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How Search Intent Modifiers Affect Google SERP Features

Did you know that one or two extra words in a search query can affect the type or types of SERP feature Google shows in its results?

The team at getstat.com recently posted an article titled How SERP Features Respond to Search Intent Modifiers which shows that swapping search intent modifiers can result in dramatic changes to Google SERPs features.

Before we take a closer look at STAT’s search intent data, let’s first define what we mean by search intent modifier.

What is Search Intent?

A basic search intent definition (also referred to search query intent) is determining what a searcher is most likely looking for when they type in a “keyword search” into Google. Often, they will use a search intent modifier to indicate their intent. For example, “buy” to indicate they want to make a purchase or “best” to indicate they want to compare products/service.

Some basic types of search engine user intent including:

  • Informational Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain new knowledge on a topic.
    Search Modifier Examples: how to, what is, how big
  • Commercial Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain more information before purchasing an item (ex. reviews, prices, warranties, etc.)
    Search Modifier Examples: best, compare, top
  • Transactional Intent Based Search – the searcher is ready to make a purchase.
    Search Modifier Examples: buy, coupon, price
  • Local Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking for something specific to their neighborhood or city.
    Search Modifier Examples: near me, close by, specific city names

STAT examined the 20 top SERP results (minus organics) for various search modifiers and compiled the numbers into extremely useful percentage points. For the purposes of this article, we have listed the top three types of SERP features based on their percentage in relation to the number of searches analyzed.

Search modifiers categorized by search intent were used to search on mobile devices in the US. The results provide some useful data for pursuing intent based search engine marketing and optimization. Let’s have a look.

1. SERP Features Triggered by Informational Search Intent Modifiers

No modifiers were used for informational searches, but the results are still interesting. News results came in a surprising 3rd, but given the keyword was found in the article title, this isn’t overwhelmingly unusual.

2. SERP Features Triggered by Commercial Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Commercial keyword modifiers for search intent purposes are found in the table below. I’ve selected the top 3 features for each modifier to highlight those with the most beneficial payoff.

Shopping Boxes led the entire Commercial intent category with the exception of the Compare modifier. What I found somewhat interesting is that Shopping snippets has substantial exposure for the modifiers “Deals” at 85.99% and “Used” at 74.92%.

STATS zeroed in on the potential of Featured Snippets (lists) for keyword modifiers “Best” and “Top”. These percentages are comparatively low and either Google is reluctant to present more of them in SERPs or there simply aren’t enough suitable Featured Snippets (lists) to present. This could be a golden opportunity for strategists focussing on such snippets.

3. SERP Features Triggered by Transactional Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Transactional modifiers for search intent purposes can be found in the table below. As with the Commercial modifiers, I’ve selected the top 3 SERP features found in the results using the modifier to highlight those with the best potential yield.

As STAT indicates, people want to quickly determine how much an item is going to cost – and likely search for the most affordable option. Google seems to feel that Featured Snippets (paragraphs) are an effective way to present this information for the Cost and Price modifiers.

What surprised me is that images were presented to such a large degree where the Price modifier was concerned. One would think at this stage of intent that numbers would supersede images.

4. SERP Features Triggered by Local Search Intent Modifiers

Because STAT only used Chicago and Dallas as local modifiers, there were few results. We see that Shopping, Places, and Images are the most popular type of SERP Feature.

We recommend that you do various searches with local intent for your own city. Search for local businesses, upcoming events, organizations, and so on in your area and see what type of results are shown.

Key Takeaways: Search Intent Optimization –  Planning Modifiers for Your SEO

  1. Examine the results of STAT’s research by focussing on Google’s propensity to post some SERP features above others for specific modifiers that were used. For example:
  • What modifiers do you think searchers could use when looking for your business and what SERP features are shown for those?
  • What modifiers show up in your Google Search Console Search Analytics reports and what SERP features are shown for those?
  1. You likely want to target Commercial, Transactional, and Local modifiers in your SEO Strategy. Be sure that you understand How Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic and How to Avoid Eliminated Featured Snippets.
  2. If images and videos are popular for search modifiers relevant to your business, be sure to have high quality and unique images loaded and optimized on your website. The same goes for uploading videos to YouTube and embedding on your website.

For more information about Advanced SEO Techniques such as search intent marketing and optimization please contact 1st on the List today by calling 1-888-262-6687 or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

3 Ways to Bring Emotion Into Your SEO Content Strategy to Build Brand Awareness and Trust

Emotions are a content marketing tool which SEO’s today can’t overlook. How we feel about a company determines whether or not we are compelled to share information about them and whether or not we bond with their brand.

This is especially true for companies which offer intangible merchandise, such as services. Selling intangibles is based on trust. You can earn that trust through emotional ideas presented through your digital content strategy that are shareable or by incorporating fear into your web content as a means to create an affiliation with your brand.

Did you know? A recent study suggested we’re only capable of 4 basic emotions:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Anger / Disgust
  • Fear / Surprise

Each of these four basic emotions have their place within SEO content strategies for promoting businesses. Consider the following three ways you can incorporate these emotions into your website content strategy.

1. Feelings are Trusted First & Thought About Second

The emotional aspects of our brain process information in 1/5 of the time it takes our cognitive processes to assimilate the same information. We immediately experience elation before we’ve had a chance to acknowledge or evaluate content.

Emotions are directly related to our evolutionary development. Auto-detecting emotions are hard-wired into us. We have learned to trust our emotional aptitude. Those instincts are what keep us safe and motivate us to share events or information with others.

Incorporating emotion into web or Facebook content strategy provides an incentive for visitors to convey your content to family, friends, and associates.

2. Happiness Inspires Social Sharing

Positive articles and images stimulating emotions are trusted and shared more frequently. Affirmative content makes us feel good, compelling us to express our elation to others. This exchange of energy intensifies our pleasure.

Remember the last time you shared a crazy cat video or upbeat story with someone? How did you feel after you pushed Send to email the link?

Selling intangibles is accomplished by developing the premise of trust to establish client relationships. Incorporate upbeat and affirmative ideas and stories when creating a content strategy. Positives are more likely to stimulate site visitors to share this content with others.

3. Safety Inspires Brand Affiliation

People who watch films which incite the feeling of fear experience a closer association with a brand presence (when there are no people nearby with which to share the event). Individuals who watch fearful movies encounter stronger brand affiliation than if they were watching films which evoke sadness, excitement or happiness.

Insurance companies create commercials involving auto accident scenarios to promote their policies. Fire safety equipment companies develop advertisements in which disaster is averted by using their solutions. Alarm companies introduce their merchandise as remedies for home or business break-ins and invasions. They are all using fear to sell their products.

In each instance, the premise of injury and loss are used to incite fear within the potential client. Fear motivates viewers and readers to correlate a solution with a company and enforces their brand awareness. If it is applicable to your company, use fear when developing a content strategy to create bonds with potential customers.

Emotions Gain Trust and are Excellent SEO Content Strategies

Don’t underestimate the power of human instincts. They motivate us to pass messages to others and create strong emotional connections to brands. Provide site visitors with a reason to trust your product or bond with your brand and your marketing efforts become a whole lot easier.

Introducing heartwarming stories into your arsenal of SEO content marketing tools provides site visitors a reason to share with others. In the right setting, inciting fear in your articles (where applicable) can create strong brand associations.

Reputation Marketing is also an important strategy to consider if you’re looking for more business leads. For more details on emotional content strategies for marketing your services, contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687.

Check out some of our other recent SEO Content related articles:

3 Simples Ways Improve Your SEO Content Writing

Several months ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Writing by Karen Hertzberg. It contained valuable information on being frugal with words that has changed the way I think about writing.

Her main idea was to groom your blog and content writing down to the bare minimum. Writing less becomes more appealing to readers. Ideas are presented more clearly. There is less opportunity for confusion. Minimalism helps your content get noticed.

“Writing less becomes more appealing to readers.”

Here are my three takeaways to pass onto you so that you too can improve your SEO content writing skills.

1. Remove Content Qualifiers from SEO Content

User attention span has shortened. Online article volume has increased exponentially. Long, rambling columns lack attraction. Help readers get through your narrative easier. Enhance your theme with fewer words. Say less, mean more.

Shorten content by removing superfluous qualifiers. Get to the point quickly. Waste less of your readers’ time. Some words and phrases to slash include:

  • As much as (phrase)
  • Believe (verb)
  • Can (verb)
  • Could (verb)
  • Like (verb)
  • May (verb)
  • Might (verb)
  • Possibly (adverb)
  • Really (adverb)
  • Up to (adjective)
  • Very (adverb)
  • Virtually (adverb)

Use replacement words and phrases. Dust off your Thesaurus. Use synonyms instead of words in the list above.

2. Eliminate Blog Adverbs, Conjunctions, Empty Phrases from SEO Content

We’ve all used them, sometimes as emphasis. Even to bump up the word count. Words and phrases below are reference points as to what you can exclude from your writing.

  • Actually (adverb)
  • Because of (phrase)
  • Currently (adverb)
  • In order to (phrase)
  • Presently (adverb)
  • Start to (phrase)
  • Suddenly (adverb)
  • That (conjunction)
  • Therefore (adverb)

3. Eradicate Repetition and Tautologies in SEO Content

Needless repetition is unprofessional and lazy. Comb blog and page content for extraneous statements and redundant phrases (tautologies). Dismiss them from your work. Obliterate examples such as those below:

  • 2:00 m. in the morning
  • Added bonus
  • Baby puppy
  • Completely devoid
  • Duplicate copy
  • Final outcome
  • Future prospects
  • Honest truth

Purifying Article Messages

Learning to purge your writing of wasted words will take effort. Gradually remove terms and phrases daily which inhibit clarity. Always evaluate your work and make improvements.

The benefits of doing this can include:

  • Stronger message.
  • Readers grasp concepts faster.
  • Google appreciates succinct content.
  • Ideas are more ordered and simplified.
  • Structure makes your subject matter easier to rank.

For more tips from our SEO content writers check out 16 Insanely Smart Small Business Blog Ideas.

If you have questions about improving the SEO content writing on your website or blog, call us at 1-888-262-6687 or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

11 SEO Title Tag Tips and Tricks You Can Implement Today

Are title tags still valid in the ever-changing world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? More so than ever!

Having well-crafted title tags helps Google assess your page content. This, in turn, results in more accurate exposure for your web page. Exposure equates to better click-through-rates to your website which in turn influences and improves your rankings even more.

Sounds great right? How do you take advantage of using title tags on your website?

Cyrus Shepard presented a great article 7 Title Tag Hacks for Increased Rankings and Traffic in a recent Moz Whiteboard Friday video. In it, he focusses on 7 ways to improve title tags. As he indicated in the video, not all suggestions will work in every scenario. You have to decide which ones might apply to your business and SEO efforts.

In this article, we have taken some of his best suggestions and added our own title tag SEO tips for you.

Before we start, let’s start with a brief explanation of what are title tags and the purpose they serve.

What are Title Tags?

HTML title tags (also called meta tags) are an element of a website page that describe the topic of the website page. The title tag will appear in two places:

  1. Search Engine Result Page

  2. Top bar of the user’s internet browsers

Why Title Tags Matter Today

It used to be that the keywords used in Title Tags were a major ranking factor and heavily influenced how the Search Engines understood and evaluated on the content on your page.

These days, the title tag is still important in suggesting to the Search Engines what the page is about. However, the more important function of the Title Tag is to tell the Searcher what your page is all about and reinforce that your website result has the information that they need.

In this way, title tags are important for both SEO and User Experience.

Now that we understand what title tags are and why they matter, here are our 11 tips for improving your title tag optimization.

1. Use numbers in title tags to attract attention.

SERPs are usually a wall-o-text on which you need to attract a searcher’s attention. For this article, I did a search for “what are title tags”. Scanning the results, I found only one result which included a number in the title: Title Tags and SEO: 3 Golden Rules.

It stood out quite prominently to me. Partly because of the number and partly because of Golden Rules which suggest a proven set of guidelines to follow. Utilizing numbers in your title tags gives you an edge over the competition if they are not using them. Do a little research into whether many of your competitor’s pages are using numbers in their title tags. If they aren’t, try incorporating numbers into yours!

2. Use dates to make your title tag stand out.

Using dates in title tags is also a useful strategy. Quite often when I perform a search, I will include 2017 at the end because I’m attempting to find the most current information on a given topic.

Adding the month or year to your title tag (where relevant) can reassure searchers that your website page is up to date with current information.

For this article, I again searched what are title tags but added 2017 to the end. This brought up numerous results with 2017 in the title tag, many of which had not appeared in the initial results. Try some searches with dates in the title tag you generate to determine if competitors are using them. Try some searches with last year’s date to find examples of pages which ranked well for dates in title tags.

3. Stick to the suggested Google title tag length.

The optimal meta title length is between 50-60 characters. Many title tags in use are either too short or considerably longer than necessary (and as a result get cut off).

According to Shepard’s article mentioned above, Etsy experienced significant increases in ranking by shortening title tags after sampling 8,000 of their pages. It’s a proven measure which should be considered. Shorten your title tags over 60 characters long and add to the title tags that are under 50 characters to bring them more in line with acceptable title tag length limits.

4. Use your brand in the title tag if it is well-recognized.

It can be beneficial to add your brand name to the end of a title tag to add authority to your page. This is a particularly successful title tag strategy for popular brands. Your name instantly adds trust. If your brand is less well-known you may wish to use your title tag real estate for a call to action instead.

5. Incorporate inviting call to actions in your title tags.

Titles which incite the searcher to take action are rare but effective. If you tempt searchers with a new skill to learn, data to download, a unique product to purchase or provide them with something useful which they can use to perform an action, it is more probable they will click on your SERP link.

Action words and phrases such as Download This PDF or Use our white paper to plan your marketing strategy create excitement and incentive to visit your site. Consider what you can afford to give away as an incentive for increased click-throughs and site traffic.

If you are a retailer, you may be able to incorporate any of these purchase benefits to your title tag:

  • Free Shipping
  • Save 25%
  • $10 Off Purchase Over $50

6. Match title tags to search intent.

When you match your keywords with searchers’ intent you increase clicks on your website in Search Results. If I search for what are title tags and I find the exact phrase in the search results I’m more likely to click on the link because it specifically addresses my search terms.

It’s just as important to optimize a title tag for keywords which already bring you traffic which may differ from the keywords you are currently using on the page. Use your Google Search Console query report to determine these phrases and meld them with your intended keywords to increase your chances of success.

7. Attract curious searchers by using questions in your title tags.

Searchers are in effect asking Google questions. If I want to know about title tags I enter what are title tags into Google. Having a question in your title tags content and directly answering the question in your page can potentially win you a featured snippet.

Google likes answers which meet searchers’ criteria. Furnishing the most effective response to a user query is Google’s sole purpose in life. Asking questions in title tags give you an opportunity to provide answers which meet the direct needs of searchers.

8. Avoid using ALL CAPS in your title tags.

Nothing is more annoying than reading titles which are all capital letters. Depending on the font used, all caps can even cause physical discomfort to your eyes. Here’s why.

Our eyes are used to skipping over the tops of letters. We don’t read each letter individually. We visually graze content. Below are the tops of letters contained in a word. Try to figure out the word.

Not much to go on, is it? Because our eyes are so used to skimming the tops of letters, just the upper half of letters, we find it difficult to absorb letters in a word where all caps are present. All cap title tags slow down our reading and our ability to absorb the intended message.

Now, if we take the same word and capitalize just the first letter it immediately becomes easier to read and identify.

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Capitalizing just the first letter of each word in a title tag is the most convenient way to emphasize a title tag without making it difficult to read. Leave any articles in lower case as well such as the, a, an, etc..

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Make sure your title tags are easy to read and absorb. The average reader online only skims titles and article content. Make yours stand out through simplicity.

9. Pay close attention to word order in your title tags.

Make your title tags easy to scan by placing important keywords near the front. This ensures users (and Google) understand the essence of your content immediately and can pick out the title of your article more readily on the SERP page.

Adding your keywords as an afterthought to the end of the title tag loses impact. It also forces the searcher to read through each SERP entry to determine which one best reflects their needs. Keywords placed near the front of the title tag make this process much easier.

10. Avoid duplicate title tags.

Not only should every page on your website have its own unique title tag, you should also look at the title tags for other website pages competing for the click in the Search Result. Make sure that your title tag says something different and unique. What makes your title tag stand out from the rest?

Being different is what will you get the visitor click.

11. Remember, your title tags will also appear on social networks.

When an article is shared on social networks, the title tag is often displayed. This provides readers with an opportunity to quickly grasp the content.

Making your title tags clear and easy to read by following the tips and tricks can improve the visibility of your website in Search Results and increase the level of traffic to your website pages.

Do your title tags need revitalization? 1st on the List improves title tag clarity through keyword research and title tag strategies developed through years of experience. Call us today at 1-888-262-6687.

Check out some of our other articles that discuss the topic of title tags:

 

How To Do Hyperlocal SEO Keyword Research

Even with keyword research tools in hand, doing Hyperlocal Keyword Research is a challenging venture.

Simply put, there’s not enough data available in most keyword research tools to provide definitive results for small businesses in humble locations.

Before we dive into this article, let’s first explain what we mean by “keyword research”.

Keyword research is the process of discovering what search queries people are typing into Search Engines like Google to find the types of products, services, or information you promote on your website. By bringing the content and words used on your website in line with what people are actually searching for you are optimizing your website.

There are plenty of keyword research tools available to determine how many times a specific phrase is searched, how many other websites mention the keyword, and how competitive the keyword is. These tools are great, but even the best keyword research tools lack data when it comes to very specific local areas – what we refer to as hyperlocal keyword research.

In a recent Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin presents 3 Tactics for Hyperlocal Keywords for Local SEO in data-deprived locations.

In this article, I’ve outlined Fishkin’s three suggestions and then added three of my own ideas for SEOs working in the often-frustrating digital space of small centres.

1) Use Numbers from Nearby Regional Data

Rand suggests using data for larger centres in close proximity to your focus area as a stepping stone for ideas. He argues that searches in more populated areas could provide results that would likely be just as applicable to the geographically similar but more modest location.

2) Rely on Google Autosuggest

Presuming that Google presents autosuggested results in order of usage popularity, they can certainly provide a foundation for close examination. And, as suggested, they aren’t unique to Google, which means the information you glean from other search engines may be just as useful when comprehensively investigating keywords.

3) Explore Lexical Vs. SERP Suggestions

Lexical searching involves using semantically-related search terms. Presumably one would crack their Thesaurus open for this method, and hunker down for a few hours exploring all the possible variations of the keywords being explored. Often, this can bring up volumes of very unique and surprising results and in this way do what is called long tail keyword research.

SERP suggestions can be a lucrative source of related keywords used to search for the same item. Sometimes, very slight changes in phrasing or presentation from the suggestions can win you SERP placements you might not otherwise have thought possible. All variations are worth exploring.

4) Consider Regionalisms Vs. Common Terms

This is one area of keyword research that I don’t believe receives enough attention. Examining language variations by region (East Coast) provides a whole new set of search terms from those commonly used on the other side of the country (West Coast).

I’ll give you some examples which show researching regionally specific word variations before you begin serious local keyword investigation can be more fruitful than one might imagine.

Let’s say you are an SEO client that sells small boats which sailors tow behind or often store on their vessels. These tiny boats are used for emergency purposes as well as for shuttling food, water, fuel, and other necessities between the shore and the sailing vessel. You want better global representation for the watercraft you produce.

What name would you use for the vessel? And how would you do keyword research for the vessel name? Examining your regionalisms is where you need to start.

Below are some regional and global specific names for the same vessel:

Cockleshell (UK)
Sampan (Asian)
Skiff (UK)
Tender (AUS)
Wherry (UK)

Have any idea what I’m talking about?

Here’s a hint. Where I live (Canada), it might be called a Dinghy. Did you have an aha moment? I sure did! I could suddenly picture the vessel in my mind. Your customers will only be able to do that if you use Regional terms with which they are familiar.

5) Expand Your Keyword Horizons

Local keyword research doesn’t just mean trying search terms you might use yourself if searching for a specific item or service in the area in which you live. It depends a great deal on the regional phrases used in the area being promoted. Products and services are called different names in different locales. People who live in those locations are going to use search terms with which they are familiar. Make sure your SEO firm is aware of any regionalisms used to describe your products or services. Otherwise, you may be circumventing the local market entirely.

Regionalisms are evident across the US for many things, particularly food. Although several years old, a good follow up article after you finish reading this one is Selecting Keyword Variations Based on Gender, Age, and Region. It will give you an excellent starting point to determine how products or services might be researched in varying location-specific searches across North America.

6) Drop the Industry Jargon

This suggestion isn’t specific to just hyperlocal markets but it is still very important to think about when doing your keyword research. Stop researching industry jargon phrases and terms that only people within your trade would use.

What you call one product or service may be much different than what your actual consumers think they are looking for.

As you do your keyword research, stop and think about all the phone calls and in person experiences you’ve had with customers. What words do they use to describe the product, service or solution they are looking for?

That’s where your keyword research should start.

Moving Hyperlocal Keyword Research Forward

Once you’ve determined the regional variations you can then begin dialing-in some specific Google searches and going through points 1 – 3 above. You’ll most definitely discover a wider range of search terms through which you can pursue hyperlocal SEO aspirations.

If you’d like more information on Local SEO keyword research strategies or to inquire about how our professional keyword research strategies could benefit your company, contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687!

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1st on the List President Chris Genge Featured in Media Shower’s Expert Interview

We were recently asked to participate in an Expert Interview series with Media Shower, a Boston-based content marketing company focused on making content better. Since content plays a huge role in Search Engine Optimization (both from a visitor and Search Engine perspective) we thought this would be a great conversation.

In the interview, Chris Genge was asked several questions about current SEO best practices and what it takes for a website to rank in the Search Engines. Here are just some snippets of the interview.

Finish this sentence: “If a company’s goal is to truly be ‘first on the list’ of search engine rankings, the most important step they should take is…”

…being all in and fully committed to obtaining results. SEO is about doing as much right as possible, both on and off your website. Rankings are a cumulative total of over 200 factors that search engines evaluate. This is why SEO needs to be implemented into all operations of a company and the SEO mindset needs to flow throughout all departments.

What are some of the important qualities of an effective pay-per-click (PPC) campaign?

The most important one that comes to mind is proper conversion tracking. Accurate conversion data is crucial to making the right decisions for the direction and success of your PPC campaign. Some conversions are easier to track, such as on online purchase or even phone calls. But what if someone clicks on your ad, visits your website, and then goes to one of your stores a few weeks later to make a purchase?

How do you think SEO will change or evolve over the next several years?

One of the biggest changes in SEO we are seeing is how people search and the fact that Google wants to provide the very best and most relevant search result. It used to be that we typed in short keyword phrases, and SEO focused on optimizing for those specific keywords. Now, people are typing long strings of words into the search box and searching through voice-activated search or on their mobile devices … As a result, SEO has already started moving away from specific keywords toward answering questions and statement type searchers.

Check out the full interview and all of Chris’ answers on Media Shower.

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7 Reasons Internal Link Structure of Your Website Matters for SEO

What kind of tools do you give your website visitors to find more relevant information on your website other than the first page they land on? Are the Search Engines finding every page on your website and understanding how your pages are related?

Internal link structure can address both of these issues, plus others. When we talk about internal link structure we are referring to the links within one page’s content that lead site visitors to other pages of the website with similar or related content. Not only do these links help visitors but there is also value in internal link structure for SEO.

What is Link Structure in SEO?

Before we go further into why internal link structure of a website matters, let’s first talk about link structure for SEO. Links are one of the most important factors that Search Engines like Google look at when deciding how to rank your website. An internal link is simply a link on your website page that goes to another website page on your website. These internal links help both your visitors navigate through your website and help the Search Engines establish your Site architecture or hierarchy, which is how your pages are related. If needed, review How the Search Engines View Linking before continuing on.

Here are 7 ways the hyperlinks and link structure of your website can help improve your SEO, visitor behavior, website rankings.

1. Link Structure Creates Ease of Access

A visitor lands on one of your site pages. After skimming or thoroughly reading the content, they may want more information. Providing links within the content directly to similar or supporting documentation makes it easy for them to maneuver around your site based on their needs. Learn more on how SEO and User Experience Work Together.

2. Link Structure Helps Googles Crawlers Find All Website Pages

Websites with poor internal link structures can be more difficult for crawler bots to follow. Providing internal links between pages makes it easier for Search Engine crawlers to analyze your website and index/rank all your pages. New pages can compel the bot to crawl them, and also re-crawl the accompanying pages to which you have linked. Learn more by reading Understanding Crawl Budgets and How to Increase Your Website Crawl Budget with Google.

3. Link Structure Increases Page Strength

Links pointing to your site from authoritative websites can improve your ranking. That is what we refer to as an external link or a backlink. Visitors who arrive through these external links may choose to then follow your internal links to other pages on your website. Theoretically, your internally linked pages from the original page can benefit by accumulating more exposure and potentially acquire direct links of their own.

4. Link Structure Utilizes Anchor Text

The anchor text you use for the link indicates to the visitor what the page is about and can have some SEO benefit for when the Search Engines crawl the page. Make sure your anchor text is relevant to the content found on the subsequent page. Using the page title or a relevant keyword phrase can be useful and easily understandable. You can find more details in the article What Does it Take to Rank #1 on Google?

5. Link Structure Points Upward and Non-Circular

In general, a best practice for SEO is to have your internal links point upward to their parent page. In this way, you are pushing link juice or link credit from pages deep within your site to your main pages. For example, on a renovation company’s website they may have their Kitchen Renovations page link to their Home Renovations page which then links to their Homepage.

Another best practice is to avoid circular internal linking that can cause the visitor to click in circles and get frustrated. This circular linking can also cancel out the link juice you are trying to structure.

6. Link Structure Requires Review and Updating

Run a quick link structure analysis and examine the status of internal links from existing site pages. Make sure that these links:

  • Are still active – do not 404, do not rely on a 301 redirect.
  • Are still relevant – have current pricing, product features, service list, etc.
  • Are still the most useful page on the site – have you since created a better more useful page?

Update old links with new links to more current content, and similarly connect your latest content to your more dated pieces, rejuvenating interest in them. If you are thinking of updating or changing link structure soon be sure to read the article Top 8 Ways to Rejuvenate Old SEO Content for New Exposure.

7. Link Structure Relies on Content

How many links you should provide from one page to another is going to depend on the length of the original page, and the number of suitable pages to which you can link. Do some internal research before you post the item and arrive at a number that makes sense for your readership.

A Little Link Structure Optimization Goes a Long Way!

Remember:

  1. Users have a much better experience on websites that provide relevant internal links from one page to another.
  2. Effective link descriptions (anchor text) make users aware of where they are going and can help with SEO.
  3. Internal link structure helps Search Engine robots find all the pages on your site, preventing any “orphaned” or unlinked pages.

For more information on link structure for your website contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687 or contact@1stonthelist.ca.

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Can Grammar Issues Eliminate Featured Snippets in Google Search?

Recently Britney Muller of Moz Blog indicated in a brief article titled Does Google Drop Featured Snippets Over Typos? on the Search Engine RoundTable site that a simple typographical error was the probable cause behind Moz losing a featured snippet.

When the error was corrected, Moz reportedly regained the featured snippet in search. As mentioned in the Moz article, the only entity that could confirm or deny this activity would be Google themselves. Without their input we can only speculate.

So do typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar issues stop featured snippets from showing Google Search?

In the instance experienced by Moz, the difference between the word choose and the word chose was the underlying cause. In the article, it only indicates that “…the page had a typo, a spelling mistake.” It wasn’t specified if that spelling mistake was in the page content, in the page URL, or both. That doesn’t provide us with enough information. Here’s what I think happened.

Grammatical Errors Change Featured Snippet Context

If the URL was spelled correctly, but the on-page content was not (or vice versa), I could see Google having grammatical issues with the page vs. the URL.

Choose = (verb) Simple present tense and future tense

Chose = (verb) Simple past tense

The difference in tenses might suggest that Google interpreted the feature snippet compared to the URL. One of them was not linguistically correct.

Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets Linguistics

Most of us may not think a simple typo should warrant the change that Moz experienced. However, Google has teams of linguists working to correct just such grammatical errors. It’s possible that Moz experienced one of the changes that Google initiated based on recommendations from their linguistic staff.

In a Quora post titled What do linguists at Google do? from 2014, Dave Orr (a Google employee at that time) responded:

“If you have a working system, it will get stuff wrong. What is it getting wrong and why, and how do we fix it? Linguists help answer those questions.”

Eliminate Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets

Grammatical errors should probably be a concern for anyone writing content for SEO purposes. Muller hypothesizes that Google could have just been doing some testing, which altered the listing temporarily.

However, on a larger scale in the grand scheme of things we know that Google is constantly striving for better quality content. Behind Google’s masterminding stands a team of linguists. We should all be striving to make our content more grammatically correct and typo-free to appease the experts on this team.

Correct Grammatical Errors in Featured Snippet SEO Content

If you ever have to ask yourself the question “Why did we lose a Featured Snippet?”, it should not be because of a typo, or because past tense was used instead of simple present tense. Content has to become linguistically-friendly if we expect it to fly through Google’s ever-widening bevy of tests.

Give yourself a head start on the daunting linguistic issues by using programs such as Grammarly, Hemingway App, and a host of others to check, recheck, and triple check your content before posting.

Your site visitors will appreciate clear, concise, grammatically correct content. So will Google. To adequately serve both of these masters, you will need to set up your writing skills to match the ever-evolving world of SEO.

If your content needs a literary boost, call 1st on the List today for more information on SEO Content writing at 1-888-262-6687.

Quality SEO Content Checklist

We’ve all heard the term “Content is King” but are we actually writing content that deserves royal treatment?

Content needs to be original, desirable and relevant but are there more concrete quality content guidelines to use while writing?

At 1st on the List we’ve compiled this quick quality content checklist to help you write great content that is appealing for both your visitors and for the Search Engines in a post Google Panda world.

  • Write with a specific purpose and audience in mind, from start to finish.
  • Help the reader complete a task or answer a question.
  • Make sure your content includes all the information your reader may be looking for about the topic.
  • Make the content relevant and timely.
  • Write content in a voice that represents your brand and keep a consistent style of writing.
  • Write for your audience and not your peers; stay away from industry jargon.
  • Stay on topic; each sentence should have a purpose.
  • Write without promoting yourself or coming off as too salesy.
  • Link to good sources.
  • Double check all your facts, stats and sources.
  • Organize text into sections with headers, quotes, bullet points and so on, with plenty of white space, so that it is visually appealing.
  • Make the content easy to scan as readers will read as little as 20% of the words on the page.
  • Write a clear and concise Title to catch attention and indicate what content is about.
  • Be sure to proofread multiple times and ask someone else to proofread once you think it’s perfect.
  • Provide clear action statements to encourage readers to take a next step.
  • Make the content easy for readers to share through Social Platforms.
  • Organize text into thematic sections with synonyms, related terms and phrases.
  • Write a strong Meta Title and Description that isn’t too long or short for the SERPs.
  • Don’t overuse your primary keyword for the sake of SEO; be sure to use related terms and synonyms.
  • Clearly define yourself as the author on the page for both readers and Search Engines to recognize.
  • Make sure your content is 100% unique and provides unique value not found anywhere else. Is your content adding anything new and of interest to the Internet or is it just rewriting someone else’s thoughts?
  • Aim for a minimum of 300 words, depending on the type of content you are creating, and strive for 1,000 words; never compromise quality for quantity.

And of course, you can always refer to Google’s guidelines of high quality content to see how your writing measures up. Some of their hardest questions to ask yourself as a writer are:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Do you need assistance writing content for your website or optimizing and improving the existing content on our website? Give our Professional Copy Writers a call at 1-888-262-6687 or fill out our quick form to get in touch today.

Please Note: This article was originally published January 19, 2015 and has since been updated to reflect current SEO content best practices. 

Here are some additional recent SEO Content articles:

3 Ways Chronology Cuts Out the Competition and Boosts Rankings

Nothing is more frustrating when you’re attempting to research a current topic than getting results that are clearly outdated. I’m constantly adding dates to the beginning or the end of my search terms yet it can still be hard to find good results. I suspect that’s because few companies consider the year or the month in their page content strategies.

Adding the year or date information right into your page (title, headings, text, and even meta data that appears in Search Results) can help you outrank competitors for a far less competitive space and tell searchers your content is up to date.

This is a tactic that Rand Fishkin suggested in his whiteboard Friday post on February 10, 2017. With some research, ingenuity, and a keen competitive eye, you too could use this rarely addressed SEO strategy to gather traffic.

Here are three ways chronology can cut out a lot of the competition and boost your rankings and traffic.

1. Answers a search need that isn’t being met.

It wouldn’t make sense to search “Best Headphones of 2018” when our calendars remind us it’s still 2017. But as the early part of 2017 is already underway it will become more progressively plausible to search BEST Headphones of 2017. Early in the year there will be few others using the 2017 appendage in their content. As the year comes to a close though, the “Top 2017” lists will start spreading like wildfire. If your content includes the month or the year, you’ll be well on your way to providing Search Engines with terms that few competitors are even considering.

2. Uses less competitive, more focused phrases that are easier to rank.

The term “best headphones” will be much more competitive than the more specific term “best headphones of 2017”. Including references to the year or month should provide you with more opportunities with which to rank where few other competitors are trying to rank. Down the road, competitors may also begin using your tactics, but by then you’ll likely have acquired enough authoritative traffic to maintain a coveted position.

Fishkin suggests starting your research out with non-dated keywords (ex. best headphones) and then adding the current date to the beginning or end of the keyword (2017 best headphones, best headphones 2017). You can also funnel down and go back in time and look at search volumes for the search term in the previous year (best headphones 2015, best headphones 2016) to see how popular those terms were.

3. Establishes your authority on the topic early on.

Whatever time period you decide to use, getting in early (whether early in the month or early in the year) will likely provide a better chance of ranking before competitors catch on. Your new page will be indexed and start ranking in a time when there is less competition. This also allows your page to build credibility with the Search Engines.

One additional tip is to remember to go back and revisit old dated pages. Did your “Best Headphones 2015” page get a lot of views? Why not recreate one for the coming year?

If you have any questions about your SEO plans for 2017, give 1st on the List a call at 1-888-262-6687.