SEO can be daunting; especially for a small business owner or young professional just starting out.
To make matters worse, there are millions of pages of outdated information, misinformation, or just plain bad information about how to properly implement an SEO strategy.
The key, of course, is to know what’s important and then invest the time necessary to master those things. That doesn’t mean that you need to be a pro in hundreds of areas. You just need to tackle the essential website optimization items.
What follows are the top factors for optimizing a website in 2019 and places to find free courses to master each.
Technical SEO refers to those actions taken at the website or server level designed to improve search results. More specifically, those actions which affect crawling, indexing and rendering of webpages.
The end goal is to get as many high-value pages indexed and ranking as possible.
Here are some courses and guides that are certain to boost your technical SEO skills:
- Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: Google has literally written the book on best practices for on-site optimization. This 32-page guide was originally intended to be used as an internal document, but was later released as a webmaster resource. Don’t have time to read 32 pages? No problem. Hubspot has published a two-page, tl;dr version here.
- Search Engine Optimization for WordPress: With a market share of 33 percent, it pays to know a little something about the best practices for optimizing a WordPress site. This knowledge could also come in handy the next time your SEO plugin breaks.
“Great content” is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to ensure any measure of organic success.
As one of three confirmed Google ranking factors, you better have a solid understanding of the kind of content that appeals to both users and the Google algorithm.
These courses and guides will put you on the right path:
- The Strategy of Content Marketing: This Coursera course is a partnership between Copyblogger, and UC Davis. Students learn how to plan, organize, develop and implement a content marketing strategy. Equally important, the course teaches students how to analyze and measure the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign.
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification: In this course, students learn how to implement scalable processes for creating and promoting a content marketing program that will build traffic and convert leads.
Schema markup, is a form of microdata. It creates an enhanced description (a.k.a., rich snippet), which then appears in search results.
Schema provides added context to a page which can be useful to both users and search engines. Schema often provides context to a page which may otherwise be ambiguous.
It doesn’t appear as though anyone is offering a free course on schema, however there are several useful guides on the topic, including:
Google is working hard to understand the context of search queries. Their goal is to return search results aligned with searcher intent.
If your website doesn’t conform to Google’s understanding of intent for a particular keyword, there is nothing you can do to reach the top of the SERPs.
For that reason, it’s critically important to convert any traffic that you do manage to drive to your page. The following courses and guides will help you maximize the ROI on the traffic that does come to your site:
- Learning Conversion Rate Optimization: In this Lynda.com course, topics include: Debunking CRO myths, identifying goals, understanding your target audience, prioritizing pages for optimization, creating test hypotheses, testing your value proposition, setting up tests, and analyzing the results.
- Conversion Rate Optimization Courses: This Hubspot course teaches a system for prompting web visitors to take a desired action on a webpage, in order to increase conversions.
Page speed can impact both traffic and conversions.
According to Google, “the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds… yet 53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
In short, fast page speed equals a good user experience. Slow page speed equals a poor user experience.
For that reason, Google now uses page speed as a ranking factor. If you have a need for speed, check out these courses and guides:
To be clear, I’m referring to the types of links that conform to Google webmaster guidelines. Not links that are acquired or paid for by using various link schemes.
Check out these guides for and courses for successful link building techniques
- SEO Link Building Basics: This Udemy course offers an introduction to link building, focusing on fundamentals and link prospecting.
- Backlink Training: This Monitor Backlinks tutorial covers all of the basics regarding backlinks, why they are important, and how to build them.
Know this: mobile search is local search. Fifty percent of all mobile searches have a local intent. Winning at Local SEO requires a unique skill set. Hone your skills by checking out these courses and guides:
User experience (UX) is all about understanding users; their needs, values, abilities, and limitations. Good UX also takes into consideration the goals and objectives of the business.
The best UX practices improve the quality of a user’s experience. If you are interested in providing a better user experience, then look into:
Guides: A Collection of UX Guides Created by Google for Select Industries
It will never be easier to execute a winning SEO strategy than it is today. Take advantage of it. Arm yourself with the knowledge to succeed. You won’t regret it.
Disclaimer: Some of these courses are free, but contingent upon completion within a limited time (trial period). Others are free, if you choose to audit a course and forgo a certificate. Select guides may require submitting an email prior to downloading.
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Digital agency survey results, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console
Interview with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC
- The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies.
- In light of the current scenario businesses, digital marketers, and content creators continue to face some key problems around digital ad revenue, ad blocking, and more.
- We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, an innovative search engine that reinvents user experience and technology.
- PUBLC is a new search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics.
- Read on to discover insights on how PUBLC serves a more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.
The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies, these remain some key problems of today’s digital space:
- Digital ad revenue has taken a hit due to ad blockers.
- Online publishers struggle to find a native revenue model as an alternative to ad-based models, which only grows bigger now with the COVID-19 impact on the advertising industry. Digital ad revenue is declining, as use of adblockers is increasing
- Google and Facebook duopoly dominate over 60% of global ad revenue.
We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, a search engine that aims to reward the entire web ecosystem by creating an innovative, more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.
Q1. Can you tell us about your background and journey towards becoming the founder of PUBLC?
I was always one of those kids that constantly thought of different business ideas and tried to invent things. The original idea for PUBLC started over 15 years ago when I was frustrated with the existing search engines. I always thought that people know best and there should be a way to add the human element to search for a better-organized web. Back then I had mocked up a few presentations and a family friend even connected me to a VC, but I was so young and had no idea what I was doing. Later in university, I wasn’t keen on academia and dropped out to start my journey as a start-up entrepreneur. In the beginning, I was just playing around with different ideas, and eventually, I saw that I’m always going back to the same original idea of creating a new search engine. I started completely from scratch, learning everything in the process, making mistakes, learning again, and building PUBLC layer by layer.
Q2. What was the biggest challenge you faced while setting up PUBLC? How did you solve it?
Just saying that you want to create a new search engine is a huge challenge by itself, doing it the way PUBLC does, creating a new search engine that completely reinvents the user experience and technology with a token-based business model is an even bigger challenge! If you add new and complicated technologies like blockchain and AI to the mix, the challenge becomes even bigger. Plus, the fact that you’re doing it as a small self-funded startup makes it almost impossible! But eventually, we did it step by step, layer by layer and built this platform that’s backed with AI and a blockchain financial infrastructure.
Q3. Can you give us a brief insight into PUBLC and your token economy?
PUBLC is a new type of search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics. You can think of PUBLC as a mix between Google and Wikipedia, where we combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) enabling users to categorize the content and “teach” PUBLC how to better organize the web, creating a new search experience, while also rewarding the users for participating in the process.
With regards to the token economics, on the one hand, our token, PUBLX, is granted by PUBLC as a reward to its community that contributes to PUBLC. On the other hand, the tokens are used as the only form of payment for PUBLC’s business services used by advertisers on the platform. This balance between supply and demand is what establishes the token value.
Token earners, be it publishers, brands, influencers, or content categorizers, can either use their token rewards to pay for any of our business services or exchange them on cryptocurrency exchanges, where the tokens can be bought by advertisers. So, we encourage everyone to checkout PUBLC and discover how they could earn PUBLX tokens.
Q5. How can businesses use PUBLC? Any tips on how they can get started with PUBLC?
PUBLC was built with all the different actors of the web ecosystem in mind, as we believe PUBLC is a platform that is meant to serve everyone and reward them for the value they create. Businesses as online publishers, brands, and celebrities benefit from PUBLC as it gives them exposure to new audiences, drives traffic to their websites, and earns them revenue for every time a user clicks on their content and views it. Businesses can get started on PUBLC by submitting their website, categorizing their content, and curating their pages. Our job is to support all those people and help them better achieve their goals, so feel free to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you!
Q6. Would video content be sourced from platforms like YouTube?
Yes! PUBLC curates and displays video content that users upload on YouTube and other such sites. You’ll be surprised to know that we even reward sites like YouTube as they also provide value to the ecosystem for hosting all that content.
Q7. What are your future plans for PUBLC? Will you venture into the digital advertising aspect as well? If yes, we’re assuming it will be in-ecosystem currency of PUBLX tokens?
Besides inventing a new user experience and technology we also had to invent a new revenue model connected to our token economy – and that’s crucial to the success of the platform – having those PUBLX tokens that are given to everyone for their contribution have real-life value. In order to do that we built a new set of business services such as, promoted content, brand awareness, ecommerce, and more, which offer advertisers a new way to enhance their brand awareness or conversions in a native and organic way within the platform without compromising PUBLC’s user experience for the users.
Our business services work differently than the way it’s done on traditional search engines, and it rethinks this traditional advertising model of just promoting ads over search queries. The usual method is good but it could be different. We put more focus on content and the user experience because when you get ads, whether it’s on Google, Facebook, or any other platform – as a user that harms your experience. We aim to deliver our business services in a very native and organic way that doesn’t harm the user experience. For example, PUBLC offers promoted content that is real, in the form of videos, articles, and other multimedia. These could be campaigns that not only provide advertisers with the worth of their money but also engage and add value for the users. Furthermore, we incorporate PUBLC’s community in the approval of ads, having them take part in flagging spam and fraud, and helping shape PUBLC revenue model.
Q8. Do you use citations? How does the web validate your resources?
We’re focused more on the human element of search. People add domains and content URLs which are then approved by our community, and only then are indexed and crawled, making our sources more credible. There are many parameters that our algorithm evaluates in order to rank content, to give you a better idea I’ll share the three main key elements:
- Relevancy: How the content is relevant to the search query or the topic that is searched
- Popularity: How many PUBLC users saw and clicked on the content
- Content age: How old is it, when was it published
Users are the first gatekeepers of which content gets indexed on the PUBLC search engine.
Q9. How does PUBLC’s search engine combine human intelligence and AI? Is it curated by people? How do you counter aspects of “subjectivity” and “bias”?
As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe that people know best. They would know best about what topic(s) the is content related to or which search queries best describe the content. This is unlike how typical search engines work by mainly analyzing the text of the content. Having users add and categorize content on PUBLC works on a micro-scale for that specific content. However, when you add machine learning and AI to that you can adapt on a much larger scale, learn better about content categorization and indexing in a more precise, user-friendly, and genuine manner. Our search engine intends to broaden users’ horizons by reaching new content that they didn’t even know existed.
Yes, giving too much power to people could bring bias. But I’d like to refer to PUBLC on the lines of Wikipedia where you have a large group of people editing a specific piece of content that could be very controversial, and they still find a way to do it. On PUBLC we have an entire system of a reputation for users and publishers so they’re always building their own reputation simultaneously.
For example, a user could build their reputation on the PUBLC platform for any niche, let’s assume, blockchain. Now if this user claims something about blockchain, the system considers their subject matter expertise and deems their claim right for crawling, categorizing, and indexing.
We have everything validated by the users of the community. I think users very quickly know spam when they see it, so they wouldn’t approve spam-like content with the risk of lowering their reputation. We built this set of rules to incentivize people to do good and if they don’t play by the rules, they’re just going to lose.
Q10. Could you give us a small brief on how you’re dealing with privacy? Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about in terms of data privacy?
Privacy is one of PUBLC’s core, crucial elements. In fact, that’s the big problem with the web that we also saw fit to address. Platforms like Facebook and the others make their business out of the users’ data, and in a way compromises their privacy. That’s why there’s a huge loss of trust for users. One of our ambitions and aims is to use blockchain to enable users to have the best, most personal user experience while having 100% privacy. We are now building this element, and plan to have all of our users’ personal data stored on the blockchain and accessed only by them ensuring them with complete control over their data that’s also kept anonymous.
Users would have their own PUBLC IDs but there would be no way that I, the platform, or any of us could access that information. If a user personally chooses to share their information with advertisers and publishers to help them understand the user profile or engagement with their content – that too would be completely anonymized.
Since it’s still the users’ data giving value to a business they would also be rewarded for it. This way we help users earn some of the revenue made through that data. But again, it would be completely anonymized data ensuring that businesses can’t trace a user to their real-life entity. That’s one of the great potentials that blockchain gives is the bandwidth to build platforms that are more focused on the privacy elements.
Q11. What are your predictions for search and SEO in 2020?
As I’m sure you can already guess, I believe search and SEO will be more focused on the human element, and that we will continue to see improvements in understanding the user’s intent. I think we will also see SEO become more accessible to the creators, and more straightforward, without harming the creativity and user experience of the content. Doing so by making tools to create the best optimization and content categorization. One of the biggest problems I see today is that creative content creators are forced to focus their efforts on SEO rather than on creating better content. I hope that with PUBLC, creators could focus on creating creative content while having the tools to actively influence their content’s SEO, without having the two contradict one another. For me, the prediction would be – better user experience, better content, and hopefully a better web.
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