Connect with us

SEO

Why Would Optimizing Existing Content Cause Rankings To Drop?

Published

on

Why Would Optimizing Existing Content Cause Rankings To Drop?

If only good intentions drove results in SEO.

Sadly, that’s not the case, as Tamar from Israel discovered recently. She submitted the following to Ask An SEO:

“Help! I just started working at a start-up. The blogs are a horrible mess for many reasons, but there are about 20 blogs out of the 140 that are converting a few people to try our software.

I wanted to do the minimum to optimize them, so I corrected all of the H-titles, made sure each post had a meta description, and checked that any images had an alt tag.

In less than a day, ALL of these blogs lost their position for the main keywords they were ranking for, according to Google Search Console. What gives?!

I can’t find an explanation for this anywhere! Almost all of them dropped by at least 20-30 in position for a keyword… going from #9, for example, to #55 for a top query. Please help.”

Although Tamar did submit the domain, we have no insight into which 20 of the 140 blogs indexed we’re discussing here.

Further, we have no context as to which keywords she was ranking on and lost positioning for.

Were this my client, those would be the first things I would want to have a look at.

So let’s talk about what we do know.

Fluctuations in rankings are normal as Google assesses the new/updated content, so I wouldn’t panic so soon after the change.

If the issue persisted, we’d want to start investigating potential causes.

Tamar, the chances your rankings dropped due to adding alt text or meta descriptions are slim to nil.

Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor.

And alt text, while an important accessibility aid, is only a ranking factor for Image Search.

Going back in and optimizing by adding alt text could only help.

So we’re left with “correcting” the HTML heading tags.

We’re going to assume this isn’t a technical SEO issue as the rankings drop would be wider spread than just the 20 posts that had content updates if that were the case.

We’re also going to assume this isn’t a case of a competitor or two stepping up their game and bumping you out as these are fairly sizable changes.

I have a couple of main suspects.

Are You Keyword Stuffing?

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are clear on this:

“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).

Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.

Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

If in “correcting” your subheadings you added an unnatural volume of keywords, Google may have demoted those pages.

Did You Make A Mess Of Relevance?

Depending on the keyword terms you tried to optimize for, it’s possible you could have negatively impacted Google’s perception of the content’s relevance to the terms it was already ranking on.

For example, you might assume that because a page was ranking well and driving qualified traffic for [JIRA project management] that you could piggyback off its success and tap into [agile project management], as well.

This would be a mistake.

Perhaps user behavior and its semantic understanding of the topic leads Google’s algorithms to believe that:

  • People searching for [JIRA project management] are looking for a tool.
  • People searching for [agile project management] are looking to learn about a process.

In trying to optimize existing content for a keyword with conflicting search intent and topical relevance, you may have muddied the waters.

Making the piece less focused could impact Google’s perception of it as the best answer for the queries you want to rank on.

Other Content Quality Factors Impacting Your Ability To Rank

I believe one of the two actions above was likely responsible for the rankings drop you experienced across those 20 blog posts.

However, in taking a look at the site, there are several content quality issues that could be holding you back.

Put these on your list of priorities and see whether you can get those money pages performing better in search:

Update your outdated content.

I see blog posts with 2020 in the title and URL as the newest content in some categories.

It gives Google and prospective customers the impression that you aren’t actively creating and maintaining the information you’re putting out into the world.

Create an internal linking strategy.

I see zero internal links in the 10 blog posts I spot-checked.

Internal linking not only helps Google understand your site hierarchy, but it also passes PageRank and helps visitors stay engaged and move around your site.

Improve writing quality.

There are grammatical errors and issues with sentence structure, word usage, and other writing mechanics throughout that make the content difficult to read.

Hire an editor and make good use of tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway to improve the quality of your writing.

Test Any Further Optimizations Before Proceeding

If nothing else, this experience should serve as a good reminder of the importance of testing any changes to existing webpages before a wider rollout.

Document the changes you intend to make and test them out.

See what happens. Measure the results.

Remember, too, that the same optimizations may produce entirely different results on another page.

That’s just part of the fun of SEO!

A good next step would be to conduct a content audit to see where your greatest opportunities are right now.

Then, prioritize your findings. You do not need to do it all at once – in fact, that can have unintended consequences, as we saw here.

Updating and optimizing existing content is a great practice that can dramatically improve user experience and rankings.

But it’s a process. Don’t rush it.

Focus on your most potentially lucrative pages and optimizations first, and always be ready to roll it back if you’ve accidentally tanked your rankings.

More Resources:


Featured image: Shutterstock/ViDi Studio

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!




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

Should You Invest In Twitter Blue Or Meta Verified?

Published

on

Should You Invest In Twitter Blue Or Meta Verified?

Twitter plans to end its legacy verified program at the end of this month. To continue having a verified blue checkmark, you must subscribe to Twitter Blue, now available globally.

You can check any blue checkmark on Twitter to see if it is a Twitter Blue or legacy verified checkmark by clicking or tapping it.

Screenshot from Twitter, March 2023

Twitter Blue Benefits And Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for a verified blue checkmark include having a confirmed phone number, an account older than 90 days, and no changes to your name, username, or profile picture within 30 days. Accounts with a verified blue checkmark cannot engage in misleading or deceptive practices, such as impersonating someone else or using fake identities.

The premium subscription plan offers Twitter users several exclusive features, including the following.

  • A verified blue checkmark.
  • The ability to post longer Tweets and longer videos.
  • The chance to undo a Tweet before it’s sent.
  • The chance to edit some Tweets within the first 30 minutes.
  • A feed of Top Articles shared by those you follow and the people they follow.
  • Account security with two-factor authentication via SMS or authentication apps.
  • Increased visibility when you reply to other users’ Tweets.

Pricing varies based on your country and device. In the United States, it is $8 – $11 monthly.

Twitter also offers distinct profile labels for organizations (a gold checkmark), government officials (a gray checkmark), and other account types.

Meta Verified Benefits And Eligibility

Meta is also rolling out a paid subscription bundle, Meta Verified, that includes verification of Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Eligibility requirements on Facebook and Instagram include having an active profile with your real name and profile photo matching your government-issued ID.

Two-factor authentication must be used to secure your account, and your account must always adhere to the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines for each network.

The paid subscription offers Facebook and Instagram users several exclusive features, including the following.

  • A verified checkmark that lets your audience know you are who you say you are.
  • Exclusive stickers to use on Facebook and Instagram.
  • 100 stars per month to support your favorite Facebook creators.
  • Help from a real person when you experience issues with your account.

Pricing varies based on the device you sign up on and is limited to select users over 18 years old in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. It is $11.99 – $14.99 monthly.

The Downsides To Paid Verification

While it offers people who never had the chance to be verified in the past the option to pay for the blue checkmark, paid verification is controversial for several reasons.

For starters, many Twitter Blue users complain that they haven’t noticed an increase in engagement since paying for the subscription and feel they are now paying to be ignored.

Another major concern is the lack of distinction between notable public figures and people who have paid for the checkmark. Previously, accounts had to belong to prominently recognized individuals or brands based on news coverage, industry references, and audience size. Now, notable accounts will have to pay for verification with everyone else.

This new false “notability” could allow bad actors to spread misinformation and scam people based on the account’s status as a verified profile. Some agencies have released consumer alerts in response to growing reports of scams committed by Twitter blue verified accounts.

While these actions violate social platforms’ terms of service and community guidelines, these verified accounts could continue spreading misinformation and scamming others until someone reports an issue. A lot of damage could be done in the time it takes for someone from the social network to investigate reported users.

Some Twitter users strongly oppose paid verification. Some accounts have launched campaigns encouraging others to block Twitter Blue users to decrease the reach of accounts with the paid blue checkmark.

Should You Invest In Paid Verification From Twitter Blue Or Meta Verified?Screenshot from Twitter, March 2023

Others will dismiss opinions shared by users simply because the account has a Twitter Blue verification.

Should You Invest In Paid Verification From Twitter Blue Or Meta Verified?Screenshot from Twitter, March 2023

Is Paid Verification Right For You?

It’s important to weigh the benefits of being verified through Twitter Blue or Meta Verified and the potential implications of paying for notability on social media.

As a social network user, it’s also important to remember some basic safety rules.

  • Regardless of verification status, never give out personal information or account details to other social media users.
  • If you are asked to send money for a specific cause or reason, research it outside social media to ensure it is a legitimate request, not a scam.
  • Fact-check information before you share it with others to prevent spreading misinformation to larger, susceptible audiences. This especially applies to images and video thanks to AI content generation.
  • Utilize two-factor authentication to secure your accounts and save your backup/recovery code for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, just in case.

Featured Image: Fantastic 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

WordPress WooCommerce Payments Plugin Vulnerability

Published

on

WordPress WooCommerce Payments Plugin Vulnerability

Automattic, publishers of the WooCommerce plugin, announced the discovery and patch of a critical vulnerability in the WooCommerce Payments plugin.

The vulnerability allows an attacker to gain Administrator level credentials and perform a full site-takeover.

Administrator is the highest permission user role in WordPress, granting full access to a WordPress site with the ability to create more admin-level accounts as well as the ability to delete the entire website.

What makes this particular vulnerability of great concern is that it’s available to unauthenticated attackers, which means that they don’t first have to acquire another permission in order to manipulate the site and obtain admin-level user role.

WordPress security plugin maker Wordfence described this vulnerability:

“After reviewing the update we determined that it removed vulnerable code that could allow an unauthenticated attacker to impersonate an administrator and completely take over a website without any user interaction or social engineering required.”

The Sucuri Website security platform published a warning about the vulnerability that goes into further details.

Sucuri explains that the vulnerability appears to be in the following file:

/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce-payments/includes/platform-checkout/class-platform-checkout-session.php

They also explained that the “fix” implemented by Automattic is to remove the file.

Sucuri observes:

“According to the plugin change history it appears that the file and its functionality was simply removed altogether…”

The WooCommerce website published an advisory that explains why they chose to completely remove the affected file:

“Because this vulnerability also had the potential to impact WooPay, a new payment checkout service in beta testing, we have temporarily disabled the beta program.”

The WooCommerce Payment Plugin vulnerability was discovered on March 22, 2023 by a third party security researcher who notified Automattic.

Automattic swiftly issued a patch.

Details of the vulnerability will be released on April 6, 2023.

That means any site that has not updated this plugin will become vulnerable.

What Version of WooCommerce Payments Plugin is Vulnerable

WooCommerce updated the plugin to version 5.6.2. This is considered the most up to date and non-vulnerable version of the website.

Automattic has pushed a forced update however it’s possible that some sites may not have received it.

It is recommended that all users of the affected plugin check that their installations are updated to version WooCommerce Payments Plugin 5.6.2

Once the vulnerability is patched, WooCommerce recommends taking the following actions:

“Once you’re running a secure version, we recommend checking for any unexpected admin users or posts on your site. If you find any evidence of unexpected activity, we suggest:

Updating the passwords for any Admin users on your site, especially if they reuse the same passwords on multiple websites.

Rotating any Payment Gateway and WooCommerce API keys used on your site. Here’s how to update your WooCommerce API keys. For resetting other keys, please consult the documentation for those specific plugins or services.”

Read the WooCommerce vulnerability explainer:

Critical Vulnerability Patched in WooCommerce Payments – What You Need to Know



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

How Do You Clean Up Content Without Effecting Rankings?

Published

on

How Do You Clean Up Content Without Effecting Rankings?

Today’s Ask An SEO question comes from Neethu, who asks:

My website is almost 20 years old. There are lots of content. Many of them are not performing well. How do you effectively clean up those content without effecting rankings?

Contrary to what some SEO pros tell you, more content is not always better.

Deciding what content to keep, which content to modify, and which content to throw away is an important consideration, as content is the backbone of any website and is essential for driving traffic, engagement, and conversions.

However, not all content is created equal, and outdated, irrelevant, or underperforming content can hinder a website’s success.

Run A Content Audit

To effectively clean up your website’s content, the first step is to conduct a content audit.

This involves analyzing your site’s content and assessing its performance, relevance, and quality.

You can use various metrics such as traffic, bounce rate, and engagement to identify which pages are performing well and which ones are not.

Once you have identified the pages that are not performing well, it’s important to prioritize them based on their importance to your website.

Pages that are not driving traffic or conversions may need to be prioritized over pages that are not performing well but are still important for your site’s overall goals.

Distinguish Evergreen Vs. Time-Sensitive Content

Additionally, it’s important to consider whether a page is evergreen or time-sensitive.

You can update or repurpose evergreen content over time, while you may need to remove time-sensitive content.

After prioritizing your content, you can decide what action to take with each page.

For pages that are still relevant but not performing well, you may be able to update them with fresh information to improve their performance.

For pages that are outdated or no longer relevant, it may be best to remove them altogether.

When removing content, implement 301 redirects to relevant pages to ensure that any backlinks pointing to the old page are not lost.

Monitor Your Stuff

It’s important to monitor your search engine rankings after cleaning up your content to ensure your changes do not negatively impact your SEO.

But don’t just look at rankings.

Content optimization projects can affect traffic, conversions, navigation, and other items that impact your overall search engine optimization efforts.

Watch Google Analytics closely. If there are traffic declines, you may need to re-evaluate a few changes.

It’s important not to have a knee-jerk reaction, however.

Before you throw out your optimization efforts, be sure that the changes you made are actually what is causing a drop – and make sure those changes are stable within the search engines index.

Remember that it may take some time for your rankings to stabilize after a content cleanup, so it’s important to be patient and monitor your website’s performance over time.

To further optimize your content cleanup, consider using Google Search Console to identify pages with high impressions but low click-through rates.

These pages may benefit from content updates or optimization to improve their performance.

Additionally, consolidating pages that cover similar topics into one comprehensive page can improve user experience and help avoid keyword cannibalization.

In Summary

Cleaning up your website’s content is crucial for maintaining a high-quality site.

By conducting a content audit, prioritizing your content, and deciding whether to keep, update, or remove the content, you can effectively clean up your site without negatively impacting your rankings.

Remember to monitor your rankings and be patient as your site adjust.

More Resources: 


Featured Image: Song_about_summer/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

en_USEnglish