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Let’s Talk About Microsites & Dips In Traffic: Ask An SEO

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When are microsites recommended and how do they impact organic traffic? Expert Ryan Jones tackles this week’s Ask An SEO question.

Today’s ask an SEO question comes from Kate in Louisville, who wrote:

“I work for a company that builds microsites for clients.

What factors do I need to focus on when there’s a dip in organic traffic?

In Q4 2021, for example, we did a rebrand and meta data was altered.

Would this have a massive impact on traffic going forward?”

Strictly speaking, there’s nothing different when it comes to how search engines treat a microsite versus a regular website.

They still look at URLs, links, titles, content, and hundreds of other ranking factors so the same SEO best practices for diagnosing a rankings drop will apply to microsites, too.

Let’s First Talk About Traffic Drops

I want to share some thoughts on microsites in general, but before we do that let’s look at how to handle that traffic drop.

The specific answer to your metadata question is: Maybe.

If you drastically changed the title tag from being relevant to your page to, say, “home” – then you’re probably not ranking as well for your query nor getting many clicks if you do rank.

(Gentle reminder: meta descriptions and keywords are not ranking factors in major search engines. However, a description can have an effect on your click-through rates – when Google decides to actually show the one you wrote.)

The good news is, that changing it back and seeing what happens is a really easy and quick test to perform.

The first thing to do when there’s a dip in traffic with any site is to understand where the traffic dip occurred.

Is it a specific query or set of queries? is it a specific page or group of pages? Is it sitewide?

Look for patterns. It might be one “style” of the keyword (for example, keywords around a specific section of the site) or it might be a certain page template.

This information can steer you where to look.

Once you figure out where the traffic drop is, search for that query/page and see what happens.

If you aren’t showing up at all, check your site for a technical issue.

If you are showing up, did somebody else jump your position?

If you have lost rankings, you should first ask what changes were made to the page.

Often an unwanted title tag or content change or random technical issue could be at fault.

Assuming there’s no change at fault, the next step requires some soul searching.

Ask yourself: “Is this really the best result for a user? if I was searching this query, is this what I would want? Is it better than what’s outranking me?”

Often times as SEO pros we think in terms of push marketing – ” how can I get this page to rank for this query” but true success comes from a pull marketing mentality of understanding what the user is trying to do and creating something that accomplishes that.

We’re seeing this a lot lately with the Google core updates.

Search queries that used to return product description pages now return recommendations and curated lists of the best products in that category.

Google has decided that these pages better serve the user than a single product page.

If something like this is happening in your area, the only solution is to re-evaluate your content in the context of the query and what the engines are showing.

Usually, this isn’t quick or cheap, but it’s the best way to succeed.

Okay, Let’s Talk About Microsites

Except for a few rare cases, I’m not a big fan of microsites.

Big brands love them because they can hire a cheaper/faster vendor to come in for some smaller project and keep it separate from their main website’s codebase, budgets, processes, etc. – but there are many drawbacks.

I’ve seen companies implement microsites to the point where the user flow became: enter on the main website, click a promo to go to the microsite, and then click another call to action back to the main website.

That just seems like a lot of unnecessary overhead that introduces more jump-off points for conversion.

It can also be an analytics tracking nightmare.

From a strictly SEO perspective, a microsite is starting over without any of the PageRank, link juice, or domain authority of the main website.

Whether you believe in such metrics or not, links still matter – and often microsites have fewer links to their pages than if they were placed on the main domain.

The other issue is competition. Too often a microsite done by another agency doesn’t collaborate with the agency doing the main website, and they end up competing for the same keywords.

In some spaces that can be a good idea, to own the search result and push down other pages – but the key here is to have a plan and collaborate with the main site.

Owning multiple search results or pushing something else down for ORM (online reputation management) could be one of the reasons why you’d want a microsite.

Paid search could also be another reason.

Google and Bing won’t let you serve two ads from the same domain, but if you have a microsite you could place 2 different ads on the same query.

In general though, if there isn’t a good reason for a microsite, I’d recommend just creating a new page or section on the main website.

When in doubt, let the user experience dictate the decision, not SEO.

If it’s going to be branded differently or there is a good reason to keep users apart, do a microsite.

If not, you’ll have stronger rankings and more success by including it in the main domain.

If you are interested in original article by Ryan Jones you can find it here

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4 technical SEO issues auditing tools won’t show you

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Here are four of the top technical SEO issues that your auditing tools won’t show you and how to find them.

Throughout the history of SEO, people have debated the pros and cons of relying on technical SEO tools. Relying on the hints from auditing tools isn’t the same thing as a true SEO strategy, but we’d be nowhere without them. It’s just not feasible to manually check dozen of issues page per page.

To the benefit of the SEO industry, many new auditing tools have been created in the past decade, and a few of them stand strong as industry leaders. These few technical auditing tools have done us a great service by continuing to improve their capabilities, which has helped us better serve our clients, bosses and other stakeholders.

However, even the best auditing tools cannot find four important technical SEO issues that could potentially damage your SEO efforts:

  1. Canonical to redirect loop
  2. Hacked pages
  3. Identifying JS Links
  4. Content hidden by JS

Why tools won’t show these

Some of these issues could be detected by tools, but they’re just not common enough to come across their desk. Other issues would be impossible for tools to detect. 

As with many cases in SEO, some issues may affect sites differently, and it all depends on the context. That’s why most tools won’t highlight these in summary reports.

Required tools to uncover these issues

Before we dive into the specific issues, there are two specific requirements to help us find these issues.

Your web crawling tool of choice

Even though most tools won’t uncover these issues by default, in most cases, we can make some modifications to help us detect them at scale.

Some tools that you could use include:

  • Screaming Frog
  • Sitebulb
  • OnCrawl
  • DeepCrawl

The most important thing we need from these tools is the ability to:

  • Crawl the entire website, sitemaps and URL list
  • Ability to have custom search/extraction features

Google Search Console

This should be a given, but if you don’t have access, make sure you acquire Google Search Console access for your technical SEO audits. You will need to be able to tap into a few historic reports to help us uncover potential issues.

Issue 1: Canonical to redirect loop

A canonical to redirect loop is when a webpage has a canonical tag pointing to a different URL that then redirects to the first URL. 

This can be a rare issue, but it’s one that I’ve seen cause serious damage to a large brand’s traffic. 

Why this matters

Canonicals provide the preferred URL for Google to index and rank. When Google discovers a canonical URL different from the current page, it may start to crawl the current page less frequently.

This means that Google will start to crawl the webpage that 301 redirects more frequently, sending a type of loop signal to their Googlebot.

While Google allows you to make a redirected page the canonical, having it loop back to the previous page is a confusing signal.

I’ve seen this happen to some large brands. One recently came to me asking to investigate why one of their key pages hasn’t been driving the traffic they were hoping for. They had invested a lot of money into SEO and had a well-optimized page. But this one issue was the sore thumb that stuck out.

How to detect canonical redirect loops

Even though this issue will not appear in any default summary reports in standard auditing tools, it’s quite easy to find. 

  • Run a standard crawl with your preferred technical SEO auditing tool. Make sure to crawl sitemaps as well as a standard spider crawl.
  • Go to your canonical report and export all of the canonicalized URLs. Not the URLs the tool crawled, but what the URL in the canonical tag is. 
  • Run a new crawl with that URL list and look at the response codes report with this list of canonicals. All response codes should return a status 200 response code. 

Issue 2: Hacked pages

Hacked websites for profit is not a new topic. Most seasoned SEOs have come across websites that have been hacked somehow, and the hackers have conducted malicious activities to either cause harm or generate profit for another website.

Some common website hacking that happens in SEO includes:

  • Site search manipulation: This occurs when a website’s search pages are indexable. A malicious person then sends a ton of backlinks to their search results page with irrelevant searches. This is common with gambling and pharma search terms. 
  • 301 redirect manipulation: This happens when someone gains access to the site, creates pages relevant to their business and gets those indexed. Then they 301 redirect them to their own websites. 
  • Site takedowns: This is the most straightforward attack when a hacker manipulates your code to make your website unusable or at least non-indexable.

There are dozens of types of site hacking that can affect SEO, but what’s important is that you maintain proper site security and conduct daily backups of your website.

Why this matters

The most important reason that hacking is bad for your website is that if Google detects that your website might have malware or is conducting social engineering, you could receive a manual action. 

How to detect hacked pages

Luckily, there are many tools out there to not only mitigate hacking threats and attempts but there are also tools to detect if your website gets hacked. 

However, most of those tools only look for malware. Many hackers are good at covering their tracks, but there are ways to see if a website has been hacked in the past for financial gain.

Use Google Search Console

  • Check manual actions report. This will tell you if there are any current penalties against the site.
  • Check the performance report. Look for any big spikes in performance. This can indicate when a change may have happened. Most importantly, check the URL list in the performance report. Hacked URLs can stick out! Many of them have irrelevant topics or may even be written in a different language.
  • Check the coverage report. Look for any big changes in each sub-report here.

Check website login accounts

  • Take a look at all users to find any unusual accounts.
  • If your website has an activity log, check for recent activity.
  • Make sure all accounts have 2FA enabled. 

Use online scanning tools

Several tools will scan your website for malware, but that may not tell you if your website has been hacked in the past. A more thorough option would be to look at https://haveibeenpwned.com/ and scan all website admin email addresses.

This website will tell you if those emails have been exposed to data breaches. Too many people use the same passwords for everything. It’s common for large organizations to use weak passwords, and your website can be vulnerable.

It’s well communicated from Google that they do not follow or crawl internal links generated by JavaScript.

By now, we’d think that our SEO auditing tools should be better at detecting internal links generated by JavaScript. Historically, we’ve had to rely on manually discovering JS links by clicking through websites or looking at link depths on reports.

Why this matters

Googlebot does not crawl JavaScript links on web pages. 

While most SEO auditing tools can’t detect JavaScript links by default, we can make some slight configurations to help us out. Most common technical SEO auditing tools can provide us with custom search tools. 

Unfortunately, browsers don’t really display the original code in the DOM, so we can’t just search for “onclick” or anything simple like that. But there are a few common types of code that we can search for. Just make sure to manually verify that these actually are JS links.

  • Most developers use the button tag to trigger JS events. Don’t assume all buttons are JS links, but identifying these could help narrow down the issue.
  • data-source: This pulls in a file to use the code to execute an action. It’s commonly used within the JS link and can help narrow down the issues.
  • .js: Much like the data-source attribute, some HTML tags will pull in an external JavaScript file to find directions to execute an action.

Issue 4: Content hidden by JavaScript

This is one of the most unfortunate issues websites fall victim to. They have so much fantastic content to share, but they want to consolidate it to display only when a user interacts with it. 

In general, it’s best practice to marry good content with good UX, but not if SEO suffers. There’s usually a workaround for issues like this. 

Why this matters

Google doesn’t actually click on anything on webpages. So if the content is hidden behind a user action and not present in the DOM, then Google won’t discover it. 

How to find content hidden by JavaScript

This can be a bit more tricky and requires a lot more manual review. Much like any technical audit generated from a tool, you need to manually verify all issues that have been found. The tips below must be manually verified.

To verify, all you need to do is check the DOM on the webpage and see if you can find any of the hidden content.

To find hidden content at scale:

  • Run a new crawl with custom search: Use the techniques I discussed in finding JS links. 
  • Check word counts at scale: Look through all pages with low word counts. See if it checks out or if the webpage looks like it should have a larger word count.

Growing beyond the tools

With experience, we learn to use tools as they are: tools.

Tools are not meant to drive our strategy but instead to help us find issues at scale. 

As you discover more uncommon issues like these, add them to your audit list and look for them in your future audits.

If you are interested in original article by John McAlpin, you cna find it here

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10 Top Advertising Campaigns & Why They Work

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Looking for inspiration for your next advertising campaign? Discover how and why these top campaigns worked and what makes an ad effective.

Keeping up to date with advertising trends keeps you informed of the current ‘mood’ and feeds ideas for your own advertising and marketing.

Just like memes on social media, it’s common to see threads and trends develop and it’s important to keep track to influence your own marketing and digital marketing efforts.

Here, you’ll find some of the top advertising campaigns from the last 12 months and reviewing how and why they worked.

First, what makes an ad effective?

Brand Messaging In 2022

Post pandemic, there has been a real shift in marketing messages, and most brands are embracing sustainability and authenticity.

Real stories, strong moral stance, and contribution are all essential values for brands to project.

However, be wary of jumping on tropes and trends just to be part of a movement.

Unless you are genuinely authentic, this can backfire and social media does not hold back to call out anyone who seeks to profiteer from a movement.

Retailer John Lewis in the U.K. faced considerable backlash for their 2021 Christmas campaign of “Let Life Happen,” featuring a young boy in a dress and makeup rampaging through the house.

It failed to hit the message of being inclusive about gender fluidity, and instead was derided for their off-brand middle-class efforts.

In contrast, a brand that managed to positively confront the perception of sexism in its historic advertisements was Budweiser.

By recreating their 60s ads from a current gender equality perspective, Budweiser sent a clear message that they were tackling cultural changes in attitude head-on by embracing their past – a more authentic way for a brand to suddenly change lanes.

How To Create An Effective Ad In 2022

Connecting with an audience in 2022 is all about being credible, unique, and memorable. And, brands need to position themselves carefully, with consideration to nuanced shifts in culture.

To create effective adverts that will resonate with an audience in a post-pandemic world, follow these rules:

A Simple Message

Basic rules of advertising dictate that your message should be understood quickly and easily.

In the ’80s, we had a trend of cinematically beautiful adverts that bordered on the surreal and often left you wondering what it was all about.

Today, make sure your advert has a strong central message.

Emotive

As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said but not how you made them feel.”

Emotion creates stronger brand recall and will make someone feel connected to a brand.

Aligned With Your Audience

Put your audiences’ needs front and center of your messaging. Address what they want and what they need. Not what you need.

Aligned With Brand Values

In today’s culture, having strong values is essential for brands that want to build long-term connections with an audience.

Making a stand for your values shows that you care, and this is essential to connect with younger audiences who are the future.

Aligned With Your Brand Positioning

More than anything, be clear and consistent with who your brand is.

If you do want to tackle current trends and any societal issues, then make sure that you do it aligned with who you are and not trying to suddenly pivot in a forced and obvious manner.

Authentic

Switched-on audiences can detect a brand trying to take advantage of a cultural issue. It’s a brutal takedown on social media for a brand that gets it wrong and is considered inauthentic.

Memorable

The fundamental law of all advertising. Brands use shock, comedy, twists and sometimes distaste to stand out and be remembered. The Burger King Moldy Whopper is a visual you will not forget.

Check Out These 10 Effective Ads From 2021

1. Draw Ketchup, Heinz

Heinz Ketchup in Canada ran a campaign that perfectly illustrates the power of brand recall.

In an inspired meta approach, they used brand recall to show their brand dominance to affirm more brand recall.

Heinz achieved this by conducting a social experiment. Without revealing who the experiment was for, they asked random people around the world to illustrate the word ‘ketchup’.

Of course, all the results show Heinz ketchup bottles (except one guy who drew mustard!).

The naivety of the illustrations connects to a sentiment of nostalgia and encourages the viewer of the advert to mentally picture what ketchup means to them.

A brilliant example of user-generated content, offline. This is a memorable campaign that taps emotion.

2. The Return, Jif® Peanut Butter

“The Return” hits several metrics of what makes a good advert.

First of all, the team at Publicis who conducted the campaign defined the Jif audience as Millennials, and that rap music is a top music genre for this generation.

Partnering with a rapper like Ludacris creates a brand association with an influencer that resonates with rap-loving Millennials.

The Publicis team conducted social listening research and found that the new styles of rap sounded like the rappers had a mouthful of peanut butter. This led to the perfect connection of how to develop a narrative for their ad.

The advert was also promoted with a TikTok campaign challenge using the hashtag #JifRapChallenge.

“The Return” uses a nuanced blend of humor with an audience-relevant influencer in a memorable way.

3. Introducing The Icelandverse, Visit Iceland

“Icelandverse” by the tourism board for Iceland is the perfect example of how to jack a current trend.

Following Facebook’s “Introducing Meta” infomercial, “Icelandverse” was a fast-response spoof video that perfectly captured the incredulous sentiment to the ‘Meta’ brand announcement.

Within just five days of the Facebook ad, “Icelandverse” was launched and has achieved over 1.8million views on YouTube.

The narrative for the video is “a revolutionary approach on how to connect with our world without being super weird.”

It trades a comparison between the features of Iceland and the Metaverse. You can connect with humans (you are human, right?); skies you can see with your eyeballs; caress volcanic rocks.

The slightly “odd” main character and the awkwardness of the film offer a brilliant satirization of Zuckerberg to hit the overall sentiment online in response to the Facebook leader. The subtle humor is perfectly timed and is an example of just what can be achieved in only five days.

“Icelandverse” is certainly memorable and offers an example of how jacking current trends is a strategy that even small brands can use to get significant viral exposure.

4. End Plastic Waste, Stan Smith For Adidas Original

“It’s not easy being green,” famously said Kermit the Frog, who narrates the voiceover to this Adidas commercial.

As climate change and a theme of sustainability are now essential brand values for fashion brands that want to reach the younger demographics, Adidas has responded with an update on their iconic Stan Smith trainers.

The advert featuring Kermit and Stan Smith taps into the current focus on environmental issues combined with the history of the brand. Combining the nostalgic with the modern is always a strong hook for advertising.

It might not be easy being green, but it is even harder to produce an advert that can trade on serious issues without appearing condescending or inauthentic.

Adidas has tapped authenticity perfectly whilst at the same time managing to get on a level with Gen Z. They have ticked alignment with brand values and their audience, combined with an emotive and inspiring short film.

5. ScissorHandsFree, Cadillac

Who is the target audience for Cadillac? The grown-up Gen Xs who fondly remember the surreal beauty of 1991 “Edward Scissorhands.”

In advertising, the nostalgia for things from your teens and early years is always a hook for connection, especially for the middle-aged and older.

In “ScissorHandsFree,” the main character can enjoy the thrill of driving on the open road, even though he has scissors for hands. What a way to sell the benefits of hands-free driving!

The advert which is a follow-on from the original film also manages to interweave current themes of diversity and inclusivity.

Cadillac has managed to align itself with current social themes, tap into nostalgia, align with their demographic, and create a stunning memorable experience all in one advert.

Take note, those with budgets that can hire Winona Ryder and Timothée Chalamet, this is how it’s done.

6. Fumble, iPhone 12

Yet another advert from Apple that has great timing, great editing, and leaves you a little breathless.

Apple is the master of minimalism which they extend to all their campaigns with simple messaging.

Trading on the phone’s selling feature of the ceramic shield, the ad puts the durability of the phone at the center of the message in a clear and memorable way.

The music by Nitin Sawhney contributes to the panic and urgency of trying not to drop a phone.

So simple and perfectly aligned with Apple brand values.

7. Last Year’s Lemons, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

When the pandemic happened, at first, brands were paralyzed and unsure of how to proceed.

We then had a burst of ads with a homemade feel that drew on the total shock and emotion of what the world was experiencing.

Two years down the line, the pandemic is now so seamlessly part of life, we are so over it.

Just when we thought we couldn’t take any more pandemic-related advertising, Bud Light steps in with the perfect cultural reference of “when you get lemons, you make lemonade.”

In a brilliant narrative of an apocalyptic event where it starts raining lemons, Bud Light manages to tap into the total chaos of the last two years in a wonderfully bittersweet sentiment.

The last throwaway line also perfectly echoes how we are now so burnt out with the pandemic.

Perfectly aligned with social sentiment, audience, and brand positioning.

8. Meet The King, Jimmy John’s

Aligning with celebrities and fictional classics translates to trading off the success forged by these real and fictional characters.

You could call it success-jacking or value-jacking. It’s why celebrities charge so much for endorsements.

Of course, not everyone can afford to make a Goodfellas-style short film. But, it is possible to leverage this technique by understanding your audience and using cultural references they respect.

In this case, Jimmy John’s did have the budget for a short film aired in the coveted Super Bowl slot.

With a hint of humor and a lot of Goodfellas-style direction, this ad provides a brand positioning and alignment with a certain audience.

Creating the narrative around the product makes sure the brand and product are at the forefront.

9. The Ad Where Nothing Happens, Progressive Insurance

In another post-pandemic reference, Progressive Insurance chooses not to make a flashy advert to give people a break from the events of the last few years. “People have been through a lot.”

Well-written and perfectly hits the current sentiment of burnout.

Progressive Insurance clearly knows their demographic as they also throw in the brilliant cultural reference to an aged NSYNC that only someone who grew up in the 90s would get.

A simple message delivered dressed up as a basic advert that is nuanced with subtle humor.

10. Jessica Long’s Story, Toyota

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Saving the tear-jerker for last. The power of the inspiring story.

This advert taps into current themes of diversity and inclusivity combined with the hero’s journey.

Toyota shows the real-life story of an athlete that represents how anyone can overcome, even if their “life is not always easy.” The perfect antidote to shake us out of any lingering post-pandemic self-pity. It hits social sentiment perfectly.

The advert does feel like something Nike would make, but Toyota is a sponsor for the Olympic team.

Rather than selling a product, Toyota is using the alignment of positioning with those who work hard to overcome difficulties to succeed in life.

A memorable advert that defies anyone to not cry and affirms the Toyota brand values.

Takeaway For 10 Best Advertising Campaigns

What these 10 examples of top advertising campaigns show is that there are several ways to approach a memorable ad:

  • Use humor or strong emotion.
  • Use cultural references.
  • Use current social sentiment.
  • Trend-jack other brands and adverts.

And sometimes, it’s just reaffirming the established dominance of the brand in a way that respects its audience and shows authenticity.

If you are interested in original article by Shelley Walsh, you can find it here

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3 SEO tools to build for your clients in Google Data Studio

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Creating technical SEO auditing, keyword research, and link building tracking tools is easy with Google Data Studio. Learn how here.

With the wide variety of clients out there, you’re bound to run into the occasional DIY marketer. These marketers prefer that you teach them how to be self-sufficient rather than rely on you for every little question.

These clients can be a blessing but can also be dangerous. The challenging aspect of client management is finding the balance between empowering them to get the data they want without feeling like they don’t need you.

That’s where Google Data Studio tools come into play.

Data Studio is typically used for general reporting. The real beauty of Data Studio is that it can be used for so much more.

By creating tools for clients, you enable them to do the actual research it takes to accomplish SEO while still providing that much-needed maintenance and guidance that comes with experience.

This article illustrates free dashboard templates you can use with your clients.

How to change the branding

Before we dive into the specifics, you may want to update the branding and logo of your dashboard. This process could not be easier.

Right-click on your logo, and you will see a menu appear. Near the bottom, select “Extract theme from image.” You will then be presented with three different color scheme options. Select whichever one you feel best represents your brand.

This will automatically change most of the colors and get you most of the way to the finish line of designing in your Data Studio tool. However, there may still be a few charts or texts you’ll need to update.

1. Technical SEO auditing

Tracking technical SEO efforts can be difficult to visualize. Sure, you can track it in a spreadsheet, but that isn’t client-friendly. 

For years, SEOs have attempted to make dashboard trackers to help show improvements in site health over time. 

Luckily, our friends at Screaming Frog have finally cracked the case of the perfect technical SEO dashboard. The best part? The template is free. You can see it here.

How to copy the dashboard

To copy the dashboard:

  1. Click on the three dots in the top right
  2. Select make a copy
  3. Select your data source (don’t worry, you can update later)

How to set up the technical SEO tracker tool

Screaming Frog has published a helpful guide on setting up this Data Studio tool. What they will walk you through includes:

  • Setting up a scheduled crawl
  • Configuring the export to a Google Sheet
  • Connecting that Google Sheet to the Data Studio dashboard

2. Keyword research

The presentation of keyword research takes many forms. Most recognizable is the simple spreadsheet. Some people create keyword maps for each page or topic, while others with smaller clients have a short list of keywords.

However, Data Studio can be a powerful analysis tool for larger sites with tens of thousands or millions of keywords.

If you are working with millions of keywords, do not use Google Sheets like this example. I recommend using BigQuery to handle your keywords.

Step One: Setting up your source data

The first step involves importing your keyword research into a Google Sheet. To use the free template I created, you will need to include the following dimensions and metrics in your Google Sheet:

  • Keyword
  • Position
  • Previous position
  • Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty
  • CPC
  • URL
  • Keyword Intents

Step Two: Copy the dashboard

As we learned in the previous dashboard, you’ll want to make a copy of this dashboard and connect your data source, whether it be Google Sheets or BigQuery.

Important features of this Data Studio tool

This tool has many unique features that can be used to help drive your on-page SEO strategy. Depending on your strategy, these features can be customized to display different types of data and categories.

Boolean Buttons

The three buttons in this tool are based on custom boolean formulas, meaning they work on true/false statements. Let’s take a look at one of them.

We’re creating a function only to display long-tail queries that start with a question word in the formula above. This formula relies on regex, with two very important symbols:

  • The circumflex (^) is a regex function that essentially means, “if the keyword starts with this.” 
  • The pipe (|) symbol is another regex function that means “or.”

Using this formula, you can create any number of different kinds of checkboxes. I added a few keywords separated by pipes (|) to help display keywords in those categories for the SEO and PPC checkboxes.

The custom search box is a pretty simple but powerful feature of this tool. Not only can it quickly help you narrow down your search to identify keyword opportunities, but it can also use the power of regex to customize your search.

Intent dropdown

The keyword intent dropdown can help you filter by the intent of each keyword within the search funnel. Pretty simple, right?

Well, this filter can be easily swapped out by any dimension in Data Studio. So if you want to swap it out for other keyword categories, this can be the perfect filter for you. 

Funnel

This funnel helps visualize the true search funnel by intent. When applying other filters in this tool, the funnel and metrics above automatically update with the intents.

Link building is one of the tensest topics SEOs like to avoid with clients. Links are challenging to earn and often the hardest thing to control. 

The best way to earn trust with clients and stakeholders is through transparency. Instead of dodging the data around link building, hand over the keys and let them explore the data for themselves.

This is one of the more straightforward Data Studio tools we can create. You can pair any number of dimensions and metrics to help illustrate your point. 

The supporting Google Sheet I’m using is a simple backlinks analytics report from SEMrush. However, you can use your own link-building tracker to feed the report. Just make sure you add the acquisition date for the date range.

Conclusion

Data Studio is one of the fastest reporting tools to stand up while still having some seriously robust features. The fact that it’s also free makes it an easy platform of choice.

But that begs the question, why go through all that trouble for clients and other stakeholders?

These tools help create a better sense of transparency, which can help improve trust. Thus, creating a better partnership between you and your stakeholders. 

One of the most challenging parts of SEO isn’t the work itself but the communication of value. So from now on, think of new creative ways to demonstrate value to your clients, even if it’s just making a simple tool in Data Studio.

If you are interested in original article by John McAlpin, you can find it here

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How To Find And Fix Broken Internal Links

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What can finding and fixing internal links do for your SEO? Learn why broken links matter and get tool recommendations to find and fix them.

f you manage a website, it’s important to check for broken internal links regularly.

Broken internal links can frustrate visitors and cause them to leave your site. They can also hurt your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).

But don’t worry. There are ways that you can easily find and fix these broken links yourself.

It will take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run for both your users and your website.

Why Internal Links Matter

Internal links are an important part of SEO because they help search engines understand the structure of your website.

They also help users navigate your website and find the information they’re looking for.

In addition, Google has said that internal link structure is a critical ranking factor.

So if you’re not paying attention to your website’s internal links, you could be missing out on valuable search engine traffic.

What Are Broken Internal Links?

A broken internal link is a link that points to a page on your website that doesn’t exist.

This can happen for many reasons:

  • The page has been deleted.
  • The page has been moved and the link wasn’t updated.
  • There’s a typo in the URL.
  • The link is pointing to the wrong page.

Broken internal links can have several negative consequences for your website, including:

  • Frustrated visitors: If a user clicks on a broken link, they’ll go to a 404 error page. This can cause them to leave your website and look for the information they need elsewhere.
  • Negatively Affected SEO: Internal links help search engines understand the structure of your website. If you have a lot of broken internal links, it can negatively impact your website’s SEO.
  • Lost website traffic: If search engines can’t crawl your website properly due to broken links, you could lose out on valuable traffic.

How Did I End Up With Broken Links?

There are many reasons that broken internal links can end up on your website.

In some cases, the links were always broken, and you never realized it.

In other cases, the links may have worked at one point but stopped due to a change you or someone else made to your website.

You Changed The URL Of A Page

If you’ve ever changed the URL of a page on your website, any internal links pointing to that old URL will now be broken.

For example, let’s say you had a page with the URL https://example.com/services.

But then you decided to change the URL to https://example.com/our-services.

Any internal links pointing to the old URL will be broken because they’re still pointing to the page’s old location.

Any links pointing to https://example.com/services will need to be updated to point to the new URL, https://example.com/our-services.

You Entered The Incorrect URL When Creating A Link

When creating internal links, it’s easy to accidentally enter the wrong URL.

This can happen for a number of reasons, such as:

  • You misspelled the URL of the page you’re linking to.
  • You forgot to include the “https://” or “http://” part of the URL.
  • You included an extra space in the URL.

All of these small mistakes can cause a broken link.

When creating links, always double-check your work to ensure you’re using the correct URL.

Careless mistakes are a common reason for broken internal links.

The person in charge was not aware of causing broken links or they were not paying attention.

Either way, if your site has many broken internal links, you must correct these as soon as you can.

The Page You’re Linking To Was Removed

If you’re linking to a page that no longer exists, the link will be broken.

This can happen for a number of reasons, such as:

  • The page was never created in the first place.
  • The page was deleted by accident.
  • The page was intentionally removed but not replaced with a new page.

Don’t discount the issues that global changes to a site’s internal links can cause when you’re not paying attention.

Links To Certain Types Of Content Have Been Removed Or Moved Elsewhere

Some types of content are often removed or moved to other locations on a website.

These can include:

  • PDFs.
  • Images.
  • Videos.
  • Audio files.

If you’re linking to any of these types of content and the file has been moved or deleted, the link will be broken.

Check any links to PDFs, images, and videos on your website to ensure they’re still working.

You Recently Updated Your Site’s URL Structure And Did Not Redirect Old URLs

If you’ve recently updated your website’s URL structure, any old URLs will no longer work.

This can cause broken links because the new URLs will differ from the old ones. For example, let’s say your website had this URL structure:

  • https://example.com/services/service-1
  • https://example.com/services/service-2
  • https://example.com/services/service-3

But then you decided to change the URL structure to this:

  • https://example.com/our-services/service-1
  • https://example.com/our-services/service-2
  • https://example.com/our-services/service-3

Any old links pointing to the old URLs will now be broken. This is because the new URL structure is different from the old one. You will need to set up redirects from the old URLs to the new ones to fix this.

Ideally, you will want to use 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects.

301 redirects are permanent and will tell search engines that the page has been moved to a new location. 302 redirects are only temporary.

Regardless of how much time I work in SEO, I continue to run into developers who use 302 redirects as their preferred solution of choice.

Sadly, this is not correct and not ideal.

For any permanent website structure changes, always make sure you use a 1:1 ratio of 301 redirects on any links that may be broken after the change.

Broken Elements Within A Page Due To Malfunctioning Plugins And Other Issues

Another common cause of broken links is malfunctioning plugins and other elements within a page.

These can include:

  • Malfunctioning social media plugins.
  • Malfunctioning contact forms.
  • Broken Javascript or CSS files.

When these elements are broken, they can cause links to be broken as well.

For example, if you have a social media plugin that’s not working, it may prevent people from being able to share your content on social media.

This can lead to fewer people linking to your site.

Another example is if you have a contact form that’s not working properly.

If people can’t get in touch with you, they may try to find your email address elsewhere on your site.

If they can’t find it, they may give up and go to a different website.

This, again, can lead to fewer people linking to your site.

If you have a video player that’s not working, it can prevent people from watching your videos.

If you have an image gallery that’s not working right, it can prevent people from seeing your images.

Both of these can lead to fewer people linking to your site. To fix this issue, you will need to find the broken element and fix it.

For example, if you have a social media plugin that’s not working, you may need to update the plugin or use a different plugin.

If you have a contact form that’s not working, you may need to fix the form or find a different contact form plugin.

Your Website Is Down

If your entire website is down, it’s a big problem.

Any links pointing to your website will be broken because people can’t visit your website.

This can lead to a significant drop in traffic overall. While this normally impacts external links, it can also affect internal links because they will now be zero.

This is especially problematic if the site is down for a long time before you discover the issue.

You will need to find out why your website is down and fix the problem. It could be an issue with your hosting, domain name, or something else.

Once you find the problem and fix it, your website should be up and running again.

But there are times when an entire website “disappears,” leaving just a blank page.

If your website shows a blank page, it is most likely due to an issue with your server or hosting.

How To Find Broken Internal Links

There are a few different ways to find broken internal links on your website.

These methods range from manually checking each link to using automated tools.

We’ll start with the manual method since it’s the most straightforward.

For this method, go through each page on your website and check all links, including links in the navigation menu, sidebar, footer, and anywhere else on the page.

Click on each link and see where it takes you.

If the link goes to another page on your website, that’s great!

If not, you’ve found a broken link.

You can also use Google Chrome’s “Inspect” tool to check for broken links. Right-click on any page on your website and select Inspect.

This will open up the “Inspect” panel.

Click on the “Console” tab and then refresh the page.

Any 404 errors will be listed. A 404 error means that the page could not be found.

In other words, it’s a broken link.

If you want to automate the process of finding broken links, there are a few different tools you can use.

These tools will crawl your website and check all of your links.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to track your website’s performance in Google search results.

One of the many things it can do is show you any 404 errors your website has generated.

Log into Google Search Console and go to Crawl > Crawl Errors. From here, you can see any 404 errors that your website has generated.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a desktop program that can crawl websites and find broken links. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, enter your website’s URL and click Start.

The program will then crawl your website and generate a list of all the internal links it finds.

You can then export this list as a CSV file.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool for tracking your website’s traffic. You can use it to find out which pages on your website generate 404 errors.

Log into Google Analytics and go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search. You can export the list of pages here and crawl them with Screaming Frog.

Once you add the file into Screaming Frog and crawl it, you can see the errors by using pages as a list directly from Google Analytics.

The benefit of doing it this way versus just crawling all pages with Screaming Frog is the ability to prioritize your internal link correction efforts based on pages physically receiving traffic on your site.

How To Fix Broken Internal Links

Once you’ve found the broken internal links on your website, it’s time to fix them.

Here are a few methods you can use:

  • Redirect the link: If the page that the link is pointing to has been moved, you can redirect the link to the new page. This will ensure that users go to the right page, and it won’t damage your website’s SEO.
  • Update the link: If there’s a typo in the URL, or if the link is pointing to the wrong page, you can update it to point to the correct page. Again, this will help improve your website’s SEO.
  • Remove the link: In some cases, it might be best to remove the broken link from your website. This is usually the case if the linked page has been deleted and is no longer available.

You may also want to check Google Analytics reporting to determine which pages receive traffic and prioritize your link removals.

By working on prioritizing these tasks, you can cut your workload to a minimum.

This works well for sites with a few pages receiving many visitors instead of thousands of pages receiving many visitors.

By following these steps, you can find and fix any broken internal links on your website. Doing so will help improve your website’s SEO and keep visitors happy.

Here are some tips on how to find and fix broken internal links:

Use A Link Checker

There are many link checkers available online.

Some are free and some are paid.

A quick Google search will turn up plenty of options.

Check Your Site’s XML Sitemap

If you have an XML sitemap for your website, this is a great way to find broken links.

Download the sitemap, open it in Screaming Frog, and crawl it.

From here, you can see all the links on your website and check to see if any are broken.

Check For Redirects

If you’ve recently moved pages on your website, some of the old links might still point to the old page.

Check with a tool like Screaming Frog.

Just enter your website’s URL and click Start.

The program will then crawl your website and generate a list of all the internal links it finds. You can then export this list as a CSV file.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track your website’s traffic.

You can use it to find out which pages on your website generate 404 errors. Log in to Google Analytics and go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

You should see a list of all the pages on your website and how many times each page has generated a 404 error.

How Do Broken Links Negatively Affect Your SEO?

Broken links can negatively affect your SEO in several ways, from crawling to indexing and simply from people unable to find a page on your site.

If your broken links interfere with any of these processes, you have a problem to correct.

First, Google uses links to crawl the web.

When Google crawls a website, it follows all of the links on the site.

If there are broken links on the site, Google may not be able to crawl the site properly.

This can lead to Google not indexing all of the pages on your website.

The fewer pages on your site that Google can index, the fewer pages of content that your users will see.

If you have many pages of content that are unable to be crawled or indexed, this could lower the quality of your website overall.

Second, links are one metric that Google could use to determine the quality of a website.

If a website has a lot of broken links that are generating many errors, Google may view it as low quality.

This can lead to a lower search engine ranking.

Finally, people use links to navigate the web. Clicking on a link that doesn’t work is frustrating.

This can lead to visitors leaving your site entirely.

Broken Internal Links Are A Headache But Are Often A Neglected SEO Task

Broken internal links can damage your website’s SEO and frustrate visitors.

But by using a link checker and checking your site’s XML sitemap, you can easily find and fix any broken links on your website.

It will help improve your SEO, keep visitors happy, and help avoid potential issues with Google crawling and indexing your website.

So take the time to fix broken internal links, and your website will be better off for it.

if you are interested in original article by Brian Harnish you can find it here

Indexing: A tale of two search engines

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In Part 7 of our Messy SEO series, we look at the differences between Bing and Google’s indexing of MarTech’s content.

Messy SEO is a column covering the nitty-gritty, unpolished tasks involved in the auditing, planning, and optimization of websites, using MarTech’s new domain as a case study.

This installment of “Messy SEO” details my process of working with our team to analyze indexing patterns for MarTech’s pages. In Part 6, we discussed the necessity of creating pillar pages to establish a better site hierarchy and rank for our most relevant topics.

MarTech.org has had many indexing issues since its creation last year. The most pressing one lately is that Google seems to be prioritizing outdated content in the SERPs, meaning many of the (now redirected) Marketing Land and MarTech Today URLs are still populating the index. As a result, the majority of MarTech’s top-performing pages are irrelevant to our brand as it exists today.

One of the ways we’re addressing this issue is by creating pillar pages that center on the main industry topics we cover at MarTech. This will help us establish a hierarchy of relevant topics.

We’ve primarily focused on Google’s indexation throughout this process, neglecting to review the ways other search engines have treated our content. So, we decided to compare the MarTech, Marketing Land, and MarTech Today data from Google with that from Microsoft Bing – and the discrepancies were telling.

Indexing status almost a year after migration and consolidation

Despite many lingering indexing issues, Google has made some adjustments to MarTech’s indexation over the past year. The search engine removed virtually all of our duplicate URLs after we set up our redirects, and a good portion of Marketing Land and MarTech Today pages have been removed as well. However, we’ve recently noticed some interesting performance and indexing trends.

Performance. The majority of the top pages from the past three months in terms of interaction are legacy pages that have little to no relevance to our MarTech brand. Aside from the homepage, the “What is MarTech” page, and our CDP platform page, the top URLs are largely irrelevant to our target audience.

Granted, these articles have been live for years, building up authority on the Marketing Land and MarTech Today domains. But, after almost a year of MarTech being live, it’s odd that there are so many old, less relevant pages sitting at the top of our performance lists – especially when our team has published so much good content since then.

Indexed pages. Google has roughly 29,000 MarTech URLs in its index. The majority of these are relevant links we’ve placed in our sitemaps. However, there are over 7,000 URLs in the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” category. Many of these URLs are irrelevant — a disconcerting number have parameters that look like either tracking code or, in some cases, spam.

URLs with parameters in the index.

The prevalence of URL parameters isn’t surprising, but it’s not clear why Google is including so many of these in the index. The more alarming trend, however, is the number of Marketing Land and MarTech Today URLs that are still in Google’s index as well.

Marketing Land URLs on Google.
MarTech Today URLs on Google.

We know that there are plenty of Marketing Land and MarTech Today URLs online, both in our older pieces of content and on other websites. But it’s strange to see so many still in Google’s index.

Bing’s indexing

Bing’s indexing tells a different story. Though there are still plenty of irrelevant content pieces, they’re much less prominent in the SERPs.

Performance. MarTech’s top-performing pages on Bing look somewhat similar to those on Google. The homepage, “What is MarTech” page, and legacy pages are still there, but we also found one of our more recent news articles in the mix. The importance of the piece to our industry undoubtedly helped bring it to the forefront, but it’s peculiar that Google didn’t treat it the same way.

PageImpressionsClicksAvg. Position
/1.2k1194.75
/10-steps-target-connect-potential-customers-effectively/586275.99
/100-questions-you-must-ask-when-developing-web-site/231174.96
/whats-big-idea-3-fundamentals-successful-digital-creative/408145.36
/what-is-martech/613145.04
/top-10-payment-processing-companies-world/4.6k117.51
/5-roles-need-marketing-team-2-roles-havent-thought/132107.73
/google-to-end-universal-analytics-in-2023/4083.55

MarTech’s top-performing pages on Bing.

This newer article’s numbers are encouraging, but, just like the results on Google, our more relevant topic pages are failing to perform well.

Indexed pages. Bing has indexed fewer of our MarTech pages (roughly 17,000 URLs), which isn’t surprising, given how much smaller it is than Google. However, after analyzing these URLs, we found the ratio of relevant content to irrelevant content to be much lower. We’re not seeing a huge number of indexed URLs with parameters.

The most glaring difference between the two search engines is their indexing of our old domain pages. While Google still retains over 2,000 URLs from Marketing Land and MarTech Today, there are only 143 of these URLs left in Bing’s index.

Marketing Land URLs on Bing.
MarTech Today URLs on Bing.

Yes, Bing had fewer of these pages to begin with, but the inconsistency is still shocking.

A discrepancy between Google and Bing’s indexing

Of the two search engines, it seems Bing is doing a better job of crawling our old URLs and adjusting its index accordingly. This makes sense — there are fewer pages indexed on Bing, so the search engine has less to clean up.

But why is Google holding on to so many of these old URLs? One possible explanation is that it simply hasn’t crawled all of the old URLs yet. This would mean it hasn’t found the 301 redirects we put in place, believing the old sites are still live.

This seems unlikely, however, as we migrated the site almost a year ago. Google has had plenty of time to crawl our pages. Yet, we’re still open to this possibility.

Another explanation could be that there’s a structural issue on the MarTech site that is somehow telling Google the old domains are still live. We’re conducting some deep technical audits at the moment to determine if this is true. Until we know more, we’re going to continue to create good content and do all we can to help it rank higher than the less relevant pages.

Have you noticed discrepancies in indexing between Google and Bing? How are you addressing the issue? Email me at cpatterson@thirddoormedia.com with the subject line “Messy SEO Part 7” to let me know.

You can read full article by Corey Patterson here