The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them

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

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

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

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

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

1. Uncompressed images and bizarre image dimensions

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

How you can fix this

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

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

2. Unnecessary plugins

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

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

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 Beware of outdated plugins that can slow down your site instead of improving its performance.

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

When you’re deleting plugins check to see if

– The plugin is relevant and updated

– Whether it has another similar plugin with same functions

– Whether you’re still using it the respective plugin

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

3. An excessive homepage

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

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

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

4. Free third-party WordPress themes

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

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

How you can fix this

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

5. Unreliable web hosting

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

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

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

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

6. Invisible loading images or videos

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

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

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

7. Coding issue

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

An example of a coding issue

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

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

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

8. Not using a content delivery network (CDN)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yoast SEO 12.5: Behind the scenes improvements

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

Fixing bugs and behind the scenes scaffolding

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

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

A reminder about support for older versions of WordPress 

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

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

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.5

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

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


5 Steps To Track SEO Recommendations With Blended Data in GDS

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

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

What is Data Blending in Google Data Studio?

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

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

Data Sources

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

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

How to Build an SEO Recommendation Google Data Studio Dashboard

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

Step 1. Connect Your Data Sources

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

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Resources > Manage Added Data Sources > Add New Data Source

Step 2: Blend your Google Analytics & Google Sheets Data

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

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

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

Here’s the breakdown of your data source connections:

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

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

Step 3: Create Your Visuals

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

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Table: Click on Add Chart > Table > Add Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5: Set Up Your Filter Controls

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

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

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

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A World Of Possibilities

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

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

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

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Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition?

On September 30th, Google turned off average position as a metric for search campaigns and now requires advertisers to transition to new impression share and impression rate tools.

The news was first announced in February as an effort to establish more accurate and transparent forms of measurement. Advertisers now get to experience how often ads are appearing for eligible searches (share) and how often ads are showing at the top of the search results page (rate)—and while these new tools will ultimately be beneficial, the forced change from Google will undoubtedly stir up routine for many advertisers.

Here are a few ways advertisers can get set up with the rollout of new metrics.

Understanding the basics

To understand the impact of this change, let’s first define impression share and impression rate. Impression share is the percentage of impressions an ad receives compared to the total number that the ad is qualified for on the search engine results page (SERP). Impression share is a novel way to discover room for ad performance improvements—it displays any missed opportunities by showing how often a certain ad showed up in the top search results.

In contrast, the average position did not properly measure whether ads showed up above the organic results or not; it just showcased their order compared to other ads. Advertisers were left with a guessing game.

Impression rate shows advertisers how often their ads show up at the top of the SERP based on their total impressions—in other words, what percent of the time an ad is in the very top spot (absolute top) or shown anywhere above the organic search results (top). These details address another shortcoming of average position since even an ad in position two might be at the bottom of the page.

Measuring impression share and impression rate

There are three versions of impression share, all which measure ad impressions divided by the total eligible impressions for that ad, but based on different locations on the SERP:

  • Search (abs.) top IS: The new impression an ad has received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is new.
  • Search top IS: The impressions an ad has received anywhere above the organic search results compared to the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is also new.
  • Search impression share: This already-existing metric measures impressions anywhere on the page.

For the impression rate, there are two metrics that are only based on ad impressions, not the total number of eligible impressions.

  • Impr. (absolute top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

Optimizing for awareness and performance

If an advertiser is more focused on driving awareness than ROI, impression share and impression rate are both greatly valuable, as they guarantee the ads are meeting a visibility threshold and can boost awareness.

On the other hand, advertisers using Google’s new impression share options in Smart Bidding should be cautious. The impression share data is not accessible on the same day, so it’s hard to track performance – and setting a high target may significantly boost spending by making an ad eligible for additional, unwanted auctions. A better strategy for Smart Bidding is to bid to impression rate, which has data available intraday. This approach allows advertisers to optimize their impressions showing at the top of the SERP.

As a general starting point, the easiest way for advertisers to set targets is to look at recent performance for campaigns across the three impression % (rate) metrics. This should ensure the smoothest transition from targeting a position to targeting impression share.

Impression share metrics table updated

Setting up for the transition

Advertisers using Google have been encouraged to focus on the impression metrics for some time. Still, many advertisers probably feel an impact from the shift to these metrics, particularly because of the new obstacles it presents for bidding strategies. Therefore, advertisers should set the right bids to achieve their shared goal.

With this switch to the new metrics, advertisers should check any rules that support average position, and update reports and saved columns that include the average position. The following applications may include average position:

  • Bidding settings and AdWords rules
  • Custom columns
  • Saved reports (especially any with filters)
  • AdWords scripts
  • Saved column sets
  • Scorecards that use average position in dashboards
  • URLs using the {ad position} parameter

Google announced it will be automatically migrating “Target Position on Page” bid strategies, but there’s no certainty on a timeline or details regarding the migration. Therefore, advertisers should watch for any campaign targeting average position from now on to ensure they’re getting the expected results.

Wes MacLaggan is SVP of Marketing at Marin Software.

The post Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


5 reasons your content won’t rank – even though it’s optimized

The Yoast SEO plugin helps you to easily optimize the text of your posts and pages. People use it to try and get higher rankings. But unfortunately, perfectly optimizing your post does not magically put it at the top of the search results. So, if your perfectly optimized post isn’t ranking, what could be the matter? What is keeping your content from reaching that coveted #1 position? In this post, I’ll discuss five reasons why content doesn’t rank, even though it has been optimized with the Yoast SEO plugin.

1. There’s too much competition

In most cases, the reason a post doesn’t rank is that there’s simply too much competition. If you optimize your blogpost for competitive keywords and keyphrases, such as [cat behavior], [robot vacuum cleaner], or [real estate agent], chances are high you won’t rank for that term. 

To find out if this is the problem, check the results pages for your keyword. Do high authority sites, such as Wikipedia or Amazon, dominate the first page? Do you see many sites that have already firmly established themselves in this niche? Odds are, your site doesn’t have the authority that these other sites have (yet). So you can optimize all you want, but unfortunately, that’s not enough to rank high in the search results if your niche is too competitive. 

How to fix it:

If you want to rank for highly competitive terms, you should try a long tail keyword strategy. Write blog posts that target related long tail keywords and phrases before tackling the competitive keywords. If these long tail articles start ranking, you’ll be able to rank for more competitive terms as well. Such a strategy requires long-term efforts, but in the end, it will pay off.

Read more: Why you should focus on long tail keywords »

2. Your site has technical issues

If your post doesn’t show up in the search engines at all, technical issues could be preventing it from appearing in the search results. You could have conflicting plugins causing problems, and we’ve also seen some themes that actually prevent Google from indexing your site. And, while Yoast SEO takes care of many technical issues under the hood, it should be set correctly to do that properly.

If you were ranking well before, but suddenly disappeared from the search results, go over your site’s security and make sure you weren’t hacked! If a site is hacked, existing content will decrease in ranking as well. New posts won’t rank as easily as they used to do. This will all evolve rather slowly, depending on how much crap is published on your site, without you knowing it. In most cases, getting hacked probably isn’t the cause of ranking troubles. But if you’re sure none of the other problems apply to your site, it may be worth looking into. Of course, it’s always a good idea to make sure your security is tip-top!

How to fix it:

First, make sure that Yoast SEO is indeed set correctly. In the first step of the Yoast configuration wizard you’re asked whether your site is ready to be indexed. If you answer ‘no’ and forget to change it to ‘yes’ later, your content will not appear in the search results! But, if this is the case, you will see a warning in your Yoast SEO general dashboard, so that’s easy to check. For individual posts and pages that aren’t ranking: check the ‘advanced’ tab in the Yoast metabox underneath the post whether search engines are indeed allowed to show the post in the results. Keep in mind, that after you change a setting to allow search engines to index your content, it may still take a while until you see it starts ranking. 

If your Yoast plugin settings are all correct, it’s time for some more digging. Check your plugins and/or theme and make sure your security is in order!

3. Your site doesn’t have a proper internal linking structure

Another reason why your content doesn’t show up in the search results: a crucial part of your SEO strategy is not in order. Don’t underestimate the importance of site structure – the internal linking structure – for your SEO strategy. Having a clear site structure leads to better understanding of your site by Google. If your internal linking structure is poor, chances to rank high are lower – even when your content is well-optimized and awesome. 

How to fix it:

Start adding those links! Make sure that your important posts and pages have the most internal links to them. But don’t randomly add links: make sure you add relevant, related links that add value for your users.

You can use the Yoast SEO orphaned content filter to find posts without incoming internal links. Yoast SEO premium will help you even more by offering helpful linking suggestions as you’re writing. And if you really want to improve your site structure, check out our site structure training!

Read on: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

4. There are few backlinks to your site

If you just started out with your website, your content won’t instantly rank. Not even if every page is optimized perfectly and every bullet in Yoast SEO is green. To be able to rank, you’ll need some links from other websites. After all, Google has to know your website exists. 

How to fix it:

In order to get (more) backlinks, you can reach out to other websites. You’ll need to do some PR or link building. Ask them to mention your site or talk about your product and link to your site. You can also use social media to get the word out! Learn all about link building strategies in our All-Around SEO training!

5. You’re targeting the wrong type of intent

One final thing that could be the reason your content isn’t ranking: it doesn’t match the intent of people searching for your keyword. Search intent is becoming an increasingly important factor for search engines these days: do people want to buy something, go to a specific website, or are they looking for information? Even if you’re targeting a more long tail keyphrase, if your content doesn’t match the dominant intent of searchers, odds are search engines won’t show it in the results because it won’t be what people are looking for.

search results for 'training your puppy'

Let’s look at a few examples. Say you’re a dog trainer who wants to rank for puppy training services, so you optimize for [training your puppy], with transactional intent in mind. But if you look at the search results, you’ll see that there are informational videos, and all the results explain how to train a puppy yourself. So searchers actually have informational intent. This can work the other way around too. If you’ve written a step-by-step guide for your blog on how to make your own garden decoration, aiming to rank for [flower garland garden decoration], you may have trouble ranking for that term if people just want to buy that, not make it themselves.

Now, it should be noted that not every search term has one dominant type of intent. Also, it isn’t impossible to rank with content for differing intent. Still, it can be worthwhile to look into this if your optimized content doesn’t rank in the search engines.

How to fix it: 

Unfortunately, you don’t have the power to change the intent of search engine users. But you can adapt your content strategy. If your optimized content isn’t ranking, take a good look at the search results (preferably in private mode) and analyze what you see. Is one specific type of result dominant? Are there images or videos? Which related queries are shown? This is where your opportunities are. If you find mostly informational intent for a query, you can write content about that to get people to your site, establish your brand as a reliable source of information and stay top of mind when people do want to buy something. If you find a lot of images in the search results, you may need to focus more on image SEO. Take what you see on the results pages

Optimized content not ranking?

There are multiple reasons that could prevent a post from ranking. If you optimized it correctly with Yoast SEO, the most common cause will definitely be that the competition in a niche is just too fierce. Unfortunately, SEO is a long-term strategy. You need to work hard and be patient. In the meantime, there are a lot of other aspects of your SEO (site structure, link building) you can tackle. Try to focus on all aspects of website optimization, try to be that best result. It will pay off eventually!

The post 5 reasons your content won’t rank – even though it’s optimized appeared first on Yoast.


Google Update November 2019: Latest News and Analysis

Starting on the 7th of November, numerous stories have emerged of huge changes websites’ search engine rankings and traffic. Most reports have come from webmasters in the USA who run affiliate sites and who have observed changes in the travel, food and health sectors. Google has (so far) not commented on the changes, but SEO experts have described the update as “aggressive” and comparisons have been made in terms of size and scope to the ranking changes that occurred following the first Penguin Update in 2012. This blogpost contains the latest news and analysis of what people are calling the Google November 2019 Update. If you have been affected by this Google Update, you can request a website audit from our Digital Strategies Group consultants:

Hit by the Google Update? Request an audit!

Summary: Google Update November 2019

  • From the 7th to the 8th of November 2019, many webmasters and SEOs report massive changes in search engine rankings.
  • The changes seem to mainly affect small and medium-sized affiliate websites, primarily in the USA.
  • Many of the affected websites belong to the travel, food and health sectors.
  • Google has not yet commented on the rankings changes or confirmed the update.

Google Update November 2019: What webmasters and SEOs say

After a turbulent weekend, the SEO community, both on Twitter and on Google’s Webmaster Forum, has been a hive of activity. There are now numerous people citing examples of websites, mainly in the USA, that have apparently been affected by the Google Updates. Many pages are travel, food or recipe sites, but lifestyle and YMYL domains are also found amongst those affected. Many of the reported traffic drops are in excess of 30 percent. The following provides a selection of viewpoints and tweets from the community.

SEO Consultant Alan Bleiweiss provided a list of several websites that have seen considerable changes in the wake of the update – with movement both up and down. He monitors 47 websites, many of which seem to have been significantly impacted. The biggest losses were suffered by a skincare affiliate site and the biggest gains went to a travel website.

Another SEO Consultant, Casey Markee, posted a tweet showing that various food and lifestyle blogs had all seen a drop in traffic of at least 30 percent. The Google Analytics screenshot (below) shows the week-on-week comparison.

SEO veteran, Glenn Gabe, was another reporting huge changes. In the example below, he has anonymized Google Analytics screenshots of an affiliate website dealing with YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) topics. This is how Google refers to highly sensitive search topics that can have a significant impact on the user’s life – mainly search queries related to the areas of finance and health.

Glenn Gabe’s conclusions regarding Holiday Season, which might be responsible for the ranking changes, are consistent with Searchmetrics Research Cloud data. If we look at the absolute winners from November 10th, within the top 10 websites with the largest absolute increase in SEO Visibility are three domains dedicated to the high-selling Black Friday. And for keywords these Black Friday pages gain rankings, other websites have to loose:

Technical SEO, Paul Shapiro, saw a site with lifestyle content take a 34% traffic hit.

In addition, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Rountable launched a Twitter survey on the possible impact of Google’s November update. Again, SEOs and webmasters got in touch, complaining the update’s changes to be “aggressive on small affiliate websites”:

Kevin Indig, former SEO Consultant at Searchmetrics und now VP SEO & Content at G2, has called the Google Update “aggressive”, and drawn comparisons with the first Penguin Update, which Google rolled out back in 2012.

The discussions in the Google Webmaster Forum saw several other comments along the same lines. Here are a few selected quotes:

  • Down by 22% from this time last week. I need to find a way to get out of my subscriptions and shut down the site. It breaks my heart, I love it, but it’s no longer viable.
  • My two websites have lost exactly 30% of traffic from Google simultaneously despite they are in different languages. Google is definitely testing or already using a new algorithm.
  • One of my sites that has suffered from that drop is 9 years old, I never did any seo to it more than technical on site seo. Domain authority is 50+ and content is original, all articles 2500 words up. The 30% drop is still here today in all geos and hourly constant.
  • We saw an increase of 24% with G organic yesterday vs. the average of the last 8 Fridays. We’ll see if it holds through the weekend and into next week.
  • We where doing well when the BERT algorithm rolled out, however we can hit by something yesterday.
  • Lost 50% of our traffic overnight.

Google withholds comment on the 2019 November Update

So far, Google is yet to make a statement on the changes in rankings and traffic that webmasters and SEOs have observed. Danny Sullivan and the Google Search Liaison Twitter account have also been quiet on the matter.

In previous entries on its webmaster blog, Google has referred to the large number of changes that are constantly being made to its ranking algorithm – they say that one of more changes are rolled out every day.

Google also states that it is not specific niches or industries that are affected by updates, but certain types of search query that are answered differently. However, there is likely considerable overlap here and there is, in practical terms, not necessarily always a clear distinction between the two.

Another aspect of Google’s updates this year is that Google has changed its communication policy. For some previous updates, Google made prior announcements, explained the udpates via its communication channels and even suggested names for the updates. This applies to the updates listed here:

Update Name
Date
Features of the Google Update
Google Statement
Google BERT Update 24th October 2019
It’s the biggest change to Google’s algorithm for five years, affecting one in ten search queries. With the Google BERT Update, Google aims to improve the interpretation of complex long-tail search queries and display more relevant search results.

» Google BERT Update

Google’s explanation in a Blogpost
Google September 2019 Core Update 24th September 2019
The September 2019 Core Update was rolled-out globally, starting on the 24th of September. This Google Update focused on improvements in the content quality in the SERPs. For the second time, Google pre-announced a core algorithm update in advance.

» Google September 2019 Core Update

Google announcement on Twitter
Google June 2019 Core Update 3rd June 2019 Google set a new precedent with its “June 2019 Core Update” by, for the first time in the history of Google Updates, announcing the roll-out of a major core algorithm change in advance. This update was the second major update of 2019 altering the core algorithm, and was rolled out on the 3rd of June, as preannounced.

» Google June 2019 Core Update

Google announcement on Twitter
Google March 2019 Core Update 12th March 2019 In this global core algorithm update, there were ranking shifts for keywords related to health and other sensitive topics. The algorithm was also adjusted to favor trust and expertise, as well as user signals.

» Google March 2019 Core Update

Confirmation on Twitter

Google Updates: What Webmaster and SEOs can do

In the Summer of 2019, Google published a post on its Google Webmaster Blog. Here, they explained in more details which changes to the algorithm are made by Core Updates, and what webmasters and SEOs can do if they have been affected by a Google Core Update.

If you see your rankings drop following an update, then you “haven’t violated [Google’s] webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action”. The changes are more focused on improving the evaluation of content. These changes can, according to Google, mean that websites that were previously unfairly overlooked, or not given the credit they deserve, now perform better – and vice versa. One analogy of how these Google Core Updates can be viewed could be a list of the 100 best films, published of 2015. A few years later, in 2019, the list can be updated – and it will likely change because new films have been released and the way we view older films may also have changed.

Google’s recommendations for webmasters and SEOs whose websites have been affected by a Google Update are as follows: “We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can.” When auditing a website, Google suggests considering questions regarding the following four aspects:

  • Content & Quality: Does the website offer original, high-quality content that isn’t just copied from somewhere? Are the page title and description appealing and do they reflect the content? If you were a webmaster, would you share the content with friends?
  • Expertise: Is the content trustworthy? Does the page contain errors? Would you, as a webmaster arriving at the page via Google search, trust the website you find?
  • Presentation & Production: Does the content seem to be well researched and well produced – or does it seem to be mass-produced fodder? Are there too many ads? Does the page load appropriately on all devices?
  • Competitive comparison: Does the website offer added value when compared with its competitors? Does the content fulfil the user’s expectations?

A good place for webmasters to start is to try and answer these questions as honestly as possible – and compare their website alongside their competition, with a particular focus on the quality of the content they are offering.

If you’ve been affected by this Google Update, then you can request further information and a analysis of your website our experts:

Affected by the latest Google Update? Request a website audit!


How to Use Google Search Console to Improve SEO (Beginner’s Guide)

Quick links

Google Search Console is one of the most powerful, free SEO tools out there. But most people never use it for anything more than checking vanity metrics like clicks and impressions.

While there’s nothing wrong with looking at those things once in a while, they provide little value as standalone metrics.

Translation: staring at them isn’t going to improve SEO anytime soon.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in their search results.

Use it to find and fix technical errors, submit sitemaps, see backlinks, and more.

How to set up Google Search Console

Sign in to Search Console with your Google account.

You should see a welcome message with two options. Select the first one, then enter your domain or subdomain (without the http(s)://).

domain property search console

domain property search console

Hit “Continue.”

DON’T WANT TO ADD YOUR ENTIRE DOMAIN?

Google states that “domain properties show data for all URLs under the domain name, including all protocols, subdomains, and paths.”

This is perfect if you want a complete view of your website in Search Console, but what if you want to restrict data to a specific URL path? (e.g., domain.com/blog)

The answer is to use a URL prefix property instead. This adds only URLs under a specified address and protocol (i.e., HTTP/HTTPS, www/non-www).

url property search console

url property search console

Note that you can add both Domain and URL prefix properties for the same domain.

How to verify your domain in Search Console

Before you can see any data in Search Console, you first need to verify ownership. This process differs according to the property type you added.

Jump straight to the instructions that apply to you:

Verification for a Domain property

Hit the instructions dropdown. Check if your domain is registered with any of the listed providers.

search console provider dropdown

search console provider dropdown

If so, select the provider and hit the “Start verification” button.

Sign in to your registrar account and follow the instructions.

ionos add domain search console

ionos add domain search console

You should see a message like this:

success ownership verified

success ownership verified

If your registrar isn’t on the dropdown, select “Any DNS provider.”

Sign in to your account with your domain provider, select your domain, then look for an option to manage DNS or Domain Name Servers.

modify dns

modify dns

Choose the option to add a TXT record, paste in the record from Search Console, then save it.

dns txt record

dns txt record

Go back to Search Console and hit “Verify.”

If the verification fails, keep trying. It can take a few minutes to go through.

HAVING ISSUES?

If your web host differs from your domain registrar, then you may find that your registrar doesn’t let you edit DNS records. In that case, you’ll need to edit DNS records on your hosting account instead.

If you’re doing this in cPanel, it’s super simple.

Login to Cpanel > Zone editor > Manage (next to the domain) > Add record > Type > TXT

Next, choose a name, copy and paste the TXT record from Search Console into the “Record” box, then hit “Add record.”

add record cpanel

add record cpanel

Go back to Search Console and hit “Verify.”

If the verification fails, keep trying until it works.

Verification for a URL prefix property

Google offers a few ways to do this. Their default (and recommended) method is to upload an HTML file to your website. However, to keep things simple, we recommend choosing the Domain name provider option, then following the instructions above.

domain name provider search console

domain name provider search console

How to add a sitemap to Google Search Console

Sitemaps tell Google where to find important content on your website, and how they can crawl that content. We recommend that everyone submit a sitemap to Google via Search Console.

To do that, choose “Sitemaps” from the menu, paste the URL of your XML sitemap into the box labeled “Enter sitemap URL,” then hit “Submit.”

submit sitemap

submit sitemap

Sidenote.

 If you don’t already have a sitemap or aren’t sure where to find it, read this.

You should see a message like this:

sitemap submitted

sitemap submitted

How to add a user to Google Search Console

Users are people with access to some or all of the data in Search Console.

There are three types:

  1. Owner: Has full control over the property in Search Console, including the power to add and remove other users. There are two types of owner: verified and delegated.
  2. Full user: Has view rights to all data within the selected property and the power to take some actions.
  3. Restricted user: Has restricted view rights, meaning they may not be able to view all data.

Recommended reading: Managing owners, users, and permissions

By default, when you verify a property in Search Console, you have owner privileges.

To add another user, go to:

Search Console > Choose a property > Settings > Users and permissions > Add user

search console users

search console users

Type their email address, then select either full or restricted access.

add user search console

add user search console

If you ever need to revoke or change their access, just return here.

How to use Google Search Console to improve your SEO

Instead of going through each Search Console report in excruciatingly boring detail, we’re going to focus on a few actionable ways to use it to improve SEO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXVEb_eklhk

1. Improve rankings for underperforming keywords

Underperforming keywords are those where you don’t yet rank in positions one or two.

They’re underperforming because most people click one of the first two results, meaning that if you rank in lower positions, you’re missing out on tons of traffic.

For example, if you rank in position eight, roughly 1.8% of searchers will click on your result.

ctr curve 8

ctr curve 8

Bump that keyword ranking to position two, and the number jumps to almost 14%.

ctr curve 2

ctr curve 2

So let’s say the keyword in question has a monthly search volume of 1,000.

Ranking in position 8 gets you 18 visits from organic search per month, compared to 160 for position two.

Position CTR Monthly organic search traffic
#2 13.94% 139
#8 1.8% 18

That’s 8x more traffic just by jumping a few positions.

To find these underperforming keywords in Google Search Console, go to the “Search Results” report and toggle the average CTR and position data.

search console data

search console data

Next, scroll to the queries report and set the average ranking position filter to below 8.1, then sort the results by average position in descending order.

filter by position search console

filter by position search console

From here, it’s a case of skimming the list for underperforming keywords. I.e., those that you’re already ranking for in positions 3–8 and getting some traffic from.

Here’s one we found in our Search Console:

local seo search console

local seo search console

Our average ranking position for this keyword is 7.6, and we’re getting a CTR of 1%. That might seem quite low, but it’s not too far below the average for this position.

But here’s the important part: Despite this low ranking position, we’ve still averaged almost 1,200 clicks in the past three months and saw 121,000+ impressions. That’s around 400 clicks per month.

Sidenote.

 Impressions are the number of times we’ve appeared in the search results for this query.

So let’s click on this keyword and go to the “Pages” tab to see which page is ranking. From here, we can check whether the page is about the same topic and determine if there’s scope to further optimize it for this keyword.

page ranking local seo

page ranking local seo

Looks like there is optimization potential here, as the page that’s ranking is our local SEO guide.

So it’s probably worth us performing an individual analysis of this page and seeing if we can boost its position by improving our on-page SEO, adding some relevant internal links, getting more backlinks, improving page speed, or something else.

Just be sure to use common sense when going through this process. For example, our average ranking position for “google keyword planner” is 5.6, and we get thousands of visits per month from that keyword.

google keyword planner term

google keyword planner term

But if you look at the current US rankings for that query in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, we see that there’s only one result above us that isn’t from Google themselves.

google keyword planner serp

So we’re unlikely to ever rank in position 1 or 2 for this keyword, no matter how hard we try.

The point here is that it makes sense to push some keywords more than others.

2. Optimize pages with high keyword rankings, but low CTR

Not every page that ranks #1 will get 30% of clicks. That’s just the average.

Some will perform better than average, and some will perform worse.

So what we can do is find the pages that perform worse than average, analyze why that’s the case, then see if there’s a way to boost their CTR to get more traffic.

To do this, head to the “Search results” report, toggle the average CTR and position data, then filter for keywords with average rankings below 3.1. These are the keywords for which you already rank in the top 3.

search console high rankings

search console high rankings

Sort the report by CTR in ascending order, then look for keywords with lots of impressions but lower-than-average CTR.

Here’s one we found:

diy seo search console

diy seo search console

Despite ranking in position three on average, our clickthrough rate is only 2.1% where it should be around 3–5x higher than that—especially as we’re definitively matching search intent here.

So let’s Google this keyword and see if we can figure out what’s wrong.

diy seo serp

diy seo serp

Looks like Google is showing an ad, a featured snippet, a video carousel, and a “people also ask” box above the “traditional” rankings where we are. Because these SERP features take up so much real estate, they’re almost certainly “stealing” clicks from us.

So the best course of action for us here would probably be to optimize the page to try to win the featured snippet, which gets 8.6% of clicks on average.

ahrefs featured snippets ctr

ahrefs featured snippets ctr

But averages can be misleading. So let’s take a look at the “Organic keywords” report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer for the page that owns the snippet to see how much traffic it sends their way.

diy seo snippet

diy seo snippet

Looks like the featured snippet alone sends them 170 monthly organic visitors in the US, which is 38.5% of all US organic traffic to the page.

TIP: How to win more SERP real estate with video

For keywords with video carousels in the search results, there’s an opportunity to rank a YouTube video on Google. If you can do this and also rank in the ten blue links with your website, you can dominate the SERP. This is something we did for the keyword “SEO tutorial.”

seo tutorial serp domination

seo tutorial serp domination

Just be careful when doing this as not all keywords present a good opportunity.

For example, we get a measly 3.4% CTR for the query “link building tools” despite ranking between positions two and three for the past few months. But if we look at the search results, there are lots of ads above the organic results.

ads link building tools

ads link building tools

This tells us that this keyword may have commercial intent, so people are likely clicking ads instead of the organic results.

3. Fix sitemap issues

If there are issues with the sitemaps you submitted to Google, that may cause problems and confuse crawlers. This leads to wasted time and resources on their end, and can also cause them to index the wrong URLs in some cases.

To check for issues with submitted sitemaps, head to the “Sitemaps” report, click on the icon next to a sitemap, then click the “See index coverage” button.

You should now see a few tabs showing the number of errors, warnings, valid URLs, and excluded ones.

sitemap search console errors

sitemap search console errors

Looks like we don’t have any errors for our blog, but there is one URL under “Excluded.” If we click that tab, we see that one page has been excluded from the search results because it appears to be a duplicate of another submitted URL.

sitemap exclusion warning

sitemap exclusion warning

If we then click on this error, we see that the culprit is this URL related to guest blogging.

exclusion url

exclusion url

If we look at the HTTP status for this URL using a free online tool, we see that it redirects to a newer post about guest blogging.

301 redirect guest articles

301 redirect guest articles

The reason this happened is that the old URL is still set as published in WordPress, and the SEO plugin we’re using automatically adds all published URLs to our sitemap.

So all we had to do was delete this post, and the issue soon resolved itself.

exclusion resolved searchconsole

exclusion resolved searchconsole

IMPORTANT

Excluded pages are common in Google Search Console and aren’t always indicative of an issue. Errors and warnings tend to be more serious, so tackle those first.

4. Learn which content types and topics get the most backlinks

Backlinks are an important ranking factor. Google has told us this on numerous occasions, and we also found a clear positive relationship between organic search traffic and backlinks when we studied 920 million pages.

referring domains vs organic search traffic ahrefs content explorer

referring domains vs organic search traffic ahrefs content explorer

Sidenote.

Correlation ≠ causation.

So getting more backlinks to your content should be a priority if you want more traffic.

But what type of content should you publish to attract backlinks? And what topics should you talk about?

The best way to answer this question is to learn from the content you’ve already published.

To do that, go to the “Links” report, then click “More” on the “Top linked pages” report under the “External links” subheader.

top linked pages search console

top linked pages search console

Sort the report by “Linking sites” in descending order to see which of your pages have the most backlinks from unique websites, then look for patterns.

For example, four of the ten most-linked pages on our blog are studies.

top linking pages ahrefs blog

top linking pages ahrefs blog

This is a clear sign that original research tends to attract links in our industry, but this might differ for you.

For instance, while we can’t check the top linked pages for other sites in Google Search Console, we can in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. And if we paste in a popular web design blog and check the “Best by links” report, we see that many of the top-linked pages are inspirational list-style posts.

web design blog linked

web design blog linked

So this might be a better type of content to create if you want links in this industry.

5. Find pages that need more internal links or to be pruned

Imagine that you’re publishing a new page about protein powder.

If you already have a blog post about protein shake recipes and another about high protein foods, then it would make sense to add internal links from those to your new page.

There are two benefits to this:

  1. They may help your new page get indexed faster.
  2. They will transfer PageRank to the new page, which may help it rank higher in the search results.

Now, if there are posts and pages on your website that don’t have many or any internal links, then they’re probably old or forgotten posts. These usually won’t bring much traffic to your site or have much SEO value, so it’s often worth deleting them.

To find pages with few internal links, go to the Links report in Search Console. Click “More” under the “Top linked pages” report under the “Internal links” subheader.

top internal links

top internal links

Sort the list by “Internal links” in ascending order to see “forgotten” pages.

One of the first URLs that pops up for us is /seo-case-studies/, which has just three internal links.  

seo case studies links

seo case studies links

If we visit the page, we see that it was published back in September 2015.

Because this isn’t exactly in-line with what we publish on the blog today, it would make sense for us to delete this post or redirect it elsewhere. In which case, we’d need to remove the few internal links that currently point to it.

To do that, click the URL in the “Top linked pages” report to see which pages have internal links.

internal links search console

internal links search console

IMPORTANT

Don’t delete pages on your site without making sure that they little or no organic traffic. To do that, go to the “Search results” report in Search Console, filter for the URL, then check the total number of clicks.

seo case studies traffic

seo case studies traffic

If you find pages with few internal links that are worth keeping, then it would make sense to either:

  1. Add more relevant internal links to them;
  2. Update the content and add more internal links where appropriate.

For example, we recently published a post explaining what backlinks are and why they’re important. But it looks like this page has only three internal links, so we could do with adding a few more where relevant.

To do that, we can search Google for something like site:ahrefs.com/blog/ "backlinks", which will return all the pages on our blog that mention the word “backlinks.”

backlinks site search

backlinks site search

Because a lot of these will be relevant contextual internal linking opportunities, so all we need to do is visit the pages and add internal links where it makes sense.

6. Update pages that are losing organic traffic

Most pages won’t continue to get organic traffic forever because rankings tend to drop as they become outdated.

But how do you find pages with diminishing traffic in Search Console?

Go to the “Search results” report, then add a date range comparison to see stats for the past six months compared to the previous six months.

six month comparison

six month comparison

For this, we only care about clicks, so let’s toggle the “impressions” data off to clean things up.

search console impressions off

search console impressions off

Click on “Pages.”

Now, because there’s no point comparing traffic to pages that were only recently published, you need to filter out those with no clicks in the previous six months. To do that, add a “Not equals” filter for “Previous 6 months Clicks” and enter zero as the value.

Sort the report by Difference in ascending order to see the pages with the biggest traffic drops.

filter new pages

filter new pages

For us, one page that immediately stands out is our list of free online marketing courses. This has received around 40% less organic traffic in the last six months compared to the previous period.

free online marketing courses

free online marketing courses

If we click on the URL, then switch to the “Queries” report and sort by “Difference,” we can see which queries are sending us less traffic.

free online marketing courses queries

free online marketing courses queries

Looking at this page in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, it becomes clear why traffic is dropping. Our rankings for these have been dropping like a stone over the past six months or so.

ranking drop

ranking drop

Given that we published this post in mid-2018 and new online marketing courses are released all the time, it’s likely that Google is demoting us in the search results because our post is outdated.

So it might be worth us updating this post to see if we can reclaim some of that traffic.

IMPORTANT

Make sure to keep seasonality in mind when comparing six month periods like this. For example, if you have a post about Christmas trees, it would be perfectly reasonable to see lower traffic in the months from February to July than the six months prior for obvious reasons.

Final thoughts

Google Search Console is a powerful free tool that shows a lot of data and insights about your website. But that’s its biggest limitation because SEO isn’t a single-player game, it’s multiplayer.

Ranking in Google means competing against other websites for the top spot. If you don’t understand the competitive landscape, there’s no way of knowing where you fall short or what you should do to improve rankings.

Therefore, it pays to combine insights from Google Search Console with those from a third-party competitive research tool like Ahrefs.

For example, Google Search Console tells us that we rank in position #6 on average for “301 redirect.”

301 redirect search console

301 redirect search console

It even tells us how many backlinks that page has from unique websites.

linking sites 301 redirect

linking sites 301 redirect

But it can’t tell us who’s outranking us and why. Do they have more backlinks than us? Do they have tons of authority? Are the pages on strong domains?

If we look at this keyword in a tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, we see that all the pages outranking us are on stronger domains and have way more backlinks from unique websites.

serp overview 301 redirect ahrefs keywords explorer

serp overview 301 redirect ahrefs keywords explorer

Now we have some ideas as to how difficult ranking for this keyword might be, and that we likely need to get more backlinks to compete.

Got more questions about Google Search Console? Leave a comment or ping me on Twitter.


HTTP to HTTPS Migration Guide | Do SSL Certificates Affect SEO?

Not long ago, Google has released version 68 of the Chrome Web Browser. In this version, websites that don’t run on HTTPS will be marked as Not Secure. This might lead to the following question: does Google value websites with SSL certificates more? Will they rank better? Is it worth to make the switch?

In this article (Updated 2019) you’ll find out whether SSL certificates matter for SEO or not. You’ll also learn exactly how to migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS without suffering any ranking drops. Yes, you heard that right. If you’re not careful, you can mess up your search engine rankings!

HTTP_to_HTTPS_Migration_Guide

Warning: Switching a website from HTTP to HTTPS the wrong way can heavily mess up your search rankings! There are many things that must be taken into consideration. A simple backup of the website will not help! That’s because you’re playing with the URLs which Google has already indexed. Changing those without a proper 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS on the entire website will cause Google to think the old, indexed URLs have vanished. The HTTP to HTTPS migration guide at the end of the article will help, but if you’re not sure what you’re doing, please contact an SEO professional who can assist you with the migration. We can not be held responsible if things go wrong!

  1. SSL Certificates, HTTPS & Their Importance
    1. What is HTTPS
    2. What are SSL Certificates
    3. Why HTTPS is Important
  2. How Does HTTPS Affect SEO?
    1. HTTPS as a ranking factor
    2. User’s trust
    3. GDPR issues
    4. Does HTTPS Affect Performance?
  3. How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPS
    1. Acquire & Install an SSL Certificate
    2. Add HTTPS Version to Search Console
    3. Set up 301 redirects
    4. Change All Internal Links
    5. Fix Mixed Content Issues
    6. Make Sure Everything Works Properly
    7. Resubmit Disavow File & Change Your Backlinks

SSL Certificates, HTTPS & Their Importance

I’ll try to keep it short. Cryptography isn’t something easy to digest, but without having a general idea of how it works and what problems it solves, we can’t really understand its importance. If you have any specific questions, ask them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to reply.

What is HTTPS?

HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (it’s actually Hypertext Transfer Protocol, but that should be only HTP, right?). What you need to know is that it’s a protocol that web servers, data centers and browsers use to transfer information across the web.

The S at the ending of HTTPS just stands for Secure.

The security comes through the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). Sometimes, it might also be referred to as TLS (Transport Layer Security). It’s a method of securing the data which need to be transported.

The method through which the data are secured is called Cryptography. By encrypting a message, only the ones that know the decryption key will be able to read it. For example, if we both decided upfront that A = 1, B = 2, C =3 and so on, I could send you the message 8 5 12 12 15 and you would read it as Hello. This is called symmetric cryptography.

The issue with symmetric cryptography is the fact that both parties must know the encryption / decryption key upfront in order to properly communicate, so at least one secret meeting must be arranged prior to messaging. Pretty difficult to do when you want to chat with someone across the Globe.

how cryptography ssl https work

So, to overcome this issue, we can use asymmetric cryptography. This type of cryptography uses 2 keys. A private one and a public one. They can both decipher each other. This means that any message encrypted with the public key can be read using the private key and vice versa.

If I want to make sure nobody publishes information under my name, I can use asymmetric cryptography. I generate both a private key and a public key. The public key I send out for everyone to know. If I publish something online and encrypt it with my private key, you could only decipher it with my public key. This way people will know the work is original. If you want to send me a private message, then you would just have to encrypt it using the public key. Only I will be able to read it.

This comes in handy in these modern days when communication happens over very big distances. People can now share information securely without both parties needing to know each other’s keys.

What is SSL & What are SSL Certificates?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Let’s say it’s related to the S in HTTPS. However, we usually hear about SSL in relation to Certificates. So what are SSL Certificates?

Well, SSL certificates are only used to confirm the identity of a website. These certificates are emitted and signed by certificate authorities with their private keys. Before getting a certificate from them, you must somehow confirm your identity and prove you are the organization and website owner.

I could emit a public key out there saying that I’m Adrian, but how would you actually know it’s me? That’s why we have Secure Sockets Layer Certificates.

There are different types of SSL Certificates, but the most common ones are Domain Verified Certificates. These certificates can even be obtained for free these days (keep reading and I’ll tell you how). The verification process is pretty simple and very similar to the Google Search Console one. You upload an HTML file to your server, proving you’re the entity.

Of course, when you want to prove you’re a person or an entire company, you need to provide some sort of proof. For this, there are other types of SSL certificates, such as Organization Validated (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) certificates. They are more expensive and require further verification, such as company documents or IDs. The verification process might take a while.

Before the new Chrome updates (in which they stopped displaying HTTP and HTTPS as well as the WWW prefix), certificates with Extended Validation used to look like this:

Imagini pentru ev certificate

source: DigiCert

However, today you’ll have to click the lock icon to see if a website has a regular SSL Certificate or an entity validated one.

ev certificates ssl seo

Considering the above mentioned, there isn’t much of a difference between free, regular SSL certificates and premium ones, at least not anymore. Very few users will check the certificate, if any (as long as the lock is green). However, if your business relies on security and trust, then you should consider purchasing a premium SSL Certificate. This will ensure no errors will happen.

Web Browsers come packed up with a bunch of public keys from certificate authorities. They check if the certificates have been signed with the proper private keys, therefore confirming that their identity has been verified by a trusted authority and not by some random certificate generator. If the certificate is expired or not valid, a red warning will show up. 

connection not private expired ssl certificate red warning

This will definitely turn the user down, so make sure that if you run through HTTPS, your certificate is valid and working properly!

It’s better to run through HTTP than to run through HTTPS with an expired SSL certificate!

After the identity of the website has been confirmed by the browser, the web server and the client then establish a secure communication channel. Asymmetric cryptography is used to send a symmetric key which only the server and the client know. Then, the communication channel is secure and any attempt to read the information which is passed between the server and client will require the decryption key.

So why is this so important? Why are people so crazy about HTTPS?

Well, when your users browse your website, they often send information, through contact forms for example. Without encryption, that information can be intercepted by what people call “Man in the middle.” Although contact forms only contain names and e-mails, things get worse when we’re talking credit card information or bank accounts and passwords.

By using an SSL Certificate, webmasters can improve the security of their websites and better protect their users’ information.

How Does HTTPS Affect SEO?

Now that we better understand what HTTP is, we can take a glimpse at its importance. There are multiple ways in which SSL Certificates and HTTPS can impact search engine optimization and Google rankings. Some of them are strictly algorithmic, while others can be less direct, but very meaningful as well. Let’s start with what we know for sure:

HTTPS as a ranking factor

First, you have to know that, theoretically, SSL Certificates do affect SEO. This is actually an official Google statement from 2014. They are considered a ranking factor, out wide in the open.

Why? Well, there are many reasons, but the main one is definitely security. If Google provides its users with better security, it provides better value and the users will be pleased. The fact that internet credit card fraud is on the rise definitely pushed Google into this direction.

https as ranking signal important for seo

Google has tested its search results with HTTPS as a ranking signal and has seen positive feedback. This could also mean that webmasters that take security seriously might generally present better websites. They care about the users.

Although this impact is fairly small, affecting less than 1% of websites, many webmasters have adopted HTTPS. Not long ago, less than 10% of websites were secured with an SSL certificate. Now, more than half of all websites are probably secure.

https affects seo

Why didn’t Google do this earlier? Well, to be honest, I think it’s because it would’ve been a little bit unfair. Back in the day, SSL Certificates were not so easy to obtain and some of them were quite expensive. Today, however, almost anyone can secure their website with a free one. This means that money won’t really have a say in this.

Quick Tip: Basic SSL Certificates can be obtained for free. If you’re just starting out, don’t spend unnecessary money. Keep reading to find out how to get one!

This HTTPS SSL Certificates update is one of the weaker ranking signals in Google’s algorithm. Let’s say that… adding HTTPS won’t get you an SEO ranking boost, but not adding it might affect your Google rankings over time.

Why?

Well, it’s because internet users will trust it less and they will leave it quicker. Your conversions will drop. These are all ranking signals that the site isn’t doing well, which Google translates into “I should rank this unsecure site lower and reward a website with a secure connection instead.”

The truth is that a modern, dynamic website can’t work well without HTTPS.

User’s trust

Another way in which SSL Certificates could affect SEO is related to the user experience. Some internet users might have no clue what’s happening, but others prefer to browse websites that are secure. This is where an Extended Validation SSL might come in handy. Here’s the difference between a regular, Domain Validated SSL Certificate and a more expensive Extended Validation SSL Certificate.

Regular Domain Validated SSL Certificate (easily obtained for free)

Extended Validation SSL Certificate (more expensive)

Starting with Chrome Version 68 (24th July 2018), the browser now shows the warning Not Secure when you access a website through HTTP. Users will now definitely ask themselves more questions when seeing that message instead of just the Information icon.

http shows not secure warning since Chrome 68

Screenshot from the Chromium Blog

Who knows, in the future you’ll probably going to see a red warning, just like the one with invalid SSL certificates. That day has not come yet, but it’s probably not far!

GDPR issues

It’s obvious that people are more and more interested in the safety and privacy of their personal information, especially when it comes to websites. Just imagine a breach into Facebook’s servers! You would know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE. Now I know, Facebook is already selling that data to whoever pays good, and you’ve accepted all the terms at signup. But when it comes to security, websites like Facebook are pretty solid.

Still, maybe a picture of what you’ve eaten this morning isn’t so concerning if it gets hijacked and stolen, but your credit card information when you’re making payments on ecommerce websites is!

As of May 25th 2018, GDPR has had a huge impact on websites. GDPR specifies that any personal data should be handled securely. This forces webmasters that have even the smallest contact form to switch their website from HTTP to HTTPS to ensure the security of their users’ personal data.

So, not only can it benefit your SEO rankings if you switch to HTTPS, but it might also get you a fat fine if you don’t. Although usually you will see some ranking boosts, if you mess up your redirects and don’t implement HTTPS correctly, your entire site can drop from the search engine results. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start.

Does HTTPS Affect Website Performance?

Ok, now we know how HTTPS affects websites from a search results perspective. But how does it affect a website technically? Will it affect its performance? Will the site be slower?

Well… theoretically… yes. You can expect a delay of about 0.1 seconds compared to regular, unsecured HTTP requests. However, it really depends on your server’s performance. Most servers today are fast enough to handle SSL Certificates and HTTPS. You won’t notice the difference.

SSL HTTPS Affect Performance

Using services such as CloudFlare (3rd Party SSL implementation) will probably result in a slower PageSpeed Insights score, but it can be fixed with plugins such as WP Rocket.

However, the small hit in loading time and virtual points generated by some tool is far from outweighing the benefits of having a secure site connection.

How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPS

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS can be a hassle, especially if you’re not running on a popular CMS, like WordPress. However, you can take a look at the following guide to make sure you don’t make some of the biggest mistakes.

Acquire & Install an SSL Certificate

The first step is to acquire an SSL Certificate and install it. You might already have one, even if your website isn’t already running on it. Some hosting providers also offer free SSL Certificates. To find out, just go to https://yourdomain.com instead of the regular HTTP. If you see a red warning, you probably don’t have one (or it has expired). Then, just click the Information icon:

Not fully secure https connection

If the popup says Certificate: Valid then you have an SSL Certificate. Click it to see more details about it, such as for how long it is valid. If you don’t see the word Certificate there, then you probably don’t have one.

You can get an SSL Certificate anywhere. Just search Google for SSL Certificate and you’ll find plenty of providers. Search for the best deal and also look at user reviews. You should also be able to purchase certificates directly via the cPanel on your server, if you’re looking for an EV Certificate, for instance.

However, for most people, a Free SSL Certificate is most likely the best way to go. A really easy way to do that is by using CloudFlare. Instead of using your server, CloudFlare uses its own servers to secure your connection.

To activate CloudFlare, you’ll have to create an account and register a website. Setup is usually automatic, but they have step by step instructions as well. After that you’ll have to login to your Domain Registrar and add CloudFlare’s nameservers instead of your server’s.

This way, the traffic will first pass through CloudFlare’s firewalls, which will secure the connection and will ensure hackers stay out.

One downside (at least for the free version) is that when their servers are under heavy load, your site might load slower. You can fix this with WP Rocket, though. You have a special section for CloudFlare settings there. I’ve been using it on websites for years, and I can say the free version is awesome and the websites are fast.

If CloudFlare isn’t the thing for you, you can also try Comodo or Let’s Encrypt via Zero SSL. We’ll go with the Zero SSL example.

First you’ll need a signing request from your server’s cPanel. If you don’t know how to get one, ask your hosting provider. You’ll find that under the SSL section. Just add the details for your website and a request will be generated. You can download it as a file.

Then you have to upload it to Zero SSL. The website provides step by step instructions.

You’ll have to provide some sort of verification, most of the time by uploading a file on your web servers (just like with Google Analytics or Google Search Console). They usually provide step by step guides on how to verify your identity. There’s more than one method, so pick the one that’s easiest for you.

Once you get the certificates, you’ll have to install them in your cPanel in the SSL Certificates section (Generate, view, upload, or delete SSL certificates). The process is pretty simple. Just scroll down and add the certificate.

After installing the certificate, you should be able to access your website via HTTPS.

Add HTTPS Version to Search Console

The next step is to go to your Google Search Console and add the HTTPS version of your website. You can also set the preferred version, but I highly recommend that you let Google choose for now and only do this after you’ve successfully implemented the HTTPS.

You should also make sure that the Google Analytics or any other web analytics software you’re using are also able to track HTTPS from now on.

Set up 301 redirects

Warning: This is the crucial step. If you don’t redirect properly, your SEO rankings will drop! Why? Because Google will have to deindex the old HTTP site and index the HTTPS one, without having any idea that they’re actually connected. Also, users that land on HTTP versions (from old backlinks for example) will never get to see the HTTPS version.

To redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, you can either use a plugin or do it via the server. If you’re running on Apache Web Server, you can set the redirects via the .htaccess file. However, it’s a little technical and, depending on other functionalities, conflicts may occur.

If you’re running on WordPress, you’re lucky! You can use the Really Simple SSL plugin and it will do everything for you (set up 301s, change main domain to HTTPS and change all the links from the database to HTTPS).

Image result for really simple ssl

Really Simple SSL WP Plugin

So make sure that all HTTP versions will properly redirect to their HTTPS counterparts. Take into account www, non-www, slashed vs non-slashed and parameters.

Here you should also change the main URL of your website to HTTPS. This is usually done in some sort of configuration file. In WordPress, it can be changed in the General Settings area. The Really Simple SSL plugin will do this for you, anyway.

Note that some platforms might not fix all the URLs. It is mandatory that each URL properly 301 redirects to its new HTTPS counterpart. So http://www.domain.com becomes https://www.domain.com and http://www.domain.com/page-1 becomes https://www.domain.com/page-1.

You should make sure that all other variants of your website redirect to a single one, with HTTPS, be it WWW or non-WWW. This is called a Preferred Domain Version. It’s best if the redirects don’t happen in chain. So instead of having http://domain.com > http://www.domain.com > https://www.domain.com it should be http://domain.com > https://www.domain.com and http://www.domain.com > https://www.domain.com.

You can check that quickly with the CognitiveSEO Site Audit. Go do Indexability, then Preferred Domain.

Preferred Domain HTTPS

Change All Internal Links

Even if you change your main URL to HTTPS, some static content might stay unsecured. You have to make sure you fix this, otherwise some issues may occur.

Canonical Tags: Canonical tags are often forgotten. If you’re running through HTTPS and your canonical tag points to the HTTP version, Google will think that it has to index HTTP. The problem is that if HTTP 301 redirects to HTTPS then Google will get into a loop and it won’t be very pleased.

To find out if your canonical tags are properly set up to HTTPS, press CTRL + U while on your website in Google Chrome to view the site’s source, then search for canonical with CTRL + F.

Hreflang: Same thing as with canonical tags, the hreflang tags should point to the correct HTTPS counterpart, even though 301 redirects are in place. Make sure you check that in the source of the site.

Internal links: If don’t change the links from HTTP to HTTPS, you’ll get a mixed content warning (we’ll discuss this in more detail below).

Most of the times, this won’t happen when you’re using a popular Content Management System, but it can often happen on custom platforms and the effects can be devastating. Make sure everything is in order.

Other things that should be taken into account are XML sitemaps, external tools and e-mail systems (that might’ve run through unsecured channels).

Fix Mixed Content Issues

Many times, after implementing SSL on your website, you will get an exclamation mark instead of a green lock, or might even get the red lock. This error is caused by Mixed Content.

Mixed content actually means that some resources on your website load through HTTPS, but others load through HTTP. When you click the lock icon in the browsers, you should see a message as follow:

Your connection to www.xyz.xyz is encrypted with 256-bit encryption. However, this page includes other resources which are not secure. These resources can be viewed by others while in transit, and can be modified by an attacker to change the behavior of the page.

If you have mixed content, the green lock and secure message won’t appear, even if you have a valid SSL certificate installed.

Update: Starting from December 2019, Google will block mixed content pages, meaning they will show up as unsecure!

To fix this issue, you must identify the resources on your website that are loaded through HTTP and force them to load through HTTPS.

seo mixed content tool

Evil SEO Cactus Mixing Some Content

There are multiple causes that can generate mixed content warnings:

Static links in pages:

Maybe you’ve written an article an linked to a page of yours through an absolute URL. Absolute URLs look like this http://www.cognitiveseo.com/pricing.php while relative ones are just /pricing.php. Relative URLs change automatically, but absolute ones don’t.

You might have also linked to an external site’s image. Since the resource loads through HTTP, it isn’t secured.

Unfortunately, these links won’t change unless you update them manually, as they might not be linked to the platform’s URL generation. In WordPress’ case for example, they don’t change.

You can always try a plugin that fixes mixed content such as SSL Insecure Content Fixer. However, they do not always work.

Another good way of trying to fix everything quick is to download your Database and edit it with a tool such as Notepad++. Then you can find and replace every HTTP instance with HTTPS (start with your own domain first and then expand to external ones).

Warning: Make sure to have a backup of your original database, before any replacing is done.

Mixed content from CSS files:

Sometimes, web design elements such as CSS files can also contain static resources (images) that load through HTTP. Those are a little harder to identify because they can’t be found within the source code of the page (unless the CSS is generated in-line).

Old themes often create this mixed content issue, due to the fact that once upon a time, using HTTP was fine.

A good way of identifying hidden mixed content is to use Google Chrome’s Inspect Tool. Hit CTRL + Shift + I on your keyboard (or hit right Click > Inspect) while browsing a page with mixed content issues. Then you have to go to the Network section. If you press F5, you’ll see all the resources loading.

There you can identify which resource is loaded through HTTP and causes an error. Under the Initiator column you can find the file that is responsible, such as the CSS file. Proceed to edit the CSS file from your server and replace HTTP with HTTPS. Note that if this fix isn’t patched into the Theme itself, updating your theme will overwrite the modified CSS file with the one with problems.

However, this method is time consuming and you won’t be able to analyze every page! You can use the CognitiveSEO Site Audit to speed up the process.

If you’re looking to quickly identify all the mixed content issues on your website you can always check out the CognitiveSEO Site Audit‘s Mixed Content section.

mixed content cognitiveseo

Once you fix things, make sure to recrawl the pages in the tool to see if you’ve missed anything.

Make Sure Everything Works Properly

Switching to HTTPS can often cause issues with plugins, APIs and other functions within the website. Make sure you browse your website properly for a couple of hours and test every segment of it. Access every page to see if it loads and test if the contact forms, online orders and filtering/search features are working properly.

You can also now set HTTP as your preferred version in Google Search Console. WWW vs. non-WWW is irrelevant, but non-WWW tends to be shorter, so there will be more space for the URL when it shows up in Google. However, if you’ve been running on WWW so far, it’s a good idea to keep the WWW even with HTTPS.

Resubmit Disavow File & Change Your Backlinks

Many forget that they have to resubmit the disavow files. If you have ever suffered from a negative SEO attack you must download the disavow file from the HTTP version in Google Search Console and upload it into the HTTPS version. Although the 301 redirects are in place, it’s really important not to forget this step!

A final step would be to change as many of your old backlinks as possible from HTTP to HTTPS. Even with the 301 redirects in place, a small percentage of the link equity might be lost. Start with your social media profiles and backlinks you know you can change for sure in very little time.

It’s not worth it to spend countless hours and e-mail everyone to switch your URL from HTTP to HTTPS, but if you have some way of managing it faster, it’s worth a shot. Gather a list of your contacts on social media and blast them a message asking them to replace the HTTP backlinks with the new HTTPS ones.

Conclusion

Merging from HTTP to HTTPS can help you improve your search rankings. We can’t really go as far as to say it boosts rankings, but even if it doesn’t have any effect on your website right away, you’ll definitely see an improvement over time thanks to a better user experience.

To be honest, the only downside of implementing HTTPS on your website is the fact that it’s a little bit of a tricky process. However, once you get over it and implement it correctly, nothing bad can happen. Your site is safer, your information is safer and your user’s information is safer and that peace of mind is priceless.

What’s your experience with HTTPS and SSL Certificates? Have you encountered problems when merging your domain from one version to another? Have your rankings increased/decreased? Which SSL Certificate provider are you using? I’m curious. Let’s talk about it in the comments section!

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12 Email marketing best practices for sales

Everybody may be talking about witty tweets, quick-tip videos, and memorable memes, but there is one marketing tool that remains powerful after all these years: emails.

But an effective email marketing strategy in the 2000s may not work in 2019 anymore. Chances are, sales offer sent to inboxes will be marked as spam and forever left unopened. In March 2019, spam messages accounted for 56% percent of global email traffic. The challenge is to develop email campaigns that are as appealing and informative as other marketing tools heavily consumed in this age of social media and apps.

Times have changed, and so are email marketing trends. Know what works and what does not. Here is a roundup of 12 effective email marketing tactics you should know about.

1. Truly connect with your audience

At one point in your online life, you may have received tons of offers to buy to join a matchmaking community for veterans or something that’s not even remotely connected to you or your interests. Random mass email blasts like these don’t benefit anyone.

Create an email marketing campaign that connects with your readers. You can do this by dividing your email list into more targeted groups. The Annual Email Optimizer Report by Lyris found numerous benefits of email list segmentation including increased open rates, greater email relevance, and lower opt-out or unsubscribe rates.

You may segment the readers based on age, gender, and location. This will help ensure that you’re sending the right communication to the right people.

Check out this example of a geographically segmented email by UBER for Chicago

Uber email marketing best practice example

2. Customize your blasts

Email marketing tools, like tweets and Instagram ads, should speak directly to a specific reader. There is no better way of doing this than by customizing the content of your emails.

After segmenting your email recipients, get to know them better. What appeals to them? What are they looking for when browsing for products and services? How do they define good customer service? What made them visit a website and subscribe? By familiarizing yourself with your readers, it’ll be easier to customize your emails, follow-ups, and reminders.

For instance, your millennial recipients would love to receive informative yet concise messages with appealing images. The best way to do this is via infographics, which they can also easily share with their circle.

3. Grab your audience’s attention, and keep them interested

Today’s consumers are multi-taskers. They are scrolling their news feeds and checking for work-related emails in between. You are in for a cutthroat competition for your reader’s attention.

Craft creative ways to grab their attention, and hold it until you have delivered your message. You can use witty headlines, visually-appealing images, and straightforward emails. Strictly no click-baits.

You can create urgency, tapping on today’s culture of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Try using “You’re missing out on amazing rewards”, or “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to read this…”.

Humor never fails. The Muse has used the subject, “We like being used” while OpenTable cracked “Licking your phone never tasted so good” in one of its email campaigns.

Example of adding catchy CTAs to marketing emails

Source: Artem Beliaikin via Pexels

4. State a clear call-to-action

So you have successfully earned the attention of your target audience. They also read your message in its entirety. Now what?

Your emails should have a clear purpose which you could achieve with a call-to-action. Do you want your readers to visit your website or subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want them to “Like” your Facebook page or make a purchase in your online store? Lead them to these goals with an effective CTA.

Researchers at Marketing Experiments recommend offering your visitors value at low or no costs in exchange for a click. Avoid asking too much too soon. The researchers found that tweaking commonly-used CTAs have amazing benefits. By changing “Find your solution” to “Learn more”, the clickthrough rate rose by 77%. Using “Subscribe and save” instead of  “View subscription options” led to a +181% clickthrough rate increase.

To encourage a purchase, you can use these CTAs like the ones given below

  • Shop now
  • Save today
  • Yes! I want one
  • Claim your coupon
  • Get 20% off now

To promote content, here are sample CTAs

  • Curious? Read on
  • Read the full story
  • Download now

5. Limit your email blasts

Do you know that an average office worker receives 121 emails per day? That’s a lot. You wouldn’t want your message to be sent to the infamous spam folder for sending too many emails to your subscribers.

People signed up for your updates and newsletters because they are interested in your brand, products or services. They want to stay connected. But this doesn’t give you permission to bombard them with emails. Limit your messages once a week.

6. Craft catchy subject lines or headlines

Email subjects or headlines are deal-breakers. Readers can easily ignore or delete your email with a boring or clickbaity headline. MailChimp conducted an email marketing study and found that short and descriptive subject lines could entice readers.

You can include words that suggest urgency, ask a question or challenge a common notion. Use your segmented email list to craft direct and catchy headlines customized to your readers.

7. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly

recent study suggests that the number of mobile Internet users will hit five billion in 2025. More people are browsing the web, scrolling through social media pages and checking their emails via their handheld devices. Make sure that your email promotions are mobile-optimized. To create a mobile-friendly digital asset, consider the length of texts and visuals. Some image files may not display on smartphones, and others may slow downloading time.

8. Write professional emails

How would you perceive a business that sends out emails fraught with typos and grammar errors? These mistakes will definitely reflect badly on the sender. Always prepare your messages well. Email promotion is no different from any other marketing campaign. Take the time to plan out and draft an outline. Write a copy and proofread it several times. Use a voice that is consistent with your brand.

9. Build an inclusive community

People no longer surf the internet to just get quick information online. They meet others, join groups, and essentially create a world that is as real as their offline sphere. Go the extra mile with your email marketing campaign by letting your readers in an inclusive community. You can share personal updates about your life that don’t necessarily relate to your usual promotions. Perhaps a sneak peek into your work routine or a photo of your puppy or cat? Make your audience feel at home.

Another tip is to keep the conversation going by sending email notifications to users every time someone replied to their comments or whenever a new topic of interest is opened. You can also send updates on community stats such as a list of top users, top comments and most popular topics. These can encourage your users to play a more active role in the community.

10. Giveaway rewards

Giveaway rewards keep subscribers excited for your next blasts and increases the chances of them even sharing your promotions with their network. Budget airline companies are a great example of this as they’re winning the email marketing game through amazing rewards and promos. Their email subscribers get the latest updates on promos and the chance of winning all-expenses-paid trips. Giving away rewards and gifts is a smart way of acknowledging your loyal subscribers.

11. Stay consistent

You may not hit your target email subscribers right away, but that shouldn’t put off your email marketing campaign. Run your campaigns according to schedule. If you promised a special promo to your current list, make sure you deliver on time.

You may get 50 new subscribers this week and only 10 the next, but that should be no reason for you to hold off. Stick with your schedule and the effort will pay off.

12. Run a regular assessment of your campaigns

Know what’s working and what’s not by running a regular assessment of your email marketing campaigns. Wield the power of analytics in deciding how to proceed. You can choose the appropriate metrics, based on your goals. You may measure the clickthrough rate or the rate of readers who clicked on links in an email promotion or the conversion rate or the percentage of readers who completed the desired action such as purchasing a product.

Consider using analytics tools such as EmailAnalytics, Sortd, or Todoist. EmailAnalytics provides pertinent data such as the number of emails received in all your Gmail folders, the number of emails you send every day, who you email and how the conversations proceed. Sortd primarily helps organize email inboxes. It allows you to create categories and set priorities for each. The email workflow you can make in Sortd gives info on how you are performing at each stage of the email campaign. With Todoist, you may convert your inbox into a to-do list in relation to your campaign. It allows you to identify, organize and complete tasks, and run reports on your daily performance.

For sure, email marketing isn’t dead. It just evolved over time. As an entrepreneur or a marketer, it is your task to keep abreast of trends in digital marketing. Consumers today want you to speak to them on a more personal level. Get to know them. Engage them. Reward their loyalty. Remember that your email recipients are people, so connect with them in the most natural way possible.

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