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How to grab featured snippet rankings with zero link building effort

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Featured snippets, also known as “position zero” placements on Google, have been receiving their fair share of glory and blame lately. 

While some big corporations like Forbes went ahead and questioned if Google is stealing traffic with the featured snippet, content creators like me have found it easy to get more traffic, thanks to being able to rank small sites on a featured snippet.

This post will give you a brief idea on how you can rank a page on Google’s featured snippet — without building any links to that page.

Understand the types

There are three major types of featured snippets that you can go for. As most of our clients are bloggers, we tend to go for either the paragraph snippets or the list snippets. Table snippet is another popular one that you can target.

Here’s a quick graph from Ahrefs about the snippet type and their percentages.

graph about the snippet type and their percentages

Targeting the right keywords

Once you finalize the type of snippet that you would want to go for, it is time to dig deep into your keyword research to find keywords that suit your blog and match the requirements for the type of snippet that you are going after.

If you are going for a paragraph snippet, you will have to find keywords that are primarily related to these types:

  • How to
  • Who/what/why

example of finding keywords on snippets

If you are trying to rank for a numeric list (numbered list or bullet points), the idea would be to structure your content in a way so that it offers step by step guides to someone. As per our experience, Google only shows a numeric list on featured snippet when the keyword tells Google that the searcher is looking for a list.

example of a listed featured snippet

For table snippets, the idea is to have structured schema data on your website that compares at least two sets of data on the page. You don’t really have to have a properly formatted column-based table to be able to rank for table snippets as long as the comparison and the schema is there.

example of a table structured snippet

Understanding the type and targeting the right keywords will do more than half of the job for you when it comes to ranking your website on the featured snippet with zero links.

However, you are not going to win the battle by out-throwing an already existing featured snippet. This will only work for keywords that don’t already have a featured snippet ranking on Google.

To grab featured snippets from the existing competition, you will need to go ahead and perform a few more steps.

Copying your competitor

Some will call it “being inspired”, but essentially, what you are doing is copying the structure of an existing featured snippet article and trying to make it better (both with content and if possible, with links).

What do I mean when I say, copying the structure of an existing page and making it better? If you want to rank for the featured snippet for the keyword “best cat food brands” and if the one, ranking at this moment already has a list of 20, you will have to create a list of 25, in the exact same format that the current one is using.

Once that’s done, the final step is simply to make sure you have proper schema on the page.

Note: It is very unlikely that this method will help you outrank an existing featured snippet unless you also rank in the top ten for that keyword.

How do we find keywords for featured snippets?

As you can imagine, finding the right keyword to target is winning half of the battle when it comes to ranking on featured snippets.

I use Semrush, but feel free to use your own tools. Here’s what our agency’s process looks like.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that I run a pet blog and I am interested in ranking for multiple featured snippets.

I would go to Semrush, and put one of my competitors on search.

example of competitor research on semrush

Source: semrush

Now click on “Organic Research”, select positions and from advanced filters, select – Include > Search features > featured snippet.

example of organic research

Source: semrush

This will give you a huge list of keywords that are currently ranking as featured snippets. As you can see, we found about 231 opportunities to target here:

listing of potential keywords for targeting

Source: semrush

It is time to add another condition to our advanced filters. Let’s select include > words count > greater than five. Here’s what the new result looks like:

example of using advanced filters in semrush

Source: SEMrush

From here on, simply organize the keywords by volume and then select the ones that you think matches with your target market. Like any keyword research, you will have to find keywords that have low competition and moderate search volume. Personally, I would try to go for keywords that have less than 500 monthly searches.

Make sure that you are following the initial three steps that we discussed. You will almost always have a higher chance of ranking on featured snippet following this strategy.

Khalid Farhan blogs about internet marketing at KhalidFarhan.com. He can be found on Twitter @iamkhalidfarhan.

The post How to grab featured snippet rankings with zero link building effort appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

How to grab featured snippet rankings with zero link building effort

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Featured snippets, also known as “position zero” placements on Google, have been receiving their fair share of glory and blame lately. 

While some big corporations like Forbes went ahead and questioned if Google is stealing traffic with the featured snippet, content creators like me have found it easy to get more traffic, thanks to being able to rank small sites on a featured snippet.

This post will give you a brief idea on how you can rank a page on Google’s featured snippet — without building any links to that page.

Understand the types

There are three major types of featured snippets that you can go for. As most of our clients are bloggers, we tend to go for either the paragraph snippets or the list snippets. Table snippet is another popular one that you can target.

Here’s a quick graph from Ahrefs about the snippet type and their percentages.

graph about the snippet type and their percentages

Targeting the right keywords

Once you finalize the type of snippet that you would want to go for, it is time to dig deep into your keyword research to find keywords that suit your blog and match the requirements for the type of snippet that you are going after.

If you are going for a paragraph snippet, you will have to find keywords that are primarily related to these types:

  • How to
  • Who/what/why

example of finding keywords on snippets

If you are trying to rank for a numeric list (numbered list or bullet points), the idea would be to structure your content in a way so that it offers step by step guides to someone. As per our experience, Google only shows a numeric list on featured snippet when the keyword tells Google that the searcher is looking for a list.

example of a listed featured snippet

For table snippets, the idea is to have structured schema data on your website that compares at least two sets of data on the page. You don’t really have to have a properly formatted column-based table to be able to rank for table snippets as long as the comparison and the schema is there.

example of a table structured snippet

Understanding the type and targeting the right keywords will do more than half of the job for you when it comes to ranking your website on the featured snippet with zero links.

However, you are not going to win the battle by out-throwing an already existing featured snippet. This will only work for keywords that don’t already have a featured snippet ranking on Google.

To grab featured snippets from the existing competition, you will need to go ahead and perform a few more steps.

Copying your competitor

Some will call it “being inspired”, but essentially, what you are doing is copying the structure of an existing featured snippet article and trying to make it better (both with content and if possible, with links).

What do I mean when I say, copying the structure of an existing page and making it better? If you want to rank for the featured snippet for the keyword “best cat food brands” and if the one, ranking at this moment already has a list of 20, you will have to create a list of 25, in the exact same format that the current one is using.

Once that’s done, the final step is simply to make sure you have proper schema on the page.

Note: It is very unlikely that this method will help you outrank an existing featured snippet unless you also rank in the top ten for that keyword.

How do we find keywords for featured snippets?

As you can imagine, finding the right keyword to target is winning half of the battle when it comes to ranking on featured snippets.

I use Semrush, but feel free to use your own tools. Here’s what our agency’s process looks like.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that I run a pet blog and I am interested in ranking for multiple featured snippets.

I would go to Semrush, and put one of my competitors on search.

example of competitor research on semrush

Source: semrush

Now click on “Organic Research”, select positions and from advanced filters, select – Include > Search features > featured snippet.

example of organic research

Source: semrush

This will give you a huge list of keywords that are currently ranking as featured snippets. As you can see, we found about 231 opportunities to target here:

listing of potential keywords for targeting

Source: semrush

It is time to add another condition to our advanced filters. Let’s select include > words count > greater than five. Here’s what the new result looks like:

example of using advanced filters in semrush

Source: SEMrush

From here on, simply organize the keywords by volume and then select the ones that you think matches with your target market. Like any keyword research, you will have to find keywords that have low competition and moderate search volume. Personally, I would try to go for keywords that have less than 500 monthly searches.

Make sure that you are following the initial three steps that we discussed. You will almost always have a higher chance of ranking on featured snippet following this strategy.

Khalid Farhan blogs about internet marketing at KhalidFarhan.com. He can be found on Twitter @iamkhalidfarhan.

The post How to grab featured snippet rankings with zero link building effort appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Are Secure Messaging Apps All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

When it comes to secure messaging, there are traditionally a few names that come to mind: Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, etc. These apps have built a reputation around strong encryption, which they market heavily to consumers in the form of “secure messaging.” Millions of users for their part trust these apps to ensure that their communication doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

However, with growing privacy concerns stemming from government spying overreach and ever-more sophisticated hackers, and recent well-publicized breaches, consumers are taking a hard look at the security of their preferred messaging apps. Even the most widely well-regarded secure apps are now being looked at to see whether there aren’t previously unknown vulnerabilities. 

Security Breach in the News

The news of a massive Whatsapp hack that broke last month has raised serious concerns over the actual security of messaging apps. While Whatsapp was quick to identify and react to the threat, releasing an update that addresses the vulnerability, an as yet unknown number of its estimated 1.5 billion global users were affected. 

The threat in the case of Whatsapp didn’t stem from someone cracking its encryption, a feature that remains solid, but rather through application development: a vulnerability in the app allowed malware to be introduced. This highlights one of the main challenges to messaging apps that market themselves as secure- not only securing messages from prying eyes through encryption, but also developing an overall secure app. 

News such as this breach acts to remind users of the potential dangers of any messaging app. In the current short news cycle, it’s easy to fall into complacency, until the next story comes along and reminds users of the very real cybersecurity threats that exist. In short, if what is considered by many to be one of the most secure apps can be so vulnerable, then are any messaging apps actually safe?

The Main Challenge to Secure Messaging

The Whatsapp news certainly demonstrates that even the most secure apps aren’t perfect, and that users should never have complete trust in any service. While an encrypted messaging app is still users best bet for secure communication, it’s important to be aware of the potential vulnerabilities every app comes with. 

As Whatsapp demonstrated, threats to secure messaging apps mainly come not from breaking the apps’ encryption, but rather finding backdoors into the app itself. In other words, the threat to secure messaging apps most often stems from the constant updates and changes that services make to their products. 

The fact that most apps are constantly updated is a double-edged sword. On the one hand updates provide improvements to the service and address issues as they arise, but on the other hand updates also could increase the number of vulnerabilities. This means that app developers have a large responsibility to ensure that any changes to the app are secure. 

What Can Users Do?

While there is certainly cause for alarm whenever any breach on the scale of the Whatsapp hack in May happens, it’s important to put things into perspective. It’s all too easy to panic and vow to delete all messaging apps, social media accounts, etc., but for most people, this is an unrealistic and counterproductive approach. 

So what can users do in order to stay safe? First and foremost, ensure that apps are updated regularly. Even though, as mentioned, updates could present vulnerabilities, they are also crucial to addressing threats. Luckily most breaches are detected relatively quickly (although unfortunately not quickly enough to prevent serious damage) and services are quick to respond with security updates. 

Staying abreast of the latest cybersecurity news of their preferred service can also help users react quickly when necessary. Unfortunately for users, however, the majority of the responsibility for securing messaging apps lies with the developers themselves. 

There is little users can do apart from making an informed choice, and staying on top of any security updates to apps and operating systems. Users should also exercise a healthy amount of skepticism for any app that claims to be invulnerable, because it might turn out to not be all it’s cracked up to be.


avatar

I`m a digital marketing and tech enthusiast, specializing in helping companies` success. Besides my passion for digital marketing, I`m an avid fan of football and love to dance.

The post Are Secure Messaging Apps All They’re Cracked Up to Be? appeared first on SiteProNews.

Are Secure Messaging Apps All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

When it comes to secure messaging, there are traditionally a few names that come to mind: Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, etc. These apps have built a reputation around strong encryption, which they market heavily to consumers in the form of “secure messaging.” Millions of users for their part trust these apps to ensure that their communication doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

However, with growing privacy concerns stemming from government spying overreach and ever-more sophisticated hackers, and recent well-publicized breaches, consumers are taking a hard look at the security of their preferred messaging apps. Even the most widely well-regarded secure apps are now being looked at to see whether there aren’t previously unknown vulnerabilities. 

Security Breach in the News

The news of a massive Whatsapp hack that broke last month has raised serious concerns over the actual security of messaging apps. While Whatsapp was quick to identify and react to the threat, releasing an update that addresses the vulnerability, an as yet unknown number of its estimated 1.5 billion global users were affected. 

The threat in the case of Whatsapp didn’t stem from someone cracking its encryption, a feature that remains solid, but rather through application development: a vulnerability in the app allowed malware to be introduced. This highlights one of the main challenges to messaging apps that market themselves as secure- not only securing messages from prying eyes through encryption, but also developing an overall secure app. 

News such as this breach acts to remind users of the potential dangers of any messaging app. In the current short news cycle, it’s easy to fall into complacency, until the next story comes along and reminds users of the very real cybersecurity threats that exist. In short, if what is considered by many to be one of the most secure apps can be so vulnerable, then are any messaging apps actually safe?

The Main Challenge to Secure Messaging

The Whatsapp news certainly demonstrates that even the most secure apps aren’t perfect, and that users should never have complete trust in any service. While an encrypted messaging app is still users best bet for secure communication, it’s important to be aware of the potential vulnerabilities every app comes with. 

As Whatsapp demonstrated, threats to secure messaging apps mainly come not from breaking the apps’ encryption, but rather finding backdoors into the app itself. In other words, the threat to secure messaging apps most often stems from the constant updates and changes that services make to their products. 

The fact that most apps are constantly updated is a double-edged sword. On the one hand updates provide improvements to the service and address issues as they arise, but on the other hand updates also could increase the number of vulnerabilities. This means that app developers have a large responsibility to ensure that any changes to the app are secure. 

What Can Users Do?

While there is certainly cause for alarm whenever any breach on the scale of the Whatsapp hack in May happens, it’s important to put things into perspective. It’s all too easy to panic and vow to delete all messaging apps, social media accounts, etc., but for most people, this is an unrealistic and counterproductive approach. 

So what can users do in order to stay safe? First and foremost, ensure that apps are updated regularly. Even though, as mentioned, updates could present vulnerabilities, they are also crucial to addressing threats. Luckily most breaches are detected relatively quickly (although unfortunately not quickly enough to prevent serious damage) and services are quick to respond with security updates. 

Staying abreast of the latest cybersecurity news of their preferred service can also help users react quickly when necessary. Unfortunately for users, however, the majority of the responsibility for securing messaging apps lies with the developers themselves. 

There is little users can do apart from making an informed choice, and staying on top of any security updates to apps and operating systems. Users should also exercise a healthy amount of skepticism for any app that claims to be invulnerable, because it might turn out to not be all it’s cracked up to be.


avatar

I`m a digital marketing and tech enthusiast, specializing in helping companies` success. Besides my passion for digital marketing, I`m an avid fan of football and love to dance.

The post Are Secure Messaging Apps All They’re Cracked Up to Be? appeared first on SiteProNews.

The Role of Social Media in Your Website SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Social media has become integral to the way we use the Internet. The important content is not only linked, but it is also shared, liked, tweeted and pinned. How people use the Internet has drastically changed, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed at the Googleplex. Many of the independent studies on Google’s ranking algorithm show a large correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity.

While the official stance from Google is that they do not directly use social signals in their algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is certainly a factor in achieving rankings. Disagreements aside, I can tell from my own experience that websites with large social followings consistently get higher rankings in a shorter timeframe.

Not only can you use social media to build social activity to increase your overall SEO strength, but you can also use social media to regularly create backlinks that are free and easy to build. It also increases referral traffic back to your site and engages previous customers. As a rule, social media should be a part of every SEO project or even every marketing project.

Facebook and SEO

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. What’s popular on Facebook is essentially a snapshot of public opinion, and Google has noted this by making Facebook activity a very strong factor in its algorithm. You should consider using Facebook for every SEO project. If you only have the time or budget to use one social network in your SEO strategy, use Facebook.

To improve your site’s Facebook social activity, share content from your own site on your Facebook page on a regular basis. Each time you do this, you receive more exposure from your fan base, and you also build up social activity around the content on your site. Be careful to mix this up with relevant, engaging non-commercial content for your user base, so you don’t turn them off and maintain high levels of engagement. Examples include infographics, inspirational quotes, inspirational photos, and so on.

Build up your audience by including a Facebook follow button on your site, your email signatures, and your thank you or success pages.

If you want to speed up building your audience, you can use Facebook advertising to build a relevant audience of local customers. This is a good strategy if your competitors in the rankings have a larger following and you are looking to beat them. You can also use Facebook advertising to increase exposure for your posts or even run advertising campaigns for a promotional offer. Facebook advertising stands out as a great way to build up an audience, social activity and referral sales for projects with a budget.

Twitter and SEO

Twitter is filled with discussion on the world’s latest news and events. In many cases, groundbreaking news stories are released on Twitter before the world’s major news outlets. The death of Osama Bin Laden is the perfect example—it was leaked on Twitter by a former chief of staff to the US Defense Secretary and within minutes it was all over the news.

Google has recognized this and uses Twitter activity in its algorithm. While it may not be as strong as other social networks, you can use Twitter to build up your overall SEO strength. Twitter is a great social network to weave into your SEO strategy as you can schedule a lot of your tweets in advance without coming across as too spammy, and manage your account with only a small commitment of time and effort.

Schedule tweets to your pages by using Hootsuite and start building up your tweet counts on your pages. Mix this up with relevant and informative tweets about your industry. You should aim for a maximum of 12 tweets per day.

12 Tweets per day are roughly the limit you can post without annoying your followers. If you’re lazy like me, you can schedule all of your tweets about a month in advance. If you want to encourage site visitors to tweet your content for you, include a “tweet this page” link on every page or blog post on your web site.

TweetDeck is free and easy Twitter management software. You can install it on your computer and manage your whole Twitter account from inside the program. Popular features include managing multiple accounts, scheduling tweets, and arranging feeds so you only see updates from fellow Twitter users you’re interested in.

More advanced than Tweetdeck, you can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets, analyze social media traffic, manage multiple accounts, create social media reports to monitor your success, and much more. It is recommended for power users or for automating multiple accounts.

Other Social Networks

Let’s face it, we’d all love to play around on social networks all day, but we don’t have the spare time to be always looking for great ideas and sharing them endlessly on social media accounts.

If you have limited resources, focus on Facebook and Twitter.

If you are looking for an extra edge, doing SEO for a large brand, or maybe you have an army of helpers waiting for your command, you can gain significant boosts by expanding your social activity to several social media sites.

Setup an account on the following networks, posting on the networks most relevant to your business:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool if you are in the business-to-business industry and looking to build up your personal brand or the brand of your site. If you want to increase your effectiveness on Linkedin, join groups and participate in discussions, post relevant updates about your industry and post content in the news feed.

Pinterest

Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in a very short timeframe. Pinterest’s fast-growing user base is primarily made up of women. The site has effectively turned into a giant shopping list of wish-list items. If your target audience is women, you should be on Pinterest.

Instagram

Initially, a mobile app to help users make their photos look pretty, Instagram has skyrocketed from a fledgling mobile app to compete with major social networks in just a few years. Instagram limits the number of links you can post, which essentially means the links from your profile on Instagram are much more powerful. If you work in a fashion or image-heavy industry, Instagram is a must-have social network to incorporate into your SEO and overall digital strategy.


avatar

Faiza Zafar is an Electronics Engineer (gold medalist), Digital Marketer and Freelance Content Creator. With two books published on Amazon and 100+ articles on different niches, she has a rich experience of crafting copies that sell. She mostly writes about health, personal development, beauty, digital marketing and eLearning. Her writings can be seen on her blog.

The post The Role of Social Media in Your Website SEO appeared first on SiteProNews.

4 Psychological Tricks for Creating a Website People Wouldn’t Want to Leave

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Psychology is a science that allows people to understand the complexities of human behavior. So if you want to invoke a specific type of behavior, this is where you need to turn to for clues. When dealing with website design, you should use various tricks rooted in psychology to create pages which visitors will love. And you can use these same principles to guide those visitors to specific sections of pages and to inspire specific actions.

Before we begin, however, you need to remember that whilst keeping these psychological tricks in mind, you should also not omit to learn how to design your website for speed. Fast loading pages are a must today, if only because this is a factor that affects your Google ranking.

Applying color psychology to your website design also should go without saying. According to Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot, even the most subtle detail can alter page performance significantly. For example, a red CTA button generates 21% more clicks than a green one.

How to Design a Website That Rocks Using the Power of Psychology

1. Weaponize the Von Restorff Effect anyway you can

In simple terms, the Von Restorff Effect can be explained as “the one which is different stands out”. This simplest of principles is your most potent weapon when designing a website. Applying it strategically will enable you to draw the visitor’s attention to specific features of the page immediately. And all you need to achieve this is to place a few similar items together with the one you want to bring the attention to smack in the middle of them, and looking different.

And that is all there is to it.  Simply post pictures of your product standing out in bright colors amid items that are similar in shape but aren’t quite there. Playing on contrasting colors will also work in this case.

You can also use this principle in ways other than simply to advertise your products. Joe Robinson, a cybersecurity expert from VPN Teacher, reminds us that trust seals are the second most important sign used to identify a safe website. Thus making them highly visible adds another layer of psychological influence to your website design because they invoke subconscious trust from customers. This simple detail can make a great difference to eCommerce businesses and a number of other services that require visitors to share their personal information.

Also note that when playing around with the visuals on your pages, you need to remember about mobile optimization of the website. You have to make sure that the layout you create for achieving psychological impact will transfer to the smaller sized screens as well.

3. Use Gestalt psychology to make an impact on multiple levels

The focus of Gestalt psychology study is the human perception of the world, so it’s little wonder that applying its principles of form perception to website design makes a huge impact on people who see these pages.

The laws you need to use when applying this science to web design and marketing are:

  • The law of proximity.
    Humans perceive objects located next to each other as a group. You’ll need to use white space to separate several distinctive groups of objects.
  • Law of pragnanz.
    This is the law of “figure-ground” and it basically means creating visual elements that are one thing, yet look like something else at the same time, like this. Adding visuals of this type to your website design guarantees that the element will attract a lot of attention. This works best for logos since such images are more memorable.
  • Law of similarity.
    Same as the law of proximity, the law of similarity states that humans perceive objects which look similar as one unit.
  • Law of symmetry.
    This law explains that humans perceive objects as symmetrical shapes. When used in design, this means that placing two similar objects symmetrically will increase the impact of the image as a whole. You can use this for extra marketing power.
  • Law of closure.
    Think of the vase example for the law of pragnanz. The vase image wasn’t complete, yet you perceive it as a complete shape. This happens because your mind subconsciously “fills in the blanks”. It’s another psychological sleight that you can use to make your logo or some other element of the website design more memorable.

3. Add a decoy

The decoy effect is one of the most powerful tools you can use use for boosting sales. In terms of website design, you can apply it by adding another line to your copy which announces discounts. This one must offer the worst kind of deal possible. This way, the impact of the ad will be more significant than simply seeing a banner for a new discount, and your sales will go up.

Use this ruse for landing pages and make sure that the decoy option you include isn’t too conspicuously bad, but is the complete opposite of the one you want to guide your website visitors to.

4. Provoke visceral reactions by your design

To provoke a visceral reaction means to generate an instant overwhelming emotional response from the visitor. Of course, as you are doing this to boost your marketing strategy you will need to generate a positive reaction, and bear in mind that visceral reactions can be negative as well. You need to be careful not to trigger this as it will make an unshakeable negative impression upon your prospective customers. The visceral reaction you should aim for will occur if you fill your pages with highly pleasing visuals, like pictures of cute kittens or sunsets.

These are only a few of the tricks that psychology has to offer, so be sure to follow the latest news in the field and look for ways to apply them to your business.


avatar

Kate Bregovic is a wife, mother, freelance writer and fitness enthusiast. She covers many topics – from business management trends to fitness regimes. When she’s not writing, she’s planning outdoor activities for her family, cooking or working out at the gym.  Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrs.kate.bregovic

The post 4 Psychological Tricks for Creating a Website People Wouldn’t Want to Leave appeared first on SiteProNews.

Why an SEO should lead your website migration

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Change is a natural part of a business, particularly when it comes to your digital presence.

The need to rebrand, switch up the CMS (content management system), consolidate your resources or revamp the architecture and user journey of your website, is ultimately inevitable. And whatever the goal may be, it is not uncommon for all major initiatives to fall under the umbrella of a contemporary digital marketer.

How does Google feel about changes

One thing to keep in mind, however, is Google’s tendency to be less than accommodating towards major website changes, especially URL changes. And who can blame them? Whilst Google’s algorithm may be able to detect semantic differences between websites, it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect it to also realize that the similarities between store.hmv.com and hmv.com mean they’re both the same brand.

Therefore, without acknowledging this, many domain changes result in staggering losses of traffic and rankings, and suddenly the most well-known brand in an industry becomes non-existent within Google’s universe. It is therefore imperative to ensure the changes you’re making can be correctly comprehended by Google.

How to understand Google

Expecting a lonesome digital marketer to be a jack of all channels is quite unrealistic. But luckily you don’t need to be. There’s a whole industry of people who are dedicating their days to figuring out how to think exactly like Google, and they can help you avoid the risk of decimating your hard-earned keyword rankings (unless you’re doing black hat tactics, in which case, those rankings aren’t very hard-earned after all). This industry is SEO.

Three pillars of SEO

Before we dive into the value SEO, here’s a quick summary of the three key pillars:

  • Accessibility: Technical workings of the site. This includes everything that Googlebot takes into account when understanding your site’s code. Basically, all the tags and developer language that are telling the crawlers how the site should be interpreted.
  • Relevance: Content your visitors and Googlebot came for, including all of the text and metadata on your pages, blog posts, and even videos – everything your visitors see.
  • Authority: Backlinks from other sites, with each one counting as a “vote” of confidence, which Google takes into account when ranking.

chart on the three pillars of SEO

So with that crash course, we can now connect the dots between SEO expertise and high-level migration requirements.

Why you need SEO

Whilst a website’s appearance is important, first and foremost it’s crucial to understand how you’re going to explain the changes you’re making to Google. We suggest a handwritten note:

“Dear Google,

Don’t worry, some things are changing but we still love you, so here is a comprehensive, incredibly large map of URL redirects detailing the new versions of the exact same pages you know and ranked the first time around.”

On a more serious note, however, here are five ways in which the expertise of an SEO professional can propel your website towards successful migration.

1. Taking the complexity out of URL mapping and redirects

Since a site’s internal linking and page equity is an essential part of SEO, we deal with redirect handling and URL mapping and all the complications that come along with it, all the time. Therefore, you have to make sure each redirect makes sense, and also that each page is able to take on the new status. Common issues at this stage can include:

  • Incorrectly implemented redirects (302 or the dreaded 307) that may undermine your intentions
  • Extremely long or even infinite redirect loops, which will cause Google to rage-quit the page or even your entire site
  • Redirects to irrelevant pages, which Google may not mind too much but will annoy your users

Just in case you’re not convinced, here’s a scary graph of what happens when you don’t do this properly.

graph showing repercussions of bad URL mapping

Source: Croud

The process of telling Google what’s what extends beyond redirect mapping, it also includes on-page work. Specifically, the canonical tag.

Fun fact: 301 redirects don’t actually stop Google from indexing your pages, so if you left it at that, you would just end up with some poor rankings and some confused users. Luckily, your friendly neighborhood SEO knows all about the various ways to help encourage Google to drop your old page out of the index as it goes along your new site.

2. Understanding your website’s behavior

So, you’ve done all the mapping and have set up just how to introduce Google to your new site. While that’s very exciting, we do have to remember the “understanding” part of these first several weeks. The primary reason for site migration is to provide a new and improved site that will (hopefully) gain more traffic and drive more business. However, without understanding how your original site performed, it’s very difficult to establish if your new site is actually superior. This, therefore, highlights the importance of benchmarking.

Of course, you may know how much traffic your ad campaigns – and even your website in general – are pulling in, but you’ll need to know more than that to be successful. As SEOs, our aim is to understand your site as much as the search engines do, which as explained above, is much more than just content on your pages.

To paint the best picture of your website before you migrate, use several tools that provide a variety of key SEO data points:

  • Keyword rankings and their respective landing pages
  • Links to your site
  • Pages with 200 (and non-200) status codes
  • Crawl volume and frequency

By aggregating the different metrics and views of each tool, you can create a beautiful, detailed portrait of how your website behaves, and how it’s interpreted by both search engines and users. Astute benchmarking will allow for in-depth, helpful post-migration analysis, particularly for those metrics that can only be recorded at a particular moment. There’s no way to tell how fast your pages loaded, or how many pages returned non-200 status codes last week. If you don’t gather this information beforehand, you won’t be able to fully report the impact of the migration.

After you complete the migration, you can gather this data again to truly judge your results. Everyone will remember to check the new traffic statistics, and even the new rankings, but only an SEO will remember to check that those numbers make sense and you haven’t accidentally orphaned half of your product pages. SEOs will make sure users aren’t just on your site, but crawlers are too. With proper data at your disposal, you can set about making iterative improvements which will undoubtedly be necessary.

3. Migrating your tracking tools

All this talk about performance and results is for naught if you can’t actually track any of it. Much like Google’s search engine, Google tools aren’t so keen on supporting your site migration either. Therefore, you have to make sure you’re ready to start tracking the new site, ideally without losing your old data.

Dealing with various tracking tools and codes all the time, an SEO has to be a Google Analytics expert too (it’s commonly a requirement on most resumes). So how do you avoid a scenario in which either you have no historical data and can’t measure the success, or when you have two different accounts and have to do the calculations for performance comparisons by yourself? By making plans to migrate your tracking tools.

Ideally, you’ll use the same analytics tracking code for the migrating site, so that the old metrics can be directly compared to the new numbers once it takes place. Need some more persuasion?

Take a look at this graph detailing a successful site migration.

graph detailing a successful site migration

Source: Croud

 4. Testing and the importance of the human touch

So you’ve planned all your new pages, and your new site is built. What’s next? Hopefully, it’s built in a staging environment and not actually live. If it’s not, you run the risk of causing all sorts of issues with duplicate content and ranking cannibalization.

However, your SEO can easily take charge of this with a robots.txt directive (which will haunt them until the site is live and they can change it). Despite its purpose, a staging environment doesn’t always reflect the search engine’s behavior since it lives in isolation. There’s no way to track backlinks or see exactly what it will look like in a SERP at this time.

Often, Googlebot doesn’t even fully crawl staging environments, because it’s seen as time-wasting. Therefore, your SEO’s brain is your very best test.

Everyone will check that the pages are set up as planned, but your SEO will be the one who can thoroughly re-test each individual redirect at 2 am. This will likely be the last time that any mistakes will be recognized before launch, so it’s critical to make sure that every redirect behaves as expected and that they are all 301 status codes.

Lastly, you’ll need to make sure that a single XML file stays live on the legacy site, containing all the legacy URLs. This will be used to push Googlebot through the old URLs and onto the new site, expediting your meticulously-mapped redirects.

5. Launching and mitigating loss

Finally, you’re ready to flip the switch and the champagne bottles are out. So you turn on the new site, and congratulations – you’ve just lost 20% of your traffic.

No, really, congratulations. In case you forgot the daunting chart we shared earlier in this post, website migrations can cause damaging losses, and sites that don’t prepare accordingly, often never recover. However, if you’re smart and you hired an SEO expert to take charge of this project, they’ll have the task at hand.

Your traffic loss is a product of search engines and users not recognizing your new site – temporarily. Your SEO will have made sure everything is set up properly, so Googlebot is quickly figuring out that your new site contains all the same high-ranking, trustworthy content as on your old site. It’s still a little miffed at you for changing on it, so you may only get back on the second pages of results.

You’ll still have some further optimizations to do, but it’s much easier to go from page two to page one, rather than page ten to page one.

Just remember, we’re guiding this migration from an SEO perspective. Googlebot is basically a person, so as long as it can read the site, we assume that users will enjoy their experience too.

Kailin Ambwani is a Digital Associate at global digital agency Croud, based in their New York office.

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