Posted by Cyrus-ShepardSeven years ago, we published a post on the Moz Blog titled "How to Rank: 25 Step Master SEO Blueprint." From an SEO perspective, the post did extremely well. Over time, the "How to Rank" post accumulated: 400k pageviews200k organic visits100s of linking root domains Despite its success, seven years is a long time in SEO. The chart below shows what often happens when you don't update your content. Predictably, both rankings and traffic declined significantly. By the summer of 2020, the post was only seeing a few hundred visits per month. Time to update We decided to update the content. We did this not only for a ranking/traffic boost, but also because SEO has changed a lot since 2013. The old post simply didn't cut it anymore. To regain our lost traffic, we also wanted to leverage Google's freshness signals for ranking content. Many SEOs mistakenly believe that freshness signals are simply about updating the content itself (or even lazier, putting a new timestamp on it.) In actuality, the freshness signals Google may look actually take many different forms: Content freshness.Rate of content change: More frequent changes to the content can indicate more relevant content.User engagement signals: Declining engagement over time can indicate stale content.Link freshness: The rate of link growth over time can indicate relevancy. To be fair, the post had slipped significantly in all of these categories. It hasn't been updated in years, engagement metrics had dropped, and hardly anyone new linked to it anymore. To put it simply, Google had no good reason to rank the post highly. This time when publishing, we also decided to launch the post as a stand-alone guide — instead of a blog post — which would be easier to maintain as evergreen content. Finally, as I wrote in the guide itself, we simply wanted a cool guide to help people rank. One of the biggest questions we get from new folks after they read the Beginner's Guide to SEO is: "What do I read next? How do I actually rank a page?"This is exactly that SEO guide. Below, we'll discuss the SEO goals that we hope to achieve with the guide (the SEO behind the SEO), but if you haven't check it out yet, here's a link to the new guide: How to Rank On Google SEO goals Rarely do SEO blogs talk about their own SEO goals when publishing content, but we wanted to share some of our strategies for publishing this guide. 1. Keywords First of all, we wanted to improve on the keywords we already rank for (poorly). These are keywords like: How to rankSEO blueprintSEO step-by-step Our keyword research process showed that the phrase "SEO checklist" has more search volume and variations that "SEO blueprint", so we decided to go with "checklist" as a keyword. Finally, when doing a competitor keyword gap analysis, we discovered some choice keywords that our competitors are ranking for with similar posts. Based on this, we knew we should include the word "Google" in the title and try to rank for terms about "ranking on Google." 2. Featured snippets Before publishing the guide, our friend Brian Dean (aka Backlinko) owns the featured snippet for "how to rank on Google." It's a big, beautiful search feature. And highly deserved! We want it. There are no guarantees that we'll win this featured snippet (or others), but by applying a few featured snippets best practices—along with ranking on the first page—we may get there. 3. Links We believe the guide is great content, so we hope it attracts links. Links are important because while the guide itself may generate search traffic, the links it earns could help with the rankings across our entire site. As Rand Fishkin once famously wrote about the impact of links in SEO, "a rising tide lifts all ships." Previously, the old post had a few hundred linking root domains pointing at it, including links from high-authority sites like Salesforce. Obviously, we are now 301 redirecting these links to the new guide. We'll also update internal links throughout the site, as well as adding links to posts and pages where appropriate. To help build links in the short-term, we'll continue promoting the guide through social and email channels. Long-term, we could also do outreach to help build links. To be honest, we think the best and easiest way to build links naturally is simply to present a great resource that ranks highly, and also that we promote prominently on our site. Will we succeed? Time will tell. In 3-6 months we'll do an internal followup, to track our SEO progress and see how we measured up against our goals. To make things more complicated, SEO is far more competitive than it was 7 years ago, which makes things harder. Additionally, we're transparently publishing our SEO strategy out in the open for our competitors to read, so they may adjust their tactics. Want to help out? You can help us win this challenge by reading and sharing the guide, and even linking to it if you'd like. We'd very much appreciate it :)To your success in SEO.Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!
Posted by Cyrus-ShepardAre you using internal links to their full potential? Probably not. Luckily, Cyrus is here with five tips to help you boost your internal linking strategy — and your site performance — in this brand new Whiteboard Friday. Resources for further reading: • Should SEOs Care About Internal Links?• Internal Linking Best Practices Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Howdy, Moz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I'm Cyrus Shepard, and today we are talking about internal links. Specifically, five SEO tactics to maximize your internal links. I love internal links. There are a lot of guides out there, internal link best practices — they explain everything. This is not that video. This is not that guide. Instead, I want to show you ways to maximize your internal links for maximum SEO gain, because I see a lot of people who don't leverage their full power, and they think internal links simply aren't as powerful.  But first, a story... So I have some specific tactics for you to try and employ, and we'll get into those in a second. But first, to demonstrate internal links, I want to start with a story, a story which shows some of their potential power. It's a story of a single link here at Moz that we employed several months ago.  We have a page on Domain Authority. If you Google "Domain Authority," it's typically the very first result. Back in January, we added a single link to the page. We had just launched a new tool, SEO Domain Metrics, and we wanted to add a link from our existing page to our new page. So we did. The link said "Check your Domain Authority for free," and we added it. Within weeks we saw some interesting metrics, not on the page that we linked to, but on the page that we linked from. We also included an image on the page to draw attention to the link. Bounce rate instantly went down 33%. Why? People were clicking the link. They wanted to check their Domain Authority. Pages per session went up 33%. So when people were visiting this page, they were visiting more pages pretty much because of this link and the accompanying image. Session duration was up 10%. So people were spending 10% more time on Moz after they visited this page. Within a few weeks, traffic to the page that we added the link to was up 42%, and it has sustained that traffic increase ever since January when we added that link. Of course, the page that we linked to we added links from all over the site. Traffic on this page has risen exponentially, and it's now one of the top pages on Moz, probably not all because of this link, but the cumulative efforts of many of those links. So why did that link work so well and why do we think that the link helped improve those page metrics? So here's the thing that most people don't get about internal links. 1. Engagement  Number one, strive for engagement. When you add internal links to your page, it gives people the opportunity to visit other relevant pages on your site, thereby improving your engagement metrics. That's when you know that your internal links are working when you improve engagement. If you're just adding SEO links for SEO value and there's no engagement change, are you really adding value? No. So you want to go after engagement. There are some technical Google reasons for this. Google has several patents that we've discussed over the years — reasonable surfer. There's a patent called User Sensitive PageRank. Through these patents, Google describes how they want to count links that people actually click. If people aren't clicking on your links, should they really count? So Google has several processes in place to sort of measure what people are clicking or what they might click and actually pass more weight through those links. So you get help with the engagement, but you also pass more link signals through those links that people are actually clicking. Now think about where you might be putting your internal links now. Are you putting them at the bottom of the page, like in a related post? Is anybody clicking those widget links? Maybe not, probably not. Look at the top of this post, the top of this page. I'm going to add some links about internal linking at the very top of the post. Do you think people are going to click those links? You bet they are. There's a good chance you're going to click one of those links after you watch this video. Or maybe you clicked on it before you watch those videos. So we would expect those links to pass more value than adding those links further down on the page or in a widget or something like that. You can tell your internal links are working and have value when you see your engagement metrics start to move. So that should be the number one measure or standard of if your internal links are valuable and are working for you. Pursue engagement, number one rule.  2. Extreme topical relevance Number two tip, extreme topical relevance. Now people say, yes, you should link to topically relevant pages. I like link to extremely topically relevant pages. So whenever I publish a new page, I look for the other pages on my site that are very topically related, and I make sure to interlink them appropriately so I can get the right rankings boost to the right pages that I want. There are other Google technical reasons for this too. We talked about reasonable surfer and user sensitive PageRank. Well, Google also has something they patented called Topical PageRank, and that means that links that are more topically relevant pass more value. Links that are less topically relevant pass less value. You can also look at your engagement metrics to see if these links are topically relevant because people generally don't want to click less topically relevant links. So a couple of tips for finding your most topically relevant pages on your site. For example, for Domain Authority, I might look at all the other keywords that that page ranks for in positions 2 and 10, which means they rank highly but they're not quite number 1 and I want to boost the rankings. I want to find other pages on my site that also rank for those keywords. So I would use a query like this, and I'll put the code in the transcription below. I would search on my site, site to, search for my keyword "Domain Authority," and I would exclude the page that I'm actually looking for, so: domain authority -inurl:/domainauthority Google will give me a list of other pages on my site that rank for Domain Authority, excluding this, and I know those might be good link targets to link to my page to help it rank for those terms. We have some other resources on that as well if you search around and I'll link to: Harnessing the Flow of Link Equity to Maximize SEO Ranking Opportunity 3. Add context Third tip, don't just add links, add context to your links. One thing that a lot of people do, that I hate seeing, is when they add a link to a page, they'll just find a piece of relevant text and they'll add a link to it and that's it, without adding any relevant context or anything else like that. In my experience, it's much better if you add context around a link. Google's freshness patents talk about the amount of change in a document. When they just see a link, they might ignore just a simple link added. But if you add text, if you add image, if you add context around a link to help draw people's attention to it, to help give some relevant signals to Google, that link, in my experience, is much more likely to pass value than simply adding a link and linking some existing text. So always add context to your links.  4. Make every link unique Number four, can you believe we're at four out of five? Number four, make every link unique. Now a lot of people in SEO they talk about link ratio. Should you use exact match anchor text or partial match anchor text? What should your ratios be? I think that's far too complicated. I think much easier is just simply make every new link you add unique. Make it natural. Use natural words. I tend to avoid exact match anchor text completely. That way I get to avoid something that's very easy to do, which is over-optimization. If you're a new site with not a lot of authority, Google has processes in place to detect over-optimization when they think that you're trying to manipulate your rankings. So make every link unique. Use natural words. Don't worry about ratios and things like that. If you follow my advice, I would generally avoid exact match anchor text on internal links. Other people may give you different advice though.  5. Trim low value links Finally, tactic number five, you may consider trimming your low value links, and this is another technical reason. This is a type of old PageRank sculpting. The idea is every page has a certain amount of PageRank. If you include lots and lots of links on your page, the value that Google is able to pass through each link is diminished. It's diluted. So you sometimes may want to eliminate the low value links. So what do I mean by a low value link? Links that are not engaging and not relevant. People are not clicking them. If they're not engaging and they're not relevant, there is simply no point to include them on the page if they're not being actually helpful.  Conclusion All right. So those are my five tips for getting the most power of your internal linking. If you have any other tips that you'd like to share with the community, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed this video. Best of luck with your SEO. Video transcription by Speechpad.comSign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!
Posted by Cyrus-ShepardWhen you publish new content, you want users to find it ranking in search results as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks in the SEO toolbox to help you accomplish this goal. Sit back, turn up your volume, and let Cyrus Shepard show you exactly how in this popular and informative episode of Whiteboard Friday. [Note: #3 isn't covered in the video, but we've included in the post below. Enjoy!] Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I'm Cyrus Shepard, back in front of the whiteboard. So excited to be here today. We're talking about ten tips to index and rank new content faster. You publish some new content on your blog, on your website, and you sit around and you wait. You wait for it to be in Google's index. You wait for it to rank. It's a frustrating process that can take weeks or months to see those rankings increase. There are a few simple things we can do to help nudge Google along, to help them index it and rank it faster. Some very basic things and some more advanced things too. We're going to dive right in. Indexing 1. URL Inspection / Fetch & Render So basically, indexing content is not that hard in Google. Google provides us with a number of tools. The simplest and fastest is probably the URL Inspection tool. It's in the new Search Console, previously Fetch and Render. As of this filming, both tools still exist. They are depreciating Fetch and Render. The new URL Inspection tool allows you to submit a URL and tell Google to crawl it. When you do that, they put it in their priority crawl queue. That just simply means Google has a list of URLs to crawl. It goes into the priority, and it's going to get crawled faster and indexed faster. 2. Sitemaps! Another common technique is simply using sitemaps. If you're not using sitemaps, it's one of the easiest, quickest ways to get your URLs indexed. When you have them in your sitemap, you want to let Google know that they're actually there. There's a number of different techniques that can actually optimize this process a little bit more. The first and the most basic one that everybody talks about is simply putting it in your robots.txt file. In your robots.txt, you have a list of directives, and at the end of your robots.txt, you simply say sitemap and you tell Google where your sitemaps are. You can do that for sitemap index files. You can list multiple sitemaps. It's really easy. You can also do it using the Search Console Sitemap Report, another report in the new Search Console. You can go in there and you can submit sitemaps. You can remove sitemaps, validate. You can also do this via the Search Console API. But a really cool way of informing Google of your sitemaps, that a lot of people don't use, is simply pinging Google. You can do this in your browser URL. You simply type in, and you put in the sitemap with the URL. You can try this out right now with your current sitemaps. Type it into the browser bar and Google will instantly queue that sitemap for crawling, and all the URLs in there should get indexed quickly if they meet Google's quality standard. Example: 3. Google Indexing API (BONUS: This wasn’t in the video, but we wanted to include it because it’s pretty awesome)Within the past few months, both Google and Bing have introduced new APIs to help speed up and automate the crawling and indexing of URLs.Both of these solutions allow for the potential of massively speeding up indexing by submitting 100s or 1000s of URLs via an API.While the Bing API is intended for any new/updated URL, Google states that their API is specifically for “either job posting or livestream structured data.” That said, many SEOs like David Sottimano have experimented with Google APIs and found it to work with a variety of content types.If you want to use these indexing APIs yourself, you have a number of potential options: Richard Baxter wrote an excellent post on using SEO Tools for Excel with Google’s APIGoogle’s Indexing API documentation Yoast announced they will soon support live indexing across both Google and Bing within their SEO Wordpress plugin. Indexing & ranking That's talking about indexing. Now there are some other ways that you can get your content indexed faster and help it to rank a little higher at the same time. 4. Links from important pages When you publish new content, the basic, if you do nothing else, you want to make sure that you are linking from important pages. Important pages may be your homepage, adding links to the new content, your blog, your resources page. This is a basic step that you want to do. You don't want to orphan those pages on your site with no incoming links. Adding the links tells Google two things. It says we need to crawl this link sometime in the future, and it gets put in the regular crawling queue. But it also makes the link more important. Google can say, "Well, we have important pages linking to this. We have some quality signals to help us determine how to rank it." So linking from important pages. 5. Update old content But a step that people oftentimes forget is not only link from your important pages, but you want to go back to your older content and find relevant places to put those links. A lot of people use a link on their homepage or link to older articles, but they forget that step of going back to the older articles on your site and adding links to the new content. Now what pages should you add from? One of my favorite techniques is to use this search operator here, where you type in the keywords that your content is about and then you do a This allows you to find relevant pages on your site that are about your target keywords, and those make really good targets to add those links to from your older content. 6. Share socially Really obvious step, sharing socially. When you have new content, sharing socially, there's a high correlation between social shares and content ranking. But especially when you share on content aggregators, like Reddit, those create actual links for Google to crawl. Google can see those signals, see that social activity, sites like Reddit and Hacker News where they add actual links, and that does the same thing as adding links from your own content, except it's even a little better because it's external links. It's external signals. 7. Generate traffic to the URL This is kind of an advanced technique, which is a little controversial in terms of its effectiveness, but we see it anecdotally working time and time again. That's simply generating traffic to the new content. Now there is some debate whether traffic is a ranking signal. There are some old Google patents that talk about measuring traffic, and Google can certainly measure traffic using Chrome. They can see where those sites are coming from. But as an example, Facebook ads, you launch some new content and you drive a massive amount of traffic to it via Facebook ads. You're paying for that traffic, but in theory Google can see that traffic because they're measuring things using the Chrome browser. When they see all that traffic going to a page, they can say, "Hey, maybe this is a page that we need to have in our index and maybe we need to rank it appropriately." Ranking Once we get our content indexed, talk about a few ideas for maybe ranking your content faster. 8. Generate search clicks Along with generating traffic to the URL, you can actually generate search clicks. Now what do I mean by that? So imagine you share a URL on Twitter. Instead of sharing directly to the URL, you share to a Google search result. People click the link, and you take them to a Google search result that has the keywords you're trying to rank for, and people will search and they click on your result. You see television commercials do this, like in a Super Bowl commercial they'll say, "Go to Google and search for Toyota cars 2019." What this does is Google can see that searcher behavior. Instead of going directly to the page, they're seeing people click on Google and choosing your result. Instead of this: this: This does a couple of things. It helps increase your click-through rate, which may or may not be a ranking signal. But it also helps you rank for auto-suggest queries. So when Google sees people search for "best cars 2019 Toyota," that might appear in the suggest bar, which also helps you to rank if you're ranking for those terms. So generating search clicks instead of linking directly to your URL is one of those advanced techniques that some SEOs use. 9. Target query deserves freshness When you're creating the new content, you can help it to rank sooner if you pick terms that Google thinks deserve freshness. It's best maybe if I just use a couple of examples here. Consider a user searching for the term "cafes open Christmas 2019." That's a result that Google wants to deliver a very fresh result for. You want the freshest news about cafes and restaurants that are going to be open Christmas 2019. Google is going to preference pages that are created more recently. So when you target those queries, you can maybe rank a little faster. Compare that to a query like "history of the Bible." If you Google that right now, you'll probably find a lot of very old pages, Wikipedia pages. Those results don't update much, and that's going to be harder for you to crack into those SERPs with newer content. The way to tell this is simply type in the queries that you're trying to rank for and see how old the most recent results are. That will give you an indication of what Google thinks how much freshness this query deserves. Choose queries that deserve a little more freshness and you might be able to get in a little sooner. 10. Leverage URL structure Finally, last tip, this is something a lot of sites do and a lot of sites don't do because they're simply not aware of it. Leverage URL structure. When Google sees a new URL, a new page to index, they don't have all the signals yet to rank it. They have a lot of algorithms that try to guess where they should rank it. They've indicated in the past that they leverage the URL structure to determine some of that. Consider The New York Times puts all its book reviews under the same URL, They have a lot of established ranking signals for all of these URLs. When a new URL is published using the same structure, they can assign it some temporary signals to rank it appropriately. If you have URLs that are high authority, maybe it's your blog, maybe it's your resources on your site, and you're leveraging an existing URL structure, new content published using the same structure might have a little bit of a ranking advantage, at least in the short run, until Google can figure these things out. These are only a few of the ways to get your content indexed and ranking quicker. It is by no means a comprehensive list. There are a lot of other ways. We'd love to hear some of your ideas and tips. Please let us know in the comments below. If you like this video, please share it for me. Thanks, everybody. Video transcription by Interested in building your own content strategy? Don't have a lot of time to spare? We collaborated with HubSpot Academy on their free Content Strategy course — check out the video to build a strong foundation of knowledge and equip yourself with actionable tools to get started! Check out the free Content Strategy course!Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!