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Top 10 Essential Website Optimization Strategies

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Top 10 Essential Website Optimization Strategies

Google officially launched 24 years ago in 1998.

A lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same. If you simply focus on the basics, you can still be highly successful online.

Of course, the basics in 2022 are much different from the basics in 1998. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. It has never been more important to be disciplined in one’s approach to SEO.

So, the obvious question is this: What are the factors to concentrate on? How can one boost rankings? How can anyone build traffic in such a competitive environment?

This post will delve into which factors carry the most weight and how to optimize for each.

1. Search Intent

As machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning continue to evolve, each will carry more weight in the Google Core Algorithm.

The end goal for Google is to understand the context of a given search query and to serve results consistent with the user intent. This makes advanced-level keyword research and keyword selection more important than ever.

Before spending time and resources trying to rank for a phrase, you will need to look at the websites that are currently at the top of the SERPs for that phrase.

A keyword’s contextual relevance must align with a search query. There will be some keywords and queries that will be impossible to rank for.

For example, if Google has determined that people searching for “Personal Injury Attorney [insert city]” want a list of lawyers to choose from, then a series of trusted law directories will appear at the top of the SERPs.

An individual or single firm will not supplant those directories. In those cases, you will need to refine your strategy.

2. Technical SEO

The foundation for technical SEO is having a solid website architecture.

One cannot simply publish a random collection of pages and posts. An SEO-friendly site architecture will guide users throughout your site och make it easy for Google to crawl and index your pages.

Once you have the right architecture in place, it’s time to perform a technical or SEO audit.

Thanks to the many SEO tools available, an SEO audit is no longer a daunting task. That said, the key is to know how to interpret the data provided and what to do with it.

For starters, you should check the following and fix any issues that are uncovered:

  • Check for status code errors and correct them.
  • Check the robot.txt for errors. Optimize if needed.
  • Check your site indexing via Google Search Console. Examine and fix any issues discovered.
  • Fix duplicate title tags and duplicate meta descriptions.
  • Audit your website content. Check the traffic stats in Google Analytics. Consider improving or pruning underperforming content.
  • Fix broken links. These are an enemy of the user experience – and potentially rankings.
  • Submit your XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console.

3. User Experience

User experience (UX) is centered on gaining insight into users, their needs, their values, their abilities, and their limitations.

UX also takes into consideration business goals and objectives. The best UX practices focus on improving the quality of the user experience.

Enligt Peter Morville, factors that influence UX include:

  • Useful: Your content needs to be unique and satisfy a need.
  • Usable: Your website needs to be easy to use and navigate.
  • Desirable: Your design elements and brand should evoke emotion and appreciation.
  • Findable: Integrate design and navigation elements to make it easy for users to find what they need.
  • Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to everyone – including the 12.7% of the population with disabilities.
  • Credible: Your site needs to be trustworthy for users to believe you.
  • Valuable: Your site needs to provide value to the user in terms of experience and to the company in terms of positive ROI.

Multivariate and A/B testing is the best way to measure and create a better experience for website users. Multivariate testing is best when considering complex changes.

One can incorporate many different elements and test how they all work together. A/B testing, on the other hand, will compare two different elements on your site to determine which performs the best.

4. Mobile-First

Google officially began rolling out the mobile-first index in March 2018. Smart marketers were taking a mobile-first approach long before the official rollout.

According to Google Search Central:

“Neither mobile-friendliness nor a mobile-responsive layout are requirements for mobile-first indexing. Pages without mobile versions still work on mobile and are usable for indexing. That said, it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile :)”

Here are some basics for making your site mobile-friendly:

  • Make your site adaptive to any device – be it desktop, mobile, or tablet.
  • Always scale your images when using a responsive design, especially for mobile users.
  • Use short meta titles. They are easier to read on mobile devices.
  • Avoid pop-ups that cover your content and prevent visitors from getting a glimpse of what your content is all about.
  • Less can be more on mobile. In a mobile-first world, long-form content doesn’t necessarily equate to more traffic and better rankings.
  • Don’t use mobile as an excuse for cloaking. Users and search engines need to see the same content.

5. Core Web Vitals

In July of 2021, the Page Experience Update rolled out and is now incorporated into Google’s core algorithm, as a ranking factor.

As the name implies, the core web vitals initiative was designed to quantify the essential metrics for a healthy website. This syncs up with Google’s commitment to delivering the best user experience.

According to Google, “loading experience, interactivity, and visual stability of page content, and combined are the foundation of Core Web Vitals.”

Each one of these metrics:

  • Focuses on a unique aspect of the user experience.
  • Is measurable and quantifiable for an objective determination of the outcome.

Tools To Measure Core Web Vitals:

  • PageSpeed Insights: Measures both mobile and desktop performance and provides recommendations for improvement.
  • Lighthouse: An open-source, automated tool developed by Google to help developers improve web page quality. It has several features not available in PageSpeed Insights, including some SEO checks.
  • Search Console: A Core Web Vitals report is now included in GSC, showing URL performance as grouped by status, metric type, and URL group.

6. Schema

Schema markup, once added to a webpage, creates a rich snippet – an enhanced description that appears in the search results.

All leading search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex, support the use of microdata. The real value of schema is that it can provide context to a webpage and improve the search experience.

There is no evidence that adding schema has any influence on SERPs.

Following, you will find some of the most popular uses for schema

If you find the thought of adding schema to a page intimidating, you shouldn’t. Schema is quite simple to implement. If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins that will do this for you.

7. Content Marketing

It is projected that 97 zettabytes of data will be created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide this year.

To put this in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 18.7 trillion songs or 3,168 years of HD video every day.

The challenge of breaking through the clutter will become exponentially more difficult as time passes.

To do so:

  • Create a content hub in the form of a resource center.
  • Fill your resource hub with a combination of useful, informative, and entertaining content.
  • Write “spoke” pieces related to your resource hub and interlink.
  • Write news articles related to your resource and interlink.
  • Spread the word. Promote your news articles on social channels.
  • Hijack trending topics related to your content. Promote on social media.
  • Use your smartphone camera. Images and videos typically convert better than text alone.
  • Update stale and low-trafficked content.

8. Link Building

Links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors.

Over the years, Google has become more adept at identifying and devaluing spammy links, especially so after the launch of Penguin 4.0. That being the case, quality will continue to trump quantity.

The best link-building strategies for 2022 include:

9. Test And Document Changes

You manage what you measure.

One recent study showed that less than 50% of pages “optimized” result in more clicks. Worse yet, 34% of changes led to a decrease in clicks!

Basic steps for SEO testing:

  • Determine what you are testing and why.
  • Form a hypothesis. What do you expect will happen because of your changes?
  • Document your testing. Make sure it can be reliably replicated.
  • Publish your changes and then submit the URLs for inspection via Google Search Console.
  • Run the test for a long enough period to confirm if your hypothesis is correct or not. Document your findings and any other observations, such as changes made by competitors that may influence the outcome.
  • Take appropriate actions based on the results of your tests.

This process can be easily executed and documented by using a spreadsheet.

10. Track And Analyze KPIs

According to Roger Monti, the following are the 9 Most Important SEO KPIs to consider:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
  • Content Efficiency.
  • Average Engagement Time.
  • Conversion Goals by Percent-Based Metrics.
  • Accurate Search Visibility.
  • Brand Visibility in Search.
  • New And Returning Users.
  • Average Time on Site.
  • Revenue Per Thousand (RPM) And Average Position.

The thing to remember about these KPIs is they are dependent upon your goals and objectives. Some may apply to your situation whereas others may not.

Think of this as a good starting point for determining how to best measure the success of a campaign.

Slutsats

Because the internet has no expiration date, mounds of information and disinformation are served up daily in various search queries.

If you aren’t careful, implementing bad or outdated advice can lead to disastrous results.

Do yourself a favor and just focus on these 10 essentials. By doing so, you will be setting yourself up for long-term success.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock



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SEO

Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing

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Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing

Microsoft announced today that it is bringing cutting-edge AI capabilities to its Bing search engine, with the addition of a new ChatGPT-like feature.

Microsoft revealed its plans for integrating ChatGPT at a private event held at its Redmond headquarters today, which centered around its partnership with OpenAI.

Unlike recent virtual events, this particular press conference was held in person and not broadcast online.

During the event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the significance of this new feature and how it will revolutionize the way people interact with search engines.

“I think this technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” says Nadella.

Nadella proclaimed, “The race starts today,” and Microsoft is going to “move and move fast.”

The event attendees were given a sneak peek at the latest search experience, which Microsoft refers to as “your AI-powered copilot for the web.”

This new experience combines the all-new Bing search engine and Edge web browser, which are designed to complement each other.

Nadella explained that the new Bing would provide direct answers to questions and encourage users to be more creative.

He also stated that the current search experience is not working as efficiently as it should be, as 40% of the time, people click on search links and then immediately click back.

This clearly indicates that the search experience needs to be updated and improved. Nadella claims that the search engine user experience hasn’t changed in 20 years, and it’s time for Microsoft to adapt.

Introducing The New Bing

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which has been specifically customized for search purposes. It’s even more powerful than the ChatGPT model.

Microsoft has implemented a new way of working with OpenAI called the “prometheus model,” which enhances the relevancy of answers, annotates them, keeps them up to date, and more.

The search index has also been improved by applying the AI model to the core search algorithm, which Nadella calls the largest jump in relevance ever.

It runs on a new user experience with an expanded search box that accepts up to 1,000 characters. Examples shared during the event look exactly like recent leaks.

The new Bing includes a chatbot that behaves similarly to ChatGPT, allowing users to interact with Bing in a natural language.

Bing’s new ChatGPT-like feature will take it a step further by allowing users to have an actual conversation with the search engine, with the ability to follow up on previous questions and provide more context for their search.

The new Bing is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and anyone can try it out by visiting Bing.com and performing sample searches.

You can also sign up to be notified when it becomes more widely available.

The preview will be expanded to millions of users in the near future, and a mobile version will be available soon.

The New Edge Browser

The chat interface Microsoft demonstrated in Bing is available as a sidebar feature in Edge, allowing users to access it without navigating to the Bing website. The interface can run alongside any webpage and interact with it.

During a demonstration, the AI assistant in Edge could summarize a 15-page PDF with one click and even translate a code snippet from Stack Overflow into another programming language.

Another benefit of the Edge browser’s “AI co-pilot” is having it complete tasks for you, such as filling out forms and writing emails.

In Summary

Microsoft has made a substantial leap in search engine technology by integrating a ChatGPT-like feature in its Bing search engine.

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5.

Bing with the AI co-pilot is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and a mobile version will be available soon.

Additionally, the chat interface will be available as a sidebar feature in the new Edge browser, which has the ability to summarize information, translate code, and even complete tasks.


Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: Poetra.RH/Shutterstock



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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

Conductor, a leading enterprise organic marketing platform, has acquired European-based competitor, Searchmetrics, to accelerate its expansion in the European market.

After acquiring ContentKing in 2022, the acquisition of Searchmetrics continues to strengthen Conductor’s position in the industry.

Seth Besmertnik, Conductor’s CEO and co-founder, said that the acquisition would bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and its shared customers:

“Searchmetrics has been a competitor almost since we started Conductor, with a strong data foundation and a powerful presence in the European market. We are excited to bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and to our now shared customers. Our goal is for customers to greatly benefit from this acquisition through delivery of more product value on a global scale.”

 

Matt Colebourne, the CEO of Searchmetrics, expressed his excitement for the company to join Conductor, calling it the “definitive global leader”:

“Conductor is indisputably the SEO space market leader. For years, we’ve admired their commitment to innovation for customers and their efforts to foster a dynamic and rewarding workplace culture for employees. By joining Conductor, we bring the best of what we do along with a large European customer base—solidifying Conductor as the definitive global leader. We cannot wait to build more for customers going forward.”

 

Ken Ogenbratt, Searchmetrics’s Chief Financial Officer, said the acquisition is a “pivotal step” for the SEO industry as the two companies move forward as partners with the opportunity to drive even greater value to customers.

With this acquisition, Conductor continues its commitment to creating a single, global platform that integrates all parts of the SEO workflow.

With Searchmetrics’ strong European presence and solid customer base, the acquisition will significantly accelerate Conductor’s growth in Europe.

Conductor has completed its second acquisition in a year with the purchase of Searchmetrics, which follows the company’s significant funding round from Bregal Sagemount in 2021.

This acquisition is seen as a sign of Conductor’s recent growth. It is expected to solidify its position as a leading player in the SEO space by incorporating the strengths of both companies for their shared customers.


Featured Image: dotshock/Shutterstock



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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

In 2015, Brian Dean revealed a brand-new link building strategy. He called it the Skyscraper Technique.

With over 10,000 backlinks since the post was published, it’s fair to say that the Skyscraper Technique took the world by storm in 2015. But what is it exactly, how can you implement it, and can you still get results with this technique in 2023?

Låt oss börja.

What is the Skyscraper Technique?

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building strategy where you improve existing popular content and replicate the backlinks. 

Brian named it so because in his words, “It’s human nature to be attracted to the best. And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest ‘skyscraper’ in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.”

Here’s how the technique works:

Three steps of the Skyscraper Technique

How to implement the Skyscraper Technique

Follow these three steps to execute the Skyscraper Technique.

1. Find relevant content with lots of backlinks

There are three methods to find relevant pages with plenty of links:

Use Site Explorer

Enter a popular site into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Next, go to the Best by backlinks report.

Best pages by backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows you a list of pages from the site with the highest number of referring domains. If there are content pieces with more than 50 referring domains, they’re likely to be good potential targets.

Sidenote.

Ignore homepages and other irrelevant content when eyeballing this report.

Use Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a searchable database of 10 billion pages. You can use it to find mentions of any word or phrase.

Let’s start by entering a broad topic related to your niche into Content Explorer. Next, set a Referring domains filter to a minimum of 50. 

We can also add:

  • Language filter to get only pages in our target language.
  • Exclude homepages to remove homepages from the results.
Ahrefs' Content Explorer search for "gardening," with filters

Eyeball the results to see if there are any potential pieces of content you could beat.

Use Keywords Explorer

Enter a broad keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Next, go to the Matching terms report and set a Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a minimum of 40.

Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Why filter for KD? 

The reason is due to the method we use at Ahrefs to calculate KD. Our KD score is calculated from a trimmed mean of referring domains (RDs) to the top 10 ranking pages. 

In other words, the top-ranking pages for keywords with high KD scores have lots of backlinks on average.

From here, you’ll want to go through the report to find potential topics you could build a better piece of content around. 

2. Make it better

The core idea (or assumption) behind the Skyscraper Technique is that people want to see the best. 

Once you’ve found the content you want to beat, the next step is to make something even better

According to Brian, there are four aspects worth improving:

  1. Length – If the post has 25 tips, list more.
  2. Freshness – Update any outdated parts of the original article with new images, screenshots, information, stats, etc.
  3. Design – Make it stand out with a custom design. You could even make it interactive.
  4. Depth – Don’t just list things. Fill in the details and make them actionable.

3. Reach out to the right people

The key to successfully executing the Skyscraper Technique is email outreach. But instead of spamming everyone you know, you reach out to those who have already linked to the specific content you have improved. 

The assumption: Since they’ve already linked to a similar article, they’re more likely to link to one that’s better.

You can find these people by pasting the URL of the original piece into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and then going to the Backlinks report.

Backlinks report for ResumeGenius' how to write a resume, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows all the backlinks to the page. In this case, there are 441 groups of links.

But not all of these links will make good prospects. So you’ll likely need to add some filters to clean them up. For example, you can:

  • Add a Language filter for the language you’re targeting (e.g., English).
  • Switch the tab to Dofollow for equity-passing links.
Backlinks report, with filters, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Does the Skyscraper Technique still work?

It’s been roughly eight years since Brian shared this link building strategy. Honestly speaking, the technique has been oversaturated. Given its widespread use, its effectiveness may even be limited. 

Some SEOs even say they wouldn’t recommend it.

So we asked our Twitter och LinkedIn following this question and received 1,242 votes. Here are the results:

Pie chart showing 61% of respondents feel the Skyscraper Technique still works

Clearly, many SEOs and marketers still believe the technique works.

Sidenote.

According to Aira’s annual State of Link Building report, only 18% of SEOs still use the Skyscraper Technique. It’s not a go-to for many SEOs, as it ranks #20 among the list of tactics. I suspect its popularity has waned because (1) it’s old and SEOs are looking for newer stuff and (2) SEOs believe that content is more important than links these days.

Why the Skyscraper Technique fails and how to improve your chances of success

Fundamentally, it makes sense that the Skyscraper Technique still works. After all, the principles are the same behind (almost) any link building strategy:

  1. Create great content
  2. Reach out to people and promote it

But why do people think it’s no longer effective? There are a few reasons why and knowing them will help you improve your chances of success with the Skyscraper Technique.

Let’s start with:

1. Sending only Brian’s email template

In Brian’s original post, he suggested an email template for his readers to use:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

<generic compliment>

It links to this post: http://post2

I made something better: http://post3

Please swap out the link for mine.

Unfortunately, many SEOs decided to use this exact template word for word. 

Link building doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If everyone in your niche decides to send this exact template to every possible website, it’ll burn out real fast. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now, if a website owner sees this template, chances are they’ll delete it right away. 

Sidenote.

Judging by my inbox, there are still people using this exact template. And, like everyone else, I delete the email immediately.

I’m not saying this to disparage templated emails. If you’re sending something at scale, templating is necessary. But move away from this template. Write your own, personalize it as much as possible, and follow the outreach principles here.

Even better, ask yourself:

"What makes my content unique and link-worthy?”

2. Not segmenting your prospects

People link for different reasons, so you shouldn’t send everyone the same pitch. 

Consider dividing your list of prospects into segments according to the context in which they linked. You can do this by checking the Anchors report in Site Explorer.

Anchors report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can clearly see people are linking to different statistics from our SEO statistics post. So, for example, if we were doing outreach for a hypothetical post, we might want to mention to the first group that we have a new statistic for “Over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google.”

Then, to the second group, we’ll mention that we have new statistics for “68% of online experiences.” And so on. 

In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we built links to this post. Check out the case study here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

3. Not reaching out to enough people

Ultimately, link building is still a numbers game. If you don’t reach out to enough people, you won’t get enough links. 

Simply put: You need to curate a larger list of link prospects.

So rather than limiting yourself to only replicating the backlinks of the original content, you should replicate the backlinks from other top-ranking pages covering the same topic too.

To find these pages, enter the target keyword into Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the SERP overview.

SERP overview for "how to write a resume," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

In this example, most top-ranking pages have tons of links, and all of them (after filtering, of course) could be potential link prospects.

Pro tip

Looking for even more prospects? Use Content Explorer.

Search for your keyword, set a Referring domains filter, and you’ll see relevant pages where you can “mine” for more skyscraper prospects.

Referring domains filters selected in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

4. Thinking bigger equals better

Someone creates a list with 15 tools. The next person ups it to 30. Another “skyscrapers” it to 50, and the next increases it to 100.

Not only is it a never-ending arms race, there’s also no value for the reader. 

No one wants to skim through 5,000 words or hundreds of items just to find what they need. Curation is where the value is.

When considering the four aspects mentioned by Brian, don’t improve things for the sake of improving them. Adding 25 mediocre tips to an existing list of 25 doesn’t make it “better.” Likewise for changing the publish date or adding a few low-quality illustrations. 

Example: My colleague, Chris Haines, recently published a post on the best niche site ideas. Even though he only included 10, he has already outperformed the other “skyscraper” articles:

Our blog post ranking #3 for the query, "niche site ideas," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

He differentiated himself through his knowledge and expertise. After all, Chris has 10 years of experience in SEO. 

So when you’re creating your article, always look at any improvement through the lens of value:

Are you giving more value to the reader? 

5. Not considering brand

As Ross Hudgens says, “Better does not occur in a branding vacuum.”

För det mesta bedöms innehåll inte enbart efter dess kvalitet. Det bedöms också av vem det kommer ifrån. Vi upptäckte detta själva också när vi försökte bygga länkar till vår sökordsforskningsguide.

För det mesta läste folk inte artikeln. De länkade till oss på grund av vårt varumärke och vårt rykte – de visste att vi publicerade bra innehåll konsekvent, och de hade förtroende för att artikeln vi presenterade också var bra.

Med andra ord, det finns tillfällen där oavsett hur hårt du "skyskrapar" ditt innehåll, folk bara inte länkar till det eftersom de inte vet vem du är. 

Att ha ett eget personligt varumärke är viktigt nuförtiden. Men tänk på det: Vad är ett "starkt varumärke" om inte en konsekvent produktion av högkvalitativt arbete som människor tycker om? En ensam skyskrapa gör inte en stad; många av dem gör det tillsammans.

Vad jag säger är detta: Bli inte avskräckt om din "skyskrapa"-artikel inte får några resultat. Och bli inte avskräckt bara för att du inte har ett varumärke just nu – du kan arbeta med det över tid.

Fortsätt att skapa bra innehåll – skyskrapa eller inte – och resultat kommer om du litar på processen.

"Rom byggdes inte på en dag, men de lade tegel varje timme.” 

Slutgiltiga tankar

Skyscraper-tekniken är en legitim länkbyggande taktik som fungerar. Men det kan bara hända om du:

Några frågor eller kommentarer? Låt mig veta på Twitter.



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