Intro to SEO Competitive Analysis 101 - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by Cyrus-ShepardA good, solid competitive analysis provides you with priceless insights into what's working for other folks in your industry, but it's not always easy to do right. In this week's edition of Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus walks you through how to perform a full competitive analysis, including:
How to identify your true competitorsKeyword gap analysisLink gap analysisTop content analysis
Plus, don't miss the handy tips on which tools can help with this process and our brand-new guide (with free template) on SEO competitive analysis. Give it a watch and let us know your own favorite tips for performing a competitive analysis in the comments!
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Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I'm Cyrus Shepard. Today we're talking about a really cool topic — competitive analysis. This is an introduction to competitive analysis.
What is competitive analysis for SEO?
It's basically stealing your competitors' traffic. If you're new to SEO or you've been around awhile, this is a very valuable tactic to earn more traffic and rankings for your site.
Instead of researching blindly what to go after, competitive analysis can tell you certain things with a high degree of accuracy that you won't find other ways, such as:
what keywords to target, what content to create, how to optimize that content, and where to get links.
How to do an SEO competitive analysis
How does it do this?
Well, instead of researching just in a keyword tool or a link tool, with competitive analysis you look at what's actually working for your competitors and use those tactics for yourself.
This often works so much better than the old-style ways of research, because you can actually improve upon what other people are actually doing and make those tactics work for you.
1. Identify your top competitors
So to get started with competitive analysis, the first challenge is to actually identify your top competitors.
This sounds easy. You probably think you know who your competitors are because you type a keyword into Google and you see who's ranking for your desired keyword. This does work, to certain degree.
Another way to do it is to look at the keywords you rank for, because the challenge is you probably rank for far more...
The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing: How People Buy Now
Posted by MiriamEllisThis post contains an excerpt from our new primer: The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing.
Planet Fitness, Great Clips, Ace Hardware… you can imagine the sense of achievement the leadership of these famous franchises must enjoy in making it to the top of lists like Entrepreneur’s 500. Behind the scenes of success, all competitive franchisors and franchisees have had to manage a major shift — one that centers on customers and their radically altered consumer journeys.
Research online, buy offline. Always-on laptops and constant companion smartphones are where fingers do the walking now, before feet cross the franchise threshold. Statistics tell the story of a public that searches online prior to the 90% of purchases they still make in physical stores.
And while opportunity abounds, “being there” for the customers wherever they are in their journey has presented unique challenges for franchises. Who manages which stage of the journey? Franchisor or franchisee? Getting it right means meeting new shopping habits head-on, and re-establishing clear sight-lines and guidelines for all contributors to the franchise’s ultimate success.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of articles dedicated to franchises. Want all the info now? Download The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing:
Seeing the Shift
Whoever your franchise’s customers are, demographically, we can tell you one thing: they aren’t buying the same way they were ten, or even five years ago. For one thing, they used to decide to buy at your business as they browsed shelves or a menu. Now, 82% of smartphone users consult their devices before making an in-store purchase. Thank you, digital marketing!
Traditionally, online marketing wasn’t something that franchisees had to think much about. And that was sort of a good thing because everyone knew their lane.
Franchisors handled national or regional marketing through broadcast, print, and other media. They also handled digital marketing — which, within recent recall, consisted mainly of a website, social media accounts, and paid search. Franchisees managed the local beat with coupons, flyers, direct mail, and other community and word-of-mouth marketing efforts.
Then people started shopping differently and traditional lanes began merging. Customers started using online directories to...
New SEO Experiments: A/B Split Testing Google's UGC Attribute
Posted by Cyrus-ShepardWhen Craig Bradford of Distilled reached out and asked if we'd like to run some SEO experiments on Moz using DistilledODN, our reply was an immediate "Yes please!"
If you're not familiar with DistilledODN, it's a sophisticated platform that allows you to do a number of cool things in the SEO space:
Make almost any change to your website through the ODN dashboard. Since the ODN is a cloud platform that sits in front of your website (like a CDN) it doesn't matter how your website is built or what CMS it uses. You can change a single page — or more likely — entire sections.The ODN allows you to A/B split test these changes and both measure and predict their impact on organic traffic. They also have a feature called full-funnel testing allowing you to measure impact on both SEO and CRO at the same time.
When you find something that works, you see a positive result like this:
SEO experimentation is great, but almost nobody does it right because it's impossible to control for other factors. Yes, you updated your title tags, but did Google roll out an update today? Sure, you sped up your site, but did a bunch of spam just link to you?
A/B split testing solves this problem by applying your changes to only a portion of your pages — typically 50% — and measuring the difference between the two groups. Fortunately, the ODN can deploy these changes near-instantly, up to thousands of pages at a time.
It then crunches the numbers and tells you what's working, or not.
Testing Google's UGC link attribute
For our first test, we decided to tackle something simple and fast. Craig suggested looking at Google's new link attributes, and we were off!
To summarize: Google recently introduced new link attributes for webmasters/SEOs to label links. Those attributes are:
rel="sponsored" - For paid and sponsored linksrel="ugc" - For links in user-generated content (UGC)rel="nofollow" - Remains a catch-all for all followed links
On the Moz blog, all comments links are currently marked "nofollow" — following years of SEO best practices. Google has stated that using the new attributes won't give you a rankings boost. That said, we wanted to test for ourselves if changing these links to "ugc" would impact the rankings/traffic of our blog pages.To be clear: We are not testing if the pages we link to change rankings, but instead the source...
Shopify SEO: The Guide to Optimizing Shopify
Posted by cml63A trend we’ve been noticing at Go Fish Digital is that more and more of our clients have been using the Shopify platform. While we initially thought this was just a coincidence, we can see that the data tells a different story:
The Shopify platform is now more popular than ever. Looking at BuiltWith usage statistics, we can see that usage of the CMS has more than doubled since July 2017. Currently, 4.47% of the top 10,000 sites are using Shopify.
Since we’ve worked with a good amount of Shopify stores, we wanted to share our process for common SEO improvements we help our clients with. The guide below should outline some common adjustments we make on Shopify stores.
What is Shopify SEO?
Shopify SEO simply means SEO improvements that are more unique to Shopify than other sites. While Shopify stores come with some useful things for SEO, such as a blog and the ability to redirect, it can also create SEO issues such as duplicate content. Some of the most common Shopify SEO recommendations are:
Remove duplicate URLs from internal linking architectureRemove duplicate paginated URLsCreate blog content for keywords with informational intentAdd “Product,” “Article,” & “BreadcrumbList” structured dataDetermine how to handle product variant pagesCompress images using crush.picsRemove unnecessary Shopify apps
We’ll go into how we handle each of these recommendations below:
In terms of SEO, duplicate content is the highest priority issue we’ve seen created by Shopify. Duplicate content occurs when either duplicate or similar content exists on two separate URLs. This creates issues for search engines as they might not be able to determine which of the two pages should be the canonical version. On top of this, often times link signals are split between the pages.
We’ve seen Shopify create duplicate content in several different ways:
Duplicate product pagesDuplicate collections pages through pagination
Duplicate product pages
Shopify creates this issue within their product pages. By default, Shopify stores allow their /products/ pages to render at two different URL paths:
Canonical URL path: /products/Non-canonical URL path: /collections/.*/products/
Shopify accounts for this by ensuring that all /collections/.*/products/ pages include a canonical tag to the associated /products/ page. Notice how the URL in the address...
Featured Snippets: What to Know & How to Target - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by BritneyMullerFeatured snippets are still the best way to take up primo SERP real estate, and they seem to be changing all the time. Today, Britney Muller shares the results of the latest Moz research into featured snippet trends and data, plus some fantastic tips and tricks for winning your own.
(And we just can't resist — if this whets your appetite for all things featured snippet, save your spot in Britney's upcoming webinar with even more exclusive data and takeaways!)
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Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Today we're talking about all things featured snippets, so what are they, what sort of research have we discovered about them recently, and what can you take back to the office to target them and effectively basically steal in search results.
What is a featured snippet?
So to be clear, what is a featured snippet?
If you were to do a search for "are crocs edible," you would see a featured snippet like this:
Essentially, it's giving you information about your search and citing a website. This isn't to be confused with an answer box, where it's just an answer and there's no citation. If you were to search how many days are in February, Google will probably just tell you 28 and there's no citation. That's an answer box as opposed to a featured snippet.
Need-to-know discoveries about featured snippets
Now what have we recently discovered about featured snippets?
23% of all search result pages include a featured snippet
Well, we know that they're on 23% of all search result pages. That's wild. This is up over 165% since 2016.
We know that they're growing.
There are 5 general types of featured snippets
We know that Google continues to provide more and more in different spaces, and we also know that there are five general types of featured snippets:
The most common that we see are the paragraph and the list. The list can come in numerical format or bullets.
But we also see tables and then video. The video is interesting because it will just show a specific section of a video that it thinks you need to consume in order to get your answer, which is always interesting.
Lately, we have started noticing accordions, and we're not sure if they're testing this or if it might be...
Announcing Quick, Free SEO Metrics with a New Domain Analysis Tool
Posted by Cyrus-ShepardIf you want a quick overview of top SEO metrics for any domain, today we're officially launching a new free tool for you: Domain Analysis.
One thing Moz does extremely well is SEO data: data that consistently sets industry standards and is respected both for its size (35 trillion links, 500 million keyword corpus) and its accuracy. We're talking things like Domain Authority, Spam Score, Keyword Difficulty, and more, which are used by tens of thousands of SEOs across the globe.
With Domain Analysis, we wanted to combine this data in one place, and quickly show it to people without the need of creating a login or signing up for an account.
The tool is free, and showcases a preview of many top SEO metrics in one place, including:
Domain AuthorityLinking Root Domains# of Ranking KeywordsSpam ScoreTop PagesTop Linking DomainsDiscovered and Lost LinksKeywords by Estimated Clicks (new)Top Ranking KeywordsTop Featured Snippets (new)Top Branded Keywords (new)Keyword Ranking DistributionTop Search Competitors (new)Top Search Questions (new)
Many of these metrics are previews that you can explore more in-depth using Moz tools such as Link Explorer and Keyword Explorer.
New experimental metrics
Domain Analysis includes a number of new, experimental metrics not available anywhere else. These are metrics developed by our search scientist Dr. Pete Meyers that we're interested in exploring because we believe they are useful to SEO. Those metrics include:
Keywords by Estimated Clicks
You know your competitor ranks #1 for a keyword, but how many clicks does that generate for them? Keywords by Estimate Clicks uses ranking position, search volume, and estimated click-through rate (CTR) to estimate just how many clicks each keyword generates for that website.
Top Featured Snippets
Search results with featured snippets can be very different than those without, as whoever "wins" the featured snippet at position zero can expect outsized clicks and attention. These are potentially valuable keywords. Top Featured Snippets tells you which keywords a site ranks for that triggers a featured snippet, and also whether or not that site owns the snippet.
Branded keywords are a type of navigational query in which users are searching for a particular site. These can be some of the website's most valuable keywords. Typically, it's very hard —...
We Analyzed 5.2 Million Desktop and Mobile Pages. Here’s What We Learned About Page Speed
We analyzed 5 million desktop and mobile pages to learn which factors impact page speed.
First, we established worldwide benchmarks for TTFB, Visual Complete and Fully Loaded load time metrics.
Then, we looked at how image compression, CDNs and hosting impact site loading speed.
Our data revealed some very interesting (and surprising) insights.
Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:
1. In our analysis of 5.2 million pages, the average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 1.286 seconds on desktop and 2.594 seconds on mobile. The average time it takes to fully load a webpage is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.
2. The average web page takes 87.84% longer to load on mobile vs. desktop.
3. When comparing major CMSs against one another, Squarespace and Weebly have the best overall mobile page speed performance. Wix and WordPress ranked near the bottom.
4. On desktop, CDNs have the biggest impact on TTFB. However, on mobile devices, the number of HTML requests seems to affect TTFB the most.
5. Overall page size has a significant impact on desktop and mobile “Visually Complete” loading speed. Larger pages take 318% longer to visually load compared to smaller pages. We also found that gzip compression helps images load more quickly on both desktop and mobile.
6. Total page weight is the #1 determinant of Fully Loaded page speed. Light pages fully load 486% faster than large pages.
8. Pages with very low or very high file compression have above-average page speed performance (measured via First Contextual Paint).
9. Third-party scripts significantly slow down page loading speed. Each third party script added to a page increases load time by 34.1 milliseconds.
10. We discovered that using responsive images results in the best overall image loading performance. Use of WebP was significantly less effective at reducing image load times.
11. GitHub and Weebly web hosts have the fastest overall TTFB Performance. Siteground and Wix are the slowest among the hosting providers that we analyzed.
12. China, Japan, and Germany have the fastest TTFB loading times. Australia, India and Brazil have the slowest TTFB times.
13. CDN usage was correlated with worse page speed performance. This is likely due to...
A Breakdown of HTML Usage Across ~8 Million Pages (& What It Means for Modern SEO)
Posted by Catalin.RosuNot long ago, my colleagues and I at Advanced Web Ranking came up with an HTML study based on about 8 million index pages gathered from the top twenty Google results for more than 30 million keywords.
We wrote about the markup results and how the top twenty Google results pages implement them, then went even further and obtained HTML usage insights on them.
What does this have to do with SEO?
The way HTML is written dictates what users see and how search engines interpret web pages. A valid, well-formatted HTML page also reduces possible misinterpretation — of structured data, metadata, language, or encoding — by search engines.
This is intended to be a technical SEO audit, something we wanted to do from the beginning: a breakdown of HTML usage and how the results relate to modern SEO techniques and best practices.
In this article, we’re going to address things like meta tags that Google understands, JSON-LD structured data, language detection, headings usage, social links & meta distribution, AMP, and more.
Meta tags that Google understands
When talking about the main search engines as traffic sources, sadly it's just Google and the rest, with Duckduckgo gaining traction lately and Bing almost nonexistent.
Thus, in this section we’ll be focusing solely on the meta tags that Google listed in the Search Console Help Center.
Pie chart showing the total numbers for the meta tags that Google understands, described in detail in the sections below.
<meta name="description" content="...">
The meta description is a ~150 character snippet that summarizes a page's content. Search engines show the meta description in the search results when the searched phrase is contained in the description.
SELECTORCOUNT<meta name="description" content="*">4,391,448<meta name="description" content="">374,649<meta name="description">13,831
On the extremes, we found 685,341 meta elements with content shorter than 30 characters and 1,293,842 elements with the content text longer than 160 characters.
The title is technically not a meta tag, but it's used in conjunction with meta name="description".
This is one of the two most important HTML tags when it comes to SEO. It's also a must according to W3C, meaning no page is valid with a missing title tag.
Research suggests that if you keep your titles under a...
How We Grew Blog Traffic by 650% in Two Years — Organically
Posted by DaisyQAs a digital content marketer, your job is to grow traffic that converts into leads and sales. Some of us in this field are lucky to work with companies that sell sexy products. It makes it a little easier. But that’s not always the case. This post is for the other marketers that work in the not-so-sexy fields. I can speak to this audience because up until the spring of this year, I was the Digital Content and Marketing Manager at a synthetic oil company. I won’t fault you if you don’t know what that is — we’ll get to it shortly.
Grow blog traffic, stat
In 2016, I joined a company that sold synthetic oil (the stuff in your engine that you change once every couple of months). One of my tasks was to grow website traffic, and the best channel I landed on was the company blog.
The corporate e-commerce website (yep, we sold engine oil online at a premium) was a political minefield, so I had very limited sway. The blog was not. A group of three contributors would meet weekly and throw spur-of-the-moment posts together. It had a sporadic publishing schedule. The topics were dry (it was a blog about motor oil, after all) and blog traffic was correspondingly sluggish. The blog at the time had averaged under 5,000 sessions a month. Within a year, we doubled it. Within two years, we scaled it up seven times. By the time I left, we had surpassed 100,000 sessions within a month threshold.
How we operationalized our blog for triple-digit growth
Within a few months of assuming leadership of the blog, we overhauled the entire publishing process, doubled the team of volunteer contributors, implemented a quarterly editorial calendar, and search-optimized the heck out of our blog posts.
These are the tactics I used to increase our sessions, search visibility, and subscribers in two years.
1. No man is an island — neither is your blog
Our company had a communications team of great writers. Correction: great-but-swamped writers. So we had to look elsewhere. I reached out to departments across the company in hopes of finding people that liked writing enough to publish something once or twice a month. The writer assigned to help manage the blog would proof and edit posts before they were published, so that these contributors wouldn’t have to worry about writing perfectly.
Our efforts paid off; we grew the team from three contributors to a group of eight.