How to use SEO on LinkedIn

SEO on LinkedIn is too often overlooked, and it’s time you start viewing LinkedIn, just like Google, as a search engine. With access to a whole network of professionals, the opportunities for those who are savvy enough can be endless. LinkedIn is the most popular platform for B2B companies to acquire new clients so being able to optimize your LinkedIn presence has a whole array of potential benefits – both for your personal profile and also for your business.

Due to its high domain authority, search engines deliver a lot of results from LinkedIn in the SERPs for certain search terms, particularly those revolving around job roles. This post considers how you can stand out and how to occupy the top spot for your business.

Devil in the detail

The first step is to fill out as much of your profile as you possibly can. Don’t be lazy and avoid cutting corners – provide the details which will help to elevate your profile. But don’t just mindlessly fill in all the fields; make sure to be descriptive, engaging and use carefully chosen words. Keep it descriptive but to the point through revealing the important information but leave a tad of intrigue. Use bullet points or lists to make it more digestible and encouraging to read.

Remember to upload a clear, professional picture. If you still have your graduation picture, it gives the wrong impression and suggests you are a university grad, not a respected professional with three years of valuable experience under your belt. Right or wrong, consciously or subconsciously, people will inevitably base their first impressions on your picture. Give it a little thought and don’t just publish a pixelated picture from that bar the other night. As a final picture tip, make sure it is named appropriately to increase your chances of appearing in image searches.

Think in keywords

Just like you target certain keywords when optimizing a website, you need to do the same when optimizing your LinkedIn and give considerable thought to user intent when approaching the SEO of a website.

As with optimizing a website, be sure not to overdo keywords. It’ll be so obvious to anyone reading if you’ve stuffed the keyword ‘content marketing expert’ into one paragraph seven times. Remember to be engaging and genuinely interesting. Getting people to find you is only the first step – what’s going to make them ‘convert’, or hit you up with a snazzy job offer / potential new business?

Make use of the summary section to further amplify your keywords. This is likely the first section people will read on your profile, so it goes without saying that you need to make it absolutely flipping fantastic. Self-promotion is great, but put the focus on how you help others. People aren’t visiting your profile to see you congratulate yourself; the chances are that they want something and you need to demonstrate how you’re the right person to speak with.

Customize your URL

If you’ve never previously thought about this, then just take a second to glance at the URL for your LinkedIn profile. A vague reference to your name is not helpful for anyone, particularly not for search engines. Take a second to update your custom URL to something that includes your full name. If you’ve got a painfully common name like myself then you may need to be a bit creative, but keep it professional and as clear as possible. An easy way of doing this is to think whether you’d be happy seeing that URL on your business card.

Network as much as is socially acceptable

LinkedIn is, at the end of day, an online space for networking. So don’t just make your profile pretty – you’ve got to use it. In a very similar way to building links in SEO, if you haven’t got any connections on LinkedIn then you’re far less likely to appear in the search results.

Networking is arguably one of the most important points here. LinkedIn’s search algorithm is based first and foremost on showing people with similar connections and groups. You’ve probably noticed that the results which are prioritized when you search on LinkedIn are those with 1st, 2nd or even 3rd level connections to you. It, therefore, follows that the more people you are connected with on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to show up in the search results. It’s a social network after all, so be social, and network.

Engagement and interaction

You’ve got opinions, so share them. You’ve got expert knowledge, so divulge it. You’ve got a voice, so use it. Like any social network, it’s absolutely imperative to engage with people if you want to make the most out of it. Although this may not directly increase your chances of being found in the search results, it does increase your exposure to other people on LinkedIn. And one thing always leads to another.

Participate in groups

This is an extension of the points about engaging and networking. Groups are an excellent way of finding like-minded people in your industry. Spend some time identifying the groups most relevant to your expertise and profession. It also makes you more visible, as joining a group with thousands of people will suddenly make you more relevant to them in terms of the search results. You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll probably gain a lot along the way.

Collect endorsements

Nobody seems to know whether or not a higher number of endorsements or recommendations helps your profile appear higher in the search results. Either way, it’s certainly worth trying to collect as many of these as possible. Just like buying a product based on positive reviews, it’s the same theory for hiring humans. Endorsements and recommendations imbue a level of confidence and trust in the authority and credentials of a given person or business.

Just being really good at what you do, sitting back and waiting for the endorsements to come in probably isn’t going to cut it. Take a proactive approach and start endorsing or recommending people in your network. Don’t expect to get anything back as standard, but with any luck, you’ll get at least some people to return the favor.

Sharing is caring

Let’s admit it, one of the primary functions of LinkedIn is shameless self-promotion. This is a place where you can proudly share your work, show it off to the world, and create open discussions. Just remember that sharing is caring but oversharing is overbearing. As long as you are sharing content and updates which are genuinely interesting and provide value to people, then you’re golden. Don’t approach it as a way to stroke your ego – that’s a recipe for disaster – rather, it’s about collaborating on ideas and sharing value. In short, it’ a great way of interacting with your network and reaching new people. This leads to new connections and a wider network and, a better chance at ranking highly.

Publish posts on LinkedIn

This is different to sharing articles you’ve written elsewhere. Just click on ‘Write an article’ underneath the status update and lay down your best words. Pushing out content as part of an SEO strategy helps boost your authority and ramp up those rankings and the same goes for LinkedIn. Publish some brilliant articles and you’ll be hailed as the go-to industry expert in no time at all. Actually, it does take a bit of time but it’s absolutely worth doing if you are looking to build your LinkedIn profile and enhance your personal brand.

Writing optimized content for LinkedIn is no different to writing content as part of an SEO campaign with all the same rules applying. You can also repurpose content you’ve written elsewhere – just don’t duplicate content because we all know how Google feels about that. For example, if you have an article on your blog that’s no longer doing particularly well, it’s worth including a synopsis of the post as an article on LinkedIn and then link to the full article on your blog. This can also work vice versa.

Generate links to your profile

If you’re even a little bit familiar with the world of digital marketing then you’ll understand the importance of backlinks. It’s no different when you’re trying to rank your LinkedIn profile higher. Always be aware of trying to gain backlinks to your LinkedIn profile at every possible opportunity.

If you’ve got a blog, be sure to link back to your profile. Add a link to your email signature. Promote your LinkedIn profile across other social media accounts. Guest posting is another great way to build on those links, as it’s very common practice to include social links in your author bio. You’ll then find a snowball effect – the more links you have, the more people will see your profile, the more people will engage with you, the higher your profile will rank and the more links you’ll get… you get the idea.

Final words

Many of the above points can be applied to both your personal profile and your business page. Make the most of SEO on LinkedIn and you’ll be able to reach new audiences, generate leads and build on your professional profile. As a final point, don’t forget to make absolutely sure that your LinkedIn public profile is visible and not hidden.

Is PPC still an effective channel in an ICO marketing strategy?

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are booming. In 2017, there was approximately $5.6 billion raised by over 900 ICOs. Almost half of these ICOs were deemed a success. In the first quarter of 2018, $6.3 billion was raised via an ICO. This figure includes the $1.7 billion raised in Telegram’s ICO. These numbers tell us that despite advertising bans and regulatory threats, ICOs are still a big business that is only getting bigger.

Naturally, ICO marketing has also become a growing industry. A large number of ICO marketing firms have sprung up which offer a wide range of ICO marketing strategies using conventional and non-conventional marketing channels. Successful ICO marketing takes a broad, multi-faceted approach. However, when it comes to paid marketing and advertising, any ICO marketing agency’s first two choices are Facebook and Google. Pay Per Click (PPC) was an integral part of ICO marketing campaigns in 2017 as they generated consistently strong ROIs – until January this year.

Advertising bans and PPC’s continued role in ICO marketing strategies

In January 2018, Facebook had over 2.2 billion active users when it announced a new advertising policy that banned ICO and cryptocurrency advertisements. Just two months later, LinkedIn and Twitter, with 500 million and 300 million users respectively, followed suit with bans on ICO advertising. At the same time, Google, with approximately 67% of the PPC market, announced that it was updating its ad policies to include not just ICO and cryptocurrency advertisements, but also all content related to these topics. Google stated that it took down over 3.2 billion ads in 2017, as they were found to be in violation of its policies.

With the updated ban coming into effect in June, there has been a massive change in the way ICO marketing budgets are being planned and spent. Previously, budgets included advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Now, these advertising budgets are strictly focused on Google AdWords campaigns. No statistics are yet available on how much this refocus has boosted ICOs in general, but you can taste the frenzy in the air as marketers squeeze the last drops from what has proven to be one of the more effective ICO marketing tools. An estimated 40-60% of ICO marketing budgets are currently being spent on Google advertising, but come June, what’s next for PPC and ICO marketing strategies?

The increased role of crypto ad networks in PPC campaigns for ICOs

PPC campaigns for ICOs is by no means dead because of the Google ban, nor is it the end of the serious ICOs. If any good will come of this ban, it will be that some of the less serious and scam ICOs will be cleared away. One of the biggest winners from the ad bans will be the crypto-specific networks. Whilst crypto-centric ad networks offer fewer publishers compared to traditional ad-networks, they provide more targeted traffic at reasonably low prices. Some of the top crypto advertising networks are as follows:

Bitraffic.com – Launched in November 2017, Bitraffic has 2,700 sites in their network.

A-ADS.com – One of the first crypto networks, A-ADS.com claims to generate around 142 million ad impressions a day.

CoinAd.com – At the top end of prices, CoinAd.com only accepts publishers with an Alexa ranking below 100k and a minimum of 200k daily impressions.

Cointraffic.io – Established in 2014 and relatively small, Cointraffic.cio has only 400 publishers and provides good quality sites with targeted traffic.

Coinzilla.io – Launched in 2016, Coinzilla boasts 300 million monthly impressions.

A problem is emerging and will increase post-June, as every ICO will be fighting over the same banner space. Costs will increase and the top sites will continue to be booked for months in advance. While PPC should still form an essential part of any ICO marketing strategy, the rules have changed and, ICO marketing managers have to alter their way of thinking. The crypto ad networks do offer targeted traffic, however, it isn’t as targeted as Facebook and Google. Expectations will have to be adjusted, along with PPC’s part in ICO marketing plans.

In addition, it’s worth bearing in mind that due to the volume of publishers, PPC campaigns on crypto-centric networks aren’t going to get the same amount of impressions and clicks as campaigns run on a traditional ad network. Still, crypto-centric advertising networks should produce a positive ROI if carried out properly. It is important to make sure that the traffic is targeted. As there is an ever-growing choice of publishers and crypto ad networks, ICOs have the ability to run multiple small campaigns on a few different networks in order to compare the results.

The importance of SEO in ICO marketing strategies

It is important to note that while ads are being banned on traditional advertising networks, search engine results are not. This leads to a much more prominent role for SEO. As always, a well-researched and professionally implemented SEO strategy should form the bedrock of any ICO marketing package. SEO is the best long-term and cost-effective strategy for any ICO that is serious enough to think about post-ICO marketing. In addition to the above-mentioned strategies, there are also PR and media outreach, event sponsoring and attendance, and email marketing, all which provide effective marketing channels. There are also other free channels to utilize, including LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, Telegram, and Steemit, as well as Facebook pages and groups.

PPC: ICO marketing for the future

It isn’t just the ad bans that are making headlines in the world of ICO marketing, regulation is the hottest topic in the crypto world right now. The SEC has stepped up their battle against scam ICOs, which can only be a good thing for the ICO industry. However, what could cause a huge impact on most ICOs is whether or not coins will be classed as securities instead of currencies. A few governments have already banned ICO sales in their countries and regulatory authorities around the world are shining their spotlights brightly on ICOs and cryptocurrencies. In the meantime, ICOs will need to optimize every available marketing channel, including PPC.

Crypto-centric advertising networks will play an important role in ICO marketing strategies. The networks will most likely offer the same potential ROI as Google and Facebook, but they can also become a profitable method of ICO advertising. It’s best to start small and test out the different networks. Small campaigns spread across a few networks will allow you to compare results before you consider increasing the PPC budget for a particular network. For ICOs, there’s still gold in the PPC hills, you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

For the time being, at least, the popularity of ICOs, as well as the rewards available to those launching them, show no signs of slowing down. The advertising bans mean that ICOs will need to look for other platforms that allow ICO advertising, including Telegram channels, crypto media websites, and crypto review sites. ICO marketing strategies will need to use more content-based marketing to compliment a strong SEO strategy. Articles and videos that share the ICO’s message in a newsworthy and editorial style will play an important part in ICO marketing strategies.

PPC will continue to be relevant in ICO marketing strategies. Smarter, out of the box thinking is required, and some good old-fashioned A/B testing of the networks and publishers that allow crypto and ICO advertising.

On Yavin is co-founder and CEO of Cointelligence.

Top time-saving tools for SEOs

I recently moved to a new position at a new company, with a new computer and a new, clean install of Google Chrome. It wasn’t clean for very long, though, as I logged into my Chrome account and watched my address bar shrink as all of my extension icons flooded the right-hand side of the window. I was determined to use this as an opportunity to pare down the extensions that I had accumulated over the years.

I didn’t do a great job cutting back. As an SEO, I lean heavily on these time-saving tools. So in the spirit of new beginnings and sharing knowledge, here’s a selection of my favorite Chrome SEO extensions (with a few apps sprinkled in).

The basics

These are the simple extensions I can’t live without, and often use outside of SEO work.

Word count tool

SEO is content (well, in part), and an important piece of content is length. One of those extensions that I didn’t know I needed until I had it, this basic word count tool makes roughly assessing a page’s content length a cinch. I generally use this in discussion about competitor pages or to quickly assert whether my client’s copywriters are hitting the length benchmarks they need.

Site lookup

If I can avoid opening a new tab to search, I will. That’s why so many of these extensions allow me to do things in-page. The ‘Search the current site’ plugin is a tiny tool that essentially auto-completes the ‘site:’ operator in a Google search for you.

Hunter

I’ve been using Hunter (formerly Email Hunter) for years now – and not just for link building (though it’s been essential for that). It’s also great for following up with potential clients or employers when you haven’t been given an email address.

MailTester

Hunter gets it right a lot of the time, but MailTester can help you ensure the address is correct before you hit send. It’s got its limitations – many servers will block the request – but on the whole it’s a good insurance policy.

Link Klipper

There are a number of ways to pull the links from a page, whether it’s a SERP, a directory, or a partner page. Link Klipper’s handy click-and-drag function can help fill in the gaps by selecting a subset of links, or pulling them from tricky-to-isolate groups like dropdown menus.

Redirect path

How did I get here? Ayima’s simple Redirect Path tool lets you see how your browser arrived at a given page. This tool is particularly useful for isolating complicated or broken redirect paths and ensuring link equity is passing properly.

Advanced

Depending on the type of SEO you are, you may use one or all of these extensions, or have 15 others that offer similar functionality. Here’s what’s in my rotation right now.

MozBar

Every proprietary metric should be taken with a grain of salt, but Moz’s MozBar is still great for quickly assessing a site’s relative quality through its ‘Domain Authority (DA) mode that displays DA in the tool icon without crowding the page with other details (though you can still display those metrics by clicking on the icon).

Tip: As a bonus, MozBar allows you to quickly extract results when you’re on a SERP. It’ll only pull the displayed results so change your settings if you need more than 10 sites.

NoFollow

NoFollow is a simple plugin that highlights nofollow links on the page you’re viewing. You can also set it to check the robots.txt file against the links to indicate any disallowed pathways.

Web Developer

A powerful plugin with a robust suite of tools, Web Developer allows you to quickly disable JavaScript, cookies, CSS, as well as displaying web page info, styling tools, and more. Chances are if you want to modify, block, or load it, Web Developer can help.

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

See at a glance what’s going on in the background with this plugin from BuiltWith. With just a click, you’ll be able to identify tracking, frameworks, content delivery, and a lot more. Used in conjunction with Web Developer, you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues across myriad systems, all in-browser.

Ayima Page Insights

On-page issues plaguing you? Not sure why a particular page is underperforming? Ayima’s Page Insights extension can help you quickly identify issues like multiple H1 tags, alt attributes, and header problems. It can also display HTML elements like title and meta description without having to hunt through the source code.

Bonus: Chrome DevTools

One reason that Chrome is the first thing I install on a new computer is its powerful developer tools that let me dig into the guts of a web page. DevTools may not be easy to learn or master, but learning the ins and outs – like how to view a page as various mobile devices, or manipulate HTML to mock up recommendations – can make life a lot easier for an SEO.

Non-specific to SEO (but still helpful)

LastPass

As someone who is simultaneously forgetful and terrified of identity theft, I’ve become a LastPass evangelist over the past few years. Store all your passwords in one place, share them temporarily, and generate complex passwords that you don’t have to write down anywhere else. I’m slowly working my way towards only having to remember one password – ever.

Google Dictionary

Double-click on a word to bring up its definition in pop-up bubble with a link to read more. Google Dictionary is very helpful when reading technical SEO documents (or Heidegger).

Super Simple Highlighter

I’ve recently been searching for better ways of keeping track of interesting points within articles. Super Simple Highlighter lets you highlight passages on page and store the URL for later perusing.

Nimbus Capture

Windows’ built-in snipping tool is extremely handy, but for more complex capture, you’ll have to use something more robust. Nimbus lets you capture all or part of your screen, a whole web page, select and scroll, and plenty more. You can also record a video – super helpful for demonstrating all of your other thousands of extensions.

For the writing of this article, I solicited recommendations from the SEO team at Croud, and as such am currently experimenting with even more extensions – like Keywords Everywhere. Watch this space!

Adam Clemence is Senior SEO Manager at Croud

Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

Directory submission is a tactic that has evolved dramatically since it first became known. Firstly, it is no longer referred to as a directory submission, simply because the term has received some negativity over the years.

Secondly, the goals have changed: we no longer focus on link acquisition. When you come to think of it, the whole link-building strategy has undergone the same evolution: it has become more integrated, meaning that we now pursue non-link-building tactics while still hoping to get some links anyway.

Some of the non-link-building benefits of getting listed that may still result in links include:

  • Proactive reputation management (i.e. making sure your business name is mentioned a lot across the web)
  • Discoverability (i.e. making sure your business is there when people use the directory search to find what they need). This comes with traffic and leads, which is always nice.

Getting listed: the opportunities

If you think directories are dead, think again: there are plenty of new and old directories out there that can send you traffic and leads. Here are just a few categories to look into.

SaaS and B2B directories

  • KillerStartups.com
  • ProductHunt.com
  • G2crowd.com
  • FinancesOnline.com

Business directories

These come in several types and forms. Some are more traditional (free but with the option of charging you once for premium review):

  • MagicYellow.com
  • BOTW.org
  • Jasmine Directory.com
  • AvivaDirectory.com
  • AliveDirectory.com

While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:

  • Business.com ($299 annual fee)
  • Tuugo.us ($9.99 per month for premium listing)
  • Yalwa.com ($4.95 a month for premium listing)

Local directories

These deserve a separate article (which you can find here). Apart from the ability to send local traffic (from people trying to discover a local service), they are also quite useful for so-called local citation building – in other words, they help search engines associate you with important locations.

  • Yellow Pages
  • Dirjournal Local
  • BizJournals
  • Yellowbook

Getting listed: the smart way

There are many more useful directories out there that can still drive sales, but choose wisely; in many cases, it’s an investment of some sort. In addition, it’s paramount to stay away from penalized directories. Here are a few tools I use to evaluate whether any directory or platform is worth the investment:

Find whether the platform ranks in Google

Does Google think a directory is good enough to rank it high in search results? Search positions are the most reliable sign of a site’s health.

There are not many sites that will let you see the stats for free, and Serpstat is one of the most affordable.

Simply run the domain in Serpstat to quickly see where it ranks and how its rankings are distributed among different search engines. There are also tools to analyze whether the domain is ever featured in Google, which is an important signal of health too. Here is the list of tools you can use.

Find whether the platform has any traffic

Since creating an alternative traffic source is one of the main goals here, this is vital. There aren’t many reliable ways to evaluate a website’s traffic unless you own it, but these are decent:

  • Alexa.com: its major data source is their own toolbar, which may mean it’s somewhat limited. Yet, it is the oldest player in the field, and therefore quite trustworthy
  • SimilarWeb.com: read more about their data sources here: “global ISP data, and thousands of add-ons, extensions, apps and plugins, plus a team of web crawlers that scan thousands of websites”.

Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere

I wouldn’t be an SEO if I paid no attention to backlinks, but in my defense, links are not just a sign of SEO ‘authority’ – they signal quality too; if someone links to it, it must be a good page.

I use Ahrefs bulk backlink analysis feature to quickly run a lot of pages and section to choose the best ones.

[NB: I only mention directories that have proven worth the investment based on their rankings and traffic.]

Have you listed your website in some directories and seen some solid traffic and leads? Share your tips and resources in the comments.

Four ways to boost SEO in just 5 hours

Search engine optimization is a trend that won’t be going out of season any time soon; it’s something that every brand should continually focus on. According to Search Engine People, the top result on Google has a 33% chance of getting clicked, meaning that the lower your brand ranks (even on the first page), the more potential traffic you are missing out on.

And the reason why other websites are ranking higher than you on Google is that they are making a consistent effort to improve their SEO. Even if you’ve been focused on your site’s SEO for months, there are still some tips and tricks to implement – and that can be done in less than 5 hours – to increase your chance of higher rankings in SERPs.

Incorporate your competitor’s easiest keywords

In 2008, Google lifted the ban on bidding on competitors’ branded keywords, allowing site owners to bid against the competition’s brands – as long as you don’t mention their trademarked name within your ad copy. Bidding on your competitor’s keywords will give your brand traffic that comprises customers specifically looking for a product or service that your brand and your competition offer.

Studies have shown that branded keyword phrases are 5 times more likely to convert visitors into leads; therefore, the chances of retention and conversion are very high.

To ensure success, use your competitor’s weaknesses to inform your ad copy – particularly if it’s something your brand excels at. Be sure to include eye-catching copy while maintaining keywords used by customers to find both brands. Think about it: the potential customer is specifically searching for a competitor of yours, but it will take something unique and eye-catching to potentially draw them away from the brand they already know exists.

Here’s a quick checklist for selecting which keywords to borrow from your competitors:

Choose the easiest keywords first, i.e. those that are easy to create content for
Choose keywords similar to your own and that you know convert well
Choose high volume, low difficulty, high organic click-through rate.
Optimize the page speed of your mobile site

As the digital world embraces Google’s mobile-first index, we also continue to move towards a mobile-first consumer marketplace. Now that there is lightning-fast internet connection and 5G already on the horizon, the time has never been better for the growth of mobile audiences. And with some brands still lagging, it’s an excellent opportunity to keep your brand on the front foot.

A mobile website that loads at a snail’s pace not only not only has a negative effect on user experience, but also has a negative impact on a site’s search ranking. Mobile page speed matters: more than 50% of Google’s search activity now takes place on mobile devices, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that those searches happen quickly and conveniently, each and every time.

Large images are one of the main culprits of slow page speed for websites, and Duda was built for this very reason. Duda is a mobile-friendly web design platform for agencies to launch mobile-optimized websites in minutes. All images loaded through Duda are automatically resized and compressed, allowing web pages to render in seconds, and meaning you don’t have to worry about how images will be served to different devices. In addition to resizing these images with ImageMagick, the platform also compresses them using a process called lossy compression.

Another technique you can use to ensure that images are loaded as quickly as possible is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN ensures content can be delivered from the best location according to the geolocation of the device that’s calling it.

Local SEO

While global SEO is very important, local SEO should not be ignored. Statistics have shown that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store that same day. If your brand is not ranking for keywords in your local area, your brick and mortar business could be losing out to competitors.

While improving SEO takes time, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to begin improving your company’s local SEO.

Making your brand visible through a variety of local listings is important to local SEO, so be sure to insert your local keywords into unique descriptions across multiple listings, ensure that your photos are current, and always include your business category.

Another step is to actively increase the quantity and quality of links directed to your website, as they have an increasingly impactful effect on its local search engine rankings. Consider giving a presentation to business students at a local college or university, lead a discussion at regional business organization meetings or publish an article online, and use those opportunities to have the associated organizations link to your company’s website.

One of the simplest things that can improve your brand’s local SEO is claiming your Google My Business profile. This is a business listing that shows up for local searches, so you need to have a physical location and street address (not a P.O. box) to set up or claim a listing.

Optimizing this profile with the category, contact information, images and business hours can give a significant boost to your local SEO.

Crawl website for duplicate tags and broken links

Duplicate content issues can drop your brand’s website ranking significantly, so every business should focus on content marketing to attract more traffic to their website.

When creating content, you might encounter content duplication issues on your site, particularly if you are using a content management system such as WordPress, which is known to create duplicate pages that affect your SEO.

Fortunately, there are a variety of tools that can be used to assess duplicate content issues. Siteliner is one of the better tools available for discovering duplicate content blocks or broken links on a website, and will provide a comprehensive content analysis report for free.

Once you’ve found any content issues or linking issues, it is often quite simple to get them fixed.

Use 301 redirects to fix duplicate content

If you moved content from an old URL variation to a new URL, then you can use 301 redirects to prevent Google from seeing this as duplicate content. For example, if you have updated the page example.com/buy-cars-2017/ with content for 2018 by changing the URL to example.com/buy-cars-2018/, you can redirect the old 2017 URL variation to the updated URL.

Canonical URL tag attributes

If your website has two identical content pages with different URLs, you can use canonical URL tag attributes to signal to Google which of the two pages you want to be shown in search results.

You can also use the canonical attribute when syndicating content to other websites and social platforms.

Noindex and nofollow tags

Similarly, noindex and nofollow tags can be used if you want search engines not to crawl and index a page in the SERPs. These are meta tags, meaning they can be included in the HTML section of a page. For example, you may wish to use noindex and nofollow tags on the following page types: privacy policy, terms and conditions, user login pages.

Similarly, you can use the robots.txt file to allow or disallow pages to be crawled by Google.

Conclusions

Good SEO practice is the difference between getting your site ranked as high up the search results and possible, and reducing the chance of a click through – and therefore conversion – to your site. It can be frustrating to spend a great deal of time and effort on SEO and not see the results, so ensure you have the tips shared in this article in place to give a quick boost to your site’s ranking. And don’t forget to force Google to re-crawl your website after implementing any changes.

The big picture: what’s next for image and voice search?

About 10 years ago, it would have been hard to believe that you could ask a Bluetooth speaker for a classic cheese soufflé recipe or take a picture of an object using your phone and find out exactly where to purchase it. Yet, here we are.

These interactions have been primarily realized through advancements in machine learning AI. One of the biggest developments in AI over the past three years has been in the area of voice recognition and natural language processing and we’re starting to see advancements in more complex human machine interaction in the form of image/video search.

Forward-thinking businesses are already using this new form of machine learning AI image recognition to allow users to search for products using pictures to find the same or similar looks and outfits they stock. However, does this mean intelligent image search is the next big thing?

Early days for image search an AI

Major search engines have supported a form of ‘image search’ for some time. Google introduced ‘Google images’ back in 2001 because of a demand for pictures of Jennifer Lopez in a green Versace dress which the regular Google search couldn’t handle. The functionality eventually evolved into being able to drag and drop pictures to find the same or other similar images the user was trying to match against.

The image search referred to today shouldn’t be confused with what now seems like relatively basic functionality (much like how ‘voice search’ today is more than the basic input of text search using your voice). The advancements in ‘image search’ allow for an extremely high degree of accurate image classification by recognizing elements and objects based on specific attributes identified within a given image.

At Forward3D, we have noticed clients increasingly asking about what they can do with the ever more accessible AI and machine learning APIs, but they are still very much unclear about how developments within this field could enhance many aspects of their business. ASOS’ use of image search is a great example of how such tech can be used to enhance the shopping experience and proves that the right application of AI can benefit any business if implemented correctly.

The future of image search

Google (as well as others) has recently started integrating features to enable users to shop for products captured with a smartphone, like the example of ASOS mentioned above. While image search will have its practical uses, the current siloed implementations in smart devices are likely to have a very limited impact on general search behavior for now.

While basic applications of image search can be used to identify what products are available, the technology will continue to evolve, becoming faster and more accurate, leading to more sophisticated, varied applications and use cases.

We are seeing use cases previously only seen in sci-fi, such as real-time image recognition of faces in AR setups, or applications within medicine where a machine can automatically identify early signs of medical conditions from an X-ray or MRI scans without the requirement for a specialist doctor to interpret the results.

The main challenge with this technology is that these purpose-built image recognition models are as only as good as its training data, meaning that any application can be significantly impaired if not done correctly or done so without enough correctly labeled data.

Image search vs voice search

Despite the advances in image search and its current implementation, voice is likely to remain the preferred way to request information on demand in the future. We are likely to see image-based search complement voice, allowing for a richer way of interacting with AI assistants.

The Amazon Echo Look has aimed to actively integrate both voice and image search to create a unique value proposition, enabling a virtual assistant that can scan and suggest clothing outfits for its user. An algorithm combined with input from fashion experts is then able to make recommendations on styling, providing various ‘looks’ via its app on your smartphone. These are great examples of how voice and image search can work to enhance interaction between users and virtual assistants.

Outside the home, if integrated correctly on smartphones or wearable tech, image search may enable a new dimension of window shopping that hasn’t previously been seen before. Consumers could ‘bookmark’ something of casual interest for later viewing similar to ‘Shazaming’ a song.

Who will come out on top?

Comparing voice search to image search is like comparing a computer keyboard to a mouse. They each have their own place in a world where search and discovery will be predominantly underpinned through interactions with virtual assistants.

While Amazon may already be combining advanced uses for voice and image search, taking meaningful search market share away from Google will be difficult. Amazon’s early penetration of standalone smart assistant devices like the Echo and Echo Look, along with their ability to supply products directly to the consumer (supporting its retail business), poses a potential long-term threat to Google. The search engine has long been the de facto entry point to satisfy consumer demand for both information and products for many years.

However, Google’s success to date as a traditional search engine has come from the ability to retrieve the most relevant and concise results with both speed and precision. Its core strength in organizing information and their recent shift to being an AI first business will pose a serious challenge to Amazon’s early lead.

Google does not have the same level of vertical supply chain integration as Amazon to deliver the most seamless customer journey for purchasing physical products. But with its overall accuracy and speed of information retrieval (with the vastness of its knowledge graph), along with integration with its other online consumer services will see it come out on top, be it for voice, image or any other digital search medium in the future.

Ten SEO aspects for web designers to master

website structure

Web design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about how a site is put together under the hood. Design choices can have a big impact – positive or negative – on a site’s SEO. In turn, this can affect the site’s performance over its entire lifetime.

If you’re a professional web designer (or if you’re creating your own site from scratch), it’s important to know a few SEO basics – a little knowledge goes a long way to building sites that reach their intended audience. Understanding these 10 aspects of SEO will help you design sites that work well, in addition to looking great.

1. Site structure

Every site should be designed with a clear, logical structure in mind. The homepage should state the big picture purpose of the site – its reason for existing – and details should be broken down into subpages.

For example, if you’re designing a website for recipes, the home page could lead to separate category pages for dinners, soups, and desserts. Each of those subpages could then lead to individual recipe subpages of their own.

It’s fine to have several ‘layers’ of subpages on your site, but don’t go too deep or Google might have trouble crawling all of them. In general, try to keep your site’s depth to three or four layers. Here’s a visual from Moz of what a well-structured site looks like:

A site’s homepage should lead to its subpages, which lead to their own subpages, and so on.

2. URL structure

URLs affect a site’s SEO, so it’s important to choose good ones right from the start. Here are a few best practices to follow for URLs:

  • Shorter is better, since shorter URLs are more memorable than longer ones
  • A URL should describe the content of the page as clearly as possible. Use plain English instead of abbreviations or strings of letters and numbers
  • For subpages, use hyphens to break up words for readability. For example, use https://example.com/build-a-birdhouse instead of https://example.com/buildabirdhouse.
  • Include keywords in URLs whenever it seems natural to do so (but avoid keyword stuffing).

3. Site navigation

In addition to being well-structured, your sites should be easy for visitors (and Google) to navigate. A site menu should be located prominently at the top of the page or along the sidebar. Every page on the site should be findable. Avoid creating ‘orphaned pages’ that aren’t linked from any other pages on the site. If visitors can’t find a page by following links, search engines won’t know that page exists either.

4. Mobile-friendly design

The age of mobile is here, and responsive web design isn’t optional anymore. For a site to provide good UX and rank well, it needs to adjust for comfortable viewing on a small screen. If you haven’t already, make responsive design your default design mode. You can easily test the mobile-friendliness of your sites using this simple tool from Google.

5. Site speed

Along with mobile-friendliness, site speed is another UX consideration that affects SEO. Google penalizes slow sites in their rankings, and visitors are less likely to stick around if a page takes a few seconds to load. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can tell you how fast your sites are and what you can adjust to make them faster.

6. Titles, headers and meta descriptions

Titles, headers and meta descriptions are important aspects of on-page SEO. Every page on a site should have unique content in its tag – in other words, don’t copy and paste the same title across your whole site. Each page’s title should include at least one keyword that’s relevant to the content on the page. Likewise, include keywords in the header tags on each page, especially the tag.

Meta descriptions – the blurbs that appear under links in SERPs – are a little different. They don’t directly affect SEO, but they do impact how many people click on your site in SERPs. They’re basically free advertising space, so put some thought into them, and include your main keywords to catch searchers’ eyes.

A couple examples of meta descriptions in Google.

7. Image optimization

Search engines cannot ‘read’ and understand images (yet), but you can tell them what your images are and what they refer to. Here are a few things you can do to optimize your images for SEO:

  • Name your images accurately. For example, it’s better to call an image something like png than img238.png
  • Use alt tags with your images. This is a good idea for accessibility purposes, but also tells search engines what your images depict
  • Don’t use bigger images than necessary as this can slow your site’s loading time.

8. Use of Flash

In general, steer clear of Flash unless it is absolutely essential. Search engines can’t see or process Flash content, so for SEO purposes it doesn’t exist. It’s especially important not to use Flash for important parts of your site, such as the navigation bar and the main text on your pages.

9. Structured data

The jury is still out on whether structured data, such as schema markup, gives sites a boost in search engines. However, it can help to bring more high-quality traffic by providing valuable information to human searchers. Over time, this traffic boost can improve your rankings.

structured data in Google

An example of how structured data shows up in Google’s results.

10. Site interface

Good SEO isn’t just about technical details; it’s also about helping people and providing great UX. While it’s important to pay attention to everything on this list as you work on a site, don’t let great design itself fall by the wayside – especially if you’re creating your own website with a free website builder. An attractive, easy-to-use interface will encourage visitors to stay on your site and make it easier for them to find what they need. This helps to keep your bounce rate down. An attractive site is great for a brand’s image, too.

Wrapping up

SEO isn’t the niche specialty it used to be. Search engines are playing an increasingly important role in the future of the internet, and it’s important for people in other tech fields – such as web design – to be able to keep up. If you design your site with these crucial aspects of SEO in mind, the finished product will be both beautiful and functional.

Want to add something to this list? Share your SEO tips for web designers in the comments below.

Is Google Analytics compliant with GDPR?

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is set to revolutionize how we process and store data in the digital age, with the aim of giving individuals more control of their personal data.

Google Analytics will act as the data processor and your organization as the data controller since your organization is in control of what data you send to Google Analytics once the Universal Analytics tracking code implementation is up and running.

This article will explore the steps Google Analytics is taking to become GDPR compliant, as well as what your business can do to make sure you too are compliant with GDPR.

What steps is Google taking?

Google recently released a statement declaring their commitment to compliance with data protection laws in line with GDPR. Google went on to explain that they have measures in place relating to privacy and data processing. For a comprehensive look at Google’s processing terms, you can learn more by reading their Google Ads Data processing terms, which is set to replace and supersede the Analytics Data Processing Amendment.

Google encourages data controllers to be vigilant about how they collect and handle data. Numerous GDPR-related guides online can help you to ensure you are knowledgeable about GDPR and the effects it could have on your company.

Google has updated Google Analytics with a new feature called ‘User and event data retention’. This feature allows the data controller to decide how long to store and retain data.

The feature relates specifically to data associated with cookies, user identifiers, or advertising identifiers. As the data controller, you can set a fixed time limit before expiry. You can also choose not to include an automatic expiry time limit.

The ‘User and event data retention’ feature is set to come into play on May 25— the day when GDPR regulations hit.

Google recently released a statement on the topic:

We have all opened emails and messages like this one lately regarding GDPR updates. Moreover, you might be tempted to ignore or delete it without paying it much attention. However, we strongly urge you to take your time to read the email that Google sent, and to review your user and event data retention setting in Google Analytics.

GDPR means securing your website is more important than ever

A great way to help secure your users’ data is to install an SSL certificate for your website. Adding a secure sockets layer certificate helps ensure that all data sent between the web server and the browser is secure. An SSL certificate also comes with the added bonus of being a ranking factor in Google’s SERPs.

Securing your website and securing client data is vital. Non-compliance could lead to hefty fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is the greater sum.

We know that many readers here at Search Engine Watch use a WordPress CMS for their websites.

If you use a WordPress website, we suggest that you make sure all of your plugins are up-to-date. You should also install plugins such as Wordfence and WP Limited Login Attempts.

For a comprehensive guide to securing a WordPress website, see here.

SEO strategies and keyword rankings: mobile versus desktop

As if we didn’t already have enough to think about in any given SEO campaign, it is now imperative to separate and refine your approaches to mobile and desktop search.

While mobile has become hugely significant over the last couple of years, this shouldn’t be to the neglect of desktop. Although SEO for mobile and desktop follow the same basic principles and best practices, there are nuances and discrepancies that need to be factored in to your overall strategy.

Part of this is the keyword rankings: you won’t ever know how to adapt your strategies if you’re not tracking the rankings separately for each. Research from BrightEdge found that 79% of listings have a different rank on mobile devices compared with desktop, and the top-ranking result for a query is different on desktop and mobile 35% of the time. These are statistics that simply cannot be ignored.

Why do they do differ?

Before delving into how to compare keyword rankings on mobile and desktop, it’s first important to acknowledge the why and the what: why they are different and what it means for your SEO strategy.

It’s paramount to understand that desktop and mobile searches use different algorithms. Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best user experience for searchers, whatever device they are using. This means creating a bespoke device-tailored experience and in order to do that, we need to delve deeper into user intent.

It’s all about user intent

The crux of the mobile versus desktop conundrum is that user intent tends to differ for each device. This is particularly important when considering how far along the funnel a user is. It’s a generalization, but overall mobile users are often closer to the transactional phase, while desktop users are usually closer to the informational phase.

For example, we can better understand user intent on mobile by understanding the prevalence of local search. If a user is searching for a product or service on mobile, it is likely to be local. In contrast, users searching for a product or service on desktop are more likely to be browsing non-location-specific ecommerce sites.

Let’s also consider the types of conversions likely to occur on each device, in terms of getting in touch. Users on mobile are for more likely to call, by simply tapping the number which appears in the local map pack section. Alternatively, desktop users would be more inclined to type an email or submit a contact form.

What on earth is a micro-moment?

To better understand the different ways in which consumers behave, it may help to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with micro-moments. These refer to Google’s ability to determine a searcher’s most likely intent, and is particularly important for mobile users, when a consumer often needs to take immediate action.

For example, if a user is searching for a local product or service, the local map pack will appear, but if they are searching for information then the quick answer box will appear. These micro-moments therefore have a significant impact on the way the SERPs are constructed.

Once you’ve understood the user intent of a given searcher, you can ensure that you are providing content for both mobile and desktop users. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that content with longer word counts continues to perform well on mobile, despite the general consensus that people on mobile simply can’t be bothered to consume long form content. This harks back to Google’s prioritization of high quality content. Besides, anybody who has a long train commute into work will understand the need for a nice, long article to read on mobile.

Rankings tools

With that context, we can now return to the matter at hand: rankings. Of course, you could record the rankings for both desktop and mobile the old-fashioned, manual way, but who has time for that? In short, any good SEO tool worth its salt will enable you to track both desktop and mobile rankings separately. Here are some favorites:

SEMRush is a personal favorite among the plethora of fancy SEO tools. SEMRush provides a comprehensive breakdown of mobile vs desktop results (as well as tablet if you really want to geek out) and displays the percentage of mobile-friendly results for your domain.
SearchMetrics offers Desktop vs. Mobile Visibility metrics, detailing individual scores for desktop and mobile, as well as overlap metrics which show how many keyword search results appear in exactly the same position for both. You can also drill down further to view how a website performs with regard to localized results.
Moz. Through Moz Pro, you can track the same rankings metrics for both desktop and mobile. Filter by labels and locations to dig further into the data.
Google Search Console. Don’t have access to any of the above tools? Don’t worry as you can still rely on the trusty Google Search Console. When looking at your search analytics, filter devices by comparing mobile and desktop. Even if you do have access to an SEO tool that allows you to do comparison analysis, it’s definitely still worth checking in on your Search Console insights.
Rankings are only part of the picture

It’s important to remember that rankings are only a tiny part of the picture; it’s essential to take a more holistic approach to the mobile vs desktop issue. This means taking the time to dig around Google Analytics and unearth the data and meaning beyond the vanity metrics.

You may have higher rankings for mobile, but those users might be bouncing more regularly. Is this a reflection of the user intent or is it a poor user experience? Does higher rankings for one device correlate to higher conversions? If not, then you need to consider the reasons for this. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so you must take a tailored approach to your strategy.

Quick tips for differentiating your strategies

You’ve got your mobile and desktop rankings sorted. Now you need to create or amend your strategies for both devices. Here are some quick tips to do so:

Separate mobile and desktop-specific search terms in your keyword research
Factor in voice search for mobile devices
Consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages where appropriate
Carry out a mobile SEO audit on your site
Include mobile vs desktop into your tracking and reporting, going beyond the rankings
Revisit your content strategy to ensure you are factoring in both mobile and desktop optimized content – cater for both types of user.

In short, tracking your keywords on mobile and desktop is absolutely essential for both reporting accuracy and supporting separate SEO strategies for each device. But don’t stop there; it’s more important to understand why the rankings differ and how you can use that information to refine your SEO strategies.

Will ASOS’ visual search tool revolutionize the retail industry?

In 2017, ASOS introduced visual search on iOS, as a way of making product discovery easier and more interesting for their users. A year on, the Style Match tool, which trawls through an 85,000+ product inventory before matching products to the look in the image, has been rolled out worldwide across both iOS and Android.

ASOS has placed a big bet on visual search, and for good reason. Pinterest has reported a 100% year-on-year increase in Pinterest Lens users, with 600 million visual searches made every month.

The visual search ecosystem is also growing rapidly, with innovations from Google, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and Wayfair in just the last year.

With this proliferation of visual search adoption, could this cause a snowball effect in the retail industry as others look to jump on the trend? More interestingly, for us as search engine marketers, how will Google’s own visual search engine evolve to compete with retailers like ASOS, who could quickly become the default visual search engine for mobile shoppers?

A brief history of visual search

Source: Distilled.net

To understand how Google’s visual search engine could develop in the future, we need to step back in time to understand the progress they’ve made so far. In the last five years, Google has come a long way from being able to serve images that are mildly related to a search query. Now the algorithm is able to understand the context behind a query, so they can better serve image results that satisfy user intent. This has completely changed the retail landscape where image search was once only a source of inspiration. Google has enabled rich product results that attract those looking to buy through images too.

Made possible by Schema Markup, Google has taken the product page and bundled it inside an image. Product images now feature attributes such as pricing, availability, reviews and item descriptions, as well as including badges to encourage more users to click through to products from results.

Making the leap to lens

Following Pinterest’s launch of their visual discovery tool Lens, Google introduced their own ‘Lens’ equivalent at the I/O developer conference in 2017. It was later rolled out onto all Pixel phones as part of the Google Assistant, and more recently made available to all Android and iOS devices through the Google Photos app.

Right now, Google Lens isn’t geared towards retail. The main features are described as ‘saving information from business cards’, ‘recognizing landmarks’ and ‘looking up products by barcodes’. While this all sounds rather uninspiring for retailers, exciting times could soon be around the corner.

The launch of ASOS’s Style Match tool could be pivotal to this. ASOS is the first big UK retailer to invest significantly in this technology. As other retailers look to invest in a similar vein, Google will undoubtedly commercialize their own visual search offering to capitalize on a growing number of mobile users, inspired by image.

Preparing for an image-first future

Visual search is in its infancy, but we should prepare for a future where a search engine users’ first thought is image. Research by Moz in 2017 found that image search now makes up nearly 30% of all searches on Google, with image blocks in an estimated 11% of search listings.

Searching by text will remain the easiest way to access information for most. For retail, however, it doesn’t seem unrealistic to imagine a time when searching by image is more convenient than text. Visual searches will be favored by those that want to discover similar products, tailored to their own preferences.

If you’re inspired by an outfit on Instagram, the Google of the not-too-distant future might accurately display individual similar items from the outfit, with image results personalized by brand preference, availability, and budget.

Personalization is a challenge the ASOS visual tool intrinsically solves. Their users are already invested in ASOS – they have downloaded the app, they have purchased their products. This means that whenever a user searches by image, they’re going to see ASOS products, and probably like them. This is one of the biggest challenges facing Google, and ultimately why retailers like ASOS will influence the way personalized visual search evolves.

How to prepare?

To prepare for an image-first future, retailers need to adapt their websites to changing search behaviors. Here are four things retailers can do right now to get started:

  • Go mobile

Visual search is inherently mobile – we don’t take pictures on a desktop, so mobile should be at the forefront of a search strategy. Optimizing for image search in its current form should also prepare retailers for what’s to come.

Mobile is big news in 2018. Google looks set to roll out the mobile-first-index imminently, so retailers could face some challenges if they are not mobile-responsive. In the context of visual search, retailers need to be mobile because that’s where it happens. Images hosted on pages that are not mobile-friendly are less likely to show up in mobile image results.

  • Use structured data

Structured data is essential for rich product results to appear on images. This will still likely be the case as visual search expands on Google, so optimize now. There are four attributes that are required for a ‘product’ badge to appear in image results. These are:

  • Currency of the item (in three-letter ISO 4217 format).
  • Price of the item (as a number)
  • URL of the product
  • The name of the product
  • Think page speed

The rankings of the host URL of the image tend to correlate with how the images rank themselves. With mobile page speed becoming a ranking factor as of July, reducing image size is the easiest way to improve load time and satisfy that facet of the algorithm.

Rankings aside, improving page speed is also incredibly important for user experience. Google found that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing increases by 123%!

  • Make product images functional

Give Google the best chance possible to understand the contents of the product image. Images should be beautiful but functional. This means light backgrounds with the product center stage, as well as including only one product per image.

Image resolution and dimensions are important too. Google tends to exclude extremely large images, or images with unusual dimensions. If images are too wide and not tall enough, or too tall and not wide enough, there’ll likely be issues.

Conclusion

As the above suggests, it is never too early to start planning your digital strategy around visual search – especially in retail. Make the right start by making your site mobile-responsive, to give the best experience for your existing users. Then it’s time to review, refine and optimize your images, to unlock the vast potential the visual search market could have.

Andrew Charlton is Search Marketing Consultant at Silverbean