Because Google won’t tell us exactly how their search algorithms work (come on already Google!), oftentimes the answer we get in SEO is “it depends.”
While this is an unsatisfying answer, there are many valid reasons for it – different websites, different niches, different audiences, different competition, etc.
But what if I told you there was a foolproof SEO strategy you could leverage to succeed in SEO regardless of your vertical or type of business?
That would be great, right?
Well, this is possible and the only thing you must do is… keep learning!
OK, so that might not be as cut and dry of a strategy as you were hoping for, but it’s true.
Ongoing education is essential to SEO success.
It’s how the top SEO professionals, and the brands they manage, stay on top.
SEO is an ever-changing industry and landscape. The same rule that applies to search rankings applies to SEO savvy: if you remain status quo, you’re losing ground.
What would your SEO strategy look like if you were still following best practices from 2010? 2000? 1996 when search engines rose to prominence?
You would have keyword-stuffed pages and be chasing blog comment links, and you would not be performing in search.
As an SEO, to avoid getting left behind you must constantly educate yourself to keep up with the changing times and best practices.
Just Look at 2019!
To understand how rapidly SEO changes and why continuous education is necessary, we don’t have to look any further than this current year.
In 2019 alone, we’ve seen major changes and important trends emerge that have a drastic and lasting impact on the SEO landscape. These trends include:
- The evolution of how Google measures E-A-T and its significance in terms of search rankings.
- And Google’s continuous push to answer queries within the SERP and the emergence of zero-result queries.
This is not the entire list of everything that happened in 2019, but it demonstrates how quickly things can move in SEO. Let’s take a quick look at each of these developments.
The Influence of E-A-T on Search & Our Understanding of It
Right off the bat, I want to explicitly state E-A-T is not a ranking factor.
However, this does not mean E-A-T doesn’t influence rankings, or rather, our understanding of and investment in E-A-T influences our ability to rank.
Ryan Jones explains this concept well in a tweet from Pubcon:
remember when we talk about rater guidelines, EAT and YMYL aren’t actual things in the algorithm. they’re plain english ways to describe what groups of things in the algorithm are trying to do. #pubcon
— Ryan Jones (@RyanJones) October 10, 2019
We should be working to improve the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of our site because these improvements correlate with the actual signals (content quality and backlinks) that Google is trying to measure with their algorithm.
While this all may seem somewhat ambiguous – I can hear Matt Cutts saying, “create good content!” – Lily Ray has done a great job of sharing actionable insights.
Some things you can do to improve the E-A-T of your website include:
- Improving your online reputation via third-party review sites.
- Minimizing ad placements on your site to avoid diminishing user experience.
- Being transparent about who your brand is and who the people are behind it, particularly the authors of your content.
- Citing credible sources and earning citations as a credible source.
You can see more of Lily’s helpful tips here, or check out these other helpful E-A-T resources here on Search Engine Journal:
Is Google Trying to Create an Answer Engine?
With the recent trends we’ve seen from Google, it seems that they are pushing more and more towards having an answer engine rather than a search engine – Google wants to answer queries within their platform, rather than provide links to external resources.
The idea of zero-result SERPs is a frightening prospect for SEO professionals who work to build search visibility and gain organic traffic from Google’s search results, and for some queries, this notion is already a reality.
Furthermore, there has been a rise in queries that show results but result in zero-clicks – obviously, this isn’t ideal for an SEO either.
Rand Fishkin has been conducting research into click-through-rates and how Google is trying to keep users on their platform, and I recommend you review his findings to learn more.
This type of “future-casting” is a great example of why you need to be continuously learning and experimenting in SEO – you need to identify trends to understand where the industry is heading and how you can get ahead.
For example, if you’re targeting a keyword because it has a large monthly search volume, but it’s tied to queries with zero-clicks, you’re going to struggle to earn organic traffic.
Operating based on outdated assumptions (big search volume = big opportunity) can lead to ineffective and inefficient work.
These are just some of the changes and updates that we saw this year that demonstrate how rapidly the SEO landscape can evolve. If you’re not paying attention and leveling up your skills, you will be left behind.
Staying Informed with SEO
So how do you stay informed and continually grow your knowledge base for SEO?
The SEO community, in general, is great about collaborating and sharing information.
Since nobody really knows how Google’s search algorithm works exactly, it seems to foster a “we’re in this together” mentality within the SEO space where people share their tests and findings to help move the collective understanding forward.
Some of the ways you can tap into the community to support your ongoing SEO education include:
- Attending trade shows and industry events.
- Staying active on social media.
- And reading and watching online content.
Each of these channels provide opportunities to challenge your assumptions and further your SEO knowledge.
Trade Shows & Events
One of the best ways to keep tabs on what’s happening in the SEO industry is to attend trade shows and industry events.
The presentations at these events typically feature discussions and research from the bleeding-edge of SEO. These are the platforms where industry experts like to share their new studies and discoveries, and sometimes these shows even feature experts from Google sharing best practices and updates on search.
You can find a list of the top SEO events here on Search Engine Journal.
Paying for tickets and travel to these shows can get expensive.
So, If you’re unable to make it to the show itself, it’s always a good idea to follow the sponsored hashtag on Twitter and keep an eye out for recap posts.
While these options aren’t as valuable as going to the shows – you miss out on all the networking opportunities – social posts and recap blogs will keep you abreast of the biggest takeaways from the event.
Speaking of social media, you can learn a lot about SEO via social.
Twitter, in particular, has an active SEO community.
While 280 characters may not seem like enough space to have in-depth SEO discussions, the way the platform is designed, combined with an active community, makes for a great learning environment.
Twitter is often the place where updates and major changes to search rankings are discovered.
SEO pros from across the industry can share and compare the changes they are seeing in real-time, which makes it possible to spot trends and draw conclusions about how search results are changing.
In fact, Twitter often provides an opportunity to speak directly to Google employees. Some notable accounts you should be following include:
Outside of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn groups provide great platforms for SEO discussion as well.
There are also several great SEO forums, such as:
The key is to find the right group for your knowledge level and area of interest, and of course, you want to find a group that is active and start engaging yourself – often, the best way to learn more about an SEO subject or theory is by trying to explain it to someone else.
Quora is an excellent place to answer SEO questions and demonstrate, and test, your SEO knowledge.
There are also numerous SEO experts to follow that share industry news and insights daily. Check out Search Engine Journal’s list here to find some of the best and brightest minds in SEO to learn from.
As mentioned before, the SEO industry is great about sharing knowledge, and as such, there is never a shortage of fresh, quality SEO content.
Whether it’s a video, podcast, or blog post, there is always new, informative content available. News sites like Search Engine Journal provide the best of both worlds with in-depth, actionable blog posts as well as analysis of the latest developments in SEO.
I’d recommend subscribing to the SEJ Today newsletter to keep a pulse on the industry as a whole and to keep an eye out for content that may provide a solution to the current challenge you’re facing. The Moz Top 10 is another great resource that curates the best SEO content from around the web every two weeks.
Again, explaining SEO concepts is often the best way to learn more and writing your own SEO content is an effective way to increase your knowledge base.
Personally, I’ve learned much of what I know about SEO from conducting the necessary research associated with the post I write.
The process of writing an in-depth guide on a new topic requires a deep understanding of that topic, so if you want to learn something new, try writing a post about that concept.
Of course, if you’re not a writer or are looking for outside perspectives, there are many great SEO blogs to follow, and Search Engine Journal has a solid list here,
Test Everything You Learn with SEO Experiments
Really, the best way to expand your knowledge and challenge SEO assumptions is by doing the actual work and experimenting.
Again, no one outside of Google search engineers – and with all the machine learning, maybe not even them at this point – knows all the intricacies of the search algorithm, so even the most widely accepted SEO theories are still just theories.
You should always be tracking the results of your SEO efforts to make sure you’re working toward your goals, but you can also leverage these opportunities for learning experiences.
Learned about a new link building tactic? Test it on a small scale within your own campaign and measure the efficacy.
Heard about a new best practice for on-page SEO?
Implement the change on a subset of your pages and track the results.
The best way to learn is by doing, and it’s no different with SEO.
There are so many mitigating factors in SEO (different business models, different niches, different websites, etc.) that you need to take any best practice with a grain of salt anyway, so testing on your own site is necessary.
The key with SEO testing and experiments is to contain your test to a small sample size and then scale up as you see positive results.
Through continual learning (and testing of what you learn), you’ll ensure that you’re always following SEO best practices and implementing changes that improve the performance of your site in search.
While there is no “magic bullet” in SEO that will guarantee you success, through ongoing education, you can hone in on what has the largest impact on your website, overcome any challenges or obstacles, outmaneuver your competition, and the results will feel like magic!
Why behavior analysis is important online business
- A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.
- In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners.
- Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles.
- MD of SEO Discovery shares a guide to help you understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.
In today’s digital age, the customer journey is getting complex day by day and if you are doing online business then it’s vital to understand your customer journey. A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.
In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners. According to Statista, 88.05 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned in March 2020 worldwide, which means over 88% of people added selected products into the cart and left without buying for various reasons. This is a massive business opportunity loss for ecommerce players.
Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles. Without adequate knowledge of analytics, your marketing won’t work because you won’t know what worked and what didn’t work. All the marketing suits come with analytics tools to help perceive the behavior, engagement metrics, and demographics of the visitors coming to a website. The most common web analytics tools are Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Kiss Metrics, and Mixpanel. They generally come with the following features and capabilities:
- Real-time analytics
- Mobile analytics
- Attribution modeling
- Ecommerce tracking
- Funnel analysis
- Cohort analysis
- Cross-device tracking
- In-page analytics (Session recording, click tracking, heatmaps)
- Goal conversion tracking
- Event tracking
- A/B testing
Every feature has its own data sets which can be compared to help you make informed decisions. Today we are going to understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.
What is a Cohort Analysis and why is it important?
Cohort analysis is a subset of users grouped by shared characteristics. It simply allows you to compare the behavior and metrics of different cohorts over time.
Cohort Analysis Example – Finding Engagement Drop
Let’s suppose you have an online food ordering website/app and using acquisition date (when users started their first sessions) cohorts you can find out when in the customer lifecycle your users tend to drop off.
The best way for visualizing this data is to chart out the retention curve, portraying retention over time.
This retention curve clearly reflects the most important insight – around 75% of the users stop using the website after the first day. We can see a downfall in the engagement. Hence, it’s evident to improve the overall experience and abet customers through daily offers/coupons to boosting retention.
Cohort Analysis Comparison – Organic vs Direct
The below cohort analysis indicates that organic traffic has a better retention rate than direct.
Visitor behavior analysis and its importance
It’s a process of tracking user behavior on a website and there are some great tools in the market that give accurate information. Tools like Hotjar, MouseFlow, Crazy Egg record visitor sessions to see how visitors are navigating on the website. They also offer click tracking and heatmaps to analyze the most engaging and ignored (skipped) elements on a page.
If you look at the above heatmap, you would notice that no one bothered to click on “PORTFOLIO” in the top menu, which means people aren’t interested in see the portfolio. Maybe we have to replace it with something more interesting (like Case Studies, Achievements, and more) which grabs a visitor’s attention. These kinds of insights help you add/remove elements to improve page engagement.
Using filters, you can further segment your audience to dig deep and pull out actionable insights, see those filter below:
In Google Analytics, behavior flow gives you a visual presentation of how people are navigating on your website. You can apply segments to get a deeper view of their behavior and it also enables you to apply different dimensions on top of these segments to get actionable insights.
The power of these analytical tools lies in the fact that it allows you to view which customers leave and what’s making them leave your website/app – so that you can fix it. You can also hire a professional digital marketing agency that can help you find these hurdles and remove them to enhance your overall engagement.
Mandeep Singh is the MD of SEO Discovery. He’s mission is to provide affordable digital marketing services to startups and SMEs. He’s an official member of Forbes Agency Council. You can find him on LinkedIn.
Top 15 Chrome extensions for social media marketers
- When it comes to the internet browser, Google Chrome, with its extensive list of extensions is the indisputable chart-topper.
- As a digital marketer, you have to keep track of so many things – different projects at various stages of development, research, reporting, new leads, existing clients, et cetera.
- Bhavik Soni shares a list of the top 15 Chrome extensions that will make social media marketers more productive, smart, and efficient.
- These are categorized into extensions for – Productivity, research and tracking, content creation and implementation, and digital marketing. Dive in!
When it comes to the internet browser, Google Chrome, with its extensive list of extensions is the indisputable chart-topper. From simple theme-based to technical coding-related, the extension list in chrome is practically endless.
This extension-packed list also boasts a wide variety of efficient social media extensions that boost professionalism, punctuality, and productivity. And, who wouldn’t love a convenient free plugin that makes life easier!
As a digital marketer, you have to keep track of so many things – different projects at various stages of development, research, reporting, new leads, existing clients, et cetera. These extension apps create a focus-orientated and organized work environment by keeping marketers updated on project developments, sending to-do reminders, enhancing content, and more.
In short, these install-and-use plugins act as the ace up their sleeves for social network marketers. They work as useful gadgets and trained assistants. They are the must-have social media marketing tools for every marketer.
You can optimize and make Google work for you in a jiffy by adding these 15 Chrome Extensions to your browser today.
Chrome Productivity Extensions
1. StayFocused: App block & website block google chrome extension
Designed to boost productivity, the StayFocused extension limits the amount of time you spend on vanity Googling. It offers the brute force you need somedays to anchor your focus to what’s more important.
2. Momentum: Personal dashboard new tab chrome extension
Perhaps, Momentum is the best Chrome extension for productivity. It steers your focus from idle to important by motivating you with quotes, encouraging positivity with mantras, and inspiring with serene photography. Features like Daily Focus, To-Do, Countdowns, Metrics, Event Reminder and Links help you browse the internet with intent. What’s more? The plus version is available for just $3.33/month.
Research and tracking extensions
3. Diigo Web Collector: Highlighter and bookmarker for chrome
Diigo is a research chrome extension that lets you highlight important phrases, bookmark and save pages, write notes, and collect references at a single place. It comes in handy for social media marketers, who generally invest hours in R&D for planning a campaign, learning trends, and comparing the competitor’s strategy.
4. Google Analytics URL Builder: Online UTM tracking
This is a tracking extension that lets you build UTM parameters. With the help of this plugin, you will be able to gauge the effectiveness of the UTM tags used in the campaigns. Google Analytics URL Builder also allows you to share templates with others, saves time when you have to generate URLs manually, and shares progress with clients.
5. Ghostery: Makes web cleaner, faster, and safer
Ghostery is designed to block ads and trackers, this productivity chrome extension makes a great social media marketing tool. With its help, you will be able to learn the trackers on the competitor’s sites that they use to attract, engage, and convert the visitors.
$11.99 USD /month/user*
6. SpyFu: SEO and PPC tools for professionals
Yet another efficient tracker extension that lets you peek into the competitor’s site data. Spyfu reveals extensive information, including where the competitor appeared on Google in the past nine years. The social media marketing (SMM) plugin also shows all keywords bought on AdWords, every ad variation, and every organic rank for $33/month.
Content creation and implementation
7. Canva: Design is all around us
How social media advertising will perform relies a lot on visuals. Photo-driven platforms like Instagram and Pinterest yield better ROI than content-driven Twitter or Facebook. It is because photos get more engagement. To ensure you can make most of this social media trend, creating impressive and attention-grabbing posts become imperative. It is where Canva comes into the picture.
8. Figure it Out: Solve your time zone pain
A digital marketer works for clients and target audiences in different time zones. For them, Figure it Out proves to be a handy tool. It is an extension that lets you keep track of up to 10 time zones, and makes scheduling posts accordingly.
Free and paid ($3/month)
9. WhatFont: Identify fonts on web pages
We get it, fonts are tricky. Download an app, and it gives you hundreds of fonts that are too similar-looking, too familiar, or too quirky for your campaign. One day you browse a site – may be a competitor’s – and find just the font you were looking for but have no clue which one it is.
That’s when WhatFont comes to the rescue. A single click and it reveals not only the name but also the family, style, weight, size, line height, and color of the font.
10. Unsplash Instant: Beautiful photos in your new tab
For every social media marketing post, there is a tedious task to find high-quality, professional stock pictures, usually for free. Unsplash Instant lets you find great photos ranging from flowers and skies to desktops and artsy portraits. You can save them for free and use it for all kinds of commercial use.
11. Colorzilla: Advanced colorful goodies
Colorzilla allows you to hover over any color shown on a webpage and learn about its hex code for future use in a social media ad post. With this plugin, you will be able to create consistent color themes, appealing visuals, and come up with perfect palettes.
12. Sniply: Drive conversion through content
Social media promotions through third-party content are more effective when they include a tempting call-to-action that takes the reader to your own online space. Sniply helps you make those conversion-generating posts by letting you add custom CTA to any piece of content. On the dashboard, the plugin will show how many clicks your links are getting and the level of engagement for tracking purposes.
Digital marketing extensions
13. IFTTT for Marketing and social media automation
14. Buffer: Share content easily
With this social media extension, you will be able to schedule and manage posts across different platforms. Buffer will also let you follow up with analytics to track the performance of each post.
15. LastPass: Free password manager
By downloading the LastPass Chrome extension, you will not need to remember dozens of passwords to each social media platform. This free password manager will do it for you. You could also create a master password through LastPass.
Let’s sum it up
Here’s a guide to 15 best Chrome extensions available for social media marketers. From saving bookmarks to managing posts and passwords, these plugins will work as assistants to digital professionals.
Note: Details like pricing are subject to change as per the respective tool provider.
Bhavik Soni is a Creative Writer at Auto Monkey. We provide an original analysis of the latest happenings in the social media industry. Connect with Latest Social Media Trends and News plus tips on Twitter, Facebook, and other social tools on the web.
How to make your website ADA-compliant and win at SEO
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 does now include mobile apps and websites.
- An ADA-compliant website helps more people than those covered by ADA.
- There are many SEO benefits such as increased visibility on google image searches, and featured snippets.
- Co-founder of Ally digital media, Abhishek Shah says, “Responsive websites help with ADA compliance and further improve your website’s overall search presence.”
- The four best ways to make your website ADA-compliant with a clear outline of its ADA as well as SEO benefits.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 does now include mobile apps and websites. Specifically, Title III of the ADA has taken an official stand on how websites should be accessible for disabled users. However, when you look at what’s necessary to make a website ADA-compliant, you will see that these also will help improve your site’s SEO.
Some elements such as title tags, heading structure, alt text, and responsive design are things all websites should include. By ensuring these are done properly and in an ADA-compliant way will maximize your website’s effectiveness.
How ADA accessibility prioritization benefits everyone
Ensuring your website complies with the ADA helps you serve a larger audience and gives a boost to your search engine rankings. This is because most of the necessary components of making your website ADA compliant feed directly into SEO best practices.
After all, the whole point is to make your website easier to view, understand, and navigate. What business doesn’t want all that for their website?
Four ways an ADA-compliant website helps improve your SEO
Here are 4 ADA-compliant must-haves (in no particular order) that will help improve your SEO. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good place to start.
1. Title tags help screen searches and readers
Title tags are very basic SEO. They let the reader, and search engines, know what the page is about. A title tag doesn’t show up on your website. Rather, it appears on the results page of a search engine, and the tab at the top of your web browser.
Title tags, while basic SEO, are very important. This tag needs to match your user’s intent. For example, when someone googles “best phone” the phrase best phone (or a variation like “best smartphone”) will appear in the title tag.
Writing a title that accurately reflects what the page is about is the best way to get found and clicked on. It’s why a title tag should be specific: “The best Android phones for 2020” is far better than “Why you will want to buy one of these phones.”
For those who need screen readers to help them use a computer, a specific title tag such as the above example is much more user-friendly. So, it is vital the title tag accurately reflects the page content.
The accessibility guidelines say the title should be “The best Android phones for 2020” instead of “Why you will want to buy one of these phones.”
2. Descriptive alt text
Alt text is not the same thing as a caption. A caption is visible usually beneath an image. Whereas alt text is not visible on the front end of the site. The alt text is a written alternative to a page’s visual elements. This includes: .jpegs, .pngs, and .gifs. the alt text is a description of an image that lives in the backend of the site.
Alt text lets search engines know the subject matter of an image. It also helps search engines to better understand the page. Additionally, if you want images to show up in Google, then writing descriptive alt text is a must-have.
For web users with visual impairment using screen readers, descriptive alt text is read aloud. This helps a visually impaired reader get a better sense of what’s going on, on any given page.
A useful descriptive alt text might be: “woman at café with laptop drinking coffee”
A useless alt text would be: “SEO tips for freelancers | Get more clients with SEO | Writing your way to success with SEO”
3. Responsive design
Responsive design has been around since 2012/2013 in one form or another. But it means more than just your website being able to adapt to whichever screen size it finds itself on.
It’s about where your logo sits, how easy is your site to navigate, how easy is it to read, and how quickly does it load?
Websites that offer good, functional user experience rank better in search results. User experience isn’t just one ranking factor but an umbrella term for quite a few. Google has said that a site that takes longer than three seconds to load on a mobile site will rank higher.
How easy content is to read (and how useful it is) is also an important ranking factor.
Good responsive design puts the user first. It starts from the premise that a website needs to be easy to look at, easy to navigate, and be easy to understand.
This is why you need legible text for the visually impaired. As well as quick load times for people with slow internet. And straightforward navigation to make it easy for people to get around your website.
4. Proper heading (and subheading) structure
Headings (which show up in the code as <h1> or <h2> or <h3> etc.) define your content’s hierarchy. These headings (and subheadings) work along similar lines to when you wrote essays in school.
Proper heading structure:
- Goes in order: a h3 doesn’t go directly after a h1.
- Describes the copy beneath it.
- Follows a sequence: if your h2 is “4 ways…” then the h3s would be each of those points.
When your writing is clearly structured it is easier to read, and easier to follow. It’s also easier for Google to crawl your content and understand what is the most important (starting with h1, and so on).
Good header structure can also your content appear in the featured snippets in the search engine results page (SERPs).
For users who have limited reading comprehension or cognitive impairments, clear and direct headings make it easier to read. Headings and subheadings let a reader know what’s worth reading and what’s worth skipping over.
And just like a reader skips heading, so too can a screen reader. Which only reinforces the need for a strong, clear heading structure.
An example of a website that has both good SEO and is ADA compliant is Enviro Safety Products. When you review this site you will see it ticks all the boxes, and provides the user a seamless, friendly experience.
Source: Enviro Safety Products
How making your website ADA compliant will help you win at SEO
By applying all the necessary ADA compliant elements to your website, you are helping the one in four Americans with a disability use your website. Additionally, you will also greatly enhance your website’s SEO.
If you would like to know more about how making your website ADA compliant will help you win at SEO, you can throw questions in the comments section below.
Abhishek Shah is the co-founder of Ally Digital Media, a leading voice in digital media and marketing. He advocates for evidence-based marketing strategies to fuel the businesses. He can be found on Twitter @abiishek.
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