Important Digital Marketing Terms and Definitions

Important Digital Marketing Terms and Definitions

Here is a list of must-know digital marketing terms and definitions. This will let you brush up on your digital marketing terminology, There are hundreds of common digital marketing terms to know, but these are the ones that you should begin to understand.

A/B Testing (or Split Testing)

A/B testing is used in e-newsletters, email subject lines, social ads, calls-to-action, and landing page copy. A/B testing, also known as split testing, is when two versions of a landing page are shown to visitors to see which one performs better. The difference between them can be as minor as a button color or as major as a change in copy. The main reason to conduct A/B testing is to know which version of a landing page, CTA, or other, has the greater chance of giving the best results.

Affinities

Affinities are the measured interests of an audience. With the help of social media monitoring tools, they give marketers an insight into the thoughts, feelings, and preferences of their customers.

Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of formulas developed for a computer to perform a certain function. This is important in the social sphere as the algorithms sites like Facebook and Google use.  These are critical for developing content promotion strategies.

Analytics or Web Analytics

The analysis of data gathered by visitors’ activities on your website or mobile app, for the purpose of exploring ways to improve design, features and marketing campaigns.  Tools like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, SEMrush, and Moz can be used for analysis.  For more information visit our Website Analytics Services Section

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is a documented interface that allows one software application to interact with another application.

Automation

Marketing automation is software used by marketers to automate repetitive tasks. Automation is used in conjunction with lead nurturing. Depending on user behavior they are automatically sent different information based on what they are interested in.

B2B (Business-to-Business)

The term B2B is pretty straightforward and describes a business conducted when selling a product or service between two businesses.

B2C (Business-to-Consumer) 

A business that sells directly to consumers is described as B2C. They control their product from start to finish, from development to the final sale.

Backlink

This is a link that directs users from another website to your page. Collecting quality backlinks is one of the facets of search engine optimization (SEO), as they are one of the determining factors of a page’s relevancy, popularity, and/or importance.  For more information visit our Link Building Services

Banner ad

In the context of online marketing, a banner ad is a form of advertising on a website or app page, typically in image format with a hyperlink to your web page.  For more information visit our Display Advertising Services

Blacklist

A blacklist is as scary as it sounds. If a company sends a lot of unsolicited emails (spam), the IP that the company is sending from will be blacklisted. Being blacklisted means that you can no longer send out blanket emails. A sin in digital marketing you want to avoid.

Blog or Blogging

Blogging is writing or sharing content on a website on a regular basis. An individual or a business can own a blog. Blogging is comprised of words, videos, images, or a combination of any or all of these media forms. Business blogging is done with the intention of attracting leads and providing current clients or customers with valuable content to keep them as clients.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) 

This is the last stage in the buyer’s journey, the decision stage. When a lead arrives at the decision stage, they are ready for your sales team. A sales offer such as a demo or a strategy session is a great offer for a lead at this time.

Bounce Rate

A bounce rate is when a visitor lands on your website and immediately clicks the back button or leaves your website. They are “bouncing” off your website.

Browser

An application used to navigate the Internet and open websites on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Examples include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the process a lead goes through in order to go from awareness to decision. A new lead passes through three stages (Awareness, Consideration, and Decision) in order to be sold.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

A call-to-action is an instruction for website visitors to take action on a message. The action could be to click a link, fill out a form, subscribe to an e-newsletter, or make a phone call. Calls-to-action can be presented as just text or an eye-catching image.

Chatbots

Instant messaging has become a huge thing and we send hundreds of messages on our smartphones every week; some of us every day. Because it has become such a central means of communication among people, many users also expect businesses to be available for customer services in messengers like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. This is, of course, a lot of work for businesses, so some automation makes sense. This is where chatbots come into play. These little bots can answer questions and give information based on queries in natural written language. It is also possible to place orders with them.

Churn Rate

Your churn rate is the amounts of customers you have lost during a particular time period. If you start the month with 100 clients and end with 95, your churn rate would be 5%. This is a very important figure for renewal-based (membership) businesses.

Clickbait

Clickbait is the type of content that hooks people with a highly promising headline that provides very little actual information, getting them to click through to their content or website. Clickbait is more and more frowned upon in the digital marketing world and sites like Facebook are making changes to their algorithms in order to deter this type of posting.

Closed-Loop Marketing

Closed-loop marketing takes place when your sales team is reporting to the marketing team about what happens to the leads they’ve received. Marketing is then able to determine which of their leads sources should be focused on based on their ability to be converted by the sales team.

Clicks Per Open (CPO)

The number of clicks (on your email’s link) divided by the number of opened emails will give you your CPO or clicks-per-open rate.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate is the number of people that click on a link out of the total number of people who saw the email, social ad, or call-to-action (CTA) on a website page. For example: Let’s say that we have a CTA on a blog post and that CTA was seen by 900 unique people but only 45 people clicked on the CTA. This means that the click-through rate is 5%.

Collective Intelligence

Collective intelligence is a shared intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision-making in social networks.

Competitive benchmarking

Measuring your own performance online is very important and has been done ever since Google introduced its well-known tool, Google Analytics. On social media channels, marketers trusted their gut feeling for a long time. In the meantime, the majority of successful marketers got increasingly number-driven. In social, you have a great advantage with web analytics, since you are able to compare, relatively easily, your performance with your competition. Through this approach, you see what the interactions you received are worth by comparing them to the performance of your competitors.

Content

Content is any form of published material on the internet this can include text, video, audio, images, games etc. Inbound marketers often recommend publishing quality content (engaging, informative, relevant) in order to help build brand awareness, establish expertise and authority, and drive traffic to your website.

Content Offer (or Lead Magnet)

A content offer is what you provide in exchange for information from your website visitors in order to turn them into a lead. A content offer can be an ebook, guide, white paper, or webinar that is given to a visitor after they provide you with some details, such as name, email, and business name.

Context

Not only do you have to provide excellent content for your audience, but you also need that content to be contextually relevant. By knowing your target audience, their behavior, preferences, and goals, you can provide content that meets their needs.

Conversion Path

A conversion path is a series of events that are set up to move a website or social visitors down a path that converts them into a lead. A conversion path on a website consists of a call-to-action > landing page with a sign-up form > thank-you page > thank-you email. In a conversion path, something is promised to the visitor in return for their contact information. This could be an ebook, consultation, white paper, etc. The lead magnet needs to be something that potentially leads find valuable enough to provide you with their contact information.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is the percentage of people who have completed the desired action (clicked through to a site, filled out a form, etc.) divided by the total number of people to whom the action was marketed.  A conversion rate doesn’t just mean converting non-customers into customers. It could also include converting a website visitor into a lead or a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) into a sales-qualified lead (SQL). An example would be a Facebook ad that is run and 10,000 people see that ad but only 1,300 take action or convert to a lead or sale. The ad resulted in a conversion rate of 13%.

Conversion Optimization or Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The process of increasing the conversion rate.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC or Pay-Per-Click or PPC)

Cost-per-click is an amount an advertiser pays every time someone clicks on an online ad. It doesn’t matter how many people see it, the advertiser will only be charged for actual click-throughs.

Clicks Per Delivered (CPD)

When reporting on your email success, this digital marketing term is important to understand.  It’s simply the number of clicks (on your link) divided by the number of emails successfully delivered to their intended destination (inbox). The result is your CPD or clicks-per-delivered rate.

Cost-Per-Impression (CPI or Cost-Per-Thousand or CPM)

Cost-per-impression is an amount an advertiser pays for 1,000 impressions on an online ad.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Customer acquisition cost is the amount of money it takes to convert one person into a customer. This figure focuses mainly on marketing costs. When this numerical value is determined, companies can predict how much they will need to spend in order to generate a desired number of customers.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

Customer lifetime value is a prediction of how much revenue a customer will bring during their lifetime as your customer. This measure is used to determine how much a company should or could spend in order to acquire a new customer.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work, funding, or ideas from a crowd of people online. A great example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia.  In digital media, crowdsourcing is a great way to take the pulse of your followers. For example, you can poll them on Facebook and/or Twitter to learn what type of content they want, which provides ideas for your website.

Display Advertising

Display Advertising is a form of advertising on a website or app page, typically in image format with a hyperlink to your web page.  For more information visit our Display Advertising Services

Double Opt-in

A double opt-in is when a subscriber has to confirm their email address after entering their information to subscribe to an email list. Typically, once a website visitor fill out a form to subscribe to an email list they immediately receive an email to confirm their information.

Ebook

An ebook is an electronic version of a book. However, most ebooks are not actually available in print (unless you print them). These are typically published in PDF form. For marketers, ebooks commonly serve as lead generating content — people must fill out a form to receive their ebook copy.

eCommerce

A commercial trading process of products and services online.

Email Filters

Email filtering is a technique that organizes emails based on a word or phrase in the “from,” “subject,” and body copy sections of an email. Most email programs employ filters in an effort to keep the user’s inbox free of spam.

Email Marketing

The process of using email to send promotional messages, explore new business, or solicit donations, and is targeted to build trust or brand awareness.

Email Whitelist

Just as an IP/email address that has been blacklisted won’t be allowed through most spam filters, a whitelisted address has been given the golden ticket. Whitelisted email/IP addresses are typically accepted and allowed into most inboxes.

Engagement Rate

This is one of the most important social media related digital marketing terms in this list. Engagement is the clearest sign of people’s interest in your content. Your engagement is likely more easily understood as the number of likes, comments, and shares (interactions) it receives versus the number of people who saw it (impressions).

Forums

Also known as a message board, a forum is an online discussion site. It originated as the modern equivalent of a traditional bulletin board, and a technological evolution of the dial-up bulletin board system.

Geotag

A geotag is the directional coordinates that can be attached to a piece of content online. For example, Instagram users often use geotagging to highlight the location in which their photo was taken.

Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is when an email immediately “bounces” back because the email doesn’t exist, is misspelled, or is blocked. Hard bounces are permanent and they will never be delivered.

Hashtag

A hashtag is a tag used on a variety of social networks as a way to annotate a message. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#” (i.e. #InboundMarketing). Social networks use hashtags to categorize information and make it easily searchable for users.

Homepage

The main or introductory page of a website.

House List (Retention List)

An opt-in list that is self-constructed over time. You typically provide a piece of valuable content for a person’s email address (and more). You can then market to, cross-sell, upsell, and build a relationship with customers over time. Your list is a very valuable asset!

HTML

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a programming language for web pages. Think of HTML as the brick-and-mortar of pages on the web. It provides content and structure while CSS supplies style. HTML has changed over the years, and it is on the cusp of its next version: HTML5.

HTML Email

An HTML email contains custom fonts, graphics, images, links, background colors and, at times, can look like a page on a website. They are fully designed emails with their own code and styling.

Impressions

Impressions are the number of times your content is displayed. For example: In Facebook, impressions are the number of times someone sees your social update in their newsfeed. Impressions are a key metric for measuring campaign success in digital marketing campaigns.

Influencer

The digital marketing term “influencer” is just what it sounds like, a person who has the power of influence over their social media audience. These are people you want sharing your content and interacting with your brand.

Keyword

A keyword is one word or several words that people use when searching for a particular subject online. Keywords are also the words targeted when writing online content. Blog posts and pages on a website have a keyword focus so that it is optimized for Search Engines like Google.

Landing Page

The first page on a website that a user visits, not necessarily the home page of that website.  A landing page is typically comprised of copy, images, and a form. A landing page is used to persuade website visitors to sign up to receive a content offer or purchase a product. Landing pages can be long or short, and the content is dependent on the action you want your visitors to take.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of acquiring new leads. Online lead generation is done by providing valuable content to website visitors in exchange for their contact information.

Lead Nurturing

When a visitor turns into a lead on your website they are most likely not ready to buy. Lead nurturing is providing those initial leads with valuable information about your industry or product until they are ready to purchase. By caring for your leads you develop the relationship and show that you care.

Link

A text message, button or banner image that provides a link from one page or website to another.

Link Building

Link building is the act of increasing the number outside sites linking back to yours (backlinks). This process typically involves creating high-quality content (interesting, engaging) that others want to share.  For more information visit our Link Building Services

List Segmenting

If you had different types of clients and customers in different phases of their buying cycle would you send them the same email? The answer is no. With list segmentation companies segment their leads and current clients into lists that match their current buying cycle or what type of client they are. These different lists receive different information/content that they care about the most.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQLs)

Marketing qualified leads are typically prospects that have expressed some interest in your company by engaging with your content and then provided identification details that allow you to convert them into a known lead.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

This is the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. A middle-of-the-funnel lead has moved from awareness to consideration and is ready to receive information about your product or service. A branded offer is given to provide the lead with more information and address any pushback.

Newsjacking

Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success.

Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is everything you can do to improve your organic search rankings that does not involve your actual website. This includes anything you can do to create high-quality backlinks and further drive your exposure.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization involves actions you take on your website to improve your organic search engine rankings and can include improving meta tags or optimizing your website content.

Open Rate

Open rate is the percentage of emails opened from the total emails sent. Similar to CTR, open rate takes into account all emails that were sent and divides that total by the number of emails that were opened. For example: If we sent an email to 1,000 email subscribers but only 250 people opened that email, the open rate would be 25%.

Opt-in (or Subscribe)

An opt-in is when a person provides their email address to a company or individual because they are choosing to receive emails from that company or individual.

Opt-out (or Unsubscribe)

One of the digital marketing terms that email marketers need to pay attention to, an opt-out is when a person subscribed to an email list no longer wants to receive email communication from a specific company or individual, so they remove their email address from the list.

Organic Listings or Natural Listings

Results that appear on a search engine like Google on user searches that are not paid ads. Usually, these positions can be acquired automatically or by SEO.  For more information visit our Organic SEO section

Organic Traffic

This is the traffic your site receives from unpaid search results, hence it is considered organic. This is one of the main goals of SEO and content marketing because it provides a powerful platform for long-term growth.  For more information visit our Organic SEO section

Paid Listings

Results that appear on a search engine like Google on user searches that are paid ads. These positions can be acquired by running search engine marketing campaigns using Google Adwords tool.  Click here for more information with our Paid Search Section

Page Performance

Page performance takes into account on-page SEO, website traffic, CTA conversion rate, and contacts acquired.

Page Rank

Your page rank is how trustworthy your particular site is as determined by Google’s algorithm. Sites are ranked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning you don’t rank in their search engine (not good) and 10 is given to fewer than 150 sites (most of them being Google-, Apple-, or Adobe-owned).

Pay Per Click (PPC)

An ad pricing model in which advertisers or businesses who run their ads pay each time a user clicks on their ads.  Click here for more information with our Pay Per Click Section

Permalink

A permalink is an address or URL of a particular post within a blog or website that remains indefinitely unchanged.

Persona (or Ideal Buyer)

In marketing, a persona is a perfect representation of whom you want to purchase your product or service. An ideal buyer or buyer persona is a complete breakdown of behaviors, pain points, goals, wishes, dreams, demographics, and professional careers. To learn more about personas read: Defining Your Ideal Buyers.

Personalization

When you receive an email from a company that says, “Hi Rachel,” that’s personalization. Personalization means adding some information to your email that is specific to the person you are sending it to. This personal touch can be added in the subject line or in the body of the email. Personalization is used to get subscribers to notice a company’s email in the hopes that they are more likely to open it and act on it.

Plain-Text Email

This is an email that doesn’t contain any images, rich formatting, or links. Individuals or companies can use plain text emails when they want to send an email that only focuses on the copy of the email. In most email software, plain-text emails are automatically generated whenever an HTML email campaign is created. This is for the subscribers who have noted that they only want to receive plain-text emails.

Query or Search Term

The keyword or phrase a person uses to search results on search engines like Google, Bing etc.

Ranking

A web page’s position on a search engine results page.

Real-Time Digital Marketing

Social media allows brands to market in real time in response to breaking news or a world event. The ability to publish content as these events unfold (real time) gives marketers an opportunity never before seen in the marketing world.

Remarketing

Remarketing is a marketing strategy that targets people who have visited your website. You can reach out and reconnect to previous visitors through ads on Facebook, as they browse the web, or on mobile platforms.  For more information visit our Remarketing Search Advertising

RSS Feed

RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blogs and videos in a standardized format. Content publishers can syndicate a feed, which allows users to subscribe to the content and read it when they please from a location other than the website (such as Feedly or other RSS readers).

RSS Reader

An RSS reader allows users to aggregate articles from multiple websites into one place using RSS feeds. The purpose of these aggregators is to allow for a faster and more efficient information consumption.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQLs)

A sales qualified lead is a marketing qualified lead that is accepted by the sales team and warrants a sales team member reaching out. An SQL is ready to be sold and is the most likely to purchase the company’s product or service.

Search Engine

A web application that indexes and displays relevant web page links in response to users’ search term. Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Baidu, Yandex are some of the most popular search engines in the world.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimizing a webpage or website means adjusting on-page and off-page SEO factors in order to improve the page’s ranking in search results.  This is the process of making changes to the website design, code, content and building incoming links to website through promotions externally on other sites, social media, offline to improve visibility and get traffic from the “free,” “organic” or “natural” results on search engines like Google and Bing results.  Understand that SEO is a long-term strategy and commitment.  It does not typically yield immediate results as found in Search Engine Marketing.  For more information visit our Search Engine Optimization Section

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

An advertising method that permits you to bid for and place an ad to display along with organic search engine results (free results) for keywords that people search for on search engines like Google. This allows your offerings to be seen by prospects right when they’re searching for the products or services a business offers.  For more information visit our Search Engine Marketing Services

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The page displayed to people in response to a query on a search engine like Google.

Session or Visit

A set of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain one or more page views.

Single Opt-In

A single opt-in is when a subscriber doesn’t have to confirm their email address or information twice. Once they enter they enter their contact information on a form they are immediately signed up to the email list as a subscriber.

Social Listening

Social listening is a brand monitoring digital marketing term that helps businesses understand what’s being said about its products or services in order to meet customers’ issues head-on. Salespeople can also use social listening to identify the needs of their prospects and provide help in order to establish themselves as a trusted resource (see Social Selling).

Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring is a process of monitoring and responding to mentions related to a business that occur in social media.

Social Proof

Social proof refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people seek direction from those around them to determine how they are supposed to act or think in a given situation. In social media, social proof can be identified by the number of interactions a piece of content receives or the number of followers you have. The thought is that if others are sharing something or following someone, it must be good.

Social Selling

Social selling refers to a brand’s ability to engage potential customers on social media by answering questions, providing informative content, and resolving other issues, and in turn, helping to move them along the sales funnel. Social selling is typically done on a one-on-one, salesperson-to-prospect basis.

Soft Bounce

A soft bounce is when an email “bounces” back because of a problem with the server or another temporary issue. A soft bounce has the opportunity to reach its intended recipient if tried again and is not a permanent issue.

Spam

One of the least popular but better known digital marketing terms. Nobody likes receiving spam. Spam is email we didn’t sign up to get. It’s unsolicited email that a company sends you because, most likely, they purchased an email list and you happen to be on that list.

Subject Line

An email subject line is the line of text that is shown in a subscriber’s email inbox before they even open the email. Subject lines are used to give the subscriber a reason to open your email. They are usually short, descriptive, and can contain personalization tokens such as the subscriber’s name or something specific to them.

Targeting

Targeting is defining whom you’re marketing to.  This has become easier as some social media platforms have built-in targeting tools. Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer highly detailed targeting tools that allow you to filter through their users to find the exact type of person you want for marketing purposes. (You can choose to show your Facebook ad to divorced women over 50 who like skydiving and action movies if that is your ideal buyer!)

Thank-You Page

A thank-you page is how you deliver the content offer after someone fills out a form on a landing page. You are thanking the visitor for filling out the form and providing them with the content you promised.

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

This is the beginning of the buyer’s journey. The information your website provides to new leads is an answer to services or product questions, brand positioning, and common sales questions.

Traffic Acquisition

The method of attracting visitors often referred to as traffic to websites, mobile apps, and other digital products.

Unique Visitor

A single visitor to a website or app during a specific period of time.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The unique address of a page of online content on the Internet often referred a to as a web link.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content is content — blogs, videos, photos, quotes, etc. — that is created by consumers. Marketers typically tap into their audience in an online setting to collect this type of content to support a campaign or initiative.

Viral

Going viral refers to a piece of content that is shared over and over again because of its perceived informational or entertainment value. If your content (picture, video, article, etc.) goes viral it will be seen by far more people and have a far greater impact on brand awareness, conversions, etc.

Vlogging

Vlogging or a vlog is a piece of content that employs video to tell a story or report on information. Vlogs are common on video sharing networks like YouTube.

Webinar

A webinar is an online seminar or presentation that is hosted by an individual or a company. Most often, the host requires attendees to fill out a form before granting them access to stream the audio and slides. In marketing, webinars are held to educate audiences about a particular topic while opening up the floor for a discussion to occur on social media using the webinar’s unique hashtag.

Workflow (or Drip Campaign)

A workflow is a series of events that slowly or quickly move a lead through a company’s lead nurturing process. A workflow could be a set number of automatic emails that are sent to prospects that take different actions, such as viewing a pricing page or scheduling a free consultation.

 

 

Important Google Ranking Signals Relevant in SEO

Important Google Ranking Signals Relevant in SEO

Google has over 200 ranking signals that are factored into search engine placement.  In reality, it is not quite possible to optimize for all of them.  We have compiled a much smaller and more manageable list of relevant Ranking signals for SEO.  We have compiled a manageable list of relevant Google Ranking Signals for SEO.  An easy rule is to match the search intent on Google. The more relevant factors you take into account, the better rankings you will see.

CONTENT

Even if someone does not create quality content, they know that they totally should, because it is obvious that people come to your site for the things they search for. Keeping this thing in mind, also take into account the following factors when you create content for your site:

Keyword Research

Keyword research is not obsolete but keyword stuffing is.  The exact keyword matching is not that important due to the flourishing existence of semantic search.  However, keywords are absolutely necessary. They are beacons for your visitors. They guide them to your site. The thing is, the research methods, as well as keyword implementation, is more sophisticated.

Competitors’ Keywords

One of the best strategies in the SEO world is to peek at your competitors for some inspiration. The same goes for keyword research. A great thing is that you can do it with the help of Rank Tracker‘s new research method that reveals the competitors’ best keywords.  Just run the tool, open your project or create a new one, and go to Keyword Research > Ranking Keywords. Paste your competitor’s site in the search box, and in a few moments, there is a list of keywords with all their performance metrics.  Do not forget that Rank Tracker’s Keyword Research module has 20 keyword research methods that may help you reveal lots of priceless keyword ideas.

Voice Search

With the exponential growth of mobile use, voice search is a real thing now. A trick here is that keyword research for voice differs quite a lot from the traditional search.  When a person speaks their query, they tend to form it as naturally sounding questions, as if speaking to a real person. In such a situation, you have to optimize for long-tail conversational keywords and questions that people are likely to ask.  It is easy to do with Rank Tracker’s Related Questions research method. Go to Keyword Research > Related Questions, paste in your keywords:  After you have a nice list of questions, you should further build your content around them.

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets occupy so-called “position zero” — an above-all-the-results chunk of the SERP space with a box that contains a short answer to the query and a link to the source. It is considered to be a perfect opportunity for better visibility and its consequential perks.  When it comes to mobile search, the visibility gets even higher, as a featured snippet occupies almost the whole screen space. With voice search, a featured snippet box will be the first and only that will be read to users in case they have no possibility to look on the screen.

  1. Experiment with queries with your target keywords and check whether any of them pull a snippet. If yes, see what kind of information Google considers to be the best answer to the query. Plus, check whether there are any gaps in the provided information that you can fill in with the help of your content.
  2. Make your content snippable by means of the inverted pyramid formula to structure the data:  1. Most important info -> 2. Important details -> 3. Background info
  3. Optimize the format to make it easier for Google to spot and retrieve your data for a featured snippet. The most popular formats for position zero are:
  • paragraphs (an HTML tag <p>);
  • tables (an HTML <table> tag);
  • lists (HTML header tags h1 or h2).

Search Intent

Google takes search intent very seriously. When someone searches for Marks & Spencer, the search engine assumes that they need a store nearest to them. As a result, the search listings are shaped this way. Plus, if the searcher is not quite satisfied with search listings, Google serves some further ideas in Related Searches.  Following Google’s lead, you have to do the same, i.e. understand your audience to give them the best results. Fortunately, you do not have to actually guess, search intent is segmentable, and there are a few sure ways to check what people are looking for.  There are two case scenarios when working at search intent makes sense:

  1. You are doing keyword research, and you are planning which keywords you should target.  In this case, you already have a list of keywords that you fancy targeting. All you need at this point is dig deeper to understand which content you have to create for these keywords.  Be a smart one here and use Google’s ranking mechanism per se to help you understand search intent. Experiment with queries that, in your opinion, should bring visitors to your site. Type one of them in the search box, study the first page of search listings, and try to figure out search intent using:
    organic listings;
    suggested searches;
    related searches. For example, if I paste “vector images”, I will see that a number of pages offer me sites where I can download or buy vector images. However, a smaller number of links suggest some tools which I can edit or convert vector images with. Thus, I see two different intents under one query. The same two intents I see in the related searches.  Following this procedure, check which intent ranks near the top of search results. If you see that your intent is not quite like this one, it means that, if possible, you have to re-shape your content strategy (like including this top intent or targeting different queries).  Plus, this kind of analysis may reveal some gaps in serving a particular kind of intent that you can fill and yield ranking opportunities.
  2. You are already ranking for a number of keywords, but you are not sure that the content matches search intent.  In this case, try to take the following measures:
  • In Google Search Console, look through your keywords that are ranking already, but which have a low CTR.
  • Pay attention to your bounce rates. Though not every bounce is a cause for concern, high bounce rates need some checking. In your Rank Tracker project, after you have done your keyword research, you should already have a number of target keywords and your site’s pages that rank for these keywords. Add the Page Bounce Rate (GA) column to your Rank Tracking dashboard.Note that there will be some cases when traffic comes to one and the same page from different queries. And it will be quite cumbersome to understand which query exactly it bounces from, as Google Analytics does not provide keywords.Once you’ve got an idea where the problem lies, i.e. the keywords that match wrong search intent, you can do the following. You can either re-write your ranking page in order to match search intent much better. Or create a brand new page which targets those particular keywords and that particular intent. Meanwhile, you can use the current page for other queries. Just make sure to optimize it so that it does not cannibalize your other pages.

BACKLINKS

Many things change and transform in SEO, but backlinks stay one of the most important ranking signals for Google. It is true that you cannot earn high positions in SERPs by link schemes — Google is not amused by them at all. However, a quality link profile works really fine for any site. Sometimes, only this factor is enough for out-SERPing better-optimized sites.

The problem is, it is quite hard to build quality links as well as do it in a short period of time. Making people link to you is a particular kind of high art.

The number of backlinks and linking domains

Though now Google preaches quality before quantity, the number of pages and domains linking to a site still has a massive impact on rankings.

In a few of its patents, Google says that an overall link score of a site is made up by individual quality scores passed on to it by every incoming link. You can read it like that: more links result in a higher score (providing they are not link schemes).

Note that links coming from the same domain (especially site-wide links) carry little weight; Google will often only count one of those links when evaluating your link profile.

Check & Improve

In order to understand what link scores you compete against, peek at your competitors’ link profiles first.

Run SEO SpyGlass and create a project for your site. Go to the Domain Comparison module and add the domains of your major competitors, one by one, and see how you compare to competitors’ link profiles. Total Backlinks and Total Linking Domains should give you a good idea on how much improvement your link profile may need, quantity-wise.

If you see that your link profile needs some push, try to find quality link prospects yourself. To do that, launch LinkAssistant and create a project. Click Look for prospects and select a search method you’d like to use (you can repeat the process with as many methods as you like). Once you’re done with prospect research, you will have a list of potential link partners in your project along with their email addresses for outreach.

Analyze this list and select those prospects that are most likely to link to you. A great thing is that you can reach them right from the tool. Right-click a contact (or several contacts, if you’ll be sending them a similar message), and click Send email to selected prospects. In your email, feel free to either put up a message of your own or use some of the ready-made email templates, depending on the link building technique you’re using. You can check for replies and manage your correspondence with prospects in the Email module.

Link Authority

As I’ve mentioned in the previous point, whatever links you have, they, as one of the strongest ranking signals, have to be of good quality. Otherwise, lower quality backlinks can get your site gravely penalized.

Check & Improve

Regular audits can help you avoid possible problems connected with Google penalties. To check links for their quality, launch SEO SpyGlass and create a project for your site.

Once you have a list of your site’s backlinks, go to the Backlinks dashboard, select all the links, and click Update Factors. Navigate to the Link penalty risk tab and click on the header of the Penalty Risk column (this will sort the links by penalty risk).

All links with a penalty risk above 30% are worth looking into — these can potentially be low-quality links. All links with a penalty risk over 60% need your immediate attention, as they are the ones that might get your link score below Google’s low-quality threshold, and have your site penalized as a result.

You can contact the owner of the site where your poor quality links come from and ask them to take down these links. If it is not an option, you can disavow those spammy links. To disavow backlinks, you’d need to put up a disavow file following certain syntax and formatting rules, and upload the file to Google Search Console.

You can create a disavow file right in SEO SpyGlass in a few clicks. To do that, select the links you’d like to disavow, right-click the selection, and hit Disavow backlinks. Most of the time, you’d want to disavow links on the domain level; so make sure you select Entire domain under Disavow mode.

Then, go to Preferences -> Disavow/Blacklist backlinks and hit Export to save the disavow file to your computer, and upload it to Google Search Console.

A piece of kind advice: The most compelling content to link to multiple times is different kinds of infographics, case studies, surveys, tutorials, etc. So, if it is possible to provide this kind of content on your site, I beg you, use this opportunity.

Link Anchor Text

Surely, anchor text has lost some of its importance (yes, like most things we talk about here). Still, keyword-rich (not over-optimized!) anchor text still sends a strong relevance signal to Google.  Here the concept of relevance is tightly linked to that of diversity. While your backlinks are expected to be semantically relevant to the topic of your page, it’s important to note that too similar anchor texts can get you under Google’s Penguin penalty.  Understandably, there’s no universally right ratio of different kinds of anchor text in your link profile. However, below you can find some averages to give you an idea of what a natural link profile typically looks like.  Check & Improve

But just as it is with about anything in SEO, it’s best to rely on the link profiles of your top ranking competitors instead of the overall averages.  In the SEO SpyGlass‘s project for your site, go to Backlink profile > Summary to get to know the most commonly used anchors (and keywords within those anchors). Do the same for the projects you’ve created for your top ranking competitors (you’ll find them in the Project drop-down menu) to spot areas for improvement in terms of your links’ anchors.  If you are not quite happy with your backlinks’ current anchors, you will need to reach out to webmasters that link to your site, and request a change.  To speed up the process, export your links from SEO SpyGlass by going to File > Export, and then import them to LinkAssistant‘s project in another click-through File > Import.  Now, select the backlinks you’ve imported and hit Update > Get Contact Email. This way, you’ll be able to reach out to webmasters right from LinkAssistant and ask them to make any changes to the links’ anchor texts.

USER EXPERIENCE

I’m judging from my own experience. When I cannot find something on the site or get confused by inconvenient navigation, I explode with uncontrollable fury. Gods forbid if a page loads for a few seconds! At the same time, I experience aesthetic delight at visually rich sites and intuitive navigation. It seems that I’m not standalone in this situation. Today we get quite picky when it comes to UX, both on desktop and mobile.  In the light of this, let’s talk about those signals that SEO-ers consider important to Google.

Click Through Rate

A click-through rate, or CTR, is a ratio of the number of times a given search result was clicked on to the number of times it was displayed to searchers.  Google only implies in its numerous patents that SERP CTRs have a massive impact on rankings, but those implications are pretty clear. SearchMetrics’ ranking factors study even found that CTR has the highest correlation with rankings out of all factors examined.  Yes, I hear you screaming that correlation doesn’t always equal causation. However, real-time experiments showed that an increase in CTR can literally boost a site’s rank in real time, thus, it is more than likely that Google uses a click-through rate as a factor in its ranking also.  For every query, Google expects a CTR in a certain range for each of the listings (e.g. for branded keywords, the CTR of No.1 result is around 50%; for non-branded queries, the top result gets around 33% of clicks). If a given listing gets a CTR that is seriously above (or below) that range, Google can re-rank the result accordingly.

Check & Improve

To check your snippets’ current click-through rates, log in to Google Search Console and go to the Search Analytics report. Select Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Position to be displayed.  While CTR values for different positions in Google SERPs can vary depending on the type of the query, on average, you can expect at least 30% of clicks for a No.1 result, 15% for a No.2 result, and 10% for a No.3 result.  If the CTR for some of your listings is seriously below these averages, these could be the problem listings you’d want to focus on in the first place.  The major focus should be on making your listings appealing and click-worthy.

  • Use descriptive URLs. A study by Microsoft has found that descriptive URLs get 25% more clicks than “generic” URLs.
  • Write snippet titles according to the magic formula: format + emotion + content type + subject.
  • Write the description of your snippet as if it is an ad for your content.
  • Use structured data. By using a special markup, you can add elements to your HTML that will make your snippets look more appealing to users. For example, they can be adorned with star ratings, customer ratings, images, additional product information, etc. Thanks to Google, you don’t have to be a web developer if you need to mark up the structured data on a website. You can use Structured Data Markup Helper. Before adding the schema markup chunk of HTML to your pages, remember to preview your snippets by copying and pasting your page’s source code into Google’s Testing Tool.

Keeping all these things in mind, you can edit and preview your Google snippet in Content Analysis > Content Editor in WebSite Auditor, under the Title & Meta tags tab.  Once you’re happy with your snippet, hit Save page to save the upload-ready HTML file to your hard drive.

Bounce Rate and Dwell Time

These two metrics are closely connected.

Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions, i.e. visitors who visit only one page on your site before leaving. It does not matter how much time visitors spend on your page, 2 seconds or 20 minutes, it is still considered a bounce.

Dwell time is the amount of time spent on a site between the click on a search result and a bounce back to SERPs.  SEO-ers are skeptical about a bounce rate metric due to the fact that even a long session on a page is considered a bounce, though it is obvious that such a session is an apparent indicator of the page’s quality. So, dwell time is more reliable in terms of indicating page’s relevance.  There is no definite answer whether dwell time is a ranking signal.

Check & Improve

As people usually do not go further than the first page of search listings, it makes sense to pay attention to dwell time when your site ranks on the first page. Though, as you will see, the recommendations for increasing dwell time are not that unique, and you should follow them anyway.  Create better content –  make sure that your content is:  Useful — gives information, inspiration, or motivation;  Entertaining — gives a laugh, takes by surprise, or visually delights;  Accessible — serves all the desires of a modern user — skimmable, conversational, and well-designed.

  • Use logical internal linking

It is a very nice thing to interconnect all the pages on your site that are on a particular subject or related subjects. Then, you can hook the user for much longer on your site.

  • Engage users

For example, introduce content recommendations on your pages by suggesting other relevant articles for further read. The closer the recommendation is to the page that is currently viewed, the more chances are that the user will stay on your site longer.

  • Introduce pageless scrolling

Remember how you spend precious time of your life scrolling and scrolling an endless newsfeed of any social media channel? Well, you can apply something similar to your site.  However, in order not to harm your SEO by confusing search engine crawlers, break the page into paginated sections (each section will have a similar <title> tag, with rel=”next” and rel=”prev” values indicated in the <head> tag).

Site Architecture.

Ideal site architecture does not only allow crawlers to index more pages of your site but also allows users that have visited your site to find what they came for in the shortest period of time. It is one of the most important UX factors.  Check & Improve

  • Make your site structure shallow

Shallow means that any page on your site is no more than three clicks away from your homepage. Of course, it is quite hard to accomplish when you have a huge site. But if it is possible to optimize for three clicks, please do.

You can easily check your site structure with WebSite Auditor. Launch the tool, create a project for your site or open an existing one, go to Site Structure > Visualization. As a result, you will see a graph of your site’s pages and the connections between them (with a clear distinction between redirects, orphan pages, lengthy strings of links, etc.)

  • Apply a user-friendly site navigation

A best-case scenario: you have a hierarchal structure of your site, and then you can make a hierarchal navigational menu with categories and subcategories. Let’s look at different ways to tackle the problem of ideal navigation:

  • Use a few menus on the page: try not to cram all the categories you have in one menu. You can break them down to a few logical clusters (like more specific or more common categories; links to internal or external resources, etc.) and place them in different places on the page (like in two bars with a different background or on the top and bottom of the page);
  • Make use of drop-down menus for each category;
  • Try to use fewer categories and subcategories (unless you are Amazon);
  • Use a site search box in a visible place on your site (it is a must for bigger sites);
  • Create a FAQ page in case you receive lots of similar questions from your users.

SAFETY

HTTPS

You do not necessarily need to switch to HTTPS, as being HTTP will not harm your site. However, there have been some changes that can be worth your attention since Google does use HTTPS as a ranking signal.  In January 2017, Google started to flag those sites that collected passwords or credit cards as “not secure” in the URL bar. Furthermore, the search engine announced that starting from July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”. It seems as pretty strong advocacy for adoption of HTTPS encryption.

Check & Improve

The thing with switching to HTTPS (and SSL, as they work together) is that it can bring lots of canonicalizing issues if not done right.  If your site already uses HTTPS encryption, you can run an audit to check whether you have any mixed-content issues. It is no sweat with WebSite Auditor. Open your project in the tool (or create a new one), go to Site Structure > Site Audit, and check for issues with mixed content:

TECHNICAL FACTORS

While the technical base of your site is essential for SEO, it additionally holds a special place in the Google’s ranking mechanism. The best thing about technical SEO is that you can totally control all the factors. Let’s talk about the top two factors that matter for rankings.

Mobile Friendliness

Google’s shifting to mobile-first indexing is coming. This means that the mobile version of websites (if available) will be indexed as opposed to the desktop version. The less obvious — but perhaps even more important — implication of this change is that Google will now also analyze mobile pages against the ranking signals to determine how a site should rank in both mobile and desktop search results.  So, mobile friendliness has changed its status from “nice-to-have” to “have-or-die”.

Check & Improve

You should remember those times when a mobile version of your website hosted at m.URL.com was strongly recommended.  Though it does not harm you now, many websites adopt responsive design instead. Even though Google has said that they do not favor any way of going mobile (responsive, dynamic, or separate URLs), they still recommend using a responsive design pattern.  However, if you decide to adopt responsive design, do it thoroughly or do not do it at all. If applied recklessly, it will cause grave UX and traffic issues. There’s a bunch of documentation available on adapting the responsive design for web developers. It might take a bit of work to get every aspect right, but it’s an investment that’ll definitely keep paying off increasingly.

You can check the usability of your mobile page with the help of WebSite Auditor. In the tool, create a project for your site or open an existing one, go to Content Analysis > Page Audit, add a page you want to analyze, and enter your target keywords. When the check is done, switch to Technical factors and scroll to the Page usability (Mobile) section to see if there are any problems detected. Any factors that have a Warning or Error status call for your attention.

Page Speed

It is well known that page speed is used in Google’s ranking.  Google also announced the Speed Update: starting from July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.  Page speed can also influence your SEO indirectly, as search engines will likely crawl fewer pages if your site is slow due to the allocated crawl budget. This, in turn, could negatively affect your site’s indexation. Load time can have a massive impact on user experience, too. Slower pages tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page.  So what’s the page speed you should aim for? Google’s mentioned they expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less. That’s for a desktop. As for mobile, according to Google’s mobile page speed study, as page load time slows down from one second to six, the bounce rate increases by 106%. The most common culprit for slow pages is an abundance of uncompressed content on the page, such as scripts, images, or CSS files.

Check & Improve

In WebSite Auditor‘s Content Analysis module, switch to the Technical factors tab and take a look at the Page speed (Desktop) factors on the left. Under this section, you’ll see the exact list of speed-related factors Google’s looking for in web pages, according to their PageSpeed Insights.  Go through all the factors that have a Warning or Error status. If there’re any Uncompressed images or Unminified resources on your page, you’ll see a link to a ready-made compressed version of these resources. Follow the link to download the lighter version of those, and feel free to upload them to your site right away:

For your mobile pages, you can consider applying AMP.  Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source project that allows mobile site content to render almost instantly (due to a simpler, much lighter version of HTML delivered from the Google-hosted cached version). This initiative is sponsored by Google but not owned by it. And it is supported by Bing, Baidu, Twitter, Pinterest, and other parties.  You can check out a couple of case studies by Stone Temple of how AMP influenced different kinds of businesses. As well as their own experiments with their own mobile site.

Once you are positive about implementing AMP, you have to remember one extremely important thing that is key to your success. It is not enough just to install a plugin and then forget about it. To get something from this project, you have to invest time to make the AMP version of your pages nearly identical to your normal responsive mobile pages.  Additionally, it is really useful to track the performance of your AMP pages. You can do it either with a bonus challenge from Eric Enge (Stone Temple) of setting up the tracking of AMP pages in Google Analytics or with the help of WebSite Auditor.

Open your WebSite Auditor project, go to Site Structure > Pages, click the “+” button in the upper right corner to create a new workspace. Add a filter condition to only include the pages with AMP in their URL:  Further on, add the necessary columns (canonical URLs, status codes, robots instructions, broken resources, and so on) to your workspace for a deep analysis of your AMP pages.

ON-PAGE

On-page optimization deals with the technical components that are “behind the scenes” but closely connected to user experience and indexing process.

Metadata

By means of HTML tags, you can help Google understand what your page is about (as the search engine takes into consideration a combination of signals when pulling the answer to a query).  It is true that over the previous years, HTML tags’ influence on rankings has been decreasing. And now webmasters can even choose not to use some tags in their HTML at all and be ok after that.  However, there are still some tags that:

  • Enhance user experience by providing better navigation and best match with queries;
  • Give guidance to search engines on where to find the most important parts of the site or which parts to overlook;
  • Make SERP snippets look more attractive and informative.

Check & Improve

1) Optimize title and description tags to make your SERP snippet look more appealing. In your WebSite Auditor‘s project go to Content Analysis > Page Audit, in the Content optimization tab check the Title and Meta tags sections for length and keywords.  Note that from time to time, Google will pull for search listings titles and descriptions different from the ones you mentioned in your tags. Usually, the search engine does that to make a better match for a query. So, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

2) Make a good use of your header tags. These tags help search engines read your content in a more efficient way. The order of your header tags (H1 to H6) shows the level of importance of each section. What’s more, when a page is level-structured, it is much easier for visitors to read it and comprehend the most important parts in a short amount of time.  In the Content optimization tab check the Body section for keywords in H1 and H2-H6. It is considered to be a good practice to use one H1 per page and further break up your content logically into sections with H2. If necessary, you can further segment H2 sections with H3, H4, and so on. Plus, try to make your headings visible to visitors, as they usually convey the main points of your content.

3) Do not forget about alt attributes for your image tags. Alt text plays a major role in image optimization. It makes your images accessible both to search engines (by telling them what a particular image means) and to people (by displaying an alternative text in case a particular image cannot be loaded or helping screen readers convey images).  If you want to use this additional opportunity to rank higher by means of image optimization, then, first of all, check for empty alt texts. This is where you miss this opportunity whatsoever.  Open your WebSite Auditor project, go to Site Structure > Site Audit, and pay attention to the Images section.  Try to optimize only use images that can be of real value to your visitors. Plus, alt texts are one more opportunity to use your target keywords.

4) Taking into account the fact that social media channels have a solid position in today’s world, it is a good thing to also pay attention to Open Graph (OG) tags. OG tags let you control how the information about your page is represented when shared via social channels. This possibility may help you enhance the performance of your links on social media, thus driving more click-throughs and increasing conversions.  Here, it is wise to optimize a title, description, and images by keeping in mind that it is not that necessary to optimize for keywords but to get your potential audience hooked.  Once you are done with your OG meta tags, you can check how everything looks like with the help of Open Graph Object Debugger, a tool created by Facebook.

5) One more thing to pay attention to is a canonical tag. It is more than important for SEO and helps to prevent some problems from Google.  First of all, it does not only tell search engines which page out of a few similar ones is more important, it also shows them that such pages are not duplicate content. Duplicate content means penalty. Second, it prevents cannibalization that happens when pages that are less important than other similar ones get higher rankings.  Open your WebSite Auditor‘s project, go to Site Structure > Site Audit, and pay attention to the On-page section, namely to Duplicate titles and Duplicate meta descriptions.  In case you have a few URLs with identical content, specify an element in the page’s HTML.

Internal Linking

The idea of an internal link is to drive visitors from one place on your site to another. Hope it is not news, internal links do not need to be scattered chaotically on your site, it is possible to actually make them work for you.  Logical internal linking has a double effect on your website. On the one hand, it influences user engagement metrics, including time spent on website, page views per session, and conversion rate. On the other hand, it’s a significant ranking factor that can boost your positions in SERPs and bring additional organic traffic for free.

Check & Improve

It is easy to check the importance and authority of your pages within your site with the help of the WebSite Auditor‘s Visualization tool. Create a project or open an existing one, go to Site Structure > Visualization.  When the graph is built, choose Internal Page Rank in a drop-down menu on the top right. Here the size of nodes reflects the value of Internal Page Rank — the indicator of how high the authority of your page is.  Here you have to pay attention to whether your important pages (like a homepage or main categories) have the highest Page Rank. In order to boost the authority of a particular page, you should direct the flow from the page with a higher Page Rank value to a lower one.  Plus, it is considered a good practice to use keyword-targeted anchor texts when linking internally to your other topically relevant pages. I mean, do not use hyperlinked “click here”, use “the proof on Elvis being alive”.

To audit your anchors, fire up WebSite Auditor once more. Under the Pages dashboard, click on any page. Below, click on Links from page to see every link on the page along with its anchor text, HTTP response code, and robots directives.  You can also do it the other way around: switch to Links to a page to see all internal links to the page you’re examining along with the anchor text.


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