InMarket Audiences: How to find consumers in research mode

google analytics inmarket audiences application

Google originally released InMarket Audiences in 2014 for Display and YouTube. A few years later, in 2018, Google released InMarket Audiences for search, and Bing followed suit this summer. So why should marketers care?

InMarket Audiences allow advertisers to find users who are currently searching for products or services similar to yours. The users are identified based on their past search behavior.

Actions that Google and Bing look at to establish past search behavior are clicks and the resulting conversions, as well as the content of the sites and pages that they visit.

These users typically have not been to your site before, making them valuable in helping you achieve your new customer acquisition goals at an efficient CPA or return on ad spend (ROAS).

Google has included over 170 InMarket Audiences and has been adding additional audiences over time. Some industries that are included are: apparel & accessories, auto & vehicles, baby & children’s products, beauty products & services, business services, computers & peripherals, education, employment, travel, software, real estate and sports & fitness.

InMarket Audiences enable advertisers to capture users who are actively researching or planning in different audience segments that Google and Bing have established.

Adding these audiences as bid-only or looking at the audience insights tab allows you to have a better understanding of the consumers interacting with your brand.

Application of InMarket Audiences

InMarket Audience segments can be found by going to Campaigns, then Audiences. You will then select what they are actively researching or planning (in-market); once you click and expand the audiences you will see all of the ones you can apply.

In order to see performance on these audiences, you will need to apply them as bid-only layers on your current campaigns, just as you would regular audiences (remarketing, similar audiences and customer match). Once you have enough data, you can make bid adjustments based on those segments.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind before you apply these to your campaigns.

If you have multiple audiences layered on, that user can only be in one audience. Google will decide what audience they are in should that user click or convert. The audience with the highest bid adjustment will come first if the user falls into multiple audience buckets.

It is important to have higher bid adjustments for remarketing audiences or customer match audiences over other audience buckets because these users have shown particularly strong intent.

It is especially important if the user that you are remarketing to has already reached a lead page/has added to cart or initiated checkout.

We have talked about the importance of applying audiences to your campaigns as bid-only to learn more about the consumer you are interacting with and push on stronger performers. It can also be important to pull back on poor-performing users that you don’t want to advertise to so aggressively.

Analyze current performance

Advertisers can currently look at audiences in the Audience Manager tab, then in Audience Insights. Advertisers can view the audiences that Google deems most relevant to their business. Google gives the top 10 audiences for your business and applies an index, which is a comparison of the InMarket Audience to the general population.

google analytics inmarket audiences analyze current performance

You might be surprised by some of the audiences that Google deems relevant. You might be expecting users to fall into a certain bucket, but they are actually falling into different InMarket Audiences. In order to get a full initial read, you could apply all InMarket Audiences to your campaigns — then, after your initial performance analysis, start to narrow down to your largest InMarket Audiences.

In past testing with a few advertisers, we have seen reduced CPAs and improved CVRs when compared to non-audience visitors.

Future optimizations and testing efforts

Some ideas for future tests of InMarket Audience would be launching them as “target and bid on” campaigns that contain broad keywords. If you have a product or service that has search queries that could be seen as business to business or personal, this type of campaign could be a good option for you. InMarket Audiences can help qualify those searches and lead to a reduction of inefficient spend.

We have seen much success in using InMarket Audiences to gain incremental leads at a lower CPA than new site visitors. Before implementing these campaigns, we used the relatively low-volume similar audiences for search; adding InMarket Audiences has allowed us to more quickly scale accounts.

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The most in-demand skills for PPC, Paid Search, and SEM Specialists in 2019

The new year often comes with a resolution to find a new job. And conversely, many companies put off their hunt for new talent until after the holidays, which makes January the perfect month to review resumes and make sure they’re up to date on the skills employers are looking for.

And for those looking for jobs in PPC, paid search, and SEM, employers could be looking for surprising skill sets this year. According to a new study from SEMrush that analyzed over 4,500 PPC job listings on Monster and indeed, countries around the world, from the US and the UK to India, have got quite a few region-specific needs for new hires. However, some skills remain universal.

What are the most in-demand skills for PPC, paid search, and SEM for 2019?

Here are employer-identified top skills from around the world, along with experts’ advice for how to make sure your 2019 resume has the skills employers are seeking.

1. In the US, employers are looking for Excel skills

The US was the only country in the study that ranked Excel proficiency as its number one most desirable skill, with 36% of employers prioritizing a knowledge of Excel for new hires. This means that if you’re hoping for a new job as a PPC/SEM specialist or strategist in 2019, you really need to make sure you’re focusing on your knowledge about VLOOKUPs, advanced charting, and pivot tables, according to Joel Bondorowsky, PPC optimizer, online marketing expert, and founder at PPC Designs.

“Vlookups are a function of Excel that is on top as it is the most important,” Bondorowsky says. “Without knowing how to perform a lookup, an employee will not be able to combine performance data from two different reports, such as an Adwords spend report with a product sales report. Employers in all of these countries are mostly looking for workers to help sell products in that specific market.”

2. Content marketing is queen in the UK and India

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, 35% of postings from the UK listed content marketing as an in-demand skill for PPC specialists and strategists. And in India, the number is even higher, with 42% looking for content marketing skills. And while those numbers seem a bit unexpected, Nitin Manchanda, SEM expert and global head of SEO at Go Euro, wonders if startup culture might be a contributor:

“I would not consider ‘content marketing’ as the most trendy skill for this profile, which is the case for Indian and the UK market,” Manchanda says. “Maybe these are job posting from startups which are looking for an all-rounder who could contribute to Content Marketing as well.”

3. Ad creative is still what really counts

In 2018, “automation” was a buzzword that had the industry talking about what the future might hold in terms of jobs lost out to AI. But according to Bondorowsky, the conversation around automation leaves out a key element: only humans can fully understand what it takes to target exactly the right message to the right customer. However, understanding how to combine automated tools with human insights is an important skill to have as the industry changes:

“Automation will also never interest people into having a desire to purchase a product, and then take action to do it,” Bondorowsky says. “Only internet marketers who understand the tools to target people with different intent that can write ads to appeal to them can do this. Looking at 2019 and beyond, I can only stress this point. People buy from people, not machines. Automation and AI do not replace the online marketer, and it supplements them. The best PPC campaign managers in 2019 will understand how to use the advanced technology we are given to communicate our sales message like never before.”

4. Engagement metrics matter more than ever

And while keywords have been a longstanding priority, according to Dido Grigorov, SEM expert and SEO specialist at Serpact Ltd. & NetPresenta Ltd., audiences, not keywords, should be a PPC specialist’s main focus in the coming year:

“A good PPC specialist should be more focused on audiences in the future, not on keywords like before,” Grigorov says. “Audience engagement metrics will continue to be more and more important, which is expected and absolutely normal. We make campaigns for people, it’s understandable to evaluate them according to the engagement metrics in priority.”

How to make sure you have what employers are looking for in 2019

If you’re among those seeking out new opportunities in 2019, analyze your professional profile and make sure you’re including the skills employers most value. Download the full white paper by SEMrush, “Top Required PPC Skills and Platforms,” for a complete list of the top skills you’ll need to stay competitive in the coming year.

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Guide to voice search optimization: Six steps to undertake in 2019

Have you ever tried to search for some data online when you were multitasking and couldn’t type the text? It would be quite challenging without the opportunity to conduct voice search.

According to PWC report, 71% of respondents would rather use their voice assistant to search for something than physically typing their queries. And what’s the most important is that the differences between spoken and typed queries may cause different SERP. It means that your competitors’ voice search optimized websites have much more chances to engage most of your potential customers or subscribers.

If you want your website rank for voice queries as high as for the typed ones, this article will help you discover all the steps you should undertake.

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Voice search evolution

Do you remember when voice search required calling a phone number from your mobile device and saying your search query? Well, it was in the early days of voice search (to be more precise, in 2010), and few people actually used it.

Since then, voice search has improved significantly. On June 2011, Google announced they started to roll voice search on Google.com. Once being available only in English, today there are about 60 languages supported in Google Voice Search.

With ‘Hummingbird,’ updated in 2013, the concept of typed and especially spoken search changed a lot. The algorithm emphasized natural language processing and was aimed at considering the users’ intent and the context of the query. From that moment search questions structured in sentences got more relevant answers. So, it influenced voice search, which is usually formed from long phrases, a lot.

How to optimize for voice search

Experts’ opinions about optimization for voice search differ but each of them agrees that it’s an important part of an SEO process.

Here is, for example, Jenny Halasz’s mind: ‘While voice search is certainly the future of how we will do most searches, there’s not really too much you can do to optimize for it that is different than regular SEO optimization. Because Google’s goal will always be to return the best result based on the person, location, and history, it’s hard to guess exactly what the right answer for a query will be.”

And this is what Shane Barker says about it: “Facilitated by the launch of voice-based digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, voice search now constitutes a significant part of all online searches. And its share is only going to rise to a level that SEO experts can’t deny its importance. The question is, who will be best prepared when voice search takes up a majority share of all searches? And the answer to that is SEO experts who are devoting their time to it now. However, there is another side to it. Though voice searches are likely to be a really important part of SEO in the future, it is not the case now. While my advice would still be to start preparing for it, I would advise against allocating a substantial part of your budget to it.

So, start learning about the nuances of SEO for voice search, but don’t go overboard and hire a team for it. At least not yet. The best place to start is to learn about Google’s Hummingbird and other algorithm updates and how they changed the dynamics of SEO.”

So, let’s speak about the ways of voice search optimization.

Due to the differences between the results of typed and spoken ways of search, your site optimization for the traditional search isn’t the same as the voice search optimization.

The most significant thing to worry about is that people using their mobile assistants to conduct voice search get only one top result. As half of the search will have been conducted by voice by 2020, half of your potential customers won’t see your website even if you’re the fourth in the SERP. Ranking the top will be the main goal for every business owner.

So, what are the essential factors for you to consider optimizing for voice search?

Featured Snippet

Have you heard about featured snippets? These are ones which Google forms from the most relevant content and places in the top of search results, like this:

Pic

The reason I mentioned these snippets is that Stone Temple Consulting claims that 30% of 1.4 million tested Google queries contain them. And you can be sure that if the results include featured snippet, your voice assistant will demonstrate it. That’s why one of your goals when willing to get ranked in voice search results should be providing such a quality data for Google to express it in the featured snippet.

User intent

Do people search for your website when they want to buy something or to find out some information? The reason a person looks for websites is called user intent. Sometimes it may be obvious and expressed in the query with the words ‘buy,’ ‘price,’ ‘how to,’ ‘what is,’ etc. Sometimes it’s only in the users’ minds.

Regardless of how the intent is expressed, due to the Hummingbird update, Google dwells into the context of the search query, investigates the sites’ content and provides you with the relevant answers. For example, if I say ‘oscar winners,’ it’s most likely I’m interested in the recent ceremony, not in the results from 20 years ago. And search engines understand it. That’s why you should consider user intent when creating the content which will enhance the relevance of your pages to specific search queries. If you want to optimize your page for a featured snippet, your main aim should be understanding user intent and giving your audience an immediate answer.

And here is what Jenny Halasz says about this topic: “Try to match your customers’ intent with your content, seek to answer questions, and provide details wherever possible. The same steps you take now to optimize for answer boxes are going to help you in voice search too.”

Long tail keywords & Questions

Searching for some information with the help of voice assistant, people behave as if they’re talking to a human. Most of them don’t simply use short keywords, but instead, they ask questions and prefer long phrases.

That’s what Shane Barker says about this subject: “Use more conversational keywords and phrases that people use while speaking, not while typing. Essentially, these will be long-tail keywords but phrased in the way people speak.”

By the way, using long tail keywords is a good practice not only for voice search optimization but also for traditional SEO. The fact is that the key phrases containing more than 2 words have the lower difficulty (or competition) level and provide the great chances to rank the top.

As I’ve already mentioned, along with long phrases, people also tend to use questions for voice search. For instance, when typing the query, a person tries to use the most relevant keywords and writes something like ‘the best coffee in NYC.’ But voice query sounds much more natural. First of all, talking to your voice assistant, you should start with ‘Hey Siri…,’ ‘OK, Google,’ etc. These phrases make you think you’re communicating with your device, not just conducting the keyword-based query. That’s why looking for the best coffee, you’re most likely to ask the question, such as ‘Hey Siri, where can I drink the best coffee?’

To find out what questions your target audience may ask and not to spend much time, you can use special services, such as Answer the Public or Serpstat Search Questions. If you go with Serpstat, simply type the word or a phrase best describing the subject of your content and see how people usually search for it.

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Answer

Shane Barker: “Answer your customers’ common questions on your website or blog. Use a conversational tone for phrasing these questions, to rank well for voice queries.”

When you choose the questions you’re writing about in your post, add them to the pages around your site. Create h2 headers using these queries and provide an answer in the body text. Answer the questions concisely and make sure the main idea is stated briefly.

After you answered the question directly, you can also cover other related search questions. It’ll help you rank for as many variations of queries as possible.

Not to lose your position at featured snippets, keep your content fresh and update it regularly.

Page speed

The time needed for your page to load influences whether it will appear in voice search results or not. So, if you want your page to be visible to all those people who prefer voice search, make sure its loading speed is high enough.

As people searching by voice are always on-the-go and don’t have time to wait, it’s difficult to overestimate the importance of optimizing your page speed. Before taking any actions, analyze your website speed with PageSpeed Insights. The service will tell you whether your site’s loading time is low enough, and what you can do to lower it. Mind that mobile speed data is the most important for optimizing for voice search. Also, to Shane Barker’s mind, you should make a website mobile-friendly because a majority of voice searches happen via mobile devices.

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Structured data

What is structured data? It’s code added to HTML markup and used by search engines to better understand your site’s content. Using structured data, you make search engines crawl and read your content efficiently.

With schema markup, you can better control the way you provide the brand information, and the way machines interpret it. Structured data implementation results in rich snippets which are known to increase click-through rate, drive traffic and bring you competitive advantages. Here’s the way these snippets differ from the normal ones:

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Having this data can also help your pages appear in featured snippets and, consequently, in voice search results. Shane Barker also appeals to use structured data markup to provide better information to mobile devices about your website and its content.

So, if you do everything correctly and produce content interpreted by search engines as highly relevant (and if you’re lucky enough), your snippet will become featured:

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Here’s what it looks like in the code:

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To find out how you can implement structured data to your site, use Schema.org vocabulary. There’s a set of schemas which enables SEO experts to markup their websites.

When elaborating structured data, you should remember it’s easy to become spammy. Use the data which is relevant to the content you provide. Moreover, it’s essential to update your markup, as everything tends to be constantly changing, and your website isn’t a conclusion.

Local SEO

The BrightLocal report says that 58% of consumers use voice search to find local businesses. It isn’t surprising as most people conduct voice search when they’re walking or driving somewhere and willing to discover where they should head for.

For the cases when people search for something like ‘best donuts in LA’, it would be good to use the keywords including the cities or countries where your business works.

What’s the most important, conducting voice search people are even more likely to use ‘near me’ phrase. If I decided to eat some donuts, I would rather say ‘OK Google, donuts cafe near me,’ than ‘donuts cafe in Los Angeles.’ In this case, the search engine will use my location to understand which cafes are the closest to where I am at the moment. To appear in the relevant results for such queries, don’t add ‘near me’ key phrases to your content. Jenny Halasz also thinks the same way: “Keep in mind that “near me” queries are simply adding a location intent to a search. It’s not necessary to actually use the words “near me” on your site anywhere. If you want to rank for “pizza near me”, then, by all means, track that keyword’s performance on your ranking tools, but don’t worry about putting “near me” in your actual site code.”

In most cases, search robots use Business Listings information. So, make sure you’ve added all the necessary information, such as brand name, address, opening hours, etc. to Google My Business page. Shane Barker talks about this as follows: “Optimize your Google My Business listing and provide accurate and updated contact information. A lot of voice searches are for local queries and listing your business there will help you rank better for such queries.”

To wrap up

People use voice search widely. And its popularity is going to grow dramatically in the coming years. Those who already consider it in their SEO improve their content visibility significantly, as voice search results show only top pages. You can either benefit from these changes optimizing your website for spoken queries or suffer not doing anything. The choice is yours.

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Google Ads conversion rates by industry: How do you compare?

google ads conversion rates by industry

Google Ads is an expensive game if you get it wrong.

So, we figure you’re doing what you can to measure the performance of your campaigns. But just how are you doing that?

Our best guess is you’re using your own historical data to measure your success. Of course, the inbuilt problem there is that it’s only your data. And there are few actionable insights you can get from it.

Now, we’re not saying it’s useless. These metrics will show you if you’re improving month-on-month, but the data will only show you how you’re improving against yourself.

Because when you look at your own historical data, pretty much all you can take from it is: are we doing better than we were doing before?

If the answer is no, then back to the drawing board, but if the answer is yes, you’re doing better than before, so good for you.

But how does your data stack up against the average across your industry?

We’re going to go out on a limb and say you don’t know the answer. You don’t know how you stack up against industry averages. And we’ll tell you why you don’t know…

Because that information is not so easy to get your hands on, and for most businesses it’s to all practical intents impossible.

And until you do know how you’re doing against industry averages, you’ll never know if your campaign is a true blockbuster.

Numbers: Google Ads across industry

A few years ago, Wordstream started running analysis of their client accounts to find answers on conversion rates, cost per click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR), and cost per action (CPA) by industry.

We also covered this back in 2016, if you’d like to compare how the numbers have changed.

These figures are based on a sample of 14,197 client accounts in all verticals — totaling more $200 million in aggregate Google Ads spend.

Their stated goal was to establish CVR (average conversion rate) for both search and display ads.

They ran the analysis across 20 different industries including the following:

  • Auto
  • Advocacy
  • B2B
  • Consumer Services
  • Dating & Personals
  • Ecommerce
  • Education
  • Employment Services
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Hospitality
  • Home Goods
  • Industrial Services
  • Insurance
  • Legal
  • Medical
  • Real Estate
  • Technology
  • Travel

So, what is the average conversion rate for Search and Display?

On average then, Google Ads advertisers are getting conversion rates of 3.17% on the Search network and 0.46% on the Display network. These averages have climbed significantly over the past couple years, an encouraging trend for agencies and advertisers alike.

How do those figures compare to what you are seeing — are they a relief or a shock?

Benchmark figures are important to your business

Without a benchmark it really is next to impossible to say how well you’re doing.

Maybe you had a CVR of 0.5% and you boosted that up to 1.5% — if you report that based only on your own historical data then it sounds great, right? However, you now know that the industry benchmark for the Search network is 3.17%. So if your CVR is 1.5% then you’re a long way behind the industry average.

And if your campaign isn’t hitting the average, then there’s no way to dress it up. A lot of work needs to be done just to get it to average levels. Let’s be blunt, who wants to be average?

Ask anyone if they want to be average and you already know the answer you’re going to get – nobody!

Now, if you’re not even halfway to the average CVR then average might seem attractive – but you can do so much better than average. Don’t settle for it. Use the average as marker, get your campaign up to the average and then do all you can to push it over and above. Make it a super high performing unicorn instead!

via GIPHY

Now, we know that the top 10% of advertisers are getting five times better than the average rates. Once you get past that average marker you can go onto create highly profitable campaigns.

Okay, that’s the Search network, now what about Display ads?

The top converting ads on the display network will surprise you

What do you think the top converting ads on the Display network are?

Perhaps ecommerce? Or maybe travel and hospitality because they are so much fun compared to insurance?

Well, as we said, you might be surprised.

Ecommerce along with travel and hospitality are among the very lowest of all conversion rates across all industries on Google Display ads.

The number one winner is…

Dating and personals!

That’s right. Converting at an average of 3.34%, this swelling industry has outflanked finance and insurance to lead the pack for average CVR in terms of Display.

The top five best converting industry types (according to SEW) for Display:

  • Dating and Personals 3.34% CVR
  • Legal: 1.84% CVR
  • Employment Services: 1.57% CVR
  • Finance and Insurance: 1.19% CVR
  • Auto: 1.19% CVR

And who comes in at the bottom of the pile for Display?

The very worst CVR of all industries is…

Home Goods. The CVR here is an abysmal 0.43%.

The top industry smashing it for Search CVR is dating and personals. This has a staggering 9.64% CVR on the SERPs, which is an unbelievable 2.66% higher than legal in a distant second place.

Here are the top 5 converting industries for Search:

  • Dating and Personals: 9.64% CVR
  • Legal: 6.98% CVR
  • Consumer Services: 6.64% CVR
  • Employment Services: 5.13% CVR
  • Finance and Insurance: 5.10% CVR
  • Knowing these benchmarks is vital to your business. As we stated from the get-go, you need to know where you stand against others in your industry. This is the only meaningful way to accurately estimate your costs and ROI. If you don’t do this, you’ll take the historical data you have and maybe think you’re doing well — when really you’re way behind even the average.

    Here are the rest of the numbers for Google Ads conversion rates by industry for Search and Display:

    Image Source: WordStream

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    Google PageSpeed Insights tool: Tips to score 100/100

    pagespeed insights tool

    Delivering a seamless user experience on your website is one important way to boost your page’s conversion rate.

    This conversion rate has a lot to do with the loading speed of your website. The faster the website, the better the percentage of conversions. PageSpeed can even have a direct impact on your Ads campaigns and Quality Score.

    In fact, mobile sites that load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than those whose sites load in 19 seconds.

    The truth is that if your website takes more than 2-3 seconds to load, people will abandon it in a jiffy because that is what 40% of people do, says a report. Hence, you need to make sure that you take proper care of your site’s speed optimization.

    What is the Google PageSpeed Insights tool?

    To get that done, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is a real handy tool. All new and existing website owners who are either busy in website building or maintaining a website, must definitely use this tool.

    The Google PageSpeed Insights tool analyzes your site’s front-end performance and offers optimization suggestions. Providing your website a score between 0 to 100 points; a score of 85 or above indicating a well performing page, this tool can give you some great insights into the performance of your website.

    Thanks to the latest update, the tool now churns up results differently than what webmasters got used to seeing. The old test really gave out frustrating results that were hard to achieve. Now it is all going to be about how your site is actually performing and about improving the user-experience and conversion rates on your website.

    Now, the new updated Google PageSpeed Tool test looks like this:

    Tips for getting your PageSpeed Insights to 100

    Now, let’s take a look at the elements that you need to take care of, if you are aspiring for that 100/100 on your website’s Google PageSpeed Test.

    1. Take care of all your speed issues

    Website speed will always be a crucial factor in further improving site performance. This has been a determinant in the updated test tool as well. So, in order to make sure that you are taking care of all your site speed issues, you must take into account how the themes and plugins, along with other integrations are impacting your site speed.

    Investing in a reliable web hosting service is just as important as everything else in maintaining your site’s loading times. So, it is imperative on your part to ensure reading web hosting reviews before making the choice of your web host. Make sure that you are able to implement each and every optimization move that you can take care of.

    2. Give importance to visible content

    As soon as a visitor lands on your website, there is this content which is visible without scrolling. Also known as above-the-fold content, this content should swiftly load on the visitors’ ends because it is a part of user experience.

    Hence, it is important to ensure your HTML is presenting the content of your web page first before it is presenting other things. To get that done, you can reduce the amount of data used by your resources or simply create your HTML to load the critical, above-the-fold content first over other elements. If you are not into coding, make sure that you get yourself a theme that serves this purpose for your website.

    3. Code minification is a must

    If you can make your source code more compact, you can effectively tend to the site speed and user experience issues arising out of it. To do that, you will be required to remove all the code that’s not needed such as the white spaces, new lines, unnecessary and unused code, redundant formatting, comments, etc.

    Minification is crucial because it creates a smaller yet fast for server version of your file. The three resources CSS, HTML, JavaScript require minification with the help of tools CSSNano, HTML Minifier, Closure compiler/Uglify JS, respectively.

    Here’s an example:

    body {
    background: #fff;
    color: #333;
    font-family: Lato,sans-serif;
    }

    Minified CSS Example:
    body{background:#fff;color:#333;font-family:Lato,sans-serif}
    If you have a WordPress website, you can fix it easily.

    minification wordpress

    You can also use plugins like WP Super Minify or Fast Velocity Minify.

    4. Optimize your images

    We all know that optimizing the images present on a website can help us make our websites faster and quick to load. You can either choose to manually optimize aka compress the images on your website (but that would take up all eternity) or you could simply use image optimization plugins for your WordPress site such as Smust it or EWWW Image optimizer. For your other websites, you can use image compression tools such as TinyPNG, Compress JPEG, or other available tools.

    5. Compression is the key

    Simply compressing files before delivering them over the server allows your website to load faster, as simple as that. This will increase the speed to which they are transferred to the browser. Yes, we are talking about gzip compression here.

    6. Implement browser caching

    Everytime you visit a website, your browser stores downloads, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and images into the local cache. This makes it easy to load this website the next time it is accessed from the same browser. This reduces the delays that occur in the name of processing and rendering of the webpage. However, when browser caching is implemented, your website loads faster.

    Your web hosting service might already have a browser caching service in place. If you still want, you can get a Caching plugin for your WordPress site such as the WP Super Cache or the W3 Total Cache plugin.

    7. Remove render blocking JavaScript

    The most important way to improve your page load speed is by not letting the CSS or JS resources load before your content. To do that, you can simply make your CSS and JavaScript code inline instead of using the .css and .js files. By getting rid of this ‘render blocking’, you can definitely improve your page load speed.

    8. Accelerated Mobile Pages

    accelerated mobile pages

    Accelerated Mobile Pages helps your mobile web pages by pulling them up almost instantly, presenting the content in a decluttered matter.

    AMP is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It helps your mobile web pages load instantly by getting rid of unnecessary formatting, content for a seamless mobile experience.

    Conclusion

    All website owners aspire for the big 100/100 in their Google PageSpeed Insights tool. However, what really matters now is how your website is actually performing and if it is offering impeccable user experience.

    By following our guide above, you will definitely get steps closer to not only achieving 100/100 with the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool but also increase the traffic and conversion rates on your website.

    The post Google PageSpeed Insights tool: Tips to score 100/100 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Google PageSpeed Insights tool: Tips to score 100/100

    pagespeed insights tool

    Delivering a seamless user experience on your website is one important way to boost your page’s conversion rate.

    This conversion rate has a lot to do with the loading speed of your website. The faster the website, the better the percentage of conversions. PageSpeed can even have a direct impact on your Ads campaigns and Quality Score.

    In fact, mobile sites that load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than those whose sites load in 19 seconds.

    The truth is that if your website takes more than 2-3 seconds to load, people will abandon it in a jiffy because that is what 40% of people do, says a report. Hence, you need to make sure that you take proper care of your site’s speed optimization.

    What is the Google PageSpeed Insights tool?

    To get that done, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is a real handy tool. All new and existing website owners who are either busy in website building or maintaining a website, must definitely use this tool.

    The Google PageSpeed Insights tool analyzes your site’s front-end performance and offers optimization suggestions. Providing your website a score between 0 to 100 points; a score of 85 or above indicating a well performing page, this tool can give you some great insights into the performance of your website.

    Thanks to the latest update, the tool now churns up results differently than what webmasters got used to seeing. The old test really gave out frustrating results that were hard to achieve. Now it is all going to be about how your site is actually performing and about improving the user-experience and conversion rates on your website.

    Now, the new updated Google PageSpeed Tool test looks like this:

    Tips for getting your PageSpeed Insights to 100

    Now, let’s take a look at the elements that you need to take care of, if you are aspiring for that 100/100 on your website’s Google PageSpeed Test.

    1. Take care of all your speed issues

    Website speed will always be a crucial factor in further improving site performance. This has been a determinant in the updated test tool as well. So, in order to make sure that you are taking care of all your site speed issues, you must take into account how the themes and plugins, along with other integrations are impacting your site speed.

    Investing in a reliable web hosting service is just as important as everything else in maintaining your site’s loading times. So, it is imperative on your part to ensure reading web hosting reviews before making the choice of your web host. Make sure that you are able to implement each and every optimization move that you can take care of.

    2. Give importance to visible content

    As soon as a visitor lands on your website, there is this content which is visible without scrolling. Also known as above-the-fold content, this content should swiftly load on the visitors’ ends because it is a part of user experience.

    Hence, it is important to ensure your HTML is presenting the content of your web page first before it is presenting other things. To get that done, you can reduce the amount of data used by your resources or simply create your HTML to load the critical, above-the-fold content first over other elements. If you are not into coding, make sure that you get yourself a theme that serves this purpose for your website.

    3. Code minification is a must

    If you can make your source code more compact, you can effectively tend to the site speed and user experience issues arising out of it. To do that, you will be required to remove all the code that’s not needed such as the white spaces, new lines, unnecessary and unused code, redundant formatting, comments, etc.

    Minification is crucial because it creates a smaller yet fast for server version of your file. The three resources CSS, HTML, JavaScript require minification with the help of tools CSSNano, HTML Minifier, Closure compiler/Uglify JS, respectively.

    Here’s an example:

    body {
    background: #fff;
    color: #333;
    font-family: Lato,sans-serif;
    }

    Minified CSS Example:
    body{background:#fff;color:#333;font-family:Lato,sans-serif}
    If you have a WordPress website, you can fix it easily.

    minification wordpress

    You can also use plugins like WP Super Minify or Fast Velocity Minify.

    4. Optimize your images

    We all know that optimizing the images present on a website can help us make our websites faster and quick to load. You can either choose to manually optimize aka compress the images on your website (but that would take up all eternity) or you could simply use image optimization plugins for your WordPress site such as Smust it or EWWW Image optimizer. For your other websites, you can use image compression tools such as TinyPNG, Compress JPEG, or other available tools.

    5. Compression is the key

    Simply compressing files before delivering them over the server allows your website to load faster, as simple as that. This will increase the speed to which they are transferred to the browser. Yes, we are talking about gzip compression here.

    6. Implement browser caching

    Everytime you visit a website, your browser stores downloads, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and images into the local cache. This makes it easy to load this website the next time it is accessed from the same browser. This reduces the delays that occur in the name of processing and rendering of the webpage. However, when browser caching is implemented, your website loads faster.

    Your web hosting service might already have a browser caching service in place. If you still want, you can get a Caching plugin for your WordPress site such as the WP Super Cache or the W3 Total Cache plugin.

    7. Remove render blocking JavaScript

    The most important way to improve your page load speed is by not letting the CSS or JS resources load before your content. To do that, you can simply make your CSS and JavaScript code inline instead of using the .css and .js files. By getting rid of this ‘render blocking’, you can definitely improve your page load speed.

    8. Accelerated Mobile Pages

    accelerated mobile pages

    Accelerated Mobile Pages helps your mobile web pages by pulling them up almost instantly, presenting the content in a decluttered matter.

    AMP is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It helps your mobile web pages load instantly by getting rid of unnecessary formatting, content for a seamless mobile experience.

    Conclusion

    All website owners aspire for the big 100/100 in their Google PageSpeed Insights tool. However, what really matters now is how your website is actually performing and if it is offering impeccable user experience.

    By following our guide above, you will definitely get steps closer to not only achieving 100/100 with the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool but also increase the traffic and conversion rates on your website.

    The post Google PageSpeed Insights tool: Tips to score 100/100 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    4 Ahrefs and SEMrush alternatives that bring innovation to competitive analysis

    Text Analytics

    Let me start by saying I love SEMrush and Ahrefs. I use them both on a daily basis and cannot imagine my life without them.

    Through their awesome technology and studies, the two tools have contributed an impressive amount of value to SEO community. If you are already using the tools, by all means keep them!

    Why then explore alternatives to SEMrush and Ahrefs?

    Well, I have two strong arguments behind this article:

  • You can never have enough of SEO research tools: Each of them adds something unique and different to the analysis process. Sometimes, when I am stuck, all I need to do is to try a new tool. Either through a fresh layout or an innovative feature (more on this below), I am always able to discover new solutions to old and new SEO problems.
  • Competition drives innovation. And there’s no shortage of both in the SEO niche, thankfully. Thanks to the following strong emerging or re-developed solutions, our industry is getting smarter. That’s been amazing to watch and that’s something I am going to highlight below:
  • 1. Serpstat

    Serpstat is one of the most successful newcomers in the SEO industry. It was introduced just a couple of years ago and already has a strong community of raving supporters (including yours truly)

    Let’s take a quick look at standard SEO competitive intelligence features they are offering:

    • SERP analytics (Keyword Explorer): Yes (Check out the variety of filters allowing to drill down the results)
    • Ranking monitoring: Yes
    • Backlink analysis + monitoring: Yes
    • Content gap analysis (Domain vs Domain): Yes
    • Content gap analysis (URL vs URL): Yes
    • Top pages: Yes
    • Multi-language support: Yes

    Serpstats’ best unique feature you’ll love: Text Analytics

    Text Analytics is the smart extension of Serpstat’s keyword clustering feature which I talked about earlier. It analyzes your competitor’s content for your given query and returns some on-page content recommendations for you to implement:

    The important thing here is, Serpstat advises against keyword density or exact-matching. It uses semantic analysis to thoroughly analyze competing content and transforms the analysis into actionable recommendations for your writing team to follow.

    2. Rankedy

    Rankedy is one of the newest SEO suites out there (I think it may still be in private beta) but I strongly suggest going and requesting your trial. I am sure they are up to something really unique. They are not trying to offer competing solutions but instead working on something completely unique: applying machine learning to many standard SEO analyses they offer.

    They are building some competitive intelligence features:

    • SERP analytics (Keyword Explorer): Partial
    • Ranking monitoring: Yes (With very cool email alerts, also with mobile ranking monitoring)
    • Backlink analysis + monitoring: Coming soon
    • Content gap analysis (Domain vs Domain): Yes
    • Content gap analysis (URL vs URL): No
    • Top pages: No
    • Multi-language support: Yes

    Rankedy’s best unique feature you’ll love: Topic Orientation

    I’ve never seen this done before, so I was very intrigued to try. The tool grabs the top 100 competing domains ranking for your core queries, analyzes their content and compares it to yours. It then shows how well you did matching the topic classifications (and which areas yours needs improvement).

    The goal is that your content overlaps with your competitors’ content in core concepts Rankedy has identified for you. Otherwise it may be mismatched (and it must be the reason why your page gets over-ranked).

    Rankedy topic orientatiom

    [Example: Rankedy took the query [website building], fetched content of my top competitors, classified it and found that my competitors’ top-ranking content includes the following classes “Business”, “Machine”, “Product” and “Design.” My site content matched nothing of those, so my landing page content needs work]

    I think it’s a very fresh look at competitive analysis. That’s definitely a tool to look out for.

    3. SpyFu

    Spyfu is one of the oldest multi-feature SEO solutions out there. Its PPC analysis is probably the smartest in the industry and it’s very well set up. Let’s go through our standard list of features:

    • SERP analytics (Keyword Explorer): Yes
    • Ranking monitoring: Yes (SpyFu “Ranking History” saves the snapshot of rankings for best and lost ranks)
    • Backlink analysis + monitoring: Yes
    • Content gap analysis (Domain vs Domain): Yes
    • Content gap analysis (URL vs URL): No
    • Top pages: No
    • Multi-language support: No (SpyFu supports only US and UK)

    SpyFu’s best unique feature you’ll love: Organic Ranking History

    SpyFu’s Organic Ranking History is my favorite way to explore any organic query. It gives you a graphical representation of what Google organic SERPs looked like for any given domain (e.g. your competitor):

    • See its new keywords
    • See its lost rankings
    • See which queries it fell from top 10 for, etc.

    All of that overlaid by various Google updates which could have accounted for the ranking change.

    Some domains are being tracked as far back as ~2008 – this is an incredible amount of data!

    Spyfu

    Check out their other project that will likely blow your mind: Nacho Analytics

    4. CognitiveSEO

    Just a few weeks ago CognitiveSEO has re-launched its Site Audit tool and the SEO community couldn’t have been happier.

    I am not yet as familiar with the new suite as well I’d like to be (as it’s pretty new) but it looks awesome so far:

    • SERP analytics (Keyword Explorer): Yes
    • Ranking monitoring: Yes
    • Backlink analysis + monitoring: Yes
    • Content gap analysis (Domain vs Domain): No
    • Content gap analysis (URL vs URL): No
    • Top pages: Yes (+Most linked to + shared pages)
    • Multi-language support: Yes

    CognitiveSEO’s best unique feature you’ll love: Broken links research

    Broken link building research has never been easier: Type in your competitor’s domain and click through “Broken Pages” tab. The tool will show you the list of your competitor’s pages that receive backlinks. Now all you need to do is build a better page and go fix those links to direct them to your site.

    CognitiveSEO broken pages

    Sneaky? Maybe but totally ethical and even valuable (I like to think of broken link building as fixing the web!)

    Ahrefs and SEMrush alternatives at a glance:

    Ahrefs and SEMrush alternatives

    Cost /m
    Competitive Intelligence Features
    Cool innovative feature
    KWD Expl*
    Rank Mon
    Link Mon
    D vs D
    URL vs URL
    Top Pgs

    Serpstat

    $69
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Clustering + Text Analysis

    Rankedy

    ~$7
    Partial
    Yes
    Soon
    Yes
    No
    No
    Topic Orientation

    SpyFu

    $39
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    No
    No
    Organic Ranking History

    Cognitive SEO

    ~$130
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    No
    No
    Yes
    Broken Pages

    Notes:

    • *SERPs Analytics (Keyword Explorer) is a bit different from platform (going back to my point that each tool brings something new to the point). For example, some platforms offer “Keyword difficulty” metric to help you estimate competition, some try and calculate “relevancy”, some focus on keyword extension to help you find lower-competitive queries (here are the basics of how that works), and some let you use filters to research SERP features. They all do offer free trials, so go ahead and pick your favorite SERP analytics.
    • This article focuses on competitive intelligence, i.e. tools that help you analyze and learn from your competition to outperform it. But each platform above has something else to offer, beyond competition research, e.g. site auditing, site health monitoring, and more. So again, make sure to play with all the features!

    Which innovative Ahrefs and SEMrush alternative did I miss? Let’s promote SEO innovation!

    Also, check out my other comparison of keyword research APIs.

    The post 4 Ahrefs and SEMrush alternatives that bring innovation to competitive analysis appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Search industry news and trends: Best of 2018

    It’s that time of the year again: reflecting on the year that’s past as we prepare for 2019 lurking around the corner. In this article, we have a roundup of some of our fan favorite pieces from 2018 on news and trends from the search industry.

    From alternative search engines to future trends, best online courses to algorithm updates, these were some of our highlights from the past year.

    We also have a roundup of our top articles on SEO tips and tricks here.

    1. No need for Google: 12 alternative search engines in 2018

    While many of us use “googling” synonymously with “searching,” there are indeed a number of viable alternatives out there. In this article, we try to give some love to 12 alternative search engines.

    Most of us can name the next few: Bing, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckGo.

    But some on the list may surprise you — how about Ecosia, a Co2-neutral search engine? With every search made, the social business uses the revenue generated to plant trees. On average, 45 searches gets one more tree for our little planet.

    2019 might be a year for a little more time spent with some G alternatives.

    2. Which is the best search engine for finding images?

    Human beings process visuals faster than they do text. So it makes sense that in the last decade, the number of images on the internet has ballooned.

    In this post, we compare the best search engines for conducting three categories of image search on the web.

    First, general / traditional image search, looking at Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

    Then, reverse image search, looking at TinEye, Google, and Pinterest.

    Third, free-to-use image search, looking at EveryPixel, Librestock, and the Creative Commons.

    3. The 2018 guide to free SEO training courses online

    As all good SEOs know, this is a never-ending process. The SEO world seems to be constantly evolving, and nearly everyone in the field has learned their snuff largely through online material.

    For anyone who’s new to the scene, this can be an encouraging thought. We all started mostly just poking around on the interwebs to see what to do next. And happily, a lot of the best SEO material is freely available for all.

    In this article, we look at the best online, free SEO training courses. From Google to Moz to QuickSprout and more, these are fundamentals that anyone can start with.

    We also highlight a number of individuals and businesses to follow in the industry.

    4. Video and search: YouTube, Google, the alternatives and the future

    One third of all time spent online is accounted for by watching video. And, it’s predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video in 2019.

    This year was further proof that videos engage growing numbers of users and consequently have an impact on the SERPs. In fact, video has been seen to boost traffic from organic listings by as much as 157%.

    In this article, we explore how the ways in which we search for video are changing. From YouTube to Google Search, Facebook to Vimeo, video — and how we interact with video content online — has seen some interesting changes.

    5. Are keywords still relevant to SEO in 2018?

    Sneak peak: this one starts out with, “What a useless article! Anyone worth their salt in the SEO industry knows that a blinkered focus on keywords in 2018 is a recipe for disaster.”

    We go on to explore why focusing on just keywords is outdated, how various algorithm updates have changed the game, and what we should do now instead.

    Ps: the snarky take sticks throughout the read, along with the quality overview.

    6. Google’s core algorithm update: Who benefited, who lost out, and what can we learn?

    This was an interesting piece following an algorithm update from back in March. There were suspicions, Google SearchLiason tweeted a confirmation, and everyone had to reassess.

    Via a simple query, “What’s the best toothpaste?” and the results Google outputted over the course of half a dozen weeks, we can trace certain changes.

    What pages benefitted, what can those insights tell us about the update, and how do we handle when our content visibility nosedives?

    7. A cheat sheet to Google algorithm updates from 2011 to 2018

    Who couldn’t use one of these hanging around?

    Google makes changes to its ranking algorithm almost every day. Sometimes (most times) we don’t know about them, sometimes they turn the SERPs upside down.

    This cheat sheet gives the most important algorithm updates of the recent years, along with some handy tips for how to optimize for each of the updates.

    Well, that’s it for SEW in 2018. See you next year!

    The post Search industry news and trends: Best of 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018

    It’s that time of the year again: reflecting on the year that’s past as we prepare for 2019 lurking around the corner. In this article, we have a roundup of some of our fan favorite pieces from 2018 on SEO.

    From how to’s to tips to tools, these were some of our highlights from the past year. SEW spark notes, if you will.

    If you missed these pieces throughout the year, they’ll be worth a read. And if you’ve already read them, never hurts to refresh!

    On Monday, we’ll have a roundup of our top articles on search industry news and trends.

    1. How to force Google to recrawl your website

    If you have launched a new website, updated a single page on your existing domain, or altered many pages and/or the structure of your site, you will likely want Google to display your latest content in its SERPs.

    While Google’s crawlers are obviously pretty good at their job — indexing countless new pages simply from natural traffic and links from around the web — it never hurts to give Googlebot a little assistance.

    In this article, we look at a few ways to alert Google’s crawlers to new URLs on your site.

    2. How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

    Because one can never have enough Google Analytics insight, right?

    One of the most useful features in GA, event tracking lets you capture all kinds of information about how people behave on your site.

    In this article, we go step by step through two different ways you can set up event tracking: first, by adding the code manually, and second, by using Google Tag Manager.

    This is a great tutorial for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the task.

    3. A quick and easy guide to meta tags in SEO

    Meta tags help search engines and website visitors determine what the content of your page is about.

    They’re placed in the section of a HTML document and need to be coded into your CMS. Depending on the platform you use, this can be quite less intense than it sounds.

    Many “out of the box” solutions provide extremely user-friendly, labelled sections such as “meta description” calling your attention to exactly what goes where.

    In this article, we take a look at why meta tags are important, along with the six main types of meta tags to focus on for SEO.

    4. An SEO’s survival guide to Single Page Applications (SPAs)

    For anyone who’s ever had questions about what SEOs should do with Single Page Applications (SPAs), this article is for you. Long, thorough, entertaining, and full of resources.

    We start out looking at how the popularity of SPAs, Angular, and React have spiked in the last several years. Many developers eagerly embrace JavaScript for website development — and while that may have been rather inconsiderate of SEO ease (what else is new), it seems JS really is here to stay.

    This article is bit of a coming to terms with that reality, accepting SPAs as part of our SEO future, and even dipping our toes in, if you will.

    We look at what developers like about JS, how it was never intended for web page content delivery, common SEO problems of SPAs, and a host of other questions you might be asking.

    Finally, we end with eleven recommendations for further reading — really, this could become the whole rest of your holiday break — on how Google treats SPAs, core principles of SEO for JS and for SPAs, and more information than you could want.

    5. How to check your Domain Authority: 4 tools to use

    Domain Authority (DA) serves as a handy heuristic in the SEO industry. It helps tell us how likely a site is to rank for specific keywords, based on the SEO authority it holds.

    Many SEOs use Domain Authority to sense-check the quality of their inbound links and to understand how these are affecting their own’s site’s SEO health.

    In this article, we round up some of the best ways to check out domain authority. We look at what factors go into DA, and how these tools go about calculating it.

    ‘Domain Authority’ was devised by Moz and they have naturally taken ownership of this name. Their suite of tools (some of which are discussed in this article) will reveal the authority of particular domains, but dozens of other free tools use Moz’s API to show these scores too.

    6. 15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

    This is another quite popular deep dive into SEO tips. We know “improving search rankings” gets a lot of fluff, but this is not that.

    Here, we look closely at what makes RankBrain tick, and 15 ways to use that to your fancy.

    Sections cover tips around optimizing keywords, optimizing title tags, optimizing descriptions, and reducing bounce rates and dwell times. Fun fact: research by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with brackets performed 33 percent better than titles without.

    Questions about how to add LSI keywords? How long should long-form content really be? Benefits of long-tail vs medium size keywords? How much difference in clicks will a few characters too long in a headline actually make? All of that and much more (along with lots of screenshots) here.

    7. 30 ways to market your online business for free

    This article is a roundup of exactly what it sounds like — 30 ways to market your online business for free. It covers everything from emails to social media, from Google Analytics to Search Console, from forums to guest posting, from metadata to Schema.org.

    While a few of the ways could be updated — posting to Google+, for instance, might be less helpful anymore — the list still provides some hefty inspiration to anyone needing a little boost of ideas for what to do online.

    8. Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords

    This was a quite recent article that has soared. As we know, for SEO these days we need content that includes related concepts, satisfies intent, and provides value. The days of exact keyword matching are far behind us.

    In this article, we have four great tools to use when optimizing for related keywords — and of course, how to use them.

    For instance, the first tool in the list is TextOptimizer. It takes a term you give it, looks at the Google search results page, extracts snippets, and applies semantic analysis.

    With that, it ouputs a list of all the related topics, terms, and concepts that form your topic cluster. From that cluster, it recommends you choose 15-25 of the words for a higher rank.

    9. How to optimize your Google My Business listing

    Lest we forget: local search.

    For those looking to rank higher in searches tied to a user’s location — i.e. users that might be quite near your store and itching to buy something — a Google My Business listing is an essential first step.

    This article gives a how to guide for first setting up your listing, claiming and verifying your business, filling out the information, and adding photos. From there, we go over gathering reviews, posting updates, monitoring your profile, and tracking data from Insights.

    Of all the many, many things to do in SEO, optimizing a Google My Business listing is very straightforward. It can have a profoundly positive effect on your SEO — a whole wealth of ranking opportunity up for grabs.

    The post SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.