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Revenue optimization: 3 ways to get your advertising efforts right

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Any metric outside of revenue is a vanity metric to leadership. Learn how to optimize for what drives pipeline and revenue in advertising.

Marketing departments once believed it was a sales issue if the sales team couldn’t work the leads from marketing.

Today, this is no longer the case.

Optimizing for leads or marketing qualified leads (MQLs) is great, but optimizing for what drives pipeline and revenue is better. 

Marketers exist in a new age where it’s no longer satisfactory only to drive leads alone.

With the available technology and data today, we can do much more than identify hand-raisers to help companies spend their marketing dollars more efficiently and drive revenue.

Just because a channel generates leads doesn’t mean those leads bring value later in your sales funnel. 

When you understand where customers are bringing in revenue vs. where they may need more nurturing before converting, you can create a more holistic media strategy to generate qualified leads that will churn out more income than lead volume alone.

Below are three must-haves for revenue optimization.

1. Tight-knit tracking 

Tracking is essential for reasons that go well beyond reporting.

In this new age of artificial intelligence, it’s vital to feed machine learning the data that will make it do what you desire.

Platforms like Google optimize the data you provide, making it a powerful tool or your worst nightmare. 

Accurately tracking your efforts plays a significant role in your advertising strategy’s success.

Integrating third-party data sources, like Snowflake and Salesforce, with your paid media reporting helps decrease the optimization time against a deeper funnel event, such as MQL, sales accepted lead (SAL) and revenue.

Nonetheless, offline conversion tracking in Google is great for seeing what campaigns drive down-funnel metrics like SALs and closed/won leads. If you’re attributing revenue to these conversions, that’s even better.

If your B2B advertising team is doing lead generation in Google without visibility into where they are going down funnel with offline conversion tracking, they are doing it wrong.

. Understand the customer base 

Marketers should know how users from different channels perform once they are in your sales funnel.

For example, if your average Google search lead value is 4x higher than a lead out of Facebook, how can you use that to prioritize your spending and channel goals?

Understanding your average time to close or how long it takes the lead to turn into revenue will help you only to further optimize toward revenue.

With that said, marketers should avoid reactivity with a down day or week if it can take up to a couple of months for a user to move through the sales funnel.

For example, if it takes two months for a lead to close, you need to give a new campaign or channel at least that long before making abrupt cuts if you aren’t seeing initial revenue. 

Seasonality is also a critical factor to consider. Understand and prioritize the best time of year to capture your high-value users.

Create a plan to warm up those audiences earlier in the year and then nurture them post-initial conversion to move them along the sales funnel.

Targeting the right audience also helps you assign pipeline value to optimize revenue. Having an ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind for your targeting is an underrated piece of the puzzle.

Knowing what kind of people will be buying your product is paramount to getting your advertising efforts right. 

For B2B, you should know their job titles, pain points, tasks and anything that will indicate if your product would make their lives easier. You should also be aware of your sales team’s lead disqualification criteria. 

Will your sales team throw out leads from businesses that don’t meet a revenue threshold?

If so, don’t waste your marketing dollars on those disqualified leads when you can target revenue on other strong advertising channels.

3. Understand the lifetime value of customers 

Teams optimizing for revenue should understand the value of their customers through customer lifetime value.

How can you optimize for revenue if you don’t know who your most valuable customers are? 

Understanding the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer base and your customer acquisition cost (CAC) allows you to perform an LTV:CAC ratio analysis to get the complete picture of how your channel mix is affecting your advertising efforts. 

Say Google is driving significant lead volume but at a .5 LTV:CAC. It might be time to dig a little deeper into Google to see how you can improve Google’s revenue-generating efficiency.

Generally, you’d like to see at least a 3:1 LTV:CAC when measuring this. 

If you are having trouble calculating the LTV of your customers, Hubspot has a great article that can help you with this initial step.

The takeaway

CMOs are asked to demonstrate the value of every dollar put into marketing.

Leads are quickly becoming a metric of a bygone age where marketers could simply pat themselves on the back for a well-done job. 

Today, any metric outside of revenue is a vanity metric to senior and executive leadership outside of marketing, making every dollar to customer acquisition and improving the bottom line. 

Give the platforms the data they need to find the highest-value customers.

By doing so, you’ll empower the optimization of every effort for the success and growth of your organization, giving your CMO a few extra hours of sleep at night.

If you are interested in original article by Madalyn McConnel you can find it here

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Gutenberg-14.6

Gutenberg 14.6 Adds List View for Editing Navigation Block, Introduces New Automatic Color Palette Generator

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Gutenberg 14.6 was released last week with a long list of small but impactful refinements to core blocks and the full-site editing experience. One of the most practical enhancements included in this update is the new list view for editing the Navigation block.

The list view makes it easy for users to reorder navigation items using a drag-and-drop UI. The Navigation block in the content area instantly previews items that are moved in the block inspector.

As part of a larger effort to make it easier to edit Navigation Links off the canvas, this release also adds a new URL field to the Navigation Link inspector controls. Now user can edit the URL from the inspector controls as well as from the main link control.

Version 14.6 also adds a variation picker to the Group block placeholder. When users insert a new Group block, it will now allow them to select from among different variations to set the layout for the block. This makes it significantly easier for users to get started when using a Group block, instead of having to fiddle around to manually assign the desired layout.

One of the most creative features introduced in this release is the new “Randomize colors” feature that will automatically generate color palettes on the fly. It utilizes hue rotations based on the Cubehelix color scheme.

“Hue rotation consists in rotating the hue wheel — such as the one you
might see in a color picker — by a determined amount of degrees, each turn
generating a new color,” Gutenberg contributor Vicente Canales said in the PR for the feature. He also noted that this new feature surfaces “the need for themes to explicitly support style randomization, as well as the need to incorporate a way to define a color’s role within a palette as a way of avoiding getting, for example, palettes where background and foreground don’t contrast, rendering text illegible.”

While randomizing color palettes is a fun feature for users, some theme and plugin developers do not see the need for it to land in core Gutenberg and eventually WordPress.

“Yes, it’s fun, but from a theme designer’s perspective I don’t see an urgent use since the theme designer can provide numerous style variations,” block and theme developer Ellen Bauer commented on the PR. “For the user this provides the same kind of ‘fun feel’, but theme designers would provide an experience that actually works.

“There is so much potential in styles, but not much is published yet. So as a theme builder I feel style export/imports, the option to separate font styles from color styles are much more basic features I would love to have first.”

Newsletter Glue co-founder Lesley Sim agreed that it’s a fun idea but that anyone using a theme will probably rely on the theme’s style variations.

“And that will probably feel like a randomizer to them already,” Sim said. “At least, that’s how I personally view style variations.

“I’d much rather focus on basic features first too, rather than fun ones. Let plugin and theme developers build the fun.”

Other notable features in Gutenberg 14.6 include the following:

Block Toolbar is now hidden when Spacing Visualizer is displayed
New keyboard shortcut for transforming Paragraph block into Heading block
Focal Point handle updated to be more representative of the broader selection area
New “Minimum Height” dimension control is now available for the Group and Post Content block
This update’s performance benchmarks for the site editor and post editor are significantly improved for three out of four metrics over the last release. Check out the release post for a more detailed look at every PR included 14.6.

If you are interested in original article by Sarah Gooding you can find if here

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Outgoing links: Are they beneficial for your site or not?

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When it comes to SEO, some questions divide the industry. The potential benefits of outgoing links is one example. Learn more here.

Google dismisses the idea that outgoing links are considered a direct ranking signal – but tests have proven otherwise.

Who should SEOs believe? Why should we link out at all?

When asked about the impact of outgoing links on “link juice,” Google’s John Mueller flatly ignored the question stating again that any advice containing the term “link juice” should not be taken seriously

Thus, we have to research a little deeper and go back a few years to find out. 

So what’s the difference between outgoing (outbound) and. incoming (inbound) links? 

This infographic by Morningscore explains it pretty well.

Morningscore - Outbound vs. Inbound Links

Most people in the SEO industry and beyond agree that links to your site alias incoming links, also called inbound links or backlinks, matter.

Inbound links are still an important ranking factor on Google. 

While the search engine continuously adds other signals to refine results, the original Google algorithm is based on counting and assessing the value of incoming links.

More complex additions like the RankBrain algorithm or the concept of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) ensure that only usable, credible and content-rich sites get ranked on top.

Yet the ranking itself still heavily relies on good old editorial links – those leading “back” to your site.

But what about outgoing links (i.e., links from your site to others)?

That has been an evergreen debate among SEO practitioners and marketers alike.

Let’s recap what we know about (outgoing) links first.

Mueller repeatedly said that they are not a direct ranking signal. Yet he and many SEOs still advocate linking out.

  • One approach could be called the egoistic one. It assumes that you have to hoard the authority you get from other sites by way of links. Thus, linking out as rarely as possible in order not to lose that authority, link value or “equity”.
  • The other approach (I abide by) is the rather altruistic one. It assumes that the web is built on links (hence hypertext as in hyperlinks) and the more you are interconnected with other sites – both ways – the better. 

Not only beginner-level SEOs are often literally scared to link out. Some experienced SEO experts are also not keen on risking their site authority on outgoing links. Why is that?

There are actually instances when Google penalizes sites for linking out or simply algorithmically reduces their ranking.

Here are a few examples.

Bad neighborhoods

Bad neighborhoods are often websites that are dealing either with adult subjects or gray areas like prescription-free drugs and gambling. They are also referred to as 3P (porn, pills and poker). 

Other obvious examples are so-called “warez” or copyright infringement sites in general. 

That said, even legit but low-quality sites you link to may have some detrimental impact.

“Link schemes” is a Google term describing all kinds of “unnatural” links meant to increase the chances of ranking on Google organically. 

Reciprocal links (I link to you so that you link to me) or link farms (interlinked sites just created, acquired or paid for the links) are common examples. 

Such links may get demoted by Google or lead to an “unnatural links” penalty.

Text link ads or in Google’s words “paid links” are links to other sites you have been paid for one way or another. 

These payments can be sponsorships, donations or free products as well. 

When in doubt, Google may penalize you for outbound links you have received some kind of remuneration for. 

Google wants you to add the “sponsored” attribute to such links. The same procedure also applies to paid reviews you have been asked to place on your site.

User-generated content (UGC)

UGC are comments, forum entries or any type of submitted content without editorial oversight linking out to third-party sites – which are also risky. 

Google advises you to use the “UGC” link attribute on such links. Check all contributions prior to publication ideally.

Guest posts, widgets, infographics, etc.

Over the years, Google has added a lot of common SEO techniques to the list of unnatural link practices. Some widely used link building techniques like guest posts, widgets and infographics were among them. 

Thus, when you have some of those on your site, you are required to use the “nofollow” link attribute on outbound links associated with them.

Broken, or dead links that have been linked out to reputable resources, may overnight become hazardous to your site’s health. 

It’s not just the SEO issues. You also risk your reputation when visitors end up on defunct sites, error pages or parked domains. 

Monitor and fix broken or redirected links regularly. The latter ones can be even more harmful as deceptive sites won’t always send an error code but instead a “200” OK to fool you to link to them.

No wonder many SEO experts got more and more reserved when it comes to linking out. Some of them only link to Wikipedia or the like “for the potential SEO benefit of linking out.”

Others play it safe by adding “nofollow” to all outbound links even though Mueller also stated that there is no benefit in that either.

Despite all the possible pitfalls (I didn’t even list all of them), there are also benefits to linking out – both for Google and also for the website owners who do it.

In 2019, Mueller published an actual video on linking out and why it matters. At 1:19, he specifically encouraged linking to other sites that “offer additional value and more context.”

Given Google’s increased focus on E-A-T criteria in the ranking algorithm, linking out to established sources and experts has additional benefits.

What does that mean specifically?

Proof of authority

How do you prove authority? You literally add the author’s name and short bio, then link out to their website and social media accounts. 

Anonymous posts by “admin” as the default author on WordPress are usually called or outsourced content that has no name attached to it. 

Such content is, of course, far less convincing to potential readers and also Google algorithms.

Citing sources

Even accomplished experts usually rely on the work of others. 

By citing and ideally quoting sources from scholars in academia, journalists and bloggers ensure their expertise is backed up by others. 

Linking out to sources, especially highly credible ones like universities, government agencies or leading publications (think The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal), establishes credibility even if you’re not a world-renowned expert yourself yet.

More resources

No matter how extensively you cover a topic, there is always something to “read more” you haven’t mentioned. This goes beyond just crediting sources. 

Assuming that you have satisfied the reader and they are still interested, you are welcome to add more resources on the subject matter to broaden the scope of your content. 

Linking out to content that elaborates on some aspects you haven’t covered in-depth yet is a good idea to enhance a trustworthy article.

The web in general also benefits from sites actively linking out as sites devoid of outgoing links tend to become dead ends in the worst case.

Luckily, we don’t just have to rely on Google’s words. 

Some SEOs have actively looked for an answer by simply testing whether there is a positive impact of outgoing links. 

And there is!

Opinions are always to be considered with a grain of salt in the SEO world. Actual tests are often more reliable. 

The people of Reboot Online, “a data-driven SEO company,” have tested the potential effect of outbound links or lack thereof – not just once, but twice (first in 2016 and again in 2020).

As we can see above, the test sites which included outgoing links outranked the “stingy” sites that did not contain outgoing links.

Even test results may be biased of course, as the testers expected a positive impact. Reboot Founder Shai Aharony explains his motivation as follows:

“I’m repeatedly astonished at the numerous times we come across the absurd and old fashioned belief that Pagerank should be religiously kept within the site and that any outgoing links are ‘diluting’ your site’s authority…”

While it’s hard to ensure that a test only checks a particular ranking factor or hypothesis, SEO experiments can often provide useful hints for your ongoing optimization efforts. 

In this case, the test has been repeated so that we can be pretty sure that the results are valid. 

Ideally, you also conduct your own tests of course but it’s not an easy feat given the complexity of the current Google ranking algorithm.

Beyond the more or less obvious benefits that even Google spokespeople mention, there are many “social SEO” aspects of outgoing links that can ultimately improve your rankings or at least help you to gain traction in other ways.

Even if you still frown upon linking out to other websites for fear of risking your organic reach, here are some direct benefits of outbound links to be aware of before giving them up completely.

Getting noticed

First of all, when you link to someone – and usually there is a person who runs a website and who may notice – you are “getting out there.”

Especially when you’re new in a given niche, industry or market you want to “say hello” by acknowledging those who came before you. 

When I started a new blog in the past, I would usually make a list of “the best blogs” covering the specific topic the blog was meant to be about. 

As a welcome side effect, those lists not only would draw in other, already-established bloggers to my fairly new publication. They would usually also rank on top of Google for phrases like [(topic) blog].

Looking back at blogging about SEO for 15+ years I have to admit that many of my most valuable connections and often clients have been a direct result of my linking out to someone. 

Of course, numerous links did not get noticed, have been ignored or were acknowledged without any significant reciprocation. 

Yet those that did actually start a conversation and a process of relationship building have helped me a lot over the years. 

This is especially important for “introverts” who usually don’t go to conferences, meetups or trade fairs.

Give and take

Once you link out you give the present of attention, appreciation and often support. Even if you disagree with what you link, the vote has been counted by Google.

We have been primed for mutual aid for literally millions of years so when you receive a gift from someone, you are usually likely to reciprocate sooner or later. At least you are much more open-minded to suggestions down the road. 

Many people in the SEO industry reach out to a list of “100 prospects” and get a response rate of like 2%. Their main mistake is that they are contacting strangers out of the blue and asking for favors right away. 

Even if you don’t enjoy socializing with like-minded individuals working in the same industry, you are thus motivated to be friendly and literally make friends or “build relationships.”

User experience

No single person or even entity is all-knowing. Even Google can’t answer all queries in a satisfactory way. Thus while creating content, we will always rely on other people’s expertise. 

Even if you just rephrase it without directly quoting, you will probably not cover everything in as much depth as possible – so here comes the link. 

You can simply link to other content without having to reinvent the wheel and can stand on the shoulders of giants. This is a much better user experience than letting the visitor hang and not being able to cover the topic extensively enough for every reader. 

Let people read more elsewhere or check out the details you only mention without a lot of background. 

Don’t be afraid that they will leave the site. They will be more likely to return given the positive user experience.

Now that you are considering linking out for SEO or other benefits, you probably ask yourself how to link out to have a positive impact on your site. Follow these tips.

Do not add a ‘nofollow’ when you don’t have to

Some publishers and blogs add nofollow tags to all outgoing links in order to minimize any potential risks of linking out. 

Yet, that’s like saying that all of your content is untrustworthy and lacks editorial control. Not only is there no gain from it, but there is also an additional risk of appearing low quality. 

Make sure to treat each link individually. Add nofollow tags only when needed. 

Editorial links should be treated accordingly – as proper links with no potentially discrediting attributes.

Once you link out you vouch to some extent for the resource you link to. After all, you ensure the validity of the content you effectively recommend. 

Even if you disagree with the information you link to, you at least assign enough importance to it to send your visitors that way. Thus, it’s also advisable to check such links on existing content regularly. 

On WordPress, that task can be automated. Whenever a resource disappears, you have to unlink it or better replace it. 

No tool can warn you when third-party resources become outdated. Thus, it’s a good idea to check manually and regularly so that you don’t link to something that has been debunked or updated by now.

Another common shortcut is just linking out to Wikipedia instead of taking the time and looking up actual sources. That’s almost like saying, “just Google it!”

Most people have searched for a topic to find you and they have probably seen the Wikipedia entry above your result as well. 

They want to learn more, not just find out the basics like the definition of the keyword.

Make sure that the resource you link to offers some “additional value” for the reader. Do not just link out for SEO benefit. 

When someone notices you and ideally shares your content or, in the best case, links back it’s a nice-to-have. 

In the search industry, sometimes, it’s better to link to Google directly (even though they don’t notice or link back) than to a blog that only rehashes the news. 

In other cases, Google has only cryptic announcements you need some explanations on so a third-party blog is better. 

Mention experts by name and ‘ping’ them

When you link out to actual experts from your niche, industry or country you may benefit from their audiences noticing your content as well. 

In the past, WordPress pings ensured that every linked blogger would notice in their comment section. 

As that pingback and trackback features have been abused over the years, most blogs have deactivated that feature. 

You have to notify people manually again, like in the good old days before blogs. Mention experts you included by name and tell them that you linked to their content (on social media or by mail).

If you are interested in original article by Tadeusz Szewczyk you can find it here

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Content-Audit

What is a content audit?

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How is the content on your website performing? What about that blog content you published two months ago? Two years ago?

Is it all helping you meet your goals? Do you know – or do you have no idea?

Then it’s time for a content audit.

What is a content audit? Why should you do one?

A content audit is a systematic review of the content across your site, including:

  • Blogs.
  • Landing pages.
  • Product or service pages.
  • Core content pages.

This review helps you understand whether your content is working to meet your goals, including reaching your desired audience.

But that isn’t all it does.

4 benefits of doing a content audit

1. It shows you which content needs improvement (backed by data)

Besides showing you whether your content is working in general, a content audit also gives you concrete direction on areas you need to improve. 

For example, you might find broken links you weren’t previously aware of, keyword opportunities you’re missing, absent metadata, and other issues you can easily address to improve your content’s usability and search visibility.

2. It gives you a bird’s eye view of your content as a whole

If you have a lot of content on your website, an audit can be a mammoth undertaking. However, completing a content audit is the only way to dig through your entire trove of content and get a true understanding of whether it’s serving your business… or falling flat.

3. A content audit helps you optimize your content so it performs

Even if you have a very small business and not a lot of content, a content audit is still useful. It will help you optimize the content you do have so it performs at its peak.

And content that performs is powerful. 

  • It can convince prospects that your brand is trustworthy: 64% of consumers said they feel a brand is trustworthy after reading a piece of educational content from that brand. (Conductor)
Consumers trust brand content
  • Good content can influence purchase decisions: Consumers were 131% more likely to purchase from a brand with effective content. (Conductor)
  • Optimized content is a lead machine: It brings in 3x the leads of traditional marketing but costs 62% less to maintain. (Demand Metric)

4. It will improve your future content creation

Since a content audit helps you understand what works and what doesn’t (because you’ll see evidence of both across your site!), you can apply this to your future content creation for better results.

When to do a content audit

Now that you know what a content audit is and why you should do one, the next question is when.

When is the best time to do a content audit?

Consider these scenarios:

  • Your website is a few years old, and you’ve never done a content audit before. (You’re probably past due!)
  • You’re building a content strategy, and you want a clear picture of what you’re working with.
  • You’re overhauling your content strategy or redesigning your website.

Basic steps of a content audit

How does a content audit work? The basic steps include setting goals, gathering your content and data points, and critically analyzing what you discover.

Step 1: Set goals

Don’t go into a content audit without a clear objective, otherwise, you won’t know which types of content or data points to focus on. Figure out what you hope to get out of your content audit.

Step 2: Gather, categorize, and organize your content

You need a way to compare and contrast your content pieces, have a bird’s eye view of the data and categorize each piece based on the action you’ll take. 

Step 3: Analyze your content

Look at the data and determine which pieces you’ll update, rewrite, keep, or delete.

Step 4: Make a plan based on your findings

Make a priority list for which content pieces need immediate attention, and make a plan for how you’ll carry out updates and rewrites.

Step 5: Adjust your content strategy

What did you learn from your content audit? Carry that forward into your future content strategy.

Tools to use for a content audit

When you’re ready to do your content audit, there are a few options for how you can collect URLs, data, and metrics and put it all together for optimal analysis.

Here are a few of the tools you might need.

1. A plain old spreadsheet

For a no-frills content audit – or one for a relatively small site – a plain spreadsheet is a good option. 

A spreadsheet will help you lay out your content information and data in an organized way that will make it easier to analyze. 

Blog content audit spreadsheet

This is the lowest-cost way to do a content audit since you don’t need any special tools besides Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Cons: It may be time-consuming to collect all your data manually, especially if you have more than a few dozen content pieces to audit.

2. Analytics software

Analytic data is important to your content audit. This includes metrics like page views, number of internal links and backlinks, bounce rate, time on page, conversion rate, average position on Google, and many more.

You need concrete data about each piece of content so you can decide what action to take moving forward (update, rewrite, delete, or keep as-is).

If you aren’t already tracking your content performance in a tool like Google Analytics, you can pull your various metrics from SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or SEO Site Checkup.

3. Content quality tools

To help you quantify content quality, you may want to use some of these tools to check your content for readability, grammar and word usage, and reading level.

  • Yoast SEO: This tool analyzes your text and provides scores and suggestions to improve readability.
Yoast SEO
  • Grammarly: Besides checking grammar and spelling, the paid version of Grammarly offers performance scoring that can be useful to include in a content audit.
Grammarly performance scores

4. A content inventory tool

If you have a large site, you may need to invest in a content inventory tool to help make your life easier. These tools use your sitemap to grab your content URLs and associated metrics automatically.

A few good options are Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Semrush’s Content Audit Tool.

Types of content audits and their associated goals

While you certainly can audit every single piece of content on your site, it’s a better idea to narrow your focus and complete an audit based on content type and goals.

For example, audit all of your blog content, all of your landing pages, all of your product/service pages, or all of your core content pages. 

After you choose a content type, decide which goal you’re aiming for with your content audit. Here are a few common ones:

1. Goal: SEO

When you approach a content audit with the goal of improving your SEO, you’ll be concerned with how your content pieces are performing in Google. You’ll need to ask yourself if your content pieces are properly optimized for searchers and search engines. Look at:

  • Content quality.
  • Word count.
  • Keyword difficulty and search volume.
  • Average Google position.
  • Organic page views.
  • Content structure and keyword optimization. (Are headers with keywords present? How is the piece organized? Is the focus keyword placed optimally?)

2. Goal: Better engagement and usability

With a goal of improving engagement and usability, your content audit should focus on how your readers interact with your content – and how to increase that engagement. Look at:

  • Social shares.
  • Time on page.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Conversions.
  • Internal links and/or broken links.

Specifically, look at which pieces are earning the most/least engagement, and analyze what’s contributing to that success/failure.

3. Goal: Conversion optimization

Another goal you might shoot for with a content audit is looking at how well your content is converting, and figuring out what needs improvement. You might look at:

  • How well your content addresses each stage of the buyer’s journey, and whether any gaps exist
  • Which pages are converting well vs. which aren’t converting, comparing metrics like:
    • Time on page.
    • Bounce rate.
    • Conversion rate.

What is a content audit? Answer: A necessary piece of your content strategy

A content audit is, quite simply, the only way to understand your content at a few different levels: down in the weeds, and up from a bird’s eye view.

Whether your site is massive or tiny, a content audit can help you understand what you have, what you need, what you don’t need, and what actions you can take in the future to make sure your ecosystem of content is contributing to your goals.

Remember: There isn’t one perfect or set way to do a content audit. Your audit can shift depending on the type of content you’re analyzing and the goals you hope to reach by the audit’s completion. With that in mind, tweak your content audit to suit what your site and content strategy demand.

Finally, don’t shrug aside doing regular content audits. One-and-done will only help your site/business for a limited time. As your content keeps growing, you need to keep taking snapshots of how it’s working, continually tweaking and course correcting.

Content audits are integral to a well-oiled content strategy – don’t neglect this task, and you’ll see results.

If you are interested in original article by Julia McCoy you can find it here

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custom-404s

How To Create A Custom 404 Page In WordPress

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Avoid frustrating your users with 404 pages when creating a custom 404 page on WordPress is easier than ever. Here are several ways to do it.

When navigating a website, few things are more frustrating than landing on a screen with a 404 error, “Page Not Found.”

This issue could cause a user to click away from your website quickly.

To prevent this, you can ensure that your internal page links are correct and working.

But what happens if someone types in the wrong URL or the slug of one of the page links changes?

Unfortunately, it is inevitable for users to end up stumbling across a non-existent URL.

However, you can take steps to help people get back to the page they were looking for so they don’t bounce off of your website.

Why Do I Need A 404 Page?

One way to take the sting out of users becoming misguided and instead create a positive user experience is to add a custom 404 page to your website.

This allows you to provide a little character and personality, perhaps even humor, on your site and a link for them to get back on track.

Additionally, you could add links to other popular pages, such as blogs, or link them to a form if they wanted to report the bad connection that led them to the 404 page.

You might be tempted to have a 404 error instance link to your homepage instead of a custom error page.

This can confuse the user, as they may not realize they had an incorrect URL because they still end up on the homepage.

Redirecting users to the homepage can also affect your SEO, as Google still sees this redirect as a soft-404 error.

According to Google, redirecting all 404 links to your homepage will be an issue. Website owners should always focus on building user-friendly 404 pages.

Setting Up A Custom 404 Page

Depending on the WordPress theme, you have a few options to take advantage of a custom 404 page.

Using a plugin to create a custom 404 page should work well with any up-to-date theme.

Classic WordPress Themes & Block Editor Themes

Option 1: Use Theme’s 404.php

2020 theme 404 pageScreenshot from WordPress Dashboard, September 2022

If you are comfortable working with your website’s PHP files, many themes will already have a template for a 404 page.

  • Step 1: Go to Appearance > Theme File Editor in the WordPress dashboard.
  • Step 2: Select your theme in the dropdown menu and look for the 404.php file.
  • Step 3: Ideally, you’ll want to copy the 404.php to your child theme so that you won’t lose your work with theme updates.
  • Step 4: Personalize the text, and add an image or other elements to make it your own.
  • Step 5: Hit’ Update File’ to save your changes.

Option 2: Copy A 404.php File

Some themes may not include a 404.php file. If this is the case, you can copy a 404.php file over from a different theme, such as Twenty-Twenty, with a 404.php file.

This may require some tweaking to match your theme, but you can customize the 404.php file and save it inside your theme folder.

  • Step 1: Find a theme with a 404 page that you would like to use.
  • Step 2: Navigate into the theme folder for that theme and make a copy of the 404.php file.
  • Step 3: Move the copy into the theme folder of the theme or child theme your site uses, making sure it is called 404.php.
  • Step 4: Look at the 404 page at your site’s front-end to ensure everything looks as you expect.
  • Step 5: You can use the same steps as above for making changes to the file in the Theme File Editor and hit Update File to save your changes.

Option 3: Copy The Index.php File

If your theme does not include a 404.php file, this is another alternative to create one.

  • Step 1: You will need to duplicate the index.php file.
  • Step 2: Rename the duplicate 404.php
  • Step 3: Remove the code used to display posts.
  • Step 4: Personalize the text, and add an image or other elements to make it your own.
  • Step 5: Hit Update File to save your changes.

You will need some PHP and HTML knowledge, but this option means that the 404 page will match your current theme, so it is a bit cleaner than using a 404 page from a different theme.

Create A 404 Page Within A Page Builder

If you are using a WordPress page builder such as Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, or Oxygen, you have the option within the interface of your builder to add a 404 page.

You should consult with your preferred builder’s documentation for more details on where you can adjust the settings to redirect any wrong URLs to your custom 404 page.

Use A 404 Page WordPress Plugin

An easy way to add a custom 404 page to any WordPress site is to use a WordPress 404 page plugin.

404page pluginScreenshot from WordPress.org, September 2022

These plugins will allow you to design the custom 404 page and track 404 errors. Some popular 404 page plugins include:

404page – your smart custom 404 error page – This is an extremely simple 404 page plugin you can use for free. Create a new WordPress page you want to be your custom 404 page. To set this as your custom 404 page, go to ‘Appearance’ in your WordPress dashboard, then navigate to ‘404 Error Page’ and select the page you created, becoming the default 404 page.

SeedProd – This WordPress plugin allows you to create beautiful, lightweight, customized 404 page templates that you can use on your website.

Colorlib 404 Customizer – This free WordPress plugin uses the Live Customizer to easily create a custom 404 page that matches the look of your site.

The settings show up in your WordPress dashboard under Appearance > Customize and allow you to add additional CSS to customize your 404 page further.

Colorlib 404 Customizer plugin

Custom 404 Pro – This WordPress plugin allows you to create a custom 404 page in the Pages section of the WordPress admin dashboard. Additionally, it will enable you to track instances of URLs entered that prompted the 404 page so you can monitor broken links.

Custom 404 Pro pluginScreenshot from WordPress.org, September 2022

Full Site Editing

If you are using a WordPress Full Site Editing Theme, creating a custom 404 page is easier than ever. Go through the following steps to create a custom 404 page for your WordPress website.

It will automatically redirect if someone tries to go to a non-existent page.

  • Step 1: In the WordPress dashboard, click on Appearance, then navigate to the ‘Editor.’
  • Step 2: Under Editor, select Templates.
  • Step 3: Select the 404 template.
  • Step 4: Use the block editor to create your custom 404 page and hit Save.
  • Step 5: Hit Save again to save the template.
FSE Save 404 template

WordPress Custom 404 Pages

A broken link or incorrect URL doesn’t have to be a disaster.

You can make your 404 error page fun and keep the user engaged by providing a link to your homepage or another page of interest on your website.

Creating a custom 404 page on WordPress is easier than ever and should not be overlooked because it enhances the user’s experience.

This page also allows you to track when visitors find your 404 page so that you can correct links or redirect pages when appropriate.

If you want to see some creative 404 pages, go to some of your favorite sites and type in their URL and add a page that you know doesn’t exist to the end.

You’re sure to get some great ideas for your own 404 pages!

If you are interested in original article by Julia Taylor you can find it here

wordpress-vulnerabilities-63712cc468e7b-sej-760x400

Vulnerabilities Discovered in Five WooCommerce WordPress Plugins

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The U.S government National Vulnerability Database (NVD) published warnings of vulnerabilities in five WooCommerce WordPress plugins affecting over 135,000 installations.

Many of the vulnerabilities range in severity to as high as Critical and rated 9.8 on a scale of 1-10.

Every vulnerability was assigned a CVE identity number (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) given to discovered vulnerabilities.

1. Advanced Order Export For WooCommerce

The Advanced Order Export for WooCommerce plugin, installed in over 100,000 websites, is vulnerable to a Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attack.

A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability arises from a flaw in a website plugin that allows an attacker to trick a website user into performing an unintended action.

Website browsers typically contain cookies that tell a website that a user is registered and logged in. An attacker can assume the privilege levels of an admin. This gives the attacker full access to a website, exposes sensitive customer information, and so on.

This specific vulnerability can lead to an export file download. The vulnerability description doesn’t describe what file can be downloaded by an attacker.

Given that the plugin’s purpose is to export WooCommerce order data, it may be reasonable to assume that order data is the kind of file an attacker can access.

The official vulnerability description:

“Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Advanced Order Export For WooCommerce plugin <= 3.3.2 on WordPress leading to export file download.”

The vulnerability affects all versions of the Advanced Order Export for WooCommerce plugin that are less than or equal to version 3.3.2.

The official changelog for the plugin notes that the vulnerability was patched in version 3.3.3.

Read more at the National Vulnerability Database (NVD): CVE-2022-40128

2.  Advanced Dynamic Pricing for WooCommerce

The second affected plugin is the Advanced Dynamic Pricing plugin for WooCommerce which is installed in over 20,000 websites.

This plugin was discovered to have two Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities that affect all plugin versions less than 4.1.6.

The purpose of the plugin is to make it easy for merchants to create discount and pricing rules.

The first vulnerability (CVE-2022-43488) can lead to a “rule type migration.”

That’s somewhat vague. Perhaps an assumption can be made that the vulnerability may have something to do with the ability to change the pricing rules.

The official description provided at the NVD:

“Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Advanced Dynamic Pricing for WooCommerce plugin <= 4.1.5 on WordPress leading to rule type migration.”

Read more at the NVD: CVE-2022-43488

The NVD assigned the second CSRF vulnerability in the Advanced Dynamic Pricing for WooCommerce plugin a CVE number, CVE-2022-43491.

The official NVD description of the vulnerability is:

“Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Advanced Dynamic Pricing for WooCommerce plugin <= 4.1.5 on WordPress leading to plugin settings import.”

The official plugin changelog notes:

“Changelog – 4.1.6 – 2022-10-26

Fixed some CSRF and broken access control vulnerabilities”

Read the official NVD announcement: CVE-2022-43491

3. Advanced Coupons for WooCommerce Coupons plugin

The third affected plugin, Advanced Coupons for WooCommerce Coupons, has over 10,000 installs.

The problem discovered in this plugin is also a CSRF vulnerability and affects all versions less than 4.5.01.

The plugin changelog calls the patch a bug fix?

“4.5.0.1

Bug Fix: The getting started notice dismiss AJAX request has no nonce value.”

The official NVD description is:

“Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Advanced Coupons for WooCommerce Coupons plugin <= 4.5 on WordPress leading to notice dismissal.”

Read more at the NVD: CVE-2022-43481

4. WooCommerce Dropshipping by OPMC – Critical

The fourth affected software is the WooCommerce Dropshipping by OPMC plugin which has over 3,000 installations.

Versions of this plugin less than version 4.4 contain an Unauthenticated SQL injection vulnerability rated 9.8 (on a scale of 1-10) and labeled as Critical.

In general, a SQL injection vulnerability allows an attacker to manipulate the WordPress database and assume admin-level permissions, make changes to the database, erase the database, or even download sensitive data.

The NVD describes this specific plugin vulnerability:

“The WooCommerce Dropshipping WordPress plugin before 4.4 does not properly sanitise and escape a parameter before using it in a SQL statement via a REST endpoint available to unauthenticated users, leading to a SQL injection.”

Read more at the NVD: CVE-2022-3481

Read the official plugin changelog.

5. Role Based Pricing for WooCommerce

The Role Based Pricing for WooCommerce plugin has two Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities. There are 2,000 installations of this plugin.

As mentioned about another plugin, a CSRF vulnerability generally involves an attacker tricking an admin or other user to click a link or perform some other action. That can result in the attacker gaining the user’s website permission levels.

This vulnerability is rated 8.8 High.

The NVD description of the first vulnerability warns:

“The Role Based Pricing for WooCommerce WordPress plugin before 1.6.2 does not have authorisation and proper CSRF checks, and does not validate files to be uploaded, allowing any authenticated users like subscriber to upload arbitrary files, such as PHP”

The following is the official NVD description of the second vulnerability:

“The Role Based Pricing for WooCommerce WordPress plugin before 1.6.3 does not have authorisation and proper CSRF checks, as well as does not validate path given via user input, allowing any authenticated users like subscriber to perform PHAR deserialization attacks when they can upload a file, and a suitable gadget chain is present on the blog”

The official Role Based Pricing for WooCommerce WordPress plugin changelog advises that the plugin is fully patched in version 1.6.2:

“Changelog 2022-10-01 – version 1.6.2

* Fixed the Arbitrary File Upload Vulnerability.

* Fixed the issue of ajax nonce check.”

Read the official NVD documentation:

CVE-2022-3537

CVE-2022-3536

Course of Action

It is considered a good practice to update all vulnerable plugins. It’s also a best practice to back up the site before making any plugin updates and (if possible) to stage the site and test the plugin before updating.

If you are interested in original article by Roger Montti you can find it here