Bing news update: three latest developments

bing structured snippets

It’s been a Google heavy month and we’re only halfway through September – what with its latest mobile-first product announcements, various algorithm fluctuations and many SERP experiments.

So let’s leave the big G to do its own thing for a while and check in with the second most popular search engine, Bing.

What’s Bing been up to lately? How’s Bing feeling? What’s new with Bing? How does Bing like to take its tea?

Let’s take a look at the latest round of announcements from the Big B over the last couple of weeks that you may have missed.

Bing Network reaches 20% market share in the UK

Bing has announced that it has surpassed 20% market share in the UK, according to latest comScore figures. This increases its share of the search market to one in five UK searches.

The latest IAB Digital Adspend report saw paid-for search increase 15.3%, which now accounts for 51% of all digital advertising spend in the UK.

And as Bing now accounts for 840 million monthly searches, perhaps its time you took some attention away from Google.

Structured Snippet extensions are coming to Bing Ads

Bing is introducing its own rich set of extensions so advertisers can tailor ads exactly the way they like.

As Bing states, “Structured Snippets enable you to highlight specific aspects of your products and services that are important to you.”

First choose a header to provide context for what you’d like to highlight. Then specify snippets of text you’d like to pair with your header.

bing structured snippets

A minimum of three snippets is required but Bing will show as many as space allows (up to 10). Campaigns and ad groups can associate with up to 20 snippets. Also Structured Snippets are not clickable and should not duplicate info already contained within an ad

This is available to US-based advertisers right now, with international roll-out coming in the next few weeks.

Bulk editing is coming to the Bing Ads

You can now manage multiple campaigns at the same time with the introduction of bulk editing on mobile apps.

bing-ads-app

According to Bing, “Previously, you were limited to pausing only one campaign or keyword at a time… Now with bulk editing, you will be able to enable or pause the statuses of multiple campaigns, ad groups, ads, or keywords.”

Bing has also stated that it will also allow bulk bid management for ad groups and keywords in the near future.

Long-form and live video delivers higher ad completion rates

Publishers are scrambling to produce more digital video content to meet advertiser demand for video ad inventory, and some are even turning to automated video creation technologies.

But when it comes to video ad effectiveness, not all video content is created equal.

According to a study by FreeWheel Media, in Q1 2016, ads on long-form video content saw a 95% completion rate, a significantly higher percentage than mid and short-form video content, which delivered completion rates of 80% and 71%, respectively.

Ads associated with live video content, which is one of the biggest video trends of 2016, delivered a 94% completion rate, suggesting that it could quickly become an important part of the video ad ecosystem.

Device matters

FreeWheel Media’s study also found that the device on which video content is consumed also has a meaningful impact on video ad completion rates.

Over-the-top (OTT) devices like connected televisions delivered the highest completion rates (93%), with tablets and desktops following at 85% and 84%, respectively. Mobile lagged with a completion rate of 78%.

Data from TubeMogul found similar results, with video ads displayed on OTT devices delivering 95% completion rates in Q1 2016 and mobile ads delivering completion rates of just 64%.

Implications for publishers and advertisers

That the length of video content and the device it’s displayed on impacts isn’t surprising. But as publishers rush to up the amount of video content they produce, and advertisers clamor to buy all the video ads they can get their hands on, they should keep this in mind.

For publishers, particularly those that are investing in automated video content production, the data indicates that more might be less, at least as far as video ad effectiveness is concerned.

While the production of high-quality, long-form video content is not cheap, if the ads served against it are more effective, publishers that continue to invest in it might ultimately be in a better position.

At the same time, the FreeWheel Media data suggests that the live streaming opportunity is real. But it remains to be seen just how publishers and advertisers will seize the opportunity.

Will offerings like Facebook Live, which is open to all, become viable platforms for advertisers to capitalize on live streaming? Or will the best opportunities rest with live streaming of sporting events and professionally-produced shows, like those Twitter is betting on?

Why I still hate LinkedIn Ads

linkedin-ads-revenue-comparison

Like a lot of marketers, I find LinkedIn Ads frustrating. The thing is, by making just a few needed improvements, both LinkedIn itself and advertisers could greatly benefit.

For LinkedIn, advertising could be bringing in much more than a meagre $181 million in revenues, as it did during the second quarter of 2016. Compare that to the advertising revenues of Google ($19 billion) and Facebook ($6 billion) during the same quarter.

For advertisers, better LinkedIn ads would offer some pretty obvious benefits. It would give brands and businesses another platform to reach LinkedIn’s 450 million professionals (although only a quarter of those users are reportedly active every month).

Win, win. Right?

That’s what led me to write LinkedIn Ads Review: 8 Things I Hate About LinkedIn Ads about 18 months ago.

Then, in May 2015, the nice people at LinkedIn invited me to their headquarters to talk ads. I spoke with their brilliant product managers about some great things that they were thinking about.

So here we are, 18 months later, and my core question remains the same: if advertising isn’t a priority for LinkedIn, why should advertisers care about LinkedIn?

Have things improved in the last year and a half? Has LinkedIn, which was acquired by Microsoft for $26.2 billion, gotten its advertising act together?

Spoiler alert: not yet. LinkedIn has made some much-needed progress, but has a ton of deficiencies and remains a mediocre ad network.

Let’s count down the seven things I still hate about LinkedIn ads.

7. No Video!

Why can’t we upload videos to LinkedIn? It’s kind of insane.

Video advertising is one of the most effective ways to bias people.

Numerous studies have shown that video improves brand recall and affinity, helps with lead generation, and increases engagement (e.g., shares, CTR).

6. Still No Remarketing!

Remarketing has been around for more than six years. But my concern about LinkedIn Ads remains unchanged since last time:

You can buy remarketing ads on Twitter, Facebook, on the Google Display Network, at YouTube, and even for Google Search – but you can’t get it on LinkedIn.

Remarketing is still not there. After LinkedIn announced the retirement of Lead Accelerator, there was some talk that remarketing ads were coming “soon”. We heard that LinkedIn would roll some elements of Lead Accelerator into the self-service platform.

Well, we’re still waiting. You don’t get points for “soon.”

5. Still No Custom Lists!

LinkedIn still doesn’t have anything comparable to Facebook’s Custom Audiences or Twitter’s Tailored Audiences.

Seriously?

Meanwhile, the power of custom audiences on other platforms is actually getting stronger. Google now has Customer Match. And on Facebook you can overlay custom audiences with specific attributes, interests and demographics.

4. Still No Lead Gen Ad Formats!

I can’t even begin to understand how a network for business professionals doesn’t offer advertisers a way to capture leads. You’ll have much more success doing lead generation on Twitter or using Lead Generation Ads on Facebook.

Yet here we are. Still nothing to see here from LinkedIn Ads.

3. Pricing Is Still Bad!

Last time I took LinkedIn to task for failing to try to deliver the best value to advertisers.

Well, it’s gotten worse since then for advertisers. Prices have gone up substantially. Look at these CPC prices – $8 bids?!

Yes, on LinkedIn Ads you’re stuck with relatively static pricing.

2. Ad Quality Still Doesn’t Matter!

A true Quality Score system is missing from LinkedIn Ads.

There’s no reward for running unicorn ad campaigns on LinkedIn, even though Google, Facebook, and Twitter all dramatically reward advertisers for making the effort to create high-quality ads. Facebook and AdWords show advertisers the relevancy scores in their accounts to enable them to make optimizations.

On the flip side, the absence of a Quality Score on LinkedIn means there’s no penalty for having the worst, most boring donkey ad possible.

Some other platforms won’t show an ad if the engagement is too low. On LinkedIn, you can run terrible ads forever – even if it takes 20,000 impressions to generate a single click.

It also means my LinkedIn strategy is much different. I create lower funnel, high friction ads. For example:

wordstream-linkedin-ad-example

This is kind of like asking to get married on the first date! But if you’re going to pay $8 per click, you might as well ask people to take the action you really want them to take!

It’s a big ask. I would never do this on other display/social ad platforms. Rather, I’d do content promotion with the goal of remarketing to people who engage. But, again, there’s still no remarketing on LinkedIn.

1. Account promotion still doesn’t exist!

Organic visibility on LinkedIn is remarkably good compared to Facebook. Unfortunately there’s no “Follower” ad campaign type. Last time I compared the lack of account promotion as trying to do social media with both arms tied behind your back.

“If you use [LinkedIn] ads to promote your Company Page, you have to just cross your fingers and hope that once they click through to your Page, they choose to follow it.”

If you want an ad format that will increase the number of people following your company page on LinkedIn, look elsewhere. You still won’t find this on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Ads: any improvements?

OK, we’ve beaten up LinkedIn pretty good, but it’s only because we love them and want them to improve their advertising product.

LinkedIn has made two significant improvements:

  • LinkedIn has given us a much-needed revamp of its campaign editing interface. They did a great job and this actually has what you’d expect a 2016 platform to offer.
  • LinkedIn Ads now offers conversion tracking. The lack of conversion tracking was so annoying. While this addition is indeed great news, the bad news is that basically all you can see is how bad your ad performance is.

I do this because I love LinkedIn. I really do! I’m just underwhelmed by their self-service ads. Advertising accounts for just 20% of LinkedIn’s revenues – that means they’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Hopefully, LinkedIn will soon recognize its full advertising potential and learn from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and give us advertisers a fantastic self-service ads platform.

This article was originally published on the WordStream blog, it is reprinted here with permission.

How strategic is your content strategy? Test yourself with five key principles

clickbait

19 ways to tell… Top 5 signs that… What Bridget Jones can teach us about…

It will come as no surprise that these cliché, clickbait headlines are the focus of a lot of digital marketers’ frustrations.

While people aspire for the next piece of viral content, expecting to become internet sensations overnight, it needs to be understood that things like this don’t happen by accident.

Of course, there is some degree of luck involved in just how popular a piece of content is, but the process of creating the idea and building out the strategy behind it is the core to success.

Everybody needs content. As digital strategists, SEOs and consultants, and as consumers, we read it, write it, and sell it. It’s frequently what makes the difference between a sale, or a lost opportunity.

Yet as critical as content is to business success, it’s frequently treated as little more than a commodity. It’s often produced cheaply or by people who’re multiple degrees of separation from the product or the business – or it’s written instead of a broader strategy to make sure that it impacts the bottom line, and doesn’t just fill a page with words.

So how do you know if you’re doing it right, or if you’ve just jumped on the bandwagon?

What is a strategy?

The key to understanding the process behind selecting quality content ideas is first to understand what a strategy truly is.

One of the first things to learn is the significant difference between a strategic document and one which is simply a list of tactics.

By definition, a strategy needs to have an underlying mission; for our business we call it the Commander’s Intent whilst others will remember it as a mission statement. Regardless of the terminology used, this statement will provide an end-goal which all decisions thereafter can be based upon.

Once the strategy is decided upon, an array of tactics can be introduced which will enable that strategy to be achieved. These can be focused on the exact methods you’ll be using, with details of the content production process too.

To most of us, the above will seem like common sense. In isolation defining the process of a strategy is simple to do, its purpose clear. Yet still, it is easy to lose our way when it comes to the real production of a strategy.

Getting lost amongst creative ideas and caught up on a tangential story will prevent us from the creation of truly successful strategies.

With each content strategy you create, test yourself against these five key principles to ensure it will be meeting its purpose…

1) What’s your vision?

  • What does success look like – for an individual post, for the visitor/reading, for the whole website?
  • What are your bigger objectives? To build brand familiarity and reputation? To convert visits? To educate?
  • Consider how your content ties together. Is there a theme? Serialisation? Or are you writing punchy, one-off pieces?
  • What are your competitors doing, and why? How should that inform or affect what you’re doing?

2) Are you data-informed?

  • Do you understand how content impacts the business (conversions, repeat visits, propensity to link)?
  • What are your metrics and KPIs? What’s the Next Best Action?
  • What can, and should (and shouldn’t) you track?
  • Do you understand what’s worked historically?
  • Do you understand what’s worked elsewhere?
  • Do you understand what has/hasn’t been done, and how well?

3) Are you connected?

  • Who’s writing the content? Are they a subject matter expert?
  • Do you understand what the consumer wants, what they need, what they’re scared of? Do you understand what motivates them?
  • Are you building on, referencing, or curating other content in or related to your space?

4) Are you timely?

  • Seasonality and serialisation
  • Evergreen vs. transient content
  • Trendjacking
  • Retrospectives

5) Are you actionable?

  • Can you implement this based on your resource?
  • Will this be signed off based on meeting objectives?
  • Is this just a dream and too difficult to achieve?
  • Does this compare to competitors strategy? Will it resonate better?

Google announces two mobile-first product innovations at DMEXCO

trivago apps

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s SVP of Ads & Commerce made two major product announcements this morning at DMEXCO 2016.

The first announcement centred on event-based optimization in Universal App Campaigns app ads, and the other around YouTube’s ‘TrueView’ service.

Universal App Campaigns

Google announced this morning that its app ads have now driven 3 billion installs for developers.

Google previously announced crossing the 2 billion threshold at Google I/O only back in May so this extra one billion installs has been added in just four months.

Facebook also announced in May that it had also driven 2 billion installs so it will be interesting to see what the social network makes of Google’s sudden growth.

On the back of this announcement, Sridhar has unveiled a new update giving advertisers around the globe the ability to do event-based optimization in Universal App Campaigns.

Here’s Sridhar on the next generation of Universal App Campaigns:

“Across Google Search, Play, YouTube, and the millions of sites and apps in the Google Display Network, Universal App Campaigns can now help you find the customers that matter most to you, based on your defined business goals.”

Universal App Campaigns works by evaluating countless signals in real time to continuously refine ads so a brand can reach its most valuable users at the right price across Google’s largest properties.

As people start to engage with your ads, Google learns where you’re finding the highest value users.

To use Google’s example: Google may learn that the users who tap into the most hotel deals are those who watch travel vlogs on YouTube. So, Google will show more of your ads on those types of YouTube channels.

Trivago has been one of the first to test this new version of Universal App Campaigns and it found it was able to find users who were more likely to click on hotel deals in-app to book a room. As a result, Trivago acquired customers who were 20% more valuable to its business across both Android and iOS.

YouTube ‘TrueView for Action’

In a recent study, Google found that 47% of US adults aged 18 to 54 say YouTube helps them at least once a month when making a decision about buying something – that’s an estimated 70 million people going to YouTube every month for help with a purchase.

So on the back of this research, Google is rolling out a new YouTube campaign type called ‘TrueView for Action’.

The new TrueView campaign allows brand advertisers to make their video ads more actionable with tailored to calls-to-action during and after the video, like “Get a quote,” “Book now” or “Sign up.”

trueview-for-action-mazda

This is an effort to make TrueView work as a direct or performance marketing tool for brand advertisers, in addition to driving brand value.

Sridhar continues…

“This is especially advantageous for brands that offer products or services with high consideration, like financial services, automotive, or travel. TrueView for action can help you move your customers along the path to purchase by encouraging actions like scheduling an appointment or requesting more information.”

Google will start testing this new format with advertisers throughout the rest of this year.

Top 10 essentials for SEO reporting

Business searching data infographic flat design vector illustration

Measurement is an imperative element of all marketing activity.

Not only do we need to understand the commercial impact of the activity we are undertaking in order to learn and optimise, but our client/business must also see the value being driven over time.

Reporting is the collation of this measurement into a tangible view of performance and results, so it’s imperative that you’re reporting in the right way.

To help with this I have created a simple SEO reporting template (registration required) to help us focus on the key elements of showing value from organic.

Ultimately, any report needs to focus on the KPIs through which your client or business is measuring the organic channel.

The KPIs may be engagement-based, or commercial, for example. These KPIs, and their associated targets, will of course vary from business to business and client to client, however there are core organic metrics that show how SEO is driving impact.

In addition to KPIs, it is always worth expanding your reporting to cover other relevant metrics, which can add value. It’s very important to ensure that any additional metrics support your KPIs and are understood by the reader.

In the reporting template, we have featured the most common SEO KPIs, in addition to value-adding metrics that support the demonstration of organic growth.

Below, I list each of the 10 core elements and how you can source and use this data effectively.

1) Traffic

The most common source of traffic information is Google Analytics, however you may have a different analytics platform such as Coremetrics. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to Google Analytics (GA).

SEO optimisation can be improved with the analysis of your data

The key element of traffic reporting is sessions, using week-on-week, month-on-month and year-on-year comparisons. Dependant on your business/client requirements, you may wish to also look at quarter-on-quarter. Indeed, these date comparisons apply to most of the essentials in this Top 10.

The most reliable way I’ve found to track sessions accurately in GA, is through the Campaigns section. Go to Acquisition in the left nav, then click on Campaigns, followed by Organic Keywords.

You will see this takes you to a list of keywords (including not provided), however I always prefer to switch the primary dimension to Landing Page, which shows all sessions that have arrived on to a page within your website from an organic source.

Whatever you do, make sure you pick a method of recording sessions from GA, and stick to it over time. Consistency is key, as GA can be erratic sometimes.

2) Engagement

The Stickyeyes Group proprietary tool ‘Roadmap’ reverse engineers SERPs by sector, to understand which ranking factors are important for each search result.

Roadmap has shown that one particular factor that has grown in importance across all niches and is proven to affect rankings, is engagement.

This is essentially how visitors are behaving on your site. It’s important for Google to see that your visitors are landing on your site, finding the content they need, and engaging with it.

Key metrics here are:

  • Bounce rate – the % of people that are leaving your site without interacting with your content or navigating to another page
  • Average Session Duration – the average amount of time each visitor spends on your site
  • Average pages per session – the average number of pages that each visitor views during a session

It’s important to note that whilst the two average metrics are ‘higher-the-better’, there is a limit to this. If either of them is too high, it can indicate that visitors are struggling find what they are looking for on your site.

The best place to find this information is again in GA and it can be found in the same area as I suggested for traffic. You will see three columns under a heading of ‘Behaviour’ and these columns are the three metrics mentioned above.

3) Conversion

Whatever traffic and engagement organic is driving, what ultimately matters is commercial benefit and again GA is a great source for this, dependant on you having the correct ecommerce and goal tracking in place.

Where a conversion for you is a lead or enquiry (i.e. not a purchase), then key metrics are:

  • Conversion rate
  • Conversion volumes

If your conversion is a purchase, for example on an ecommerce site, then these additional metrics are relevant:

  • Total revenue
  • Average order value

These ecommerce numbers can be found again in the same area of GA, however near the top of the page, under the Explorer tab heading, you will see an ‘E-Commerce’ option. Click this to reveal the metrics above.

For lead generation conversions, you will need to navigate to the Conversions area in the left nav, then click on Goals and then Overview. You can then drill down to Source/Medium to show goals achieved from organic traffic.

In the template, we’ve focused on ecommerce conversion metrics, however you can of course edit this for lead generation if needed.

4) Landing pages

It’s imperative to understand which landing pages are driving traffic and ultimately commercial value. You will have pages that historically drive value and you will need to track their performance, however it’s also important to ensure new pages are working as intended and attracting traffic.

A great way to do this in a summary report is to list the top performing landing pages. In the template we have included an area for your top five landing pages and how they’re performing vs prior year, month and week, as well as their bounce rates.

Again you can find this in the Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keyword section, with Landing Page selected as the primary dimension.

This information is especially useful when trying to understand the impact of particular key term rankings, as all terms will rank a particular page and impact how much traffic arrives on that page dependent on the ranking and how much search volume the term has.

5) Search visibility

I will come to individual rankings in a moment, however first I want to look at overall search visibility, which gives a great summation of organic performance.

It looks at the number of terms you rank for, where you rank for them, what search volume they have, and the estimated traffic they will drive as a result. A score is then calculated and trended over time.

My preferred source for this is Searchmetrics, where you can enter a domain to get an updated score. You may need a paid account to access the full version, but it’s a great way to trend a relevant summary score for your organic performance.

Searchmetrics also provides some other useful tools. I especially like the Winners & Losers section, which shows which keywords have driven a week’s visibility growth or decline.

6) Ranking spread

SEMrush is a great SEO research tool, for both your own site, your client’s sites, and competitors. Similarly to search visibility, a great way to see how you are performing overall in organic is to look at ranking spread.

SEMrush provides a breakdown of how many terms the site ranks for on the Top, P4-10, P11-20, P21-50 and P51-100.

Being able to show that a) the number of terms you have in the top 100 is increasing and b) the number of terms you have in the top 3 or on page 1 is increasing, is a great way to show overall search presence.

Simply enter your domain into the search bar in SEMrush, navigate to the Organic Research section and select Positions. This will give you a graph showing wither daily or monthly ranking spread within the Top 100 (dependant on the date range selected).

Trending this over time, and doing comparisons vs prior week/month/year, is an effective was to show organic growth.

7) Rankings and keywords

Whilst modern SEO is moving away from specific term rankings, it is often a key KPI for many businesses, so understand rankings for key terms is still important to report on.

There are a multitude of sources that will allow you to do this, including 3rd party tools like Accuranker, however the most readily available is Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools).

Navigating to the Search Analytics area will show you a list of keywords and how many clicks each has driven in the date range.

Search Console Content Keywords

The filter bar at the top lets you add the position of that term in SERPs, by ticking the Position box. Finding the average position of each of your key terms this way will allow you to trend these over time and do weekly/monthly/annual comparisons.

This area also lets you see which key terms are most effective for you, and this can be especially useful if the most effective terms are different to the ‘vanity’ terms you may associate with the site you’re reporting on.

On the same screen, the list of keywords is sorted by clicks by default, so the top keywords in that list are the ones that have sent the most organic clicks to your site.

8) Link metrics

Link metrics are a great way to show how improved on-page optimisation and link acquisition are allowing the site to rank better and have improved visibility. Popular metrics to track and trend are:

  • Domain Authority – measures the authority of the site’s link profile – available from Moz and lots of 3rd party sites and Chrome extensions
  • MajesticSEO – Citation Flow and Trust Flow – these show the trust and power of the site’s link profile
  • New referring domains – is the site acquiring links consistently and naturally? – available through the com New Referring Domains section
  • Lost referring domains – as above, if the site is gaining links, are they incremental or is the site losing more than it’s gaining? – available in the Ahrefs.com Lost Referring Domains section

9) Commentary

Context is key in reporting. I’ve included space for commentary by each element of the report template, giving you the opportunity to add insight against the numbers.

  • Why has that landing page seen huge growth?
  • What effect has recent technical changes had?
  • Why is traffic down?
  • How has the site’s new user journey affected engagement?

These are the sorts of questions you need to answer within commentary.

10) Trends

Finally, metrics in isolation are not much use to anyone, what is key is to show progress. Trending key metrics over time is the best way to show growth. You can also overlay key events, like Google algorithm updates for example, to add more context to how trends are behaving.

In the template we’ve included trends for ranking spread, ecommerce metrics and traffic, but feel free to change these to suit what’s important to you, your business or your client.

A few points about the template:

  • It is populated with sample data so you’ll of course need to amend this
  • It uses conditional formatting to show growth and loss
  • It covers WoW, MoM and YoY time comparisons
  • Formulae are included but you can amend these
  • The 2nd tab contains the data that fuels the trends, so make sure you populate that too

A couple of things you may wish to add the report as you customise it, either replacing elements currently in it, or perhaps adding new tabs, are:

  • New users
    • Showing how many visitors are new (haven’t visited the site before) as a % of overall traffic, or in sheer volume terms, can be useful to show incremental value – available in GA
  • Technical
    • Tracking the amount of technical issues over time can be useful to show progress and also add context to improvement in metrics. E.g. if a raft of on page issues have been fixed, how has performance been impacted?
    • Key technical elements to track might be
      • Amount of duplicate content
      • Amount of missing meta
      • Amount of 302 redirects
      • Amount of missing canonical tags

The above can be found using a crawler like Screaming Frog or Moz.

Download the SEO reporting template here.

Mark Leech is Operations Director at ZazzleMedia and a contributor to SEW.

How does RankBrain work and what does it mean for search marketers?

similar-words-in-vector-space

It’s hard to meet anyone in the digital industry who hasn’t heard about RankBrain. And it comes as no surprise that this system along with its impact on search results raises endless questions and disputes.

We’ve made an attempt to understand the way RankBrain operates and if there’s anything we can possibly do to optimize for it.

Let’s start from the very beginning.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a machine-learning system developed by Google to help improve search results and to interpret brand new queries that haven’t been previously searched for.

Some experts consider it to be part of the Hummingbird search algorithm, which was launched to help Google better understand the meaning of the entire query behind exact keywords.

The first official statement about RankBrain was made by Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado on October 26, 2015. Here’s how Greg explained the operating principle of the algorithm:

“If you’re searching for an ambiguous query, or you’re using colloquial terms or talking to Google like it was a person, traditionally, computers will break down, because they can’t understand your query or they haven’t seen that phrase before. RankBrain can generalize it: ‘That phrase seems like something I’ve seen in the past, so I’m going to assume that you meant this.’ It’s much like a person hearing you talking to them in a crowded bar – they can’t hear everything you’re saying, but they still can guess what you’re meaning and have a conversation with you.”

In this interview Greg also stated that, shortly after deployment, RankBrain has become the third most important search-ranking factor.

Since it has that much of an impact, it is important to understand exactly how this algorithm works, and what changes it will bring both to end users and SEO specialists.

How does RankBrain work?

As I mentioned above, the key purpose of RankBrain is to deliver more relevant results by interpreting the meaning of whole phrases instead of focusing on individual words.

This algorithm can effectively handle complex long-tail queries, understand how they are connected to particular topics and provide results accordingly.

To put it simply, RankBrain identifies patterns behind different search queries that might seem unrelated and finds similarities between them.

This allows the Google search engine to understand a phrase that is has never dealt with before by correlating it with phrases it is already familiar with.

As a machine-learning system, RankBrain constantly teaches itself, supposedly by paying attention to metrics like bounce rate or time spent on page. So if a user considers displayed results irrelevant to their query, the next time, the algorithm will show other results for this query. (source – Niksto.com)

What does it mean for you as a Google user?

  • You will be able to find information about a thing, concept or fact without using this particular word in a search query (the example provided by Bloomberg is “What’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain”)
  • You’ll get more relevant results for ambiguous queries or queries that have multiple meanings (for example, “Apple” as in the name of the brand vs. “apple” as in the fruit)
  • If you type in a query that Google has never encountered before, it will be correctly interpreted and matched with familiar ones.

Google does not disclose the exact algorithms it uses, yet we know that its operating principles are close to the word2vec tool.

What is word2vec?

Word2vec is an open source toolkit that uses a text corpus to count the distance between words and produce vector representations of words and phrases.

This helps you can understand the relationship between words based on the distance between them in texts. Words with similar meanings are located close to one another terms of vector space.

Chris Moody describes an experiment of finding the closest vectors to the vector representing the word “vacation”:

To learn more about word2vec and its operating principles, check out A Beginner’s Guide to word2vec by Distilled, or read the tutorial Vector Representation of Words by TensorFlow if you’re interested in more technical details.

SEMrush’s experiment

We wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how RankBrain works, and for that purpose we conducted our own experiment.

We attempted to build connections between the words using the word2vec algorithm and SEMrush data (texts gathered with Brand Monitoring Tool). To get clearer results, we processed a limited text corpus related only to digital marketing and SEO topics.

As a result we made a tool, which can be used to input any word from digital marketing niche and get a list of words that are considered to be the most closely related to your chosen word.

These are not exactly “synonyms” (i.e., words that a have similar meaning) or “related keywords” (words returning similar results in SERPs), but something very different – words that most often occur in texts in conjunction with a given word.

With our experiment we tried to understand the way Google “thinks” and which words it considers related to your targeted keywords.

The results were quite interesting, as they were somewhat intuitively unpredictable. We’ve conducted a small survey of our own digital marketing specialists, asking them to give three associations to a few words, and then compared the results with those returned by the tool.

And sometimes words that we closely associate with a certain concept are not the ones that actually appear in proximity to it in text:

semrush-rankbrain-experiment

How to optimize for RankBrain?

According to Google’s official representatives, there is no way to optimize for RankBrain.

Moreover, RankBrain is not going to have a noticeable impact on search results, as its main purpose is to deal with queries that lack data – plus, as Google Webmasters search analyst Gary Illyes pointed out on Twitter, “RankBrain has no affect on crawling or indexing.”

But the fact is that you can’t simply ignore the existence of such a powerful algorithm in your SEO activities.

So which conclusions can we draw from the principles of operation that uses RankBrain?

1) Expand your keyword list beyond synonyms and variations

Stop creating pages or content tailored to only one keyword or keyword phrase. For maximum effect, try composing your semantic kernel of both:

  • Your targeted keywords, as well as their variations and related keywords (chosen with the help of your preferred keyword research tools).
  • Additional words that most commonly appear in the same context as your targeted keywords.

2) Focus on creating comprehensive content that provides value to your audience

Write more inclusive posts, strive to cover all aspects of the chosen topic, answer as many questions as you can.

The ultimate goal of Google and RankBrain in particular is to provide users with the most useful and relevant results. If you share this same goal, you’re more likely to succeed.

3) Optimize for people, not for search engines

Though this statement may sound banal, it is especially true in the context of machine learning.

As Neil Patel claims in his article, “it’s called machine learning because the machines learn, not merely from abstract environmental forces, but from the behavior of humans.

So don’t try to please search algorithms and systems, focus your attention on providing a better user experience, analyzing your visitors’ behavior and making changes accordingly.

If people appreciate your content and consider it relevant, the algorithms will start doing the same naturally.

In conclusion

To sum this all up, our attempt to understand one of the most mysterious Google algorithms demonstrated that it is nearly impossible to intuitively predict the way Google thinks.

In addition, being a machine learning system, RankBrain is constantly improving itself, while at the same time, Google algorithms are being updated and further developed.

All you can do to keep up with this, is make sure that you are always proficient and committed in everything you are doing or writing. Thus, you will succeed whatever new algorithms appear in the search industry or updates are rolled out.

Yulia Khansvyarova is Head of Digital Marketing at SEMrush and a contributor to SEW.

How to test a website before you launch: a 28 point checklist

A Wodpress window showcasing the fields that enhance image optimisation

Three years ago, Mark Knowles wrote a thorough checklist for testing a website prior to its live launch. It was a very helpful guide, so we thought we’d update it for the current digital landscape.

Here we present a guide on how to test a website, full of updated information and tips to make sure everything looks and works exactly as it should on launch day. Everyone has a role here, and that’s how the tasks have been divided – for Editors, Designers, Developers, SEOs and Network Administrators.

Please note: many of the tips below are from Mark Knowles, but have been updated to reflect any changes.

For the Editor and Writers…

1. Spelling, grammar, punctuation

Check for proper spelling, typos, and grammar site-wide. Not just in article text and headlines, but also throughout the navigation, calls-to-action, buttons, forms etc.

2. Forms

Fill out the forms on the site and go through the following questions:

  • Can the flow be improved?
  • Do you get stuck?
  • Are the instructions accurate?
  • Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?

3. Check images

Make sure your images are all optimised for the web. Ensuring they’re not too large – and site-speed draining. As well as being properly labelled with titles and alt-text.

4. Context

When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask:

  • Why would I visit this page?
  • Is the content ready for visitor?
  • Does the page address the audience?

For the Web Designer

5. Site speed

Check the size of your page sizes and their load time. You can use Google’s own site speed test to do this. Site speed is a ranking factor, so follow any improvements Google recommends as closely as you can.

6. Mobile friendliness

Is your website mobile-friendly. Frankly it’s very difficult not to building a multi-device compatible website in 2016, but just in case, here’s a handy checklist to ensure your website’s mobile-friendliness.

mobile-friendly-test

7. Compatibility

Check to make sure your website’s pages render well in common browsers. Browser share is a moving target so to help prioritize efforts, here’s a site that continually examines it.

8. Fonts

Sometimes font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look funny. Check to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.

9. Navigation

Test the navigation to breaking point. Make sure every single possible journey through your website leads to wherever its meant to without any broken links or wrong pages.

Makes sure your on-site search works, and it delivers accurate results, and if there are any zero-results that you’re providing navigation to other relevant pages.

For the Web Developer

10. Live URLs

Often, sites are built at a URL (uniform resource locator) that isn’t the website’s final destination. When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. All the URLs change at this time, and they need to be tested.

On small sites without any tools, you can navigate to each page to make sure they all work. On a site with fewer than 500 URLs, you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free to find bad URLs. For larger sites, there is a modest annual fee.

11. Sign up to Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) is an invaluable tool for all webmasters. This is where Google will communicate with you should anything go wrong (crawling errors, manual penalties, increase in 404 pages, malware detected, etc.)

Search Console is also where you can monitor your site’s performance, identify issues, submit content for crawling, remove content you don’t want indexed, view the search queries that brought visitors to your site, monitor backlinks.

You should also sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools.

12. Minify

This is a technique that combines and compresses website code into smaller chunks to speed up your site. You can read more about it at Google. Then, look at the website pre-launch to see if the site is using minify where it can.

13. 404 pages

When a 404 (“page not found”) error occurs, make sure you have a custom page to help your visitor find something else of use, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. Do you have an HTML sitemap there? Does the 404 page include a site search?

14. Favicon

Favicons are those little iconic images that show up in the address bar and tabs of your browser. How does it help? It’s a small branding opportunity that lends credibility to your site. It’s nice to have one when you launch.

favicon

For the SEO team

15. 301 Redirects

Sometimes content is repurposed or gets moved to fit the new navigation structure of a site. If you have an existing site and you are changing the URL structure with your new site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve mapped the old URLs to the new ones.

The Screaming Frog spider mentioned earlier can be run on both the old site and the new. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to document this effort. Column A has the old URL, and you place the new URL in Column B. Each row represents a redirect from old to new. On launch day, it’s time to execute.

16. Title Tags/Meta Data

This may sound like old news to some, but this easy-to-fix mistake happens every day. Make sure every page has a title tag, and make sure they are unique.

Also make sure each has a meta description. Although these snippets used in search aren’t necessarily a ranking signal, they will help a searcher decide whether to click-through or not.

17. XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your new website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format. You can upload your sitemap to Search Console, however most CMSs such as WordPress will automatically build a sitemap for you.

18. Analytics

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, is set up and ready to go from day one so you can measure and analyse traffic to your site.

19. Structured markup

If you’re using Schema markup or any other structured data, is it rendering correctly in SERPs? You can check any errors and how to fix them in the structured markup section of Search Console.

captain america civil war review Google Search

20. Accelerated Mobile Pages

If you’re using Google’s AMP project to provide mobile searchers with faster loading web pages, you need to make sure these are rendering properly. Here’s a guide to implementing Google AMP on your website.

21. Social media integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, does it ‘share a post’ rather than ‘Like’ your page on Facebook.)

22. SERP Display

Are the search engines displaying your pages correctly in the search engine results pages? Did you write proper meta descriptions, but they aren’t being used? Thoroughly investigate your visibility in Search Console.

23. PPC Setup

Make sure if you’re running any PPC campaigns that they’re set up and ready to go with the site launch. To avoid a lapse in service, if you have a Google PPC rep, you can set and pause all your campaigns to the new URLs prior to launch, and instead of the ads getting disapproved, your rep can approve them manually.

For the Network Administrator

24. Monitoring

A site monitor checks pages regularly to make sure it is available for visitors. Basic monitors check if the page is working.

Important pages within the site should have enhanced monitors that test if a completed form behaves the way it should. Enhanced monitors are more expensive to setup and keep running so the page in question needs to justify the additional expense.

25. Backup System

Have you thought about what happens if the server goes down? Make sure the backup system is configured properly, and the recovery process has been tested so you know it works.

26. Traffic Loads

Think about what might happen to your site if it gets an influx of heavy traffic. There are load test software tools that allow you to simulate heavy loads. If you are expecting big crowds, this is a must.

27. Protected Pages

Does your site have pages that require user credentials to view? If so, do the credentials work? From the opposite angle, also check to see that the pages can’t be viewed without proper credentials. Make several attempts to get to those URLs without proper credentials to make sure the security is working as expected.

28. Secure Certificate

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll want to check your certificate on launch day.

https padlock

To do this, go to the encrypted section of your site. When the lock appears in the address bar, right click on it and read the message your visitors will read. It should have your name on it and state that it’s valid. If the lock doesn’t appear or the name isn’t right, let your provider know.

Guide to Google ranking signals – Part 2: keywords

Last week we published the first instalment of our complete guide to Google ranking signals.

It featured on-page-factors such as title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions.

This week we continue diving into on-page factors, with the use of keywords in your page content.

Keywords

In our previous article we mentioned that any keywords you wish to rank for need to be placed in the title tag, with the closer it is to the start the better. Keywords should also appear in the H1 tag and meta description.

But where else should you keywords appear, how often and in what form?

Page content

1) Make sure your keyword or phrase appears in the first 100 words of your page, if not the first sentence. This is more important than keyword frequency.

2) As Jayson DeMers said in our article on keyword relevancy the placement of your keywords matters far more than their frequency.

Posting “cheap wedding dresses” once in the title tag of your site and once in the header matters far more than stuffing it five times into the body copy.

3) Here’s how the keyword priority breaks down for Google…

Meta information and headers
Body copy
Side bars and footers

4) Your keyword or phrase should be the most frequently used term in the body text of any given webpage. This is called keyword density. However you shouldn’t overuse this signal – if you stuff the copy with keywords then your text won’t be readable and Google will likely penalise you for not writing for human readers.

5) Your keywords should be completely relevant to the subject you are writing about on the page. If you want to rank for ‘cheap wedding dresses’ and you stuff every webpage with these keywords even if they have nothing to do with keywords than you will be found it.

6) Your focus keyword should be found in your title tag, h1 tag, meta description, article text and relevant keywords should also be found throughout the content as well as h2 tags.

7) Try to ensure the key phrase is an exact match to what the searcher will type into a search engine. Natural language in search is becoming more prevalent, especially with the rise in voice search and Google’s understanding of natural language queries.

So if you want to rank for “how do I cook a steak medium-rare?” make sure that’s exactly how you write it in either the headline or h2 tag.

8) Be careful not to focus too much on one single key phrase otherwise your site could grow repetitive, and earn a penalty.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords

Since the advent of Panda and Hummingbird, LSI is becoming increasingly important in SEO as it’s used by Google to determine between ‘keyword stuffed’ articles and genuinely relevant content.

As our own contributor Nikolay Stoyanov states, LSI keywords are simply closely related words or phrases that are semantically related to each other.

But that doesn’t mean just synonyms. LSI words “go hand in hand without being direct synonyms.”

So to use Nikolay’s example, if you write about ‘cars’ you could potentially writing about the vehicle, the Pixar movie or the band. However Google scans your webpage for closely related terms to determine the actual theme of your content – these are LSI keywords.

9) Discover your LSI keywords and make sure you use these throughout your article. Particularly…

First paragraph of text
Body of content
Links anchor texts
Last paragraph of text

10) Use LSI keywords throughout the meta data of your page. Here is where Nikolay recommends sprinkling them…

Page title
H1 and H2 tags
URL address
Meta description
Image alt text
The future of keywords

I’ll leave you with some final thoughts on the state of keywords in SEO from Jayson DeMers…

“When Google scans your site for information, it no longer pulls out the keyword phrases it thinks are relevant and pairs them to user queries. Instead, there’s an intermediary step. Google interprets the data on your website, and begins to form its own conclusions about what your site and your business really deliver. If that seems a little spooky to you, you aren’t alone — Google is becoming exceptionally sophisticated.”

SEO audit: a complete guide to the basics

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An SEO audit is standard procedure for any website. In fact, if you are serious about your internet business, you will make sure you do it frequently.

Unlike a traditional audit, this one is performed solely for marketing purposes.

A properly done SEO audit should give you a better insight into your website, individual pages and overall traffic. It is a great way to improve performance allowing you to rank better in the SERPs.

According to gotchseo.com, an audit should be performed:

  • At the beginning of a new project
  • At the beginning of a new quarter
  • But, like most other things, you have to take this with a grain of salt.

    Yes, an SEO audit helps us determine how our website is performing. But, if you are a small website, you do not have to overdo it. Concentrating on stats can be a waste of time especially if there are other things that you have to take care of.

    But, if you are medium sized website and you noticed drop in traffic, perhaps it’s better to perform a timely audit and discover the root of the problem.

    Performing an audit for audit’s sake is a waste of time.

    Audit strategy

    Before anything else, you need to create a viable strategy that will help you establish your goals.

    There are numerous things that can be improved with an audit. You can gain insight into your competition, you can analyze your keywords, you can improve technical aspects of the website etc. Nevertheless, when people contact an SEO expert they only wish to know one thing…

    How to improve rankings?

    This is a bad way of putting things given that an SEO audit is a complex procedure. It is meant to analyze multiple aspects of your business and based on them, help you understand what is good and where you can improve.

    That being said, an SEO auditor needs to perform:

  • Technical analysis
  • On-Page analysis
  • Off-Page analysis
  • Competitive analysis and keyword research
  • 1) Technical analysis

    First thing that you have to determine is whether your website is working properly. This can be done with a technical analysis.

    It is highly recommended that you always start with this step. If you have a bad basis, you won’t be able to build your website from the ground up. You wouldn’t build a home on a bad terrain, would you?

    Technical analysis helps us with various things that we can group into:

    • Accessibility
    • Indexability

    Accessibility

    As the name says, accessibility is connected to Google’s and user’s ability to access the website. If your potential visitors are unable to see your pages, there is no point in creating new content.

    Accessibility and good user experience go hand-in-hand with search.
    Image by Paul Veugen on Flickr; some rights reserved

    First thing that you have to check is your robots.txt file and robots meta tags. These two are important as they restrict access to certain areas of your website. Sometimes, a webmaster might have inadvertently blocked certain pages disabling Google from accessing them.

    Both meta tags and robots.txt files need to be checked manually in order to make sure that everything is ok.

    XML sitemaps are another important aspect of your website. They create a map for Google crawlers. Bear in mind that your XML sitemap needs to be properly formatted and submitted to webmaster tools account so that it can be accessed.

    Another important thing for your accessibility is overall website architecture.

    Here, a person doing the audit needs to make sure that you only need a few clicks from homepage to destination page. The smaller the number, the easier for crawlers to access that page.

    Redirects can also cause issues. Occasionally, you may delete or relocate your content. However, this means that crawlers are now unable to access that page. In order to allow access, you need to create a redirect leading them to moved page.

    So, these are all the procedures you have to perform in order to appease Google. But, what do we do with unsatisfied users?

    There are certain things that you have to keep in mind when it comes to your visitors.

    First and foremost, if a person is unable to browse freely, he will quickly bounce from your website. In that regard, it is important to improve your website speed.

    Even if you prefer having a nice and interactive interface, you will have to consider what kind of an impression it leaves on people seeing that page. Most of us surf the internet in order to get quick and reliable information. If we can’t do that on one website, we will find an alternative.

    Same goes for mobile devices. Nowadays, most people use mobile devices to access the Internet. Having that in mind, your website needs to be mobile friendly so that the visitor can have all the options which they would otherwise have on a desktop computer.

    mobile-friendly-test

    Indexability

    Now, if you have performed everything correctly during the first step, you are ready to go through indexability.

    When it comes to Google, accessibility and indexability go hand in hand. Both of them are necessary in order for your pages to be shown to end user.

    Remember; accessibility refers to crawlers being able to access your pages while indexability refers to those pages being presented within the search engine after being accessed.

    You might wonder if robots are already able to see your content, why wouldn’t they show these pages to users?

    The first thing that comes to mind is Google penalty.

    In most cases, this will be the reason why some pages will not be shown. Have in mind that crawlers work differently from website to website. If you are a big company with lots of content, your pages will be indexed almost immediately.

    On the other hand, individual bloggers who occasionally post will have their content indexed more slowly.

    Most people will start panicking at this point, thinking that Google has hit them with a penalty only to discover they have an accessibility issue or some other minor problem.

    Nevertheless, if you actually did get a penalty, you would receive a message in your webmasters tool account.

    After that, procedure is as follows:

  • Identify the reason for penalty
  • Rectify the issue
  • Request reconsideration from Google
  • The worst thing that you can do is to deny your actions prolonging the agony. Face the charges, make the changes and resolve the issue.

    2. On-page analysis

    After the initial technical part, your website should look dandy.

    You’ve made sure that everything is in order, that both people and robots can access your website and that everything is in working condition.

    Now, we need to consider pages themselves.

    There are two ways to view on-page analysis:

    • General content issues
    • Individual page issues

    General content issues

    Logically, every post you create has to make sense. From an SEO perspective, it is really bad to have various conflicting topics that have nothing to do with the website’s main idea.

    There are a lot of bloggers who receive money for promoting various content and products. While this may be lucrative in a short run, it can have disastrous consequences for your optimization. Simply put, stick to your guns and continue writing on one general topic.

    When it comes to general content issues, a lot of bloggers encounter keyword cannibalisation and duplicate content.

    google-us-search-term-hotels-in-tenerife-both-sites

    In the example above, Alpharooms’ US and UK sub-domains are competing against each other. As you can see, only one version ranks at any one time.

    Why does this happen?

    A lot of people, while trying to promote their website and rank higher in Google, start writing on the same exact topic. This may be good for your traffic as it will encourage visitor’s interested in topic to keep coming, but it can also lead to duplicate content.

    When you write two articles with same or similar content, Google gets confused leading to indexation issues. It may index more pages than there actually are on your website.

    Similar things happen with keyword cannibalization.

    In this case, the owner of the website tries to rank for the same keyword from different pages. Google will not acknowledge various pages, only the strongest one. As a result, you will have a lot of different articles that are useless in terms of SEO and cannot be reached from the search engine.

    Individual page issues

    Individual page issues refer to the way each page is written and structured.

    You probably know that good content is the key to good ranking.

    Before we mention anything else, it’s necessary to emphasize that every article needs to be well-structured, with the end user in mind. This is not only important for the search engine but also for all the bloggers and visitors who are going to link or share said content. Without a good copy, you shouldn’t even try optimizing your website.

    Let’s start with your URL…

    It needs to be nice, clean, to describe content properly and briefly. If you need to separate words, it is better to use hyphens. Lastly, it has to have your main keyword.

    Based on this, it is logical that your title should also have the main keyword in it and to be short.

    As for the content, make sure to create longer articles. In today’s SEO world, you require at least 500 words to be visible. Your article needs to provide value to the reader, to be unique, to have LSI keywords, it needs to have proper grammar and to read well.

    At the same time, your images also need to be optimized as this will give them a chance of ranking within Google image search.

    Back in the day, meta descriptions were a very important SEO tool. Nowadays, they have more of a promotional use. Still, make sure to include nice description as they will impact conversion rate.

    Methods-Unsound-meta-description-on-facebook

    Links are also relevant.

    Still to this day, a lot of people hate linking to other resources thinking that this helps their competition.

    However, SEO professionals know better.

    Linking to other articles is excellent for your website as it improves the quality of the content. It makes it more relevant and trustworthy (as long as you link to trustworthy website).

    Make sure that all your links work properly, that they are relevant, healthy and with proper keywords.

    3) Off-page analysis

    Ultimately, it all comes down to strength of your domain.

    Basically, everything that has been done in first two steps (during technical and on-page analysis) is performed so that your website would be better and more visible to Google. And this is where we come to off-page analysis.

    In a way, off-page ranking factors are the result of your work. They show how poplar your website is, whether people are linking to it and from which websites, is it trustworthy etc.

    Here, we can start by mentioning trust factor.

    What does trust means in terms of SEO?

    It means that a website is trusted by the Google search engine. In other words, if you are steering clear from all the negative SEO practices (so called, black hat SEO) you will gain more trust.

    This is the first step that you have to take before anything else. Google is constantly being improved and with it, there is less of a chance to manipulate the system.

    Nevertheless, some people still do it. Being trustworthy is not only good for the search engine; it is important for your overall reputation.

    Same with real world companies, being involved in unlawful practices can lead to disastrous long term consequences for your organization. Due to this fact, it is necessary to remain trustworthy and abide by Google’s webmasters guidelines.

    Next, you need to make sure that your content is popular among readers and other bloggers.

    In the end, all we create on the Internet is for other users. With that in mind, good website will constantly see an increase in traffic, more and better links, more social mentions, longer time on website and smaller bounce rates by the visitors.

    In a way, off-page analysis should show us how other people react to our website.

    Successful bloggers should see an increase in all these stats simultaneously. If you start getting a lot of links and your social engagement stats do not improve or if they drop, it can be a red flag for Google as it may signalize that you are doing something fishy.

    4) Competitive analysis and keyword research

    After analyzing and dealing with internal issues, we are prepared for keyword analysis. In the SEO world, keyword research and competitive analysis are almost synonymous.

    Why do I say that?

    Because the keyword is the smallest measurement unit in SEO. By analyzing those keywords, you are at the same time analyzing your competition.

    Let’s use this example.

    You are producing food. Your competitor has X products (keywords) each one giving different results. By analyzing them, you are able to make your own strategy deciding where you can compete and determining which products (keywords) are untouchable.

    Basically, there are two things that you need consider with each keyword: difficulty and traffic.

    Difficulty shows us how hard or easy is to rank while traffic shows us how many people search for that term during one month.

    Your ideal keyword should be somewhere in the middle, with medium difficulty and medium volume. However, if you wish to beat your competition and continue increasing your traffic, it is necessary to find keywords that are performing above the average (for example, keywords with medium difficulty and high traffic or keywords with low difficulty and medium traffic).

    An auditor needs to consider numerous options before recommending several keywords to his client. These keywords will be the backbone of your website and based on them, you can expect slower or faster growth.

    Analysis is performed by using various SEO tools.

    Google keyword planner is a great starting point. When it comes to paid tool, Ahrefs is a great alternative.

    Conclusion

    SEO auditing is a crucial process for your website.

    People who wish to make a blogging career usually believe that popularity and good writing skills are enough for a success. This is not true as there are other factors involved.

    With an SEO audit, you can discover what is wrong and what you need to improve. With it, you can make your website better and more visible to Google leading to more traffic and conversion.

    Have you ever tried doing EEO audit by yourself? What was your biggest issue? Tell us in the comments section below…