Email communication is still extremely important in 2017, especially for off-page SEO activities. Getting the email addresses for influencers’ and potential backlinkers can be a pain, though. So here are some simple methods to help you find someone’s email address using just their name.
Email outreach is still important for off-page SEO. Email is not dead.
Before reacing out, it’s a good idea to build a database to monitor all the influencers / contacts from one spreadsheet.
In the green fields you will see the most used email address variations. In the next step we will use those.
Copy-paste the results
For this step you will need your email client. Gmail is perfect. Open a new email composer and add all the results from the green fields to the address field.
Find the email address with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
For this step you will need a third party tool to be installed before the first use. I use Linkedin Sales Navigator, or as most users still know, Rapportive (for Google Chrome or Mozilla) or FullContact.
When you have one of these tools installed, you only need to move your cursor to all the email addresses until you find the one you need.
For example if you are looking for my email address, you will get this as a result:
So now you got my email address. This method is really similar to VoilaNorbert, but it’s completely free.
RocketReach is an easy-to-use tool that helps you collect email addresses through social media profiles. With its extension you get the most relevant information about who you are looking for.
RocketReach is free for 5 succesful searches a month.
+1: Twitter and other social media
Many people don’t hide their email contact on their social media profiles. Sometimes you easily can find it in this way: by searching for them on Twitter.
If it doesn’t work and you don’t see any hope to get their email address through any way, then try to drop them a line on Twitter. It works with Noah Kagan. 🙂
One last thing to note: make sure you collect the emails in a GDPR compliant fashion and don’t abuse users and their privacy.
Do you have any other methods how to find someone’s email address by their name which worked really well? Don’t hesitate to share it in the comments.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is pretty much SEO for app stores. Search is still one of the most important sources for an application to be discovered and downloaded, so getting ASO right is vital. So how do you do it properly? How do you rank well for the important searches?
app discovery doesn’t just happen in the app store anymore.
1 in 4 users discover an app through search. Basically it means you have to make sure your app is available and discoverable in app stores.
The better you can rank for a search query, the bigger chance you have for your application to be downloaded. The importance of App Store Optimization cannot therefore be questioned.
App Store Optimization
While there are several app stores , there are a few common rules that can be applied for them all. Just like search engine optimization, app store optimization can be divided into 3 main categories:
Basic rules of ASO,
The two most well-known app stores are Apple’s App Store and Google Play. While the App Store is acknowleded for its closed system, Google’s is far more open. And that’s not only true for developers, but for marketers and application owners.
As it’s harder to submit your applications to the Apple App Store, there are fewer apps, making it easier to rank for specific keywords than with Google Play. In Google Play the competition is much higher than in the App Store.
This means it’s currently easier to rank in App Store than on Google Play using mainly on-page and a little off-page optimization. As competition grows it will be more difficult to perform, though. So it’s definitely worth spending some time on all parts of ASO.
First up, however, are the basic requirements of ASO.
Basic rules of app store optimization
Just like search engine algorithms, app stores’ try to clone their users’ behaviour. After all, their first priority is to give their users the best user experience possible. Which also means that you should keep your users’ needs in mind.
Know what your customers need and what your competition offers.
A conscious app store optimization strategy starts with putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Your application has to serve the needs of your customers. At the same time it has to have a unique selling proposition (which is different to or better than your competitors) in order to target a specific niche market.
Size of the app
Keep your app’s size below 100MB
Apps larger than 100MB have a warning before downloading.
It consumes a lot of extra data while downloading, causing higher churn, and isn’t great for users’ smartphone storage. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on this.
Regular updates allow you to fix bugs, add features and make improvements to your app over time. Which is great, as it not only gives a better user experience, but shows users their feedback is listened to.
Regular updates can result in better reviews. However, beware pushing out updates without running in-depth user tests, user onboarding and bug fixing. If your update breaks your app, it will result in a dramatic drop in user satisfaction.
Ashlef Sefferman made a point that it’s not enough to push an update out, but you have to encourage existing customers to download the update. She mentions 3 strategies to acheive this:
Entice customers within your app
Update the app description and the “What’s New” field
Maintain a large volume of five-star reviews
41% of total app revenue globally came from Asia, while North America generated 31% and Europe 23%.
Because of this, it can be worth thinking about different language versions of an appif it fits your target or existing audience.
Both the big app stores allow you to localize your listing to make your product easy to discover for users in different regions. If you do so, you can increase your discover- and download conversion rates.
Just like SEO, on-page optimization is essential. And there are a few different factors to help your app be discovered.
App title and the primary keyword
As the app stores are full of apps, it’s more and more difficult for users to find the perfect one. And for developers it’s tougher to stand out from the crowd.
Your first consideration is your app’s name. Not only should it be catchy, but your app should probably contain a primary keyword.
Your app title is basically the same as <title> tag in SEO. In term of keywords, the app name has the biggest weight. Even the big players often have keywords in their app names, not just the brand name.
For example, Spotify doesn’t simply use their brand name, but additional keywords. On iOS it’s name is Spotify Music while on Android it’s Spotify: Free Music Streaming.
Your title should also be shorter than 50 characters.
Users see your app’s icon at the same time as, or even before, your app’s name. As the first visual point of contact, it needs to stand out.
This is it’s crucial to be catchy, memorable while meaningful and descriptive. Users have to be able to connect the icon to your service and it has to persuade them in the first place about the usefulness of your app.
But finding an app is not enough. You need to convince your potential users that this is the right app for them. And that’s where the description comes in.
It helps users decide whether your app is useful.
There are two parts to your description: above the fold and below the fold. ATF has to be optimized wisely for the maximum effort as users see it first.
You only get 1–2 sentences ATF before users have to click on read more. All the other details have to go to the BTF part.
In-app screenshots are essential parts of your apps listing. They help your future users understand your app, why it’s benefitial for them and how it works.
You have 5 slots for screenshot uploads.
Important to note that you should upload screenshots for all ratios your app supports.
App Type & Category
While your app’s type and category is less important than it used to be, you should optimize the type and category for user experience. If your users can find your app easier, it’s better for everyone.
Off-page or off-metadata optimization factors are the ones you cannot modify yourself. External users and influencers are important here.
Number of downloads
Put simply, the more downloads you have, the better.
It’s not about exact numbers but scale.
App and app version rating, review
The more positive ratings you have, the better your app ranks. Users can see your program is trustworthy thanks to social proof.
When a user rates the app, it rates the version they actually use. When new users come to your app store page, they will see the most recent release’s rating. So if your newest version is worse than previous ones, it can have a negative effect on your download ratio.
The app store also shows national ratings to users. So if you are a German located in Germany and you downloaded the app from the German app store, you will see ratings by other Germans in Germany.
Links pointing to your app
Just like in SEO, good quality links support your rankings. There are two main factors in connection with links:
number of links
The more links and links with higher authority, the better ranking you will get. To check these factors, use the same tools as with competitor website analysis.
In recent years, thanks to high competition, ASO became more important and app providers are using new solutions in order to be found by users. People don’t just search for applications (pull market) and if they do, they don’t only search in app stores.
Social media, websites and blogs, and preinstallments to new phones are more and more popular. This is the new trend. And this is no longer app store optimization but app marketing.
In 2018 app store optimization is a must. You need to understand how it works as well as how users behave and why. But even that is not enough anymore. You simply have to treat your application as a product and develop your app marketing.
Do you have any story to tell in connection with ASO? A great success or huge failure? Let me know!
For many online marketers SEO means building authority links, and that’s it. But what if you can’t rank? Your site can’t be crawled or indexed by Google or your pages are loading so slow that your users leave before hitting your first landing page? The first step for an SEO project should therefore be a technical SEO audit.
Not everyone gets SEO right first time. So if your online performance is not quite as you wanted, don’t worry. Most of us have been there at some point. But what should you do to correct the problem?
To start with, SEO is not black magic. There’s nothing in there you cannot do yourself if you spend the time to really learn it. Because SEO is all about consistent work throughout the lifetime of a site. It’s not waving a magic wand and POOF, you’re ranked #1.
As it is ongoing work, there is a basic flow that drives how SEO works.
And first comes Analysis.
Why we do a technical SEO audit
Every time we start a new SEO project, we start with a technical audit.
Many people simply associate SEO with building backlinks. And while backlinks are one of the most important parts of SEO, helping to build your authority, there are better places to start.
A site that cannot be crawled by Google, or one that loads so slowly your users click away, is no good. It doesn’t matter how many backlinks there are if the site is broken from a technical point of view. And that’s before we get to whether your content answers your audience’s questions or is even in the right place to answer them.
Why do we do so when everybody says that SEO is about how many backlinks you can build earn? Sure, backlinks are one of the most important signals for search engines about your website. You need to have links from authority sites to rank well.
But the number and quality of backlinks you have doesn’t really matter if no-one can see your page.
Your content also needs to be in the right place. It has to answer your users questions while entertaining them enough to keep their interest.
And it all takes time to have results. We, SEOs struggle many times to explain clients why we have to work a year before they could see results. John Doherty had some coins on it:
I’ve always struggled to pitch the longterm value of SEO and that it takes time for many reasons:
You need to allow time to do the audit
You need to allow time to get the work implemented
You need to allow time for Google to recrawl everything
Building links takes a lot of time if you’re doing it scalably as you build the rest of your business
If you are a subject matter expert just like me, here’s a great guide on how to write the perfect piece of content.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to analyze a website from a technical perspective. For the framework below, I used WebSite Auditor’s structure as the basis.
SEO can be split into three:
Technical SEO (crawlability and indexability)
On-page SEO (content optimization)
Off-page SEO (authority building)
How to analyze a website from a technical perspective?
As a starting point, let’s start with a non-technical element. Simply open your browser in guest mode and search for your brand or business in Google. Or even better, use Google NCR (No Country Redirect) by searching from google.com/ncr.
Did you see what you wanted? Is your brand on top of the list? Do you have more than one page listed there?
(If your brand name is general, don’t worry if you are not ranking in first position, or even on the first page. In time you will get there.)
If your site ranks as expected, good. Although if it doesn’t, it might be because of technical issues, indexation issues, or even because of a penalty.
If you search for our brand, Intellyo, you will get the main page as the first result and connected services as following. (You won’t see the blog in top results because 1. it’s new, 2. it runs on a subdomain.)
Even if you are satisfied with the results that you have seen in the SERP (Search Engine Ranking Pages), it’s worth going through this guide and checking all the elements. While writing this article, we discovered a couple of minor possibilities we will fix on our blog.
Indexing and crawlability
I’m not going to dig into how Google Search works and why indexing and crawlability are important. Matt Cutts, former head of the webspam team at Google has a great video about the topic.
So you get it now for sure. If you want to crawl a website’s URLs by yourself, Screaming Frog is probably the best tool out there. It also helps to fetch onsite elements to analyze on-page SEO.
But how do you know if your site or a given page has or hasn’t been crawled and indexed? There’s an easy, special search for that. For the whole site type into Google:
Now you will only see those articles connected to your search query. This tiny trick can help you to save a lot of time using Google Search.
Resources with 4xx and 5xx status code
You read an article which links to another that attracted your interest. You click. And the link is broken. Really annoying, right?
If you are the site owner you will only see that your users left at some point, seemingly for no reason. That can easily be because of a broken link. It’s even worse when it points to one of your own pieces of content.
So whenever you bump into an issue like the following, get your head around fixing it as soon as possible.
Resources with a 4xx status code refer to client errors. The most well known is 404 – not found. The user was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested.
Resources with a 5xx status code refer to server errors. The server is aware that it has encountered an error or is otherwise incapable of performing the request.
user: gives information that the URL is not found,
site owner: it can help you keep users on your site.
It’s really important to let your users know what happened and why they couldn’t reach the content they originally wanted to. 404 error pages should return 404 response code. Sounds obvious, right? I’ll only leave this quote from Search Console Help:
It’s like a giraffe wearing a name tag that says “dog.” Just because it says it’s a dog, doesn’t mean it’s actually a dog. Similarly, just because a page says 404, doesn’t mean it’s returning a 404.
It’s important to give your users the information they need when they hit a 404 page:
The information that the page they are looking for doesn’t exist,
a navigation bar (or at least a button leading to your home or category page),
an HTML sitemap (not an XML one! While XML sitemaps are for search engine spiders, HTML sitemaps are for your users),
a search field.
We haven’t added the HTML sitemap or search field for now, but will as the blog grows. Before designing a 404 page that helps you to retain your users, it’s a good idea to get some inspiration.
Robots.txt is a file automatically crawled by robots when they arrive at your website. This file contains commands for these robots, such as which pages should or should not be indexed. It must be formatted based on rules to ensure search engines can crawl and read it.
Robots.txt can be dangerous for your website if you modify it for some reason and you forget it. Earlier I had a client who disallowed to index their blog’s URL. It was under construction, it made sense. But after 3 months of work for 2 employees they still couldn’t rank in Google. That was when they asked for help. By simply deleting that one row from their robots.txt their number of sessions grew by more than 10% in a week.
You can restrict indexing in several ways:
disallow indexing in your robots.txt,
by Noindex X-Robots tag,
by Noindex Meta tag.
If you feel like it’s all a bit overwhelming, we can help you with your site’s analysis.
A good XML sitemap contains all the pages you want to get indexed. Period. So it’s a list of pages accessible to crawlers. You need to update it every time new pages are added to your website. You can do it manually or if you are using WordPress or any other big CMS, you can use an XML sitemap generator plugin.
You can reach sitemaps by adding /sitemap.xml to the URL. Intellyo blog’s sitemap: https://blog.intellyo.com/sitemap.xml.
As you can see, you can add all your site’s pages to the sitemap and also set a frequency for when you would like crawlers to come to your site, the priority of your pages and when they were modified last. For more information follow this sitemap format guide.
You can test and submit Google your sitemap in Google Search Console.
(Yes, we are aware of the errors, it’s on our bug report list.)
With redirects you can send your users (and also crawlers) to a different URL. It’s useful when you move your content to another URL. By redirects we are mainly talking about 301 and 302 (or 307) redirects and meta refresh.
www and non-www versions fixation
Websites with www are so old school, right? Still, many users use it while trying to reach any sites. So it’s recommended to have a www and non-www version of your site at the same time. Yet that means you are duplicating your site, so that’s something you need to take care of.
Your developers can set this redirect pretty easily in your site’s .htaccess file (if you are running on Apache server) or in any type of configuration file.
HTTPS is the future of the web. Google even started to use it as a ranking factor.
Although while installing SSL certificates and setting up HTTP/HTTPS versions, webmasters are facing technical issues. If your site’s certification is untrusted or expired, browsers can even prevent users from reaching it.
Additionally, if HTTP/HTTPS versions are not setup correctly, your site will be indexed by Google twice which will mean duplicate content. Duplicate content means a penalty sooner or later.
So it’s really a high priority to set it up correctly with 301 redirects.
301 and 302 redirects
301 Moved permanently
302 Moved temporarily / Found
301 redirects are mainly used when you have duplicate content or your URL is changed and you still would like your users to reach the page. So when you move your content permanently.
302 redirect means that the move is only temporary. According to WebSite Auditor if you use 302s instead of 301s, search engines might continue to index the old URL, and disregard the new one as a duplicate, or they might divide the link popularity between the two versions, thus hurting search rankings.
I heard many times that you have to use 301s to keep 80% of your link juice, otherwise (with 302 redirects) you will lose all of them. Although according to John Mueller both redirects pass PageRank.
Long redirect chains
WebSite Auditor has a great summary about this SEO factor:
“In certain cases, either due to bad .htaccess file setup or due to some deliberately taken measures, a page may end up with having two or more redirects. It is strongly recommended to avoid such redirect chains longer than 2 redirects since they may be the reason of multiple issues:
There is a high risk that a page will not be indexed as Google bots do not follow more than 5 redirects.
Too many redirects will slow down your page speed. Every new redirect may add up to several seconds to the page load time.
High bounce rate: users are not willing to stay on a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.”
Pages with meta refresh
As a starting point, let’s go with this:
Do not use meta refresh!
What is meta refresh and why not to use it? MOZ’s redirection guide has a great answer for those questions:
Meta refreshes are a type of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level. They are usually slower, and not a recommended SEO technique. They are most commonly associated with a five-second countdown with the text “If you are not redirected in five seconds, click here.” Meta refreshes do pass some link juice, but are not recommended as an SEO tactic due to poor usability and the loss of link juice passed.
So instead, keep using the permanent 301 redirects.
As Yoast describes, the rel=canonical element, often called the “canonical link” or “canonical tag”, is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues. It does this by specifying the “canonical URL”, the “preferred” version of a web page.
So if you have duplicate content (you have the same content twice or more on you site, or your content is the same as it is on another page) and would like to avoid Google penalties, make sure that you use canonical tags to show the crawlers which one is the original content.
Also, be aware of multiple canonical URLs. If you use any SEO plugin, most of them automatically add a canonical tag to the URL. So if you would like to add a canonical tag, you should rewrite this tag and not add a new one.
Mixed content occurs when initial HTML is loaded over a secure HTTPS connection, but other resources (such as images, videos, stylesheets, scripts) are loaded over an insecure HTTP connection. This is called mixed content because both HTTP and HTTPS content is being loaded to display the same page, and the initial request was secure over HTTPS. Modern browsers display warnings about this type of content to indicate to the user that this page contains insecure resources.
HTTPS is extremely important to protect privacy and security of your users as I mentioned above. HTTPS pages with mixed content degrades this security. To prevent that, browsers may even block that content. So it causes issues with user experience, too.
You have to make sure you don’t have mixed content on your site.
Mobile first. 2016 was a turning point in Google and SEOs life when Google announced mobile-first indexing. It means they use mobile content for all search rankings.
Side-note: they added that, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly page, don’t worry, the desktop version will be crawled.
Basically it doesn’t matter what mobile-friendly solution you use (responsive design, dynamic serving, or fully separated sites), the main point here that your site should support mobile users.
Back in time (until 2016) there was also a mobile friendly tag in Google for the results that supported it. Unfortunately it has since been dropped.
Frames have been removed from web standards. Though some browsers may still support it, it is in the process of being dropped.
<frame> is an HTML element which defines a particular area in which another HTML document can be displayed. A frame should be used within a <frameset>.
Using the <frame> element is not encouraged because of certain disadvantages such as performance problems and lack of accessibility for users with screen readers. Instead of the <frame> element, <iframe> may be preferred. So be sure you don’t have any <frame> elements on your site.
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. Sites have to be aligned to W3C’s standards.
Crawlers find it easier to crawl through semantically correct markup. This is why site’s HTML markup should be valid and free of errors. Otherwise spiders may miss elements of your site, thus reducing the value of the page. To find the errors with your HTML, you can use W3C’s validator.
While HTML errors can cause serious issues for search spiders, W3C CSS errors can result in issues with the displayed versions of your pages. Basically, your users won’t see what you want them to. It can easily lead to a decrease in user experience. To find the errors with your CSS, you can use W3C’s validator.
Accessibility is difficult. We’re empowering all projects, just as The A11Y Project to help blind visually impaired people to live on a full living standard. Even in the online environment. They have checklists that help your site to be as user friendly as possible.
Well, this is a topic where I can’t add a hard number to it as a KPI. Basically the larger your page is, the slower it loads. And as mentioned, the slower your page loads, the more users abandon.
So you have to find the balance. As a thumb of rule I used to recommend to keep your page below 1-2MBs, but definitely below 3 MBs. However, that’s not always feasible.
Try to keep the number of requests your page asks while loading below 50-60, too. If you would like to know how to find out how many requests you ask or how big your page is, follow this article.
A lot depends on your URL policy.
Often forgotten, but important nonetheless, what is your URL policy? Do you use subdomains? Slugs? How can your URL help your CTR from search engines? Dynamic vs static URLs? User-friendly (readable) URLs? Your URL policy can have a big effect on your SEO.
If the content of a site is stored in a database and pulled for display on demand, dynamic URLs may be used. In that case the site serves basically as a template for the content. (Read more on dynamic URLs.)
Google Webmaster Guidelines says, “URLs should be clean coded for best practice, and not contain dynamic characters.”
Also, I recommend to use readable URLs as they help your CTR from search engines.
The worst practice I’ve ever seen when a company (a webshop) used dynamic URLs where the slugs of the URLs were changing daily. The company was also paying a marketing company to build backlinks and get referral traffic for them. And obviously, every link was outdated after 1 day so it pointed to a URL that didn’t exist. When I figured out why they had so much traffic on their 404 page according to Google Analytics, I was shocked.
Put simply, make sure your URLs are easy to read for users and search engines.
Additionally, it’s better to avoid long URLs. Keep it under 115 characters and it will be readable by users and search engines.
This is a big topic. How many links and where they go, anchor texts, nofollow or dofollow tags, etc. For now I’m going to concentrate on the real technical elements.
Pages with excessive numbers of links
Too many links and only a few links on a page can be a red flag. Normally I recommend to have more than 5 links on a page but keep it under 100. Over 100 links it can easily be overwhelming for your users.
Dofollow external links
Normally there’s no issue with dofollow links. There’s only one case when it can be an issue: if you link extensively to irrelevant or low-quality sites. Search engines may conclude your site sells links or participates in other link schemes. So you can get penalized because of it.
Mostly it’s avoidable by only pointing to quality sites and contents or using nofollow (you simply have to add rel=”nofollow” attribute to your links) tags.
Broken links, even if it’s internal or external, are a bad sign for search engines. It means for them that your site is not up-to-date. It may cause a “penalty”, a downgrade in your rankings. If you’ve missed 1-2 broken links, or even 10-12, don’t worry, though. In reality, there needs to be many broken links for a penalty, just fix them whenever you find them.
You should regularly monitor your links. If it’s broken, resolve it by changing the link, deleting it, or any other way.
Images as visual elements are important parts of your pages. From a technical perspective they have 3 main roles:
be able to load,
load as fast as possible,
have an alt text for those who can’t see the image.
Broken or slow loading images have no direct effect on SEO but reduce the user experience. And the worse the user experience, the higher the bounce rate, and that is a bad signal for search engines. To avoid these issues, you can check two factors:
broken images and
empty alt texts.
Both can be checked easily and the results from fixing them will be great. So you should minimize the number of broken images. If you do have a broken image, or a server can’t provide the picture for a user, you should have the alt text filled. Alt texts are especially important for those who are visually impaired.
Many SEOs add on-page elements to technical SEO audits. I prefer to have an eye on it while doing an on-page (content) audit. Even though these are the most common items it worth to check if you would add it to your technical audit checklist:
empty title tags,
too long titles (preferably below 70 characters),
empty meta descriptions,
duplicate meta descriptions,
too long meta descriptions (preferably below 165 characters).
I’m not going to go deep into this topic. There’s only one tool which can’t be missed: Google Search Console.
Google Search Console (GSC)
GSC, or Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) is great for all SEOs. One of the most important features is to see which keywords your visitors searched for before clicking through to your site.You can also see which keywords you rank for, how many impressions you got, how your click through rate was and in which position you rank for those keywords.
GSC is much more than a keyword ranking and traffic tool, though. You get suggestions to improve your site’s search appearance, and you can see your incoming links and internal linking. You can also adjust your indexation (block and remove resources, as well as check your index status) and set everything in connection with crawling, such as crawl stats and errors. Lastly, you can request fetching and rendering, and test your robots.txt and sitemap.
You can reach GSC here, while if you would like to read more about it, you can do so here. To add and verify a site to your GSC account is not difficult. Keep in mind that you can reach your ranking and traffic data for a period of 90 days, so it’s worth exporting this data every 3 months so you can keep hold of everything. Additionally, your data is not in real time, there is a 3-day-long delay.
In connection with GSC I used to check 2 main elements during a technical SEO audit:
Is Search Console implemented well? (Do you get your search data?)
Is Search Console connected to Google Analytics (GA)?
Click Admin, and navigate to the property in which you want to enable Search Console data sharing.
In the PROPERTY column, click Property Settings.
Scroll down to Search Console Settings (Adjust Search Console). You should see the URL of your website, which confirms that the website is verified in Search Console and that you have permission to make changes. If you do not see the URL, you need to add your site to Search Console.
Under Search Console, select the reporting view(s) in which you want to see Search Console data.
After you save these settings, you can see the results in Acquisition / Search Console menu.
Page load time
As mentioned before, page load time is not a direct ranking factor. Although the slower your site loads, the more users abandon.
The more users abandon (the lower successful CTR your site has), the worse your ranking.
Back in time when Marissa Mayer was a VP of Google, they had an interesting experiment about showing 30 results (against 10) in a SERP. It was pretty catchy for users in theory, but the results were shocking.
“Pages that displayed 30 results each had traffic to them drop an astounding 20%. Google tested the loading difference between the 10 and 30 results pages and found that it was just half of a second.” As Kissmetrics said: Speed is a killer.
OK, I’ve learned how to analyze a website… What’s next?
You should go through this list, keeping your site in your mind. Tools can make your life easier. As a first step, I recommend WebSite Auditor or Screaming Frog to check all the technical elements.
For page load time and tips on how to improve your site’s code, I recommend GTMetrixand PageSpeed Insights. We are planning to write an article about page load time optimization. If you are interested, subscribe to our newsletter and be among the first to be notified.
Even if your site is perfect according to any tool, don’t forget that the most important factor for any SEO and any online marketer or developer is you have to make your users happy. Users are happier if your site loads fast, you don’t have broken links, and so on. And this is your main goal?
Would you add any element to this list? Do you have additional thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
What is an SEO report? It’s a must for any client. Even if you are an employee, you should be ready to show your results anytime. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. What should you cover? What SEO report format should you use? Here we address those questions.
Are you a business owner? Then this is a must read to understand what you should get from your SEOs.
Importance of SEO reports for clients
Business owners want to know what they spend their money on. And Search engine optimization is no exception, whether it’s done internally or by an agency. But most of the time business owners or marketing heads are not familiar with in-depth SEO expressions. Without education, they do not know how it works. And that’s fine. They don’t need to.
Still, agency owners, freelance SEOs and internal experts struggle with creating consistent SEO reports for clients which are easily understandable. This means that many experts who do a great job are not appreciated enough, simply because they’re not understood.
And when clients don’t understand what has been done, they’re not happy with the results, even if it’s excellent. This can affect your clients. Or the dropout of your clients. And this is all because of reporting.
So what to include in your reports?
The short answer is: It depends on the client. Ha, helpful, right? But here’s the thing. We all have a wide variety of customers. Small firms that have no clue about the basics, they only know they NEED SEO. (And then ask for Adwords ads.) The other extreme is when they know what they are doing but have no resources. And those are two completely different projects.
Which means that different reports are needed.
It’s also important to evaluate your own progress. Developing your processes can be one of the most beneficial results of a report.
I always make sure I cover my own effectiveness in my reports:
What did I get in the end?
How much effort did it take? How much did the tools I used cost?
An evaluation of the process and how I did it.
Tips on how I could develop the given activity.
And General thoughts at the end. For example: should I change my pricing for a given activity?
Normally I don’t show this self-report to clients. But we talk about it with other professionals.
There is one other important point that still needs emphasis:
Vanity metrics vs actionable metrics
This is a huge pain point for me. I’m always trying to educate everybody who I mentor or even just talk to: Do not fall for them! I met way too many marketers who were led to bad decisions based upon these. The worst thing is: they had the actionable metrics they should have used right under their noses.
It all comes down to one thing: does the metric help you make decisions? If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a vanity metric.
Vanity metrics make us feel better about our business. But we cannot make actions based upon them. And this is an issue. You always have to consider if a growth metric is a sign of traction or not. We are reporting the value that we create. So if you are the one who reads those reports, challenge it.
For example, look at link builders. In Hungary, I struggled to explain to companies that it’s not just about the number of backlinks. Your link builder got 15 links in a month? Awesome! But let’s dig a bit deeper. Where did they get those backlinks? Link farms? PBNs (private blog networks)? Does it look like natural progress for Google? Are they dofollow or nofollow links? Are your links in the content or in the footer? How did they got those links? Are they added to existing articles? Did they write new content for a site where your url was added? And so many questions can be asked.
Important note that for European clients you can ignore Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo and every other search engine, as Google has a 92% share in number of searches. Even though Yandex may be interesting for those who are working for Russian market.
What SEO report format do I use?
Usually I break my report into 3 main parts:
General overview (What did I achieve?),
Technical / Process part (How did I achieve it?)
What’s next? (Estimation for the next period.)
This SEO report format contains all the information each individual may be interested in. C-levels may read the general report and estimation. They will then know what they got for their money and what they can expect in the next period. The technical section is for those who understand the details and those we worked with during the given time period.
It’s important that they understand how much effort it took to get those results, as they are the ones who can evaluate the work.
The next part of this article series will be about experimenting with Google Data Studio to create a template for the general and technical part of the report. If you would like to hear about that article as soon as it’s published, subscribe to our newsletter.
This is the part of the report that has to be valuable for even the CMO who doesn’t know or understand all the details of the project. But (s)he may still be interested in the results.
We can split this category into two parts:
Traffic and user information, and
There are some core questions the report has to answer in each section:
Traffic and user information
How much traffic does the site gain?
What is the share of organic search?
This question may refer either to traffic from search engines or to all the traffic gained from SEO activities. Referral traffic from guest posting, and good anchor text and links are part of this. Even social traffic can be counted if you are collecting social signals.
Do these visitors match the targeted buyer personas based on demographics? If not, SEO strategy or the personas should be changed.
Why did readers come to the site? Did they get what they wanted?
The best performing keywords, impressions, url clicks and click through rate. Duration on site and clicks/session from search. It can even be broken down for customer sub segments if needed. And compared to other traffic sources.
Are they new or returning users?
How much income was generated by SEO activity so far?
How many micro conversions were generated by SEO activity?
How much did all SEO activity cost for the company?
What are the best performing landing pages?
Pro tip: ROI figures in a new project can be disappointing in the beginning as SEO has serious effects in the long run. It’s worth to consider excluding this part for the first 3 months or so.
Based on my past experience, it can take up to 6-9 months to see meaningful SEO effect for a given project.
And what questions are less important?
How many keywords rank in the 1st position in Google? (First page makes more sense.)
Do we rank better than competitor X?
I know backlinks are important for SEO. How many of them do we have?
The name technical can be tricky. By technical we mean professional details. Usually I split this topic into three, just as with SEO in general:
How was the abandonment rate over time? Which Pages performed the best and the worst?
What changes should they implement on the site?
How many submitted URLs are indexed by Google?
On-page (content) SEO KPIs
What are the search queries that bring the most traffic to the site?
Which keywords perform the best based upon CTR from Google? (Clicks/Impressions)
Which keywords should be focused on next time?
Which landing pages perform the best and the worst?
How do users behave on the site?
How was the bounce rate in time? Which Pages performed the best and the worst?
What was the level of on-page optimization of articles and connected focus (primary) keywords.
Does everything fit to on-page SEO rules? Does the title, URL, content, meta description, etc., contain the keyword?
Does your internal and external linking work well?
Do you have 404 pages because you moved a page and forgot to use 301 internally? Do your users actually find what you refer to?
Off-page SEO KPIs
How many backlinks does the site have?
Is the backlink profile healthy?
Do your site’s backlinks have high authority? Do they have a low spam score? Are they natural? Do you have good anchor texts? Do you have broken backlinks?
Does your backlink profile grow (seemingly) naturally?
How is your backlink profile when compared to your competitors?
One important question is how to communicate the time spent on planning and execution. This needs to be discussed with the customer. It is always interesting how much time was spent on a project, and how you communicate it can be key. You can do so in person or via bullet points in an email. Even in a presentation. Just be sure to explain all the activities that may not be clear to the customer in a simple, easy to understand manner. They’re not the experts, that’s why they hired you.
Next comes the plan for the next period. Not just for the client, but for you. Depending on your contract, you can do the planning alone or with the client.
When we make a report, we decide on the next steps together with the client. We come up with three scenarios that can be done in the next period.
Do we want to focus on new content creation?
Content audit or reoptimization?
Or do they need new backlinks?
Based on the focus point, we make a soft plan for what can be achieved and harmonize it with their needs.
To make SEO reporting as simple as possible, we need to focus on developing the process itself. Standardizing the report and automating the creation. Manual vs. automated reporting makes a huge difference.
If you have any thoughts on what questions an SEO report should answer, let us know in comment or even by email. Also, if you liked the article, don’t forget to subscribe. Stay tuned for the next part of the series: How to set up a dashboard based on this SEO report format in Google Data Studio.
With competitor analysis so important to your online marketing activities, keeping up to date with their activities is essential. But how do you monitor them? Is it manual, or can you automate it? What tools are there? Well, here you can see some of our favorite competitor website analysis tools.
This is why you should analyze your competitors’ website
Whenever we discuss SEO, we invariably end up talking about ranking #1 for a specific search query. My response is often:
Be as good as your competitors in all SEO factors but one. In that one beat them and you will rank better.
It can be any ranking factor. More quality backlinks for your page or domain, better on-page optimization levels for the given keyword, more social signals, etc.
Sure, it’s not completely true but as a rule of thumb it works.
If you want to beat the competition, you need to perform better than they do. For this, you need tools to analyze what they’re doing. You can take many steps manually, but why would you do so when there are so many competitor website analysis tools?
In this post we collected 17 tools that can help you speed your analysis up. As a bonus, they are also useful to monitor your own activity. Many of them even help you draw conclusions based on the data.
In this article, you will discover the tools for
Website technical analysis
Search keyword analysis
While you won’t learn the tools for
Monitoring competitor mentions on social media
Social media and general online presence analysis
The site I’ll use as an example in the article is noble.life, one of our high luxury magazines.
If you want to make your webpages fast on all devices, you normally start with Google PageSpeed Insights. Here you get a valuation on a scale of 1-100 for mobile and PC. If you perform over 85, great job. If you don’t, you still don’t have to worry about it. They suggest a couple of insights that you should focus on to improve your site.
These values are not only absolute numbers. It worth to compare it to your competitors. If your site performs better here than your competitors’ by 10 points, it won’t be a pain point, whatever the score.
GTmetrix is my personal favourite. It uses the results of PageSpeed Insights just like another well-known tool, YSlow’s metrics.
This tool shows you how large a page is and how many requests it asks. It’s loading time isn’t the best in the free version as it runs from Vancouver. With the paid version, you can set it to a European server.
Generally it’s recommended to plan your site so it is no larger than 1-2 MBs. Keep the number of requests below 50-60, too. The larger the site and the more requests you ask, the slower your site will be.
As with PageSpeed Insights, iff you perform better than your competitors by 5-10%, you are good to go.
WebPageTest may be very similar to the two tools mentioned tools above, but at Intellyo, we use this one the most often. Why? Well, you can run the tests from 40 different servers and 25 different browsers. On top of that, it gives you an incredible amount of feedback on the given site’s performance.
One of our favorite feature is the video. You can watch a video of how your website loads in different locations.
This tool is free.
We wrote an article about how we created our own WebPageTest system and how we get more punctual YSlow scores than any of these tools could give us. If you are interested, stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter to be informed first when we post it.
Builtwith is an online tool where you can add any website and discover what tools the developers used when building it. Why is it good for comparison? You will know what CMS your competitors use, what additional plugins they use and so on. It’s well worth a look at their solutions at the beginning. For example, if you don’t know how they have a bigger email list, it may be a special content blocker. Is there any point using retargeting if no-one else is using it in the industry?
Ghostery is similar to Builtwith. It’s a browser extension that lists most of the built in plugins that may affect or follow users. These tools can give you a list of tools that can be interesting for your site.
If you are looking for an on-page SEO tool that helps SEOs correct all the on-page technical issues, you found it. Screaming Frog also gives you an insight to your user journey. My favourite feature is shows you how many clicks it takes to reach the pages in the site structure.
Screaming Frog is free if you want to analyze a maximum of 500 URLs per site. The unlimited version costs £149. SF has to be downloaded and runs on Java.
Link-Assistant’s SEO spider, Website Auditor is pretty similar to Screaming Frog. A bit less technical. A bit more user-friendly. You can immediately compare your site with competitors’ from this tool. The use case is a bit different. If you want to optimize your content on a really high level later, I suggest Website Auditor. Many other activities can be done from one place, like robots.txt and sitemap.xml generation.
The free version you can do everything the paid one does, but you can not save it. Website Auditor costs $124.75 for a year. Then you only have to buy the algorithm changes. For more pricing, please visit their website. Also, WA has to be downloaded and runs on Java.
For checking competitors’ ranking keywords, I usually open SEMrush first. It shows what keywords the site ranks for organically, keywords’ ranking position in Google, and the estimated traffic for a given keyword. It also helps with keyword difficulty and CPC.
If you are only interested in the top performing keywords of your competitors for a comparison, the free version of SEMrush will do. Otherwise it costs $99.95 for a month.
Google Keyword Planner is the most common tool to check what your competitors organically rank for. It gives you the most punctual data on monthly keyword volume and CPC if you would like to run ads later.
This tool is free. Although since Google is hiding the exact search volumes, you’ll have to use Google Adwords to get all the search volumes.
For paid search reengineering, not only organic, Spyfu or SimilarWeb are the best choices. Here we highlight Spyfu simply because I prefer it to SimilarWeb.
In the free version, you can get your competitors’ top 5 paid keywords in Google. Additionally, you get an estimation of how much traffic they have from paid search and how much money they spent on it. You can even see the ads they have previously run in your competitors’ ad history.
If the information in the free version doesn’t turn to be enough, Spyfu costs $39 on a monthly basis.
In SEO, Ahrefs is one of the most popular tools. And it’s not a coincidence. Especially when you are about to analyze backlink profiles. They operate with the biggest backlink database, helping you to have the best picture of your competitors. The tool is much more than a simple backlink analyzer, but for link monitoring it is the best.
There is a 14 day trial, after which you can buy it for $99/month.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Ahrefs, you should consider Majestic. You still get a decent link profile that can be exported easily and are then free to use it for your given purpose. For comparison, I really like their special metrics, trust flow and citation flow. They also have a comparison feature for two domains.
Majestic’s free version should be fine in the beginning, otherwise it costs $79.99/month.
MOZ is the most well known tool for link monitoring based comparison. Open Site explorer is a good free option. It also tells you how healthy your competitor’s backlinks are. Domain Authority and Page Authority are the most well-known metrics for this purpose.
This tool is free. If you want to use MOZ pro version, it starts at $99/month.
Sitebulb seems to be a really great alternative, or even a better option than Visual Site Mapper, but it’s not out yet. When I heard about it, I immediately subscribed to the early access list. This tool will give you many more insights about pages then Visual Site Mapper. The reporting part can also help with comparison.
Google Alerts is my favourite tool to monitor mentions online. It’s really easy-to-use and sends emails about mentions for free. For ongoing monitoring of yourself and your competitors, it’s probably the best option. Except for social mentions.
With this solution, you simply can track keywords or your name. It will show you both those mentions that include a link and those that did not. So you can reach out in real time and ask the author to add a link to your mention. Your rankings in Google will be thankful for it.
This tool is free.
So that’s it, 17 competitor website analysis tools. With their help, you can find many ideas that will boost your presence online. If you have any question about how to use them, let me know in the comments. Also, would you like to see any other useful tool on this list? Add them in the comments!