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Are Press Releases Still Good For SEO?

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Every PR professional knows the power of the press release.

Whether you’re launching a new product, announcing a merger, or have any other notable information you want to share, the press release is a great way to distribute that information. 

But does it have any impact on your SEO efforts?

If you’ve been around long enough, you may remember when search engine optimizers used them as a way to pack keywords into their sites. Does that still work? 

And what’s more – if there is a link between search rankings and quality press releases, how do you walk that line between optimizing them for search engines while still adhering to journalistic guidelines?

Obviously, these are not simple questions to answer, but have no fear; we’re here to guide you.

Read on for more information about press releases and how to employ them as part of your online strategy. 

What Is A Press Release?

You probably already know that a press release is an official statement giving information to journalists about a noteworthy event.

It allows you to quickly distribute news (and help shape the narrative around it) to a network of journalists, with the ultimate goal of having it featured on a reputable news platform. 

Here’s an example of a press release from Google Cloud:

Screenshot from googlecloudpresscorner.com, August 2022Here’s an example of a press release from Google Cloud.

As you can see, this press release gives readers a quick overview of the news in a headline, fleshes out that information in the subhead, and then dives deeper into the details as the piece continues. 

Students and fledgling journalists are often instructed to write these in what is known as an “inverted pyramid,” where the most important information is given upfront. 

In case you hadn’t figured it out by now (and we’re sure you did), organizations send press releases for several reasons, including:

  • To build a reputation.
  • To gain media coverage.
  • To control a crisis – publishing your side of the story first is beneficial when things go wrong.

As media technology improved and we moved to a shorter news cycle, companies gained a new reason to send press releases: to gain links from reputable news sites.

And, therefore, boost SEO.

A (Brief) History Of Press Releases For SEO

While press releases have been around since 1906, when Ivy Lee released the first one to cover a railroad accident, they took on new importance in the digital age. 

And like everything that boosted SEO success, press release links started out well.

And then came the abuse. (Shocking, right?)

Once people figured out links from top-notch new sites could help with rankings, they began writing all kinds of press releases for all sorts of things – even on non-relevant events like hiring new employees (unfortunately, still common) or changing the color of their carpet. (True story. I seriously saw this one!)

All the spam led Google to notice and penalize sites that carried these links.

The result?

“Newswire” sites have added the nofollow attribute to links.

So yes, you can still get links from press releases.

But since they’ll be nofollow links, they may not help your SEO.

Here’s what Google’s John Mueller said about it in 2018:

“(W)e try to ignore links from things like press releases because we know, in general, companies put the press releases out themselves. So any links in there are essentially placed by themselves.

But if these links happen and they’re out there, it’s not something you need to worry about, because you can’t really take them all back.

I just wouldn’t rely on kind of press releases as a strategy for building up links for a website, because, like I said, we do ignore most of those.”

Are Press Releases Still Relevant Today?

So, if you’re not getting the SEO credit for links from news sites, is it still worth including press releases in your digital strategy?

Short answer: Yes. 

However, there’s one important thing you absolutely have to keep in mind. That is why you’re sending a press release.

Is it to:

  • Inform people of a big event your company is hosting?
  • Announce the release of a new product or service?
  • Gain attention for your brand?
  • Prevent a crisis from exploding?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these, then go ahead and write that press release.

But if you’re doing it to gain links for your new site, stop immediately.

Even if the “newswire” does link to you, the link may not do anything to help you on Google’s SERPs.

But here’s the thing: That last sentence isn’t strictly true. There is a way press releases can be used to boost SEO; it’s just not in the way you think. 

How To Optimize A Press Release To Benefit SEO

While press releases don’t directly impact search rankings, they can boost them indirectly.

For example, you could get featured on a news site and attract people’s interest.

Intrigued by your release, they flock to your site, thus boosting your traffic.

If they love your site, they’ll stay and click through to different pages.

And if your content is amazing, they’ll share it on social media or link to it on their own sites, gaining you (you guessed it!) quality links.

And these will boost your SEO.

So, spammy backlinks gained through low-quality news?

No.

A ton of traffic and backlinks from new fans?

Yes.

That’s how you “optimize” a press release for SEO.

How To Create & Share A Press Release

Now that you’ve been sold on the importance of using press releases in your digital marketing efforts, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating and sharing them. 

Writing them is a lot easier than you may think. To create your first one,  follow these three easy steps:

1. Do Something Newsworthy

No, changing the color of your carpet doesn’t count. Unless you work in the Oval Office – then it might be of some minor interest.

But “newsworthy” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “huge.”

You can simply host an event.

Or you can do a study on something your audience cares about.

You can also tweak a product or service to make it better.

Once you’ve decided on your newsworthy event, make sure to over-deliver.

Give it your all.

2. Write A Catchy Press Release

Start off with an attention-grabbing title your audience will care about.

Like this one from Starbucks.

Are Press Releases Still Good For SEO?Screenshot from stories.starbucks.com, August 2022Are Press Releases Still Good For SEO?

Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.

Journalists love when they can copy and paste directly from it when writing their story.

Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.Screenshot from media.wholefoodsmarket.com, August 2022Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.

Important tips to keep in mind when writing your press release:

  • Write in the third person.
  • Keep it brief (400-500 words is a great rule of thumb).
  • Add screenshots and other interesting media.
  • Get straight to the point (kill the fluff).
  • Speak straight to readers (cut the jargon).

3. Share Your Press Release With The Right Journalists

Whatever you do, don’t spam a hundred journalists, hoping that one of them will write about you.

Do your research first.

For instance, you just did a study that revealed that 56% of mothers are unhappy with their school’s lunch program.

Instead of distributing your press release to anyone whose email address you can dig up, find someone who writes in a related field.

Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.

Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.Screenshot from BuzzSumo, August 2022Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.

3 Successful Press Release Examples To Emulate

Ready to write your own press releases?

Check out these three examples for inspiration.

Mars’ Pledge Press Release

Mars’ Pledge Press ReleaseScreenshot from mars.com, August 2022Mars’ Pledge Press Release

This press release was so successful that several sites picked it up and wrote stories on it.

A number of sites picked it up and wrote stories on it.Screenshot from search for [Mars Zero Emissions], Google, August 2022A number of sites picked it up and wrote stories on it.

Boston Beer Company’s New Product Announcement

Boston Beer Company’s New Product AnnouncementScreenshot from bostonbeer.com, August 2022Boston Beer Company’s New Product Announcement

This press release from the Sam Adams brewer was so successful that several large sites, including CNBC, picked it up.

This press release from the Sam Adams brewer was picked up CNBC.Screenshot from cnbc.com, August 2022This press release from the Sam Adams brewer was picked up CNBC.

Vans’ “Stranger Things” Line

Vans' “Stranger Things” LineScreenshot from sneakernews.com, August 2022Vans' “Stranger Things” Line

Capitalizing on the Netflix hit show, Vans’ “Stranger Things” collection received a lot of coverage in sneaker trade publications, including Sneaker News. 

How To Use A Press Release For SEO

Hopefully, by this point, it’s been made clear: Press releases can be a useful tool for SEO, but only if they’re used correctly. 

Spamming media sites, journalists, and bloggers with releases for everything in the hope that you’ll receive some publicity aren’t going to help. 

On the other hand, if you’re contacting relevant (often niche) publications or other people who are likely to be interested in your newsworthy (never forget this point) event to attract traffic, fans, and following links, then they’re very useful.

Just remember what you’ve learned in this piece: Keep your releases relevant (again, no carpet color changes) and distribute them to the right people; they can play an important factor in driving your site higher up the rankings. 

More Resources:


Featured Image: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

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LinkedIn Professionals Share Their Best Unusual LinkedIn Marketing Hack

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LinkedIn is a great place to grow your business.

In the last 12 months, 93% of B2B marketers have used the platform the most to distribute content organically. LinkedIn also topped the same survey for producing the best results.

The same study reveals content marketers are also spending more on paid content promotion. The top platform where they’re spending? Linkedin.

Businesses can also use the network for marketing to and reaching potential customers. In fact, there are more than 1 billion interactions on LinkedIn Pages every month.

With these figures, there’s no denying the power of this social media platform to drive engagement and boost brand awareness.

Are you ready to take your LinkedIn marketing game to the next level but unsure where to begin?

Here are clever LinkedIn tips from seven LinkedIn pros to boost your marketing efforts.


Leverage LinkedIn Live

Thomas J. Armitage Thomas Armitage

Sales Executive, Site-Seeker

LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B playground. It’s like a professional conference that’s never-ending.

Live Streams, in particular, continue to be underutilized. That’s because people starve for valuable learning material.

With Live Streams, thought leaders can bypass the headaches typically involved in traditional webinar setups. No landing pages or sign-up forms are needed. You can easily promote the event through sharing and invitations, too.

Although you’ll need a third-party streaming software, most play nicely with LinkedIn.

And Live Streams are a great way to break the monotony of text posts and engage with your audience on a more personal level.

Make sure you identify a niche topic. Write a strong description that includes who the stream is for.

Invite users you know will find it worthwhile. And make sure to promote – both before the event, as well as after, since the full video will be available for playback.


Level Up Your Content Strategy

Adam Houlahan Adam HoulahanAdam Houlahan

LinkedIn Expert at Prominence Global, Author of “Influencer – The 9 Step Guide to Becoming Highly Influential in Any Industry”

The most effective strategy for LinkedIn lead generation that delivers consistent long-term results is Algorithmically Aligned Content.

Only 1% of the 850+ million members of LinkedIn share content regularly (weekly). Less than 1% of that 1% truly understand and share content that LinkedIn sees as valuable to its membership and organically promotes for you.

Share content that creates conversations on the platform and shows you are the authority in your area of expertise without solving your audiences’ problems for them.

I call it “Know How,” with “No How” content.

Consistently implement this content strategy, and your ideal clients will gravitate to you to solve their problems.

Felipe Bazon Felipe BazonFelipe Bazon

Chief SEO Officer, Hedgehog Digital

Back in 2017, I decided that the only social network that I would use professionally was going to be Linkedin.

Since then, I have been posting weekly (sometimes daily) posts related to SEO strategies, techniques, and insights.

This has helped build my network and reach decision makers who see my posts and get in contact through the platform or our website to fill in the contact form.

These leads that turned into clients have contributed to the exponential growth we have had since we opened up our office in Brazil.

Being a well-known SEO down here, I’ve exploited these to our advantage; all leads came from my personal account, not the company’s.

We do have a business page for U.K. and Brazil and do some Linkedin ads to promote some stuff, but it is through the personal profile that the magic happens.

Since then, my posts are averaging:

  • 4,000 views
  • 100 interactions (likes and comments)
  • Five to seven organic leads per month

My tips are:

  • Consistency and frequency. Aim for at least a couple of posts each week.
  • Avoid sharing links on your posts; leave them in the comments. This increases the reach of your posts by at least 30%. For instance, if you want to share a new article from the blog, do a post talking about the subject and say, “We’ve written a complete guide about X, and you can find the link to it in the comments.
  • Don’t be shy in sharing insights, thoughts, and results. The community loves these types of posts. These tend to get loads of interactions.

Optimize Your Page

Virginie Cantin Virginie CantinVirginie Cantin

LinkedIn Coach – VirginieCantin.com, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery”

My personal hack uses the experience section to highlight my services and activities. So instead of having a single job title such as “Founder,” I will have several job titles under my LinkedIn company page for each “hat” I’m wearing in my company.

I have a job title for my 1:1 coaching service, LinkedIn PEELING. Another job title is dedicated to my online course, LinkedIn BREAK-IN. Then, I use a separate job title to highlight that I’m a Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Last but not least, I have a fourth job title that aims at getting me found by people looking for speakers and podcast guests.

The beauty of having several job titles is that you can optimize every single one of them for the algorithm so that people looking for a specific service or author, or podcast guest can easily find you.

Andy Foote Andy FooteAndy Foote

Advanced LinkedIn Strategies Coach

LinkedIn makes it really difficult to know who your “Super Fans” and potential “Super Fans” are; it’s as if they don’t want you to build any kind of base.

You can see this with how they treat followers; they’re not ‘following’ at all – because an algorithm inserts itself between you and folks who have voted to see your content.

Fortunately, there’s software on the market (peakAboo by Daniel Hall) that provides juicy data on everyone who has commented on your LinkedIn posts. This helps me to know who solidly supports me and, more importantly, people who commented only a few times.

It’s the latter category I want to target and figure out a way to convert them into persistent supporters, a.k.a. “Super Fans.”


Prioritize Human-Centric Approach

Sandra Long Sandra LongSandra Long

LinkedIn Trainer & Speaker – Post Road Consulting, Author of “LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide”

Activate your employee team. Make sure your team’s LinkedIn profiles are co-branded and focused on client problem-solving instead of recruiter oriented.

Encourage the team to search and connect with coworkers, clients, and prospects. Train your team to build relationships with thoughtful, helpful comments and personalized messages.

Say no to automation. Train them to engage, inspire, and motivate their professional networks with valuable comments, original posts, and shared or reposted company page content.

Develop a company hashtag and communicate how to use it on LinkedIn. Most importantly, build your team’s confidence and make it fun!

Josh Steimle Josh SteimleJosh Steimle

Founder of the LinkedIn agency BlueMethod, Author of the WSJ & USA Today bestselling book “60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery”

LinkedIn helps me solve my biggest challenges as an entrepreneur, whether it’s sales, recruiting, or finding partners.

LinkedIn has easily produced millions of dollars in value for me.

Even though I wrote a book on LinkedIn with 60 tips in it, everything I teach in my book can be summarized in two words: Be human. It’s the best LinkedIn hack.

Too many are trying to imitate robots on LinkedIn by sending out spam messages, posting content but never engaging with commenters, and avoiding the time-consuming, truly creative work of one-to-one communication. But that’s where LinkedIn performs best!

When you use LinkedIn to talk directly with others, like a normal human being, that’s the moment when LinkedIn becomes indispensable.

Takeaway

As the world’s largest online professional network, Linkedin makes a remarkable addition to your social media marketing strategy.

Remember to take advantage of LinkedIn features and be consistent – all while offering value and nurturing relationships.

Armed with these tips, you’re bound to thrive on the LinkedIn feed and reap the rewards.

More Resources:


Featured Image: 1st footage/Shutterstock

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How to Manage WordPress Comment Notification Emails

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Do you want to improve your WordPress comment notification emails?

Comments drive discussion and user engagement on many blogs. However, WordPress doesn’t do such a great job when it comes to notifying users about comment activity.

In this article, we will show you how to better manage WordPress comment notification emails to boost user activity on your website.

Why Improve WordPress Comment Notification Emails

Comments are an important element of many WordPress websites, particularly on news sites and WordPress blogs. More comment activity means a more engaged audience which results in more page views and ultimately more revenue.

However, the comment system that comes with every WordPress website is fairly limited. It sends comment notifications only to site administrators and article authors. Apart from that, there isn’t a default option for other site users to be notified of new comments.

Wouldn’t it be nice if users were able to get comment notifications for the posts they like or when someone replies to a comment they left?

That said, let’s see how you can enhance the default WordPress comment system and notification emails for a more engaging user experience on your website.

The Default Comment Notification Options in WordPress

By default, WordPress does not have an option to send notifications to commenters.

However, it does have an option to send email notifications to site administrators when a new comment is published and when a comment is held for moderation.

You can view these options by going to Settings » Discussion from your WordPress dashboard and navigating to the ‘Email me whenever’ section.

Email me whenever settings

Both these notifications are only sent to the site administrators. However, WordPress also sends an email notification to the post author about new comments.

If you get a lot of comments on your website, you might not want to receive email notifications for all comments held for moderation. You can simply uncheck the box here to disable those.

How to Let Users Know When Their Comment is Approved

If a user’s comment is held for moderation, they will see a message telling them so. However, they will have no idea whether you approve it or not without returning to your site.

Unfortunately, many of these users never return to your website to check, so they won’t ever know that you approved their comments.

You can fix this by using the Comment Approved Notifier Extended plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Comment Approved Notifier Extended will notify users when their comment is approved. It works right out of the box, and there are no additional settings you need to configure.

You can also see our list of best plugins to improve WordPress comments.

How to Allow Users to Subscribe to Comments in WordPress

In addition to not knowing if their comment was approved, commenters will not be notified about replies, either.

Once they leave a comment, they will have to manually visit your website again to see if someone has replied.

To solve this, you need to install and activate Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin. For more details, see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

It allows your users to subscribe to comments on any article with or without leaving comments. Users can also easily unsubscribe at any time.

StCr settings in WordPress

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see our article on how to allow users to subscribe to comments in WordPress.

How to Allow Users to Subscribe to Just their Own Comments in WordPress

Many users may not want to receive notifications for all comments on an article. However, they may want to know if someone replied only to their own comments.

You can add this feature as well using the same Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin. First, you’ll need to install and activate the plugin. If you need help, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Next, simply visit the StCR » Comment Form in your WordPress dashboard. From here, click on ‘Yes’ next to the ‘Advanced Subscription’ option.

StCr settings in WordPress

Users will now see a new option under the comment box whether they’d like to subscribe to all comments or just their own comments.

For more details, see our article on how to notify users of replies to their own comments in WordPress.

How to Allow Authors to Subscribe to Other Author’s Posts

If you run a multi-author blog, then other authors may want to keep up with discussions across your website. If you already have comment subscriptions enabled, then each author can manually go and subscribe to comments.

However, if you want certain users to receive all comment notifications, then you can do this with Better Notifications for WordPress plugin. For more details, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once the plugin is active, you can head to Notifications » Add New from your WordPress dashboard and can enter a title for your notification at the top.

Next, you can select ‘New Comment’ from the ‘Notification for’ dropdown menu. After that, simply add the user roles that will receive these notifications in the ‘Send To’ field.

Comment notifications for certain user roles

The plugin also offers an option to send notifications to the post’s author and even exclude user roles from receiving email notifications for new comments.

How to Create Custom Comment Notification in WordPress

Want to create your own custom comment notifications in WordPress? Custom notifications can allow you to replace the default WordPress notification with your own.

First, you will need to install and activate the Better Notifications for WordPress plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit the Notifications » Add New page from your WordPress admin panel to create your custom comment notifications.

Create a custom notification

You can edit the notifications for new comments, comments awaiting moderation, and comment replies. Additionally, you can send notifications to any user role or to individual users.

The plugin also lets you add email addresses manually that are not even connected to a user on the site.

You have the option to completely customize the comment notification sent by WordPress and use shortcodes inside the email text to add custom tags.

For more details, see our article on how to add better custom notifications in WordPress.

How to Improve Deliverability of WordPress Email Notifications

All the above tips will fail if your WordPress site fails to send email notifications or if those emails are marked spam by email providers.

To fix WordPress email issues and improve email deliverability, you need to install and activate the WP Mail SMTP plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, visit the Settings » WP Mail SMTP page to configure plugin settings.

WP Mail SMTP settings

This plugin allows you to use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to send emails. SMTP is a much better and more reliable method than the default mail function used by WordPress.

It works with any email service that supports SMTP. This includes your free Gmail account as well as Google Workspace, Mailgun, and Sendgrid.

Choose Other SMTP as mailer

For details, see our article on how to use SMTP server to send WordPress emails.

We hope this article helped you learn how to manage WordPress comment notification emails. You may also want to see our ultimate step-by-step guide on improving WordPress speed and performance for beginners and how to start an online store.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Manage WordPress Comment Notification Emails first appeared on WPBeginner.



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WordPress Gutenberg 14.2 Offers Better User Experience

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Gutenberg 14.2 is released and available for download. The latest version features user interface improvements including an easier workflow and performance improvements plus new header and footer blocks.

All of the new features are incremental improvements that together help to make Gutenberg a more polished and intuitive site editor.

Better User Experience

Smarter suggestions for Query Loop block variations

This improvement provides a smoother editing experience by only showing relevant Query Loop block patterns.

Improvements to Writing Flow

Gutenberg now features a more intuitive writing flow.

Three improvements:

  • “The sibling and line inserters now feature a more natural animation effect.
  • Selecting multiple blocks is now more visually consistent.
  • The block inserter is now hidden when the user is typing, reducing visual clutter.”

Better Functionality

Letter Spacing in Headings

Letter spacing refers to the space that’s between each letter in a word.

Being able to adjust the space between letters is especially important for the heading elements because with some fonts the space can be too close together.

This new setting allows a publisher to adjust how much space their is using the Global Styles interface.

Screenshot of Heading Space Control for Gutenberg

Better Calendar Block

The calendar block gains more ways to adjust how it looks and functions.

The background, link and text colors are now be set for the calendar block.

It can also now inherit text colors from the parent block and colors can now be styled through the global styles.

Editor Performance Improvement

A bug was fixed in the Enhanced List Block feature.

The feature which was introduced in August 31, 2022 for Gutenberg 14.0 contained a performance issue when list items were nested within each other.

WordPress explains the problem and the fix:

“So, if a List item was inside of a List that was inside of another List block, that block would re-render 3 times! This problem has now been fixed and the initial load performance of the editor should be improved.”

New Features

New Block Pattern Categories

Gutenberg now features two new block pattern categories that correspond to banners and footers.

Banners are described by WordPress:

“Banners” here refers to visually distinctive elements that help structure or contrast the contents of a page (including headings and “hero” elements).”

Autocomplete Links in Blocks

Another new feature is the link autocomplete feature is available in any block. This used to be a feature that had to be activated through an opt-in but now it’s available by default in all blocks.

The feature is triggered with the “[[” shortcut.

Screenshot of Gutenberg Link Autocomplete in Blocks

Screenshot of Gutenberg Link Autocomplete in Blocks

Bug Fixes and Improvements

Aside from the above improvements and additions there are many more bug fixes and additional features that all cumulatively make Gutenberg a better site editor to use.

There are no big standout features, just a lot of improvements that will making creating sites with Gutenberg a better experience.


Citation

What’s new in Gutenberg 14.2?

Featured image by Shutterstock/Dean Drobot

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Drupal Warns of Critical High Severity Vulnerability

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Drupal issued two security advisories warning of a vulnerabilities affecting several versions of Drupal that could allow an attacker to access sensitive information.

There are two vulnerabilities currently affecting Drupal. One is rated as a high severity critical vulnerability.

Vulnerability in Third Party Library

Drupal uses a third party templating engine called Twig.

According to Drupal documentation:

“When your web page renders, the Twig engine takes the template and converts it into a ‘compiled’ PHP template which is stored in a protected directory…”

The Twig library is used by Drupal for templating but also for a process called sanitization, which is a way to prevent malicious files from being uploaded.

Twig describes the vulnerabilities as one that allows an attacker to use the filesystem loader to access sensitive files.

Drupal warns:

“Multiple vulnerabilities are possible if an untrusted user has access to write Twig code, including potential unauthorized read access to private files, the contents of
other files on the server, or database credentials.”

This vulnerability affects users of Drupal 9.3 and 9.4.

Recommended Course of Action for Mitigating Vulnerability

Users of Drupal 9.3 are recommended to update to version 9.3.22.

Users of Drupal 9.4 are advised to update to version 9.4.7.

Moderate Vulnerability

Drupal also warned of an Access Bypass vulnerability that is rated as moderate affecting publishers that use the S3 File System module for Drupal 7.x.

An access bypass vulnerability is one in which an attacker is able to bypass authentication barriers and access to an application and sensitive files that they should not
otherwise have access to.

The vulnerability is described as:

“The module doesn’t sufficiently prevent file access across multiple filesystem schemes stored in the same bucket.”

The advisory notes that this vulnerability is mitigated by several steps that need to be taken before an attacker can gain access.

The advisory explains:

“This vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that an attacker must obtain a method to access arbitrary file paths, the site must have public or private takeover enabled, and the file metadata cache must be ignored.”

Recommended Course of Action

Drupal users who use the S3 File System module for Drupal 7.x are advised to upgrade to S3 File System 7.x-2.14 in order to patch the vulnerability.


Citations

Drupal core – Critical – Multiple vulnerabilities – SA-CORE-2022-016

S3 File System – Moderately critical – Access bypass – SA-CONTRIB-2022-057

Twig security release: Possibility to load a template outside a configured directory when using the filesystem loader

Featured image by Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

 

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Are Title Tags A Google Ranking Factor?

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An association between page titles and Google search rankings exists as strongly today as in the early days of SEO.

People of all levels of SEO knowledge agree that optimizing page titles is vital to success in search.

And how could you argue?

Page titles are the most visible component of Google’s search results pages (SERPs); it’s easy to conclude they carry weight as a ranking factor.

But, more optimization is not necessarily better. Optimization can cross the line into manipulation. That’s when you’re writing for search engines before actual people.

Historically, Google devalues ranking factors when the level of manipulation reaches a point where it’s dragging down the quality of search results.

A prime example of this is domain names, which Google once valued so highly that it was difficult to rank without keywords in your URL.

That’s a thing of the past, and now it’s equally possible to rank with an obscure brand name in your URL as it is with a keyword-based domain.

As Google search matures, it’s logical to wonder if page titles may go in a similar direction. Will Google eventually get fed up with the spam and reduce the weight of the page title ranking factor?

Who knows what’s in store for the future, but we haven’t reached that point yet. There’s no question about Google’s algorithms considering page titles.

Instead, the questions around page titles are:

  • The extent to which title tags are valued.
  • How much they matter to the bigger picture of a website’s search optimization.

In this piece, we aim to answer those questions by investigating various claims and looking at on-the-record statements from Google.

[Deep Dive:] The Complete Guide To Google Ranking Factors

The Claim: Title Tags Are A Ranking Factor

A page title is the text that appears in the <title> tag within the <head> element of an HTML document.

Page titles are the most prominent and most visible element of a page snippet when conducting a Google search.

A page’s title also appears in the browser tab after clicking through a search result.

Page titles’ prominence in Google SERPs has led to persistent claims that they’re a strongly weighted ranking factor.

Is it possible these claims are overblown?

The Evidence For Title Tags As A Ranking Factor

Google unquestionably uses the HTML title tag to understand what pages are about so it can rank them in search results.

The company’s official SEO starter guide recommends unique, accurate, and brief but descriptive titles on all website pages.

But when it comes to the strength of page titles as a ranking factor, evidence suggests they’re only a mild signal.

Google’s John Mueller has stated that page titles are not critical for rankings, at least compared to the main content:

“We do use [the title tag] for ranking, but it’s not the most critical part of a page. So it’s not worthwhile filling it with keywords to kind of hope that it works that way.”

Mueller goes on to clarify that page titles are important for SEO, and they are a ranking factor.

However, they’re not so critical that overhauling a site’s page titles will significantly affect ranking positions. He said:

“Titles are important! They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they are definitely used as a ranking factor, but it is not something where I’d say the time you spend on tweaking the title is really the best use of your time.”

Mueller addressed this again on another occasion, reiterating that page titles help Google understand what a page is about but are not critical to determining rankings.

“… if you’re talking about ranking changes so strong that you’re seeing them overall, then I think just tweaking titles and meta tags are not going to give you what you’re looking for. Tweaking titles and meta tags makes it easier for us to recognize what is actually on a page, but it’s not going to change the overall visibility of the website significantly.”

With all this taken into consideration, it’s clear that page titles remain essential for SEO.

But in the hierarchy of today’s ranking factors, title tags are nowhere near the top.

[Discover:] More Google Ranking Factor Insights

Our Verdict: Title Tags Are A Ranking Factor

Are Title Tags A Google Ranking Factor?

Page titles are a confirmed Google ranking factor, with evidence suggesting the strength ranges from mild to moderate.

A title tag is a tool for communicating what a page is about to Google.

It helps search algorithms understand what category the page fits into and which queries it may be able to answer.

From there, Google uses more critical factors, such as the main content, to determine a page’s ranking.

To be sure, it’s worth taking the time to write out titles for every page.

Websites can struggle to gain any ground in search results without unique page titles as a bare minimum optimization.

Did The Page Title Update Impact Search Rankings?

Since we published the first version of this ebook, Google released an update on how it generates page titles in search results.

Google replaces page titles in SERPs when the provided title isn’t relevant to a user’s query.

Specifically, this happens when the main content is relevant, but the title doesn’t directly speak to what a user typed in the search bar. Google will replace the page title with a piece of text more likely to catch the searcher’s attention.

Indeed, this impacts the appearance of search results but doesn’t impact rankings.

Google confirms it uses original page titles for search rankings even when replaced in SERPs. There’s no need to worry about your optimization efforts going to waste.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.


Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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YouTube Searches For Health Topics To Show Personal Stories

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YouTube is updating the way it delivers search results for health-related queries, adding a section dedicated to personal stories from patients.

In an announcement, YouTube says it’s making this change in response to the way people search for videos related to health conditions.

“Many times, people aren’t coming to YouTube with a health question at all,” YouTube says. “Instead, they come with a human question: how do I live with this?”

YouTube search patterns indicate people living with chronic health conditions don’t always come to the site seeking information. They look for support from others who are going through the same thing.

“… they were all getting at the same human element: we help each other get through things. The need for connection and belonging is a universal one, and that’s proven with data – the science of peer support shows that social connectedness positively impacts both physical and mental health.”

YouTube Personal Stories Shelf

To foster the type of connection people seek, YouTube is launching a personal stories shelf in search results.

When you search for topics related to a health condition, YouTube will return a carousel of videos with people sharing personal stories about the condition.

The personal stories shelf is interspersed with other search results, as you can see in the example below:

Screenshot from: https://blog.youtube/news-and-events/answering-the-human-questions-on-your-healthcare-journey/, September 2022.YouTube Searches For Health Topics To Show Personal Stories

 

For a video to be eligible to appear on the shelf, it must focus on a personal, authentic lived experience that is relevant to a specific physical or mental health condition.

Promotional content, or content that spreads misinformation, is not eligible for the personal stories shelf.

YouTube says the personal stories shelf will first start rolling out for queries related to cancer and mental health topics like anxiety and depression.

The Personal Stories shelf is available for users in the US, but YouTube plans to expand it to more markets and more types of queries.


Source: YouTube
Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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