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Studying the anatomy of a successful high-conversion landing page

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30-second summary:

  • Landing pages can help you appeal to your audience, so they want to stick around and make the switch to a paying customer.
  • The structure of your landing page is just as important as its content and should lead the human eye directly to the CTA.
  • The top 25% of landing pages convert at 5.3% or higher relative to the average conversion rate of 2.35%- it pays to optimize your landing page.
  • The anatomy of a landing page is key to increasing conversions; by strengthening first impressions, embedding psychological trust, capturing email leads, demonstrating UPS, and illustrating social proof.

A high proportion of landing pages convert well as they are created following key fundamental steps. This is largely down to the structure of a landing page as it aligns with persuasion, including elements that help to persuade. 

A landing page with a high conversion rate is the solid foundation of a successful online business. The average landing page conversion rate across industries is 2.35%, with the top 25% converting at 5.31% or higher. As a business, no matter the conversion goal or the intended audience, following a set of structural rules can elevate your business. 

Landing page search conversion rate stats

Source: WordStream

For this specific reason, it is essential to understand the anatomy of a landing page to help boost your business, prompting better results. In most cases, all landing pages look poles apart but read in between the lines the same. Below, we will discuss the structure of landing pages in more detail.

Landing pages – understanding them

In marketing, a lot of time and effort is spent on driving traffic to a website. The intention is to reach the target audience with a hope that they will interact with the site and join the opt-in action, which might be in the form of subscribing to a newsletter or signing-up. 

However, this does not always entice an audience into the sales funnel, converting them into customers. For this reason, landing pages are crucial and are at large, consist of effective content, graphics and call-to-actions (CTAs).

What is a landing page?

In all cases, a landing page is a web page that all site visitors are sent to initiate a conversation attempting to close a deal. Some of the most effective landing pages are stand-alone pages that are created for a single purpose where the CTA is pointed directly at the targeted audience. To get a higher conversion rate on email marketing, your landing page ought to give your visitors positive user experience. 

To be frank, landing pages live separately from your initial website. They are designed only to receive campaign traffic. Separating them from websites allows organizations to focus on a single objective, making analytics easier, and testing simpler, which we will look at in more detail below. A landing page can be used for almost anything. However, the purpose of the page needs to be clear with a definitive link to an appropriate call-to-action. 

Landing page Nike example

Source: Nike

For example, taking a look at the landing page above created by Nike, it is immediately evident from the onset precisely what product they are promoting, with a small purpose text and a call to action. The use of different colors also plays a vital role which will explore later.

Why you need a landing page

Landing pages are used to achieve particular goals. These can be either to build an email list, grow a brand, or to make a profit. 

Landing page stats

Source: Hallam

Landing pages also offer essential metrics for measuring the success rate of your business’s marketing campaign. By looking at the graph above, it is evident that by analyzing a single landing page, organizations can see the history of important metrics such as bounce rates. 

At the core of a landing page sits an opt-in process for page visitors. The landing page metrics give organizations the clear insight they need to grow their business in the right direction successfully.

Here’s a look at numerous benefits that businesses can gain by producing specific landing pages. 

Promote a positive first impression 

If you consider that there are far more interesting pages to look at online in comparison to your landing page, you will begin to understand that the duration of time visitors spend on your site will be relatively low. For this reason, first impressions count. Landing pages aid businesses to appeal to their audience, transitioning them from a reader into a solid customer.  

Use trust elements to your advantage

Images, graphics, and videos can attract visitors and have a way of persuading them emotionally to take action. Many psychology studies have indicated that people respond better to visual information than to text, resulting in much more positive user experience. Doing so can produce spectacular results, potentially giving business over a million unique visitors from Google alone. 

Landing page content example

Source: ColumnFive

The image above indicates processing visual content can be done at rapid speeds with greater retention and appeal, making clear that understanding visual content takes a small fraction of your reader’s attention span. 

Increase conversion rate

Landing pages allow you to increase your conversion rate as it is easier to capture email leads from them in comparison to a typical blog. This is because a landing page has only one purpose. A website or a blog focuses on highlighting trending posts, recommending affiliate products or services, whereas the landing page is solely focused on the CTA. 

Now we’ve spent a little time looking at what landing pages are, let’s now dissect the anatomy of one, focusing on the key components of a successful high-conversion landing page.

The components of a successful high-conversion landing page

What is your unique selling proposition as a business?

No matter what industry or field your business participates in, a fierce competition is always inevitable. As a business, your unique selling proposition is what sets you and your competitor’s miles apart. Your USP on your landing page is how you decide to position your offering differently. 

Landing pages need to communicate this proposition in a succinct way sufficiently. Why? So your visitors can immediately understand what makes your product or service far more appealing compared to others alike. To do so, you must follow and include page elements that aid in telling your story clearly.

Landing page iPhone SE example

Source: Apple

The main headline: One of the first things visitors will see and read is the headline. For this reason, it needs to be precise. Keeping the headline punchy and to the point is a must, being direct about your USP is vital. As demonstrated by Apple’s landing page above, they have decided to make the headline their product name, making clear what the landing page is promoting.

Supporting headline: As our heading needs to be short and sweet, additional context can be offered in the form of a subheading, adding a touch more information. The shorter the subheading, the better, as exemplified on Apple’s landing page. A subheading can have two approaches. The first being a direct extension of the headline itself. The second is offering additional information, conveying a secondary message that is persuasive. Apple has chosen the latter, by using the word “love” it adds an emotional element of persuasion. 

Reinforcing statement: This is optional and depends on the length of your landing page. If the landing page runs long, you will want to add a reinforcing statement towards the middle of the page to help remind visitors of your USP. However, the reinforcing statement can also be used to persuade, as Apple has done so, by including prices and offering a “trade-in” option.

Closing statement: a closing statement is typically used to back up your USP, giving your visitor one last chance to convert into a customer. It is thought to be the climax to your offering, so making it count will pay off. A strong closing statement will help remind the visitor why they are on your landing page along with a repeat CTA with a little urgency.

The hero image or video

As mentioned above, first impressions are paramount, and so, the hero image is the first visual your visitor will see on your landing page. Hero images are thought to be the primary image that helps to convey your message. The image should clearly demonstrate and convey and communicate the use of your product or service as demonstrated by the below image from Mercedes-Benz. 

Landing page Mercedes example

Source: Mercedes

With that in mind, some businesses prefer to use text-only landing pages that do not include videos or images. The purpose of this strategy is, since page loading times affect Google rankings, text-based landing pages load with speed, increasing the user experience. However, as we explored above, the retention and processing of text is much slower,

Video landing pages have become increasingly popular over the years thanks to sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Research has shown that one-third of all online activity comes from users watching videos. Videos are also increasingly interactive and help to demonstrate how your product or service works transparently.

Source: Statista

The graph above provided by Statista indicates the share of businesses that were using videos on their landing page worldwide between the years 2016-2018. As you can see there was an 11% increase between 2016 and 2017 which is considered to be quite high and a 3% decrease in 2018, which is relatively low. Considering economic issues, it seems videos that are present on landing pages are proving to be successful for businesses.

The benefits of your offering

One of the main components of your landing page is the copy that is placed on it which helps to persuade readers. The key to your copy is to describe the specific benefits of your product or service along with flaunting its features. The feature helps to demonstrate a particular quality of your product and the benefit describes its positive impact. To drive and increase conversions, it is better to show off features and benefits together as Apple have done so with their “Lots of love, Less to spend’ copy. In this case, the feature of the product is what it can do for the customer, and the benefit is the price.

A form of social proof

Landing pages that convert well have examples of social proof that can be used to help influence your reader’s decision making. Pictures of customers, social media posts, and testimonials of users using your product help to build trust and help gain conversions. Large organizations such as Apple mix between using this strategy. The image below clearly indicates the benefits of social proof.

Source:Unbounce

Conversion goal – CTA

The landing page’s key focus is a conversion goal, getting visitors to follow the CTA which can be a stand-alone button, a click-through page or a form designed for lead generation. When creating your CTAs, it would be wise not to use a bland button with text that says ‘click here’. Using conversation language as Apple has done so will let visitors know exactly what to expect when clicking on it if you opt to use a form, keep it short while including a privacy statement reassuring visitors that their data is safe. 

Considering the psychology of color, Apple has used it to their advantage. Using the right colors help improve landing page conversions. The color blue is thought to make readers feel peaceful, which is the color Apple has chosen for their CTA text. The text also stands out from the other colors used on the pallet of the page. 

Increasing your landing page conversion rate

Market research

Conducting market research is essential for your landing page. Gathering vital information surrounding your target audience and customers will assist you in creating a valuable and desirable customer experience. Doing so will help you gain an insight into the topics of interest surrounding your target market, allowing you to create a streamlined, well-targeted landing page.

A/B testing

Testing landing pages is vital. A/B testing is the process of running a simultaneous experiment between two or more pages in the aim to see which pages perform the best. Doing so can help gather evidence considering variations between texts, heading, and images. 

Gathering metrics from analytics and A/B testing platforms like Finteza and Optimizely can help you make clear and concise decisions based on first-hand data collected when considering the behavior of your audience.

By seeing the effectiveness of a specific landing page, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions when it comes to allocating marketing budget and spending time.

Source: Finteza

The impact of testing can largely elevate your business as President Obama raised an additional $60million dollars by using A/B testing in his last campaign.



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SEO

How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business

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30-second summary:

  • Take advantage of Google’s search market domination with two spots on the first page of Google – Local pack and localized organic search results.
  • Optimize for high converting local keywords, establish a local content schedule, and more.
  • Founder of Digital Ducats Inc. shares a thorough guide on everything you need for a successful local SEO strategy.

For many companies, an effective SEO strategy for local business is the key factor for increasing revenue from high converting traffic. Local SEO can mean the difference in outranking authority websites for vital keywords within your city.

Along with the overall benefits of SEO, optimizing to compete locally improves your search visibility for keyword searches made from your location. 

Many aspects of local SEO have remained the same over the last few years however, the weight of local ranking factors has shifted creating new priorities for local businesses.  

One aspect that remains the prime focus for every local business is the significance of Google My Business. 

1. Gain instant visibility with GMB

Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business. Considering the search engine market share that Google holds, you’re literally losing money by not having a GMB listing. 

As of June 2020, Google tops the charts for search engine market share boasting 86% of desktop and 95% of total mobile searches.  

mobile market share

It should be clear that failing to prioritize your presence in GMB can cost your company thousands of dollars. 

One of the many advantages that Google My Busines allows is instant search visibility for a business operating in a locality. Rather than going through the process of ranking your own domain, your website receives instant search visibility from local searches within close proximity.   

The Possum update made proximity a primary ranking factor for achieving a top position in the Local Pack. Your company can appear on the first page of results based on the distance between your location and the location of a user.  

In 2020, according to the State Of Local SEO Industry Report, proximity has fallen to the third most influential ranking factor behind on-page optimization and reviews. The general consensus among those surveyed is that optimizing your listing is the top priority for ranking in the Local Pack. 

2. Optimize your GMB profile

Optimize your GMB listing just as you would your website in terms of providing as much information to search engines as possible. The more detail you can provide in your profile, the more information search engines have to reference your business for keyword related searches. 

NAP details

Fill in every option available to maximize your opportunities to appear in the Local Pack. Name, address, and phone number (NAP details) are extremely important to have spelled correctly. 

Obviously, this is important for users to receive the correct information. Search engines will also verify your business details with third party citations. 

Explore all category options

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is failing to include the correct categories. There has been a countless number of clients that have been able to rank in the Local Pack by simply adding the correct category for their business. 

Google updates the list of eligible categories your business can fall under. It’s advisable to check periodically for new categories that would enhance the accuracy of your listing. 

One way to explore any options you may have missed is to search Google for the local keywords you’re targeting. Check the Local Finder for the categories that your competition is using to rank in the top positions.  

Keyword optimization

It should be noted that on-page optimization is proving to be the strongest ranking factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This can be a source of frustration for those who operate under Google guidelines since Google has allowed keyword stuffing to trump other ranking factors.

If you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines, the name of your business should be the only thing in your GMB listing. What should be happening and what is actually working are two different things that have created somewhat of a loophole and a grey area for SEO. 

The fact is that using the keyword in the name of your business will get you results. It’s as simple as that. 

If you’re starting a business that operates in a specific city it’s highly effective to incorporate your main keyword in the name of your business. It’s been so effective that it’s led to keyword stuffing-which, in theory, should be penalized-but seems to be left unregulated. 

Here is an example of successful keyword manipulation for the phrase “bespoke suits Toronto”. Each of these sites outranks other sites based on the name used in the GMB profile. 

local SEO example - Bespoke suits Toronto

 It’s hard to say what will prevail in the long run because the evidence points to the fact that this is working to rank sites. After monitoring this listing for over 6 months, it continues to rank and undoubtedly reaps the benefits of local traffic from a prime placement in the local pack. 

3. Build your local presence with citations

Structured citations an essential element in local SEO despite the reduced effectiveness they once had as a ranking factor. Their purpose serves two functions; to validate your business information for search engines; to provide additional targeted traffic. 

List your business in well-known directories

List your business in the largest and most relevant directories for your city or region to get the most coverage from relevant citations. Some of the most obvious are Bing and Yahoo since they both have local business listings.  

Major directories will typically serve as a source of information for much smaller, but relevant websites. Your business information is essentially distributed to dozens of other directories that will help to establish the validity and credibility of your business. 

The major directories from each country and region can vary so it’s important to establish which sites will have the most impact with the least effort. 

In Canada, posting your business on Yellow Pages results in a wide distribution of sites that are relevant to Canada. Moz provides an excellent visual as an example of the distribution network Yellow Pages provides. 

local SEO guide - Canada citation ecosystem

Source: Moz

Here’s an example of the U.S. local ecosystem provided by Moz (keep in mind these images are now a few years old). According to this illustration below, there are many major directories that can have a large impact on your search visibility in the U.S. 

US local search ecosystem

Search for niche and local directories

Enhance the profile of your citations and improve your sources of traffic by searching for directories that are niche-specific and location-specific. 

Getting a few links from directories that are in your niche and location will improve the relevance of your site in both areas. Look for relevant directories by using the following in a search: 

[Your niche] + directories 

[Your location] + directories 

Qualify each directory

Make sure the sites you choose to place your business have a decent amount of traffic and authority. Even if a directory is unique in your city, if it has a high spam score (use Mozbar to filter these sites), or has extremely low domain authority it may do more harm than good. 

Local SEO strategy = Toronto directory options

SEMRush is also a good tool to use for a quick reference on the amount of traffic a website receives. If the organic search traffic is a bust, don’t list your company website on it. 

SEMrush organic traffic

You don’t need a lot of these sites to complete an effective citation profile. Google won’t give a whole lot of credit for acquiring easy links. The goal of this endeavor is to create significant ties to your city and industry and position your company on sites that get relevant traffic. 

4. Establish your content strategy

Your website is only as good as the content you publish. Create content to serve as a resource for clients. Educational content produces three times as many leads as paid ads. Keep in mind you will need to publish both educational content as well as local SEO content for more localized search result appearances. 

The initial stages of your content strategy should be to create the most important pages with local service areas in mind. Is your business focused on one location only, or will you service multiple areas? This determines whether you will be publishing location pages for multiple cities or have a central location. 

Single location businesses

If your business is focused on one location, you can incorporate geo-modifiers in your URLs and titles. Optimize your service/product pages to appear in city-specific searches using your location as part of your keywords. 

Businesses with multiple service areas 

For multiple service areas, you will need to publish location pages to target the areas you want your business to appear for in city-specific searches. Location pages should have unique content for each city and include the NAP details of each location. 

Publish content for each level of the marketing funnel 

The most important pages of your site are the bottom of the funnel pages that urge visitors to make a purchase. Focus your initial content strategy on publishing mid-funnel content that targets long-tail keywords. 

The sweet spot for identifying target keywords is low competition, high volume keywords. What determines “high volume” can vary depending on the industry. Aim to beat your competition with long-tail keywords that convert at a higher rate. 

Publish local content

Your local SEO content strategy can include a variety of options to increase the relevance to your location. Your content can include city-specific events that you’re company is involved in, or events that are related to your industry. 

Your local content strategy should include regular posts on Google My Business. Approximately 17% of businesses post to GMB on a weekly basis. Create a competitive advantage by sticking to a bi-weekly posting schedule. 

local SEO strategy: GMB posting

The posts don’t need to be extensive, persuasive essays to get the job done. They can even be excerpts from blog posts to lead users to the actual article on your site. Posting to GMB creates more entry poPosting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.ints to your website and promotes more user engagement through your business’s knowledge card. 

Local SEO strategy: GMB posts help with Knowledge cards

GMB has a category to post special offers, updates, and important information about your company. Capitalize on the areas that other companies are not doing well by including GMB posts in your local content strategy. 

Posting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.  

Post more images than competition

5. Local link building

The majority of local businesses have a backlink profile that is primarily made up of directory links and profile links. An effective link building strategy for a local business is one that appears natural and above all, demonstrates evidence of relevance to your industry and city. 

Build domain authority with linkable assets

The blog of every local business can be used to build authority in your industry. Publish linkable assets and insightful resources for both clients and amplifiers. 

Amplifiers, as explained by Rand Fishkin, have a significant impact on the backlinks you acquire since they are the people most likely to link to your site. Creating content for amplifiers gives your site more reasons to acquire links and increase the domain authority of your site.   

audience for content

Linkable, shareable content makes link building much easier. You can publish guest posts, submit press releases, and reach out to authority sites in your niche to link to the inner pages of your website to increase domain authority. 

Increase local ranking power with local links

Local links are considered the most powerful when it comes to localized search results as well as appearing in the Local Pack. Local links are also considered unstructured citations. Local links can come from local businesses, local newspapers, local chambers of commerce, and local event sites. 

Form a local business alliance

Finding businesses within your industry is ideal for creating a local alliance and boosting your ranking ability. For example, if you’re a hot tub retailer some of your best links would come from local businesses that sell swimming pools. 

 As long as you don’t compete for the same products, a local business in your industry or a close vertical is the most ideal source of links. 

Resource link building targeting vendors and client sites

You can improve the likelihood of obtaining local links by using your own network of resources. Companies you already do business with make for ideal link prospects. 

For example, a restaurant can ask the baker who supplies their bread rolls to link from their site.  

A plumber can ask his equipment suppliers and vice versa. 

Ideally, you want to target business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship.  

6. Review management

The reviews your business receives have the power to influence a user’s decision on whether or not to choose your company. Review management remains a top priority for local businesses to improve search visibility and maintain a good reputation. 

A review strategy should include a way to get more Google reviews as well as reviews on review sites that get search visibility for related keywords. If customers are reviewing your business on sites that are niche-specific it will impact search visibility as well as promote positive ranking signals. 

Identify the most important review sites in your industry 

There is a major review site for every industry. It’s important to identify what review sites get a lot of traffic and reviews to position your site to receive quality prospective clients. 

For example, people use Yelp or Trip Advisor to find a good restaurant in a city they’re no familiar with. People read the reviews and experiences of previous customers before making a final decision.  

If you’re in the home goods business Homestars would be important sites to ask a few clients to write you a review. Here’s a 10/10 review left for Canadian Home Leisure, a hot tub retailer in Whitby, ON. 

Homestars client review

Look at the domain metrics for a site like Homestars. Not only can you get a quality backlink, but there is a ton of traffic that goes through their site. 

Homestars traffic

If you’re not sure which review sites play an impact on search visibility, search for: 

best + [your keyword] + [your city] 

The intent of most searches that use best at the start indicates that users are looking for options, which trigger the major reviews and directory sites in your niche. Here’s a search for best suits in Toronto: 

Each of these sites could be an additional way for customers to find you. Yelp looks like it’s the only review site that you can manage for free.  

In fact, Yelp ranks #3 and #4. If you’re in the business of selling suits in Toronto, Yelp is definitely a site to put effort into building a detailed profile and customer reviews.  

In many cases, keywords that you’re targeting will display a few directory and review sites in the search result. These are indications that those sites are not only relevant to enhance your optimization, but they will drive traffic to your site as well. 

best suits in Toronto

Establish your review acquisition strategy

This doesn’t need to be a major operation but you should have a plan in place that consistently gets you reviews. Avoid mass emails or anything that would look spammy such as a review station at your location. Too many reviews from the same IP could cause red flags and result in your reviews being ignored and discounted. 

You can influence five-star reviews on the major review sites for your business by asking customers that you’re sure has had a good experience with your company. You can do this in a few ways: 

  • Train employees to ask for a review after the completion of a sale. 
  • Email satisfied customers thanking them for their business with links to a few different review sites. 
  • Hand out instructions on how to review your business along with a receipt. 

Respond to as many reviews as possible

Make it a point to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Approach each response as a form of advertising for your company and a chance to showcase your customer service. 

Customers will appreciate a thank you when they’ve taken the time to give you a good review.  

Negative reviews demand immediate responses in order to neutralize the damage that is being done to your reputation. Show every reader how you deal with a disgruntled customer by offering to fix the problem.  

People will understand when mistakes are made and offering a free service, free product or free meal can be the best form of advertising for your company. 

A local SEO strategy is worth the investment

Small businesses can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that a local SEO strategy has to offer. Following these guidelines and best practices, you can outrank authority sites (who aren’t local) and capitalize on high converting traffic. 

As competition intensifies so does the need to specialize in your area of expertise. Use your location to leverage more opportunities and promote long-term growth in your industry. 

Christian Carere is an SEO consultant in Toronto and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in traffic and lead generation. He can be found on Twitter @digitalducats.





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What are Backlinks? And How to Build Them in 2020

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Backlinks are created when one website links to another website. Google (and other search engines) consider backlinks to be “votes” for a page. In fact, Google’s original PageRank algorithm used backlinks as a signal of content quality. Many studies have found a correlation between backlinks and organic search engine rankings.

FREE Download: Get access to 7 untapped link building techniques for 2020.

In this guide, I’m going to show you data that proves the importance of backlinks, and then I’ll show you how to build backlinks (the right way).

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

  1. PROOF That Backlinks Matter for SEO
  2. When to Build Backlinks
  3. What Do Quality Backlinks Look Like?
  4. 4 Proven Link Building Methods (For Getting Powerful Backlinks)

Why Are Backlinks Important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

There have been many search engine studies conducted on the importance of backlinks. But, these studies support what’s already available to the public. If you want your head to explode, read about Google’s PageRank algorithm.

Here’s an explanation of PageRank in Layman’s terms:

Backlinks can improve or decrease your SEO performance on Google. Backlinks can improve your SEO performance if they come from high-quality sources. And vice versa.

If you’d like to geek out about PageRank and Google’s various algorithms, then Bill Slawski is your man.

It’s easy to conclude that backlinks are essential based on PageRank alone.

But, as of September 24, 2019, PageRank and all associated patents have expired. [1]

What’s Google scheming up? Don’t know and don’t care.

All that matters in the world of SEO is what works and what doesn’t work in search engines.

So how do you figure that out? You have to test and analyze Google’s search engine results daily.

The good news is that many studies have done that already.

Check it out:

PROOF That Backlinks Matter for SEO

Most SEO companies know that backlinks are critical based on their experience. But it helps to have additional data to support our experience.

That’s the purpose of the following section. I’ve gathered data from several in-depth SEO studies so you can reference whenever you need to.

Let’s dive in:

1. Powerful Sites = Better SEO Performance

Look through any Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and you’ll see one thing in common:

Search engines like Google love authority sites.

“Authority” in this case is defined as having a number of backlinks from trustworthy sites. And there is overwhelming data to support this idea.

Backlinko studied 11.8 million Google search engine results and found that:

“A site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher search engine rankings.” – Backlinko [2]

SEMRush conducted a 2.0 version of their ranking factors study and found that:

“The more backlinks a domain has, the higher is its position on the SERP.” – SEMRush [3]

To solidify this point even further, Rankings.io conducted a ranking factor study in the personal injury sector and found similar results. They said:

“While the number of referring domains per page appears not to influence rankings, the overall number of referring domains for the domain was a top indicator of overall domain traffic.” – Rankings.io [4]

Let’s start by saying that “Domain Rating” is not a metric that search engines use.

It’s a third party metric created by Ahrefs.

It’s not complete, but it’s a useful gauge for anyone doing SEO.

In short, your goal should be to increase your DR (Domain Rating).

Moz also has its metric for measuring the strength of one website.

It’s called DA (Domain Authority).

You can also look at the Majestic SEO Trust Flow metric as a way of gauging site strength.

Your goal should be to grow these metrics. The stronger your website is, the better it will rank in search engines.

You get the point by now. The data supports the idea that you need to work super hard to get more backlinks to your site. That is how you grow your website authority.

But you must also acquire website links to the actual pages you want to rank on search engines like Google.

Here’s the data to support that:

2. Powerful Pages = Better SEO Performance

It’s possible for a page to rank without a number of backlinks hitting it directly. That’s what happens when your site has established authority.

For example, when Forbes publishes a new article, they often rank on the first page (without any direct links).

That said, Forbes is the exception. Most sites will need direct backlinks to SEO-driven pages.

Here are data Ahrefs to support this idea:

“The more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.” – Ahrefs [5]

“Only one in every ~20 pages without backlinks has traffic… and the majority of these get 300 organic visits or less each month.” – Ahrefs [6]

This data point is easy to take out of context. Why?

Because it didn’t specify the quality of links. There are many pages online that have a large number of backlinks, but they have terrible search engine performance.

That’s because their backlinks are garbage.

The key isn’t to get backlinks.

The goal is to get backlinks from QUALITY sites.

Reread that ten times.

There is no nuance more critical.

Have no standards, and you will pay the price.

3. Better SEO Performance = More Backlinks

The rich get richer in SEO. Meaning, the better your SEO performance, the more backlinks you’ll acquire. I call this “The Snowball Effect.”

Backlinko’s study proved this be true:

“The #1 result in Google search has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10.” – Backlinko [7]

Ahrefs found similar results:

“Top-ranking pages do tend to acquire more backlinks (and at a faster pace) than the pages that rank below them.” – Ahrefs [8]

And SEMrush’s study agreed as well:

“The higher the domain’s position on the SERP, the more referring domains it has.” – SEMRush [9]

In short, once you achieve high rankings, you’ll start to get organic links. As a result, your page strengthens and will often solidify your positions.

Keep in mind that the exception to this rule is with competitive keywords.

Here’s the truth:

Having more inbound links isn’t enough to maintain rankings for competitive SERPs.

You also have to keep your page updated and fresh.

For example, a powerful page with stale content likely won’t maintain rankings.

In short, don’t get complacent once you start ranking.

You have to battle to keep those rankings. That means consistent link growth and fresh content.

4. Your Website Needs Vote (Backlink) Diversity

“The number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings.” – Backlinko [10]

You should aim to get backlinks from many different trustworthy sites in your industry. If we equate backlinks to votes, this makes perfect sense.

Many votes (backlinks) from different sources are more valuable than many votes from one source.

It’s hard to measure, but there are likely diminishing returns from getting backlinks from the same website.

Now would it hurt to get several backlinks from The Washington Post? No way.

Let’s say you had the choice between two links from The Washington Post or one link from fifteen different DR 20 blogs in your industry.

What would you pick?

Here’s a comparison:

The Washington Post has 730,000 referring domains.

And this example, DR 24 blog, Retailbound.com has 80 referring domains.

So let’s assume that most sites around 20 DR have ~100 referring domains. That means that 15 DR 20 sites equate to 1,500 referring domains total.

730,000 vs 1,500.

Let’s assume there is a 50% reduction of strength for the second link from The Washington Post. That’s still the strength of 365,000 domains.

Keep reducing it further, and it will continue to crush 15 backlinks from DR 20 sites.

I barely passed Algebra II, but the math is clear here:

Getting several links from one authoritative website is better than getting a bunch of weak links.

That said, it’s not always that simple, and that’s by design!

Getting backlinks from The Washington Post is difficult, so you don’t need to worry about getting too many.

5. Most Pages Don’t Get (Deserve) Backlinks

“66.31% of pages don’t have even a single backlink.” – Ahrefs [11]

“94% of all blog posts have zero external links.” – Backlinko [12]

Most pages aren’t worth linking to, so this makes perfect sense. Also, most sites aren’t engaging in link building campaigns.

The whole “build it, and they will come” mentality doesn’t work well with SEO.

You need to build and then spend 80% of your time link building. It gets easier over time.

That said, every SEO campaign requires a massive link building campaign in the beginning.

The key is to create things that are worth promoting. Now before you dive into link building, you need to first understand what quality backlinks look like.


I’ve mentioned “quality” backlinks throughout this article, but what does that mean?

Here are seven indicators you should use to prioritize your link prospects:

1. Relevance

You should spend most of your link building time trying to get links on sites in your industry. I recommend using a model I created called The Relevancy Pyramid.

The Relevancy Pyramid can help you prioritize your link prospects based on relevance.

The model is simple:

There are fewer link building opportunities that are 100% relevant to your website. You should focus on these first.

Then, once you’ve tapped those out, move down the pyramid where there will be more prospects with less relevance.

Now there are two exceptions to this prioritization strategy.

First, it’s ALWAYS okay to get links from super authority sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, or .edu/.gov sites.

Second, The Relevancy Model changes if you’re working in local SERPs.

I recommend focusing on geo-targeted opportunities first. Then move onto topically relevant prospects on the national level.

This will create the most natural and relevant link profile.

Now, of course, it’s not all about relevance. If that were the case, you could create hundreds of relevant websites yourself and link to your site.

That doesn’t work because it would be missing all the other factors that make a backlink powerful.

Bringing me to standard #2:

2. Traffic

You need to get links to your site from websites that are relevant and have organic traffic.

Think about it:

If Google is sending organic search traffic to a site, what does that say?

It means that it’s likely a trustworthy website. In general, sites that are popular in organic search are valuable link building opportunities.

You can use SEMRush to see if a website is getting organic search traffic (and to see the “value” of that traffic):

3. Authority

If a website is getting organic traffic, it likely has authority. You can use Ahrefs’ DR to prioritize link building prospects based on their site authority.

The stronger a website is, the harder it will be to get the link.

That makes those links even more valuable, so it’s worth the effort.

4. Link Quality

It is possible to manipulate third party metrics like Ahrefs’ DR or Moz’s DA.

So that’s why you need to analyze the backlink profile of all your opportunities manually.

I like to run the website through Ahrefs and filter their links by “DoFollow.”

I then sort them so that the strongest links with the highest DR are at the top.

In short, you want to see that the site is getting links from high-quality sources.

Use the same criteria from above.

5. Editorial Standards

Why are diamonds valuable?

Because they’re difficult to get. That’s how you need to approach your link building. The harder it is to land a backlink, the more valuable it is.

The opposite is true, as well:

The easier a backlink is to get, the less valuable it is.

Focus on getting links on websites that have high editorial standards.

6. Outbound Link Quality

Websites with strong editorial guidelines will likely only link out to quality resources. You want your link to “live” around other trustworthy outbound links.

Examine every prospective website and ask:

  • How are they linking out?
  • Are the outbound links relevant?
  • Are the outbound links going to respected, trusted sites?
  • Do the outbound links look natural, or do they look like paid links?

7. Indexation

Nothing is more important than making sure you get links on indexed websites. If the site isn’t indexed in Google, then your links will be worthless.

Go to Google and search “site:example.com”.

If they don’t show up, avoid the website.

8. Bonus: Anchor Text Matters

Anchor text is the words you’ll see in a clickable hyperlink. Most people who are new to SEO don’t realize how impactful anchor text is. That applies to both how you use on your website (through internal links) and how you use it off of your website (backlinks).

In the case of internal links, you should use keyword-rich anchor text. Notice how I used “anchor text” as my anchor to link to my guide about “anchor text”. This is known as exact match anchor text. It’s safe to use with internal links.

However, you need to be super careful when it comes to backlinks. Read the guide above to learn more, but in short: exact match anchor text is a big footprint that you’re building links (which is against Google’s guidelines).

The catch 22 is that keyword-rich anchors work well. That means you need to be careful with how you use your anchor text when you’re link building.

Read this anchor text guide to learn how to use it the right way.


4 Proven Link Building Methods (For Getting Powerful Backlinks)

There are many ways to build backlinks, but not everything is worth pursuing.

Here are 4 link building techniques worth using:

1. Steal Your Competitors Backlinks

The first place you should do your backlink research is from your competitor’s backlink profile. The good news is SEO tools like Ahrefs makes this super easy. Watch this video:

2. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is when you write content for another website in your industry. From a link building perspective, it’s an opportunity to get links on relevant websites.

But guest posts have other benefits such as getting more referral traffic and growing your brand.

The key is to focus on guest posts using the criteria above.

Check out Backlinko’s guide to land more guest posts.

3. Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of reclaiming backlinks that you should likely have in the first place. Some examples include reaching out to websites that used your images, logo, or any assets without linking.

Siege Media has an impressive guide you can follow.

4. Create Link Bait

Link bait is the process of creating a content marketing asset that websites are likely to link to. Some of the best forms of link bait are data-driven content, free tools, and even paid tools. For example, examine the link profiles of SEO tools.

They’ve attracted enormous amounts of links like SEMRush:

I recommend diving into WebFX’s guide to learn this method.

Need a full-scale link building strategy? Watch this video:

TLDR: Backlinks Matter for SEO

Shocking development, I know. Here are the two big takeaways:

  • You need to acquire quality backlinks to your website as a whole so you can grow its authority.
  • You need to acquire quality links to specific SEO-driven pages you’re trying to rank.

Now go out there and start acquiring more links. If this guide was helpful, please share it. Thanks for reading.

FREE Download: Get access to 7 untapped link building techniques for 2020.

References

1. “Method for node ranking in a linked database“. Google Patents. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

2, 7, 10. “We Analyzed 11.8 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO“. Backlinko. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

3, 9. “Ranking Factors SEMrush Study 2.0“. SEMRush. 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

4. “SEO Data Science: A Study of 112K Personal Injury Law Firms“. Rankings.io. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

5, 6, 11. “90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. And How to Be in the Other 9.37% [New Research for 2020]“. Ahrefs. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

8. “How Many New Backlinks Do Top-ranking Pages Get Over Time [New Data by Ahrefs]“. Ahrefs. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

12. “We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing“. Backlinko. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

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