SEO – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:02:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 4 Search Trends That Made Waves in 2017 http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/search-trends-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/search-trends-2017/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:30:23 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23417 For the past two decades, the pinnacle of search sophistication was talking to a search engine like you’re Tarzan. “What are the best hiking boots for men?” became “best hiking boots men.” “How many ounces are there in a pound?” became “number ounces pound.” Question words, articles, adjectives, or any such linguistical fanciness would confuse [...]

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For the past two decades, the pinnacle of search sophistication was talking to a search engine like you’re Tarzan. “What are the best hiking boots for men?” became “best hiking boots men.” “How many ounces are there in a pound?” became “number ounces pound.” Question words, articles, adjectives, or any such linguistical fanciness would confuse the humble algorithms.

But search is finally getting smarter. Search engines can parse whole phrases, decipher intent, zero in on results that will delight the searcher. And search is moving beyond the desktop or even the smartphone touchscreen, accepting new kinds of input, and displaying output in other formats than the standard ranked list of links.

In short: What consumers expect from search engines has evolved, and search engines are changing to meet these expectations. Marketers need to adapt to the new search ecosystem. If we’re still optimizing for Tarzan, we’ll miss an ever-increasing amount of traffic.

Here are four major trends in search that made waves this year, and will continue to reverberate in 2018 and beyond.

#1: Visual Search

This first trend is the newest on the list, but it seems poised to change the search landscape substantially in the future. When every smartphone has a built-in camera, why bother typing or speaking queries when you can search with a picture? Google Lens is an app that can identify buildings, products, text, and read barcodes – and it uses machine learning, meaning it’s going to get more sophisticated over time.

Right now, you can take a picture of a movie poster, book cover, or even consumer products like shampoo or mouthwash, and the app will serve up search results based on the image. The technology isn’t perfect yet, but it should be on every marketer’s radar.

#2: Voice Search

Five years ago, the only reason to talk while using a phone was if you were having an actual conversation with another human being (gross, I know, but those were different times). Now, a growing number of conversations are with Siri and the nameless Google Assistant. Voice search has exploded in popularity, rapidly approaching the tipping point when it will overtake typed search.

Studies say one in five consumers use voice search on their smartphones, and industry experts predict 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

Voice queries tend to be more complex, more like natural human speech, than a typed search query. Marketers optimizing content for voice search should think in long phrases, whole sentences, questions and answers, rather than short keyword phrases. Think of how someone would ask you in person for the information you’re providing, and make sure your content addresses that type of query.

#3: Home Assistants (Smart Speakers)

Voice and visual search ultimately lead to the same result: A screen displaying search engine listings. Search on home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo do away with the screen entirely. The entire interaction is verbal – you ask a question, the smart speaker responds with information.

There are over 35.6 million of these voice-activated assistants on the market right now, a 129% increase over last year. As these devices get smarter and cheaper, we can expect sales to continue to soar.

One of the reasons these home assistants are appealing is they simplify search results. Instead of a page of listings, they give a single definitive answer. To optimize for that type of search, marketers need to pay close attention both to local search and to sites that partner with home assistants, like Yelp and CitySearch for business reviews.

#4: Featured Snippets

For marketers, the point of a search is for the user to click on our link in the SERP and read our carefully-crafted content. For consumers, the point of search is most often to get a single piece of information. Google is on the consumers’ side in this case – they’re constantly adding new features to keep people from having to click search results.

Featured snippets occupy a “rank 0” space in search results, above the actual SERP:

Basically, Google pulls content from one of the top 10 search results and displays it, along with a link to the source. According to Ahrefs’ exhaustive snippets study, these little answer boxes can “steal” nearly 9% of clicks from the top organic listing. And Google is doubling down on the feature, displaying multiple snippets per query, increasing the length of text appearing in the box, even adding a carousel of options readers can browse without clicking through.

The good news for marketers is snippets most often appear for long-tail keywords. If your content is a comprehensive explanation of a topic with multiple sub-topics, you’re already optimizing for snippets.

Me Content, You Audience

Searchers no longer have to dumb down their queries, which means marketers shouldn’t dumb down content to please a search algorithm. Search is getting more convenient, more conversational, and accessible across a wider array of devices.  So it’s time for marketers to evolve our content to match. Unless, of course, your target audience is actually Tarzan.


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How We’re Building a Digital Advertising & SEO Dream Team http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/digital-advertising-seo-dream-team/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/digital-advertising-seo-dream-team/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 11:30:49 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23234 In today’s competitive and content-saturated digital landscape, SEO is no longer a stand-alone, sure-fire way to grab audience attention in the search results. As a result, the role of a search marketer is transforming beyond the traditional walls of organic SEO and merging with the world of digital advertising — and the hunt for skilled [...]

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In today’s competitive and content-saturated digital landscape, SEO is no longer a stand-alone, sure-fire way to grab audience attention in the search results. As a result, the role of a search marketer is transforming beyond the traditional walls of organic SEO and merging with the world of digital advertising — and the hunt for skilled marketers with the right mix of both skillsets is heating up.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re taking part in that hunt.

After more than 15 years as a digital marketing agency, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that the collective talent of our team members is what drives our clients’ success and our company’s success. And we have our sights set on building a dream team.

As a member of the digital advertising and SEO teams, I was recently asked what great search marketing talent looks like. While I’m certainly not the ultimate judge of talent and skill, I will say that I’ve been in this industry since 2013, and I’ve seen many people come and many people go. I’ve seen careers fade out quickly, and I’ve seen other seemingly “overnight success stories” that take off like a rocket.

In my time in the industry, I have tried my hardest to learn from all of those people; learn why some people have fizzled out quickly and why others seem to hit the ground running. With that experience, as well as some of the core building blocks TopRank Marketing has outlined, below I share some of those skills and characteristics that we’re looking for and, really, every company should be looking for in SEO and digital advertising talent.

The Foundation

Like any other profession, there are must-have skills every SEO and/or digital advertising candidate must have. Simply put, I’ve had conversations with some people in hiring positions who simply won’t look at a resume unless it includes these foundational elements:

#1 – Google Certifications

There are numerous industry certifications out there. Honestly, it seems like every tool has their own set of certifications and badges, which may make some candidates think any certification can get your foot in the door. But don’t fall into that false sense of security. At the very least, it’s important to show up for the interview with these two certifications up to date:

  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics

#2 – Other Reputable Industry Certifications

Again, there are a ton of these to chose from. But having well-known and reputable certifications on your resume will show that you have the curiosity and the drive to learn and innovate. Some of those include:

The Structure

So you’ve passed the tests, updated your LinkedIn profile and printed the certificates. Now what? Well, now it’s all about you. Do you have the soft skills and personality traits it takes find fulfillment and do the work well? Here are some of the important qualities we look for in someone who’s interested in coming to TopRank Marketing.

#1 – The curiosity of a cat.

Whether it’s SEO, PPC, social media or any other niche in the world of digital marketing, the best in the industry always have a deep sense of curiosity. They want to understand how things work, and once they understand those innerworkings, they want dig deeper and find out why it works that way.

#2 – An analytical mind.

Being comfortable with analytics tools is more than being able to pass a Google Analytics exam. Now, nobody out there needs to be Avinash Kaushik, but the best in the business know how to go beyond the data and pull insights; they’re looking for ways to make that data actionable. They’re running A/B tests (and they want to run more of them) and experiments, and they work hard trying to communicate data in a way that would make Lea Pica proud.

#3 – Creativity in mind, body and spirit.

This might seem obvious, but great digital marketing professionals are really creative. Creativity doesn’t just mean that they are coming up with new and unique marketing ideas, creativity is who they are. They might spend time digging into art or music. Maybe they spend their time tinkering with things and refinishing old furniture (there’s that curiosity again). I follow quite a few digital marketers who exercise their creative muscle in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. Being comfortable with thinking outside the box and coming up with something new is a skill that you will use often in your digital marketing career.

#4 – A strong business sense.

This doesn’t mean that the best SEOs and digital advertisers need MBAs. It means they understand why they’re doing what they do. It means they understand the impact that their activity has on the business. And it means they can tie KPIs to what matters most to the client/company.

The Spire

The final touch on any magnificent structure is the spire that sits atop. The spire is what stands out across the city skyline. For us, that defining characteristic is simple: An undeniable passion for what you do and who you do it with.

Our company culture is built on the passion our employees have for their work and their respective co-workers. After all, think about how much time you spend at the office. Without some love for the tasks and people who occupy that time, personal satisfaction and excellence can’t be found.

Interested in Joining the TopRank Marketing Dream Team?

That’s fantastic news. We happen to be hiring! Check out our Careers page to see a full list of open positions ranging from digital advertising and SEO to content and design.


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What You Need to Know About Optimizing Content for Voice Search http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/voice-search-optimization/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/voice-search-optimization/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 10:30:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23186 Voice Search Content Optimization

Voice Search Content Optimization

Thanks to the emergence of technologies such as mobile personal assistants, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Cortana, and others, there’s no doubt that voice search is on the rise. These days, consumers can send text messages while driving or use a mobile personal assistant to complete simple actions. In fact, Gartner predicts that about 30% of searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020. In addition, another study from ComScore, states that voice searches will account for nearly 50% of searches, too.

That means we marketers need to start thinking how we can get our content in front of our audience via voice search channels. While optimizing content for voice search can seem daunting, there are a few easy tips that can help you start gaining more visibility for those types of queries.

Focus on Featured Snippets

We continue to see featured snippets more and more in search engine results pages (SERPs). These SERP features show qualified results right on the SERP, which can lead to quicker answers to questions. In addition to speeding up the way people are receiving answers on Google, we know that featured snippets drive more organic website traffic, too. Featured snippets can help you leapfrog competition on a SERP to gain more visibility as opposed to only relying on a main keyword ranking. Here's an example of one of TopRank Marketing's own featured snippets.

Featured Snippet Example

Back in July, Britney Muller of Moz gave a presentation at MnSearch about the future of SEO. One area that she focused on was how to rank for featured snippets. The reason Muller focused on this area for the future of SEO was because voice search is fueled by them. With that in mind, she outlined what she thought was the top five ranking factors for featured snippets:

  • Links
  • Quality content
  • On-page optimization
  • Engagement metrics
  • Speed

Each ranking factor is not new to the SEO industry, but they make sense to focus on. Links are still an important ranking factor, as well as content quality and on-page optimization. Engagement metrics and site speed have also been important, but the focus is increasing for these areas. Both areas relate to the experience on mobile devices, since that is where the majority of voice searches are coming from.

To find featured snippets to target, use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to reverse engineer the content. Most of the time, the featured snippets are around 40 to 50 words, so it is important to keep your content clear for the intent. To trigger a featured snippet, use conversational language and/or questions. A quick way to leverage question based featured results is to create a FAQ page with common questions about your business or industry.

Use Conversational Keywords

Speaking of conversational keyword queries, they help reveal the intent more clearly than the “money" (or more traditional) keywords. This often leads to longer queries for voice searches. For example, a traditional "money" keyword may be something like "content marketing software." But a more conversational, voice search keyword query may be something like "what is the best content marketing software."

Google has been encouraging this type of behavior for years, especially with the Hummingbird update back in 2013. People communicate with conversations, not just keywords. Associating the right keywords with concepts helps the overall content quality as opposed to targeting only one or a couple keywords per page. So, it’s important to identify the keywords that people search for, but focus on creating the content that is more conversational.

When it comes to local search, include keywords or landmarks that people in the neighborhood would use. That way, search engines can correlate the content with a geographical area, which can help increase the local visibility for that piece of content. After all, many voice searches are from people looking for directions to local businesses.

Another area to get more conversation queries is from your chat feature on your website (if you have one). People will use a conversational dialog when using a chat function, which could lead you to create content that your audience is directly looking for.

Add Structured Data Markup

Schema markup helps search engines understand what the content is on websites. By helping search engines understand the context of the content, they can provide more informative results for users. Adding schema markup for local businesses can help a business show up in local results for general business information. This information can be highly beneficial for voice searches for directions and phone numbers. Schema.org is a great place to start if you want to learn more.

Schema.org Homepage

If you have a brick and mortar location, you should add schema markup for each place and create a Google My Business listing (and other local citations) to help your audience find you. Voice searches greatly impact local SEO for review websites like Yelp and other third-party websites. Optimize your local citations to make sure they are all correct and consistent. Here's an example from Target. As you can see, the listing includes information on its headquarters and number of locations, as well as links to social profiles.

Google My Business Listing for Target

Beyond Voice Search

While the rise of voice search deserves your attention and action, it’s still just one piece of your content marketing strategy. As always, it’s important to focus on creating content that helps solves your audience's problems.

From our perspective, by creating quality, conversational and structured content, you’ll not only be optimizing your content for voice search, but for the future, too. Why? Because voice search is not the end of the search revolution.

Beyond voice search, we will soon be coming across predictive response, which is related to getting your products or services in front of a targeted audience without them evening looking for it. With that in mind, it will be important to create content that is conversational and impactful.

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Voice Search Content Optimization

Voice Search Content Optimization Thanks to the emergence of technologies such as mobile personal assistants, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Cortana, and others, there’s no doubt that voice search is on the rise. These days, consumers can send text messages while driving or use a mobile personal assistant to complete simple actions. In fact, Gartner predicts that about 30% of searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020. In addition, another study from ComScore, states that voice searches will account for nearly 50% of searches, too. That means we marketers need to start thinking how we can get our content in front of our audience via voice search channels. While optimizing content for voice search can seem daunting, there are a few easy tips that can help you start gaining more visibility for those types of queries.

Focus on Featured Snippets

We continue to see featured snippets more and more in search engine results pages (SERPs). These SERP features show qualified results right on the SERP, which can lead to quicker answers to questions. In addition to speeding up the way people are receiving answers on Google, we know that featured snippets drive more organic website traffic, too. Featured snippets can help you leapfrog competition on a SERP to gain more visibility as opposed to only relying on a main keyword ranking. Here's an example of one of TopRank Marketing's own featured snippets. Featured Snippet Example Back in July, Britney Muller of Moz gave a presentation at MnSearch about the future of SEO. One area that she focused on was how to rank for featured snippets. The reason Muller focused on this area for the future of SEO was because voice search is fueled by them. With that in mind, she outlined what she thought was the top five ranking factors for featured snippets:
  • Links
  • Quality content
  • On-page optimization
  • Engagement metrics
  • Speed
Each ranking factor is not new to the SEO industry, but they make sense to focus on. Links are still an important ranking factor, as well as content quality and on-page optimization. Engagement metrics and site speed have also been important, but the focus is increasing for these areas. Both areas relate to the experience on mobile devices, since that is where the majority of voice searches are coming from. To find featured snippets to target, use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to reverse engineer the content. Most of the time, the featured snippets are around 40 to 50 words, so it is important to keep your content clear for the intent. To trigger a featured snippet, use conversational language and/or questions. A quick way to leverage question based featured results is to create a FAQ page with common questions about your business or industry.

Use Conversational Keywords

Speaking of conversational keyword queries, they help reveal the intent more clearly than the “money" (or more traditional) keywords. This often leads to longer queries for voice searches. For example, a traditional "money" keyword may be something like "content marketing software." But a more conversational, voice search keyword query may be something like "what is the best content marketing software." Google has been encouraging this type of behavior for years, especially with the Hummingbird update back in 2013. People communicate with conversations, not just keywords. Associating the right keywords with concepts helps the overall content quality as opposed to targeting only one or a couple keywords per page. So, it’s important to identify the keywords that people search for, but focus on creating the content that is more conversational. When it comes to local search, include keywords or landmarks that people in the neighborhood would use. That way, search engines can correlate the content with a geographical area, which can help increase the local visibility for that piece of content. After all, many voice searches are from people looking for directions to local businesses. Another area to get more conversation queries is from your chat feature on your website (if you have one). People will use a conversational dialog when using a chat function, which could lead you to create content that your audience is directly looking for.

Add Structured Data Markup

Schema markup helps search engines understand what the content is on websites. By helping search engines understand the context of the content, they can provide more informative results for users. Adding schema markup for local businesses can help a business show up in local results for general business information. This information can be highly beneficial for voice searches for directions and phone numbers. Schema.org is a great place to start if you want to learn more. Schema.org Homepage If you have a brick and mortar location, you should add schema markup for each place and create a Google My Business listing (and other local citations) to help your audience find you. Voice searches greatly impact local SEO for review websites like Yelp and other third-party websites. Optimize your local citations to make sure they are all correct and consistent. Here's an example from Target. As you can see, the listing includes information on its headquarters and number of locations, as well as links to social profiles. Google My Business Listing for Target

Beyond Voice Search

While the rise of voice search deserves your attention and action, it’s still just one piece of your content marketing strategy. As always, it’s important to focus on creating content that helps solves your audience's problems. From our perspective, by creating quality, conversational and structured content, you’ll not only be optimizing your content for voice search, but for the future, too. Why? Because voice search is not the end of the search revolution. Beyond voice search, we will soon be coming across predictive response, which is related to getting your products or services in front of a targeted audience without them evening looking for it. With that in mind, it will be important to create content that is conversational and impactful.

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Create Ranking Content by Conquering Competitive Keywords http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/content-competitive-keywords/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/content-competitive-keywords/#respond Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22825 Content marketing and SEO have become more challenging over the last couple years. But why? SEO has become more data driven to help search marketers prioritize what keywords they should be targeting and how to setup a proper strategy. Additionally, the increase in digital competition and investment from companies has had a significant impact. To [...]

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Learn how to Conquer Competitive Keywords

Content marketing and SEO have become more challenging over the last couple years. But why? SEO has become more data driven to help search marketers prioritize what keywords they should be targeting and how to setup a proper strategy. Additionally, the increase in digital competition and investment from companies has had a significant impact.

To conquer any keyword you want to rank for, there are multiple steps that you should take as a marketer to see the best return on your investment. SEO still works and is not “dead.” Instead, SEO takes patience and dedication to see the results that you are expecting. There are no silver bullets for search engine optimization. With that being said, let’s go through the steps to rank for competitive keywords.

Keyword Competition Analysis

When selecting keywords, it’s important to look at both keyword search volume and competition. Keyword search volume is a metric to help marketers understand the demand. Finding keywords with a high amount of search volume is great, but more search volume generally brings more competition. It’s essential understand how competitive the keyword is before trying to target it on your page. Knowing the level of competition helps set expectations on how long and the effort it might take to rank for the keyword. Most keyword research tools have a keyword competition or difficulty metric to help search marketers find viable keywords. The goal is to find a keyword that has a decent amount of search volume and a lower competition level.

Competitive Landscape Analysis

After choosing the keywords that you want to target, you should do a more thorough competitive analysis to see what the currently ranking sites are doing. By analyzing what each competitor and ranking domain is doing already, you can find commonalities to use for your piece of content. Common elements to analyze when doing a competitor analysis are title tags, meta descriptions, H1 heading tags, common keywords used, page authority/external links pointing to the page, content length, pagespeed, and internal links pointing to the target page.

Running a competitive analysis on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a keyword will allow you to understand what elements are important to rank your piece of content. The analysis also helps when you are setting expectations with key stakeholders about the timing on when the piece of content might start ranking/performing to expectations.

Create 10x Content

Content marketers know that creating 10x content is much more difficult than you might initially thing. I want to avoid saying go create great content, because most people don’t fully understand what great content is. Instead, focus on creating content that you are proud of and what you think your audience will enjoy. Each piece of content should serve a purpose to solve problems that your audience is experiencing.

10x content doesn’t only have to be blog or page content. Start thinking outside the box with videos, infographics, interactive eBooks, or podcasts that can also be optimized. By focusing on other types of content you can create more engaging content for your audience.

Once you publish your 10x content, make sure you slot time to come back and review how it is performing in search. Use a tool like Google Search Console to see what search queries the page is getting impressions for to either reoptimize or rewrite the content to get even more visibility.

Publishing Supporting Content

After creating your piece of 10x content, you will need to add relevant internal links to the page from historic content and new content that you publish. When creating supporting content, make sure you avoid cannibalizing your keyword targets to avoid a reduction in organic performance.

To build evergreen content, focus on creating a hub of content. To create a hub you should identify a pillar page that is the key focal point for the topic. Your pillar page should be the authoritative piece of content that consistently ranks for multiple keywords. The page is supported with other pieces of content that internally links back to the pillar page to get more internal authority.

Promotion and External Backlinks

SEO is not a promotion tactic. Publishing content and hoping that it ranks is not a viable strategy for marketing anymore. Instead, the content needs to have some level of promotion, which could include paid/social ads, social promotion, and getting external backlinks to the page. Each channel is an important part of gaining exposure for your piece of content. Generally, a small paid campaign can help you analyze how the content is performing with your selected audience sample. From the paid campaign, you can gain valuable insights into whether the piece of content is engaging to users.

Another important SEO aspect to focus on is receiving external backlinks to your content. External backlinks are still an important ranking factor for SEO and needs to be thought about when creating your strategy. A couple ways to get external backlinks is to leverage the Skyscraper Technique (coined by Brian Dean) and signing up HARO.  The Skyscraper Technique is when you create better content than your competitors and reach out to the sites linking to your competitor’s content to get backlinks to your piece of content. You can also sign up for HARO to help reporters answer questions related to your industry or piece of content.

Go Conquer Your Keywords

Even though content marketing and SEO have become more challenging, there is still a lot that can be done to garner great results. Instead of creating more content, focus on creating better content that you are proud of. Take the time to analyze the keyword competition and competitive landscape before drafting your content to set yourself up for success. Then create your 10x content and promote it to see the best organic results.

The good news is that TopRank Marketing is ready to help you if you are struggling with your SEO strategy and content planning.


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6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/seo-b2b-content-planning/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/seo-b2b-content-planning/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:30:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22791 When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to [...]

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When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to meet them whenever and wherever they’re searching.

As a result, striking that “perfect balance” between SEO and user experience is a must—and that perfect balance is rooted in the content planning stage.

“SEO needs to be baked into the process early so that the optimization is as natural as possible,” Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing SEO analyst, says. “It can’t be treated as an afterthought. It’s not only more efficient to do your research up front, but it also enhances the content by helping you touch on the specific phrases your audience is using to search to solve their pain points or answer their questions.”

But there’s a little hitch—SEO research can be overwhelming for content creators. We’re often strapped for time and it’s easy to fall down a less-than-productive SEO rabbit hole. In addition, some of us may feel we don’t have the needed expertise or tools.

The good news is that you don’t need to fanciest tools or a dedicated background in SEO to craft great SEO-driven content. Below are a handful of helpful research tactics you can use to make the most of your time and create a content plan that’s flush with solid topics.

#1 – Perform incognito searches for your most important keywords.

Your team has likely developed a list of core keywords and topics that are incredibly important to your brand from a service and search standpoint. And you’ve likely begun to create content around those key topical areas and you’re seeing some movement in the SERPs. Naturally, your ultimate goal is to get your content to the top of Page 1 search results. But have you taken the time to dig in and draw insights from the content you’re hoping to dethrone?

Incognito searches using your priority keywords can help you uncover some of those important insights. An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, allowing for a more accurate picture of search results. As my colleague Jesse Pickrain so eloquently said in one of my recent posts on finding B2B content marketing inspiration: “There’s gold in them thar SERPs.”

Once you’re served up with some results, spend about 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the content in the top three to five spots. Your goal should be to learn how the content is structured, identify the perceived value it provides your audience, the main pain points it addresses, and ultimately if you have the ability to create something better than what’s ranking at the top. In addition, take a peek at the “related searches” area so you can see other queries that match the search intent of your original search for more clarity and direction for planning your content.

Let’s take the keyword topic “content marketing planning” as an example. At first glance, I see the top results all offer frameworks or tactical guides.

Content Marketing Planning Search in Incognito Window

As I dig in, I can see that four of the top five are all in-depth, long-form pieces, and the content is organized using a range of heading tags and bulleted sections to make it easy to scan. But I also notice that “content marketing planning” isn’t an exact keyword match, rather “content marketing strategy” is present in nearly all of the pieces.

In addition, I can see that the related searches have several variations of “content marketing strategy.” After clicking around in those results, I can see that a lot of the same content is coming up in the top five, but there’s a broader mix as the queries get more specific.

Searches Related to Content Marketing Planning

Roughly 10 minutes later, I’ve pulled some very valuable insights:

  • Long-form content wins for this topic and search intent, and people are looking for detailed plans, examples and templates to make their lives easier.
  • More people are searching for strategy-related keywords, which tells me that “content marketing strategy” may be more relevant or have higher volume, but it’s likely a more competitive keyword term.
  • It’s going to be difficult to crack the top spots for short-tail keywords, but longer-tail or more specific, related search queries definitely have some opportunity.

Based on these insights, as well as my knowledge of existing content, I can start to flush out some relevant concepts that are on-topic and SEO-infused, and guided by the top-performing content that’s already out there. My goal now is to craft a concept that will provide a better answer than what currently exists.

#2 – Consult Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool for low-hanging opportunities or additional insight.

The Keyword Planner tool within Google AdWords is often a go-to research tool for SEO and developing paid search campaigns, providing cost-per-click data and average search volume estimates to help you judge competitiveness and relevancy.

When it comes to content planning, this data along with keyword topic and query suggestions, can help you identify low-hanging opportunities or further refine the other research you’ve already done.

Building off my previous example of “content marketing planning,” I know that my incognito search revealed that “content marketing strategy” was a heavily-related keyword from a search intent standpoint. I can now use the keyword planner to dive deeper into the competitiveness surrounding both variations, as well as related keywords, to further refine my concepts.

Keyword Planner Tool Example

#3- Review Google Search Console to see what keywords your existing content is already ranking for.

In my opinion, Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, is one of the most helpful SEO and content planning tools out there. From a technical standpoint, Google Search Console enables you to monitor and maintain your entire website’s presence in Google search results. But from a content planning perspective, Google Search Console allows you to see which queries actually caused your site’s content to appear in search results.

The best part? You can filter by page, allowing you to see how a specific piece of content is drawing visibility. This means you can not only find opportunities to optimize existing content with other related keywords it’s coming up for, but also identify gaps and related topics that can spawn additional content.

#4 – Look to evergreen content for inspiration.

Chances are you have some really solid, evergreen pieces of content that are driving in huge amounts traffic. Why? Because that content is doing a great job at providing the answers searchers seek—and you can build off that.

Use the Google Search Console tip to understand which queries are getting eyeballs on that content, and be on the lookout for:

  • Contextual nuances. Does it appear that your content isn’t the best answer for certain queries? If so, this is a golden opportunity to create new content that can better answer that query.
  • Content branches. You may find that some of the queries your content is coming up for centers on a specific section of your content. If so, that may be an opportunity to drill-in deeper on that specific topic.
  • Follow up questions. When you’re able to see the wide range of queries your existing content is coming up for, you can get a bigger picture of what questions your audience may ask next. If you identify next questions, you can create best-answer content and add add a call to action to that evergreen piece so readers can continue their journey.

#5 – Leverage free tools and Q&A platforms to uncover burning questions.

At TopRank Marketing, we believe that striving to be the best answer wherever and whenever your audience is searching is the key to creating content that resonates. Luckily, there are a number of free platforms and tools such as QuoraAnswer the PublicUbersuggest, and Keyword Tool.io that can provide quick answers and long-tail search opportunities.

Once you’ve discovered some of those burning questions, you can use the incognito search tip to understand what content already exists out there for that question, and determine how you can answer the question better and provide more value to searchers.

#6 – Use social media to get keywords and content topics directly from your audience.

Social media is all about giving people a place to share their thoughts and experiences with one another. So why not take advantage of your community’s willingness to share by asking engaging and thoughtful questions to tap into their insights?

A great example of this in action are Twitter polls, which allow people to weigh in on a specific topics as well as continue the conversation through the reply function. And, while they’re not exactly scientific, polls and social discussions can actually be a chunk of your content as you can feature the responses you get in the content to add more authenticity and perspective.

Don’t Fail to Plan

As the old adage goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And when it comes to crafting effective content, SEO needs to be part of the content marketing planning process if you want to drive results. Use these tips to help make it an easy and efficient part of the process.

What are some interesting ways you conduct SEO research for your B2B brand? Tell us in the comments section.


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3 Important Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/social-media-boost-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/social-media-boost-seo/#respond Wed, 28 Jun 2017 10:30:58 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22493 Today, there’s little doubt among marketers that SEO and social media are two must-have components of any effective digital marketing strategy. After all, SEO is arguably the founding-father-tactic of digital marketing, and social media is the place on the web where our audiences gather, share and engage every day. But over the years, there’s been [...]

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Today, there’s little doubt among marketers that SEO and social media are two must-have components of any effective digital marketing strategy. After all, SEO is arguably the founding-father-tactic of digital marketing, and social media is the place on the web where our audiences gather, share and engage every day.

But over the years, there’s been some confusion on how these two tactics work together to achieve marketing results—and understandably so. Back in 2010, Google told Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that links shared on Facebook and Twitter were used as a ranking signal. Then in 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts released a video stating Facebook and Twitter pages were “currently” treated like any other web page for search—i.e. social media was no longer a direct ranking factor.

However, regardless of whether social signals are used as a ranking factor—when done right—social media can most definitely enhance your SEO efforts. How? Below I share three reasons why, as well as some tips to make your social content more SEO friendly.

#1 – Your social media efforts can lead to quality backlinks.

While ranking science on backlinks has evolved over the years, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines. As a result, link building or link earning is still a widely-used tactic among marketers—and your social media pages can be the perfect staging ground for enticing links.

The logic here is pretty simple. Social media marketing is all about sharing your best of the best content, and fostering engagement around that content. The more engaging your content, the more people will share, and the more opportunities people will have to find and link to your content.

#2 – Social media increases the visibility of your content—which is ultimately the goal of SEO.

Social media pages give your website and blog content another place to live and encourage discussion. And while your pages can be so much more than a promotional platform, one of the greatest social media benefits is the potential reach your content could get.

Of course, I asked my TopRank Marketing comrade Steve Slater, Digital Advertising & SEO Manager, to weigh in here, too. Here’s what he had to say.

“Whether or not social shares and metrics have an impact on ranking without them you are 100% at the mercy of Google organic,” he said. “Without social or paid or any promotional efforts, you are basically hitting publish and hoping for the best. You’re hoping that your content will just ‘go viral and take off.’ So, I think the question is not really, do social signals impact rankings? But rather, is anyone going to see this if I don’t promote it?”

#3 – Social media helps build brand awareness—which can carry over to users’ search queries.

Your social media pages add another digital space for your target audience to find you and engage with you, allowing you to build up your audience and your brand. Of course, when this happens people will more easily recognize you in search and be more inclined to click. In addition, that brand awareness you’ve built on social could mean more branded organic search traffic coming to your site or your other social pages (since those often rank in branded searches, too).

Quick Tips to Intertwine Social & SEO

While social media can add a nice little boost to your SEO efforts, the reverse—of course—is also true. Here are a couple quick tips for marrying social content and SEO.

  • Optimize your posts and profiles. Social media platforms are search engines. So, make sure craft your posts with both users and SEO in mind. In addition, optimize your social profiles with the same logic.
  • Leverage hashtags in the right way. Especially when it comes to Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are how people find the content they’re looking for; hashtags are their search queries. Research hashtag best practices for each platform to understand if and how to use them. In addition, make sure you understand what hashtags actually mean, so you can use them in the appropriate way for each platform. Use the native search box within social platforms, as well as tools such as Hashtagify.me or Hashtags.org.
  • Draft optimized social messages when you’re crafting new content. Any content you’re creating for your website or blog should have an SEO component. As you’re creating this content, create several optimized social posts to go along with it. This will help you create relevant messages that can be found in native searches.
  • Use mentioning and tagging to build more relevance—and signal influencers. Mentioning and tagging other pages and users in your content is one of the best ways to amplify your posts. Not only do those you tag and mention get notified when you do so, but they’ll be more compelled to engage on your post or share your post with their audience. And as mentioned above, the more shares and engagement, the better the reach and the more potential for driving quality traffic and backlinks.

Be the Best Answer for Your Audience

At TopRank Marketing, we practice what our CEO Lee Odden likes to call “The Best Answer Strategy.” For marketers, this means crafting an integrated marketing strategy that helps you be the best answer for your audience—whenever and wherever your audience is searching. And a component of that strategy is certainly leveraging social media marketing and SEO individually, and together.

For more best answer tips, continue to peruse the TopRank Marketing blog, and feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments of any post.


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3 Reasons You’re Not Getting the SEO Budget You Need to Be Successful http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/seo-budget-successful/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/seo-budget-successful/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:30:48 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22460 I have heard digital marketers say that Search Engine Optimization is “free” traffic. I want to help set the record straight by letting you know that SEO is not “free.” Budgets are still needed to write content and have a SEO consultant work on a website. There have been multiple times in my career that [...]

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SEO Budget

I have heard digital marketers say that Search Engine Optimization is “free” traffic. I want to help set the record straight by letting you know that SEO is not “free.” Budgets are still needed to write content and have a SEO consultant work on a website.

There have been multiple times in my career that I needed to create a compelling argument for more budget for an SEO campaign. These types of recommendations are often challenged, yet thousands of dollars for PPC can be spent without blinking an eye. Some marketers would say it’s easier to see the ROI on ad spend compared to the SEO campaigns and initiatives that we are also running.

There are a three reasons that SEO specialists struggle to get the budgets they want compared to their digital advertising counterparts including:

  1. SEO is a long-term strategy
  2. Proving ROI for SEO
  3. Potential SEO risks from blackhat tactics

Now is the time to learn how to showcase the importance of SEO and fight for the budget that it needs to make your website successful from an organic standpoint. Below are some top tips for getting the SEO budget that you want and need to show success.

SEO is a long-term strategy

The first step to getting the budget you request is educating your team and decision makers that SEO is a long-term strategy. Of course, there are SEO tactics that you can complete, but SEO takes time to work when done correctly.

By providing education and information, you are able to build trust from the start and setting realistic expectations for all parties involved.

The competitive nature of your industry will also determine how much SEO budget you will need. A competitive industry should expect to pay more money to be aggressive to gain more visibility. Competitive industries usually take a longer time to penetrate from an SEO standpoint and will need a more advanced strategy to succeed.

Most seasoned SEO specialists can provide an estimate on when a website will see an organic benefit, especially when prioritizing tactics. State that from the list of prioritized SEO tactics, you can estimated that the website will begin to see organic performance improvements within a couple weeks to months.

Proving ROI for SEO campaigns

This might be the most important reason you are not getting the budget you are requesting. SEO can be hard to attribute success to if you don’t plan for it. Tracking and monitoring your analytics is crucial to success. Often, SEO teams will report on the wrong metrics like sessions, bounce rate and keyword rankings. Those vanity metrics are important to track but not necessarily to the most essential metrics to share with an executive. Instead, focus on showing how many conversions were generated through organic sessions.

Then, it’s important to come to a consensus on what those conversions normally net for ROI. That way you can show an estimate on revenue from the organic campaigns. ead of monetary value.

SEO teams can also leverage information about what the company is investing in PPC efforts to create a budget and SEO strategy to rank for those keywords organically, potentially saving the company money. Then, that money that is saved can be reallocated to other paid efforts or additional SEO campaigns.

The potential SEO risks of negative tactics from previous SEO consultants

Most marketers are aware of the negative or blackhat SEO tactics from the past (and present). The real issue with these tactics is once discovered, it can be difficult to reverse the impact. More often than not, webmasters who have been hit with a SEO penalty can be reluctant to work with other SEO vendors. Additionally, there a multiple websites online that are willing to charge a low amount of money while providing guarantees that are meaningless. Blackhat tactics and terrible guarantees shine a bad light on the search industry.

When searching for a potential agency or partner for SEO, be sure that they are not implementing blackhat SEO tactics as they can have a long-term impact.

Time to get your SEO budget

SEO is a tried-and-true, cornerstone tactic of successful digital marketing programs. If you’re struggling to get the budget you need, the tips above can help you secure a SEO budget that will help you meet your marketing goals.

If you’re on the hunt for an agency to help you meet your organic search goals, take a look at our Search Engine Optimization services to see if we are a fit for your needs.


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The Big Top: A New Model for SEO-Driven Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/content-marketing-big-top/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/content-marketing-big-top/#comments Thu, 08 Jun 2017 10:30:12 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22419 For over a decade now, the fundamental unit of content marketing has been the blog post. Your post may be a block of text, an infographic, or a listicle about memes, but the underlying structure is the same. A regular cadence of posts to the company blog is the foundation of most content marketing strategies. [...]

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For over a decade now, the fundamental unit of content marketing has been the blog post. Your post may be a block of text, an infographic, or a listicle about memes, but the underlying structure is the same. A regular cadence of posts to the company blog is the foundation of most content marketing strategies.

The problem is, each individual blog post has only a small window of effectiveness for SEO. A post might go viral, get hundreds of shares, and then sit in your archives for eternity. Identifying and promoting evergreen content can get more mileage out of a good post. But by nature and design, these posts aren’t built to be an enduring SEO resource. Think about it: When was the last time you clicked through on a blog post that was over a year old?

That’s not to say you should stop blogging altogether, of course. Blogs generate subscribers, help promote gated assets, contribute to thought leadership—all worthwhile goals for content marketers. But as SEO continues to evolve, it’s time for new models of SEO-driven content.

At TopRank Marketing, we’ve been working on a new way to integrate SEO and content to build longer-lasting, more valuable resources. Essentially, it’s reverse-engineering evergreen content, purposefully building well-supported “tentpole” content with SEO baked in.

Here’s how to design a content strategy I’m calling the “Big Top” model.

#1: Create Your Tentpole(s)

The tentpole content is the big asset that the rest of your strategy will be supporting. It should be a comprehensive take on a single topic relevant to your business and your audience, one with plenty of opportunities to crosslink with supporting content.

Research topics and keywords for your tentpole the way you would any best answer content: listen to customers, evaluate competing content, and use tools like Bloomberry and UberSuggest.

What will make your content into a tentpole instead of a blog post are a few distinguishing features:

  • A tentpole should be between 1500 and 3000 words.
  • Your tentpole will cover multiple aspects of your topic, divided into 250-300 word sections, each section based on long-tail keywords.
  • This last one is key. Your tentpole will not live on your blog. It should have a permanent place of pride, preferably not more than two clicks deep into your site, with a short URL. A “Resources” section is the ideal place.

You can break up the sections in your tentpole with eye-catching visuals, embedded SlideShare or video content, even CTAs to gated content.

Your tentpole is a prime location or influencer engagement as well. Curate quotes from influencers to highlight in the text—or, better yet, reach out to influencers to co-create and cross-promote the content.

Here’s a good example of a tentpole piece our client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions published earlier this year: How to Advertise on LinkedIn. Notice it’s not a post on their blog; it’s a standalone resource. This piece is currently ranking at the top of the SERP for “How to advertise on LinkedIn.”

You don’t have to limit your strategy to a single tentpole, either. If you have multiple topics that you can cover in depth and at length, create a pole for each one.

#2: Create Your Stakes

Your “stakes” are blog posts that will connect to the tentpole, driving traffic to it from your blog and boosting the blog’s SEO as well. There are several ways to create a supporting stake:

  • Take one 200-300 word section and expand it with supplemental material to 750 words or so, as the content requires
  • Cover a related topic that naturally links to your tentpole
  • Create an announcement post for the tentpole launch
  • Do an influencer roundup on a topic related to your tentpole

Each stake should have a CTA to the tentpole. If you have anchor links for navigation, as in our example above, you can also link to specific subsections that are relevant to the post.

#3: Connect Your Guylines

Guylines connect the stakes to the tentpole, providing stability and structure. In content terms, that means creating links from your supporting content to the tentpole and vice versa. The goal is to create a destination that users can explore, following their interest through multiple pieces of content, back and forth from the pole. This kind of structuring provides value for your readers, and increases positive search engine signals like time-on-site and session length.

As you develop more tentpoles, look for opportunities to link them together. Make sure each link is a logical next step for your reader. Over time, your “content big top” can become a full-fledged three-ring circus.

#4: Say, “Come One! Come All!”

Support your tentpole launch with all the amplifying force you have:

  • Use stats or quotes to make social media ads
  • Publish excerpts (or one of your stakes in its entirety) on sites like LinkedIn and Medium
  • Encourage influencer amplification
  • Seek out guest posting opportunities

These promotional efforts will build on your tentpole’s native SEO value, giving it some momentum that will help build external links and bring in organic results.

Make Your Content the Greatest Show on Earth

The Ringling Brothers have put up their big top for the last time, but your big top content can last for years to come. Just remember to keep it relevant; plan for regular updates and revisions (which are a great opportunity to re-promote the content).

The humble blog post is still a fundamental unit of content marketing. But when you supplement the blog with SEO-optimized tentpole content, the results can be… in tents.

Want to learn more about best answer content? Check out these 6 inspiring examples.


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Q&A: TopRank Marketing’s SEO Experts Share Tips for Creating Better Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/seo-tips-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/seo-tips-content/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 10:30:21 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22384 As a member of TopRank Marketing’s (epic) content team, it’s certainly no surprise that I spend much of my day developing and executing content strategies for the wide array of client programs I work on. And as I settle in for a content extravaganza each day, my work is guided by an important agency principle: [...]

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As a member of TopRank Marketing’s (epic) content team, it’s certainly no surprise that I spend much of my day developing and executing content strategies for the wide array of client programs I work on.

And as I settle in for a content extravaganza each day, my work is guided by an important agency principle: Create content that allows our clients to be the best answer for their audience.

Lucky for me—and perhaps unlucky for them—my work station is strategically placed within staring and shouting distance of every one of our SEO experts. As seasoned marketers know, quality and strategic SEO is absolutely key to crafting content that helps you satisfy your audience’s quest for answers. So, I’m often picking the brains of my neighbors to help me create content that will get results.

Today, I summoned insights  from three members of our SEO team to share with you. Below you’ll find some helpful tips and insights for better leveraging SEO within your content planning and creation efforts.

What does the “perfect balance” between SEO and user experience look like?

User experience should have the “perfect balance” of SEO without anyone realizing that it’s been optimized already. The SEO aspect of content or user experience should be baked into the process early so that the optimization is as natural as possible.

The Takeaway: Make SEO an intricate part of your content planning and creation process, rather than an afterthought.

Kevin Cotch, SEO Analyst

 

How can marketers leverage existing content to take advantage of SEO opportunities?

I have two favorite ways to use existing content to take advantage of SEO opportunities. The first one is to look for evergreen content that doesn’t really move KPIs. For example, I love to find a blog post that drives thousands of visits and doesn’t really drive many leads. Chances are that post does a great job answering a searcher’s question and that’s why it is receiving loads of organic traffic. I like to try and figure out what question the searcher will ask next. Once you’ve figured that out you can add a call to action that offers an opt in to an email campaign or offer the visitor a downloadable asset.

You can also leverage existing content by identifying what Google doesn’t like. Many companies have multiple blog posts about ancient holiday parties, volunteer events, etc. Google will spend time and resources adding that content to their index and then never let it see the light of day. I like to look for pages and posts that are indexable and don’t receive organic traffic. Then I do one of two things. I either tell Google to ignore it or I try to improve the content so it is of value to searchers.

The Takeaway: Your work doesn’t end when your content is published. Take the time to analyze how your content is performing, and take advantage of opportunities to make it better for the user and search engines.

Steve Slater, Digital Advertising & SEO Manager

What are some key characteristics of “good” SEO content?

Overall, I think that the most important factors that make a piece of content good for SEO (i.e. robots) are the same as those that make content good for users (i.e. humans).

The best content:

  • Is targeted towards a specific niche
  • Is built upon an understanding of which questions and pain points are relevant to said niche
  • Delivers value to readers by answering questions or helping to address pain points

The Takeaway: When you understand what your audience is searching for you can create amazing content that delivers value to people and search engines.

Evan Prokop, Senior Analytics Manager

 

Bonus: What’s one of the quickest ways to evaluate a piece of content’s SEO value or opportunities?

Kevin: One of the quickest ways to evaluate a piece of content’s SEO value or opportunities would be seeing how many organic conversions it drives. Organic conversions can range from actual purchases to subscribing to an email list. Marketers should put less emphasis on keyword rankings for SEO value as there are more than just one keyword that drives people (organically) to a website or conversion.

Steve: One of the quickest ways to evaluate a piece of content’s SEO value is to look at the Organic Landing Page report in Google Analytics. This report tells you the pages that searchers land on right after they see search results. This means that the pages in this report are the pages that come up in search results. When you are looking through this report you can identify pages that drive conversions and you can also identify pages that drive searchers back to Google to look for a better answer.

Evan: Put yourself in your reader’s shoes by doing a search using a phrase that you think your content is most relevant for (i.e. should rank for) and honestly ask yourself, or a friend, if it delivers a satisfying answer to what you searched for. If it doesn’t for you, you can bet it won’t for your readers either.

Next, compare your content to what’s already ranking. Is your title at least as compelling as the competition? Are you covering the topic as well? Does the page load fast and look nice on either desktop or mobile? If the answer to any of these questions is no, there’s your opportunity.

What are your burning SEO and content questions? Ask them in the comments section below.


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Is Keyword Cannibalization Hurting your SEO Performance? http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/keyword-cannibalization/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/keyword-cannibalization/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:30:57 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22152 Keyword cannibalization is a common issue that applies to all types of websites. To make matters worse, some marketers are not aware that their website might be facing this issue. Instead, marketers often look at a website on a page-by-page basis instead of the whole website when it comes to targeting keywords. In fact, many [...]

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Is Keyword Cannibalization Hurting your SEO Performance?

Keyword cannibalization is a common issue that applies to all types of websites. To make matters worse, some marketers are not aware that their website might be facing this issue. Instead, marketers often look at a website on a page-by-page basis instead of the whole website when it comes to targeting keywords.

In fact, many websites face a this issue because of historic content or a lack of a clear search strategy. It is important to identify and address a major search engine optimization issue to maximize your search visibility and plan your future content creation.

Before explaining what keyword cannibalization is, it’s important to understand why this issue is relevant in the digital marketing industry. In today’s world, many websites are faced with historic content that still ranks for target terms. What is often forgotten is that that historic content can compete with new content being created, which leads to cannibalizing traffic or the keyword topics.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is when your website has multiple pages that are mainly targeting the same core keyword and/or keyword topic. This situation often occurs due to CMS issues related to parameter pages, as well as, when the same keyword is intentionally used on multiple pages.

Unfortunately, this SEO issue is still occurring on multiple websites which can impact your search engine optimization (SEO) results as each page might compete with each other in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are multiple reasons why you would want to fix a cannibalization issue including:

  • Diluting authority between pages: multiple pages with the same primary keyword topic can will make it more difficult for search engines to understand what the authoritative page is.
  • Inefficient crawling and indexing of pages: Having multiple pages that are competing with each other makes search engines crawl pages that are not needed.

One of the biggest issues that it causes is that search engines need to pick what the best page is for that keyword topic. In other words, that means that you are competing with yourself.

Hypothetical Example

To help explain how a website might face a cannibalization issue, let’s walk through a hypothetical example. This example will focus on the lack of a website’s internal structure and overall keyword targeting strategy.  

For example, let’s say you have an eCommerce website that sells lacrosse equipment (selfish plug, as I coach lacrosse and the season just started). Most eCommerce websites use parameters to filter/sort products. For this example, our lacrosse store has a page for “lacrosse heads” that shows all the lacrosse heads that we sell. We might run into a issue if we have multiple parameter pages for each manufacturer of “lacrosse heads.”

In this example, our store might have a “lacrosse heads” page with the URL of www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads. Then on the page we options to select the manufacturer, which results in a new parameter page of www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads?brand=1. Essentially, that page would have the same title tag and keyword topic that could compete with the main www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads page. A search engine would have a difficult time understanding what page is the authoritative source for “lacrosse heads.” We also will be missing out on opportunities to rank for individual manufacturer pages related to the product.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

The first step to avoiding cannibalizing your keyword strategy is to use the map or audit the correct keywords to individual pages. You should have a general idea of what keywords are being targeted on each page of your website either when creating a website or auditing the existing pages. You can use Google Sheets or Excel to document the keyword strategy for each page to avoid targeting the same keyword on multiple pages.

The second step to avoiding cannibalizing your strategy is to use the right tools. You can use tools like Screaming Frog to analyze your website structure and any keyword commonalities in title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, and other areas. When analyzing website structure, Screaming Frog can help visualize it with the “Tree” view (shown below). This view can make your life easier when seeing how your website is structured much more efficiently than looking at URLs.

Screaming Frog Tree View

You can also use the inlinks report within Screaming Frog to analyze your internal anchor text to target pages. By analyzing your anchor text to pages, you can make sure that you are using the correct keywords for each link to signal to search engines what the destination page is about.

Another helpful tool for avoiding keyword cannibalization is Siteliner. Siteliner is a fairly affordable option that checks your website for internal duplicate content. Internal duplicate content can be result in search engines not completely understanding what the page is actually about. Instead, focus on having one authoritative page for each keyword topic.

As we covered earlier, duplicate content can also result from content management system (CMS) issues. A CMS might use parameters to change the content for users, but the title tag and heading tags remain the same. When faced with a parameter issue, you have a couple options to resolve the issue.

The first option is to create static pages for parameter pages that have keyword topics with a good amount of search visibility. A static page will be easier to optimize for a specific keyword topic. Other options to resolve a parameter issue is to use Google Search Console to exclude the URL variations or use a canonical tag pointing to the original page.

Time to Improve Your SEO Strategy

It is time to audit your website to make sure you avoid cannibalizing your search traffic. Not only does auditing your website for keyword cannibalization help avoid performance issues, but it can lead to discovering more opportunities for expanding your search footprint.

Let us know if you think your website is facing this issue so we can help you
get the most search traffic as possible. We can help you leverage your analytical data to discover SEO opportunities for your website.


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Still Struggling with Your SEO Strategy? Focus on These 4 Best Practices for Improved Results http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/seo-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/seo-strategy/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:30:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22114 The pressure of understanding the ins and outs of developing and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy has many marketers searching for a better way. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just as integral to a successful marketing strategy as it was in previous years. That’s right, SEO is not dead but it has changed. If [...]

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SEO Strategy

The pressure of understanding the ins and outs of developing and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy has many marketers searching for a better way. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just as integral to a successful marketing strategy as it was in previous years. That’s right, SEO is not dead but it has changed.

If you’re still struggling to develop a successful SEO strategy, you’re not alone. Search engine optimization experts are still faced with the constant struggle to provide the right results, but the all too often, expectations are focused on vanity metrics or outdated tactics.

Google is making hundreds of algorithm updates each year and they continue to alter the layout of the search engine results pages (SERP). There is constant change that marketers need to stay on top of, which then leads to new tactics that are required to continue to increase visibility online. These changes align directly with the SEO industry. In this post, we outline common SEO situations that brands struggle with including:

  • Focusing on the wrong KPIs
  • Not updating historic content
  • Not implementing strategic linking plan
  • Not maximizing potential search reach and visibility

As marketers, we need to adapt and focus on the right tactics to increase the search visibility for each website. Technology has allowed us to reach more people in our targeted audience than before and it is our job to take best advantage of this opportunity. It’s time to dive in.

#1 – Focusing on the Wrong KPIs

One the first blunders that we see brands make is focusing on the wrong KPIs and search metrics. Often times, companies are only focusing on sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, and other vanity metrics. Those metrics are great to monitor each month to track overall website health, but smart marketers should push to analyze more valuable metrics. Valuable metrics are metrics that prove value and show both internal or external clients what return of investment the SEO campaign is bringing back in.

Optimizing a page is a great search tactic but what we need to question what the outcome of that effort is. We need to try to quantify the amount of effort that goes into each tactic for the potential outcome. For example, if we optimize one webpage and drive more traffic to it, but the converting traffic doesn’t increase, was it worth it? In short, probably not. We want to optimize pages that will bring in more converting traffic to the site so we can make money. Showing an internal or external client an increase in traffic is great, but at the end of the campaign the most important metric is how much return on investment the campaign brought back to the company.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Use vanity metrics as a gage of how well the website or SEO campaign is doing, but show key stakeholders how much revenue the campaign brings back.

#2 – Not Updating Historic Content

Another common SEO opportunity is showing some love to high-performing historic content and saying goodbye to the clutter. Years ago, marketers created a mass amount of content for search purposes. That method of content creation worked too, until search engine algorithms got more sostificated. Now, companies need to complete content audits of the historic content to identify what content is worth keeping and/or editing. Most companies that have been writing content for a while have quality content that needs to be refreshed to stay current.

Historic content should be either updated or removed from the search index (deleted or noindexed). By removing the content that is no longer relevant, you can turn focus to the pages that you want to get traffic too. Most websites get the majority of their traffic from only a select amount of pages instead of traffic being evenly spread out. Focus on those pages that bring in  qualified traffic and either refresh the content or implement some new SEO recommendations.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Refresh historic content that contains priority keyword rankings that are on the second or third page of Google. To identify those pages, use tools like SEMrush or Google Search Console to see how individual pages are performing with keyword rankings and impressions. Those pages of content contain a high amount of potential to increase search visibility quickly.

#3 – Not Implementing Strategic Linking Plan

Believe it or not, strategic linking is still incredibly important for SEO. Too often, companies are forgetting to add internal links to other related content within their site. Internal links help search engines crawl and index pages, as well as pass authority throughout your site. Internal links are an essential part of your website ecosystem and there needs to be a strategic plan on how to link to related pages with the correct type of anchor text.

Additionally, make a habit of linking to related sites that can be used as references. External links to sites help provide credibility for your content and can help search engines understand more context of the content.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: After conducting a content audit on a website and identifying what historic content needs to be updated, develop a strategic internal linking plan to link to and from historic content to new content.

#4 – Are you missing out on your SEO potential?

Marketers often forget that there are additional optimization opportunities outside of Google. YouTube, Amazon, and other third-party sites are great places to optimize for in addition to Google. SEO team members should conduct a thorough analysis of where the brand’s audience is spending time online. Google stated in a recent report that “how to” searches have increased by 70% year-over-year. That growth is a great opportunity for marketers to create videos for your audience in another location to maximize visibility.

Besides YouTube, Amazon is another great channel to optimize for ecommerce sites. Adding products to Amazon and optimizing each listing helps put your product in front of your audience besides your website. Focus on getting positive reviews for your listings to help with search visibility. Speaking of reviews, don’t forget about your local listings as another mean of search reach. Optimizing your search listings with positive reviews and local citations to increase local search traffic.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Optimize your current YouTube videos by adding a description, transcript, correct tags, optimizing the title of the video. Also, embed videos to your pages with a transcript to the video right under it and add video schema to the page.

Stop Making the Same SEO Mistakes

These tips only scratch the surface as there are even more common SEO mistakes that brands should for a healthy SEO program. However, if you’re ready to get started start by incorporating these four strategies to achieve the best results for your website. If you need help developing or implementing a Search Engine Optimization program, contact us for a free consultation.


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The QuickStart Guide to Using Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/google-search-console-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/google-search-console-seo/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:30:40 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21936 There are many powerful SEO tools in today’s marketing world. Most SEO tools can be highly beneficial, but often come with a cost associated with it. However, there are some tools that smart marketers can leverage to assist with the variety of tasks needed on a given day. One tool that smart marketers can leverage [...]

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There are many powerful SEO tools in today’s marketing world. Most SEO tools can be highly beneficial, but often come with a cost associated with it. However, there are some tools that smart marketers can leverage to assist with the variety of tasks needed on a given day.

One tool that smart marketers can leverage for SEO is Google Search Console. This free tool provided by Google is a great way to gain insights about your site in one main platform. Google Search Console is often underutilized by search marketing teams. To help you get the most benefit from Google Search Console, we outlined the four main areas within the tool to help you reach your search marketing objectives. Before we get into the four main areas within Google Search Console, let’s discuss what the tool even is.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free web-based SEO tool for webmasters to track both the indexing and crawling stats from Googlebot while also providing metrics to help optimize a website for organic visibility. This SEO tool is useful to monitor metrics and discover new insights to help increase your organic footprint.

Google states that anyone with a website should use Google Search Console. One great thing about Google Search Console is that it is easy to use for whoever has access to the property.

Google Search Console Setup and Verification

The first step to using Google Search Console is the setup and verification process. You will want to create a Google Search Console property for each version of your site including:

  • http://example.com
  • http://www.example.com
  • https://example.com
  • https://www.example.com
  • Any other subdomains

You will get the complete view by setting up all the versions of your domain. Besides setting up properties for each version, you can also setup properties for an individual subfolder on your site. By setting up a property for a subfolder, you will be able to see metrics for a specific section of your site, which can be beneficial for large sites.

 

After you created your property, you will need to verify the site. There are multiple ways to verify your property within Google Search Console, including:

  • HTML file upload – Upload an HTML file to your site
  • HTML tag – Add a meta tag to your site’s home page
  • Domain name provider – Sign in to your domain name provider
  • Google Analytics – Use your Google Analytics account
  • Google Tag Manager – Use your Google Tag Manager account

We recommend the verification method that would be the easiest and most efficient for your site. The most common verification methods we recommend are either via Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager. Otherwise, we typically recommend adding the HMTL tag to the site’s header.

Search Appearance

One of the first main sections of Google Search Console is the “Search Appearance” section. This section is important for webmasters to understand how their website is currently setup and how it may potentially show up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Within the search appearance section is information regarding structured markup, rich cards, HTML improvements (metadata information), and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) setup.

 

Each area within this section is important to track monthly, but the HTML improvements area provides insights that is helpful when optimizing a website. This area can surface insights regarding duplicate meta descriptions and title tags. It also states when content is non-indexable, which can make a significant difference when prioritizing your optimization efforts.

Search Traffic

The next section in Google Search Console is the “Search Traffic” section. This section provides insights regarding the keywords your site is showing up for, linking metrics from external and internal sources, any manual actions, international targeting metrics, and the mobile usability of your website.

Each area within the Search Traffic section is important, but the majority of your time will most likely be found analyzing the Search Analytics tab. The Search Analytics tab shows the keywords that your site is showing up for. You can break down the tab into multiple subsections between clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. If that isn’t enough for you already, you can then dive deeper into the metrics by individual pages, keywords, countries, devices (desktop, mobile, tablet), search type (web, images, videos), search appearance (AMP or rich snippets), and the date range (within 90 days).

The search analytics tab is a very powerful SEO tool. You can analyze your site for keyword opportunities on a page or a section of your site. You can also drill down into how your mobile keywords are performing compared to your desktop keywords. At TopRank Marketing, we use this tab to identify SEO strategies to help increase organic visibility by re-optimizing content that has multiple keywords ranking on the bottom of page one or the top of page two. We also use the tab to guide the creation of our content plans for different SEO campaigns.

The second tab you should spend more time on is the mobile usability tab. This tab outlines if your website is mobile friendly or not. It is important to stay on top of any mobile usability issues so that your site renders correctly for all types of devices, especially with Google moving to the mobile-first index.

Google Index

The third section in Google Search Console is the “Google Index” section. This section is useful to understand how many pages are included Google’s index and if there are any blocked resources on your site. The index status tab is useful when analyzing if Google is indexing all the pages you want included in the SERPs. It is good to check the pattern of the index status of your website so that the number of pages is growing consistently or not dropping off quickly randomly.

 

The blocked resources tab is a great way to easily identify if certain pages are blocked from Googlebot. Make sure you check this tab to optimize the crawling of the pages/resources that you want being crawled by Googlebot.

You can also remove URLs temporarily from the Google index with the remove URLs tab. This tab is useful when you need to remove a page quickly. As a note, the tab only removes the page temporarily (around 90 days) and you still will need to update your site to permanently remove the page.

Crawl

The last main section of Google Search Console is the “Crawl” section. This section provides smart marketers information regarding broken pages or files on the website, crawl stats from Googlebot, and URL parameter information. The section also provides tools to submit your content to Google, test your robots.txt file and submit your sitemap to Google.

The crawl errors tab is one of the more important areas within Google Search Console. This tab shows the URLs that might be broken from both internal and external sources. At TopRank Marketing, we often recommend implementing 301 redirects for the crawl errors that actually were pages at some point. It is important to audit the list to make sure you are not implementing redirects that are not needed.

Another useful tab is the sitemaps area, because you can submit your sitemap to Google to make it easier for your site to be crawled and indexed. Similarly, you can also submit individual pages to Google with the fetch as Google tool. The fetch as Google tool is a great way to get your updated content indexed quickly.

 

Use Google Search Console to Help Increase Your Organic Visibility

Google Search Console is a very powerful SEO tool for multiple reasons. We recommend using Google Search Console when running SEO campaigns to maximize your visibility and to plan the overall strategy. To increase your organic visibility for other search engines, make sure you use Bing Webmaster Tools as well to gain more insights.


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Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test? http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/mobile-seo-test/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/mobile-seo-test/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:30:07 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21908 It is hard to argue that the adoption of mobile devices hasn’t exploded with popularity. Most searches are being performed on mobile devices, with more searches expected to continue on mobile. Mobile is not only important for organic performance but for conversions from all types of traffic including email and paid channels. It is important [...]

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It is hard to argue that the adoption of mobile devices hasn’t exploded with popularity. Most searches are being performed on mobile devices, with more searches expected to continue on mobile.

Mobile is not only important for organic performance but for conversions from all types of traffic including email and paid channels. It is important to understand your mobile traffic to focus on the channels that convert the most on those devices. For some websites, mobile devices might bring in the majority of your traffic but the conversions might not be as high as desktop searches, because of less focus on the mobile experience.

Today, most websites are built with a responsive design to help make it mobile friendly, but that doesn’t mean marketers should stop there. Instead, marketers should optimize the entire mobile experience to enhance conversions and overall performance. To help you out, we built a list of actionable tips to make sure your site is mobile friendly from three categories: SEO for mobile devices, mobile content, and mobile conversions.

Mobile SEO Tactics

#1 – Choosing the right mobile website setup

When choosing your website setup, make sure you understand what mobile design you want. There are three main types of mobile sites including:

  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic site
  • Mobile only site (m.example.com)

Google recommends using a responsive design for your website to help make sure it is mobile friendly, but any option works when done correctly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Analyze your audience to understand what the best option is for your site. Not all sites need to have a responsive design, considering a mobile only site can be tailored to your mobile audience easier in some cases.

 

#2 – Test your site for mobile friendliness

There are multiple ways to test if your site is mobile friendly including the Google Usability Test, Google Search Console report, and Chrome Developer tools. Use multiple tools to be sure that your mobile site is rendering correctly instead of assuming that your site is mobile friendly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use the Chrome Developer Tools to get a better idea of how your website looks like on certain devices by selecting the “inspect” element. Then in the bottom left-hand corner, select the button that looks like a mobile device (see below).

The screenshot below shows the look on a mobile device. You can choose between a responsive site by pixel size or actual mobile phones by selecting the drop down at the top of the screen.

 

#3 – Optimize your metadata

Mobile SERPs (search engine results page) have less real estate for organic listings than desktop SERPs. It is important to understand the search landscape and SERP space available to market yourself over your competitors.

TopRank Marketing tip: Keep your title tags shorter and more concise to avoid your title tags being cut off in the SERP. It is best practice to keep your title tags under, at least, 70 characters for your title tags.

 

#4 – Optimize for mobile keywords

Have you ever conducted a search with a “near me” signifier attached to it? Near me searches are increasing and doubled in 2015 for all types of users, but especially for mobile users. Mobile keywords can also include more voice queries that people conduct with their phones.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make sure you conduct keyword research for mobile users and target mobile keywords. The search intent of a keyword query can vary based on the device people use so optimizing for all types of keywords will help increase your visibility.

 

#5 – Content for mobile devices

There are multiple types of content that should be considered when creating content for mobile users and your audience. Most marketers are already considering the type of content to write for their website on the attract, engage, convert model, but there sometimes is a lack of focus on mobile consumption habits. Mobile consumption habits can change depending on the industry, so it is important to consider how your audience interacts with your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: If you are are sending email campaigns, consider your audience’s mobile consumption habits. Most emails are consumed on mobile devices (see below). Create all your content that you are promoting via your email or social media channels to be mobile friendly.

 

Image via: cdn.emailtoday.com

 

#6 – Geotargeting on your mobile app

If you have a larger audience that uses your mobile app, you might want to consider geotargeting the users when they are close to a storefront, event, or at a specific location. Geotargeting is a great way to encourage action from your audience when they are located in the right areas at the right time.

TopRank Marketing tip: Consider using different imagery and messaging for users in different locations when they are using your app or website. Also, consider sending notifications to mobile app users to entice action when they are at a physical location.

 

Mobile Content Creation

#1 – Consider the content length and types

Consider the length and type of content you are creating for your audience, both on mobile and desktop. As we already covered, there typically is a difference in search intent for users on mobile devices compared to desktop computers. With that in mind, you need to be customer-focused and analyze where your audience is within the funnel for your content assets.

TopRank Marketing tip: Develop audience personas to understand the way your audience searches online. Personas can be a powerful tool when creating content for your website.

 

#2 – Make sure to communicate the value quickly

It is important to communicate your value clearly and quickly to mobile users. Often, banners sometimes push the value proportion below the fold, which may increase the amount of bounces on the page and confuse users where they are on your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: Reduce the amount of unnecessary space or elements on your mobile device to only include what is needed. Less is often more when you are dealing with the limited amount of space on a mobile device.

 

#3 – App optimization

Mobile websites are a must for your online strategy, but apps can provide even a better user experience. Not all companies need to develop and create a mobile app, but for the ones that do, you need to optimize those experiences. Apps should be tailored to solving the user’s problem or creating an unique experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Optimize your app for the user experience to solve your audience’s problem. After you create your app, make sure you optimize your App store listing to increase your visibility on other channels.

 

#4 – QR codes

QR codes are another solid tactic to add to the dedicated mobile experience. When used correctly, you can push users directly to a location easily with QR codes on psychical flyers or other traditional marketing materials.

TopRank Marketing tip: Test using QR codes on physical marketing materials to push people to a section online with their mobile phones that offers an experience dedicated to them.

 

#5 – SMS messaging

SMS messaging is a way to help you get in front of more of your audience via messaging apps. SMS messaging can be a powerful tool to send notifications to your audience that opted in to encourage specific actions or enhance customer experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your messages personal to help encourage action. Also, make sure to include a clear CTA within the message to see the most value out of your campaign.

 

Mobile Conversions

#1 – Manually audit your layout on your responsive design

Your site might not be mobile friendly even though it might have a responsive design. A responsive site is typically better than a non-mobile site but sometimes issues can still arise. Some issues we typically see are videos not formatted to the correct screen size, the layout pushes the content below the fold, or the font size is too small.

There could be a vast majority of other issues with a responsive design, so make sure you optimize the layout of each page type.

TopRank Marketing tip: Look at what screen size is being utilized the most on your website within Google Analytics. Navigate in your Google Analytics dashboard to go to Audience ? Mobile ? Overview ? Screen Size to quickly analyze what screen size to optimize for first.

 

#2 – Consider your thumb reach

Make sure you consider the thumb reach to encourage action on your mobile design. Making your users reach and work out their thumb can create friction and a low-quality user experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your CTAs within a thumbs reach to improve conversions. Also, consider using sticky headers to help mobile users navigate quickly through your site.

 

#3 – Site speed

Site speed has become more important as a ranking factor for search engines, and rightly so. A fast loading site helps provide a solid user experience and can help increase the crawl rate of the site by search engines. All marketers should be focusing on site speed as a priority item. Below are some tools to test your site speed:

TopRank Marketing tip: Test your mobile site with multiple different tools to get a holistic view on site speed aspects. Prioritize the site speed items to get the most ROI from the work instead of optimizing for every site speed item.

 

#4 – Image optimization

Similarly to site speed, optimizing images will help site speed and user experience. A responsive site often uses the same image that is not probably sized for each device screen.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use different image sizes that can be used at different viewports to pull in images that are the correct size for the device.

 

#5 – Form Optimization

Congratulations! Someone has decided to start filling out a form on your site. That is a great goal to accomplish, but nothing is more disappointing than losing that user after they choose to abandon the form. Optimizing your forms for mobile users is a great way to increase conversions.

TopRank Marketing tip: Adjust the type of the keyboard for mobile users to use the right one for the form fields. For example, use the keyword field to show numbers for phone number fields and a different keyboard for email fields.

 

Your Optimized Mobile Experience

Above are some actionable tactics that you might want to optimize for your mobile website. There are even more areas and opportunities to optimize on your mobile website than listed above. If you’d like to find out if your website passes the mobile test, contact us today to receive a mobile optimization audit.


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SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/common-seo-mistakes-to-avoid/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/common-seo-mistakes-to-avoid/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 11:30:06 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21853 With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second—as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers—competition to capture your audience’s attention has never been more fierce. As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and [...]

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SEO Checklist to Avoid Mistakes

With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second—as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers—competition to capture your audience’s attention has never been more fierce.

As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

But as seasoned marketers know, SEO has gone through a tremendous evolution since its early days of keyword-focused content. With more than 2 trillion searches happening on Google every year, today’s SEO is about finding the perfect balance between user-centric content and convincing search engine crawlers that your content is supreme.

Of course, on the journey to creating the perfect content for both humans and search, you may make some mistakes. But the good news is that may are easily avoidable.

Below we dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid or remedy them.

#1 – Optimizing content around one keyword.

In the “old days” of SEO, it was common practice to optimize web pages with a specific keyword that you wanted to rank for. Today, that practice not only provides a poor user experience for your audience, but it’s simply ineffective since search engines are becoming increasingly better at determining search intent.

Tip: Simply put: Do not optimize any pages for just one keyword. Instead, think bigger about the need your content can fill and hone in on keyword topics that include a variety of relevant and related search terms.


Think bigger about the need your #content can fill and hone in on keyword topics. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#2 – Neglecting dated content.

Let’s face it. You’ve probably created a ton of content in the last couple years that you haven’t touched since it first published. But you could be leaving opportunity on the table if you’re not regularly looking for ways to refresh it and keep it relevant for searchers.

Tip: Dig into your analytics to find your top and worst performing pages and blog posts, paying special attention to evergreen topics. Then conduct some keyword research to discover new opportunities for updating that existing content to continue or improve ranking momentum.

#3 – Forgetting mobile users.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, much of your audience is likely using a mobile device to find good content. If your content isn’t mobile friendly, the user experience will be negatively impacted.

Tip: Take steps to ensure that your website and its content is mobile friendly and responsive. Also, focus on creating content for users that would typically use a mobile device.

#4 – Not optimizing for site speed.

This one is pretty simple. Faster sites have a better crawl rate and provide a better user experience.

Tip: Use site speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to analyze your site speed score. Some of the most helpful tips to improve site speed include leveraging browser caching, optimizing images and minifying JavaScript.

#5 – Failing to include relevant and helpful internal links.

If you’ve attracted people to your content, you have a captive audience that’s interested and probably looking for more. As a result, internal links are critical to keeping people engaged and signaling that you have more to offer.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other content on your website. In addition, use keyword variations for anchor text to expand visibility for the keyword topic that content represents.


Be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other #content on your website. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#6 – Failing to include relevant and helpful external links.

Just like internal links, external links have the ability to provide your users with more helpful and relevant content. In addition, quality external sources can also signal credibility to search engines and users.

Tip: Make sure that all external links open in new windows to allow users to venture to other content, but also make it easy for them to go back and stay engaged with your content.

#7 – Serving up hard-to-read blocks of content.

Users are often looking to find and absorb content quickly, and move on if they are unable to easily see the value in the content they’ve clicked on. In addition, studies show that people read online content in an “F” pattern. As a result, large blocks of text can be a big turn-off for many, especially those using mobile devices.

Tip: Utilize headline tags to break up content. This will not only make it easy for users to scan content, but also send a positive signal to search engines.

8. Forgetting about image optimization.

The images on your website or blog add an important visual element that can positively impact user experience. But they can also help you tell your story to search engines.

Tip: Cover all your bases by making sure image filenames and alt text contain relevant keywords. Also, to ensure your page loads quickly, optimize the image size for each screen size and/or lazy load the images.

9. Not having unique content.

While it can be tempting to reuse some of that great content you’ve already created, be careful. Search engines will not be fooled, and you could be penalized if you duplicate content across pages.

Tip: Don’t publish duplicate or similar content to your site, including title tags and meta descriptions. When it comes to the technical stuff such as title tags and meta descriptions, just take the little bit of extra time it takes to create something unique. When it comes to full pages of content, if you have existing content that fits, take a repurposing approach to make it personalized and different.

10. Focusing on quantity over quality.

In today’s competitive world of content, it can be tempting to try to out-create your competition. But publishing more content than the next guy doesn’t guarantee results, especially if that content isn’t a quality piece that actually helps your audience.

Tip: Create a content strategy that includes audience and keyword topic research. In addition, study the other content that is already out there and look at what your competitors are doing. This will allow you to identify content gaps and help you create content that fills them. In addition, shoot for writing longer pieces (600 to 1,000+ words), that are optimized for scanability and include visual elements.

11. Not optimizing URLs or site structure.

Many marketers leave the title of the page or the post as the URL, which can lead to long URLs that do nothing to help your search rankings.

Tip: Keep URLs short, concise and optimized with keywords. In addition, make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl.


Make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl. #SEO
Click To Tweet


12. Neglecting broken or redirecting links.

During our technical crawls and site evaluations, TopRank Marketing often finds that many sites have broken links or links that redirect instead of linking directly to the target page.

Tip: Conduct a technical audit to identify all broken links and internal links that redirect to a different page. Then update with links that connect directly to a target page. This will help search engines crawl your site more efficiently.

13. Not auditing the redirect rules for a site.

For websites with multiple redirect rules, there’s an opportunity to remove redirect chains and errors that make it more difficult for search engines to crawl.

Tip: Audit the redirect rules to make sure you’re properly using 301 or 302 redirects and remove any redirect chains you might have.

14. Focusing on meta keywords.

Meta keywords are not used by Google and can be a sign of spam from Bing.

Tip: There typically isn’t a reason to add meta keywords to your site. If you choose to utilize the meta keywords field, make sure you limit the amount of keywords to less than five.

15. Forgetting analytics or misusing metrics.

Data is an incredible tool to not only measure the impact of our marketing efforts, but also help inform those efforts. So, neglecting our analytics reports outright or not using the right metrics can have a costly impact.

Tip: Use the right metrics to inform your content and SEO strategy, and decrease the importance you put on vanity metrics. In addition, leverage Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to get a better understanding of what people are actually searching for.

16. Not allowing your site to be crawled

This one is pretty obvious. If you’re site is blocking search engines, your content will not be found in search results.

Tip: It’s simple. Don’t block your site from search engines in your robots.txt file or a “noindex” meta tag.

17. Not taking advantage of Local SEO.

All businesses have an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO and visibility. At the very least, your business should claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Tip: At the very least, focus on getting local citations by using tools like Moz Local or Whitespark.

18. Incorporating too many PDFs.

While PDFs are a great way to provide users with information that can be easily downloaded, it’s not ideal for search. First of all, most websites don’t track PDF views in Google Analytics, making it difficult to see if that content is having an impact on users. In addition, PDFs don’t allow you to create a custom experience for users easily.

Tip: Change PDFs to HTML format to be able to create a consistent experience and get the most search benefit from each content asset on your site.

19. Not optimizing for other search engines.

While Google is pretty much the King of Search, other search engines—including those within social media channels—deserve your attention, too.

Tip: Take steps to optimize your content for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. In addition, optimize the content you’re putting out on social media sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube.


Optimize the #content you’re putting out on #socialmedia sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube. #SEO
Click To Tweet


20. Not focusing on getting quality backlinks.

While link building and link earning gets a bad rap sometimes, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines and links deliver interested users to your content.

Tip: Conduct outreach to relevant influencers and websites to earn quality links back to your quality content.

21. Having too many blog categories or tags.

When you create a blog category or tag, you’re essentially creating a new page on your website that can be indexed by crawl bots. However, if those categories or tags don’t have a decent amount of content associated with them, you could be signaling thin content to search engines and it could potentially hurt your crawl budget.

Tip: Remove categories or tags that contain orphaned content, and retag or recategorize that content within a relevant and more robust category.

How do you find the perfect balance between quality, user-centric content and optimizing for search? Share your tips in the comments section below!


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/01/best-answer-content-inspiring-examples/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/01/best-answer-content-inspiring-examples/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2017 11:30:48 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21794

Undoubtedly you've heard the expression "content shock," coined by marketing expert Mark Schaefer.

With immense respect, I have to admit: I don’t believe in it.

The idea that there’s so much content out there, people are tired of content altogether? That no one’s giving new content a chance? That it’s too hard to get new content seen?

Not buying it.

I think what’s happening is simply this: People don’t want “content.”

They want answers to questions. They want a few minutes of entertainment. They want to learn something new. They want what they were searching for in the first place.

To reach our audience, we need to stop creating content and start producing the best answer to their queries.  Companies that adopt this content marketing strategy tend to top search engine rankings (Top…rankings…there’s an agency name in there somewhere, I can feel it).

It’s easy to find examples of what Lee Odden refers to as “best answer content.” Just go to your friendly neighborhood search engine, enter a query, and browse the first few results. With few exceptions, you will see content that is:

  1. Addressed to a Specific Audience
  2. Addressed to a Specific Query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, Addressing Complimentary Queries and Crosslinking
  5. Not Blatantly Promotional

At TopRank Marketing, we call this type of content a “Power Page.” It’s designed to not only top the rankings, but inspire longer time-on-page, lower bounce rates, and direct readers deeper into the site with solid next steps.

Here are a few of my favorite Power Pages. Some are from our clients, some I found at the top of my search results.

#1: A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Graph of Email Opens Over Time

Nobody beats Neil Patel and his crew at KISSmetrics for sheer volume of best-answer content. This 2,000+ word monster is ranked in the top three on Google for “How to Do Email Marketing.”

It’s easy to see why. Author Nathan Hangen walks the reader through every aspect of creating an email marketing campaign, including tangential topics like how to put together a newsletter and how to write a compelling CTA.

This piece’s search engine ranking is a clear indication that great content is its own SEO. There’s no keyword stuffing in the first paragraph, no awkwardly-shoehorned-in links. It’s just great, valuable, thorough content.

To my eye, the only thing lacking here is a navigational element. A sidebar with links to the headers would make it even easier for people to find what they’re looking for.

#2: 7 Questions Every B2B Content Marketing Strategy Should Answer

B2B Marketing Questions

This page from client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions looks like a mild-mannered blog post, but it’s secretly an organic search powerhouse. Most blog content has a limited life span for search potential. Blog posts generally get shared in the first 2-3 days, then the Internet’s collective consciousness moves on to the next new thing.

By contrast, this post was designed to be evergreen. It addresses crucial concerns marketers have about B2B content marketing strategy, thoroughly answering each and including links to further reading. Many of these links are next-steps to gated content, which add value while also capturing leads.

#3: 100 Best Paleo Diet Recipes of All Time

100 Best Paleo Recipes Graphic

Not every Power Page has to be a 2,000 word original piece of content created from scratch. This page from Paleo Grubs ranks highly for “best paleo recipes,” and is at heart, a roundup of the site’s previously-published recipes, with a few external links for good measure. A little repurposing, a little curation, a little new content for the blurb on each recipe, and voila: An evergreen resource.

This page not only has immediate value for a reader, it has lasting value. They’re bound to spend several minutes browsing, then bookmark the page for future reference.

Notice the CTA at the top left, and the continued offers throughout as you scroll. They’re never intrusive, but they’re highly visible just the same.

#4: The Future of Diagnostic Imaging

This Power Page from McKesson’s Medical Imaging Talk Blog is another permutation of what best-answer content can be. It serves as a topics page, rounding up blogs on medical imaging in several different categories. But it also features commentary on each of the categories, a live Twitter feed, polls and links to gated content.

The result is a dynamic page worth bookmarking, where content is continually refreshed while the anchor page remains the same. A Power Page like this can be a portal to the rest of your blog, selecting out a sub-audience by topic and showing them only your most relevant content.

#5: The Best Hiking Boots for Men

 Row of Hiking Boots in the Snow

Everything about this page from Outdoor Gear Lab is above and beyond the call of duty. There’s no wonder it ranks consistently at the top for “Best hiking boots.” Notice how it starts with “What is the best men’s hiking boot?” What a great way to pull in a likely keyword query. That little SEO flourish is genius, but it’s this page’s comprehensive content that makes it unbeatable.

Note the navigational tabs on the top—you can immediately see there’s a great deal of content here and that it’s well-organized. That kind of information right up front is likely to keep readers on the page exploring. Not only that, the ability to jump right into the information they’re looking for will keep bounce rates low.

This page is packed with valuable information for a prospective hiker, presented in a simple but attractive format. Bonus points for the extensive use of home-grown visuals—there’s not a stock photo in sight.

6. Account Based Marketing Resources: Definitions, Tactics, Tips & Strategy

Archer Taking Aim

Predictive marketing platform Everstring sought to create a one-stop shop for account based marketing with this Power Page. They began with one of the most-searched queries for this relatively new term: “What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?” That query is the start of a deep dive into every relevant aspect of ABM, from getting started to refining tactics.

The organization of this page is exceptional; it’s definitely optimized for ease of reading. Big, bold headers lead to short paragraphs with bulleted points of interest. And it includes rich media in the form of embedded SlideShares, which add value, visual interest, and can increase time on page.

Don’t Be The Ocean. Be the Lighthouse.

Nobody wants more “content.” Your audience is looking for a guiding light, not another drop in the bucket. Create best answer content—data-based, comprehensive, valuable—and let it be a beacon to lead weary sailors to your shore.

To learn more about how TopRank Marketing creates exceptional content, check out our content marketing service page.

Disclosure: LinkedIn, Everstring and McKesson are TopRank Marketing clients. 

The post How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Undoubtedly you've heard the expression "content shock," coined by marketing expert Mark Schaefer.
With immense respect, I have to admit: I don’t believe in it.
The idea that there’s so much content out there, people are tired of content altogether? That no one’s giving new content a chance? That it’s too hard to get new content seen? Not buying it. I think what’s happening is simply this: People don’t want “content.” They want answers to questions. They want a few minutes of entertainment. They want to learn something new. They want what they were searching for in the first place. To reach our audience, we need to stop creating content and start producing the best answer to their queries.  Companies that adopt this content marketing strategy tend to top search engine rankings (Top…rankings…there’s an agency name in there somewhere, I can feel it). It’s easy to find examples of what Lee Odden refers to as “best answer content.” Just go to your friendly neighborhood search engine, enter a query, and browse the first few results. With few exceptions, you will see content that is:
  1. Addressed to a Specific Audience
  2. Addressed to a Specific Query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, Addressing Complimentary Queries and Crosslinking
  5. Not Blatantly Promotional
At TopRank Marketing, we call this type of content a “Power Page.” It’s designed to not only top the rankings, but inspire longer time-on-page, lower bounce rates, and direct readers deeper into the site with solid next steps. Here are a few of my favorite Power Pages. Some are from our clients, some I found at the top of my search results.

#1: A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Graph of Email Opens Over Time Nobody beats Neil Patel and his crew at KISSmetrics for sheer volume of best-answer content. This 2,000+ word monster is ranked in the top three on Google for “How to Do Email Marketing.” It’s easy to see why. Author Nathan Hangen walks the reader through every aspect of creating an email marketing campaign, including tangential topics like how to put together a newsletter and how to write a compelling CTA. This piece’s search engine ranking is a clear indication that great content is its own SEO. There’s no keyword stuffing in the first paragraph, no awkwardly-shoehorned-in links. It’s just great, valuable, thorough content. To my eye, the only thing lacking here is a navigational element. A sidebar with links to the headers would make it even easier for people to find what they’re looking for.

#2: 7 Questions Every B2B Content Marketing Strategy Should Answer

B2B Marketing Questions This page from client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions looks like a mild-mannered blog post, but it’s secretly an organic search powerhouse. Most blog content has a limited life span for search potential. Blog posts generally get shared in the first 2-3 days, then the Internet’s collective consciousness moves on to the next new thing. By contrast, this post was designed to be evergreen. It addresses crucial concerns marketers have about B2B content marketing strategy, thoroughly answering each and including links to further reading. Many of these links are next-steps to gated content, which add value while also capturing leads.

#3: 100 Best Paleo Diet Recipes of All Time

100 Best Paleo Recipes Graphic Not every Power Page has to be a 2,000 word original piece of content created from scratch. This page from Paleo Grubs ranks highly for “best paleo recipes,” and is at heart, a roundup of the site’s previously-published recipes, with a few external links for good measure. A little repurposing, a little curation, a little new content for the blurb on each recipe, and voila: An evergreen resource. This page not only has immediate value for a reader, it has lasting value. They’re bound to spend several minutes browsing, then bookmark the page for future reference. Notice the CTA at the top left, and the continued offers throughout as you scroll. They’re never intrusive, but they’re highly visible just the same.

#4: The Future of Diagnostic Imaging

This Power Page from McKesson’s Medical Imaging Talk Blog is another permutation of what best-answer content can be. It serves as a topics page, rounding up blogs on medical imaging in several different categories. But it also features commentary on each of the categories, a live Twitter feed, polls and links to gated content. The result is a dynamic page worth bookmarking, where content is continually refreshed while the anchor page remains the same. A Power Page like this can be a portal to the rest of your blog, selecting out a sub-audience by topic and showing them only your most relevant content.

#5: The Best Hiking Boots for Men

 Row of Hiking Boots in the Snow Everything about this page from Outdoor Gear Lab is above and beyond the call of duty. There’s no wonder it ranks consistently at the top for “Best hiking boots.” Notice how it starts with “What is the best men’s hiking boot?” What a great way to pull in a likely keyword query. That little SEO flourish is genius, but it’s this page’s comprehensive content that makes it unbeatable. Note the navigational tabs on the top—you can immediately see there’s a great deal of content here and that it’s well-organized. That kind of information right up front is likely to keep readers on the page exploring. Not only that, the ability to jump right into the information they’re looking for will keep bounce rates low. This page is packed with valuable information for a prospective hiker, presented in a simple but attractive format. Bonus points for the extensive use of home-grown visuals—there’s not a stock photo in sight.

6. Account Based Marketing Resources: Definitions, Tactics, Tips & Strategy

Archer Taking Aim Predictive marketing platform Everstring sought to create a one-stop shop for account based marketing with this Power Page. They began with one of the most-searched queries for this relatively new term: “What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?” That query is the start of a deep dive into every relevant aspect of ABM, from getting started to refining tactics. The organization of this page is exceptional; it’s definitely optimized for ease of reading. Big, bold headers lead to short paragraphs with bulleted points of interest. And it includes rich media in the form of embedded SlideShares, which add value, visual interest, and can increase time on page. Don’t Be The Ocean. Be the Lighthouse. Nobody wants more “content.” Your audience is looking for a guiding light, not another drop in the bucket. Create best answer content—data-based, comprehensive, valuable—and let it be a beacon to lead weary sailors to your shore. To learn more about how TopRank Marketing creates exceptional content, check out our content marketing service page. Disclosure: LinkedIn, Everstring and McKesson are TopRank Marketing clients. 

The post How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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The Future of Search Engine Optimization: Top SEO Predictions for 2017 http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/12/seo-predictions-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/12/seo-predictions-2017/#comments Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:30:11 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21681 In the past, the SEO battle was focused on either black hat, or white hat tactics. Black hat SEO was considered extremely aggressive and didn’t typically play by the rules of search engines. White hat SEO tactics on the other hand were typically closely aligned with search engine guidelines. Today’s world of SEO looks much [...]

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2017-seo-predictions

In the past, the SEO battle was focused on either black hat, or white hat tactics. Black hat SEO was considered extremely aggressive and didn’t typically play by the rules of search engines. White hat SEO tactics on the other hand were typically closely aligned with search engine guidelines.

Today’s world of SEO looks much different (and it’s about time). Instead of hyper focusing only on keywords or search engine needs, smart marketers are concentrating first and foremost on the needs of users. User experience as it relates to mobile accessibility, content structure and user intent on search engines have become the new norm.

Content is the reason search began in the first place. – Lee Odden

As many of you know, TopRank Marketing’s history is deeply rooted in SEO. Over the years, we’ve continued to incorporate an optimized approach to digital marketing by implementing integrated digital marketing programs that always follow SEO best practices.

But what does the future of SEO hold, is there more? We tapped into the minds of some great marketers to provide their predictions of what SEO will look like in 2017.

Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Doug Walker

doug-walker-seo-prediction

Senior Search Marketer, Dell
@dougwalkerseo


Companies will experience big wins by creating relevant and highly useful content. @dougwalkerseo
Click To Tweet


While I think it will be important to be up to speed with AMP and other important technologies, with continued content saturation, I think we’ll see even bigger wins by companies who can remain focused on the effort to:

1) Create stand-out content, completely relevant and highly useful to their target audience.

2) Successfully promote that content to drive consistent engagement in the form of links, social shares, news, and other buzz.

Troy Eaves

troy-eaves-seo-prediction

Senior Manager, Digital Media – Target Corp
@Troyville


In 2017, RankBrain will factor in more user intent signals than ever before. @Troyville
Click To Tweet


We’re already seeing RankBrain begin to ‘take over’ and factor in more user intent signals than ever before. I think that will continue to happen and increase in 2017 (specifically, time on site, bounce rates, etc.). I think CTR from SERPs will be a bigger factor in re-ranking URLs as people develop more affinity for the brands they like and click on them when they see them; regardless if they are in pos. #1 or #9.

I think people will try to optimize for voice searches because, well voice is here. I think links will still be important. I don’t care what article you read that says they are dying, they aren’t. I think social sentiment around brands, hashtags, keyword association (neighbors) across the web will help sort results.

If social platforms ever work together with Google, I could see platform specific searches influence rank on Google too.

Kevin Cotch

kevin-cotch-seo-prediction

SEO Analyst, TopRank Marketing
@KCotch


SEO experts need to focus on the mobile user moving forward into 2017. @KCotch
Click To Tweet


The most significant change for SEO in 2017 will be the importance of the mobile-first index for Google. Many sites are ready for a mobile-first index but unfortunately many others are not. Google is continuing its focus on mobile, and it has been increasingly important to optimize for mobile users. SEO experts need to focus on the mobile user moving forward in 2017 in terms of metadata and user experience.

Danny Goodwin

danny-goodwin-seo-prediction

News Writer, Search Engine Journal
@DannyNMIGoodwin


In 2017, pay attention to how much engagement your brand or business is generating. @DannyNMIGoodwin
Click To Tweet


With the rise of Google RankBrain, AI and machine learning are becoming incredibly important to think about for marketers and SEOs who want to capture valuable search visibility and be found at key moments of the customer journey.

What do these types of algorithms reward? Engagement – how many searchers click on your result and how long they stick around on your website. While these aren’t the only signals Google looks at to determine the quality of its search results (and where your site should rank for specific queries), it is definitely important.

In 2017, pay attention to how much engagement your brand or business is generating. Specifically: organic search CTR and time on site.

Even if improving your organic CTR and time-on-site doesn’t directly impact your rankings, it will still bring in more traffic that sticks around longer (and is more likely to convert). Write great titles that make searchers click – and reward searchers for their click by providing awesome, relevant content to match.

 

Optimize for Humans in 2017

Each of these experts shared great advice about different tactics that they predict will rule 2017. You’ll notice that the core message behind each of these predictions is the same: put people first.

By focusing on creating a great user experience and understanding what it is that your users want, you’ll start 2017 off on the right foot!

Disclosure: Dell is a TopRank Marketing client.

 


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PPC + SEO = A Winning Team for Search Marketing Success http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/ppc-sep-search-marketing-success/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/ppc-sep-search-marketing-success/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20708 A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time [...]

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Search-Marketing-Success

A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time to go from tunnel vision to full spectrum search.

Why do we all need to start paying attention to organic and paid search integration? With the recent changes to Google’s SERP results page, many companies are starting to see organic visibility slide along with organic traffic as paid advertisers are garnering more real estate on the page. Google continues to push more algorithm updates and while they many not all be as impactful as RankBrain, Panda, or Penguin, SEO and organic rank is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

I cannot tell you how many times we hear, “Is paid going to impact our organic search performance?” or “Is it going to cannibalize our brand’s traffic?” Study after study has found that answer to be No! Strategic Paid Digital Media only enhances search performance and boosts organic activity.

And for skeptics, here are a few recent stats on the integration of paid and organic search efforts:

  • Integrating PPC and organic SEO efforts results on average in a 25% increase in organic traffic (Business2Community)
  • 50% of clicks by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking (Search Engine Watch)
  • 27% Increase in Profit with Combined PPC and Organic efforts (Business2Community)

Search marketing should be holistic and strategic with integrated PPC and organic efforts. It’s time for marketers to start taking a look at Paid Search as a way to also grow visibility and traffic. An integrated search marketing program will allow you to conquer SERPs and take ownership of your priority keywords. SERP ownership equals authority in the consumers eye which equals success.

But where do you start? Let’s assume you currently have an SEO program in place and are looking at entering the realm of PPC. Here are a few tips and tactics for getting your integrated search marketing effort off the ground.

#1 – What do you HAVE to bid on keywords you’re already ranking for?

Every company has specific keywords or phrases that are ‘make or break’ terms for them. The queries driving the majority of your traffic, leads, sales or whatever you may be doing. These handfuls of keywords are typically LATE FUNNEL and directly relate to your product or service.

We always recommend owning these types of queries, even if you’re currently on the 1st page or in first position organically. The stats above prove that query ownership leads to trust and trust leads to additional clicks, leads and revenue.

#2 – What you SHOULD bid on?

Maybe rankings have started to slide. Maybe you’ve never ranked for the keyword but the term is an important component of your product or service. What do you do? BUY IT!

The SEO game is tough and if you should be visible for certain keywords but are unable to get a reasonable rank, the best, immediate solution is to start bidding on that term.

Remember that paid search is something you can easily turn off and on. If ranking improves and the ads activity doesn’t warrant the spend, turn it off.

#3 – How do you conquer keyword expansion & create a strategy?

Let’s say you’ve been paying attention to Search Console and have started seeing particular search quires driving traffic or maybe you have a new product you’re launching or MAYBE you just have a hunch that content built around a particular keyword phrase is going to be the lead gen treasure. Test it out on AdWords and find out.

Launching small PPC campaigns is a great way to test the opportunity available along with getting a glimpse into how people are searching for a particularly topic or product so pay attention to your search query reports.

Just make sure that you’re not putting too many limits on these types of campaigns. You want to see what the general queries look like. I typically use broad match or broad match modified and run only crucial negative keywords. Use your best judgement with match types and negatives. You also need to give it some time so don’t start making too many changes and drastic bid adjustments, but keeps those ads no lower than 3rd position.

Optimizing PPC Performance

Now that you have a few guidelines for your SEO/PPC keyword integration, it’s time to take a look at performance.

Make sure you pay attention to the Search Query Reports in AdWords. At TopRank Marketing, our practice is to review these as a team to see if we have any new organic targeting opportunities, unqualified traffic issues and engagement vs. reach.

PPC Search Terms

Within the AdWords Dimensions Tab you’ll find the Paid & Organic Report. This report gives you a peak into how your Paid and Organic programs are working together or not working together.

The Paid & Organic Report will show you:

#1 – Co-Exposure – Overlap

Understand what % of traffic can be attributed to either paid or organic. This will also give you insights into how that traffic relates to the position. Maybe you can start bidding certain keywords to a lower position and see if organic is able to absorb the loss to paid traffic and vice versa.

You should also monitor engagement rates when both pair and organic search listings are at play. This will be a good indicator of the positive or negative value provided with dual listings.

#2 – Keyword Opportunities

The report is also going to show you where you are seeing organic presence or paid presence only. Use this report to help guide your expansion efforts. If you’re seeing great traction with a particular keyword organically, you may see improvements by including a paid as well.

If certain paid terms are seeing exceptional engagement rates or volume but you have no organic presence, it’s time to inform the SEO team and start building out content.

PPC Query

You will need to make sure you’ve sync’d your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts in order to access these reports. This should be step 1 whenever your creating an account.

Hopefully these tips for PPC and SEO integration will be the start of a new, beautiful friendship. A winning team that’s focused on an integrated approach to the quest for search success.


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What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/voice-search-mnsummit/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/voice-search-mnsummit/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:48:45 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20639 We may not already notice the change, but voice search is all around us. Voice search can help us complete tasks when we are occupied or busy multitasking. We unconsciously change the way we search on a computer or a text search compared to when we search with our voices. With the growing interest of [...]

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voice-search-revolution

We may not already notice the change, but voice search is all around us. Voice search can help us complete tasks when we are occupied or busy multitasking. We unconsciously change the way we search on a computer or a text search compared to when we search with our voices. With the growing interest of voice search and digital personal assistants growing, we must ask ourselves as marketers how is voice search going to change the world for advertisers?

In her presentation at MNSearch Summit, Purna Virji from Microsoft stated that by 2020, 50% of search will come from voice (comScore). She outlined the steps to get prepared for voice search for paid and organic search queries. Since the growth of voice search is growing, now is the time to get ready for voice search and to become an early adopter.

Purna had the audience conduct an exercise that showed how people interact via devices compared to actually talking to the person next to them. When talking, people used a lot more words than when using a device (i.e. Twitter). The exercise showed that we are trained to do actions on different channels, like swiping (iPhone) or looking for reviews (Amazon). Below are some of the top takeaways marketers need to understand about voice search. 

Who is Using Voice Search?

The first thing to understand about voice search is who even is using it or personal digital assistants. People use voice search typically when they are:

  • Looking for quick answers
  • Otherwise occupied
  • Experiencing a typing challenge (i.e. when driving and cooking)

Once you understand who is using voice search, the next step is to know why it voice search is important for those users. Another thing to be aware of is that voice search has the potential to take away from organic search results, and show ads on the search engine results. 

What Can You Do Now?

Purna outlined five areas that we as marketers can do to get prepared for voice search.

#1 Rethink Keywords

Currently, text searches are concentrated around one to three words while voice search has around three to four words during searches. The voice search queries relate to the year over year growth of question phrases. When creating a keyword strategy, add verbs to phrases and schema markup everywhere to provide more relevance.

#2- Rethink Local Optimization

Pruna shared that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text search. When optimizing your local strategy, utilize localized keywords your audience would typically use when speaking to someone. For example use keywords like “by the sculpture garden” or “close to the lake.” Also, optimize local citations and schema markup throughout the site. For paid campaigns, use mobile preferred ad formats and location extensions to gather more interest.

#3 – Rethink Intent-Based Bids

Voice search intent is different than text based search queries. Voice search tells you exactly what the consumer is looking for because it is more specific. Since the intent is different, set different bids based off of those keywords.

#4 – Rethink Branding

Brand names that are difficult to pronounce like Porsche, Nutella, should take into account any ways that the brand could be mispronounced or spelled incorrectly. Marketers should also use negative keywords and ad extensions to help customers find your brand.

#5 – Rethink Creative

Once again since the intent is different than text based searches, focus on updating the creative of the ads and content to make it more visual. Add descriptors in your title (i.e. brand name, silk, size, M, etc.) to add relevant, high quality keywords. Continue to use help extensions like reviews and easy call-to-action buttons. Also, work together with the SEO team to create top-of-funnel content that focuses on the intent. Test the content with paid campaigns to get a better understand of what your customers are looking for.

After rethinking the five areas of focus, mainly start by selecting three or four questions that would be best for your audience and test bidding on those keywords. If we can test as marketers now and become early adopters, we can be ahead of the curve once voice search is being used by more people.

What We Can Expect

You may find yourself asking why to focus on voice search when there isn’t a huge market for it now. However, the number of voice searches is sure to climb and you need to be prepared to provide the user experience that your audience is looking for. There is also technology all around us that has the capability for voice search including:

  • Wearables
  • Onstar
  • Echo
  • Internet of Things (fridge)
  • Gaming Systems (xbox and playstation)
  • Phones (knows a lot of information about you)

With all these technologies being used already by many people, we need to know that there is no rush to monetize voice search.

Get Ready for Voice Search

Purna set the stage on the importance of voice search for any company. We are all in a good opportunity to test and prepare for the voice search queries before it becomes the norm. Are your content and paid campaigns optimized for voice search?  


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SEO Cheat Sheet for Better Content Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/seo-content-marketing-2/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/seo-content-marketing-2/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 10:30:22 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20592 It is our job as marketers to provide our customers with quality experiences. One way we can provide a quality experience is by implementing a customer focused content marketing program. Content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, including blog posts, infographics, email, podcasts, and many other content types. Every online channel provides a unique [...]

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SEO-Content-Marketing

It is our job as marketers to provide our customers with quality experiences. One way we can provide a quality experience is by implementing a customer focused content marketing program. Content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, including blog posts, infographics, email, podcasts, and many other content types. Every online channel provides a unique way for us to reach our audience. With that idea in mind, we need to optimize each content asset to make it easier for people to find.

Competition for your audience’s attention has never been higher and many marketers are finding it challenging to get their content in front of the right audience. This challenge will continue to become more difficult with about 91% of B2B marketers claiming that they are already using content marketing. Although that number is high, many have the opportunity to better optimize the content that is already being created.

In this post we’ll cover basic SEO tactics that content marketers can deploy to make content assets easier for your audience to find via search engines.

[Insert keyword here]

The first basic step for writing web content is choosing the right keywords to target. Conducting keyword research has never been more important for the optimization process. A great tactic for better optimization is to identify a group of selective keywords that are all related. That way, the keywords are semantically related, or in other words, share similar interest to your audience. By choosing a semantic group of keywords to target, we can broaden our reach by ranking for multiple keywords instead of just one main keyword. Google and other search engines are getting more advanced at determining what keywords are related.

To help explain semantic keywords, a small keyword glossary would include the following terms for “marketing book reviews:”

  • Marketing book comparison
  • Marketing plan book
  • Marketing strategy book
  • Reviews for marketing books
  • Best marketing book
  • Marketing books to read

Since we don’t need to rely on one keyword, we want to find keywords that in aggregate contain more search volume than the one keyword. Your semantic keyword group should contain some long-tail keywords that are less competitive. Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for and can bring in the majority of your organic search traffic.

Another advantage of using a semantic group of keywords is the ability to sprinkle keywords naturally throughout your content. The keywords being used throughout the content asset will be more natural than using one or two main keywords multiple times. You will build relevance for the overall topic by sprinkling the keywords throughout the content.

TopRank Marketing tip: Utilize Google Search Console to find keywords that you may be ranking for on page three or four that are receiving a high amount of impressions. Focus on updating pages related to the keywords or consider developing a new content asset. If you are somewhat nerdy like me, then take use of the Google Search Console API to pull massive lists of keywords instead of being blocked at 1,000 keywords in the Google Search Console platform.

Houston we have a content structure problem.

When creating your content, make sure you plan the structure. Content should be presented in a way that provides a solution for the issue that your audience is searching for. Whether that means answering a question, finding a product, killing boredom or anything else, writing good content that solves a problem will gather audience interest and potential viral visibility via social shares and links. Your engagement rate will be better, which will send positive signals to Google and other search engines.

Creating structure for your content can be challenging. To create structure, create an outline of how you want the content to be viewed, with the most important information near the top of the page. If your post gets long, use anchor links to push people to the content more efficiently. Another tactic is to use heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) to break content up to allow users to skim and scan the content. Avoid using long blocks of content, and if content is becoming long, use the following tactics to visually break it up:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Testimonials
  • Bulleted list

When appropriate, you may find breaking up your content into multiple pages will provide a better experience instead of overwhelming users with one larger page. For example, the Minnesota Twins do a great job trying to sell season tickets. The Minnesota Twins season ticket site takes users on an experience instead of just trying to sell the season tickets aggressively. Unfortunately, there is actually a small amount of crawlable content on each page, but the site focuses on the audience’s interest which helps it still perform well.

Creating a fluid structure for your content will help improve your audience engagement metrics by making the user experience friendly. The structure of the content should be taken into account at the beginning of the optimization process.

TopRank Marketing tip: Once you write your amazing piece of content, put a small amount of paid promotion behind it to test how your audience interacts with it. You will be able to quickly see how the content performs for engagements or conversions prior to the page ranking for all your keywords.

Build a map to your content.

After writing an optimized piece of content, the next step is to build backlinks to your content. Backlinks will help people and search engines crawl and find your content more efficiently. Backlinks can be related to three areas including internal, external, and social links.

Building backlinks can be related to a map. For example, let’s say you have the most amazing beach that you would like to charge admission for. You’ve put in a lot of work to make your beach the best in a 300 mile radius and you know people would love to visit. The first problem is that no one knows how to find it. So you build walkways and paths to make it easier for people to get to the white sandy beach (internal links). Next you make signs to place near your beach to attract some local visibility (social shares). Now, people start coming to your beach and they love it so much they go out and tell their friends (external links). Before you know if, your beach is filled with happy and paying customers.

The moral of the hypothetical scenario is to optimize your content by building links to your content. Links are still important to receive organic and overall traffic. The easiest way to get some links to your asset is to build internal links strategically with correct anchor text. Use keyword variations and long-tail keywords as your anchor text to not over optimize the content asset, which in return sends better relevance signals to the search engines.

Share your post on social media with a promotion plan to gain more visibility via referrals. Increasing your social shares for your content sends more positive signals to search engines about how popular it is.

Lastly, focus of earning backlinks from credible sources on other websites. The reach out to influencers that might be interested your content so they can either share socially, or even better, on their website. Also, reach out to websites that are linking to the pages that are ranking for the keyword topic to see if they will link to your better piece of content too. Hopefully, your amazing piece of content goes viral, which helps earn backlinks naturally and easily.

TopRank Marketing tip: I suggest posting on every major social media channel but especially Twitter and Google+. Both of those platforms will help your content asset get indexed much faster than organically crawling the site.

Let’s write more optimized content!

Writing optimized content can be challenging. As content marketers we have the opportunity to optimize each asset so our audiences can find it easily over our competitors. Optimized content will lead to more organic traffic and ultimately lead to potentially higher conversions/ROI. We don’t need more content in general, but rather we need more optimized content that helps solve the audience’s problem.


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How to Address Technical SEO Issues to Increase Content Visibility http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/03/technical-seo-issues/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/03/technical-seo-issues/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2016 10:30:14 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20173 [Note From Ashley: Kevin is an SEO Analyst on the team at TopRank Marketing and has done an exceptional job uncovering and fixing technical issues for our clients. This is Kevin’s first post on TopRankBlog.com and we look forward to him sharing his technical expertise on an ongoing basis with our readers.] Websites that don’t work [...]

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Technical SEO Issues to Address

[Note From Ashley: Kevin is an SEO Analyst on the team at TopRank Marketing and has done an exceptional job uncovering and fixing technical issues for our clients. This is Kevin’s first post on TopRankBlog.com and we look forward to him sharing his technical expertise on an ongoing basis with our readers.]

Websites that don’t work and are hard to navigate can be an incredibly frustrating experience for any user. If they load slowly, have broken pages, or duplicate content it can deter visitors from coming back and make it less likely that the content that you’ve worked so hard on shows up in search results.

Self-directed buyers are getting well over 50% of the way through the buying cycle based on web experience alone, which means that a technically sound website is incredibly important. Not only do some technical SEO issues hurt user experience, but a large amount of issues leads to a decrease in performance.

Technical SEO issues often impact the entire site, but there are some cases that individual pages are impacted. Ensuring that these issues are addressed will help make your content more visible to your target audience. One way to solve common technical issues is to conduct a technical SEO audit on a regular basis. Below is some information to help you navigate through a technical SEO audit.

5 Common Technical SEO Issues

There are multiple issues that you should check for while running an audit. Checking for all technical SEO issues will take quite some time depending on the size of the website. For the sake of highlighting some of the most important issues, we will focus on 5 issues which include:

  1. Response codes
  2. Duplicate content
  3. URL structure
  4. XML sitemaps
  5. Site speed

#1 – Response Codes – 404: Heading tag not found!

Let’s start with the basics – response codes. You need to have a website that can be easily used by people and crawled by search engines. If search engines are having a hard time crawling your site then it will suffer in organic performance. One area to help a search engines crawl your website is by reducing the amount of 4xx and 3xx response codes within your site. More common 4xx and 3xx response codes that we see are 404, 301, and 302 codes.

The best way to fix these response codes is to update any pages that contain the link that either responds with a 404, 301, or 302 code to a live destination page on the website. By having a direct link to a live destination page, the authority will not be lost and it will provide a better user experience. Also, updating the internal redirects will help mitigate any potential redirect chains if a page happens to be changed again, and then is redirected to a different page. Redirect chains can cause a major headache for search engines when crawling and indexing a website.

#2 – Duplicate Content – If you see double, you’re in trouble

After resolving the response codes, it’s important to look at the on-page optimization of the website. Some of these issues can be related to general SEO tactics, but they are still important when conducting an audit. One area of on-page optimization that is often prevalent is duplicate content. I’m a pretty big stickler when it comes to duplicate content. An ultimate goal of a website is to offer a solution for users, and the best way to offer a solution is to provide unique content.

To fix duplicate content is to make sure that each page as a solid amount of unique content tailored to whatever the page is about. For eCommerce sites, make sure each product has a unique description or user generated reviews to differentiate the content. For other sites, make sure to write unique content for the topic of the page. Also, make sure that your CMS isn’t creating duplicate content by correctly configuring the settings.

Eliminating duplicate content will help a website and individual pages perform better for the targeted keywords/topics. By targeting a specific topic on individual pages content marketers can provide unique content that enhances the user experience. 

#3 – URL Structure – You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation

Now that you have a handle on your response codes and duplicate content, it is time to dig into the URL structure of a website. The URL structure of a website can play an important part in search visibility.

URLs should be concise and keyword rich as much as possible without keyword stuffing. A good way to make sure that a URL is concise with keywords is to use a static URL over a dynamic URL. The static URL should follow the pattern of the navigation and how people navigate throughout the website. By making the URL structure follow the navigation format, you will create a hierarchy that helps search engines associate certain pages together as opposed to a flat URL structure.

There are other situations that URLs should stray away from. For example, there shouldn’t be any underscores or uppercase letters in a URL structure as search engines handle them differently.

URL structure is an important aspect of technical SEO that should be taken into account early on to reduce any potential issues over time. One thing to note, do not change the URL structure of your website for the sake of SEO. Changing the URL structure is a strategy that should only be applied when appropriate.

#4 – XML Sitemaps – Give Google GPS instructions to your site

Next, you need to make it easy for search engines to crawl your pages. XML sitemaps help search engines crawl and index pages throughout a specific section or the entire website. It is important to include all the pages you want indexed within the XML sitemap. XML sitemaps are typically one of the first areas of the site that is crawled. Search engines will crawl the XML sitemap looking for any pages that are new or that have been updated. I recommend building out a XML sitemap index that contains individual sitemaps for videos, images, or other types of content instead of having one mega XML sitemap contain every page.

Sometimes we’ll uncover that a website has multiple XML sitemaps that contain pages that shouldn’t be there, which results in the pages being indexed. For example, you don’t want to include a thank you page containing a download link in Google’s search index so people can download your asset without filling out the information you are looking for (i.e. email address, name, etc.). XML sitemaps are an important part of any website, and auditing the pages included should be done continually.

#5 – Site Speed – Your website needs to be as fast as an Olympic sprinter

By completing the first four items that I have covered you are already making it much easier for search engines to uncover your content. To make your website perform even better it is time to address any site speed issues to make your great content load quickly for your readers. Faster websites help provide a better user experience and can lead to better performance for organic traffic. Google and other search engines are focusing more on providing websites that can load fast. It is especially important if you are running an eCommerce website, as a slower website can lead to lower sales/revenue.

Common ways to increase website speed for pages include:

  • enabling compression
  • minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • leveraging browser caching
  • optimizing images

There are multiple other areas to focus on to improve website speed, but I recommend starting with the areas that can be easily implemented. Addressing your website speed is a little more technical than the other issues in a technical SEO audit, so work with your developer to solve any site load issues. Making your website load quickly will help your content be found easier and offers a great user experience.

Why is a Technical SEO Audit Important?

A technical SEO audit can help outline key issues that are holding a website back. Although there are many items to check while conducting an audit, the most important part is prioritizing each issue to align with company goals and how quick the impact will be once implemented. Each website will prioritize issues differently to achieve results fast especially since some tasks will require more resources.

If you need help running a technical audit on your website, contact us for a free consultation.

Header image via Shutterstock


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