SEO For Hotels [The Ultimate How-To Guide]

Are you struggling to improve your hotel’s visibility in search results?

Do you want to attract more guests to your hotel?

Well, this article will help you do all that and more!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your website helps improve your ranking in Google searches. An effective hotel SEO strategy can help you get better visibility, more traffic, and ultimately: more bookings.

Introduction to Hotel SEO

Visitors use Google searches to look for products or services. Whenever a visitor enters a search query, Google’s algorithm aims to find the best results i.e. best optimized.

google algorithm

Google’s search algorithm uses hundreds of ranking signals in deciding which content to show in its SERPs.

The better your SEO strategy, the higher your website will rank on search engines.

The first Google result gets 33 percent clicks, according to recent research. The percentage drops down the ranking results. Most people click only on results that pop up on the first page of their search results.

In the hotel industry, there is a lot of competition. A Google search for ‘hotels near you’ will give hundreds of results. SEO is vital to get your foot in the door and attract more bookings.  

SEO is one of the most lucrative way of marketing your product. The right SEO strategy can help you lower ad spending while giving you passive organic traffic.

Google uses more than 200 metrics to display search results. You cannot comply with each one, so we have listed a few easy-to-follow SEO practices to improve your rankings. 

You can divide your SEO strategy into two parts, On-page and Off-page.

On-page Optimization

On-Page Optimizations are within the website. Here are some you can do for your Hotel website.

1. Start With Keyword Research

Let’s begin with the fundamentals of SEO.

Keywords are a crucial component of SEO strategies. Your website should include keywords people use to find hotels. So, you have to research the tools for your niche. You can use an online tool to help you do the research. 

ahrefs keyword explorer page
Ahrefs is an excellent place to start off your keyword research.

 

There are even browser extensions that show an estimate of the search volume for keywords. However, not all keywords are the same. Users should pick thematic keywords to improve organic traffic. Fortunately, you can use online tools for this, such as Ahrefs.

2. Create Higher Quality Content

Writing high-quality i.e: high-value content for frequent travelers and holiday enthusiasts is the building block of your SEO strategy.

You can use your content to improve your keyword placement. Initially, marketers ignored content quality and focused on keyword stuffing. However, users would bounce off these sites because they did not find relevant content. 

Google keeps changing the algorithm. Nowadays, search engines rank relevant, in-depth, accurate, unique, and user-friendly content. So, your content should have trustworthy information. Try to develop a variety of content, such as blogs and articles. 

A majority of Internet users (about 80%) prefer reading online articles and video content as opposed to podcasts and infographics. This means there’s a massive market in hotel businesses that’s ready to be tapped through blogs and vlogs.

3. Location-Specific Landing Pages

Nowadays, people are looking for hyper-local answers to their queries.

For instance, travelers are likely to search for “hotels in new york city” when planning a trip to the Big Apple. So if a hotel can create a landing page for their hotels in New York City, they have a better chance of appearing for that search query on Google.

In fact, Millennium Hotels does a great job of doing just that.

millennium hotels in new york city

According to one survey, local searches are two times more likely to result in purchases. Brick and mortar businesses, like hotels, can benefit from this greatly by using location-specific landing pages.

However, you may have to make some changes to the content of your landing page. Look for relevant keywords according to your geographical location and use them in your content. 

4. Site Architecture

Website architecture is the structure of the content on your hotel website.

Your content should make it easier for search engines to crawl through your website and fetch relevant data for people searching for hotels. An excellent site architecture makes a website SEO-friendly.

The first thing you can do is use simple URLs for your posts. Your URL should always have lowercase words and descriptive keywords like:

  • www.yourhotelbusiness.com/blog/affordable-hotels-in-uk
  • www.yourhotelbusiness.com/blog/best-hotel-deals-2021-dec
  • www.yourhotelbusiness.com/blog/packing-for-winter-vacations

Another way to improve site architecture is by using a sitemap. These maps point bots to the pages you want them to crawl.

5. Page Load Speed

If there is one thing users value above anything else, it is speed.

Google also uses page and site rates to rank websites. Speeding up your website is necessary as it improves user experience. 

Begin by evaluating the speed of your website with a free tool, such as Page Speed or YSlow.

You can optimize your images to make your website faster. Use CSS sprites to combine the images on sites into one image that loads quickly.

Some hosting services also increase website loading times. So, get a high-quality hosting service for your page.

6. Alt-Text on Images

Every image on your page has an alternate text or Alt-Text. This text is displayed if an image does not show on a page. Alt-text is vital for SEO optimization because it helps search engines understand pictures. It also helps visually impaired readers understand imagery.

7. Make your Website Mobile-Friendly

More than 60% of all Google searches are from mobile devices. Google strongly recommends website owners to focus on the smartphone element of their website.

Google mobile friendly test

Run a mobile-friendly test to check whether your website is mobile-optimized. Then, work on your responsiveness. Display the same content on the desktop and mobile site to maximize user experience. Check the quality of your images and use supported formats for pictures.

8. Create Infographics

Infographics are still relevant to SEO strategies.

Visual marketing tactics can help website owners engage with their target audience and earn backlinks. However, not all infographics are the same. 

Hiring someone to create an infographic can cost as much as a thousand dollars. But, not everyone can afford that much money. You can use Dribbble to look for professional designers at a lower price. You can also try to create the infographic yourself with Canva. 

Off-page Optimization

Off-Page Optimizations are outside the website. Here are some you can do for your Hotel website.

1. Work on Link Building

Links are vital for search engine rankings. While initially, links were the only ranking factor for Google, things have changed in the past few years. Post-2013, search engines prefer high-quality content with external links. So, the quality of the link is vital. However, the quantity of the links is equally important. Sites with several external links rank better than sites with fewer links. There are several ways websites can earn more links. You can either guest post on other blogs or email bloggers for links.  

2. Use Google My Business

Hotel businesses can create profiles on the Google directory to improve off-page SEO.

These profiles help them rank at the top of search results when looking for temporary accommodation, motels, or weekend stays.

Google search for hotels in new york
If you use your hotel’s GMB profile effectively, you can improve your chances of appearing in search results like these.

Not only do you have to claim your Google My Business, or GMB, profile, but you also have to optimize it.

Add your business details on the tool and then choose a category. Upload some photographs and list your opening hours to improve optimization.

3. Work on Getting Reviews

Visitors usually use reviews to get valuable information about a hotel’s experience.

They also increase the customers’ trust in the business and help improve the hotel’s position in local search. According to Moz, reviews are the third most vital metric to rank in the “snack pack.” Ask your guests to give you positive reviews on sites such as Make my trip or trip advisor.

Bonus Tip: What to Avoid!

Websites may get penalties either because of black-hat tactics or algorithm updates. Tactics such as suspicious links or keyword stuffing can harm your rankings. You can use audit tools to identify dangerous backlinks that can cause a penalty. You can run SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool to get rid of toxic links on your webpage.

Final Takeaway:

Remember that SEO is not an immediate answer to improving your search engine ranking. It is a gradual and time-consuming task to improve your hotel business ranking. And you might even make a few mistakes along the way (that’s fine). As long as you keep at it, this will all be worth the effort.

 

 

Optimizing for Voice Search: What You Need To Know

Voice search technology helps users navigate the internet through a voice command. Using speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence, voice search tech understands what a person is saying and provides them with meaningful results. This technology first entered the public imagination with the fictional HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and became commercially available in the 1980s with the rise of consumer-grade voice recognition products like BellSouth’s VAL and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. However, it was not until 2011 that voice technology went mainstream.

The release of Apple’s and the Google Voice Search App made voice recognition technology more efficient. The Google Assistant was the foundation for the future of voice recognition. By 2011, Apple had perfected voice-assisted technology. Their AI-driven personal assistant, Siri, used cloud computing to improve predictive technology. Their sparkling new product with an aggressive campaign strategy made the idea of a voice activities personal assistant the new normal. And with the rise of the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, people are now able to use smart speakers in their homes.

Person using Apple Siri
The rise of virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri represent a paradigm shift in voice search.

 

Why Is Voice Search Vital?

Every day, more people are using voice chat to help them juggle several tasks simultaneously. According to research, 55 percent of consumers use voice search on their phones. Furthermore, 20 percent of Google mobile queries are through voice searches. People are using voice searches to look for restaurants, products, and shows. In 2019 alone, people used Google Home to search for 16 million recipes. This statistic makes one thing clear: voice search technology is here to stay.

Voice search also has global mobility, as it allows people to search in different languages. Apple and Google are offering more than 100 language options for voice searches. Plus, voice searches are excellent for mobile searches, since asking a question is easier compared to typing it.

While early ancestors of voice search technology were merely amusing, new products like the Apple HomePod offer precise and lightning-fast results. Consumers prefer voice-assisted searches for the same reason. According to Bing, Voice search is 3.7 times faster than manual searches, making it convenient.

Amazon Echo device
Smart speakers are becoming more common in households across the United States.

 

Consumers are buying voice assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo to simplify their lives. According to one estimate, more than 50 million people own a virtual assistant. And these consumers cannot imagine life without a voice assistant. People are becoming more familiar with voice searching. So, the demand for voice search will increase in the future.

Most voice searches are for either local or hyperlocal results. And in 2019, more than 55 percent of consumers searched for local companies through voice searches. So, not only are more people using voice searching technology, but they are also using it more frequently.

How Voice Search Has Affected SEO

As voice search increases in popularity, companies are renewing their efforts to fine-tune their SEO strategy for the technology. Google already has a 95 percent accuracy rate for voice search, and the company reports that 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile. So it’s clear that voice search is here to stay.

Voice search statistics
Image source: Oberlo

 

Businesses have to keep this factor in mind when planning their SEO strategy. But searching with your voice is not the same as typing. There are three fundamental differences between voice searches and typing:

How people search: Voice searches have more words than text-based searches. On average, people use long-tail keywords during voice searches. Another fundamental difference is that the queries are more specific and conversational. So, voice search SEO must use natural language. For example, let’s say you want to search for sparkly shoes in your size. You will type sparkly shoe size 10. But, when you do a voice search, you will ask a natural question. Something like, “Hey Google, where can I buy sparkly shoes in size 10 for myself?” So, voice searching SEO is a different ballgame.

When and where people search:  The rise of voice search, along with the ubiquity of mobile phones, means that people have started using “near me” searches more and more. Between 2016 and 2018, “near me” searches saw a 150 percent growth rate. Users also searched with hyper-specific terms like “tonight” or “open now.” 

Which search results people get: Google is fast becoming our source for a quick answer to our burning questions. Innovations like Featured Snippets are making finding an answer more convenient. People no longer have to go to another page to get their answers. They can see it in a snippet on the search results page. The same is true for voice searches. When you do a voice search, your voice assistant answers you within a second.

So, your content must give answers when people ask direct questions. But, don’t worry. You won’t have to start from scratch. Here are six ways you can optimize your content for voice search.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Focus on your keywords

Like any project, this one begins with research. You have to look for natural and conversational keywords for your content. More people will use long-tail keywords for voice searches. So, look for keywords with four to five words. But, do not go overboard with long-tail keywords in your content. Keep it balanced between long-tail and short-tail keywords to increase traffic. Question keywords (keywords beginning with “how” or “what”) are your friends. However, researching question keywords is a little challenging. You can use a keyword research tool to help you look for similar keywords.

Keywords research concept

 

Include answers in your content

Google answers queries with detailed answers, most of which are 29 words. So, your answer should be 30 words or less. But it is impossible to write a 30-word long post to answer common questions. So, use your FAQ pages to improve your voice search SEO. With these sections, you can organically add question SEOs to your website. You can also provide short answers to different questions. A lot of voice search results are answers from FAQ pages, and adding an FAQ page to your website can help improve your chances of ranking for voice search queries.

FAQ Example from Microsoft

 

Work on the tone

Conversational language is essential for SEO. Users want to read and hear answers that sound natural and authentic. So, avoid using robotic language in your content. Using a conversational tone will also help you answer verbal questions and anticipate query styles. Offer valuable content instead of bloated posts. You can also run your content through the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale to measure readability. Use simple language to improve readability (Pro tip: Content with an 8th Grade Level ranking is your best bet)

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
Image source: Readable

 

Get in featured snippets

Featured snippets are the holy grail of SEO. Most users get their answers from featured snippets and they are more likely to find voice search answers from these sections. Voice assistants usually just read out the featured snippet when people ask them a question. Furthermore, some voice search devices, like Google Home and Alexa, only give one answer. So, featuring in snippets can make you visible on several devices.

featured snippets

 

Optimize for local search

People are using voice searches for local information. So, you have to optimize your content for local searches. Local searchers are more likely to visit your store to make an immediate purchase. Therefore, brick-and-mortar businesses should optimize for local searches. All you have to do is consistently remind your base that you are a local business. Use keyword research tools to get ideas about local keywords.

Local SEO
Learn more about local SEO in our detailed guide.

 

Become mobile-friendly

Most people use their mobile phones for voice searches. So, you have to make your content mobile-friendly. The only way to show up in results on mobile devices is by improving the user experience. Not only does a better mobile experience affect voice search SEO, but it also improves your ranking. Choose a responsive web design that prioritizes mobile-based searches.

Mobile friendly example

 

The Future of SEO

In these unpredictable times, one thing is sure, that voice searches are the future. In fact, during the pandemic, more people used home assistants to order items safely from their homes rather than venturing outside. They also relied on voice-activated assistants to get reliable data about the situation. Voice search technology will soon be everywhere, from our cars to our hospitals. It’s time you incorporate it into your business and SEO strategy, too.

Amazon SEO: The Complete Guide for Sellers

In today’s world of ecommerce, it’s important for all business owners to understand how to translate their brick-and-mortar marketing on Amazon. In this blog post, we’ll be diving into the search engine optimization (SEO) activities that you need to do to get the traction your Amazon store requires.

Let’s get straight into it.

With over 200 million monthly website visitors and literally more than half of the product searches being on Amazon, this ecommerce platform is huge. Getting the right audience to your online store here can prove to be a daunting task. But don’t fret over it, we’ll be breaking down some SEO-based activities that should get the intended buyer straight to your store.

The first thing you need to know is that Amazon’s SEO has a lot to do with its A10 Algorithm that helps buyers find the product that they’re most likely to buy.

Here’s  a quick breakdown of the things we’ll be covering in this blog post:

Optimizing Product Listings

Considering the fact that the product title you choose for your product creates the first impression for your potential customer. Thus, it’s important to consider the Amazon SEO A10 Algorithm when creating the product title.

Take this example, for instance, The title follows the best practices recommended by Amazon in this category. It includes the Brand name, Model Number, Product details, size, and color.

Amazon Product Title
Source: Amazon

 

Each product category has its own title formula from Amazon SEO. Take video game titles, for instance, you’ll need to start with a brand name, then product type, and then the platform it’s available on.

It’s important to be cautious of keyword stuffing, as that will negatively impact your chances of rank. You can also make use of Amazon Seller Central’s style guides in different categories to better structure your titles.

The next part of optimizing product listings is creating product descriptions.

Product Descriptions

The key to writing descriptions is that you need to focus on the benefits of your product instead of just listing its features. This is your chance to create a brand story.

For instance, look at this example.

Amazon Product Description
Source: Amazon

 

This description focuses more on the pain-point of the customers rather than just mentioning features while also including all the relevant keywords. Apart from that, you also need to include information such as size, age-appropriateness, colors, warranty, dimensions, etc.

You should avoid adding promotions and company information since that may get you in some trouble with Amazon SEO.

One pro-tip is that if you have a brand registry, you can use Amazon Enhanced Brand Content, or EBC, to make your product listing more visually appealing and increase your chances of a higher conversion rate. This will go a long way in improving your rankings.

Now that you have product descriptions and product titles out of the way, it’s time to look into backend keywords.

Backend Keywords

Backend keywords are a great opportunity for you to add all such different keywords your searchers may use. These terms are not visible to searchers but definitely help improve the discoverability of your listings.

Just like we have Meta titles and descriptions for our websites, Amazon gives sellers the option to add relevant keywords that are not necessarily used in the title and product descriptions through these backend search terms.

Think about synonyms, translations, or misspellings that wouldn’t be appealing on your product page.

Now that you understand the importance of backend keywords, it’s time to look into something that really makes an impact on your product page: images.

Product Images

Good quality product images are vital for your product listings. They impact click-through rates and then eventually your conversions and rankings.

Images that are at least 1000 pixels in width or height enable Amazon’s zoom feature, where customers can closely see how the product looks. So it is important to have a professional photoshoot done for your product. And always include different angles to give the customer a better idea of the overall product.

Consider keeping a tab on this page to monitor the image requirements for Amazon SEO.

Amazon Product Images
Source: Amazon

 

Next up, you’ve got your product page optimized but there still are some factors you need to keep a close eye on. These are known as performance factors.

Let’s get straight into them.

Sales Velocity

Amazon’s sales velocity is exactly what the name suggests. It’s how fast your product sells.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Amazon’s SEO team wants people to buy stuff. So it’s only logical for Amazon SEO to display products that are selling like hotcakes. Now you may think about how you would get sales if your listing is not appearing on the first page.

Seems like a Catch 22 situation, right?

That’s why it’s always a good idea to focus all your efforts on getting traffic from both internal and external sources. The internal sources can include running PPC ads on Amazon itself, securing an Amazon Prime badge, or even running sweepstake giveaway promotions as part of your launch phase.

On the other hand, external sources of traffic can be from ads on Facebook, Google, landing pages, etc. The idea is to complement all your product page optimizations with these traffic sources to tell the Amazon SEO Algorithm that your product is in high demand and needs to be visible to potential customers.

Once you have data from the ads regarding the most converting keywords, you can further optimize your product page as well.

The next part of working towards the authenticity of your product. It’s easy for your product to be lost in the sea of products out there – that’s where product reviews come in handy. You’ll notice a lot of search results show product ratings – which goes to show the importance of this metric.

Product Reviews

It’s important to note that product reviews go hand in hand with the sales velocity of your listing. You might have noticed that most of the products that appear at the top of the rankings have lots of reviews. This is especially true for more broad keywords.

Well, this is mainly due to the fact that two out of three customers trust sellers with a high number of reviews. But because of this, many sellers have resorted to getting fake reviews, putting their entire account at the risk of suspension. So that’s definitely not recommended. But there are some white hat practices out there that can help you gather more reviews.

Amazon Product Reviews
Source: Amazon

 

For example, you can send follow-up reminders to customers who have purchased from you to request a review. You can also make a review request in the packaging insert that goes along with your product.

The bottom line is, the more positive reviews you have on your listing, the better are your chances to rank higher.

It’s also important to note that this factor plays an important role in the Amazon SEO A10 Algorithm update, in which the core focus is towards consumer behavior.

If your product regularly gets out of stock or has poor return service or has a low seller’s feedback rating, then all these factors contribute to a hit on your rankings. Also, Amazon doesn’t like listings that have inconsistent sales or those which have only one product in their catalog.

So make sure you are getting more organic orders, offering more “frequently bought together” options, and focusing more on organic and off-site conversions. If you are a new seller, I would definitely recommend using the Fulfilment by Amazon feature in which Amazon SEO itself will pick, pack, ship and handle returns of your orders. This will make your life a whole lot easier.

Another important factor to take into consideration is the pricing of your product. This factor also plays a vital role in the A10 Algorithm update, as products that have a significant gap with their competitors aren’t optimized for ranking.

Pricing

So chalk out your product acquisition cost, and if you’re just starting, select one main competitor with a high ranking and model your pricing according to that. You can also use an Amazon Price checker like Keepa to see the entire history of changes in the pricing made by your competitors.

Amazon Product Pricing
Source: Amazon

 

Once you have an idea of your upper price and lower price slabs, A/B tests to see which gets the most conversions and stick to that.

In a Nutshell

We’ve covered some of the major factors that impact your product page using Amazon SEO and how to optimize your product page for better results. Furthermore, we’ve also looked at some of the factors that impact the A10 Algorithm and how you can stay abreast or even beat your competition.

That being said, your focus should be on improving the quality of your product and your customer service all throughout the process. If you do that, we’re sure you’ll get amazing results.

Hope this blog post helped you understand what you need to know to boost your product page on Amazon. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Content Marketing: A Simple Guide for 2021

This blog will help you understand the importance of content, how it improves your content marketing strategy and even its impact on your lead generation.

In this guide, we’ll be covering the following major topics:

  1. Research the type of content you want to be placed on your blog.
  2. Developing an in-depth understanding of your audience and your ideal customer profile.
  3. Acquainting yourself with smarter strategies for your content distribution.
  4. Understand How Marketing Funnels Work
  5.  Improving your content distribution strategy

When it comes to the research part of your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the kind of framework (SMART/CLEAR), set  KPIs, and get all the groundwork to narrow down your ideal customer or client profile. Ideally, you can use this to set your business goals and target achievable business milestones.

Research

The first thing you need to do is research the audience you’re marketing your business to. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, you’ll end up bringing the wrong audience to your website or store – thus losing out on potential sales.

To understand your audience you need to understand the three tiers of your audience. I use this method as it is simpler and works for most business models.

Research

The First Tier…

The first tier includes your direct customers. These are people that intend on buying your product/service and will likely become returning customers. You’d want to know their interests, who they listen to, what factors influence their buying behavior, and what’s trending in this segment of your audience.

Why?

Because their purchasing behavior directly affects your sales… making an impact on your business bottom line.

You’d want to engage with this audience on social media, get insights such as which influencers they follow, and whether or not new products could prove to be a threat to your business. Imagine if Dwayne Johnson started talking about how certain shoes’ styles helped boost results in his workout routine. You’d see those kinds of shoes trend on social media and ultimately boost sales for shoe retailers that sell those kinds of shoes.

If nothing else, you’ll notice the keywords used to describe those shoes doing rounds on social media and websites.

A similar trend can be seen with this ‘work-from-home lifestyle ever since the pandemic hit. A lot of people started investing in a good foldable table or a comfortable workstation to help them maintain if not increase their work productivity.

The next tier of audience you want to be targeting is direct and indirect competitors.

Second Tier…

The second tier consists of keeping a watch on your competitors and indirect customers. Why is this important? For the simple reason that you need to be able to pick up on trends and sentiments of your customers. By sentiments, I mean feedback about the product and the current pain points of your audience.

A large fraction of apps and business ideas fail due to a lack of implementation on feedback from the customers. In some cases incorporating the feedback increases operational costs cutting down the revenue – which is detrimental to startups during their refinement/survival stage.

So it’s important to find that sweet spot when it comes to figuring out what feedback can be directly integrated into your product/service and which ones will have to wait for the later build.

This is why it’s important to know the sources of customer feedback you consider important and valid. To do this, you can find groups on Social media, connect with influencers on YouTube, and even find similar discussion groups on Twitter. What I’ve learned so far, there’s a community for just about anything now and if there isn’t there will soon be one!

You’ll be surprised to see how soon you’ll see similar products as soon as your product/service picks up some fame. Even though it’s easy to get overwhelmed with this competition, you’d be doing yourself a favor by keeping a keen eye on these products and the consumer’s sentiments about them. After all, you’re providing a solution and not just a product/service.

There are two popular frameworks for this. I’ll be breaking one of them down here and covering the other in a later video. So it’s time for you to put down the heading ‘SMART” framework.

SMART Framework

What is the SMART framework?

It’s an abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Confused? Don’t worry, I’ll go through each of these in detail. These specific goals are centered around the five ‘Ws’.

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Why do you think accomplishing this goal is important?
  • Who all are involved to achieve this?
  • Where is this goal located?
  • Which resources are required or limited in achieving this goal?

 

SMART Framework

Let’s apply this as an example…

Specific

You want to reach out to people that you’re now a certified therapist and you’re welcoming walk-ins at your clinic. Hence you’d want to build enough followers on social media, to establish your authority within your city. Eventually, you’d have a small team that nurtures and generates new customers that book appointments with you at your clinic.

Measurable

The next part of this goal is picking targets that are measurable. For instance, You’d want to know what skills and qualifications you’d need to sustain your clinic. You’d also consider the time frame you’d need to complete these prerequisites.

Achievable

The next part is figuring out whether your goal is achievable. The metrics that define this are whether the goal makes you feel challenged enough while staying within the parameters of being achievable. Again, we don’t want to set benchmarks that can’t be achieved but we also want to be ahead of the curve.

To help figure whether this goal is valid, you could ask yourself these questions.

Do you have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal?
Have others completed this or similar goals yet?

Relevant

This is an analysis of whether your goals are aligned with your business targets and whether you have the relevant skill to achieve the goal you have set your mind to. You’d also find out whether the skills you’re planning to obtain are related to any other goals you have set in mind. In other words, it can help you gauge which is a better skill to enroll for the goals that you have already set.

Let’s look at this example.

Say you want to pick up the role of creative head in your organization. Do you have the time required to complete the skills along with the exposure to be a creative head? How much would this course affect your personal life, if you have a wife, children, or even dependants?

Time-Bound

Time-bound goals have a date of initiation and date of completion attached to it. These goals are time-sensitive which means they’re of utmost urgency. For instance, you plan on purchasing tickets to an online conference. You need to set a date for when you want to purchase this while also considering refunds should you find a need to return this.

This concludes the section about the SMART framework. I’ll now be talking about some factors that should consider creating your content marketing strategy. The SMART framework helps you understand goals and validate them. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) greatly aid in seeing the progress individuals and teams

Let’s go into some more details about KPIs and why they’re important for your business.

Key Performance Indicators

Monitor KPIs

You should consider keeping your KPIs transparent and visiting them weekly to know about any deviations from the target. If you wish to truly bear fruit from KPIs. you’ll need to keep communication with your team members clear and effective.

For most industries, it should be easy for you to find metrics that define your KPIs. Let’s take the scenario for your bakery for instance. One of your KPIs should be sustaining a strong hygiene level in your kitchen. You can measure this by seeing how often your employees clean their workstations, and whether the trash is cleared out in a timely manner.

If the hygiene level at your bakery’s kitchen wasn’t maintained, it would easily show within a day’s work and the quality of products would have noticeably decreased.

The next part of this research phase is understanding your audience. Essentially, you’ll now be creating an ideal customer or client profile for your business. This will help you narrow down the ideal pool of customers you ought to be selling your products or services to.

Creating Your Ideal Client/Customer Profile

Let’s start with defining the term ‘Ideal Customer or Client Profile’ This is a list of traits and demographics of the people that would ideally be purchasing your product. If you’re selling the service, then these people would want to opt for the highest tier of the service.

Customer Profile
Source: Unsplash

 

Another important thing to consider is that this ideal customer profile may be subject to change with changes in trends. For instance, if you’re selling rented office spaces to people who freelance, those people may suddenly drop in number due to the scare of this pandemic. So these office spaces may be best suited for people that have trouble finding a place to work peacefully at home, thus a change of pricing may be an advantage here.

There are plenty of ways you deduce your ideal customer profile. I’ll be talking about each of these methodologies for you to understand and apply,

Audience demographics

Audience demographics information such as where your ideal customer may be located, what job title would they most likely hold, what is their purchasing power, and whether they’re single or married plays a vital role in picking the right customer.

Audience Demographics
Source: Unsplash

 

You can also consider grouping your ideal customers based on the products you offer or the services you have. This would help not only target your ideal customers, but likely customers around seek your products to increase your chances of winning sales,

Alternatively, you can also close in on your ideal customer profile by understanding the pain points they have in relation to the products/ or services you offer. It would be wise to find pain points of similar products in the market to understand the general sentiments of your customers and what

Understanding Pain Points

With the help of social media, it’s starting to get easier to track the kind of interests your ideal client or customer profile may have. What I mean by interests is that you could find out about the podcast channels they listen to, the kind of influencers they follow on Instagram or Twitter

Customer Pain Points
Source: Unsplash

 

Information in related discussion forums, Facebook pages, can also aid you in getting accurate sentiments about your target audience. These can help you pick up on trends and sentiments about your audience… and perhaps bring you the opportunity to work on a solution that isn’t yet available in the market.  This allows you to stay ahead of the trend curve while also giving an edge over your competitors.

Lastly, I’d recommend you to use Semrush’s ‘Jobs- to-be-done’ framework to break down your audience, their pain point, and the solution they require. Curious to know how it’ll work?

Jobs-to-be-done

You often hear feedback, reviews, or comments in online discussion forums that sound a bit like this.

 

‘When I…

That’s when I want…

So that I can…’

 

  1. The first part represents a potential customer’s problem…
  2. The second suggests a solution you have to offer for this problem…
  3. The third part gives a reason for how the solution solves the problem.

Now let’s get to the second phase of creating your content marketing strategy. This is where you plan the marketing activities and create a calendar that will help you nurture your target audience.

Using Various Types of Content

To start with, you’ll notice a lot of websites have a large portion of textual content. Ever wondered why that is?

Well, to keep it simple, the textual content is quick for people to read along with Google’s algorithm to analyze. This is why you’ll notice that when you’re making most blog posts, you’ll need to fill this section for Meta Title, Meta Description, Keywords, Meta Tags, and even Alt Text for images.

The text behind a website is the main content that gives the exact information a person needs when they search on Google for a query. Notice that you’ll scroll through videos to the point that’s more relevant to you, however, if all your search queries ended up as videos… sifting through this would be a cumbersome task.

That’s why a lot of websites rely solely on textual content.

Whilst on the topic of making your webpage Google search friendly, you should consider optimizing your content through on-site SEO. While we are on the topic of SEO optimization, incorporating visual content can improve your webpage rankings.

Using Visual and Audio Content

Visual content always helps in increasing the webpage user experience which ultimately helps you improve your page rankings. If you find that your website visitors aren’t spending enough time on your website page you could increase the usage of ‘visual and audio content’.

You’ll find a lot of online image libraries where you can find stock images and videos with respective audios to add to your website. So you don’t even have to incur the cost of shooting for these images to use these stock images.

While we’re on the topic of visual content, you should also consider placing snippets that are interactive to keep your website visitor absorbed. This could be a 360 video that can be interacted with through the browser whether it’s being viewed on a mobile device, tablet, or desktop.

360 Photo

 

360 panorama views have changed the way tourism companies showcase vacation spots that are high in demand. They use this to showcase the different features and attractions at the venue.

Since this is as close to reality as it can get, consider using some interactive content on your website to keep your visitors engaged and busy.

Sometimes, the answers you seek can be content-heavy. A lot of people use browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on their desktops and mobile devices to quickly search for information. This is where downloadable content comes in handy.

Downloadable Content

Downloadable Content helps in keeping user experience intact, content-heavy websites reload on the browser and it may result in the visitor exiting the session. This is where you can use downloadable content along with branding. This makes the content easily shareable and improves traction to your website.

Furthermore, if the information you’re provided is heavily demanded, you can also use this as a means to build a connection with your website visitors by asking them for an email address to send this downloadable content to. This is known as lead generation, and it’s from this point that your visitor may opt-in for weekly newsletters to stay updated on relevant topics.

When it comes to understanding the fundamentals of on-page SEO we’ve got a dedicated video to help you understand this. If you’re looking for some ideas of how you can easily create content, we’ve got a few listed here too.

Smart Ways to Create Content

There are plenty of online tools and apps that content creators can use to create their content to be more visually appealing. You’ve probably noticed how content on social media is more video-based than simple images, that’s because videos bring in more engagements. So if you’re looking for some simple tools that help you create content, here are five of them.

Canva

Canva is a browser-based tool that helps you create images that are optimized for social media. You’ll find plenty of templates for presentations, videos that are ready for you to use. Canva has a free account that you can use, while you also get the option of upgrading to a paid account with more stock images and features.

Canva

Unsplash

This is an image library that is royalty-free. So long as you give credit to the photographer, the image can be used for blogs, website landing pages, and even social media posts. To be clear of their usage policy, feel free to read their license agreement.

 

Unsplash

You’ll find a lot of contributors on this library, so, even if you have a smartphone with a decent camera you can become a contributor too. As the contributors continue to increase, you’ll find new photographs uploaded here every week.

TinyPNG

Often, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll want to compress images before uploading them on your blog. This can be a tedious task if you’re dealing with multiple images as you’ll have to open each image and compress it individually. TinyPNG gives you the option of compressing as many as 10 images in a batch, saving you time.

TinyPNG

I found this tool to be worth the mention here as you’ll be focusing on scaling your blog publications. I’ve personally used this on multiple blogs to ensure that the webpage load time remains unaffected with these uploaded images.

Sketch Pad

If you’re looking for an online tool to create vector-based images this is a great place to make quick designs. The freemium version of the tool allows you to create characters, logos, diagrams, and graphics straight from your browser.

SketchPad

You can choose from an array of brushes i.e pen, pencil, spray paint, calligraphy paint, and even create lines and curves. Sketchpad is extremely simple and easy to use, with the option to export your file as a JPEG, PNG, PDF, SVG, and a downloadable sketchpad extension.

Photopea

Have you ever found yourself in that sticky situation when you wanted to edit an image and missed having photoshop on your laptop? Photopea rescues you from this situation with a photoshop user interface. Though the functionality may be limited, it’s important to note that this is a lighter version of photoshop and can help you make quick edits without consuming too much of your system resources.

Photopea

Photopea gives you the option of exporting your work for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and even GIMP formats. More options can be unlocked if you opt for the paid version.

Developing an editorial plan/calendar

An editorial plan is extremely important when it comes to creating and executing your content marketing and distribution strategy. You’ll need to create a calendar and stick to the timelines you’ve set there. A consistent frequency of posts is what will ultimately bring your website higher traffic and more sales.

Plan your content marketing strategy

To plan your content marketing strategy, you’ve already gone ahead with researching the target audience you’re scoping out… so half your work is already cut out for you. Now it’s important to think from your target audience/’s perspective of how you can connect with them, address their pain points and finally provide them value so they come back and connect with you.

The Marketing Funnel for your Content Marketing Strategy

So, in order to connect with your audience. You’re going to want to understand and plan their customer journey.  This means you’ll need to break down the journey according to a few customer life cycle stages.

Marketing Funnel

Awareness Stage

This first part of this is the ‘Awareness Stage’- where you’re reaching out to the world educating everyone out there. This is where brand awareness takes place and people start building an impression about your brand.  Information about your products and services is being reached out to your potential customers.

This is also where you’ll be pushing your business on social media and relevant digital marketing channels. You would also need to create a website landing page or an official email address to start generating potential leads for your business.

A lot of people prefer asking questions regarding your products and services, so it’s best to place these common questions on your website and lead them to your email address for an appointment if they have more questions.

Consideration Stage

Once your target audience has an understanding of your brand, services, and products you start connecting these leads to your products by placing these as a solution. This is known as the ‘consideration stage’. A lot of people at this point are considering purchasing your service/product and they’re most likely vetting you out against your competitors.

It’s one thing mentioning the technical specs of the product – for those leads that seek that product specifically, but it’s another giving it a general review.

What this means is that you need to shift your target audience from the awareness stage down the marketing funnel into the “consideration stage”. You could place your product or service in comparison charts so your potential customers see the real value you provide. You could also place ‘work-in-progress’ videos to establish your authority in the industry. This gives your customers more confidence in your product/service and will likely keep more information about it.

Depending on the nature of the product/service, you should be able to nudge these leads to the next part of the sales funnel.

Decision Stage

Speaking of the next part of the sales funnel, we’re talking about the ‘Decision Stage’. This is that part of the sales funnel where target audiences have proven to be quality leads to become potential buyers. They just need a slight nudge to make the purchase, so it’s important to not waste their time and give them what they need.

Just like the name suggests, this is that stage where the potential customer/client is making the decision to try your product/service or opt-out. At this stage, you should throw in some testimonials from previous customers/clients as positive reinforcements because as your sales numbers grow, you will eventually have some negative reviews on your products/services.

It’s also important to note that people find mixed reviews to be more authentic than biased positive reviews.

Conversion Stage

Speaking of getting people on board with your product, it’s now time to bring them through the ‘Conversion’ stage of the funnel. Here, you would want to reiterate how the product/service you’re selling is authentic and the best solution in the market to their current pain point.

It’s important to make this as direct as possible, as your customer/client has moved past the decision stage. They’ve already made their mind up about opting in to use your product and service. So try keeping the purchasing method short, secure, and as convenient as possible.

You should also consider adding a few lines for potential customers to contact you or your team in case there are technical errors when making this payment. There’s nothing worse than losing the faith of a customer because you picked a payment method that wasn’t suitable.

Once the payment process is complete, you should try engaging with this new customer/client via email to get feedback. The feedback would show your seriousness in improving your product/service and better fit the needs of your customers and clients.

Brand Loyalty

It’s worth noting that if you manage to connect with your customers well, they’ll recommend you to their circles too. This is where you start reaping the rewards of your hard work – which is also the ‘Brand Endorsers/Referrals’ stage.

Often, businesses provide incentives to their current customers/clients by inviting their friends to use the product/service. The incentive here is often in monetary terms- which means these customers either get extra credit in their wallet or vouchers to avail discounts on certain products and services.

Now that we know the strategy behind your content marketing efforts, it’s time to understand the different types of content you can use. The central focus here would be to build traffic on your website’s blog. So I’ll be giving examples based on that scope.

Content Distribution Strategy

Now that you have an understanding of planning your content marketing strategy, it’s time to look at the content distribution channels. It’s one thing to create the right marketing material, but its effectiveness can only be as good as where this content is placed.

Ads
Source: Unsplash

 

Imagine placing an ad on YouTube for a new blog post and spending a substantial amount on promoting that ad, which could have performed better if it were placed as a Google Display ad or a Facebook awareness ad.

You now have your sales funnel well configured, but if you didn’t spend your ad budget effectively, you’ll likely end up with low-quality leads. This is why we’ve dedicated a section on content distribution, where you’ll understand the effectiveness of ads and the website metrics you should be monitoring.

Content Distribution Channels

Before we expand on understanding content distribution, it’s important to understand the different content distribution channels. What that means is that you’ll have to spend money and set a dedicated monthly budget to get your desired results. Whether it’s increasing your brand reach, improving quality leads, or getting feedback from your target audience when launching a new product.

Display Advertising

The first type of ad we’ll get into is called ‘Display Advertising’. These kinds of ads are found in the Google Display Network (GDN),  while also distributed to websites that have similar subject matter. This is effective when it comes to targeting visitors towards those websites that have content that interests the visitor towards the ad.

Paid Search Advertising

The next type of advertising we’re going to go into is called ‘Paid Search Advertising. These kinds of ads are best used for people placing search queries on Google search.

Search Marketing
Source: Freepik

 

These ads appear at the top of Google’s SERP, targeting those users that are highly likely to engage. Because of the targeted approach of these kinds of ads, they typically have a higher click-through rate resulting in higher conversions than display advertising.

Remarketing Campaign

While we’re on the topic of display advertising, let’s also look at a common ad campaign known as ‘Retargeting / Remarketing’ ads.

The major benefit of this kind of advertising is to retarget an audience that has already shown some interest in your products or service. The intent here is to trigger their interest and either engage with the brand or continue the customer journey from a previously abandoned cart.

Video Advertising

When it comes to keeping your audience hooked onto your website, videos can play an integral role. This brings us to the next form of advertising…’Video Advertising’.

Video Advertising

Video ads are one of the few types of ads that have shown their effectiveness across all devices, whether it’s desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile phones. Though each platform has its own criteria in terms of video dimensions and duration, if you learn to use this medium properly you will have some good quality leads by the end.

Social Media Advertising

Now that you know that video advertising is good for hooking your audience, let’s talk about a medium that can help you engage with them. This type of advertising is called ‘Social Media Advertising’.

Facebook Ads

One of the key benefits of using this medium to promote your products or brand is being able to get quick feedback from your audience. You’ll be able to gain traction and amplify your marketing efforts through interactions such as likes, comments, and shares. Ultimately, this drives low-cost engagements, while also increasing your sales.

Now that we’ve touched upon some of the different mediums of advertising in the digital sphere, I feel it’s just as important to identify avenues where you could also potentially earn money. Some advertising avenues can give you the opportunity to earn passive income while advertising brands and products.

I’ll be going through a list that I curated that can be used as a medium to earn through ad monetization. Through these mediums, you’ll be able to place sponsored ads and set your website up as a digital ad space. If you’re able to improve the domain rating of your website, you’ll be able to increase the price of placing an ad on your website.

Use of Earned Media

  1. YouTube
  2. Facebook Content Marketing
  3. Mobile App Monetization
  4. Podcasts

Blogs and Online Media House

The first place you can start earning from is your website’s blog page. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of digital marketing agencies have a blog page where they place Google Display Ads and native ads. These ads help in earning additional streams of revenue.

Another lucrative space for placing is the landing page and blog post pages of news broadcasting companies. Since these agencies are usually the first to break news, they gain high website traffic over a short period of time – which increases the value of ads being placed here.

You’ll notice that most ads on newspaper websites are native, as the company would want the ad to look similar to the news articles tiles on that website. This improves the overall website experience and resolves user hesitation to click on that tile.

If you haven’t noticed already, the nature of ads has evolved. Advertisers prefer making ads interactive, easy to follow, low nuisance, and with a clear intent of what they want the viewer to do. Youtube is a great example of these kinds of ads. You’ll find ads that can be skipped with a 5-second count-down, in case the viewer prefers to watch the video they intended to watch.

YouTube Advertising

YouTube is one of the many platforms that gives advertisers an avenue of earning money through ad monetization. How? Let’s say you’re an affiliate marketer that’s promoting a brand. You can earn by creating content to educate the right target audience about the products and services of the brand. In return, the brand can sponsor your video, or give you a commission for each sale you bring in through your YouTube channel.

YouTube Tile Ad

This method of earning revenue is not just limited to Youtube, but can also be applied to Facebook content marketing, mobile app monetization, and podcasts. I’ll be creating another video on how you can monetize ads and start earning through affiliate marketing.

YouTube Carousal
Source: Google Support

 

This concludes our content marketing guide. You now have a broader understanding of how you can create your content marketing strategy and the mediums you can use for advertising your brand.

I hope this content helped answer some of your questions, and if I left anything out I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Google MUM: The Future of Search?

SEO, as an industry, is prone to breathless hyperbole every time Google makes an announcement. So when Google announced a new form of language processing technology, called MUM, which is going to be 1000x more powerful than BERT, the industry exploded with anxious chatter, panicked tweets, and alarmist blog posts.

First of all, the rumors of the death of SEO have been greatly exaggerated. MUM does not signal the end of SEO. In this article, I’ll be showing you what exactly is Google MUM, how MUM is expected to work, how it will shape search in the years to come, and what SEOs can do to begin preparing for Google MUM.

What is Google MUM: Multitask Unified Model?

The Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short, is a new model being built by Google that can handle extremely complex searches. While it’s based on the same transformer system as BERT, Google MUM will be 1000x more powerful than BERT. Now, that’s a big claim, but it appears to hold up to scrutiny.

How Google MUM Works

The main reason why MUM will have an edge over BERT is that it can handle multiple problems simultaneously. A future Google search engine powered by MUM can understand written search queries, voice search, and even image search – and combine it all contextually to fully understand the meaning and intent behind the search query. But it doesn’t end there. MUM can then parse through trillions of pages of content from over 75 languages and, if need be, translate foreign language content into your language of choice to provide a comprehensive answer to a complex question.

Here’s how Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, explained it on Google’s official blog.

“Take this scenario: You’ve hiked Mt. Adams. Now you want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, and you want to know what to do differently to prepare. Today, Google could help you with this, but it would take many thoughtfully considered searches — you’d have to search for the elevation of each mountain, the average temperature in the fall, difficulty of the hiking trails, the right gear to use, and more. After a number of searches, you’d eventually be able to get the answer you need.

But if you were talking to a hiking expert; you could ask one question — “what should I do differently to prepare?” You’d get a thoughtful answer that takes into account the nuances of your task at hand and guides you through the many things to consider.” 

That’s what Google is aiming to do with MUM. Thanks to MUM, Google can tell you that while both mountains are roughly the same elevation, fall is the rainy season on Mt. Fuji so you might need a waterproof jacket. MUM could also surface helpful subtopics for deeper exploration — like the top-rated gear or best training exercises — with pointers to helpful articles, videos and images from across the web.

How Will MUM Affect Search?

It’s quite reasonable to say that MUM has the potential to transform search. Now, most of what I am about to discuss is simply an educated guess about how MUM will reshape search in the years to come. But here it goes.

A Shift In How We Form Search Queries

Firstly, MUM represents a paradigm shift in how people will interact with the search engine. You have to remember that we ask Google questions in a pretty specific way. Since the early 2000’s, people have learned how to use Google. In fact, we’ve been pretty darn good at recognizing Google’s limitations and learned how to form search queries that will generate useful search results.

search queries and keywords
People learned how to form search queries to generate relevant search results. The above example shows search queries for “skinny jeans.” Image source: Wordstream

 

Obviously that has evolved over the last 20 years, and with the advent of voice search, NLP, and BERT, our search queries have become more conversational. But Google can still only provide answers to a single problem or entity (more on that later). MUM seems to represent a shift from that, allowing users to ask extremely complex questions that encompass multiple problem spaces in a single search query. Google’s own blog announcement shows how that might happen, with the example of hiking Mt. Adams vs. Mt. Fuji being a perfect example.

Entities and Modalities

Secondly, the concept of entities becomes even more important with MUM. Google defines an entity as “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.” Let’s break down the following example:

multimodal search using Google MUM
Source: Google

 

Google is dealing with multiple entities here: the boots, the concept of hiking, and Mt. Fuji. But it is also dealing with these multiple entities in a multimodal system, understanding the image of the boot, recognizing the voice search query and surfacing its extensive knowledge graph to understand how these boots relate to hiking Mt. Fuji. Such a complex search query, dealing with multiple entities in multiple modalities is not possible today, but may become possible with MUM. The days of the “10 blue links” have been over for some time, but this certainly represents a death blow to the traditional SERP layout and MUM may usher in a new way of experiencing search results.

Access To Multiple Languages

Thirdly, we’re going to see highly authoritative content in multiple languages being readily available for searchers in their preferred language. That’s going to be beneficial to the searchers, as they will have a more expansive and authoritative knowledge pool from which to get their answers. In announcing MUM, Google’s blog devoted a whole section to this by saying the following:

“Language can be a significant barrier to accessing information. MUM has the potential to break down these boundaries by transferring knowledge across languages. It can learn from sources that aren’t written in the language you wrote your search in, and help bring that information to you.

Say there’s really helpful information about Mt. Fuji written in Japanese; today, you probably won’t find it if you don’t search in Japanese. But MUM could transfer knowledge from sources across languages, and use those insights to find the most relevant results in your preferred language. So in the future, when you’re searching for information about visiting Mt. Fuji, you might see results like where to enjoy the best views of the mountain, onsen in the area and popular souvenir shops — all information more commonly found when searching in Japanese.”

Language translation using Google MUM
Source: Google

 

How can I prepare for Google MUM?

Apart from the traditional on-page and off-page SEO best practices, webmasters will need to focus on improving their EAT (expertise, authority, and trust) and also relearn how to do keyword research. Here’s why …

By opening up results from different languages, the concept of EAT becomes even more important. As I’ve already mentioned, MUM will enable Google to deliver results from other languages. And for extremely niche topics, it’s quite likely that the best answers will be in the local language. Roger Montti of Search Engine Journal shared an example of how, in the recipe niche, an article about making a paella that was written in Spanish by a Spanish chef might be considered more authoritative than an article written by a stay-at-home mom in California who has little to no actual experience with Spanish cooking. Montti asks who are we more likely to trust for an authentic Spanish recipe? In this specific case, the fourth-generation Spanish chef certainly has a higher EAT than the Californian stay-at-home mom.

Secondly, the current way of doing keyword research is pretty static. SEOs tend to treat different languages and regions separately. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It actually makes sense, considering how Google delivers search results today. But once MUM is fully integrated into Google Search, then keyword research will become much more dynamic, as the boundaries between languages and location differences between the searcher and the website providing the answer are slowly eliminated.

That is something that SEOs need to begin preparing for. In fact, SEO toolkits like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Majestic should also start working on that because many SEOs use these tools to help their keyword research efforts.

We will get more clarity when Google MUM is officially rolled out, which is still several months away at the very least. And I’m sure that Google will provide useful guides along the way to help webmasters and SEOs adapt to the new search environment.

Finally, I’d like to remind SEOs that they don’t need to needlessly worry. MUM does not represent the end of SEO. Rather, it’s the next step. As Google’s John Mueller himself reminded us on a recent Reddit thread: SEO will always be needed.

International SEO: What You Need to Know

For businesses that have a website audience outside their home country or want to expand their offerings to a global market, having a well-thought-out international SEO strategy can pay off big time.

As complicated as the process may seem, making your website international SEO friendly boils down to how well you understand your business goals. If you know what type of website structure best suits your audience for example, and whether or not you are willing to invest resources to optimize for it accordingly, your international SEO will consequently become easier to implement.

In this guide, I will run you through all the best practices that you need to keep in mind to have a global visibility for your website.

Let’s kick things off by understanding what international SEO is.

What is International SEO?

As the name suggests, international SEO involves all the activities you do to have an optimized website for people who are outside your local country or who speak a different language.

Essentially, the big stuff on your website i.e. your domain/ brand name, your products/services, About Us information, etc. remain the same. But a good international SEO strategy ensures that there are customizations done where they are needed the most. This may include everything from your brand messaging, the language you use, to the user experience you offer and so on.

Who Needs To Do International SEO?

Naturally, every website would want to have a wider audience base. But it is important to understand how well-prepared a business is for an international expansion. For businesses that are relatively new and still figuring out the logistics in their home country, focusing on global markets may not be ideal.

Apart from this, expanding to a new region in the hopes of capturing a wider market share without conducting proper research with regards to the consumer behavior and demand for the products to be offered can again be a costly mistake.

So the best way to gauge if focusing on international SEO is viable for your website is to use Google Analytics to see how many users you have in each region.

Google Analytics International Sessions
The “Geo” tab under the Audience section tells you the locations and languages of your current audience.

 

Once you know which countries are most interested in your website and (what language the users speak), it will then be easier to prioritize your international SEO efforts towards those specific regions.

On the other hand, if you want to do international SEO to target specific regions despite your website not having great visibility there, you can still do that but it would require more time and resources from your end.

Best Practices In Implementing An International SEO Strategy

International SEO works quite similar to geotargeting, in that, with geotargeting you optimize according to different areas or cities within your target location whereas, with international SEO, your optimizations are based on the languages or locations outside your original target market.

There are some optimizations that you will need to do to make your website more welcoming for audiences in different areas speaking different languages.

So in this section, we will be discussing all the best practices that you will need to consider to have a website that is SEO-friendly for an international audience.

Identify The Type Of Content You Want To Provide

As mentioned at the start of this blog, international SEO depends largely on the objectives of your SEO. Therefore the first step is to decide the type of content you want your international audience to see.

Is your aim to establish your website in a specific country or would you like to simply focus on delivering your website content in different languages? There is also an option of targeting both locations and languages.

For example, eBay has different versions of its website for different countries appearing in different languages.

eBay page selection example
ebay.com will always direct users to the US version of the website

 

Whenever customers click on a specific country, they are directed to another version of the website which has offerings and content exclusive to that country in their language.

eBay France Page
eBay France Homepage

 

Of course, there are cases where you will prioritize language targeting over location targeting. For example, if you have a business selling mug art in the Spanish language, you would be targeting the Spanish language without focusing on any specific region since Spanish is spoken in different countries like Mexico, Spain, the US, etc.

Again, you can check which countries is your website generating the most traffic from and also see what languages your audience speaks to make better decisions.

Select The Most Suitable Domain Structure

To target users from a specific country, you will need to set up an SEO-friendly URL structure for your website. This ensures that, for example, users from Finland only view a version that is most suitable to their own needs and likings.

There are primarily three options for you to choose from:

  1. A subdirectory for each country
  2. A subdomain for each country
  3. A separate Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) for each country

 
Let’s discuss each of these options and their implications in more depth.

A Subdirectory For Each Country

Each domain has a subdirectory. Notice that this blog is also placed on a subdirectory “Guide to International SEO” of the root domain “linkbuildinghq.com”. Similarly, websites can have separate subdirectories for each country that they are targeting.

For example, Standard Chartered Bank’s root domain is sc.com. To target people in the UK, its website has a subdirectory sc.com/uk/.

Standard Chartered subdirectory
Standard Chartered offers customized solutions in each region it operates in.

 

Notice that the subdirectory will always follow the generic top-level domain gTLD which is a “.com”, “.org”, “.inc” and so on.

Each country has its own two-letter ISO-code. And if there are countries in which there are multiple languages spoken and you would want to target those as well, you can add the language code next to the location code.

For example, a root domain targeting both English and French speakers in Canada will be “domain.com/en-ca” and “domain.com/fr-ca” respectively with the language code coming before the country code.

Dell Location and Language subdirectories example
With this subdirectory structure, Dell is targeting English speakers in the UK.

 

The subdirectory structure is ideal in most cases since it is easier to set up and doesn’t cost much to maintain either. Apart from this, the domain authority will also flow to your subdirectories which is not the case if you go for a ccTLD. Finally, if you decide to update your sites, all of your redirects will be in one place and you will not be required to do that for each site.

One downside with subdirectories is that it is a relatively weaker international SEO signal as compared to a separate website for each country.

A Subdomain For Each Country

Another option for your international website’s URL structure is using a subdomain for targeted countries.

Here, the targeted country or language code will appear before the generic top-level domain gTLD.

This is something that Wikipedia uses for its website.

Apple Spain WikiPedia
To show the website to Spanish users, it uses the code “es” before the gTLD “Wikipedia.org”.

 

So, while Subdomains are also easy to set up, can be hosted on different servers, and provide the needed geotargeting signals to search engines, when compared with subdirectories they are more expensive in implementation.

Separate Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)

International websites can also opt for a country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD).  Here, companies will set up a separate website for users for each of the targeted countries.

For example, the Adidas Australia website is “adidas.com.au”. Notice that, unlike the subdomain, here the country code “au” comes after the gTLD “.com”.

adidas ccTLD example
The “SPORTS” tab is not always available in other country versions of the adidas website.

 

Some country codes like “.co” which is used for Colombia are common and therefore are open to being registered for other purposes like making a “domain.co” website where the “co” represents “company”.

With a separate domain for each country, the international SEO signal is much powerful and it also tells users and search engines that the company has a dedicated presence in that particular region helping with building more trust.

However, again, maintaining separate websites is costly, time-consuming, and not good link building since the domain authority is restricted to each domain.

Here is an infographic from Moz that lists the pros and cons of each website structure.

Using Hreflang Tags

With the help of the hreflang meta tags, search engines can know which languages does the website need to be in as per the needs of the users.

The content doesn’t have to be different, and so, to make sure the same pages are not competing against each other in rankings, the hreflang tags are used.

To specify which language to use, ISO 639 codes are used whereas ISO 3166 codes are used to specify which country the website is for.

Hreflang also helps in reducing bounce rates and increasing conversions because the target audience is served a local version of a website.

Hreflang can be placed in either the HTTP headers of every page, the HTML tags, or the sitemap.

Here is an example of what the hreflang can look like:

hreflang example

The link rel=“alternate” means that the link containing in the code is another version of this page.

The hreflang=“en-US” is targeting English speakers in the US.

The href=“https://example.com/alternate-page” is the web address for the alternate page.

To ask users their preferred page, the x-default can be handy since it shows that the page does not target any specific location. Here is a code that you can use:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”x-default” />

Improving On Other SEO Signals

Apart from the website structure and hreflang tags, there are other equally important SEO factors that you need to keep in mind to boost your website’s visibility. In this section, we will be discussing four factors that will particularly help the international SEO of your website.

International SEO Keyword Research

One common pitfall to avoid while doing international keyword research is relying on machine translations of your original content. They may not seem natural to the local readers and can also be inaccurate.

There are many tools that can help you with your keyword research. If you can get a paid tool, Ahrefs can be a good choice. It tells you things like a keyword’s search volume, ranking difficulty, CPC, and so on in your targeted countries.

ahrefs international keyword research
Ahrefs’ Global Volume feature tells which countries the keyword is most popular in.

 

Other tools that provide international data for keywords include Google Keywords Planner, SEMrush, Keyword Tool.io and Rank Tracker.

Read our blog on keyword research to know everything you need to do to get a refined list of keywords.

Localized Link Building

Link building remains one of the most important parts of any SEO strategy. This holds true for your international SEO as well. If you are opting for a ccTLD website structure, then your link building efforts need more focus and time since you will need to build up authority from scratch.

Generally, link building for international markets is a bit more time-consuming because of the language constraints, different competitive environments, and unique audiences.

You can firstly look for links that are pointing to your original website from countries where you intend to establish your website. Again, use Ahrefs to see your current backlink profile and reach out to websites from different countries and ask them to link to your local website.

Looking at the link profile of your local competitors will also allow you to reach out to those linking websites for your own local website.

Apart from this, traditional link building techniques like guest posting, publishing interviews in local websites, broken link building, influencer outreaching, including local website links in your social media pages all work just fine. Here is a complete guide to link building that will be super useful for you.

Optimize For Local Search Engines

While Google is the most popular search engine worldwide with over 92% search market share, other search engines are more popular in specific countries. For example, Baidu is a popular choice for people in China, whereas Yandex is more used in Russia and Eastern European countries and Naver is a leading search engine in South Korea.

So while optimization principles are mostly the same, you must know which search engine’s ranking matters the most to you in each location.

ahref's drop down to select search engines
Ahrefs allows you to select data for the most popular search engines.

Structured Data

Everything from your phone numbers, opening hours to local addresses and pricing needs to be customized for the local audience and to show them in the local searches. For this, the use of schema markups is vital.

The best part is that schema.org, which is the collection of all structured data markup, is a collective effort from different search engines including Google, Yandex, Yahoo, and Bing. This means all schemas that you apply can be used to communicate to these search engines.

The most useful schema markup in appearing for local searches include the Organization and LocalBusiness markups. They can be easily implemented using the Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

mcdonalds structured data example
Mcdonalds has structured data implemented for all its branches in Germany.

Let’s Wrap It Up

The main principles of SEO apply to international SEO too. The best advice is to understand the needs of the local audience and the competitive landscape. This way, you will better be able to make customizations in your content, the user experience, and your offerings.

Like SEO in general, international SEO will take time and so you will be required to meticulously ensure that all versions of your website run smoothly and have a fair chance of appearing higher in the local rankings.

Google’s May 2021 Page Experience Update: What You Need To Know

Back in November 2020, Google announced that it would be introducing page experience as a factor into its ranking algorithm. Google has addressed user experience in the past, albeit via individual and indirect measures (such as the 2018 Mobile Speed Update), but the Page Experience Update represents the first significant attempt to develop a holistic ranking factor around user experience. According to the announcement, the Page Experience Update will be rolled out in May 2021, and coupled with the introduction of the Core Web Vitals, represents a shift in focus towards websites that have a better user experience.

Google Core Web Vitals
Source: Google Developers

 

The change in metrics gives priority to the following Core Web Vitals:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (refers to the website load time)
  2. First Input Delay (refers to user interactivity)
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (refers to the website’s visual stability)

 

 

The Update:

“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”

What this means is…

This year, Google aims to include page experience as a more significant factor in its algorithm.

The move involves the inclusion of existing signals of Google Search such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. This also includes metrics in Google’s Core Web Vitals to do with the webpage loading speed, site interactivity, and visual stability.

Hence, if you’re a website owner, or offer services in website maintenance understanding these signals should now become a priority. You should also consider optimizing your server, and reworking your marketing strategy to maintain/improve your SERP ranking.

Some of the factors you should consider focusing on are:

  • Optimizing For Mobile
  • Improving Page Speeds
  • Avoiding deceptive Call To Actions
  • Adding Alt Text For Images.

 
Your next question is probably somewhere around the lines of how does it impact the overall webpage experience? 

Understanding Page Experience

To understand this, we’ll need to take a few steps back and understand the three ‘Core Web Vitals’. These comprise visual stability, better interactivity, and accurate page load time. Let’s go deeper into understanding these. 

Core web vitals
Source: Search Engine Watch

 

Largest Contentful Paint

This metric measures the time it takes for the main content to likely load. The terminology that Page load times greatly impact bounce rate and a user’s average time on page. In light of Google’s recent move, the company has covered this under the vital ‘Largest Contentful Paint’. 

First Input Delay

This move helps measure on-page interactions rather than picking webpage impressions. Google’s web vitals covers this as ‘first input delay’. The metric picks up the time duration it takes for the first user interaction (tap or click) to when the browser starts processing that interaction. 

Understanding this metric will help you understand how long it takes for your user to interact with your website after their first impressions. Improving on this will help you improve your website absorption rate while also pulling the site’s bounce rate closer to 60%.

Statistics about smartphone users
Source: Think With Google

 

Cumulative Layout Shift

You’re probably familiar with this if you’ve seen a jittery webpage. You’re scrolling through the product description page and suddenly you’re scrollbar shifts disorienting you on the webpage. The metric used to measure this is known as cumulative layout shift. 

This happens because some of the content was still loading on the website when you started scrolling, Often, this leads to clicking the option that wasn’t intended, leading to a bad user experience. If this problem isn’t addressed in time, you’ll see your website’s bounce rate increase significantly. Ultimately this compromises your website’s SERP position.

Accidental Submission

Adapting To This Change

Adjusting to these changes can be a tedious task. To help narrow down the tasks at hand, we’d recommend you to focus on the following tasks to improve your page load time. We’ve listed out a few possible areas that can aid you in improving your webpage load time.

Optimize Your Server – Shifting To A Cloud Based Server

You’ll notice that your webpage greatly improves in page load speed time, just by optimizing the server. However, knowing that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, we recommend you shift your server towards a cloud-based infrastructure. 

A cloud-based IaaS greatly gives you the flexibility of shifting your website to a data center that’s closer to your target audience. You can scale your server up almost instantaneously and trim it back down to your required package in times of traffic spikes. Essentially, with this type of infrastructure, you save a lot of money in the long run.

Install Caches Plugins That Specialize In Improving Page Load Time

There are a number of cache plugins that help improve your website performance. Consider picking a content management system/ website builder that has these add-ons.

Optimize Plugins

Though this goes without saying, however, a lot of people that are new to building websites tend to overload their websites with plugins and widgets. Loading all of these widgets also takes a toll on the server and can affect your website’s performance.

Think of it as Google Chrome, with some 15 browser extensions running in the background. You’ll notice how your chrome starts more slowly and starts to lag. It’ll often crash as well. The same applies to your website builder and plugins. Keep them optimized and remove plugins that you can do without.

Compress Media Files And The Website Files Where Possible

A lot of people place rich-media images to make their webpage look better. That’s not bad, but it’s important to know where you can cut corners and where you can’t. For instance, you could compress images like buttons, logos, and small jpeg files that won’t be used as downloadable content. However, cutting corners on background images, product images will show poorly and affect the user experience of your website.

Shorten JavaScript And CSS Files

While we’re on the topic of compressing media files and website files, you could have a developer look at the code that runs your website. Longer codes take more resources to process as opposed to optimized codes.

This won’t make a major difference, but it will contribute to optimizing your website for better load time and user experience.

Key Takeaway

We recommend that you run an audit for your website. You can use Google’s online mobile-friendly test, as well as Page Speed Insights, to find out your website’s performance across different devices.

Keeping your users front and center will help you build a web experience that is informative, intuitive, and delightful for everybody. Apart from the technical fixes, many marketers will also have to refocus their content strategy to ensure they are providing the most useful information to their users. Needless to say, you should also consider aligning your content strategy with your link-building strategy to maximize your SERP rankings. 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Ecommerce SEO

Any eCommerce store owner would know just how crucial a steady flow of online traffic is to the success of their business. To achieve this, paid marketing often appears to be the most obvious strategy to adopt.

Sure, paid marketing can help to get that top spot in the search rankings. But in the larger scheme of things, it may not be the most sustainable option because the moment a paid campaign ends, visibility fades away.

But with an eCommerce SEO strategy in place, eCommerce store owners can have a much higher and sustainable ROI. And while it takes time, once everything starts to click with SEO, it can be one of the most effective ways to earn a competitive edge, especially in the eCommerce landscape.

So in this blog, we’ll deep dive into the world of eCommerce SEO and discuss all the strategies and tactics that you can adopt today to improve your eCommerce website’s conversion rates and SEO friendliness.

First, let’s understand a bit more about eCommerce SEO.

What is E-commerce SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO in short, is the process of optimizing your website with all the best practices of appearing higher in the search rankings for related keywords. With better visibility, the chances of getting more traffic increase leading to higher conversions. That’s the ultimate objective.

With regards to eCommerce, SEO has a huge role to play. Think of search engines like a shopping mall and your website as one of the many stores in that mall.  The more visible your store is, the higher are your chances of welcoming more customers who would then go on to buy something from your store. And to be more visible, you need to do the works.

EO is like having a highly visible mall store.
Just like you want to have a store with a high footfall, having an optimized website ensures high online traffic.

 

Optimizing your website with relevant keywords, conducting on-page SEO, ensuring that there are no technical issues with the website, and creating more backlinks are all part of a good eCommerce SEO strategy.

We will be discussing each of these aspects in-depth. But before we get going with that, here are some interesting stats for you:

  • E-commerce sites generate 37.5% of their traffic from search engines
  • 70-80% of online shoppers ignore paid ads in search results
  • 35% of product searches on Google result in a real transaction within 5 days
  • Only 4.8% of searchers make it to the second page of the results

 

You get the idea right? The potential of SEO in eCommerce is huge. Not only does appearing high in the search rankings help you with more cost-effective conversions, but it is also a great way to win loyal customers who will keep coming back to your website. So in layman’s terms, you are losing out on major bucks by not focusing on eCommerce SEO.

Steps In Implementing An E-commerce SEO Strategy

Now, it can seem a daunting task to implement an SEO strategy. But with this blog, I have broken down everything you need to do in actionable steps. If you approach SEO this way, it will be a very rewarding experience for you. So with that said, let’s get to the first step which is keyword research.

Step 1: Keyword Research

To lay a solid foundation for your SEO strategy, you need to conduct thorough keyword research. This helps to ensure that whatever content that you create for your website is backed up by numbers.

On the contrary, poor keyword research or doing no keyword research at all can result in low impressions and traffic that is not likely to convert.

For your eCommerce website, there are primarily two key areas that you need to optimize with keywords. They are your category pages and your product pages.

A category page consists of all the related products and includes preliminary information about them.

Example-of-an-ecommerce-category-page
A category page should also consist of a description of the type of product it shows.

 

On the other hand, a product page consists of more details about a particular product. Here, an optimized product description plays a big role in appearing for related keywords in the SERPs. This is because an optimized product page targets a more defined buyer intent.

Example of an ecommerce product page
A product page needs to be detailed yet enticing enough for the customer to make a purchase.

 

For example, someone who is just searching for “men’s shoes” on Google will be better targeted through the category page where there are a wide variety of shoes available for men.

Whereas, someone typing “black slip-on sneakers” can be targeted through the product page since the customer knows exactly what he/she wants.

This way, we can categorize keywords like “men’s shoes” as short tail or head keywords while keywords like “black leather shoes size 40” as long-tail.

Now how do you find keywords for eCommerce websites? Here are 3 methods for you that work quite well:

Amazon Suggestion

Since Amazon is the world’s largest eCommerce platform, it is a goldmine for finding profitable keywords for your store.

Amazon Suggest Example
Amazon Suggestions are a great way to get LSI Keyword  ideas.

 

All you need to do is start typing in your main keyword and it will show suggestions based on what has been searched the most. You can also use the Amz Suggestion Expander chrome extension to have a list of all the suggestions from the seed keyword compiled in one place.

Apart from this, Amazon is also a great place to find category-page keywords. You can do that by going through the sub-categories of the products it presents on the search results page.

Ab roller Amazon categories example
Amazon Categories can also give you an idea for your own website’s structure.

 

Google Keyword Planner

The Google keyword planner is also a handy tool to validate your initial list of keyword ideas. You can filter out keywords based on their search volume and commercial intent. The way to gauge commercial intent is to check how competitively the bids are for particular keywords. A higher bid tells you that the customers are most likely going to convert using that keyword.

Ahrefs

If you have a few bucks to spend, then Ahrefs does a pretty good all-around job for your keyword research.

Firstly, you can use it to see which keywords you are currently ranking for. To do that, we add in our URL and then select the “Organic Search” tab on the left. Once you have the list, you can filter it so select only those keywords where you are ranking at a position between 5 and 10. These are keywords, for which if you put in some SEO effort, can help you score easy wins.

Ahrefs Keyword Rank checker
Keep monitoring your keyword rankings to know which SEO initiatives are working.

 

You can also spy on your competitors to see what keywords they are ranking for. Of course, you want to have a fair shot at outranking them. So you can again filter out keywords based on their search volume and ranking difficulty.

Apart from this, it is a great way to generate and validate keyword ideas based on your seed keyword. If you’re interested to know more about Ahrefs, here is the link to their website.

Criteria For Selecting The Right Keywords

Finding a list of potential keywords is the easy part. But you need to ensure that only those keywords reach your website which can truly help bump your search visibility. Here are 4 key factors that you need to consider when finalizing your keywords.

Search Intent

You need to know the real purpose behind keywords that searchers use. As an eCommerce store, your primary focus should be on those keywords which have a transactional intent. To find them, you can type in your head keywords in Google to see what kind of pages are popping up.

If there are mostly product or category pages coming, it means that the keyword has commercial value so you need to target them.

Google SERP for school bags coming on google search
Search results for “school bags” mostly show commercial results.

 

The key lies in understanding the difference between the informational keywords which are used to gather information regarding a topic versus, transactional keywords, where the intention is to get to a page to buy something from it.

Search Volume

Of course, you want keywords that generate enough search volume for you to optimize your website with. But it also depends on the niche that you are in. For some eCommerce websites, a search volume of 100 is a lot while for others it may not be worth the effort. So it is important to know your competition and your current standing.

If you are just starting out, it wouldn’t be a smart move to target densely-searched keywords. Once you find your footing, you can gradually target more broad keywords with a high volume.

Competition

You also want to keep an eye on how hard it would be for you to rank for a particular keyword. For this, Ahref’s keyword difficulty score is super handy. Generally, keywords with a difficulty of 20-30 are easier to rank for initially if you put in some effort.

Relevance

Finally, always check how relevant the keywords are to each page of your website. For example, if you are targeting keywords that are too broad, like smartphones when you only sell smartphone cases, you’ll end up having a higher bounce rate since customers will not find what they are looking for.

Again, if you want to write a blog on your website (which you definitely should, and we’ll discuss it in detail later), your keywords would be slightly different from the ones you select for your product or category pages.

 

Step 2: Optimize Your Website Structure

The next step in optimizing your website is to understand how well it is organized for user experience and Google bots for indexing and crawling. Since an eCommerce website has generally a lot more pages as compared to let’s say a blog, they must be visible to both customers and search engines.

Always keep the 3-click rule in mind when it comes to website structures i.e. it should not take more than 3 clicks to get to a page from any other page.

The reason why this is important is because you want to make sure that your authoritative pages that appear higher in the rankings and are trusted by Google can pass on some of that authority to other pages as well.

Here is an example of a good site structure. Since, homepages are generally the most authoritative, this website structure ensures that no page takes more than 3 clicks to get to from the homepage. This way, the link juice flows to pages that may not be indexed yet by Google or are struggling to rank.

Optimized Website structure
Image source: Backlinko

 

But if your website structure looks something like the example shown below, then you need to revamp it right away.

Poor website structure
Image source: Backlinko

 

Step 3: Implement On-page SEO tactics

Once you have a refined list of keywords to use and a website structure that is both SEO and user-friendly, you need to then focus on the on-page SEO of your website. As mentioned previously, the product page and the category page are the two key pages in your eCommerce website that need your special attention.

These are the pages that ultimately drive conversions for you so you must be following all the best practices when optimizing them. So following are the most important on-page SEO tactics that you need to adopt for your eCommerce website.

URL

An optimized URL structure is essential for better on-page SEO. URLs help search engines understand how the pages in your website are related to each other. An optimized URL structure not only helps in ranking your category and sub-category pages but they are also a good way to implement the breadcrumb function which is a way to help Google in scanning and indexing your website.

Here is an example of an optimized URL structure:

URL for Ecommerce websites
Long URLs are automatically truncated by Google.

 

In the example above it is easy to understand that the main category of the page is “Men” followed by the subcategory “Clothing” and then the sub-sub category “Coats & Jackets”.

So here are some useful tips to keep in mind when writing URLs for Ecommerce pages:

  1. Keep them short (less than 50 characters)
  2. Clearly understand their hierarchy
  3. Use primary keywords and try to match them with your titles
  4. Don’t repeat keywords
  5. Avoid using underscore and instead, use hyphens to make them more readable
  6. Don’t use numbers

Titles Tags and Descriptions

Your title tags and Meta descriptions, like your URLs, appear in the SERPs and have a major impact on the Click-through rate of your website. So always use your keywords at the start of the title and make them as click-worthy as possible. Again, they can be about 50-60 characters long and you can mention your brand name (if you have to) at the end. You can also include Call-to-Action words like “Buy Now”, “Click here” to create urgency.

Examples for Meta Title and Descriptions
You can use more long-tail LSI keywords in Meta Descriptions since there is an extended limit of 150 characters.

 

Each description should uniquely describe the content of the page and can include perks like “free shipping”, “50% off today”, “buy-1-get-1-free” etc.

Product Descriptions

Your product page can make or break your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. As per research, long-form content is the way to go here. This is your opportunity to use all the semantically related keywords which provide better context to Google regarding what your page is about.

For example, a page that just lists features of a product will have a lower ranking in comparison to that page which not only lists features but also goes through all the benefits and the different use-cases for the product. You can look for the semantic keywords through Google Keyword Planner or even by going through the pages of similar products on Amazon.

You can broaden your search by adding more automatically generated keyword ideas.

 

So ideally, I’d say each of your product pages should include about 2000 words. Out of them, about 1000 words should come from your side and the rest can be covered through reviews.

But writing 1000 words for each of the product pages can be overwhelming especially when you have more than 100 products. In that case, you can prioritize those pages that are most important to your website and then start off with them.

To do that, use Google Analytics and see which pages get you the most traffic. Make a list and then start adding more in-depth descriptions for each one of them. Don’t forget to include your primary keyword about 3 to 5 times in the description along with the LSI keywords.

Schema Markups

For eCommerce websites, a major part of the struggle is standing out from the competition in the SERPs. Ranking high in the SERPs can only be beneficial if your link is generating enough clicks. So if you want your pages to appear uniquely, adding schema markups can prove to be super useful as it can improve CTR by about 30%.

For your product pages, you can use the Product Markup from schema.org through which you can have the name, image, description, aggregate rating, pricing, and other related information regarding your products displayed on the search page. Displaying reviews alone can have a big impact on your CTR since, as per research, 89% of customers avoid taking any action before reading reviews.

Review schema examples
The more reviews and better rating your store has, the higher its CTR will be.

 

Setting up schema markup can be a bit tricky and that’s why the Structure Data Markup Helper makes life super easy. You can simply add the URL of your product and select which area you’d like to highlight in the SERPs.

Internal Linking

We mentioned earlier how you can use the 3-click rule to help those product pages that need a bit of a ranking boost by passing link juice from high authority pages. And while it is true that your homepage will generate the most authority for your website (simply because more people land on it), if you have a blog page, that can too play an important in passing on the link juice.

This is because blogs usually have long-form content where you can discuss a range of sub-topics within a given topic, improve the indexability of your website and engage with the audience in a better way to finally make them land on your product pages by linking to them in your content.  Always remember to use keyword-rich anchor text for better SEO.

Mobile Optimization

Google has made a lot of updates to its algorithm, to reward websites that are optimized keeping in mind the mobile-first approach. This is because having a mobile-friendly website makes it 67% more likely that a customer will purchase a product online. So this means you need to ensure that your website is not only responsive on mobile but performs optimally keeping user experience at the forefront.

 

Step 4: Conduct a Technical Audit of Your Website

It is more likely that an eCommerce has a few technical glitches hindering user experience and overall SEO visibility as compared to any other website. This is because eCommerce websites have loads of pages having images, URLs, and content which can sometimes make it difficult to keep the website squeaky clean of errors.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to conduct a site-wide technical audit now and then to see how your website is performing based on different factors. In this section, we will be discussing three of the most important areas of your eCommerce website which you always need to keep your eye on.

Page Speed

There is no denying the fact that a high website load time results in a poor user experience, which ultimately takes a toll on your ranking. As per research, 37% of visitors will bounce off if your website takes 5 or more seconds to load.

Apart from the bounce rate, poor page speed also harms your brand’s image. All these page speed-related issues can lead to an increase in shopping cart abandonment by up to 75%.

There can be many reasons for a slow page speed. In eCommerce websites, it mostly comes down to large media files and slow hosting servers. So it’s important to choose hosting providers wisely based on all your requirements.

Secondly, investing in a Content Delivery Network (CDN) also helps since it reduces the distance between the server and the end-user. And finally, you can use file compressing tools or lazy loading for your large media files like banner images and videos.

If you are looking to know more about reducing site speed, here’s a blog that’ll be useful for you.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is one of the most common issues that eCommerce websites face. It can be due to the following reasons:

  1. Different URLs leading to the same page (because of variations in URL parameters like changes in sizes and colors etc.)
  2. Using the manufacturer’s product descriptions
  3. Copying content from any other website
Ahrefs Site Audit Tool
Ahrefs’ site audit tool tells if there are any duplicates in your Meta Data or Content.

 

To fix these issues, you can use 301 redirects which redirect Google to the original content. Apart from that, you can also use Canonical or NoIndex tag to tell Google not to index pages with the same content twice. And of course, writing unique content is the only way to avoid penalties from Google due to copying content from other websites.

Orphan Pages

Pages that are deeply buried in the website structure need to be addressed as well. As mentioned previously, you want the most important pages to not be more than 3 clicks away from the main page. So to check pages that are not getting any link juice from your website, you can use Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool.

Once you have a list, you can decide to either remove them from your website or revamp your site structure to ensure they get the link juice from your high authority pages.

Step 5: Implementing Ecommerce Link-Building Strategies

Link building is the last piece of the puzzle in your eCommerce SEO journey. It is generally believed that your SEO success is largely dependent on your link-building activities.

That’s not to say that all the other factors like keyword research, on-page SEO, website structure are irrelevant. They are far from irrelevant. The only way your link building initiatives will get the results you want is that it is done in unison with all the other SEO factors. Without an optimized website, for example, you’re backlinks will do you no good.

That said, link building is a bit tricky because it takes more time as compared to other SEO efforts. You want links from high DA websites and you’re only going to get them when you have built up trust and credibility for yourself which takes time. But once you’ve built a strong link-profile, the results will start rolling in quickly.

So here are the most effective link building tactics that you can employ for your eCommerce website.

Blog Content

As mentioned earlier, blogs are a great way to engage with your audience and naturally direct them to your product pages. But apart from that, they can also be a great source for earning external backlinks for your website. They allow you to write long-form content based on the questions that are being most frequently asked by your customers.

Blog page of a skin-care ecommerce store
Use the Skyscraper approach by looking for content that gets lots of backlinks and then create something better and more value-adding.

 

So when creating blogs, you first need to prioritize quality content and choose topics related to your offerings. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, create content that discusses everything related to diet, fitness myths, and exercises to do, and so on. To generate ideas, Ahrefs’ content explorer tool is super useful.

Once you have curated enough content, you can make use of broken link building. With that, you can look for websites that are linking to dead resources and offer them to link to your content instead. Again, Ahrefs helps a ton in finding such websites.

Influencer Outreach

Influencer marketing is another great way to earn quality backlinks. You can leverage the trust that the influencers have created for themselves in their audience for your brand.

Influencer Marketing for Backlinks
You can use tools like Ahref or Majestic SEO to see which bloggers have linked to your competitors’ websites and reach out to them.

 

One of the most common ways to get links from the influencers is to send out a sample of your product and ask them to do a review.

The important thing to remember here is that you want to collaborate with influencers that are relevant to your niche and have a genuine following.

Directories

Directory submission is a simple yet effective way of building backlinks for your website. This method involves submitting your website’s URL to free or paid directories like a local chamber of commerce, e-com directory, Google Shopping, etc. Search engines will then find your website through these directories and rank it accordingly.

Reach Out to Manufacturers and Complimentary Product Suppliers

You can also reach out to the manufacturers of your products and ask them to refer their customers who are looking for retailers for their products to your website.

Apart from this, you can also look for those websites that sell products that can complement your own offerings. For example, if you sell gaming chairs, you can reach out to websites selling gaming keyboards and collaborate with them for your link building efforts.

Final Thoughts

The potential of eCommerce SEO is huge!

You probably won’t see results overnight. But the benefits of a well-executed eCommerce SEO campaign stick around for a very long time. And remember, it’s a continuous process: you need to continually monitor the keywords you’re ranking for, assess your website traffic, conduct technical audits and keep earning quality backlinks.

If you focus on everything that has been discussed here, there’s a pretty good chance that you will leave your competition behind.

How to Write Winning Outreach Emails for Link Building (with templates)

When it comes to link building for SEO, one factor that can be easily overlooked but does have a great influence on the success of your strategy is the quality of your outreach emails.

Given that almost all of the link building activities are done through email outreaching, it is crucial that your emails tick all the right boxes to receive a response that you are looking for from high DA websites.

In this blog, we’ll go through everything you need to know about email outreaching. We’ll cover why it is important and also go through the best practices to keep in mind when crafting emails. To top it all off, we’ll share some awesome templates and see what makes them so effective.

So let’s get started with understanding what is email outreaching and why is it important that your emails stand-out.

What is Email Outreaching?

Email outreaching is the process of reaching out to prospective website owners and influencers having high domain authority in a niche. This is done to introduce a piece of content on a website to a new set of audience through backlinks.

Ever since the focus has shifted from earning high quality instead of high quantity links, the importance of outreaching has grown a lot.

This is because almost all of the backlink strategies start from an email pitch. Whether it is guest blogging, distributing infographics, leveraging broken links, resource page linking, and so on; every single one of these initiatives starts from an email that you write to prospective websites. So it is imperative that you spend some time writing your emails to increase your chances of getting a response.

Apart from link building, email outreaching is also a great source of forging partnerships that can translate into bigger longer-term business relationships and collaborations.

How to make your outreach emails stand-out
Out of all the cold outreach emails sent out, only 8.5% generate the desired results.

 

So the main question that you need to ask yourself is: “how can I differentiate my emails from countless other emails that are rolled out every day to my targets?”

For starters, here are two examples that generate great responses and will give you an idea about which type of emails catch the most attention.

Example 1: Reaching Out to Share an Infographic:

Subject Line: An infographic on (topic) you might be interested in!

Hey {name}

I was searching the webs this morning for some information on {topic} and came across {target URL}.

I loved the way you went in great depth talking about {the contents of their post}.

Actually, I created an infographic myself on {topic}.

And since I know how much you like writing on {topic}, I thought you may find this super useful.

If this is something which interests you, do let me know and I’ll be happy to share more details.

Best-
{your name}

 

There you go! Short and crisp. The reason why this kind of outreach email works is because it has the right balance of providing relevant information to get a response and not being too text-heavy. It also acknowledges the work of the recipient and subtly states the objective of the email at the end.

Need more inspiration? Here’s another email with a slightly different situation.

Example 2: Reaching Out for Guest Blogging Opportunities:

Subject Line: A great guest post idea for (their blog name)

Hey, {name}!

I am an avid reader of your blog {link} and really admire your work. More specifically, I got a kick out of your post on {blog name} and even went on to {increase my traffic/improve domain authority, etc.} all thanks to you.

I’m reaching out because I had some guest blog post ideas I believe your audience would really love. Here they are below:

{Idea 1}
{Idea 2}
{Idea 3}

I have been regularly publishing on my blog as well and here are two links that will give you an idea about my writing style:

{Link 1}
{Link 2}

If you’d like to know more, please reach out to me via this email and I’d love to know your thoughts.

Cheers,
{Your name}

Again, this is a classic example of an email that covers all bases. It’s personalized, friendly, talks about the works of the reader briefly, and clearly states what the email is about. It just makes it so much easier for the person to make up a decision.

Top Tips to Write Outreach Emails That Get Awesome Responses

Alright, now that we know the importance of writing an effective outreach email and have a couple of templates for inspiration, let’s discuss some of the top tips that differentiate a well-written email from a spammy one.

Think About Why You Are Pitching

First and foremost, you need to know what it is that you’re after. This is so crucial because most of the time, emails are so long and so focused on wooing the recipient that they miss out on the real point.

Like in the two examples shown above, we clearly understand the reason why we are pitching (sharing infographics in the first and guest blogging in the second). Depending on your objective, your writing style and the amount of detail will vary too.

For example, if you have conducted a research on a topic, you can go on and share major highlights of the research in your pitch. This will pique the interest of the recipient because everyone likes to get their hands on a good research. So always start with understanding what sort of link building opportunity you’d want to capture.

Figure Out Who is Your Audience (Make a list)

It is also a smart move to figure exactly who will be your outreach targets. Ideally, you want to reach out to people with a big following. But newsflash; the bigger they are, the harder it is to get a response out of them. For example, people like Barry Schwartz, Danny Sullivan, Bruce Clay are big names in the SEO industry. So anyone hoping to get a response from them should have a personal connection on some level with them.

However, it is not a bad idea to target these big fish if you have 100% awesome content that you are confident is worthy of a glance.

Voila Norbert, a tool that lets you search for and validate email addresses
Voila Norbert is a tool that lets you search for the email addresses of specific people.

 

And again, if you know why you are pitching, you’d also probably know who it is that you want to reach out to. For example, if you want press coverage, your list should include journalists. Or if you have a fashion blog, you’d want to reach to the relevant influencers. And be sure to have the correct email addresses. A tool like Voila Norbert can be handy for that.

Write a Killer Subject Line

Subject lines have a big impact on the open rate of your emails. They provide a preview to the recipient about what’s in the email. And because the inboxes of your targets are most likely inundated with countless emails every day, it’s pretty fair for them to skip ahead if the subject line doesn’t seem relevant.

Emails marked as spam due to Uninteresting Subject Line
47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line and 69% report email as spam based only on the subject line.

 

So it’s super important to make them as enticing and creative as possible. Don’t go on and write full sentences in the subject line but do provide just enough information so that the reader would know what it is about. A little mystery wouldn’t do any harm. As a general rule of thumb, the subject line can be 7 to 8 words long.

Go For a Short and Sweet Intro About Yourself

One of the most common pitfalls to avoid when writing an outreach email is giving too much information about yourself. While introducing yourself and your blog is important, it is equally important not to over-do it right off the bat.

You want to quickly get to the point and share your value proposition because oftentimes, influencers, or big websites have dedicated people to read emails before they reach the right person. So you need to also think about getting past the gatekeeper who is tasked with marking emails as spam if they don’t seem relevant. Like in the second example above, our introduction was subtly wrapped around sharing our “writing style” through the blog links, but ultimately, the objective was to make them visit the website.

Give it a Personal Touch

Personalized emails get more responses stat
Source: Backlinko

It should go without saying that a simple “Hi” or “Dear Sir/Madam” greeting is the fastest way to get your emails ignored. So that’s a big no-no. Always use the name of the recipient since such emails get 1/3rd more replies than generic ones. Also, refer to some of their stuff and share your credentials in the particular topic subtly so that they know you’ve done your homework and know what you are talking about. These may seem little things, but they are very effective in leaving a lasting impression.

Follow Up Sparingly

Haven’t received a response to your email that you so passionately wrote? Welcome to the club. There could be a range of reasons for that but there is no telling which one is it. So following up may not be a bad idea. In fact, there is a 21% chance that you get a reply to your second email if the first one goes unanswered. That’s a pretty decent probability. But there are a few things to consider here.

First, go back to your first email and then double down on the value proposition for the target. Get rid of the stuff that’s about you and focus more on what’s in it for them. Second, change the timing of the emails. If you sent the first one out during a weekday, try this one on a weekend. And keep a gap of about two to three days between the emails. Lastly, limit the number of follow-ups. Ideally, go for two follow-ups at max.

In conclusion:

It’s important to understand that the quality of your outreach emails has a strong correlation with the success of your link building activities. Avoid the cookie-cutter approach to outreaching and focus on highlighting the unique value your content will bring to the table. Of course, if you are not confident that the content you’re outreaching for deserves recognition, then it just might not.

So while each backlink opportunity requires you to approach your outreach emails differently, the techniques discussed in this blog have worked well for a lot of link builders in general and they can certainly work for you too.

What Is Local SEO? [The Definitive Guide]

The way search happens today is very different compared to, say, ten or even five years ago. With hyper-localized search results, it’s never been easier for people to find relevant businesses nearby. That’s why, if you’re a business catering to local customers, it’s essential for you to master the art of local SEO, gain better visibility, and beat the competition. In this blog, we’ll discuss what local SEO techniques you can use to do just that.

Ready? Let’s start off by learning a bit more about local SEO.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to all the tactics that you employ to rank your local business and promote your products to a local audience. The key here lies in the search queries of the users. Generally speaking, informational queries are all about learning about a subject. For example, a standard informational search query will be something like “how to make Belgian waffles”. This will trigger all the search results aimed at providing information for this query.

Google search results for how to make belgian waffles

 

Compare that to a local query which would be much more transactional and local in its intent like “waffle houses” or “waffle houses near me” and you start to see the difference.

Google search results for waffle houses near me

 

So, those late night searches telling you which waffle house is open near your place at this hour … that’s local SEO at work!

To tell you the importance of local SEO here are some stats for you: out of all the Google searches, about 46% of them have local intent. And 50% of people who did a local search on their phone went to a physical store within one day. It’s pretty clear that without a solid local SEO strategy, you’re missing out on a world of opportunities.

Google Snack Pack

Whenever searchers do a local search on Google like “best Thai restaurants near me”, they’re presented with a box right on top containing the top 3 results that best satisfy the search query. That box is known as Google Snack Pack or 3-pack.

 

google 3 pack
The searcher’s current location is used by Google to show relevant local results.

 

Claim Your Google My Business Listing

All the information that is displayed in the 3-pack is fetched from the Google My Business profile. So virtually the first thing you need to do as a local business is to claim your Google My Business Profile which is your business profile on Google. Some of the information in your GMB like QnA, Google reviews are generated by the users. Mainly the content there is driven by you. But you need to ensure your GMB profile is as up-to-date and accurate as possible so that you have a higher chance of a click-through from potential customers.

Google My Business Homepage

Getting Listed on Local Directories

To have better visibility for your business, getting cited on local directories is a must for you.

Back in the day, Yellow Pages would be considered the Holy Grail for local directories. Featuring there was crucial. And rightly so, because that was the only option back then.

But with the advancements in search, the number of options has expanded. So you need to do your research in the niche you’re operating in to know which directories are the most important for you.

Not only do citations give you a boost in rankings because they are one of the top 3 local ranking factors, they also increase your chances of featuring in the snack pack. So the more consistent and accurate your NAP info is, which is the Name, Address, and Phone Number of your business, the more credible you are for Google and hence get rewarded with a higher ranking.

One awesome way of knowing whether your info is consistent and accurate is using Moz’s local listing score. It will check the main data aggregators in the country you operate in and tell you if there are any discrepancies in your listings. That can be a lifesaver for you.

You can also get your information disbursed to a lot of small and medium-sized directories using data aggregators. Here, a tool like BrightLocal will help you submit your information to all the aggregators all at once.  Apart from that, it’s a good idea to check your profile on the top data aggregators’ websites since other small directories get your information from there. The top 3 aggregators which you can check include Infogroup/InfoUSA, Factual, and Acxiom.

Once you’ve sorted out your citations on current directories, you can always work on adding more directories to cite your business on. For this, tools like Ahrefs and Whitespark’s local citation finder tool can do a great job for you.

Local Business Schema

Schema markups can truly give an edge over your competition. Not a lot of the business owners know what they are or how to leverage them. Putting the schema markup code on your site helps customers to find more descriptive and informative results from the search engines. So here are the top 3 must-have local SEO schemas.

1. Organization Schema

Organization schema allows you to add your brand signals in the SERPs like your NAP info, your logo, some details about the company, links to your social media, etc.

Organization schema markup

 

2. Opening Hours Schema

With the opening hours schema, your customers would exactly know your operational hours so make sure that they are accurate for each of the locations that you operate in.

opening hours schema markup

 

3. Rating Schema

Another great way of occupying a unique position in the SERPs is through the rating schema. Not only does it allow you to boast how good your products or services are, but it also sends a signal to Google that your business is authentic and hence gives you a better position in the local pack.

aggregate rating schema markup

 

Let’s talk a bit more about why getting positive reviews is crucial for your local SEO. Did you know that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

So it’s only logical for Google to give more weight to what others say about your business as compared to what you say. And that is why it is a super important ranking factor. Make sure that you are responding to customers and providing them with up to date information on your offerings.

Local On-Page SEO

It should go without saying that a lot of your conventional on-page SEO tactics like using H1, H2 tags, optimizing your content and URL, improving page speed, etc. are all very important for your local SEO as well.

Here we’ll talk about local SEO specific on-page tactics. More specifically, we’ll discuss how to optimize content and location-specific landing pages.

Optimizing Local Landing Pages:

Landing pages are those which potential customers land on after clicking your link on the search page. All of your local landing pages should be targeting specific locations. So for example, if you’re a San Francisco based baker and cover two other locations: Los Angeles and Sacramento, you should have separate landing pages for each i.e:

  • examplebakers.com/los-angeles
  • examplebakers.com/sacramento

 

Local SEO stats
What searchers want to know the most about a local business. Image source: Search Engine Land

 

Your openings hours, NAP info, and related keywords would all have to be optimized according to those local landing pages. Similarly, your Meta titles and headings all need to be targeting specific locations. One thing to note though: if you don’t have an actual presence in those locations, there’s no need to create separate landing pages.

And here’s a pro-tip for you: Make sure your homepage has your NAP info, Google Maps embed, and customer testimonials. This way, even if the search terms of customers aren’t localized like “bakeries in San Francisco” and are very broad like “Bakeries”, Google will be able to fetch their location and display your results accordingly.

Local Off-Page SEO

When it comes to off-page SEO, backlinks are the name of the game. Earning quality backlinks, in general, will give a boost to everything, including your local SEO efforts. Many factors mentioned above fall under the local off-page SEO umbrella like reviews, citations, GMB profile optimization.

Therefore, see which publishing platforms are most popular with your target audience & region. Get mentions on those journals or publish a guest blog there. Do it more for brand awareness, visibility, and eyeballs – rather than the link juice. So super-local content on high authority websites should be your main aim.

Once you’re equipped with the knowledge of local SEO, you can definitely see the difference in results it will generate for you both in the short and the long term. Be agile, and tweak your strategy here and there based on SERP feedback, and you should be good to go. I hope to see you in the local snack pack soon.