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How Can We Improve Rankings For Older Content? Ask An SEO

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How Can We Improve Rankings For Older Content? Ask An SEO

How can you help existing webpages get new traction and move up in search rankings?

That’s the question posed by Faith in this edition of Ask An SEO. She wrote:

“I have a few keywords ranking on the fourth or fifth page of Google.

It’s been a year ranking at this position. What should I do to improve the rankings now?”

Adam Riemer from Adam Riemer Marketing shares his response with Miranda Miller, Writer & Editor, in this edition of Ask An SEO.

Evaluating internal pages that may be competing against your candidates for optimization is an important first step, he says.

Improving Page Speed and Core Web Vitals may also give you new opportunities to improve rankings.

Adam shares a step-by-step process for finding opportunities to improve existing content with local schema, improving a user’s on-page experience, getting links from relevant media sources, and more.

You can watch the full video here and find the full transcript below.

Ask An SEO: Improving Rankings With Adam Riemer [Full Transcript]

Miranda Miller: Hello, and welcome to Ask An SEO. … This week, we have with us Adam Riemer from Adam Riemer Marketing, AdamRiemer.me.

The question that people have for you this week comes from Faith.

Faith has a few keywords ranking on the fourth or fifth page of Google. They’ve been stable there for about a year, and she would like to know: What can she do to improve those rankings now?

Adam Riemer: Okay. That’s a good question and comes up way too often. I have to deal with that with a lot of clients. Well, not deal with it, but I get to solve that problem for a lot of clients.

Improving Rankings For Existing Content, Step By Step

Adam Riemer: And basically, the very first thing I do is, I’ll take a tool, whether it’s Authority Labs or Semrush; I think Ahrefs does this too.

And I’ll look to see: Do we have competing pages in those positions?

And is there one with an indent after it, maybe? And from there, I’ll be like, Okay, well… do both of these pages need to exist?

If there is nothing competing and it’s just one page there, I start to look at the page experience, and I say, Okay, why is this not the best experience for the user or for the search query?

And then we start to address, and you can look at, Do we properly explain the concept?

Is the article as good as it could be?

Is it formatted correctly? Could it use some bulking up?

Sometimes, one thing I’ve had to do a lot recently… there’s a case study on my website right now recently, I have to delete most of the copy because people just wrote copy to hit a minimum word count by actually reducing it, and just sharing the actual information.

We’ve been able to pop our clients up to the top positions from there.

Another option you can do, if everything’s perfect and your copy’s great… you can start to look at Page Speed and Core Web Vitals.

That’s not going to move the needle much, but when it does, it’s going to help you convert more traffic and decrease your bounce rate.

Another thing you can try to do is build some internal links from contextually relevant content.

You don’t want to just link to that page off of keywords for the sake of doing it.

Build out your content strategy. Look for previous articles.

If you’re on WordPress, for example, you can log in, click on posts, and then click on pages.

You do this twice and type in the keyword or a similar version of the keyword. And that’ll pull up a list of the actual pages that mention this. And you can start building words that way.

You can also use search operators. We’ll do site, put your URL in, and then in quotation marks, you’ll put in the keyword phrase, and it’ll scan through your website for mentions of that specific keyword or phrase throughout the site.

And now you have a list of pages you can build internal links from.

You can also try doing PR work. So if your content or if your page is genuinely good enough, then you can probably attract backlinks from major media, possibly bloggers.

Tips For Local Businesses

Adam Riemer: If you’re local, go for local websites and complementary companies, and try to do it that way. It won’t be an immediate result, but you will start to see climbing if it’s good.

If it’s a product page and you’re not the manufacturer, it doesn’t make sense to give you an anchor or a backlink.

So what you want to do then is you want to create content that’s worth linking to and get backlinks that way, and pass the authority to the page.

Those are all different ways you can pop up from position or page four and five to the front page of Google and possibly overtake it.

Don’t Forget About Schema

The last thing to look at, and probably should be done earlier, is the schema.

A lot of people forget that schema.org does update its libraries regularly. So you’ll want to go in and say, Do I have everything here? Did I add a video?

And is there video object schema?

Do I have FAQs on here?

Or did I add some, and is there FAQ schema?

If it’s listed as an article, because maybe you’re a publisher, there’s probably a part, and you can nest it in the has part portion of the schema.

And those are always… you can actually take your page from the fourth and fifth page of Google and bump it up to page one while achieving some featured rich results.

Evaluating A Visitor’s Page Experience

Miranda Miller: That is awesome. That’s great information, Adam.

I have a couple of follow-up questions for you.

I was wondering – when you’re evaluating page experience, the experience that any given user is having on that website and on that specific page, do you use tools to help you with that?

Or is it a largely manual process, and what are you looking for?

Adam Riemer: Depends on what I’m looking at on the page, specifically.

If I notice it’s just going really slow, then I’ll use webpagetest.org. That’s my first go-to tool because the waterfall is very easy to dissect, and they’ve now added Core Web Vitals – that’s similar to what you’ll see in Search Console.

So that way, I can say, Okay, this is rendering first. This is coming, or this is being pulled in first before we actually start to render the page, and we can move it to the end. It doesn’t need to be there.

We can identify all the fonts and everything else that’s slowing down the page.

We can also look for scripts and code that aren’t being used anymore – because it’s all just right there in front of you.

Another thing I’ll do is, a lot of time, branding teams will come in and say, “No, this is the messaging that we have to use.

And this is what we want for our thing, for our product or our service or our content.”

When in reality, that’s what they want. That’s not what the end user or what these search engines think.

And if you’re not going to give the proper words and the proper message to your users, then you’re not going to get those users.

So what I do is I make that same branding team go on a video call outside, both of us, and we will start saying the H1 tag and the top blurb to random people or the students, saying, What does this mean?

What do we offer? What do we do?

Nine times out of ten, people can’t answer, and they have no idea. And it really drives it home.

I’ve made a fortune 500 CEO actually stand outside and say what his branding team made us put on the website – it did not go well.

But it drove the point home: That nobody knows what it is we do or sell or what the content of the article’s supposed to be.

And this is a great way to start to make it resonate; okay, let’s keep the messaging while keeping branding and tax. So there’s a good balance. So really, it just depends on what the goal is and what we’re looking at for page experience.

Tips For Getting Noticed By Busy News Media Professionals

Miranda Miller: That’s great. And the other thing I wondered about is when we’re talking about link building and getting in front of news media and, you know, people who might give you a relevant link.

What tips do you have to stand out in a jam-packed inbox?

Adam Riemer:

Avoid “MeWe” syndrome and compliment them.

And I actually did this with a client yesterday. I said, “Your email was not the best it could have been.”

They were like, “Why? We covered everything.”

That’s the problem. Let’s go through and read this.

And every time a sentence starts with “I,” ”We,” “Ours,” or “My,” I put a finger up. And if those words appeared in the sentence again, they get two fingers for each one.

So within the first three sentences, we had already hit 10 fingers pointing up.

How is this about the journalist? They were like: “Because they write about this topic.”

But it’s not about the journalist. “About the journalist” means you’ve read two or three of their articles and probably visited their social media.

So what I do is I look for an older article that they’re probably proud of and a recent one that are both topically relevant.

And then I say,

“Hey, thank you for your article about this, this and this. The point about halfway down where you mention WordPress versus Wix versus GoDaddy, for example, and the way that you called out the brand new features that launched, I had no idea that you could do this with X, Y, and Z CRM systems or CMS systems.”

So then you want to say, “I also notice you updated here where you have WordPress versus Squarespace. Have you considered doing a comparison chart and maybe adding X, Y, Z in, and X, Y, Z would be the new client?” Just to introduce and say, they have these features, including the ones you personally enjoyed in your review under the pros and cons list here.

And now what you’re doing is you’re showing you actually read it, and you’re giving a reason to include, and you’re saying, this is the only one.

Or you can say, “X, Y, Z company has this feature just like this company. And just like that one, but it’s not available there. And they’re actually doing this. I work with them. I would be happy to give you a complimentary account if you’d like to review it.”

If it’s just a product page… like, we’re both wearing T-shirts. So maybe it’s the top 30 T-shirts or the best 30 T-shirts for interviewing on Search Engine Journal.

So we go in, and we see Cosmopolitan and Refinery 29 and Rolling Stone and all these other publications – one, you’re going to need an affiliate program because they’re all affiliate sites now.

And two, you’re going to also need to cater to the journalist. Well, that’s actually not true because the journalists in those publications specifically do have editorial control, and not everything on those lists has to be an affiliate link. It just helps, which means you don’t get your backlink because it’s gonna go through a 307 redirect.

But this is me rambling. And I’m sorry, please keep me focused.

Miranda Miller: You’re good.

Adam Riemer: Good for hours.

Miranda Miller: That is a lot of great advice. And as an editor, I can tell you, we can smell it a mile away if you’ve just dropped our name in there and didn’t actually, like, put any homework into what the publication is about and why we would link to you.

And yeah. If… what did you call it? “MeWe” syndrome – if you’re just talking about yourself. You’re just that guy in the corner at the party. Nobody wants to talk to you, nobody wants to give you a link.

Well, thank you, Adam. I really appreciate your time.

Adam Riemer: Can I finish the one part real quick? Sorry. So, yeah.

So when you’re going through that list, it’s not enough. You can click on the author’s name, and you’ll see all of the articles they’ve written.

So what you want to do then, because we’re going to be pitching our T-shirt, is we want to say: “Okay, your article here, I had no idea that Lululemon produces T-shirts.”

And then say, “In your recent one, the third one down where you featured the green T-shirt with XYZ prank is stunning. Thank you for the link off to Nordstrom. Our company offers this type of T-shirt, which is missing. It’s made from an eco-friendly thing here, which I notice may be a big topic for you because you wrote about eco-friendly hair ties and eco-friendly telephones.”

I’m just looking at stuff that’s on. And it sounds weird. I have hair ties. I just bought them for my neighbor.

That’s how you get in front of them: You show that you actually paid attention.

You thank them for their advice, and you cater to what matters to them and take out the mentions of “I, we, and our,” and talk about them to them and compliment their work. That’s how you do it.

We get about… out of every five emails we send, we get about three responses, and usually, at least one of those turns into a yes, because we take the time. We don’t have as much outreach, but it’s more effective outreach.

Miranda Miller: Nice. I love that. There’s no spray-and-pray happening. Exactly. Well, thank you, Adam,

Adam Riemer: I’m sorry for interrupting.

Miranda Miller: No, no, you’re good. And thank you, Faith, for the great question.

We will have a transcript and some highlights from Adam’s advice and the tips that he shared on searchenginejournal.com. So check that out, and you’ll find a link there to submit your own questions for Ask An SEO. Until next time. Thank you.

Adam Riemer:

Bye, thanks for having me.


Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

Featured Image: rafapress/Shutterstock

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


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