I recently moved to a new position at a new company, with a new computer and a new, clean install of Google Chrome. It wasn’t clean for very long, though, as I logged into my Chrome account and watched my address bar shrink as all of my extension icons flooded the right-hand side of the window. I was determined to use this as an opportunity to pare down the extensions that I had accumulated over the years.
I didn’t do a great job cutting back. As an SEO, I lean heavily on these time-saving tools. So in the spirit of new beginnings and sharing knowledge, here’s a selection of my favorite Chrome SEO extensions (with a few apps sprinkled in).
These are the simple extensions I can’t live without, and often use outside of SEO work.
Word count tool
SEO is content (well, in part), and an important piece of content is length. One of those extensions that I didn’t know I needed until I had it, this basic word count tool makes roughly assessing a page’s content length a cinch. I generally use this in discussion about competitor pages or to quickly assert whether my client’s copywriters are hitting the length benchmarks they need.
If I can avoid opening a new tab to search, I will. That’s why so many of these extensions allow me to do things in-page. The ‘Search the current site’ plugin is a tiny tool that essentially auto-completes the ‘site:’ operator in a Google search for you.
I’ve been using Hunter (formerly Email Hunter) for years now – and not just for link building (though it’s been essential for that). It’s also great for following up with potential clients or employers when you haven’t been given an email address.
Hunter gets it right a lot of the time, but MailTester can help you ensure the address is correct before you hit send. It’s got its limitations – many servers will block the request – but on the whole it’s a good insurance policy.
There are a number of ways to pull the links from a page, whether it’s a SERP, a directory, or a partner page. Link Klipper’s handy click-and-drag function can help fill in the gaps by selecting a subset of links, or pulling them from tricky-to-isolate groups like dropdown menus.
How did I get here? Ayima’s simple Redirect Path tool lets you see how your browser arrived at a given page. This tool is particularly useful for isolating complicated or broken redirect paths and ensuring link equity is passing properly.
Depending on the type of SEO you are, you may use one or all of these extensions, or have 15 others that offer similar functionality. Here’s what’s in my rotation right now.
Every proprietary metric should be taken with a grain of salt, but Moz’s MozBar is still great for quickly assessing a site’s relative quality through its ‘Domain Authority (DA) mode that displays DA in the tool icon without crowding the page with other details (though you can still display those metrics by clicking on the icon).
Tip: As a bonus, MozBar allows you to quickly extract results when you’re on a SERP. It’ll only pull the displayed results so change your settings if you need more than 10 sites.
NoFollow is a simple plugin that highlights nofollow links on the page you’re viewing. You can also set it to check the robots.txt file against the links to indicate any disallowed pathways.
BuiltWith Technology Profiler
See at a glance what’s going on in the background with this plugin from BuiltWith. With just a click, you’ll be able to identify tracking, frameworks, content delivery, and a lot more. Used in conjunction with Web Developer, you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues across myriad systems, all in-browser.
Ayima Page Insights
On-page issues plaguing you? Not sure why a particular page is underperforming? Ayima’s Page Insights extension can help you quickly identify issues like multiple H1 tags, alt attributes, and header problems. It can also display HTML elements like title and meta description without having to hunt through the source code.
Bonus: Chrome DevTools
One reason that Chrome is the first thing I install on a new computer is its powerful developer tools that let me dig into the guts of a web page. DevTools may not be easy to learn or master, but learning the ins and outs – like how to view a page as various mobile devices, or manipulate HTML to mock up recommendations – can make life a lot easier for an SEO.
Non-specific to SEO (but still helpful)
As someone who is simultaneously forgetful and terrified of identity theft, I’ve become a LastPass evangelist over the past few years. Store all your passwords in one place, share them temporarily, and generate complex passwords that you don’t have to write down anywhere else. I’m slowly working my way towards only having to remember one password – ever.
Double-click on a word to bring up its definition in pop-up bubble with a link to read more. Google Dictionary is very helpful when reading technical SEO documents (or Heidegger).
Super Simple Highlighter
I’ve recently been searching for better ways of keeping track of interesting points within articles. Super Simple Highlighter lets you highlight passages on page and store the URL for later perusing.
Windows’ built-in snipping tool is extremely handy, but for more complex capture, you’ll have to use something more robust. Nimbus lets you capture all or part of your screen, a whole web page, select and scroll, and plenty more. You can also record a video – super helpful for demonstrating all of your other thousands of extensions.
Adam Clemence is Senior SEO Manager at Croud
Directory submission is a tactic that has evolved dramatically since it first became known. Firstly, it is no longer referred to as a directory submission, simply because the term has received some negativity over the years.
Secondly, the goals have changed: we no longer focus on link acquisition. When you come to think of it, the whole link-building strategy has undergone the same evolution: it has become more integrated, meaning that we now pursue non-link-building tactics while still hoping to get some links anyway.
Some of the non-link-building benefits of getting listed that may still result in links include:
Getting listed: the opportunities
If you think directories are dead, think again: there are plenty of new and old directories out there that can send you traffic and leads. Here are just a few categories to look into.
SaaS and B2B directories
These come in several types and forms. Some are more traditional (free but with the option of charging you once for premium review):
While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:
These deserve a separate article (which you can find here). Apart from the ability to send local traffic (from people trying to discover a local service), they are also quite useful for so-called local citation building – in other words, they help search engines associate you with important locations.
Getting listed: the smart way
There are many more useful directories out there that can still drive sales, but choose wisely; in many cases, it’s an investment of some sort. In addition, it’s paramount to stay away from penalized directories. Here are a few tools I use to evaluate whether any directory or platform is worth the investment:
Find whether the platform ranks in Google
Does Google think a directory is good enough to rank it high in search results? Search positions are the most reliable sign of a site’s health.
There are not many sites that will let you see the stats for free, and Serpstat is one of the most affordable.
Simply run the domain in Serpstat to quickly see where it ranks and how its rankings are distributed among different search engines. There are also tools to analyze whether the domain is ever featured in Google, which is an important signal of health too. Here is the list of tools you can use.
Find whether the platform has any traffic
Since creating an alternative traffic source is one of the main goals here, this is vital. There aren’t many reliable ways to evaluate a website’s traffic unless you own it, but these are decent:
Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere
I wouldn’t be an SEO if I paid no attention to backlinks, but in my defense, links are not just a sign of SEO ‘authority’ – they signal quality too; if someone links to it, it must be a good page.
I use Ahrefs bulk backlink analysis feature to quickly run a lot of pages and section to choose the best ones.
[NB: I only mention directories that have proven worth the investment based on their rankings and traffic.]
Have you listed your website in some directories and seen some solid traffic and leads? Share your tips and resources in the comments.
Search engine optimization is a trend that won’t be going out of season any time soon; it’s something that every brand should continually focus on. According to Search Engine People, the top result on Google has a 33% chance of getting clicked, meaning that the lower your brand ranks (even on the first page), the more potential traffic you are missing out on.
And the reason why other websites are ranking higher than you on Google is that they are making a consistent effort to improve their SEO. Even if you’ve been focused on your site’s SEO for months, there are still some tips and tricks to implement – and that can be done in less than 5 hours – to increase your chance of higher rankings in SERPs.
Incorporate your competitor’s easiest keywords
In 2008, Google lifted the ban on bidding on competitors’ branded keywords, allowing site owners to bid against the competition’s brands – as long as you don’t mention their trademarked name within your ad copy. Bidding on your competitor’s keywords will give your brand traffic that comprises customers specifically looking for a product or service that your brand and your competition offer.
Studies have shown that branded keyword phrases are 5 times more likely to convert visitors into leads; therefore, the chances of retention and conversion are very high.
To ensure success, use your competitor’s weaknesses to inform your ad copy – particularly if it’s something your brand excels at. Be sure to include eye-catching copy while maintaining keywords used by customers to find both brands. Think about it: the potential customer is specifically searching for a competitor of yours, but it will take something unique and eye-catching to potentially draw them away from the brand they already know exists.
Here’s a quick checklist for selecting which keywords to borrow from your competitors:
Optimize the page speed of your mobile site
As the digital world embraces Google’s mobile-first index, we also continue to move towards a mobile-first consumer marketplace. Now that there is lightning-fast internet connection and 5G already on the horizon, the time has never been better for the growth of mobile audiences. And with some brands still lagging, it’s an excellent opportunity to keep your brand on the front foot.
A mobile website that loads at a snail’s pace not only not only has a negative effect on user experience, but also has a negative impact on a site’s search ranking. Mobile page speed matters: more than 50% of Google’s search activity now takes place on mobile devices, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that those searches happen quickly and conveniently, each and every time.
Large images are one of the main culprits of slow page speed for websites, and Duda was built for this very reason. Duda is a mobile-friendly web design platform for agencies to launch mobile-optimized websites in minutes. All images loaded through Duda are automatically resized and compressed, allowing web pages to render in seconds, and meaning you don’t have to worry about how images will be served to different devices. In addition to resizing these images with ImageMagick, the platform also compresses them using a process called lossy compression.
Another technique you can use to ensure that images are loaded as quickly as possible is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN ensures content can be delivered from the best location according to the geolocation of the device that’s calling it.
While global SEO is very important, local SEO should not be ignored. Statistics have shown that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store that same day. If your brand is not ranking for keywords in your local area, your brick and mortar business could be losing out to competitors.
While improving SEO takes time, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to begin improving your company’s local SEO.
Making your brand visible through a variety of local listings is important to local SEO, so be sure to insert your local keywords into unique descriptions across multiple listings, ensure that your photos are current, and always include your business category.
Another step is to actively increase the quantity and quality of links directed to your website, as they have an increasingly impactful effect on its local search engine rankings. Consider giving a presentation to business students at a local college or university, lead a discussion at regional business organization meetings or publish an article online, and use those opportunities to have the associated organizations link to your company’s website.
One of the simplest things that can improve your brand’s local SEO is claiming your Google My Business profile. This is a business listing that shows up for local searches, so you need to have a physical location and street address (not a P.O. box) to set up or claim a listing.
Optimizing this profile with the category, contact information, images and business hours can give a significant boost to your local SEO.
Crawl website for duplicate tags and broken links
Duplicate content issues can drop your brand’s website ranking significantly, so every business should focus on content marketing to attract more traffic to their website.
When creating content, you might encounter content duplication issues on your site, particularly if you are using a content management system such as WordPress, which is known to create duplicate pages that affect your SEO.
Fortunately, there are a variety of tools that can be used to assess duplicate content issues. Siteliner is one of the better tools available for discovering duplicate content blocks or broken links on a website, and will provide a comprehensive content analysis report for free.
Once you’ve found any content issues or linking issues, it is often quite simple to get them fixed.
Use 301 redirects to fix duplicate content
If you moved content from an old URL variation to a new URL, then you can use 301 redirects to prevent Google from seeing this as duplicate content. For example, if you have updated the page example.com/buy-cars-2017/ with content for 2018 by changing the URL to example.com/buy-cars-2018/, you can redirect the old 2017 URL variation to the updated URL.
Canonical URL tag attributes
If your website has two identical content pages with different URLs, you can use canonical URL tag attributes to signal to Google which of the two pages you want to be shown in search results.
You can also use the canonical attribute when syndicating content to other websites and social platforms.
Noindex and nofollow tags
Similarly, you can use the robots.txt file to allow or disallow pages to be crawled by Google.
Good SEO practice is the difference between getting your site ranked as high up the search results and possible, and reducing the chance of a click through – and therefore conversion – to your site. It can be frustrating to spend a great deal of time and effort on SEO and not see the results, so ensure you have the tips shared in this article in place to give a quick boost to your site’s ranking. And don’t forget to force Google to re-crawl your website after implementing any changes.
About 10 years ago, it would have been hard to believe that you could ask a Bluetooth speaker for a classic cheese soufflé recipe or take a picture of an object using your phone and find out exactly where to purchase it. Yet, here we are.
These interactions have been primarily realized through advancements in machine learning AI. One of the biggest developments in AI over the past three years has been in the area of voice recognition and natural language processing and we’re starting to see advancements in more complex human machine interaction in the form of image/video search.
Forward-thinking businesses are already using this new form of machine learning AI image recognition to allow users to search for products using pictures to find the same or similar looks and outfits they stock. However, does this mean intelligent image search is the next big thing?
Early days for image search an AI
Major search engines have supported a form of ‘image search’ for some time. Google introduced ‘Google images’ back in 2001 because of a demand for pictures of Jennifer Lopez in a green Versace dress which the regular Google search couldn’t handle. The functionality eventually evolved into being able to drag and drop pictures to find the same or other similar images the user was trying to match against.
The image search referred to today shouldn’t be confused with what now seems like relatively basic functionality (much like how ‘voice search’ today is more than the basic input of text search using your voice). The advancements in ‘image search’ allow for an extremely high degree of accurate image classification by recognizing elements and objects based on specific attributes identified within a given image.
At Forward3D, we have noticed clients increasingly asking about what they can do with the ever more accessible AI and machine learning APIs, but they are still very much unclear about how developments within this field could enhance many aspects of their business. ASOS’ use of image search is a great example of how such tech can be used to enhance the shopping experience and proves that the right application of AI can benefit any business if implemented correctly.
The future of image search
Google (as well as others) has recently started integrating features to enable users to shop for products captured with a smartphone, like the example of ASOS mentioned above. While image search will have its practical uses, the current siloed implementations in smart devices are likely to have a very limited impact on general search behavior for now.
While basic applications of image search can be used to identify what products are available, the technology will continue to evolve, becoming faster and more accurate, leading to more sophisticated, varied applications and use cases.
We are seeing use cases previously only seen in sci-fi, such as real-time image recognition of faces in AR setups, or applications within medicine where a machine can automatically identify early signs of medical conditions from an X-ray or MRI scans without the requirement for a specialist doctor to interpret the results.
The main challenge with this technology is that these purpose-built image recognition models are as only as good as its training data, meaning that any application can be significantly impaired if not done correctly or done so without enough correctly labeled data.
Image search vs voice search
Despite the advances in image search and its current implementation, voice is likely to remain the preferred way to request information on demand in the future. We are likely to see image-based search complement voice, allowing for a richer way of interacting with AI assistants.
The Amazon Echo Look has aimed to actively integrate both voice and image search to create a unique value proposition, enabling a virtual assistant that can scan and suggest clothing outfits for its user. An algorithm combined with input from fashion experts is then able to make recommendations on styling, providing various ‘looks’ via its app on your smartphone. These are great examples of how voice and image search can work to enhance interaction between users and virtual assistants.
Outside the home, if integrated correctly on smartphones or wearable tech, image search may enable a new dimension of window shopping that hasn’t previously been seen before. Consumers could ‘bookmark’ something of casual interest for later viewing similar to ‘Shazaming’ a song.
Who will come out on top?
Comparing voice search to image search is like comparing a computer keyboard to a mouse. They each have their own place in a world where search and discovery will be predominantly underpinned through interactions with virtual assistants.
While Amazon may already be combining advanced uses for voice and image search, taking meaningful search market share away from Google will be difficult. Amazon’s early penetration of standalone smart assistant devices like the Echo and Echo Look, along with their ability to supply products directly to the consumer (supporting its retail business), poses a potential long-term threat to Google. The search engine has long been the de facto entry point to satisfy consumer demand for both information and products for many years.
However, Google’s success to date as a traditional search engine has come from the ability to retrieve the most relevant and concise results with both speed and precision. Its core strength in organizing information and their recent shift to being an AI first business will pose a serious challenge to Amazon’s early lead.
Google does not have the same level of vertical supply chain integration as Amazon to deliver the most seamless customer journey for purchasing physical products. But with its overall accuracy and speed of information retrieval (with the vastness of its knowledge graph), along with integration with its other online consumer services will see it come out on top, be it for voice, image or any other digital search medium in the future.
Web design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about how a site is put together under the hood. Design choices can have a big impact – positive or negative – on a site’s SEO. In turn, this can affect the site’s performance over its entire lifetime.
If you’re a professional web designer (or if you’re creating your own site from scratch), it’s important to know a few SEO basics – a little knowledge goes a long way to building sites that reach their intended audience. Understanding these 10 aspects of SEO will help you design sites that work well, in addition to looking great.
1. Site structure
Every site should be designed with a clear, logical structure in mind. The homepage should state the big picture purpose of the site – its reason for existing – and details should be broken down into subpages.
For example, if you’re designing a website for recipes, the home page could lead to separate category pages for dinners, soups, and desserts. Each of those subpages could then lead to individual recipe subpages of their own.
It’s fine to have several ‘layers’ of subpages on your site, but don’t go too deep or Google might have trouble crawling all of them. In general, try to keep your site’s depth to three or four layers. Here’s a visual from Moz of what a well-structured site looks like:
A site’s homepage should lead to its subpages, which lead to their own subpages, and so on.
2. URL structure
URLs affect a site’s SEO, so it’s important to choose good ones right from the start. Here are a few best practices to follow for URLs:
3. Site navigation
In addition to being well-structured, your sites should be easy for visitors (and Google) to navigate. A site menu should be located prominently at the top of the page or along the sidebar. Every page on the site should be findable. Avoid creating ‘orphaned pages’ that aren’t linked from any other pages on the site. If visitors can’t find a page by following links, search engines won’t know that page exists either.
4. Mobile-friendly design
The age of mobile is here, and responsive web design isn’t optional anymore. For a site to provide good UX and rank well, it needs to adjust for comfortable viewing on a small screen. If you haven’t already, make responsive design your default design mode. You can easily test the mobile-friendliness of your sites using this simple tool from Google.
5. Site speed
Along with mobile-friendliness, site speed is another UX consideration that affects SEO. Google penalizes slow sites in their rankings, and visitors are less likely to stick around if a page takes a few seconds to load. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can tell you how fast your sites are and what you can adjust to make them faster.
6. Titles, headers and meta descriptions
Titles, headers and meta descriptions are important aspects of on-page SEO. Every page on a site should have unique content in its <title> tag – in other words, don’t copy and paste the same title across your whole site. Each page’s title should include at least one keyword that’s relevant to the content on the page. Likewise, include keywords in the header tags on each page, especially the <h1> tag.
Meta descriptions – the blurbs that appear under links in SERPs – are a little different. They don’t directly affect SEO, but they do impact how many people click on your site in SERPs. They’re basically free advertising space, so put some thought into them, and include your main keywords to catch searchers’ eyes.
A couple examples of meta descriptions in Google.
7. Image optimization
Search engines cannot ‘read’ and understand images (yet), but you can tell them what your images are and what they refer to. Here are a few things you can do to optimize your images for SEO:
8. Use of Flash
In general, steer clear of Flash unless it is absolutely essential. Search engines can’t see or process Flash content, so for SEO purposes it doesn’t exist. It’s especially important not to use Flash for important parts of your site, such as the navigation bar and the main text on your pages.
9. Structured data
The jury is still out on whether structured data, such as schema markup, gives sites a boost in search engines. However, it can help to bring more high-quality traffic by providing valuable information to human searchers. Over time, this traffic boost can improve your rankings.
An example of how structured data shows up in Google’s results.
10. Site interface
Good SEO isn’t just about technical details; it’s also about helping people and providing great UX. While it’s important to pay attention to everything on this list as you work on a site, don’t let great design itself fall by the wayside – especially if you’re creating your own website with a free website builder. An attractive, easy-to-use interface will encourage visitors to stay on your site and make it easier for them to find what they need. This helps to keep your bounce rate down. An attractive site is great for a brand’s image, too.
SEO isn’t the niche specialty it used to be. Search engines are playing an increasingly important role in the future of the internet, and it’s important for people in other tech fields – such as web design – to be able to keep up. If you design your site with these crucial aspects of SEO in mind, the finished product will be both beautiful and functional.
Want to add something to this list? Share your SEO tips for web designers in the comments below.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is set to revolutionize how we process and store data in the digital age, with the aim of giving individuals more control of their personal data.
Google Analytics will act as the data processor and your organization as the data controller since your organization is in control of what data you send to Google Analytics once the Universal Analytics tracking code implementation is up and running.
This article will explore the steps Google Analytics is taking to become GDPR compliant, as well as what your business can do to make sure you too are compliant with GDPR.
What steps is Google taking?
Google recently released a statement declaring their commitment to compliance with data protection laws in line with GDPR. Google went on to explain that they have measures in place relating to privacy and data processing. For a comprehensive look at Google’s processing terms, you can learn more by reading their Google Ads Data processing terms, which is set to replace and supersede the Analytics Data Processing Amendment.
Google encourages data controllers to be vigilant about how they collect and handle data. Numerous GDPR-related guides online can help you to ensure you are knowledgeable about GDPR and the effects it could have on your company.
Google has updated Google Analytics with a new feature called ‘User and event data retention’. This feature allows the data controller to decide how long to store and retain data.
The feature relates specifically to data associated with cookies, user identifiers, or advertising identifiers. As the data controller, you can set a fixed time limit before expiry. You can also choose not to include an automatic expiry time limit.
The ‘User and event data retention’ feature is set to come into play on May 25— the day when GDPR regulations hit.
We have all opened emails and messages like this one lately regarding GDPR updates. Moreover, you might be tempted to ignore or delete it without paying it much attention. However, we strongly urge you to take your time to read the email that Google sent, and to review your user and event data retention setting in Google Analytics.
GDPR means securing your website is more important than ever
A great way to help secure your users’ data is to install an SSL certificate for your website. Adding a secure sockets layer certificate helps ensure that all data sent between the web server and the browser is secure. An SSL certificate also comes with the added bonus of being a ranking factor in Google’s SERPs.
Securing your website and securing client data is vital. Non-compliance could lead to hefty fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is the greater sum.
We know that many readers here at Search Engine Watch use a WordPress CMS for their websites.
For a comprehensive guide to securing a WordPress website, see here.
As if we didn’t already have enough to think about in any given SEO campaign, it is now imperative to separate and refine your approaches to mobile and desktop search.
While mobile has become hugely significant over the last couple of years, this shouldn’t be to the neglect of desktop. Although SEO for mobile and desktop follow the same basic principles and best practices, there are nuances and discrepancies that need to be factored in to your overall strategy.
Part of this is the keyword rankings: you won’t ever know how to adapt your strategies if you’re not tracking the rankings separately for each. Research from BrightEdge found that 79% of listings have a different rank on mobile devices compared with desktop, and the top-ranking result for a query is different on desktop and mobile 35% of the time. These are statistics that simply cannot be ignored.
Why do they do differ?
Before delving into how to compare keyword rankings on mobile and desktop, it’s first important to acknowledge the why and the what: why they are different and what it means for your SEO strategy.
It’s paramount to understand that desktop and mobile searches use different algorithms. Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best user experience for searchers, whatever device they are using. This means creating a bespoke device-tailored experience and in order to do that, we need to delve deeper into user intent.
It’s all about user intent
The crux of the mobile versus desktop conundrum is that user intent tends to differ for each device. This is particularly important when considering how far along the funnel a user is. It’s a generalization, but overall mobile users are often closer to the transactional phase, while desktop users are usually closer to the informational phase.
For example, we can better understand user intent on mobile by understanding the prevalence of local search. If a user is searching for a product or service on mobile, it is likely to be local. In contrast, users searching for a product or service on desktop are more likely to be browsing non-location-specific ecommerce sites.
Let’s also consider the types of conversions likely to occur on each device, in terms of getting in touch. Users on mobile are for more likely to call, by simply tapping the number which appears in the local map pack section. Alternatively, desktop users would be more inclined to type an email or submit a contact form.
What on earth is a micro-moment?
To better understand the different ways in which consumers behave, it may help to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with micro-moments. These refer to Google’s ability to determine a searcher’s most likely intent, and is particularly important for mobile users, when a consumer often needs to take immediate action.
For example, if a user is searching for a local product or service, the local map pack will appear, but if they are searching for information then the quick answer box will appear. These micro-moments therefore have a significant impact on the way the SERPs are constructed.
Once you’ve understood the user intent of a given searcher, you can ensure that you are providing content for both mobile and desktop users. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that content with longer word counts continues to perform well on mobile, despite the general consensus that people on mobile simply can’t be bothered to consume long form content. This harks back to Google’s prioritization of high quality content. Besides, anybody who has a long train commute into work will understand the need for a nice, long article to read on mobile.
With that context, we can now return to the matter at hand: rankings. Of course, you could record the rankings for both desktop and mobile the old-fashioned, manual way, but who has time for that? In short, any good SEO tool worth its salt will enable you to track both desktop and mobile rankings separately. Here are some favorites:
Rankings are only part of the picture
It’s important to remember that rankings are only a tiny part of the picture; it’s essential to take a more holistic approach to the mobile vs desktop issue. This means taking the time to dig around Google Analytics and unearth the data and meaning beyond the vanity metrics.
You may have higher rankings for mobile, but those users might be bouncing more regularly. Is this a reflection of the user intent or is it a poor user experience? Does higher rankings for one device correlate to higher conversions? If not, then you need to consider the reasons for this. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so you must take a tailored approach to your strategy.
Quick tips for differentiating your strategies
You’ve got your mobile and desktop rankings sorted. Now you need to create or amend your strategies for both devices. Here are some quick tips to do so:
In short, tracking your keywords on mobile and desktop is absolutely essential for both reporting accuracy and supporting separate SEO strategies for each device. But don’t stop there; it’s more important to understand why the rankings differ and how you can use that information to refine your SEO strategies.
Convertri isn’t for everyone! YIKES that’s a bad statement to make when your reading or writing a review post. Thing is though i want to be honest with you… it’s not. I’m going to break down this convertri review post into a few different sections so you can skim read through to see if this is […]
In 2017, ASOS introduced visual search on iOS, as a way of making product discovery easier and more interesting for their users. A year on, the Style Match tool, which trawls through an 85,000+ product inventory before matching products to the look in the image, has been rolled out worldwide across both iOS and Android.
ASOS has placed a big bet on visual search, and for good reason. Pinterest has reported a 100% year-on-year increase in Pinterest Lens users, with 600 million visual searches made every month.
The visual search ecosystem is also growing rapidly, with innovations from Google, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and Wayfair in just the last year.
With this proliferation of visual search adoption, could this cause a snowball effect in the retail industry as others look to jump on the trend? More interestingly, for us as search engine marketers, how will Google’s own visual search engine evolve to compete with retailers like ASOS, who could quickly become the default visual search engine for mobile shoppers?
A brief history of visual search
To understand how Google’s visual search engine could develop in the future, we need to step back in time to understand the progress they’ve made so far. In the last five years, Google has come a long way from being able to serve images that are mildly related to a search query. Now the algorithm is able to understand the context behind a query, so they can better serve image results that satisfy user intent. This has completely changed the retail landscape where image search was once only a source of inspiration. Google has enabled rich product results that attract those looking to buy through images too.
Made possible by Schema Markup, Google has taken the product page and bundled it inside an image. Product images now feature attributes such as pricing, availability, reviews and item descriptions, as well as including badges to encourage more users to click through to products from results.
Making the leap to lens
Following Pinterest’s launch of their visual discovery tool Lens, Google introduced their own ‘Lens’ equivalent at the I/O developer conference in 2017. It was later rolled out onto all Pixel phones as part of the Google Assistant, and more recently made available to all Android and iOS devices through the Google Photos app.
Right now, Google Lens isn’t geared towards retail. The main features are described as ‘saving information from business cards’, ‘recognizing landmarks’ and ‘looking up products by barcodes’. While this all sounds rather uninspiring for retailers, exciting times could soon be around the corner.
The launch of ASOS’s Style Match tool could be pivotal to this. ASOS is the first big UK retailer to invest significantly in this technology. As other retailers look to invest in a similar vein, Google will undoubtedly commercialize their own visual search offering to capitalize on a growing number of mobile users, inspired by image.
Preparing for an image-first future
Visual search is in its infancy, but we should prepare for a future where a search engine users’ first thought is image. Research by Moz in 2017 found that image search now makes up nearly 30% of all searches on Google, with image blocks in an estimated 11% of search listings.
Searching by text will remain the easiest way to access information for most. For retail, however, it doesn’t seem unrealistic to imagine a time when searching by image is more convenient than text. Visual searches will be favored by those that want to discover similar products, tailored to their own preferences.
If you’re inspired by an outfit on Instagram, the Google of the not-too-distant future might accurately display individual similar items from the outfit, with image results personalized by brand preference, availability, and budget.
Personalization is a challenge the ASOS visual tool intrinsically solves. Their users are already invested in ASOS – they have downloaded the app, they have purchased their products. This means that whenever a user searches by image, they’re going to see ASOS products, and probably like them. This is one of the biggest challenges facing Google, and ultimately why retailers like ASOS will influence the way personalized visual search evolves.
How to prepare?
To prepare for an image-first future, retailers need to adapt their websites to changing search behaviors. Here are four things retailers can do right now to get started:
Visual search is inherently mobile – we don’t take pictures on a desktop, so mobile should be at the forefront of a search strategy. Optimizing for image search in its current form should also prepare retailers for what’s to come.
Mobile is big news in 2018. Google looks set to roll out the mobile-first-index imminently, so retailers could face some challenges if they are not mobile-responsive. In the context of visual search, retailers need to be mobile because that’s where it happens. Images hosted on pages that are not mobile-friendly are less likely to show up in mobile image results.
Structured data is essential for rich product results to appear on images. This will still likely be the case as visual search expands on Google, so optimize now. There are four attributes that are required for a ‘product’ badge to appear in image results. These are:
The rankings of the host URL of the image tend to correlate with how the images rank themselves. With mobile page speed becoming a ranking factor as of July, reducing image size is the easiest way to improve load time and satisfy that facet of the algorithm.
Rankings aside, improving page speed is also incredibly important for user experience. Google found that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing increases by 123%!
Give Google the best chance possible to understand the contents of the product image. Images should be beautiful but functional. This means light backgrounds with the product center stage, as well as including only one product per image.
Image resolution and dimensions are important too. Google tends to exclude extremely large images, or images with unusual dimensions. If images are too wide and not tall enough, or too tall and not wide enough, there’ll likely be issues.
As the above suggests, it is never too early to start planning your digital strategy around visual search – especially in retail. Make the right start by making your site mobile-responsive, to give the best experience for your existing users. Then it’s time to review, refine and optimize your images, to unlock the vast potential the visual search market could have.
Andrew Charlton is Search Marketing Consultant at Silverbean
Bounce rate is a metric that gets a lot of press and for good reason. It often serves as a strong indicator that your website is not engaging the user, ultimately meaning that they leave a page without interacting with it (i.e. they ‘bounce’ off the page). However, like anything in SEO or digital marketing, improving your bounce rate is not a silver bullet. Yes, it should deliver results and deliver better results for other metric, but always keep in mind that the sum of all parts is far more important for an ROI-driven campaign.
For those of you who may be new to digital marketing, a “bounce” and “bounce rate” are defined by Google as:
Google’s full explanation is actually pretty good. It goes into some detail with regard to when a high bounce rate is indicative of issues, and when it might not actually be that bad. For example, if someone is looking for a quick answer they may not be interested in further reading, in which case a high bounce rate for that particular piece of content is acceptable. On the other hand, if the page has been designed to convert customers through additional information or calls to action, then a high bounce rate may be indicative of poor performance.
User intent and value permeate everything
Simply dictating x amount of steps to reduce your site’s bounce rate will no doubt be useful to a lot of people; however, in many cases it is just as important (if not more important) to understand the why instead of merely the what.
People click on links to web pages for a reason, even though that reason might be incredibly trivial. They may just be wanting to see the rest of that intriguing clickbait picture or understand if “what he did next” was truly unbelievable. The point is that there is always a user intent, no matter how large or small. Before you start investing time addressing some of the points below, you should have a good idea of user intent. As a result you will be able to offer value to your users.
It is imperative to understand who you are trying to attract (buyer personas) and what they are trying to achieve by visiting your webpage/website. This information is not only important in helping reduce your bounce rate, but is also absolutely critical to producing marketing campaigns and website designs that achieve your goals – by helping your visitors to achieve theirs.
It’s not just ‘on-site’ factors
This is not the first time that someone has written an article on bounce rates – far from it. In fact, this article is a refresh of a previous Search Engine Watch article. However, you will likely find that many of these articles will focus on your website. Factors such as design, calls to action and menu structure rear their heads time and time again, and for good reason: they impact bounce rates and should be addressed. But this is only part of the puzzle. The user is already on your site and they have come to your site for a reason. Furthermore, it is possible that they are now browsing a particular webpage because of the marketing campaigns that you use.
You must make sure that your webpage aligns to your marketing campaigns and vice versa. They both have equal responsibility in this alignment. Both your marketing campaigns and webpages should be created with the same overarching goals (and buyer personas), but this does not guarantee that they will work together seamlessly. You should review both in conjunction. You may find that adverts are misleading in relation to the content that is on the page, or conversely, that the content of the page needs to be reformatted and upgraded in order to back up the adverts.
This exercise will pay dividends far beyond improving your bounce rate. If executed correctly, it should improve your quality score in AdWords, help to attract higher converting users via SEO, and impact the success rate of your other digital channels.
Think: user experience
Everyone uses the internet. You are reading this article on the internet; you’re probably reading it on your phone. We are all users and as such, whether we are website designers or UX/UI, we should all be able to provide feedback on our user experience.
It’s is easier said than done – especially if you have been looking at the same website for a couple of years. You can often feel flat out of ideas, but a fresh perspective is invaluable; someone with a fresh eye would be able to spot issues and recommend changes far quicker.
Perhaps you don’t have the budget to hire a designer or marketer to critique your website. Perhaps the changes will be too small to justify the expenditure of time, effort and money to bring in external help. Whatever the case, here are some onsite tips on how to improve bounce rate as a refresh.
If you are still yet to address issues related to mobile users you better step on it. Mobile is no longer something that is on the horizon or soon to impact; it’s here and it is costing you. Google has already started rolling out its mobile first index and mobile overtook desktop in terms of internet usage in 2016.
If your website isn’t mobile responsive, or you have formatting issues on mobile, then read no further. If you take only one action from this article, then it must be: get your site mobile optimized.
You can have the greatest content in the world, but if someone leaves the page because it’s too difficult to read, then it isn’t worth much at all. Simple changes, such as increasing text size (especially for mobile) or line spacing, can have a real impact. Admittedly, we made the mistake of creating a blog that looked great when we re-launched our site last year. However, the grey text wasn’t easy to read, meaning that we had to subsequently changed the text color. This shows that just because something looks nice, it doesn’t mean that it is as functional as it could possibly be in achieving your goals.
Google states that some pages are likely to have a higher bounce rate than others owing to user intent. While this is certainly true, it is always a good idea to encourage further engagement with your website. As an example, a blog post may qualify for a higher bounce rate, but if you are invested in content marketing you will want the webpage to push users through a your defined inbound funnel.
Ensuring that there are clear calls to action to relevant content, internal linking, and a menu structure that doesn’t require a cod- breaker to decipher, will help contribute to a more positive bounce rate. In this way, addressing the initial issue of bounce rate could improve your conversion rate.
Intrusive ads should be banished
Have you ever landed on a webpage and immediately had to navigate a minefield of pop ups and adverts? How did you feel about it? Delighted or agitated?
The recently departed (from Moz) Rand Fishkin presented a very useful Whiteboard Friday on the subject. Google’s very clever, so if you can’t let go of annoying pop ups because they are delivering conversions, make sure that the user can quickly (very quickly) get back to the content they visited the page to read, view or listen to.
This has become even more important as mobile usage has skyrocketed. We live in a impatient society, expectant of instant access. It needs little explanation therefore, that if your site is painfully slow to load you increase the risk of users bouncing. There can be multiple factors affecting load speed, but common problems are low-cost shared hosting and high-resolution images. Of course, we want our images to look as good as possible, but a 20mb image on a page is going to cause some serious distress for the user.
Users are now more discerning than ever before. We are no longer operating in a world in which having a business website is a luxury – it is a necessity. In a landscape where industry competitors are likely to be increasing spend on digital, the way your brand (and content) is presented to prospects is paramount. As stated earlier, there is sometimes a balance between design and usability, but do not underestimate the impact a poorly designed website can have on your bounce rate and general performance of the website.
There are, of course, many more factors that could be discussed, assessed and improved on that would have a positive impact on your bounce rate. The truth of the matter is that addressing your user experience as a whole should positively impact your bounce rate(s). As digital marketers we can get trapped in a results-driven circle, but simply focusing on providing the very best for the user will deliver the results we are looking for.
Pleasure to introduce my self i am Sean Webb i am 27 years old from Manchester, UK.I am doing affiliate marketing and have spend lots of time learning how to rank easy to medium competition keywords. I have recently started PPL and Video Marketing and learning more about it.