How to Improve Your Search Ranking With Video

Are you disappointed with your company’s search ranking? Have you tried a video strategy yet? Nobody can deny that video is the king of content: a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every single day. And YouTube is the second-largest search …

video-marketing

Are you disappointed with your company’s search ranking? Have you tried a video strategy yet? Nobody can deny that video is the king of content: a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every single day. And YouTube is the second-largest search engine. With numbers like that, it stands to reason video content could help you improve your ranking.   But with 400 hours being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s easy for any one video to get buried in search. Be aware that not just any video will drive up your ranking. You need to create the perfect...

The post How to Improve Your Search Ranking With Video appeared first on The Daily Egg.

8 ways to use content to skyrocket user engagement

Contributor Kristopher Jones speculates that user engagement impacts search engine rankings and shares 8 tips you can use to make your content more engaging for users.

The post 8 ways to use content to skyrocket user engagement appeared first on Marketing Land.

Much like commercials on TV, users are bombarded with content at every turn as they surf.  It’s overwhelming and as such, marketers are struggling to find ways to capture their attention and stand out.

As marketers, not only do we need to conduct extensive research so we can make great content, we also need our content and web pages to be promoted, discovered and engaged with.

To help with all facets of content development, user engagement, or “user signals,” should be actively tracked in Google Analytics as part of your content marketing campaign. This is important since it’s long been speculated that user experience is a ranking factor. Understanding who engages with your content will help with future content campaigns and business decisions.

When users engage with your content and you actively track their actions, you can benefit by:

  • An increase in leads and conversions.
  • Increasing the chances of a return visit.
  • Indirectly influencing search engine rankings for relevant keyword terms.
  • Cultivating brand loyalty.
  • Establishing your presence and visibility on the web.
  • Increased conversations and “chatter” about your brand.

Providing engaging content is especially important from a branding aspect. You need to be different to stand out. With so many choices available, one of the best ways for your business to shine is through creating and promoting unique and insightful content.

Let’s take a look at how user engagement impacts your search engine rankings and eight steps you can take to make your content more engaging.

User engagement metrics

The most common set of user engagement metrics that correlate to content relevance and quality is:

  • Click-through rate.
  • Pages per session.
  • Average website visit duration.
  • Customer acquisitions.
  • Conversion rate (subscribing, click-to-call and so on).
  • Bounce rate.
  • The number of sessions per user.
  • Social signals.

There are also more obvious signals, such as a user leaving a comment in the comments section or rating your content.

Hide negative comments on Facebook.

Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools provide in-depth analytics of page-level metrics that can be used to audit and evaluate the relevance and quality of content from a user perspective.

For example, the chart below from Google Analytics provides important user data on page views (monthly traffic), the average time a user spends on each page, bounce rate and many other important signals that are segmented page by page.

Page-level metrics, or how a user interacts with a page, will provide insight into how well your content is meeting user intent.

Rankings impact

While Google remains reluctant to share anything regarding its ranking signals, it has publicly said that “searching users are often the best judges of relevance.” Even if user and social signals are not direct signals, they do seem to heavily influence search results. From a theoretical perspective, Google wants to deliver users the best experience possible. By tracking click data, Google can make broad determinations about which content is best serving customers for specific keyword queries.

With that said, the influence of some behavioral data is harder to determine than others. For example, click-through rates (CTRs) can be influenced by a multitude of factors, including:

  • Brand bias.
  • Keyword position.
  • The inclusion of answer boxes, advertisements and local results in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

It stands to reason that pages ranking higher in the SERPs are more likely to get clicks. While we are not entirely sure how Google factors CTR into its search results as an isolated signal, it definitely provides a small, implicit influence. That amount of influence can only be determined by Google’s active learning system and how well it’s able to process relevance, intent and more.

Remember, search engines also include a multitude of factors including keyword intent, the day of the week, links, repeat visits and much more when determining where a page ranks. But it seems fairly obvious to me that if a page in position eight is receiving more clicks than position one and enjoys longer session durations, then Google would probably move it to a higher-ranking position eventually.

It makes sense to think that pages with higher CTR and greater engagement would signal to Google that searchers find certain results more relevant and useful to their browsing experience than other URLs.  Why not use that data to help determine where a webpage should rank?

I’d argue that user signals will perhaps be its number one ranking signal in the future, once the capabilities to track behavioral data more efficiently are available.

Increasing user engagement should be a major priority for content marketers and SEOs alike. Here are eight steps to help make this happen.

1. Research and audit

The first step to increasing user engagement is the most important, in my opinion, and that is to understand your users. Evaluate your current SEO methods by setting up Google Search Console and Analytics to examine the behavioral data of users when they land on specific pages.

Here you can uncover strategies to increase user engagement, such as:

  • Updating metadata to increase click-through rates.
  • Scaling out content length and depth to increase visit duration.
  • Adding related links to the side of content to entice clicks and increase pages per session.

When filtering by URL, you can get side-by-side key performance indicators (KPIs) on the performance of each piece of content and discover opportunities for easy wins. Here, you’ll need to optimize existing pages by their importance in your information hierarchy, the amount of traffic they currently pull in and their overall importance to your sales funnel. Then you can expand to ancillary pages.

Leverage competitive analysis to discover what pages are driving the most traffic, and keep an eye on your competitors. Conduct keyword gap analysis to discover opportunities where you feel you can outrank competitors, and gather ideas for content that can separate you from the competition.

The key here is to uncover specific pain points that competitors or other results are under-serving or where content can be improved upon.

2. Pique interest

If you’ve been successful in moving your web page rankings forward, the next step is to focus on harvesting clicks. This is where optimizing your metadata will become crucial. Use Google Search Console to look at the CTR of your pages and which pages are driving the most clicks from organic results.

The idea here is to optimize your title tag and meta description for more clickability. Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes for a second. When you conduct a search, do you notice the phrase you searched on has been bolded in the meta description of a web page listing?

The bold search phrase lets you know the search result is a page you’re looking for.

As a refresher, here are some best practice tips for title tag and meta description optimization:

  • Insert target keywords into the title tag and meta description.
  • Meet user intent (offer benefits for commercial, useful information for research).
  • Speak directly to users.
  • Provide enough information to pique interest.
  • Be short and concise.

Unfortunately, Google recently cut its meta description character count, although most non-branded searches now include dynamic meta descriptions pulled directly from content. Even so, by optimizing this title and metadata, you can lead users down the initial stages of your funnel and at the very least, pique interest.

Once you get that click, you need to nurture user interest with a striking page title. Again, page titles should contain the focus keyword, satisfy user intent and meet character count requirements.

Headlines offer an opportunity for creativity. The use of numbers, “how-to” phrases and strong adjectives in a headline will have a stronger call to action than a simple explanatory headline.

For example, “The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing” sounds more powerful than “Learning Content Marketing.” The use of these terms will also dictate the structure of your article (listicle or long form), how it’s written (tips, tutorial, advertorial) and its focus (keyword focus term). Even one tiny tweak like adding the word “top” to a page title or an ampersand can significantly increase clicks.

3. Optimize for speed and responsiveness

Not even the most eloquent headline and page copy can save your bounce rate if your site is slow and unresponsive. The statistics back it up: 53 percent of users will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load.

Considering the arrival of Google’s Mobile First index, your website will struggle if it’s not responsive or optimized for speed.

4. Design for ease of use

Give your content a helping hand by giving users an easy pathway to find it. Create a natural information architecture that focuses on top-level service pages with broad keyword concepts and slowly expands outward (or downward) with informational posts about sub-topics related to your business that include long-tail variants.

Streamline your user experience (UX) by offering simple navigation that leads users down a desired pathway to conversions and meets their initial intent. The more pathways you provide to relevant content, the more likely you can offer users value, familiarize them with your site and increase their engagement.

5. Focus on aesthetics

Perhaps the most overlooked element in online media is the presentation of page copy. Page copy should be optimized for SEO value, as well as scannability.

Content overload isn’t just the amount of content present over the web, it’s the number of words and white space on your own page copy. From UX designers to newspaper editors, each one will stress the importance of visuals in content, as well as white space, to make content appear more appealing and easier to consume.

When designing a web page layout, consider these tips to increase user engagement:

  • Optimize page focal points according to the rule of thirds.
  • Make use of images every two or three paragraphs so your eyes don’t bleed.
  • Use visually striking images or graphs that add context (ditch the stock photos).
  • Ensure images are compressed and optimized for size, speed, and also SEO value (optimize the alt attribute).
  • Ensure content is optimized and responsive for different devices.

6. Find your medium

No matter what methodology you use to craft content, the key is creating something better than the competition.

Delivery influences your content’s impact. Some content deserves to be visual, while some deserves to be written. For example, interior design blogs are more likely to feature images of their work, rather than use long paragraphs of text to describe furnishings or the services they provide. Use alternative mediums such as infographics, video and data charts to present content in a new and unique format. They can even be used to repurpose or accent existing content to encourage greater engagement.

Data chart example

7. Be the authority

This step is pretty self-explanatory, but it must be reiterated: Present value to your visitors. Focus on quality over quantity, offering unique perspectives and going more in-depth than the competition. Content length has long been suspected to be a ranking factor, although it certainly influences visit durations and your ability to rank for rich snippets.

Above all, the key is to present your own unique voice. From a branding perspective, developing thought leadership encourages repeat visits and also positions your company as an authority over all others in your respective industry. It’s also instrumental in cultivating brand loyalty.

8. Engage users

Finally, to increase user engagement, you also need to engage users. One of the best ways to do this is through personalized content, whether it’s served over an ad platform or in an email. Consult your analytics, and conduct A/B testing to optimize content for greater interaction and engagement.

Here are some other ideas and opportunities to engage customers:

Collecting email and contact information to retarget users with paid promotions and newsletters is a great way to keep your brand top of mind and extend your customer lifetime value to cultivate greater brand loyalty.

Conclusion

User engagement is crucial from a user experience perspective and will greatly impact your conversion rates.

I also suspect user signals play a crucial part in Google’s ranking algorithms, especially for hypercompetitive first- and second-page search terms. Follow these steps to make your content more appealing and engaging, and watch your user signals and traffic flows skyrocket.

The post 8 ways to use content to skyrocket user engagement appeared first on Marketing Land.

Content manager checklist: 10 things to do before you hit publish

Contributor Megan Krause lists 10 content and SEO-related points a content manager should check before publishing a piece of content

The post Content manager checklist: 10 things to do before you hit publish appeared first on Marketing Land.

Back in the days when print journalism ruled, major publishers had huge teams of fact-checkers and editors poring over every article before it went to press.

With the move to online publishing, those responsibilities have increasingly fallen on the shoulders of the content manager — a hybrid editor/strategist/project manager role with a bit of search engine optimization (SEO) thrown in.

I’m a content manager. It’s my responsibility to make sure every piece of content I create for my clients is stellar — for their goals, their leads and their customers.

But one man’s “stellar” is another man’s drivel. When we marketing types talk about “high-quality content,” we mean content that:

  • Engages, informs, entertains.
  • Is optimized for search.
  • Delivers what it promises.
  • Uses reputable, authoritative sources.
  • Has a great headline.
  • Is free from error, jargon and clichés.
  • Is easily scannable.
  • Inspires action.

Google rewards high-quality content, which is one of the greatest benefits of following these best practices.

Here are 10 ways (plus one bonus tip) to perfect your content before you press that “publish” button.

1. Optimize for keyword search

The goal of your content should always be to provide something of value to your readers so trust in your brand increases. This means when they’re ready to purchase, your brand will be top of mind.

To get content seen, it must be optimized for keywords people are searching for. Wolfgang Digital’s 2016 study of 87 million website sessions of e-commerce brands found 43 percent of traffic comes from organic Google search:

Use keyword research to discover popular terms and long-tail phrases that can inspire content. Make sure those terms are placed relevantly in header tags and throughout the content but don’t keyword-stuff. As long as the terms are used naturally and relevantly, you’ll be fine.

2. Break up content

While the debate on human attention span rages on, there’s no doubt the amount of content we have access to is larger than ever. According to the “2018 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends-North America” reports by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 91 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers use content marketing.

That’s a ton of content, in addition to the more than 1 billion hours of YouTube videos watched daily, plus social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and other channels.

With so much content to choose from, breaking up content to make it more visually appealing helps capture and keep user attention, since online readers are apt to scan content. Use subheads, numbered or bulleted lists and short paragraphs to make your content scannable. These techniques fall in line with Google’s own Developer Documentation Style Guide.

3. Make sure the headline is searchable and clickable

Unlike intentionally vague titles of great novels that offer mystery and intrigue to readers, writing headlines for the web is an art requiring the perfect blend of searchability and click-worthiness.

You want to craft headlines that include a keyword or two you want to rank for, but it also needs to be compelling enough to grab clicks.

Since the general consensus is that headlines longer than 65 or 70 characters will get cut off by search engines, make sure your keyword appears early in the headline. Such limited space means you should favor straightforwardness over getting cutesy — though there’s still room to be creative in what you write.

4. Add a CTA

Adding a strong call to action (CTA) to every web page and blog post is essential.

What is a CTA?

  • It tells the consumer the best next step to take.
  • It guides the user in the right direction.
  • It is helpful and relevant to the user’s pain points.

Make sure the call to action you use on your blog post corresponds with the content and where the user is on the buyer journey. You wouldn’t want to add a “Buy Now” button to a top-of-funnel informational piece, but a free consultation offer or a white paper download might make sense.

5. Add internal and external links

Linking within content is essential to elevate the user experience. There are external links and internal links. When using either type, the link should be relevant and helpful so that they enhance your search engine optimization process and provide value to the consumer.

  • External links. These links point to other websites besides the domain the content is on. External links are beneficial because they build credibility when you’re linking to a (credible, authoritative) source. They can also be instrumental in creating partnerships with other publishers when they notice your content is linking to them. They can help to make your content more authoritative.
  • Internal links. These are links to content within the domain the content is on. Using internal links helps Google understand your website structure. They provide a better experience for the user, who can discover more information related to the content topic. They also can help nurture leads, since you’re providing additional relevant and helpful content.

Make sure your links open to new tabs. This way, your content is still open for the user, and they won’t have to go back and forth within a single window to consume content. You can also help to increase time on page and decrease bounce rate from your site, which can affect search rankings.

6. Evaluate anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text part of the link you see on either an external or internal link. When the text is highlighted within the copy, the user gets a better idea of the content they’ll see when they click. Some types of anchor text include:

  • Exact match. This is a hyperlinked phrase which plainly states what the website is about.
  • Partial match. One or two keywords hyperlinked describe what the website is about.
  • Branded. This hyperlink is the name of the company.
  • Generic or nonbranded. Generally known as “click here” type anchors.

Anchor text that relates to the content the link is pointing to is best for search engine signals. Be mindful of using outbound anchor text that contains a keyword you want to rank for that depletes your link equity.

For example, if you run a pet store, don’t link out to another pet store site using the words “best pet store” in the anchor. A generic keyword would be more appropriate to use as anchor text in this case.

7. Link to credible sources

There is a lot of content out there, more than most people have time to read.  Developing entertaining and educational content increases the chances of it being clicked, read and shared.

If you need to link to sources to support your content, link to reputable, well-known sources within an industry and the primary source of the information.

When you’re citing another source, include the name of the source, as well as a link. Links break, and pages go offline, so citing the name of the primary source helps keep your article credible.

8. Add images and give credit

Adding images to content is another great way to break it up and make it more visually appealing to users. Images are also important for search engine optimization. Google image search is the second-most used search platform after Google.com, accounting for more than one-quarter of US searches. By optimizing the images you feature in content with descriptive headlines, descriptions and tags, you can increase your chances of being seen in more image searches.

In February 2018, Google removed the “View Image” button in image search results, which means users have to click over to the website the image is on to see it in full context. This is great news for publishers, as Search Engine Land reports there was an average of a 37 percent increase in clicks from image searches throughout 58 websites since the change.

9. Make content shareable

Social sharing buttons are a form of a CTA for users who are on social media. Seeing the recognizable icons for Facebook, Twitter and social networks sends a signal to users to share. As your content gets shared on social media, you reap benefits, including:

Depending on your content management platform, you may easily have the ability to turn on a social sharing button feature. For platforms like WordPress, there is an array of free social sharing plugins you can add to your layout, which makes social buttons automatically appear on each piece of content.

Other options for sharing on social include:

  • Create your own CTA graphics for social sharing.
  • Write out a call to action within a post to join a discussion about it on your Facebook page.
  • Insert “click to tweet” links in a post which enable users to share tidbits from it in just a few clicks

When you can continue the conversation about a piece of content on a social network, engagement for the piece organically increases.

10. Create a great meta description

A compelling meta description is important for every piece of content. With Google’s emphasis on quality and relevance for search results, follow meta description best practices like:

  • Use keywords, but don’t repeat them or overuse them.
  • Use long-tail phrases that give more context to the content.
  • Write enticing descriptions that encourage users to click.
  • Avoid using the same meta description for multiple web pages

It used to be a best practice to cap meta descriptions at 160 characters; then, in late 2017, Google bumped that up to 320 characters, and now it looks like we’re back down to the 160 range again. Make sure whatever you’re writing is relevant, helpful and valuable, just like the content itself.

Bonus tip: Proofread your copy

Well-written, error-free content says a lot about your brand and shows you care about quality.

Plus it makes content managers like me a little crazy when we see such obvious mistakes in content. Don’t drive us batty. Proofread your content!

The post Content manager checklist: 10 things to do before you hit publish appeared first on Marketing Land.

How to Run Top-Performing eCommerce Ads in AdWords (for Less Spend)

Top-performing text-based eCommerce ads all have one thing in common: relevancy. In this article, we’ll show you four best-practices we use with our clients.

Top-performing text-based eCommerce ads all have one thing in common: relevancy.

All of the ads’ information — from the click-through URL and description, to any extension — is targeted to the search in which they appear. As a result, they have a lower cost-per-click (CPC) than other ads on the page and a higher click-through-rate (CTR).

Relevance is the singular most important factor Google uses to determine an ad’s quality score, which the marketing platform uses to set the auction price for a given search. It also impacts an ad’s placement on the page.

At Inflow, we manage $20 million in ad spend each year and, in this article, we’ll show you four best-practices we use with our clients to create well performing text ads.

Note: Looking to uncover other new ways to increase your ROAS? Contact us here.

Best Practice #1: Add as Many Extensions as You Can

Ad extensions such as site links, price, and location extensions are necessary for a full ad presence and are very likely to increase search impression share.

Ad position matters a lot, but having the first position doesn’t mean that an ad dominates the page. Using more extensions equals a bigger presence on the page and more relevant information for consumers.

eCommerce Ads: Proof that more extensions = more page real estate

But having a bigger presence on the page isn’t the only advantage of using multiple ad extensions.

It’s difficult to measure the performance of an individual extension.

Google’s extensions reporting does not tell you when a user selected a specific extension in your ad. It only displays when an extension appeared and user behavior regarding the whole ad. If a user clicks on an ad, every extension that appeared on the ad will show a click and conversion.

You’re giving Google more options to choose from.

We also can’t control which extensions Google will choose to use on a given ad. So giving Google plenty of options will improve the likelihood that Google will use multiple extensions to fill out your ad.

Overall, offering Google more relevant information about your ads helps increase your quality score, which will lower CPC and potentially improve your ad position.

Best Practice #2: Tailor Extensions to the Campaign or Product Whenever Possible

Some extensions work at an account level and are relevant for all ads. However, whenever possible, tailor your extensions for your specific campaign or product, as doing so increases the relevance of the ad to specific searches.

A sample of how to tailor extensions to the campaign or product whenever possible

Best Practice #3: Make Headings and Click-Through URLs Campaign- or Product-Specific, As Well

Besides extensions, your ads in general should be tailored to specific campaigns or products whenever possible.

Using general site links that are not tied to the product or service you are advertising lower your ads relevance score. It also is a bad practice simply because it takes users to a page unrelated to the thing they were searching for. This puts extra labor on the user to navigate your site.

An example of how to make headings and click-through URLs campaign- or product-specific

Best Practice #4: Run More Narrowly Targeted eCommerce Ads

The very simple key to using the following the above best practices?

Run more ads.

For instance, if you sell washing machines, you’d want different brand campaigns set up for each brand that only captures searches for people looking for that specific brand of washers.

Your ad extensions and your landing page for each ad would be specific to that brand, as well.

You could maintain separate more general ad campaigns for people searching for general times like “washing machines” or “home appliances,” but ideally you take advantage of a user who knows exactly what they want.

Here’s another example.

It’s common for people to search for certain products by model number or other product-specific terms. For instance, the model number for a popular Samsung washer gets thousands of searches per month.

Even if you sell this product and have a campaign for Samsung washers, unless your ad specifically relates to the model number, it probably won’t run on this search.

Be sure to match each ad campaign to the optimal user searches because this makes a huge impact on your overall ad spend.

Matching each ad campaign to the optimal user searches makes a huge impact on your overall ad spend.

Learn how we increased a client’s annual return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) by 1600% by tweaking what search terms were triggering their different ad campaigns.

Maximizing Ad Performance is Complicated

AdWords uses complicated algorithms to measure quality score, choosing which ads to run, and what information will be included in each ad.

There’s a lot we don’t know, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless to improving ad performance. For instance, we recently increased the CTR of a client’s branded campaign by 50% by updating their ad extensions.

If you’re looking for more ways to maximize your AdWords presence and improve your ROAS, we can help. Contact us here.

How We Created an eCommerce Buying Guide That Led to Six-Figure Sales

We often recommend creating customer buyer’s guides to our eCommerce clients — especially those who sell big purchase items or items with a more intense research process.

We often recommend creating customer buyer’s guides to our eCommerce clients — especially those who sell big purchase items or items with a more intense research process.

When there are a lot of options available or if your customers typically have a lot of questions around a product, this product type could be a good candidate for a buyer’s guide — which can answer commonly asked questions and offer product recommendations.

They’re just as beneficial for the companies that make them:

  • increasing your organic search rankings, and
  • aiding in conversions.

We’ve helped one client in the home improvement industry create and promote several guides. One of the guides alone has led to over $100,000 worth in sales.

In this article, we’ll share the process of how we create and promote a successful guide for our client.

Note: If you’re interested in creating a buyer’s guide for some of your big purchase items, we can help. Contact us here.

1. We set the topic based on search volume

We rely heavily on organic search to promote our client’s buyer’s guides, so we don’t want to create a guide for a product that no one is searching for.

Even if you happen to sell a lot of a specific product, it doesn’t guarantee that lots of people are searching for it online.

For instance, let’s use a company that sells insulation for houses. Even if they sold more spray foam insulation than any other option, they may still want to create a more generic “home insulation buyer’s guide” because the generic term has a much higher search volume than a specific kind of insulation.

Insulation has a higher search volume than specific types of insulation (68k vs 45k)

With higher search volumes, your guide is more likely to be found, and with the more general topic, it will appeal to a wider audience. And you can always strongly recommend your top-selling product in the guide itself.

On the other hand, creating a category-wide guide isn’t always the best practice.

Sometimes a specific product will have high search volume, in which case it makes sense to create a buyer’s guide around it. This is especially true if the product is complicated and has a longer research process.

For instance, fiber cement siding has six times the search volume of exterior siding. It would be worthwhile to write that specific guide.

A photo showing that "fiber cement siding" has six times the search volume of "exterior siding". It would be worthwhile to write that specific guide.

2. We link to the buyer’s guide at the bottom of category pages

After we’ve produced the guide, we link to it in places where site visitors would be most likely to want additional product information, such as at the bottom of related category pages.

An example of the resources found on bottom of insulation category page (includes buying guides).

If a potential customer reaches the end of a category page and hasn’t found what they were looking for, a buyer’s guide can help keep them on the site as well as provide useful information to unsure consumers.

Keeping with our example, perhaps a consumer got to the end of the insulation category page because they were overwhelmed with options. The guide is a good opportunity to explain the advantages and disadvantages of blow-in versus roll insulation.

3. We add internal links where relevant

We write related blog posts that link to the buyer’s guide, and link to the posts in the guide itself. It’s important that each piece of content offers unique information — it can’t just be a repeat of what you find in the guide, or vice versa.

If you explain the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of insulation in the guide, some blog posts that could easily compliment the guide would be:

  • All about blow-in insulation — a much deeper look into blow-in insulation than is given in the guide
  • What you need to know about your energy bill
  • Is it a good idea to insulate your floors?

Having multiple pieces of unique but related content helps with your SEO reach, as well as providing an ecosystem of value to your customers.

Note: Interested in a comprehensive SEO strategy that is catered to your brand and products? Contact us here.

4. We present all options in the guide

You want the guide to be as inclusive as you can, even including products you may not sell. This will help build trust in your brand and increase your reputation as an authority in your market.

If a consumer is trying to decide between two types of insulation, and one of them isn’t included in the guide, it can stick out. That consumer will be less inclined trust the guide (and your brand) when they’re ready to make a purchase.

If you don’t carry what they were looking for, a guide can potentially explain why another product may be better. But it’s still important to provide all options within the guide so the user knows that you are giving them the full story.

5. We (sometimes) gate buyer’s guides with longer research periods

The decision to publish a guide directly on a site or gate it behind a form depends on the goals of the client and the potential for that specific topic.

Most often, we recommend publishing the guide directly on the site. A thorough buyer’s guide is a great linkable asset and can be a great option to help with link building efforts.

However, there are still some cases where it may make sense to put a guide behind a form.

There are certain instances where it may be better to put your guide behind a form. This is an example of a Buyers Guide form.

For products with much longer research processes, being able to send follow-up emails can be greatly beneficial. When we’ve chosen to gate a guide, we’ve seen both the buyer’s guide and follow up emails lead to sales.

If you choose to offer your guide as a download, your landing page is crucial.

People are also much more likely to offer their email address to get help making bigger purchases, but they need to be assured that this guide is worthwhile. A landing page should offer an overview of the guide, the benefits to reading it, and highlights about what they’ll find.

And since the majority of the guide isn’t found on your site, the landing page also needs to be optimized for SEO, including relevant keywords that people would search for to find the guide.

6. In follow-up emails, we focus on helpful buying advice first, and then focus on the products

For gated guides that we send via email, we commonly send 3-6 follow-up emails, depending on the product. Here’s an example of an outline follow-up email flow:

  1. The first email offers a link to the PDF version of the buyer’s guide as well as offering help the user needs. This email tends to not lead to as many conversions, but it has high open rates and shows users that this company cares about being helpful.
  2. The second email links to blog posts about the topic for further help.
  3. The third offers top systems the company recommends.
  4. The fourth email includes coupon codes.
  5. The fifth is a reminder that their coupons will expire after so many days.
  6. Lastly, depending on the typical buying cycle, we send one final email asking if they still need help or if they bought a product somewhere else.

Overall, the point of emails that follow a buyer’s guide should be geared toward helping consumers make a complicated buying decision. These emails can lead to sales. They also help grow a long-term relationship with those consumers.

Buyer’s guides can grow long-term relationships with customers

Buyer’s guides aren’t just about making a sale on one particular product. Along with the follow-up emails and other educational information on your site, your company becomes a trusted resource for making purchase decisions.

If you’re interested in this type of content marketing — or anything related — but unsure where to start, we can help. Contact us here.

How to Manage Out of Stock Products for SEO

Every eCommerce business will need to remove a product from its inventory at some point. Many businesses make the mistake of either deleting the product page, redirecting the page to their homepage or leaving hundreds or even thousands of out-of-stock pages online without actually looking into how this could benefit or hurt their website. This post and the

Every eCommerce business will need to remove a product from its inventory at some point. Many businesses make the mistake of either deleting the product page, redirecting the page to their homepage or leaving hundreds or even thousands of out-of-stock pages online without actually looking into how this could benefit or hurt their website.

This post and the accompanying flow chart should help provide a general best practice framework for eCommerce teams on how to treat out of stock products in various situations.

 

products out of stock

We’re all out of Twinkies! Sign up for email alerts when they are back in stock.

 

It’s not as simple as just deleting the page. It’s not as simple as just leaving it up either.

Deleting a page with links could cost you hard-to-get link equity.

Redirecting a page to the homepage will preserve some link equity, but that equity might have benefited a more relevant page of your site. Also, sending visitors to your homepage can be a jarring and frustrating experience, which may have lost you a sale.

And lastly, leaving out of stock pages up on your site might cause index bloat. Google gives your site only so much crawl budget. If they spend your crawl budget on pages that don’t matter, it’s very likely they will skip some of the most important pages of your site.

With some of these things in mind, you have three basic options.

  1. Leave the page online
  2. Redirect the page
  3. Delete the page and show a 404 or 410 status code

The option you choose depends on several different factors, which we’ll talk about below.


For Out of Stock Pages That Will Not Be Coming Back

If the page has links:

The first thing you should check is to see if the page has any external links. External links are one of the strongest ranking factors used by the search engines, and it is difficult to build links into product pages. You don’t want to lose that value by deleting a page without redirecting it. Use a tool like Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs or Majestic. If there are links, redirect the page to a related product. If there is no related product, redirect the page to a related category.

Keep in mind that product-to-product redirects can result in a lot of housekeeping down the line. If, for example, the new product eventually gets removed from the site as well, any previous redirects may go to a 404 page or may result in a series of redirects. Large websites might consider redirecting to category pages instead, as they tend to come and go much less often.

Alternatively, you could reuse the old URL for the new product, rather than redirecting it. If the old URL makes sense for the new product, this is the best option and saves a lot of hassle.

If the page has traffic, but no links:

You have four options:

First, check to see if the page is converting (driving revenue).

You might be wondering how an out of stock product page is driving revenue. This is through assisted conversions. Google Analytics (GA) tracks assisted conversions when someone lands on any page, browses the site and then buys another product.

 

ecommerce-sorting-ga

To check for conversions in GA, navigate to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Then set the “Conversions” dropdown to eCommerce.

 

 

landing-pages-ga

Set your segment to “Organic Traffic” and set the date range to a time period after the product went out of stock.

 

 

ga-single-page-check

If you only have a few products to check, you can simply type the page URL into the search box.

 

If you have a lot of pages to check, export the data instead. GA will only export as many rows as are showing on the page. Showing more rows allows you to export the maximum amount of data.

 

show-5000-rows-ga

Show as many rows as possible.

 

 

export-data-ga

Export the data for analysis in Excel or Google Sheets.

 

Compare the data from the exported spreadsheet to your list of URLs for out of stock products and see if any have driven revenue.

vlookup-excel-check-revenue-google-analytics

You can use a vlookup in Excel to compare both lists more quickly. Check out this great guide on how to use VLOOKUP from Mikkel Sciegienny.

If the page is not converting but has traffic:

  • Redirect the page to a relevant product (a post-redirect message will aid user experience).

If the page is converting, either:

  • Leave the page up and point customers to other relevant products.
  • Redirect the page to a relevant product (a post-redirect message will aid user experience).

 

Choosing whether to leave the page up or to redirect it is a judgment call you’ll need to make. A conservative approach would be to leave it up and point customers to other relevant products. If it doesn’t convert well, you could then choose to redirect it and see if conversions are affected. On the other hand, redirecting immediately may convert just as well, and it would require much less hassle in the long run since you won’t have to try to remember all the pages you need to come back to later.

If you choose to leave the page up, check to see if it’s converting after a period of 1-3 months. If it’s not converting, delete the page. Leaving old pages up will cause index bloat and could negatively affect your overall rankings.

If the page doesn’t have any links or traffic:

Let it 404 and submit to Google Search Console for removal.

Out of Stock SEO Flowchart - Preview


For Out of Stock Products That Will Be Coming Back

Avoid a poor user experience for those who find the product page in search engines. Too many users clicking back to search results, and providing other negative engagement metrics to Google’s algorithms, could harm sitewide rankings and end up costing the business even more than just deleting the page. Here are some general best practices on how to provide a good user experience while products are temporarily out of stock.

  • Keep the page live. Return a 200(ok) status code in the HTTP header.
  • Clearly label the product as temporarily out of stock.
  • Use structured markup to indicate to search engines that the product is not in stock
  • Provide an expected back in stock date, if available.
  • Inform the visitor of back order or in stock notification options, if available.
  • Suggest and link to products that are closely related.

Alternatively, for very large sites where it’s difficult to manage many pages at once, you can set the date the page will expire using the unavailable_after meta tag when the page is created. This can be based on an auction date or go stale date. Google has stated it would remove the page approximately a day after the expiration date. This should be used when selling second-hand or one-of-a-kind products, and for auctions. Most websites with multiple units of each item in stock should not use the unavailable_after meta tag.


Make an Informed Decision

If you don’t do your research before making a decision on what to do with out-of-stock pages, you could end up costing your business rankings and revenue. Preserve your link equity, convert more customers and prevent indexing issues by making an educated decision about how to handle old product pages. Download the flowchart below for a quick reference guide when making these decisions.


Access Our Out of Stock SEO Flowchart

Out of stock flowchart CTA

Fill out our form below to get access to Inflow’s Out of Stock SEO Flowchart. This flowchart is a great reference while planning your product management strategy.

Beyond Transcripts: How We Grew SEO Traffic by 45.96% for a Video Platform Site

Our client could have done what many video platforms do for video SEO—post transcripts. Instead, we helped them attract brand new users by targeting ‘niche outliers.’

When one of our clients — a subscription-based video platform that dominates its health and fitness niche — was launching a new video series, it wanted to drive SEO traffic to the new series.

But they faced the issue that many video platforms face. Since site crawlers can’t read video content, the majority of their site was not optimized for organic SEO.

This is why, even though video and other interactive content are growing more popular, you still need quality text for organic SEO.

They could have done what many video platforms do — posting transcripts of their videos.

Instead, they turned to us for a more comprehensive organic SEO strategy.

Advanced Tactics for Video SEO

While our client has its own internal SEO team, they come to us for higher-level advice and advanced project execution. We’ve now acted as their SEO advisors for over five years. With our efforts, plus those of the internal SEO team, we’ve seen year-over-year results of:

  • 45.96% growth in organic search traffic
  • 53.78% growth in transactions from organic traffic

Here are the specific advanced tactics we used to help them optimize their video series to find new subscribers and improve their organic SEO results.

Note: Interested in a personalized SEO strategy for your eCommerce website? We can help.  Contact us here.

1. You don’t need to invest in high volume searches to improve your SEO

There’s a misconception that to really grow your rankings and organic search traffic, you need to latch onto topics within your subject area that already have high search volume.

But this isn’t the only way to grow organic SEO.

Although our client’s site produces a lot of fitness-related content, the new series was related to a subsidiary section of the site. To give a hypothetical example, let’s say you’re known for videos about fitness, but you’re creating a new video series about Kombucha.

Kombucha is far from a “trend” in the mainstream health and fitness niche. You won’t find much on Kombucha in typical news publications, for example.

Kombucha is extremely popular but isn't a trending topic in health and fitness

But it does have a sizeable niche.

Kombucha has a significant following

Sticking with our example, because there’s a community around Kombucha, we knew that the content would have an audience. But here we ran into our second problem:

What if the majority of Kombucha enthusiasts already knew about the site?

Writing articles that target people already highly interested in Kombucha might grow the site’s organic SEO, but it wouldn’t reach new subscribers — which is really what our client wanted.

Instead of focusing only on the highest volume search traffic we thought we could rank for (as most SEO strategies do) we focused instead on search terms likely to attract people who were brand new to the topic.

In this case, new users = niche outliers.

2. Grow an audience using people’s curiosity

To find people new to the topic, we focused on content that would grab people just starting to research the topic covered by the site’s new video series.

For our example of Kombucha, it might be searches like:

  • “What is Kombucha?”
  • “Is Kombucha good for you?”

To create the content briefs, our team watched all the videos created for the new series, researched the topics online and read related articles, and performed keyword research using our own tools.

We paid careful attention to the questions people were asking, especially if they seemed to come from newcomers.

  • “Are natural antibiotics as effective as prescription drugs?”
  • “What’s a heart-healthy diet?”

Many of the articles offered an introduction to a topic. When the series was uncovering major discoveries or new science, we’d refer readers to the videos — some of which were behind a paywall.

The articles increased the site’s reach to new users, and the videos created new subscribers and customers (while keeping existing customers happy).

3. We created content that pulled in new users, but we didn’t neglect the site’s existing audience

Even though we targeted new users, we didn’t neglect the client’s long-standing subscribers. In addition to developing content for a general audience, we suggested material for people who have been interested in the topic for a long time.

Our client has a reputation as an authority in the industry, so we leveraged their reputation to deepen conversations about our given topics.

For Kombucha, for instance, we might offer an in-depth piece on the scientist who used Kombucha to treat cancer in the mid-twentieth century.

4. The skills needed to improve a site’s SEO are not necessarily the skills needed to produce quality content

The biggest reason our client has become one of the top companies in its niche is because of the quality of its content.

hey use vetted fitness experts to produce quality workout videos with equally high-production value. They’ve also invested in user-friendly interfaces for desktop and other devices.

The quality of these text-based articles was just an extension of the quality you’d see across their site.

It’s also why we didn’t write the articles ourselves.

Our job was to conduct keyword research and create extensive content briefs for new articles meant to accompany the site’s new video series.  We then handed over the briefs to our client’s in-house subject matter experts to write.

SEO specialists know how to find what’s trending, investigate popular keywords for a topic, what kind of content is missing in a niche, etc.

What SEO specialists often can’t do is write engaging content at the same quality as someone who is an expert in that area. When you hire general SEO-driven writers to write specialty content, it may draw traffic to the site, but it’s less likely to keep them there.

We did what we do best (handle the details around SEO); our client did what they do best (create expert-level content), and the organic traffic to their site grew.

5. Be realistic about what will work for you

This strategy might not work for everyone.

Since our client is already seen as an authority in the fitness/health space and has resources to invest in this kind of content, they were able to execute two tactics that less-established brands (or brands with smaller budgets) might struggle with:

1) Investing in searches with smaller search volume.

One reason that our client didn’t need to rely on trending topics was because they were big enough to create trends within their niche.

2) Producing high quality content in multiple subject areas (like fitness and brain health)

This is a gamble we may not always suggest for other businesses. It worked in this case because of the particular subject matter experts within the company’s sphere of influence, and because of the overlap in topics. When in doubt, stick to one topic and do it well.

Note: Interested in a personalized strategy to raise the SEO ranking of your eCommerce website? We can help.  Contact us here.

Index Bloat: Why Deleting Website Pages Is Great for SEO in 2018

You might have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in Google’s eyes — and might not even realize it. We call this index bloat.

Gone are the days when you could easily hack SEO by loading a page with keywords and creating artificial backlinks.

Today, Google is consistently rolling out changes to its algorithms to reward quality.

Unlike the past, if you have low-quality pages on your website, it can negatively impact your overall ranking.

What’s a low-quality page?

It’s one that isn’t used or visited, is full of duplicate content from other pages, has thin content or very low engagement in the eyes of Google.

Here’s the thing:

It’s entirely possible that you have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in the eyes of Google — and you might not even realize it.

We call this problem index bloat.

It happens when Google has indexed a lot of URLs for your website that it views as low-quality.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  1. An example of index bloat
  2. Common causes
  3. The exact steps you can take to see if you have a problem

Note: We can help you spot and fix issues on your website that are harming your overall ranking.  Contact us here.

Index Bloat: A Real-life Example

We recently started working with an eCommerce client and discovered something fascinating (and troubling) as we did our standard checks to evaluate their site.

After talking to them, we expected the site to have somewhere around 10,000 pages.

When we looked in Google Webmaster Tools, we saw — to our surprise — that Google had indexed 38,000 pages for the website. Find this chart here: Web Tools > Search Console > Google Index > Index Status.

A real-life example of index bloat.

That was way too high for the size of the site.

We also saw that the number had risen dramatically.

In July of 2017, the site had only 16,000 pages indexed in Google Analytics.

What happened?

How a Hidden Technical Glitch Caused Massive Index Bloat

It took a while to figure out what had gone wrong with our client’s site.

Eventually, we found a problem in their software that was creating thousands of unnecessary product pages.

At a high-level, any time the website sold out of their inventory for a brand (which happened often), the site’s pagination system created hundreds of new pages.

Put another way, the site had a technical glitch that was creating index bloat.

The company had no idea their site had this problem, which is common with a site that has a technical glitch.

For eCommerce sites that automatically generate new pages for products, brands, or categories, things like this can easily happen.

It’s one common cause of index bloat, but not the only one.

Other common causes include:

  1. Pages with too little original content
  2. Old blog posts, news releases, or case studies that get little to no traffic
  3. Search pages that get accidentally indexed by Google

Don’t think you’re safe just because your list of indexed pages looks like this:

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago.

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago — pages that could be slowly chipping away at your relevancy scores as Google makes changes to its algorithm.

The good news is: it’s relatively easy to identify and remove pages that are causing index bloat on your site.

We also have a free tool you can use that will help.

How to Identify and Remove Poor Performing Pages

Here’s the step-by-step process we use with our clients to identify and remove poor performing pages:

(1) Estimate the number of pages you should have

Estimate to the number of products you carry, the number of categories, blog posts, and support pages, and add them together. Your total indexed pages should be something close to that number.

(2) Use the Cruft Finder Tool to find poor-performing pages

The Cruft Finder tool is a free tool we created to identify poor-performing pages. It’s designed to help eCommerce site managers find and remove pages that are harming your SEO ranking.

The tool sends a Google query about your domain and — using a recipe of site quality parameters — returns page content we suspect might be harming your index ranking.

Mark any page that:

  1. Is identified by the Cruft Finder tool
  2. Gets very little traffic (as seen in Google Analytics)

These are pages you should consider removing from your site.

(3) Decide what to keep and what to remove

For years, you’ve been told that adding fresh content on your site increases traffic and improves SEO. You should be blogging at least once a week, right?

Well, maybe.

If a blog post has been on your website for years, has no backlinks pointing to it, and no one ever visits it, that old content could be hurting your rankings.

Recently, we deleted 90% of one client’s blog posts. Why? Because they weren’t generating backlinks or traffic.

If no one is visiting a URL, and it doesn’t add value to your site, it doesn’t need to be there.

(4) Revise and revamp necessary pages with little traffic

If a URL has valuable content you want people to see — but it’s not getting any traffic — it’s time to restructure.

Could you consolidate pages? Could you promote the content better through internal linking? Could you change your navigation to push traffic to the page?

Also, make sure that all your static pages have robust, unique content. When Google sees thousands of pages on your site with sparse or similar content, it can lower your relevancy score.

(5) Make sure your search results pages aren’t being indexed

Not all pages on your site should be indexed. The main example of this is search results pages.

You almost never want search pages to be indexed because there are better pages to funnel traffic that have better quality content. These are not meant to be entry pages.

This is a common issue.

For example, here’s what we found using the Cruft Finder tool for one major retail site: over 5,000 search pages indexed by Google.

Examples of how the Cruft Finder tool can help you find index bloat.

If you find this issue on your own site, follow Google’s instructions to get rid of search result pages.

The Results and Impact on Traffic and Revenue

What kind of impact can index bloat have on your results?

And what kind of positive effect have we seen after correcting it?

Here’s a graph of indexed pages from a recent client that was letting their search result pages get indexed — the same way we explained above. We helped them implement a technical fix so those pages wouldn’t be indexed anymore.

Index bloat can impact both your traffic and revenue.

In the Google Analytics graph, the the blue dot is where the fix was implemented. The number of indexed pages continued to rise for a bit, then dropped significantly.

Year over year, here’s what happened to the site’s organic traffic and revenue:

3 Months Before the Technical Fix

  • 6% decrease in organic traffic
  • 5% increase in organic revenue

3 Months After the Technical Fix

  • 22% increase in organic traffic
  • 7% increase in organic revenue

Before vs. After

  • 28% total difference in organic traffic
  • 2% total increase in organic revenue

Remember that not all pages on your site should be indexed.

This process takes time.

For this client, it took three full months before the number of indexed pages returned to the mid 13,000s, where it should have been all along.

Note: Interested in a personalized strategy to reduce index bloat and raise your SEO ranking? We can help.  Contact us here.

 

Understanding Google Webmaster Tools

As much as you might think Google is making it hard to get traffic, they really aren’t. They have tools like Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics. The difference between the two are the fact that Google Analytics measures your traffic, and Google Webmaster Tools tells you how Google actually sees your website. This article…

The post Understanding Google Webmaster Tools appeared first on Diamond Website Conversion.

google-webmaster-tools-logo-thumbnailAs much as you might think Google is making it hard to get traffic, they really aren’t. They have tools like Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics. The difference between the two are the fact that Google Analytics measures your traffic, and Google Webmaster Tools tells you how Google actually sees your website.

This article is written to help you understand Google Webmaster Tools better. In fact, this article is part of a series, so there will be other parts to check out so you can become more familiar with Google Webmaster Tools.

Understanding Google Webmaster Tools

As mentioned before, Google Webmaster Tools is designed for you to see how the search engine (Google) sees your website. Consider it kind of like the doctor promoting healthy search for websites. Some of the results are:

  • Sharing what type of markup data format the search engines are seeing in your site, like Schema.org
  • Suggesting how to improve user experience and performance
  • Allowing you to demote specific areas of your site from Sitelinks
  • Giving a details list of search queries done on your website
  • Giving a list of links to sites linking into your website
  • Listing internal links
  • Showing Index status
  • Giving a list of keywords that are organized by the most significant one first
  • Allowing you to remove URLs from your website
  • Displaying crawl errors, as well as what types of errors
  • Having the ability to block URLs from the search engines
  • Being alerted if there are any security issues

In order to be able to use Google Webmaster tools, you must sign up and submit your website. The process involves putting a verification code somewhere on your website or verifying it through your domain registrar. After you verify the site, you need to submit a sitemap, once that is a valid Sitemaps.org sitemap.

The Sitemap.org valid sitemap allows Google to easily crawl the site. The markup used that search engine crawl is XML. For website owners that use WordPress and have the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, finding the link to the sitemap is easy. For other content management systems, there is a somewhat equivalent method to find the sitemap. For static websites (ones not powered with a database and may be solely HTML), building a sitemap may be necessary.

Once the sitemap has been submitting, Google may take a little while to crawl the site. Some site are lucky to be crawled within the week, and others, two weeks. After your site has been crawled, you can view information on what Google is seeing.

search-queries-gwt-screenshotYou probably will want to make sure that there are no crawl errors like a page not found, or any server issues. You will also want to make sure to observe if you have any duplicate meta descriptions and duplicate title tags to improve your search results. You obviously don’t want the same article description for several posts, right? 😉

Another area you might want to check out is the search queries. It’s probably good to check out the first time in order to make sure that the keywords are relevant to what your website is about. If they aren’t, you might need to go back and improve your content.

One last area that you should check is to make sure your site isn’t flagged for spam, duplicate content, or has any security issues. If you’re accepting paid links, you probably should stop. Google has gone to great lengths to discourage website owners from accepting paid links. If you have any alerts, fix the issue. Once done with fixing anything that was flagged, you can reply to Google’s team and they will review to make sure your site is not violating any of their rules.

It’s important to understand that Google Webmaster Tools can be a powerful tool in making sure your website is listed as accurately as possible on the search engine results.

Do you use Google Webmaster Tools?

The post Understanding Google Webmaster Tools appeared first on Diamond Website Conversion.