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12 Actions That Help Improve Your Google Keyword Rankings

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12 Actions That Help Improve Your Google Keyword Rankings

Right now, someone is doing a Google search to find a new product, service, or solution to their problem, something that your business is uniquely qualified to provide.

Will they end up on your website where they’ll see how you have exactly what they’re looking for?

If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of Google results, the answer is, unfortunately, probably not.  That’s for a few reasons.

Firstly, Google dominates the search engine market, with more than 85% of global traffic and 270 million unique visitors in the U.S. alone.

Secondly, 75% of internet users never go beyond the first page of results.

Now consider that 34.36% of all clicks go to the number one search result, and it becomes clear why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important.

But, you already knew that – it’s why you’re reading this article, after all.

You probably also realize that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

In Google’s unending quest to provide better results to searchers’ queries, its algorithm is updated thousands of times every year.

And while some of these are so minor most people will never notice them, Google occasionally rolls out an update that significantly impacts search engine results pages (SERPs).

What’s an SEO professional to do?

In the past, the answer was to jam keywords everywhere on your site, with the idea that more is better. Those days are gone.

Google’s algorithm has increased in complexity, which means it is now better able to understand the intent behind queries.

And, this means it values sites that provide better answers to those searches over those that are just packed with relevant words and phrases.

To ensure your website ranks highly, you can’t just focus on what search engines are looking for.

You also need to consider the experiences of visitors to your site. You need to take a holistic view of the value your website provides to users, then optimize your content so that it gets the results you need.

Let’s take a closer look at various ranking factors and discuss how you can more effectively use keywords to drive search traffic.

1. Measure Your Rankings

The first (and probably the most obvious) place to start is measuring your rankings.

Without a solid understanding of your baseline keyword performance, you won’t know how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved.

I’d highly suggest exporting all of this valuable keyword data and keeping it on file for future reference. If nothing else, it will show you how much better you’ve gotten at SEO.

Some of us may have learned the hard way, but you never know when things will change with any given tool – whether it’s how data is reported, what information we have access to, etc.

Measure your rankings.

Export keyword data from Google Search Console and landing page traffic (organic and total) from Google Analytics.

Analyzing this data will give you a good idea of:

  • Your most valuable keywords/landing pages.
  • The most immediate opportunities for improvement.
  • Keywords/landing pages that are underperforming.

Focus on improving keywords that are ranking in positions five through 15 (where you’re teetering at the bottom of Page 1 or top of Page 2 on Google).

It’s easier to get these terms ranked at the top of the first page on Google, which will give you some quick wins to share with your client or boss.

2. Target The Right Keywords

To ensure your keyword targets are aligned with overarching business objectives and offer real value, it’s important that you understand both the search intent behind them and the difficulty of ranking.

While terms have a particular meaning to you, they could take on an entirely different meaning in Google and vice versa.

Knowing the intent, whether it’s informational/educational, transactional, or navigational, will help you understand which stage of the sales funnel users are at.

Doing a thorough SERP analysis is essential. Look at what’s currently ranking in the top search result for your core keyword targets including:

Target the right keywords.Screenshot from search for [search intent], Google, May 2022Target the right keywords.

Knowing what is required to rank for a particular keyword will help you draw conclusions about what content development efforts will be required, as well as come up with a plan for creation.

Semrush’s SEO Content Template is really great for this type of analysis.

You simply enter a keyword, and the tool will analyze what’s showing up in Google’s top results to provide recommendations for SEO-friendly content.

Semrush keyword research tool.Screenshot from Semrush, May 2022Semrush keyword research tool.

Cross-referencing your organic keyword research with paid advertising data can also help uncover new opportunities and fill gaps.

Don’t ignore long-tail queries. While they may have lower search volume, you could be missing out on extremely targeted audiences that are ready to buy.

3. Clean Up Your Site Structure

The structure of your website plays a big role in SEO. Set a solid foundation for yours by resolving any technical issues that may diminish your organic keyword visibility.

Site pages should be both easily found and navigated by search engines and users.

If your website is difficult for users to navigate and search engines to crawl, your keyword rankings will likely be negatively impacted.

And, vice versa – if your website is intuitive for both users and Google, your rankings are bound to see positive increases.

Make sure that your site has a solid website structure, fix any broken links, and resolve any duplicate content issues.

Conducting a thorough technical SEO audit is necessary to ensure all priority technical issues are addressed.

4. Pay Attention To User Experience Signals

User experience and brand equity are important when it comes to driving organic search visibility.

While user experience may not be a direct responsibility of a search engine marketer, it’s important that user experience and SEO work together – especially considering that Google’s algorithm has consistently taken UX into page rankings

To ensure web visitors are interacting with your website, you should use Google’s Core Web Vitals report.

This monitors the loading time of each page on your site and generates data to show you which pages are providing good experiences and which need work.

Another important UX area you need to consider is the responsiveness of your site.

Mobile web browsing first surpassed desktop in 2017 and now accounts for more than 54% of global traffic.

If your website is not responsive, you will have a higher bounce rate, which in turn will negatively affect your ranking.

Here are some other elements that present an opportunity to improve UX and SEO:

  • Keyword research: Confirm that you’re targeting keywords that have the right search intent and are aligned with the language that your target audiences use.
  • Page tagging: Ensure page tagging is engaging and encourages clicks to your website (title tags, meta descriptions, and main headings).
  • Content optimization: Keep users on the page and provide them with another logical destination or next step. This involves everything from the navigation to the copy, internal cross-linking, and calls-to-action on your site.
  • Page speed: Give users the content they are requesting quickly and seamlessly across devices. Compress images, be mobile-friendly, clean up your code, and speed up your server.

5. Optimize For Users & Search Engines

Many of us get so fixated on optimizing content for Google that we forget what the end game is – to reach a highly targeted set of humans.

While search engines and humans have different ways of reading and digesting content, there are certain commonalities that will help ensure we are creating content with both in mind.

Both robots and humans want us to be:

  • Be clear and concise.
  • Provide accurate information.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Cover-related subtopics.

This is important to keep in mind from the start of your content creation process.

As we are thinking about ways to make our content easier to read for both users and search engines, header tags are key.

Not only will proper header tags improve the overall readability of your content, but they will also ensure search engines can follow the hierarchy of what is most important on the page.

Images should also be a consideration, as providing more engaging imagery can make all the difference for users.

This also presents the opportunity to further optimize for search engines through ALT text and file naming.

6. Create Eye-Catching & Engaging Titles

Dare I say that title tags are the most important SEO element of a webpage?

Not just because it’s an SEO best practice, but also because it’s the first thing users see in search results and on social media.

The title tag is your biggest opportunity to catch the eyes of a user and encourage them to click into the page.

Determine the page that you want to rank for each keyword target, and then figure out a way for your title to stand out from all the others.

Yes, the keyword target should be included towards the beginning of the title tag, but how else can you encourage users to click?

BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million headlines and learned that:

  • Emotional headlines drive interactions.
  • Curiosity and voyeurism gain engagement.
  • List posts and the number 10 in headlines are extremely powerful.

While meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on rankings, they should work closely with your title tags. Incorporate the keyword if possible, as well as a clear call-to-action for users.

The goal of your title tag and meta description should be to explain the benefit to users, provoke emotion, and trigger engagement – all while applying SEO best practices.

7. Stay On Top Of Algorithm Updates

Why should you care about Google’s most recent algorithm updates?

Because good SEO professionals stay on top of that stuff.

Among many other reasons, it helps ensure your keyword rankings are not only steady, but they’re constantly improving.

Knowing when an algorithm update first hit and when it officially ended is useful for tracking purposes, and will allow you to trace keyword and traffic fluctuations back to the root cause.

This will help you uncover potential reasoning for how/why a site was hit by an update, or certain keyword rankings and pieces of content that may have been impacted by it.

When multiple algorithm updates happen over a short stretch of time, figuring out why certain site changes have occurred and analyzing the impact of a specific update is extremely difficult.

8. Provide Answers To The Questions People Are Asking

Google seeks to provide users with the best answers to their queries.

Just look at all of the new and increased SERP features we have seen over the past few years:

Optimize for Featured Snippet results.Screenshot from search for [digital transformation], Google, May 2022Optimize for Featured Snippet results.

Optimizing for featured snippet results and rich snippets around your priority keyword targets is now becoming an essential part of SEO strategy.

While there is certainly a great deal of debate over the direct value that ranking in “position zero” of search results offers a business, ultimately, I pose this question:

Would you rather have your competitor rank in the Answer Box for that search query?

As far as we know, the featured snippet result isn’t going away anytime soon, and not ranking in it could mean lost visibility to your competitor, or even your “frenemy” Google.

9. Build Valuable Inbound Links

Start by looking for opportunities on your website to cross-link to assets from keyword-rich anchor text. This will help drive users to relevant content and build keyword associations.

Unfortunately, crafting a strong internal link strategy is only half of the battle.

The other half is generating highly authoritative and valuable inbound links from third-party websites.

This can seem overwhelming, but there are some key tactics to hone in on:

  • Create link-worthy content that is based on your keyword research and analysis of what is ranking in top search results to help generate inbound links and improve keyword rankings.
  • Monitor mentions of your brand for some quick-win opportunities to gain an inbound link from websites that are already talking about you.
  • If you want other websites to link to you, remember to link to other websites. You only get as much as you give.
  • Leverage social media to support link building. Interact with your targets beforehand to help build relationships prior to reaching out about a link building opportunity.

These are just a few tactics to get you started. However, there are certainly more advanced link building tactics to be successful in today’s extremely competitive landscape.

10. Promote Your Content Strategically

I mention this briefly above, but it’s also important to leverage non-SEO channels in an effort to drive visibility to your assets and support your link building efforts.

The more eyes that you get on your content, the more opportunity you have to:

Promote your content strategically.Screenshot by author, May 2022Promote your content strategically.

While different promotional tactics may apply to different types of content, creating a checklist is always helpful.

This way, when it comes time to promote an asset, you have a list of all possible tactics.

This could include:

  • Distributing across social media channels.
  • Pushing out an email to subscribers.
  • Encouraging shares from internal team members.
  • Reaching out to those mentioned in the asset.
  • Setting up Google Alerts to monitor conversations around the topic.
  • Sharing directly with certain experts or influencers.
  • Answering related questions on Quora or other forums.
  • Advertising on social media.
  • Identifying existing internal cross-link opportunities.
  • Creating a SlideShare presentation or repurposing the asset in other forms.

11. Continuously Optimize & Improve Content

While there are numerous other factors that are important to SEO, content is still king.

Quality content counts more than anything else when Google is determining how well your site answers a query.

In fact, if you only take one thing away from this piece (and hopefully you’ll take more than that), it should be the importance of high-quality content. Emphasis on “high quality.”

Google’s Search Quality Guidelines explicitly state the importance of E-A-T, that is expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Your content should assert to both search engines and visitors that you are a reliable expert on the topics related to your keywords.

But because search engine results are constantly changing, you need to make continuous optimizations and improvements to your content.

For example, just because you’ve gained the Featured Snippet result for a particular keyword or phrase, does not mean that you will stay there.

Refreshing your content will ensure that you’re offering users the best (and most up-to-date) information and driving increased keyword visibility.

If the content is out of date, you will likely see the associated keyword rankings decline.

On the other hand, if you’re always looking for opportunities to refresh your content and provide users with the best material, you will likely see keyword ranking increases.

Content optimization should never be one-and-done, especially if you aren’t seeing the results that you want.

If an asset isn’t ranking, re-optimize it for relevance, search intent, engagement, and readability.

Your goal should be to offer users a piece of content that is better than everything else being displayed for the given query.

The concept, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” certainly applies here.

For example, if you are ranking in the first position on Google for an extremely competitive and highly searched keyword, you don’t want to risk losing that.

In that case, I would not recommend changing the title tag or anything that could have a negative impact.

However, there could be opportunities to make the asset that is ranking more conversion-friendly and encourage users to stay on your site.

12. Setup & Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Local search has become another important part of SEO.

In addition to driving business to your physical location, it also has an impact on your website’s rankings.

In many cases, Google factors the searcher’s location into SERPs.

Things like photos, reviews, and phone numbers are more likely to include answers to queries than text-only links.

The best way to get in on local searches is to create and optimize your Google Business Profile.

This free service allows you to manage how your business shows up across Google properties, including Maps, Reviews, and Local Pack Listings.

A Google Business Profile improves your visibility and gives users information about you at a glance. It also allows people to review your business on Google.

Not only do these increase your credibility and allow you to control the narrative around your business, but they are also thought to have a significant impact on rankings.

Further, your profile will provide you with insights into your audience that may help you uncover new opportunities and keywords to target.

You get information on which queries are directing searchers to your website, how they are interacting with your posts and how many clicks your website link is generating.

Final Thoughts 

An SEO professional’s work is never done.

And, even if Google someday decides, “You know what? We’ve finally got this algorithm perfect.” (which they never will), your results on SERPs will constantly change as others targeting the same keywords tweak and adjust their own strategies and content.

This means you need to keep working on your website. Just remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

Just because you don’t see the results you want right away doesn’t mean you’re not on the right track.

And vice versa – don’t assume because you’re highly ranked today that you’ll stay there.

SEO takes a lot of testing. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

You may not always get the top spot, but if you put in the work and follow these SEO best practices, you should see your site climb the rankings.

And that will bring with it the traffic you want.


Featured Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock

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12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential To Your Success

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12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential To Your Success

Link-building strategies, along with SEO tools, have certainly changed over the years.

Since the old automated link-building tools that automatically placed content like KontentMachine or GSA’s Search Engine Ranker, modern tools have moved to manual research and outreach platforms.

Tools that many of my link-building colleagues and I use today look more like ones used for public relations (PR) rather than link-building. However, there are still tools specific to link building that aren’t going anywhere.

These can be divided into four categories:

  • Link research.
  • Prospecting and outreach.
  • Reporting.
  • AI-powered tools.

Emerging technologies powered by AI can make the link-building process easier.

Link Research Prospecting And Outreach Reporting AI-Powered Tools
1. Majestic

Excellent for identifying the types of domains you should generate links from.

3. Pitchbox

Combines email outreach with SEO metrics.

8. Agency Analytics

Connects a variety of performance metrics.

10. Link Whisperer

Good for internal linking efforts.

2. Ahrefs

Provides useful reports to analyze trends.

4. BuzzSumo

Use to identify authors and sharers/backlinkers.

9. Cyfe

Customizable but automatic reporting.

11. Postaga

Find opportunities and initiate outreach.

5. Hunter.IO

A browser extension that helps you find contact information.

12. CTRify

WordPress plugin that generates content.

6. BrightLocal

Submit and manage citations.

7. HARO

Link Research Tools

Link research is vital to figuring out what type of sites you should be approaching. This includes establishing quality criteria, categories of sites, authority metrics, and others.

Majestic and Ahrefs are two research tools that provide large databases and robust reporting.

I’ve included both of these sites as I constantly see each having data that the other doesn’t.

You may find some links to your competitors’ sites in Majestic that aren’t listed in Ahrefs and vice versa.

These tools can be used together to build a comprehensive list of sites to analyze. As with many SEO tools, the pricing depends on how many features your team needs.

1. Majestic

  • Pricing: $49.99 per month with one user for the ‘Lite’ package. $99.99 per month for the “Pro” package, which they recommend for SEO agencies and consultants.
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive a discount for an annual subscription.
Screenshot from Majestic, January 2023

Here are some recommendations on using it and what reports should influence your link-building.

  • Topics: This data can be used to identify the types of sites you should be generating links from. Consider running this report on the link profiles for top-ranking sites, then finding sites that fit into similar categories.
  • Referring Domains: Use this to evaluate the number of unique domains you should focus on building for your site. This also offers a look into the trust/citation flow distribution (count of domains by trust/citation flow).

2. Ahrefs

  • Pricing: $99 per month with only one user for the ‘Lite’ plan. $199 per month for the “Standard” plan.
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive a discount for an annual subscription.
Ahrefs toolScreenshot from Ahrefs, January 2023

In contrast to Majestic, Ahrefs has some reports that are much easier to run inside the tool. It certainly costs more, but if you want more data, then Ahrefs is the right choice.

Here are reports to use in Ahrefs over Majestic:

  • Pages > Best by links: Two useful applications of this report are:
    • Identify competitors’ most linked content to influence your content strategies.
    • Identify the type of sites that link to the content you will produce.
  • Pages > Best by link growth: This is a “trend” report providing content that has been generating links over the last 30 days. Find content here that is receiving a rapid number of links and create more robust content.

Prospecting And Outreach Tools

Finding highly relevant sites that may link to your content is the most excruciating part of link building.

You can create a large list of sites and bulk outreach to save time, but when evaluating your link-building success on links gained per hour and the quality of those links, it’s best to handle prospecting manually or in a semi-automated approach.

I’ll go through five tools, Pitchbox, BuzzSumo, Hunter.io, BrightLocal, and HARO.

These tools can be used for the most popular link-building strategies.

3. Pitchbox

  • Pricing: Averages $500+ per month.
  • Payment options: Prices are dependent on an individual walkthrough with Pitchbox.

Pitchbox is one of the pricier tools on the market compared to email tools like MailChimp, but integrated prospecting helps reduce the time to qualify sites.

The prospecting sites list builder and SEO metrics integrated right into the opportunities report make the tool stand out.

PitchboxScreenshot from Pitchbox, January 2023

4. BuzzSumo

  • Pricing: $99 per month for the “Pro” package. $179 per month for the “Plus” package. There’s a pared-down free version with limited searches per month.
  • Payment options: There is also a free version with limited features.

This is an excellent tool for building lists of blogs, influencers, and authors. Out of all the prospecting tools on the list, BuzzSumo has the best filtering options.

You can use the tool for a lot of purposes, but for link building, these are two effective use cases:

  • Identifying authors: The content research and influencers sections provide lists of authors/influencers that are searchable by keywords in the content they shared or produced. One fantastic use for this is to search through the “most shared” report and find influencers that received more than 2,000 shares of their content, then outreach to them to share yours. This can yield a lot of natural links.
  • Identifying sharers/backlinks: The second use goes a layer deeper than the first, finding those that have shared the content. Pull a list of shares or backlinking websites by content, then create similar but better content.
Buzzsumo platformScreenshot from Buzzsumo, January 2023

5. Hunter.io

  • Pricing: Starts at free. The first two upgraded packages are $49 per month and $99 per month.
  • Payment options: Free for 25 monthly searches up to $399 per month for 30,000 searches.

This browser extension finds email addresses for easy contact options.

It helps cut down on time spent sifting through About pages. You can also take it a step further and use the tool for outreach.

Hunter.ioScreenshot from Hunter.io, January 2023

6. BrightLocal

  • Pricing: $29-$79 per month, depending on package size.
  • Payment options: You can also pay for the citation builder, reviews, or enterprise.

Citation building is important for local SEO and should be considered a link-building project.

One of the tools with the best value for submitting and managing citations is BrightLocal.

There are two components: citation monitoring and citation building. The tool also allows you to figure out how you’re ranking based on the local competition.

BrightLocalScreenshot from BightLocal, January 2023

7. HARO

  • Pricing: Starts at free. The first paid plan is $19 per month, which adds alerts and search functionality.
  • Payment options: The free options offer media options delivered to your email three times a day and up to $149/month for premium.

While this tool is traditionally used in the journalism world, it can also help link builders. It connects you with credible sources and allows you to build natural backlinks.

HAROScreenshot from HARO, January 2023

Reporting Tools

Although many of the tools in the previous section have reporting functionality built in, I’ve found them lacking in custom reporting or the ability to associate links to ranking performance.

These tools solve that issue; AgencyAnalytics and Cyfe.

8. Agency Analytics

  • Pricing: $12 per month, per campaign. $18 per month per campaign for custom reporting features.
  • Payment options: Pay annually to save money.

Agency Analytics automatically populates the dashboard with data from Moz and Majestic and connects that data to critical performance metrics, like ranking and organic traffic.

Qualified traffic that converts to leads or sales is the purpose of link-building and SEO efforts, so reporting needs to make a connection between them.

Agency AnalyticsScreenshot from Agency Analytics, January 2023

9. Cyfe

  • Pricing: $19 per month for one user, with higher tiers for more users.
  • Payment options: Unlimited users for $89/month.

This tool can be built out as a hybrid between Google Sheets and Agency Analytics, meaning it’s very customizable but can also automatically and easily aggregate data from multiple sources to create a meaningful report.

CyfeScreenshot from Cyfe, January 2023

AI-Powered Tools

AI-powered tools can significantly simplify otherwise complex and time-consuming tasks. Remember that some of your processes will require a human touch, so always evaluate how performance is impacted when integrating AI into your processes.

The following tools, Link Whisper, Postaga, and CTRify use AI to discover opportunities and automate processes.

10. Link Whisper

  • Pricing: $77 per month for one site, with additional plans for more sites.
  • Payment options: One to 50 site licenses.

Link Whisper is useful for internal link building.

AI technologies offer automatic link suggestions as content is produced. It can also help you recognize old content that needs more links directed to it.

The tools also automate links based on keywords and offer internal link reporting. It’s pretty all-inclusive and can help speed up internal link-building automatically.

Link WhispererScreenshot from Link Whisperer, January 2023

11. Postaga

  • Pricing: $84 per month for one account with five users. $250 per month for 30 accounts with unlimited users.
  • Payment options: Save by paying annually.

Postaga does everything from finding opportunities to initiating outreach.

AI comes into play with the outreach assistant, which finds relevant information from influencers to include in emails. You can also enter your domain into the tool to find relevant campaign ideas.

PostagaScreenshot from Postaga, January 2023

12. CTRify

  • Pricing: A free version. $197 or $497, depending on the plan.
  • Payment options: Single payment.

CTRify is a WordPress plugin that is great for content creation.

All it takes is a single keyword, and the AI creates the content you need for a specific campaign. You can then automatically publish the posts – it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

CTRifyScreenshot from CTRify, January 2023

Conclusion

I’ve curated this list with the intent to offer a tool for every reader, providing enterprise-level affordable solutions and highly technical tools.

There is diversity in the available tools, and you will need to select the right one for the job.

You don’t need to have a $1,000 monthly tool budget to be a link builder, but all of the tasks will take time. Allocating your time and budget in the right combination improves business outcomes.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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WordPress Admin Interface Is “Simply Bad”

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WordPress Admin Interface Is "Simply Bad"

Yoast SEO plugin founder, Joost de Valk, published a critical appraisal of the WordPress user interface (UI), saying that it makes it  “harder to use” and may be a reason that contributes to WordPress losing market share to companies like Wix and Shopify.

The official WordPress design philosophy states that they want to make WordPress easier to use with every new version published.

They write that it’s their goal that the “non-technically minded” user is the one they design for so that they can be set up within five minutes with a fully functional website.

However the reality of how easy WordPress is to use falls far short of their philosophy statement.

Even the developer of WordPress itself, Matt Mullenweg, said that designing in Wix is faster than doing the same thing in WordPress.

WordPress User Interface Design

Joost points the finger at the current WordPress admin user interface as a contributing factor to why WordPress is confusing to use.

He called attention to the fact that WordPress has three different user interfaces, forcing users to learn how to use each interface and complicating the experience of using WordPress.

To make things worse, themes and plugins introduce their own user interface elements, which again forces users to learn an entirely different way to navigate and user the software.

An ideal user interface (UI) offers a consistent workspace so that a user doesn’t have to stop and rethink where all the buttons and links are.

Interacting with the interface should be similar across every screen, regardless of what they are trying to accomplish.

Joost wrote:

“The current state is simply bad: WordPress core basically has 3 designs now.

The edit post page I’m typing this in looks nothing like the Posts overview page, which looks nothing like the Site Health page.

And then you go into plugins and each has their own UI there too. This makes WordPress as a whole harder to use.”

WordPress is Old Fashioned and Losing Market Share

Aside from the UI being inconsistent, Joost also pointed out that competitors like Wix have a consistent UI throughout their content management systems.

So while the rest of the world is moving on with best practices WordPress is stuck with the same inconsistent interface it’s had for years.

Yoast insisted that the poor user interface is contributing to the exodus of users from WordPress to competitors.

“This is how we lose CMS market share to companies like Wix and Shopify (who each do have their own design system).”

Is WordPress Hard to Use?

A major feature that makes a closed source CMS like Wix attractive is that it’s easy to use. One of the reasons it’s easy to use is a consistent design system.

PC Magazine gave Wix an Editors Choice Best of the Year Award in 2022, writing:

“If you want to build a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, look no further than Wix.”

WordPress received no such award. However, in PC Magazine’s overview of WordPress, the authors remarked that it wasn’t “particularly difficult.”

But the authors of the PC Magazine overview also acknowledged the learning curve to using WordPress:

“…people who aren’t familiar with the process may need a guiding hand.”

WordPress theme website ThemeIsle writes:

“While WordPress does not require any coding knowledge, customizing your theme is often not that straightforward.

By default, you don’t get quite the same visual editing experience as you would with Squarespace or Wix, although the new Block Editor is evolving in that direction…Some poorly coded themes might also be a pain to adjust unless you’re an advanced user.”

One of the goals of WordPress is to be easy for users to build with.

So it’s puzzling that WordPress is acknowledged as difficult to use, particularly in comparison to closed source alternatives like Wix, Shopify and Duda.

Joost de Valk puts his finger on the outdated admin UI as one reason why WordPress is so hard to use.

He practically pleads for the leadership at WordPress to prioritize designing a consistent user interface.

“WordPress needs a design system and it needs it fast…”

Response from Twitter WordPress Community

The response to Joost’s article was overwhelmingly positive, with many from the WordPress community thanking Joost for calling attention to the topic.

@learnwithmattc tweeted:

“Excellent write-up, summary, recommendations, tips, resources. It’s not often you get this much valuable info in one blog post.

WP Product Devs, pay attention! Settings UIs matter, whether you like the route Yoast took or not, I think it’s worth paying attention to.”

@Shock9699 tweeted thanks for the article, calling attention to the mismatched menus within the WordPress admin interface.

“Totally agree. WordPress now looks like a 10/15 year old CMS. Especially with the advent of the new FSE where the internal menus are different from those of the normal dashboard.”

@mnowak_eth tweeted agreement with the opinions about the state of the WordPress admin UI:

“…Wordpress panel is starting to look like ancient enterprise software (you know the names). With the whole SaaS movement constantly educating the Internet society on good and bad UX and ergonomics, wp panel was overlooked.”

A standardized design that is shared by plugins and themes would create a seamless and coherent admin interface. @wpsecurityuser tweeted an appeal for a standardized design system.

“Please stop plugins implementing their UI systems, update the wordpress admin UI and standerdize everything, let’s get modern.”

@bitartem called attention to the value of having a design system in place so that the WordPress ecosystem can know ahead of time what to expect.

“Another problem is that WordPress is in a transitional phase, I mean Block Editor, and Full Site Editing, and new features are added almost every day, so if there’s a Design System, we need to know what WordPress will become in near future.”

WordPress Admin User Interface Needs Improvement

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that WordPress is in trouble when the person who created it says that it’s faster to get things done in a closed source competitor than it is with WordPress.

Joost’s article focuses on the outdated state of the WordPress admin interface and calls attention to the need for a coherent design statement that plugin and theme developers could adopt in order to create an easier to use end product.

Read Joost de Valk’s Blog Post

WordPress’ admin UI needs to be better



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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

Examining YouTube’s list of the top trending videos and top Shorts of 2022, as well as the YouTube Ads Leaderboard: 2022 year-end-wrap-up can teach content marketers, content creators, and digital advertisers some important lessons that they can apply in 2023.

But, it helps if you have a secret decoder ring to decipher why there are three lists – and why each one uses a different methodology to come up with the rankings.

YouTube unveiled its first list of the 10 most-watched YouTube videos back in December 2010. Unfortunately, that list taught many marketers that “view count” was the only metric that mattered.

But, I got my secret decoder ring back in October 2012, when YouTube started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search results to reward engaging videos that kept viewers watching.

In other words, YouTube replaced “view count” with “watch time.”

This was a significant shift, because “watch time” gives you a sense of what content viewers actually watch, as opposed to videos that they click on and then abandon.

In December 2012, YouTube shifted from unveiling its 10 “most-watched” videos of the year to unveiling its “top trending videos,” based on time spent watching, sharing, commenting, liking, and other factors.

In other words, “watch time” and “engagements” were now the metrics that mattered.

Today, YouTube’s algorithm rewards “viewer satisfaction.”

In other words, YouTube doesn’t pay attention to videos; it pays attention to viewers.

So, rather than trying to make videos that’ll make an algorithm happy, focus on making videos that make your viewers happy.

This brings us to YouTube’s lists of “trending videos” and “top Shorts” for 2022.

To learn important lessons that can be applied in 2023, we need to realize that YouTube’s discovery system uses both absolute and relative watch time as signals when deciding audience engagement.

Ultimately, YouTube wants both short and long videos to succeed, so relative watch time is more important for short videos, and absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.

Top 7 Trending Videos Of 2022

1. “So Long Nerds“ By Technoblade (6:32 long, 88.3 million Views, 10.2 million engagements)

In this moving tribute, the father of beloved Minecraft creator Technoblade reads a farewell letter from his son.

The gamer lost his battle with cancer in June, but his legacy remains on YouTube.

2. “Watch The Uncensored Moment Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock On Stage At The Oscars, Drops F-bomb” By Guardian News (1:24 long, 104 million Views, and 1.8 million engagements)

It was the smack heard ‘round the world: Academy Award winner Will Smith went off-script and slapped Chris Rock, live on-stage, at the film industry’s most prestigious event.

3. “Hi, I’m Dream” By Dream (5:42 long, 48.5 million Views, and 4.7 million engagements)

Dream’s ingenuity within Minecraft has led him to become a top creator with a devoted fanbase.

But no one knew what he looked like IRL, until now.

4. “ Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar & 50 Cent Full Pepsi Sb Lvi Halftime Show” By NFL (14:41 long, 146 million Views, and 3.5 million engagements)

Lose yourself in this epic Super Bowl halftime show packed with some of the biggest artists in hip-hop history: Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lama, and 50 Cent.

5. “I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!” By Mrbeast (17:01 long, 132 million Views, and 5.1 million engagements)

In a “Willy Wonka” inspired warehouse, MrBeast challenges contestants to traverse a chocolate river, climb a candy wall, compete in confection-themed games, and indulge in their sweetest fantasies.

6. “Pranks Destroy Scam Callers- Glitterbomb Payback” By Mark Rober (26:41 long, 55.9 million Views, and 2.2 million engagements).

Engineer Mark Rober exacts dazzling revenge on a scam call center in the latest version of his glitterbomb series.

7. “Being Not Straight” By Jaiden Animations (15:22 long, 17.8 million Views, and 1.7 million engagements)

In this coming-out video, Jaiden Animations depicts a personal journey from adolescence to adulthood, sharing how they discovered their sexual identity along the way.

Top 7 Shorts Of 2022

1. “Diver Cracks Egg At 45 Ft Deep #Shorts” By Shangerdanger (0:56 long, 251 million Views, and 12.3 million engagements)

The ocean floor is a mysterious place. It’s full of unknown sea creatures, strange plants, and…chicken eggs?!

Join Shangerdanger as he cracks up the internet and dives egg-first into the blue depths.

2. “Sarah Trust Challenges” By Hingaflips (0:31 long, 142 million Views, and 6.5 million engagements)

Better than parkour? This is Trampwall: an epic sport where acrobats defy gravity and leap off a wall, onto a trampoline, to pull off mind-blowing aerial stunts.

3. “Come With Me To Shave My Fluffy Dog! #Doggrooming #Grooming #Goldendoodle” By Brodie That Dood (0:52 long, 108 million Views, and 6.8 million engagements)

For years, his long fluffy fur has made Brodie one of the most iconic dogs on YouTube. So, the heartbreak was real when it was decided that he needed a close trim.

4. “Dave and Busters Bet Me 1000 Tickets I Couldn’t Do This…” By Chris Ivan (0:59 long, 83.6 million Views, and 6.3 million engagements).

No one does trick shots like creator Chris Ivan. In this Short, he attempts to land a plunger on a Dave & Buster’s sign.

The prize? 1,000 tickets … if he can pull it off.

5. “That Gap Between Your Car Seat and Center Console” By Jay & Sharon (0:58 long, 182 million Views, and 6.4 million engagements)

We’ve all lost something in the dreaded gap between the car seat and the center console.

In this comedic sketch, creators Jay & Sharon show us what’s really going on down there.

6. “Welcome To The Stomach #Shorts” By Adrian Bliss (0:34 long, 118 million Views, and 7.0 million engagements)

In this bite-sized skit, witty creator Adrian Bliss brings to life all the characters trying to gain entrance – and party in – his space-limited stomach.

7. “This Magic Trick Explained (America’s Got Talent)” By Zack D. Films (0:34 long, 97.4 million Views, and 5.6 million engagements).

How did he do it? The judges of “America’s Got Talent” were confounded by this magic trick.

But not internet-sleuth Zack D., who unveils its clever secret.

Top 7 YouTube Ads Of 2022

Meanwhile, YouTube uses an entirely different methodology to determine the top YouTube ad for its 2022 year-end wrap-up Leaderboard. This makes sense.

The top ads are generally the ones with the biggest budgets, which drive up view counts, but not always engagements.

1. “Amazon’s Big Game Commercial: Mind Reader” By Amazon (1:31 long, 69.7 million Views, and 25,700 engagements)

The creative agency for this ad was Lucky Generals and the media agency was IPG – Rufus.

The ad’s description asks, “Is Alexa reading minds a good idea? No. No, it is not.”

2. “Welcome To Clan Capital! Clash Of Clans New Update!” By Clash Of Clans (1:20 long, 52.9 million Views, and 212,000 engagements)

The creative agency was Psyop, and the media agency was in-house.

The ad’s description says,

“Welcome to the ultimate clan destination! A place where you and your clan can BUILD and BATTLE together! A place called CLAN CAPITAL!”

3. “Goal Of The Century X BTS | Yet To Come (Hyundai Ver.) Official Music Video” By Hyundaiworldwide (4:08 long, 40.5 million Views, and 886,000 engagements)

The ad’s description says,

“Our ‘Goal of the Century’ can’t be achieved by one individual alone, but we can achieve it if we all join forces and unite.

Just like football players come together as a team to score goals, we aim to use the power of football to go forward together in pursuit of the greatest goal – ‘A united world for sustainability.’”

4. “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts | Official Trailer | HBO Max” By HBO Max (1:58 long, 27.3 million Views, and 739,000 engagements)

The creative agency was in-house, and the media agency was Hearts & Science.

The ad’s description says,

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts invites fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time as it reunites Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and other esteemed cast members and filmmakers across all eight Harry Potter films for the first time to celebrate the anniversary of the franchise’s first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

5. “Introducing iPhone 14 Pro | Apple” by Apple (4:20 long, 23.8 million views, and 571,000 engagements)

The ad’s description asks, “What lies beyond a traditional smartphone? Let’s find out. This is iPhone 14 Pro.”

6. All of Us Are Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix” by Netflix (2:35 long, 22.6 million views, and 518,000 engagements)

The creative agency was The Refinery, and the media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“All of us will die. There is no hope.” The school turned into a bloody battleground and our friends into worst enemies. Who will make it out alive?”

7. Sally’s Seashells (Extended) | Big Game Commercial 2022“ by Squarespace (1:07 long, 21.6 million views, and 67,600 engagements)

The media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“See everything that Sally sells in this extended cut of our 2022 Big Game commercial. Starring Zendaya as Sally and narrated by andré 3000.”

Most Important Lesson That Marketers Can Apply In 2023

Looking back at YouTube’s lists of top trending videos, top Shorts, and top ads for 2022, there is a meta-lesson that marketers can learn: one size does not fit all.

Different metrics matter when measuring different types of video, and different types of ads are better for different marketing objectives.

Or, as the British say, “There are horses for courses.”

Now, that’s a lesson that all of us can apply in 2023, and beyond.

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