How to generate links that drive traffic, not just ranking

Many people see link building as a way to drive rankings. But, when done correctly, it can (and should) also drive traffic.
Driving traffic has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious potential increase in leads and sales. More website traffic can provide valuable analytics data about what users are looking for and what confuses them. It can also help grow engagement and potentially referral links on social media as others begin to share our content.
In this column, I’ll explain how to identify sources of links that drive actual traffic and how to evaluate your progress so that you can focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact.
Identifying link partners
In order to find good sources for traffic-driving links, there are a few ways you can go: competitor research, rankings and influencers.
First, find the publications driving traffic to your competitors by using tools like SimilarWeb to find their top referral sources. Not only do these tools tell

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Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

My wife came to me with a problem. She wanted festive, whimsical, and potentially matching Hanukkah pajamas. But there weren’t enough options coming up in Google under one spelling of the holiday’s name, so she told me she was systematically going through all spellings to compile her list of shopping items.
I was pretty surprised by this — I had expected Google to be smart enough to recognize that these were alternative spellings of the same thing, especially post-Hummingbird. Clearly, this was not the case.
Some background for those who don’t know: Hanukkah is actually a transliterated word from Hebrew. Since Hebrew has its own alphabet, there are numerous spellings that one can use to reference it: Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah are all acceptable spellings of the same holiday.
So, when someone searches for “Hanukkah pajamas” or “Chanukah pajamas,” Google really should be smart enough to understand that they are different spellings of the same concept and provide nearly identical

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Visualizing your site structure in advance of a major change

In our last article, we looked at some interesting ways to visualize your website structure to illuminate how external links and PageRank flow through it. This time, we’re going to use the same tools, but we’re going to look instead at how a major site structure change might impact your site.
Search engine crawlers can determine which pages on your site are the most important, based, in part, on how your internal links are structured and organized. Pages that have a lot of internal links pointing to them — including links from the site’s navigation — are generally considered to be your most important pages. Though these are not always your highest-ranking pages, high internal PageRank often correlates with better search engine visibility.
Note: I use the phrase “internal PageRank,” coined by Paul Shapiro, to refer to the relative importance of each page within a single website based on that site’s internal linking structure. This term may be used

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A balanced approach to data-driven SEO

We have nearly unlimited access to information and data. For search marketers, this can be a blessing or a curse. It’s very easy to get sucked into the never-ending pool of data — but this rarely, if ever, benefits our work. So how do we protect ourselves from information overload?
Futurologist Alvin Toffler predicted in 1970 that the rapidly increasing amounts of information produced would eventually cause people problems. More than a few times, I’ve found myself overwhelmed and overloaded with information, and my guess is that you have also experienced this phenomenon.
If you take your SEO seriously, then you understand the necessity of tracking your efforts — after all, data is at the core of good SEO.
Management thinker Peter Drucker is often credited as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” While I agree completely with the statement, it seems as though some SEOs have resorted to just measuring everything, which is simply not practical. If

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Google revamps its SEO Starter Guide

Google announced that it has retired the old PDF version of the SEO Starter Guide originally released in 2008, over nine years ago, with a new web-based version of the guide.
The last time Google updated this guide was several years ago.
The new guide merges the Webmaster Academy and the old SEO Starter Guide PDF into this one resource section. “The updated version builds on top of the previously available document, and has additional sections on the need for search engine optimization, adding structured data markup and building mobile-friendly websites,” Google said.
It is also currently available in nine different languages, including English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.
The new SEO guide can now be accessed online over here.
The post Google revamps its SEO Starter Guide appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 local search tactics your competitors probably aren’t using

Local SEO is competitive and fierce. With more and more local businesses vying for the Google local three-pack — and ads and online directories occupying a large percentage of the remaining SERP real estate — your local SEO strategy has to be aggressive.
So, what can you do to outrank your local competitors down the street, especially when you’ve all got the basics down? One approach is to use local SEO tactics that your competitors may not know about or aren’t using. Here are five local SEO tactics you can implement to help get ahead of your competitors.
Google Posts
First, every local business should claim their Google My Business (GMB) listing. It’s a must-do. Non-negotiable. If you don’t claim your Google My Business listing, you essentially don’t exist online! (Okay, that’s an exaggeration — but not claiming your GMB listing will significantly diminish your chances of showing up in local search results.)
Of your competitors who claim their Google My Business listing,

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AMP: A case for websites serving developing countries

Like Taylor Swift, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) have a reputation. In a not-very-official Twitter poll, 53 percent claimed AMP was “breaking the web.”

What do you think about AMP?
— Maximiliano Firtman (@firt) March 23, 2017

The mobile ecosystem is already complex: choosing a mobile configuration, accounting for mobile-friendliness, preparing for the mobile-first index, implementing app indexation, utilizing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and so on. Tossing AMP into the mix, which creates an entirely duplicated experience, is not something your developers will be happy about.
And yet despite the various issues surrounding AMP, this technology has potential use cases that every international brand should pause to consider.
To start, AMP offers potential to efficiently serve content as fast as possible. According to Google, AMP reduces the median load time of webpages to .7 seconds, compared with 22 seconds for non-AMP sites.
And you can also have an AMP without a traditional HTML page. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller has mentioned that AMP

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Links: To speed or not to speed

When we first started as an agency, our link builders were evenly split into two camps: One would send out a flurry of emails to all sorts of sites and deal with them if they responded. The other would spend a significant amount of time doing due diligence prior to outreach so that anyone who did respond had already been vetted.
I always thought it was a good idea to let each new link builder find his own way, so I didn’t usually express a strong opinion about this divide. I could see the points of view of both sides, too. Why bother doing a lot of work up front if the webmaster wasn’t even going to respond? Why disappoint webmasters who did respond when you couldn’t work with them?
On the whole, I have grown to favor the prior due diligence approach as opposed to casting a wide net. I’m firmly of the opinion that some link-building tasks

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Top 10 local search insights of 2017

Is it just me, or does it seem time flies faster in the local search industry? Another year has gone by, with many changes and developments to boot. Here’s a list of my top 10 insights from 2017:
1. Customer data is the new competitive edge
SMBs often feel at a competitive disadvantage compared to larger companies who benefit from scale at every level, including the purchase of search advertising or other marketing services. Data is helping even the playing field as it emphasizes quality over quantity.
Better data resulting in better targeting means that local businesses experience lower costs, higher conversion rates and greater ROI. And while targeting is not a new strategy, what’s new is the access to and quality of data.
Just as the price of technology drops with increased adoption, data will be cheaper, more accurate and more insightful. The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving growth in data much faster than what could be achieved by

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It’s time to change your SEO reports!

You’d think that after a year or so of these posts, I’d run out of things to be on the soapbox about, right? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, since they give me material to write about), there are still tons of mistakes and missteps out there in SEO land — and lots of marketers who need help.
This time around, I’m talking about SEO reports. I’ve taught several intensive Local SEO training courses at conferences all over the world, and monthly reports always come up. Marketers never seem to be really satisfied with what they’re providing to clients, and clients never seem to be really satisfied with the report they’re given every month.
The big problem is that most of us live in our little Local SEO bubbles and don’t fully consider how a layperson thinks about SEO. We live, eat, breathe and bleed SEO — some of you out there even name your pets after algorithm updates. No one

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