Category Archives for Search Engine Optimization

Screaming Frog v10 force directed directory graph in purple

New Toy! Screaming Frog version 10 review

If you are a SEO you know of Screaming Frog, a tool used to analysis a website by crawling each page on the site as a search spider would. Screaming Frog just released version 10, a major enhancement that just may make it my new favorite toy.

Embracing the Concept of Indexable

One of my biggest beefs with Screaming Frog has been that it didn’t have the concept of indexability. Let me illustrate what I mean by this with an example.

When you crawl a website with Screaming Frog, it organizes the results into tabs that align with on page elements important for SEO. The titles tab lists the URLs and the title tags found on the page which then can be filtered for potential SEO issues such as duplicate title tags.

It’s frustrating to see a list of pages with duplicate titles only to investigate and find out they have been addressed with the canonical tag. If only Screaming Frog understood the concept of indexability and showed me only duplicate titles that have not been addressed. Other crawlers such as Deep Crawl and OnCrawl do this, why not Screaming Frog?

In version 10 Screaming Frog has addressed this shortcoming. In most of the tabs you’ll find two new fields, Indexability and Indexability Status. The first field is set by the crawl to either “Indexable” or “Non-Indexable”, the second field will tell you why Screaming Frog considers the page Non-Indexable. For example the status field could be set to “Canonicalised” (Screaming Frog is a British company, hence the “s” instead of “z”) indicating that the page is not indexable because there is a pointer to a “canonical” (or representative) page of a group of pages.

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Forget Page Load Time, Say Hello to First Meaningful Paint

If I were to tell you that your homepage loads in 10 seconds, would you worry? After all there is study after study concluding that site visitors get impatient and leave if a site doesn’t load in 3 seconds.

So is a total page load time of 10 seconds a showstopper? It depends.

The challenge we have when it comes to page speed and websites today, is that web pages are getting more complex, more image rich, all which takes a toll on page load time.

A straight forward simple HTML page of text from the 90s will load much more quickly, but your user might just leave anyway out of boredom. So what do we do? We really can’t turn back the clock.

The answer is that you optimize your page speed for above the fold.

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Domain Management

Domain Forwarding and SEO

Updated March 5, 2018

Ever worked with a lead management marketing system? There are many out there, for a monthly fee, you get a website complete with a choice of landing pages, auto-responders (often prewritten for you) and a contact management system. They work well with online advertising; where your banner, PPC ads drive traffic directly to your pre-built landing pages, generating leads for you.

So what about setting up your own domain and pointing it to your marketing system? Not a problem, for $10 or so, you buy a domain and then forward it to your marketing system URL.

This won’t cause any SEO problems for my new domain, right? Well, “it depends”.

Little did I know that when I wrote those words in 2011 I would get a flood of questions about Domains, SEO and redirects! This expanded post will help answer them!

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Website Builder Components

Squarespace SEO Review

Since my SEO review of WiX attracted a lot of attention, today I’m doing another review of another popular website builder, Squarespace.

As with WiX, Squarespace also offers beautiful templates that makes it easy to create a professional looking website without paying big bucks to a developer to create it for you.

The flip side with any of these website builders is that you lose the ability to completely customize your site, including in some cases, the ability to fine tune certain on page SEO factors.

But when it comes to Squarespace, we aren’t talking about a big brand with an equally big budget looking to capitalize on every competitive SEO edge possible. The typical Squarespace user is a small business that needs “good enough” SEO.

So the question is, is Squarespace “good enough” and what are some of the “must knows” when it comes to SEO and Squarespace?

That’s what I’m going to cover in this post.

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Casual Conversation about SEO with Gary Illyes

A Conversation with Gary Illyes

I had the great privilege to have coffee with Gary Illyes (@methode), a Google webmaster trends analyst dedicated to creating a better search experience for users. Well known in the SEO industry, Gary often speaks at search conferences and is frequently interviewed and quoted in the major SEO blogs.

Most interviews with Gary focus on big changes at Google, such as mobile first indexing (which yes, is still coming). These are important but tend to be a higher level conversation. I wanted to ask Gary more tactical questions related to current issues I’m seeing in the daily work I do as a SEO. So the below dialog covers JavaScript, International SEO, GSC URL parameters, a potential change to robots.txt and more. If you have an interest in technical SEO, there should definitely be a nugget or two of interest. So keep reading!

The image above is the upper portion of a lovely painting titled “Casual Conversations” by Richard Rappaport (Own work) [license CC BY-SA 4.0], the full image can be found on the Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of Casual Conversations …..

One thing I do want to make clear is that the Q and A below is not an exact transcription. It was derived from the gist of our conversation and I’ve paraphased, but I’ve done my best to accurately reflect his comments.

Now that is out of the way, let’s dive in.

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New Google Search Console Performance Dashboard

New Google Search Console is here!

On January 8, 2018, Google announced that the new Google Search Console will be rolling out to all users. This new version has been in beta for a few months, soon it will be available to everyone.

One very exciting aspect of the new GSC is that keyword and ranking data will be available for up to 16 months! A big improvement over the old limited 90 days of data that we used to get.

Keep an eye out for an email from Google with the subject “Introducing the new Google Search Console” that will notify you when you have access.

Introducing the new Google Search Console

I have a client that has access so I took a tour and have screenshots to share with you in this post.

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beautiful front door

SEO Copywriting: A Powerful Combination You Need To Master

Having a perfectly optimized site for SEO is a beautiful thing.

  • The search engines have no problem crawling it
  • Your site has no baggage like duplicate content or missing title tags
  • Your pages are ranking for the right keywords
  • And your users are not leaving in frustration because your site renders quickly on a mobile device.

So why aren’t more visitors flocking to your site?

One possible overlooked reason is that you are just not getting the click.

Is your front door scaring visitors away?

There is a reason that realtors like to see a nice front door for the house they are selling. It sets the tone for the rest of the house and leaves a lasting first impression.

A ugly front door? Not a great first impression.

Ugly and scary front door

A freshly painted door that has a nice design? The potential buyer starts dreaming of living there even before opening the door.

Each of your site’s web pages has a front door. Called snippets, these are the listings in the search engine results pages.

If you are familiar with SEO, you know that, that in most cases, the snippets are created from the title tag and meta description tag.

You also probably know that it’s important to have your keywords in both of these tags. While the meta description tag doesn’t help you rank, when it comes to your title tag it is the most important element of your HTML for ranking.

Neither the title tag or the meta description actually show up on the page. They live in the “HEAD” section of your html along with other meta information that describe the page and its characteristics.

You can see your title tag in your browser tab just like in the screenshot below.

example-title-tag

As a SEO consultant I work everyday with clients to help their sites get more organic traffic by ranking highly in the search engine results pages. I’m often surprised at how often my clients don’t look at their “front doors” for their site.

It’s like dressing up the bathrooms with pretty towels but not doing anything about your dingy front door. If your prospective buyer drives by your house and crosses it off the list due to poor curb appeal, then those pretty towels haven’t helped you make your sale one bit.

Seeing a list of your “front doors”

Both Google and Bing have a handy command you can use with search to get a list of your pages snippets.

Simply add “site:” in front of your domain name and you should see a list of your website’s pages. If you have a larger site you likely won’t get a full list but you’ll see a sample.

Site: example

The first thing to check is to make sure you have keywords in your snippets.

The second thing is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal prospect and for each of your important pages ask yourself the question:

“Would I click on this?”

If the answer is “no” or “maybe” then you have some work to do.

And this is where SEO copywriting comes in.

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Outbound links: 4 best practices

Do Outbound Links Help or Hurt SEO? 4 Best Practices.

Updated for 2017.

Recently an email from a top media site was shared with me:

“…we would really rather not edit the links in our author bios to “follows” from “nofollow.” With the number of contributed articles (and articles, period) that we publish every day, we are leaking SEO authority with every “follow” link we allow.”

At the time I saw this email I was surprised, I had thought that the notion that outbound linking “leaks” link juice from a site had died a deserved death many years ago.

Myth or Reality: Outbound links bad for SEO

Myth or Fact? Outbound Links are Bad for SEO

To understand the reasoning behind this, it’s helpful to understand that each site is assigned a certain amount of SEO authority that flows from the home page through first the links on the home page and then through out the rest of the site. So does make some logical sense that you are losing SEO authority when you link out to external site.

However most SEOs believe this is a myth.

What is an outbound link?

An outbound link is a link that links outside of your domain to an external site. When a visitor clicks on an outbound link, they will leave your site, this is why some websites open external links in a new browser window. Conversely inbound links (often referred to as backlinks) are incoming links from other sites to yours.

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car speeding at night as a metaphor for site speed

Site Speed for Dummies – How to Get Started

You know the performance of your site matters. But everytime you venture into site speed optimization you feel like you stumbled into a land of foreign geek speak.

Unfortunately site speed is a complex topic and technical (“Configure Entity Tags” anyone?). Some changes can require a web developer to implement the changes. With this post you’ll understand better where performance problems can crop up so you can have a better conversation with your developer. We’ll also cover the low hanging fruit that you can tackle on your own as well as the tools you’ll need to get started.

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Website Builder graphic

Is WiX SEO Friendly? A 2017 Update

Wix LogoAlthough WordPress is my preferred platform, I’ll provide SEO and digital marketing consulting on any site built in any technology. I’ve looked at sites built in Adobe CQ, Magento, Joomla, as well as many sites built using an in house custom CMS (content management system).

I’ve also looked at many WiX sites. WiX is a popular website builder that enables the non geek to build very nice looking websites. You can see the attraction; point and click, drag and drop, and presto you have a website! But what about SEO?

This post has been extensively rewritten to bring it up to date – March 4, 2017

When I first wrote this post in 2015 (and even when I updated it in 2016) my answer to the question “Is WiX SEO friendly?” was a definite NO. WiX had significant problems when it came to SEO.

Today WiX has significantly improved and I’m no longer recommending against it.

However there are some few remaining SEO problems with WiX that you should be aware of. And just because the platform has improved doesn’t mean your site is SEO optimized, you have to make sure you use WiX’s SEO features wisely to have the best chance of ranking well.

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