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How To Prepare Your On-site Content For Black Friday

Here we going to look at preparing your content for Black Friday. I will guide you with some quick and easy steps.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping events of the year for many eCommerce brands. While we might not celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, we have still adopted this annual shopping event as a way to ease us into the Christmas shopping period.

Thanksgiving traditionally falls on the third Thursday of November, with Black Friday following the day after, and Cyber Monday landing after the weekend. However, if November has five Thursdays, then it will be held on the fourth Thursday. This year, it means that Black Friday will be on the 24th November.

This gives you plenty of time to prepare your website content for the busier shopping period, allowing you to kick start the festival shopping season with a few days of bumper sales. If your website content needs a little sprucing up before this shopping event, read on to learn more about content best practice.

Think about your landing pages

When users are looking for a specific product, every page on your website becomes a landing page. Your website home page is no longer the hardest working page on your site; every page needs to work just as hard.

You can also capitalise on the interest in Black Friday sales by making specific landing pages for the event. You can use the page to highlight the items you have on offer so website visitors can find your best deals. You can also make the most of Black Friday specific keywords.

As you create landing pages, make sure that you are optimising them with high quality images, a logical UI, optimised content and a simple URL structure. You should also keep a close eye on the page speed, as slow website speeds can damage the user experience and send your customers fleeing to your competitors. 

Research relevant keywords

Do you know what your customers are actually searching for? There is often a disconnect between how customers describe products and how customers describe products. Regular keyword research and reviewing search trends can help you to close this gap.

There could also be some Black Friday specific keywords that are relevant to your brand. Only the most switched on brands will be capitalising on these terms, so you’ll have a good chance to compete before the SERP gets too crowded.

When doing your keyword research, you can quickly conflate your key product categories and best selling products with the relevant promotional day on Excel or Sheets. Use the CONCAT function to quickly generate a list of potential keywords to put into your chosen keyword research tool.

Remember that these keywords will be highly seasonal, but most keyword research tools will give you a monthly average. This means that the data won’t be entirely reliable, as you might see lots of demand for these terms in November, and then non-existent demand for the rest of the year. With this in mind, take all search volumes with a pinch of salt.

Guide the user with design

If you’ve done your keyword research right and optimised your content, then the users will finally land on your site. This is when you need to guide them to take the next steps with intuitive UI design.

First things first, they need to know they’ve found a great deal. Make sure you include the original price and the promotional price to highlight how much they could save. Your CTAs can also highlight how much visitors can expect to save. You can also make the most of the following design elements to guide the user on their purchase journey: 

Banners, menus & widgets

Banners can fit anywhere on your website and will help to highlight your latest promotion. On Black Friday, it makes sense to adopt a black and white colour scheme to drive home the point. Banners are ideal for directing general website visitors to specific sales pages.

You could also add a special tab in your menu to help website visitors find the savings they are looking for. Adding a Black Friday section to your website menu is a great way to make navigating your sale much easier.

And finally, widgets can be added throughout your site to highlight potential savings and guide users in the right direction. A widget is simply a shortcut to relevant information. You could add these to blog posts, product pages, landing pages and more. They will simply help to highlight specific sales items and additional discount codes that your website visitors might not be aware of.

Communicate your event details in advance

Dropping a sale without announcing it anywhere is a surefire way to miss out on potential conversions. You could also annoy customers that have recently purchased, as they may then want to return items and get the sale price.

Take a cross-platform approach to announcing your sales and make sure that it is shared to your email marketing list, social media followers and on your website home page. A lot of companies like to build up the suspense by including a countdown to the start of the sale on their homepage. A countdown will help to increase the sense of scarcity and remind users they need to move quickly if they want to secure the best possible deal. 

Follow link building opportunities

Follow link building opportunities

A lot of companies ignore the SEO potential in their campaigns. There are plenty of link building opportunities to be found when you want to share details of your sale. These are two of our favourite types of link building opportunities: 

Buying guides

Around Black Friday, many publications and bloggers will start to put together buying guides. These are usually round up style articles that highlight the best discounts available. Since there are so many online publications and blogs available, there is a good chance there are plenty operating within your niche.

You can reach out to these sites to share details about your sales plans, or you can use a site like Help A Reporter Out to respond to requests for information. Inclusion in these guides should be free and will secure you a new backlink to your website.

Directories

Alongside buying guides, you can also secure backlinks from directories. These are often free to submit to and you can share details of your planned promotions. The most common directories you’ll need to Black Friday promotions will be coupon and money saving directories.

Remind visitors of scarcity

You don’t want to devalue your products by making it so that your discounts are always available. You need to create a sense of scarcity so that visitors feel compelled to act quickly. They should be concerned that the item might sell out or the promotion will end. This will prevent them from going away and thinking about their decision, or researching other options.

You can achieve this sense of scarcity with simple design tricks. You can highlight when stock items are running out with a tag that says something like “last few items remaining”. You can also include a countdown to show when your sale will end. This will encourage website visitors to act quickly. If they can see how much the item was originally, they will be more compelled to act quickly when they see the potential savings.

An important factor to consider when trying these types of scarcity sales tactics is that users will feel more confident making a quick decision if they can see your returns and refund policy. Make sure this is up to date and visible from every page on your website. The footer is a good place for it, but you could also include it alongside product information. If your returns policy is different for sale items, this information needs to be included.

What next after Black Friday?

When Black Friday is over and the promotions are finished, the temptation might be to remove the pages from your website. However, this can undo a lot of your hard work, particularly if you have directed external links to these pages.

Rather than deleting them or turning them into drafts, try repurposing the page as your general sales page. This will allow you to retain your links, and you may even enjoy some referral traffic from the directories and buying guides for years to come.

And when Black Friday comes around again, you’ll have a ready-optimised page that is all set to host your sale items.

Closing thoughts

A well-planned Black Friday sales page can help to boost SEO and secure high quality links that continue to drive value for years to come. If you’re planning your first Black Friday sale – or if you just want to improve your approach this year – this article should give you the spark of inspiration needed to shape your campaign.

Remember to optimise your pages, do your keyword research, and make the most of design elements to guide the user. You can then use social media, email campaigns and link building techniques to spread the word about your promotions and drive more traffic to your website.

Black Friday 2023

In this post I am going to guide you on getting SEO ready for Black Friday 2023.

Although Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK, we’ve still adopted the shopping event associated with it over on these shores. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now commonplace in the UK, with many retailers treating this as the start of the Christmas shopping period.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are associated with big discounts on popular items. Shoppers are expected to spend less this year, which means more competition for attention and sales. With this in mind, getting your SEO right is more important than ever before.

These SEO optimisations will help your eCommerce website all year round, but you’ll be in a good position to make the most of the increased attention around Black Friday if you make these changes now.

Content

Content

When users have the whole world at their fingertips, they’ll make purchasing decisions based on which websites make things easier for them. Having good content on your website is the ultimate low-hanging fruit in terms of SEO.

Your products need compelling descriptions that explain the benefit to the user. And remember that content is about more than just product descriptions. It’s also the additional information that helps them to make a decision. This could include images, videos, testimonials, reviews, and the customer journey.

Metadata

Metadata is often an afterthought and nearly always written for machines. Instead of writing for robots, try writing for your ideal target customer. Keep metadata consistent so that you can easily replicate it across your whole site.

Title tags

The title tag should always include your main target keyword and then a USP or a CTA. You can also add in a mention of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, if you have the space. Remember that customers are looking for your products, but they also have a lot of other choices. The SERP is often their first point of contact with your website, so make sure you are making the most of the space available to you.

Meta descriptions

Every page needs a unique meta description. This section can use sales language and also highlight the perks of shopping with you. Do you offer free shipping? Do you have an extensive product range? Do you stock items that are often out of stock elsewhere? Use this important bit of sales text to entice customers to click through to your website.

Return and refund policy

Return and refund policy

Customers will put the brakes on their shopping experience if they don’t feel confident they’ll be able to return the item and get a refund if it isn’t right for them. Online shopping is fraught with scams, but you can reassure your customers that your website is trustworthy by making this information readily available. 

If your policy is different for sale items, this needs to be made clear in your returns policy. Including basic contact information on your website can also help to build trust.

Calls to action

Multiple CTAs on a page can be highly effective, provided you use the hierarchy method. Your main CTA should be the buy now button, but there may be other actions a user could take to help move them through the customer journey. Perhaps you have an email newsletter they can sign up to? Or perhaps you have product brochures they could download? Make sure you assess the CTAs on your page to ensure the most important ones are the most prominent.

Imagery

When a customer can’t pick up your product, your website imagery offers the next best thing. You need to have high-quality images that enhance the user journey and help to answer any final questions they might have.

High-quality imagery:

Investing in high quality website imagery will help to build trust and enhance the user experience. Images also have an impact on SEO, so you’ll need to consider the following as part of your website optimisations:

Video

Video content can help to increase conversions by up to 144% according to a recent study. If you have video content that could help to enhance the customer journey, upload it ahead of Black Friday so you can make the most of the extra attention on your website. Just be sure to check that the video doesn’t slow down the user experience and use a content delivery network (CDN) if it does.

Social proof

Social proof

Social proof refers to the phenomenon whereby individuals feel more compelled to make a decision if they feel that other people are doing it too. It doesn’t have to be people they know. Knowing that other people are purchasing from the site can help to enhance trust and also enhance the sense of FOMO – fear of missing out.

You can achieve social proof in a number of different ways. Reviews are one of the simplest ways to achieve this. Including all of the reviews can be overwhelming, so try including a snapshot of the very best, with the option to read them all if the user wants to learn more.

Schema markup

Schema markup is used to create rich snippets on the SERP. This can help to grab attention and make your website stand out from the crowd. This is the kind of information you can include in your schema markup: See this handy tool.

Product reviews

Reviews on the SERP will help to tick off a few more boxes for the consumer before they even click through. Naturally, this will only work if your products have glowing reviews. If reviews are mixed, this could work against you.

Price

Many consumers are shopping based on price alone. Those that are motivated by price will be more likely to click through if they can see that your website is the cheapest. On Black Friday, you can show your current discounted prices to help convert more visitors.

Stock levels

Displaying stock levels in the SERP can help to avoid frustration. If users have to click through to your website to learn that you don’t have stock of a wanted item, this will only frustrate the user and also increase your bounce rate.

By including this information in your schema markup, you can enhance the customer experience and ensure you stand out from the competition. 

URL

Determining your URL structure is never easy. You need it to be consistent and easily replicated across your whole website; even if your website expands and grows to include new product categories.

The URL structure of your website can help to enhance SEO visibility, provided you make your URLS simple and effective. For example, try to avoid placing product pages under parent category pages. While this might work for a service-based website, it doesn’t have the same impact in eCommerce.

This is because products can appear in multiple categories, so you can end up with duplicate content which harms your SEO efforts.

Site Speed

Site Speed

Once you know that your website has everything a customer could possibly need to make a purchasing decision, you then need to know that visitors will be able to access it quickly. Slow websites will kill conversions and sour the experience. It can also leave customers with a bad impression of your company.

If you are expecting an uptick in website traffic due to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, think about how this will impact site speed and the user experience. You may need to speak to your web hosting company to confirm your site will be able to handle the increased demand. You should also consider the following site speed factors:

Mobile first

Most website visits now happen on a mobile device, we can no longer escape this fact. This means that website experiences need to be designed from a mobile-first perspective, rather than designing for desktop and then making it responsive. 

Think about the mobile experience on your website and check that it’s up to scratch. Keep a close eye on your website analytics to learn if you’re losing mobile traffic more than desktop traffic, or if users are more likely to abandon their carts when they are on a mobile device.

Conclusion

Website preparations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday should start as soon as possible. By making sure that your website is up to the task, you can increase your chances of making sales during a time when consumers are known to be tightening their belts and being more selective in their purchasing decisions.

A Guide To Linkable Assets For Effective Link Building

Trying to build links for every piece of content you publish using outreach would be time consuming and incredibly difficult. Instead, you should focus on publishing content that naturally attracts links.

Creating linkable assets is the best way to supercharge your SEO efforts. You create one piece of content, and this does the heavy lifting for you. And the best part? As it grows in popularity, it will naturally rank higher, and become even more linkable. Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.

What is a linkable asset?

Have you ever been writing an article or blog and you’ve needed a source to back up your claims? Or you’ve wanted to provide additional context that isn’t currently available on your website? Chances are you would head to Google and search for a piece of well-written content to back up your point. This is a linkable asset.

It’s the content created specifically to attract links. And it doesn’t have to be an article. It could be an infographic, a podcast, a video or an online tool.

It needs to be a long-form resource that is the best available. This will help to ensure it goes to the top of the rankings, so users searching for something to link to will find it easily.

If you find a good piece of content that is already performing well and you decide to create something similar to compete with it, you’ll need to make sure that your approach is better in some way. 

The asset needs to be hosted on a page on your website for the best results, as this is better than linking to a .jpg or .pdf hosted on your server.

E-E-A-T and linkable content

While we can’t know for sure what content Google and other search engines will prioritise, a huge part of the SEO role is looking for clues. Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines is a great place to start, as this comes straight from the source.

If you’re not familiar with this already, this is a set of guidelines about what makes a good website and what Google is looking for when it selects websites to appear in the SERP.

E-E-A-T is one of the more recent updates. It stands for Expertise, Experience, Authority and Trustworthiness. In short, Google wants to know if you are a trustworthy source of information.

By creating linkable assets that are reliable and trustworthy, you can improve your search rankings. When creating your assets, be sure to demonstrate each of the following attributes:

Expertise – Demonstrate that the author has in-depth understanding and knowledge of the subject.

Experience – Highlight the author’s experience of the topic through the use of research, interviews and leaning on personal experience.

Authority – Credentials and affiliations will all impact the sense of authority that your linkable asset achieves.

Trustworthiness – Establish credibility by ensuring your content is unbiased, neutral and free from any conflicts of interest.

If you’re an expert in your field and you are sharing truly valuable information, then you should be able to meet all of these criteria.

Should you use generative AI to create linkable assets

Should you use generative AI to create linkable assets?

As generative AI continues to grow in popularity, you might be wondering if you could be better off using AI to produce your content. While it might be able to provide writing assistance, you’ll still need considerable input if you want to ensure you’re sharing something of genuine value. However, I wouldn't advise to write content with AI as a Long term strategy. 

That said, there are ways you can put generative AI to work in your linkable asset content strategy

Which generative AI tools should you use?

There are a number of free AI tools available, including ChatGPT and Bard. You can also explore paid options which may offer more automated content production tools that suit your needs. This includes tools like Jasper.ai and Rytr.

Pros and cons of linkable assets

If you’re still on the fence about adding linkable assets to your content strategy, consider the following pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Types of assets to create

If you’re ready to get started with your linkable asset campaign, you’ll need to start by choosing the type of content you’d like to create. The skyscraper technique is a tried and tested method for generating links that requires a moderate time investment. While you might need to invest time into researching and creating skyscraper content, the rewards can be considerable.

Here are some of the most commonly used skyscraper article styles:

Statistical roundups

Creating an aggregate of studies, research and insight is an excellent way to build links. Pick a topic and then gather all of the useful information from your sector. Turn this into bite size bits of information that can be quickly scanned.

The benefit of this type of article is that you can generate lots of links from other bloggers and article writers that need these stats to back up their own writing. An example of this would be 79 SEO Statistics for 2023.

Google Analytics 4 checklist

Here you will learn the basic of getting up and running with GA4.

We’ve all seen the notifications announcing the arrival of Google Analytics 4 for some time now. Many companies have delayed setting up their new GA4 properties until the last minute, but now you really need to take action.

If you don’t set up your new Google Analytics 4 account, you run the risk of losing important website data. You could be left completely in the dark about how users are interacting with your website. You could also be left with gaps in your data which will make it difficult to track progress.

If you’re wondering if your GA4 property has been set up correctly and is accurately tracking website data, run through this extensive checklist:

  1. Check that your website tagging is GA4-ready, using either Google Tag or GTM.
  2. In the admin settings, confirm that your data stream is sending information to your GA4 property. If this isn’t working correctly, you might need specialist support to get this up and running.
  3. Set up Google product links, as required. You’ll need these for:
    1. Search console
    2. Ads, Search Ads 360, Display and Video 360
    3. Merchant centre
    4. BigQuery
    5. Play
  4. Configure and check your attribution settings, including:
    1. Attribution model
    2. Look-back window. Make sure you use the maximum time, unless there is a very specific reason to narrow this.
  5. Enable new GA4 features, if you want these active.
    1. Google Signals will allow you to access audience exports and cross-platform reporting.
    2. Enhanced Event Measurement will allow you to automatically collect user journey information to help improve your website UX.
  6. In the Events section, make sure that everything you want to track is populated.
    1. Identify which events are conversions
    2. Confirm that your purchase event data is aligned with your expectations. 
  7. Import the GA4 conversions in your Google Ads account as secondary conversions. This will allow you to quality-check the data. From the 1st July, these should be your primary conversion actions. (Note: it’s also perfectly fine to continue to use Google Ads tag with Enhanced Conversions.)
  8. Start building audiences as soon as possible as this will allow you to start collecting data ahead of July 1st. If these are created after July 1st, then they won’t be accessible straight away which can leave you with blindspots in your data. If you don’t already make use of these, now would be an excellent time to set them up. You’ll need to consider:
    1. Remarketing audiences, such as high engagement visitors and abandoned carts
    2. Exclusion audiences, such as recent purchasers. You should also exclude internal traffic so you aren’t tracking your own team and their website use as this can skew your data.
    3. Reporting audiences to help with comparisons
  9. Set up your custom GA4 interface in the report library
    1. Start by exploring the defaults to see if there are any templates that are useful to you. These may be created based on your linked associates with properties like Search Console.
    2. Create custom reports that are specific to your organisation. What are the questions that you are always asking yourself about your audience, and how could these be answered using the data available to you? Keep these simple to be the most effective.
    3. Create your own collections in the report library. This will allow you to group reports together and see them under subtitles in the navigation bar, which is similar in style to the Universal Analytics interface. 
  10. Build your own Exploration templates that will allow you to carry out more in-depth analysis in the future. This isn’t a required step, but it can help you to explore the limits and possibilities of GA4.
    1. All ecommerce businesses should build a simple Exploration that will show them revenue alongside the Default Channel Group and/or Source/Medium. 

This will allow you to see a much better representation of multi-touch journeys than last click. You might be in the habit of checking channel group or source/medium to see grouped channel performance. With GA4, the “Session Acquisition” report will use last non-direct click data, as it’s based on sessions rather than events.

The GA4 attribution model is based on event-scoped data, which is at the core of all GA4 functionality. By using Exploration view to review channel performance, you’ll be able to make the most of these features.

  1. Once you have got to grips with the privacy implications, you can then set up Google’s Consent Mode, which will enable GA4 to start modelling the data that is lost when website visitors decline your cookies. This is an incredible data set that can help you with better decision making.
  2. First, learn more about how data modelling works so that you can appreciate the implications from a privacy perspective. Some people in your organisation might want a more detailed explanation or justification for moving forward with this.
  3. The final step is to get to grips with the way GA4 and UA display information so that you can confidently navigate between the two. Rather than seeing this as a direct swap, you might need to learn new methods for gathering insight from your data. The good news is that GA4 is a lot more powerful and offers new opportunities for understanding your audience and acting on the information available to you.

Closing thoughts 

This is not an exhaustive list and your setup might be different depending on your website purpose and visitors. If you have doubts about GA4, it’s best to seek expert advice sooner rather than later, as you could be missing out on key data if your properties are not set up correctly.

If you’re concerned about your GA4 setup, speak to a trusted agency to help get things on the right track. GA4 offers a lot more insight than UA, and many companies are barely scratching the surface of what they can learn from their website visitors. 

If you want to make sure you are making decisions based on data, you need to know how to access it. Get in touch to learn how we can help you to make the most of your GA4 properties.

Why Seo Training For Non-seos Matters

In this post your will learn why SEO Training For Non-SEOs matters and how important it is.

It’s all too common for companies to leave SEO to a small section of the marketing team and ignore the wider benefits of SEO knowledge and training for the wider team. By promoting SEO knowledge and giving your team the confidence to make smarter SEO decisions, you can increase organic growth, gain real insight for your SEO campaigns, and ensure key stakeholders are on board with the strategy you are pursuing.

How exactly do you achieve company-wide buy-in to your SEO strategy? It often starts with training that is pitched at the right level for the audience. If you offer something too rudimentary, you run the risk of boring the audience, whereas if you offer something too technical and advanced, your training might be irrelevant.

The solution? A flexible approach to SEO training for non SEOs that enables you to pitch the content at exactly the right level. Once all parts of the company have a basic awareness of SEO, they can all work together to feed into the strategy, resulting in incredible organic website traffic growth.

Why bother with SEO training?

A question we hear a lot is this:

“Why does my whole team need to know about SEO? Isn’t that what we pay the SEO team/agency for?”

SEO knowledge beyond the confines of those professionals employed to manage and implement the strategy might seem superfluous. But there are benefits to be found in spreading this awareness throughout different departments.

Digital teams can work together to share insight on customer behaviour, industry trends and company objectives that will feed into SEO strategy and make it stronger. Digital teams can also feel empowered to make smarter decisions that will help to promote growth.

For example, a copywriter trained in basic SEO principles can implement best-practice throughout their work. This avoids the common issue of the work passing through multiple hands before it goes live on the website. The end product is often far from what the copywriter would have hoped to achieve, and no one takes any pride in the work.

But by training a copywriter in basic SEO principles for growth, they can make SEO a core part of their strategy, allowing them to make this an integrated part of their efforts, rather than an afterthought.

Feedback from other digital departments will also prove invaluable to the SEO strategy. Your social media manager will have in-depth knowledge about customer behaviour, demands and trends. And your customer service team will know precisely what information is missing from your website, because they will always be plugging the gap.

What should SEO training cover?

Now that we’ve made the case for spreading SEO knowledge and confidence throughout the entire digital team, what exactly are you supposed to teach them?

I have found that shorter sessions are more conducive to productivity. With more workers opting to work from home, short zoom training sessions are incredibly popular. This is far better than a full day of training that requires everyone to be available at the same time. Opting for shorter, bite-sized sessions will increase uptake of this particular type of training for busy teams.

Knowing what to cover and what to leave out is simple. Just ask yourself, will the team member be able to put this knowledge to work in their department? If the answer is no, then you can safely skip it. For example, your copywriting team probably doesn't need to know about technical SEO. Here are some of the things we think should be covered for every member of your digital marketing team:

SEO basics

Understanding the basics of SEO is essential for success. You need to know where it started and where it is headed to be able to make sense of the present. A brief overview of what SEO is, how it works and why we bother is a great place to start.

Explaining with examples of SEO success stories is always helpful. Many individuals will find it easier to grasp concepts when they can see them in action. Here are some of the SEO basics we would cover for a standard digital team:

Understanding intent

As you delve deeper into SEO insight, it’s important for individuals in your digital team to understand how intent shapes searches. This is often a topic that is well-received by digital teams because they already have an understanding of customer behaviour when they land on the website. All you’re asking them to do is think about the steps it takes to get them there.

Search intent is all about making a link between what customers want and what your website can offer. Closing this gap will help to increase your rankings, traffic and conversions. 

It also helps your digital team to avoid chasing irrelevant traffic. While it certainly might be possible to publish content that drives traffic, this won’t be much use if the content is not relevant to your site or encouraging high-intent traffic.

By including this session in your SEO training, it can help to remind everyone on your team that they can actively contribute to website growth. This can help to increase engagement and encourage individuals to take ownership of the website traffic growth.

Measuring success

With any marketing activity, we need to know what is working and what isn’t so that we can justify further spend. By explaining how we measure SEO success, you can then show how this insight is fed back into campaigns to make them stronger.

Measuring SEO analytics will usually involve introducing third-party tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and keyword tracking tools such as Ahrefs or Moz. As Google Analytics is due to switch over to GA4 soon, this would be a perfect time for a refresher course.

This part of the training can also cover tasks like competitor research. This will allow you to show how we learn what other companies are doing and how we can use this information to inform our own campaigns. This is also an excellent way to spark a little bit of rivalry.

How can SEO training help promote growth?

How can SEO training help promote growth?

It’s hard to justify SEO training if it doesn’t have any tangible benefit to the company. The training needs to be practical enough that the team can begin implementing changes that will improve the marketing strategy. The good news is that increased knowledge of SEO across your company can help to improve organic traffic growth.

Your marketing team offers insight that cannot be found elsewhere, and this can help to shape SEO strategy decisions. This kind of cross-department collaboration can only be good news. 

To achieve this, you need to think about what behaviour you want to change so that the training can be tailored to this. Behaviour won’t change unless your team feels confident in their knowledge and empowered to take action.

Through targeted training that is geared towards small behaviour changes, you can increase website traffic without increasing SEO spend. For example, if you encourage a copywriter to research topics before they get started to better understand user intent, you can increase the chances that they will produce something that users are actually searching for.

This is great news for the copywriter, too, as they will have a sense of accomplishment that their work is having a significant impact on company growth. By linking behaviour changes to things that will have a tangible impact on website traffic and therefore growth, you can also increase stakeholder confidence. 

How can SEO training help increase confidence?

Times are difficult for companies at the moment as they struggle with increasing overheads and soaring salaries. For this reason, every penny of marketing budget allocation will be carefully scrutinised by those at the top. SEO budgets may be squeezed if there is a lack of understanding about what it can help the company to achieve.

To counter this, SEO training can give decision makers the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about where to allocate their budgets. SEO can feel like a dark art to those who don’t understand the terminology. Whereas paid search offers a more direct correlation between marketing spend and its impact, SEO can be more difficult to track.

By offering SEO training to stakeholders, you can increase confidence in this type of marketing activity. And by including other members of your digital teams, you can also show how the wider company can contribute towards these goals.

Setting up an SEO training programme in your company

It takes some planning to set up an SEO training programme that will offer the maximum benefit to everyone involved. Before starting, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who will most benefit from the training sessions?
  2. What do they already know about SEO?
  3. What do we need them to learn about SEO?
  4. What behaviours do we want to influence or change?
  5. How much time do they have for training?

Once you know the answers to these questions you can start to formulate an SEO training plan that meets all of your needs.

Start by deciding who could benefit from SEO training and then consider what knowledge they might already have. Remember that their training could be very out of date, and you might have new behaviours you want to encourage them towards.

Time is often a key consideration for companies, as this training will inevitably eat into productivity time. This is why it’s vital to ensure that only the people that will benefit the most will attend, and that the training is pitched exactly at their level.

We know that splitting the training into multiple sessions over weeks or months is more beneficial than trying to cram everything into one day. If you choose an intensive course, you run the risk of overwhelming employees with information that they don’t have the time to assimilate and put to use in their roles. 

By breaking up the training into manageable pieces, you can give employees time to try out their findings in the workplace and then return to the following session with practical experience of what they are learning about.

The benefits of using an external training provider

While SEO professionals might be very good at what they do, not everyone can teach their role with efficiency. Doing is not the same as teaching, and it can help to turn to someone with a flexible syllabus that can be adapted to your needs.

If you do choose to work with an external training provider, you need to make sure they will cover topics that are perfectly aligned with your goals. SEO activities that are relevant for one company might be completely irrelevant to another company, so the training should reflect your current SEO strategy. 

The external provider isn’t there to shape your SEO strategy or to introduce new concepts. They should spend time getting to know your SEO strategy and goals so they can provide relevant training that offers actionable insight for your team. When choosing your training provider, look for one that is ready to adapt the training to your needs, rather than arrive with a fixed agenda.

 How to write optimised category and product content

In this post I will guide you writing content for your product and category pages as this is often an overlooked part of building an eCommerce website. But when done correctly, properly optimised content can help to drive more traffic to your site, increase brand awareness, increase trust and this will all translate to an increase in sales.

Many companies over-think their eCommerce content to the point where it becomes nonsense. While others will neglect this portion of their website build so much that they end up missing out on key opportunities. 

Striking a balance between writing for people and writing for search engines is key to success. And the thing to remember is that search engines simply want you to generate a good user experience, which typically means prioritising high quality content. 

So, before you start thinking about keyword stuffing in your product descriptions and category pages, consider the following advice for optimising your eCommerce website content for SEO.

Why do we optimise eCommerce content?

Before we get into the “how” of website content optimisation, we need to understand the “why”. The written content on your website is essential to helping search engines know exactly what you are selling. Meta data, product descriptions, image alt text and schema markup will all help to provide signposts to search engines that help them to understand your content.

Search engines can only work with what we give them, so spending a little bit of time making sure that the product descriptions on your website are informative can help your SEO rankings significantly. You don’t need to have excessive amounts of SEO-optimised content on your category pages, and this was confirmed by Google’s John Mueller in 2020. However, some well-written content that helps to provide additional context to the reader will certainly help.

Your eCommerce website content is not only for search engines. It also helps to shape the customer journey. Through accurate and descriptive content, you can help customers to decide which product is right for them. Think about how many times you have been put off a purchase because you can’t find the information you are looking for.

Your product and category pages should be written in your company tone of voice, with your brand values woven into the thread of the story. They should also help to encourage users through the purchase journey, providing all of the information they need to make an informed decision.

How to carry out keyword research for eCommerce

The first hurdle that many eCommerce websites seem to stumble on is the keyword research. You might think you know what your customers are searching for, but keyword research might tell you otherwise. With good keyword research, you’ll find new ways to approach your product categories and pages that will help you to avoid feeling repetitive.

The importance of search intent

Understanding keyword search intent is essential for eCommerce websites. Intent refers to the intention of the user when they search for the term. These can be categorised in different ways, including informational, navigational, transactional and commercial. Commercial and transactional will be the most relevant in this instance.

Commercial intent is sometimes referred to as commercial investigation. This could include comparisons, or a search for the “best”. An example of this would be “best iPhone 2023”, or “best rated air fryer”. In these search terms, the user might be looking for a review or comparison, which means they are close to making a purchase. This type of content might be best suited for a blog or category page.

Transnational search intent is when a user is ready to make a purchase, but they are choosing where to make that purchase. For example, this could include phrases like “IKEA billy bookcase.” The user knows exactly what they want, they simply need to narrow down where they will purchase it from. These types of search terms are ideal for specific product pages.

Transactional searches often include words like “buy”, “deal”, “discount” or specific product names. Commercial searches often include words like “best”, “review”, or “compare”. 

It’s worth noting that informational search terms can also quickly turn into commercial opportunities. A user might be looking for information on how to do something, and then be prompted to make a purchase if you sell the component they need to achieve their goals. 

An example of this would be “how to fix a steam mop”. If the solution for this is to replace the filter, this could quickly turn into a transaction if you happen to sell steam mop filters. This is often why it is beneficial for eCommerce websites to have a blog function that allows them to address these informational keywords. 

Keyword targeting and cannibalisation

Once your website is up and running, you might find that multiple pages are competing for the same terms. This is known as keyword cannibalisation. In general, this should be avoided, as you can damage your own rankings when you are competing with yourself.

The best way to avoid this is with extensive keyword mapping and having a clear plan for how you will target keywords across your site. You also need to monitor your keywords and determine if you are using the correct keywords on the correct pages. If you have a better option available, you should aim to optimise the correct page for the keyword while de-optimising the page that is currently ranking higher.

While there are no guarantees in SEO, and the wrong page may continue to be shown, being aware of these issues can allow you to make informed decisions about your future SEO efforts.

When it comes to keyword targeting, you will want to make sure you are optimising your product and category pages for the right terms. For example, a product page might be optimised for the term “Marc Jacobs Snapshot Bag”, while your category page is optimised for “women’s crossbody handbags”. You could also include a second category page which targets “Marc Jacobs handbags”.

This is why the hierarchy of your website and how you segment your products and categories is so important to get right. Keyword research and website structure will often go hand in hand.

Meta titles and descriptions

Once you know the keywords you will be targeting, you can then think about your meta title and description format. For large eCommerce websites, it’s helpful to use a specific format to avoid the need to write something unique for each page.

A great way to do this is to instruct your SEO plugin to pull the H1 tag and website name for the meta title and then create a format for your meta description that includes your website USPs. For product category pages, the meta title will be driven by your target keywords, which should also be present in the H1 and H2 tags on the page. 

Writing better category pages

Now we know what keywords we are targeting, we can start to think about how to structure and write category pages. These pages are essential for SEO, so you want to make sure you know exactly what keywords you will be targeting for each category. At this stage, you might start to think about restructuring your website to be able to target all of the relevant keywords.

Product category page copywriting is often an afterthought. But when used correctly, it can help to increase organic traffic, signpost the user journey and help customers to find exactly what they are looking for. And if they happen to be in the wrong place, you can point them in the direction of something more relevant.

How long a category page should be is often up for debate. Some companies include extensive information in an effort to include the keywords as many times as possible. Others take a minimalist approach with just a few lines, but miss out on key opportunities. 

To strike a balance, you need to ensure you’re only making the category description as long as it needs to be to communicate your message, while also ensuring that it is functional and written with the end user in mind. Consider the following tips when writing your category pages:

Avoiding keyword stuffing

Yes, the purpose of the product category page is to get noticed by search engines, but there are better ways to do this than by keyword stuffing. You can include the keywords naturally and still ensure that you are signposting the content for search engines. 

Above all else, you should think about the end user and how they will interact with the content. Google also values good user experience, so if you are only creating content “for SEO”, you might want to reconsider your approach.

Keyword stuffing is outdated and not effective, so there’s really no reason to continue with this approach. It also doesn’t help the user to achieve their goals, so it’s better to focus on producing helpful content.

The power of internal links

On the subject of user experience, internal links should also feature in your category pages. Internal linking is great for SEO and incredible for user experience. Your internal linking strategy should be treated as a form of customer service.

Imagine you work in a bricks and mortar camping shop. A customer walks in and asks about tents. You might tell them about the brands that you stock, your best-selling tent, and then a few options at different price points. Your product category page should perform the same function on your website. 

By linking to brand category pages, related category pages and support pages such as your shipping policy, you can give visitors the same support they would get if they were to walk into a physical shop and ask for help.

better product pages

Writing better product pages

Product descriptions are essential for customers to be able to make an informed choice about which product to buy. It might feel repetitive to keep talking about the same features for the different variations of your products, but getting this right can set you apart from the competition. Your product descriptions should include:

The importance of unique content

It’s not uncommon for eCommerce sites to borrow content from the original manufacturer, as this is a quick and easy way to get products online without too much effort. However, this will lead to a large volume of duplicate content on your website.

Duplicate content is an issue when you are trying to compete with the original manufacturer and countless other websites selling the same product. When Google encounters duplicate content, it will prioritise the website with the greatest authority, and this will typically be the original manufacturer. Imagine you sell running shoes and you publish the same product description for a pair of Nike trainers. It’s difficult to imagine how you would rank above Nike’s own website if you publish identical content. However, if you have unique content and can offer a cheaper price, you may be able to outrank Nike for more niche search terms. But this will only happen if you have unique content.

While it might be a timely and potentially expensive task to create unique content for every product on your website, you will be rewarded with improved rankings and a better user experience. You may decide to use AI. You can also use your product descriptions to improve brand recognition by ensuring your brand voice is carried through the content. 

E-A-T content

Another key consideration when creating product page content is the importance of the E-A-T update from Google. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trust. This is particularly important for websites that fall into the “Your Money, Your Life” category. YMYL websites include those that are offering health or financial information and advice. 

All eCommerce websites will fall into this category as they are trying to convince individuals to part with their hard-earned money. This is why it is so important to 

The content on your website – and particularly on your product pages – needs to demonstrate good product knowledge in order to stand out. This will help to guide the user journey while also strengthening your brand.

Identifying your USPs

An excellent way to make your content unique is to identify your USPs, not only for your products but for your website. Bullet point lists are a popular way to quickly communicate to website visitors the key selling points of the product. This makes it easier to skim product information on a desktop or mobile device.

USPs could include things such as:

Your product description can then follow a set format. Most website owners will include a short description summing up the major features of the product. They will then include a bullet proof list of key features. And then finish this with a longer description that contains more information.

At the end of the longer description, you can also mention the main features about your company that would make customers more likely to want to shop with you. For example, you might offer free shipping, next day delivery or easy returns. These are all things that will help to turn a browser into a customer.

Bringing it all together

Ultimately, you want all of the content to sit under the umbrella of your brand with a clear brand voice. No matter which page a website visitor lands on, they should enjoy a cohesive brand experience. This is best achieved with a strong brand voice and a clear idea about what you offer than what your competitors don’t.

The website should offer a clear and easy to follow user journey that takes them from discovery to purchase with ease. They should be able to find all of the information they need within a few clicks. To achieve this, it’s a good idea to use breadcrumb navigation to ensure users can easily click back to category pages and understand where they are on the website.

It’s also a good idea to make your website footer work harder by ensuring it includes links to all relevant shopping information, including shipping, returns and FAQ pages. Contact information should also be readily available to help build trust.

an eCommerce SEO audit

I am going to guide you on how todo your own e-Commerce SEO audit. Auditing your website can help you to identify areas for improvement. The nature of eCommerce websites is that they are typically very large, with lots of products, category pages and navigation pages to keep track of. Errors on these pages can lead to broken links, poor user experience and an increase in bounce rate.

In the worst case, you might also experience problems with abandoned baskets which could start to harm your profits. An eCommerce audit can help you to spot these issues and fix them before they start to harm your income.

What is an eCommerce audit?

An eCommerce audit is a common process of examining the on-page and off-page elements of your website to ensure that everything is functioning as it should. Your audit should be unique to your website, as every website is different and will have different considerations.

An eCommerce audit can be carried out periodically to monitor for changes, improvements and issues with your website. Ideally, the audit should offer some actionable insight that will help to improve the health of the website in future. All too often, the website audit doesn’t lead to any changes or improvements and the same issues will keep cropping up time and time again.

Who needs an eCommerce audit?

Anyone running an eCommerce website should consider adding regular audits to their marketing plans. This can help to identify areas for improvement and stop small issues from becoming widespread and damaging. As your website grows, you need to ensure that errors on your site aren’t multiplying.

Another instance when you might need an eCommerce audit would be following a website migration. Migrations can cause lots of issues with websites, and eCommerce sites are often hit the hardest because of the scale of the website.

What should be included in an eCommerce audit?

As we mentioned, every eCommerce audit should be unique to the website. Some factors won’t be relevant to your site, so feel free to adapt the audit to your specific needs. These are some of factors you might include in your website audit:

Indexation

Head to the Coverage tab in Google Search Console to check how your website is viewed by Google. This will show you if there are errors that might be impacting the indexability of your website. If there are errors, you should be able to dig into the cause of these errors. And if you have a large number of excluded pages, you can also confirm if this is happening for the right reasons, or if there is an error.

Robots.txt

The Robots.txt file of your website will let search engines know what to crawl and what to exclude. Check that this file is in place and configured correctly to make sure your website is discoverable.

Website speed

Website loading times can make or break a site. If your website is slow to load, visitors won’t wait around, they will simply look for an alternative. With an eCommerce experience, this can be particularly damaging as users want to be able to browse quickly, and sometimes on a mobile device.

Google PageSpeed Insights will give you a good idea about how well your website performs. This will cover both mobile and desktop devices. It also offers recommendations for how to improve, which you can take directly to your web developer to implement.

Structured data

Schema markup is essential to let Google know the intent of your website. Using this correctly can also lead to you landing a spot in the rich results in Google. It can add things like star ratings to your SERP listing, which can help to increase customer trust. A good eCommerce audit should cover the presence of structured data to ensure you’re making the most of opportunities in the SERP.

International setup

If your website is structured for multiregional or multilingual iterations, you need to make sure that everything is set up correctly. See this post for further info. This includes checking that canonical tags are used correctly, making sure that hreflang attributes are implemented, and ensuring that your website loading speeds are sufficient in the regions you are trying to target.

Core Web Vitals

This became a ranking factor in 2021 and places focus on the importance of user experience. It looks at a range of metrics, including Largest Contentful Point, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. These are all technical terms for how and when a user interacts with your website. You’ll need to use the Looker Studio to create a CrUX dashboard to monitor this.

Mobile UX

Since Google switched to mobile-first indexing, the mobile user experience has never been more important. And this is particularly true for eCommerce websites that will often rely on large volumes of mobile traffic. Google offers tools that will allow you to check how mobile-friendly your website is.

website content

Auditing your website content

Once you have an overview of your website from a technical standpoint, you can then start to think about the content. Content is very important for an eCommerce website as it will be the main source of motivation to encourage users to make a purchase. Content includes things like images, product descriptions and category pages. Navigation is also essential to a good user experience. Consider the following factors for your website audit:

Keyword targeting

It’s important to keep track of the keywords you are targeting so you know if your efforts are successful and if you need to change course. The keyword research will form the foundation of your content strategy. Review this regularly to make sure you are making the most of opportunities available to you. 

Meta titles and descriptions

You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and extract plenty of useful information about how your website appears in SERPs. From here, you can review your meta titles and descriptions to make sure they are making the most of the space available. If your meta titles and descriptions are auto-generated from website content, this step is essential to ensure they are generated correctly. Meta titles and descriptions that are too short aren’t making the most of the opportunities, and if they are too long, they might be cut off. 

Page structure

Search engines expect websites to follow a particular structure, including a clear hierarchy of headings on the page. Check that each page on your website has a clear header and footer, and then the most important keywords are present in the H1 and H2 tags. These simple steps will help to ensure that search engines know how to categorise your content.

Category and product pages

Every product page and category page should include well-written content that helps the website visitor to make an informed decision. This content should be well laid out and include information about the products that will enable shoppers to make an informed choice. The product description should also include a clear link to your brand tone of voice and messaging. This will help to ensure a cohesive experience across the site.

Additional content

Users need more than just product information to make an informed purchase decision. They also need to know things about your shipping pricing, your brand values, what to do if something goes wrong with their order, and how long they can expect to wait for delivery. Make sure that additional content like your shipping and returns page are easy to find and there are no broken links heading to these pages. Broken links can impact the user experience and make shoppers likely to look elsewhere.

Cannibalisation

It’s common for eCommerce websites to have multiple pages trying to rank for the same keywords. This can cause issues and should be avoided if possible. If you have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword, you are competing with yourself. To avoid this, revisit your keyword research to determine if there would be a more appropriate term to target and shift focus to this.

Image compression

Very large images on your website are going to slow down the user experience and make it difficult to load your website on a mobile device. Monitoring how you upload images and prepare them for use on your website using a tool like Screaming Frog will allow you to spot any potentially oversized files.

User experience factors

Now we’ve reviewed the website from a technical angle and looked at the content, it’s time to consider how users interact with your website. The user experience audit can help you to identify potential issues with your site that are standing in the way of conversions. Amazon is famous for running lots of small experiments to see what user experience factors will increase conversions the most, and this is likely to continue as shopping habits change and develop.

Here are some user experience factors you should consider during your audit:

Site search

Customers need to be able to find what they are looking for in the search bar. You should regularly look into the search terms that are used to help identify any potential roadblocks to conversions. By regularly reviewing this data, you can determine if you are using the correct terms to describe your products, or if your customers refer to them in a different way.

Out of stock items

Removing out of stock items from your website can harm your SEO efforts by removing backlinks and potentially creating broken links. Think about the best way to manage out of stock items and regularly review if this is working for your website. For example, you might keep the page live and offer a selection of alternative items. You could also redirect the page to the main category page.

Auditing your off-site content

While off-site content might be somewhat out of your control, it’s still important to include this information in an audit. It can help to identify potentially harmful links or issues with spam. Your off-site content audit should include:

Monitoring backlinks

Your backlink profile is still one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so it’s vital to monitor links pointing at your site. You might be responsible for building some of these, through directories and digital PR, or you might have earned them through content marketing. Keep a close eye on the volume of backlinks and look for spikes in spammy links that could damage your website.

Increasing backlinks

Alongside monitoring your backlinks, you also need an active campaign in place to continue building backlinks. Your audit can form the foundation of a backlink building campaign by helping to identify gaps. An audit can also include competitor research to identify any new links that your competitors have achieved that you could also attempt to acquire. Information from your website audit can form the foundation of a digital PR campaign, allowing you to identify which keywords you should be targeting and which pages need the most support.

Bringing it all together

Remember that your eCommerce website audit should lead to action. Every discovery that you make in the audit needs to pave the way for course-correction or growth. If you discover something is amiss in your audit, then you should take steps to fix it. And if you discover something is working well in your audit, then you need to think about how you can expand this across the rest of your website.

A common problem that companies face is that they know they should do the audit, but they don’t always know what to do with the information. This means that problems remain untouched until they complete the following audit which reveals that nothing has changed. If you want your eCommerce SEO audit to be effective, you need to make sure that it is delivering actionable insight.

Not every item on this list will be relevant to your eCommerce website right now, but remember that your needs can change over time. The audit you carry out when you first launch your website might be very different to the audit you carry out a few years down the line.

In this guide, we’ll explore how you can put generative AI to work in your SEO strategy to help increase output.

The UK government recently announced a £100M taskforce to help boost safe AI adoption. With everyone talking about ChatGPT and similar AI systems, it’s no surprise that governments are starting to pay attention to how this plays out.

AI has the potential to upend a number of industries, but it could also help to transform the way we do a lot of marketing processes. Rather than thinking about how AI will replace SEOs and SEO copywriters, it’s better to think about how SEOs and copywriters can use these tools to 10x their marketing output. 

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is a general term given to a field of computer science concerned with the processing of information by machines. You may have already encountered AI without even realising it. It typically includes an element of natural language processing and machine learning.

When we think about AI, thoughts often run to science fiction scenarios where machines are taking over. We’re not quite there yet, and AI should instead be seen as a tool at our disposal rather than a sentient entity.

Generative AI can also include things like words, images, audio and 3D models. An AI image recently won a prestigious photography award, which has generated mixed responses about the future of the medium.

From an SEO perspective, generative AI can be used to create things like website content, content briefs and even technical SEO documents. Let’s look at some of the ways we can use SEO in marketing.

How to use AI in your marketing strategy

The important thing to remember about AI is that it stands for artificial intelligence, and the artificial part is very important. It cannot replace human insight just yet, even if it does do a faster job or sorting information. But these are some of the ways that AI can help streamline the work of a marketer.

Generating content ideas

Churning out AI content and hoping it will connect with your audience/ solve a problem is a poor marketing strategy. Instead, think about ways you can streamline the content production process by coming up with content outlines using AI.

Copy.ai will allow you to create a blog brief from just a few prompts. Once you have your target keywords, enter your blog title and the tone you’re trying to achieve to land on a blog post outline that will shape your content.

You can then hand this brief to a copywriter, or handle this task yourself. Either way, you can quickly generate more content for your site with this handy tool.

Creating new images

Using AI to create images for your blog posts could help you to avoid the time-consuming process of searching royalty-free image websites for the perfect image. Tools like DALL.E will allow you to generate an image based on a prompt, which will enable you to create the perfect niche image to communicate your intentions with your content.

DALL.E is also capable of something called Outpainting, which allows you to extend an image in any direction. If you have found the perfect portrait image for your website, but you need it to be landscape, you can ask DALL.E to extend the image. The results are hit-and-miss but often very impressive.

Handle technical SEO and schema markup

Did you know ChatGPT can also generate things like XML sitemaps and robot.txt files. If you dread creating things like this, then ChatGPT can make light work of it using just a few simple prompts. 

You can also use tools like wordlift.io to create the relevant schema required for the knowledge graph. This can be incredibly time consuming, but this tool makes light work of adding structured data to your website.

Using AI for redirects

When migrating a site, redirects are likely to cause more than a little bit of a headache. But with AI you can create a redirect map that cuts down time spent on this task by around 50%. Tools like getdirects.com will match URLs based on H1s, page titles and URLs, which is a large chunk of the work done for you.

It’s important to check all work before setting up redirects, as mistakes could cause a headache, but this tool is a great place to start. For anyone who thought AI could only help with churning out blog posts, it’s time to reconsider this stance.

Spot AI generated content

While AI has some useful applications, we don’t want to be using automated content without our knowledge. If you are concerned about AI generated content on your site (perhaps you have a large pool of contributors) then try tools like GPT Radar, Draft & Goal or Originality AI. As fast as AI is moving, so are the tools needed to detect when it has been used.

Best practices for adopting AI for your SEO content

While AI tools might be easily accessible and widely available, this doesn’t mean you should rush forth and get carried away with the possibilities just yet. 

You need to confirm you have authorisation from decision makers in your company and ensure that you have weighed up the pros and cons of using AI web copy. Here are some best practice rules to consider when deciding if you should adopt AI for your SEO content production needs.

Do we really need AI?

Yes, it might be on trend at the moment, but do you really need to use it? Consider what business needs you are hoping to solve and ask if AI is the only way to achieve this. For some situations, AI could even make the task longer and more complicated. 

The time taken to check the work and ensure it’s correct before it goes live should also be taken into consideration. In some situations, creating from scratch would be quicker than editing poorly generated content.

How much will it cost?

AI is not a free service, so you need to consider the real-terms cost of using it. Almost all AI tools have a subscription fee that is linked to the number of words generated per month. If you’re planning to lean on it heavily for content production, expect the cost to quickly escalate.

You also need to consider the time investment required to handle the AI tool. Someone needs to be in charge of managing and editing the output. Even researching the right prompts to use can be time consuming.

There is an incorrect assumption that AI is a free tool and that it will also free up time in your day. In reality, it’s a paid tool that also requires a time investment.

Create better prompts

You might not get the prompts right the first time, and this can lead to some frustrating generations that are either inaccurate or simply miss the mark. AI tools mirror what you put in, so if you don’t spend some time creating powerful prompts, you can expect to get poor generations in return.

Many AI tools offer feedback options that will allow you to reject some completions. You can then rephrase your prompt and try again, allowing the AI tool to learn from your feedback in the future.

Always check for plagiarism

Duplicate content and plagiarism are serious problems for SEOs. Whether a human is writing your content or an AI bot is writing your content, you need to be checking for plagiarism.

AI often lifts content from other sources, so don’t be surprised if you see long phrase matches in your AI generated content. This is one reason that generative AI should be used as a starting point rather than using it to create a finished product.

AI generated content go wrong?

How can AI generated content go wrong?

The technology might be exciting and moving quickly, but it certainly isn’t without its flaws. Being aware of the limitations and potential issues with AI can help you to avoid some all too common pitfalls. 

Remember that AI is currently under regulated, but this could all change in the future. If you choose to use AI for content creation, it’s important to keep documentation so you know what steps you need to take in the future if rules or guidelines change. Also, AI content is detectable with tools such as copyleaks.com. And, I believe Google is also trying to detect this too. 

Copyright issues

AI tools may be guilty of copyright infringement, but we don’t yet fully know the extent of this problem. Checking for plagiarism before you publish any piece of work is essential to help protect yourself. Editing AI generated content for clarity and originality is also a good way to ensure that you don’t get caught out.

There have been a few high profile cases of companies and individuals getting caught sharing content that has been ripped off from other sources.

At the moment, there is no obvious recourse of human writers who are plagiarised by AI content, but this could change in the future.

We also don’t know how human readers will react to AI generated content. It could increase mistrust of brands that are open about their AI generated content, or try to conceal their AI written content but get caught out another way.

What we do know is that readers generally don’t like to be pushed onto an AI chatbot when they want to speak to a human, so content generated by AI might elicit a similar reaction.

Hallucinations

When an AI content generation tool doesn’t know the answer to something, it’s often prone to making up something entirely random. These are known as hallucinations, and they could be problematic if AI content production becomes more mainstream.

The content that is produced often sounds plausible, but it is completely fabricated, making it hard to detect unless you are thoroughly fact-checking your work. The issue here is that, once published, other AI generative tools might rely on this hallucination for research, which could mean that we double down on the false statements. 

Before long, it will be difficult to know what is true and what has been fabricated by AI content tools.

Lack of originality and insight

If you are a thought-leader in your industry, people turn to you for genuine human insight. This cannot be replicated by an AI content creation tool, because AI is not capable of generating anything new. It only repackages what insight is already out there.

AI won’t create anything new or replace real human insight. And we know that Google and other search engines place a great deal of importance on the originality and insight offered by humans. Google’s E-E-A-T update placed experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness at the heart of their operations. And at the moment, these are not qualities that AI can replicate.

The risk of harmful content

When AI is mining information with minimal filtering, there is the risk it could produce something that is harmful or offensive. Content could be considered racist or sexist, which highlights the importance of still having humans check and review everything before it goes live. When AI is pulling content for biassed sources, you can guarantee that the content it generates will also contain the same biases. Hitting publish on AI generated content without a thorough review and fact check could land you in trouble.

Won’t work forever

There are some companies that are jumping on the opportunity to quickly churn out lots of blog posts and content in the hope of getting one over on the search engines. This would likely be considered to be black hat SEO, and it won’t be long before search engines decide how they would like to deal with it.

AI generated content could be penalised in the future, which could place publishers at risk of falling rankings if they choose to move forward with an AI strategy without having a contingency plan in place. We can anticipate that Google and other search engines will improve their AI content detection tools and may penalise content produced by AI, particularly for Your Money Your Life (YMYL) niches.

The best generative AI tools to try

The best generative AI tools to try

If you’re curious about how AI works and how you could use it to expand your content offering, here are a few different tools you should explore.

ChatGPT

Perhaps the most well-known of them all, ChatGPT has already become synonymous with generative AI. It is built on the OpenAI system and is incredibly easy to use. The free version isn’t always available, but you can upgrade for $20 per month to access the tool at all times, and make the most of exclusive features. It’s worth noting that if you are getting something for free, you aren’t the customer, you’re the product. So at this stage, anyone using free AI tools should expect to be contributing to the product for free.

DALL.E

The image arm of OpenAI will allow you to generate images based on a text prompt, or upload and edit an image. You’ll need to purchase credits to use this tool, and there is no guarantee the image won’t pull from copyrighted sources.

Copy.ai

Copy.ai is a generative AI tool aimed at marketers. It claims to be able to write blog posts 10x faster, write higher converting social media posts, and write more engaging emails. While this might be an excellent tool to speed up these processes, we’d still recommend thorough reviews to ensure the content is accurate.

Jasper

Jasper is built on OpenAI and offers a wide range of templates to help you automate SEO and content production tasks. You can ask it to create product descriptions for sites like Amazon, or to create meta titles and descriptions based on keywords and a company or service overview. You can even ask it to outline and write an entire blog post based on a few prompts. As with all AI tools, the results are hit and miss.

Closing thoughts

AI might be changing the way we work, but it isn’t going to completely replace SEOs or content creators just yet. The landscape is constantly changing, so proceed with caution if you decide to add AI to your SEO toolkit. 

It’s also important to make sure you are checking everything that your AI tool produces for plagiarism and accuracy. And finally, remember that humans should still be making the decisions, you can use AI to help inform your decision making, but it shouldn’t be making the big decisions for you.

International SEO URL Structure

I am going to guide you with your international SEO url structure. Taking your website global is one of the most effective ways to grow your company. Once you have identified a potential market for your products or services, you can then decide if you want to create a new website just for this market, or adapt your existing website to an international audience.

You might be wondering why a website would even need an international setup. After all, aren’t websites accessible wherever you are in the world? What is the purpose of starting from scratch with a new domain? These are all valid questions that this article will aim to answer. 

I will explore why we bother optimising websites for specific territories, which methods are the most popular, and how to choose the right structure for your needs.

What is international SEO?

International SEO is the process of optimising a website for different territories and languages. This will enable you to expand your offering into different areas. This doesn’t have to mean that you are opening offices elsewhere in the world. 

Plenty of companies will engage in international SEO efforts without expanding their physical presence to corresponding territories. International SEO is all about making sure that you appear at the top of search results in different languages and in different territories around the world.

Examples of companies getting this right include IKEA, H&M and Zara. When you land on these websites, you are often directed to a landing page where you can select your local territory and your language. Some will also allow you to select your local currency. The website will also be optimised for your locality. For example, it might only show products or services that are available in your area.

Defining your target audience and international SEO objectives

There needs to be a strong business case for optimising your website for different territories. This will usually include plans for expansion into a specific territory, or addressing the growing need for a targeted presence for a territory where demand for your website is growing.

Once you know where you want to target, you can then determine your SEO objectives. You might need to translate your content and make it better suited to a local audience. Direct translations don’t always provide the best user experience.

You will also need to carry out local keyword research. Again, direct translations don’t always get the results you want. If you want you website to perform well, you might need a unique SEO strategy that is customised to the location.

How to choose the right URL structure

The biggest decision you will need to make when optimising your website for international markets is the URL structure. You can choose from:

An example of this would be www.example.com/fr and www.example.com/gb 

An example of this would be www.example.es and www.example.co.uk 

An example of this would be gb.example.com and it.example.com  

It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each method so that you can move forward with confidence. Not every method is right for every situation, so we’ll outline the benefits and drawbacks of each one below.

Subdirectories explained

A subdirectory is a really simple way to organise your website. This method is commonly used to add features like a blog or store to your website. These function like files within a filing cabinet. The website is the entire cabinet, and the subdirectories are the individual files within.

The most common way to use subdirectories to internationalise a website would be to have a generic top level domain such as .com and then localise your website using subdirectories for each territory.

On each subdirectory, you would have a unique version of the website that is either targeted by language or by location, or both. However, there is more work to be done to ensure that your website is handled properly by search engines.

Subdomains and hreflang attributes

Your subfolders will need to have the appropriate hreflang attributes attached to avoid the issue of duplicate content. This is applicable even if you translate your website. These attributes tell search engines which language you are using on specific pages so they can serve the right page for regional searches. And example of a hreflang attributes would be:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com” hreflang=”pt-pt” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com” hreflang=”pt-br” />

hreflang

The first one is for Portuguese speakers in Portugal while the second is for Portuguese speakers in Brazil. If a user searches for a term and there is a page on your website in their local language, this attribute is a signal to Google to serve the page available in their local language. This step alone can help to drive down your bounce rates.

Advantages of subdirectories

Disadvantages of subdirectories

Country code top level domains explained

Another common way to target a specific territory is by purchasing country-code top-level domains, or ccTDLs. This will allow you to host completely unique websites, on local servers if required, and with a unique URL if your brand name doesn’t work in another country.

An example of ccTLDs would be .co.uk .es or .pt. 

You could then have a generic top level domain such as a .com as a central hub for all of your other websites.

You can then use hreflang attributes to direct search traffic to the correct version of the website for the location and language. 

Advantages of ccTLDs

Disadvantages of ccTLDs

International subdomains explained

A common alternative to subdirectories is subdomains. In this instance, the letter code for the area you are targeting will appear before the domain name. For example, you might use be.example.com for a Belgian audience and fr.example.com for a French audience.

Each website can be managed by a unique CMS under the same hosting account. You’ll then use hreflang attributes to point search engines to the correct regional version of your website. It’s worth noting that this method will only work if you have a generic top level domain, such as a .com.

International subdomain advantages

International subdomain disadvantages

How do I select the right URL structure?

This is not a decision to be taken lightly. Once you pick your structure, changing it can be very complex, so you need to be sure you have considered all angles before moving forward with a plan. The process of expanding a website for an international audience requires careful planning.

You’ll need to think about your current expansion plans and how you might approach this in the future. While you might only be looking at one territory now, could this expand to multiple territories and languages in the future? Future-proofing your website is certainly worthwhile.

Consider the following factors when choosing the right URL structure for your website:

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If you’re planning to expand into multiple territories

For fast expansion into multiple territories, you might be best using subdirectories for each location. This will be more cost-effective than purchasing multiple ccTLDs and will also enable you to share domain authority. Bear in mind that this method will only work if you have a generic top level domain such as a .com address.

If you already have a ccTLD

If you’re already using a .co.uk address, you might be better placed purchasing domain names for your chosen regions. This will help to avoid the need for a costly migration to a gTLD, which would require you to start from scratch with building your domain authority.

You will need to start from scratch with each territory, but this will enable you to ensure everything is done correctly from the start.

Choosing between multiregional and multilingual

A key consideration when making this decision is whether you are aiming for a multiregional site or a multilingual site. With a ccTLD, you will struggle to rank your website anywhere other than that specific region. For this reason, subdirectories might offer the best flexibility for targeting different regions and languages. 

Subdomains could work for you, but this will often mean managing multiple SEO campaigns for each individual subdomain, as search engines don’t tend to share authority between the distinct subdomains.

This table should help you make a direct comparison between the different methods:

URL structure

Can you change your mind in the future?

It’s certainly possible to change the approach in the future, but think about the loss of domain authority and brand recognition that could occur with this approach. Changing from a ccTLD to a gTLD, for example, will require you to start from scratch building domain authority. While redirects will carry some authority, you will be taking a step back and could see a loss of rankings.

In general, it’s best to choose a method and then stick with it. The method you choose might depend on the existing website URL structure. For example, if you have opted for a .co.uk domain name, then choosing a ccTLD URL structure with individual websites for each territory might be best.

Closing thoughts

While it might be a complicated process, it’s important to take the time to consider where you are now and where you hope to be in the future. While you might have your sights set on a single territory at this stage, your website could grow into a multiregional and multilingual website in the future, so you need to pick a website structure that you will grow and scale with you. If in doubt, working with a specialist SEO agency or freelancer will allow you to make these important decisions under expert guidance.

Increase Your Traffic in 2023 with These Top SEO Strategies

SEO Trends

Now that we're in 2023, Google's algorithm changes have become somewhat challenging for those who want to perform well in search results. But ranking well is still possible, and today we're going to look at the best SEO techniques and strategies to help make this happen. 

If you are new to SEO you will learn some quick tips of these SEO Trends if you read further!

I typically work with eCommerce sites that depend on getting a constant flow of website visitors to ensure they continue to grow their revenue. As an outcome, I work on SEO daily and have followed the myriad of changes that Google has introduced over the years.

There's a lot that can be implemented to boost the SEO of a website's pages. Title tags, keywords, picture alt text, internal link structure, and inbound links (also known as backlinks) are all factors that search engines consider. When deciding where on the page of search engine results (SERPs) to place your website, search engines consider more than just on-site content and code.

The primary purpose of SEO is to get you more exposure with better rankings. 

These are my top SEO trend tips for getting to the top. Follow these correctly, and you should do pretty well. 

Keep to the essential things

It's easy to get distracted by all the recommendations bloggers post on what to do with SEO. However, not all of what is said is helpful. Some of it will not help you get anywhere other than feeling exhausted and frustrated. The bottom line is that you don't want to be investing time and energy into any SEO work when it's not going to make one iota of difference. Here are some examples of the nonsense spouted so that you know what to avoid, so you don't go down rabbit holes that won't get you results.
 

You must spend time on the right things for your SEO in 2023. Leave that other nonsense to your competitors to waste their time on. 

Always consider what the intent is of the searcher

Always consider what the intent is of the searcher

Google wants you to write the content their searchers are looking for, so you must keep this in mind and give your searchers the content they want. 

For example, you can see this in action if you search the term 'best SaaS SEO'. You'll find both techniques for SaaS companies to grow their businesses and lists of the best SaaS companies offering SEO products. This is because Google knows that the searcher wants to learn rather than buy.  

When trying to rank for highlighted snippets, it's crucial to consider the context of each triggering query.

Three distinct groups of internet users will search your keywords:

You'll be in charge of creating the material for the first two. Each person's search intentions will be unique, but all content must be informative (and navigational when users want to click through them).

Generate heading tags that are interesting and intriguing

Generate heading tags that are interesting and intriguing

Google changed how it created webpage titles back in 2021. It is more likely to use H1 tags rather than title tags and sometimes will even rewrite them. 

However, writing title tags is still essential as it's still using them to create web page titles. It uses H1 tags 60 per cent of the time. Title tags are rewritten more than 30% of the time.

Including query keywords in the header tags is a crucial part of the content organisation for highlighted snippets.

Select your main keywords and use them as header tags. After a heading tag , Google can add highlighted snippets. If you have highlighted snippets, you're likely to get a lot of good traffic from having so much coverage by Google.

Since only one kind of search leads to a highlighted snippet, here is what is being looked for by Google. Do know that Google wants the best content for its users, and that's the main aim. The user will typically want answers to be in the format of: 

Therefore, create content that delivers in these formats.

But we will get back to how to optimise for snippets a bit further down the page.

Refresh content regularly to cut back on the decline

Refresh content regularly to cut back on the decline

Some of your content will decline in the ranking, even if you get incredible traffic. Rankings do not stay the same, so refreshing your content and republishing it will help your position in the search engine.  

You can find out which content is declining by using Google Search Console and comparing the content now vs six months ago to see the difference. 

Something to look out for is if the search intent has changed and your page no longer aligns with it. Then check whether your page contains answers to all the questions and subtopics a searcher would have on your topic. 

Read more about title rewriting here on Search Engine Journal. 

Top tip. Add bespoke imagery & graphics to make the content more digestible. I can tell you that I have tried and tested this and it does work. It means it will take more time and effort creating your content however, you are giving it the best chance of ranking.

dean

Add more links

Add more links to internal pages to make them more important.

Adding internal links to your pages so visitors can easily visit other pages within your website can improve SEO. 

They can also help to distribute PageRank to your site and help Google get an understanding of your content as a whole. 

Some tools can help you to identify opportunities for internal linking. For example, Ahrefs site audit makes it fast and easy to do. Sign up for the free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account, crawl your site, and look at the report on link opportunities. You'll see the source page you need to link from and target pages to link to. Use the keyword as the anchor text. 

You can find a lot of information on this tool, but focus on your most important pages first.

Top tip. If using WordPress use a tool called Link Whisper to help you manage internal linking.

Improve visitor page experience 

Improve visitor page experience 

Google rolled out a new page experience update in 2021. This update was on mobile, and then in 2022, there was a desktop version. 

This measurement looks at core web vitals, HTTPS for security, and the absence of intrusive interstitials. 

You can read more about what Google says about intrusive interstitials here, and many websites will have gone back to HTTPS. This leaves just Core Web Vitals to handle. These cover factors such as speed, user experience with visual load, stability and interactivity. 

You can check the condition of your Core Web Vitals by looking at the report in the Google Search Console

However, do note that the Core Web Vitals are just one of 250 +  ranking factors, so do what you can, but they aren't the be-all and end-all. 

Top tip. If using WordPress or some other CMS’s  you could use a tool called Nitro Pack to help you get a high score with the CWV and faster site.

Use more than one intent in your content 

People using Google's search bar may not always have the same intent. If you Google the words "on page SEO," for instance, you'll get a wide variety of results, including how-to articles, definitions, and ranked lists.

That's what we call a "keyword with mixed intent." People may be curious about on-page SEO, while others may be determined to master it completely.

I recommend creating content for the more popular purpose if you aren't currently ranking for a term with mixed meaning. This appears to be a rule of thumb for "on-page SEO." 

With indented site links, you may double up and achieve several first-page ranks if you already rank for a mixed-purpose keyword.

Top tip. Use SEMrush and target terms with a low keyword difficulty.

Add sections of FAQs

Add sections of FAQs

Even if you believe your site's material is exhaustive, frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages may fill in any blanks or give overarching solutions to your consumers' most pressing concerns.

Does it help to add FAQ pages from an SEO point of view? Yes - when they are optimised for relevant keywords, created for optimum UX, and marked with structured data, FAQ pages may contribute to organic performance.

Most importantly, frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages assist by addressing your client's most pressing concerns and guiding them towards a resolution (and a conversion for your business).

Recommended reading: Mark Up Your FAQs With Structured Data (Google)

Include expert quotes

No one has complete knowledge of all topics. Thus, although you should be familiar with the subject matter, there will undoubtedly be certain areas in which your expertise is lacking.

An excellent way to fix this is to sprinkle your material with quotations from relevant experts. This will help your credibility and authority as you're clearly following these people or wouldn't be able to share quotes on them.

The results may be seen in two ways, both of which are good for search engine optimisation:

Improve E-A-T. What EAT is is an acronym for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. You can read more about this here

Can lead to more links. If you ask, the people you cite in your work will gladly spread the word on their social media accounts. Because of this advertising, more people will read your material, which may result in more people linking to it.

Optimise your content for snippets 

It's common knowledge that highlighted snippets have a significant impact when it comes to traffic. All SEO experts, including me, work hard to get highlighted snippets for their clients' articles whenever possible.

These enlarged, detailed search results are presented in a separate box at or near the top of the page (SERP). You may improve Google's ability to determine whether your website provides the best response to a particular query by optimising for featured snippets (FS).

As with any SEO, you need to keep an eye on searcher intent, keywords and what the competition is doing. 

More information:  Featured Snippets Optimisation

Optimise image backlinks

For paragraph and listicle highlighted snippets, in particular, images are essential. Improve the user experience and prevent becoming generic by replacing standard images with either actual photos or original designs.

Include as many pictures as your text calls for.

People may incorporate your site's bespoke drawings or infographics into their own material if you host them there. When they do this, they will often (but not always) provide a link back to the original picture. A direct link to the picture file is provided on occasion.

From an SEO standpoint, this is not ideal since the "authority" of that link is wasted. Instead of just linking to the picture file, a more appropriate destination for the link would be the page from where the image originated.

If you discover any links that you believe should be "improved," you should contact the relevant author or website owner.

Change links to dead pages

Links pointing to archived or otherwise inaccessible pages are pointless. Given that the page no longer exists, they are unlikely to have much of an impact on the rankings of other pages, either.

This is why it is essential to monitor for links that lead to defunct sites so they can be removed.

You can use a tool such as Ahrefs to show them to you. They will even send you an email telling you what's missing. 

Here's how to fix them:

Simply send the dead link to a suitable location.This is to avoid Google interpreting the redirect as a soft 404, and then making its connections useless.

More information: How to Find and Fix Broken Links (To Reclaim Valuable 'Link Juice')

Audit your content annually

By auditing your site's content, you may determine whether its pages are achieving their goals. You then choose whether or not to fix, merge, or remove poorly performing pages.

You can start by determining whether your blog posts get traffic from searches. When you find pages that aren't working for you, update and improve them by changing keywords, adding more content, or deleting them.

Create more backlinks

The number of referring domains (linking websites) to a page positively correlates with the volume of its organic search traffic, which is not surprising given that backlinks are one of Google's top three ranking criteria.

This is not to say that you need a thousand or more backlinks before your page ranks well. How difficult the discussion is likely to be is a factor.

All of the top articles returned by a Google search for "keyword research," for instance, had anything from 500 to 17,000 referring domains:

Realistically, it would help if you had a lot of backlinks to compete for this term. You may have the best content in the world, but if your page only has ten links, it will have a hard time making it to the first page of search results.

Getting additional high-quality backlinks may help you increase a few Google positions and increase your organic traffic. 

You don’t need to apply all these SEO techniques for 2023. Just pick a few that will be easy for you to do and try to be consistent with your attention to your site. I will write something in more detail about this topic soon.

Now that you know what can make a difference in SEO in 2023, let's look further ahead.

What to anticipate in SEO's future

Search engine optimisation has advanced far from the days of just filling pages with keywords and creating meta descriptions. But as time goes on, what can we expect from SEO? 

SEO has never been more intriguing, with Google constantly updating and improving its algorithms. Professions are always changing, but experts predict some significant shifts in this dynamic field soon.

The methods through which Google determines the rankings of web pages are likely to undergo significant changes in the following years. To begin, you can anticipate a heightened focus on content quality and the quality of the user experience. Further efforts will be made to comprehend natural language and enhance searcher relevancy, and Google will maintain its "mobile first" strategy. 

In the end, this implies that web designers and marketers must think ahead of the curve and do whatever it takes to give value to consumers via valuable content, responding quickly and accurately to customer enquiries. Overall, these changes should get us closer than ever to obtaining precise, exhaustive search results whenever and whenever they are performed.

Final thoughts

As previously stated, executing every one of these SEO strategies is unnecessary. If you have to choose, select the one or two that seem to be the least difficult. When it comes to search engine optimisation, those who succeed are those who do something, therefore, do something, even if it's not perfect.

Even if the website and content optimisation may become more difficult in the following years, we can rest confident that we are serving the best interests of our visitors by providing them with the most relevant and valuable responses.

I hope this post has helped you get started on the path to SEO success in the year 2023. I hope your SEO efforts go well.

Get in touch by my contact form if you want to chat about your ideas and goals and how I may be able to help you to achieve them.

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