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How-to-create-long-form-content

How to create long-form content that ranks, gets read and converts

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Creating in-depth content is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Here’s a guide to ensure your long-form content efforts pay off.

There are many questions about content length in SEO and what ranks the best. 

While Google says there’s no specific word count they recommend, some studies have shown that long-form content tends to rank higher than short-form.

If you’re interested in writing long-form content, you probably want to make sure it’s going to rank, get read, and convert so you create an ROI for your effort.

What is long-form content? 

Most consider long-form content to be over 1,000 words. It’s a content piece that goes in-depth, offers extra value for the reader and includes more research, insights, and information than a quick read. 

Long-form content should leave the reader feeling comfortable with the subject and as if their questions have been answered and they know what to do with the information or how it applies to them.

What should you include in long-form content?

You want to create content that helps your reader. Think about them and what they need or want to learn from this piece. What questions do they have? 

It’s your responsibility to anticipate their questions and answer them in your work. If you’re unsure what questions they have, then think about what you want to ensure they know.

Use the following guide questions to identify which information is most important to help them get to the next stage:

  • What do they need to know?
  • Why do they need to know it?
  • What can they do with the information?
  • What baseline information should they know to make this make more sense?
  • What if they don’t have that baseline knowledge already?
  • How does this information impact them?
  • What’s their next step?

Don’t write a bunch of unnecessary fluff to try to hit some word count. 

You must ensure you’re providing value and helping your ideal customer so they want to consume more of your content. 

If you get them to the site but find nothing of value, they’ll be less likely to stay or return another time. 

Write to tell a story and provide value rather than writing to an arbitrary word count. Your content will be better in the long run.

Where do you start when creating long-form content to rank, get read and convert?

To start, make sure there’s a conversion path for your reader. Your content pieces need to tie to your products or services to drive revenue and conversions.

If you’re answering questions for your potential customer and providing helpful information, they’re more likely to convert if you offer a solution to their issues. Be helpful, and link to additional information that might help them move to the next step.

If you have an opt-in that ties to this content piece and is the next step for them, offer it in your work. You’re helping them and building your email list at the same time.

If you want your content to convert, you need to make sure there’s a conversion path. Everything you write needs to somehow tie to your core products and services.

I teach my students to choose content pillars that link to their products and services and write about topics related to those subjects.

Creating a long-form content piece and ranking at the top of Google is great, but if it drives irrelevant traffic, it won’t convert, and that’s a waste of your efforts.

How do you make sure your long-form content ranks?

We all know we have no control over the Google ranking algorithm, but we also know how it works and what’s most important from an optimization standpoint.  

First, verify there’s search demand for your topic idea, choose a keyword (or keywords) you can rank for, write for your audience, and finally, optimize your content piece.

Make sure there’s interest in your topic

Start by making sure there’s an audience for your content piece. 

It may seem like a great idea to you. However, if no one is searching for information on the subject, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much traffic due to low demand. 

That said, search volume is not the most critical factor in choosing a keyword, and we’ll talk more about that.

Brainstorm the topics you think you want to cover, and then go to Google and see what’s there today. 

  • Who’s written on the subject you’re considering using for your content piece? 
  • Is there already information on the topic? 
  • Do you have a new angle, new insights, or something more to add to the conversation? 

If not, this might not be the best topic. Search the topic and see what shows up in Google Suggested Search.

Is there something closely related to your topic that Google suggests, or are there questions related to it in the People Also Ask section? 

If you see your topic idea in either of those places, that’s good because it means there’s interest in your potential topic.

Research keywords

Once you know your topic is viable, use your favorite keyword research tool to identify the keyword or keywords you want to target for this new long-form content piece. 

Long-form pieces can rank for multiple keywords a bit easier than short-form pieces just due to the length of the content piece. 

Choose your keywords wisely. Look for a primary keyword with good search volume and the ability for your website to rank on Page 1.

Choose your keywords

Go to Google and see who’s currently ranking on Page 1 for the keyword you’re considering using as your primary one. 

  • Are the websites similar to yours? 
  • Are they more prominent brands or companies? 
  • How in-depth are the articles? 
  • Can you provide additional insight or value (not just more words) than the sites currently ranking?

If you see other websites similar to yours and content pieces that you feel aren’t as in-depth or are missing information on the topic you want to write about, then you’re probably making a good choice in your keyword selection.

Choose the keyword with the highest search volume that your website has the best chance of ranking for and is the word your Ideal Customer uses when searching for information on this subject.

How to make sure your content gets read

Now it’s time to write. Go back to your brainstorming notes. 

What information do you need to include to answer your readers’ questions?

Be sure you have that information. Sort it in a way that it’s easy to follow and understand so your reader wants to continue. 

A long-form content piece is a time commitment for someone to read.

Thus, you must provide value, insights, statistics, and things that are unique from something else they might have read on the subject before – or they won’t continue reading.

Format your piece in a reader-friendly way. This is especially important with longer pieces. Consider:

  • Using bullets and lists – white space is your friend.
  • Using headers (suitable for SEO and your reader). 
  • Breaking your text up into small, easy-to-read chunks. 
  • Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.

It’s better to have many small paragraphs broken up with bullets and numbers than big blocks of text. 

People will shy away from reading a piece if the content isn’t formatted in a reader-friendly way.

Your final step is to optimize your content piece

Use your keyword in all of your SEO elements. Make sure it’s in the first paragraph of the copy, which it should be since your keyword is closely tied to your content topic. In most instances, your keyword will be in the title of your piece.

Add your keyword to your URL, image file name, and header tags, and use it throughout your copy. 

Focus on providing value, being helpful, and offering information your ideal customer needs rather than how often you use your keyword. You’ll use it naturally by concentrating on your reader.

Done right, long-form content is worth the investment

Long-form content can be a significant time investment. It takes longer to write in-depth pieces than quick bites or short-form. 

However, the payoffs can be great. Long-form pieces often rank higher in the search results than short pieces. 

And if you’re creating content with an audience, you can rank for and tie to your business, bring relevant traffic to your website, and hopefully, get the conversion. 

It’s worth testing long-form content if you haven’t done it yet. Not every piece you write has to be long, but those most important to your business should be longer and more in-depth.

If you are interested in original article by Rachel Lindteigen you can find it here

Doorway-Pages-SEO-and-Google-600

Doorway pages: An SEO deep dive

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Downplaying doorway pages can get you dinged. Here’s how doorway pages emerged, what Google thinks of them, and tips to avoid penalties.

I have an admission: I once created “doorway pages” on a large scale.

In my defense, this was years before Google existed. And, it was not considered spam in those days. 

Doorway pages might seem like a nebulous concept for some marketers to grasp. Since Google announced that creating such pages was considered illicit practice, there has been some confusion. 

However, such mixups are just as wrong as cloaking in SEO. So read on, and I will explain what doorway pages are, how to watch for them, and what to do about them.

What are doorway pages?

Google defines doorways as:

“…sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

They also cite the following examples as doorways:

• Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query
• Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
• Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
• Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

The early days of doorway pages

Doorway pages seemed like a mystical, magical thing back in the earliest days of search engines.

This is partly because, in the advent of the commercialized/public internet, everyone thought that website visitors would only enter your site via the homepage. 

Essentially, visitors would only arrive and enter through the “front door.” This idea led people to obsess over the design of homepages, while the rest of the website was often nearly an afterthought. 

Thus, as search engines absorbed and reflected webpages, it suddenly felt like reaching some high stage of Buddhist-monk-level enlightenment to realize that a website could now have many “front doors” through which visitors would enter.

I did not know what doorway pages were when I thought I invented them circa 1996/1997. Search engines grew first out of curated directories of links, but once pages began being spidered, things changed fast. I had been tasked with increasing traffic to one of Verizon’s biggest websites at the time.

I recognized that the site’s homepage could not be particularly optimized for ~8,000 business categories and ~19,000 cities. I realized that individual pages should be spawned, each optimized to rank for business categories, cities, or combos of both. 

I named my pages “portals” because the whole process seemed almost magical. I was following nearly mystical ritual-like designs in optimizing the pages and experimenting. I imagined I was virtually teleporting people who had a search need for “restaurants in springfield” or “doctors in bellevue” into our website where I would match them up with precisely what they wanted. 

Despite the lack of any guide or formula that talked about such doorways at scale, many others came up with similar solutions, seeking to expand content to match up with growing varieties of user queries in search engines. 

My “portal pages” skunkworks project was a clear success, although it would be some years further before leadership in the company recognized the value and allowed me to deploy the concept beyond my pilot research project.

The rise of doorway pages in search results

When doorway pages were first added to the list of spam practices, there was some degree of hubbub about them, with heavy emphasis expressed by Googlers reinforcing that the use of doorways was contravened. 

Not as much has been said about the topic in the years since. Google appeared to be increasingly circumspect about the imposition of penalties related to the practice and other quality rules. 

The lack of attention brought to doorway pages seemed to cause some marketers to believe that they are not a big deal. 

The typical rationalization is: “Amazon does it, and Google SERPs are full of Amazon, so…” 

Often, these folks employ doorway pages on their own websites.

There has been a spike in lawsuits involving doorway pages in the last six years. I first wrote about this in 2017, “Initial Interest Confusion rears its ugly head once more in trademark infringement case,” where I mentioned an older lawsuit where watch company Multi Time Machine sued Amazon for hosting a search results page for “mtm special ops watches” (and other similar keyword searches that could be related to the watch company’s marks).

Amazon hosted the “MTM special ops watches” page, but only showed search results for other competing products.

Multi Time Machine contended that this could confuse consumers expecting MTM products, which was therefore an infringement.

That suit was eventually dismissed as the court determined that no “reasonably prudent consumer” would be confused about the Amazon page that presented products that would be considerably underpriced for MTM watches.

In yet another case (“Bodum USA, Inc. v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.”), French press coffee maker manufacturer Bodum sued their former retail partner Williams-Sonoma under similar circumstances.

Williams-Sonoma had sold Bodum products for a time but eventually discontinued selling them, opting instead to manufacture their own branded French press coffee makers.

However, the Bodum search results page on the Williams-Sonoma.com website continued to be maintained, only it now presented Williams-Sonoma products and not Bodum’s.

Thus, the circumstances, including accusations that the products themselves were confusingly similar, were arguably much more confusing than in the Multi Time Machine/Amazon case.

The Bodum v. Williams-Sonoma case settled out of court, with Williams-Sonoma adding a disclaimer to their web results, “We do not sell Bodum branded products.”

I subsequently spoke with the CEO of another company that formerly sold their products through Williams-Sonoma. In a similar sequence, the latter also dropped them, began featuring their own, competing products, and maintained a search results page that used (and ranked for) the dropped company’s brand name.

In Google’s recent overhaul of its Webmaster Guidelines, including renaming them to Google Search Essentials, Google could have easily avoided this category if they were no longer a concern.

Instead, the newly updated Spam Policies section page promotes Doorways to the second-listed contravened practice, right after Cloaking. Google also added another example of Doorways as well.

Google’s take on doorway pages: A brief history

Doorway pages were against the rules very early in Google’s 20-plus-year history. I could find reference to doorway pages in Google’s rules as far back as June 2006 (although I think there may have been a rule in place a little before that):

June 2006: Google Webmaster Guidelines prohibited doorway pages early on.

In a session at the first SMX Advanced conference in 2007,  Google’s former head of web spam Matt Cutts was asked for more descriptive guidelines.

Just a few days later, Vanessa Fox announced on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog that they had expanded on the guidelines, providing more examples, among other things.

The expanded text stated

“Doorway pages are pages specifically made for search engines. Doorway pages contain many links – often several hundred – that are of little to no use to the visitor, and do not contain valuable content. HTML sitemaps are a valuable resource for your visitors, but ensure that these pages of links are easy for your visitors to navigate. If you have a number of links to include, consider organizing them into categories or into multiple pages. But in doing so, ensure that they are intended for visitors to navigate the sections of your site, and not simply for search engines.” 

By 2013, Google’s Webmaster Tools content guidelines section had modified this description, stating:

“Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination. Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users.”

In 2015, Google saw fit to post an article on the Google Search Central Blog, further highlighting what Google disliked about doorway pages and announcing a specific “ranking adjustment” (read: a core update that would penalize doorway pages).

“Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”

At their best, doorway pages could be an effort to provide navigation between search engines’ results pages and the most granular content within a website. If one had a limited crawl budget, such pages could provide collecting pages for many granular-level, individual website pages. 

But, at their worst, doorway pages could inflate a site’s indexed pages by thousands and millions of pages, lending little value between the various ones and seeking to enable the site to appear for many more searches than the site merited.

Jennifer Slegg’s analysis of the doorway pages ranking adjustment announcement at the time was that it was most likely focused on improving the quality of local search queries and mobile search results.

Indeed, local business directory websites had tried to index their webpages for all category and location combinations. (This was what my early doorway pages were, before the anti-doorway rules got instituted, as I worked for Verizon’s Superpages – one of the largest of the early online yellow pages.)

That said, there is cause to think that local directory sites somewhat get special treatment from Google (as I will describe shortly in the “Types of doorway pages” section below).

Barry Schwartz outright called the “adjustment” a “doorway page penalty algorithm.”

The automated penalty likely made many realize that doorway pages were considered a serious violation of Google’s guidelines.

Websites had been penalized for this in the past, but many believed that if their sites were not currently penalized, then what they were doing was okay in Google’s eyes.

This irrationally founded belief was proven untrue as the doorway page penalty rolled out.

Seven years later, a whole younger, fresh set of organic search marketers have forgotten that doorway pages are a serious violation, just as some did in the past.

This can happen as an oversight in some instances. Other times, SEO marketers can get progressively bolder and more ambitious about expanding indexable pages to the point where they have crossed a boundary. By then, Google detects doorway pages and dings them pretty sharply.

While having even one doorway page is considered against Google’s rules, in truth, doorway page infractions are determined by scale.

Having a few may not cause issues, but a large ratio of them versus meatier pages is far likelier to be detected, resulting in a negative outcome.

Types of doorway pages

Spammy city/region pages

This corresponds to Google’s example of “[h]aving multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.” 

For instance, imagine a law firm in a small state like New Hampshire:

  • Creating pages targeted to “[legal specialty] in [city name]” with all identical templates having just the city name replaced on each page.
  • The pages all funneling users to a “Contact Us” page.

It would begin to look pretty spammy and repetitive if done for the roughly 234 towns in New Hampshire. 

But, also imagine this sort of thing done with over 19,000 incorporated cities and towns in the United States.

There is cause to think that local businesses for large metro areas implementing this (i.e., targeting the roughly 88 cities of greater Los Angeles or the more than 200 cities of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex) could incur a penalty, particularly if the business did not have a physical address in each targeted city, which would qualify it for having such pages.

Here is an example of a doorway page used by a current international business directory (name redacted).

seattle locla search results

There are clearly some caveats to Google’s algorithmic rules around defining spammy city/region types of pages. 

One can perform a search right now and see local business listings pages from major directory websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages appearing in the top search results for a huge number of business category keywords combined with local city names (e.g., “accountants in poughkeepsie, ny”). 

Sites like neighborhoods.com and nextdoor.com are doing great. If the page shows high-quality, valuable information about each city a website targets, it likely won’t be considered a doorway page. This is a key criterion that many seem to miss when assessing whether doorway pages are policed by Google. 

Now, if you display a page like “Attorneys in New York City”, but the page merely has links to listings for all the boroughs, that would qualify as a doorway page. 

If a user seeks “attorneys in nyc” and clicks on a page that does not contain listings for “attorneys in nyc” but merely links to other pages, then that would be a very poor user experience. 

But, if they clicked on the page and got listings of attorneys, that would not fit in the model of being a doorway page per se. 

You can understand this by searching for “attorneys in nyc.” You will see on the first page of search results listings from Justia, FindLaw, Cornell University attorney listings, Yelp, the New York City Bar Association, Martindale-Hubbell, and Expertise.com.

Microsites

Google does not refer to “microsites” in their guidelines, but this is what the tactic used to be called. 

Google’s current rule states, “Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query.” 

The concept of microsites was employed more when SEOs noticed that Google seemed to give ranking preference to websites incorporating the keyword in the domain name. 

Imagine if Target.com pursued this. They sell over 3,000 types of products based on their sitemaps file. 

Creating a “subwebsite” for each type of product with links back to their main website to conduct a purchase would have been massively irritating. It would also be largely unnecessary because Google can fully show their existing category pages in search results.

This is an attractive idea for website operators who think this will be a shortcut to successes they failed to achieve by insufficiently optimizing their existing websites.

I have argued with CEOs before about this very thing, telling them that “to successfully employ a microsite, you must market it equivalently to your main website – promote it, advertise it, use social media with it, etc – don’t do it, because nobody markets microsites sufficiently when they create dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of them!” 

You can create a special promotional website for a few things, but you better treat them pretty close to complete, standalone websites to achieve good rankings.

A unique, keyworded URL is insufficient in itself. This is not a shortcut to across-the-board high rankings.

Indexable internal search results pages

Google has stated for many years now that they do not want to index a website’s search results pages as this could be an infinite set of pages, considering all the many keywords that could be used to conduct a search on a website. Search-results-in-search-results is an irritating user experience.

This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of Google’s guidelines because there are a few ways to define “search results” on websites.

Category pages or item listings pages on some websites use website/database search functionality to display these types of pages.

Google’s SEO Starter Guide states:

“Avoid: Letting your internal search result pages be crawled by Google. Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site.”

However, there are differences between allowing one’s category pages to be indexed (of a limited number and very specific) vs. having many variations indexed for category-type keywords that display substantially identical pages. 

This can happen with ecommerce websites when marketers create category pages including every variation of product options. Ecatalog software often supplies “faceted” navigation options that produce such pages. Here’s an example:

  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels

Now, some websites have such a breadth of content that they might be able to produce such pages without running afoul of a doorway page assessment. 

But many websites may display virtually identical content on such pages or display only a single product listing – which would have been served better by only having the product page itself indexed.

In yet more egregious cases, some websites have set up things such that when consumers conduct searches on their websites, it will automatically produce indexable search results pages for each of those queries.

This can result in loads of pages indexed with only the keyword name changing, while the contents of the pages are substantially or wholly similar to others on the website. 

This is the case for those Williams-Sonoma pages where an indexed search result for “bodum coffee makers” might be the same content as for a “French press coffee makers” category page.

Even more concerning, blindly generating pages from users’ search results can create pages featuring keywords that are no longer relevant to the website. In other words, spam and, put in another way, potential trademark infringement.

In one lawsuit I worked on, an online retailer allowed thousands and thousands of pages generated by users’ search queries on the site to be indexed, including for major brand names that the website did not carry, such as Nike, Versace, Burberry, Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Chanel, Eddie Bauer, and more. 

An even greater number of pages were indexed from the website, focused on keyword phrases that would produce substantially similar to identical search results pages:

  • “white jeans”
  • “white jean”
  • “size 17 jeans”
  • “jeans size 17”
  • “black jeans”
  • “black rip jeans”
  • “black rips jeans”
  • “black ripped jeans”
  • “black ripped jean”
  • “ripped black jeans”
  • “black jeans men”
  • “black jeans mens”

Imagine these sorts of keyword phrases multiplied hundreds and thousands of times over, and you get the picture. Huge scale, duplicate content, and spammy.

Any website with substantial content and search functionality that uses the GET method can end up with indexed internal search results.

I had a client circa 2007/2008 whose business model was creating a sort of curated search results pages that got de-indexed by Google overnight when this rule was promoted. 

Substantially duplicate content propagated via keyword variations

You can already see how this could work in the example above where pages were indexed for an online retailer under multiple, highly-similar keywords, and the pages would have identical content.

There may be some level of plausible deniability where SEO software paired up with Shopify or other online shopping software can result in more and more user-generated search queries getting indexed as pages.

But, some websites have sought to programmatically create alternate versions of content pages using synonyms, keyword research APIs, AI, or some human editors. The page’s content could be published on multiple pages, each titled and headlined with different keywords.

Many thin content websites have done this very thing in the past, and it likely does not work well in Google these days.

The now-famous joke, “SEO guy walks into a bar, pub, inn, tavern…” illustrates
SEO’s stereotypical propensity for going overboard with keyword optimizations.
Do not do this with Doorway Pages, or your website could get dinged! Meme
postcard image courtesy of Someecards. Copyright © Someecards.

Unsure? How to avoid a doorway ‘ding’

You may wonder if you are at risk of having your website “dinged” by Google for having doorway pages. If you *know* you have doorway pages, eliminate them in favor of focusing on pushing the quality and promoting your other content pages. 

If you are unsure if you have what Google would consider doorway pages or want ideas on how to fix them, read on for some recommendations.

There has long been the suggestion that Amazon gets away with doorway pages because they have loads of PageRank. Therefore, Google displays many of Amazon’s doorway pages where other websites would not. 

With 135 million pages indexed and ranking for top product name queries across the board, Amazon is indeed in a unique position. Google can – and does – take the position that providing users with what they seek is the first and foremost priority.

So if the site is desired/expected in the search results, Google might allow infractions to pass to maintain the page in the search results where consumers can find it. That does not mean that Google likes doorway pages, however.

But, I do not think Amazon’s pages are particularly doorway pages.

Generally, if you click on an Amazon listing in Google’s search results for a product, you will find what you are looking for. Those can be category listings pages or specific product pages. 

But, you see pictures, typically, of what you are looking for, and the results are pretty satisfactory. This is a key determinant. 

Doorway pages are typically:

  • A sort of interstitial between Google’s search results and the actual destination pages users are seeking.
  • Duplicated across many similar keywords.
  • Are even spammed at keyword combinations with the content of the pages bearing little relation to what the user is specifically seeking.

The takeaway is not that “Amazon gets away with Doorway Pages”. The takeaway is that “Amazon provides a very satisfactory experience for searchers by delivering on the promise of the keyword targeting of their pages.” 

Here are some tips for reducing your risks of a doorway “ding”.

Simply remove doorways from the index

Google suggests using robots.txt, but I have another take. 

A robust internal link hierarchy is valuable for SEO, as that can help ensure Google finds and indexes the site’s granular content. 

For this reason, perhaps the quickest fix is to add a robots meta tag to those pages with a “noindex” directive, along with the “follow” directive to keep the links on the page getting crawled.

Keep internal search from generating pages

It is true that you can mine your internal website search data to discover keywords that your users may be using to find your type of content. 

You should still use that as a guide for creating new content, modifying existing content, or introducing other pages related to the top-searched terms. 

But do not let your internal searches automatically transform into pages of search results that search engines can index. 

Doing so will put your site squarely on an increasing curve of cookie-cutter-templated pages that will generate levels of duplication, pages with low value, and open you up to possible spam-hacking exploits. 

You should human-curate the pages added to your site, so stop the uncontrolled flow of pages created each time users type word combos into your search forms. 

You should also consider tech modifications if your internal search URLs are indexable because it is natural for users to share page URLs with others. This can result in user-generated external links growing over time until you involuntarily have a large set of doorway pages. 

You may need to set all those robot meta tags with noindex directives or disallow them in robots.txt. 

Alternatively, you could switch the search functionality to only work with the POST method, revoking the ability for full URLs to be bookmarkable/indexable.

Redesign your category pages to be richer

Category and subcategory pages do not have to be mere navigational lists of links to deeper pages. You can display top items from the categories on the page along with navigational links deeper. 

Informational text content could be included, as well as videos and preview snippets and links to related blog posts. Highlight the newest items, recently-updated content, top-sellers, or endorsement blurbs. 

In short, you want to transform what have been essentially linking pages for search engines into pages that are simultaneously highly usable and useful for end users.

Make core content pages more relevant for alternate keywords

If you are using doorway pages to try to have content that appears for many related keyword phrases, you are using only one SEO method. 

Instead of doorways, you can judiciously add one or two other keyword phrases onto the page itself if you add them in a natural way that reads well for users. Do not go overboard, or you will run afoul of Google for keyword stuffing.

Another option is to create external links pointing to the main page for any given topic, using alternate keyword phrases for the link text. Again, avoid going overboard with too many and do not resort to external link building to accrue the links. 

You could write posts on your website’s blog or in articles to link the alternate keywords’ text back to the main page for the topic.

Do away with doorway pages

Doorway pages have now been a contravened practice for about two decades. 

Google’s recent update to Search Essentials increased the prominence of doorway pages in the contravened spam policies section. They also added an example among those long present. 

This indicates that doorway pages continue to be considered a bad practice and every bit as severe as the other black hat SEO practices that are risky, wrong, and unethical. Otherwise, Google would have used the opportunity of updating the section to revoke the doorway guidelines.

Despite some level of rationalization and confusion on the part of the search community, doorway pages will continue to remain a bad practice.

It could penalize your website (or a portion of it) such that the pages are buried far down in the search results or even de-indexed entirely so that they cannot be found for any search.

Alternative optimizations can provide perceived benefits associated with doorway pages and reduce or avoid the conditions that can cause them.

Stick with contemporary SEO best practices and avoid involvement with doorway pages. You’ll see your organic search rankings program grow and benefit without the risks of getting on Google’s bad side. 

Managing doorway pages (by eliminating them) has further benefits as well. You’ll do away with potentially significant legal liability associated with the practice.

If you are interested in original article by Chris Silver Smith you can find it here

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cheap-seo

9 big risks of cheap SEO

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Know what you might be getting into before engaging with a cheap SEO provider. Here are warning signs to watch for and situations to avoid.

Search engine optimization requires an investment. Look at it as an investment with an expectation of a return on that investment.

SEO is a long-term discipline and process. It demands a robust plan for strategy development and implementation in the technical, on-page and off-page areas of optimization.

Not all sites are equal. Goals, conversions, starting points, opportunities, and organizational structures are some factors that determine how easy or hard it will be to reach SEO goals.

Over my career, I have worked with hundreds of brands, organizations and sites on SEO. I can definitively say there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for the right SEO plan or the right partner for each company.

A vital variable in SEO ROI is the investment amount itself. If you have it covered by someone on your team or in a role you manage, then you have soft costs. If you’re paying someone outside like a consultant, agency or SEO firm, then you are well aware of the hard costs.

Using “cheap” options is dangerous. Cheap is a relative term, but it will make sense what it is as I unpack the nine risks of cheap SEO.

1. Absence of a strategy and plan

With the short-term tactics and longer-term expectations on ROI, it is critical to have a roadmap for SEO. Yes, it will likely change based on the need for additional content, rounds of optimization, and changes with search engine algorithms.

Yet, when cutting corners, costs or time, you risk getting short-changed when it comes to putting enough time into research, strategy development, and planning out the tactics.

2. Misalignment of goals

An age-old frustration for me is seeing and hearing about SEO reporting that only reports ranking positions, keywords ranked, and clicks. Even some levels of conversion reporting can fall into this for me.

I painfully learned about the misalignment of SEO goals versus business goals firsthand early in my career a long time ago. I can still remember walking confidently into that client meeting with all of my SEO metrics looking great, thinking the client would be pleased. That client walked in thinking the opposite as they saw zero new business from the SEO efforts.

Cheap SEO runs the risk of showing superficial stats and focusing on things that aren’t tailored to your business or that really move the needle.

3. Lack of transparency

If you’re buying $99/month SEO, there has to be something allowing the firm to charge that low of a price. Or, if you’re investing in equally cheap software that promises to deliver results, you’re at risk of not getting a transparent picture of what you’re buying.

One of the things I hate the most about this industry (my industry) is that there are still entities out there taking advantage of small (and even large) businesses.

A lack of transparency is a warning sign that you’re at risk of being hurt by cheap SEO. That can cover: 

  • Who is working on your account.
  • The strategy.
  • What will be measured.
  • How it will be reported.
  • Or anything related to the effort.

4. Risky tactics

I’m not here to dive into any debates or talk about gray areas or risky tactics. You can find those conversations and debates elsewhere, and I’m happy to have them.

You need to know that cheap SEO can often take shortcuts to make it affordable. That could include:

  • Buying links from third-party services.
  • Creating large-scale, low-quality content.
  • Engaging in many other tactics that might be high risk and high reward. 

Again, you can be the judge on whether you are OK with those tactics or not, but know that the risk exists.

That’s especially the case if you experience the lack of strategy, lack of transparency, or other aspects I have shared so far.

5. Poor reporting

Good SEO reporting includes integration with your business metrics that matter and all the aspects that led up to that point. That means the SEO visibility and engagement metrics and the story and insights as to what drove the effort.

  • How are we doing in meeting our goals? 
  • Where are we in the plan? 
  • Is there anything changing or adapting in the strategy? 
  • What do the metrics mean? 
  • How are they contributing to SEO ROI?

Cheap SEO often leads to skimpy, inadequate or unreliable reporting. It can lead to seeing numbers that don’t make sense or that don’t go deep enough to validate the effort.

6. Not enough communication

Early in my career, I could do a lot more SEO in a silo than can be done now. I think the evolution and blowing up of the silo is a good thing.

That said, whoever is driving the strategy, implementing the tactics and reporting on the plan should be talking regularly. SEO requires alignment of approvers/stakeholders, strategists, UX, dev, IT, content producers, and more.

Cheap SEO often leads to promises to do it all, only for the cheap SEO provider to disappear. They might also over-promise or over-commit without enough communication to collaborate properly and have all resources working together for success.

7. Little action

Again, I hate seeing people being taken advantage of. Yes, cheap SEO is cheap. That means if it doesn’t work, then you’re not out as much money as if you invested in an expensive effort that failed.

However, time lost now pushes out the timeline for ROI and results down the road. If the cheap SEO provider is slow or only does an amount equivalent to their monthly or set scope, it can cost you the speed and velocity at which you can grow through SEO.

Cheap SEO risks wasting months of your time and ability to grow, even if it doesn’t set you back significantly financially.

Even if you’re seeing some positive movement with a cheap SEO provider, chances are that your mileage will vary. You likely have someone staying in a shallow strategy area who is working through a checklist.

SEO is much more than a checklist. If you’re getting cookie-cutter tactics, you’ll have a lower ceiling than if you’re working with someone who might be a larger investment but provides a more custom, tailored approach and solution for you.

Cheap SEO is often based on running through simple audits, software, or a checklist that anyone could implement and doesn’t get deep enough to push through for more competitive markets and keywords.

9. Negative ROI

The most important and biggest risk to cheap SEO is negative ROI. Again, maybe you’re not out a large sum of money if the effort doesn’t have an impact.

However, if the cheap SEO option did harm, you may have some hidden costs that push you into further negative territory.

Having to undo risky tactics that might have gotten you penalized or pushed into negative SEO territory, trying to regain lost time and money, are big risks of cheap SEO that fall into the negative ROI arena.

Conclusion

I’m not saying that expensive SEO is good. That’s a topic for another article (along with how to ensure you fully understand what you’re getting without over-investing and putting yourself into a negative SEO ROI position).

Knowing the risks of cheap SEO, though, can help you know what you might be getting into and fully understand the questions to ask, warning signs to watch for, or situations to avoid. Much like other areas of life and business – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you are interested in original article by Corey Morris you can find it here

4-smarter-ways-to-measure-SEO-effectiveness

4 smarter ways to measure SEO effectiveness

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Basic SEO metrics aren’t effective indicators of success. Here’s how to level up your traffic, ranking, conversion and link KPIs.

I find myself answering a lot of the same questions from new clients about ways to measure SEO. My answers generally fall into one of two categories:

  • Why basic/boilerplate SEO metrics aren’t good KPIs and how to make them better.
  • Which (more advanced) metrics we should establish to determine actual business impact.

This article will tackle the first category and show how to apply an advanced approach to make basic SEO KPIs far more effective indicators of success. The KPIs I’ll discuss include:

  • Traffic (visits)
  • Ranking
  • Conversions
  • Links

Let’s get started.

1. Traffic

Measuring SEO traffic week over week is as basic as it gets – and it’s missing nuances that can become clear with a couple of adjustments.

First, use Search Console to split traffic into brand and non-brand buckets.

Brand vs. non-brand chart in GSC.

There’s a simple reason for this: brand traffic is generally not a function of SEO. Instead, it’s influenced by awareness campaigns, including billboards, CTV (or linear TV) ads, programmatic campaigns, PR, and more. Brand search, in short, is a function of your overall marketing portfolio.

Non-brand search is where SEOs can shine, especially when you identify keywords at the most important stages of your funnel and prioritize them by potential impact. This often functions as the level of intent.

Educational keywords (e.g., “SEO best practices”) equate more or less to the top of the funnel and more transactional keywords (e.g., “best SEO agency for B2B”) align with the bottom of the funnel.

Second, remember that seasonality impacts SEO as any other channel.

For this reason, it’s crucial to set up month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year windows. I prefer QoQ and YoY over shorter comparisons.

Big SEO shifts, whether forced by an algorithm change or internally directed, require longer measurement cycles to prove real change.

2. Ranking

Relying on moment-in-time screenshots of your current keyword rankings will get you a limited idea of your overall campaign success.

Instead, consider these factors:

  • How are your target keywords ranking over time (MoM, QoQ, YoY)?
  • How are individual pages ranking?
  • Are you achieving actual milestones?
  • What are your trends?

Evaluating rankings over time will show you progress across possible calendar events and seasonal shifts. 

Instead of looking at a blended portfolio affecting a keyword, which offers less actionable insight, look at individual pages using Google Search Console. This allows you to isolate which specific properties are impacting rankings for a single keyword.

On the topic of milestones, not all ranking changes are created equal. You can move up 50 spots from 61 to 11, but that may have less impact than moving up a single notch from the top spot on page 2 of the SERPs to the last spot on page 1. 

Last, dig deeper to see the actual deltas of impressions and clicks that any rankings changes are driving. This also incorporates external trends. For instance, consider that you could have seen huge increases in impressions and clicks for “video conferencing software” in March 2020 without a change in your ranking for that keyword. 

The more activity around the keyword, the more competitive it will get – and the more potential impact it has on your portfolio.

3. Conversions

The 1.0 way to measure acquisition is to aggregate last-click conversions from organic search. Incorporating GA4, which uses a cross-channel, data-driven model with a 30-day lookback window for acquisition, will give you a more nuanced view of attributed credit for conversions.

We could add many more layers here, including measuring the effects of SEO on other channels’ acquisition costs.

For this post, which is meant to help you derive more meaning from relatively basic KPIs, let’s talk about building different conversion events aligned with the level of intent of the keywords you’re targeting (e.g., “download the guide” for educational keywords or “book a demo” for transactional ones). 

Your report might look like this:

GA4 conversion reporting.

Different conversion events, when used strategically with back-end CRM data, will have different values.

When you use a variety of conversion events that align strategically with your keywords, you should see an increase in conversion rate and get a more accurate picture of the value those keywords are driving.

Links are important. They’re still a ranking factor, and they can help measure the impact of your content.

That said, link quantity is a shallow metric. Links are simply a means to an end.

SEO’s overall purpose is to drive meaningful traffic and acquisition. Focusing on downstream KPIs without rolling them up to business impact (which is admittedly more complex) will do little to move the needle in important ways. 

If you focus on counting links, you’re incentivizing yourself to chase more links. The incentive should be actual impact.

Counting will give you a quantity bias and will shift the way you run your SEO program. If you focus on business drivers, you’ll be incentivized to deliver value, not volume

Volume is easy. Value is harder.

Prove the value of SEO with better metrics

For the most part, these are fairly easy adjustments to make, and they’ll help you paint a much clearer picture of the value you’re driving with your SEO program and how that’s trending over time.

In my next post, I’ll show how to take measurement to the next level by helping you understand how SEO is affecting your overall marketing efforts in relation to other channels. 

If you are interested in original article by Adam Tanquay you can find it here

readability-1600-x-840-62f344c44fc7b-sej-760x400

16 Best Readability Checkers To Improve SEO Content

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Content that’s easy to read is an important but often overlooked part of SEO. Here’s a look at some tools you can use to improve your readability.

Have you ever tried to read something only to be put off by its difficulty? It happens to everyone, even the best educated and well-read people.

Personally, I’ve tried to tackle “Moby-Dick” on three separate occasions, only to abandon it not long after the Pequod sets out on its ill-fated voyage. Despite being acclaimed as one of, if not the, best American novel, it’s just too dense to be an enjoyable read for me.

And it’s not just novels that put people off when they’re difficult to read and understand – webpages that are poorly written, wordy, or have other readability issues are often quickly abandoned by visitors.

And let’s not forget search engines love a well-written and well-structured copy. Quality content is still the name of the game, and it’s hard to rank highly without it.

While dwell time is not a direct Google ranking factor, alongside click-through and bounce rate, it does offer a good metric for tracking the health of a webpage.

And, of course, difficult-to-read texts will drive visitors away before they can take action on your page.

So, as an SEO professional, you need to be aware of your copy’s readability and actively take steps to increase it.

There are a lot of factors that go into how easy it is to consume written information on a webpage, including the font, layout, and color schemes, but for this piece, we’re going to focus on just the copy.

What Makes Good Readability?

Readability is based on many factors, including words per sentence and the length and difficulty of the words used. 

Words with higher syllable counts are generally more challenging to read than their shorter synonyms. For example, “went” is considered easier to read than “progressed” or “proceeded.”

The most common measurement for readability in English is the Flesch-Kincaid test, which is two tests: one measuring reading ease and one measuring grade level.

For reading ease, the higher the score, the easier it is to read. Grade level indicates which level of education is required to understand it.

So, you’ve run a check, and it came back with poor scores. What do you do? 

You can go through it manually and identify places where your content gets bogged down, splitting sentences, swapping longer words for easier-to-understand synonyms, and changing passive constructions to active ones. Or you can put technology to work for you. 

16 Tools To Improve Your Readability

1. Microsoft Word Editor

If you’re already somewhat familiar with Flesch-Kincaid scores, there’s a good chance it’s because of Microsoft Word. 

Reading ease is included in the features of the popular word processing software, and it’s a great way to get a good overview of how your piece reads.

From the Review tab, click on Spelling and Grammar. After completing the spellcheck, you’ll be able to view Document stats.

Under the Readability section, you’ll get stats for reading ease, grade level, and passive sentences.

This feature comes free with the software, so if you’re using Word, you should take advantage of it.

If you’re not using Word, don’t worry – there are still quite a few good tools you can use to check readability stats. Read on to learn about them.

2. Readable Readability Tools

Readable is “the world’s most powerful readability scoring tool.” It offers many features, including functionality specifically designed for websites.

Rather than using the Flesh-Kincaid score, it has its standards, which assign a grade (A through E) to your text. It also provides reach metrics to help you understand what percentage of your audience can understand the content.

Its website readability tool scans, scores, and continually monitors the content of your website, including headers, footers, and non-content text.

It also allows you to check keyword density to help you avoid getting dinged by Google for keyword stuffing.

Using Readable requires a subscription. Individuals can access its tools for $4/month, while its small business and agency plans are $24/month and $69/month, respectively.

Website scoring is only available in the two higher tiers.

3. WebFX Readability Test

WebFX’s Readability Test is a quick way to check how your content scores. You can copy and paste text, enter a page’s URL, or embed code to test an entire page or a single area.

WebFX Readability TestScreenshot from WebFX, August 2022

This provides a quick overview of reading ease and the age group it can be understood by, as well as several scores for your text.

You get statistics on sentences, complex words, words per sentence, and average syllables per word.

Opinions vary about which readability standard is the most accurate, so WebFX gives you five choices.

In addition to Flesch-Kincaid, it also calculates your Gunning Fog score, the SMOG index, the Coleman-Liau index, and the Automated Readability index.

The WebFX Readability Test is free to use. 

4. Datayze Readability Analyzer

The Datayze Readability Analyzer is a copy-and-paste means of checking content.

After entering your copy, you’ll get statistics on overall readability and scores using Flesh-Kincaid, Gunning Fog, SMOG, Dale-Chall, and Fry Readability.

It also offers paragraph-level analysis to help you identify how your readability changes throughout a document, an extraneous word finder, passive sentence detection, and a spell checker.

This online tool is free to use.

Datayze Readability AnalyzerScreenshot from Datayze Readability Analyzer, August 2022

5. Hemingway App

Considered one of the greatest American writers, Ernest Hemingway was known for employing a straightforward approach to writing.

The Hemingway App honors Papa’s spirit and helps content writers streamline their work for increased clarity.

After entering your text, it provides a grade level score and highlights areas in which it could improve.

This includes identifying adverbs, passive constructions, phrases with simpler alternatives, and difficult-to-read sentences. 

Hemmingway AppScreenshot from Hemmingway App, August 2022

You can use this tool online for free or download the desktop app for $19.99.

6. Grammarly Online Writing Assistant

Grammarly is an app, cloud-based tool, and browser extension for identifying content issues like grammar, spelling, conciseness, and tone.

Using artificial intelligence, it suggests alternatives to difficult-to-understand words and phrases. It also checks for plagiarism.

Grammarly has a basic free plan, as well as two subscription plans that offer more expansive help for writers. 

7. ProWritingAid Writing Assistant

Another AI-powered tool for checking spelling, grammar, and readability, ProWritingAid Writing Assistant, has features designed to help you more accurately convey information.

It offers style suggestions and a contextual thesaurus, as well as 20 writing reports that identify everything from cliches and overused words to sentence length and consistency.

ProWritingAid also has browser extensions and integrates into several programs, including Word, Outlook, Google Docs, and Scrivener.

Pricing ranges from $20/month for a monthly subscription to a one-time $399 payment for lifetime access.

8. LanguageTool Writing Assistant

LanguageTool is a proofreading tool that checks for grammar and style mistakes. Available in 22 languages, it is available online, as an app or as a plugin.

It highlights writing issues in your content, helping you identify areas that could use improvement. It also gives you approximate reading time for a piece.

LanguageTool Writing AssistantScreenshot from LanguageTool, August 2022

The free version checks grammar, punctuation, and style.

Meanwhile, premium versions ($4.99/month for individuals or $9.48/month for teams of up to 20) provide suggestions for improving style and tone, as well as identifying incorrect names, titles, and numbers.

9. Ginger Writing Assistant

Ginger Writing Assistant uses artificial intelligence to identify and correct mistakes and improve the style of your copy. It suggests context-based corrections, including rephrasing alternatives. It can also offer synonyms, not just for single words but for entire phrases.

Ginger Writing Assistant is available as a browser plugin and desktop or mobile app. It also integrates directly into Microsoft Word.

Pricing ranges from $7.49/month for an annual plan to $13.99/month for monthly ones. Ginger also offers discounts for teachers and students, as well as customizable plans for organizations with more than 2000 users.

10. Yoast SEO Readability Analysis

A popular SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast also includes a readability feature. Explicitly designed for search engine optimization, it checks your writing’s readability and highlights issues.

Your content’s readability is scored on a green-yellow-red scale, where green is good, yellow could be improved, and red needs work.

It checks for passive voice, transition words, subheading distribution, paragraph length, sentence length, and consecutive sentences. It provides your Flesch reading score, as well as allows you to analyze multiple keywords.

This feature is included in Yoast SEO premium, which costs $99/year.

11. Character Calculator Readability Scores

Character Calculator is an online tool for counting characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. It also includes a Dale-Chall Readability Calculator to score your content.

Using this formula, it allows you to copy and paste text, which is then scored. Unlike Flesch-Kincaid, the lower your content scores on the Dale-Chall scale, the easier it is to read.

Character Calculator Readability ScoresScreenshot from Character Calculator, August 2022

Character Calculator provides your score, the reading grade level required, and a short note about reading difficulty. It is free to use. 

12. Copywritely Readability Checker

Copywritely is content software designed for search engine optimizers. In addition to scoring your content’s readability, it also checks for SEO issues to help ensure your copy works for both humans and search engines.

The SEO features detect content problems that impact your search rankings and recommend rewriting, replacing, or deleting content as needed.

The readability checker uses the Flesch-Kincaid formula to help you identify and fix dense content.

CopywritelyScreenshot from Copywritely, August 2022

The cost of Copywritely ranges from $18/month for individuals to $67/month for enterprise organizations. 

13. Semrush Writing Assistant

Designed to help you optimize your content for both human readers and search engines, Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant measures readability and consistency while checking for plagiarism.

It uses copy-and-paste or import from the web functionality to score your content and offer recommendations. You can select your target audience by country and region, all the way down to a city level, and specify desktop or mobile users.

You can specify keywords for comparison with competitor content and are presented with visual information on readability, SEO, originality, and tone.

The SEO Writing Assistant is included in Semrush, with plans ranging from $119.95/month to $449/95/month.

14. Searchmetrics Content Experience

Another tool for search engine optimization professionals, Searchmetrics Content Experience, uses machine learning to help identify which content is most relevant to your audience.

It provides real-time feedback on a copy as you type and scores your content based on factors like word count, sentence structure, keyword coverage, and repetition.

You can also compare your website with competitors and discover which keywords you can add to increase your ranking.

Searchmetrics offers custom pricing.

15. Link Assistant SEO Content Editor

Link Assistant SEO Content Editor is a comprehensive tool for website content. In addition to keyword tools, it provides insights into optimizing copy for search engines and lets you create and track tasks for your team.

You can also analyze competing websites or use its built-in tools to generate new content ideas. Content Editor lets you download SEO guidelines and write tips for pages while reporting keyword usage.

A limited free version is available, as well as a professional edition ($299/year) and an enterprise version ($499/year).

16. Review Tools Content Analysis

SEO Review offers 60 free search engine optimization tools, including Content Analysis. It allows you to enter primary and secondary keywords and offers suggestions for other keywords and SEO optimization.

Items including page title and meta description are scored using red and green. It measures keyword density, headers and subheads, links, and other factors that come into play in search engine optimization.

Review Tools Content AnalysisScreenshot from SEO Review Tools, August 2022

Content Analysis is web-based and free to use.

Content Is Still King

Sometimes search engine professionals get so caught up in algorithms and keywords and metrics and forget the most important thing about any webpage: It should provide value for visitors.

And to do this, your content has to be easily digested. Good readability helps you attract attention to your site and communicate your message more effectively and drive action.

Making your webpages easier to read and understand helps keep your visitors engaged, which in turn helps your quality score with search engines.

But it’s hard to craft content that’s easy to read; even the most experienced writers struggle with it at times.

Luckily, all sorts of useful tools are available to help you punch up your copy, minimize confusion, and more accurately convey information, all of which will reap benefits for SEO.

If you are interested in original article by Kristi Hines you can find it here

Speed-and-the-power-of-page-experience-on-SEO

Page speed and experience in SEO: 9 ways to eliminate issues

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Here’s how page speed fits into page experience and SEO, plus tips for how to make your website faster.

Google’s Core Web Vitals show that website speed and user experience are intertwined.

Users will leave your site if a webpage takes too long to load. That’s nothing new.

Google stated years ago that going from a 1 to 5-second load time will result in 90% of users leaving your site without interacting with it.

So, even if your website ranks high on Google, a slow site will impact your performance.

Why? Because as user experience declines, people will exit your site without buying your products, reading your content or interacting with the site.

That said, speed goes far beyond just user experience impact. Core Web Vitals make it clear that speed is an essential factor.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals (CWVs) are a set of metrics used to evaluate user experience. They measure the following for both desktop and mobile users:

  • Loading speed
  • Page responsiveness 
  • Visual stability

CWVs were introduced in 2020 to provide user-centric, real-world metrics that SEOs and site owners can use to measure usability. The three main elements of CWVs include:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures the loading performance of a page. LCP accounts for the first 2.5 seconds of a page’s loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity between an action on the page and a response.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures a page’s visual stability.

CWVs work to offer a technical SEO aspect with a focus on page experience and usability. 

Understanding page experience

Page experience – which includes Core Web Vitals – is a ranking signal that Google uses to understand “how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.”

The search engine aims to offer the best results for search queries. If a site is slow, isn’t responsive or accessible, and doesn’t perform well on mobile, then it may not be the best result to deliver.

Multiple signals make up page experience, including:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • HTTPS
  • Non-intrusive interstitials

Google states: 

“While page experience is important, Google still seeks to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience is subpar. Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content. However, in cases where there are many pages that may be similar in relevance, page experience can be much more important for visibility in Search.”

Where page speed fits into page experience and SEO

Google’s statement on page experience shows that if everything else is created equal, page experience may improve visibility in the search results. 

So, while page experience is certainly not the only thing you want to focus on, it’s one more element in your control to improve your site’s visibility on the SERPs.

Page speed is a significant element because it hits heavily on Core Web Vitals and will improve all three components. To find areas of improvement, make sure to run a PageSpeed Insights report.

Here are a few ways to eliminate page speed issues.

1. Minify coding

You can optimize CSS, JavaScript and HTML. Various tools can help with minifying your coding, such as HTMLMinifier, CSSNano and UglifyJS.

2. Remove unused coding

If you have unused JavaScript or CSS code, remove them. Every little bit helps to reduce file sizes and speed up your site.

3. Caching

Installing caching on the application level can help. 

WordPress and most other CMS options have caching plugins that will reduce the load on your site’s database and can improve CWVs dramatically. 

If your site hits a database often, this may be a bottleneck for your site, so something like Memcached may be needed.

4. Optimize videos and images

A major part of LCP is images and videos. 

It’s best to compress all image and video files. In most cases, GIFs should be replaced by videos.

If your images or videos are large, consider a content delivery network or third-party hosting. 

5. Use lazy loading

One way to improve the loading of an image-heavy site is to have asynchronous loading, also called lazy loading, to help speed up your site’s first render.

6. Use a content delivery network

It’s recommended to place images, videos, CSS, JavaScript or any static files on a content delivery network (CDN). 

A CDN is an ultra-optimized network with servers worldwide that hosts your files, improves delivery speed and reduces the load on your site’s server.

7. Reduce redirects 

Your site may have redirects, and they’re 100% natural in a site’s evolution. 

However, you ought to remove any redirect chains, where one page redirects to another that redirects, because they will impact your site’s speed.

8. Audit your plugins

If you’re running a popular CMS, it’s not uncommon to have dozens of plugins installed. 

You should review all of these plugins and replace those that are not used or can be replaced under one plugin.

9. Upgrade your hosting

Finally, if you’ve done everything else and page speed won’t improve, you may want to upgrade hosting.

Some hosts have slow older systems, but most will allow you to add more RAM and CPUs to help improve site speed if traffic is causing the server to hang.

If you’re running an Apache or Nginx server, you can install the PageSpeed Module on your server. The benefit of this module is that it works on the server level to improve speed, meaning your site’s application will not be altered.

Tips to improve page speed further

On top of just focusing on speed, you want to improve page experience using the tips below.

Mobile-friendliness  

In 2022, your site needs to be mobile-friendly. There’s no excuse for not using a responsive design on your site that will improve user experience. 

Next, if you follow the speed tips above, you’ll improve mobile site speeds, too.

Finally, consider:

  • Eliminating or reducing pop-ups.
  • Create mobile-friendly content with short paragraphs.

Safe browsing 

Safe and secure browsing are two elements of a site that you should already be offering. You’ll want to:

  • Run a secure site using HTTPS
  • Run security checks on your site
  • Scan all uploads to the site for malicious coding, malware, viruses and more

Routine monitoring is also essential. If your site is compromised, it will be quickly flagged by Google and cause many would-be visitors to the site to abandon it altogether.

Non-intrusive interstitials

Interruptions are never good for user experience, but they may be necessary to generate revenue or add subscribers to your newsletter. However, you’ll want to do your best to:

  • Reduce pop-ups
  • Reduce interstitials

Mobile devices have limited screen space, and if your site has a lot of pop-ups and interstitials, it can make it difficult or impossible to interact with the site, creating a poor page experience.

Review ad networks

If a site is displaying ads, there’s another element of page experience impact that needs to be considered. 

Ad networks will require you to put coding on your site to serve the ads, but if the network is slow to load, it will cause a significant drop in page speed.

You should review:

  • Ad networks to see the impact they have on your site’s speed.
  • All plugins or third-party elements on your site that are out of your control.

If an ad network, script or service impacts site speed, it will hurt your page experience.

Wrapping up

While page speed’s impact on SEO shouldn’t be the only thing to focus on, it’s an integral part of optimization that is mostly in your control. 

Using Core Web Vitals as a guide, your site speed and page experience should improve along with a potential boost in rankings.

If you are interested in original article by Ludwig Makhyan you can find it here