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Data Protection Law May Benefit Businesses

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United States President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order this month to implement the European Union (E.U.) & United States data privacy framework known as Privacy Shield 2.0.

Privacy Shield 2.0 reestablishes a legal way for personal data to flow from the USA to Europe. The Executive Order follows more than a year’s talks between American and European negotiators.

Additionally, Privacy Shield 2.0 follows two rejections of previous transatlantic data transfer agreements by the E.U. Court of Justice — one in 2015 and the other in 2020.

To understand better what the new data privacy framework means for businesses, it helps to know how and why the Privacy Shield 2.0 agreement came about in the first place.

Here’s a timeline of events leading up to the signing of the Executive Order, followed by an analysis of how the framework may assist businesses.

Privacy Shield 2.0: Timeline Of Events

  • 2000: U.S. & E.U. established the Safe Harbor Framework to protect data transfers between the United States and Europe.
  • 2013: Edward Snowden blows the whistle on a mass surveillance program in the U.S. called PRISM.
  • 2014: European privacy activist Max Schrems files a complaint against Facebook with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. The case is known as Schrems I.
    • European privacy laws forbid data transfers to non-EU countries unless the company can guarantee adequate protection.
    • The original complaint was rejected, and he appealed the decision to the E.U. Court of Justice.
  • 2015: E.U. Court of Justice rules that the US-EU Safe Harbor Framework is no longer sufficient due to the PRISM surveillance program.
    • The ruling means the transfer of personal data between the E.U. and the U.S. was no longer allowed.
  • 2016: U.S. and E.U. adopt another data transfer agreement called the Privacy Shield.
    • The agreement remained in place for four years before Schrems filed another case known as Schrems II.
  • 2020: Schrems wins his second case. The E.U. Court of Justice strikes down Privacy Shield 1.0 after deciding that U.S. surveillance programs go beyond what is necessary and proportional.
  • 2022: On March 25, U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed a political agreement on a new transatlantic data privacy framework. The deal is referred to as Privacy Shield 2.0.
  • 2022: On October 6, President Biden signed Executive Order to implement Privacy Shield 2.0.

Biden and Von der Leyen’s new transatlantic data privacy framework agreement promises to implement new safeguards to ensure that U.S. intelligence activities are “necessary and proportionate in the pursuit of national security defiant objectives.”

The new framework will also allow E.U. citizens to take action if they believe U.S. intelligence activities are unlawfully targeting them.

Privacy Shield 2.0 allows E.U. citizens to take privacy complaints to a data protection review court made up of individuals outside the U.S. government. The review court has the final decision on the legal use of data.

What Does Privacy Sheild 2.0 Mean For Businesses?

Many companies with a presence in the United States and Europe are in support of Privacy Shield 2.0, as it renews a data protection relationship worth 7.1 trillion U.S. dollars.

Meta is one of those companies, which is ironic considering Facebook’s handling of personal data led to the old framework getting struck down.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, states on Twitter (in response to the news of Biden signing the Executive Order):

“We welcome this update to US law which will help to preserve the open internet and keep families, businesses and communities connected, wherever they are in the world.”

Personal data is highly valuable to companies with advertisers who utilize said data, so it’s no surprise Meta favors the data pipeline opening up again.

U.S. businesses running ads on Facebook may benefit from the ability to deliver more personalized advertising to European customers.

To that end, the framework may assist all US-based companies that do business overseas. Data is the lifeblood of any successful marketing and advertising campaign, and U.S. businesses can now legally collect more data from their European audience.

Linda Moore, President and CEO of industry group TechNet, also stated support for Privacy Shield 2.0:

“We applaud the Biden Administration for taking affirmative steps to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of American and European cross-border data flows and will continue to work with the Administration and members of Congress from both parties to pass a federal privacy bill.”

To further illustrate what this framework means for businesses, it’s important to point out what they stand to lose without a data privacy agreement.

Mikołaj Barczentewicz, a Senior Scholar of the International Center for Ław & Economics (ICLE), highlights the implications of delaying the agreement any further:

“It is urgent that agreement on an effective Privacy Shield be reached expeditiously, as EU citizens already face the potential to lose access to services like Google Analytics and Facebook, not to mention the potential disruption to financial services like insurance and payments networks.

What will be crucial is that the U.S. proposal addresses the two aspects the EU expects to be covered: redress for EU citizens and assurances that U.S. data-surveillance practices are ‘necessary and proportionate.’ We can hope that the EU courts will be reasonable, but litigation is all-but-certain.”

What Happens Next?

The Executive Order signed by President Biden will now be submitted to a ratification process by the European Commission.

There’s no telling how long the process will take, as the Executive Order could face legal challenges in Europe.

We’ll continue to follow this story and provide an update when more information is available.


Additional sources: Whitehouse.gov (1, 2), IAPP.org, ec.europa.eu.

Featured Image: J_UK/Shutterstock

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11 Things You Should Do When Inheriting a WordPress Site

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If you have just inherited an existing WordPress site, what should you do first?

Whether you’re a business owner who recently acquired a new website or an office assistant who’s inheriting your company’s existing website from another team member, you might be wondering what the most important next steps are.

In this article, we will show you the top things you need to do when inheriting a WordPress site.

Things to do when inheriting a WordPress site

What Challenges Could You Face When Inheriting a Site?

Inheriting a new WordPress website brings a lot of challenges.

Whether you’ve acquired it from another business or assigned a company website, getting up to speed with the workflow and familiarizing yourself with WordPress can take time.

Similarly, running a website requires other tools like email marketing software or third-party plugins. When inheriting a website, you should have login credentials to all the software.

Other than that, your newly inherited website might not be secure. One of the best practices is to create a backup and scan your site for threats. This will help highlight areas that could lead to a potential attack and allow you to fix them quickly.

That said, let’s look at the things you should do when inheriting a new WordPress site. You can click the links below to jump ahead to your preferred section:

1. Get All The Passwords

Update all the passwordsUpdate all the passwords

When inheriting a WordPress site, the first thing you must do is gather all the username and password information.

This includes your web hosting password, FTP password, CDN password, domain management password, email marketing service password, and password to all third-party premium plugins or services that the website is using.

We suggest scheduling a video call with the old developer or site owners because they can explain everything in detail.

The best way to manage all your website passwords is by using a password manager. We recommend using LastPass because it works with all your devices and allows storing passwords in a group, sharing them securely, and using stronger passwords.

2. Change All Admin Password and Emails

Once you have received all the passwords, you need to change them.

This ensures that the previous developer or site owner cannot modify anything. Another thing you want to do is update all admin contact emails so only you can reset passwords in the future.

You can do this by going to the Users » All Users page in the WordPress admin area and editing all user passwords along with contact details.

Add new users to WordPressAdd new users to WordPress

Next, you need to change the WordPress site admin email address. WordPress uses it to send important website notifications.

Simply go to the Settings » General page and enter a new email address.

Change admin email addressChange admin email address

Note: We recommend installing WP Mail SMTP before changing emails to make sure all emails all of the notification emails reach their recipient.

3. Take Notes and Familiarize Yourself

Take notes when inheriting a websiteTake notes when inheriting a website

Before making any other site changes, taking notes and familiarizing yourself with the website is vital. If you’re unfamiliar with WordPress, see our beginner guide on what is WordPress.

It is very important that you understand the importance and functionality of each WordPress plugin used on the website.

You would also want to review theme settings and the widgets you use.

You can take notes of different functionalities, features you would like to change, and more.

Note: Please write all these notes down in Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, or somewhere else so you won’t lose them.

This information will help you understand everything. If you need help understanding something, then you can try contacting the previous owner or developer.

4. Setup an Automated Backup Solution

Backup your websiteBackup your website

Backups are your first layer of defense against any online mishap. The previous site owner may have their own backup plugins set up, which may be storing backup files in one of their remote storage accounts.

You would want to set up your own backups. There are plenty of excellent WordPress backup plugins that you can choose from.

You need to make sure that you set up your backups on a remote location like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

You also need to create a complete WordPress backup before making further changes to your website. This would help you revert your website in case anything goes wrong.

5. Update User Roles and Permissions

If you are a developer working on a website, then you’ll need to work with your client to assign user roles and permissions to their team.

Your goal should be to limit the administrator user role to people who actually need to perform admin tasks. These tasks include things like changing the theme, installing new plugins, or adding new users to the website.

To change a user role, simply go to Users » All Users from your WordPress dashboard and edit a user profile. Next, scroll down to the ‘Role’ section and select the user role you wish to assign.

Edit user roles in WordPressEdit user roles in WordPress

If you are working on your own site, then you will need to review user access. Create a new user account for your authors if required.

If there are older author and editor accounts that you will not be working with, then you need to edit those user accounts and change their email address and password. See our guide on how to disable user accounts without deleting them.

6. Run Security and Performance Scans

Run scans and secure your siteRun scans and secure your site

Next, you need to make sure that your new WordPress website is secure and performing well.

For security scans, we recommend using Sucuri. It is the best WordPress security plugin on the market and allows you to easily scan your website for malicious code, security threats, and vulnerabilities.

You can see our ultimate WordPress security guide for more details.

For performance, you can use any of the online website speed test tools. We recommend using the IsItWP website speed test tool, which is easy to use and gives you a detailed overview of your website speed.

It is also important that you check to see that caching is configured properly.

Many WordPress hosting companies like Bluehost and SiteGround offer built-in caching solutions that you can turn on from your hosting account. You can also use a WordPress caching plugin like WP Rocket to instantly improve your website speed.

If the site is not running a CDN, then you should consider using a CDN service. Although this is not required, we always recommend users to use a CDN. For more details, see our guide on why you should use CDN.

For more tips and tricks, you may want to see our ultimate guide to boost WordPress speed & performance.

7. Check for Proper Tracking and SEO Integration

Set up website trackingSet up website tracking

If you have inherited the ownership of a new website, then the old website owner may have transferred the Google Analytics property to you.

A lot of website owners simply add the Google Analytics code to their WordPress theme. This code disappears as soon as you update the theme or install a new one.

Make sure that Google Analytics is properly installed on the website by either using MonsterInsights or by adding the tracking code outside the WordPress theme.

Similarly, they may have also transferred Google Search Console property to you as well.

Make sure that your site has XML Sitemaps in place for the search console. You may also want to look at Google Search Console reports to make sure there are no crawling issues or errors on the site.

We recommend using All in One SEO (AIOSEO) because it is the best SEO plugin for WordPress. You can easily optimize your site for search engines without hiring an expert.

8. Implement Version Control and/or a Staging Site

Implement version controlImplement version control

If you’re a developer, then it is highly recommended that you implement version control for the site. It is fairly easy to use GitHub or BitBucket.

If you’re not a developer, then at the very least we recommend setting up a WordPress staging site that ensures that you have a stable testing environment before pushing things live. We recommend this step for all users.

For those who’re scared to set this up, then WP Engine, a managed WordPress hosting provider, offers a robust staging environment and git version control integration.

Other small business hosting providers like SiteGround and Bluehost also offer staging features at affordable prices.

9. Run a Website Clean up

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the project, it is best to clean out all the unnecessary things. Delete all inactive themes and plugins. Delete all user accounts that are not needed.

Log in to your WordPress database and optimize it. Some bad plugins leave their database tables even after they’re deleted. If you notice any of those, then it is best to delete them.

See our beginner’s guide to WordPress database management to safely optimize the WordPress database.

10. Review Plugin Settings

Review plugin settingsReview plugin settings

A typical WordPress website uses several plugins that may still be referring to old owners. If you have taken ownership of a website, then you would want to change that.

For example, the contact form plugin on the website may still be sending notifications to old email addresses. WordPress SEO plugin may still be pointing to previous owners’ social media profiles.

You can discover some of these things by looking at the website and testing all its features. You can also review plugin settings and update them if needed.

11. Upgrade Your Hosting Service

Upgrade your website hostingUpgrade your website hosting

After running the website speed test, if your website is still slow despite using caching, then it is time to upgrade your hosting.

If it is a client website, then your performance tests should help you convince the client to move. If you own the website yourself, then you just need to choose the right web host.

We recommend using SiteGround or Bluehost as they are one of the biggest hosting companies and officially recommended WordPress hosting providers.

If your website has outgrown shared hosting, then you may want to consider using a managed WordPress hosting service like WP Engine.

See our guide on how to move WordPress to a new host for step-by-step instructions to move your website.

We hope that this article offered some insights on what you should do when inheriting a WordPress site. You may also want to see our guide on the best WooCommerce plugins and the ultimate WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

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.



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6 Best SEO Rank Tracker Tools for Keyword Tracking (Compared)

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Are you looking for the best SEO rank tracker tool for keyword tracking?

A search engine results page (SERP) tracking tool helps you track your website’s SEO position for specific keywords. It shows you changes in keyword positions and allows you to compare them with your competitors.

In this article, we’ll share our expert pick of the best SEO rank tracker tools for keywords.

6 Best SEO Rank Tracker Tools for Keyword Tracking (Compared)

Why Should You Use a SERP Keyword Tracking Tool?

A SERP keyword tracking tool can help you put your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy on the right track. It lets you monitor keyword rankings for different pages to see what’s working in your business.

If your keyword rankings are going up and your organic traffic is increasing, then it means your SEO efforts are working. On the other hand, these SERP tracking tools will immediately notify you when your keyword rankings drop.

This allows you to quickly implement a fix, so you don’t lose any sales revenue.

Another benefit of using rank-tracking tools is that you can keep an eye on your competitors. You can see which search terms they are ranking on and find new keyword opportunities for your WordPress website.

That being said, let’s take a look at the best rank tracker tools that you can use to grow your business.

1. Semrush

The Semrush SEO toolThe Semrush SEO tool

Semrush is the best rank tracker tool for monitoring your keyword rankings. It is a complete SEO toolkit and is preferred by many digital marketing professionals.

This is the tool that we use for WPBeginner and our other companies.

With help of Semrush’s position tracking feature, you can track and monitor the movement of your site’s keyword rankings. The tool also shows which search terms are in SERP features such as featured snippets, Google sitelinks, and knowledge panels.

Semrush gives you an overall landscape of your rankings by showing you how many search terms are in the top 3, 10, 20, and 100. You can even see your ranking distributions over time.

Semrush Position Tracking ToolSemrush Position Tracking Tool

Another powerful feature of Semrush is that you can track your competitor’s keywords as well. You can add up to 10 competitor URLs and track their search engine performance.

Plus, you can use Semrush to perform keyword research, find backlink opportunities, conduct a detailed competitor analysis, find paid keywords, track social media performance, and more.

Pricing: WPBeginner users get a free 7-day trial of Semrush. Paid plans start from $119.95 per month.

2. Ahrefs

AhrefsAhrefs

Ahrefs is another excellent rank tracker tool. Similar to Semrush, it is also a comprehensive SEO and digital marketing platform.

With the help of its Rank Tracker feature, you can add your website or connect your Google Search Console account with Ahrefs to import projects. Next, you can add the keywords you want to track to your Ahrefs dashboard.

Ahrefs shows you an overview of your search engine rankings. You can see your visibility percentage, average position, traffic, SERP features, and changes in position.

Ahrefs OverviewAhrefs Overview

For each keyword, you can see their current position, search volume, total traffic, keyword difficulty, and whether the keyword is in a SERP feature like the People also ask section.

You can add up to 10 competitors in the Ahrefs Rank Tracker tool and compare them with your own website. However, if you are looking for more in-depth competitor analysis, then we suggest using its other features.

For instance, you can enter a URL in the Site Explorer and find the number of backlinks, organic keywords, and identify content gaps.

Similarly, you can use Ahrefs for conducting a site audit, use the Keyword Explorer for researching search terms for your content, and more.

Pricing: Ahrefs prices start from $99 per month.

3. MonsterInsights

The MonsterInsights Google Analytics pluginThe MonsterInsights Google Analytics plugin

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to easily set up Google Analytics in WordPress and view the data you need without leaving your WordPress dashboard.

MonsterInsights helps you monitor keyword rankings inside the WordPress admin area. You can view the Search Console report to see your site’s top 50 Google search terms and where you rank for them.

It will also show the number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and the average position for each keyword. This helps you optimize your website and boost rankings.

For instance, if you find content that ranks at the 11th or 12th position, then you can optimize those articles to bring them to the first page.

Search console reportSearch console report

Note: You will need to connect Google Search Console with Google Analytics in order to unlock these reports in MonsterInsights.

Pricing: The MonsterInsights Search Console report is available in its Plus plan, which costs $99.50 per year.

4. SERPWatcher by Mangools

SERPWatcher by MangoolsSERPWatcher by Mangools

SERPWatcher by Mangools is a powerful SEO toolkit that allows you to easily track SERP for your business. You also get access to their SERPChecker, Link Miner, Keyword finder, and Site Profiler tools, which makes Mangools a good alternative to some pricey SEO platforms.

It is a user-friendly tool and you can get started in just a few minutes. Simply add your website, select a location you want to track, select the platform (desktop or mobile), and then enter your keywords.

In the SERPWatcher report, you get a detailed picture of how your website is performing in SERPs. It shows you each keyword’s ranking, change in positions, average position, best position, search volume, and estimated visitors per month.

serpwatcher serp tracking reportserpwatcher serp tracking report

In addition, you can also view your site’s performance index, estimated visits, keyword distribution, and position flow.

SERPWatcher allows you to get daily ranking updates through email alerts. This helps you stay on top of any changes that might occur in the SERPs and act quickly.

Pricing: SERPWatcher prices start from $29.90 per month.

5. SE Ranking

SE RankingSE Ranking

SE Ranking is another great tool to monitor SERPs for your business. It is very easy to use and helps you keep your SEO strategy on track.

Using its Keyword Rank Tracker feature, you can monitor your website’s search terms on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, and YouTube. SE Ranking also lets you track keywords based on geographic locations and devices.

To start, you can use the SE Ranking wizard by entering your site’s URL, add keywords you want to track, and specify the search engine and country.

You can even add up to 5 competitors for tracking and connect the tool to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.

When you have added your website and keywords, you can use SE Ranking’s dashboard to monitor rankings, view historical data, track competitors, and much more.

SE Ranking DashboardSE Ranking Dashboard

In addition to tracking your search terms, you can use SE Ranking to analyze your traffic, measure SEO potential, create a marketing plan in real-time, conduct website audits, monitor backlinks, and more.

Pricing: SE Rankings prices start from $23.52 per month to track 250 keywords weekly.

6. Serpstat

SerpstatSerpstat

Serpstat is the last SERP tracking tool on our list and is an all-in-one SEO solution. You can use it to analyze your website, conduct keyword research, find backlinks, and monitor keywords.

The tool offers a clean dashboard where you can control all your settings and perform different actions. To track your search term rankings, go to the Rank Tracker option.

After that, create a new project, enter your website details, select your search engine options, and add the keywords you want to monitor.

Serpstat lets you view the position changes of your search terms, compare them with your competitors, group your keywords, and much more from your dashboard.

Serpstat DashboardSerpstat Dashboard

Compared to other tools on our list, SERPStat offers more visual reports and an intuitive dashboard. You get graphs and charts that give you a birds-eye view of your reports which you can further drill down.

However, the tool is not the most beginner-friendly and it can take some time to get used to its interface and navigate through its options.

Pricing: Serpstat prices start from $69 per month.

Which Is the Best SEO Rank Tracker Tool (Expert Pick)

We believe that Semrush is the best SEO rank tracker tool in the market. It is an all-in-one SEO toolkit that is easy to use, offers lots of features, and easily tracks keywords.

Semrush is trusted by many marketing professionals, and you can use it for finding keywords, backlinks, analyzing your competitors, monitoring your social media campaigns, tracking paid advertising campaigns, and much more.

Our team uses Semrush for keyword tracking for the WPBeginner website and all of our businesses.

We hope this article helped you find the best rank tracker tools for SERP tracking. You may also want to learn how to choose the best WordPress hosting, or see our list of the best WordPress plugins for business websites.

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.



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Is Domain Name A Google Ranking Factor?

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Remember the early days of the internet?

You could spend all day chatting with your friends on AOL messenger while you played solitaire on Yahoo games. And then your mom picked up the phone to make a call, and you were kicked off the web. Good times.

In those days, if you were doing some shopping, there was a good chance you were doing it on a site with an exact match domain (EMD). For example, if you needed a dog collar, you’d probably end up on a site with an address like www.buydogcollars.com.

In those primitive days of search engine optimization, it was common for companies to put their exact target keyword phrase right in their domain URL.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you feel about EMDs), scammers and bad actors took advantage of this, snatched up many of these domains, and linked them to low-quality sites.

So, what’s true today? Does your domain name have an impact on search results?

Let’s take a closer look at the debate.

[Download:] The Complete Google Ranking Factors Guide

The Claim: Is Domain Name A Ranking Factor?

Having an exact match domain used to be a big deal.

In 2010, CarInsurance.com sold for $49.7 million: still the most expensive domain name purchase of all time. So clearly, someone valued domains with that keyword.

It was (and sometimes still is) common for people in the SEO industry to advocate for EMDs. The claims around them usually being that they instantly generate credibility and generate a competitive edge.

But remember those bad actors we talked about in the last section? Eventually, Google got wise to their keyword-stuffing URLs and changed its algorithm to discount them. But that’s not to say your website’s domain name does not affect SEO.

The Evidence: The Impact Of Domain Names On SEO

There is a lot of mixed information about domain names and their impact on rankings.

There’s no question that domain names played a role in rankings at one point.

In a 2011 Webmaster Hangout, Matt Cutts, a software engineer on Google’s Search Quality group, acknowledged the role EMDs played in the tech giant’s search algorithm.

However, he also stated:

“And so, we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.”

And just one year later, in 2012, Cutts tweeted that low-quality exact match domains would get reduced visibility in search results.

Finally, in 2020, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller revealed keywords in domain names no longer play a role in determining search engine results rankings.

Answering a question if keywords in domain names impact rankings during an Ask Google Webmasters video, he said, “In short, no. You don’t get a special bonus like that from having a keyword in your top-level domain.”

But this doesn’t mean that domain names are unimportant. They’re just not direct ranking factors.

Learn more about Google Ranking Factors in our 2nd Edition ebook.

Our Verdict: Your Domain Name Is Not A Ranking Factor, But Is Still Important

Is Domain Name A Google Ranking Factor?

Now that we’ve established that domain names are NOT a part of your overall search engine rankings, SEO professionals can just forget about them, right?

Absolutely not.

Your choice of a domain name can be an important aspect of your UX and public image. Your domain name should usually be the most recognizable aspect of your business. Sometimes that’s not your business name but a particular brand or trademark.

You may want to consider subdomains or even separate domains for different properties. If you sell products that resellers carry, this can help your customers find you more easily.

Using keywords in your domain doesn’t help in terms of search ranking; if not done correctly, it could even hurt your SEO.

But, if your branding is heavily focused on a particular service or product, including a keyword in the domain could help users understand what you’re about at a glance. A carefully placed keyword could also help attract audiences likely to convert.

Don’t be afraid to use a keyword if it’s highly relevant or part of your branding.

So, here’s the TL;DR: Your domain name doesn’t directly impact your Google ranking but provides opportunities for savvy web marketers to reflect their brand’s values and create more positive user experiences.

For more help choosing a domain name, check out Roger Montti’s advice.


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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7 Ways To Use Google Trends For SEO & Content Marketing

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Google Trends is a surprisingly useful tool for keyword research, especially when using advanced search options that are virtually hidden in plain sight.

Explore the different Google Trends menus and options and discover seemingly endless ways to gain more keyword search volume insights.

Learn new ways to unlock the power of one of Google’s most important SEO tools.

The Value Of Google Trends

While Google Trends is accurate, it doesn’t show the amount of traffic in actual numbers.

It shows the numbers of queries made in relative percentages on a scale of zero to 100.

Unlike Google Trends, paid SEO tools provide traffic volume numbers for keywords.

But those numbers are only estimates that are extrapolated from a mix of internet traffic data providers, Google Keyword Planner, scraped search results, and other sources.

The clickstream data usually comes from anonymized traffic data acquired from users of certain pop-up blockers, browser plugins, and some free anti-virus software.

The SEO tools then apply a calculation that corresponds to their best guess of how that data correlates with Google keyword search and traffic volume.

So, even though paid SEO tools provide estimates of keyword traffic, the data presented by Google Trends is based on actual search queries and not guesses.

That’s not to say that Google Trends is better than paid keyword tools. When used together with paid keyword tools, one can obtain a near-accurate idea of true keyword search volume.

There are other functions in Google Trends that can help dial in accurate segmentation of the keyword data that helps to understand what geographic locations are best for promotional efforts and also discover new and trending keywords.

How To Use Google Trends For SEO

1. Get More Accurate Data By Comparing Keywords

Google Trends shows a relative visualization of traffic on a scale of zero to 100.

You can’t really know if the trend is reporting hundreds of keyword searches or thousands because the graph is on a relative scale of zero to one hundred.

However, the relative numbers can have more meaning when they are compared with keywords for which there are known traffic levels from another keyword phrase.

One way to do this is to compare keyword search volume with a keyword whose accurate traffic numbers are already known, for example, from a PPC campaign.

If the keyword volume is especially large for which you don’t have a keyword to compare, there’s another way to find a keyword to use for comparison.

A comparison keyword doesn’t have to be related. It can be in a completely different vertical and could even be the name of a trending celebrity.

The important thing is the general keyword volume data.

Google publishes a Google Trends Daily Trends webpage that shows trending search queries.

What’s useful about this page is that Google provides keyword volumes in numbers, like 100,000+ searches per day, etc.

Example Of How To Pinpoint Search Volume

I’m going to use the search phrase [how to lose weight] as an example of how to use Google Trends to get a close idea of actual search volume.

The way I do it is by using known search volumes and comparing them to the target keyword phrase.

Google provides search volumes on its trending searches page, which can be adjusted for what’s trending in any country.

On this particular day (September 22, 2022), the actress Ana De Armas was trending with 50,000+ searches, and the American ex-football player (keyword phrase [Bret Favre News]) was trending with 20,000+ searches.

Step 1. Find Search Trends For Target Keyword Phrases

The target keyword phrase we’re researching is [how to lose weight].

Below is a screenshot of the one-year trend for the target keyword phrase:

Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Screenshot of Google Trends for keyword phrase

As you can see, it’s a fairly stable trend line from September 2021 to September 2022.

Then I added the two keyword phrases for which we have a close search volume count to compare all three, but for a 24-hour time period.

I use a 24-hour time period because the search volume for our comparison keywords is trending for this one day.

Google Trends ComparisonScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Google Trends Comparison

Our target keyword phrase, with a red trend line, is right in the middle, in between the keyword phrases [Ana De Armas] (blue) and [Bret Favre News] (yellow).

What the above comparison tells us is that the phrase [how to lose weight] has a keyword volume of more than 20,000+ searches but less than 50,000+ searches.

The relative search volume of [how to lose weight] is 50% of the keyword phrase [Ana De Armas]. 

Because we know that [Ana De Armas] has a search volume of approximately 50,000+ searches on this particular day, and [Bret Favre News] has a search volume of 20,000+ queries on the same day, we can say with reasonable accuracy that the keyword phrase, [how to lose weight] has approximately a daily search volume of around 30,000 on an average day, give or take a few thousand.

The actual numbers could be higher because Google Trends shows the highs and lows at particular points of the day. The total for the day is very likely higher.

The above hack isn’t 100% accurate. But it’s enough to give a strong ballpark idea and can be used to compare with and validate extrapolated data from a paid keyword research tool.

Related: How To Do Keyword Research For SEO

2. Discover Insights From Time-based Trends

There are two general ways to look at the keyword data: stretched across over longer periods of time and shorter time periods.

Long Period Trends

You can set Google Trends to show you the traffic trends stretching back to 2004. This is valuable for showing you the audience trends.

  • Upward Long-Term Trends: If a trend is consistently going up, this means you need to focus energy on creating content for this trend.
  • Downward Long-Term Trends: If the trend line is steadily moving down, then it may be a signal that audience content consumption is changing.

For example, review this five-year trend for [WordPress] the search term, WordPress the software, and WordPress the website:

An image of Google Trends tool showing a five year trend.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022An image of Google Trends tool showing a five year trend.

There’s a clear downward trend for WordPress in all three variations.

The downward trend extends to related phrases such as:

  • WordPress themes.
  • WordPress plugin.
  • WordPress hosting.

There are many reasons why search trends go down. It can be that people lost interest, that the interest went somewhere else or that the trend is obsolete.

The digital camera product category is a good example of a downward spiral caused by a product being replaced by something else.

  • The digital camera caused the downturn in searches for traditional analog cameras.
  • The iPhone started the downward spiral of the digital camera.

Knowing which way the wind is blowing could help a content marketer or publisher understand when it’s time to bail on a topic or product category and to pivot to upward-trending ones.

Related: Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

3. Related Topics And Queries

Google Trends has two great features, one called Related Topics and the other Related Queries.

Topics

Topics are search queries that share a concept.

Identifying related topics that are trending upwards is useful for learning how an audience or consumer demand is shifting.

This information can, in turn, provide ideas for content generation or new product selections.

According to Google:

Related Topics

Users searching for your term also searched for these topics.

You Can View by the Following Metrics

Top – The most popular topics. Scoring is on a relative scale where a value of 100 is the most commonly searched topic and a value of 50 is a topic searched half as often as the most popular term, and so on.

Rising – Related topics with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period.

Results marked “Breakout” had a tremendous increase, probably because these topics are new and had few (if any) prior searches.”

Related Queries

The description of Related Queries is similar to that of the Related Topics.

Top queries are generally the most popular searches. Rising Queries are queries that are becoming popular.

Screenshot of Google Trends Related Queries feature.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Screenshot of Google Trends Related Queries feature.

The data from Rising Queries are great for staying ahead of the competition.

4. Short-Term Trends Can Bring Massive Traffic

Viewing keyword trends in the short view, such as the 90-day or even 30-day view, can reveal valuable insights for capitalizing on rapidly changing search trends.

There is a ton of traffic in Google Discover as well as in Google News.

Google Discover is tied to trending topics related to searches.

Google News is of the moment in terms of current events.

Sites that target either of those traffic channels benefit from knowing what the short-term trends are.

A benefit of viewing short-term trends (30 days and 90 trends) is that certain days of the week stand out when those searches are popular.

Knowing which days of the week interest spikes for a given topic can help in planning when to publish certain kinds of topics, so the content is right there when the audience is searching for it.

5. Keywords By Category

Google Trends has the functionality for narrowing down keyword search query inventory according to category topics.

This provides more accurate keyword data.

The Categories tab is important because it refines your keyword research to the correct context.

If your keyword context is [automobiles], then it makes sense to appropriately refine Google Trends to show just the data for the context of auto.

By narrowing the Google Trends data by category, you will be able to find more accurate information related to the topics you are researching for content within the correct context.

6. Identify Keyword Data By Geography

Google Trends keyword information by geographic location can be used for determining what areas are the best to outreach to for site promotion or for tailoring the content to specific regions.

For example, if certain kinds of products are popular in Washington D.C. and Texas, it makes sense to aim promotional activity and localized content to those areas.

In fact, it might be useful to focus link-building promotional activities in those areas first since the interest is higher in those parts of the country.

Keyword popularity information by region is valuable for link building, content creation, content promotion, and pay-per-click.

Localizing content (and the promotion of that content) can make it more relevant to the people who are interested in that content (or product).

Google ranks pages according to who it’s most relevant, so incorporating geographic nuance into your content can help it rank for the most people.

7. Target Search Intents With Search Types

Google Trends gives you the ability to further refine the keyword data by segmenting it by the type of search the data comes from, the Search Type.

Refining your Google Trends research by the type of search allows you to remove the “noise” that might be making your keyword research fuzzy and help it become more accurate and meaningful.

Google Trends data can be refined by:

  • Web Search.
  • Image Search.
  • News Search.
  • Google Shopping.
  • YouTube Search.
Screenshot of Google Trends showing the different kinds of searchesScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Screenshot of Google Trends showing the different kinds of searches

YouTube search is a fantastic way to identify search trends for content with the word “how” because a lot of people search on YouTube using phrases with the words “how” in them.

Although these are searches conducted on YouTube, the trends data is useful because it shows what users are looking for.

A Google Trends search for how, what, where, when, why, and who shows that search queries beginning with the word “how” are by far the most popular on YouTube.

Google Trends limits comparisons to five keywords, so the following screenshot omits that word.

Screenshot of Keyword Popularity on YouTube.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Screenshot of Keyword Popularity on YouTube.

If your keyword phrases involve instructional content that uses words like “how to,” refining your research with the YouTube search type may provide useful insights.

For example, I have found that YouTube Search shows more relevant “related topics” and “related queries” data than researching with “web search” selected.

Here’s another example of how using different kinds of search types helps refine Google Trends data.

I did the same how, what, where, when, why, and who searches but this time using the News Search refinement.

Screenshot of Google Trends with News Search refinement selectedScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022Screenshot of Google Trends with News Search refinement selected

The search trends in Google News are remarkably different than the search patterns on YouTube. That’s because people want to know the “what” and “how” types of information in Google News.

When creating content related to news, identifying the correct angle to report a news item is important.

Knowing that the words “what” or “who” are most relevant to a topic can be useful for crafting the title to what the readers are most interested in.

The above is the view of search queries for the past 90 days.

When the same keywords are searched using the 5-year perspective, it becomes clear that the “who” type keywords tend to spike according to current events.

As an example of how current events influence trends, the biggest spike in searches with the word “who” occurred in the days after the 2020 presidential election.

Every Search Type query refinement shows a different help to refine the results so that they show more accurate information.

So, give the Search Type selections a try because the information that is provided may be more accurate and useful than the more general and potentially noisy “web search” version.

Unlock The Hidden Power Of Google Trends

Free tools are generally considered to be less useful than paid tools. That’s not necessarily the case with Google Trends.

This article lists seven ways to discover useful search-related trends and patterns that are absolutely accurate, more than some search-related data from paid tools.

What’s especially notable is that this article only begins to scratch the surface of all the information that’s available.

Check out Google Trends and learn additional ways to mix different search patterns to obtain even more useful information.

More Resources:


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What Is Search Forecasting And Why Is It Important?

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Digital marketing is about blending art and science, merging creative ideas with actionable, trackable steps.

But before tweaking your on-page content or restructuring your website, you need to know what’s working well already and where you have the potential for growth.

This is where search forecasting comes in.

What Is Search Forecasting?

Search forecasting is the practice of predicting what your organic traffic will look like.

All good SEO strategies start with hard data. That’s ultimately what should be shaping your next move – not best guesses and assumptions.

With data in hand, you’ll be able to predict what search traffic might look like for your business and use this to plan out your upcoming campaigns.

When working on organic traffic predictions, here are a few key details that you should keep in mind.

Focus On The Right Metrics

Beginning with keyword research is really the backbone of any SEO strategy.

You might think you know exactly what search phrases will be most beneficial for your business, but it’s best to set those assumptions aside in a separate column of your spreadsheet and look at the actual data.

There are dozens of possible metrics that you could look at when it comes to keyword data.

Regardless of the industry you’re working in or the type of content you’re working with, your research should include data or evidence on:

  • Estimated search volume.
  • Keyword difficulty.
  • Your business’s current ranking position and the URL for that ranking for relevant keywords.
  • Search intent.
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) estimates.
  • Intel on the type and quality of content ranking in your desired position.
  • Related queries and your relative ranking position.

If you aren’t able to find data for some of this, your predictions won’t be as accurate but can still be valuable.

The most accessible piece will be search volume data – you need to know if your traffic goals match real user behavior in search results with the keywords you’re planning to use.

The rest of the metrics here will help you prioritize beyond search volume and come up with more realistic predictions.

They give you important insight into how competitive particular phrases are, where you stack up among the current players in search engine results pages (SERPs), and where there’s an opportunity for additional optimization to capitalize on changes in user intent.

Use Tools To Help You

You’re not expected to magic your keyword data out of thin air, and there’s only so much that your own site tracking can tell you.

But Google Search Console (GSC) is a good place to start.

Where other tools can tell you general keyword metrics, GSC will provide you with business-specific historical data to give you a good (internal) benchmark to work from.

Bot traffic can impact anything in GSC, and if you’re trying to rank for local results, the search volume is dependent on where a search is actually being made from in relation to the keyword being used.

There will also be differences in numbers pulled from GSC versus Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, or any other SEO tools you might use.

Once you have everything together in a spreadsheet, though, averages will be enough for you to put together a reasonably confident prediction.

Google Keyword Planner can be another option to check out but has some questionable accuracy.

In many cases, search volume data is exaggerated due to combined estimates with similarly phrased keywords, so take this data with a grain of salt.

You may find this type of data is better used to calculate ad savings after capturing rankings as another data point of organic search return on investment (ROI).

Don’t Forget About Competitors

Moving outside of the keyword data specifically, you should be using competitive analysis as part of your overall traffic prediction.

Look at who already appears on page one of the SERPs that you want to be on.

Plug competitor URLs into keyword tools to see what they’re ranking for and, crucially, what they’re not ranking for. Combine some of this data with your own keyword research to find opportunities.

This is where knowing keyword difficulty can be helpful.

If competitors are ranking for phrases that have a good volume but low difficulty, there may be a chance for you to produce better, more helpful content and move above that competitor in SERPs.

This will naturally change some of your predictions for search volume if you can move up from page two or three to page one.

This is also the time to assess if some related queries might also have content updates or development opportunities.

Are your competitors still using a single-keyword-per-page strategy? (You would be surprised!)

This might be where you can make up some competitive ground by building keyword families.

Look At Seasonality And Trend Data

Whether you’re working on a year-long SEO strategy or a fixed-length campaign, understanding the seasonal pattern of both your business and keywords is essential.

One of the most important things to remember with seasonal traffic, and something that many people get wrong, is that your business’s busiest time of the year doesn’t always equal high search volume.

Customers don’t usually buy straight away, so you’ll often have weeks, even months, of lead time from high search volume to tangible sales increases.

Depending on what industry you work in, you may already work on this kind of accelerated marketing schedule. Retail is a prime example of this – fashion weeks in early fall are already debuting spring/summer lines for the following year.

And for most product businesses, you’ll be looking ahead to the holiday season around May or June, certainly no later than July to begin your planning.

It’s important to know what your search-to-sale lead time looks like because this will impact not only your predictions for search traffic but also the content strategy you put together based on these predictions.

Rolling out holiday gift guides in November in the hope that you’re going to rank instantly and make big sales within the first week because of good search engine rankings is simply not realistic.

(If that’s something you’re looking to do, paid advertising is going to be a better option.)

Tools like Google Trends can be helpful for getting overall estimates of when search volume starts to pick up for seasonal queries.

Use this data with what you know about your own business outputs to map out how far ahead of search increases you need to be putting out content and optimizing for jumps in traffic.

Not Everything Is Predictable

While we already know that we can’t account for mass changes to search algorithms or unexpected world events, there are also other unpredictable factors that need to be accounted for on a smaller scale.

Particularly in product-based businesses, other marketing efforts can have a positive or negative impact on your overall search predictions.

Products can quickly go viral on social media, even without any exhaustive marketing effort on your part.

When they do, search demand can significantly increase in ways that you were unprepared for.

And when you run those searches through SEO tools, they won’t be accounting for that unexpected rise in traffic.

Reactive versus predictive demand, particularly if you make a similar or dupe for a viral product, is almost impossible to plan for.

If you find yourself running into those situations, take this into account for search traffic predictions in future years where possible and reallocate your resources accordingly.

Why Is Search Forecasting Important?

Forecasting your organic traffic means that you have a rough idea of expected results if conditions stay as predicted.

It allows you to better allocate internal resources, budget for your upcoming campaigns and set internal benchmarks. This can cover everything from expected new traffic if rankings are captured to increased revenue based on current conversion rates.

Knowing this information ahead of time can be critical in getting stakeholder buy-in, particularly if you work in enterprise SEO and your growth goals are set once or twice a year.

If estimates don’t align with expectations, you have the leverage to ask for a revised goal or additional resources to make those expectations more achievable.

Of course, there needs to be a disclaimer here.

Wide-scale algorithm updates, a new website design, changes in user behavior and search trends, or even another round of “unprecedented times” will all have drastic effects on what search results look like in reality.

Those are almost impossible to plan for or predict the exact impact of.

But issues aside, SEO forecasting is still worth investing time into.

You don’t have to be a data scientist to predict your search traffic.

With the right tools and approaches, you can start to get a good picture of what you can expect to see in the coming months and set more realistic benchmarks for organic search growth.

In Conclusion

The goal of predicting your organic search traffic is to help you make more informed decisions about your ongoing SEO strategy.

Opportunities are out there, you just have to find them.

You’ll always come up against obstacles with forecasting, and it will never be 100% accurate, but with solid data to back you up, you’ll have a good benchmark to work from to build a strategically-sound search marketing plan.

More resources:


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12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

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Why do I have such a high bounce rate?”

It’s a question you’ll encounter on Twitter, Reddit, and your favorite digital marketing Facebook group.

It’s a question you may have even asked yourself. Heck, it could be the question that brought you to this article.

Whatever brought you here, rest assured: There is no “perfect” bounce rate.

But you don’t necessarily want one that’s too high.

Read on as we dig into what may be causing your high bounce rate and what you can do to fix it.

What Is A Bounce Rate?

As a refresher, Google refers to a “bounce” as “a single-page session on your site.”

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that leave your website (or “bounce” back to the search results or referring website) after viewing only one page on your site.

This can even happen when a user idles on a page for more than 30 minutes.

So, what is a high bounce rate, and why is it bad?

Well, “high bounce rate” is a relative term that depends on your company’s goals and what kind of site you have.

Low bounce rates can be a problem, too.

Data from Semrush suggests the average bounce rate ranges from 41% to 55%, with a range of 26% to 40% being optimal, and anything above 46% is considered “high.”

This aligns well with data from an earlier RocketFuel study, which found that most websites will see bounce rates between 26% to 70%:

Screenshot from gorocketfuel.com, September 2022Bounce rates between 26% to 70%.

Based on the data they gathered, RocketFuel provided a bounce rate grading system of sorts:

  • 25% or lower: Something is probably broken.
  • 26-40%: Excellent.
  • 41-55%: Average.
  • 56-70%: Higher than normal, but could make sense depending on the website.
  • 70% or higher: Bad and/or something is probably broken.

How To Find Your Bounce Rate In Google Analytics

In Google Analytics 4, Google seems to have done away with bounce rate as we know it (more on this in a bit).

In Universal Analytics, you can find the overall bounce rate for your site in the Audience Overview tab.

How To Find Your Bounce Rate In Google AnalyticsScreenshot from Google Analytics UA, September 2022How To Find Your Bounce Rate In Google Analytics

You can find your bounce rate for individual channels and pages in the behavior column of most views in Google Analytics.

12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce RateScreenshot from Google Analytics UA, September 202212 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

However, most organizations are currently transitioning to Google Analytics 4, affectionately known as GA4.

If your organization is in that boat, you may be wondering, “Where did the bounce rate go?”

Your eyes aren’t tricking you; Google indeed removed the bounce rate. Or, rather, they replaced it with a new and improved metric called “engagement rate.”

In GA4, you can find your site’s bounce rate engagement rate by navigating to Acquisition > User acquisition or Acquisition > Traffic acquisition.

Engagement rate fixes some of the pitfalls that plagued bounce rate as a metric. For one, it includes sessions where a visitor converted or spent at least 10 seconds on the page, even if they did not visit any other pages – two types of sessions that were not factored in previously.

As a result, you should see your bounce rate lower in GA4. Once you do a little bit of math, that is.

To calculate your new bounce rate, you simply subtract your engagement rate from 100%.

how to find bounce rate aka engagement rate in google analytics 4 ga4Screenshot from Google Analytics 4, September 2022how to find bounce rate aka engagement rate in google analytics 4 ga4

While bounce rate is an important metric, I’m happy to see Google made this change.

Instead of focusing on the negative, it encourages us to focus on the positive: How many people are engaged with your site.

Plus, it’s a more accurate and relevant metric now.

In GA4, engagement rate counts a visitor as “engaged” if they visited 2+ pages, spent at least 10 seconds on your site or converted.

Now, let’s get back to what you came here for: Why your bounce rate is high and what you can do about it.

Possible Explanations For A High Bounce Rate

Below are 12 common causes of a high bounce rate, followed by five ways you can fix it.

1. Slow-To-Load Page

Google has a renewed focus on site speed, especially as a part of the Core Web Vitals initiative.

A slow-to-load page can be a huge problem for bounce rates.

Site speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm. It always has been.

Google wants to promote content that provides a positive experience for users, and they recognize that a slow site can provide a poor experience.

Users want the facts fast – this is part of the reason Google has put so much work into featured snippets.

If your page takes longer than a few seconds to load, your visitors may get fed up and leave.

Fixing site speed is a lifelong journey for most SEO and marketing pros.

But the upside is that with each incremental fix, you should see an incremental boost in speed.

Review your page speed (overall and for individual pages) using tools like:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Google Search Console PageSpeed reports.
  • Lighthouse reports.
  • Pingdom.
  • GTmetrix.

They’ll offer you recommendations specific to your site, such as compressing your images, reducing third-party scripts, and leveraging browser caching.

2. Self-Sufficient Content*

Sometimes your content is efficient enough that people can quickly get what they need and bounce!

This can be a wonderful thing.

Perhaps you’ve achieved the content marketer’s dream and created awesome content that wholly consumed them for a handful of minutes in their lives.

Or perhaps you have a landing page that only requires the user to complete a short lead form.

To determine whether bounce rate is nothing to worry about, you’ll want to look at the Time Spent on Page and Average Session Duration metrics in Google Analytics.

You can also conduct user experience testing and A/B testing to see if the high bounce rate is a problem.

If the user is spending a couple of minutes or more on the page, that sends a positive signal to Google that they found your page highly relevant to their search query.

If you want to rank for that particular search query, that kind of user intent is gold.

If the user is spending less than a minute on the page (which may be the case of a properly optimized landing page with a quick-hit CTA form), consider enticing the reader to read some of your related blog posts after filling out the form.

*This is an example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. In GA4, this type of session would not count as a bounce and would instead count as “engaged.”

3. Disproportional Contribution By A Few Pages

If we expand on the example from the previous section, you may have a few pages on your site that are contributing disproportionally to the overall bounce rate for your site.

Google is savvy at recognizing the difference between these.

If your single CTA landing pages reasonably satisfy user intent and cause them to bounce quickly after taking an action, but your longer-form content pages have a lower bounce rate, you’re probably good to go.

However, you will want to dig in and confirm that this is the case or discover if some of these pages with a higher bounce rate shouldn’t be causing users to leave en masse.

Open up Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, and sort by Bounce Rate.

Consider adding an advanced filter to remove pages that might skew the results.

For example, it’s not necessarily helpful to agonize over the one Twitter share with five visits that have all your social UTM parameters tacked onto the end of the URL.

My rule of thumb is to determine a minimum threshold of volume that is significant for the page.

Choose what makes sense for your site, whether it’s 100 visits or 1,000 visits, and then click on Advanced and filter for Sessions greater than that.

Disproportional Contribution By A Few Pages

Disproportional Contribution By A Few Pages

In GA4, navigate to Acquisition > User acquisition or Acquisition > Traffic acquisition. From there, click on “Add filter +” underneath the report title.

Select filter in Google Analytics 4

Select filter in Google Analytics 4

Create a filter by selecting “Session default channel grouping” (or “Session medium” or “Session source / medium” etc.). Then check the box for “Organic Search” in the Dimension values menu.

Google Analytics filter report by Organic Search

Google Analytics filter report by Organic Search

Click the blue Apply button. Once you’re back in the report, click on the blue plus sign to open up a new menu.

add filer in google analytics 4

add filer in google analytics 4

Navigate to Page/screen and select Landing page.

google analytics 4 additional filters

google analytics 4 additional filters

4. Misleading Title Tag And/Or Meta Description

Ask yourself: Is the content of your page accurately summarized by your title tag and meta description?

If not, visitors may enter your site thinking your content is about one thing, only to find that it isn’t, and then bounce back to whence they came.

Whether it was an innocent mistake or you were trying to game the system by optimizing for keyword clickbait (shame on you!), this is, fortunately, simple enough to fix.

Either review the content of your page and adjust the title tag and meta description accordingly. Or, rewrite the content to address the search queries you want to attract visitors for.

You can also check what kind of meta description Google has auto-generated for your page for common searches – Google can change your meta description, and if they make it worse, you can take steps to remedy that.

5. Blank Page Or Technical Error

If your bounce rate is exceptionally high and you see that people are spending less than a few seconds on the page, it’s likely your page is blank, returning a 404, or otherwise not loading properly.

Take a look at the page from your audience’s most popular browser and device configurations (e.g., Safari on desktop and mobile, Chrome on mobile, etc.) to replicate their experience.

You can also check in Search Console under Coverage to discover the issue from Google’s perspective.

Correct the issue yourself or talk to someone who can – an issue like this can cause Google to drop your page from the search results in a hurry.

12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

12 Reasons Your Website Can Have A High Bounce Rate

6. Bad Link From Another Website

You could be doing everything perfectly on your end to achieve a normal or low bounce rate from organic search results and still have a high bounce rate from your referral traffic.

The referring site could be sending you unqualified visitors, or the anchor text and context for the link could be misleading.

Sometimes this is a result of sloppy copywriting.

The writer or publisher linked to your site in the wrong part of the copy or didn’t mean to link to your site at all.

Reach out to the author of the article first. If they don’t respond or they can’t update the article after publishing, then you can escalate the issue to the site’s editor or webmaster.

Politely ask them to remove the link to your site – or update the context, whichever makes sense.

(Tip: You can easily find their contact information with this guide.)

Unfortunately, the referring website may be trying to sabotage you with some negative SEO tactics out of spite or just for fun.

For example, they may have linked to your “Guide To Adopting A Puppy” with the anchor text of FREE GET RICH QUICK SCHEME.

You should still reach out and politely ask them to remove the link, but if needed, you’ll want to update your disavow file in Search Console.

Disavowing the link won’t reduce your bounce rate, but it will tell Google not to take that site’s link into account when it comes to determining the quality and relevance of your site.

7. Affiliate Landing Page Or Single-Page Site*

If you’re an affiliate, the whole point of your page may be to deliberately send people away from your website to the merchant’s site.

In these instances, you’re doing the job right if the page has a higher bounce rate.

A similar scenario would be if you have a single-page website, such as a landing page for your ebook or a simple portfolio site.

It’s common for sites like these to have a very high bounce rate since there’s nowhere else to go.

Remember that Google can usually tell when a website is doing a good job satisfying user intent even if the user’s query is answered super quickly (sites like WhatIsMyScreenResolution.com come to mind).

If you’re interested, you can adjust your bounce rate so it makes more sense for the goals of your website.

For Single Page Apps (or SPAs), you can adjust your analytics settings to see different parts of a page as a different page, adjusting the bounce rate to better reflect the user experience.

*This is another example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. If you’ve set it up so that a click on your affiliate link is considered a conversion event, this type of session would not count as a bounce and would instead count as “engaged.”

8. Low-Quality Or Underoptimized Content

Visitors may be bouncing from your website because your content is just plain bad.

Take a long, hard look at your page and have your most judgmental and honest colleague or friend review it.

(Ideally, this person either has a background in content marketing or copywriting, or they fall into your target audience).

One possibility is that your content is great, but you just haven’t optimized it for online reading – or for the audience that you’re targeting.

  • Are you writing in simple sentences (think high school students versus PhDs)?
  • Is it easily scannable with lots of header tags?
  • Does it cleanly answer questions?
  • Have you included images to break up the copy and make it easy on the eyes?

Writing for the web is different than writing for offline publications.

Brush up your online copywriting skills to increase the time people spend reading your content.

The other possibility is that your content is poorly written overall or simply isn’t something your audience cares about.

Consider hiring a freelance copywriter (like me!) or content strategist who can help you transform your ideas into powerful content that converts.

9. Bad Or Obnoxious UX

Are you bombarding people with ads, pop-up surveys, and email subscribe buttons?

CTA-heavy features like these may be irresistible to the marketing and sales team, but using too many of them can make a visitor run for the hills.

Google’s Core Web Vitals are all about user experience – not only are they ranking factors, but they impact your site visitors’ happiness, too.

Is your site confusing to navigate?

Perhaps your visitors are looking to explore more, but your blog is missing a search box, or the menu items are difficult to click on a smartphone.

As online marketers, we know our websites in and out.

It’s easy to forget that what seems intuitive to us is anything but to our audience.

Make sure you’re avoiding these common design mistakes, and have a web or UX designer review the site and let you know if anything pops out to them as problematic.

10. The Page Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

While SEOs know it’s important to have a mobile-friendly website, the practice isn’t always followed in the real world.

Google announced its switch to mobile-first indexing way back in 2017, but many websites today still wouldn’t be considered mobile-friendly.

Websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile don’t look good on mobile devices – and they don’t load too fast, either.

That’s a recipe for a high bounce rate.

Even if your website was implemented using responsive design principles, it’s still possible that the live page doesn’t read as mobile-friendly to the user.

Sometimes, when a page gets squeezed into a mobile format, it causes some of the key information to move below the fold.

Now, instead of seeing a headline that matches what they saw in search, mobile users only see your site’s navigation menu.

Assuming the page doesn’t offer what they need, they bounce back to Google.

If you see a page with a high bounce rate and no glaring issues immediately jump out to you, test it on your mobile phone.

You can also check for mobile issues in Google Search Console and Lighthouse.

11. Content Depth*

Google can give people quick answers through featured snippets and knowledge panels; you can give people deep, interesting, interconnected content that’s a step beyond that.

Make sure your content compels people to click to explore other pages on your site if it makes sense.

Provide interesting, relevant internal links, and give them a reason to stay.

And for the crowd that wants the quick answer, give them a TL;DR summary at the top.

*This is another example where GA4’s engagement rate may be a superior metric to UA’s bounce rate. If your content is deeply engrossing, people will keep reading after the 10-second mark, leading GA4 to count their session as “engaged” instead of a bounce.

12. Asking For Too Much

Don’t ask someone for their credit card number, social security, grandmother’s pension, and children’s names right off the bat (or ever, in some of those examples) – your user doesn’t trust you yet.

People are ready to be suspicious, considering how many scam websites are out there.

Being presented with a big pop-up asking for info will cause a lot of people to bounce immediately.

Your job is to build trust with your visitors.

Do so, and you’ll both be happier. Your visitor will feel like they can trust you, and you’ll have a lower bounce rate.

Either way, if it makes users happy, Google likes it.

Pro Tips For Reducing Your Bounce Rate

Regardless of the reason behind your high bounce rate, here’s a summary of best practices you can implement to bring it down.

Make Sure Your Content Lives Up To The Hype

Together, you can think of your title tag and meta description as your website’s virtual billboard on Google.

Whatever you’re advertising in the SERPs, your content needs to match.

Don’t call your page an “ultimate guide” if it’s a short post with three tips.

Don’t claim to be the “best” vacuum if your user reviews show a three-star rating.

You get the idea.

Also, make your content readable:

  • Break up your text with lots of white space.
  • Add supporting images.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Spellcheck is your friend.
  • Use a good, clean design.
  • Don’t bombard visitors with too many ads.

Keep Critical Elements Above The Fold

Sometimes, your content matches what you advertise in your title tag and meta description. It’s just that your visitors can’t tell at first glance.

When people arrive on a website, they make an immediate first impression.

You want that first impression to validate whatever they thought they were going to see when they arrived.

A prominent H1 should match the title they read on Google.

If it’s an ecommerce site, a photo should match the product description they saw on Google.

Also, make sure these elements aren’t obscured by pop-ups or advertisements.

Speed Up Your Site

When it comes to SEO, faster is always better.

Keeping up with site speed is a task that should remain firmly stuck at the top of your SEO to-do list.

There will always be new ways to compress, optimize, and otherwise accelerate load time. For now, make sure to:

  • Compress all images before loading them to your site, and only use the maximum display size necessary.
  • Review and remove any external or load-heavy scripts, stylesheets, and plugins. If there are any you don’t need, remove them. For the ones you do need, see if there’s a faster option.
  • Tackle the basics: Use a CDN, minify JavaScript and CSS, and set up browser caching.
  • Check Lighthouse for more suggestions.

Minimize Non-Essential Elements

Don’t bombard your visitors with pop-up ads, in-line promotions, and other content they don’t care about.

Visual overwhelm can cause visitors to bounce.

What CTA is the most important for the page?

Compellingly highlight that.

For everything else, delegate it to your sidebar or footer.

Edit, edit, edit!

Help People Get Where They Want To Be Faster

Want to encourage people to browse more of your site?

Make it easy for them.

  • Leverage on-site search with predictive search, helpful filters, and an optimized “no results found” page.
  • Rework your navigation menu and A/B test how complex vs. simple drop-down menus affect your bounce rate.
  • Include a Table of Contents in your long-form articles with anchor links taking people straight to the section they want to read.

Conclusion

Remember: Bounce rates are just one metric.

A high bounce rate doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Some well-designed, effective webpages have high bounce rates – and that’s okay.

Bounce rates can be a measure of how well your site is performing, but it’s good to keep them in context.

Hopefully, this article helped you diagnose what’s causing your high bounce rate, and you have a good idea of how to fix it.

Not sure where to start?

Make your site useful, user-focused, and fast – good sites attract good users.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Cagkan Sayin/Shutterstock

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Top 10 Essential Website Optimization Strategies

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Google officially launched 24 years ago in 1998.

A lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same. If you simply focus on the basics, you can still be highly successful online.

Of course, the basics in 2022 are much different from the basics in 1998. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. It has never been more important to be disciplined in one’s approach to SEO.

So, the obvious question is this: What are the factors to concentrate on? How can one boost rankings? How can anyone build traffic in such a competitive environment?

This post will delve into which factors carry the most weight and how to optimize for each.

1. Search Intent

As machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning continue to evolve, each will carry more weight in the Google Core Algorithm.

The end goal for Google is to understand the context of a given search query and to serve results consistent with the user intent. This makes advanced-level keyword research and keyword selection more important than ever.

Before spending time and resources trying to rank for a phrase, you will need to look at the websites that are currently at the top of the SERPs for that phrase.

A keyword’s contextual relevance must align with a search query. There will be some keywords and queries that will be impossible to rank for.

For example, if Google has determined that people searching for “Personal Injury Attorney [insert city]” want a list of lawyers to choose from, then a series of trusted law directories will appear at the top of the SERPs.

An individual or single firm will not supplant those directories. In those cases, you will need to refine your strategy.

2. Technical SEO

The foundation for technical SEO is having a solid website architecture.

One cannot simply publish a random collection of pages and posts. An SEO-friendly site architecture will guide users throughout your site and make it easy for Google to crawl and index your pages.

Once you have the right architecture in place, it’s time to perform a technical or SEO audit.

Thanks to the many SEO tools available, an SEO audit is no longer a daunting task. That said, the key is to know how to interpret the data provided and what to do with it.

For starters, you should check the following and fix any issues that are uncovered:

  • Check for status code errors and correct them.
  • Check the robot.txt for errors. Optimize if needed.
  • Check your site indexing via Google Search Console. Examine and fix any issues discovered.
  • Fix duplicate title tags and duplicate meta descriptions.
  • Audit your website content. Check the traffic stats in Google Analytics. Consider improving or pruning underperforming content.
  • Fix broken links. These are an enemy of the user experience – and potentially rankings.
  • Submit your XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console.

3. User Experience

User experience (UX) is centered on gaining insight into users, their needs, their values, their abilities, and their limitations.

UX also takes into consideration business goals and objectives. The best UX practices focus on improving the quality of the user experience.

According to Peter Morville, factors that influence UX include:

  • Useful: Your content needs to be unique and satisfy a need.
  • Usable: Your website needs to be easy to use and navigate.
  • Desirable: Your design elements and brand should evoke emotion and appreciation.
  • Findable: Integrate design and navigation elements to make it easy for users to find what they need.
  • Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to everyone – including the 12.7% of the population with disabilities.
  • Credible: Your site needs to be trustworthy for users to believe you.
  • Valuable: Your site needs to provide value to the user in terms of experience and to the company in terms of positive ROI.

Multivariate and A/B testing is the best way to measure and create a better experience for website users. Multivariate testing is best when considering complex changes.

One can incorporate many different elements and test how they all work together. A/B testing, on the other hand, will compare two different elements on your site to determine which performs the best.

4. Mobile-First

Google officially began rolling out the mobile-first index in March 2018. Smart marketers were taking a mobile-first approach long before the official rollout.

According to Google Search Central:

“Neither mobile-friendliness nor a mobile-responsive layout are requirements for mobile-first indexing. Pages without mobile versions still work on mobile and are usable for indexing. That said, it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile :)”

Here are some basics for making your site mobile-friendly:

  • Make your site adaptive to any device – be it desktop, mobile, or tablet.
  • Always scale your images when using a responsive design, especially for mobile users.
  • Use short meta titles. They are easier to read on mobile devices.
  • Avoid pop-ups that cover your content and prevent visitors from getting a glimpse of what your content is all about.
  • Less can be more on mobile. In a mobile-first world, long-form content doesn’t necessarily equate to more traffic and better rankings.
  • Don’t use mobile as an excuse for cloaking. Users and search engines need to see the same content.

5. Core Web Vitals

In July of 2021, the Page Experience Update rolled out and is now incorporated into Google’s core algorithm, as a ranking factor.

As the name implies, the core web vitals initiative was designed to quantify the essential metrics for a healthy website. This syncs up with Google’s commitment to delivering the best user experience.

According to Google, “loading experience, interactivity, and visual stability of page content, and combined are the foundation of Core Web Vitals.”

Each one of these metrics:

  • Focuses on a unique aspect of the user experience.
  • Is measurable and quantifiable for an objective determination of the outcome.

Tools To Measure Core Web Vitals:

  • PageSpeed Insights: Measures both mobile and desktop performance and provides recommendations for improvement.
  • Lighthouse: An open-source, automated tool developed by Google to help developers improve web page quality. It has several features not available in PageSpeed Insights, including some SEO checks.
  • Search Console: A Core Web Vitals report is now included in GSC, showing URL performance as grouped by status, metric type, and URL group.

6. Schema

Schema markup, once added to a webpage, creates a rich snippet – an enhanced description that appears in the search results.

All leading search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex, support the use of microdata. The real value of schema is that it can provide context to a webpage and improve the search experience.

There is no evidence that adding schema has any influence on SERPs.

Following, you will find some of the most popular uses for schema

If you find the thought of adding schema to a page intimidating, you shouldn’t. Schema is quite simple to implement. If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins that will do this for you.

7. Content Marketing

It is projected that 97 zettabytes of data will be created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide this year.

To put this in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 18.7 trillion songs or 3,168 years of HD video every day.

The challenge of breaking through the clutter will become exponentially more difficult as time passes.

To do so:

  • Create a content hub in the form of a resource center.
  • Fill your resource hub with a combination of useful, informative, and entertaining content.
  • Write “spoke” pieces related to your resource hub and interlink.
  • Write news articles related to your resource and interlink.
  • Spread the word. Promote your news articles on social channels.
  • Hijack trending topics related to your content. Promote on social media.
  • Use your smartphone camera. Images and videos typically convert better than text alone.
  • Update stale and low-trafficked content.

8. Link Building

Links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors.

Over the years, Google has become more adept at identifying and devaluing spammy links, especially so after the launch of Penguin 4.0. That being the case, quality will continue to trump quantity.

The best link-building strategies for 2022 include:

9. Test And Document Changes

You manage what you measure.

One recent study showed that less than 50% of pages “optimized” result in more clicks. Worse yet, 34% of changes led to a decrease in clicks!

Basic steps for SEO testing:

  • Determine what you are testing and why.
  • Form a hypothesis. What do you expect will happen because of your changes?
  • Document your testing. Make sure it can be reliably replicated.
  • Publish your changes and then submit the URLs for inspection via Google Search Console.
  • Run the test for a long enough period to confirm if your hypothesis is correct or not. Document your findings and any other observations, such as changes made by competitors that may influence the outcome.
  • Take appropriate actions based on the results of your tests.

This process can be easily executed and documented by using a spreadsheet.

10. Track And Analyze KPIs

According to Roger Monti, the following are the 9 Most Important SEO KPIs to consider:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
  • Content Efficiency.
  • Average Engagement Time.
  • Conversion Goals by Percent-Based Metrics.
  • Accurate Search Visibility.
  • Brand Visibility in Search.
  • New And Returning Users.
  • Average Time on Site.
  • Revenue Per Thousand (RPM) And Average Position.

The thing to remember about these KPIs is they are dependent upon your goals and objectives. Some may apply to your situation whereas others may not.

Think of this as a good starting point for determining how to best measure the success of a campaign.

Conclusion

Because the internet has no expiration date, mounds of information and disinformation are served up daily in various search queries.

If you aren’t careful, implementing bad or outdated advice can lead to disastrous results.

Do yourself a favor and just focus on these 10 essentials. By doing so, you will be setting yourself up for long-term success.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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