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Common SEO Questions and How to Resolve Them #SEMrushchat

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Common SEO Questions and How to Resolve Them #SEMrushchat

Becky Shindell
Common SEO Questions and How to Resolve Them #SEMrushchat

You have to work for months, sometimes even years, to achieve the desired results of your SEO efforts. Even when your search optimization work is done, there is no guarantee that you will rank high enough for specific keywords on search engines.

During our SEMrush roundtable we discussed the most harmful SEO mistakes and how to fix them. Our guest experts shared some great insights into user experience, link-building, outreach, hidden technical issues and other topics. During the roundtable, we received many interesting questions from our audience so we decided to pick five of them and devote our latest SEMrush Chat to answering these questions.

Let us guide you through solutions to some of the most common SEO issues:

Q1: With the outbound links, would you add “nofollow” to low authority sites, even if you trust the site’s content and quality?

To start, let’s take a brief look at what is a nofollow tag. It is an attribute value that is used to indicate to the search engines that the hyperlink should not influence the ranking of the link’s target in the search engine’s index. The nofollow element helps web masters tell search bots: “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.”

Originally, the nofollow tag was designed to help webmasters and site owners with links that they could not control. They could add this tag to the links they didn’t trust (e.g., paid links) in order to enable the search engine bots to notice them and not to allow them to have a negative impact on the final ranking of the page.

The initial idea is that nofollow would remove link spam in comments. However, when it was put into practice, things didn’t go exactly as planned. As a result, the nofollow element enabled both webmasters and site owners to leave links that didn’t follow the rules of organic linking out of their final PageRank calculation. The problem was that sometimes it was not crystal clear what could be considered high-quality links and what could be considered low-quality links.

When your pages and links are crawled by Google, the search engine adds them to its index. Webpages and links that are not in the index will not appear in the search results, when someone is using a specific search query in Google. There’s no certain answer to what’s the best ratio of dofollow and nofollow links.

Nevertheless, what Google really pays attention to is the relevance of your backlinks. For example, even if some links don’t provide a value to your SEO efforts they may be of high value to your users.

Conversely, a link from a high-authority referring website that’s not related to your topic may not be interesting and useful to the site visitors.

If the content is high-quality and relevant to your audience, there’s actually no point in adding nofollow to the link.

With that in mind, you can consider to add the tag to the following kinds of links:

  • Websites you don’t know and cannot fully trust

  • Links in comments, unless you really trust them

  • Links to ads and paid product placements on your site

SEMrush Chat Recap Q1

The bottom line is that if it’s quality, relevant content, you don’t need to nofollow these links. It’s worth linking to sites that can be valuable to your audience.

Q2 from Tranter: How can we show results to clients when link building is out of our control and site has no domain authority?

It’s not a secret that clients are always worried about the results and want to see the evidence of their higher rankings on the search result pages. Let’s imagine that your link building campaign is out of control and your client’s website has no domain authority. Can this fact prevent you from convincing your client about your performance and results?

There are many things an SEO specialist should care about when working with a client. First of all, it’s important to understand what an average customer expects from you:

In fact, clients are less concerned with backlinks and more with other aspects of SEO, such as organic traffic, conversions, site’s reputation, share of voice, and other things.

While discussing the agreement with your client, you need to clarify your customer’s main goals. This will help you to better understand which metrics to show them to prove their expenses and demonstrate your hard work and efforts.

Here are a few tips from our chat guests that can help you prove the value of your services to your clients:

  • Use Google Analytics statistics

When determining the indicators that will play an important role in judging your SEO efforts, you can find a wealth of valuable information in Google Analytics. Even though every business is unique and every site has its specific goals, Google Analytics allows you to check out a range of universal metrics, such as your site’s traffic growth, visitor flow, bounce rate, and many other useful statistics.

Google Analytics will show you your site’s day-by-day traffic over the last 30 days. You can also look at the bigger picture by changing the date option to check out whether your site visitors are increasing or decreasing in the long-term. "Search Engine uses Domain Authority? None of them. Why confuse clients with made up metrics?” asked Bill Slawski.

  • Check out keyword rankings

If your SEO campaign is focusing around a certain set of target keywords, among other things, your efforts should result in your site ranking higher on the search result pages for these certain queries. Using Google Analytics, you can check out the keywords that you’re ranking for and where they rank in Google, as well as the keywords your visitors use to find your site and terms that drive the most traffic.

  • Develop a well-planned content strategy

Your content marketing strategy is an outline of your customer and their business needs. When developing a content strategy that will work best for your client, you need to pay careful attention to their ultimate goals. A successful content marketing strategy can help you to achieve multiple objectives, which includes building your credibility and authority. Quality content helps you to stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

SEO is not only about short-term result, but also long-term gains. It means that every piece of content you create will be retaining its authoritative value and can even send more referral traffic to your client’s site.

You need to figure out the main goals of your client and correlate your SEO efforts with your result.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q2

Links and Domain Authority are not the main indicators of your SEO efforts. You need to demonstrate a quantifiable improvement in metrics that are relevant to your client’s business, as well as explain the importance of the long-term value that goes beyond what you can currently measure.

Q3 from Matt Ellis: What are the key elements that our landing pages need to contain in 2017?

Creating the most effective landing page can be a very daunting challenge. There are multiple components to keep in mind. However, there is no standard rule for creating an effective landing page. Different websites have different features, advantages, and goals. But, there are some good things that are worth paying attention to.

Our chat guests helped us to compile a list of eight key landing page elements that you can start with to craft your compelling landing page:

1.A Strong headline

A killer headline is a powerful tool that can spark interest and grab the attention of your audience. Whether or not your users will listen to you and click on your call to action largely depends on your headline, because it's where your landing page begins.

Make sure it is informative, eye-catching, and concise. Your users should be intrigued and clearly understand what your product or service is about. To do this, try the five proven formulas for high-converting headlines.

2. Value proposition

A good landing page includes a clear and obvious value proposition. You need to explain to your audience how easy it is to use your product or service and what benefits your business can provide to them. The simpler your explanations and directions are, the better.

You can show the benefits of your brand through storytelling. A perfect example of this is animated storytelling which can show how amazing stories can frame your product or service like never before.

3. Professional design

A professionally designed landing page not only effectively captures your audience’s attention, but it can also improve your conversion rates. You need to make it visually appealing, but at the same time you should keep it simple and minimalist. There are several common conversion design rules that you need to stick to, such as whitespace, high readability, fewer overall colors, and contrasting CTA colors.

Check out these 36 creative landing page design examples posted on Unbounce for inspiration.

4. Quality, relevant content

When you have captured your user’s attention with a killer headline and stunning design, the next thing you need to do is lead them through a process of thinking, which is why you need high-quality, relevant content.

Make sure that your content is self-explanatory and points out your brand’s key advantages. If you use long-form content, ensure that your landing page is organized properly and logically. Use design to mark off different sections of your content. If you work with short-form content, it doesn’t need a rigid hierarchy, but a single visual focus.

Pay careful attention to which visuals you’re going to use to frame your copy and other pieces of written text. It could be evocative background images, custom photography, or video. “Same as always: clear CTA, third-party validation, clear benefits, usable forms, etc. Video helps, too!” tweeted Martin Weinberg‏ @MartinWeinberg.

5. Clear call to action

Call-to-action buttons can make or break your conversion rate. Designing an effective CTA is a highly important question in creating a perfect landing page. The primary goals of any CTA is to convince your users to take action and get more conversions. It must be clear and instantly visible and inspire action. “Landing pages need to answer user intent with clear messaging and CTAs. "Always keep it user-friendly,” tweeted Danny Ray Lima‏.

Like other pieces of content on your landing page your CTA should communicate the benefits of your brand. Make sure that the users can clearly understand the benefits that they will get out of completing your CTA.

Another important element in designing an effective CTA is its position on the landing page. Take into consideration the position both on the page and in the user’s journey, in other words, you need to think about the right time to ask the user to respond.

6. Trust signals

Trust signals are a crucial component of what makes a landing page convert. Even if you have a beautiful design and super-engaging content, trust signals make your users even more confident in their choice to listen to you and complete the desired action. “Don't waffle — get your point across quickly and show product reviews if they are applicable,” recommended Andy Drinkwater. Some of the best trust signals are customer testimonials, product reviews, and social shares.  

7. Contact information

Finally, you need to provide some assurance that your company is real by displaying a physical address and an active phone number. You can also include a live chat in a popup that can be helpful for some of your users. “The landing page should have clear information about the 'reason' that page is created. For ecommerce, having active live chat is must,” tweeted Praveen Sharma‏.

8. Mobile responsive landing page

Strictly speaking, it’s not a landing page element, but we decided to include this component to the list. As with Google’s mobile-first index, it’s worth adapting your landing page to a mobile, multi-screen world. To satisfy modern internet users, you need to provide them with ability to view your landing page on different devices.

The list we provided is not a full review of all effective landing page elements. Nevertheless, these components remain constant, and you need to keep them in mind, when crafting your perfect landing page.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q3

The best way to find out elements that will help you to create a competition-crushing landing page, is to test them out to choose the best ones for your business and audience.

Q4 is from Kjersti: What is an important step to follow if you want to move to use an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate is a data file that’s used to establish a secure encrypted connection between a browser and a server. If you are collecting any sensitive information on your website, you need to be secure.

If you’re going to use an SSL Certificate, follow these steps:

1. Verify your website with Google Search Console

The very first step is verifying your site with Google Search Console. Google needs to confirm that you own the site. You cannot use it in Search Console until you verify ownership of your site.

2. Set up an HTTP to HTTPS 301 redirect

If you use an SSL Certificate on your site, you can automatically redirect visitors to the secure HTTPS version of your site. Doing so you can ensure that your users’ information is protected. 301 redirects allow you to automatically redirect visitors and search engine bots to your new webpages. When changing your site, you need to find out how to do it in an SEO-friendly way. If done well, redirects can help you save your positions in the Google’s SERPs.

3. Update internal links and sitemap

Internal links are important for both users and search engines. Internal linking is a way to show search engines which pages on your site are important. You need to ensure that all internal links point to the new URLs and not the old URLs to make search engine bots follow the correct URL. Also, update the sitemap.xml file to inform Google of the new URL structure.

4. Enable HSTS

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is an opt-in security enhancement that allows web servers to instruct web browsers to only use secure connections for all future requests. It protects websites against SSL protocol attacks, SSL stripping, and cookie hijacking. You need to enable HSTS for your site to enable web browsers to automatically change any insecure requests to secure requests.

5. Renew the SSL Certificate

Make sure to renew your SSL Certificate before it expires. Ignoring this important procedure can seriously affect you. If you don’t complete the renewal by the expiration date, your website will display an error message in the user’s computer that the certificate is not valid. New visitors will avoid your site. What’s more, it can damage your reputation and trust from your loyal users.

Let’s sum up.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q4

With a great number of websites that are now serving the global market, webmasters need to consider improving their website security practices which will ultimately result in better user experience.

Q5 is from Dale: Long scroll length can have a bad UX. Would this apply to long form content such as guides and how-to’s?

It has been said that nobody wants to read long-scrolling pages of content. Nevertheless, long-form content definitely has its benefits.

  • Long-form content allows you to perform analyses, discuss case studies in detail and provide exhaustive guides.

  • Long-form guides provide you with an opportunity to create campaigns and experiment with ads.  

  • If it’s helpful and written professionally, long content cal help you increase time on website.

  • Long guides help you to establish your site as an authority and a knowledgeable educator.

If you’re considering creating long-form content, you need to decide the following:

  • Who will consume this content?

  • What do you want to achieve with it?

  • What will you consider a success and how will you measure it?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can use a few basic tips to make your long content better, i.e using subheadings and listicles to structure your text to make it scannable. Also, a few visually appealing images and videos are a big help to break up the monotony of a long-form article.

Keep in mind that not all of your content should be long-scrolling. Define your key goals that you want to reach with it and build your content plan strategically.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q5

Many thanks to our chat guests who helped us answer all these questions!

Hopefully, you’re now ready to fix some of the most common and frustrating SEO issues on your website. Which of these problems are you facing now? Let us know in the comments!

Becky Shindell is the US Social Media Manager at SEMrush and host of the weekly #SEMrushchat. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. You can find Becky at many of the US Digital Marketing Conferences, feel free to say hi!
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brendan botond
Great read
I would have liked to see some of the downsides of long form content.
Especially people using filler sentences just to stretch out the amount of word in the article.
I see lots of short-form content outrank long form b/c they are so focused on the topic.
Becky Shindell
brendan botond
Hi Brendan, thanks so much for the suggestion!
Jyoti Thapa
good post and well said about he quality of contents and the quality of links to your website. Good post and excellent article for newbies like me.
Becky Shindell
Jyoti Thapa
Happy to hear this was helpful for you, Sandeep! Thanks so much for checking out my article :)