How to Optimize Your SEO for the Mobile-First Index

Google’s main goal is to provide the best possible results to a search query. And since most users rely on mobile devices for the majority of their online activities, Google’s focus is on catering to the needs of the ever growing number of mobile users. In the past years, Google has released several updates aimed at making the web better for mobile consumers, but now, it took its game up a notch by rolling out a mobile-first version of its index.

There’s no choice for website owners but to adapt to the mobile-trend in order to maintain traffic and ranking because the new index will split the desktop and mobile results, and if your website is not prepared for the change, you could be in for hard times. Mobile will become the primary index and mobile searches will no longer show results for desktop, and vice versa.

If you have a desktop and not a mobile version of your site, or different mobile and desktop versions, you should be concerned and address these issues as fast as possible, or before the mobile-first index is fully released. The first step is to create a fully-functional mobile website. Next comes SEO in a mobile-first index.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your mobile website’s SEO. But to make things easier, and so you don’t have to do everything on your smartphone, open your website in a desktop browser and view the mobile version. You can do this by right-clicking on the site, and choosing the “inspect” option, then, you can toggle between desktop and mobile in the upper left corner of the menu.

 

1. Perform the Google Mobile Friendliness Test

First of all, you need to check if your website can pass the Google Mobile Friendliness Test. Begin with your key navigation pages, and your highest selling category and product pages, one by one. Take a look at the “No Mobile Configuration” section to see which pages you need to focus on first. If you still don’t have a mobile site, responsive site or AMP pages, start implementing them right away. Or, if you can, go for a responsive website design. But remember, pages without mobile optimization can badly impact your performance in the SERP.  

 

2. Check whether your Mobile Pages are Indexed

You’ll have to do this check on a smartphone. And to make sure Google is indexing your mobile pages, open Google and in the search box type: “site:visiblefactors.com”. If there are no results for your site, Googlebot may be unable to access the mobile pages. If you are using separate mobile and desktop site, and Googlebot is not indexing your mobile pages, we recommend you create and submit a mobile sitemap. Tag the mobile pages with the rel=canonical and rel=alternate tags.  Googlebot might not be indexing mobile pages because of the separate mobile and desktop URLs, but this should do the trick. But, if you don’t have separate URLs, double-check the robot.txt file and make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.

3. Look for Smartphone Errors in Google Search Console

For this step, go to Google Search Console, Crawl Errors, and choose Smartphone. The errors you identify here can help guide your strategy. Analyze each error and deal with it in the right manner. One common mistake that shows up frequently though, is a faulty redirect. Make sure you have matching smartphone and desktop URLs, so users (and Googlebot) get sent to the right page. When you fix the smartphone errors you allow Google to index your content better.  

4. Change Your On-site SEO Optimization for Mobile

Mobile and desktop on-site optimization differ. For example, title tags on mobile are shorted than those on desktop. Keep in mind that you need to create good user experience, and that includes good on-site optimization, from title tags, to headers. The simplest way to address this issue is by using Screaming Frog. Run the check, then go over the “Page Titles” mane at the top. Get all results for “Over 65 Characters”, and download the data. Rewrite the longer meta titles, and repeat the same procedure for meta descriptions as well. Make sure all of them are shorter and mobile friendly. And for the headings, you can opt for slightly reducing the size for a better mobile UX. Also, run a check with Google’s robot.txt testing tool to make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.  

 

5. Improve Page Load Times

Mobile page load speed can be a crucial UX factor, and load times longer than 4 seconds can make visitors leave. To test your page load times, you can use a lot of free tools, like PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom. Just open your website and run the speed test. Depending on the result, there might be several things to consider. But the simplest optimization you can do, without help from a development team, is optimizing image size. Next, if that doesn’t help much, have your dev team reduce code, add browser cache, manage plug-ins. And lastly, see if your web designer can move more content above the fold.

6. Mobile and Desktop Content Should be a Perfect Match

In order to cross-check and compare your mobile and desktop website, you will have to do it manually. Pull up a list of your most visited and highest performing pages from Google Analytics, then open each page, one by one on desktop and your smartphone. Also, check and scan your code for any inconsistencies. If you find pages with more content on desktop than the mobile version or vice versa, go over them with your editorial and development team to redesign them. It’s advisable to have a completed content audit before you do this so you’ll know what content can and can’t be removed, without hurting traffic. To make sure Google sees your web pages the same way you and your users do, use Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render, and choose mobile user agent from the menu. That way you’ll get to see two pages, side-by-side, and you’ll know whether your content looks the same to Googlebot and your users. Remember that Google ranks content only from the mobile site, and uses the canonical links as guides for users searching from desktop or mobile. So be careful when you making the redesign.

7. Make Sure To Add Structured Data to Your Mobile Pages

While many webmasters skip adding structured data to mobile sites, in the mobile-first index, if you want to keep it, you’ll have to add it to the mobile pages manually. If you already have a responsive website, then your schema should do it. But if you have separate mobile and desktop sites with different URLs, you will have to make sure you followed all the necessary steps for mobile, as you would for your desktop site. Double-check with the Google Structured Testing Tool if your schema markup has been added correctly to your mobile site. Use the “Inspect” function to make sure it’s coming up on mobile devices. Make sure to update all URLs you use in the schema, but be careful not to drown your site in structured data. And if you use a plugin for structured data, use a testing tool to make sure the displayed markup is correct.

8. Launch AMP if You Still Don’t Have Mobile Pages

If you still didn’t have a chance to create mobile pages for your website, then create AMP versions of your pages – it’s the easiest way to get Google to index them. But if you have a m.mobile site, and the content of your AMP page is full and different from the one on the m.mobile site, Google will rank he m.mobile site above your AMP page, and you won’t rank for the keywords included in the full content. Also, you can’t rank higher if you have a mobile version and an AMP version of a page. Google will rank the desktop version of the page instead. If you set up AMP pages, you can easily check them on your smartphone by trying to open a specific page from your website. If you see the small AMP symbol – the gray lightning bolt next to the result, you’re good. You can also do a check-up on your desktop, by viewing the source and searching for rel=”amphtml” or by using the AMP Chrome extension in order to switch between the regular and the AMP versions. And in order to do a final check on whether you implemented AMP pages correctly and get suggestions on how to fix any problems you might have, use the AMP testing tool.

9. Check Your Subdomains Using the Google Search Console

If you already have a responsive website, then skip this part 🙂 But if your website uses subdomains such as m.visibleactors.com or visiblefactorsmobile.com, than you need to verify them in Google Search Console. First, open your Google Search Console account and click the “Add Property” button, and add your subdomains. Next, after you upload your subdomains, Google will send you notifications about your mobile site to let you know if you have smartphone errors, manual actions, if you’re blocking Googlebot, or basically if there are any issues with your site. Beware that Google treats subdomains as separate sites so pay attention to all notifications you receive and make sure to fix all problems.

 

The challenges for SEO-teams become even greater when you need to adapt your SEO-efforts to the upcoming mobile-first index and prepare your website for the upcoming change as fast as you can. And maintaining a dedicated mobile site, if you still don’t have a responsive one, is vital if you want to stay afloat in the mobile-first index, at least for the time being. The rollout will be global, and all websites will face the same constrictions, there’s no escape. So make sure to be prepared when it happens.     

 

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3 Significant Changes to Dynamic Search Ads

If you are actively using Google AdWords, then you know that Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) are the easiest way to reach customers that precisely match your offer on Google. The best thing about DSA is that they use your website to help target your ads and fill in the keyword-based gaps in your campaigns. Even the best managed AdWords accounts that use many keywords can experience some setbacks without DSA, including missing out on relevant searches, experiencing delays in writing ads for new products, or being out of sync with what’s actually available on the destination website.

The benefits of using DSA are great. They help you save time and reach new markets faster and the ads are frequently and automatically updated as soon as you make changes to your webpages. They also show relevant results with dynamic headlines, giving you greater control over your campaign, and most importantly, helping you generate additional traffic and sales compared to what you get from keyword-targeted campaigns.

Now, Google is making an update to DSA by introducing three significant changes aimed at giving advertisers a better handle on the quality of the ad creativity and targeting. Let’s see what those changes actually are.  

Page Feed – More Control Over What You Advertise

Searchers are more likely to click on an ad and buy a product or service when it fits their needs or solves a problem. That is why having more control over what you advertise, and making sure your ads are very relevant to prospects is key.

In order to provide advertisers with an additional layer of control, Google introduced Page Feeds to DSA campaigns. That allows you to create a feed – a spreadsheet of the products or services you want to promote, and add it to a new or an existing dynamic search campaign. When you use a Page Feed to specify which URLs to use in your DSA, it helps Google determine when and to whom to show your ads, and where to direct people on your website.

Additionally, Google recommends adding custom labels to your selected URLs to categorize and organize the specific targets in groups. When you use labels such as “Special Promotion” or “Out of Stock” in your Page Feed, you can easily activate ads within that promotion at the same time, or pause them to stop unwanted paid traffic.

This is a very helpful feature that saves time and helps ecommerce advertisers save money by delivering only relevant content to their prospects.

Expanded Ads – Longer Descriptions for Deeper Messaging

Having more screen real-estate is always good when it comes to display advertising. You want your ads to be bigger and more noticeable, and also explain your offer better and in more detail. The transition to Extended Text Ads on Search and Display campaigns occurred in January, and these new, larger ads are about to make their way to DSA as well.

Longer headlines and descriptions allow advertisers to show more information about their business and their offering. The higher character count of the extended description field gives you additional space and lets you be more specific with the ad, while the other features remain dynamic. This enhancement is expected to roll out over this month (May 2017) and we are excited to welcome it.

Quality Enhancements – Be More Relevant

Ad relevancy and quality may begin with specifying which web pages and which products or services you want to promote, but it continues with having your ads show only when they are most relevant to the what the searchers are looking for.

Let’s say someone looks for a digital marketing agency in L.A. and instead of seeing the ad for Visible Factors, they are shown an ad about a digital marketing agency in Charlotte. Not very relevant, right? With the latest updates, Google is promising advertisers a quality enhancement focused on location-based targeting.  

Improved ad-targeting is very important and beneficial, especially for local businesses that want to reach a certain audience. When you know that your ad will be displayed to prospects which are in the vicinity of your business, you are willing to pay more, because you will get exposure and possibly more clicks and an increase in profit.

These three changes made to Dynamic Search Ads are allowing more control over your targeting and more specific descriptions of the products and services you are selling. This means your ads are about to have a higher conversion rate at lower CPA (Cost Per Action). 

So if you were hesitant about including DSA in your campaigns and weren’t sure if they’ll get you the wanted results, we hope these improvements change your mind and make you give DSA a chance. If you do, give us a call to help you set up your campaigns. We promise you’ll be in for an awesome and very fruitful ride.   

e-commerce conversion optimization and funnel optimization

5 Tips for Optimizing E-commerce Conversion Funnels

We work with a lot of E-Commerce businesses and while many have a standard checkout funnel, many businesses have a very custom conversion funnel based on the goals of the business. Nonetheless, the basic concepts of a conversion funnel are pretty standard and straightforward.

Obviously, at first, the goal is to generate customers into the top of the funnel, this means you need to generate visibility and awareness. Once you have gotten them to the site, you need to make it really simple to find the products they are interested in, which can be through category pages or a specific product you offer. As customers make their way through the site, it’s always a great idea to find ways to capture email addresses. Once you get people into the checkout process, it’s important to make the purchase process clear and concise, without forgetting to get key information, and convert these people into paying customers.

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Top E-Commerce Trends to Watch in 2017

Every year, e-commerce trends change, whether it’s improvements in logistics, product discovery, or brand building. If you want to keep up with the times in online commerce, you have to adapt and evolve, and be more innovative and updated on trends over your competition. To benefit even more, you need to be aware of the implications; embrace the newest trends, and implement them accordingly and change the way you do business.

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facebook ads b2b lead generation

Turning Up B2B Lead Generation Volume with Facebook Ads

Lead Generation is crucial in B2B marketing. They are a source of prospects, and eventually customers by which businesses can increase revenue and grow. While it might not be obvious because Facebook is not a “business” tool like LinkedIn is, you can still leverage advanced targeting techniques and its 1.86 billion monthly active user base. Because of this, Facebook is one of the most powerful tools to use for B2B Lead Generation in order you increase awareness about your products and grow prospective clients.

However, for that to happen, you must optimize your Facebook Ads for B2B lead gen. You can use following techniques to achieve this goal. Here’s how to go about it.

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7 Organic Ways to Boost Your CTR

Click-Through Rate (CTR) is one of the most important metrics when it comes to online marketing and advertising. It can be pretty difficult to increase CTR, depending on the method you use. And, increasing conversion rates can dramatically increase the revenue your business drives. These methods also differ based on the marketing channel, whether its paid or organic, or how much brand awareness you have out there. As you start to figure out what message works best for your target audience, you start to understand what makes them click, literally. Here are a few organic ways you can try:

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Mobile-First SEO Planning and Strategies for Startups

Woman on mobile device looking for local listings

Startups often have issues gaining traction on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general, so trying to make sense of the differences between desktop and mobile SEO can be painful. And, gaining real traction in search engine rankings and getting organic search traffic can feel impossible. There are so many sites that have had more time to tinker with their SEO, more time to produce high-quality content, and more time to build the links that drive the results. How do you even begin to think through your company’s SEO strategy for Mobile at that point?

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Reducing Bounce (Rate) Is The Key to Conversion Optimization

Most companies we talk to don’t have a ton of experience with conversion rate optimization and how to effect it in a positive way. Especially as a retail brand taking their products online, it can be overwhelming to understand things like traffic sources, conversion rate, exit pages, etc. And, even as we talk to startups, there are many situations where we find companies are frantically searching for a secret silver bullet to solve for increasing revenue or signups.

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Increasing your SEO opportunity by thinking outside the box

Many times, as companies, we get so laser locked in on “ranking #1” for our keywords that we lose focus on the real KPIs that matter: conversions, revenue, traffic.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this in our SEO engagements where people are so focused on a ranking of a keyword or set of keywords. It takes a minute to get people to understand what is truly important. The true goal is never ranking #1 for something or even ranking top 10 for example. Usually, it’s generating revenue, leads, traffic, engagement, etc. Focusing on this is the most important thing, not where a specific keyword ranks.

Along with that, it’s important to think outside the box. Creating a content program or finding new traffic opportunities for the business can create new opportunities to connect with customers.

And, speaking of content, one of my favorite measurements of this was a company I worked with who was worried about blog traffic converting. Think about it this way, if you have a blog with 100 visits that converts 3% of the time but a site that only gets 10 visits and converts 30% of those visits, you’re net conversions is still 3 for each one. If your goal is converting users to paid customers, it’s important to understand your traffic sources.

Similar to rankings, it’s important not to think so narrow minded about the opportunity. Thinking broadly about topics and thinking outside of the box could present growth were the business previously didn’t have it.

Content is an amazing example because you can find so much new opportunity on your SEO efforts. Creating content for SEO purposes not only increases your traffic and long term conversion (albeit at a lower rate), but, if you’re running retargeting campaigns, you’re creating a broader audience by pixeling users that come to your blog for education.

You can also take a look at competitors and understand what they are doing to increase their SEO Opportunities. Are they creating a blog? are the growing their blog content constantly? Maybe another opportunity is creating a resource center for your customers to educate them on products, services, etc.

A company like OnDeck, for example, could create a “small business loan knowledge base” and create a resource center for all terms related to small business loans. At the same time, a company like Luxe Valet could create a “parking costs” or “valet costs” resource that shows parking costs, meter costs, or average valet rates across the U.S. and educate visitors while increasing brand reach, and possible conversions for search terms like “parking costs in los angeles”.

Again, the key here is understanding the opportunity, mapping it out, and finding ways to reach new visitors and hopefully convert them instantly or over time, using other methods like email marketing and retargeting.

Would love to hear more about how you look for SEO opportunities and think outside the box for content. Leave a comment below!

Our team has grown SEO for companies like Blue Bottle Coffee and Ticketmaster. Inquire more about our SEO services and we can help you grow as well!

Email Marketing: You’ve got subscribers, what’s next?

We’ve run into a couple instances where our clients are sitting on a large list of email addresses or are starting an email program and just want to blast everything out at once. Recently, a member of our team pointed this out to me and it was a really interesting conversion. Based on that, we thought it would be important to talk about how to get value instantly, without overwhelming yourself and your subscribers.

One step at a time.

There’s an old saying, “you need to learn to crawl before you walk”. It holds true here because before you start implementing a hundred different strategies, it’s important to find out what is working. What I mean is: start somewhere and start small.

Start with a test email, you can format it in a way you think might be the first of a Drip Marketing or CRM campaign, but, there’s no need to set up automation immediately. First, try to generate some feedback. You can do this by testing. The key is, start small and send a couple test emails to see what type of response you get.

Don’t send it to everyone!

So, speaking of starting small. If you have a list of 500 subscribers or 25,000, it doesn’t matter, sending the email to everyone can cannibalize your audience and limit your ability to test. Consider segmenting out the list if you can, and, if you can’t, just split the list out into chunks so you can do the above, test and iterate.

Generally, the biggest the list, the lower the percent of users I want to send an email to. For example, a list of 500 I would break into 25%-50% tests of 125-250 people, where as a list of 25,000 I might break out into 10% chunks. The more subscribers the more data you can extract.

An example of this that we have right now is around 20,000 subscribers that we’ve split into an email sent to 5% at first, then two 10% segments to be sent the following 1-2 weeks. From there, based on the data, we will be able to learn about how our customers are responding to the emails being sent and can adjust the program going forward.

In many cases, you won’t have to do more than a couple tests on larger lists to find what you want. The key is not generating a ton of unsubscribes, having a really low open rate, or worse, report to spam.

Figure out your benchmarks

Along with not breaking anything, you’ll be able to benchmark some data. As an example, with open rates, when sending out your first email, you can test a couple subject lines and iterate on that with a second email. Once you find a good industry acceptable or higher open rate, you can then put that line in the sand and use that as a subject line for future emails.

You can do the same with templates, content, and design by iterating through your emails and understanding the click through rate and engagement with them.

The key is, again, finding your benchmarks and iterating through them.

Once you take these basic steps into account for an existing list or a new list your starting to build on your email marketing program, you can be way more effective. Also, you’ll find yourself to be way more efficient when iterating through campaigns because testing methods will be nailed down.

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