John E Lincoln – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 04 Apr 2019 20:43:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 What killing rel=prev/next means for SEO /what-killing-relprev-next-means-for-seo-314967 Thu, 04 Apr 2019 20:00:07 +0000 /?p=314967 Make sure it's clear to Google which page is your Page One – and don't sweat the legacy code.

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By now, you’ve probably heard that Google is no longer supporting rel=prev/next markup. In fact, Google hasn’t supported it for years.

That’s unfortunate because Google forgot to tell anybody. Many digital strategists were implementing rel=prev/next code thinking that it would offer some SEO benefit.

It did at one time. It doesn’t anymore.

So what happened? And what should you do now?

In this article, I’ll go over Google’s recent announcement about the change. I’ll also explain what the elimination of rel=prev/next means for SEO.

How we got here

Way back in 2011, Google introduced the rel=prev/next markup. It was a way to inform Googlebot that the web page was part of a series.

For example, if you wrote several blog posts about all the SEO basics, you might include one article about keyword research, another article about on-site SEO, another article about backlinking, and so on.

In that case, you’d use the rel=prev/next markup to identify the next and previous articles in the series.

It wasn’t just a good idea for blog posts, though. E-commerce sites used the markup to identify products that all belonged to the same category.

Until recently, Google included documentation on its Webmasters Help page that explicitly told website owners to use the rel=prev/next markup. It read as follows:

Use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links or headers to indicate the relationship between component URLs. This markup provides a strong hint to Google that you would like us to treat these pages as a logical sequence, thus consolidating their linking properties and usually sending searchers to the first page.

Now, that whole page is gone. Even worse: Google deleted it without telling anybody why.

Eventually, the Google Webmasters official Twitter account issued the following statement:

“Spring cleaning! As we evaluated our indexing signals, we decided to retire rel=prev/next. Studies show that users love single-page content, aim for that when possible, but multi-part is also fine for Google Search. Know and do what’s best for *your* users!”

Do you need to remove the code from your site?

No, you absolutely don’t need to remove the rel=prev/next markup from your site if you have it there.

Why? Because simply put, it doesn’t hurt to leave it there.

Also, Google isn’t the only search engine in town. And Bing’s Frédéric Dubut is on record saying that his search engine still uses rel=prev/next markup “for page discovery and site structure understanding.”

So the good news here is that you don’t need to go back and update all your old pages that have been using the markup since 2011.

Whew.

But should you? That is a different question which gets a little tricky. I’ve considered this previously and did a study on it.

What does this change mean for SEO?

Before I answer that question, let me make one thing clear: it looks like no SEO professional noticed that Google discontinued supporting the rel=prev/next markup from an indexing standpoint.

It wasn’t until someone saw that the Big G had pulled the documentation page that people started asking questions.

So maybe we should ask the philosophical question: “If Google removed a feature and nobody noticed, was it ever really there?”

But what it means is that Google will index the category page instead of the pagination going forward.

That’s not a problem, though. According to Google Web Performance Engineer Ilya Grigorik, Googlebot is intelligent enough to find your next/previous pages with a clear signal.

Remember: the bot is already evaluating all the links on your site. If you’ve structured your website so that it’s user-friendly and practiced great internal linking, Google will find your related content and rank it.

A few tips on category optimization

Now that rel=prev/next has gone away, what can you do to optimize your category pages? Here are a few pointers.

First, make sure you have most of your content on the first page in the category. That’s going to help with indexing. By content, I mean text, images and videos.

Not only that, but it will help with indexing for the right search terms. Once people get to your category page, they can find other pages.

Next, optimize your featured image on your main category page. Yes, I’m recommending you have a thumbnail that is optimized with a keyword in the file name and alt text. That gives Google additional info about the nature of your pages.

Also, optimized images will bring in traffic from Google Image Search.

After that, you should also add as many items to your category page as possible without slowing it down too much.

That one can be tricky in some instances. What if you have 10,000 items in a single category?

See if you can break them up into subcategories. Then, include one representative from each subcategory on the category page.

When considering e-commerce, lately I like to have about 30 to 60 products in a category. I also will not create a subcategory unless I have five unique products.

The million dollar question, do you get rid of rel next rel prev?

Well, since there is already a canonical in place, Google will just attribute all the value to the first page. So you have the option of.

  1. Keep it in place and have it work just like a rel canonical.
  2. Get rid of rel next rel prev and have it treated the same way, but don’t worry about legacy code.
  3. Put in place a no index on all the pages except the category. Some people like this because if you do the no index or a robots.txt block it can save some crawl budget, meaning Google will not crawl the pagination as much.

Personally, I like option 2.

Wrapping it up

I could give you 20 more tips about optimizing categories in this article. Things like adding dates to titles, testing numbers in various items in the template, where to add schema and adding unique content. But I’ll save that for another post.

What you need to know today is that Google messed up and forgot to tell you that it’s no longer supporting rel=prev/next markup. That’s not the end of the world.

Feel free to leave the markup code on your site or select another option above. The choice is up to you. But one thing is for sure, make sure you make it clear to Google which page is Page One. That will help your rankings.

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Back to Basics: A beginners guide to voice search and digital assistants in 2019 /back-to-basics-a-beginners-guide-to-voice-search-and-digital-assistants-in-2019-314010 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 18:17:18 +0000 /?p=314010 Here's a roundup of the various digital assistants on the market today with some beginner tips on how to optimize for voice search.

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Voice search isn’t only here to stay, it’s on the rise. Is your website optimized for spoken queries? If not, then you could lose market share to competitors whose websites are optimized for voice search. Good news, though, that’s a problem you can start fixing today.

In this article, I’ll explain the various types of digital assistants and what to do to get your site ready for voice search. If you want to learn more, I’ll be talking about voice search in more detail at SMX Advanced in Seattle on June 5.

Voice search is the new mobile

Many webmasters were caught off-guard when the mobile revolution arrived (almost overnight). They thought their “old school” websites would rank just fine in response to a query on a smartphone. Then they learned the hard way that wasn’t the case and started optimizing their sites for mobile platforms.

Similarly, plenty of webmasters are blowing off voice search. They’re going to regret that. According to comScore, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

If you follow the trendline, that means there will be more voice searches than keyboard searches after 2020.

But what kinds of devices are people using to perform voice searches?

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is the app you download and install on your smartphone. It’s the one that answers to the call, “Hey, Google?”

Unsurprisingly, Google Assistant uses the Google search index to get answers to your queries. It will deliver a verbal response based on the info that it receives. In other words, Google Assistant does the Googling for you. Additionally, you can extend the functionality of Google Assistant with Google Actions.

Google Actions empower you to handle tasks via a conversational interface. For example, if you want to turn the lights on in your home, you’d do that with Google Actions.

However, if you want to use Google Actions, keep in mind the following key points:

  • People may give commands using different words or phrases. Be sure to prepare for that.
  • Folks might need some assistance. Include a help section.
  • Users love personalization. Accept preferences (such as time zone, zip code, etc.) to offer a more personalized experience.

There is a Google Actions Console for Google Actions, just like there is a Google Search Console for your website. In the Google Actions Console, there are templates you can use to build Google Actions. Think of a Google Action like an app for Google Assistant.

Google Home or Google Home Hub

What is Google Home? It’s a standalone device that uses Google Assistant. While Google Assistant itself is an app you download, Google Home ships with Assistant installed.

Google Home is basically a small speaker. Google Home Hub, on the other hand, has a screen. That’s helpful if you want to know how to julienne a carrot and have trouble following along with only verbal directions. Google Home Hub will show you a video so you can see exactly how it’s done.

Really important: Google Home Hub is closely integrated with Google products so make sure you are optimizing using these entities. At Google’s recent I/O event they made it clear YouTube videos would be front in center in Home Hub and the device has special formatting for these videos. With how-to searches on the rise in YouTube, it’s important that you are on the platform to answer questions around your business.

In general, the Google Assistant pulls data from Google properties first – maps, YouTube, rich results, knowledge graph, etc., so it’s essential to align with Google assets.

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa is similar to Google Assistant. The key difference, of course, is that it’s produced by Amazon instead of Google. Unsurprisingly, one of the best features of Amazon Alexa is that you can use it to shop on Amazon and place orders. However, it’s also a digital assistant that will answer your queries. Alexa gets its information from the Bing search engine. This makes it critical to use Bing Webmaster Tools and Bing properties to optimize your content. Amazon also allows developers to create their own voice apps with Alexa Skills.

Here’s how Amazon explains Alexa Skills: “When a user speaks to a device with Alexa, the speech is streamed to the Alexa service in the cloud. Alexa recognizes the speech, determines what the user wants, and then sends a structured request to the particular skill that can fulfill the user’s request. All speech recognition and conversion are handled by Alexa in the cloud.”

Amazon Echo

If Amazon Alexa is like Google Assistant, then Amazon Echo is like Google Home. It’s the smart speaker that people use to access Amazon Alexa. You might think that Amazon copied the idea from Google. If so, you’d be wrong. Amazon pioneered the smart speaker concept back in 2014. Google is still playing catch-up. Amazon also offers home assistants with displays with their Echo Dot and Echo Show.

Apple Siri

If you own an iPhone, then you already know that Apple Siri is embedded into it. All you have to do is hold the home button and give Siri a command. Unlike some of its peers, Siri doesn’t respond to voice queries with audible answers. Instead, it returns mobile search results.

As of now, Siri is only available on iOS platforms. Apple also lets you create Siri Shortcuts which are voice-activated apps similar to Amazon Skills and Google Actions. You can use Siri Shortcuts to handle everyday tasks, such as ordering coffee. Siri also remembers your routines across apps and displays helpful suggestions on the lock screen or in search.

Apple offers SiriKit, a tool that enables your iOS apps and watchOS apps to work with Siri. Use it to give users voice access to your apps.

Apple HomePod

Apple’s answer to Google Home and Amazon Alexa is the Apple HomePod. It wasn’t released until June 2017. In other words, it’s way behind in its development. Still, the HomePod has features you’d expect. It can answer questions and help out around the house. However, Apple hasn’t yet produced a smart display for its in-home assistant.

Microsoft Cortana

“Cortana lets you achieve more while doing less.” That’s Microsoft’s boast about its intelligent assistant. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft Cortana retrieves the info that it uses to answer questions from Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

However, Microsoft doesn’t offer native apps for Cortana. Instead, it uses Alexa Skills. So if you want to create an app for Cortana, you need to develop an Alexa Skill.

How to optimize for voice search

Now that you know a little bit about the different devices that people are using for voice search let’s look at some ways that you can optimize your site so that it’s used as a reference by the Google Assistant. Do do that, you need to get rich results in Google or be in Google properties. Here are just a few tips.

Focus on conversational questions – Although it’s a great idea to optimize for abbreviated search terms like “content marketing important,” that’s not going to cut it with voice search. Instead, optimize for the full question, such as: “Why is content marketing important in 2019?” Keep your responses to 40 to 50 characters as these surface the most in voice responses.

Optimize for featured snippets – Put whole questions as H2 subheaders so they’ll more likely get mined for the coveted Rank 0 position. Also, include FAQs in your content. Finally, remember to keep your answers brief — quality raters like short answers from voice assistants.

Don’t forget Local SEO – People use digital assistants to find local businesses all the time. Make sure your site is optimized for local search.

Focus on page speed – According to a study by Backlinko, page speed could affect your chances of getting a response to a voice query. Make sure your site loads quickly. There is a lot more to it and this is just a start. Keep in mind, this is just for Google. The methodology is different for each assistant.

Wrapping it up

If you’re looking for “the next big thing,” it’s probably voice search. Make sure your site is optimized for audible queries. Otherwise, your business might struggle for market share. Get started today.

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Google Merchant Center to deliver real-time search results /google-merchant-center-to-deliver-real-time-search-results-313226 Fri, 01 Mar 2019 13:00:39 +0000 /?p=313226 The information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and can be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.

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Google Merchant Center is a tool and central dashboard where online retailers can upload store and product data and manage the appearance of their e-commerce products. Perhaps its biggest benefit is that the feed is uploaded directly to Google in real-time, ensuring that all information displayed is accurate at the time of a given search.

This data was used to primarily to power Google Shopping Ads, which meant that the benefits of the merchant center were not readily available to non-AdWords users. Retailers generally relied on schema markup to display information in rich results and rich product image results. Information displayed usually included ratings, price, availability, etc.

But in its latest news, Google announced that it would be opening up its merchant center capabilities to all online retailers, regardless of whether they run AdWords campaigns. This comes after its recent updates to the product report in Search Console and improvements to product visibility through Google Manufacturer Center.

So why is the merchant center update important?

It’s important because all that detailed information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and eligible to be viewed in organic search and image results. That information can also be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.

This gives retailers better control over how their products appear online to help customers better find the relevant information they need.

Google also stated that product data would be ranked based only on relevance to users’ queries. We can assume that it will be treated similarly to rich results by choosing information to display that it believes is best suited to each user and query (based on search history, location, etc.).

This change is great news for online retailers and highlights two major departures from the previous version of the merchant center:

  • Retailers no longer need an AdWords account to upload product information
  • There’s no cost associated with it

For any brands looking to add relevant information to their listings without running a shopping campaign, this is the way to do it.

The expansion is starting in the U.S. with support for other countries coming later in the year.

Don’t have a merchant center account? Here’s how to set one up

To get started, you’ll first need to create a merchant center account. This is free of charge and requires and doesn’t require an associated Google AdWords account.

You will need an existing Google account, or to create a new one.

Then, head to the Google Merchant Center page to begin set up.

You’ll be asked to enter in basic business details like location, name, and website URL.

Then, you’ll need to verify and claim your website. If you haven’t verified your website with Google before, you’ll need to do so either by HTML file upload, HTML tag, Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager.

Note that all websites must comply with the Merchant Center Guidelines.

Now here’s the fun part: the product feed. (Okay, it’s not that fun, but it’s important).

To get started, go to the “Feeds” section under “Products” in your Merchant Center. To create a new Primary Feed (required), click the + button

Remember, your feed is a digital listing of all the products you’re selling online. It will contain quite a bit of detail regarding your products, like title, description, URL, price and image URL. You can find a complete list of eligible attributes in the product feed here. Keep in mind that some of these attributes are required.

These feeds are submitted either in TXT (.txt) or XML (.xml) format. If you go the XML route, you may require the help of a developer. TXT is generally easier for creating a feed.

Once you’ve submitted your Feed, it’s a waiting game. Google processing could take up to 24 hours.

But when it’s done, Google will start pulling information from your feed straight to search and image results.

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Angular Universal: What you need to know for SEO /angular-universal-what-you-need-to-know-for-seo-311437 Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:53:16 +0000 /?p=311437 Learn the five steps to make Angular play nicely with search engine bots and index your site.

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If you use Angular to power your website, then you have an extra hurdle to cross when it comes to SEO. Fortunately, Angular Universal makes it easy to leap over it.

Keep in mind that “easy” is a relative term here. There’s quite a bit of technical wizardry involved.

You’ll almost certainly need to get a development team involved.

But once the finished product is delivered, your site will serve optimized pages that search engines will easily locate and index.

In this guide, I’ll explain Angular Universal and why it’s important to marketers.

The SEO problem

Angular is a fantastic framework for delivering modular, user-friendly web apps. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hostile to SEO.

That’s for two reasons.

First, Angular relies heavily on script to deliver content. As a result, some search bots don’t “see” the content that a user sees.

Take a look at the Angular Universal documentation. That page is, unsurprisingly, rendered with Angular.

As you scroll down, you’ll see quite a bit of content. You’d think it’s all indexable.

Not necessarily. Right-click on the page and select “View page source” from the context menu that appears.

There are only 100 lines of source code. Nowhere in there will you see the content that you saw when you viewed the page normally.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Angular. Human visitors will see the content, but search bots will see the source.

And the source doesn’t have the content!

There’s another SEO problem: speed. Angular apps often don’t load quickly.

Some sites will display a blank screen for a couple of seconds before showing the home page. That can cause visitors to bail as they get impatient.

Site speed is a mobile ranking factor so your rank will take a hit if your site doesn’t load quickly on mobile platforms.

But Google says…

Google claims its bot can index script-driven sites. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, but it doesn’t mean you can avoid going the extra mile when optimizing an Angular site.

For starters, Google isn’t the only search engine in town. If you want your Angular app to rank on Bing and DuckDuckGo, you’ll have to take steps to make that happen.

Next, it may be the case that Google can index some Angular sites, but not yours. Not all Angular apps are created equal. Yours might be the exception to Google’s indexing algorithm.

In my experience, sites that move from HTML to Angular loose massive traffic from search engine a majority of the time. In fact, I’ve had three clients come in over the last year where we had to fix the site back up after the drops due to Angular.

There are solutions

Fortunately, there are ways to make your Angular site SEO friendly.

One of the more popular options is to use dynamic rendering. That’s when you use a tool like Puppeteer to generate static HTML files that web crawlers can more easily consume.

Then, configure your web server to direct search bots to the pre-rendered pages while human visitors navigate around the normal Angular app.

That’s a decent solution, but it still doesn’t address the speed issue. For that, you’ll probably want to go with Angular Universal.

What is Angular Universal?

Angular Universal runs your web app on the server as opposed to running it in the browser.

That’s an important distinction. Normally, Angular apps are client-side applications.

The problem for search bots is that they don’t always “process” client-side code like your browser does when it serves you a web page. That’s why you saw a discrepancy between the Angular Universal documentation page and its source code.

Angular Universal handles server-side rendering (SSR). It pre-renders the HTML and CSS content shown to the user ahead of time.

That means a user will load a static HTML page instead of client-side code. As a result, the page will load more quickly.

Also, because it’s static HTML, search bots can index the content.

Everybody wins.

Why it’s important

If you’re into digital marketing, then you already know that much of the battle involves gaining exposure online. That’s why you reach out to influencers, post updates on social media and optimize your site to rank well.

Simply put: your site can’t rank if it can’t get indexed. If Angular is powering your website, you need to take extra steps to make sure that its content appears in search engines.

That’s why you need an Angular Universal solution.

The downside, of course, is that it’s going to cost money. You’ll need to hire a qualified development team to add SSR to your website.

That’s an expense that should more than pay for itself over time if your site ranks well for key search terms related to your niche.

How to run an Angular App on Angular Universal

If you’re somebody who likes to get your hands dirty with code, or you’d just like to save on development costs, you can deploy a server-side app on your own.

Before you do that, it’s best if you have a basic understanding of Angular, the command-line interface (CLI), TypeScript, and web servers. Otherwise, you’ll likely struggle.

The steps to deploy a Angular Universal app are as follows:

  • Install the necessary dependencies
  • Update the Angular app
  • Use the CLI to build a Universal bundle
  • Set up the server to run a Universal bundle
  • Run the app on the server

There’s quite a bit going on in those five steps, so I’ll cover them each in turn in the following sections.

Install the dependencies

If you have any experience with Angular, then you already know about Node.js. That’s the runtime that transpiles the TypeScript code into a JavaScript app.

Node.js comes with a package manager, unimaginatively named Node Package Manager or npm for short. You’ll use that to install the dependencies.

Fire up your command line window and run the following code:

npm install –save @angular/platform-server @nguniversal/module-map-ngfactory-loader ts-loader

Give it a few moments (or many moments) to install everything.

Update your Angular App

Next, you’ll need to prepare your Angular app for Universal deployment. That involves four steps:

  • Add Universal support. Open your root module (usually AppModule) and add an application ID to the BrowserModule import. You’ll do that in the “imports” section just below the @NgModule declaration.
  • Create the server root module.Next, you need to create a new module named AppServerModule. Make sure it imports ServerModule from the platform-server dependency that you added in the previous step.
  • Create the main file. You’ll need a main file for your Universal bundle. Create that in the root (in the src folder) and export the AppServerModule class from that file.
  • Create a config file. The AppServerModule class needs a config file. Create one in JSON format. It should look something like this:

Create a new build target

Your Angular source directory should include a file named angular.json. You’ll need to update that file in the “architect” section.

It will look something like this:

“architect”: {
 “build”: { … }
 “server”: {
   “builder”: “@angular-devkit/build-angular:server”,
   “options”: {
     “outputPath”: “dist/my-project-server”,
     “main”: “src/main.server.ts”,
     “tsConfig”: “src/tsconfig.server.json”
   }
 }
}

Note the “builder” attribute four lines down. The value after the colon (“server”) is the name of the server. You can update that if you want to name it something else.

Now, you can build your app. Assuming you kept the server named “server,” just head over to your command line and type the following:

ng run my-project:server

You should see output that looks something like this:

Date: 2018-12-12T12:42:09.601Z
Hash: 1caced0e9434007fd7ac
Time: 4122ms
chunk {0} main.js (main) 9.49 kB [entry] [rendered]
chunk {1} styles.css (styles) 0 bytes [entry] [rendered]

Set up the server

Next, you need to set up a Universal server to run the bundle. That’s how you’ll serialize the app and return it to the browser.

To make that happen, create a new file called server.ts. Within that file, you’ll define your app engine.

The details of that code are a little bit outside the scope of this tutorial. Feel free to take a look at the example in the Angular Universal docs.

Run the app on the server

After all of that, you’re finally at a point where you can run the app on the server.

To do that, set up a webpack that handles the server.ts file you created in the previous step.

Name the config file webpack.server.config.js. Once again, check out the Angular Universal docs for the exact kind of code that belongs in the file. You might need to adapt that code to your own naming convention.

Once you’re done with the file, you’ll have two folders under the dist folder: browser and server.

To run the server code, just type the following at the command line:

node dist/server.js

Congratulations! You’re now running server-side code.

Wrapping it up

Although Angular enables developers to rapidly produce high-quality applications, it doesn’t always play nicely with the search engine bots.

Fortunately, Angular Universal can pre-render Angular app pages as static HTML so they’re discoverable and indexable. They’ll also load quicker.

It has always been my recommendation to have an HTML base and use Angular to deliver the other elements on the page. I’ve been making this recommendation about anything JavaScript related since 2010. This process of Angular Universal is the same principal. I can’t tell you have many sites Angular and JavaScript redesigns have destroyed. Be careful with yours and always get it vetting by an SEO company before launch.

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How do you optimize for Google Discover? /how-do-you-optimize-for-google-discover-309244 Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:00:29 +0000 /?p=309244 Brands will need to focus more on the quality of the content they produce as well as its audience engagement.

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Google Discover is, essentially, Google’s take on the popular social media feed.

In fact, until very recently, Discover was actually called Google Feed.

Like other feeds, Google’s comes in the form of a series of cards meant to keep users up to date on the stories that matter most to them.

The feed, which is based off a user’s browser history (pay attention to that marketing people), indicated interests, and machine learning, marks a new phase in Google search – one that doesn’t actually require any searching on the user’s part.

Rather than relying on user’s to enter in a typical search, the Discover feed gives users information before they even search for it.

And with over 800 million users, the Feed has proved to be a hit.

As Google continues its efforts to make search as seamless as possible, it debuted a slew of new features coming by the end of the year.

One of them was the revamped Google Feed, now called Discover.

Updates to the Discover feed include:

  • New look: The design has been completely redone, with an emphasis on visual content. And now, each post will come with a clickable topic header and Discover icon. When clicked on, it will display related content.
  • Updated content:  Before, most of the content surfaced in the Feed was news coverage, but with the launch of Discover Google announced its plans to include more evergreen content (content isn’t new, but may be new to you). Based on your search history, it will also pull content based on your experience with a certain subject (ex. If you’re a beginner at guitar, it will show you beginner material)
  • More control: At the bottom of each card, you can indicate whether you’d like to see more or less of a particular kind of content.
  • Discover on the homepage: Previously, Google Feed was accessible through the Google mobile app, but now Google plans to show the Discover feed on all google.com mobile browsers.

Optimizing for Google Discover

Google Discover represents a major shift in how people use the search engine. Mainly, users no longer have to rely on their own search queries to find the topics most relevant to them.

For brands, it represents a shift in SEO.

Without search queries, keyword optimization won’t be enough to rank your content in Discover. But the good news is this – a lot of the same SEO rules still apply.

Here are a few to keep in mind.

Create quality, engaging content

As always, a focus on creating high-quality content that addresses the needs of your readers is crucial to surfacing content in Discover. But in addition to quality, you’ll need to focus on garnering engagement for your content.

Think about your typical social media feed. It’s dictated, in large part, but what you and your friends or followers have interacted with most in the past. It makes sense, then, that the Discover Feed will rely on a similar principle.

The key difference here is this: Discover doesn’t take what any friends or followers like or share into consideration. It relies solely on the content you’ve engaged with most and this makes building relationships with your users more important than ever.

Think of ways you can encourage your leads and customers to engage – through email marketing personalization, loyalty perks, social media shout-outs, etc.

Use images and video to rank in Google Discover

In its announcement, Google pointed out that users would be seeing more images and fresh visual content in the Discover feed. This means for content to surface, it should include high-quality images (and relevant thumbnail image) and be translated to video when possible.

Create both new and evergreen content

For your best bet at being pulled into user’s Discover feeds, you’ll want to focus on creating a mix of content. As Google said, they’ll be focusing on both fresher, newsworthy content as well as evergreen content.

Make sure your editorial calendar includes room for both, and that you’re updating any existing evergreen pieces.

Build trustworthy content

Using social media feeds as a model, another key factor we can take away is the emphasis they place on the trustworthiness of a source.

Facebook, in particular, has cracked down hard, only ranking “high-quality news” in its latest algorithm update.

For Google, it likely means that the more trustworthy your content is rated, the more likely it is to appear in Discover.

To build trustworthiness in Google’s eyes, it all comes down to your site authority. And your authority, of course, all goes back to the quality of your content.

It doesn’t hurt to have a link strategy in place aimed at getting backlinks from high-quality websites, either.

Multiple languages

It should also be noted that Google Discover is available in multiple languages and Google has plans to roll out more.

Wrapping up Google Discover

So think of it this way, Google Discover shows content if you interact with it. All you need to do, is get someone to interact with your content and you will have the potential to show the feed.

  • Get ranked high for SEO
  • Run promoted content ads and get engagement
  • Send out content in email newsletters
  • Promote, promote, promote

Google’s latest represents a new way to rank and optimize content for the SERPs.

Brands need to keep in mind that in order to optimize for Discover, they’ll need to focus more on the quality of the content they produce and promotion.

The post How do you optimize for Google Discover? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Could Google Alerts spam hurt your SEO? /could-google-alerts-spam-hurt-your-seo-307809 Thu, 08 Nov 2018 12:30:20 +0000 /?p=307809 Although a relatively undocumented spam method, you should report it to Google and then disavow the links through webmaster support tools.

The post Could Google Alerts spam hurt your SEO? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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You know what Google Alerts are, right?

Well, there are some spammy results showing up in Google Alerts and people are starting to think it might hurt their SEO.

Here’s everything you need to know about SEO and how it relates to spam in Google Alerts.

What is Google Alerts spam?

In theory, Google Alerts shouldn’t be any cause for concern.

The timely notifications – delivered to your inbox from Google with a slew of new links – are easy to sign up for and keep users up-to-date in the areas they’ve indicated interest.

But these seemingly harmless updates can hide potentially harmful links as scammers get increasingly crafty.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Scammers are inserting popular keywords and chunks of content into the titles and content of their sites.
  • As Google scans the web for new content to include in their Alerts it finds those keywords and, assuming the page is relevant to the topic at hand, includes a link to it in their daily Alerts.
  • When a user receives the roundup and clicks on one of the bad links, they’re directed to the spam site.
  • So, if someone received Alerts related to (Add Any Keyword Here), they may receive a batch of legitimate links as well as a link to a fraudulent site that’s using the Ignite Visibility name to lure in traffic.

Why the heck would people want to do this? Well, it is because they want the traffic. Online hackers are trying to trick you into clicking on the link. When you do, they get a visit. So in a way, it’s kind of like Google Alert SEO!

Now here is the bad part…

These links can lead to spam and even malicious websites that will try to put malware on a user’s computer once they visit the site.

How can Google Alerts spam affect SEO?

The good news here is that in most cases the spam found in Google Alerts won’t affect your SEO.

There is a chance, however, that it could have an adverse effect on your SEO if scammers are stealing your content or linking back to your site. Those would be the two main things to watch out for.

For example, one case was reported in a Google thread claiming the entire text from a website page was lifted and republished on one of these malicious sites.

The link came in using the actual business name and lead to a site featuring the business’s actual content, but lived on a bogus, unrelated URL.

The problem here arises if Google finds the content on the spam site and indexes it, which could lead to duplicate content SEO issues.

As you’re likely aware, duplicate content is content that appears on the web in more than one place. One place refers to one URL, so if the content appears on more than address, you could be dinged for duplicate content.

This issue presents a few problems for search engines:

  • They don’t know which version should be indexed.
  • They don’t know which version to rank for searches.
  • It makes the content on your site feel a bit more generic.

While Google doesn’t dole out penalties for duplicate content, it could (maybe) result in the right page receiving lesser traffic and rank due to the presence of the duplicate.

So, you can see why the example above could spell bad news for SEO.

If a scammer is stealing and publishing your exact content on a different URL, it looks like duplicate content to Google.

On another note, if a spam site is linking back to your site, it will (rightfully) come across as a low-quality link in Google’s eyes.

These shady links signal to Google that your site might not be high quality or relevant enough to collect good links, which will also cause a decrease in rank in the SERPs.

How to identify Google Alert spam

Because this a relatively undocumented spam method, it’s hard to ward against it 100 percent. In fact, one reason I am writing this column is to get more attention to the topic from Google.

Hi Google!
Please let us know that you read this. :)

Now, I’ll tell you how I have dealt with it and what I recommend.

Regarding the alert text, there are a few ways to know up front if a link’s no good.

First, take the time to actually read over the title, snippet text and URL. If anything looks suspicious – maybe the URL is unknown or the text doesn’t fully make sense – it may be best to skip that link.

Next, make sure the URL matches the domain name given before clicking.

If a link is supposed to be from Entrepreneur but the URL doesn’t appear to be connected, leave it alone.

And of course, if you do click on or a suspect a spam link, report it to Google immediately.

What to do if you find Google Alert spam?

There are two steps that need to be taken.

  1. Report the spam to Google
  2. Disavow the link

To report to Google, head over to their Webmaster support tools.

Google specifically lists spam, paid and malware links as one that should be reported. It’s the first step in getting the link removed and penalized appropriately.

Once that’s done, you should disavow any link that leads back to your site.

Because these links come from malicious or spam sites, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any success getting them removed yourself, making a disavow request your best bet.

Once disavowed, it will signal to Google that this link should be ignored and not counted as part of your backlink profile.

To properly disavow a link, download a list of all the links to your site. Then upload a text file to Google containing only the links you want to disavow.

You can also tell Google to ignore all links from a specific domain.

For full instructions on how to disavow a link, read Google’s instructions here.

Conclusion

Google Alert spam is one thing in a long line of nasty spam online.

And while we don’t have much information on it yet, as Google becomes more aware of the problem you can bet they will take added measures to make sure bad links don’t find their way to your inbox.

In the meantime, report any spam related to your website or content to Google immediately and disavow any bad links.

Having done that, it’s unlikely that any Google Alert spam will hurt your SEO unless it is in bulk.

The post Could Google Alerts spam hurt your SEO? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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If you’re not using Remarketing Lists and Similar Audiences for Search, you’re leaving money on the table /if-youre-not-using-remarketing-lists-and-similar-audiences-for-search-youre-leaving-money-on-the-table-305680 Fri, 21 Sep 2018 22:00:00 +0000 /?p=305680 Tapping into Similar Audiences in conjunction with RLSA can be a recipe for success for retail marketers. Here's how.

The post If you’re not using Remarketing Lists and Similar Audiences for Search, you’re leaving money on the table appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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I firmly believe most companies are leaving big money on the table by not fully utilizing Remarketing Lists and Similar Audiences. I just don’t think businesses really get it.

In this article, I’m looking to offer suggestions and help marketers not leave anything on the table.

Similar Audiences

Ever wish you could get a set of new leads that come pre-qualified? Good news: you can.  Similar Audiences for Search are based off existing remarketing lists, but target new users with similar search behavior to those on your existing remarketing lists.

Because they’re intended to be similar to users who have already expressed interest in your site, they’re considered more qualified than the average searcher.

If these sound at all familiar, it’s likely because similar audiences have been available for some time on the Google Display Network or because they mimic the function of a Facebook lookalike audience. These audiences are at work on both Facebook and Google. Businesses are not taking full advantage.

Benefits of Similar Audiences for Search

These audiences can be extremely beneficial to advertisers for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Find and target people similar to your site’s visitors.
  • Simplify finding audiences to target.
  • Get new potential customers.

Let’s expand on each of those things a little.

With Similar Audiences, you’re not running blind. You’re targeting a group of people whose interests align with your current customers and prospects. Think about it. Brands continue to pour money into advertising methods like TV and magazines, while not spending enough on newer features like lookalike audiences. Data isn’t driving those TV ads; it is, however, driving your lookalike and similar audiences. And while a TV ad may get you in front of a huge audience, it isn’t necessarily a qualified one.

Say you’re an insurance company and you want to push auto insurance. Using remarketing, you can build a list of all the people who have visited your auto insurance product page. Then create a similar audience from that pool. The new similar audience will have similar search patterns and interests as those that visited your site, but this new list has the potential to reach a much bigger, qualified audience.

Essentially, you’re taking that visitor pool and increasing it exponentially. Even cooler? You can create a similar audience based on past converters. If you have a list of 1,000 people that have converted on your site, you can turn that into a similar audience of 10,000+ people.  That’s because lists like similar audiences and remarketing are based on customer actions. Those actions include purchases, downloads, or browsing product pages.

You don’t have to base your similar audiences for search on everyone who’s ever stopped by your site. Instead, you can select a subgroup of users similar to those who have made purchases or downloaded your items.

I’ll say it again: these are people who behave like those users in your remarketing list, which means a few of them are likely to be similar to your most valued customers.

How do Similar Audiences work?

Remarketing allows you to cookie users that visit specific pages on your website so you can track their search activity and show them ads as they browse other sites. Remarketing lists for search (RLSA) lets you customize your search ads for those who have already visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads creatives to those users as they search Google and its partner sites.

To get started with Similar Audiences for Search, you’ll need to have an existing remarketing list to base it off of. Keep in mind that in order to run an RLSA, your list needs to have a minimum number of 1,000 cookies before the list can be used to tailor your search ads.

Once you have your remarketing list up and running, Google Ads will analyze the search activity of the users on the list to gain an understanding of the aggregate search behavior of those on the list.  Then, based on the search patterns and behaviors that Google Ads identifies, it will find new users with similar search behavior to serve your ads to.

Given that it’s Google that’s doing this, the process isn’t entirely transparent. They do explain that a “variety of factors” go into matching your audiences, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • The number of visitors on the original list.
  • How recently these people joined the original list.
  • The similarity of these visitors’ search behavior.
  • Any adjustments made to the original list.

How to set up Similar Audiences for Search

For anyone with Google Ads experience, the setup process will seem very familiar. Keep in mind that to add anything in similar audience targeting, you need to have an existing campaign ready in Google Ads.

Start by signing into your Google Ads account. Locate the navigation bar on the left, and click Search Campaigns or find the campaign you would like to add a Similar Audience to. Then, find the page menu to the right of the navigation bar and select Audiences. Click on the pencil icon.

When the “Edit Audiences” section appears, click select an Ad Group. You’ll see a box “All Audiences” pop up. Click on Remarketing and then the type of list. Click the box next to the lists you would to use, and hit save.

Do Similar Audiences for Search work?
In short, yes.  Since it rolled out for search, Similar Audiences have gained a healthy reputation for boosting conversions and click-through rates (CTRs).

For example, take Chrysler. The company had already seen some impressive numbers using RLSAs and decided to kick it up a notch by implementing similar audiences for search. According to Think with Google, the goal was to influence new buyers to consider their brand and increase conversions and efficiency across all search campaigns.

The results?  A whopping 22 percent more conversions, 14 percent lower cost per acquisition (CPA), and 11 percent increase in click-through rate (CTR).

Why the strong results? While Chrysler didn’t target users who had visited their specific site, it did target those who had searched for similar keywords like “Chrysler Pacifica” and “RAM trucks.”  Knowing that, Chrysler was able to narrow down those specific segments of its audiences and increase bids accordingly.

For reference, Chrysler ran nine campaigns with generally targeted campaigns. To accurately monitor, they made no changes to the original campaign’s text ads or bids.

No competition
They aren’t the only ones reporting success. Wordstream noted in a blog post that, in early testing, they saw Similar Audiences convert at nearly the same rate as their core RLSA audiences.

And when compared to new visitor audiences, there’s no competition. Similar audiences converted 50 percent better and saw a 65 percent higher CTR at the time of the agency’s analysis. But that’s not even the best part. The company also reported that, on average, Similar Audiences for Search allowed advertisers to scale their RLSA campaigns and reach a 7x larger audience.

Optimizing your Similar Audiences for Search

Part of the beauty of Similar Audiences is that they require very little work on your end. But as marketers, our motto might as well be optimize everything! So here goes:

Clean up your remarketing lists.
Your Similar Audience will only work if your remarketing list does, so always make sure you have a good range of lists going. This will enable you to set audiences for people who have visited certain pages, past converters, users who have spent the most time on site, etc. From there, you can tailor each Similar Audience and its corresponding remarketing list based on the goals of your campaign.

Adjust your bid over time.
With Similar Audiences, it’s okay to start slow. In fact, starting out by adding the audience with a 0% bid adjustment is the best way to go. Then, watch what happens. After a month or so, you’ll be able to get an accurate read on how your similar audience is performing. So if you notice a high conversion rate coming from those lists, you can increase your bid appropriately to raise its rank in the SERPs. If the results aren’t what you had hoped, you’ll to take another look at the campaign and the corresponding remarketing list.

Monitor closely.
We covered this one above, but it’s extremely important to keep tabs on your performance to see where tweaks need to be made. Remember the Chrysler example above? Use the most effective audiences. In order for remarketing to be effective, you need to be showing your ads to your best audience. Not everyone that visits your site is a qualified lead, and they aren’t the people you want to be basing your similar audience off of. Instead, make sure your building lists based on your top converting customers and lifetime value.

While it’s not always easy to determine who those users are, you can start by uploading any email segments of converted customers you have, or any other record of past conversion history. It’s also a good rule of thumb to focus on the users who have spent time on your product pages.

To find those users visiting specific pages, use dynamic remarketing. It’s fairly easy to get started; to do so, you’ll need to creating a feed that describes all your products or services (details like unique ID, price, and image included) and upload it to either the Business data section of your shared library or to Google Merchant Center if you’re a retailer. Then, you’ll add the dynamic retargeting tag to the websites you want to track. Once it’s good to go, you can begin experimenting with Similar Audiences to bring in some new faces as well.

Use broader or Broad Match keywords.

Because your audience is pre-qualified, you can increase your reach a bit by using broader keywords that still apply to your audience. In case you need a refresher, broad match ads will appear to people who use synonyms, misspellings, related searches and other relevant terms.

It’s a good way to attract people who use keywords similar to the ones associated with your campaign, while still allowing the use of negative keywords to counteract any words or synonyms you definitely don’t want popping up with your campaign. And again, because your audience is pre-qualified, these people’s search history already points them in your direction, so you can afford a little more leeway with your keywords.

Use Similar Audiences for seasonal campaigns
Here’s a cool story for you (also courtesy of Think with Google). Life Style Sports, Ireland’s largest sports retailer, used similar audiences for a Black Friday campaign back in 2015 (it was a Gmail campaign, but same principles apply). Using remarketing, the company reached out and re-engaged with customers who had made purchases during the previous Christmas holiday, and used similar audiences to target potential customers with similar interests.

Lo and behold, the campaign achieved a cost-of-sale 75% below their target, with 40% of purchases coming from new customers. Good story, right? And the lesson is this: sometimes, your lists don’t have to be modeled after the customers with highest lifetime value. Sometimes, you can focus your lists around events themselves, i.e. seasonal shoppers.

Conclusion

For anyone using remarketing, Similar Audiences is an excellent addition that will help you discover untapped traffic.

The post If you’re not using Remarketing Lists and Similar Audiences for Search, you’re leaving money on the table appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Why websites should be using HSTS to improve security and SEO /why-websites-should-be-using-hsts-to-improve-security-and-seo-304380 Mon, 27 Aug 2018 18:20:00 +0000 /?p=304380 If you want added security, faster load times and stronger SEO for your site, contributor John Lincoln walks through why and how you should be using HSTS for a better user and ranking experience.

The post Why websites should be using HSTS to improve security and SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Site users and search engines don’t take website security lightly which is probably why you’ve likely heard of added security measures like HTTPS.

But a lesser-known security layer called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is also available and can help protect your site and your search engine optimization (SEO) as well.  Let’s walk through what HSTS is and how it works.

HSTS

HSTS is a response header that informs the browser it can only connect to a certain website using HTTPS.  HSTS increases both the speed and security of HTTPS websites.  To fully understand what HSTS does, you need a little working knowledge of HTTPS.

HTTPS

HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure version of HTTP.  When a user connects to a site using HTTPS, the website then encrypts the session with a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. In layman’s terms, it adds an extra layer of security to the site session and protects against hackers who may try to steal information from web users.

As you can imagine, this is especially useful for e-commerce, banking, or other transaction sites like Paypal, which require users to enter sensitive information.

Whether or not a site uses HTTPS is clearly visible to users. Those that are secure will feature a green secure symbol by the URL.

On the flip side, those sites that still rely only on HTTP will be labeled “Not Secure” in the uniform resource locator (URL) box.

HTTPS has been a confirmed Google ranking factor since 2014, and while it won’t immediately skyrocket your site to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs), it will give you an added boost and signal an extra layer of trustworthiness to website visitors. I like to think having HTTPS gives a web page a boost and will usually move the HTTPS page ahead in the SERPs.

While HTTPS is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it’s not entirely without its flaws and that is where HSTS comes in.

How HSTS increases site security

One of the flaws associated with HTTPS is that it isn’t entirely hack-proof.  It leaves your site open to SSL stripping. This occurs when a hacker changes the connection from an encrypted connection to an older version.

This often occurs with 301 redirects – if a website relies on 301 redirects for switching from HTTP to HTTPS.   The 301 redirect usually happens like this:

  • Someone types in examplesite.com into their browser.
  • Because examplesite.com uses a 301 redirect, the browser initially tries to load http://examplesite.com. This happens because the browser can’t know ahead of time that a specific site is using HTTPS.
  • Once it encounters the redirect and is told otherwise, the browser then has the go-ahead to load https://examplesite.com.

While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s those few milliseconds in between you really need to worry about because it leaves the site vulnerable to hackers who try to strip down your SSL certificate.

When the server initially calls the HTTP version, hackers can slip in and intercept the request over the insecure HTTP, which will block the site from using HTTPS.  It stands to reason that as more sites switch to HTTPS, more hackers are educating themselves on how to crack the updated security codes.

There is a solution for this, make your site even more secure by applying HSTS.

HSTS forces a site to load over HTTPS, disregarding any calls to try an HTTP connection first as in the case of 301 redirects.  This essentially sidesteps the initial HTTP load by forcing the browser to remember that this site does indeed support HTTPS. That way, the browser will load the secure version immediately and eliminates the opportunity for hackers to hijack the connection.

How HSTS helps page load speed and SEO

In addition to adding an extra layer of security to your site, using HSTS may also give you an SEO boost since using HSTS makes your web pages load even faster.

We know load time is a big deal when it comes to both search rankings and user experience.  With mobile usage only increasing and Google’s mobile-first initiative in full swing, page load speed is more important than ever.

Early last year, Google released a study with the following conclusions:

The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 15.3  seconds:

However, research also indicates 53 percent of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Clearly, web users aren’t exactly forgiving when it comes to load times.

And for e-commerce sites which seem to have the most incentive for applying HSTS, the news is even worse.  Consider this shopping stat from Google :


Mobile sites lag behind desktop sites in key engagement metrics such as average time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate.  A lot of shopping is happening online, but sites that lag behind aren’t the ones making the sales.  Page load speed directly affects metrics like average time spent on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate. If you’re seeing low engagement metrics, you’re likely seeing low sales.

Those engagement metrics are also key factors in your overall SEO.  Web pages with strong engagement signal quality and good user experience to Google which can result in a higher ranking.  Since page load speeds are such a big deal, it makes sense businesses would do everything they can to ensure their sites load like lightning.  One of the things they can do is enable HSTS.

Remember, if you try to load a site using only HTTPS, it will first try to call the HTTP version before realizing a page supports HTTPS. That initial HTTP attempt will cause a small delay in the load time of your site. While it may only be milliseconds when it comes to page load speed, every millisecond counts. With HSTS enabled, the browser knows to use only HTTPS, making the redirect instant and eliminating any lag time.

How do I apply HSTS?

Before you can enable HSTS you must have a valid SSL certificate installed.  A user’s browser will have to see the HSTS header at least once before it knows to instantly redirect to a certain page. That means a user’s first visit to a certain domain would still have to go through the HTTP to HTTPS process.

To eliminate this as much as possible, Chrome created an HSTS preload list. This is a list of domains that will have HSTS enabled automatically, so users can automatically connect using HSTS.

Chrome allows anyone to submit their domain to the HSTS list as long as it meets the following requirements:

HTTPS needs to be enabled on the root domain and all subdomains especially the www.subdomain if a DNS record for it exists.  This includes any subdomains in use solely on intranets. The HSTS policy includes all subdomains, with a long max-age, and a “preload” flag to indicate that the domain owner consents to preloading.

As of now Firefox, Safari, Opera and Edge also use Chrome’s preload list, so the option is available to domains across most major browsers.

To enable HSTS on your site, you’ll need to add the HSTS header activated. You can do this through your hosting site or activate it yourself.

Conclusion

Should you use HSTS?  I think you should unless you are a content publisher and are experiencing trouble switching to HTTPS.  It’s hard to serve ads on an HTTPS site so many publishers have struggled with switching to HTTPS.  They’ll probably struggle serving ads using HSTS as well.

Every website can benefit from an extra layer of security, not only from an SEO standpoint but from a customer standpoint as well.  If you run an e-commerce or transactional site, HSTS is quickly becoming a must.
Think about it this way: added security and faster load times equals better SEO and ultimately, a better user experience.

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Let’s face it — clickbait works. Here’s how to use it to your advantage /lets-face-it-clickbait-works-heres-how-to-use-it-to-your-advantage-296915 Tue, 01 May 2018 14:30:00 +0000 /?p=296915 Hook people with a creative title using the right words as "bait," and searchers will click your links, says contributor John Lincoln. Here are 9 examples of successful titles that encourage better click-through rates.

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No two ways about it — clickbait works!

With the right page title, you can get people to click on your link in the search engine results pages (SERPs). That means you’ll get more clicks on call-to-action (CTA) elements on your website, which, in turn, should boost your bottom line.

If you’re interested in getting a better click-through rate (CTR) in the search results, then maybe it’s time to up your page title game. Fortunately, you can draw inspiration from others who’ve crafted titles that encourage clicks.

In this article, we’ll look at nine examples of outstanding page titles and go over what they have that makes them appealing and highly clickable.

1. The dynamic template

Travel website TripAdvisor uses a title that’s more of a template than an actual title. That’s because the marketing team applies the same title format to different regions.

For example, if you search for “best hotels in San Francisco,” you’ll see that TripAdvisor appears toward the top of the SERPs with this headline:  “The 10 Best Hotels in San Francisco, CA for 2018 (from $76).”

That’s a great headline for a few different reasons.

First, it’s directly related to the query. So anyone who enters that search term in a search engine will be happy with that result.

Second, it uses the current year. That tells people the information on the page is up to date.

Putting the current year in the title is an old favorite trick of search engine optimization specialists (SEOs). If you want to increase your CTR, try adding the year to some of your titles. Even if you don’t make any other changes, you’ll likely see a bump in clicks.

Another reason the TripAdvisor headline works is because it includes the low price right in the title.

Most last-minute travelers would be ecstatic if they could find a hotel in San Francisco for just $76 per night. But the key takeaway here is that TripAdvisor uses that title template for other major cities.

For example, if you search “best hotels in San Diego,” you’ll see a TripAdvisor result in the SERPs with this title:  “The 10 Best Hotels in San Diego, CA for 2018 (from $59).”

Does that look familiar? It should. It’s the same title you saw with the San Francisco search, except the city name and the price are different.

Think about how you can use the TripAdvisor strategy in your own title optimization efforts. Here is the template:

The (number) Best (category) in (city), (state) for (year) (from $ (lowest price)

2. Using headlines

Next, search for “motorcycle helmets.” Skip the ads, go straight to the organic results and take a look at the first page of the results list.

As of this writing, the top result is from RevZilla. I’ve looked at the optimization on RevZilla a lot. They do a great job for e-commerce search engine optimization (SEO).

Here’s what the search result looks like and the title:  “Motorcycle Helmets | Fast, Free Shipping!”

That’s pretty good. The title perfectly matches the search query, and it promises fast and free shipping. Those two points are very important for potential buyers.

Scroll down a little more. Take a look at the BikeBandit title:  “Motorcycle Helmets – Best Reviews & Cheap Prices on Motorcycle…”

First, note that the headline gets cut off. That’s why you see an ellipsis at the end. Try to avoid letting that happen with your titles. Keep them brief.

Also, think about what they put in the dynamic title. Best reviews? What does that really mean? And cheap prices? That is positive, but it’s best not to use the word “cheap” in marketing, since it can have a negative connotation.

RevZilla is really hitting on what users want. Yes, their title is short, but it gets the job done.

3. Coupons.com

Search for “coupons.” It’s a keyword that operates in a very crowded space, but it’s worth checking out, since it’s frequently searched for.

Unsurprisingly, the Coupons.com website ranks in first place. Given the competitive nature of this phrase, a solid title is important.

One of the main thing to consider when optimizing a coupon website is how many types of coupons you are planning to optimize per category.

The biggest terms are:

  • Free coupons.
  • Printable coupons.
  • Grocery coupons.
  • Coupon codes.

In some cases, coupon sites try to optimize for all of these phrases in a category. In others, they break them up. Out of this group, Coupons.com has done the best job. Their title has been optimized for Printable Coupons, Grocery & Coupon Codes | Coupons.com

We can see they are optimizing for all the top terms, still getting branding in there and manage not to have their title cut off for being too long.

One thing they may want to test would be a template like this: Get 2,000 Printable Coupons, Grocery & Coupon Codes Now!

4. Location-based page

Next, search for the term “car insurance” which is another extremely crowded space.

Scroll down a bit, and you will probably see a location page by Geico. Here is the title for Geico page:  San Diego Car Insurance | GEICO

This is an example of a page that can be improved. I would recommend rewriting to look like this: Best San Diego Car Insurance – You Could Save $500+ | GEICO

They use this language on other page titles on the site, so it could really increase CTR here.

5. Step-by-step guides

Search “how to become an RN.” Here, “RN” stands for registered nurse.

Once again, scroll through the SERPs. Which result stands out?

The Rasmussen.edu title seems like it would attract the most clicks, since it’s positioned very well and has this text in the title: “Your Step-by-Step Guide.” That kind of help is exactly what people are looking for when they search for “how to become an RN.” They need a guide that will take them through each step of the process.

People searching for info often want a hand-holding tutorial. That’s why the “Dummies” books are still in print after all these years. They’re designed for people who are completely unfamiliar with whatever it is they’re trying to learn.

Think about how you can structure your “How to” titles so they appeal to people who don’t know anything about the subject.

6. Numbers win

If you search for “power words,”you’ll see the top results are packed with numbers in the headlines.

For example, the first result is from OptinMonster: “700+ Power Words That Will Boost Your Conversions.” That rightly deserves to be toward the top.

Why? For starters, it has a higher number than anything else on the first page. Scroll down, and you’ll see that all the other titles use numbers that are lower than 700.

Second, the title promises a benefit. If you use their power words, you’ll “boost your conversions.”

That’s an easy formula to follow. Curate a listicle with a high number of items, and create a title that explains how people will benefit from reading it.

7. Promote accuracy

Sitting at #3 is this title, “Internet Ad Spend Is About to Surpass TV Ad Spend [New Report],” after searching on “Internet ad spend.”

The actual keyword is in the headline itself, and that will draw attention from searchers.

Second, note that bracketed segment at the end: “[New Report].”

That’s telling users the article has some data to back up the claim in the headline. It’s a golden rule of advertising to rely on expert witnesses in ad copy, and you can do that in your headlines as well.

8. Recurring theme

Do you see a recurring theme in the search results when you look for “Snapchat marketing?”

The top three results all use the word “ultimate” in the title. For example, the top result is “The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Marketing.”

So, when in doubt about what to do, curate a “one-stop shop” list with a keyword popular in your niche. Then, create a title with the word “ultimate” in it.

For example: “The Ultimate Guide to Winning the Buy Box on Amazon.”

In that case, the keyword is “winning the buy box.” The article will contain several great pieces of advice that Amazon marketers can follow so their products win the Buy Box.

The user here wants a full guide. Winning the buy box is not an easy thing, and the more information they can find on it the better.

9. Guarantees

Next, search for “saltwater fishing rods.” Scroll through the results list.

Toward the top, you’ll see the typical “boring” results. They match the keyword but don’t add any text that encourages people to click the link.

But it’s a different story for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Their title reads “Saltwater Rods | Best Price Guarantee at Dick’s.”

That’s an incentive, isn’t it? Dick’s is telling people they guarantee their prices can’t be beaten.

Money-minded consumers will find that appealing, so it’s highly likely they’ll click the link before checking out the rest of the results because it appeals to their cost-saving senses.

Conclusion

Write your titles so they outmaneuver the competition in the SERPs. Even if you can’t beat them in rank, you might be able to beat them in clicks.

The post Let’s face it — clickbait works. Here’s how to use it to your advantage appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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30 questions to ask that so-called PPC ‘expert’ before hiring him/her /30-questions-to-ask-that-so-called-ppc-expert-before-hiring-him-her-289889 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:25:17 +0000 /?p=289889 Just say no to the expert if he/she can't answer the following 30 PPC, content and remarketing questions, says contributor John Lincoln.

The post 30 questions to ask that so-called PPC ‘expert’ before hiring him/her appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC), it’s often best to call in the experts. But sometimes even experts need to be put to the test.

The following are a variety of questions and their answers from major search and e-commerce sites like Google, Amazon and Bing. Use them to ask any “expert” you may be interested in hiring to help you with PPC, content and remarketing.

Google AdWords questions to ask your PPC expert

1. How will you manage the Google Quality Score?

Google’s Quality Score is based on three things: keyword, ad text and landing page relevance. To maintain the highest score possible, it’s best to use fewer keywords and use smaller, targeted ad groups. That way, we can write more targeted copy that will more likely find its niche. PPC experts should be very familiar with Quality Scores, how they work and how to improve yours. (And sometimes, you may not want to focus on Quality Score.)

2. Can you explain how the Google auction works?

Google AdWords Questions to Ask Your PPC Expert

The auction process goes like this:

  • When a user enters a search, AdWords pulls all the ads whose keywords match that particular search.
  • From the ads, any that aren’t eligible, such as ads that target a different country or have been disapproved, will be ignored.
  • From the ads remaining, only those with a high enough Ad Rank will show results.

It’s a crucial stage of your campaign, so make sure anyone involved with it knows the process and how to get the most out of it.

3. How does Ad Rank affect cost per click (CPC)

When it comes to CPC (the actual amount you’re charged per click), the most you will end up paying is the minimum amount required to hold your ad position. In the Search Network, ads that appear above the search results generally have a higher CPC than those that appear below the results.

4. What is click-through rate (CTR), and how is it calculated?

CTR is a ratio that shows how many people are clicking on your ad after seeing it. It’s calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions. The total number of clicks divided by the total number of impressions = click-through rate.

5. What are some things you can do using the Google AdWords API, and would you recommend using it?

While the AdWords API offers a variety of tools and functions. it should be used only by those with a dedicated engineering service and needs that can’t be met through other AdWords tools. Make sure you hire an expert who knows when to call in the API — and when not to.

6. What third-party tools do you use for keyword discovery?

Outside of Google’s own search query, there are plenty of tools to help discover new and related keywords. Make sure your expert is aware of the following:

Google display network questions to ask your PPC expert

Google offers a comprehensive exam to test your Display Network knowledge. As such, an expert should be able to ace it.

7. Why is it recommended to separate Display Network campaigns from Search Network campaigns?

The answer may vary by campaign, though Google explains that different campaign settings may be more effective on different networks.

8. What is the On-Schedule Indicator (OSI)?

This is the percent likelihood the campaign will deliver all impressions booked.

9. How long should advertisers wait after creating a new display campaign before analyzing its performance?

Google’s answer is two to three weeks. Look for a similar answer.

10. What do managed placements allow advertisers to do?

Bid differently for specific placements on the Google Display Network.

Bing questions to ask your PPC expert

11. How is the Bing Quality Score calculated?

Like Google, the Bing Quality Score is calculated based on the expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.

12. How do I improve my ad’s position in Bing?

In Bing, you want to be in the top eight spots. To get there, Bing lists some suggestions, including increasing the relevance of your ad, your landing page, writing more effective copy and more.

13. In Bing, what are the differences between search ads and content ads?

Ads are separated into search and content ads on Bing. Search ads are equivalent to Google search ads, while content ads mirror display ads. Content ads are shown in Windows apps in the content network.

Amazon questions to ask your PPC expert

14. Do you recommend using Amazon Bid+ for bidding?

Bid+ allows Amazon to raise bids up to 50 percent and may not be best if you are managing your ad spend.

15. How are Amazon ads displayed, and how do you improve your ad placement?

Amazon ads are displayed at the top of the search, right, middle, bottom or on the product detail pages. Like other PPC campaigns, the display position is affected by search relevance, keywords and bids.

16. How can I get more campaign impressions on my Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns?

On Amazon, increasing your number of keywords and the number of products in your ad campaign may have an effect, as well as increasing your budget.

17. Which match type will be most effective for my Sponsored Product campaign?

Similar to AdWords, Amazon offers exact match, phrase match and broad match.

Remarketing questions to ask your PPC expert

does your PPC expert know about re-marketing?

18. What are the benefits of remarketing?

A PPC expert should be familiar with remarketing and able to outline its many benefits, including:

  • Targeting users when they’re most likely to buy.
  • Lists created for specific purposes.
  • Large-scale reach.

19. Is my site equipped to handle tracking requirements to ensure the remarketing campaign works?

Before beginning your remarketing campaign, you’ll need to make sure your site is able to support the required pixels or codes.

20. What are the most important KPIs to measure success?

Remarketing, like any other campaign, comes with a set of metrics to keep track of. Those include CTR, cost per click (CPC), effective cost per acquisition (eCPM) and return on investment (ROI). Before you start, make sure you know what your goal is and which key performance indicators (KPIs) best reflect it.

21. What types of remarketing are there, and which is best for my campaign?

Remarketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. Within the ad type, there are options including:

  • Site remarketing.
  • Search remarketing.
  • Email remarketing.
  • Social media remarketing.

22. Which audience segment should I target?

Once you’ve decided on the type of remarketing, the next step is choosing a segment. An expert should be able to tell you the differences between general visitors, specific product visitors, previous customers and so on and which is most appropriate for the given campaign.

23. Should I use a list automatically created by AdWords?

When you initially create a remarketing campaign, AdWords will create default lists for you to use. Or you can choose to create a website remarketing list on your own.

24. On Bing, does remarketing work on both the search and content network?

Remarketing only works with search ads on Bing.

25. How are UET tags, conversion goals and remarketing lists related on Bing?

Your expert should be able to explain to you exactly what universal event tracking (UET) tags are, and how each fits into your remarketing campaign.

Facebook questions to ask your PPC expert

Ad Targeting: A Facebook Ads Tutorial

Learn about ad targeting options for your Facebook ads. Reach your audience by location, gender, age, likes and interests, education and more. #learnhowLearn more: https://www.facebook.com/business/products/ads#top-targeting-options

Posted by Facebook Business on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

26. What kinds of budgets are available on Facebook?

There are two types of budgets available on Facebook: daily budgets and lifetime budgets.

27. How are budgets related to campaign and account spending levels?

When it comes to money and budgets, you and your PPC expert should have a clear understanding of how it will be used and what will be accomplished. Make sure you are both familiar with Facebook’s campaign budgets and spending levels.

28. How do I increase the number of impressions on my ad?

Few or low impressions could point to a number of things:

  • Budget is too low.
  • The same people are seeing your ad repetitively.
  • Your target audiences are overlapping.

Your PPC expert should be able to diagnose the issue and know how to work to improve it.

Copywriting questions to ask your PPC expert

29. What do you consider when writing an ad?

When it comes to writing text ads, you will want to hear answers that include call to action (CTA), visuals, attention-grabbing headlines and more.

30. How do you test ad copy?

A good PPC expert knows the value of testing and should be prepared to test content factors such as pricing, punctuation, emotional appeal and CTAs.

Conclusion

Most PPC campaigns are complex, and even the smallest detail can have a big effect on the outcome.

If you’re not comfortable running campaigns yourself, consult an expert. Interview them thoroughly and make sure they can accurately answer the above questions.

The post 30 questions to ask that so-called PPC ‘expert’ before hiring him/her appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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