Connect with us

SEO

A Comprehensive On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024

Published

on

A Comprehensive On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024

If you’ve invested time and effort writing an epic piece of content, don’t forget about on-page SEO. It helps google to understand what your page is about and show it to as many people as possible in the search results.

Even better, many on-page improvements are super quick and easy to do.

Follow this checklist for perfect on-page SEO every time:

If you’re looking for a reusable interactive checklist to use time and time again, here are a few other formats

Let’s run through everything real quick.

Google says it’s best to use words that are relevant to your content in page URLs, so you don’t want random gobbledygook urls like domain.com/734/834753956756 if you can avoid it. It’s better to use something short and descriptive like domain.com/mens/shirts.

Short, descriptive URLs are best for SEOShort, descriptive URLs are best for SEO

It only takes a few seconds to change this in most content management systems:

You can change URL structures in most CMS's in secondsYou can change URL structures in most CMS's in seconds

If you’re not sure what words or phrases to use, the main keyword you’re targeting is usually a good bet. That’s what we do on the Ahrefs blog 90% of the time.

For example, our target keyword for this post is “on page SEO checklist,” so that’s what the post’s URL is:

Using the target keyword is never a bad idea for a URL slugUsing the target keyword is never a bad idea for a URL slug

Few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Avoid repeating words. If your page is about mens shirts and it’s nested in the /mens/ subfolder, you don’t need to repeat the word “mens.” domain.com/mens/shirts/ is better than domain.com/mens/mens-shirts/
  • Avoid dates. If a searcher comes across domain.com/blog/2020/fashion-tips/ in 2024, they’re going to assume it’s out-of-date even if you updated the content yesterday. So domain.com/blog/fashion-tips/ would be better.
  • Avoid being too specific. If your URL is domain.com/blog/20-best-fashion-tips/, it’s going to look weird if you add more tips to your post later on. Using the less specific domain.com/blog/best-fashion-tips/ gives you more future freedom.

Google says that title tags are often the main piece of information searchers use to decide which result to click on. If yours is boring and dull, you’re probably not going to get as many clicks as you could—even if you rank.

It’s the same story for meta descriptions, which Google often uses for the descriptive snippet.

Pages with compelling title tags and meta descriptions get more clicksPages with compelling title tags and meta descriptions get more clicks

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for title tags, but the ABC formula is a decent starting point for blog posts:

Use the ABC formula to craft more compelling title tagsUse the ABC formula to craft more compelling title tags

For your meta description, my best advice is to try to expand on your title tag to give searchers more detail and context.

If you’re struggling or just want a fast solution, give our free AI title tag generator and meta description generator a shot. Tell the tools what your page is about and your desired writing tone and they’ll generate a few options.

Use Ahrefs' free AI and meta description generators to craft compelling copy in secondsUse Ahrefs' free AI and meta description generators to craft compelling copy in seconds

Remember to keep them both short and swee, too. If they’re too long, they’ll get cut-off in search. This looks odd and makes them less compelling. You can use a free tool like this one to check for truncation before publishing, or Ahrefs’ Site Audit to find all the issues on your site.

Google recommends using one H1 tag per page. It makes sense to use this for your page title as H1 is the highest level heading there is.

Most content management systems do this automatically, but you can double-check your title is indeed a H1 for free using Ahrefs SEO toolbar. Just click the Content tab:

Use the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar to check the structure of your contentUse the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar to check the structure of your content

If the copy you’d expect to be wrapped in a H1 tag isn’t, hit up your developer!

People want what you promised them in your title and meta description, so don’t kick things off with a load of fluff. Get straight to the point and give the reader what they came for in the first sentence.

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to do this. It all depends on what searchers are looking for.

For example, when people search for “toxic backlinks,” they’re overwhelmingly looking for a definition above all else. That’s why I made the very first paragraph of my article the definition:

People have short attention spans; get to the point fastPeople have short attention spans; get to the point fast

But when people search for “best snow blower,” they just want a recommendation—so that’s what Wirecutter gives them in the first paragraph:

Wirecutter is great at getting to the point in their introsWirecutter is great at getting to the point in their intros

Sidenote.

I think Wirecutter’s opening paragraph could be even better because there’s no point in that first sentence. If you’re searching for “best snow blower,” you already know the benefits of the product. You just want to know which one is best!

Google’s John Mueller said that the search giant uses headings to help better understand the content on a page. This is why you need to make sure they’re clear and descriptive.

It’s easy to miss the mark here. We’ve even been guilty of it ourselves.

For example, look at these two subheadings from our list of blogging tips:

Some of our rather cryptic subheadings from our list of blogging tipsSome of our rather cryptic subheadings from our list of blogging tips

Do you have any idea what those mean at first glance?

Me neither. And many of the other subheadings in our post were also unclear.

If you suspect the same might be true for your subheadings, try this: ask ChatGPT to rewrite them for clarity.

Asking ChatGPT to rewrite subheadings for clarityAsking ChatGPT to rewrite subheadings for clarity

This is exactly what Sam did for our post, and it made them much clearer in seconds.

For example, “Create a ‘Do 100’ project” became “Start a ‘write 100 blog posts’ project”:

Example of a subheading rewritten by ChatGPTExample of a subheading rewritten by ChatGPT

Make sure your subheadings have proper hierarchy, too. It helps Google to understand the structure and makes it easier to skim for readers.

Headings improve user experience by creating hierarchyHeadings improve user experience by creating hierarchy

Search intent is the reason behind the search. Unless your page aligns with intent and gives searchers what they’re looking for, your chances of ranking high are slim to none.

To show just how important this is, look at this graph:

Our rankings for "backlink checker" shot up after we matched search intentOur rankings for "backlink checker" shot up after we matched search intent

This shows our ranking position for the keyword “backlink checker” over time. You can see that in late 2018, we suddenly went from struggling to rank higher than position #5 to consistently ranking #1.

How? By optimizing our page for search intent.

Here’s what the page looked like before:

Our original "backlink checker" landing pageOur original "backlink checker" landing page

Here’s what it looks like now:

Our current "backlink checker" landing pageOur current "backlink checker" landing page

Minor design tweaks aside, there’s one important difference: there’s now a free backlink checker embedded. Before it just asked visitors to start a trial of our SEO software.

By catering to what searchers actually wanted, we improved the page’s rankings and its estimated search traffic from ~18K to ~215K monthly visits. That’s a 12X improvement!

Traffic increased by 12X when we improved search intent. That's huge!Traffic increased by 12X when we improved search intent. That's huge!

But how did we know what searchers wanted?

Back then, we had to do a manual analysis of the top search results. While you can still do that, it’s much easier just to click the “Identify intents” button in Keywords Explorer:

Use the "Identify intents" button in Keywords Explorer to quickly understand what searchers are looking forUse the "Identify intents" button in Keywords Explorer to quickly understand what searchers are looking for

This uses the power of AI to analyze the top search results and tell you what searchers are looking for.

Broadly aligning your content with search intent isn’t enough. It should also cover the topic in full to tell searchers everything they want to know. This can help it rank for more keywords and bring more traffic as a result, too.

To find what searchers are looking for, look for common subtopics among top-ranking pages.

There are a few ways you can do this.

Manually check the top-ranking pages

Search for your target keyword in Google, open a few top-ranking pages, and eyeball them for commonalities.

For example, many top results for “best running shoes for flat feet” give a budget option:

Many first-page results for "best running shoes for flat feet" talk about the best budget option
Many first-page results for "best running shoes for flat feet" talk about the best budget option

Check the keyword rankings of top-ranking pages

Pages often rank for keywords related to the subtopics they cover. If you see many top pages ranking for these keywords, it’s probably an important subtopic to cover.

Here’s how to find these keywords:

  1. Go to the Competitive Analysis tool in Ahrefs
  2. Enter your page’s URL in the “This target doesn’t rank for” field. (If you haven’t published your page yet, enter the URL you plan to use.)
  3. Enter the URLs of a few similar top-ranking pages in the “But these competitors do” fields
  4. Look for keywords that represent subtopics

For example, the top three results for “best running shoes for flat feet” also rank in the top 10 for many keywords related to men and women’s shoes:

Keyword rankings for top-ranking pages often reveal important subtopicsKeyword rankings for top-ranking pages often reveal important subtopics

This tells you that the best picks for men and women is an important subtopic to include.

Find subtopics with the help of AI

It’s currently in beta, but the new AI Content Grader in Ahrefs finds “missing” subtopics. It does this by comparing the content of the three top-ranking pages for your target keyword to your content.

To use it, just enter your target keyword and your page’s URL. (If you haven’t published your page yet, enter the URL you plan to use).

For example, here’s one of its suggestions for the keyword “best running shoes for flat feet”:

AI suggestions for subtopics to include, via Ahrefs' Content GraderAI suggestions for subtopics to include, via Ahrefs' Content Grader

Information gain is a measure of how unique your content is. Google describes a mechanism for scoring this in a patent granted in June 2022.

Two months later, in August 2022, Google launched the helpful content update, which they described as “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

Are these two things related? Nobody knows. But what we do know is that Google cares about the originality of your content, and almost certainly has mechanisms in place for identifying it. 

This means that covering what other top-ranking pages cover isn’t enough for a well-optimized page. It also needs to bring something new and valuable to the table.

For example, my colleague Chris collected data on how folks deal with low-quality backlinks for his post on removing backlinks:

Research Chris did for his post on removing backlinksResearch Chris did for his post on removing backlinks

Ryan interviewed three B2B marketers for unique insights for his post on B2B content marketing:

Research Ryan did for his post on B2B content marketingResearch Ryan did for his post on B2B content marketing

And I worked with Patrick Stox to create an interactive workflow and template for my content audit guide:

Template I made for my post on how to do a content auditTemplate I made for my post on how to do a content audit

None of these posts are completely unique. They contain plenty of information that you can probably find elsewhere—and that’s fine. What matters is that we’re bringing at least something new to the table.

Google’s algorithms are designed to surface content that demonstrates E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust.

If you’re an expert in your field or crafted your content from personal experience, your page already has E-E-A-T. But searchers aren’t going to know that without reading it, so you should try to showcase it as obviously as you can on the page. Let’s look at two ways to do this.

Flash your credentials

Healthline does this extremely well. The very first thing you see on their page about rheumatoid arthritis is that the content was reviewed by a rheumatologist:

Healthline flashes author's credentials right in the introHealthline flashes author's credentials right in the intro

Put your uniqueness front and center

If you’ve put time and effort into adding “information gain” to your content, don’t bury it. Make sure searchers see it right away so they know they can trust you.

For example, to curate our list of the best Facebook groups for SEOs, we asked the 12K+ members of our customer-only group to vote for their favorites. Instead of burying this fact deep in the post, we highlighted it in the very first paragraph.

Always put your uniqueness front and centerAlways put your uniqueness front and center

For a page to earn backlinks (which are a strong ranking factor) and shares, people have to actually consume the content. This isn’t going to happen if the copy is hard to read.

You can use free tools like Hemingway and Grammarly to fix this.

For example, Hemingway gives my recent guide to toxic backlinks a reading grade level of 7:

Use tools like Hemingway and Grammarly to improve readabilityUse tools like Hemingway and Grammarly to improve readability

Given that 54% of Americans lack literary proficiency (essentially reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level), this means we’re alienating at least 46% of readers. If we could bring the reading grade level down, more people would be able to read it.

Sidenote.

This isn’t absolutely necessary for every topic. It depends on who your audience is. If they’re technical folks, don’t worry about it. But if you’re publishing content for the masses, accessibility matters.

Here are a few more tips to improve readability:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Use images

Featured snippets give searchers a short answer right in the search results.

Featured snippets in search resultsFeatured snippets in search results

But here’s the cool thing: Google pulls the snippet from one of the top-ranking pages. This means that if your page already ranks in the top 10 for keywords where Google shows a featured snippet, there might be an opportunity to steal it without much effort.

This is exactly what I managed to do a couple of months ago, which led to a ~38.9% jump in estimated search traffic to our page:

Traffic improvement of 38.9% by optimizing for featured snippetsTraffic improvement of 38.9% by optimizing for featured snippets

Here’s what happened:

In Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, I used the Organic Keywords report to find the page’s top 10 keyword rankings with featured snippets we didn’t own.

How to find featured snippet opportunitiesHow to find featured snippet opportunities

Right away, I noticed a trend: many of the keywords were people searching for the most searched thing in Google (singular) rather than a list of top searches (plural):

Example of an obvious opportunity to optimize for featured snippetsExample of an obvious opportunity to optimize for featured snippets

After searching for a few of these keywords in Google, I saw that the snippet was pretty much always pulled from this very short paragraph in a competing post:

Example of copy Google was using for a featured snippetExample of copy Google was using for a featured snippet

So… I added a similar paragraph to our post (using our data instead):

The copy I added to our page to optimize for featured snippetsThe copy I added to our page to optimize for featured snippets

This quick big of on-page SEO won our page 163 more featured snippets:

Results of optimizing - 163 more featured snippetsResults of optimizing - 163 more featured snippets

Images on your page can rank in Google Images and send you more traffic. There are three things you need to do to optimize them.

Filenames are descriptive

Google says that these give clues about the subject matter, so avoid random file names like IMG_5497.jpg in favor of something short and descriptive like brown-dog.jpg.

How to name image files for SEOHow to name image files for SEO

Alt text is present and descriptive

Google also says that image alt text helps them understand subject matter, so the same rules apply as filenames: keep them short and descriptive.

How to write alt text for SEOHow to write alt text for SEO

Most content management systems have a place to add alt text in the UI, so there’s no need to mess around with HTML:

Most CMS's make it easy to add alt textMost CMS's make it easy to add alt text

Images are compressed

Compressed images are smaller and faster to load. Some platforms like Shopify claim to do this automatically, but the results aren’t always great. It’s generally better to employ the help of a plugin like TinyIMG or Shortpixel.

Internal links are links from one page on your site to another. They help Google understand what a page is about and boost its authority, which can lead to higher rankings.

For this reason, when you publish a new page, it pays to internally link from there to other relevant pages. This won’t help the new page’s rankings, but it might help the rankings of the pages you internally link to.

To find relevant opportuntities, use Ahrefs’ Site Audit:

  1. Go to the Internal Link Opportunities tool
  2. Enter the URL of your newly-published page in the search box
  3. Choose “Source page” from the dropdown
How to find internal linking opportunitiesHow to find internal linking opportunities

Sidenote.

Site Audit needs to have crawled your site since you published the new page, otherwise this won’t work.

Pay attention to these columns:

  • Source page → your newly-published page, where you will add the link
  • Keyword context → where on the page to add the link
  • Target page → where to link to

For example, here the report is suggesting that I link from my post on toxic backlinks to our bad links guide:

Example of an internal linking opportunityExample of an internal linking opportunity

Citing valuable resources is helpful for readers. Even Google says so.

Does that mean it’s a “ranking factor?” No. But it does improve your content’s credibility with readers, and that can impact things that do matter like links and shares.

This is something we regularly do on the Ahrefs blog:

Example of us linking to sources on the Ahrefs blogExample of us linking to sources on the Ahrefs blog

If you’re trying to boost the rankings of the page you’re optimizing, you’ll want to add internal links to it from other pages on your site.

To find relevant opportunities, use Ahrefs’ Site Audit:

  1. Go to the Page Explorer tool
  2. Enter your target keyword (or part of it) in the search box
  3. Choose “Page text” from the dropdown
How to find internal linking opportunities on other pagesHow to find internal linking opportunities on other pages

This will find pages on your site that mention your target keyword, which may be good places to add internal links.

For example, it tells us that our guide to removing backlinks mentions the word “toxic”:

Example internal linking opportunityExample internal linking opportunity

If we search that page, this is the mention:

Perfect place to add an internal linkPerfect place to add an internal link

That looks like the perfect place to internally link to our guide to toxic backlinks.

Schema markup is code that helps search engines understand the information on a page. It also powers many rich snippets you see in Google, which can lead to more clicks.

What rich results look likeWhat rich results look like

If you’re not sure whether schema markup is worth prioritizing for your page, search for your main target keyword in Google and look at the top results. If all or many are rich results, it’s probably worth adding it.

Most of the results for this term show rich snippets, so it's probably worth optimizing for themMost of the results for this term show rich snippets, so it's probably worth optimizing for them

If you use WordPress, you can easily add schema with a plugin like Yoast or RankMath. Alternatively, use a tool like Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator to generate the JSON-LD code yourself and add it manually.

Keep learning

Check out even more of our on-page SEO resources:

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

Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

Published

on

By

Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

1716368164 358 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

1716368164 404 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

1716368164 975 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideImage created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

1716368164 348 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

1716368164 193 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

1716368164 369 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

1716368165 263 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

1716368165 545 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

1716368165 981 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

1716368165 526 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

1716368165 86 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

1716368165 114 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

1716368165 665 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

1716368165 845 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

Setting up real user monitoring helps you understand how users experience your website and what you can do to improve it. Try DebugBear now by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

1716368165 494 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

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

International SEO For 2024: 9-Point Checklist For Success

Published

on

By

International SEO For 2024: 9-Point Checklist For Success

Getting your international SEO strategy right can be an elusive feat.

There are a lot more factors at play than people give credit for, and it’s often a thankless job.

A successful international SEO strategy requires a deep knowledge of your company’s commercial strategy as well as technical SEO knowledge, cultural sensitivity, and excellent data skills.

Yet the industry often regards international SEO as just your hreflang setup.

In this article, I will distill the complexities of international SEO success into an actionable step-by-step list that will take you from beginner to advanced practitioner. Let’s begin!

Part I: Be Commercially Aware

1. Understand Why Your Company Is Going International

Companies can grow by expanding their products and services, focusing on gaining market penetration or expanding into new markets.

While your team’s goal might be traffic, leads, or revenue, the leadership team is likely working under a different set of parameters. Most of the time, leadership’s ultimate goal is to maximize shareholder value.

  • In founder-owned companies, growth goals might be slower and more sustainable, usually aimed at maintaining and growing profitability.
  • VC-owned companies have high growth goals because they must provide their investors with a return that’s higher than the stock market. This is what is known as the alpha, or your company’s ability to beat the market in growth.
  • Publicly traded companies are likely aiming to grow their share value.
  • Startups, depending on their maturity stage, are likely looking to prove product-market fit or expand their reach fast to show that their operations are scalable and have the potential to be profitable in the future. The goal of this is to aid in raising further capital from investors.

Understanding why businesses go international is essential for informing your SEO decisions. What’s best practice for SEO isn’t always what’s best for business.

You must adapt your strategy to your company’s growth model.

  • Companies choosing to grow sustainably and maintain profitability will likely expand more slowly to a market that resembles their core market.
  • VC-owned companies will be able to invest in a wider range of countries, with a smaller concern for providing their users with an experience on par with that of their core markets.
  • Startups can try to beat their competitors to market by expanding quickly and throwing a lot of money at the project, or they might be concerned with cash flow and try to expand fast but cut corners by using automatic translation.

2. Stack Rank Your Target Markets To Prioritize Your Investment

I promise I’ll get to hreflang implementation soon, but so much about international SEO has to do with commercial awareness – so bear with me; this will make you a better professional.

Many companies have different market tiers to reflect how much of a priority each market is. Market prioritization can happen using many different metrics, such as:

  • Average order value or lifetime customer value.
  • Amount of investment required.
  • Market size.
  • And market similarity.

American companies often prioritize developed English-speaking countries such as the UK, Canada, or Australia. These are most similar to their core market, and most of their market knowledge will be transferable.

After that, companies are likely to target large European economies, such as Germany and France. They might also target the LatAm market and Spain in the same effort.

The last prioritization tier can vary widely among companies, with a focus on the Nordic, Brazilian, or Asian markets.

Part II: Know Your Tech

3. Define Your International URL Structure

When doing international SEO, there are 4 different possible URL structures, each with its pros and cons.

ccTLD Structure

A ccTLD structure is set up to target different countries based on the domain type.

This structure is not ideal for companies that target different languages rather than different countries. For example, a .es website is targeting Spain, not the Spanish language.

An advantage to this kind of structure is that the ccTLD sends a very strong localization signal to search engines as to what market they are targeting, and they can lead to improved trust and CTR in your core country.

On the other hand, ccTLDs can dilute your site’s authority, as links will be spread across domains rather than concentrated on the .com.

gTLD With Subdirectories

This is my personal favorite when it comes to international SEO.

These URL structures can look like website.com/en if they’re targeting languages or website.com/en-gb if they’re targeting countries.

This configuration aggregates the authority you gain across your different territories into a single domain, it’s cheaper to maintain, and the .com TLD is widely recognizable by users worldwide.

On the other hand, this setup can look less personalized to people outside the US, who might wonder if you can service their markets.

gTLD With Subdomains

This setup involves placing international content on a subdomain like us.website.com. While once popular, it’s slipping in favor because it doesn’t bring anything unique to the table anymore.

This setup offers a clear signal to users and search engines about the intended audience of a specific subdomain.

However, subdomains often face issues with SEO, as Google tends to view them as separate entities. This separation can dilute link, similar to the ccTLD approach but without the geo-targeting advantages.

gTLD With Parameters

This is the setup where you add parameters at the end of the URL to indicate the language of the page, such as website.com/?lang=en.

I strongly advise against this setup, as it can present multiple technical SEO challenges and trust issues.

4. Understand Your Hreflang Setup

In the words of John Mueller: hreflang can be one of the most complex aspects of SEO.

Screenshot from Twitter, May 2024

Hreflang reminds me of a multilingual form of a canonical tag, where we tell search engines that one document is a version of the other and explain the relationship between them.

I find hreflang implementation very interesting from a technical point of view. Because development teams mostly manage it, and it can be very much hit or miss.

Often, hreflang is constructed from existing fields in your content management system (CMS) or content database.

You might find that your development team is pulling the HTML lang tag, which follows a different ISO standard than hreflang, leading to a broken implementation.

Other times, there is a field in your CMS that your development team pulls from to build your hreflang setup.

Finding out how your hreflang tags are generated can be extremely helpful in identifying the sources of different issues or mitigating potential risks.

So speak to your engineering team and ask them how you’re currently generating hreflang.

5. Implement Hreflang Without Errors

There are three ways to implement hreflang on your site:

  • On your sitemap.
  • Through your HTTP header.
  • On your HTML head.

The method most of us are most familiar with is the HTML head. And while you can use more than one method, they should match each other perfectly. Otherwise, you risk confusing search engines.

Here are some basic rules for getting it done correctly:

  • In your hreflang implementation, the URL must include domain and protocol.
  • You must follow the ISO 639-1 language codes – don’t go around making up your own.
  • Hreflang tags must be reciprocal. If the page you’re listing as a language alternative does not list you back, your implementation won’t work.
  • Audit your hreflang regularly. My favorite tool for this, since it added the hreflang cluster analysis and link graphs, is Ahrefs. For the record, Ahrefs is not paying me to say this; it’s a genuine recommendation and has helped me a lot in my work.
  • You should only have one page per language.
  • Your hreflang URLs should be self-canonicalizing and respond with a 200 code.

Follow the above rules, and you’ll avoid the most common hreflang mistakes that SEO pros make.

And if you’re interested in the technical SEO aspect beyond hreflang, I recommend reading Mind your language by Rob Owen.

Part III: Invest In Content Incrementally

6. Translate Your Top-performing Content Topics

Now that you have the basic commercial and technical knowledge covered, you’re ready to start creating a content strategy.

You likely have a wealth of content in your core market that can be recycled. But you want to focus on translating high-converting topics, not just any topic; otherwise, you might be wasting your budget!

Let’s go step by step.

Cluster Your Website’s Content By Topic

  • Crawl your site using your favorite SEO tool and extract the URL and H1.
  • Use ChatGPT to classify that list of URLs into topics. You might already know what you usually write about, so include those topics in your prompt. You don’t want to have a classification that’s too granular, so you can prompt chatGPT to only create groups with a minimum of 10 URLs (adjust this to reflect the size of your website) and class everything else as other. This is an example of what your prompt might look like: “I will provide you with a list of article titles and their corresponding URL. Classify this list into the following topics: survey best practices, research and analysis, employee surveys, market research and others. Return this in a table format with the URL, title and group name.”
  • Start a spreadsheet with all your URLs in the first column, titles in the second column, and the group they belong to in the third column.

Measure Your Performance By Topic

  • Export your GSC data and use a =VLOOKUP formula to match your clicks to your URLs.
  • Export your conversion data and use a =VLOOKUP formula to match your conversions (leads, sales, sign-ups, or revenue) to the right URL.
  • You can then copy your topics column onto a new sheet. Remove duplicates and use the =SUMIF formula to aggregate your click data and conversion data by topic.

Choose What Topics You’ll Be Translating First

Using this data, you can now choose what topics are most likely to drive conversions based on your core market data. Choose how many topics or pieces of content you’ll be translating based on your budget.

Personally, I like translating one topic at a time because I’ve found that generating topical authority on one specific topic makes it easier for me to rank on an adjacent topic that I write about next.

7. Localize Your English Content

Once you’re set up with all your key pages and a few content topics, it’s time to evaluate your investment and see where you could be getting a bigger return.

At this stage, many companies have translated their content into a few different languages and likely copied the US content into their UK and Australian sites. Now that you’ve done some translation, it’s time to work on localization.

If you’ve just copied your US content into your UK and Australian sites, your Google Search Console indexing report might be screaming at you, “Duplicate, Google selected a different canonical than the user.”

A very easy fix that could yield great returns is to localize your English content to the nuances of those English-speaking markets.

You will want to instruct your translation and localization providers to adapt the spellings of certain words, change the choice of words, introduce local expressions, and update any cited statistic for the US with their local equivalent.

For example, if I’m targeting a British audience, “analyze” becomes “analyse,” a “stroller” becomes a “pram,” and “soccer” becomes “football.”

8. Invest In In-market Content

Once you’ve got the basics in place, you can start tackling the specific needs of other markets. This strategy is expensive, and you should only use it in your priority markets, but it can really set you apart from your competitors.

For this, you will need to work with a local linguist to identify pain points, use cases, or needs exclusive to your target market.

For example, if France suddenly made it mandatory to run a diversity and inclusion study for companies with over 250 employees, I’d want to know this and create some content on DEI surveys at SurveyMonkey.

9. Integrate With Other Content Workflows

In step six, we evaluated our top-performing content, chose the best articles to translate, and got it all down. But wait. Some of these source articles have been updated. And there is even more content now!

To run a successful international SEO campaign you must integrate with all the other teams publishing content within your organization.

Usually, the teams creating content in an organization are SEO, content, PR, product marketing, demand generation, customer marketing, customer service, customer education, or solutions engineering.

That’s a lot, and you won’t be able to integrate with everyone all at once. Prioritize the teams that create the most revenue-generating content, such as SEO, content, or product marketing.

Working with these teams, you will have to establish a process for what happens when they create a new piece, update some content, or remove an existing piece.

These processes can differ for everyone, but I can tell you what I do with my team and hope it inspires you.

  • When a piece of content that’s already been localized into international markets is updated, we get the content in a queue to be re-localized the next quarter.
  • When they create a new piece of content, we evaluate its performance, and if it’s performing above average, we add it to a localization queue for the next quarter.
  • When they change the URL of a piece of content or delete it, all international sites must follow suit at the same time, since due to some technical limitations, not making the change globally would create some hreflang issues.

Wrapping Up

International SEO is vast and complex, and no article can cover it all, but many interesting resources have been created by SEO pros across the community for those who want to learn more.

Navigating the complexities of international SEO is no small feat. It’s an intricate dance of aligning commercial strategies with technical precision, cultural insights, and data-driven decisions.

From understanding your company’s core motives for global expansion to meticulously implementing hreflang tags and localizing content, every step plays a crucial role in building a successful international presence.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BritCats Studio/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
Continue Reading

SEO

Google’s AI Vision Driven By Panic, Not Users: Former Product Manager

Published

on

By

Hand pressing the red button. vector illustration

A 16-year Google veteran is raising concerns about the company’s current focus on AI, labeling it a “panic reaction” driven by fear of falling behind competitors.

Scott Jenson, who left Google last month, took to LinkedIn to critique the tech giant’s AI projects as “poorly motivated and driven by this mindless panic that as long as it had ‘AI’ in it, it would be great.”

Veteran’s Criticism Of Google’s AI Focus

Jenson stated that Google’s vision of creating an AI assistant for its ecosystem is “pure catnip” fueled by the fear of letting someone else get there first.

He parallels the ill-fated Google+ product, which he calls a “similar hysterical reaction” to Facebook’s rise.

Jenson wrote:

“This exact thing happened 13 years ago with Google+ (I was there for that fiasco as well). That was a similar hysterical reaction but to Facebook.”

Lack Of User-Driven Motivation

Jenson argues that Google’s strategy lacks motivation driven by genuine user needs, a sentiment echoed by a recent Gizmodo article that described this year’s Google I/O developer conference as “the most boring ever.”

The article, which Jenson linked to in his post, criticized Google for failing to clarify how Gemini’s new AI technology would integrate into its existing products and enhance the user experience.

See Jenson’s full post below:

Can You Turn Off Google’s AI Overviews?

One prime example of Google’s AI overreach is the AI overviews feature, which generates summaries to directly answer search queries by ingesting information from across the web.

This controversial move has sparked legal battles, with publishers accusing Google of violating intellectual property rights and unfairly profiting from their content without permission.

Related: Google’s AI Overviews Documentation: Key SEO Insights

Turning Off AI Overviews

While Google doesn’t provide an official setting to turn off AI overviews, a viral article from Tom’s Hardware suggests using browser extensions.

Alternatively, you can configure Chrome to go directly to web search results, bypassing the AI-generated overviews.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

  • Name: Google (Web)
  • Shortcut: www.google.com
  • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
  • Click “Add
Screenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

Lastly, click the three dots next to the new “Google (Web)” entry and select “Make default.”

1716224163 590 Googles AI Vision Driven By Panic Not Users Former ProductScreenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

After following these steps, Chrome will now default to showing regular web search results instead of the AI overview summaries when you perform searches from the address bar.

Tensions Over Data Usage

The controversy surrounding AI overviews creates tension between tech companies and content creators over using online data for AI training.

Publishers argue that Google’s AI summaries could siphon website traffic, threatening independent creators’ revenue streams, which rely on search referrals.

The debate reflects the need for updated frameworks to balance innovation and fair compensation for content creators, maintaining a sustainable open internet ecosystem.


FAQ

What concerns has Scott Jenson raised about Google’s AI focus?

Scott Jenson, a former Google product manager, has expressed concerns that Google’s current AI focus is more of a “panic reaction” to stay ahead of competitors rather than addressing user needs. He critiques Google’s AI initiatives as poorly motivated and driven by a fear of letting others get ahead.

How does Scott Jenson compare Google’s AI strategy to past projects?

Jenson parallels Google’s current AI focus and the company’s response to Facebook years ago with Google+. He describes both as “hysterical reactions” driven by competition, which, in the case of Google+, resulted in a product that failed to meet its objectives.

Why are content creators concerned about Google’s AI overviews?

Content creators worry that Google’s AI overviews, which generate summaries by ingesting web content, could reduce site traffic. They argue that this practice is unfair as it uses their content without permission and impacts their revenue streams that rely on search referrals.

How can users turn off Google’s AI overviews in Chrome?

Although no official setting exists to disable AI overviews, users can use a workaround by enabling a specific Chrome setting or using a browser extension.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

    • Name: Google (Web)
    • Shortcut: www.google.com
    • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
    • Click “Add

This will force Chrome to skip AI-generated overviews and show the classic list of web links.


Featured Image: Sira Anamwong/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
Continue Reading

Trending