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I’m getting better acquainted with Google’s Data Studio. Getting the hand of building reports from scratch. Data Studio is a very powerful tool for building out marketing reports for organic SEO campaigns and PPC. Get in touch if you need any help with building a report in Data studio. I can probably help you achieve your reporting goals.

The only downside it has, you cannot directly print out the report. Although I did find a workaround for printing out the Data Studio reports. I added a Chrome extension that allows you to export the report as a PDF document. Then simply print out the PDF.

The image is a snapshot below is from one of the clients I work with who wanted a report building out on a more granular level. I’m also thinking about building a few reports to share for free. Common organic SEO metrics that most stakeholders would be interested in. Anyway, that’s in the pipeline for later this year.

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I spotted something usual with Shopify recently on one of the client’s websites I work with. It appears you’re able to see customer order details such as the name, shipping address, product order info and last 4 of credit card details.

Guess how I found this? Strangely enough, in the organic search acquisition channel in Google Analytics. If you are a Shopify store owner, here is how you can replicate the conditions.

Login into your Google Analytics account and navigate to: Acquisition > Channels > Organic Search

Then type in order in the advanced search box.

Do you see a bunch of URLs similar to this?

https://www.mywebsite.com/17709403/orders/0a437097555b80f3aa29502b255d875b/authenticate?key=70603d3e47abb4455a270c03dc2e2348

Copy that link and paste it into the address bar in an incognito browser window. Hit return. Do you see the customer order information? Do you not think that’s a little worrying? Especially coming from the organic search channel in Google Analytics.

When I first saw it, I was scratching my head thinking WTF. Are the order details URLs being indexed? Thankfully they are not, I suspect it’s probably the customer themselves copy/pasting the order details confirmation URL directly into the Google Search bar.

Here’s another twist, the order confirmation page with customer details has the potential to be indexed in Google. Here’s why, if you study the Shopify robots.txt file. You will see that /orders is blocked off in the robots file.

But the URL is store ID forward-slash orders. Example: 17709403/orders/ A quick check in Google Search Console using the robots.txt testing tool and fetch as Google tool will allow you to render and index those URLs. There’s no canonical tag set in the customer order confirmation page, so yep technically they can be indexed.

Shocking right? More annoyance is that you cannot edit the shopify robots.txt file. A workaround that is the URL parameters tool in Google Search Console. For now, until Shopify fix their robots.txt, I would recommend you block Googlebot from crawling the orders directory in the URL parameters tool.

That still leaves the issue with viewing all the customer order details in Google Analytics, I bet that’s not GDPR compliant. I suppose for now you could include it in your excludes list.

I wonder how long it takes Shopify to fix this? Who knows??? I tested the above on 3 Shopify sites, all with exactly the same results.

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Over the last week I have seen a flood of chatter within the search community and webmasters who have reported fluctuations in search rankings that have been too big to ignore. One of the first conclusions is I wonder if Google have rolled out another algorithm update? Or are they conducting further user orientated tests. Both are plausible, Google roll out many updates per year and conduct numerous tests. For example, the mobile index to a certain extent is already out the wild. How do I know this? I have seen evidence such as mismatching schema dates across devices in the organic serps.

Back to the point, I do think there’s been a major update that Google are numbing down. Some of the brands I work with have seem a significant boost in organic visibility. One of my own sites has seen a recent boost in organic visibility too. So the question is what has changed to cause that? My first chain of thought could it have be a Panda refresh? Reading between the lines I now think otherwise, it appears to have been a overall site quality update. Possibly content related, although at this point I’m yet to be 100% convinced of that.

Danny Sullivan aka Search Liaison on Twitter (who now works for Google) tweeted there has been a “broad core search algorithm update”.

As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018

He never really offered any more detailed info, understandable why though in this day and age. The web spammers are quick to jump on any algorithm updates to see what quick-wins they can exploit. I will keep an eye on any developing news on the March 2018 Google algorithm updates and update accordingly here on my blog. Feel free to comment below if you have experienced major fluctuations in organic search visibility in the last couple of weeks.

Further reading:

https://searchengineland.com/google-confirms-core-search-ranking-algorithm-update-293961
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/core-algorithm-update/242425/
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-core-algorithm-update-continues-25423.html

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Have you noticed in recent months that your defined meta descriptions are triggering as the search snippet less and less? I know I have, but then I search specific terms and phrases daily as part of my job and freelance capabilities.

I’m just trying to understand what’s going on, is it testing by Google, or is it part of a longer term wider strategy. If it is a strategy, then what could it be? One thought is, increased adoption of voice search. Which would make sense.

What I find frustrating though, is it worth allocated resources and time for writing of call to action type meta descriptions only for them to be trumped by query matched search snippets? Where this fit in prioritisation of an effective SEO campaign? Do we now move meta descriptions down the priority order?

I suppose only time will tell, we’ll have to wait this one out to see what strategy Google have planned. It would be great is we could track how many time the meta description is triggered in Google organic search Vs total organic page views. We could get an idea how many times the defined meta description is viewed, that data certainly would be useful for working out and forecasting click-through-rates and conversion rates.

For example, you write a kick-ass call to action meta description, yet Google generates a useless query matched search snippet that makes no sense. Are you following me? That could significantly impact on organic CTR, completely out of your control too.

To add you could have the best written content that’s optimised to an inch of its life just for Goole to query match an illegible random search snippet.

Basically, what I’m trying to articulate across, is it worth allocating resources for meta descriptions anymore? I think I might run some tests on this. Maybe comment out all the meta descriptions on my (Sitebee) and see what happens in Search Console. The big question! Will traffic decrease or increase?

One things for sure, Google certainly are not bothered about meta descriptions anymore. And for the purest SEO’s reading this, yes I do know that meta descriptions are not considered to be a ranking factor anymore.

Do some test searches on the sites you control, you’ll see what i’m talking out.

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Did know that most websites leak link equity and authority? They’re essentially losing out on inbound link equity by not keeping track of broken inbound links.

How to fix broken links

So what is a broken inbound link? In short its when a ‘website A’ is linking through to a page on ‘website B’, however somewhere down the line ‘website B’ discontinued the page that ‘website A’ had pointed a link towards, which resulted in a slight loss of overall organic search visibility on ‘website B’. Still with me on this? Read that again if I’m not making sense, don’t worry I often don’t.

Let’s break this down on a more granular level, ‘website A’ had previously discovered a page on ‘website B’ worthy of a mention and a link. That link earned would have likely carried across link equity (aka Pagerank or link juice) whilst the page on ‘website B’ was live and indexable. The end result would have been an increase of organic search visibility to the page on ‘website B’, leading to a slight increase of overall site organic search visibility.

‘Website B’ for whatever reason decided to take down the page that ‘website A’ has kindly pointed a link towards. Because that link in the chain was severed by ‘website B’ taking down the page, the overall site organic search visibility would have dropped which would mean less visitors from Google organic search.

Reading this article I would assume you know some of the basics around link equity, if not that’s fine, have a read of this article from Moz on link equity later.

All is not lost, ‘website B’ is still holding that link equity from ‘website A’, however it’s probably in limbo 404 land. ‘Website B’ can reclaim back that link equity by redirecting that inbound link from ‘website A’ to another page on ‘website B’. All that’s required is a simple 301 redirect. Once the redirect has been implemented to another page on the website, the link equity ‘website B’ has earned should in theory pass over to the redirected page.

One key caveat I should mention, you’ll lose link equity if the page you’re redirecting too has no relevance to the page linking to you on ‘website A’. So I would recommend wherever possible if you’re planning to capitalise on those broken links, try to redirect to pages of similar relevance.

Tools to find broken links

So how do you find all those juicy broken inbound links? One tool I swear by for finding broken inbound links is AHREFS.com broken link checker, it’s not free, in-fact it can be pricey on a month-to-month subscription. You can use the trial version to find and download those broken links.

I’ve also mentioned overall organic search visibility in this article a couple of times. A tool you can use for checking organic search visibility is Search Metrics SEO visibility tool, which again is a paid tool. You can conduct a few free of charge searches per day to help you analysis and study organic visibility data.

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