are the things that you should probably be going more down the rabbit hole with, right? There’s always value in having someone with an extremely deep expertise. That’s one, what truly interests you. Second, finding the opportunities or gaps within the organization, right? If you can kind of look around and look at your organization’s work as a whole, just thinking to yourself, “Hey, what could we improve on?” Maybe your organization doesn’t have strong SEO visualizations, but that you can be the person to actually go out and use something to figure out how to make those SEO visualizations, and there’s value in that.

Chris:               So one, figure out what you like to do, and then two, figuring out gaps between what the organization already has and ways that you know, you could add value in that specific area. Those are probably two of the best ways to kind of make a defined role. Sometimes it just takes just kind of that initial impetus to become that person. I remember one of my first months of the agency, I took on a structured data initiative for our client, right? All it was I was going to invest just a little bit more time into figuring out how to make this structure data implementation work. We ended up getting it implemented and had success for the clients. Kind of from that point on I became known as the structure data guy, right? So sometimes it just starts for that initial impetus, until you can start to be able to be defined by more of a specialty within the organization.

Ben:                 I think that’s one of the things that impresses me the most about your experience, is that you started off very broadly working in digital marketing, realized very quickly that SEO was a place that you wanted to specialize, and then have become the SEO guy within your agency within a relatively short period of time. It’s not always as easy for the rest of us to figure out what our niche is, how were you able to find that fit and brand yourself and market yourself within the agencies so successfully?

Chris:               Yeah, so I think it just comes back to finding your true interests. When I first started what I, and a lot of the other SEOs and agency noticed is, I was doing a lot of the architectural tasks. I naturally would gravitate toward the crawling and indexing and I really got excited about anything that we could scale, right? Anytime we could make this one change in this one place and it’s going to apply to thousands or millions of pages. That was what really interested me. So by knowing that’s what I kind of gravitated toward, that helped me carve out my niche because then I started doing more tasks based on that. Started to look at innovative solutions were we do stuff related to call it an indexing, but we don’t do a lot of stuff maybe related to crawler depth, and I became the person to kind of jump on that. Then figure out, “Okay, how can we take a look at this specific architectural element from maybe a different perspective? And how can the agency go deeper there?”

Chris:               So really it was just kind of a matter of finding the things that naturally interested me and just asking questions from other SEOs, other SEOs have an expertise in something you’re interested around, not being afraid to go out and ask questions, “Hey, how did you implement this structure data for our clients? How did it work out? What were the results?” Constantly being curious about things that you can see yourself growing into is highly beneficial. I think that’s also really useful advice is, within an organization, don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially when you see things are going well for a client, ask questions, whoever’s on that account, ask what they think is making it so successful. Don’t be afraid to go out and kind of ask those questions within an organization.

Ben:                 The last question I have for you, having worked at agencies your entire career, what is the thing that you think that in-house SEOs would find most surprising about what the lifestyle and benefits of working at an agency are?

Chris:               Yeah, that’s a good question. You probably have to ask one of them. I would think the constant mind shifting that it takes to put yourself from one client to another within the same day. Right? So in the same eight to 10 hour period, we might have to think about five to 10 different clients, and whether that’s thinking about a particular implementation, whether that’s popping on a client call and actually getting an ID and findings, this kind of ability to constantly shift your thinking from one problem to the next. I think, that would be the most surprising.

Chris:               I think that can be one of the more mentally challenging things with an agency side, is constantly having to navigate between all of these different clients, and make sure that not only are you able to think about all these different aspects in different ways, but do it very quickly where you can jump on a call and then instantly shift from thinking about one client’s organization and SEO challenges to another with about five minutes in between. So I think that’s probably one of the things I think in-house people would be most surprised about.

Ben:                 The context switching is something that definitely surprised me. Moving from my in-house roles to working in a service based business. I think that’s great advice. Chris, I appreciate you coming on the show and telling us a little bit about what life is like at an agency, what to look for in an agency, and how they really work from the inside. Thanks for being our guest.

Chris:               Yeah, I appreciate you so much for having me, Ben. I hope we get to do it again soon.

Ben:                 Okay, and that wraps up this episode of The Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Chris Long, Senior Manager of SEO at Go Fish Digital. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Chris, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is gofishchris, or you could visit his company’s website, which is gofishdigital.com.

Ben:                 Just one link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes, the contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on The Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media, our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter, or you can reach out to me directly. My handle is Benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                 If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes four to five times a week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and check back in your feed soon. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Got a Remote Job in SEO

Ever since I started college, I knew I wanted to work remotely. I hated the idea of having to work in an office; it felt restricting and, well, boring.

This became especially clear when I started my first job: a cubicle farm position at a failing software company. I was supposed to be a marketing coordinator, but there was never any work to do. I savored the two hours I was alone in the mornings. Sure, I never had to work hard, but being chained to a desk and surrounded by people was hell for an introvert.

Just a year later, I (along with my entire team) were laid off due to a merger. I swore I was never going back to an office job again.

By some stroke of luck, the kind folks at LSG took me in. I knew virtually nothing about SEO, but I had taken a college course on it once and I was pretty good at focusing when I was by myself. And God, I was willing to do anything to work remotely!

This year will mark two years working at Local SEO Guide. Although it’s not what I had originally intended to do, I can’t tell you how happy I feel that this is the way things turned out. My remote job in SEO is freeing and fulfilling. I don’t feel trapped anymore, and it lets me be part of a team without having to drive to work or sacrifice my introverted nature. The job definitely came with its share of surprises, and I wanted to share some things I wish I had known at the beginning.

Leave Your Degree at the Door

All of my coworkers come from vastly different backgrounds. We have an ex-political scientist, a phone sales guy, a bridal shop co-owner, a bicycle mechanic, a landscaper, and a retail employee in our ranks. Very few of my coworkers had a background in SEO before joining us, and even fewer of us originally aspired to become SEOs. But here we are, working with Fortune 500’s and helping huge companies get even huger. Our pasts don’t matter; only the results that we’re able to bring.

Even if you think you know SEO, every company does it differently. What one company says is right is going to be completely backwards to another. In a sense, this makes learning SEO easier for someone who originally knows nothing; they aren’t going to be stuck in their old ways.

Obviously, going to college for SOMETHING helps, but it’s not always necessary. Your attitude and ability to stick to your word is far more important. As a result, SEO can be a great job for people going through a major career change.

Of course, this is completely dependent on the company. There are, I’m sure, plenty of companies that require all of their employees to come from marketing backgrounds!

SEO Isn’t Cool (And That’s Okay)

No one is going to know what SEO is when you tell them what you do. Your friends are not going to think it’s cool. 

For the sake of not making us all look stupid, please don’t call yourself a ninja, or a guru, or whatever other stupid title you think is going to make your job sound more interesting than it is. You are not in a band. You are not the owner of a store that sells tiny hats for dogs. You are a person that helps people’s websites “go up on Google”. And that is nothing to be ashamed of! 

I feel like American culture bases our identities too much on what we do to make a living. When you meet someone at a party, one of the first things they’re going to ask to get to know you is, “What do you do?”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people to think of me as “an SEO”. I want them to think of me as someone fun to be around, that enjoys learning 3D modeling and watching true crime documentaries.

Of course I could’ve pursued a cool job in 3D modeling if I’d worked for it, but honestly? I don’t want to. If you work doing what you love, what you love becomes work. And I like my hobbies.

Forget the 9-5

This is completely dependent on the company, but at my job it doesn’t necessarily matter how long you work. What matters is that you got the job(s) done like you said you would. Accountability and the ability to be someone that the team can rely on is crucial in a work from home job, especially in a work from home agency job.

If you come from a cubicle farm job (like I did) or a retail environment (like one of my coworkers did), this can be a very bizarre change. In an ultra-corporate or hourly environment, you’re expected to “serve your time”. This is also known as the “if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean” mentality or the “time-based” work style. It doesn’t matter what you get done, because you’re just gonna have to keep going. My job in SEO isn’t like that–it’s “task based”. If I get my work done early, I can go do whatever I want. I’m still expected to be available, but I’m not expected to engage in “busywork”.

Personally, I absolutely adore this work style. I feel like it encourages hard work and finding shortcuts and ways to do things faster. Ever heard the quote “Always choose a lazy man to do a hard job, because a lazy man will find an easy way to do it”? It’s true. And the same lazy person will sit for eight hours at an eight hour job because they’re rewarded for serving their time, not working hard. 

Of course, a task-based work style can have its disadvantages. It can be hard to break the habit of striving for eight hours of work, and it’s surprisingly easy to miss deadlines when you work this way. Missing deadlines is a huge no-no at an agency job, so working in a time-based style can ironically result in having to work longer hours to make up for it. (Personally, I think more companies should switch to the task-based style!)

Time Management is #1

What you know about SEO doesn’t matter if you have poor time management skills. I firmly believe that time management is the number one skill for succeeding in a remote and/or task-based environment. 

At a remote job, especially, no one is there watching over your shoulder to make sure you get your work done. Sure, this is a blessing–no one likes to be micromanaged–but it also means you have to kick your own ass if you procrastinate for too long. It’s a double-edged sword. This makes it a great job for people with self-motivated, goal-driven personalities, but a poor fit for people who tend to be easily distracted and disorganized.

Conclusion

If you’re considering a job in SEO (or working remotely in general) I hope you found this article helpful. I know a new job can cause a lot of anxiety, especially when you’re entering a new type of work or have never worked remotely before. 

SEO and working remotely aren’t for everyone; it takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to do successfully. But for the people that are built for it, it’s a pretty awesome job.


What is SEO Content? How to Write Content that Ranks

In the past 12 months, we’ve published 79 pieces of “SEO content” on the Ahrefs Blog. 96% of them rank in Google and get organic traffic month after month.

One post even ranks for 10,000 keywords and gets over 57,000 monthly organic visits:

How did we do this? By taking an SEO-driven approach to our content.

In this guide, we’ll run through the 8‑step process we use to write content that ranks.

But first, the basics…

What is SEO content?

SEO content is, quite simply, content that’s designed to rank in search engines like Google.

You might think that all content is SEO content, but that’s not the case. For example, we have a lot of studies on our blog, and most of them get little or no organic traffic.

Does this mean those posts failed?

Not at all. We published these posts to bring new insights to the SEO community—not to rank in Google.

It’s also important to note that any kind of content can be “SEO content”: product pages, landing pages, interactive tools, and even videos. But when most people talk about “SEO content,” they’re talking about blog posts.

For that reason, that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.

But before we talk about how to write posts that rank, let’s make sure we understand why this type of SEO content matters.

Why is SEO content important?

No matter what your business does, you can only get so much organic traffic to your “money pages.”

For example, we have five landing pages—one for each of our main SEO tools:

2 ahrefs landing pages

2 ahrefs landing pages

In total, these pages get around 25,000 monthly visits from organic search, and we rank in the top five for all of our main keywords:

3 ahrefs rankings

3 ahrefs rankings

But, these pages account for less than 4% of search traffic to our site:

5 ahrefs traffic

How? Because we’ve also written hundreds of pieces of SEO content for our blog.

In total, these posts get over 300,000 monthly visits from organic search alone:

6 ahrefs blog traffic

6 ahrefs blog traffic

If we didn’t do this, we’d be leaving a lot of money on the table because potential customers aren’t always searching for our products directly.

Many are just looking for a solution to a problem that our tools happen to solve.

For example, we have a competitive research tool called Site Explorer. One of the things it does is show who’s linking to any website or web page.

But, potential customers might not know we offer this product and instead search for something like “who links to my website.”

So we decided to write a blog post about that:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.30.07

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.30.07

Writing “SEO content” like this is important because it brings more potential customers to our site.

Make sense?

Good. Now let’s talk about how to actually write this stuff.

How to write SEO content

Not all blog posts are SEO content, and pouring your heart and soul into your content doesn’t guarantee rankings and traffic.

Just look at the stats for one of my favorite blog posts:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.33.49

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.33.49

It’s 7,600 words long, has been shared over 50,000 times, has fantastic illustrations, and is super well-written. It’s a masterpiece.

But look again at how much traffic it gets from search engines:

34. Measly. Visits. A. Month.

So, if you want your post to get organic traffic, you need to write it around a proven SEO framework.

What is that framework? It looks something like this:

  1. Find a proven topic
  2. Analyze search intent
  3. Write an outline
  4. Write a draft
  5. Edit your draft
  6. Make your content visually appealing
  7. Write a compelling title and description
  8. Upload your post

Let’s go through each of those steps in more detail.

1. Find a proven topic

Before you even think about putting pen to paper, you need to find a relevant topic with “traffic potential.”

To do this, think about broad topics that your potential customers might be searching for.

If you sell baking supplies online, then this might be recipes for baked goods, cookware reviews, or other things related to baking.

From there, search for those broad topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and then check the “Phrase match” report to see keyword ideas:

7 phrase match ke

7 phrase match ke

Because this gives us a lot of keyword ideas (almost seven million in this case!), let’s filter out super-competitive competitive keywords and those with little or no search volume.

8 phrase match filters

8 phrase match filters

Right away, we see some good topic ideas like banana bread recipe, apple pie recipe, and pizza dough recipe, each with tons of monthly searches.

9 keyword ideas

9 keyword ideas

But here’s the thing with search volume: it can be misleading.

For example, take a look at the search volumes for these two keywords:
10 search volume

10 search volume

Because “butter cake recipe” has almost five times more searches than “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe,” you’d expect this topic to have the most traffic potential.

However, if we look at the top-ranking page, we see that it gets an estimated 2,383 US visits a month from organic search….

11 butter cake recipe traffic

11 butter cake recipe traffic

… whereas the top-ranking page for “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe” gets more:

12 chocolate chip cookie cape recipe traffic

12 chocolate chip cookie cape recipe traffic

This happens because the top-ranking page ranks for—and gets traffic from—more queries.

So, before you settle on a topic, always look at the estimated traffic to the top-ranking page to get a better sense of true traffic potential.

2. Analyze search intent

Search engines like Google have invested billions of dollars into understanding the true intent behind searches.

This is how they’re able to return relevant results—even for vague queries.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.38.24

If you’re writing SEO content, this is important, because if it doesn’t align with search intent, your chances of ranking are slim to none.

But, how can you figure out search intent?

The answer is to take clues from the top-ranking results by analyzing what we call the three C’s of search intent.

These are:

Content type

Are the top-ranking pages blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages, or something else?

If they’re not mostly blog posts, then go back to step one and choose a different topic.

Content format

What type of posts rank? Are they how-to’s, list-style posts, opinion pieces, news articles, something else?

For “best baking pans,” they’re all lists:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.44.24

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.44.24

Content angle

Look at the page titles to understand more about the type of person searching for this. Are they a beginner or an expert? What do they value? Are they looking for a quick solution or something more in-depth?

For example, many of the pages ranking for “french bread recipe” pitch how easy the recipe is:

14 french bread recipe results

14 french bread recipe results

For flat dough bread recipe, speed seems to be what appeals to searchers:

Recommended reading: Search Intent: The Overlooked ‘Ranking Factor’ You Should Be Optimizing for in 2019

3. Write a data-driven outline

The average top-ranking page ranks for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords in the top 10.

00 average number also rank for keywords2

00 average number also rank for keywords2

For that reason, it pays to know which other keywords the top-ranking pages also rank for when creating your outline—so you can rank for them too.

How can you find them?

Paste the URL of the top-ranking page into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, then go to the Organic keywords report. To weed out irrelevant keywords, filter for keywords where the page ranks in position ten or higher.

16 organic keywords position 10

16 organic keywords position 10

You’ll probably notice that many of these are synonyms or less popular ways to search for much the same thing, but some should give you insight into what searchers want to see from this page.  

For example, we see that the top-ranking page for “flatbread dough recipe” also ranks for things like “no yeast flatbread,” “quick flatbread pizza recipe,” “homemade flatbread”:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.02.27

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.02.27

Note that you shouldn’t stuff these words and phrases into your post, but instead use them to iron out the angle of your content and create a rough outline.

For example, if we were writing a flatbread dough recipe, we’d probably want to mention speed in the intro, and we might want to have separate sections on making the flatbread with and without yeast.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.05.07

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.05.07

If you don’t use Ahrefs, then you can do the same thing by looking at the top-ranking pages and using some common sense.

4. Write a draft

Good news: It’s finally time to put pen to paper and draft your post.

Because this doesn’t have much to do with SEO, we won’t dwell on this process too much. Just remember that the aim here isn’t to write a perfect draft right off the bat, but rather to turn your thoughts into something tangible to work with.

Screen Recording 2020 01 31 at 07.19 pm

Screen Recording 2020 01 31 at 07.19 pm

Here are a couple of tips for doing this as quickly as possible:

Write as you speak

Most of the best blog posts are written in an informal, conversational tone, so there’s no need to agonize over every word. Just write as you speak.

Don’t worry if it sounds silly; you can correct this in the next step.

Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is simple: you set a 25-minute timer, and a goal you want to achieve in that time.  

For drafting blog posts, a good goal is a certain number of words.

Most people type at around 40 words per minute, so that’s 1,000 words in 25 minutes. However, drafting a blog post is more mentally taxing than just typing, so let’s assume 30–40% efficiency, or 300–400 words every 25 minutes.

Take a short break after 25 minutes, then repeat.

Continue this process until you have a complete draft.

Sidenote.

Test your typing speed here. That way, you can set a more custom goal.

5. Edit your draft

Pulling readers into the flow of your content is important if you want them to stick around—which you do.

Not only is this good for conversions (which is ultimately the point of ranking), but it also has a positive impact on user engagement metrics like time on page, dwell time, and bounce rate, which some SEOs believe may indirectly influence rankings.

Here are three things to focus on:

Correct spelling and grammatical errors

Most word processors and writing apps have spell check built-in, so you don’t have to be a genius to get things right. Just right-click and choose the right spelling.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.21.58

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.21.58

For grammar, run your draft through a tool called Grammarly. This will tell you about misplaced commas and sentences that don’t make sense.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.22.49

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.22.49

Make sure it flows

If your content sounds unnatural or robotic, now is the time to rephrase.

Keep it simple

Most Americans read below an eighth-grade reading level. If you’re using complex sentences and words, that’s going to confuse readers, and they won’t hesitate to hit the back button.

Solve this by running your draft through Hemingway.

This is a free browser-based tool that helps you simplify your content using more straightforward sentences, paragraphs, and words.

17 hemingway

17 hemingway

Get feedback

Sure, it’s soul-crushing to hear that your content isn’t quite up to scratch. But the truth is that the opinion of others can help improve things exponentially.

Send your draft to a friend, tell them to be honest, iron out any creases.

ahrefs blog post comments

ahrefs blog post comments

6. Make your content visually appealing

Nobody likes reading a wall of text. If you’ve written more than a few sentences, then you should work to break up the copy.

The most obvious way to do this is with images.

They don’t have to be anything special. You’ll notice that a lot of our posts on the Ahrefs Blog include annotated screenshots like this one:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.42.56

Not only does this make things easier to skim, but it also helps to demonstrate what we’re trying to explain.

You can also use videos to do this:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.43.47

Many studies show that visuals help people understand and comprehend content, so including useful images and videos can improve user satisfaction—which we know is important to Google.

Including images and videos can also help your content rank in Google’s image and video tabs.

Don’t overlook this. We’ve had over 5,500 visits from Google Images in the past three months…

18 image clicks

18 image clicks

… and 32,000 from video results:

19 video clicks

19 video clicks

But images and videos don’t always make sense. So another thing you can do is break lengthy chunks of text into subsections using H2-H6 headers.

7. Write a compelling meta title and description

Search engines see more than just the text on the page. They look at metadata in the page’s code to learn more about your content.

The two more important pieces of metadata are your meta title and description. Both of these show up in Google’s search results, and they’re effectively your sales pitch to searchers. Use them to explain why they should click and read your post.

title and description

title and description

Sidenote.

 Google sometimes rewrites these two things, so what you set isn’t always what shows up in the SERP. But it’s still best to set them.

This is another place it’s useful to match search intent.

Whatever searchers value, pitch it in your title tag. Just make sure it’s still an accurate description of your content. Do the same with your meta description.

This will entice more clicks on your page in the search results, which leads to more traffic.

Some SEOs believe that clickthrough rate also impacts rankings, but Google says this isn’t the case because the metric is too noisy.

Either way. SEO is not just about rankings, but also getting clicks from searchers.

8. Upload your post

Nothing to do with SEO, but here’s a tip to save you some serious time if you use WordPress: Write your content in Google Docs and upload it with Wordable.

It takes just one click to send your content—complete with images—to WordPress. It’s ready for publishing in seconds.

wordable

wordable

This is what we use to upload every post to the Ahrefs Blog.

Is “content” enough to rank?

Google tells us that the two most important ranking factors are content and links.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8VnZCcl9J4&feature=youtu.be&t=1820

So, while creating perfectly optimized content is often enough to rank for less competitive topics, links are still important for those harder topics that a lot of brands want to rank for.

But here’s the thing: content and links are somewhat intertwined.

In other words, nobody wants to link to poor or mediocre content; they link to content that’s valuable for their visitors.

While link building is a separate—and complex—topic of its own, there are ways to use your content to improve your ability to win links.

1. Make it the go-to resource on a topic

Pull this off, and people are more likely to link to your guide over others.

We did this with our guide to Google search operators, which has attracted backlinks from over 560 websites:

20 referring domains google search operators

20 referring domains google search operators

2. Include unique data

Having unique data means people have to cite you as the source when quoting that data.

This is why our studies usually get tons of links:

21 referring domains studies

21 referring domains studies

3. Make it as accessible as possible

People aren’t going to link to something they find confusing or difficult to read. (This is another reason why step #6 is so important).

Final thoughts

Following a proven SEO framework to write content makes sense, and it certainly improves your chances of ranking. But it’s important to remember that things don’t always work out, even if you do everything “right.”

Just look at traffic to our post on influencer marketing:

22 influencer marketing no traffic

22 influencer marketing no traffic

It’s a proven topic, the post aligns with search intent, and it covers the topic comprehensively… yet it doesn’t even rank in the top 100.

If this happens, it’s not the end of the world. Just rewrite and republish the content and try again.

We did this with our guide to driving more traffic to your website, and traffic and rankings went through the roof:

23 more organic traffic rewrite

23 more organic traffic rewrite

You can also rewrite content when traffic starts to drop.

This is what we did with our list of top Google searches:

24 google searches rewrite

24 google searches rewrite

Did we miss anything important in this guide? Give me a shout on Twitter.


17 Actionable Content Marketing Tips

This is a list of actionable content marketing tips.

In fact, these same strategies helped grow my blog to 304,265 monthly visits:

Backlinko – Monthly visits

So if you want more traffic from every blog post that you publish, you’ll love this list of tips, techniques and strategies.

Let’s get started.

1. Publish “X vs. Y” Posts

“X vs. Y” posts are posts like:

  • “Convertkit vs. MailChimp”
  • “Paleo vs. Keto”
  • “UberEats vs. Postmates”

And “X vs. Y” posts are a GREAT way to get more traffic to your site.

Why?

First, X vs. Y keywords don’t have a lot of SEO competition.

For example, I recently published a post optimized around the keyword “Ahrefs vs. SEMRush”.

Backlinko – Ahrefs vs. SEMrush post

Sure enough, that page rocked to the top of Google within a few weeks.

SERP for Ahrefs vs. SEMrush

Second, people that search for “X vs. Y” keywords tend to be pretty advanced.

Think about it this way:

Somebody searching for “Ahrefs vs. SEMRush” already knows about SEO. They’re just looking for the best tool.

Which is why CPCs on “X vs. Y” keywords tend to be super high.

Aweber vs. Mailchimp – CPC

This is an EASY way to get more replies to your outreach emails.

All you need to do is add links to your social profiles in your signature.

Add links to your social profiles in your signature

Seriously. That’s it.

And there’s data to back this up.

When we teamed up with Pitchbox to analyze over 10 million outreach emails, we discovered that social profile links increased response rates by up to 23.4%.

Linking to Social Profiles May Slightly Improve Outreach Response Rates

Our data also showed that adding a link to your Instagram profile seems to make the biggest difference.

Links To Instagram, LinkedIn And Twitter May Lead To More Outreach Replies

Which leads us to…

3. Use The Animalz Revive Tool

I boosted my organic traffic by 260% simply by updating and relaunching an old post.

Organic traffic boost for White Hat SEO

Question is:

How do you know which posts to work on first?

Enter: The (free) Animalz Revive tool.

Animalz revive tool

This tool uses your Google Analytics to find pages with the biggest traffic drop.

Animalz revive – Advice

When you find a page that’s dropping, you have two options:

You can revamp and relaunch the post like it’s brand new.

For example, we update and relaunch our “Guide to SEO This Year” every November.

Backlinko – SEO This Year post

Or, you can quietly update your content. In fact, last year we gave our guest posting guide a much-needed update.

Backlinko – The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

And that single update boosted search engine traffic to that page by 17.68%.

Search traffic boost for guest blogging guide

4. Try The PBC Formula

Your blog post introductions are HUGE.

After all, they’re the first thing people see when they land on your post.

Unfortunately, most blog post intros are way too long.

Long post intro

Well, I recently developed a short blog post intro formula that works GREAT.

I call it: “The PBC Formula”.

The PBC Formula

Here’s the full breakdown.

First, you quickly Preview what your post is all about.

Blog post intro – Preview

Then, you list out a bunch of Benefits that someone will get from reading your post.

Blog post intro – Benefits

Finally, cap things off with a Call-To-Action.

Blog post intro – CTA

That’s all there is to it.

5. Publish “Power Posts”

When we joined forces with BuzzSumo to analyze nearly 1 billion articles, one finding stood out:

A very small number of “Power Posts” drive the majority of social sharing online.

Power Posts

Our data showed that 1.3% of the articles published are responsible for 50% of social media shares.

I call these high-performing articles “Power Posts”.

To be clear:

There’s no formula for creating content that will get shared like crazy.

(If there was, everyone would do it 😀 )

But when you publish epic Power Posts you increase the odds that people will share your stuff.

For example, we recently published a Power Post called: “How to Write a Blog Post: The Definitive Guide”.

Backlinko – Write a Blog Post Guide

This single post took 50 hours of work.

  • 20 hours to write the post
  • 15 hours to design illustrations and visuals
  • 10 hours to take and edit screenshots
  • 5 hours to code and assemble the page

But in the end, that hard work paid off.

Our Power Post brought in 10,555 visitors in the first week alone.

Write a Blog Post – First week visitors

And a good chunk of those visitors were from all the shares we got on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Write a Blog Post Guide – Shares

In fact, that single page has 5369 total social shares.

Write a Blog Post Guide – Social shares

Let’s face it:

Most topics are SUPER competitive.

For example, take a super niche keyword like “seo site check up”.

According to Ahrefs, this keyword only gets 90 searches per month.

Ahrefs – "seo site check up" search volume

And it has a keyword difficulty score of 86.

Ahrefs – "seo site check up" – Keyword Difficulty

It’s the same story with most topics nowadays.

By the time you write an article about something, there are already hundreds (or even thousands) of posts out there on that topic.

What’s the solution?

Write about trending topics.

Trending topics are popular topics that aren’t super competitive (yet).

And if you want to find trending topics, I recommend checking out a free tool called ExplodingTopics.com.

Exploding Topics – Homepage

This tool lists out topics that are growing fast in 29 different categories.

Exploding Topics – Keyword overview

That way, you can pounce on these topics before they really take off.

7. Include Native Content With Social Shares

“Share your content on social media” used to be a useful content marketing tip.

Not anymore.

Today, most social media algorithms (like Facebook) bury posts that send users off of their platform.

Social Media Algorithms Prefer Native Content

While there’s no way to totally get around this, I recently found a little loophole that does help:

Post native content with your link.

For example, my social media posts used to just be my blog post title and a link.

Social share with link only

And these posts would get BURIED.

Today, I write a little bit of native content to go along with the post.

This native content gives social media algorithms what it wants (original content and engagement).

And once the post starts to spread around the platform, you get what you want (more traffic to your post).

For example, this LinkedIn post got over 41k views.

LinkedIn post views

And that’s mostly due to the fact that the post wasn’t just a link to my site.

My post had a little bit of valuable content to go along with my link.

Valuable content in LinkedIn post

8. Use Padlock Posts

You may have noticed these greyed-out posts in the Backlinko blog feed.

Padlock post on Backlinko

Internally, we call these “Padlock Posts”.

They’re basically normal blog posts that only Backlinko email subscribers can get access to.

And when someone clicks on a Padlock Post, a little popup appears that asks for their email.

And while it’s still early, these seem to be working REALLY well.

In fact, this Padlock Post has brought in 1,614 email subscribers so far.

Padlock post – Email subscribers

Not bad.

9. Include a Keyword in Your URL

Keyword-rich URLs aren’t just for on-page SEO.

(Although they definitely help with that too).

As it turns out, including a keyword in your URL can increase your organic click-through-rate by up to 45%.

Keyword-Rich URLs Correlate With A Higher Organic Click Through Rate

I should point something out:

Your URL doesn’t have to be a 1:1 match for the keyword someone’s searching for.

As long as the text in your URL is similar to the keyword, you’ll usually get a nice CTR boost.

Our method for seeing if keyword-rich URLs positively impacted CTR

For example, a few months ago I published a post called: “17 Ways to Improve SEO Rankings”.

Backlinko – Improve Your SEO post

My target keyword for that post is: “Improve SEO Rankings”.

Improve SEO Rankings – Keyword in title

Even though my URL doesn’t contain that exact term, it’s close enough.

Improve Your SEO – Keyword in URL

10. Add More Cuts to Your Video Content

People want videos that move FAST.

This is something that I struggled with when I first started shooting videos.

I wanted my videos to look “natural”. So I filmed entire YouTube videos with only one or two cuts.

And this made my videos move SUPER slow. My videos were full of “umms”, “aaahs” and “you knows” that slowed things down.

Today, my videos have 80-100 cuts each.

That way, each video moves along at a super rapid pace.

Which helps my Audience Retention stay nice and high.

YouTube video audience retention

11. Write Longer Headlines

Want to get more social shares from your content?

Try writing longer headlines.

The BuzzSumo study I mentioned earlier found that longer headlines are strongly correlated with high levels of social sharing.

This was true when we measured headline length in terms of word count:

Long Headlines Are Correlated With Increased Social Sharing

And character count:

Long Headlines (80+ Characters) Are Correlated With More Social Shares

We actually found that long headlines generate an average of 76% more shares vs. short headlines.

For example, this headline from one of our posts is 15 words.

Page Speed Stats post – Headline

Which may have helped that post rack up 2036 shares.

Page Speed Stats post – Social shares

12. Optimize Around Untapped Keywords

Most keyword research tools have the same problem:

They show everyone the exact same set of keywords!

What if there was a way to find untapped keywords that your competitors haven’t found yet?

Well, there is.

Here’s how to do it:

First, log in to the Google Keyword Planner.

Then, click on the “Start With a Website” tab.

Keyword Planner – Start with a website

And enter a competitor’s homepage…

Keyword Planner – Enter website

…or a blog post.

Keyword Planner – Enter blog post

And the tool will scan the page for keyword ideas

Ideas that most people don’t see.

Keyword Planner – Keyword ideas

Very cool.

13. Use Blog Post Templates

Templates can REALLY help you scale up your content marketing.

For example, whenever I start on a new post, I don’t open up a blank Google Doc.

Instead, I work from one of our proven blog post templates.

For example, when I sit down to write a case study, I use this PDF workbook to help me get the important parts on paper.

Case study PDF worksheet

Then, I transfer that to a Google Doc and start writing.

In fact, working from a set of templates has helped us scale up our publishing schedule. We used to publish a new post once a month. Now, we publish a new post every 2 weeks.

14. Use Emotional Titles

According to our analysis of 5 million Google search results, titles that pack an emotional punch get more clicks.

Emotional Titles Have A Higher Organic Click Through Rate

That said:

It’s possible for your titles to be TOO emotional.

That same study found that headlines with “Power Words” had a lower CTR.

Power Words In Title Tags Were Correlated With Lower Click Through Rate

So I recommend using titles that have some emotional sentiment. But if you go overboard, your CTR can start to suffer.

For example, this title is emotional. But it’s not “clickbaity”.

NerdFitness – Emotional headline

15. Optimize Around Brand Keywords

“Brand Keywords” are just like they sound:

They’re keywords optimized around brands and products.

Here’s an example of one of our posts that’s optimized around a Brand Keyword.

Backlinko – BuzzSumo Guide

So: why optimize your blog content around Brand Keywords?

Because they’re usually NOT competitive.

For example, take a keyword like “BuzzSumo”.

According to Ahrefs, that keyword gets 49K searches per month. And it has a decent CPC too.

Ahrefs – BuzzSumo – Search Volume and CPC

Despite those impressive numbers, the keyword difficulty on this term is only 13.

Ahrefs – BuzzSumo – Keyword Difficulty

The downside of Brand Keywords is that you’ll never rank #1 in Google for that term.

And depending on the SERPs for that brand keyword, you may not be able to crack the top 3.

For example, we published this guide to the Google Search Console last year.

Backlinko – Google Search Console Guide

And considering that the top 5 results are all Google.com pages, #6 is about as high as this page will ever rank.

Even so, that post still brings in 1,126 visitors per month from Google.

Google Search Console Guide – Monthly visitors

16. Tell Relatable Stories in YouTube Videos

One of the powerful things about YouTube is that it’s a very personal medium.

Unlike a blog post, someone is actually watching YOU deliver your message.

Which makes it the perfect place to take your guard down. And reveal some personal tidbits about yourself.

For example, I try to include a 30-60 second little story in every single one of my YouTube videos.

Most of these stories share how I initially struggled with the topic that I’m covering in that video.

That way, I don’t come in like some know it all.

It shows that, like anyone, I had to learn things through trial and error.

As long as these stories are short and relate to your topic, you’ll find that your audience will appreciate them.

YouTube comment relating to a story

17. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions

No, Google doesn’t use the meta description tag to understand the content on your page.

But users use your description to figure out which result to click on.

Pages With A Meta Description Have A Higher Average CTR vs. Pages Without A Description

Now:

The copy in your meta tag will depend a lot on the page.

But here’s one template that tends to work well:

Meta Description Template Formula

And here’s an example of that template in action.

Meta description formula in action

Bonus #1: Reverse Engineer Your Competition

There’s a place for originality.

And creative thinking.

But there’s also a place for straight up copying what your competitors are doing.

And you don’t need their Google Analytics password to do it either.

In fact, there are a bunch of awesome content marketing tools that will show you what’s already working for someone else.

If your main focus is on link building, Detailed.com shows you where the top blogs in almost every niche get their links from.

Hubspot links from Detailed

And if you want to see a specific site’s most-shared content, BuzzSumo is the tool for you.

BuzzSumo – Backlinko, most shared content

Or maybe you want to see the pages on a site that bring in the most organic traffic. Well Ahrefs can hook you up with that info.

Ahrefs – Top pages by organic traffic

Bonus #2: Create Stats Pages

Stats Pages are a great way to build backlinks without needing to do a bunch of outreach.

Here’s why:

Stats Pages are optimized around “[Topic] + Stats” keywords.

And who tends to search for “[Topic] + Stats” keywords?

That’s right: bloggers and journalists!

And when they use one of your stats in their article, they’ll usually link back to your stats page.

For example, we published this list of email marketing stats a few months ago.

Backlinko – Email Marketing Stats post

And it quickly hit the first page for keywords that bloggers and journalists search for (like “email marketing statistics”).

SERP – Email Marketing Statistics

Which helped it pick up some solid links, like this one:

Email Marketing Stats – Backlink

Nice.

What Do You Think?

Now I’d like to turn things over to you:

Which content marketing tip from this list was your favorite?

Or maybe you have a tip that I didn’t cover here.

Either way, let me know and leave a comment below.


Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses

The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.

Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe.

1. Pick an effective domain strategy

A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them.

A ccTLD, for example, cocacola.fr, is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.

A subdirectory, like, nike.com/fr maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.

A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit.

All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play – ccTLDs can be particularly expensive – and your branding could be a factor too.

As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com.

Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets.

2. Conduct localized keyword research

You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country.

This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search.

Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based – what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords.

3. Don’t assume one language means one culture

One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America, and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location.

First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard. Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian Dollars.

Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there.

4. Think beyond Google

Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits.

In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60 to 77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019.

You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content – but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords – a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago.

5. Implement hreflang tags

Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, the hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.

To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like Aleda Solis’ SEO tools recommended by Moz that could help minimize mistakes.

6. Start localized link building

Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg.

Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks.

Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.

The post Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements

Yoast SEO 13.1 and WooCommerce SEO 12.6 are out today! In these two updated SEO plugins, you’ll find several fixes and enhancements, mostly focused at improving our Schema.org structured data implementation. In this post, you can learn more about the latest versions of Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO.

Yoast SEO 13.1

Back in Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched an innovative and expansive Schema.org implementation for Yoast SEO. For the first time ever, we can build a complete graph for a site and present it to a search engine on a silver platter. In subsequent releases, we fine-tuned the structured data implementation and we are continuously making improvements. You can find more technical detail on our implementation on Schema.org markup documentation.

In Yoast SEO 13.1, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and added a couple of enhancements in our Schema.org implementation. For one, we now set the Schema HowTo name and Article headline to the post title with a fallback to “No title”. In addition, we’ve added the inLanguage property to the Schema CreativeWork pieces. We try to determine the language of a specific piece of content in various ways, including the WordPress site language settings. This paves the way to handle a form of internationalization using Schema.org structured data.

WooCommerce SEO 12.6

Today, we’re also releasing WooCommerce SEO 12.6. This time, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced the Schema.org implementation. In WooCommerce SEO 12.5, we added the possibility to add a product identifier to your product, which makes it possible to output that number in the product Schema.org. In the 12.6 release, we’ve added some explanatory copy above the input fields for GTIN, ISBN et cetera to make this feature a little clearer.

At the end of this week, we’ll be raising the price of the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. Are you serious about selling online? Get it today for only $49! That’ll save you some serious $$$. Don’t miss this chance…

Another enhancement to the structured data powers is the possibility to choose if you want to display the price in Schema.org structured data and OpenGraph with tax included. Simply check the box for the setting and you’re good to go.

WooCommerce SEO now lets you choose between tax or no tax for output in structured data

For bug fixes, we fixed a bug where the internal linking and additional keyphrase functionality went missing from the product edit page. Also, we fixed a bug where the meta description and Twitter and Facebook description could still contain HTML tags and redundant spaces.

Update your plugins

That’s it for today’s releases! We’ve enhanced both Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO, while also fixing a number of bugs. Please review the changes and update the plugins at your convenience. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

The post Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements appeared first on Yoast.


We Improved Client CVR by 110% in 2019 by Doing More Smart Display

Introduction

Not to brag or anything, but I have always been a fairly early-adopter of automation tools over the course of my decade-long career. That’s why I’ve always been somewhat disappointed when they turn out to be lackluster and harm my campaign performance! I still vividly remember using early bidding algorithms (around late-2013) introduced by a previous third party management tool, only to have them tank volume and triple CPA.

Fortunately, “fool me once…” mentality has never been part of my personality. Especially in this industry, anything that was once terrible will, inevitably, eventually become good. The algorithms that Google has developed over the years are one of those things, so I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how good Smart Display has performed for my clients where I’ve deployed it.

So, as you’re thinking about your 2020 project plans, read on to learn about what Smart Display is, how it works, and what kind of performance we’ve seen across Seer’s portfolio in 2019.

Smart Display History

Smart Display campaigns were first introduced as a beta in 2016, then later officially released to the general public in mid-2017.

I launched Smart Display for one of my biggest clients shortly after the official release, in August 2017. Even in this early phase, it worked well, bringing in significant conversion volume at a CPA comparable to our best-performing search campaigns – not bad for a Display campaign. It performed so well, that what started as a 1-2 month test, was extended to the end of that year, and then made a permanent part of our marketing strategy ever since.

What We Know About How It Works

The concept is simple: you don’t set any targeting options yourself at all, just let Google’s algorithms do their thing, give it a few creative elements to work with, then sit back, and let the conversions roll in.

At its core, it’s powered by three Google technologies: automated targeting, automated ad iteration, and automated bidding. Each of these is a venerable vantablack box on their own, but the main behavior here is that these robots will work together to identify users who are highly likely to convert on your website, what messaging will get them to convert, and how high to bid to make the conversion happen.

pasted image 0 115

Source: Google

You can check out this Google post if you want to learn way more about how Smart Display works and how to use it. But let’s take a look at Smart Display in the hands of Seer, across all the client accounts in our MCC.

Results Speak for Themselves

pasted image 0 116

Overall, Smart Display represents only 17% of Display spending across Seer’s entire MCC, which directly translates to only 17% of display Impressions as well. The bigger takeaway here is that this 17% of spend represents a whopping 41% of total Display conversions across our client accounts! It’s impressive that a campaign type comprising less than 20% of our total spend commands nearly half of all conversions. But how do the important metrics look?

On average, the Smart campaigns have generated a 0.49% CTR compared to Traditional Display’s 0.31% — a 61% improvement in favor of Smart display. And it’s done this at a 39% lower average CPC. The truly amazing stat here is in Conversion Rate, where Smart Display campaigns have averaged a 110% improvement over Traditional Display.

Such improvements in performance are thanks entirely to the three machine learning algorithms mentioned at the top of the post. Google is using its knowledge of the client website and each user to find the right user, at the right time, to serve the right combination of creative elements, to bring them to the site at the right time that will be more likely to lead to a conversion.

Caveat Emptor

As well as Smart Display has performed for Seer clients on the whole, it’s by no means perfect. As my colleague has indicated in his past blog post, some of the inventory on the Google Display Network can be attributed to low-quality placements that APPEAR to perform well. From our analysis, the quality of sites between Smart Display and Traditional Display are fairly equal; but it’s important to stay on top of your Smart Display campaigns, just like any other display campaign, and audit your placements consistently.

Go. Test. Be Smart.

Overall, Smart Display has been a great addition to our PPC marketing toolbox. Even with the issue of GDN placement quality, it’s become an easy-to-implement and effective method for conversion-focused advertising on the Display Network. And given the strides Google has made in machine learning, smart algorithms, I would expect performance to continue improving in 2020 and beyond.

But what do you think? What’s been your experience with Smart Display? Let us know!

Looking for more PPC advice around automation? Sign up for our newsletter below or get in touch!