Why Every SEO Should Be Using Google Sheets Query Function

Google Sheets allows us SEOs to manipulate data in a multitude of different ways – but Google Sheets combined with the power of SQL (“Structured Query Language” for the uninitiated) takes this to the next level.

Not only does the QUERY function enable us to replicate the actions of formulas such as VLOOKUPs and IF statements – they enable us to accurately and efficiently query datasets without any copy and paste errors.

I know a lot of you unfamiliar with SQL may be thinking “NOPE”  but bear with me and by the end of this blog you’ll understand the basics, have a handful of examples and a number of Google Sheets you can steal and have a play with.

The examples will focus on:

An Introduction To Query

What actually is the Query function?

QUERY is a Google Sheets formula that enables you to manipulate data sources. This function is largely considered to be one of the most powerful functions on Google Sheets and can be a gamechanger in performing key SEO tasks (and other sorts of data manipulation).

Let’s say, for example, are doing keyword research and have an export from Ahrefs related to the term “birthday cards.” In one simple query, we can extract all rows of data relating to keywords where:

  • Keyword Difficulty is below 20
  • Keywords are non-branded (in this case excluding keywords that contain “moonpig”)
  • Search Volume is above 150
  • The keyword contains a Featured Snippet
  • We also want this ordered by Volume (descending).

In the first tab we would have the full export including a large number of varying quality keywords.


The second tab would have our Query formula in A1 – 

=QUERY(All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE B < 20 AND NOT A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ AND C > 150 AND G CONTAINS ‘Featured snippet’ ORDER BY C desc”)

This would automatically populate the rows and columns with just the keywords matching the specific criteria we are looking for – Here are our results.

How does this relate to SQL?

SQL is a programming language used to communicate with a database. 

The QUERY function on Google Sheets allows you to use a Google Sheets version of SQL, named Syntax Query Language, which allows far more granular, accurate and speedy insights from relatively large datasets. You may have heard of SQL in relation to BigQuery – Google’s cloud based tool which allows users to query really big datasets. 

For SEOs, BigQuery comes in really handy for handling huge datasets and is useful for tasks such as log file analysis, analysing CrUX data or crawl analysis. For more insights check out this blog by one of our Senior Consultants, Dom Woodman.

What is the advantage of using Query on Google Sheets?

  • Instead of having to write individual formulas for each column, QUERY allows you to import specific columns and rows based on select criteria or conditions. This saves the dramas of copy and paste errors (we’ve all been there before!)
  • QUERY datasets update in real time making it easy to update sheets on the go – you can also use the QUERY results as a reference in tables and graphs etc, which can then subsequently be used on other Google platforms such as Google Docs or Slides. Updating your data will also update your data across these platforms making everything more seamless and error free.
  • Queries are extremely recyclable – once you have written queries for specific datasets, you can use them again and again (and obviously adjust as you go). One example of this within SEO is when doing a backlink analysis – you can apply the same rules to a backlink export across different tabs in order to isolate URLs that reach certain criteria. See the backlink audit example below for more info. 

How to Write a Query Formula

Google Sheets QUERY Syntax

Google Sheets Syntax: =QUERY(range, sql_query, [headers])

  • Range – this is the table or range you are looking to query
  • Query – This is where you write your SQL query in “quotation marks.”
  • Headers – this is where you can add headers (note: this is optional and it can just allocate a name for you).

Google Sheets SQL – The Basics

As mentioned earlier, the Query formula uses SQL – which has the advantage of being very logical and easy to follow. There are a few generic rules that you need to follow when using SQL. The main one being that you need to write clauses in the correct order.

Firstly, I’ll go through the basics using an Ahrefs export for the keyword “birthday cards” before jumping into some more examples. Feel free to jump straight to the examples if you fancy.

Our sample dataset consists of keywords related to the term “birthday cards” – there are a number of columns including the Keyword in Column A, Difficulty in Column B etc.


SELECT

SELECT allows you to specify which columns you wish to import.

Firstly let’s say we want to just select all of the keywords without any of the additional columns of data – basically just column A.

What we would do is create a new tab and type in our QUERY into cell A1.

The ‘range’ will stay the same across these different examples and the Query will change.

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,SELECT A)

Here’s our result…

WHERE

WHERE allows you to specify a condition you want to match (CONTAINS is when a cell contains specific text).

So let’s say we want to select the Keyword and Difficulty Columns (Column A and Column B) where the keyword contains the text “birthday”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,B WHERE A CONTAINS ‘birthday'”)

Here’s our result…

WHERE NOT

WHERE NOT allows you to specify a condition you do not want to match.

This time let’s select all columns where the keyword does not contain the text “birthday”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE NOT A CONTAINS ‘birthday'”)

Here’s our result…

ORDER BY

ORDER BY allows you to  specify how you would like your data ordered – “asc” for ascending or “desc” for descending.

Let’s select the columns Keyword, Difficulty and Volume and order it by Difficulty (descending).

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,B,C ORDER BY B DESC”)

Here’s our result…

LIMIT

LIMIT allows you to specify a limit to the number of results

Let’s select all rows where the keyword contains the text “birthday”, let’s order it by Difficulty (descending) and limit it to the top 10 results.

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE A CONTAINS ‘birthday’ ORDER BY B DESC LIMIT 10”)

Here’s our result…

LABEL

LABEL allows you to specify a name for a column.

Let’s just grab column A and B – and let’s label Column B “Keyword Difficulty”

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A, B LABEL B ‘Keyword Difficulty'”)

Here’s our result…

Google Sheets Query Examples

Using QUERY for Keyword Research

The first stage in querying a large data set is to have all the raw data in one tab which can be the reference for queries in other tabs. I have named this tab “All Birthday Cards Keywords.” This may feel slightly familiar to those who read the previous section.

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

In this case, I have some (very quick and unattractive) keyword research for terms related to birthday cards.

Example 1 – Isolating Branded Keywords

For this example, I am looking to pull out all the rows of data associated with keywords containing the text “moonpig.” I am also ordering this by estimated search volume.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Example 2 – Isolating Keywords Matching Specific Criteria

In the next tab, we are looking to extract all rows of data where;

  • Keyword Difficulty is below 20
  • The keyword does not contain “moonpig”
  • Search Volume is above 150
  • The KW contains a Featured Snippet
  • We also want this ordered by Volume descending.

Our Query

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT * WHERE B < 20 AND NOT A CONTAINS ‘moonpig’ AND C >150 AND G CONTAINS ‘Featured snippet’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Example 3 – Isolating “Mother” or “Mum” related keywords

In the next tab, we are looking to extract just the keyword and search volume  where;

  • The keyword contains “mum” or “mother”
  • We also want this ordered by search volume descending.

Our Query

=QUERY(‘All Birthday Cards Keywords’!A:G,“SELECT A,C WHERE A CONTAINS ‘mum’ OR A CONTAINS ‘mother’ ORDER BY C desc”)

Our Result

Using QUERY for Crawl Data

Similarly to the KW research data, we will want to have all of the data in one tab – In this case, I have run a Screaming Frog Crawl of https://www.distilled.net, naming the tab “Distilled Crawl Data – Raw & Unedited.”

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

Example 1 – Pulling Redirects and their Redirect URL

For this example, I am pulling just URLS that are 301 or 302 redirects and the subsequent redirect URL.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A,C,AT WHERE C = 301 or C = 302”)

Our Result

Example 2 – 404 Pages Sorted By Number of Unique Inlinks

This example requires selecting just 3 columns where the status code is 404 order by the number of unique inlinks. 

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A, C, AJ WHERE C = 404 ORDER BY AJ desc”)

Our Result


Example 3 – Title Tags Over 60 Characters 

The purpose of this query is to extract the URLs with title tags over 60 characters ordered by length (highest first).

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Distilled Crawl Data- Raw & Unedited’!A:AV,“SELECT A, C, G, H WHERE H > 60 ORDER BY H desc”)

Our Result


Using Query for Backlink Analysis

Again, we will want to have all of the unedited data in one tab – In this case, we have a tab called ‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net.’

You can see all these examples in this Google Sheet.

Example 1 – Analysing a Backlink Profile

For this example, I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Domain Ranking, Referring Page Title, URL Ranking and Type of Link based on specific criteria:

  • URL ranking is above 40
  • The links are followed links

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!A:W,“Select F,C, G,D,N WHERE D > 40 AND N = ‘Dofollow'”)

Our Result

Example 2 – Analysing a Backlink Profile (Round 2)

For this analysis I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Referring Page Title and  Link URL based on specific criteria:

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!D1:W1000,“select F,G,J,N WHERE N = ‘Dofollow’ AND J = ‘https://www.distilled.net/'&#8221;)

Our Result

Example 3 – Analysing Anchor Text from Non “no follow” links

For this analysis I am pulling the Referring Page URL, Link Anchor, Link URL, Type and Traffic based on specific criteria:

  • The links are not “no follow” links
  • The lists are ordered by the traffic descending.

Our Query Function

=QUERY(‘Full Backlinks Export – Distilled.net’!A:W,“SELECT F,L,J,N,T WHERE N <> ‘Nofollow’ ORDER BY T desc”)

Our Result

Conclusion

That’s the QUERY function – welcome to a new world without copy and paste errors ruining your day.
Check out all the examples accompanying Google Sheets – Keyword Research, Backlink Analysis and Crawl Analysis

If you have any feedback, questions or recommendations, get involved in the comments.

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/using-google-sheets-query-function/

How eCommmerce is Being Impacted by Coronavirus and What SEOs Could Do

Covid-19 has had a noticeable impact on our economy so far, there is no doubt about that. Here at Distilled<>Brainlabs, we are doing our best to help our clients understand consumer insights and behaviors during this unprecedented time. With no surprise, e-com has been very affected by such circumstances, especially in geographical areas where the virus has been more prominent.

With this post, we aim to share some of the insights we have been seeing, with the intent to help other agencies and brands gather valuable insights to emerge faster from a time of crisis.

We’ve had many clients asking:

  • Is just them being impacted?
  • What about their competitors? 
  • What impact is this having across various regions?
  • How will regions yet to be “hit” be effected?

The main takeaway is that, from our current research, what we are seeing in the SEO industry is that traffic drops are drops in interest, not rankings.

Top level findings

Here you will find a list of top-level insights, gathered in the first two weeks of March. It is worth clarifying that most (not all) of the findings relate to the clothing e-commerce space, with a stronger focus on the luxury vertical.

  • As expected, luxury brands are among the worst hit by this uncertain situation. Traffic in Continental Europe is significantly down due to the anticipated change in consumer behaviour, which sees luxury brand searches considerably in decline.
  • Generally speaking, Italy is the country which has experienced the highest drops in traffic, followed by Spain, France and Germany.

Google Trends data for three brand queries of popular e-commerce websites in Italy, in the last 30 days vs the same brand queries in the UK.


While interest in these three brand queries dropped drastically in Italy after the events of the lockdown, we have witnessed very little to no change in UK’s trends for the same period of time – after Boris Johnson (the UK’s prime minister) addressed the nation on live TV, there has been a slight impact on such terms, which seem to be on the verge of a slight decline after the weekend.

  • China, a key market for most luxury brands, seems to show slow signs of recovery for some western luxury brands, with promising sales levels which match the country’s positive news regarding the slow-down of the virus spread (read more here). However, due to the rising concern about a second-wave of the virus, there is still a lot of uncertainty on how consumers will react in Q2.

Baidu Index data – a similar data source to Google Trends – for a series of luxury brand queries (selected based on Gartner data for China) in China since January 2020. [Enlarge image]

After a very large drop between mid to end of January, interest appears to pick up form mid-February.

  • While traffic driven by brand & transactional keywords is struggling, informational & navigational terms are showing good traffic numbers. Brands with blogs and content hubs have witnessed a similar if not more number of clicks to such sections of their site, based on our initial research.

We analysed the number of clicks recorded in Google Search Console (GSC) for the blog of a client of ours based in the UK, for the following period: 19th of February to 17th of March, comparing two weeks periods. We removed all brand & irrelevant queries while focussing on the top 500 informational & navigational terms in GSC.

As shown in the bar chart above, clicks driven by the keywords analysed have seen a slight improvement from 550 to 638 clicks.

  • A good portion of the current organic traffic to eCommerce sites seems to be originating from queries such as: “returns”, “exchanges” and more generic “online delivery” and “size guides”

What should you do to help limit this decline?

The list below contains a series of recommendations that can be applied to all e-commerce sites:

  • Despite the fact that conversions have been in decline (and are likely to be down for a while) due to the uncertain economic climate, users will still browse and consume tons of content – find out more in this post from the global web index. We recommend prioritising top of the tunnel and re-purposing your existing editorial content, in order to boost traffic to your site and engage users with more informational and navigational pieces.

See an example here – this is Nordstrom’s homepage: they have increased the visibility of their editorial content, easily accessible from the homepage.

  • Make sure the information on your online delivery (and size guides) are made more prominent and accessible from the homepage and navigation menu as people who would normally purchase in-store are now going online.
  • Monitor what products seem to be more in demand in this period, and update the homepage banners to promote such products, in particular items that encourage indoor consumption (for instance: games, home products, furniture, loungewear, craft and so on). Use your social media to support this strategy.

Nordstrom’s homepage appears to be a great example again.

  • Update your metadata (especially title tags) to highlight your online shopping capabilities and emphasise your delivery & return options.

See an example here – this is Zalando women’s dresses page

  • Consider making shipping policies more competitive. Some brands are offering free deliveries for lower order amounts (for instance: if you offered free delivery for orders over £100, consider cutting it to £50). Again, social media can help you emphasise this message as fast as possible.

See this Instagram post – the Italian clothing brand Gutteridge is now offering free delivery on orders over 30 Euros, while supporting the hashtag to stay at home during the lockdown.

  • Do not forget about any video content you may have already, that can help with the above recommendations (size-charts, deliveries, returns and more), using social channels to promote it even further – YouTube is your friend here.

See an example here – M&S has a plethora of sizing and buying guide videos on YouTube that could be used to reinforce their marketing message.

Should my SEO strategy change?

We do work in the SEO space but in times like these, it is important to be objective: differently from other channels, SEO has always been a long-term play. Learning from the 2008 economic crisis (Moz post on the subject is very interesting), it is worth considering how investing in SEO now while other companies aren’t, might help you be in a better position when good times resume.

Your SEO roadmap should probably change (see the paragraph below), but your overall strategy should not vary much. To reiterate what mentioned at the beginning of the post: what we are seeing in the SEO industry is that traffic drops are drops in interest not rankings, which means this decline is driven by a change in consumer behavior and not by Google.

What SEO activity should I focus on?

In terms of actual tasks and things to prioritise:

  • For the risk-adverse SEOs out there: it may be worth focusing on structural SEO activities, such as tech audits and health checks. Or simply pick up those activities that you never have time to do: review your analytics and make sure reporting is flawless, refresh your keyword research, update your structured data, and so on.
  • For the more adventurous SEOs: It is a good time to be testing “riskier” strategies, as they could be reversed with limited damage, given that less traffic is at risk.

No matter what approach you prefer among the two above, editorial content should be a priority. Yes transactional terms are experiencing lower interest (hence, traffic), but people have a lot of time to browse your site and most importantly, they have a lot of time to consume digital content – whether it is from social media (read how covid-19 has created a surge in social media usage) or from search engines. Repurposing / creating top of the funnel content, together with a strong social media strategy to support it, should be your focus.

See an example of two queries that are driving a lot of interest in the last week or so: “kids activities at home” and “home exercise”.

CRO is a serious opportunity

Consider switching your attention to conversion rate optimisation (CRO). It is worth evaluating what you can do to improve the likelihood of conversions, with the low(er) traffic available to the site. Experimenting with CRO (while keeping an eye on SEO) might be worth a shot right now.

Either focus your attention on pages that have the highest organic traffic or go for bolder changes on lower traffic pages/sections that you might be typically too risk-averse to try. Experimenting with CRO (while keeping an eye on SEO) might be worth a shot right now.

Consider using the new schema

Schema.org just released a new type of structure data to address the global response to the Covid-19 outbreak. In particular, two new types have been highlighted: “SpecialAnnouncement” and “eventAttendanceMode” which can support websites providing event updates in the SERP. The latter will specifically help those businesses whose events have moved from a physical location to online (find more on the event subject here)

Final Thoughts

To reiterate some of the key points in this post, we have also included a screenshot from Google initial findings and forecasts on the retail industry.

Undoubtedly, covid-19 is disrupting the digital marketing space, creating a lot of uncertainty for consumers and businesses. However, there is still a lot we can do to limit its effects, while waiting for the economy to recover. The companies that play their cards right and are digitally-forward thinking, will be better positioned coming out of these tough times, similarly to what happened after SARS (2003) and the economic crisis (2008).

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/how-e-com-is-being-impacted-and-what-seos-could-do/

Squarespace SEO for People Who Donโ€™t Know SEO

I can’t tell you how many people I know who have built or want to build their own site. These are regular people with basic computer skills, not web developer experts. One of the most user-friendly web builders available is Squarespace.

According to Builtwith.com, Squarespace hosts over 1.9 million live websites. Recently they’ve been making a big publicity push, even landing a Superbowl commercial. This past year Squarespace posted an extensive SEO user guide about their built-in functions and how to best utilize each one, making their platform great for SEO. However, this is assuming that the users know what SEO is and how to implement it.

I recognized this problem and decided to write this post. In it, I define the many Squarespace specific words and terms, what they mean as pertains to SEO, and how to best use them. For anyone looking to improve their Squarespace website visibility, improve user experience, or wanting a better understanding of SEO, this post should help.

Squarespace SEO Contents

I would like to note that I am not affiliated in any way with Squarespace. My goal is to help users better understand the platform and general SEO knowledge.

How to Use Keywords for Squarespace SEO

To help your website rank, use keywords in your site title, headings and descriptions. Below I go more in-depth about how to do this, specifically in Squarespace. If you’re already familiar with the importance of SEO keywords and usage, feel free to skip to the section on SEO titles.

Keywords & Ranking

One of the most important SEO tools are keywords, which are words and phrases that searchers enter into Google or other search engines. Keywords that you type into search bar are also called “search queries”. These words and phrases should be researched and planned out for the pages that you want to appear in search results. For a step-by-step keyword research strategy, check out Moz’s Keyword Research guide

Keywords are a big contributor to whether you show up in search results, or “ranking”. If you use accurate, well-researched keywords on your website, it greatly increases the chances of ranking for the keywords used.

Also, keep in mind, you should use different or unique keywords for each page of your website to avoid competition between your pages. For example, if your website sells custom T-shirts and you want to rank for the keyword “custom T-shirts”, the best practice is to choose one page (usually the homepage) for that primary keyword. Then assign other keywords to the other pages. If you have a page for women’s T-shirts, you could use the keyword “women’s custom T-shirts” for that page.

Keyword Research

When researching keywords, sometimes it’s difficult to know which ones will rank and how often a keyword is searched. The search volume (SV) is the frequency that a keyword is used in a query, typically calculated by the number of searches per month. The more often a keyword is used per month, the higher the SV and, usually, the more competitive the keyword.

A good place to start when researching keywords is typing in queries into the search bar to see what pops up. Using our custom T-shirt example, some suggested terms will appear when you start typing into the search bar. This is a good indication of whether searchers are using specific keywords.

Google suggests search terms when you type in keywords

Another tool to use is the related searches section at the bottom of a results page. When you type in “custom t shirts”, scroll to the bottom of the first page and you’ll see a list of other related terms. These are other keywords related to your primary keyword that you can consider using.

Related search terms appear at the bottom of the results page

If you’re still unsure whether to use a certain word for phrase, ask yourself two questions: 1) is this keyword relevant to my page content? and 2) would a searcher use this term if they want to find my website? Often times thinking like the searcher can help you decide which keywords to use.

For other free tools that you can use, check out these keyword research tools on ahrefs.com.

SEO Titles, Site Titles, Page Titles, Oh My!

In Squarespace, the “site title”, “SEO title” and “page title” have different functions and appear on-page, in browser tabs, and on the search results page. To understand the differences, we must first talk about “title tags”.

Title tags are an SEO term. They are HTML elements that indicate to search engines the title of a webpage. The searcher sees them as the blue text in search results. 

Title tags are the blue text in search results page.

Site Titles

In Squarespace, the “site title” is the name of your website, and appears at the top of your homepage. It also appears on the browser tab and search results page. The site title is your default title tag for your homepage.

Where titles appear on-page in your Squarespace website

It’s important to note that SEO does not differentiate between title tags by page type because they all function the same way. However, SS probably makes this distinction to make it more approachable for their users.

Let’s use an example. Our friends at bonjourbitchesblog.com use Squarespace to host their website, and they have agreed to let us analyze their basic SEO features. “Bonjour, bitches” is a pop culture, style and humor blog website. Their current site title reads “bonjour, bitches”, so their default site title comes up in search results as below.

Site titles that are not changed will show in search results like this

SEO Titles

You can add a separate “SEO title”, which as the name implies, is for SEO purposes. If you add an alternate title here, it shows up on the browser tab and in search results. In this case, the SEO title becomes the title tag for that page.

Why should you add an SEO title to your pages? This is where keywords come into play. Using well-research keywords in the title tag can 1) help the website show up in search results, and 2) increase likelihood of searchers clicking on the page. 

Using keywords in the SEO title signals the search engine what the website is about. We’ll do a quick keyword search for “bonjour, bitches” website to see what they could use as their primary keyword. When we type in “pop culture blog” into Google some potential keywords show in the search suggestions and related searches. From these, we can get a better sense of what searchers might use as search queries.

Suggested keywords for “pop culture blog”

“Pop culture blog” related search terms

SEO titles also help searchers understand what a webpage contains. If the site title remains unchanged, visitors who are unfamiliar with the “bonjour,bitches” brand won’t know what the website is about, which means they will less likely click on their link. But if we use keywords in the SEO title it will help searchers understand the website content. 

If we change the SEO title to “Pop Culture, Style & Humor Blog | bonjour bitches”, searchers will see the below in the results page. They will have a better sense of what to expect when they click on the link.

More descriptive site title helps users and search engines understand your website

Page Titles

In SEO, page titles and site titles (title tags) are synonymous. In Squarespace, page titles are the titles that show on each page of your website (not to be confused with “on-page titles” or more commonly known in SEO as “heading 1” or “header 1”, which we will discuss further below). 

On the Squarespace website, they explain that “some templates” will display page titles, and if you do not add an SEO title then the default page title appears in the browser tab and search results. As previously discussed, if you want different text to show on page versus search results, then you have to manually change it.

Heading Tags

We mentioned on-page titles earlier, which in SEO has a different name: “heading 1” or “header 1” (h1). SS also has a headings function that their users can customize on-page. They briefly explain heading tags and why it’s important for SEO, but their users also have to know to add this function. I would postulate that many SS users, especially ones with little SEO experience, don’t know they should do this, which is why this point is so important. Heading tags, especially h1 tags, are crucial for better visitor experience and help improve your website ranking. 

Let me explain a little bit about how h1 tags work. When you add a heading 1 (h1) on your webpage, the site visitor will see it as an on-page “title”, because it’s usually at the top of the page with the most prominent or bolded text. Search engines see a corresponding <h1> HTML code in the website’s source code, with the same h1 text that’s on-page. Essentially, both the visitor and search engine see the same h1 for that page, but in different formats. 

Keeping this in mind, it’s best practice to have a keyword-rich, unique h1 for each page of your website. If you have the same or similar h1 tags for multiple pages, the search engine will be confused about which page matches the visitor query best, which means your pages will be competing with each other. 

How to Add Heading 1 in Squarespace

To add h1 tags in Squarespace you will have to go into each page and change the formatting of the on-page text. Yes, this can be a lot of manual work, but keep in mind that you most likely will only do this once for each page, and every new page you add to your website.

An important thing to note is that many of Squarespace website templates have built-in heading tag features. This means that when you fill in on-page content like site titles and blog post titles, it will automatically generate h1 tags for you. However, not all templates do this, and SS provides a table of which template families are the exceptions.

Squarespace template table shows which have built-in heading tags

Using our example again, the “bonjour, bitches” website uses the “Skye” template. Unfortunately we can see that Skye is NOT one of the templates that automatically generates h1 tags. The site title on the homepage does not create an h1 tag, which means you have to manually add one to the page. 

Squarespace Skype template has no built-in h1 tags

bonjour bitches homepage has no h1 tag

For individual blog pages on the website, the Skye template will generate h2 tags from the on-page titles. This isn’t necessarily bad for SEO, but search engines deem <h1> more important than <h2>. Think of it this way: if the webpage were a book, the h1 is the book title and the h2 is a chapter title within that book. The search engine sees that h2 tag without any context, so it’s much harder to understand what the webpage is about.

The key takeaway here is this: if your Squarespace template does not have built-in h1 tags, then you should manually insert them on each page. Or, if you haven’t decided on a template yet, choose one that has built-in h1 tags to make your life easier.

SEO Site Descriptions and Page Descriptions

Squarespace uses the terms “SEO site description” and “SEO description” to talk about that short description you see in search results underneath the title tag. In SEO this is called a “meta description”. Meta descriptions are good for SEO because it affects the click-through-rate for your website, which indirectly affects how well you rank.

Meta description is what you see underneath title tags in search results

Click-through-rate (CTR) is a percentage of how often a link is clicked on when it appears in search results. Web pages that have a high CTR signal to search engines that the page is highly relevant to the search query, which means it will rank higher.

From a recent study, pages with meta descriptions get 5.8% more clicks than those without a description. So it’s important to have keyword-rich, highly relevant meta descriptions for pages that you want to rank and searchers to click on.

In Squarespace, both “SEO site description” and “SEO description” are the same as meta description. The distinguishing factor is, SEO site description represents your homepage, while the SEO description represents all other pages. SS probably differentiates between pages for better user comprehension, but in SEO, meta descriptions on all pages are treated the same.

Missing meta description in search result page

In Squarespace, you must manually add the SEO site descriptions and SEO descriptions, or that content will be missing. As above, meta descriptions affect CTR for your web page, so it’s best practice to add them for every page.

Manually enter SEO site description for your homepage. Image taken from Squarespace

Some templates in SS also have “page descriptions”, which appear as on-page text and will show up in search results as the meta description for that page. Not all templates have page descriptions, so check this table to see if yours does. 

Website Navigation: Building a Site Header

SS uses the term “header” and “site header” to describe the on-page navigation, which should not be confused with page headings (h1). This is where your site title, logo and website navigation will live, including links. In SEO, the main navigation should be clear, concise and intuitive. The more easily a visitor can navigate and find what they’re looking for, the better the overall experience and more likely they will return to your website. You can read more about website navigation basics here.

SquareSpace SEO Words to Know

For reference, I have created a table of “SquareSpace SEO” terms and their SEO industry equivalent (or close match). These are all the Squarespace terms we’ve covered in this post.

SquareSpace (SS) Term SEO Term Where it appears Meaning
Site title Title tag At the top corner of each page. It also appears in the browser tab and can appear in search results page This is the name of your website homepage or main page. It is also the search results title by default. This can be text, a logo or thumbnail image file
SEO title Title tag or Page title In the search results page and browser tabs (if the user adds it) This title replaces the site title when you want different text to show in search results. You can add this to all pages on your website.
Page title Title tag or Page title *some pages at the top of page For *some templates, this shows on individual pages and in search results if there’s no SEO title assigned
Heading tags Headings, Headers (h1, h2, etc.) On-page at the top of page (e.g., blog post title) Headings are the on-page titles that also show up in the page source code as <h1>, <h2>, etc. They help visitors and search engines understand the page content
SEO site description Meta Description

*homepage*

Search results page Short description that appears in search results that says what that page contains.

*in SS this is only for the homepage*

SEO description Meta Description *all pages* Search results page Short description that appears in search results that says what that page contains

*in SS this is for individual pages or collection pages (products, blog posts, etc)*

Page descriptions Meta Description

*on-page description*

On-page content and

search results page

On-page description on individual pages, this will also appear in search results if SEO description is not added

*in SS only some templates have this feature*

Header (Navigation) Navigation Bar

or

Main Navigation

On-page, usually at the top This helps website visitors find what they’re looking for on a website. It usually includes anchor text/links to other pages on your website

There are many other facets of SEO that aren’t covered here, but I hope this helps users better navigate Squarespace and improve their website visibility. For those who want to learn more about SEO best practices, I’ve listed some resources below to help you get started.

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/squarespace-seo-for-people-who-dont-know-seo/

How to Write an Incredible Title Tag

The humble title tag. Probably the single most important 50-60 characters of that piece of content you’ve written. 

Perhaps you’ve found this post because you’ve spent hours pouring your soul into a piece of writing and now you’ve realised people will only read it if you write a good 50-60 characters. Or maybe it’s just that your boss told you that he needs quick wins for your product pages and so you’re turning in desperation to the ol’ title tag. Writing a good title tag is part art, part science.  How do you do it?

We’ll start with some quick basics for beginners. If you’re looking for the split test results, fun processes & all the more advanced things, scroll down two sections. Nothing to see here.

Contents

What is a title tag?

The title tag of a page is the HTML tag which is used to summarise the content of your webpage. It’ll be used by search engines as the title in search:

Yes, I’m using my own post as an example…

In your browser tab:

And even as a fallback in social sharing posts:

It isn’t the same thing as the on-page title! An on-page title could be written as a variation of your title tag, or something completely different. If we take a look at the article I’m using as an example we can see that the brand isn’t on the on-page title.

  • Title tag: A Complete Guide to Log Analysis with Big Query | Distilled
  • On-page title: A Complete Guide to Log Analysis with Big Query

If you want a more severe example take a look at this Redbull article.

How long should a title tag be?

A title tag should typically be 50-60 characters. Technically Google’s maximum size is 600px. This usually works out at about 50-60 characters.

What do we want a title tag to do?

Welcome back, experienced people. What do we want our title tags to do?

  1. Summarise our page: Our title should summarise the general thrust of our page. Google is going to use it to understand what our page is about.
  2. Get people to click: It’s what users are going to see in the SERP. We need to convince people to pick us.

And if we just do one, you usually don’t get the best results. For example, using the title from the blog post above:

  • Totally factual: A Guide on Log Analysis.
  • All click: 6 Easy Steps to Log Analysis They Don’t Want You To Know.

We want to maximise how clicky our titles are without… you know… lying, mentioning that one trick dentists hate and crucially without compromising on summarising the page.

The title is primarily for people arriving on your site from Google. We’re not trying to pull people in who are idling. Those people are on Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, Instagram etc. (I know we did mention above that the title can sometimes be for social, but you can overwrite that if you’d like!)

The audience for your title is someone searching with an intent & that always comes first.

The process is quite different now depending on if you’re writing for a single article, or a template. 

How to write a title tag for a single article

Step 1 – Write the article

Write the article. It’s far easier to write a title when you know what you’ve written about. (This is assuming you know what you’re writing about, otherwise, sometimes headline writing can be a good way to generate ideas.)

Step 2 – Summarise the primary purpose/point of the article

Pull out the primary purpose/point of the article. No clickiness yet, just the factual summary.

Example

Step 3 – Find the factual, commonly searched keywords needed to describe the topic

Try to summarise what someone might search to find your article. Aim for the simplest most basic version of it. Search that term, take the top 5-10 articles which rank for it, plug them into a tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Searchmetrics, Brightedge etc. and download all the keywords those articles rank for.

If the top 5-10 articles look nothing like yours either:

  • You’re first to a topic (unlikely, but possible)
  • Or your phrase is wrong, try again.

Once you’re happy with the phrase, take that big list of keywords and look for any other commonly occurring phrases you’re missing and take note.

Example

We’re going to continue using my old article on log analysis as an example. Because it doesn’t have a great title…

First search phrase pick: “log analysis” 

If we look up this keyword these are the top articles (only 3 shown below). Clearly we can see here that none of these articles are about search log analysis, I probably need to change my keyword:

Second search phrase pick: “seo log analysis”

Yep, that search result looks far better. We’ve still got a short phrase, but now the articles are now on topic with my own:

Excellent. Now:

  • Let’s take all the URLs that rank in the top 5-10.
  • Download the keywords they rank  for. (Ahrefs, SEMRush, Sistrix etc.)

And then get the most common keywords from that list. This ngrams tool is a nice way to do it. We get:

word frequency
log 164
analysis 65
file 56
analyzer 41
server 40
logs 29
grep 13
analyze 13
access 12
excel 11

If we pull out the big generic words which would also apply to my article we get:

  • Log
  • Analysis
  • File

And possibly also:

  • Server

Step 4 – Writing lots of titles

Process

Now we’ve got all the factual words we’ll want in our title and brand.

What inspiration can we get for the clicky part? Lets quickly blast through a couple:

  • Writing an emotional headline:
    • Fear
    • Surprise
    • Anger
    • Disgust
    • Affirmation
  • Adding numbers:
    • Number of items in a list
    • Price
    • Date
  • Shameless clickbait inspiration:
    • Adding in mindblowing adverbs
    • The word “actually”
    • Being unreasonably specific

Then we try to write as many headlines as we can, but without trading away our relevance and factual keywords. 

When I started I worked with Hannah Smith on several projects. I remember her beating into us – “Write 20 titles. 20 is really hard.” Most of them will suck, but you’ll force yourself to be creative and somewhere there might be gold.

Example

Back to our previous example.

We’ve got our important factual words. We also know we want SEO as without that the intent of results shown wasn’t correct. Together those 4 words (without server) take up 18 characters. Which gives us roughly 32 characters left to play with. Let’s also look at our current title and see what we’re working with:

  • A Complete Guide to Log Analysis with BigQuery | Distilled
    • Making it clicky 
    • Factual description 
    • Brand 

We can see I’ve used “Complete Guide” to try and make it clicky and that I’ve also put the method of analysis “BigQuery” into the title. Both of these we could definitely play around with. Now we just try to write as many titles as we can.

  • “A Guide to SEO Log File Analysis | Distilled”
  • “What is a log file and why is it helpful for SEO? | Distilled”
  • “6 Stage SEO Log File Analysis – A Complete Guide | Distilled”
  • “How to do an SEO log file analysis | Distilled”
  • “SEO Log File Analysis – The most important technical analysis | Distilled”
  • “5 Ways to Analyse Log Files for SEO You Didn’t Know | Distilled”
  • “Logging in the SEO jungles of the internet | Distilled”
  • “Log analysis is the technical audit you should be doing | Distilled”
  • “Stop wasting your time crawling and look at the logs | Distilled”
  • “Log analysis for SEO in 2020 | Distilled”
  • “Server Log Analysis Guide – SEO For Large Websites | Distilled”

I started with the restrictions and gradually just ignored them in my attempt to get to 20 titles. I didn’t get there. Sorry Hannah.

Step 5 – Picking one

How do we decide which is best? 

Honestly, it’s savagely hard to pick the right title by yourself. Of all the title tag tests we’ve run at Distilled, only one in five is typically positive. When I first started in search, I thought titles were the easy win. About a year and a half of running endless title tag split tests and I’m no longer convinced.

If you can test it. The two easiest ways for a single article are:

  • Paying for it: If you’ve got the budget, you could run paid social media campaigns and see which title performs best.
  • Friends & Colleagues: Make a poll for your friends & colleagues and get them to vote.

How to write hundreds of title tags for a template

The above process works great if all you need to write is a single title.

But if you’ve got a template with hundreds of thousands of pages, then you can’t really do that. Well, you could, but it would be exhausting. Instead, we’re going to need a format for a title that we can apply to all our pages, to make our template shine. That previous process won’t cut it.

Step 1 – Summarise the primary purpose/point of the page

We’re going to start by trying to summarise the attributes of the page in as much detail as possible. This will give us an idea of what pieces of detail we can pull into our titles across our template.

Example

I’ve pulled two page templates from rightmove.co.uk (this isn’t every page template but we’re keeping it simple):

Step 2 – Figure out what searches should return our template

Our templated page matches a specific intent. We need to figure out how to represent that in a title tag. 

Two things make this hard:

  • We might have multiple templates with similar intents.
  • The pages in our template may be similar.

We need to try and make a title which:

  • Differentiates our template from other templates.
  • Differentiates pages in our template from each other.

If we’re really struggling perhaps these pages shouldn’t even exist. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Example

We have two templates:

  • For sale
  • To rent

In this case, it’s pretty simple. For sale & to rent are clearly the important keywords we need to keep each template different. We can see that by looking at the SERPs. Changing those keywords, changes the results from for sale to rent.

Within our template, we have lots of different locations.

  • Properties for sale in Manchester
  • Properties for sale in Ipswich

 In order to keep the pages in our template different, we’re going to need the location in the title.

Step 3 – Accept that it’s messy

But anytime you work with titles it’s going to get messy.

Take our previous example. Rightmove actually has pages for Manchester & Greater Manchester. One ranks for properties and the other for flats. Something is clearly going on there. Uh oh.

Should that change what we do?

When we’re working at scale, patterns are going to breakdown. There hopefully is an underlying pattern, but look long enough and you’ll find exceptions. All we can do is do our best. Make a reasonable guess at what is going on and spoiler for stage 6. Test.

Step 4 – Are there any common phrases we’re missing?

This is exactly the same as step 3 for articles

  • Take your phrase which summarises the page.
  • Search for it. Download all the keywords the top 5-10 results rank for.
  • Find the most common words.

Example

To keep it brief, we’re going to just stick with the properties for sale template for the rest of these steps! Running this example with the top phrases for “properties for sale in manchester” we get:

Keyword Frequency
manchester 211
sale 122
for 107
for sale 96
houses 59
house 45
buy 42
sale manchester 40
houses for 36
property 32

Words to note here are all fairly self-explanatory:

  • Property
  • Houses
  • Buy

Step 5 – What can we add to make it more attractive?

We know what we need to include to make the intent of our page clear.

  • Property/houses
  • For sale/To rent
  • Location

Now let’s use that as a base and write as many titles as possible.  

We want to:

  1. Make them as clicky as possible.
    1. Use extra attributes.
    2. Get creative.
  2. Avoid using words which might change search intent.

A general difference between this and individual articles: If you end up with an entirely factual template title that is far more acceptable here than with an individual article.

Generic ideas for things you can put in titles

  • Adding prices into the title.
  • Adding some sort of quantity into the title. 
  • Adding year into the title. 
  • Put in the obvious e.g. “online” in an online shop.
  • Popular synonyms.

Words to watch out for that can change an intent

  • Comparison style words – best, compare etc. 
  • Deal seeking words: cheapest, cheap, deal, affordable

Example

Let’s have a go at writing titles for our category pages

Our base is:

  • Properties for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove

Let’s make variants:

  • Properties & Houses for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • Buy Properties & Houses for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • Buy Houses & Properties for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • 3,940 Houses & Properties for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • 3,000+ Houses & Properties for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • Properties for Sale – Houses for Sale in Manchester | Rightmove
  • 3,940 Houses & Properties for Sale Across Manchester | Rightmove
  • 3,940 Houses for Sale in Manchester – Get there first | Rightmove
  • 3,940 Properties for Sale in Manchester – Find your Happy | Rightmove

That’s a lot of variations. We even managed to fit in their tag line at the end.

Step 5 – Pick a title

Process

Just like with articles we’re going to end up with a list of titles and unsure which one will be best. Far more than with individual title tags, it’s really really important to split test.

  • Template level title tags are messy. We’ve already seen that in our example. You can make educated guesses from performing some large scale analysis, but there are going to be effects you miss. 
  • What works on one site won’t work on another & we’ve found only 1 in 5 title tags ends up being positive.
  • The stakes are often higher. We’re not changing one page, we’re changing a group of pages which is often a non-trivial amount of your search traffic.

If you can test at all I’d highly recommend it. We’ve got plenty of resources to help you get started. The two most useful should be:

If you can’t test, you can at least lean on our tests, I’ve got results from those in the next section.

Important context for our title tag split tests

We’re lucky enough at Distilled to have access to SEO split testing software we built. It lets us test different titles & accurately measure the impact on organic traffic. We’re about to talk about the different results we’ve learned, so it’s important to briefly talk about the assumptions implicit in these results.

You can only run SEO split tests on large groups of similar pages (e.g. all category pages, all listing pages etc.) and that means our results are from certain types of websites:

  • The websites are mostly large and authoritative. 
  • They tend to be in competitive SERPs.
  • The companies usually have SEO teams who have done the basics. There usually isn’t anything glaringly awful like product pages without titles that we can fix.
  • They are more typically tests applied to template pages like category, product & listing pages rather than blog pages. (Although that’s not everything, we run split tests on the Moz blog for example!)

I think you can learn a huge amount from these tests, but it’s still important to bear those assumptions in mind.

What are the chances you write a good title tag?

Writing titles is really hard. We mentioned this above, but let’s look at our numbers in slightly more detail. We’ve run many title tag tests across different industries. Our results break down as follows:

  • Successes: 22%
  • Null: 38%
  • Failures: 40%

Oof. 78% of the time title tag tests fall flat or actually harm the website. That makes testing super important. It’s not impossible you could work on a website where you never have a positive title tag test. Nothing you try will ever work. Without testing, you’d probably still roll out those titles. Just spotting the failures and not rolling them out will save you a huge amount of traffic.

With a single article, this isn’t so worrying, you’ve got a far larger creative space to play in and if it does go wrong, it’s a far smaller proportion of your traffic.

If you’re changing titles on big page templates, please make sure you test them!

How much impact do title tag changes have?

Broadly most title tag tests have an impact between 4-15% in either direction.

You can see a distribution of our title tag tests below.

7 learnings from title tag split tests

Most title tag changes are unique to a website, changing words and phrases which don’t generalise well from website to website. However, there are some more common patterns we’ve been able to test.

Putting in prices

50% of our title tag tests involving adding the price into the title have been positive. Not only do we get to put a number into the title, but it also provides more information.

Why was it null or negative the rest of the time? 

Our consultant Emily Potter thinks this is down to whether or not Google can find the price you put in the title on the rest of your page – i.e. are you being honest about price. We also think it may make a difference depending on how competitive you are on price.

Putting in year numbers

We haven’t had the chance to test this a huge number of times, but so far this change has been positive in the niches where we’ve done it. The shameless putting 2019, 2020 in the title has helped.

Shortening title tags hasn’t actually been that helpful

When you have lots of automatically generated titles, it’s common to end up with titles that are too long.

We’ve run a number of tests about shortening these titles and nearly all of them have been null (~80%). They’ve also never been positive. Our best current theory is that the templates which often end up with long title tags are typically attracting long tail traffic. When they are truncated, they’re still the only relevant result and so continue to rank, perhaps for long tail queries, keyword stuffing isn’t a problem.

Having said that I’d still say it’s worth trying to shorten your titles. If you manage to cut 4-5 characters from your title with no effect, you could use that space to add price or something else which may have an effect.

Emojis didn’t work

We’ve run several tests to put emojis into title tags and so far it hasn’t helped. Sorry folks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I mean c’mon. Marketers can barely be trusted with FAQ schema, can you imagine what we’d do to Emojis.

Eye-grabbing on category/listing pages

We’ve tried some title tags for category/listing pages which were very different, actively calling out to the user in the SERPs.

  • Standard: Ford for Sale | CarShop
  • Example of our type of test: You there! Fords for Sale at the CarShop

These did not work. 

Localising language

We tested using localised versions of phrases. This wasn’t single letter changes (like s for z in UK vs US), but entire words e.g. pants instead of trousers.

This was notably positive (~20-25%).

Removing implied words from the title

We’ve seen mixed results from this. We ran a split test & found removing “online” from title tags had no effect on one particular client. Outside of our split-testing platform for a different client, we removed the word “online” from the title of an online store.

Our rankings for the terms including “online”, dropped and we quickly put it back in.

More detail on the split tests

If you want to hear more detail about some of these tests, or just love video and you’re signed up to DistilledU, you can see Emily Potter’s video on split testing from last year. If you’re not subscribed, you can see my slightly older talk here.

How long does it take to see the impact of a title tag change?

We usually see the impact of a title tag in 3-5 days.  We’ve had a couple which has taken longer, but this is the majority. The previous caveats are of course important here, we typically work on larger websites, which are heavily crawled.

Summary

I genuinely thought when I started I’d be able to get this post done in 1000 words. Even now, I can see all the little bits of context & other things that go into writing a good title, which I just couldn’t fit into this post. We didn’t even start talking about internal politics ๐Ÿ™‚

But hopefully, this has got you on your way. Now let’s hear some stories.

What title tag tests have you found effective? What’s the worst title tag you’ve ever tried?

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/how-to-write-an-incredible-title-tag/

How to Start Getting Organic Traffic to Your Blog

Writing a blog that no one ever reads is the internet equivalent of throwing a party, where half the people who’ve marked themselves as attending on Facebook don’t turn up. 

That moment when you log into Google Analytics and see that your posts have had three visitors in the past month, and two of them were GoogleBot, is exactly like watching the hummus you decided to make from scratch (that’s a thing) remain untouched by the four guests that come to your house; two of whom are already claiming they’ve got another birthday party to go to and are making for the door.

There are two questions here. The first is whether Facebook RSVPs can ever be an accurate way of knowing how many people are actually coming to your event (absolutely not). And the second: what’s stopping people turning up? 

Let’s now transfer this clunky metaphor to the marketing world and get to the point of this post: why is no one turning up to read the content on your blog?

We’ve all seen brand and company blogs that lean too far towards being salesy, unrelatable and self-serving. They answer the company’s needs (here’s why you should buy hummus!) rather than those of potential readers (how do I make hummus from scratch?) – and the amount of organic traffic they get suffers as a result.

Which is why getting people to arrive on your blog requires planning, research, and having a bit of a clear out. And a lot of this needs to happen before anything even goes live. 

So if you’re wondering how to get organic traffic to your blog, here are some steps to follow. Done right, it’ll increase visits over time, build your company’s reputation as an authority on topics within your niche, and help your site’s SEO as a result. 

(Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee it’ll also make people come to your party).

1. Audit your existing content

This is the necessary bit of cleaning before you invite people over.

Except in this scenario, you’re using a big spreadsheet to work out what needs to stay, and what needs to go. My colleague Ben has helpfully created a content audit template which makes life a lot easier, so take a look at that before you get started. But I’ll go through some basics below.

Hopefully, you’ll already have Google Analytics running on your blog, so head to 

Behaviour > Site content > All pages 

…and change the date range to at least the last year. This should bring up a list of all your blog posts, and the traffic they’ve received over that time. Export it. You’re going to use this list to find out what blog posts are already getting traffic, and which ones aren’t. 

You might also want to check other metrics on these posts, like whether they’ve got any backlinks – because that might also inform what content you want to keep. To do this, you could combine backlinks detected in Google Search Console with data from either Ahrefs or Majestic.  

Then, starting with the highest to lowest traffic, one by one, go through each of the posts in terms of content and note/look out for the following:

  • What posts are getting consistent traffic? 
  • Which posts have seasonal spikes in traffic
  • Which posts get no traffic at all
  • Are there any popular topics/themes/categories

Make a note to fix:

  • Outdated content 
  • Broken images
  • Strange formatting
  • Broken links

And ultimately against each one, mark whether to:

  • Keep it 
  • Keep it, but update/repurpose it
  • Delete it completely
  • Delete it + redirect to a more useful post

By the end of this stage, you’ll have a list of actions to go through to help your existing content work harder. 

2. Keyword research

Next, you need to find out which topics it makes sense for your brand to be writing about in the future. And within that, the specific terms people are actually actively searching for. 

Spoiler alert: it might not directly relate to whatever you sell. 

There are a number of tools you can use to do this (free and paid) – and we’ll go into those in a future post. But essentially, it’ll involve using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Keyword Planner to identify:

  • Relevant search terms within your niche
  • Their monthly search volumes
  • What your competitors are writing about 
  • Seasonal trends where traffic might spike

And once you’ve got a list of search terms to write content around, it’s time to start turning these into long tail ideas for evergreen blog posts. It’s these that, little by little, will build up traffic to your blog over time. 

3. Brainstorm topic ideas 

Your keyword research will leave you with a list of questions or informational non-branded terms and their search volumes, and an idea of when they peak. 

But the tricky bit is turning those terms into useful, relevant blog post ideas that fit neatly into a content calendar and align with your brand’s demographic. Remember, your aim here is to answer queries, become an authority on a particular topic, and provide relevant information. 

No one wants to come to a party and have the host do a hard sell. 

To rank in the SERPs, the posts will need to be detailed and well researched – so keep your business’ expertise in mind when you’re coming up with ideas. Don’t be afraid to go niche. 

Again, you might want to use some tools here to help you. Sites like Answer the Public can give you suggestions, or ‘People also ask’ on the Google SERPs. 

Let’s take an example: you’re a hotel brand, and your keyword research says that “things to do in London” is a good, high volume keyword to target. 

But it’s also a highly competitive term. So perhaps there’s a better way to narrow things down even more:

What other things dictate someone’s need for a hotel in London?

  • Time of year / seasonality
  • Specific interests, activities or events
  • Location: particular areas/boroughs

Your list of potential blog post ideas could a bit like this:

  • Things to do in London when it’s raining 
  • Baby-friendly museums in London
  • Where to take mum for her birthday in London

Do this until you’ve built out a big list of blog post ideas covering all the different topic areas you identified in your keyword research. Next step: plan it out. 

4. Plan out the content

Once you’ve got a huge list of blog post ideas and an idea of when their search volumes peak, use a content calendar to plan out what you’re publishing month by month. Here’s a useful guide to creating a content calendar which you can feed these organic traffic posts into.

When you’re planning out your content, consider:

  • Resource and time: to stand a chance of ranking, these posts will be comprehensive, well researched, and detailed (more on that next)
  • Posts will need to be written and published before the search volume peaks
  • Aim to publish at least 4 weeks beforehand, e.g. a post about Halloween outfit ideas would need to be published around mid September to catch the upward tick

5. Research the competition

Ok, let’s see what’s happening at that party. Not yours; no one’s at yours. The other, better one your guests are off to instead. You do some digging, and find out that party’s got a proper DJ and a decent sound system, while you’re putting your iPhone speaker in a wine glass. Where would you rather be?

Basically, before you start writing: know what you’re up against.

Take the blog post title you want to rank for (e.g. “things to do in London when it’s raining”), Google it, and see who and what is already ranking.

  • Format: are they numbered listicles (if so, how many ideas do they list?), long form pieces, or step-by-step guides? 
  • How recent is the article? 
  • Who currently has the featured snippet and what could increase your chances of getting the top spot? 
  • What’s the word count? How many items are they listing?

Remember: depending on your niche, your blog content competitors might not be your direct business competitors. 

So, Booking.com might be your competition when you’re selling hotels in London, but when you’re informing people about things to do in London, you could be up against established authorities like Time Out, travel magazines, or tourist boards. This gives you an idea of how detailed and well researched your post needs to be to compete.

Once you’ve got an idea of what your blog post needs to include, write a strong brief. 

5. Training for copywriters

Unless you’re working for one of the media outlets above, the chances are you don’t have a team of journalists working in-house.

And as I said, depending on your niche and industry, your competition might be lifestyle publications staffed by journalists.

The shift to writing more editorial-style content can be tricky if you’re working with in-house copywriters who are used to writing quite short, salesy product-focused copy. 

Depending on the competition, these evergreen, organic traffic driving posts are going to need to be more than 500 words of generic fluff. It’ll require research, sometimes resulting in upwards of 1,000 words, to be able to compete with whatever’s ranking on page 1. 

So if you don’t have the expertise in-house, consider where you might be able to get it. 

  • Who in your company can add expertise? 
  • Can you interview them and shape their answers into a post? 
  • Do you have the budget to source external freelance resource? 
  • Can you invest in basic SEO training for your copywriting team to help them along?

If you’re stuck, here’s a post on how to write high quality content to get you started.

7. Optimise, optimise, optimise

Before you publish, there’s a last bit of admin. Here are some things to check:

  • Whether you’re linking to other relevant blog posts (internally or externally)
  • If you’ve included a call to action at the end of the post
  • Whether your titles and meta descriptions are optimised for search (if you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast allows you to specify different titles and descriptions for search and social)
  • Avoid putting dates in the URL (i.e. best-things-to-do-London-winter-2019) so you can update the same post next year without it looking out of date
  • Images are consistently named, spaced and formatted, the file sizes are low 

8. And last but not least, keep it updated

Kind of like getting people to turn up to your party, having an organic content strategy requires planning and work along the way.

It’s not a short term plan. It can take a good few months for a blog post to start getting organic traffic, and you might find you need to revisit the posts every so often to keep them updated and relevant.

So once you’ve written a post, keep a calendar note for seasonal posts that can be updated each year / as appropriate instead of creating new ones. 

That’s just an overview of the steps you need to take, and we’ll be going into more details in future guides. 

If you’ve got any questions in the meantime, or are wondering why your blog isn’t getting the organic traffic you think it should, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/start-getting-organic-traffic-to-your-blog/

SEO Insights on Salesforce Community Cloud Behavior

The Salesforce Community Cloud is a content management system (CMS) specialized for support or community-focused websites. It is a powerful CMS that allows brands like NASAAncestryPlayStationIntel, and many others to share information in a concise and organized way for their communities.

A well-implemented CMS complements a website’s SEO. The CMS platform is a medium through which a business presents content to its users. However, the content reach and indexability through Google can be impacted by a CMS’s technical limitations. Content management systems’ ability to improve a website’s SEO depends on its capacity to support the implementation of SEO best practices.

One of our clients had come to us for help after they noticed their organic reach had dropped. They suspected their recently implemented CMS had something to do with it, so we decided to investigate further. To identify the concerning behavior, we conducted a technical audit of our client’s website, as well as five other sites that use Salesforce Community Cloud. We found the following issues, which are fairly standard but nothing too unusual.

SEO Issues in Salesforce Community Cloud

  1. Status codes served differently for user and user-agent: A page a user sees as a 200, gets picked up by Googlebot as a 302.
  2. No Canonicals: None of the pages we observed are using canonical tags, but Salesforce support indicates that it is possible to implement them.
  3. JavaScript Rendering: Pages using Salesforce Community Cloud are rendered in JavaScript, possibly slowing down the index rate of a website.
  4. Redirect Limits: We believe Salesforce Community Cloud has a limit on redirects. They do not have any public documentation stating that they do.

Although I wish I could share what client, and what websites I found this behavior in, I am not allowed. I was, however, able to find this behavior on OpenTable, which is a website that Salesforce publicly announces as using their platform. Let’s dig deeper as to why these issues are showing up on Salesforce and what we recommend your team does to handle them.

Status codes served differently for user and user-agent

Status codes represent the communication between a browser and a server. When a user submits a browser request, the site server is asked for information, and it returns a status code.

The behavior we noticed in websites with Salesforce Community Cloud was that our crawler was classifying most URLs with a 200 status code.

In theory, if a user would visit that page, the information would be visible, and the user can interact with the website. We clicked into some URLs to confirm that they were a 200 status code, and we identified misclassification on status codes. We got the “User” status code by opening up the link in our browser and found the status code with the Redirect Path extension for Chrome. To get the “Crawler” status code, we used the Mac Terminal. In Terminal we executed a curl command with additional filters, to get the status code and HTML source code as Googlebot.

Our Terminal command:

curl -v https://help.opentable.com/s/article/Account-Management-Incomplete-Reservation-History-1481744282490?language=en_US -H “User-Agent: Googlebot”

The following are examples of how URL status codes were different for the user and crawler.

Examples:

OpenTable Dinner Help

https://help.opentable.com/s/article/Account-Management-Incomplete-Reservation-History-1481744282490?language=en_US

Crawler: 200 Status Code

User: 302 Status Code

https://help.opentable.com/s/article/How-do-I-view-change-or-cancel-a-reservation-1505260327125?language=en_US

Crawler: 200 Status Code

User: 200 Status Code

No canonicals

Canonical tags are used to help Google identify which URL we want them to index. This is helpful when multiple URLs have the same information. Implementing the canonical tags helps Google identify and index the URL we want. These tags prevent Google from labeling multiple URLs as duplicate content.

The behavior we picked up on Salesforce Community Cloud was that out of the multiple websites we crawled only one was using canonical tags in three of its URLs. Supporting documents on Community Cloud’s page state that adding canonical tags is possible with the platform.

We recommend that those who are using Community Cloud implement canonical tags as soon as they know which URLs they want to be in the index.

JavaScript Rendered Page

The relationship between Googlebot and JavaScript has always been very uncertain. Recently the Search Engine Journal published an article titled “JavaScript Indexing Delays Are Still an Issue for Google”. In this article, they test and confirm that Googlebot is still taking longer to index a page that is rendered using JavaScript. We recommend that if your page is using JavaScript the source code visible to the bot should include the links that are found within that page. This allows for the Googlebot to more efficiently crawl its way through your website.

The behavior we found on Salesforce Community Cloud is that all those using it have their pages rendered in JavaScript. It is often that tabs or actions a user may take are linked to by using a JSVoid(0) command. Another essential behavior we noticed was that the source code that is visible to the user does not contain the same information as the source code available to Googlebot. We can confirm that Salesforce Community Cloud was designed to be this way, and they are single-page applications according to Salesforce’s Blog on Lightning Communities.

While this does not mean that Google cannot index or crawl your site, it does mean it will take longer for new content to be indexed. At this point, there is not a lot that can be done, so either Salesforce optimizes their CMS to make HTML crawlable, or Google speeds up indexing JavaScript-rendered pages.

Redirect Limits

We have worked with clients in the past that have had a limited amount of redirects available when using Salesforce Community Cloud. Although we are not able to confirm this with current public Salesforce documentation, we were still able to find a solution for our client. They wanted to redirect all their previous links and met the threshold. Our recommendation to them was to use a CDN to manage the redirects beyond the limit.

If you are thinking of using Salesforce Community Cloud, we recommend making sure that they can redirect all of your current links.

In Conclusion

Salesforce Community Cloud is a great CMS allowing businesses to efficiently and quickly show content to their users. However, some of its behavior may significantly impact your site’s search performance. While the behaviors highlighted in this article are not necessarily bad, they are helpful to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about Googlebot crawling and indexing your site. For businesses interested in using Salesforce Community Cloud, I recommend asking questions around the common behaviors to a Salesforce Sales Representative and making sure that this CMS will work for your business.

If you have any questions about this behavior or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to reach out at jose.faustomartinez@distilled.net. This project would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of Lydia Gilbertson.

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/seo-insights-on-salesforce-community-cloud-behavior/

What You Can Do With a Free SEMrush Account

Building your SEO toolkit is generally dictated by two things: your budget and your goals. This makes test-driving tools and platforms an ideal way to figure out which platforms provide the features that you need most, and lets you determine just how much you have to invest in tools to access them. Many platforms offer free trials, but they can be very limiting. One tool we use at Distilled is SEMrush. They offer a 7-day trial that gives users the flexibility to try a range of features for free.

As mentioned above, we regularly use SEMrush at Distilled. If we were to maximize our trial while tightening our purse strings, however, what would we do with this free subscription? 

The short answer: Many of the same things we would do with a paid subscription, the caveat being that the reports and data we pull will be limited to just a handful of results. To get a clearer view of our options, let’s look into the benefits and limitations of this free account 

What are the Limitations of a Free SEMrush Account?

First things first: Let’s talk limits. As comprehensive as the SEMrush free trial is, it still only offers users a sampling of the features of a paid account. To get the most out of a trial, a low-budget marketer should know these limitations before starting. Otherwise, you could risk going over budget on each feature too quickly before you’ve had a chance to leverage each one.

As a general rule, you can access up to 10 listed results. For more involved features such as reports, you can create one of each.  Below is an overview of some popular tools and their limitations:

  • 10 searches per day
  • 10 results per search
  • Max 100 pages crawled for the site audit
  • 10 keywords to track
  • 10 idea units for On Page SEO Tracker
  • 1 SEO content template
  • 1 SEO Writing Assistant template
  • 1 Keyword Magic Tool list
  • 2 search queries in Topic Research
  • 1 PDF report

Now that we know our boundaries, we can determine the best tools to use during the trial period.

Keyword Research

Domain Overview

As imperative as keyword research is to any digital content marketing strategy, adding in a limited budget makes this even more challenging. Thankfully, the keyword tools within SEMrush are extensive, and luckily, you have access to many of these via their free trial. You can view a URL’s top organic keywords by position, volume, cost per click, and traffic, all under Domain Overview. 

Simply enter a URL into the Organic Research search bar to see that domain’s top organic keywords, position changes, competitors, SERP features, top pages, and top subdomains. 

Beware that each of these reports counts toward your 10 searches per day maximum, so we recommend planning out searches for the week to see which keywords are your top priority and execute those first.

Organic position tracking

The Keyword Overview is an excellent resource to kickstart keyword research on a budget. Search up to 10 keywords per day to monitor how you and your competitors rank for specific keywords and related terms. 

Keyword magic tool lists

Use this keyword research tool to narrow in on niche terms and optimize your content with long-tail keywords. This is especially useful if you’re building a hub and spoke model. Once you determine the hub topic you want to concentrate on, the Keyword Magic Tool provides related terms to add to your content strategy. The trial offers up to 10 keyword suggestions, so have your topics in mind before starting to search.

Backlinking

Backlink analysis

It’s important to identify who links to your site and where, and to eliminate spammy links to your site. While it may not stand in for a full competitor backlink audit, SEMrush’s Backlink Analysis does have its benefits for marketers looking to manage their backlinks within budget. This tool lets you view backlinks by link type, link attribute, country, domain category, and key anchor terms to pinpoint where your content gets the most traction. 

SEMrush also provides its own domain Authority Score to help you determine the quality of backlinks to your site. Monitoring the value of your backlinks can help increase your site’s visibility and rankings, making them an important component in your overall SEO strategy. The tool’s Authority Score is based on an amalgamation of various data points including Page Score, Domain Score, and Trust Score. In using it to determine which links are most and least valuable, you can clean up your backlinking profile. 

You can also easily keep track of your backlinks by viewing a chart of your lost and gained backlinks over the past 3 months, full year, or of all time.

If you need a more in-depth, semi-automated analysis of your backlinks, the Backlink Audit Tool is a useful option for an initial audit to locate and clean up irrelevant or spammy links.

Backlink gap

If you want to take a closer look at your competitors’ backlinks and find some leads yourself, SEMrush’s Backlink Gap is a helpful tool. Plus, the 10 results you get in the trial put you in a good position to start your backlink campaign.

With this tool, you can compare your domain to up to four others. You will get two views of their backlinks–a chart and a table. For each domain you compare, you’ll see who links to them and the Authority Score of each linking domain. 

On-Page SEO/Content

SEO content template

Once you know which keywords you want to target, you can start developing content ideas with SEMrush’s SEO Content Template. Enter the keywords you aim to rank for, and you’ll be presented with your top 10 Google competitors for those keywords, partnered with recommendations to challenge them. On-page recommendations include semantically related keywords, backlinks to acquire, a suggested readability score, recommended metadata, and suggested content length.

From here, you can access the On Page SEO Checker which gives you real-time feedback on your content. This way you will know right away if your content follows SEO best practices while also competing with your top-ranking URLs/ Google rivals. 

Content Strategy

Topic research 

Developing content ideas can be challenging. The Topic Research tool can help with the brainstorming process by providing potential topics and sub-topics to create content around. You can see the terms your competitors are ranking for and find gaps in their content with this free trial. Run a comprehensive Keyword Gap analysis and search by country, device type, and the date range you need.

Pulling the data is easy. Simply enter up to five URLs that you want to compare in the respective search boxes and select the types of keywords you want results for. Choose from organic, paid and PLA keywords depending on the campaign you’re planning. You can then specify your results further by selecting the intersection you want to explore. Whether you want to see the keywords you and your competitors have in common or you’re looking for gaps in their content, you can narrow in on the data you receive based on that goal.

Lastly, hit “Go” to start your data pull.  

From there, you can filter your data within the tool and analyze it via the various charts and diagrams available. Alternatively, you can easily export your keyword data into XLS or CSV format and analyze from there. The choice is yours. Be aware that this is a trial, however, so you will only see the first 10 results for any given intersect and each data pull will go against your daily maximum of 10 queries.

Tracking and Reporting

Create a project

If you’re looking for the fullest view of your site, and have some time to dedicate to setting it up, the Project tool can be incredibly valuable. Set up the features you need most depending on your goals. Choose from 12 project-types ranging from a site tech audit to a backlink audit, social media tracker, and PPC keyword tracking.

As you may have noticed, the tracking possibilities here are vast. To get you started, here are some of our most-used features that have the most functionality in the free trial.

Site audit

If you’re looking for another crawling tool, you’re in luck! You can run a limited crawl with SEMrush. Check for technical errors including broken internal links, long title tags, and missing h1 tags. Keep in mind that this free trial version will only crawl 100 pages of your site, so this sampling will get you started and is ideal if you’re a super small site.

Position tracking

Use this tool to track your top-ranking keywords within a given project. To get started, simply set up your campaign: Select your root domain, search engine and device of choice, and your location. SEMrush then pulls the top-ranking keywords for that domain. You can also upload keywords manually or through Google Analytics if you like,  but that will be more helpful if/when you invest in a paid plan. 

Once you have your list, you can add these top keywords to your project and start tracking them. After a minute or two,  your Position Tracking dashboard will appear.

Here, you can monitor the progress of your keyword targeting. Track how your site ranks in the top three positions for the keywords you’re tracking and look for opportunity keywords on the second and third pages of the SERP. You can also compare rankings with competitor sites, monitor the success of select landing pages, and track any featured snippets you may have gained or lost over the week.

Backlink Audit

While there are a variety of tools out there to help you run a backlink audit, it’s worth testing out SEMrush’s Backlink Audit during your free trial. This tool helps you quickly locate toxic backlinks and request their removal.

Once you run your audit, you can take a closer look at the backlink results. It marks each backlink with a score: 45-59 is potentially toxic and should be examined more closely; 60-100 is a toxic link and you should strongly consider removing it from your site.

Note: This tool is a guide, so before removing any links from your site it is important to review and analyze them.

If you do find toxic links in this audit, you can send requests to remove or disavow the links directly from SEMrush.

Create a PDF report

If you have to bring your findings to a team of stakeholders or justify the value of SEMrush to managers, you’ll likely enjoy one of the most comprehensive and advanced features on the SEMrush’s free trial–the report feature. 

Within the trial scope, you can create one report to communicate your digital marketing status. Choose from an array of templated reports or create your own from scratch. The drag and drop method comes in handy here as you can select the most relevant data points for your team and compile them into an easy-to-digest report. 

You can connect a domain’s Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google my Business accounts to instantly pull data from each source.

Additionally, choose from the wide variety of domain analytics SEMrush can pull from its own platform into graphs, charts, and tables.

Don’t get too excited, though. Since the trial is free, you only get to create one report and your options for selecting data points are more limited than the paid accounts, so make sure you have a plan in mind before starting to create your report.

How to Make the Most of Your Seven Days

Know which data points you want to research

Are you using the trial to suss out your competitors’ rankings, for instance, or are you more interested in building out your backlink strategy? Defining your goals and the data points you need to attain them is crucial to leveraging your free SEMrush trial to its fullest, so we recommend having a clear idea of what you’re looking for before getting started.

Identify your most trafficked pages

It’s beneficial to define your best-performing content prior to starting your 7-day free trial. That way, you’ll know which URLs you want to look into first, as well as those that need additional optimization. 

Prepare your keywords

If you already know which keywords you’re ranking for and want to take a closer look at your competitors or to flesh out your content strategy, be sure to gather those queries ahead of time. This will make it easier for you to check search volume and semantically-related keywords for relevant terms without blowing your search budget.

Have a list of possible competitors

Having a handful of competitors in mind can be extremely helpful when setting up your SEMrush dashboards. While the tool will suggest your top Google competitors, it may not pick up on the more indirect competition. If you have a list of these companies prior to starting your trial, you can save a portion of your search budget to dig into your nuanced competitors while also discovering additional ranking rivals.

Leverage Google Search Console

Understanding your site’s current status will help you determine which direction to head in next. Google Search Console gives you insight into how you rank for various terms, and which pages resonate most with your audience. You can then use this information to retarget any pages that are ranking for irrelevant keywords, for example, within SEMrush.

With these tips, you can comfortably get started with a free 7-day trial from SEMrush, and make the most of your limited searches.

Have you had to sell the value of SEMrush to internal stakeholders? Did we miss your favorite free feature? If so, let us know in the comments below.

from Marketing https://www.distilled.net/resources/what-you-can-do-with-a-free-semrush-account/