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This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.
We all know that moment where your website has grown to this monstrous collection of pages. That moment when you realize that you have too many pages in your menu and the coherence of your website is nowhere to be found. And we also know what a struggle it is to clean this mess up.
In this article, I’d like to go over some things we would take into account (at least) when changing your site structure. It’s a tough job, and sometimes it takes a lot of rewriting and perhaps even creating new pages, but as it is a job we have postponed way too long already, why not start restructuring today.
The visual structure of your website is, in most cases, presented by the menu of your website. Of course, breadcrumbs and permalinks help a lot here as well, but these are not the things an ordinary visitor will take into account. The menu is. Your menu ideally consists of a limited number of top-level items, to keep the website focused.
In a perfect world, we would place everything in one sublevel at most. Today, many sites use secondary menus to accommodate for additional content. Loads of site-owners can’t help but state that they “can’t squeeze all they have to say in just a few pages.” Please realize there are more ways to get from one page to another and your menu isn’t the only navigational option on your website.
For the majority of websites, the menu starts with the Home item and ends with the Contact item. We’re used to that, and every time we find a website that lacks either one of them, the menu just doesn’t feel right. Everything between these two items should be related somehow. Either list the main product groups or focus areas of the website.
One of the sites we’ve come across recently had three major interest areas: freediving, scuba diving and spearfishing. It is clear that these items have a link between them, and therefore the menu feels natural. If these menu items had been freediving, scuba diving and Dakar Rally, that wouldn’t feel natural, right? Keep things on-topic. If you have a diving website and want to write about your Dakar experience, I’m sure you can squeeze in a blog post or link to a specialized, optimized site about it. It doesn’t belong in your menu. This is your basic site structure.
Joost did an excellent piece on cornerstone content that we refer to on a daily basis. Cornerstone content (in short: assigning one main page per content and linking that from related pages) shows how internal links contribute to your site structure. Although menu links are the most visible, if a visitor is reading an article and wants to know more about the subject at hand, a link in the text is more easily found than a menu item that relates to it. If you need help fixing your site structure, you can sign up for our Site structure course.
Call it an organogram, call it a flowchart or whatever name you think is suitable, but making a visual presentation of your site structure will pay off. Start with your desired (one or two level) menu and see if you can fit in more of the pages you have created over the years. You will find that some pages are still valid, but don’t seem suitable for your menu anymore. As mentioned that’s no problem, just make sure to link them to related pages and in your sitemaps. This way Google and your visitor will find these pages.
Perhaps this diagram will also show you the gaps in the site structure and you need to add pages to clean up the chaos. If you have a website for a company that develops websites, one thread in your site structure could be:
Web development → Content management system → WordPress → WordPress themes → Responsive WordPress themes
Not all steps need to be in the menu (perhaps just Web Development and WordPress would be enough), but all pages in your site structure should ideally be set up and optimized. It will create a rich collection of pages that strengthen each other. By the way, I am sure that one step in this example also has links to other pages in your site structure, as it belongs to other collections of pages as well.
What I expect, is that you’ll also find pages that need urgent updating or worse: that actually shouldn’t be on your website or simply don’t fit the current or new site structure. Services you used to offer or information that just isn’t accurate anymore. Write these pages down or copy the URLs to a text file.
Can you redirect (301) these pages, like with our the redirects manager in our Yoast SEO Premium plugin? Preferably you should redirect the URL to a related article, to preserve any traffic that this page had. If that related article doesn’t exist, redirect to a related category page, or as a last resort to your homepage. This way the (outdated) page won’t interfere with your site structure anymore. Read Joost’s article if you need to know how to properly delete pages from your site.
When using WordPress, an apparent site structure is provided by the Categories and Tags you have divided your posts and perhaps pages in. In WordPress, these are called ‘taxonomies’. We have mentioned this before, but 8 to 10 categories would suffice for a website. Perhaps a webshop could have more, but the top level should preferably consist of that number of categories to keep your site and site structure focused. We’ve seen sites using over 300 categories, accompanied by over 5,000 tags and more. That’s not structuring your website, that’s messing up your site structure.
For me, the basic guideline is that if I don’t think I will reuse a tag, I won’t apply it to a post. And if an eleventh category would knock on my door, I’d probably wonder if the website could use another taxonomy next to categories and tags. Several WordPress plugins can help reorganizing taxonomies, but most of them don’t seem to add redirects after merging or deleting taxonomies – be sure to do that, of course.
Although one can write this down in a couple of paragraphs, it could be a lengthy process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When changing the structure of a large website, it could make sense to change the permalink structure as well, which can have a lot of consequences. In this article, we focus on restructuring the site for user experience (and SEO), not on all the technical implications this might have if you want to take restructuring to the next level.
In the unlikely case you have constructed your HTML sitemap manually, update that sitemap after changing your site structure. In the likely case you have an XML sitemap, for instance, generated by Yoast SEO, resubmit it from Google Search Console. Should you have removed a page that just shouldn’t be in Google anymore, delete it from your website. Redirect that page to a page that is closely related to it. If you really don’t have a clue which page to redirect to, serve a 410 Content Deleted error. This way, you’ll at least let Google know that you deleted this content on purpose.
Variables have become a staple of Yoast SEO. Variables make it possible to automate certain processes on your site. They also make it easy to change large batches of meta descriptions for instance, since you only have to change the structure of the variable – the site fills in the data automatically. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the Titles and Meta variables in Yoast SEO.
First things first: a variable is a name or a symbol that stands for a value. For instance, Yoast SEO uses the variable
%%sitename%% to get the site name from the site itself. This way, you, as a user, don’t have to type in this information by hand. Now, when the name of the site changes, the variable automatically gets the new name from the site. If you had this hard-coded in your site, you’d have to change everything manually – everywhere. Consider doing this on hundreds of pages and you’ll start to see how powerful variables are.
Yoast SEO uses variables to give you the freedom and flexibility you need when working on your SEO. It makes it much easier to find a common ground for your text fields. What’s more, if you ever need to change something, variables let you do this as quickly as possible.
You can only find the relevant options in the Titles and Metas section of the Yoast SEO plugin if you activate the advanced settings. There you’ll find loads of options for setting variables to automate your SEO efforts. The full list of variables is listed on the HELP tab of the plugin. Just go to SEO → Titles & Metas and click the help tab in the top right. You can also check our knowledge base article on Titles and Metas variables.
You are free to change any of the settings as you see fit, but remember, the default settings are almost always a great fit for any site. That being said, you can set variables for:
You can use variables in a multitude of ways. Most site-owners only use the most basic ones, while someone more at home in SEO might use the advanced ones. There are even variables for use with WooCommerce, so you can automatically extract product information from your store to use in the metadata. In this post, we’ll keep it simple and give a small example. Let’s look at the different variables that you can use to determine the title of a post on a site.
* Open the Yoast SEO advanced settings and go to Titles and Metas.
* Go to the Post section and find the Title template field.
* The field is prepopulated, but you can change it to whatever you want.
* If you need the list of supported variables, click on Help Center.
If you want, you can edit the SEO title per post in the snippet editor of Yoast SEO. There, you’ll find the title according to the variables you’ve chosen. In addition, you also get the option to override that title with a custom-made variant if you think that’ll attract more clicks in the search engines.
The default title variable string is:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
Which, for the post you are now reading, leads to:
These variables combined form the SEO title of the post. In this string, the title takes the title of the post, adds a page number if any (f.i. page 3 of 4), the separator symbol you picked and the site name of the site it’s posted on. You could add lots of other variables in there, but remember, you’re working with limited space for the snippets. If you’d add a
%%category%% for instance, the title would become too long and Google would cut it off. Try to find a middle ground between readability, findability and branding. Yes, your branding is important, so don’t omit
Yoast SEO supports a wide range of variables and they can be used for almost any situation. You should, however, always ask yourself if the change you want to make improves your metadata. If not, why not let the default settings do their work? Experienced SEOs will enjoy using the advanced variables and online store owners can make use of the extra WooCommerce variables. For the rest of you? Don’t overdo it.
Email is still the workhorse of digital marketing.
In fact, the number of emails sent and received per day total over 205 billion, according to The Radicati Group Email Statistics Report.
There are no other marketing channels as effective and efficient as email — but there still might be a use for email your team is overlooking: employee email. Your employees interact with prospective customers, current customers, job candidates, partners, vendors, and industry influencers daily on a personal, one-on-one basis — and they already have valuable, authentic relationships with these important contacts.
Employee email is an often overlooked owned channel marketers can take advantage of to distribute content (both externally and internally) and drive conversions. But how? Through the employee email signature.
It seems simple, but by pairing an on-brand signature with a clickable call-to-action banner in every employee email signature, teams can use email signature marketing to help fuel their broader company goals.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of conversion-optimized email signatures, so you can get started on creating your own.
Email signature marketing can help event marketers drive more registrations, increase live stream attendance, and improve post-event follow up.
Whether it be a conference hosted by your company, third-party event, or even a dinner, a registration CTA in all employee email signatures can result in additional views, clicks, and registrations.
We all know how much time and energy it takes to put on a world-class event, why not use employee email to get the right people there?
The easiest way to provide consistent and meaningful value to a prospect or customer is to pass along helpful content. Each email interaction is an opportunity to do just this — and sharing thought leadership content helps build trust and establish credibility.
But how can you ensure everyone on the team is sharing your newest ebook or industry report in all of their sent emails without forcing it into the conversation? Include a bright and beautiful call-to-action under their email signature.
Your employees (most likely the sales team) are also emailing qualified prospects that are far into the sales cycle. These email recipients should learn how others are seeing ROI from your product or service.
To keep them engaged in your sales pipeline, share a case study, specific use case or testimonial and feature a customer the prospect can relate to or identify as a credible brand.
Need a new way to drive registrations and attendance to your upcoming webinar? Including a subtle call-to-action in every sent email is a fast and easy way to get the word out. After the webinar airs, you can even switch the CTA to read “watch the recording” and link to the video.
Your client success and service teams send thousands of emails to customers every year. They have the undivided attention of your most important audience, so use it as a way to promote an upcoming sale or can’t-miss discount. Don’t forget about new service offerings and pricing packages too.
How is your sales development team following up with marketing qualified leads? Beyond a few triggered emails and/or phone calls, 1:1 email is the most popular option.
Personalization is important in these emails, and including a CTA for the “next step” is even more crucial. Be helpful, educate your audience, and provide a way to lead them to the next stage.
An average employee sends and receives 122 emails per day. Yet, some of these emails can be impersonal. How does your email differentiate from the 121 others?
We all know video is the most powerful form of content when it comes to building personal 1:1 connections, so why not use it in every email you send? Establishing a real human connection through typed words on a screen is difficult. However, if they’re able to see your face and maybe learn about your interests, you have a better chance of gaining their trust.
Personalized and relevant content that is sent to the right audience leads to great things for your team — and the employee email signature can help! Create your own email signature today and see how HubSpot is helping deliver on this mission.
Sometimes, I wonder if the internet can be boiled down to a single sentiment: “Oops.”
That was certainly the underlying theme of some major news items this week, like the one our headline alludes to — more on that below.
After all, the digital landscape is a setting that can be described at once as a playground and a hellscape, where mistakes never really disappear (even if you quickly delete them, thanks to screen shots), contentious competition never ends, and consumers are often left wondering, “What the hell is going on? I just want a machine to read my schedule to me in the morning.”
This week — as with many others — was a busy one in the worlds of tech and marketing. Here’s what you missed.
If our headline freaked you out, you’re not alone: a yet-to-be-determined number of Amazon customers experienced a similar sentiment this week when they mistakenly received emails regarding phantom baby registries.
Last Tuesday, several Amazon customers reported receiving an email from the online merchant reading, “Someone great recently purchased a gift from your baby registry!” And while the internet typically can’t be used for a pregnancy test — unless you count Target’s 2012 public relations disaster after predicting a teen’s pregnancy by tracking her shopping habits — it still caused brief moments of panic among those who got the email.
There were some fears that the emails were a result of phishing attempts, but in the end, Amazon confirmed to TechCrunch that the emails were the result of a technical glitch, going on to send apology emails to the customers that received them. It’s not clear what exactly happened or what the the glitch entailed, but let this be a lesson to marketers: triple check your email workflows.
Among the panic, Twitter had quite a bit of fun with the error:
— Telisa Gunter (@telisann)
September 19, 2017
— James O’Meara Sr (@jamesomearasr)
September 20, 2017
I couldn’t help but wonder … had everyone gotten the Amazon baby registry email except me? pic.twitter.com/DR3S6m2ejq
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81)
September 19, 2017
Following last week’s ProPublica revelation that Facebook was allowing advertisers to use anti-Semitic targeting criteria for promoted content, it was quickly discovered that Google and Twitter had similarly flawed advertising technology.
BuzzFeed was the first to discover that the Google allowed advertisers to use anti-Semitic and racially-charged search terms to target certain audiences, and soon after, the Daily Beast reported that Twitter allowed similar targeting criteria, which resulted in an audience of roughly 26.3 million users.
All three companies have since responded that they either have or are working to remove this criteria, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg publishing a very lengthy, formal apology on Wednesday:
Yesterday, Facebook released an official statement on its plans to hand over important documents regarding the ads it sold to Russian organizations to Congress, as well as a second one with answers to several “hard questions” on what happened to cause something like that to happen in the first place.
The gravity of that move is one that cannot be emphasized enough. As Mike Isaac writes for the New York Times:
” … the move to work with the congressional committees underscored how far the social network has strayed from being a mere technology company and how it has increasingly had to deal with the unintended consequences of the tools it provides to reach the more than two billion people who use the site regularly.”
Shortly after those posts went live, Mark Zuckerberg delivered a live address on his own Page to address the efforts it would make moving forward to “protect the integrity of the democratic process.”
Some believe that this address, along with Sandberg’s statement form the previous day, is the first of many efforts by Facebook to proactively dodge federal regulation by staying one step ahead of congressional actions or attempts to curb what such channels and platforms can actually do. It’s even, perhaps, a defensive move, as the legality of the aforementioned ad sale remains in question.
Meanwhile, Twitter is also due to appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing nxt week to further examine its own possible role in influencing the most recent U.S. presidential election.
Last week, we filled you in on the ongoing lawsuit between Uber and Alphabet, Inc company Waymo over proprietary self-driving technology. Since then, there have been a few key developments.
First, over the weekend, Alphabet requested that the trial be postponed after receiving crucial information that the court ordered Uber to turn over. Seeing that information, it seemed, made Waymo realize just how much was at stake with Uber being in possession of these materials, and needed more time to review all of the evidence supporting its case. Megan Rose Dickey of TechCrunch tweeted a key portion of its statement on the issue:
Waymo wants to postpone the trial w/ Uber. Here’s Waymo’s statement. pic.twitter.com/SF8CrGDYak
— Megan Rose Dickey (@meganrosedickey)
September 17, 2017
Uber, of course, objected to that request, charging that Alphabet is trying the delay the trial — December 5 is the proposed postponed date — not because of surmounting evidence, but because of a lack of it. The full opposition can be found here:
That same judge also gave Uber permission to publicly disclose some of what Waymo is hoping to gain from the lawsuit: $2.6 billion for one stolen (allegedly) trade secret. But there are still eight other secrets that Waymo says to have been stolen by Uber, and no monetary figure has yet been assigned to them.
At this point, the trial is still set to begin on October 10, and recently-appointed Uber has a decision to make: whether or not he wants to settle out of court, or continue to defend the company’s name in what promises to be a complex, drawn-out trial.
It’s just one of many problems for Uber these days. With the release of iOS 11 this week, Uber was forced to allow users to block the app from tracking their locations.
Additionally, the BBC broke news this morning that Transport for London would not renew the ride-sharing app’s private hire license, calling it “not fit and proper” to carry on operations there. Uber has 21 days to dispute that decision and can continue providing services in London until then.
I’ll admit it — my new favorite feature of iOS 11, the latest operating system available on the iPhone, is probably the ability to fill your iMessage recipient’s screen with the next, image, or emoji of your choice. But just for the sake of due diligence, I tested it by sending this gem to one of my colleagues:
But my low bar for amusement aside, the new operating system comes with some features that are actually, you know, productive. Here are our five favorites:
And, finally — we can’t forget ARKit — Apple’s mobile augmented reality technology — which has been a big portion of the talk of the iPhone town in the days following iOS 11’s release. I tweeted about my experience with using it on Wayfair’s home shopping app:
— Amanda Zantal-Wiener (@Amanda_ZW)
September 20, 2017
A lot happened for the search giant this week, beyond its parent company’s lawsuit and a significant team acquisition. First, there were some leaks around the rumored October 4th release of the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL, but they were mostly limited to the device’s available colors, as per Droid Life.
That same outlet also leaked the rumored Google Home Mini, a much smaller version of the Google Home, which many are calling the company’s response to the Echo Dot. And on Tuesday, a “media streaming device” — the same language used to describe the original Google home — with features remarkably similar to the first Google Home was submitted to the FCC. These developments all align with the timeline leading up to the October 4th press event.
Source: Droid Life
In non-Pixel or Home news, Google announced four new features this week:
Remember all of those marketing takeaways from the Equifax hack that we outlined last week? Well, it turns out that Equifax hasn’t exactly heeded that advice — or that of too many others, it seems. In fact, it was revealed earlier this week that the company’s customer service agents on Twitter were directing customers to a fake website that, visually, was nearly identical to the site Equifax set up for users to enroll in free credit marketing.
The clone site was created by by software engineer Nick Sweeting, whose intentions weren’t malicious, but rather, were to show how poorly Equifax was monitoring and managing the situation.
— Nick Sweeting 🚲 (@thesquashSH)
September 20, 2017
Sweeting was quite transparent about that in creating the site, which has since been taken down, along with any tweets directing customers to it — it was titled, “Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information Which is Totally Fake, Why Did Equifax Use A Domain That’s So Easily Impersonated By Phishing Sites?”
The “fake” site did not collect any personal information, but Sweeting pointed out how easily it would be for other hackers to create an equally identical site that did using the Linux command “wget” — and he blamed that on Equifax’s choice to establish an entirely new domain, rather than create an equifax.com subdomain.
“wget” essentially permits anyone — yes, anyone at all — “to just suck their whole site down with wget and throw it on a … server,” Sweeting explained in an email to the New York Times. His version, he said, had “the same type of SSL certificate as the real version, so from a trust perspective, there’s no way for users to authenticate the real one vs. my server.”
Creating a subdomain should have been the obvious move for Equifax, Carnegie Mellon IS Professor Rahul Telang told the outlet, “so that if somebody tries to fake it, it becomes immediately obvious.”
This development comes amid news that Equifax actually suffered more than one hack this year. In addition to the headline-making breach in July, the company experienced an earlier one in March, creating even more confusion around the decision to wait until September to alert customers, as well as the massive August stock sale by its executives.
For anyone who grew up begging their parents to take them to the toy store, this week came with some sad news: Toy store chain Toys ‘R’ Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. Many were quick to blame its demise on Amazon, which has been named the culprit for the financial woes of many other brick-and-mortar retailers, but in reality, the cause may have reached far beyond that. As Recode reports, the move is largely the result of a “cocktail” of limited product selection, a lack of competitive pricing, and piling debt after several 2005 buyouts.
For the sake of our own childhood memories, we hope Toys ‘R’ Us is able to turn things around.
Allow us to introduce you to the International Entrepreneur Rule: a federal measure that, had it passed in July 2017 as planned, would have made it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain visas for the purpose of founding startups in the U.S.
However, the same month it was slated to be effective, the current presidential administration delayed it until March 2018, with many believing that it will only go on to be completely dismantled. But this week, Axios reports, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) has brought forth a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, on the grounds that the decision to delay the enforcement of the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act — which says that the department must first “solicit public comment.”
The formal complaint can be downloaded here.
Nest, which was acquired by Google back in 2013, held its first major press event this week, where it unveiled a number of new products. Among them were the Nest Cam IQ — this writer’s personal favorite unveiling from the launch — an outdoor security camera that can detect movement and differentiate whether it’s coming from a person or an object. If it’s a person, the system alerts you, as well as letting you know if it senses a barking dog or a talking person. Even better: it’s equipped with facial recognition, so that if someone familiar comes into the camera’s range, like your regular dog walker, the system will recognize that it’s likely not an intruder.
Also announced was the Nest Hello video doorbell, which uses similar camera technology to the above to alert users if a person is within range, even if they don’t ring. Finally, an overall comprehensive security system was unveiled called Nest Secure, which exists of three key components: Nest Guard, where the system is armed and disarmed with the second component, Nest Tag, which is similar to a key fob and can be used to turn off the alarm system. The first piece is Nest Detect, which can sense general motion and the opening or closing of windows or doors.
Check out the video summary here:
That’s all for this week! Next week, we’re off to INBOUND 2017: one of the world’s largest and most remarkable marketing and sales industry events. We’ll be back with our regular news coverage the first week in October.
Until then — happy autumn.
Last week, while I was using a website’s chat feature to get some much-needed customer service, I realized something shocking:
I couldn’t tell if I was chatting with a human or a bot.
Before 2017, my notion of bots — and chatbots, specifically — was that they could only provide canned, basic responses before escalating to a human being. In short, I thought chatbots seemed, well, robotic, and they couldn’t get me the help I needed with a human touch.
Now, of course, I know that chatbots are the future of marketing, and you might feel the same. More brands have started using chatbots for marketing, sales, and customer service — and these are just a few examples.
If you’re wondering why bots are proliferating so rapidly — and how they’ve advanced to the point where we can’t differentiate their capabilities from those of humans — watch our chat with Motion AI CEO David Nelson above. He sat down and chatted with my colleague, Jami Oetting, about how bots have grown so significantly this year and why businesses should consider implementing a bot strategy of their own.
Remember my story earlier?
The progression of natural language understanding has made chatbots more human than ever, making 2017 an ideal time to deploy a chatbot to answer questions and provide information.
It’s harder than ever to keep customers happy. And that’s because they have more options than ever (from your competition), and they want assistance made for the 21st century — instead of having to wait on hold for hours and repeat their information over and over.
Now, bots can perceive context and use data to give people the relevant information they need, and customers are more willing to interact with bots that give them the help they need — they’re fast, efficient, and just as helpful when they need assistance, on any channel.
Bots can now answer frequently-asked questions, qualify new leads, and even distribute content. Here on the HubSpot Blog, we’re using a Facebook Messenger bot to help readers subscribe and read blog posts like these. Bots can automate processes humans have to do over and over again — saving time and valuable resources.
The key to good marketing content is personalization. Bots can help you mine and analyze data you’ve already collected about prospects and customers to send them more customized emails and to have helpful context on calls.
With help from industry leaders like Motion AI, you don’t have to try to demystify bots on your own — it’s easy to create and deploy bots anywhere on your site to help achieve your goals.
Editor’s note: HubSpot has acquired Motion AI, which enables everyone (developer or not) to build bots. Learn more here: HubSpot Acquires Motion AI.
Posted by randfish
What do the age of your site, your headline H1/H2 preference, bounce rate, and shared hosting all have in common? You might’ve gotten a hint from the title: not a single one of them directly affects your Google rankings. In this rather comforting Whiteboard Friday, Rand lists out ten factors commonly thought to influence your rankings that Google simply doesn’t care about.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about things that do not affect your Google rankings.
So it turns out lots of people have this idea that anything and everything that you do with your website or on the web could have an impact. Well, some things have an indirect impact and maybe even a few of these do. I’ll talk through those. But tons and tons of things that you do don’t directly affect your Google rankings. So I’ll try and walk through some of these that I’ve heard or seen questions about, especially in the recent past.
First one, longstanding debate: the age of your website. Does Google care if you registered your site in 1998 or 2008 or 2016? No, they don’t care at all. They only care the degree to which your content actually helps people and that you have links and authority signals and those kinds of things. Granted, it is true there’s correlation going in this direction. If you started a site in 1998 and it’s still going strong today, chances are good that you’ve built up lots of links and authority and equity and all these kinds of signals that Google does care about.
But maybe you’ve just had a very successful first two years, and you only registered your site in 2015, and you’ve built up all those same signals. Google is actually probably going to reward that site even more, because it’s built up the same authority and influence in a very small period of time versus a much longer one.
So people worry that, “Oh, wait a minute. Can’t Google sort of monitor what’s going on with my Google Analytics account and see all my data there and AdSense? What if they can look inside Gmail or Google Docs?”
Google, first off, the engineers who work on these products and the engineers who work on search, most of them would quit right that day if they discovered that Google was peering into your Gmail account to discover that you had been buying shady links or that you didn’t look as authoritative as you really were on the web or these kinds of things. So don’t fear the use of these or the decision not to use them will hurt or harm your rankings in Google web search in any way. It won’t.
So you have a Facebook counter on there, and it shows that you have 17,000 shares on that page. Wow, that’s a lot of shares. Does Google care? No, they don’t care at all. In fact, they’re not even looking at that or using it. But what if it turns out that many of those people who shared it on Facebook also did other activities that resulted in lots of browser activity and search activity, click-through activity, increased branding, lower pogo-sticking rates, brand preference for you in the search results, and links? Well, Google does care about a lot of those things. So indirectly, this can have an impact. Directly, no. Should you buy 10,000 Facebook shares? No, you should not.
Well, this is sort of an interesting one. Let’s say you have a time on site of two minutes, and you look at your industry averages, your benchmarks, maybe via Google Analytics if you’ve opted in to sharing there, and you see that your industry benchmarks are actually lower than average. Is that going to hurt you in Google web search? Not necessarily. It could be the case that those visitors are coming from elsewhere. It could be the case that you are actually serving up a faster-loading site and you’re getting people to the information that they need more quickly, and so their time on site is slightly lower or maybe even their bounce rate is higher.
But so long as pogo-sticking type of activity, people bouncing back to the search results and choosing a different result because you didn’t actually answer their query, so long as that remains fine, you’re not in trouble here. So raw bounce rate, raw time on site, I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
Sometimes you get that knowledge panel, and it shows around the web and some information sometimes from Wikipedia. What about site links, where you search for your brand name and you get branded site links? The first few sets of results are all from your own website, and they’re sort of indented. Does that impact your rankings? No, it does not. It doesn’t impact your rankings for any other search query anyway.
It could be that showing up here and it probably is that showing up here means you’re going to get a lot more of these clicks, a higher share of those clicks, and it’s a good thing. But does this impact your rankings for some other totally unbranded query to your site? No, it doesn’t at all. I wouldn’t stress too much. Over time, sites tend to build up site links and knowledge panels as their brands become bigger and as they become better known and as they get more coverage around the web and online and offline. So this is not something to stress about.
Well, directly, this is not going to affect you unless it hurts load speed or up time. If it doesn’t hurt either of those things and they’re just as good as they were before or as they would be if you were paying more or using solo hosting, you’re just fine. Don’t worry about it.
So when Google crawls a site, when they come to a site, if you don’t have a robots.txt file, or you have a robots.txt file but it doesn’t include any exclusions, any disallows, or they reach a page and it has no meta robots tag, they’re just going to assume that they get to crawl everything and that they should follow all the links.
Using things like the meta robots “index, follow” or using, on an individual link, a rel=follow inside the href tag, or in your robots.txt file specifying that Google can crawl everything, doesn’t boost anything. They just assume all those things by default. Using them in these places, saying yes, you can do the default thing, doesn’t give you any special benefit. It doesn’t hurt you, but it gives you no benefit. Google just doesn’t care.
So the page title element sits in the header of a document, and it could be something like your brand name and then a separator and some words and phrases after it, or the other way around, words and phrases, separator, the brand name. Does it matter if that separator is the pipe bar or a hyphen or a colon or any other special character that you would like to use? No, Google does not care. You don’t need to worry about it. This is a personal preference issue.
Now, maybe you’ve found that one of these characters has a slightly better click-through rate and preference than another one. If you’ve found that, great. We have not seen one broadly on the web. Some people will say they particularly like the pipe over the hyphen. I don’t think it matters too much. I think it’s up to you.
Well, I’ve heard this said: If you put your headline inside an H2 rather than an H1, Google will consider it a little less important. No, that is definitely not true. In fact, I’m not even sure the degree to which Google cares at all whether you use H1s or H2s or H3s, or whether they just look at the content and they say, “Well, this one is big and at the top and bold. That must be the headline, and that’s how we’re going to treat it. This one is lower down and smaller. We’re going to say that’s probably a sub-header.”
Whether you use an H5 or an H2 or an H3, that is your CSS on your site and up to you and your designers. It is still best practices in HTML to make sure that the headline, the biggest one is the H1. I would do that for design purposes and for having nice clean HTML and CSS, but I wouldn’t stress about it from Google’s perspective. If your designers tell you, “Hey, we can’t get that headline in H1. We’ve got to use the H2 because of how our style sheets are formatted.” Fine. No big deal. Don’t stress.
Normally on Whiteboard Friday, we would end right here. But today, I’d like to ask. These 10 are only the tip of the iceberg. So if you have others that you’ve seen people say, “Oh, wait a minute, is this a Google ranking factor?” and you think to yourself, “Ah, jeez, no, that’s not a ranking factor,” go ahead and leave them in the comments. We’d love to see them there and chat through and list all the different non-Google ranking factors.
Thanks, everyone. See you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
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Late last night — at least, here on the East Coast — a formal announcement was made that, if you’re as obsessed with the business of mobile as we are, didn’t exactly come as a surprise.
The word: Google had acquired a team from mobile electronics company HTC in a $1.1 billion deal.
When the Taiwan Stock Exchange opened at 9:00 AM local time, where HTC is headquartered, many suspected the announcement was coming. The company, which has been struggling with its valuation for quite a few years now, had already planned to freeze trading on Thursday, sparking rumors that some sort of major organizational move would take place.
Finally, at 10:00 PM EDT, the announcement came on Google’s blog: The search giant had signed an “agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware.”
The announcement, penned by Google’s SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh, explained that the acquired team would be joining primarily to work on the company’s Pixel devices. It’s just one of many announcements, confirmed or not, leading up to the major October 4 event where several products, including the Pixel 2, are slated to be announced.
Google’s relationship with HTC isn’t new, nor is its move to acquire a mobile electronics manufacturer — in 2012, it acquired Motorola, only to amass several financial losses and eventually sell the company to Lenovo for $9.6 billion less than it bought it for. As Osterloh said, representatives from both companies have been collaborating for 10 years, a partnership which in its earliest days resulted in the first-ever Android phone: the HTC Dream. While Google builds and owns the Android operating system technology, it’s largely used by non-Google mobile manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, where the search giant has very little, if any, creative license over how those companies use it.
Which is part of what makes this deal so interesting.
It’s been a long time since HTC was considered a leader in the world of mobile devices. It hit the market with flashy TV commercials and a “fresh face” in 2008, but since then has faced numerous operating losses resulting in budget cuts that caused a blow to its research and development. In 2016, it managed to catch up a bit in the VR market with its Vive headset, over which HTC will retain control even with the Google deal.
All of that, to us, suggests two main implications from the deal. First, on the mobile device side, both Google and HTC stand to benefit. HTC will receive financial assets in the form of the deal’s monetary value, while Google can boast the growing buildout its mobile hardware team. It also moves the spotlight back onto HTC’s mobile innovation, especially at a time when Google is making headlines leading up to its October event. If Google is enlisting the help of HTC employees, one might say, then the latter must be doing something right.
It’s an interesting move on the heels of Apple’s many product announcements earlier this month, notably the launch of the latest generations of iPhones, including the iPhone X priced at $999. While the feedback on the first Pixel edition was largely positive, it hasn’t exactly garnered quite as much buzz as Apple or Samsung devices since its release. That raises the stakes for Google — will it be able to beat Apple’s latest mobile photography, user recognition, and AR features, and at a more competitive price?
Aha — note that last part about AR. Well, that’s where things really get twisted.
Despite the fact that HTC will retain control of its Vive VR properties, keep in mind that, as per the deal’s terms, Google will gain some non-exclusive licensing of HTC’s IP. It begs the question of whether this team acquisition will somehow play into Google’s potential attempts to compete with Apple on the mobile VR/AR front.
Google has already been manufacturing its own VR headsets for quite some time now, with products ranging from the extremely affordable Cardboard to the $79 Daydream View. In fact, on the morning leading up to the official HTC deal announcement, Google published a design-focused post on its blog regarding the “best practices [of] creating art assets for VR.”
But both of these devices require VR-ready phones for a full experience — compare that to the $599 Vive, which comes with built-in hardware. The whole thing leaves us wondering if Google will “pull an Apple,” and create standalone AR experiences that don’t require additional gear.
In the weeks following Google’s October 4th event, we’ll be heading to both Oculus Connect and the Samsung Developer Conference, where we predict there will be talk — and perhaps even contention over — various VR and AR platforms. Where Google’s headsets and the Vive will specifically come into play is yet to be determined, and it will be nothing if not intriguing to hear developers’ perspectives on the deal’s implications and chain reaction.
Whatever they are — we’ll keep you posted.
Featured image source: Google