Connect with us

SEO

6 Common Hreflang Tag Mistakes Sabotaging Your International SEO

Published

on

6 Common Hreflang Tag Mistakes Sabotaging Your International SEO

Correct hreflang tags are critical to international SEO success if you run your business across multiple domains targeting different languages or regions.

When hreflang tags are missing, or incorrectly used, you hurt your SEO.

I first experienced this frustration many years ago when managing the SEO of a client’s eight Shopify stores.

Without the correct hreflang tags, I saw how these stores were cannibalizing each other’s SEO efforts in their respective local markets.

Since then, I’ve evaluated the hreflang tags of hundreds of ecommerce stores and have come to identify six common mistakes being made repeatedly.

Advertisement

And let’s be clear. This isn’t a problem unique to Shopify.

If you run multi-regional stores from any ecommerce platform, you may be making any one of these mistakes.

Without the correct directive, Google won’t know the best version is to show to a user based on their location.

Shopify does, however, present a unique issue as there is no way to link the various products, collections, pages, and articles together across multi-stores to produce accurate hreflang tags unless you are using the custom hreflang tags Shopify app.

Some stores create workarounds for their hreflang tags by using redirects to their translated versions of the URLs.

This can be difficult to manage and lead to broken redirect chains for a poor user experience.

Advertisement

Let’s not forget to mention the negative impact on your SEO.

Why Are Hreflang Tags Crucial For International SEO?

A hreflang tag is a bit of code to signal to search engines which version of your store to show to a user based on their language and geographical location.

When you run multiple ecommerce accounts under the same brand, you can customize URLs for the native language.

This is recommended for SEO best practice, as you can better target native language keywords in your URLs and optimize a page accordingly.

With correct hreflang tag implementation, your store will send signals to Google to index and show the appropriate version based on a user’s location and/or language.

Improvements in user experience and minimizing source code conflicts have a flow-on effect on SEO.

Advertisement

For example, with the correct version showing to the user, you may be more likely to attract links for your geo-targeted page. This can help reduce bounce rates and improve conversions.

What Does A Correct Hreflang Tag Look Like?

Before we jump into the common mistakes, let’s look at the benefits of getting your hrelflang tags right.

Say you own a shoe store, which we’ll call “Good Shoe Shop.”

You’re currently managing two domains; one to target U.S. customers (a .com domain), and one to target German customers (a .de domain).

It makes sense to show the .com version of the website to users based in the U.S., and the .de version of the store, which you have translated into German, to users in Germany.

In addition, you’ve translated the German store and used customized German language URLs to target keywords in the native language.

Advertisement

Great SEO work!

The correct hreflang tags for a ‘Shoe’ collection page would look like this for the .com store:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://goodshoeshop.com/collections/shoes" hreflang="x-default">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://goodshoeshop.com/collections/shoes" hreflang="en" />
<link rel="alternate" href="https://goodshoeshop.de/collections/schuhe" hreflang="de" />

These hreflang tags tell Google when a customer is based in Germany, to show the .de version of your store.

The “x-default” attribute signals to Google to show this default version when a user’s location or language isn’t specified or targeted in the hreflang tag.

Without these hreflang tags, users in Germany may be served the .com version simply because it ranks better for certain English keywords.

As a result, they would be shown USD pricing, U.S. shipping information, and no custom language translations on the page.

Advertisement

Can you imagine the difference in the customer’s experience?

This ability to have the correct version of your store showing to a customer based on their location is why hreflang tags are important for your international SEO.

Here are the six most common hreflang tag mistakes we’ve come across causing stores to repel customers and lose sales.

1. No Custom URL Translations

If you run multiple domains, it’s important to show your store to the user in their native language and to have custom URL translations.

It’s up to you whether you make these translations manually or utilize a translation app.

What’s important here is how you manage these translations in your hreflang tags.

Advertisement

Here’s an example from Toby Wagons.

Even though Toby Wagons utilizes hreflang tags, they are all in English.

Screenshot from tobywagons.com, May 2022

This may not appear to be a big deal at face value, however, how many French customers, in France, are using English search queries, like “Spare Parts” as opposed to French search queries?

What does this mean for the French store’s local SEO?

Isn’t it quite likely the .com store will outrank the French store for English keywords when you would prefer the .fr domain to rank highly in France?

By not using customized, native language URLs, you are missing out on valuable SEO juice.

This better serves your local customers while targeting more relevant keywords for that region.
As an example, Toby Wagons use “pièces de rechange” as the collection name for “Spare Part” in their French store.

Advertisement

SEO best practices would have you replicate this in the URL to target these keywords and provide a more consistent and geographically relevant user experience.

Before:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://tobywagons.com/collections/spare-parts" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://tobywagons.fr/collections/spare-parts" />
After:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://tobywagons.com/collections/spare-parts" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://tobywagons.fr/collections/pieces-de-rechange" />

Each individual store should utilize custom URLs, translated for the local language.

These translated URLs should then be used in the hreflang tags.

2. No Cross-Referencing Between Stores

Large, multinational brands like Allbirds are not infallible.

They have several stores, catering to different geo-regions like Australia, Canada, China, Japan, etc.

Allbirds multiple regionsScreenshot from allbirds.com, May 2022

They don’t, however, cross-reference their other stores in the hreflang tags.

Allbirds - no cross-referencing of hreflang tagsScreenshot from allbirds.com.au, May 2022

The consequence?

These stores aren’t passing valuable SEO juice between stores.

Advertisement

3. Incorrectly Mapping URLs

In the case of Kids Ride Shotgun, they use hreflang tags between their eight domains.

They are, however, incorrectly mapped.

Kids Ride Shotgun - hreflang tagsScreenshot from kidsrideshotgun.com.au, May 2022

When navigating to a collection page, the hreflang tag points to each store’s homepage, rather than the equivalent collection page for that store.

This is telling search engines the homepage is the most relevant version of that page for all pages.

From an SEO point of view, this is grossly wrong.

Each collection page should be mapped to the corresponding collection page in the other stores.

Likewise, each product page should have an equivalent product page to map to in the hreflang tags.

Advertisement

4. Incorrect Use Of Hreflang Tag Domains

It’s vitally important you use the correct version of your domain in the hreflang tags.

For example, Vovox has two domains on two separate Shopify accounts:

https://vovox.com
and
https://vovox.ch

Their hreflang tags do not use the public versions of the domains but rather, the Shopify admin domains.

VOVOX - incorrect hreflang tagScreenshot from vovox.com, May 2022

This is no doubt causing confusion and potentially impacting their SEO.

Always use the public domain address in your hreflang tags.

They also do not use customized URLs. The .com version of the store uses the .ch translations.

Advertisement

For example: https://vovox.com/collections/instrumentenkabel

English URLs should be used in the English store and mapped in the hreflang tags to the other languages.

5. Hreflang Tags Point To A Redirect

Just like with any internal link on your website, SEO best practices call for using the correct version of the link rather than a 301 redirect.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with redirects; they exist for a purpose, to communicate with search engines that a URL has moved.

If a correct or new version of the URL exists, then it’s best practice to use the correct destination link when internally linking to pages on your site.

This saves page load time and provides a clearer directive for search engines.

Advertisement

In this example, redirected URLs have been used in the hreflang tags.

Even though we are on the .com site, the URL used in the hreflang tag is using the German version of the collection page.

While looking at other collection pages, I found many hreflang tag URLs end up as 404 errors.

They’ve tried to work around this with 301 redirects.

This is a clumsy way to manage hreflang tags between different stores and can cause all sorts of broken links. 301s may also weaken your PageRank if used incorrectly.

 

Advertisement

 

Klitmøller Collection - wrong hreflang tagsScreenshot from klitmollercollective.com, May 2022
Klitmoller Collective - redirect hreflang tagScreenshot from klitmollercollective.com, May 2022

6. Hreflang Tags Point To 404 Pages

While this last point is not a direct hreflang mistake, it’s an SEO mistake that comes about due to hreflang limitations in Shopify or in the case of other platforms, where a non-existent link has been used.

The problem is when a store has an hreflang tag that points to another store’s equivalent page but it lands with a 404 error.

This happens because the URL is often translated into the native language but the hreflang tag uses the same English version.

Below is an example from Luvele.

When I viewed the hreflang tags on a .com collection page, the .de version of that collection took me straight to a 404 page.

Luvele - 404 hreflang tagScreenshot from luvele.de, May 2022

The hreflang tags are using English URLs for both the .com and .de versions, even though they have a German version of the page https://www.luvele.de/collections/mixer.

Before:
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.luvele.com.au/collections/blenders" hreflang="en-au" />
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.luvele.de/collections/blenders" hreflang="en-de" />

The correct hreflang tag should point to the German translation of the collection page.

Advertisement
<link rel="alternate" href=" https://www.luvele.de/collections/mixer" hreflang="en-de" />

You can begin to imagine the number of 404 errors that are occurring when you multiply this across how many stores you manage, and the number of collection and product pages!

Other Considerations And SEO Best Practices For Hreflang Tags

Use Self-Referencing Hreflang Tag

Without a self-referencing hreflang tag, the attributes may be ignored or misinterpreted.

This can cause clashes with other source code.

The page in reference needs to include a self-referencing hreflang tag.

Avoid Mixing Canonical Tags And Hreflang Tags

A canonical tag signals to search engines which version of a URL (where the content is the same) to the index to avoid duplicate content.

On the other hand, a hreflang tag is a signal to search engines to show the correct version of a URL based on a user’s language or region (and where the content may slightly differ to compensate for translation differences or region/language-specific information).

Advertisement

This can easily be muddled when you start cross-referencing canonical tags in the hreflang tags between stores.

Canonical tags should only be used within a single version of your store.

You can avoid sending confusing signals to Google by only using the same URL being self-referenced in the hreflang tag attributes.

Use Correct Region And Language Attributes

Be mindful of using the correct country and language code attributes.

Double-check the ISO 639-1 format for language codes to ensure you are using the correct one. For targeting a specific region, you will need to use the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.

More resources:

Advertisement

Featured Image: por_suwat/Shutterstock



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SEO

An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices For Mobile SEO

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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:

Advertisement
  • 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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
  • 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

Source link

Advertisement
Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

HARO Has Been Dead for a While

Published

on

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. 

Advertisement

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: 

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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 😉



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

Google Clarifies Vacation Rental Structured Data

Published

on

By

Google updates their vacation rental structured data documentation

Google’s structured data documentation for vacation rentals was recently updated to require more specific data in a change that is more of a clarification than it is a change in requirements. This change was made without any formal announcement or notation in the developer pages changelog.

Vacation Rentals Structured Data

These specific structured data types makes vacation rental information eligible for rich results that are specific to these kinds of rentals. However it’s not available to all websites. Vacation rental owners are required to be connected to a Google Technical Account Manager and have access to the Google Hotel Center platform.

VacationRental Structured Data Type Definitions

The primary changes were made to the structured data property type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.

The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

The primary changes were made to the structured data type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.

Advertisement

The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

Address Schema.org property

This is a subtle change but it’s important because it now represents a recommendation that requires more precise data.

This is what was recommended before:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy.”

This is what it now recommends:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Unit 6E”

Address Property Change Description

The most substantial change is to the description of what the “address” property is, becoming more descriptive and precise about what is recommended.

The description before the change:

Advertisement

PostalAddress
Information about the street address of the listing. Include all properties that apply to your country.

The description after the change:

PostalAddress
The full, physical location of the vacation rental.
Provide the street address, city, state or region, and postal code for the vacation rental. If applicable, provide the unit or apartment number.
Note that P.O. boxes or other mailing-only addresses are not considered full, physical addresses.

This is repeated in the section for address.streetAddress property

This is what it recommended before:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing.

And this is what it recommends now:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing, including the unit or apartment number if applicable.

Clarification And Not A Change

Although these updates don’t represent a change in Google’s guidance they are nonetheless important because they offer clearer guidance with less ambiguity as to what is recommended.

Read the updated structured data guidance:

Advertisement

Vacation rental (VacationRental) structured data

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending

Follow by Email
RSS