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Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a complex process that has a number of different types. All SEO types have the same goal: To optimize a website for greater visibility in search engines.

In this post you will learn the different types of SEO and what SEO techniques are applicable for each type.

Types of SEO

Let’s start with a quick definition of what is SEO.

SEO is the process of making a website easier to understand by search engines and friendlier for users. The overall goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic from search engines by improving the positions the website appears in the SERPS for various search terms.

At the beginning (think early 2000), SEO was simple but over the years the whole SEO process has become complex.

When optimizing a website for search engines, you have to consider hundreds of rules to satisfy the various search engine ranking factors and at the same time keep your users happy.

To make it easier to handle, the SEO industry has come with different types of SEO. Each type is responsible for a number of SEO rules.

What is important to understand is that these subsets of SEO are not a different process, it’s just a way of breaking down a complicated process in several smaller processes that are easier to manage.

So, the various SEO types are:

The most important are Technical, On Page and Off Page SEO as shown in the diagram below.

Most Important SEO Types

Recommended Reading: Our SEO Checklist covers all types of SEO. For each type you get a checklist of the most important factors you should know about.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is exactly what the name implies i.e. technical parameters that affect the visibility of a website in search engines.

The main goal of technical SEO is to ensure that search engine crawlers can crawl and index a website without any problems.

The most important technical SEO guidelines are:

On-Page SEO

On Page SEO has to do with the page itself and how to make it friendlier to search engines and users.

It should be noted that while search engines look at a website as a whole, ranking is performed on a page level basis.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the optimization of each and every page on your website.

The most important on-page SEO guidelines are:

Optimize your page titles. This is a critical SEO factor. Page titles are shown in the search results and should be interesting for users to click. The title of a page should also give search engine bots enough clues on what the page content is all about.

Optimize your H1 Tag. While the page title is shown in the SERPS, the H1 tag is what is shown as the top heading of a page. An optimized page has only one H1 tag and usually it has the same values as the page title.

Optimize your headings. Besides the H1 tag a page needs to have sub headings (H2, H3) for the different sections. In case of long form content, subheadings make the page easier to read by users and scan by crawlers.

SEO for Images. Any images used on a page should be properly optimized, otherwise search engines cannot understand what they represent. Things like optimizing the filename, file size and ALT text are critical for image SEO.

Page formatting. Publishing a page with text and images without spending time to beautify the content is not a good SEO practice. Although Google cannot ‘see’ a page like a human, they have ways to understand how a page looks or if it’s full of ads and popups and this is taken into account during the ranking process.

Content SEO

Content SEO is a subset of on-page SEO. Content SEO is all about the quality of the content and how to make it better.

Because this is a very important SEO success factor, it is considered by many as one of the types of SEO. In many cases though, you can find content guidelines under on-page SEO, which is also a correct approach.

Publishing great content that users love and search engines can understand, is the winning combination.

To achieve this, you can follow these guidelines:

Start your content creation process with keyword research. Find the SEO keywords that are important for your website and incorporate them in your content.

Go one step further and look for long-tail keywords and semantically related (or LSI) keywords, and add them to your titles, headings and main content.

Publish content that is thorough and long enough so that users can get what they want and search engines to have enough clues to understand the context of your content.

Link out to other high-quality websites (if it makes sense) and to other pages of your website to help users learn more about a topic.

Make use of schemas and structured data to pinpoint to search engines important parts of your content.

Off Page SEO

Off-page SEO is all about promotion. While the previous SEO types concentrated more on the website infrastructure and content, off-page SEO has to do with techniques you can use to promote your website on the Internet.

Websites that are popular are more likely to rank higher on Google than less popular websites.

The most important off-page SEO methods are:

Link Building. Link building is the process of getting SEO backlinks from other websites.

These backlinks act as ‘votes of trust’ and increase the authority of the target website (provided that they don’t have the nofollow attribute attached to the link).

Brand Promotion. Google likes to rank known brands high in the results because people trust them.

Besides promoting your website to get backlinks, you should also work on promoting your brand and encourage conversations about it in the various social media networks and forums.

Google can pick up these signals and reward websites that people talk about.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a type of SEO suited for local businesses only.

In other words, if you have a website and your goal is to get clients visiting your local store, then you should optimize your website for local SEO.

Everything that is mentioned above is valid for Local SEO, with the addition of the following guidelines:

Make sure that you have your business name, address, contact details on all pages of your website.

  • Add the Local Business schema on your homepage
  • Create a Google My Business Account
  • Register your business with trusted directories such as Yelp, Yahoo small business, Foursquare and other.
  • Promote your website on local directories and websites (for example online local newspapers).

Recommend Reading: Our local SEO checklist covers in detail everything you need to know about Local SEO optimization.

Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is again not a different type on its own, but a subset of SEO specific for mobile devices.

It’s a fact that more than 60% of Google searches are now performed on mobile devices.

This is a huge number and a good indication that the Internet is moving away from the traditional desktop and goes to mobile devices.

This is also the reason that Google decided to create a mobile-first index and start indexing the mobile friendly version of a website instead of the desktop version.

When working on Mobile SEO, you need to make sure that:

  • Your website is mobile friendly. Running the mobile friendly test is a good starting point.
  • The website loads fast on mobile.
  • The website is easy to use on mobile.
  • The user experience on mobile is not disturbed by interstitial banners, other methods of aggressive advertising or popups.
eCommerce SEO

eCommerce is a huge industry. When it comes to search engine optimization, optimizing an ecommerce website is more complex than working on a blog or corporate website.

You have way more pages to optimize and it’s much more difficult to promote an ecommerce website.

The most important ecommerce SEO factors are:

  • Optimization of an online shop starts with the homepage and category pages. These two page types have to properly optimized before you start working on your product pages.
  • Optimize your product pages based on the results of your keyword research.
  • Optimize ALL visual elements of your store (images, videos)
  • Add the necessary schemas (product, offers etc.)
  • Promote your store on social media networks
  • Think of creative ways to get people to link to your product pages
  • Start a blog and publish content related to your products and how they can help people solve a problem.

Recommended Reading: Check out our ecommerce SEO checklist to find out how to fully optimize your ecommerce website.

White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO

Is black hat SEO a type of SEO?

Some people consider ‘black hat SEO’ as being a type of SEO and this creates a confusion for beginners.

Black hat SEO is just a term that is used to describe any actions taken to trick search engine algorithms.

From time to time a lot of people come up with ideas on how to artificially create links to improve the rankings of a website on Google. These methods are against Google guidelines and should be avoided.

The only outcome from following black hat techniques is to lose your Google rankings and trust, get penalized by Google and diminish your chances of achieving any rankings in Google ever again.

All the methods described in the article are ‘White Hat SEO’ techniques and if you follow them correctly, you will eventually be able to rank high on search engines and get a portion of the search engine traffic.

Key Learnings

SEO is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools for any type of website. An SEO optimized website enjoys high visibility in Search engines and improves the user experience.

To make it easier to handle, the SEO process is broken down into a number of sub-processes or types. The most important types are Technical SEO, On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.

The post What are the different types of SEO? (Complete Guide with Examples) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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Links are still important for SEO but not all link types are equal. ‘No follow’ links do not have a direct impact on your SEO.

In this post, I will explain everything you need to know about ‘no follow’ links.

You will learn:

What’s a no follow link?

Let’s start with a definition of what is a no follow link. A ‘no follow link’ is a link that points from one website to another but with having the rel=”nofollow” attribute. This special HTML tag, instructs search engines to ignore that link.

When we say ignore the link, it means that no link juice (or PageRank) will be passed from one website to the other. Since ‘no follow’ links do not pass PageRank they also don’t affect search engine rankings.

NoFollow Links (HTML View)

A normal user will not understand that they link is a no follow link. Links still work but during the crawling and indexing process, search engines will not follow the web page pointed by the link.

How to check if a link is dofollow or nofollow?

The easiest way to check if a link is a nofollow link is to view the HTML code of a web page and look for the “<a href” HTML tag. If you can find the attribute “rel=”nofollow” between the opening <a> and the closing </a>, then it means that the link is no follow.

Here is an example of a nofollow link:

<a href="https://www.example.com">rel="nofollow">This is a nofollow link </a>

If you cannot find it, then the link is a dofollow link. Here is an example:

<a href="https://www.example.com"> This is a follow link </a>

Important: You need to understand that there is no attribute for do follow links. All links are ‘do follow’ unless they have the nofollow attribute attached to the link properties.

Here are the steps to check any link using Google Chrome.

  1. Open the webpage with the links
  2. Right click anywhere on the page and select INSPECT or select VIEW > DEVEOPER > INSPECT ELEMENTS from the top menu.
  3. Click the SELECT ELEMENT icon and highlight a link to view the HTML Code.
How to Check if a link is nofollow How do you make a link nofollow?

You can make a link nofollow by adding the attribute rel=”nofollow” in between the opening and closing tag of the <a href> element.

If you are writing a blog post you can view the HTML code of a page, find the link and add the attribute as shown below.

How to make a link nofollow

To make site wide changes i.e. to add the nofollow attribute to all links found in the comments, you will need the help of a developer.

Pro Tip: On WordPress all links in the comments section are nofollow by default.

What is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links?

As already explained above, dofollow and nofollow links have 3 major differences:

  1. DoFollow Links do NOT carry the rel=nofollow attribute
  2. Nofollow links are ignored by search engine crawlers
  3. Nofollow links do not pass any link juice and cannot affect the rankings of a website.
What is the role of nofollow links in SEO?

So far, you’ve learned what are nofollow links, how to find them and how to make them. You might be wondering, why should a webmaster care about nofollow links?

The answer is simple: Nofollow links do not pass any link juice or pagerank and thus they don’t help a website rank higher in the search engines results.

What is link juice? Link juice or link equity is the value and authority passed from one page to another. Nofollow links do not pass any link juice.

To understand this better, let me explain how the concept of links was born.

The founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), came up with a system (that’s the initial Google algorithm) to rank websites based on their importance.

They assumed that important websites are likely to have more backlinks from other websites, than less important websites.

Links were perceived as a ‘vote of trust’ of one website to the other.

This concept is still one of the most important SEO ranking factors.

Over the years, Google realized that this model could easily be manipulated by black hat SEOs.

People could build hundreds of links by publishing content on article directories, forums, ads and rank higher on Google.

These links were not ‘votes of trust’ but were artificially created for the sole purpose of increasing link count.

To solve this problem, they did three things.

  • First, they changed their algorithms to value links differently
  • Second, they started punishing websites that had a lot of outgoing links
  • Third, they introduced the ‘nofollow’ attribute.

In addition, they also instructed webmasters to add the ‘nofollow’ attribute to all outgoing links they don’t trust.

A great example of this is links in the comments which are nofollow by default on all major platforms and CMS.

Another example is links in social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, these are nofollow links too.

Are nofollow links useless for SEO?

So, if nofollow links don’t pass any PageRank, does this mean they are useless?

Google says that “we generally don’t follow nofollow links”, which leaves a door open to assume that sometimes they do follow them.

Nevertheless, even if nofollow links do not act as votes of trust, they are still useful for SEO.

For example, if you get an article published on Forbes, Entrepreneur or Inc, the links will be nofollow but it’s still an important link to have.

Not only it can potentially drive traffic to your website but it’s also good for branding.

“Brand Mentions” and people talking about a brand is a factor that Google takes into account, so nofollow links from trusted sources, do have a value.

When you should nofollow a link?

As a webmaster or SEO Professional, you are responsible for your site’s overall SEO health.

This means that you should make sure that it does not violate any Google guidelines and the way you deal with either incoming or outgoing links is part of it.

You are not allowed to sell links or participate in link exchanges or accept paid posts that include ‘dofollow’ links.

Also, having a lot of outgoing links on a webpage is not normal and Google might penalize you for doing so.

In general, you should link out to only websites that you trust. If you have to link to a website and you are not 100% sure about its quality and authority then to be on the safe site nofollow the link.

Here are two examples to understand this better:

Example 1: You are writing an article on SEO and you want to link to a related study. Link can be dofollow since you know that it’s from a trusted source.

Example 2: You are writing an article on SEO and you add a link to a download site (for your users to download an app or Chrome extension). Since you don’t trust the site 100% (download sites cannot easily be trusted), to be safe, you can nofollow the link.

Finally as mentioned above, any links in comments or other user-generated areas should also be nofollow.

Recommended Reading: Google Guidelines on Link Building

Should you add nofollow to internal links?

In general no, you shouldn’t add the nofollow tag to any internal links i.e. links on your website that points to pages within your domain.

The only valid exception is for crawl prioritization but you rarely have to do this. If for example you have pages that are not publicly available on the Internet (i.e. login or password protected pages), then you can add the nofollow tag to any internal links pointing to those pages, to optimize your crawl budget.

Of course, a better way would be to block access to those pages in your robots.txt.

Important Note: Even if a link is nofollow, that does NOT mean that Google will not index the target page. Google will still index the target page but it will not take into account the link value.

How to analyze your link profile and find nofollow links?

As explained above, for ranking purposes you need SEO backlinks i.e. links that point to your website from trusted sites and do not carry the nofollow tag.

Google Search Console Links Report (includes all links)

The LINKS report is Google Search Console lists ALL LINKS that Google knows about, and does not differentiate between follow and nofollow links.

While it’s a useful report, it cannot help you distinguish between follow and nofollow so we need the help of specialized tools.

SEMRUSH Backlink Report

How to find NoFollow Links using SEMRUSH

One of my favorite tools for link profile analysis is SEMRUSH. Among other things you can use semrush to analyze your link profile (or the link profile of any website) and find which links are dofollow and nofollow.

Recommended Reading: How to remove links from Google – A step-by-step guide on how to analyze your link profile and remove bad backlinks from Google.

Key Learnings

The nofollow attribute was created so that webmasters can tell search engines not to follow specific links. Thus, links that are nofollow do not pass any link juice or PageRank to the target website.

Nevertheless, that does not make any incoming nofollow links useless for SEO. Links from high authority websites can indirectly help with SEO.

As a webmaster you should not only care of incoming links but you need to ensure that any outgoing links to websites you don’t trust, have the nofollow attribute.

The post What is a Nofollow Link and Why You Should Care appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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SEO web design is the process of creating websites that search engines can crawl, index and understand.

Search engine crawlers cannot ‘read’ and ‘interact’ with a website like a human. Instead they access a website’s HTML code and look for signals to help them understand the structure of a website and the meaning of the content.

Why Is SEO Friendly Web Design Important?

Following SEO friendly design practices is important because you want a website that keeps both users and search engines happy.

If search engines cannot figure out what a website is about, then this will have a negative impact on your traffic and search engine rankings.

SEO Friendly Web Design Principles

Let’s see how you can design websites that can satisfy both users and search engines.

These are the 6 principles to follow:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Site structure
  3. URL Structure
  4. Internal link structure
  5. On-Page SEO Optimization
  6. User Experience

Important Note: SEO web design is not about how your website looks or what colors you use. This is subjective and not something that Google cares about. What is important is how a website is structured and how well it can provide the right signals to satisfy the various search engine ranking factors.

1. Accessibility

An SEO friendly website can be fully indexed by search engines without any problems.

That’s the first principle of SEO design, and a very important one.

To make sure that your website and content is indexed properly follow these steps:

Optimize your Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file in the root directory of your website that gives instructions to search engines as to which pages of a website they can index.

Any false blockings in your robots file can be disastrous, so the first thing to do is to check and optimize your robots.txt.

Check for Crawl Errors

The next step is to check for crawl errors. Google has a tool for webmasters known as Google Search Console, which among other things, it can give you information about crawl errors.

Crawl Errors Report – Google Search Console.

Step 1: Add the verify your website with Google Search Console.
Step 2: Find and Fix any crawl errors.

Submit an XML Sitemap

An XML Sitemap lists all important pages of a website that search engines need to know about.

It’s normal for a website to have a lot of pages but not all are useful to search engines. To make their job easier, you can create and submit an XML sitemap via the Google Search Console.

Sitemaps are not only used for discovery purposes but it’s also a great way to inform search engines about updates in your site structure or content.

You can read this guide, how to optimize your XML sitemap for step-by-step instructions.

Use Canonical URLS

A canonical URL tells search engine crawlers which version of a page they should index.

For example, if you have different pages for desktop and mobile with the same content, you need to tell Google, that these pages are the same.

If you don’t do it, Google will either only index one of the versions or get confused, something that can negatively affect your rankings.

Best practices are:

Set a preferred domain – Google has a feature in the old Google Search console which you can use to specify how you want Google to treat your pages.

In the eyes of Google, these are two different websites (although it’s the same domain):

  • http://www.example.com
  • http://example.com

Specify a canonical URL for all pages – Each and every page of your website needs to specify a canonical URL in the header.

If you are using WordPress, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin and it will do it for you automatically, if not read these guidelines and have a developer make the necessary changes to your CMS.

Use ALT Text for Images

Making images accessible to search engines is also a principle of good SEO web design.

Images make a page more interesting and easier to read, but search engine crawlers cannot easily understand what an image is about.

To make their job easier and increase your chances of getting traffic from Image Search, you need to optimize your images.

The most important image SEO factor is providing for a valid and meaningful ALT Text.

Image SEO Best Practices

You can read the Image SEO Guide for instructions on how to optimize your images for maximum SEO.

Add Structured Data Markup

Besides images a website may include other multimedia elements such as videos, podcasts and audio.

While search engines can index these elements, they need help in understand their context.

This is one of the ways schemas and structured data can help. Structured data are special tags you can add to your HTML code to give search engines more information about certain elements of a page.

I strongly recommend to read this guide: what is schema for more information on how to use structured data to make your websites easier to read by bots.

2. Website Structure

Having a simple and well-organized site structure is vital for good web design.

The way search engines work is by crawling the homepage of a website and then follow any links from there to discover and index more pages.

For best practices, any page on your website should be accessible from the homepage in three clicks or less.

It’s always best to organize your website in a hierarchical manner. Your hierarchy should be no more than 2 or 3 levels deep.

SEO Optimized Site Structure

As you can see in the example above, any page can be accessed from the homepage in 2 clicks.

Having a breadcrumb menu that allows the users to go back to the previous level and eventually to the homepage is highly recommended.

You can scroll up and look at my breadcrumb menu. It allows you to go back to LEVEL 1 (category page) and also to the homepage.

You can read this guide: Best website structure for SEO for more practical tips on how to optimize your site structure.

3. URL Structure

A good URL structure should match and support the website structure.

By URL structure we mean the format of your permalinks (also known as slugs).

An SEO friendly URL structure has the following characteristics:

  • URLs are short and informative i.e. reliablesoft.net/become-an-seo-expert
  • It includes SEO keywords in the URL (see the URL of this post as an example)
  • It does not include dates in the URL
  • It points directly to the page i.e. reliablesoft.net/seo-career unless a page is part of a folder i.e. reliablesoft.net/courses/seo
4. Internal Link Structure

Good SEO practices indicate that the pages of a webpage should be interlinked together to form a small web.

There are several reasons as to why this makes a website SEO Friendlier:

  • It helps crawling and indexing
  • It helps you build topic relevancy
  • It helps you direct traffic to the most important pages of your website.
  • It’s a great way to make your SEO stronger.

How to improve your internal link structure?

Make sure that all your important pages are linked to from the homepage.

Make sure that all your important pages are linked to from other pages of your website. You can view the internal links report in Google Search Console and make the necessary adjustments.

Internal Links – Best Practices

For more information make sure you read: Internal linking best practices for SEO.

5. On Page SEO Optimization

Any page published on your website should be optimized for search engines.

This includes:

You can click on the above links for specific information on how to optimize each page but the general on-page SEO principles you should always follow are:

Work on your page titles

Optimizing your pages titles is perhaps the single most important SEO factor.

A well optimized title helps both search engines and users understand what the page is about and this translates to more clicks to your page and higher rankings.

Work on your headings

A good visual design splits a page into several ‘virtual’ sections. This is especially useful for long pages with lots of information (whether this is text, images or videos).

Each section should have its own optimized heading. This makes a page easier to read for both search crawlers and users.

Technically this means that a page should have one H1 Tag (for the main title), several H2 tags for the heading sections and H3 tags for subsections.

This is how it looks visually:

Example of Optimized Homepage H1 Tag 6. User Experience

Last but not least, SEO web design gives special attention to the user experience.

As already mentioned in the beginning, a successful design doesn’t have to do with colors and fonts but with making the overall experience of the user better.

This can be achieved by concentrating on the following factors:

Website Speed

Both Google and users want websites that load fast.

What do we mean by fast websites? A website that loads in less than 3 seconds on mobile using a 3G connection.

If you have tried to improve the loading speed of your website, you know that it’s very hard to get it down to 3 seconds. Nevertheless, you should aim to make your website as fast as possible.

It’s a technical subject and you will need the help of an experienced developer or web designer but it certainly worth the effort.

You can use the revamped page speed insights report (a tool provided by Google to help webmasters makes the website faster), as your starting point.

Page Speed Insights Report

Mobile friendliness

Did you know that 60% of Google searches are now performed on mobile devices? What does this number tell you?

You should follow a ‘mobile-first’ approach when designing your website.

Instead of designing your website for desktop and then optimize it for mobile, you should do it the other way around.

It’s not easy, you need to find really good web designers that can do this, but it will certainly make the experience of your users better.

If you already have a website, then make sure that your websites pass the mobile friendly test without any problems.

Next, use a tool like optimizely or Hotjar or any other similar software to monitor how users interact with your mobile website and make the necessary improvements.

These tools can produce a heatmap (like the example below) or even video record user sessions so that you can see how users experience your website.

Website Heatmap Report

Website Security

Website security is not a design factors but it’s a big user experience factor.

Your website has to be secured (https) and protect user information in the best possible way.

Where applicable you should also prove to users that the website is secure by showing logos or other relevant information.

RankBrain UX-Signals

RankBrain is a machine learning process that is part of the Google ranking algorithm.

One of the jobs of RankBrain is to analyze certain UX-Signals and find out which websites users like to visit for a particular query.

What this means in simple words is that Google may improve the ranking of a website if there is evidence that people like it better than websites already in higher positions on the SERPS.

How is this related with website design?

When users like a webpage it means that they are spending time on a page, reading the content, interacting with the site and visiting more pages before they exit.

If that’s not the case, then there is probably something wrong with your website and you need to find out what and fix it.

Creating an optimized website is not a set it and forget it task. It’s an ongoing process that needs constant analysis and testing.

But, you should not start making changes on what you ‘think’ is better.

Instead, you should make changes based on informed decisions by analyzing the user behavior on your site.

Analyzing user behavior on your site

Programs like Google Analytics can help you get insight into how users behave on your site.

You can view several analytic reports and find out:

  • Time users spend on a webpage and site
  • The bounce rate of a page i.e. how many people exit the website without interacting with your content
  • Your top landing and exit pages – which pages they visit first and which pages they visit last before they leave

Knowing this information can help you figure out which pages need your attention and most importantly to measure the impact of optimizations you make to your site.

Bounce Rate in Google Analytics Reports

For more details, read: How to improve SEO with Google Analytics

Conclusion

SEO web design is about creating websites that both users and search engines love. Don’t spend all your time on the visual aspect of a website but give more attention to the user experience and usability.

A website that looks great on desktop but is too slow on mobile will not help you get organic traffic and rankings.

What users (and search engines) want today are websites that are fast, secure and mobile friendly.

Test your website thoroughly and analyze the user behavior using different tools and make informed decisions on how to improve your design, structure and content.

The post What is SEO Friendly Web Design appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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How long should a blog post be for maximum SEO? What is the optimal blog post length for SEO? How many words should you write in a blog post so that it gets better rankings?

These are questions that I get very often in the comments and in this post, I will help you understand how many words to make your blog posts.

The ideal blog post length

How long should a blog post be? Various research studies over the last 10 years concluded that long form content tends to rank higher in Search results compared to short form content. Although, the number of words varies per niche, the ideal blog post length is between 1000 and 2000 words.

Factors that you need to consider before deciding how long to make your blog posts are:

1. Type of post

The length of a blog post depends on its type.

If you are running a news blog, then the length of the post depends on the available information you have, related to the story you are covering.

People reading news don’t like to read unnecessary information just because you want to make your blog posts longer, but they need to get the ‘facts’ and this is what your focus should be.

So, in this case the length of a post depends on the ‘source’.

If on the other hand, you are reviewing a new smartphone, then in this case you should try and provide as much meaningful information as possible.

Notice here the word ‘meaningful’ which means that you shouldn’t sacrifice the blog post quality for length.

In other words, while you want to have many words in your blog, don’t repeat yourself or provide information that is not relevant with your topic as this will decrease the overall quality of your content.

In addition to the type, you should not forget the purpose of a post.

There are cases where the objective of a blog post is fulfilled with less words.

For example, a classified ad has the purpose of presenting a product or service in only a few sentences, so in this case the purpose of a post defines the length as well.

2. What does Google want?

The first step I take before writing a new blog post is to search Google for my title (or focus SEO keywords) and quickly analyze the type and length of blog posts that are in the first page of the search results.

This is an easy and quick way to find out what Google likes about a particular topic.

For example, before writing the blog post you are reading now, I did my research and found out that the number of words for the first 5 results on Google are:

  • Position 1: 640 words
  • Position 2: 2216 words
  • Position 3: 4000 words
  • Position 4:  2246 words
  • Position 5:  959 words

As you can see the range is very big, from 640 words to 4000 words! But 3 out of the 5 entries have 2000+ words.

This tells me that Google likes long form content for this search term but it all comes down to the quality of the content and domain authority.

Websites ranking in position 1 and 5 are high authority domains so they have an advantage over the other three domains.

It’s a fact that high authority websites can rank higher and without too much effort compared to websites with a not so high Google trust.

Important Note: To make sure that everybody is on the same line: it does not mean that if I publish a blog post that is 2000+ words, it will rank in the first positions of Google. There are many other SEO factors that play a role in rankings, the above test is just an indication of what Google likes in terms of word length for the particular topic and nothing else.

You can follow the above technique for all types of blog posts and get an idea of what your competitors are publishing and what Google prefers to show in their top positions for that topic.

Google Guidelines

In a recent document published by Google, known as the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, it talks about content length and although it does not specify a word count, it does mention the phrase, a satisfying amount of high quality content.

Google Guidelines on the amount of Content a high quality page has

In particular it states the following: “High quality information pages should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A high-quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a high quality page on a narrower topic.”

3. Blog Post Length – Research Studies

If you search Google for studies related to how many words a blog post should be, you will find three important sources.

Ahrefs

A study by Ahrefs found a strong relationship between content length and ranking position. Longer content tends to rank higher in the SERPS. The number of words (media) for the 1st position of Google was 750 words.

Ahrefs Blog Post Length Study

SEMRUSH

SEMRUSH’s study found similar results and also revealed two more important points:

  • Pages that rank higher in the results have more content than lower ranking pages
  • Pages that rank for high volume / popular keywords have 150% more content that low volume keywords.
SEMRUSH Content Length Study

Backlinko

Backlinko’s study found that the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.

Backlinko Word Count Study

Other studies by moz, medium and hubspot tend to agree with the above findings.

The resume from all research studies is the following:

  • The optimal length of a blogpost is between 1000 – 2000 words.
  • Longer posts generally perform better in search
  • Posts that are more than 2000 words receive more social shares
  • The average word length for a blogpost found in the first 5 positions of Google was aprx1800 words.

The bottom line is that research shows that longer posts are more valuable for a blog (both in terms of SEO, social shares and engagement) than shorter posts.

So, how many words should I write for my next blog post?

It should be obvious by now that my preference and recommendation is to go with long articles (above 1500 words) and this is why:

  • By publishing long and informative evergreen content you can steadily increase your organic traffic both in the short and long term. Read how I increased my blog traffic to 400K visits per month using this approach.
  • It is a fact that long content performs better in Google.
  • It is also a fact that long type articles get more social media attention and comments.
  • It is easier to provide unique and original content if your articles are long. Short content is more difficult to be differentiated from other short content that is already published on the web.
  • Long articles (provided that they are interesting), take more time to read so users spend more time on your site which is good.
  • With long articles you can easily add more internal links to other pages in your website and keep users engaged and at the same time reduce your bounce rate.
  • When running contextual ads (for example AdSense), you can maximize your earnings because the ads will be more relevant and you will have ‘more space’ to show your ad units without making your website full of ads.
  • Long, unique and valuable content is the real asset of a website which also increases the selling price of a website or blog. If you are planning on selling your website at some point then having long articles will get you more money because they are not easy to produce.
  • It’s a way to differentiate your blog from the rest. If the majority of the blogs in your niche publish short to medium content and you can publish good longer content, over time you will gain an advantage in SEO.
  • Last but not least, let’s not forget that blog posts that are explaining a topic in detail will keep your users happy and they will come back for more valuable content.

Long content is more difficult to create, what should I do?

I know from experience that is much more difficult to create long content and at the same time maintain your publishing schedule so here are some tips to consider:

  • Before committing to a publishing schedule make sure that you have some posts ready in advance. If you decide to go with 3 articles per week then make sure that you prepare at least 6 posts finished before start publishing. This will give you enough time to catch up and keep to a schedule.
  • Decide on your post titles in advance. When working on a schedule you should spend most of your time in producing the content than researching and thinking of the titles to use. Spend some time in advance and create the article titles you will need for the whole month.
  • When creating long posts, it is easier to break the post into several parts, each part with its own heading, rather than having one big post with no sections. It is easier for both the writer and the reader.
  • Make long blog posts easier to read by adding lists (where applicable), making short paragraphs and giving special attention to the formatting of the text.

What is your take on the optimum word length of a blog post, do you agree with the research findings and my recommendations?

The post How long should a blog post be for SEO? appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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You may have heard that Google is using more than 200 factors before deciding which websites to show on top of the search results and while this is true, not all ranking factors are equal.

In this article I will explain the most important search engine ranking factors you should know about and show you how to optimize your website to achieve higher rankings in search engines.

Let’s start with a couple of popular questions people ask about search engine rankings.

What do we mean by Search Engine Ranking Factors? SEO ranking factors are rules used by search engines during the ranking process to decide which pages to show in the search engine results pages (SERPS) and in what order.

Why is it important to know about the different SEO ranking factors? The answer is simple. If you want your website to rank high in search engine’s organic results and get traffic, you need to make sure that you adhere to these rules.

Google ranking factors change all the time, how do I keep up with the changes? It is true that search engines, especially Google, are making a lot of changes to their ranking algorithms per year. Their goal is to improve the quality of their search results and keep their users happy.

Nevertheless, there are some ranking signals that are the foundation of Search Engine Optimization for years now. Google might be using more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithm but not all factors are equal.

Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors

Here is a list of the 10 most important ranking factors you should care about.

  1. A Website Optimized for Technical SEO
  2. Website Security (HTTPS)
  3. Domain Authority
  4. Mobile Friendliness
  5. Webpage Speed (both Desktop and Mobile)
  6. Content Quality
  7. On-Page SEO Ranking Factors
  8. User Experience
  9. Brand reputation
  10. Links from Trusted Websites
1. A Website Optimized for Technical SEO

This is coming first in the list and for a reason. If search engines cannot access your website properly, then you shouldn’t expect much in terms of rankings.

The way search engines work can be grouped into three main stages:

  • Discovery
  • Crawling and Indexing
  • Ranking

During the discovery stage, they find all publicly available web pages. Then during crawling they extract the information they need and add it to their index so that it can be used by the ranking algorithms during the ranking process.

How Search Engines Work

It’s your job to ensure that during this process, search engine bots can access your website without any blockings and that you assist them in completing this task as fast as possible.

This is known in the SEO World as Technical SEO.

You can do this by:

Recommended Reading: Technical SEO GuideBest Practices for higher rankings.

2. Website Security (HTTPS)

One of the known ranking factors is website security. Websites that have an SSL enabled and serve links as HTTPS have a comparative advantage over non-secure websites.

By comparative advantage we mean that other things being equal, a website that has HTTPS enabled will rank higher than a website that is not secured.

If your website is not https yet, add this task on top of your list.

Recommended Reading: How to migrate your website to https without losing SEO.

3. Domain Authority

Next in the list is domain authority, a very important ranking factor.

Search engines want to show the best possible web sites in their results and one of the factors they use in deciding, is the authority of a domain.

The authority of a domain is determined by:

Domain age: Older domains tend to rank higher than newer domains. The average age of a page on the top results of Google is 3 years.

Age of Pages and Google Rankings

This does not mean that new websites cannot achieve high ranking but it is more difficult and it will take more time than established websites.

Domain status: A domain to be eligible to rank, it has to be free of Google penalties.

If you’ve owned your domain from the beginning then this is not something you should worry about. If you bought a domain that was already registered, you need to check that it’s free of Google penalties.

Recommended Reading: How to check if your website is penalized by Google.

Domain reputation: This has to do with how other websites (and people) perceive your domain.

One of the biggest factors, as we will see below, is incoming links but reputation is also related with what people say about your brand.

A domain with good reputation is more likely to achieve better rankings than a domain with no reputation at all.

Domain Authority: Google is using an internal metric called PageRank to calculate the authority of a webpage.

Websites that are in the top positions of Google have a higher PageRank than websites in the lower positions.

Google no longer gives information about PageRank so a number of companies (moz.com, semrush.com, ahrefs.com) came up with their own system to calculate the authority of a domain.

You can use these metrics as a guide to improve your domain score but this is not directly related with rankings.

Recommended Reading: Increase the authority of your domain by following these 7 practical steps and how to do SEO for a new website when you have a limited budget.

4. Mobile Friendliness

Another factor that is known to affect search engine rankings is mobile friendliness.

Mobile searches make up more than 60% of the total searches made on Google each month.

A website that is not optimized for mobiles, will not show up in mobile search results and this immediately excludes the possibility of getting any mobile traffic.

5. Webpage Speed (both Desktop and Mobile)

For a long time now, page speed is another known Google ranking factor. Google is obsessed about making the web faster and decided to reward faster websites with better rankings.

Having a fast website is also good for your users. Many studies have shown that slow loading websites are losing customers and driving users away.

Webpage Speed Importance

To make your website faster, follow these proven tips:

  • Upgrade your website software to the latest version
  • Use a caching plugin
  • Use the latest version of PHP (if you are on WordPress)
  • Use a VPS hosting and not shared
  • Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) Service
  • Optimize and compress your images
  • Optimize and compress your HTMLS, CSS and JavaScript
6. Content Quality

The quality of the content you publish on your website is by far the most important SEO ranking factor of all.

When we talk about content that is published online, quality is measured using these three factors:

  • Uniqueness
  • Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness (EAT)
  • Relevancy

Content Uniqueness

First in the list is uniqueness. Any piece of content that is published on your website has to be unique and not a duplicate of what is already available on other websites.

This means that re-publishing an article from Forbes because you found it interesting (even if you properly cited the source), won’t help your website rank.

Google knowns that the particular article first appeared on Forbes and it will just ignore yours.

It won’t punish your website for this but it won’t reward it either. But, if you keep publishing duplicate content and have no unique content of your own, this will reduce your ‘Google Trust’ and make it very difficult to rank on Google.

Recommended Reading: What is thin contentA guide on how to find and fix thin content pages.

Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness (EAT)

Search engines don’t want to show untrusted content in their search results. During the ranking phase they look for signals to help them identify content written by ‘experts’ who have ‘authority’ and ‘trustworthiness’.

This is not a new concept but Google raised its importance by adding it in the Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines.

It particularly states that E-A-T is applicable for all types of websites and it gives some examples of how E-A-T can be applied in practice.

Importance of Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness for Rankings.

What you should do to improve E-A-T is the following:

  • Make sure that each page has an author. You can add the author bio at the bottom of each page with a link to the full author bio.
  • Make sure that your ‘About’ page explains who you are and why your company and authors are experts on the topics.
  • Showcase any awards or mentions from trusted websites that can prove your authority.
  • Invest in promoting your personal brand and the reputation of your authors.
  • Make sure that your website is secure
  • Try to get good reviews published in other trusted sources. Depending on your niche you may seek reviews in Google My Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, BBB etc.
  • If applicable try to get a Wikipedia page for your website and authors
  • If you are selling products or services online, make sure that you have a privacy policy and a refund policy.
  • Get mentions on authoritative sites like major news publications, big forums, leading industry websites.

Recommended Reading: Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

7. On-Page SEO Ranking Factors

Besides proving to search engines that they can ‘trust’ you, you also need to give them signals through your page structure to help them understand the meaning of your content.

This is what On Page SEO is all about.

This is achieved by sending them the right signals through your content and in particular:

Does your page title match what the user is searching?

The page title is the most important on page SEO factor. This is what users see in the search results and it is one of the elements used by search engines to get a very good idea of what a page is all about.

To optimize your titles for both users and search engines, you need to ensure that they include SEO keywords.

Example of an Optimized Page Title

SEO Keywords are the exact phrases users type in the search box. By including keywords in your title, search engines can associate your content with specific search queries and this increases your chances of ranking for those terms.

It also encourages users to click on your search snippet since it closely matches what they are looking for.

Recommended Reading: How to optimize your page titles

Headings and Subheadings

A well-optimized page structure has headings and subheadings. Headings make the page easier to read by both search crawlers and users.

In most cases, a page has one H1 heading and multiple subheadings (h2 and h3). These are laid out in a hierarchical structure i.e. H1 -> H2 > H3.

Headings should also include keywords and phrases users can recognize.

Recommended Reading: How to optimize your website headings

Internal Link Structure

Internal links are links pointing to pages on the same website.

Each and every piece of content that you publish on your website needs to have at least one link pointing to another page on your website.

Internal links should be placed in the BODY of the page and should be relevant to the content.

By adding internal links to your content:

  • You assist both search engines and users discover more pages on your website.
  • Help in building topic relevancy
  • Gives users more information about a topic

Recommended Reading: Internal linking best practices for SEO.

 Image and multimedia elements Optimization

Search engines don’t only index text content but they also index videos, audio (podcasts) and of course images.

The problem is that non-text elements are difficult to be interpreted accurately by crawlers.

It is thus important to optimize them for SEO by giving search crawlers the necessary signals.

For example:

  • For images, you can optimize the filename and also provide for an ALT text.
  • For videos, you can add a video schema.
  • For podcasts you can add the podcast schema.

There are various ways to make non-text elements easier to index. The following guides can help you out:

  • SEO for Images: A complete guide on how to SEO optimize your images
  • Schema Markup – An introduction to schemas and structured data and how they can help you improve your rankings.

Add Semantically Related Keywords in Content

Last but not least, one factor that can affect the position your website appears in Search is the use of the keywords within your content. This is known in SEO as Content SEO.

Content SEO can help you pick up the right keywords to embed in your content so as to make it more relevant to what the user is searching.

Besides adding your main keywords in the titles and headings (as mentioned above), you also need to add semantically related keywords in your content.

Semantically related keywords are words or phrases that are related to each conceptually.

Look at the following example:

Semantic SEO Example

Google can understand that the meaning of the words ‘replace’ and ‘change’ are the same (in this context).

Recommended Reading: You can read my SEO keywords guide for more information on how to find and use semantically related keywords in your content.

8. User Experience

One of the signals used by the Google ranking algorithm is RankBrain. RankBrain is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to rank websites based on user experience and behavior.

So, the ranking algorithm considers all the factors discussed in this article and it also uses input from RankBrain before making a final decision.

Some of the signals used are:

CTR (clickthrough rate) – CTR is the percentage of people that click on a search snippet that shows in the SERPS.

If the system spots a pattern where more people click on a search snippet that is lower in the results than what is on the top, the algorithm may push that snippet higher in the page.

Pogosticking – When users click on your search snippet, visit your website and immediately go back to the search results, then this is an indication that they are not happy with the what they saw.

Bounce rate and dwell time – Similar to pogosticking, users visit your website and leave immediately because they did not find the information they were looking.

Recommended Reading: How to reduce your bounce rate

9. Brand reputation

This SEO ranking factor doesn’t have to do with backlinks (we will deal with links below), but with the importance of having a good brand reputation.

Brand reputation is this context means to have a community of people talking and mentioning your brand in the online world.

Mentioning doesn’t necessarily mean adding a link back to your website but simply discussing about your brand in the different social networks and forums.

From a webmaster’s perceptive, you should do everything you can to promote your brand online. Whether it’s through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or popular forums in your industry.

If you get people to talk and search for your brand name in Google, this will eventually translate to a strong signal for the ranking algorithms.

10. Links from Trusted Websites

Back in the 90’s the Google founders, came up with a brilliant idea.

Websites that have

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You probably already know that keywords are important for SEO but what do we actually mean when we talk about SEO keywords? How can you find the right keywords for your website and more importantly, how to use those keywords in your content and maximize your SEO?

These are some of the questions I will answer in this post.

What are SEO Keywords?

Let’s start with a definition. SEO Keywords are words or phrases (search terms) that people use when searching for information through a search engine.

By adding those keywords in your content, you increase your chances of appearing in the search results for those terms.

SEO Keywords make it easier for search engines to understand what your content is all about and help users find the information they need.

Why are keywords important?

As you might have already guessed, keywords are very important for SEO.

Without using the right SEO keywords in your content, search engines have a hard time understanding the meaning of your content. And this diminishes your chances of getting organic traffic to your website.

The way search engines work is by matching the user search queries with pages available in their index.

During the crawling and indexing phase, search engine crawlers visit a webpage. They extract the information they need and add it to their index. They use this information later during the ‘matching’ process (also referred to as the ranking process).

Part of the information they extract is the keywords a web page is associated with.

If during this process your website is associated with the wrong keywords, then you have no chances of appearing high in the results for the keywords that matter for your website.

Let me give you an example to understand this better.

Let’s say you want to rank for [electric bicycles]. You create a page and showcase your products (product name, images of the products, etc.).

Unless you mention on the page that they are electric, Google will most probably associate your page with bicycles and this not what you want.

What you should do instead is to find out which keywords people use as search terms when they look for electric bicycles and make sure that these keywords are part of your content.

Different types of SEO keywords

Keywords are classified in two categories: head keywords and long tail keywords.

Head keywords (also known as seed keywords) usually consist of one or two words and have a high search volume.

Long tail keywords consist of more words, have less search volume compared to head keywords but make up 70% of all searches.

Long Tail Keywords – Search Curve

What is important to understand at this point is that head keywords may have more search volume but they are also highly competitive.

This means that thousands of websites are competing for one of the top positions in the SERPS and this makes it almost impossible for new websites (or small businesses) to rank for these terms.

The solution is to focus on long-tail keywords.

They have less search volume but with the right SEO plan, it is possible to rank in the top positions of Google and get targeted organic traffic to your website.

How to choose keywords for SEO

Let’s see how to choose the “right” SEO keywords to use in your content.

This process is known in SEO as keyword research.

Step 1: Decide for which ‘search terms’ you want to be known for

Your first step is to spend some time thinking about the following:

  • For which search terms do you want to be known for online
  • What words or search phrases people might use in the search engines to find you
  • Which words best describe your products or services
  • Which words describe your niche better

The outcome of the above exercise should be a list of phrases that we’ll use to turn into a keyword list in the next step.

Step 2: Create a Keyword list

To create a keyword list, you need to take the list created above and associate it with the actual keywords people type in the search box i.e. SEO Keywords.

To do that we need the help of keyword research tools. There are a lot of tools you can use but my recommended tools are the Google Keyword Planner (Free) and SEMRUSH (Paid).

Google keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is part of Google Ads and it’s offered by Google for free for the Google Ads customers.

Nevertheless, it’s a great keyword research tool and you can use it to find your SEO keywords.

Go to Google Ads and create an account. Follow the steps to create a draft campaign so that the system will allow you to access the Keyword Planner.

Once you are done with the draft campaign, select TOOLS > KEYWORD PLANNER.

Access the Google Keyword Planner

Click on FIND NEW KEYWORDS

For the sake of this example, let’s say that you are a dog trainer selling an online course teaching people how to train their dogs.

If you enter the relevant keywords in the keyword planner, you will be present with a list of keywords ideas matching your selected topics.

How to Find SEO Keywords using the Keyword Planner

Notice that besides the keywords, the tool has a few more columns.

The ‘Average Monthly Searches’ shows you how many searches are performed on Google per month for that term and the ‘Competition’ gives you an idea of how competitive a keyword is.

By ‘competitive’ we mean how many people are bidding to advertise for that keyword on Google Ads.

Remember that the keyword planner is a tool for Google PPC Ads and not for SEO search results.

Select some of the keywords that are highly relevant to your website and products, both ‘head’ and ‘long-tail keywords’, add them to a spreadsheet and move on to the next step.

Step 3: Find Semantic SEO Keywords

The next step is to find keywords related to your target keywords. These keywords are known as semantic keywords or LSI keywords.

A semantic keyword is a keyword that is strongly related with another keyword.

The reason you want to do this is because Google no longer ranks pages that target individual keywords but it’s more targeted to topics.

So, by finding LSI keywords for your main keywords and including them in your content, you help Google get a better understanding about your content and this translates to higher rankings.

The best way to find LSI keywords is to use the LSI Keyword Generator and Google search.

LSI Keyword Generator

Go to LSI Graph and your head keywords and click search. Take note of the keywords and add them in a second column in your spreadsheet.

How to Find Semantic SEO Keywords

Google Search

When you search for a keyword in Google, there are 2 ways to find out what Google considers to be the related keywords for a given search term.

The first one is to look at the “People also ask” section.

People Also Ask – Keyword Ideas

And the second one is the “Searches related to…” section.

Google Related Searches

SEMRUSH

SEMRUSH is my favorite keyword research tool.

Among many other useful features, it has  two very powerful tools for keyword research.

The first is the “Keyword Magic Tool” and the second one is the “Topic Research”.

With SEMRUSH, you don’t have to go through the process of creating an account with the Google Keyword Planner or going to LSIGraph and Google search to find related keywords.

Everything is done within SEMRUSH.

Keyword Magic Tool

The first step is to create an account (there is a 7 Day Free Trial).

Then select KEYWORD MAGIC TOOL under KEYWORD ANALYTICS.

Type in your head keyword and click SEARCH.

Find SEO keywords with the Keyword Magic Tool

SEMRUSH will group related keywords together.

Sort the keywords by volume and KD (Keyword Difficulty). Unlike the Google Keyword Planner, KD refers to how difficult to RANK for a particular keyword in Google.

A metric very useful since what you want is to pick the right SEO keywords that have higher search volume and lower KD score.

Topic Research

Remember what I mentioned above that Google now ranks websites based on Topics and not just keywords?

The Topic Research tool will help you find long-tail keywords related to a topic.

Click TOPIC RESEARCH from the left menu and type in our main head keyword.

Topic Research with SEMRUSH

What you see on the right (under Interesting Questions), is questions related to your niche. It’s similar to “People also ask” but more comprehensive since it includes questions from various sources.

How can you take advantage of this?

These questions can help you build TOPIC RELEVANCY, which is what you want if your goal is to rank higher on Google.

How can you do this in practice? Optimize your homepage for your head keywords and then create content (through a blog) targeting each of the questions (which in essence it’s the long tail keywords).

Make sure that within your blogs, you link to your main pages.

How to use SEO Keywords in your Content

Doing good keyword research and having a keyword list, is not enough.

In order to benefit from this process, you need to know how to use those keywords in your content.

This is known as SEO Content, which is a subset of On Page SEO.

Here are some tips to follow:

Optimize your Homepage for your main keyword

Homepage SEO is very important. Search engines start the crawling process from the homepage and follow up any links from there.

When it comes to keyword optimization, you should optimize your homepage for your main head keywords (even if their keyword difficulty is very high).

The reason is that you want to make it clear to both crawlers and users, what your website is all about.

Create a separate page for each of your main keywords

Let’s say that your company sells services (like my company), you need to create a page for each of your services, each page to be optimized for a main keyword.

Look at how my services page is organized.

I have a summary page for all my services and individual pages for each of the services we offer. Each page is optimized for a specific keyword.

Create pieces of content to target long-tail keywords

Once you are done with the main keywords, it’s time to utilize the power of blogging and start creating content targeting long-tail keywords.

You can use the results of topic research to decide which keywords to target in your blog posts.

Optimize your content with SEO keywords

When writing the content for both your pages and blog posts, you need to make sure that:

Use keywords in the URL – you include your target keyword in the page URL.

Use keywords in the page title – you include your target keyword in the page title.

Use keywords in the H1 Tag – you include your target keyword (or close variations) is the h1 tag

Use long-tail keywords as subheadings (h2, h3) – you include related keywords in your subheadings

Use LSI keywords in your content – you include LSI keywords within you copy.

The following guides will help you understand this better:

SEO Keywords: Final Advice

Picking up the right keywords for your website is important.

When choosing keywords, try to think outside the box and consider all possible search phrases people might use in search engines to find your products.

Add those keywords in a spreadsheet and take advantage of the data provided by the different keyword tools, to expand your keyword list as much as possible.

Group your keywords into two categories. First are the keywords to use in your homepage and main website pages and second the keywords to use in your blog.

Follow the on-page SEO tips outlined above to intelligently include keywords in your copy but always make sure that you pay special attention to the quality of the content.

Publish content related to your target topics to create content relevancy and watch your rankings and traffic increase.

The post What are SEO Keywords and How to Find Them appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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Images are important for SEO. A recent study that analyzed in detail 1 million Google search results concluded that web pages with at least one image had better rankings than content with no images.

In this Image SEO Guide, you will learn how to SEO your images for greater visibility in Search Engines.

Besides their SEO value, images and other media elements (videos, audio) are vital to your content’s success for a number of other reasons.

SEO Benefits from using images in your content

  1. They make your content more interesting and this means visitors are more likely to actually read your article. It is not a surprise that content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content with out.
  2. Your readers are more likely to share a page with image(s) in social media and the shared post has more changes of getting more social media attention than plain text posts. According to a recent study by Buffer, posts with images get 150% more retweets.
  3. They make it easier for you (the writer), to explain a concept or make a point stronger.
  4. It’s another easy way to enforce your SEO by giving search engines the right signals on what your content is about through images.
  5. Your images can rank higher in Google Image Search and get more traffic to your website.
How to Optimize Your Images for Search Engines

There are several elements to SEO optimize when using images in your content. Let’s see below how to best optimize your images.

1. Optimize the Image Filename

The name of the image is the first thing to check, before even uploading to your website.

Image Filenames should be informative and accurately describe the image.

When you purchase an image, or take a photo using your phone, they usually have names like DC0001IMG.jpg (or similar) that do not make any sense.

Instead, you should rename your image to a more meaningful name i.e. “nexus-6p-rear-view.jpg” or “link-building-guidelines.png”.

In other words, the filename should describe the image in the least number of words possible.

2. Optimize the Image file size

As a general rule of thumb the smaller the image size is (in bytes) the better.

Large images take longer to load and this can negatively impact the user experience especially for mobile users.

A good practice is to use image optimization tools that can reduce the file size of an image without losing quality.

For all the images I use in my posts, I first open them in Pixelmator (similar to Photoshop), resize them and then export them in png or jpg.

Before uploading to my website, I optimize their file size with imageoptim. This reduces the file size without affecting the quality.

Besides imageoptim another great tool to use is image compressor (available online).

3. Use Responsive images

Since version 4.4, there is native support for responsive images in WordPress.

This means that when you upload an image to your pages or posts, WordPress will create a number of smaller images in different sizes and will automatically fetch those to users depending on the device they are using.

If you are not on WordPress, you can implement responsive images using CSS. This guide can help you get started.

Here is an example of how responsive images work:

You upload a big image (1000×600) to your post. The file size of the image is 100KB. When users on mobile view your page, they won’t have to download this image and waste their bandwidth but WordPress will automatically show users an image that is 320×200 in size and only 15KB.

The result is less bandwidth and faster loading speeds.

4. Optimize the Image Alt Text

Alt text is the most important element for image SEO.

Search engine crawlers are not so good in understanding what an image is about and although they are getting better year by year on image recognition, they still need the help of the ALT Text.

Why is ALT Text important?

Alt text is used to describe the contents of an image to bots and also as a guide for people that are visually impaired and cannot actually see the image.

When writing ALT text of your images have the following in mind:

  • Don’t use dashes in your alt text. Write normally and try to describe in a few words what the image is about.
  • Use keywords that are relevant to the content of the page but don’t overdo it.
  • Keep your alt text short and to the point
  • Some people (including me) tend to use the post title as the alt text of the featured image and although this is not the most efficient way, it is acceptable and a common practice.
  • See below what Google an example given by Google about the use of ALT TEXT.
Image SEO Alt Text Example 5. Optimize the Image Caption and Title

Besides the ALT text, search engines can use the image title and caption to better understand the subject matter of your image, so it is necessary to provide them with these values.

6. Optimize Image Placement

You can position your images anywhere you want in the page but if you want a particular image to be taken into account by search engines as an important image of your content (may it’s a custom image you did that is unique, original and useful), then you need to add it closer to the top with the relevant alt text, image title and caption.

7. Don’t add Important Text Inside an Image

Avoid having text in an image that is important for users to read. Embed text is hard to read by both search engines and users. To describe an image to users use the caption and to search engines use the ALT Text.

8. Add Structured Data (Image Schema)

Schemas help search engines understand the content of a page better. In case of images, you can implement the image schema by adding the relevant structured data markup on your pages.

Google can then display your images as rich results and drive more traffic to your website.

Further Reading: What is Schema Markup in SEO

9. Add Open graph meta tags

Open graph is a protocol introduced by Facebook. The concept is similar to schema markup where you use tags to help crawlers identify the important parts of your content and their meaning.

Open graph tags allow you to specify which image Facebook (and other social networks) will use when users click the SHARE or LIKE buttons from your website.

When you have a page with more than one images, you can use the og:image tags to tell FB which image to use.

The best way to add open graph protocol support to your WordPress website is to install the Yoast SEO Plugin.

10. Use an Image Sitemap

I have explained the importance of having an optimized XML sitemap in a previous post, for Image SEO purposes you can further enrich your sitemap to provide information about your images or use a dedicated image sitemap.

If you choose to include images in your existing sitemap, you can use the example below as guide:

Image Sitemap Example

If you use Yoast SEO to generate the XML sitemap, images are already included so you don’t need a separate sitemap for images.

11. Avoid having images and no text

Don’t forget that search engines cannot read the text if it is embedded in an image so for maximum SEO avoid having pages full of images and no text.

Image SEO Checklist

Here is your image SEO checklist:

  • Optimize the image Filename
  • Optimize the image file size
  • Use responsive images
  • Optimize the image alt text
  • Optimize the image caption and title
  • Optimize Image Placement
  • Don’t add important text inside an image
  • Add structured data (Image Schema)
  • Add Open graph meta tags
  • Use an image sitemap
  • Avoid having images and no text
Conclusion

Images are important from an SEO perceptive and are also vital for making your content more interesting and readable.

From my experience, many people don’t do any SEO optimization when using images in their content and this an SEO mistake that has to be avoided..

Image SEO Best Practices

As you have read above, image SEO is a straightforward task. You reduce the file size as much as possible, give it a meaningful file name, provide for an ALT text, write a title and caption and add it to your sitemap.

It’s not a time consuming task and the benefits are much more than the extra time it takes to do it.

The post SEO for Images: A Complete Guide (With Checklist) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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One of the most useful tools you can use to improve your SEO is Google Analytics.

Among other things, Analytics can give you a lot of data related to the performance of your website in search engines.

You can use Google Analytics to discover pages that need to be improved, pages that are working better than others and pages that need your immediate attention.

If you are new to SEO, you will find the features of Google Analytics very useful and soon enough it will become one of your favorite tools.

If you are using Analytics for a while, it’s time to refresh your knowledge and utilize the power of its reports to improve your website’s SEO.

This post will cover the following topics:

Benefits from Using Google Analytics

Without having Google Analytics installed on your website it’s like driving with your eyes closed.

Analytics will tell you many things about your website including:

  • How much traffic you receive and from where
  • What pages they visit and how long they spend on each page
  • Which pages they visit before they exit
  • Which buttons get more clicks and what they do next
  • Which portion of your traffic converts (performs an action that you want them to do)
  • How many users are on mobile, tablets or desktops
  • Where your users are located (countries) and what software they use to browse your website

These are just a few questions that analytics’ reports can answer.

More advanced users can take it a step further and do customer segmentation, run experiments and a bunch of other things that the powerful Analytics platform provides to marketers.

The purpose of this post is not to cover all Google Analytics features but to explain how to use the provided data to come up with actions that can improve your SEO.

Before getting into the details, it’s worth mentioning that Analytics is a product of Google and it is free to use on any website or mobile application.

How to Install Google Analytics on Your Website

There are a couple of ways to install Google Analytics on your website but the first step is to create an account and register your website with Analytics.

Go to Google Analytics and click the “Start for Free” button on the top right corner.

Follow the on-screen instructions and then setup a property. A property is the website you will use to add the analytics code.

Next, you will be presented with your tracking id and code. This is the code that you need to add to your website.

Where to add your analytics tracking code?

The code should be placed in the <head></head> of each and every page on your website.

Most modern CMS, have this option built-in so the only thing you have to do is to copy/paste the code into the appropriate section.

If you are on WordPress there are many plugins to help you like Monster insights.

Basic Google Analytics Settings

Now that you have Analytics running on your website, the next thing to do before digging into the reports, is to make the following changes.

Set the Reporting time, currency and bot filtering

Go to ADMIN > VIEW> VIEW SETTINGS and check that your time zone is correct.

Select the correct currency (this is useful if you have an ecommerce website) and also check the BOT FILTERING box to EXCLUDE ALL HITS FROM KNOWN BOTS AND SPIDERS.

Google Analytics Basic Settings

This will eliminate ‘data noise’ from your reports as it will not count any visits from search engines or other crawlers.

Associate Google Analytics with Google Search Console

Google allows you to associate your Google Analytics account with your Search Console account. This is very useful since you can see analytics data in search console and vice versa.

Login to your Google Search Console account and click “Go to the Old Version”, from the bottom left corner. You need to do this since this feature is not yet available to the new Google Search Console.

Select your website from the list and click the SETTINGS icon (top right) and select Google Analytics Property.

Select which website to associate to the console account and click SAVE.

How to Improve SEO with Google Analytics

One of the main reasons to use Google Analytics is to analyze your traffic and make decisions that can potentially improve your website’s ranking position in Search Engines.

Google Analytics reports can give you answers to the following questions. In each answer you will also learn how this report can help you with SEO.

  • How much SEO traffic do I get from Search Engines?
  • Which are my most popular and least popular pages?
  • Which pages do people see first (landing pages) when they visit my site?
  • Which pages are the Exit pages of my website?
  • How much traffic is coming from Mobile?
  • Where are my users located?
  • How many people are currently viewing my website and which pages?
  • What do users type in my website’s search box?
  • Is my website under a Google Penalty and when did this happen?
How much SEO traffic do I get from Search Engines.

One of the metrics you need to check regularly is how much traffic you receive from search engines and in particular Google.

You can find the answer in the ALL TRAFFIC reports.

As a first step select ACQUISITION > ALL TRAFFIC > CHANNELS and set the date range from the top right date dropdown.

What this report shows is a summary of all the sources that brought traffic to your website.

To visually see the contribution of organic traffic to total traffic, check the box next to organic traffic and click PLOT ROWS.

To drill down further and see from where exactly your traffic is coming from, select SOURCE / MEDIUM from the left menu.

Next click on “Google / Organic”. This is how much traffic you received from Google Organic Search for the specified period.

Organic Traffic Report in Google Analytics

Why is this report important for SEO?

You can use it to track on a daily basis how much traffic you receive from the various search engines and monitor your performance over time.

If you notice any big drops traffic it means that you lost part of your rankings and you can do a deeper investigation to find out the reasons and exact keywords / pages.

Which are my most popular and least popular pages?

Another useful metric that can help you improve your SEO is knowing which pages on your website get the most visits.

You can view this by selecting BEHAVIOR > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES.

Besides seeing the page views that each page gets, you can also see the time they spend on your website, the bounce rate and the percentage of users that exit your website after viewing the particular page.

All Pages and Landing Page Report Which pages do people see first (landing pages) when they visit my site?

To take it a step further, you can also click LANDING PAGES and see which pages they view the first time they land on your website and compare these with the most popular pages.

Why is this report important for SEO?

This can give you a clue as to which pages users like to visit more and maybe add them in your sidebar or make them as ‘sticky posts’ on your homepage.

Making it easy for users to visit your most popular pages as this will increase the time they spend on your website and this has a number of other benefits.

One of the columns in the report shows the bounce rate. Bounce rate is a percentage that shows how many people left your website without visiting a second page.

The lower the value of the bounce rate the better.

You need to identify which pages have a high percentage, and take action to reduce the bounce rate and help users visits more pages from your website before they leave.

Which pages are the Exit pages of my website?

An equally important report is also the EXIT PAGES report, that shows the last page of the website they visited before they leave.

Exit Pages Report

Why is this report important for SEO?

Pages with a high exit percentage can be revised by changing their layout or making the content more interesting.

It is important that before you do any changes to keep track of the values before and after so that you can identify if the changes are improving your website or not.

How much traffic is coming from Mobile?

Nowadays everybody is talking about the importance of having a mobile friendly website.

Statistics show that more users are navigating the web using their smartphones than desktop computers.

To get an idea if this trend is also true for your website, you can view the Mobile traffic report which is under AUDIENCE > MOBILE > OVERVIEW.

Mobile Traffic Overview Report

What you see in this report is your traffic broken down into 3 categories: mobile, desktop and tablet.

Why is this report important for SEO?

Depending on the results you can take several actions.

For example, if you have a high number of visitors coming from mobile devices, you can review your mobile pages and make sure that they load fast, adhere to Google mobile guidelines but also have your ‘call to action’ buttons in prominent positions.

This is a common mistake that many webmasters make. They optimize their ‘call to actions’ for desktop users but as the website grows in traffic the majority of users are coming from mobile and their conversions rates go down because their mobile websites are not optimized for conversions.

The best way to handle mobile traffic is to have a responsive website and while this is true, this does not mean that you should rest just because your website is responsive.

You have to study the numbers and change your responsive website in such a way so that conversions on mobile are equal (or more) to desktop.

Where are my users located?

Another report that can help you provide the right content to your visitors is the location report found under AUDIENCE > GEO > LOCATION.

Geo Location Report

If you get a decent amount of traffic already, you will be surprised from how many countries you get visitors. This is a report that always fascinates me since although in a small scale, it shows the power of the Internet and how it can connect people around the World.

Why is this report important for SEO?

You can see from where your visitors are coming and try to provide them with content tailored to them.

For example, if you have an ecommerce store selling Worldwide and you notice that a lot of your visitors are coming from the UK then you can display your product prices in their currency (GBP) or if you get many visits from Germany, you can consider having a German version of your website so that they can understand and interact with your content easier.

How many people are currently viewing my website and which pages?

How many visits are currently on your website and which pages do they visit? The answer can be found in the REAL TIME report (REAL TIME > OVERVIEW).

Spend a few moments per day (in different times) and watch what is happening on your website. From where do the visits come, what did they search to find the website, which pages are they viewing, how much time they spend before leaving etc.

Real Time Overview Report

Having this real time view can sometimes help you think outside the box and find ways to improve your website.

What do users type in my website’s search box?

If you have a SEARCH BOX on your website, you can use Google Analytics to find out what users type in the search box and which webpages they visit.

First you need to enable Search Box Tracking by going to VIEW SETTINGS and then

You can view the SEARCH TERMS report under BEHAVIOR > SITE SEARCH > SEARCH TERMS.

Why is this report important for SEO?

For many reasons. First, you can find out if the search box is something that your users actually use, if not you can remove it.

Second, you can see the actual search terms they use and make sure that you have pages on your website for those search terms.

Third, you can use the ‘search terms’ and make your content ‘user-friendlier’ by adding those terms in your pages. This will help users understand that they are viewing the correct page.

Is my website under a Google Penalty and when did this happen?

Google is making hundreds of changes to their ranking algorithm per year and at some point, your website may be positively or negatively affected.

To find out if you are under a Google penalty and when this happened and why, you need to view the Google organic traffic report.

Select your website from the Google analytics dashboard and then go to ACQUISITION > ALL TRAFFIC > Source / Medium.

From the list select GOOGLE / ORGANIC. What you see now in the report is the number of visits you get from Google search.

Use the date dropdown and select and long period of time and notice if there are any sudden changes to your traffic.

Next, go to this page that shows all major dates that Google deployed changes to their ranking algorithm and see if there is a coloration between the dates the algorithm was deployed and changes in your traffic.

Why is this report important for SEO?

If you are affected by a penalty, you need to do your research and find out what caused the penalty and take recovery actions.

Related Reading: How to check if your website is penalized by Google.

How to create Goals in Google Analytics

‘Goals’ is one of the most useful functions of Google Analytics since they can help you figure out how to funnel your traffic to the most important parts of your website.

Every website should have goals i.e. a purpose. Typical examples:

  • You want users to visit a particular page
  • You want users to sign up to your newsletter
  • You are selling a product or service
  • You want users to enter their contact information into a form (leads)
  • You want users to contact you
  • You want users to download your mobile app

By creating the above as ‘Goals’ in Analytics you will be able to:

  • Understand the traffic sources that generate more conversions
  • Understand the path users follow before converting
  • Understand how to improve the conversion process by identifying the pages (or steps) that makes users abandon an action (typical example is a confusing shopping cart that keeps users from making a purchase).

These are only a few examples of Goals, depending on the type of website you can come up with more goals that are aligned with your SEO strategy.

How to setup a goal in Google Analytics

Google has a detailed guide about goal setting and it is recommended that you take some time to read it carefully.

It is important that you understand the different types of Goals, how they work and how to configure them.

I will show you below a real example on how to set up one of the most common goals, ‘submit contact form’.

One of the goals of my business website is to get leads for new potential customers that are in search of monthly SEO services.

I have a page on the website that describes our SEO services and a contact form for interested customers to get in touch with us.

When a customer submits a contact form they get to a ‘Thank you page’.

By setting up the ‘Thank you’ page as a destination goal in Analytics, I can see which traffic sources generate more conversions and I can use this data to allocate my time and budget on what is more profitable for my business.

For example, if I get more conversions from users coming from Google search then I will invest more time on blogging, if I get them from Facebook, I will spend more time on FB and so on.

The above is a typical scenario applicable for many websites and online businesses.

While logged in to Analytics click the ADMIN tab and under VIEW click GOALS.

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Wouldn’t be nice if you could rank at position zero in Google? Is this even possible? The answer is yes and that’s through ‘Google Featured Snippets’.

In this post you will learn what is a featured snippet, how to optimize your content so that it’s eligible to show in Google’s featured snippet box and how to check if your website already has a featured snippet entry.

What is a Google featured snippet?

A ‘featured snippet box’ is a relatively new feature introduced by Google to help the searcher find answers faster without having to visit any website. Or at least to get an idea of a possible answer and then visit the website for more information.

Featured Snippets are used in many cases, especially when there is one direct answer for a question or a set of steps to follow.

For example, open Google and search for “How to become an SEO Expert” and you will see a set of instructions and an image.

Example of a Google Featured Snippet

Featured snippets are also available on mobile and they come in different formats and styles.

It is obvious from the above screenshot that websites appearing in the featured snippet box have a big advantage over the other websites present in the first page of the SERPS, in terms of CTR (Click Through Rate).

A large percentage of users will click the featured snippet and not scroll down to the rest of the results.

What is more interesting though is that Google may show a website in a featured snippet box, even if it is less ‘powerful’ than other websites.

To understand what I mean, search Google for “off page SEO”.

You will see that the featured snippet is occupied by reliablesoft.net although it is not as strong and big as moz.com or neilpatel.com

How to find out if your website ranks for featured snippets?

The first thing to do before start thinking how you can take advantage of featured snippets is to check if your website has any rankings at position 0.

There are 2 ways to do this, the first is the ‘manual way’, by checking your Google Search Console reports and the second way is through a tool (SEM Rush).

Google Search Console (Search Results Report)

Although this method is manual and a bit time consuming since it requires digging into your search results report, it can still help you discover any featured snippet rankings.

  • Login to your Google Search Console and find ‘Search Results Report’ located under Performance.
  • Make sure you check ‘clicks’, ‘CTR’ and ‘Position’ from the top menu and view the data for a 90-day period.
  • Sort by ‘Position’ and study the clicks and CTR.
  • Search terms that are candidates for featured snippets are those that rank in positions 1-5 in Google and have a high CTR.
  • Open a new browser window, go to Google and search for those queries and see if it shows a featured snippet for your pages.

As mentioned above, if you find this method time consuming, then go with the second option.

Tracking featured snippets through SEM Rush

SEM Rush recently added a feature for showing how a domain ranks for various SERP Features, one of them being Google Featured snippets.

Login to SEM Rush and type your domain in the Search bar and click SEARCH.

Under ‘Organic Research’, click POSITIONS.

Use the ADVANCED FILTERS to show only FEATURED SNIPPET in the results.

Tracking Featured Snippets with SEMRUSH

To confirm that the results are valid, open a new browser window, navigate to Google and search for the particular keyword(s).

Note: You can also use this function to check a competitor’s domain and not just your own.

How to rank in Google’s Featured Snippet

Before getting into how you can optimize your content for Google’s featured snippet box, it should be made clear from the beginning that even if you follow the guidelines below, it’s not 100% certain that you will get a featured snippet entry.

As in other things in SEO, by optimizing your content for particular features, you increase your chances but that’s not a guarantee.

Nevertheless, the benefits of ranking at position zero are a lot, so this is definitely something worth a try.

1. Summarize the answer of a question (or query) in one paragraph

After analyzing the examples from my website, I concluded that Google picks a paragraph of text (or parts of it) from the page content, that summarizes the answer.

It doesn’t have to be the first paragraph of text but it should be high enough in the page.

Don’t forget that Google always considers that the important parts of a page are positioned higher in the content, towards the top.

I also studied examples of featured snippets from other websites and it looks like Google follows this pattern i.e. ‘picking’ a paragraph of text that provides a direct answer to a question or definition.

Check for example the following by searching Google for: ‘on-page seo’, ‘link building’, ‘content marketing’.

If you compare the results, you will notice that it’s like answering a quiz (remember your high school great times) by providing an answer to a question in a couple of lines.

2. Achieve a first page ranking

In order to be eligible to show in a featured snippet you need to rank on the first positions of the SERPS but not necessarily at the top position.

This also implies that in order to get high rankings you need to have a solid backlink profile but it doesn’t have to be the strongest compared to the rest of the pages (or domains) that rank in the first 5 positions.

If you try different queries you will see that Google may show a featured snippet from a page that ranks on position 3 or 4 and not always from the page that shows in position 1.

Also, it looks like Google can reward a single page with a featured snippet regardless of the domain authority.

In the example of ‘off page SEO’ shown above, moz.com, neilpatel.com are much stronger domains than mine but still Google considers my page as more suitable for a featured snippet.

3. Optimize your Page Structure and headings

Having a clear page structure does matter.

Best on-page SEO practices like having one H1 tag for the title of the page and then H2 and H3 for the subheadings together with <p> for the text is important.

Google has to understand a page correctly before extracting text to use for featured snippets so making the crawler’s job easier, helps in that direction.

4. Include Images with a relevant ALT TEXT

This may not be the biggest factor of all but it’s good to have at least one image on the page with a relevant ALT text.

In all tested cases Google shows an image next to the text but as you can see below for the query ‘content marketing’, the image comes from a different domain.

Maybe the particular image was originally part of the content marketing institute page or Google shows that image to the featured snippet because it currently ranks on position 1 when you search ‘content marketing’ on Google images.

In any case and to be on the safe side, make sure that you always have a relevant image with a descriptive ALT text in your content.

5.  Structured Data Markup helps (but may not be necessary)

The purpose of structured data is to help search engines understand the content of a page better so it makes sense to assume that structured data can also increase your chances of getting a Google featured snippet.

This was suggested by Google’s John Mueller back in November 2015 but a few days later Google’s Garry Illyes said that Google doesn’t take into account schema for featured snippets.

Nevertheless, it’s always a good SEO practice to activate structured data on your pages even if now Google states that it’s not a director factor for featured snippets.

6. Answer questions that ‘People also ask’

One of the ways to increase your chances of getting a featured snippet is by providing direct answers to questions people ask on Google.

To be more precise, when you type a query in Google, and you scroll down the page you will see a section called ‘People Also Ask’.

Google People Also Ask Box

These queries / questions are perfect candidates for getting a featured snippet.

7. Don’t forget that Google is A/B testing featured snippets

As a final note, don’t forget that Google is always testing different scenarios for the purpose of improving their search results and user satisfaction.

Part of their tests is changing the featured snippet entries so it’s possible to gain or lose a ranking over time because of this.

Key Points
  • Featured snippets can drive more organic traffic to a website since the CTR is much higher than ranking at a lower position than 0.
  • If you already have a good ranking for a keyword (positions 1 – 5), your website may be eligible to show in the featured snippet box.
  • To increase your chances, provide a direct answer to a question or definition by summarizing it in a couple of lines but within a single paragraph (<p>) tag. The higher you place this paragraph in your content, the better.
  • Having an image with a relevant ALT text also helps.
  • The easiest and fastest way to check if your website has any featured snippet rankings is through SEMRush.
  • You can opt out of featured snippets by adding a meta tag to the head of your page.

Anything missing from the above post? What is your experience with the Google featured snippet box?

The post How to Get a Google Featured Snippet appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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Besides traditional SEO practices, there are modern ways to improve your SEO and schema markup (also known as structured data or microdata) is one of these techniques.

In this article you will learn what schema markup is, why it’s becoming very important and how to use schema markup to improve your SEO. Towards the bottom of this post, you’ll also learn how to use Google Search Console to troubleshoot structured data errors.

What is schema markup?

Schema markup is a way to ‘describe’ your content to search engines in a way they can understand it.

This is done by adding pieces of code to your HTML that consists of pre-defined tags (semantic vocabulary) that search engines understand.

How does structured data looks like?

As mentioned above, structured data is a set of tags added in your HTML code.

These are not visible to users but can be read by search engines when crawling your pages.

Structured data can be in the form of microdata or json-ld.

Don’t worry if this is too technical for you because as we will see below, there are easy ways to add structured data to your website without knowing the low technical details.

Here is an example of how schema markup looks like:

Schema Markup Example

When Google or other search engines crawl a web page their primary goal is to find out what the page is all about.

The crawlers cannot view a website like a human but they process the HTML of a page trying to figure out different things like the meaning of the content, date published, author and other elements they find useful during the indexing process.

Schema Markup is Supported by Major Search Engines

In order to make their job easier and faster, major search engines have agreed to a set of common standards, also known as schemas.

Schemas cover many content types including articles, videos, images but also different types of entities like organizations, local businesses, people and many more.

Pro Tip: Read How search engines work and watch the video to get a better idea on how the crawling and indexing works.

Why is structured data important for SEO?

Although Structured data is not yet part of the Google ranking algorithm, it is still important for SEO for many reasons.

Prepare your website for ‘future’ SEO

First, it is a feature that is gaining ground and Google officially stated that it may be something that will go into the ranking algorithm in the near future.

So, besides taking advantage of the benefits described below, you also prepare your website for future SEO.

Make your search snippets informative and attractive

Second, structured data enhances your website’s presence on the SERPS with rich snippets.

This means that your entry in Google search results will be more attractive and informative than others and this will lead to better CTR (click through rates) and more visits to your website.

Structured data enhances your website’s presence on the SERPS

Currently Google supports the following schemas:

  • Article
  • Book
  • Breadcrumb
  • Carousel
  • Corporate Contact
  • Course
  • Critic Review
  • Dataset
  • Employer Aggregate Rating
  • Event
  • Fact Check
  • Job Posting
  • Livestream
  • Local Business
  • Logo
  • Media Actions
  • Occupation
  • Product
  • Q&A Page
  • Recipe
  • Review Snippet
  • Sitelinks SearchBox
  • Social Profile
  • Speakable

Pro Tip: You can view the search gallery for more information about each schema.

Schemas are great for Local SEO

Third, schemas is great for Local SEO. With structured data you can give search engines more information about your local business including address and contact information.

In conjunction with a well-optimized Google My Business page, it can boost your local SEO.

Structured Data Markup is required for Google Shopping Campaigns

Fourth, it’s a requirement for running successful Shopping campaigns. When setting up shopping campaigns on Google Ads, you need to have microdata on your product landing pages so that Google can verify the data submitted in your shopping feed.

Without microdata it is very likely that your shopping campaigns will not be optimized.

Schema is Required for AMP Pages

Accelerated mobile pages rely heavily on structured data for some of their advanced features.

If you want your AMP pages to appear in the top stories carousel on mobile search results, you need to have structured data implemented on your AMP pages.

Structured data markup helps Voice SEO

Currently when you voice search something on Google, it might give you a voice answer if there is a featured snippet for that search term.

Open your Google Assistant and say “What is Off-Page SEO”. You will most probably hear “According to reliablesoft.net Off-page SEO…”.

Google is getting the answer from my featured snippet. Having structured data on your page can help you rank in Google featured snippet and thus greater exposure in voice searches.

How to add schema markup on your website

Now that you are convinced about the importance of structured data for SEO purposes, let’s see how you can use it on your website.

Before getting into the implementation part, you need to know which structured data types to use.

Some common use cases are:

Blog: If you have a blog, you can use the webpage schema to give Google information about your website, logo, name etc and also the article schema for your articles and blog posts.

Ecommerce: For ecommerce websites you can also use the products schema which includes details about your product, price, name, reviews etc.

Local Business: Local businesses can make use of localbusiness schema as well as the website schema.

Note: You can use more than one schema in your website as long as the implementation is correct. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check it.

How to implement structured data on your website

There are 2 ways to add structured data on your website.

The first one is the manual way i.e. editing your HTML files and adding the required tags and the second one is through a plugin or a combination of plugins.

Google Structured Data Markup Helper (Manual Process)

To make the manual process a bit easier, Google has a tool called Structured Data Markup Helper.

With this tool you can visually tag your pages and generate the required HTML code but you still have to edit your HTML files or templates.

To get an idea on how this works:

  1. Open the structured data helper tool,
  2. Select the type of schema you want
  3. Enter a URL from your website in the URL box
  4. Click Start
Google Structured Data Markup Helper Tool

The tool will load your webpage in the left pane and in the right pane you get a list of available tags for the selected schema type.

All you have to do now is to highlight areas of your website and assign them to tags.

Google Structured Data Markup Helper Tool – Tagging

When you are done you can view and download the generated structured data code.

It is recommended to use the JSON-LD Markup format. The generated output is a script you can insert in the HEAD section of your web page.

Structured Data as JSON-LD Markup

Before adding to your website, you can check using the structured data testing tool the validity of your code.

Adding structured data using plugins (Automated Way)

Obviously, the above method is not the easiest way to add schema information to your website.

If you are on WordPress the easiest way is to use a plugin and fortunately there are a number of plugins that can help you do this.

In the majority of cases you need to add schema information to your homepage and to your article pages (if you are running a blog) or product page (if you have an ecommerce website).

Adding Schema using the Yoast SEO Plugin

The free version of the Yoast SEO plugin has built-in support for a number of schemas including:

  • Webpage
  • Organization
  • Person
  • Article
  • Image
  • Video (Premium Version)
  • Local SEO (through the Local SEO Add-on)

The nice think about Yoast SEO is that it handles the schema information automatically.

All you have to do is to go to SEARCH APPEARANCE – GENERAL and select whether you are an Organization or Person.

Add Schema with Yoast SEO

When you add values to the required fields and click the SAVE CHANGES button, the plugin will add the necessary JSON-LD markup script on your homepage.

You can check using the structured data testing tool what is added and if everything is ok.

In addition to that, you can also click SOCIAL and add the URLS to your social media pages.

The plugin will associate your page with your social media pages using the ‘sameas’ tag.

The WEBPAGE, ARTICLE and IMAGE schema is handled automatically by the plugin so you don’t have to do anything else.

An alternative to Yoast SEO that has support for more Schemas is the Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets plugin.

How to check for structured data errors

Besides checking your pages using the Structured Data Testing Tool, there are two more ways to troubleshoot structured data errors within Google Search Console.

URL Inspection Tool

You can use the URL inspection tool to inspect any page from your website.

Among other things, the generated report will show you structured data related errors. Clicking on the error will give you more details.

Troubleshoot Schema Markup Errors with the URL Inspection Tool

Enhancement Report

View the reports under the Enhancements section of the Google Search Console (left menu). Google will show you details about various features such as Logos, Products, Sitelinks searchbox and many more.

Google Search Console Enhancement report Conclusion

Structured data is important for SEO and it is something you will need to consider sooner or later if you want to stay in synch with modern SEO practices.

The first step is to check whether your website is using markup data and the easiest way to do this is to use the Google structured data testing tool and test your homepage and other pages.

If you use markup data but there are errors in the testing tool, then it may be easier to hire a developer to do the necessary fixes.

If you don’t have schema on your pages, then use the methods described above to add it.

The post What is Schema Markup in SEO and How to Use it Effectively appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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