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A review rating increase of just 0.1 stars can boost a location’s online conversion rates – such as phone calls, website clicks or requests for directions – by 25%, according to new report from location marketing firm Uberall released yesterday.

A 25% rise in conversion can “also mean a 25% increase in foot traffic every day,” said Uberall SVP of Marketing Norman Rohr in a statement. The “Reputation Management Revolution Report” [free, registration required] also finds that a jump from a 3.5-star rating to 3.7 can see a disproportionate jump in conversions of 120%, the highest growth jump available.

A business’ priority on this front, then, should be to acquire 3.7 stars or above at all of its locations, Uberall said. Reviews and ratings of businesses are frequently posted by consumers on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and Google, among others.

‘Near me’ searches

Additionally, 4.0 and 4.4 stars also represent key review benchmarks in terms of affecting user actions. At 4.4 stars, bigger businesses start to achieve higher conversion rates than SMBs, which outperform larger businesses below 4.4.

Based in Berlin, Uberall offers a platform that helps businesses optimize for “near me” customers, including review management and making it easier to find relevant info, like directions or opening times.

The report also found that:

Asking for reviews

Rohr told SEW via email that businesses do better when they proactively ask for reviews. Without review solicitation, he said, “businesses will primarily face negative reviews,” because “customers aroused by an emotional experience tend to submit reviews on their own,” and that includes negative experiences.

Although this is Uberall’s first report on this kind of reputation management, it released a report last year about responding to customer reviews and a report last summer on reviews for SMBs.

This report analyzed sixty-four thousand large and small Google business profiles in the US, UK, France and Germany that utilized the Uberall platform.

The post ROI of improving online reviews: +0.1 stars can boost conversion 25% appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Google announced that now was the time for the nofollow attribute to evolve. Introduced almost 15 years ago, the nofollow attribute was brought about with a vision to eradicate spam and combat links that nurtured on the advertisements or were paid for. It clearly became a Google favorite to take care of the latter. The Google link policy is here to witness new changes again.

Here’s a snippet from the official announcement:

The web has evolved since nofollow was introduced in 2005 and it’s time for nofollow to evolve as well.

Today, we’re announcing two new link attributes that provide webmasters with additional ways to identify to Google Search the nature of particular links. These, along with nofollow, are summarized below:

rel=”sponsored”: Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.

rel=”ugc”: UGC stands for User Generated Content, and the UGC attribute value is recommended for links within user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

rel=”nofollow”: Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.”

Well, the snippet says it all. Now that Google has decided upon the evolution of the nofollow attribute and chosen to bring about two new link attributes, there are questions and queries all around. What does this announcement mean for the link building tactics that are in popular use? How is the new change going to impact the link juice of our existing links? Is there any immediate action that needs to be taken? How will this impact the overall SEO strategy of websites?

Well, this blog post is right here to help everyone out there understand this change and gain a little more perspective around it. By the end of it, you will take away the impact of the nofollow link on Google’s search algorithm and everything else mentioned above. So, let’s begin.

What is a nofollow link?

Applying a nofollow HTML tag ( rel=”nofollow”) lets you tell the search engines that you do want certain links on your website to be ignored by it. By applying this tag, the selective nofollow link ends up not bringing any link juice to your website and hence, does not impact your search engine rankings.

What the earlier nofollow policy was about?

Google’s update about combating link and comment spam brought about the rel=”nofollow” attribute in 2015. So, any hyperlink that carried the rel=”nofollow” tag carried no SEO importance or value. Hence, the malpractice of overexploiting blog and link exchange was put under check. The manipulative link building behavior was anyway deteriorating the integrity of true SEO scores. So, cautious bloggers and website owners started strictly following a nofollow rule across all of their external links. Penalization was the driving factor behind this blanket application of the rule. In other verticals, Google also wanted to make sure that sponsored and paid-for links also followed the application of nofollow attribute.

What has changed with this latest update?

The latest update will change how links and rankings are calculated. Effective from March 1, 2020, the nofollow links will be used by the search engine as a marker or hint about what to consider or exclude within search. This “hint” will help Google index or crawl. Well, this means that now Google can overlook the nofollow attribute and choose to consider it as a ranking signal.

The new update will help Google get together more data on the individual links, including the words within the anchor text. This is being done with a purpose to evaluate links and identify any link schemes or malpractices around sponsored or paid links.

As per Google – 

“Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe the content they point at. Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.”

The new update also brings two brand new link attributes, rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”. These will help Google attain the necessary information on the characteristics of the links since webmasters will be providing the same to the search engine. So, the use of rel=”sponsored” would help Google identify that the tagged links on your site are part of an advertisement or an agreement or have been paid for. The rel=”ugc” tag is meant for the links coming from user-generated content (UGC) on your forum and site comments.

Given the complex implications of these Google updates, we are yet again in a position where it is unclear how these attributes are going to affect the SEO of our blogs and websites. Are these changes going to bring a positive impact or do they mean that sudden changes will be forced on our SEO moves? These two attributes will likely control more spam, as per experts. But, by this time, we really don’t know.

On the spam front, Google wrote,

“Many sites that allow third parties to contribute to content already deter link spam in a variety of ways, including moderation tools that can be integrated into many blogging platforms and human review. The link attributes of “ugc” and “nofollow” will continue to be a further deterrent. In most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links. We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes. We will still continue to carefully assess how to use links within Search, just as we always have and as we’ve had to do for situations where no attributions were provided.”

What does the new link attribute mean for publishers?

At this moment, if you are a publisher, you might not need to make any swift changes because this is what Google has to say:

“If you use nofollow now as a way to block sponsored links or to signify that you don’t vouch for a page you link to, that will continue to be supported. There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have.”

For all publishers, it is best to continue with rel=”nofollow” for all sponsored links even when Google wants them to use more than one rel value on a single link. The nofollow works as it was. They can simply use “Sponsored” and “UGC” if they want to help Google identify types of links better.

If you are a publisher with true authority, Google’s change will help you immensely by reducing the unfair suppression of link authority caused by the prevalent misuse of the nofollow attribute.

Publishers should still stick to the fact that the right link earning practices are going to help them overcome the hurdles. Taking care of their site’s speed with certain website speed tools should also be a forever task for publishers. Quality link content and editorial ownership should still be their top priority. Also, using the right web hosting service can help your website in many ways in these terms.

It is best to wait for some more information to come up and then act upon it. However, if this Google update worries you, you can simply put in some time and review your link policy to make sure that your blog/website isn’t violating Google’s link scheme guidelines.

Gary Illyes from Google has clearly mentioned that the motive behind treating rel=nofollow as a hint is to improve the link signal and for returning better search results. As per Gary, nofollows were restricting the useful link signal information that Google needed on the link data. By this change, Google will be able to bring up better search results for its users. Also, there are no ranking changes expected for this change.

Google said,

“All the link attributes – sponsored, UGC, and nofollow – are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search.”

In a nutshell – what you need to do after the latest Google update

Conclusion

As time advances on this update, we will have more solid information as to what exact changes need to be implemented in our SEO strategies if these attributes are going to affect the ranking signals. For now, it is best to wait for further information to surface and keep the right link building practices in motion.

Pawan Sahu is a digital marketer and blogger at MarkupTrend.

The post What Google’s change in nofollow link means appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

The importance of content marketing cuts across all niches and the e-commerce niche is not left behind. Content marketing is the kind of marketing that attracts your target audience or gets them to take a particular action through content.

In this article, you’ll learn four content marketing steps you can take as an ecommerce store owner that will lead you to an increase in your conversion rate and sales. Plus, thanks to technology, we’ll also be dropping some content marketing tools that’ll give you the backup you need.

P. S. You don’t need to be a guru to try content marketing.

But first, let’s lay some foundation before you take your first step.

You may run your eShop from the comfort of your computer on your secure browser, but just like any brick and mortar business, you’ve got to know your ideal customers like the palm of your hand.

The effectiveness of this content marketing strategy relies on how well you understand your target customers.

Who exactly are the products you’re selling on your eShop for?

Don’t give some vague answer like “women who like jewelry” or “men who like fun logo tees”. If you want to get the full benefit of content marketing then you need to get crystal clear with who you’re selling your products to and allow them to help you generate the kind of content that can grow your business too.

The reason why this is important is that knowing exactly who you’re targeting makes it so much easier to target them. You have a laser focus on who your customers are and you won’t have to waste time on people who aren’t your customers. So you need to be clear on their:

And then form as clear a description of who your target customer is as possible. One smart tool that will help you get some insight into your target audience is Quora. You can use it as a search engine and search keywords relevant to your niche. What you get is a list of questions people ask around that keyword. When you go through the results and read through the responses, you’ll begin to get more insight as to who your ideal clients are.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s hop right into the content marketing steps you must take.

1. Zeroing in on consumers’ social media habits

Once you have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is, next on the agenda is to know where those ideal customers hang out.

Social media is a great place to put yourself right in the midst of your target customers. There are 3.5 billion people online and over two-thirds of those people are on social media.

To kickstart your content marketing efforts you have to know the kind of content that will appeal to your target audience. To do this, you need to find out which platform they spend their time on and study how they spend their time on social media.

This step is crucial because it will point you in the right direction of:

1. How they use each social media platform

You log in to a social media platform for various reasons like watching videos, scrolling through pictures or reading short captions. Knowing this will help you define the kind of content you should be posting on those platforms.

2. What kind of content attracts their attention on those platforms

Once you know which platforms your ideal customers spend time the most and why you’ll be able to know which content they enjoy consuming the most. This will help inform you of the kind of content you can create when you’re executing your content marketing strategy.

3. What time are they most active on those platforms

Each platform has its peak periods where your target audience is the most active on those platforms? That time is the best time to make posts, comment, and even schedule your ads. Being active during the times when your audience is the least active will kill your content marketing effort and it will be a complete waste of time. The infographic below will guide you when those peak periods are.

Source: Sumall.com

2. Mastering content formats

By now you should start having a deeper understanding of your target audience. Probably you’ve already started developing some content ideas that you’re sure they’d be interested in.

There are so many different types of content you can create to advance your content marketing strategy. Content primarily can come in the form of text, video or audio. Whatever form of content you decide to go with you need to bear in mind that your content must be something that educates, entertains or enlightens your audience. Providing value is the key.

Here are some ideas you can get started with:

3. Reverse engineering competitor’s content portfolio

Who said taking a sneak peek of what your competitors are doing is a bad thing? As a newbie in content marketing, it’s a great way to get ideas on what works in the market and what your target audience finds interesting.

Check what kind of content other eShop owners (especially the big time e-commerce stores) are doing and how they are using their content to convert their target market to sales leads.

A handy tool that will show you the kind of content your competitors are creating is Buzzsumo. It gives you the ability to analyze which topics worked best for your competitor and, by extension, what kind of topics you should be creating content around. So ask yourself:

Reverse engineering your competitors’ content will act as a guide on what you can apply in your business. They’ve done it and they’re getting the attention from your ideal customer, so why not you?

4. Boosting content distribution

Now you’ve got your content ready and published, what next? Content is basically useless unless visible and the way you do that is by increasing your content distribution efforts. This is where the information you gathered in the first tip will come in handy. Knowing the behavior of your ideal customers on social media and the peak periods when your ideal customer is active on social media will help you know just where and when to share your content.

Stick with two to three platforms to prevent yourself from spreading too thin. But note: Sharing your content once will not be enough! You have to push out your content regularly. This article by Louise Myers gives you a fair idea of how often you should post on each social media platform.

Scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Coshedule will help you ensure that you’re posting the recommended number of times per day. You can schedule your posts for the day, the week or even for the month and each post will be automatically posted at the exact time you schedule them.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to spam. The idea is to put your content in front of as many of your ideal customers as possible so that they know about you and buy from you too.

Now it’s your turn

Content marketing is a process. But when you follow through the steps you will be able to get the traction you need to help grow your e-commerce store and increase your sales. But remember you won’t see results overnight.

But as you learn more about your ideal client, create and distribute your content, slowly you’ll start to see that you not only build customers but also raving fans.

What better time to get started than now?

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

The post Four steps to create an effective content marketing strategy for your eShop appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

The general misunderstanding is that web accessibility standards stand in a way of search engine optimization tactics preventing SEO experts from doing their job properly. Well, that’s not true. In fact, SEO and web accessibility overlap in many areas.

Web accessibility has recently become a hot topic in the digital marketing industry due to a wave of widely publicized scandals, that is, web users suing big and small businesses for failing to provide them with a smooth user experience.

Moreover, Google helps to raise awareness by helping web accessibility standards to be widely adopted. Google has official guidelines explaining accessibility and how they help create a better user experience.

Broadly speaking, when we say a site is accessible, we mean that the site’s content is available, and its functionality can be operated, by literally anyone.

And yet, while smart marketers have recognized the tangible benefit of making your site accessible (that is, making it possible for more web users to buy from your site), web accessibility seldom makes it to marketing priority lists.

What if I told you that by making a site accessible you can actually improve your SEO? Let’s see how:

1. Site and page structure

The foundation of web accessibility is very similar to that of an SEO strategy: You need a clear, logical site and page structure.

1.1. Site structure

Site-wise this includes:

All of those elements are considered essential for SEO too to provide search bots with an easy way to crawl and understand the site structure. According to Google:

The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly  find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand  what content the webmaster thinks is important.

Although Google’s search  results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense  of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.

For WordPress sites, an easy way to quickly improve navigation is to add breadcrumbs using a free Yoast plugin: It’s really one-click integration.

Image: Screenshot created by the author

1.2. Page structure

When it comes to page structure, this includes:

Both are recommended for web accessibility purposes as they enable screen readers to navigate a page. From an SEO perspective these two elements have very important benefits:

Image source: wpbeginner.com

Additionally, structured markup helps all types of devices to better understand and interpret information, so using schema never hurts. Here’s are a list of six free Schema generators to semantically structure your content.

2. Alt text for visual content

The basic SEO principle is that you need keyword-optimized alt text for every image on your page to make it easier for Google to understand what it is about.

This rule applies to web accessibility as well. The only difference is that when it comes to web accessibility, the alt text should make sense. Imagine going through your page without actually seeing any images but instead reading the alt text. Are you able to understand the full context?

People with visual difficulties are using assistive technologies that rely on image alt text to describe the image contents to the user. This makes alt text so important for usability.

The featured snippet tool may be of help here showing you which images are missing an alt tag and which images show a meaningless alt tag, on-page by page basis:

Image: Screenshot created by the author

If you operate a huge website and going from page to page is not an option, accessiBe can automate the process. AccessiBe utilizes AI image recognition technology to provide accurate alt text to images site-wide. This is a great way to make your site accessible (and SEO-friendlier) without too much money or time investment.

Check out multiple examples of how the tool works to better understand what it does:

Image source: Screenshot from the demo video

3. Video transcripts

Providing text context for your video page helps deaf users to still understand what it is about. In fact, when it comes to accessibility video transcript is the only required element.

A video transcript also helps the video page to rank for a wider variety of queries because text context is as important to Google.

Youtube video description is what Google uses to rank the page in organic results, as well as featured snippets and people also ask results:

Image: Screenshot created by the author

There are lots of automated solutions for creating video transcripts but I really prefer Speechpad.com.

4. Readability

Finally, another accessibility principle that can also boost your SEO, making your copy readable means writing in a clear way, using simple words. Basically, this includes:

We don’t know exactly how Google is using readability level analysis in its algorithm but what we know for sure is that focusing on easier readability levels will help:

Keep readability in mind when having your content created. Some smart content creation platforms already have readability integrated. For example, Narrato uses artificial intelligence to match content orders to content writers, allows them to select the writing style, specify the writer’s expertise, and upload content guidelines to keep your content quality and readability to the required level.

Image: Screenshot created by the author

[You can read more about Narrato’s process]

Again, Yoast has a reading level analysis integrated into its free plugin version, but there are also multiple tools to analyze and improve the readability of your content.

At the end of the day, web accessibility is basically about making your site easier to navigate and understand. It’s pretty much what SEO is about too.

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on twitter @seosmarty

The post Accessibility and SEO: Where they overlap and how to optimize for both appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

It goes without saying that the world of SEO is becoming ever more technical, and over the past decade, webmasters, SEOs, and in-house teams have been widening their knowledge and skillsets to help their sites compete in search engine results pages.

One of these areas, which has seen the most development since its launch in 2011, is, of course, schema.org markup.

Although it has been eight years since the data schema was introduced, whether due to lack of development capability or technical knowledge, many popular brands are still to implement structured data to their websites.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what structured data is, and the benefits that the markup can provide for websites.

A brief introduction to structured data

Put simply, structured data is a form of markup that is implemented in the code of a website and provides search engines with specific pieces of information about a page, site, or organization.

By improving the knowledge that a search engine has about a particular page or site, it can, therefore, provide users with the information that they need when conducting a search.

It also means that if a business invests in structured data throughout its site, it could enjoy higher and more relevant levels of traffic.

But how does this happen?

Structured data can enhance AMP pages

Despite structured data not being a direct ranking factor, it can, however, influence other elements of your website which are ranking factors.

In a world where a lot of searches (even the biggest part) are made through mobile devices, site speed has never been more important, especially when you consider that users will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

For this reason, many businesses have implemented Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on their site (read more about them here), which can help overcome critical mobile speed issues and improve the usability of pages.

But most people don’t realize that AMPs can actually be enhanced via structured data markup.

Google states that by implementing structured data to AMPs, they can enhance the appearance of the page in mobile search results while offering the ability to appear within rich results.

If a site gains the opportunity to appear within rich results for an important search term, the site could gain a great amount of search traffic as a result.

You can learn a little more about how structured data enhances AMP pages in this handy Google guide.

Structured data helps sites appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph

For sites that appear in highly competitive verticals, getting the edge over your competition is critical, and one way to do this is by establishing your site presence with Google and appearing in the Knowledge Graph.

Knowledge Graph cards appear on the right-hand side of search results and they provide users with functional and visual elements of your site; making it far easier for users to familiarise themselves with it.

To enable your business Knowledge Graph card, you need to add the necessary Corporate Contact markup on the homepage of your website.

Structured data knowledge graph

Like all types of markup however, there are important guidelines and rules that you must follow, such as ensuring that markup is not blocked from crawling by robots.txt directives.

You can find more information on how to properly implement Corporate Contact markup in this Google Developers Guide.

Structured data can be vital for improving a site’s click-through rates

CTR of a website is rather important for its rankings. And according to Neil Patel, the best way to increase it is to research and use keywords, especially long-tail keywords. Serpstat can help you make deep and useful keyword research and improve your rankings as well.

Also, the whole point of structured data is to provide clean and concise parcels of information to search engines so that you can clarify the purpose of your site and its pages to quickly provide users with the accurate information that they require.

This means that by implementing well-written and relevant structured data into your pages, your site should be shown to a more relevant audience base, meaning that your click-through rates will inevitably improve.

In fact, sites that implemented structured data found that their CTRs improved by at least 10%.

How to implement structured data

We’ve already learned the meaning and value of structured data on the site. Now, we’ll explore two of the main approaches for adding schema markup to your website.

How to add Schema.org micro-markup with Schema plugin

The easiest way to add a micro-markup to the site is to use the Schema plugin. It works with any available schema options and is embedded in the Yoast SEO plugin.

To install, go to Plugins – Add New in the WordPress console and find “Schema.” Activate it and go to Settings.

Structured data schema plugin

 

Fill in basic information, such as the location of your About Us page, Contacts, upload your website logo.

By filling out additional information, content, knowledge graph, and search results, you can optimize your site for each of the areas.

Then, you can go to Schema – Types and add the selected schema type or publication category.

Types of schema plugins

If the above-mentioned plugin doesn’t suit you, you can choose from a large number of WordPress plugins alternatives for schema markup. Here are some of them:

How to add Schema.org markup manually

Here, you should work more with the code, but you can add your schema markup individually to any page or post.

With arbitrary schema markup, you can include several different types of markup on the same page. For example, if you have an event page, and you also want to place a feedback schema on it, you can easily do it.

The most efficient way to manually add schema to your site is JSON-LD. This method is also recommended by Google. It’s based on JavaScript. You’ll add schema markup to your site as a script, so it’ll be much easier to read and debug.

Remember to follow all Google structured data guidelines while creating the code for your markup.

If you don’t know how to write markup code, you can use the Structured Data Markup Wizard from Google or JSON-LD Generator to create your code.

To use this approach, go to any post or page where you want to put the markup. Click Screen Settings at the top of the page and check the “Custom Fields” box. Now, scroll down to the “Custom Fields” settings and press “Enter new” to create a new field. Name it “Schema” and enter the code. For example, local businesses data type:

Custom fields box

 

Please provide the source and a possible caption for the above image

Next, you’ll need to edit your header.php file. Open it and paste the following code before the closing </head> tag:

 

Header.php file

Thanks to these actions, your schema code will load separately with metadata. You can add any kind of custom schema markup to your WordPress website with the above-described approach.

Just remember to run your page or post in the Google structured data testing tool to check your markup for errors. This validator understands the following formats:

Using it, you can check the page in two ways:

If the site is being developed on a PC or if you need to test some options, you need to use the first method. The second one is suitable for the final verification of the finished markup. Also, here you can check the site pages when using ready-made CMS templates. They may contain some errors in markups.

For example, let’s check the Phase 5 Analytics page. After copying the URL and clicking the “Run test” button, the result of the verification appeared on the screen. There was the HTML code on the left, and markup on the right with errors if they were found.

Google structured data testing tool

 

Final word

Adding structured data to the site will not take a lot of time. This action will help improve the look of the snippet in the search engine and increase traffic to the site.

The process may seem a little technically complicated, but you’ll discover that even the option to manually add it is not as hard as you’d assume. In addition, many available plugins will make developing structured data very simple.

Inna Yatsyna is a Brand and Community Development Specialist at Serpstat. She can be found on Twitter @erin_yat.

The post Why businesses should implement structured data appeared first on Search Engine Watch.