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17 Types Of Content Marketing You Can Use

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17 Types Of Content Marketing You Can Use

For marketers, content is still king. It provides value to your targets, helps establish you as an expert in your field, drives traffic, and tells search engines why your website should be ranked highly.

But what’s the best type of content? You would likely get 12 different responses if you asked a dozen marketers.

Some will swear by blogs, while others will claim infographics are the best way to generate exposure. Ebooks can be a great way to establish your authority, while memes encourage organic shares.

Every type of content has different strengths and weaknesses. By understanding each offer’s unique benefits, you can develop a cohesive content marketing strategy unique to your needs.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at 17 types of marketing content, explain how you can use them to achieve your goals, and give you the knowledge you need to make a bigger splash with your marketing.

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Why Content Marketing Is Important

The world has gone digital. As of July 2022, there were 5.03 billion people worldwide using the internet. That means 63.1% of the global population could potentially land on your website.

Thanks to smartphones, the internet has become the go-to source for entertainment, shopping, or settling arguments about Florida’s state bird (the northern mockingbird), no matter where you are.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that a study by the Pew Research Center found 31% of American adults reported being online “almost constantly.”

The heart of any successful digital marketing campaign, content marketing offers several benefits, including:

  • Building trust with your audience.
  • Improving SEO efforts.
  • Showcasing your expertise.
  • Helping maintain your brand’s reputation.
  • Encouraging social shares.
  • Improving conversion rates.

And on top of this, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to attract new leads, as you can often repurpose your content to get added exposure without a lot more work.

Of course, not all types of content will reap the same level of rewards. Your mix will depend on the specifics of your business and your goals, but some types are essential.

17 Essential Types Of Content

1. Blogs

Since 1994, when Justin Hall created the very first weblog, or blog, as it would come to be known, blogging has been a cornerstone of successful content marketing.

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A great way to regularly add new content to your website, blogs are a versatile, low-cost, and often evergreen way to boost organic traffic.

Their long-form format lets you focus on your target keywords and the important topics to your audience.

Blogs can also play an important role in your SEO strategy.

Their length (the average blog post is 1,500 to 2,500 words) provides Google’s search bots with a lot of information about their content, which in turn helps it determine how it helps answer search queries.

To ensure your blog posts are generating as much traffic as possible and getting the results you need, make sure they are:

  • Written for humans – not search engines.
  • Use your targeted keywords.
  • Optimized for loading speed.
  • Linked to sites with high authority.
  • Use headers for effective skimming.

And don’t forget your long-tail keywords. Remember, the more detailed a blog post is, the more likely it will attract the traffic you want.

Plus, it’s a great way to show off your brand’s personality.

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2. Case Studies

Your target customers have a specific problem. Your goal as a marketer is to show them why your business is the best answer to said problem.

To do this, you have to demonstrate not just that you’re an expert in the field but also that your solution actually works. And one of the best ways to do this is through case studies.

Case studies give your audience a real-life scenario in which someone like them used your offering to solve their problem. They see the buying journey from start to finish, helping them visualize how your product or service works.

They allow you to portray yourself as an expert, which helps reduce perceived risk, particularly for high-cost products and services.

And like blogs, they offer a longer format in which you can effectively add keywords without feeling like they were shoehorned in.

To maximize their impact, you should make sure your case studies:

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  • Focus on an issue your target audience can relate to.
  • Feature a cohesive narrative from start to finish.
  • Include real statistics wherever possible.
  • Accurately portray how your business solved the issue.

3. Checklists

Santa Claus is not the only one making a list and checking it twice. Many people love a step-by-step guide to performing a task or solving a problem.

By dividing tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, checklists can make even the most complex jobs less daunting. And from a marketing perspective, they’re a great way to generate leads.

Audiences use them as a simple, easy, and free way to make sure all the right steps are being followed. They create ownership, establish expectations, and set deadlines, all of which contribute to productivity.

In addition to creating a useful tool for customers, checklists also let your targets know you understand what they’re facing. Good checklists will include:

  • A title establishing the purpose of the list and why it’s useful.
  • Step-by-step tasks that outline the overall process – including subtasks.
  • Timeframes for each step – this could be a hard date or a range.
  • Status indicating whether a step is completed, in progress, or not started.

4. Customer Reviews And Testimonials

You know your business is great, but let’s face it: saying it yourself doesn’t count for much. What does matter, however, is what your customers are saying.

Word of mouth for the digital age, customer reviews, and testimonials give you a level of credibility no amount of paid marketing can ever achieve.

Studies have shown 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their shopping choices, which makes them extremely valuable.

Reviews and their less-celebrated-but-no-less-important-counterpart testimonials help reduce the feeling of risk and provide a useful way to overcome potential objections. Plus, because they’re customer-generated, they cost you nothing.

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There are several ways to encourage them, including:

  • Directly asking for reviews and testimonials.
  • Incentivizing customers to create them.
  • Creating automated replies that make creating reviews easy.

Google factors in positive reviews when determining Search Quality Raters Guidelines.

These do not have a direct impact on search rankings but do help ensure your pages meet the minimum quality threshold the search engine demands.

You should prominently feature testimonials and reviews wherever they logically fit, including on webpages and in emails.

5. Ebooks

One of the best ways to present yourself as an authority is to demonstrate thought leadership. And one of the best ways to do that is by creating an ebook.

These long-form texts are not advertisements, at least not in the traditional sense, but instead, they offer value to potential customers.

By deep diving into a subject particular to your field, you demonstrate your expertise while simultaneously providing value to your targets.

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If your ebook covers a particularly under-covered topic or presents information in a new light, it can lead to significant interest in your company. And even better, because these long-form texts are generally hidden behind an email or contact form, they offer a great way to generate new leads.

6. Email Marketing

The bread-and-butter of marketing in the 21st century, email marketing is a fast and flexible way to reach a highly targeted audience.

Whether you’re trying to stay top of mind for existing customers, reach new ones, or build brand awareness, email marketing gives you a measurable way to engage with targets.

You should be using email to contact people regularly at each stage of your sales funnel.

Limited-time offers can help persuade that hesitant lead to finally give you a chance. Birthday messages to existing customers help keep your brand at the forefront, and abandoned cart emails can entice people back to complete purchases.

No matter what your business goals are, there’s an email strategy to help you achieve them.

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Make sure you keep your strategy centered on those goals, segment your audience to speak to specific audiences, and measure your results. Then, take what you have learned from this campaign and apply it to the next one.

7. Guides And How-Tos

In-depth guides and how-tos are necessary for any company offering a complex product or service.

Another way to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are, they are a great way to expand your online presence.

For example, if you are a software company, providing how-to content in the form of printable guides or online training courses will help your clients get the most from your product.

They can also help eliminate frustration and minimize learning curves – both things customers love.

8. Infographics

Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words. Infographics are this adage applied to marketing.

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By allowing you to present a significant amount of information in a quick and easy-to-understand format, they provide an easy way for viewers to understand information.

Great for catching the eyes of people who only scan the text on your webpage (which is almost everyone), infographics give marketers control over which information is highlighted.

Create infographics that call out statistics, events, or timelines that help pitch your business. Quick and low-cost, they often act as standalone content that can be shared on social media.

To ensure you’re getting all the credit (and backlinks) you deserve from your content, include a snippet of HTML code that allows other webmasters to embed them on their sites.

9. Interactive Content

In the old days (i.e., before the internet), marketing usually talked “at” an audience. But now, the power of technology has given marketers the ability to speak “with” people.

Interactive content is a great way to harness this functionality to gather information, boost engagement, or find new customers. Plus, they’re a great way to provide value and/or showcase your creativity.

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Create quizzes to help people decide on which product is perfect for their needs, build games to distract them while increasing your brand’s exposure, or create an app that adds value to their lives.

While this type of content may require a bit more technological knowledge (or outsourcing) than some of the items on this list, it can also be one of the highest-performing.

10. Interviews/Q&As

Want to massively expand your audience with just one piece of content? All you need to do is secure an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Simple, right? Well, maybe not, but don’t let that discourage you from putting the power of interviews and question-and-answer segments to work for you.

A great way to build relationships (and links) with other websites, these are a great way for your internal thought leaders to showcase their knowledge to external audiences.

By going “on the record,” you’re showing the world that you stand behind your offering. This implies quality customer support, helps with reputation management, and can improve overall engagement.

11. Listicles

Unfamiliar with the word “listicle?” You’re not alone. But they refer to something you’ve definitely seen before. In fact, you’re reading one right now – it’s an article structured as a list, hence the name.

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While the most popular of these are often Buzzfeed-esque pieces like “15 Hedgehogs With Things That Look Like Hedgehogs,” they don’t have to be mindless entertainment but instead can be used as powerful pieces of marketing content.

People love listicles because they are easy to skim, you know what to expect, and they break information down into digestible chunks.

Marketers love them because they’re easy to plan and write.

Create your own marketing listicles following these steps:

  1. Choose a topic and angle.
  2. Select a keyword.
  3. Write the list points.
  4. Wrap up with a solid conclusion.

12. Podcasts

No longer solely the domain of true crime junkies, podcasts are a great way to build your brand with effective content marketing that people can consume on their commute, on a walk, or at any other time they find convenient.

Podcasts allow you to share your stories and experiences directly with your audience, building relationships by speaking to your targets on a personal level.

To maximize the impact of your podcasts, ensure you’re providing useful information in an entertaining format. You can also use guest hosts or interviewees as a way to expand your audience.

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13. Social Media Posts

Everyone from your grandmother to the teenager next door is using social media these days.

While it’s true they might not be on the same platform, they’re all using it for the same purpose – to stay in touch. And there are literally billions of users worldwide.

Providing a way to initiate and maintain conversations with targets, social media has become an important part of every marketing mix.

Of course, how you use it will vary dramatically from one company to the next.

For example, a candy manufacturer may have good luck with recreating viral videos on TikTok, but that approach will probably fall flat for a software developer.

To ensure your social media efforts are reaping maximum rewards, you need to identify which platform or platforms your audience is using, then create content that will speak to them.

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Seek to build relationships with both your audience and any influencers who can help expand the impact of your content.

And don’t forget, social media is also a great place to repurpose content you’ve already created.

Have a great infographic? That would be perfect for your Facebook. That tutorial video about your product’s hidden features should be on your YouTube page. Linking to your ebook on Twitter can help you land new leads.

Find where your content fits, then put it on your social channels.

14. User-Generated Content

Much like testimonials, content created by your users gives you an authenticity no amount of self-promotion can match. Even better, because it’s generated by a third party, it doesn’t take much investment on your part.

User-generated content, or UGC, could be anything from someone tagging your brand in a selfie to a recording of them using your product. It provides social proof while simultaneously providing word of mouth and encouraging engagement.

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Encourage your fans and customers to make content by:

  • Regularly posting UGC on your social media channels.
  • Inviting user-submitted content, with or without rewards.
  • Creating and using your own branded hashtag.

15. Videos

If you’re looking for a way to engage your audience, there’s nothing quite like video.

Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Meta’s Reels have made videos a ubiquitous part of digital marketing. And with good reason – video content works.

While this type of content generally requires more time and resources to produce than text or static content, video content has been shown to increase dwell time, improve customer understanding of your product or service, and lead to higher lead volume.

Part of the strength of video content lies in its versatility.

From short demo videos and social media clips to interviews and long-term videos that tell your story, video can help you connect with your audience in a way most other forms of content can’t.

16. Webinars

When you think of content marketing, webinars are probably not the first thing that springs to mind. However, they can be a very valuable part of your strategy.

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Whether you’re using on-demand webinars to provide round-the-clock value or live sessions to create personal connections, these online education sessions are a great way to educate existing and potential customers, attract new leads, and establish your authority in your field.

To create successful webinars, first, identify an area of need. Maybe there’s a new law that impacts your industry, and there are many questions surrounding its implementation.

Maybe there’s a certain aspect of your offering that customers don’t seem to understand clearly. Or perhaps you just want to offer expert insights on a relevant topic.

Whatever it is, your webinars should provide unique content that adds value. Require an email list for registration, and they provide a great way to build new contact lists.

17. Whitepapers

Not to be confused with ebooks, whitepapers are lengthy papers filled with data, statistics, and information – sort of like business research papers.

The information they include can be the results of your own studies or a compilation of information compiled from other sources. Either way, they should offer key takeaways and provide credible insights.

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Keep your design clean and visually appealing for easy scanning, and allow others to link to it to help generate backlinks.

Takeaway: Why Use Different Types Of Content

Though they may have common features, every prospect, lead, and customer you’re targeting differs.

Some people are visual learners and like videos and infographics. Others prefer to be taught new information and retain information from webinars best. And yet, others prefer downloadable texts they can peruse on their own time.

If you’re only creating one type of content, you’re not reaching as many targets as possible with a more varied approach.

It’s often tempting for busy marketers to take the easiest approach, but this isn’t the best recipe for long-term success.

Instead, determine what your goals are and how you will define success. Then, use this to create a multi-channel content plan that will help you reach it.

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Regardless of which content mix you opt for, there are certain things every element, regardless of format, must do:

  • It should provide value.
  • It should promote your brand and product/service.
  • It should be targeted to your specific desired audience.
  • It should actively move customers along the purchasing journey.
  • It should be shareable.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks. Not every type of content works for every brand, but if you put in the work, you’re sure to see rewards.

More Resources:


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2024 WordPress Vulnerability Report Shows Errors Sites Keep Making

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2024 Annual WordPress security report by WPScan

WordPress security scanner WPScan’s 2024 WordPress vulnerability report calls attention to WordPress vulnerability trends and suggests the kinds of things website publishers (and SEOs) should be looking out for.

Some of the key findings from the report were that just over 20% of vulnerabilities were rated as high or critical level threats, with medium severity threats, at 67% of reported vulnerabilities, making up the majority. Many regard medium level vulnerabilities as if they are low-level threats and that’s a mistake because they’re not low level and should be regarded as deserving attention.

The WPScan report advised:

“While severity doesn’t translate directly to the risk of exploitation, it’s an important guideline for website owners to make an educated decision about when to disable or update the extension.”

WordPress Vulnerability Severity Distribution

Critical level vulnerabilities, the highest level of threat, represented only 2.38% of vulnerabilities, which is essentially good news for WordPress publishers. Yet as mentioned earlier, when combined with the percentages of high level threats (17.68%) the number or concerning vulnerabilities rises to almost 20%.

Here are the percentages by severity ratings:

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  • Critical 2.38%
  • Low 12.83%
  • High 17.68%
  • Medium 67.12%

Authenticated Versus Unauthenticated

Authenticated vulnerabilities are those that require an attacker to first attain user credentials and their accompanying permission levels in order to exploit a particular vulnerability. Exploits that require subscriber-level authentication are the most exploitable of the authenticated exploits and those that require administrator level access present the least risk (although not always a low risk for a variety of reasons).

Unauthenticated attacks are generally the easiest to exploit because anyone can launch an attack without having to first acquire a user credential.

The WPScan vulnerability report found that about 22% of reported vulnerabilities required subscriber level or no authentication at all, representing the most exploitable vulnerabilities. On the other end of the scale of the exploitability are vulnerabilities requiring admin permission levels representing a total of 30.71% of reported vulnerabilities.

Permission Levels Required For Exploits

Vulnerabilities requiring administrator level credentials represented the highest percentage of exploits, followed by Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) with 24.74% of vulnerabilities. This is interesting because CSRF is an attack that uses social engineering to get a victim to click a link from which the user’s permission levels are acquired. This is a mistake that WordPress publishers should be aware of because all it takes is for an admin level user to follow a link which then enables the hacker to assume admin level privileges to the WordPress website.

The following is the percentages of exploits ordered by roles necessary to launch an attack.

Ascending Order Of User Roles For Vulnerabilities

  • Author 2.19%
  • Subscriber 10.4%
  • Unauthenticated 12.35%
  • Contributor 19.62%
  • CSRF 24.74%
  • Admin 30.71%

Most Common Vulnerability Types Requiring Minimal Authentication

Broken Access Control in the context of WordPress refers to a security failure that can allow an attacker without necessary permission credentials to gain access to higher credential permissions.

In the section of the report that looks at the occurrences and vulnerabilities underlying unauthenticated or subscriber level vulnerabilities reported (Occurrence vs Vulnerability on Unauthenticated or Subscriber+ reports), WPScan breaks down the percentages for each vulnerability type that is most common for exploits that are the easiest to launch (because they require minimal to no user credential authentication).

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The WPScan threat report noted that Broken Access Control represents a whopping 84.99% followed by SQL injection (20.64%).

The Open Worldwide Application Security Project (OWASP) defines Broken Access Control as:

“Access control, sometimes called authorization, is how a web application grants access to content and functions to some users and not others. These checks are performed after authentication, and govern what ‘authorized’ users are allowed to do.

Access control sounds like a simple problem but is insidiously difficult to implement correctly. A web application’s access control model is closely tied to the content and functions that the site provides. In addition, the users may fall into a number of groups or roles with different abilities or privileges.”

SQL injection, at 20.64% represents the second most prevalent type of vulnerability, which WPScan referred to as both “high severity and risk” in the context of vulnerabilities requiring minimal authentication levels because attackers can access and/or tamper with the database which is the heart of every WordPress website.

These are the percentages:

  • Broken Access Control 84.99%
  • SQL Injection 20.64%
  • Cross-Site Scripting 9.4%
  • Unauthenticated Arbitrary File Upload 5.28%
  • Sensitive Data Disclosure 4.59%
  • Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) 3.67%
  • Remote Code Execution 2.52%
  • Other 14.45%

Vulnerabilities In The WordPress Core Itself

The overwhelming majority of vulnerability issues were reported in third-party plugins and themes. However, there were in 2023 a total of 13 vulnerabilities reported in the WordPress core itself. Out of the thirteen vulnerabilities only one of them was rated as a high severity threat, which is the second highest level, with Critical being the highest level vulnerability threat, a rating scoring system maintained by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

The WordPress core platform itself is held to the highest standards and benefits from a worldwide community that is vigilant in discovering and patching vulnerabilities.

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Website Security Should Be Considered As Technical SEO

Site audits don’t normally cover website security but in my opinion every responsible audit should at least talk about security headers. As I’ve been saying for years, website security quickly becomes an SEO issue once a website’s ranking start disappearing from the search engine results pages (SERPs) due to being compromised by a vulnerability. That’s why it’s critical to be proactive about website security.

According to the WPScan report, the main point of entry for hacked websites were leaked credentials and weak passwords. Ensuring strong password standards plus two-factor authentication is an important part of every website’s security stance.

Using security headers is another way to help protect against Cross-Site Scripting and other kinds of vulnerabilities.

Lastly, a WordPress firewall and website hardening are also useful proactive approaches to website security. I once added a forum to a brand new website I created and it was immediately under attack within minutes. Believe it or not, virtually every website worldwide is under attack 24 hours a day by bots scanning for vulnerabilities.

Read the WPScan Report:

WPScan 2024 Website Threat Report

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An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices For Mobile SEO

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Mobile SEO: An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices

Over the years, search engines have encouraged businesses to improve mobile experience on their websites. More than 60% of web traffic comes from mobile, and in some cases based on the industry, mobile traffic can reach up to 90%.

Since Google has completed its switch to mobile-first indexing, the question is no longer “if” your website should be optimized for mobile, but how well it is adapted to meet these criteria. A new challenge has emerged for SEO professionals with the introduction of Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which replaced First Input Delay (FID) starting March, 12 2024.

Thus, understanding mobile SEO’s latest advancements, especially with the shift to INP, is crucial. This guide offers practical steps to optimize your site effectively for today’s mobile-focused SEO requirements.

What Is Mobile SEO And Why Is It Important?

The goal of mobile SEO is to optimize your website to attain better visibility in search engine results specifically tailored for mobile devices.

This form of SEO not only aims to boost search engine rankings, but also prioritizes enhancing mobile user experience through both content and technology.

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While, in many ways, mobile SEO and traditional SEO share similar practices, additional steps related to site rendering and content are required to meet the needs of mobile users and the speed requirements of mobile devices.

Does this need to be a priority for your website? How urgent is it?

Consider this: 58% of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you aren’t focused on mobile users, there is a good chance you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of traffic.

Mobile-First Indexing

Additionally, as of 2023, Google has switched its crawlers to a mobile-first indexing priority.

This means that the mobile experience of your site is critical to maintaining efficient indexing, which is the step before ranking algorithms come into play.

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Read more: Where We Are Today With Google’s Mobile-First Index

How Much Of Your Traffic Is From Mobile?

How much traffic potential you have with mobile users can depend on various factors, including your industry (B2B sites might attract primarily desktop users, for example) and the search intent your content addresses (users might prefer desktop for larger purchases, for example).

Regardless of where your industry and the search intent of your users might be, the future will demand that you optimize your site experience for mobile devices.

How can you assess your current mix of mobile vs. desktop users?

An easy way to see what percentage of your users is on mobile is to go into Google Analytics 4.

  • Click Reports in the left column.
  • Click on the Insights icon on the right side of the screen.
  • Scroll down to Suggested Questions and click on it.
  • Click on Technology.
  • Click on Top Device model by Users.
  • Then click on Top Device category by Users under Related Results.
  • The breakdown of Top Device category will match the date range selected at the top of GA4.
Screenshot from GA4, March 2024

You can also set up a report in Looker Studio.

  • Add your site to the Data source.
  • Add Device category to the Dimension field.
  • Add 30-day active users to the Metric field.
  • Click on Chart to select the view that works best for you.
A screen capture from Looker Studio showing a pie chart with a breakdown of mobile, desktop, tablet, and Smart TV users for a siteScreenshot from Looker Studio, March 2024

You can add more Dimensions to really dig into the data to see which pages attract which type of users, what the mobile-to-desktop mix is by country, which search engines send the most mobile users, and so much more.

Read more: Why Mobile And Desktop Rankings Are Different

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How To Check If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Now that you know how to build a report on mobile and desktop usage, you need to figure out if your site is optimized for mobile traffic.

While Google removed the mobile-friendly testing tool from Google Search Console in December 2023, there are still a number of useful tools for evaluating your site for mobile users.

Bing still has a mobile-friendly testing tool that will tell you the following:

  • Viewport is configured correctly.
  • Page content fits device width.
  • Text on the page is readable.
  • Links and tap targets are sufficiently large and touch-friendly.
  • Any other issues detected.

Google’s Lighthouse Chrome extension provides you with an evaluation of your site’s performance across several factors, including load times, accessibility, and SEO.

To use, install the Lighthouse Chrome extension.

  • Go to your website in your browser.
  • Click on the orange lighthouse icon in your browser’s address bar.
  • Click Generate Report.
  • A new tab will open and display your scores once the evaluation is complete.
An image showing the Lighthouse Scores for a website.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

You can also use the Lighthouse report in Developer Tools in Chrome.

  • Simply click on the three dots next to the address bar.
  • Select “More Tools.”
  • Select Developer Tools.
  • Click on the Lighthouse tab.
  • Choose “Mobile” and click the “Analyze page load” button.
An image showing how to get to Lighthouse within Google Chrome Developer Tools.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

Another option that Google offers is the PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. Simply add your URL into the field and click Analyze.

PSI will integrate any Core Web Vitals scores into the resulting view so you can see what your users are experiencing when they come to your site.

An image showing the PageSpeed Insights scores for a website.Screenshot from PageSpeed Insights, March 2024

Other tools, like WebPageTest.org, will graphically display the processes and load times for everything it takes to display your webpages.

With this information, you can see which processes block the loading of your pages, which ones take the longest to load, and how this affects your overall page load times.

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You can also emulate the mobile experience by using Developer Tools in Chrome, which allows you to switch back and forth between a desktop and mobile experience.

An image showing how to change the device emulation for a site within Google Chrome Developer ToolsScreenshot from Google Chrome Developer Tools, March 2024

Lastly, use your own mobile device to load and navigate your website:

  • Does it take forever to load?
  • Are you able to navigate your site to find the most important information?
  • Is it easy to add something to cart?
  • Can you read the text?

Read more: Google PageSpeed Insights Reports: A Technical Guide

How To Optimize Your Site Mobile-First

With all these tools, keep an eye on the Performance and Accessibility scores, as these directly affect mobile users.

Expand each section within the PageSpeed Insights report to see what elements are affecting your score.

These sections can give your developers their marching orders for optimizing the mobile experience.

While mobile speeds for cellular networks have steadily improved around the world (the average speed in the U.S. has jumped to 27.06 Mbps from 11.14 Mbps in just eight years), speed and usability for mobile users are at a premium.

Read more: Top 7 SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design

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Best Practices For Mobile Optimization

Unlike traditional SEO, which can focus heavily on ensuring that you are using the language of your users as it relates to the intersection of your products/services and their needs, optimizing for mobile SEO can seem very technical SEO-heavy.

While you still need to be focused on matching your content with the needs of the user, mobile search optimization will require the aid of your developers and designers to be fully effective.

Below are several key factors in mobile SEO to keep in mind as you’re optimizing your site.

Site Rendering

How your site responds to different devices is one of the most important elements in mobile SEO.

The two most common approaches to this are responsive design and dynamic serving.

Responsive design is the most common of the two options.

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Using your site’s cascading style sheets (CSS) and flexible layouts, as well as responsive content delivery networks (CDN) and modern image file types, responsive design allows your site to adjust to a variety of screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions.

With the responsive design, elements on the page adjust in size and location based on the size of the screen.

You can simply resize the window of your desktop browser and see how this works.

An image showing the difference between Web.dev in a full desktop display vs. a mobile display using responsive design.Screenshot from web.dev, March 2024

This is the approach that Google recommends.

Adaptive design, also known as dynamic serving, consists of multiple fixed layouts that are dynamically served to the user based on their device.

Sites can have a separate layout for desktop, smartphone, and tablet users. Each design can be modified to remove functionality that may not make sense for certain device types.

This is a less efficient approach, but it does give sites more control over what each device sees.

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While these will not be covered here, two other options:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which can seamlessly integrate into a mobile app.
  • Separate mobile site/URL (which is no longer recommended).

Read more: An Introduction To Rendering For SEO

Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

Google has introduced Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a more comprehensive measure of user experience, succeeding First Input Delay. While FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your page (e.g., clicking a link, tapping a button) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction. INP, on the other hand, broadens the scope by measuring the responsiveness of a website throughout the entire lifespan of a page, not just first interaction.

Note that actions such as hovering and scrolling do not influence INP, however, keyboard-driven scrolling or navigational actions are considered keystrokes that may activate events measured by INP but not scrolling which is happeing due to interaction.

Scrolling may indirectly affect INP, for example in scenarios where users scroll through content, and additional content is lazy-loaded from the API. While the act of scrolling itself isn’t included in the INP calculation, the processing, necessary for loading additional content, can create contention on the main thread, thereby increasing interaction latency and adversely affecting the INP score.

What qualifies as an optimal INP score?

  • An INP under 200ms indicates good responsiveness.
  • Between 200ms and 500ms needs improvement.
  • Over 500ms means page has poor responsiveness.

and these are common issues causing poor INP scores:

  1. Long JavaScript Tasks: Heavy JavaScript execution can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to respond to user interactions. Thus break long JS tasks into smaller chunks by using scheduler API.
  2. Large DOM (HTML) Size: A large DOM ( starting from 1500 elements) can severely impact a website’s interactive performance. Every additional DOM element increases the work required to render pages and respond to user interactions.
  3. Inefficient Event Callbacks: Event handlers that execute lengthy or complex operations can significantly affect INP scores. Poorly optimized callbacks attached to user interactions, like clicks, keypress or taps, can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to render visual feedback promptly. For example when handlers perform heavy computations or initiate synchronous network requests such on clicks.

and you can troubleshoot INP issues using free and paid tools.

As a good starting point I would recommend to check your INP scores by geos via treo.sh which will give you a great high level insights where you struggle with most.

INP scores by GeosINP scores by Geos

Read more: How To Improve Interaction To Next Paint (INP)

Image Optimization

Images add a lot of value to the content on your site and can greatly affect the user experience.

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From page speeds to image quality, you could adversely affect the user experience if you haven’t optimized your images.

This is especially true for the mobile experience. Images need to adjust to smaller screens, varying resolutions, and screen orientation.

  • Use responsive images
  • Implement lazy loading
  • Compress your images (use WebP)
  • Add your images into sitemap

Optimizing images is an entire science, and I advise you to read our comprehensive guide on image SEO how to implement the mentioned recommendations.

Avoid Intrusive Interstitials

Google rarely uses concrete language to state that something is a ranking factor or will result in a penalty, so you know it means business about intrusive interstitials in the mobile experience.

Intrusive interstitials are basically pop-ups on a page that prevent the user from seeing content on the page.

John Mueller, Google’s Senior Search Analyst, stated that they are specifically interested in the first interaction a user has after clicking on a search result.

Examples of intrusive interstitial pop-ups on a mobile site according to Google.

Not all pop-ups are considered bad. Interstitial types that are considered “intrusive” by Google include:

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  • Pop-ups that cover most or all of the page content.
  • Non-responsive interstitials or pop-ups that are impossible for mobile users to close.
  • Pop-ups that are not triggered by a user action, such as a scroll or a click.

Read more: 7 Tips To Keep Pop-Ups From Harming Your SEO

Structured Data

Most of the tips provided in this guide so far are focused on usability and speed and have an additive effect, but there are changes that can directly influence how your site appears in mobile search results.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) haven’t been the “10 blue links” in a very long time.

They now reflect the diversity of search intent, showing a variety of different sections to meet the needs of users. Local Pack, shopping listing ads, video content, and more dominate the mobile search experience.

As a result, it’s more important than ever to provide structured data markup to the search engines, so they can display rich results for users.

In this example, you can see that both Zojirushi and Amazon have included structured data for their rice cookers, and Google is displaying rich results for both.

An image of a search result for Japanese rice cookers that shows rich results for Zojirushi and Amazon.Screenshot from search for [Japanese rice cookers], Google, March 2024

Adding structured data markup to your site can influence how well your site shows up for local searches and product-related searches.

Using JSON-LD, you can mark up the business, product, and services data on your pages in Schema markup.

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If you use WordPress as the content management system for your site, there are several plugins available that will automatically mark up your content with structured data.

Read more: What Structured Data To Use And Where To Use It?

Content Style

When you think about your mobile users and the screens on their devices, this can greatly influence how you write your content.

Rather than long, detailed paragraphs, mobile users prefer concise writing styles for mobile reading.

Each key point in your content should be a single line of text that easily fits on a mobile screen.

Your font sizes should adjust to the screen’s resolution to avoid eye strain for your users.

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If possible, allow for a dark or dim mode for your site to further reduce eye strain.

Headers should be concise and address the searcher’s intent. Rather than lengthy section headers, keep it simple.

Finally, make sure that your text renders in a font size that’s readable.

Read more: 10 Tips For Creating Mobile-Friendly Content

Tap Targets

As important as text size, the tap targets on your pages should be sized and laid out appropriately.

Tap targets include navigation elements, links, form fields, and buttons like “Add to Cart” buttons.

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Targets smaller than 48 pixels by 48 pixels and targets that overlap or are overlapped by other page elements will be called out in the Lighthouse report.

Tap targets are essential to the mobile user experience, especially for ecommerce websites, so optimizing them is vital to the health of your online business.

Read more: Google’s Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool Now Measures Tap Target Spacing

Prioritizing These Tips

If you have delayed making your site mobile-friendly until now, this guide may feel overwhelming. As a result, you may not know what to prioritize first.

As with so many other optimizations in SEO, it’s important to understand which changes will have the greatest impact, and this is just as true for mobile SEO.

Think of SEO as a framework in which your site’s technical aspects are the foundation of your content. Without a solid foundation, even the best content may struggle to rank.

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  • Responsive or Dynamic Rendering: If your site requires the user to zoom and scroll right or left to read the content on your pages, no number of other optimizations can help you. This should be first on your list.
  • Content Style: Rethink how your users will consume your content online. Avoid very long paragraphs. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” to quote Shakespeare.
  • Image Optimization: Begin migrating your images to next-gen image formats and optimize your content display network for speed and responsiveness.
  • Tap Targets: A site that prevents users from navigating or converting into sales won’t be in business long. Make navigation, links, and buttons usable for them.
  • Structured Data: While this element ranks last in priority on this list, rich results can improve your chances of receiving traffic from a search engine, so add this to your to-do list once you’ve completed the other optimizations.

Summary

From How Search Works, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

If Google’s primary mission is focused on making all the world’s information accessible and useful, then you know they will prefer surfacing sites that align with that vision.

Since a growing percentage of users are on mobile devices, you may want to infer the word “everywhere” added to the end of the mission statement.

Are you missing out on traffic from mobile devices because of a poor mobile experience?

If you hope to remain relevant, make mobile SEO a priority now.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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SEO

HARO Has Been Dead for a While

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HARO Has Been Dead for a While

Every SEO’s favorite link-building collaboration tool, HARO, was officially killed off for good last week by Cision. It’s now been wrapped into a new product: Connectively.

I know nothing about the new tool. I haven’t tried it. But after trying to use HARO recently, I can’t say I’m surprised or saddened by its death. It’s been a walking corpse for a while. 

I used HARO way back in the day to build links. It worked. But a couple of months ago, I experienced the platform from the other side when I decided to try to source some “expert” insights for our posts. 

After just a few minutes of work, I got hundreds of pitches: 

So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and began to work through them. It didn’t take long before I lost the will to live. Every other pitch seemed like nothing more than lazy AI-generated nonsense from someone who definitely wasn’t an expert. 

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Here’s one of them: 

Example of an AI-generated pitch in HAROExample of an AI-generated pitch in HARO

Seriously. Who writes like that? I’m a self-confessed dullard (any fellow Dull Men’s Club members here?), and even I’m not that dull… 

I don’t think I looked through more than 30-40 of the responses. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt like having a conversation with ChatGPT… and not a very good one! 

Despite only reviewing a few dozen of the many pitches I received, one stood out to me: 

Example HARO pitch that caught my attentionExample HARO pitch that caught my attention

Believe it or not, this response came from a past client of mine who runs an SEO agency in the UK. Given how knowledgeable and experienced he is (he actually taught me a lot about SEO back in the day when I used to hassle him with questions on Skype), this pitch rang alarm bells for two reasons: 

  1. I truly doubt he spends his time replying to HARO queries
  2. I know for a fact he’s no fan of Neil Patel (sorry, Neil, but I’m sure you’re aware of your reputation at this point!)

So… I decided to confront him 😉 

Here’s what he said: 

Hunch, confirmed ;)Hunch, confirmed ;)

Shocker. 

I pressed him for more details: 

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I’m getting a really good deal and paying per link rather than the typical £xxxx per month for X number of pitches. […] The responses as you’ve seen are not ideal but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take as realistically I dont have the time to do it myself. He’s not native english, but I have had to have a word with him a few times about clearly using AI. On the low cost ones I don’t care but on authority sites it needs to be more refined.

I think this pretty much sums up the state of HARO before its death. Most “pitches” were just AI answers from SEOs trying to build links for their clients. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing shade here. I know that good links are hard to come by, so you have to do what works. And the reality is that HARO did work. Just look at the example below. You can tell from the anchor and surrounding text in Ahrefs that these links were almost certainly built with HARO: 

Example of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

But this was the problem. HARO worked so well back in the day that it was only a matter of time before spammers and the #scale crew ruined it for everyone. That’s what happened, and now HARO is no more. So… 

If you’re a link builder, I think it’s time to admit that HARO link building is dead and move on. 

No tactic works well forever. It’s the law of sh**ty clickthroughs. This is why you don’t see SEOs having huge success with tactics like broken link building anymore. They’ve moved on to more innovative tactics or, dare I say it, are just buying links.

Sidenote.

Talking of buying links, here’s something to ponder: if Connectively charges for pitches, are links built through those pitches technically paid? If so, do they violate Google’s spam policies? It’s a murky old world this SEO lark, eh?

If you’re a journalist, Connectively might be worth a shot. But with experts being charged for pitches, you probably won’t get as many responses. That might be a good thing. You might get less spam. Or you might just get spammed by SEOs with deep pockets. The jury’s out for now. 

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My advice? Look for alternative methods like finding and reaching out to experts directly. You can easily use tools like Content Explorer to find folks who’ve written lots of content about the topic and are likely to be experts. 

For example, if you look for content with “backlinks” in the title and go to the Authors tab, you might see a familiar name. 😉 

Finding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content ExplorerFinding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

I don’t know if I’d call myself an expert, but I’d be happy to give you a quote if you reached out on social media or emailed me (here’s how to find my email address).

Alternatively, you can bait your audience into giving you their insights on social media. I did this recently with a poll on X and included many of the responses in my guide to toxic backlinks.

Me, indirectly sourcing insights on social mediaMe, indirectly sourcing insights on social media

Either of these options is quicker than using HARO because you don’t have to sift through hundreds of responses looking for a needle in a haystack. If you disagree with me and still love HARO, feel free to tell me why on X 😉



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