UK local SEO firm Movette shut down by regulators for deceptive sales practices

Firm falsely implied it was affiliated with Google and signed SMBs up to recurring annual contracts worth from $250 to more than $300.

The post UK local SEO firm Movette shut down by regulators for deceptive sales practices appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Follow these best practices to increase newsletter sign-ups

For your email newsletters to be effective, you need to reach a wide audience and appear relevant to all of the people in it. But the first step is to convince people to join your mailing list, by standing out in the sea of online marketers.

Opt-ins

Opt-ins are the gold standard of increasing sign-ups: they give your target audience the ability to choose whether or not to sign up for your email newsletter. They also provide you with numerous ways to lure people in, including:

  • On-page opt-ins: this option prompts site visitors to sign up while they’re browsing a page on your site.
  • Slide-up opt-ins: this opt-in slides up from the bottom of a website. It is minimally intrusive, can be displayed on every page, and gives the site visitor the option of closing it or responding.
  • Pop-ups: Popovers are everywhere, and for good reason—they work! With the right online tool, you can customize these pop-ups and decide what pages they appear on, when they appear and who they display for. They can take on many forms, including:
    • Standard pop-up stating the benefits of joining the list
    • Incentivized pop-up
    • Discount-led pop-up
    • Shopping cart-abandonment pop-up, encouraging the user to create an account

Remember, it’s important that no matter what type of opt-in you use, you should provide your subscribers with a double opt-in option. This means they not only opt in when they see the initial offer, but also they receive an email confirmation that they want to receive your newsletter.

By doing this, you are ensuring a loyal online newsletter reader who is more likely to remain subscribed and engaged. Additionally, it will reduce the number of people marking your email newsletters as spam.

Landing pages

Often, a potential subscriber wants to see what you have to offer before they make a decision to sign up for your email newsletter. You can create a landing page that’s specifically designed to show users what the benefits are for subscribers.

One of the best aspects of the email-specific landing page is you can direct all external traffic to this page, whether they are from web searches, social media, blogs, or another source. Keep this page short and sweet and let people know what they will be receiving in their inbox. Examples of what you can offer them include:

  • Coupons
  • Weekly tips
  • Product reviews
  • Interviews with experts
  • DIY/how-to guides
  • Anything else you include in your newsletter

Whether users are directed to these email-specific landing page or to other parts of your website, be sure to have call-to-action (CTA) buttons on every page. Doing so means you don’t miss out on any potential subscriber, no matter where on your site they’re browsing.

Offers

You can increase the number of sign-ups you have simply by giving potential subscribers special offers. These offers come in many forms and can be introduced on a range of platforms (e.g. your social media accounts), such as:

  • Coupons
  • Courses and webinars
  • Content downloads, such as whitepapers
  • Contests/sweepstakes
  • Rewards
  • Surveys
  • Referral offers

The key to online newsletter effectiveness is to be creative and use the technology at your disposal. The more distinctive you make each of these methods, the more successful you’ll be in gathering those engaged subscribers.

Check out our free list acquisition cheatsheet for more advice on collecting email addresses for your database.

The post Follow these best practices to increase newsletter sign-ups appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 7 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Top 10 site search best practices for the Holidays

This winter, ensure that every aspect of your business is prepared for shoppers so you can have a high impact and low-stress holiday season by following these simple site search best practices.

1. Include autocomplete
Autocomplete is a great addition to an ecommerce site as it works by completing a word in the search box while the customer types and provides intuitive, relevant, and error-tolerant search suggestions. Autocomplete can also help detect and correct spelling mistakes, as well as guide consumers to the right product regardless if a mistake was made. Retailers can also use autocomplete to promote certain products of higher margin or products they’d like to sell quickly throughout the holiday season by pushing them to the top of their autocompletion suggestion box as recommendations to shoppers.

 

 

2. Improve site search with synonyms
By properly configuring synonyms into your site search, you’ll not only be able to quickly drive revenue to your online store but you’ll also be able to ensure that your customers can always find exactly what they’re searching for regardless of what they search. Being aware of synonyms isimportant to your on-site search so that you can always provide your customers with accurate results regardless of the language customers use in their searches.

Through Nextopia’s advanced search tools, you have the ability to set up “synonym redirects” which will automatically direct a customer to products they were searching for regardless of the product name. For example, if you run a shoe store and none of your products have the keyword “sneakers” in them, you can manually set up a redirect so every search for “sneaker” goes to the results page for “running shoe”.

By configuring synonyms, you’ll can reduce how much your customers visit the dreaded “no results found page” directing your customers to the products you offer, reducing customer frustration and thereby creating an exceptional user experience.

3. Easy-to-locate search bar
The search box is an often overlooked feature of an ecommerce store, despite how powerful it is. A retailer’s site search box is the pathway to improved sales, better user experience, and most importantly, higher average order value and conversions. Ensure your search bar is easy to locate by keeping it front and center and on every page of your site.

4. Have a mobile-optimized site

 

In 2015, 36.16% of online sales were generated via mobile devices and this figure is only expected to grow over time.  Consumers are now turning to their smartphones to research deals, products and reviews, and for the sheer convenience. Make sure your product pages are optimized for smaller screens, your search box is easy to locate and use, and that site text and product images display correctly on mobile devices.

5. Use product images effectively
To further enhance the online shopping experience, it’s important to include images of your products in your search results so your site visitors can see your products without having to search through your product pages. Make sure that your product photos are clear in thumbnail form, and are flattering to your product. The chances of a customer buying increases when images are displayed along with a product description. Showing product images along with suggested search terms in your autocomplete can help further turn browsers into buyers.

6. Site navigation
Site navigation allows customers to refine their search results without having to use the search bar again. You can refine and sort your products by any attribute you’d like, such as by price, color, size, gender, brand, or any otherrefinements that best describe your product offerings. Enhancing your navigation will help bring your customers to their desired items much more efficiently, which results in higher conversions, happier customers, and more revenue.

7. Ask for customer feedback
Taking the time to ask your loyal customers for feedback will provide you with valuable insight into your website’s performance. You can get this information simply by asking “Did you find this search useful?” with a link to a survey somewhere on your results page, or by adding “How’s our navigation?” below your dynamic filters.
By listening to your customers, you’re ensuring that your site is catering to exactly the right group — the people who are actually using it.

8. Improve ‘no results found’ page
If you don’t sell an item your customer is searching for or perhaps it’s currently out of stock, rather than sending them to the ‘no results found’ page improve the experience by providing them with other calls of action. Provide them with product recommendations that they might find interesting and relevant or links back to the homepage, category pages, or the contact us page. This will help eliminate your site visitors leaving to go search on a competitor’s site.

9. Include category pages
For the holiday season, take the time to create some category pages that cater to your holiday shoppers. For example, highlight the deals and promotions on your site by creating a festive clearance page. This will drive your low-cost items to one page and help your customers access these products more efficiently.

10. Customer ratings and reviews
Seeking out online reviews and ratings has become a standard part of the buying process for consumers, which is why retailers need to include them. A positive customer review can become the powerful social proof that shoppers are looking for when making an online purchase, and considering 63% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews this needs to be a feature that’s added to all ecommerce sites.

These next few weeks are going to be crucial for retailers. Ensure your ecommerce site is ready for the influx of traffic and by following the best practices listed in this post. With only a few shopping weeks left, there’s no better time to improve your site search and in turn increase your sales and conversions this holiday season.

The post Top 10 site search best practices for the Holidays appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 8 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

6 best practices for the perfect email design

Optimizing your brand

One of the most crucial email design practices is preserving brand identity and consistency. These principles include putting your brand name in the “From” field, ensuring that the “To” field holds the receiver’s name instead of their email address, and using an identifiable address to send from. Essentially, each part of your email needs to be on brand.

Adding your logo to the top left corner is also a great way to catch your reader’s attention.

While the subject line does play a key role in email marketing, it’s the domain reputation that matters. If your company holds a high domain reputation score, it becomes easier for other design elements to act in support.

Headers and pre-headers

Snippet text is one of the newest, most popular trends in email marketing. Email clients such as Outlook, Gmail, and iOS mail allow users to show a snippet (or preview) of text, which is usually limited to 100 characters or less.

The iPhone 6S and the iOS 9 also have a feature known as “Peek and Pop” that allows users to “peek” at the content of the email from the pre-header section, without actually opening the email. This is especially advantageous for users opening emails from their mobile device, which you can guarantee will be a majority of your customers. By being mobile-responsive and including pre-header text that will grab your reader’s attention, you prove your company to be both tech-savvy and legitimate.

The pre-header text of an email is used as a prescreening tool by subscribers. Because the pre-header is the first thing subscribers see, this is an opportunity to slip in a little subliminal advertising.

Keep the following points in mind when crafting your pre-header text:

  • Keep your text between 40-50 characters
  • Consider how the text will look in the body of your email campaign
  • Use this text as an extension to your subject line
  • Include a call to action

The layout

The layout of an email includes its size, the fonts used, the text size, the colors, etc. Certain studies suggest that the “ideal” email width ranges between 500 to 650 pixels; a vertical layout is preferred.

If you have a lot to cover, a table of contents should be used. And, if you’re showing off multiple products, a navigation bar is the best way to go.

Limit yourself to four or five sections so that your email doesn’t lose its visual appeal.

To ensure your layout is optimized for mobile viewing across several devices, dotmailer offers an EasyEditor tool that does all of the work for you. EasyEditor speeds up the design process with CSS inlining, creating a flawless email design.

Visuals

Graphics are the face of an email and should define your content sections clearly. If you’re using an image, remember to provide fallback color and alt-text. Avoid using background images layered behind text, as some email providers, such as Outlook, do not support background images.

Your links should stand out. At minimum, a hyperlink should be underlined and formatted in a bold, blue font.

Content is King

Aside from using short sentences and paragraphs, be sure to employ design elements like dividing lines, spacing, and content blocks to separate topics. Custom content blocks are an easy and efficient way keep your emails organized and individualized. Use short text blocks of 100 to 200 words that include a strong call-to-action; break up your larger sections of text with images or headlines.

Bullet points are also a great way to make your content readable and digestible. Just remember to use a web-safe standard font such as Arial, Veranda, and Times New Roman.

The footer

The ideal email footer should include your organization’s contact information, links to your website, key products or services, social networks and sharing or “forward to a friend” buttons.

Another way to avoid being sent through the spam chute is to add a, “Why are you receiving this email?” line. Making it easier for readers to unsubscribe from your email will reduce the risk of your email getting tossed in the junk pile.

Standing out from the rest of the emails clogging a customer’s inbox can be a challenge. Applying the design tips above will give you a far better chance not only of avoiding the spam folder, but also of getting people to read your email and convert.

The post 6 best practices for the perfect email design appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 9 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Ecommerce email marketing – Best practices to triple your sales

Unlike the one-to-many communication model used across social media platforms, blogs and advertisements, ecommerce email marketing works on a simple, one-to-one basis. If you perfect your email campaigns, you’re almost guaranteed to boost sales, improve customer loyalty and build your ecommerce brand image within no time.

Whether it’s a monthly update, a welcome email or an upcoming sale notification, these tips will put your business ahead of the curve.

Keep it personal

Emails are a direct form of marketing communication, so you’ll want to keep your messages light and personal. And it all starts with the greeting. Sending out countless detached, irrelevant emails isn’t going to get you or your business very far; customers like to feel as though you’ve carefully crafted an email specifically for them.

Something as simple as adding the customer’s name in the greeting is a good start. Consumers would much rather open an email to read something like, “Good morning, Karen!” instead of a general mass greeting. With the right email marketing provider, a simple automated personalization tool can make this task easy.

Another way to keep your emails personal, yet professional, is to add dynamic content. Dynamic content is content that changes based on the preference or the demographics of your customers, which allows your business to target individual subscribers. Adding dynamic content to your emails could be as easy as switching the image that is displayed for your male subscribers versus your female subscribers.

Make it clear as to who you are

Once you’ve selected a personal greeting, let your customers know who you are. The more information you provide, the less likely your email will be tossed into the spam pile.

Every person wants to know the following three things when they receive an email:

  • Who is writing to me?
  • Why are they writing to me?
  • What to do they want me to do?

You want to make sure the “who” part is answered almost immediately upon opening, as this is the basis for legitimizing the rest of the email.

Grab their attention

Think about the subject line before shooting off an email with something generic. It should be engaging and interesting enough for the receiver to open the email. Remember, your email is competing against several other “unread” messages sitting in their inbox, so why should they open yours? The subject line is the first thing readers see – think of it as a first impression.

Keep it short and sweet

Keeping your emails concise is crucial. While you may be tempted to cram in as much information as possible, do refrain. Follow these three rules: make your email:

  • Exclusive – let your readers know they’ve received this email because they’re special. For example, let them know they are the “first to know” about your newest products or offer them an “exclusive discount.”
  • Urgent – try and make the proposition a limited-time offer.
  • Simple – don’t crowd the email with too many visuals or information. Stick to one or two calls-to-action and one or two key messages.

Remember: People want to know who you are, why you are contacting them, and what you want them to do, all within a few sentences or paragraphs.

Double and triple check everything you send out

Sending an email with broken links or out-of-date information sends the wrong message. Be sure to check your links and proofread your copy before it’s sent out.

In addition, redundant coding and an excessive use of links, text, and images are practices that should be avoided. If you’re unsure about your emails’ link or image-to-text ratio, try running your email through a spam checker before sending it out.

A top email marketing platform includes spam check and preview tools so your email not only appears at its best, but also reaches its intended audience. These checks also ensure everyone in your team (or appropriate stakeholders) can review before you hit send.

When done right, the direct and personalized nature of email marketing means you’re likely to see a boost in online sales. By following these tips, you’re setting yourself up for a successful marketing campaign.

The post Ecommerce email marketing – Best practices to triple your sales appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 9 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Why Effective, Modern SEO Requires Technical, Creative, and Strategic Thinking – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

There’s no doubt that quite a bit has changed about SEO, and that the field is far more integrated with other aspects of online marketing than it once was. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand pushes back against the idea that effective modern SEO doesn’t require any technical expertise, outlining a fantastic list of technical elements that today’s SEOs need to know about in order to be truly effective.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to do something unusual. I don’t usually point out these inconsistencies or sort of take issue with other folks’ content on the web, because I generally find that that’s not all that valuable and useful. But I’m going to make an exception here.

There is an article by Jayson DeMers, who I think might actually be here in Seattle — maybe he and I can hang out at some point — called “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise.” It was an article that got a shocking amount of traction and attention. On Facebook, it has thousands of shares. On LinkedIn, it did really well. On Twitter, it got a bunch of attention.

Some folks in the SEO world have already pointed out some issues around this. But because of the increasing popularity of this article, and because I think there’s, like, this hopefulness from worlds outside of kind of the hardcore SEO world that are looking to this piece and going, “Look, this is great. We don’t have to be technical. We don’t have to worry about technical things in order to do SEO.”

Look, I completely get the appeal of that. I did want to point out some of the reasons why this is not so accurate. At the same time, I don’t want to rain on Jayson, because I think that it’s very possible he’s writing an article for Entrepreneur, maybe he has sort of a commitment to them. Maybe he had no idea that this article was going to spark so much attention and investment. He does make some good points. I think it’s just really the title and then some of the messages inside there that I take strong issue with, and so I wanted to bring those up.

First off, some of the good points he did bring up.

One, he wisely says, “You don’t need to know how to code or to write and read algorithms in order to do SEO.” I totally agree with that. If today you’re looking at SEO and you’re thinking, “Well, am I going to get more into this subject? Am I going to try investing in SEO? But I don’t even know HTML and CSS yet.”

Those are good skills to have, and they will help you in SEO, but you don’t need them. Jayson’s totally right. You don’t have to have them, and you can learn and pick up some of these things, and do searches, watch some Whiteboard Fridays, check out some guides, and pick up a lot of that stuff later on as you need it in your career. SEO doesn’t have that hard requirement.

And secondly, he makes an intelligent point that we’ve made many times here at Moz, which is that, broadly speaking, a better user experience is well correlated with better rankings.

You make a great website that delivers great user experience, that provides the answers to searchers’ questions and gives them extraordinarily good content, way better than what’s out there already in the search results, generally speaking you’re going to see happy searchers, and that’s going to lead to higher rankings.

But not entirely. There are a lot of other elements that go in here. So I’ll bring up some frustrating points around the piece as well.

First off, there’s no acknowledgment — and I find this a little disturbing — that the ability to read and write code, or even HTML and CSS, which I think are the basic place to start, is helpful or can take your SEO efforts to the next level. I think both of those things are true.

So being able to look at a web page, view source on it, or pull up Firebug in Firefox or something and diagnose what’s going on and then go, “Oh, that’s why Google is not able to see this content. That’s why we’re not ranking for this keyword or term, or why even when I enter this exact sentence in quotes into Google, which is on our page, this is why it’s not bringing it up. It’s because it’s loading it after the page from a remote file that Google can’t access.” These are technical things, and being able to see how that code is built, how it’s structured, and what’s going on there, very, very helpful.

Some coding knowledge also can take your SEO efforts even further. I mean, so many times, SEOs are stymied by the conversations that we have with our programmers and our developers and the technical staff on our teams. When we can have those conversations intelligently, because at least we understand the principles of how an if-then statement works, or what software engineering best practices are being used, or they can upload something into a GitHub repository, and we can take a look at it there, that kind of stuff is really helpful.

Secondly, I don’t like that the article overly reduces all of this information that we have about what we’ve learned about Google. So he mentions two sources. One is things that Google tells us, and others are SEO experiments. I think both of those are true. Although I’d add that there’s sort of a sixth sense of knowledge that we gain over time from looking at many, many search results and kind of having this feel for why things rank, and what might be wrong with a site, and getting really good at that using tools and data as well. There are people who can look at Open Site Explorer and then go, “Aha, I bet this is going to happen.” They can look, and 90% of the time they’re right.

So he boils this down to, one, write quality content, and two, reduce your bounce rate. Neither of those things are wrong. You should write quality content, although I’d argue there are lots of other forms of quality content that aren’t necessarily written — video, images and graphics, podcasts, lots of other stuff.

And secondly, that just doing those two things is not always enough. So you can see, like many, many folks look and go, “I have quality content. It has a low bounce rate. How come I don’t rank better?” Well, your competitors, they’re also going to have quality content with a low bounce rate. That’s not a very high bar.

Also, frustratingly, this really gets in my craw. I don’t think “write quality content” means anything. You tell me. When you hear that, to me that is a totally non-actionable, non-useful phrase that’s a piece of advice that is so generic as to be discardable. So I really wish that there was more substance behind that.

The article also makes, in my opinion, the totally inaccurate claim that modern SEO really is reduced to “the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.”

Wow. Okay. Again, I think broadly these things are correlated. User happiness and rank is broadly correlated, but it’s not a one to one. This is not like a, “Oh, well, that’s a 1.0 correlation.”

I would guess that the correlation is probably closer to like the page authority range. I bet it’s like 0.35 or something correlation. If you were to actually measure this broadly across the web and say like, “Hey, were you happier with result one, two, three, four, or five,” the ordering would not be perfect at all. It probably wouldn’t even be close.

There’s a ton of reasons why sometimes someone who ranks on Page 2 or Page 3 or doesn’t rank at all for a query is doing a better piece of content than the person who does rank well or ranks on Page 1, Position 1.

Then the article suggests five and sort of a half steps to successful modern SEO, which I think is a really incomplete list. So Jayson gives us;

  • Good on-site experience
  • Writing good content
  • Getting others to acknowledge you as an authority
  • Rising in social popularity
  • Earning local relevance
  • Dealing with modern CMS systems (which he notes most modern CMS systems are SEO-friendly)

The thing is there’s nothing actually wrong with any of these. They’re all, generally speaking, correct, either directly or indirectly related to SEO. The one about local relevance, I have some issue with, because he doesn’t note that there’s a separate algorithm for sort of how local SEO is done and how Google ranks local sites in maps and in their local search results. Also not noted is that rising in social popularity won’t necessarily directly help your SEO, although it can have indirect and positive benefits.

I feel like this list is super incomplete. Okay, I brainstormed just off the top of my head in the 10 minutes before we filmed this video a list. The list was so long that, as you can see, I filled up the whole whiteboard and then didn’t have any more room. I’m not going to bother to erase and go try and be absolutely complete.

But there’s a huge, huge number of things that are important, critically important for technical SEO. If you don’t know how to do these things, you are sunk in many cases. You can’t be an effective SEO analyst, or consultant, or in-house team member, because you simply can’t diagnose the potential problems, rectify those potential problems, identify strategies that your competitors are using, be able to diagnose a traffic gain or loss. You have to have these skills in order to do that.

I’ll run through these quickly, but really the idea is just that this list is so huge and so long that I think it’s very, very, very wrong to say technical SEO is behind us. I almost feel like the opposite is true.

We have to be able to understand things like;

  • Content rendering and indexability
  • Crawl structure, internal links, JavaScript, Ajax. If something’s post-loading after the page and Google’s not able to index it, or there are links that are accessible via JavaScript or Ajax, maybe Google can’t necessarily see those or isn’t crawling them as effectively, or is crawling them, but isn’t assigning them as much link weight as they might be assigning other stuff, and you’ve made it tough to link to them externally, and so they can’t crawl it.
  • Disabling crawling and/or indexing of thin or incomplete or non-search-targeted content. We have a bunch of search results pages. Should we use rel=prev/next? Should we robots.txt those out? Should we disallow from crawling with meta robots? Should we rel=canonical them to other pages? Should we exclude them via the protocols inside Google Webmaster Tools, which is now Google Search Console?
  • Managing redirects, domain migrations, content updates. A new piece of content comes out, replacing an old piece of content, what do we do with that old piece of content? What’s the best practice? It varies by different things. We have a whole Whiteboard Friday about the different things that you could do with that. What about a big redirect or a domain migration? You buy another company and you’re redirecting their site to your site. You have to understand things about subdomain structures versus subfolders, which, again, we’ve done another Whiteboard Friday about that.
  • Proper error codes, downtime procedures, and not found pages. If your 404 pages turn out to all be 200 pages, well, now you’ve made a big error there, and Google could be crawling tons of 404 pages that they think are real pages, because you’ve made it a status code 200, or you’ve used a 404 code when you should have used a 410, which is a permanently removed, to be able to get it completely out of the indexes, as opposed to having Google revisit it and keep it in the index.

Downtime procedures. So there’s specifically a… I can’t even remember. It’s a 5xx code that you can use. Maybe it was a 503 or something that you can use that’s like, “Revisit later. We’re having some downtime right now.” Google urges you to use that specific code rather than using a 404, which tells them, “This page is now an error.”

Disney had that problem a while ago, if you guys remember, where they 404ed all their pages during an hour of downtime, and then their homepage, when you searched for Disney World, was, like, “Not found.” Oh, jeez, Disney World, not so good.

  • International and multi-language targeting issues. I won’t go into that. But you have to know the protocols there. Duplicate content, syndication, scrapers. How do we handle all that? Somebody else wants to take our content, put it on their site, what should we do? Someone’s scraping our content. What can we do? We have duplicate content on our own site. What should we do?
  • Diagnosing traffic drops via analytics and metrics. Being able to look at a rankings report, being able to look at analytics connecting those up and trying to see: Why did we go up or down? Did we have less pages being indexed, more pages being indexed, more pages getting traffic less, more keywords less?
  • Understanding advanced search parameters. Today, just today, I was checking out the related parameter in Google, which is fascinating for most sites. Well, for Moz, weirdly, related:oursite.com shows nothing. But for virtually every other sit, well, most other sites on the web, it does show some really interesting data, and you can see how Google is connecting up, essentially, intentions and topics from different sites and pages, which can be fascinating, could expose opportunities for links, could expose understanding of how they view your site versus your competition or who they think your competition is.

Then there are tons of parameters, like in URL and in anchor, and da, da, da, da. In anchor doesn’t work anymore, never mind about that one.

I have to go faster, because we’re just going to run out of these. Like, come on. Interpreting and leveraging data in Google Search Console. If you don’t know how to use that, Google could be telling you, you have all sorts of errors, and you don’t know what they are.

  • Leveraging topic modeling and extraction. Using all these cool tools that are coming out for better keyword research and better on-page targeting. I talked about a couple of those at MozCon, like MonkeyLearn. There’s the new Moz Context API, which will be coming out soon, around that. There’s the Alchemy API, which a lot of folks really like and use.
  • Identifying and extracting opportunities based on site crawls. You run a Screaming Frog crawl on your site and you’re going, “Oh, here’s all these problems and issues.” If you don’t have these technical skills, you can’t diagnose that. You can’t figure out what’s wrong. You can’t figure out what needs fixing, what needs addressing.
  • Using rich snippet format to stand out in the SERPs. This is just getting a better click-through rate, which can seriously help your site and obviously your traffic.
  • Applying Google-supported protocols like rel=canonical, meta description, rel=prev/next, hreflang, robots.txt, meta robots, x robots, NOODP, XML sitemaps, rel=nofollow. The list goes on and on and on. If you’re not technical, you don’t know what those are, you think you just need to write good content and lower your bounce rate, it’s not going to work.
  • Using APIs from services like AdWords or MozScape, or hrefs from Majestic, or SEM refs from SearchScape or Alchemy API. Those APIs can have powerful things that they can do for your site. There are some powerful problems they could help you solve if you know how to use them. It’s actually not that hard to write something, even inside a Google Doc or Excel, to pull from an API and get some data in there. There’s a bunch of good tutorials out there. Richard Baxter has one, Annie Cushing has one, I think Distilled has some. So really cool stuff there.
  • Diagnosing page load speed issues, which goes right to what Jayson was talking about. You need that fast-loading page. Well, if you don’t have any technical skills, you can’t figure out why your page might not be loading quickly.
  • Diagnosing mobile friendliness issues
  • Advising app developers on the new protocols around App deep linking, so that you can get the content from your mobile apps into the web search results on mobile devices. Awesome. Super powerful. Potentially crazy powerful, as mobile search is becoming bigger than desktop.

Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath and relax. I don’t know Jayson’s intention, and in fact, if he were in this room, he’d be like, “No, I totally agree with all those things. I wrote the article in a rush. I had no idea it was going to be big. I was just trying to make the broader points around you don’t have to be a coder in order to do SEO.” That’s completely fine.

So I’m not going to try and rain criticism down on him. But I think if you’re reading that article, or you’re seeing it in your feed, or your clients are, or your boss is, or other folks are in your world, maybe you can point them to this Whiteboard Friday and let them know, no, that’s not quite right. There’s a ton of technical SEO that is required in 2015 and will be for years to come, I think, that SEOs have to have in order to be effective at their jobs.

All right, everyone. Look forward to some great comments, and we’ll see you again next time for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Distance from Perfect

Posted by wrttnwrd

In spite of all the advice, the strategic discussions and the conference talks, we Internet marketers are still algorithmic thinkers. That’s obvious when you think of SEO.

Even when we talk about content, we’re algorithmic thinkers. Ask yourself: How many times has a client asked you, “How much content do we need?” How often do you still hear “How unique does this page need to be?”

That’s 100% algorithmic thinking: Produce a certain amount of content, move up a certain number of spaces.

But you and I know it’s complete bullshit.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the algorithm. You should definitely chase it. Understanding a little bit about what goes on in Google’s pointy little head helps. But it’s not enough.

A tale of SEO woe that makes you go “whoa”

I have this friend.

He ranked #10 for “flibbergibbet.” He wanted to rank #1.

He compared his site to the #1 site and realized the #1 site had five hundred blog posts.

“That site has five hundred blog posts,” he said, “I must have more.”

So he hired a few writers and cranked out five thousand blogs posts that melted Microsoft Word’s grammar check. He didn’t move up in the rankings. I’m shocked.

“That guy’s spamming,” he decided, “I’ll just report him to Google and hope for the best.”

What happened? Why didn’t adding five thousand blog posts work?

It’s pretty obvious: My, uh, friend added nothing but crap content to a site that was already outranked. Bulk is no longer a ranking tactic. Google’s very aware of that tactic. Lots of smart engineers have put time into updates like Panda to compensate.

He started like this:

And ended up like this:
more posts, no rankings

Alright, yeah, I was Mr. Flood The Site With Content, way back in 2003. Don’t judge me, whippersnappers.

Reality’s never that obvious. You’re scratching and clawing to move up two spots, you’ve got an overtasked IT team pushing back on changes, and you’ve got a boss who needs to know the implications of every recommendation.

Why fix duplication if rel=canonical can address it? Fixing duplication will take more time and cost more money. It’s easier to paste in one line of code. You and I know it’s better to fix the duplication. But it’s a hard sell.

Why deal with 302 versus 404 response codes and home page redirection? The basic user experience remains the same. Again, we just know that a server should return one home page without any redirects and that it should send a ‘not found’ 404 response if a page is missing. If it’s going to take 3 developer hours to reconfigure the server, though, how do we justify it? There’s no flashing sign reading “Your site has a problem!”

Why change this thing and not that thing?

At the same time, our boss/client sees that the site above theirs has five hundred blog posts and thousands of links from sites selling correspondence MBAs. So they want five thousand blog posts and cheap links as quickly as possible.

Cue crazy music.

SEO lacks clarity

SEO is, in some ways, for the insane. It’s an absurd collection of technical tweaks, content thinking, link building and other little tactics that may or may not work. A novice gets exposed to one piece of crappy information after another, with an occasional bit of useful stuff mixed in. They create sites that repel search engines and piss off users. They get more awful advice. The cycle repeats. Every time it does, best practices get more muddled.

SEO lacks clarity. We can’t easily weigh the value of one change or tactic over another. But we can look at our changes and tactics in context. When we examine the potential of several changes or tactics before we flip the switch, we get a closer balance between algorithm-thinking and actual strategy.

Distance from perfect brings clarity to tactics and strategy

At some point you have to turn that knowledge into practice. You have to take action based on recommendations, your knowledge of SEO, and business considerations.

That’s hard when we can’t even agree on subdomains vs. subfolders.

I know subfolders work better. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Let the flaming comments commence.

To get clarity, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will this change, tactic, or strategy move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Breaking it down:

“Change, tactic, or strategy”

A change takes an existing component or policy and makes it something else. Replatforming is a massive change. Adding a new page is a smaller one. Adding ALT attributes to your images is another example. Changing the way your shopping cart works is yet another.

A tactic is a specific, executable practice. In SEO, that might be fixing broken links, optimizing ALT attributes, optimizing title tags or producing a specific piece of content.

A strategy is a broader decision that’ll cause change or drive tactics. A long-term content policy is the easiest example. Shifting away from asynchronous content and moving to server-generated content is another example.

“Perfect”

No one knows exactly what Google considers “perfect,” and “perfect” can’t really exist, but you can bet a perfect web page/site would have all of the following:

  1. Completely visible content that’s perfectly relevant to the audience and query
  2. A flawless user experience
  3. Instant load time
  4. Zero duplicate content
  5. Every page easily indexed and classified
  6. No mistakes, broken links, redirects or anything else generally yucky
  7. Zero reported problems or suggestions in each search engines’ webmaster tools, sorry, “Search Consoles”
  8. Complete authority through immaculate, organically-generated links

These 8 categories (and any of the other bazillion that probably exist) give you a way to break down “perfect” and help you focus on what’s really going to move you forward. These different areas may involve different facets of your organization.

Your IT team can work on load time and creating an error-free front- and back-end. Link building requires the time and effort of content and outreach teams.

Tactics for relevant, visible content and current best practices in UX are going to be more involved, requiring research and real study of your audience.

What you need and what resources you have are going to impact which tactics are most realistic for you.

But there’s a basic rule: If a website would make Googlebot swoon and present zero obstacles to users, it’s close to perfect.

“All other things being equal”

Assume every competing website is optimized exactly as well as yours.

Now ask: Will this [tactic, change or strategy] move you closer to perfect?

That’s the “all other things being equal” rule. And it’s an incredibly powerful rubric for evaluating potential changes before you act. Pretend you’re in a tie with your competitors. Will this one thing be the tiebreaker? Will it put you ahead? Or will it cause you to fall behind?

“Closer to perfect than my competitors”

Perfect is great, but unattainable. What you really need is to be just a little perfect-er.

Chasing perfect can be dangerous. Perfect is the enemy of the good (I love that quote. Hated Voltaire. But I love that quote). If you wait for the opportunity/resources to reach perfection, you’ll never do anything. And the only way to reduce distance from perfect is to execute.

Instead of aiming for pure perfection, aim for more perfect than your competitors. Beat them feature-by-feature, tactic-by-tactic. Implement strategy that supports long-term superiority.

Don’t slack off. But set priorities and measure your effort. If fixing server response codes will take one hour and fixing duplication will take ten, fix the response codes first. Both move you closer to perfect. Fixing response codes may not move the needle as much, but it’s a lot easier to do. Then move on to fixing duplicates.

Do the 60% that gets you a 90% improvement. Then move on to the next thing and do it again. When you’re done, get to work on that last 40%. Repeat as necessary.

Take advantage of quick wins. That gives you more time to focus on your bigger solutions.

Sites that are “fine” are pretty far from perfect

Google has lots of tweaks, tools and workarounds to help us mitigate sub-optimal sites:

  • Rel=canonical lets us guide Google past duplicate content rather than fix it
  • HTML snapshots let us reveal content that’s delivered using asynchronous content and JavaScript frameworks
  • We can use rel=next and prev to guide search bots through outrageously long pagination tunnels
  • And we can use rel=nofollow to hide spammy links and banners

Easy, right? All of these solutions may reduce distance from perfect (the search engines don’t guarantee it). But they don’t reduce it as much as fixing the problems.
Just fine does not equal fixed

The next time you set up rel=canonical, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using rel=canonical to make up for duplication move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: Not if they’re using rel=canonical, too. You’re both using imperfect solutions that force search engines to crawl every page of your site, duplicates included. If you want to pass them on your way to perfect, you need to fix the duplicate content.

When you use Angular.js to deliver regular content pages, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using HTML snapshots instead of actual, visible content move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: No. Just no. Not in your wildest, code-addled dreams. If I’m Google, which site will I prefer? The one that renders for me the same way it renders for users? Or the one that has to deliver two separate versions of every page?

When you spill banner ads all over your site, ask yourself…

You get the idea. Nofollow is better than follow, but banner pollution is still pretty dang far from perfect.

Mitigating SEO issues with search engine-specific tools is “fine.” But it’s far, far from perfect. If search engines are forced to choose, they’ll favor the site that just works.

Not just SEO

By the way, distance from perfect absolutely applies to other channels.

I’m focusing on SEO, but think of other Internet marketing disciplines. I hear stuff like “How fast should my site be?” (Faster than it is right now.) Or “I’ve heard you shouldn’t have any content below the fold.” (Maybe in 2001.) Or “I need background video on my home page!” (Why? Do you have a reason?) Or, my favorite: “What’s a good bounce rate?” (Zero is pretty awesome.)

And Internet marketing venues are working to measure distance from perfect. Pay-per-click marketing has the quality score: A codified financial reward applied for seeking distance from perfect in as many elements as possible of your advertising program.

Social media venues are aggressively building their own forms of graphing, scoring and ranking systems designed to separate the good from the bad.

Really, all marketing includes some measure of distance from perfect. But no channel is more influenced by it than SEO. Instead of arguing one rule at a time, ask yourself and your boss or client: Will this move us closer to perfect?

Hell, you might even please a customer or two.

One last note for all of the SEOs in the crowd. Before you start pointing out edge cases, consider this: We spend our days combing Google for embarrassing rankings issues. Every now and then, we find one, point, and start yelling “SEE! SEE!!!! THE GOOGLES MADE MISTAKES!!!!” Google’s got lots of issues. Screwing up the rankings isn’t one of them.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it