Category Archives: Blog

Google’s Featured Snippets: Retaining & Increasing SEO

In previous articles, we have explored many ways that we can implement SEO strategies into our website optimization process. However, once we hit high ranks in searches for the words we are targeting, how do we maintain our success? While it is exciting to see our sites on the front page of searches, we can’t stop thinking about SEO. New businesses and products can enter the industry. Words can change in meaning and usage. Customers naturally expand to new platforms. Constant change in the eCommerce industry requires us to continue updating and implementing SEO strategies.

Establishing expertise with our users, carefully choosing our words, and making sure our site provides quality user experience are essential SEO tactics. However, there are other SEO strategies we can use to retain and improve our SEO score. One strategy we can considered is optimizing our content for Google’s “Featured Snippets.”

Google’s Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets are a unique and profitable opportunity to bring more traffic to your site. These “snippets” are brief, informative glimpses into content that is usually associated with answers to questions. For example, if we ask Google “What is a featured snippet?” we get the following snippet:

A benefit of featured snippets is that they can bring our content to the top of a search page without having a high rank. Featured snippets are placed above the first organically ranked suggestion, making it the first thing users see when browsing the search results. Having our content in “Position 0” of a search result can increase our visibility, bringing more users to our site.

Note: Clicks in Featured Snippets

One of the main concerns about Google’s Featured Snippets is the possibility of users not clicking our content. Featured snippets can come off as counterproductive since users may read the answer to their question and leave. However, featured snippets aid us in taking clicks away from our competitors. By providing succinct answers, users will leave the search results without clicking on a competing company’s site.

Types of Featured Snippet Content

Since featured snippets tend to be answers to questions, our content needs to not only be valuable, but understandable to search engines. As seen in the example, a snippet only pulls part of your content in an attempt to answer a question. To understand what kind of content Google’s presents in a featured snippet, we need to understand the common formats available.

Text Definitions

As illustrated in our first example, text snippets answer questions by providing brief and clear text results. These answers tend to be sentences pulled from your content and presented in the snippet.


Tables are similar to text snippets, but are featured snippets that present a collection of data . These snippets tend to be numerical and only give a glimpse of the table presented in your content.


Whether they be numerical, bulleted, or unordered, list snippets are a collection of related content. Much like the other snippets, these snippets only show part of your list in the featured snippet.

Note: Not all featured content is a snippet

When we search on Google, we can get different kinds of content previewed at the top of the search results. However, not all “featured” content are featured snippets. Google’s “Rich Results” look a lot like featured snippets, but are merely enhanced listings.

Getting a Featured Snippet

Getting your content into a featured snippet requires research and attention to format. Before you create content for featured snippets, you need a good understanding of what your target audience is looking for. Knowing what kind of questions our users ask can aid us in knowing what types of answers to provide. One way we can discover featured snippet opportunities is to step into our user’s shoes and search terms and questions related to our expertise. Analyze what current featured snippets exist and determine if you can create a more succinct answer.

As you craft your answer, you need to keep the format of your content in mind. Depending on what kind of featured snippet you are creating, there are some general tips to keep in mind:

Text Feature Snippets

For text formatted content, you will want to make sure that your content is between 40 – 50 words long. Frame your content with the question you are answering to make your content clear to Google. Most importantly, make sure that the answer you are providing is objective. Google is looking for quality definitions rather than opinions when it comes to their featured snippets.

Table Featured Snippets

With table content, the key to successfully gaining a table featured snippet is to format your data as a table. Google does not create tables based on the content on your site. Instead, Google takes your existing tables and features them in the snippet. Since tables have specific uses, the best way to optimize for a table featured snippet is to present data in tables often.

List Features Snippets

When it comes to list featured snippets, format matters. When design a list for a snippet, make sure to use headings in your content. By using H2 and H3 Headings for your list, Google can better understand that you are creating a list. In the case of step oriented lists, we can go a step further and incorporate numbers to identify that this is an ordered list. Overall, keep your format consistent so that the content in your list is understood correctly.

Want to Learn More about SEO?

SEO is a continuous process with a variety of strategies to explore. Explore our SEO blogs to learn more tips and tricks to improve your visibility! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website,join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

Improving Your Contact Page

When a potential customer wants to reach out to us about our products and services, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to connect with us. Our contact information can usually be found on our contact page. A contact page is a must have for any business, but creating a quality contact page can take more thought. Let’s go over some best practices and suggestions that can help make your contact page clearer and easy to use.

Make Sure the Page is Easy to Find

The first step to creating a good contact page is properly placing it on your site. Most contact us pages are linked within the main navigation bar of your page, and in the footer as well. These locations are must-haves since most customers will assume that your site is structured similarly to other sites they have visited.

Keep the Title Recognizable

While we may want to use unique page names within our site to stand out as well as adapt our language to that of our customers, contact pages are best left alone. Changing the page title from “Contact Us” to something else, such as “Give Us a Call” or “Connect with Us,” can make your page harder to find. This is because customers may be looking for the words “Contact Us” since many contact pages follow the same naming convention.

Share Multiple Ways to Connect with Your Business

Once a user is on your contact page, we want to share how they can get a hold of our business. For the convenience of the user, offering multiple methods of contacting your business can make a user more likely to reach out. Having the option of calling, messaging through email or Live Chat, or utilizing a contact form allows users to choose their preferred method of contact.

Note: Hours and Departments

When sharing your available contact methods, it is important to note any time sensitive or important details related to those options. For example, if your phone is only manned during certain hours, that should be noted in that contact option. Expected response time for emails or Live Chat can also be important for users when deciding what method they want to use. We can also lead users to the correct people or departments if we properly document our communication options in our contact page.

Create Simple Contact Forms

Contact forms are a great way to connect with users. However, we should make sure we don’t over complicate the contact form process. While we can theoretically ask for as much information as we want, keep the information required to complete a contact form minimal. The must-haves for a contact form only amount to three fields: the user’s name, their email, and a brief description of what they are messaging about.

Optimize for Mobile

Since many users are visiting our sites from their phones, it’s important to test your site for mobile use, including your contact page. Making sure that your contact page is still readable and that your contact forms adjust properly for mobile are a few aspects to keep in mind. Since our contact page holds important information that could determine whether a user becomes a customer, keeping your contact page simple and straightforward can help the optimization process.

Want to Learn More?

Our contact page is just one of many parts of our site that can be key to turning visitors into customers. Explore our other blogs to learn more about what you can do to improve your site! If you are interested in a more hands-on course about how to optimize your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into important factors that aim to increase the conversion rates of your site!

Marketing Metrics: Measuring Success

As we optimize our sites and channels, it can be difficult to know what’s working and what’s not. We may understand our goals well: bring traffic to our site, attract more engagement, and turn visitors into customers, but measuring our progress towards those goals can be vague without firm numbers. To gain a better understanding of the success of our efforts and campaigns, we can establish marketing metrics to measure our goals with hard data.

What are Marketing Metrics?

Market metrics are numbers that we can use to measure the progress we are making towards our goals. The metrics themselves can vary depending on our goals, but they are usually defined by interactions with our content and changes in the performance of our site.

Why are they important?

Having numbers to define the progress of our optimization efforts can help us understand where we should be putting our time and money. With metrics to track, we can start to identify if our changes and campaigns are truly making a difference. By measuring customer interactions, for example, we can start to understand what our customers want to see versus content that is uninteresting to them. We can start making more of the content that receives more attention: more likes, reads, shares, etc., while pulling back on the content that isn’t attracting our customers. Overall, with marketing metrics, we can optimize the way we decide our next steps.

What are Common Marketing Metrics?

The metrics we decide to track not only depend heavily on the goals we have for our company, but also depend on the channels we are utilizing to improve our site.


Content marketing is an easy and broad method we can use to attract more users to our site. Writing blogs, creating infographics, and sharing customer reviews are ways we can use content to encourage potential customers to interact with us.

Metrics that can inform us of the success of our content marketing efforts include things like page views, engagement time, and link clicks. For example, a successful blog topic will receive more page views than a topic that is uninteresting to your audience. Beyond the topic itself, the content within the blog can be measured by how long people read it. Were they there for a few minutes or a few seconds? Finally, if your audience enjoys your blog, they may click links within the article to explore your site further.

How to Track: Analytics Tools

In order to collect data on how users interact with our webpages, we need tools that have access to our site and that can collect data on our users. Some hosting platforms come with varying degrees of analytics tools, but to get a full picture of our site, we can use Google Analytics.

Social Media

Social media is a great way to reach your audience beyond your site as well as interact with people who have yet to encounter your products and services. There are a variety of social media platforms we could use, but almost all of them aim to engage directly with our audience.

The metrics we track on our social media channels vary per platform, but are all based on user interaction. Likes, shares, and comments are the most common types of interactions we can encounter. Likes can help guide us on what kind of content our users want to see on our social media accounts while shares can really point us to the content that is truly resonating with our followers. Comments, on the other hand, can suggest both good and bad results. Some comments can be positive and provide great direction on why users like a specific post. Comments can also be critiques of content that we can use to make our posts better in the future.

How to Track: Social Media Management Tools

Most social media platforms keep us up-to-date with new followers and post interactions. However, having multiple social media channels can make it hard to keep track of all of them efficiently. Social media management tools, such as Hootsuite or MeetEdgar, allow us to create, post, and track how our content is doing on all our social media platforms through one tool.


Despite the popularity of social media, email marketing is still an effective way to interact with your audience. With emails, we can keep our users informed about our business, share special deals, and encourage users to check out our products and services.

To track the effectiveness of an email campaign, we can note subscribes, open rates, and forwards. Keeping track of how many users subscribe or unsubscribe can inform us on how effective our subscribe pitch is as well as how interesting our email content is. Open rates, much like page views on a blog, can help us determine if the topics we are discussing are of interest to our users. Tracking forwards is much like tracking shares on social media; it can help us identify content that resonates with our readers.

How to Track: Email Marketing Tools

In order to track how our emails are doing, we can use email management tools. AWeber, for example, can be used to create, send, and track how our subscribers are interacting with our email content. Management tools such as AWeber also allow us to breakdown our audiences into specific groups, enabling us to further optimize our content per customer type.

Site Performance

Beyond tracking content engagement, tracking how our site is performing is important in ensuring quality user experience. Following Google’s Core Web Vitals, our site’s performance can be measured by tracking the speed of our site.

To measure the performance of our site, we need to be looking at how fast our page loads, stabilizes, and responds. When a user first arrives to our site, the time it takes for our page to visually appear would determine how fast our site loads. However, even after our page loads, our page may not load entirely at once. The speed of which our site stabilizes, or rather, adjusts the content to its right location, is important to note when measuring performance. Lastly, with our site ready for use, noting how long our site takes to respond to user input, such as a click of a button, can help us understand the quality of our user experience.

How to Track: Performance Tools

There are a few free tools that we can use to measure the speed of our site. Page Speed Insights, GTmetrics, and Webpagetest are three tools that we can easily use to get an idea of how our site is performing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Even if our site and content are performing well, ensuring that our site is easily findable is key to bringing more traffic to our site. This means that we need to be able to create and measure Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.

To measure how searchable we are, we should track keyword ranking, average position, and overall organic traffic. When optimizing our site for searchability, we want to identify the keywords that we utilize when it comes to user’s searching for our content. Noting those words and how often our site is associated with them is important in identifying if the keywords we are using are successfully bringing traffic to our site. With the handful of keywords we do rank for, we want to note where we show up in search results. Are we in the top 5 results in a Google Search? Or are we a couple pages behind? Our position can say a lot about the whether or not we should keep focusing on certain keywords or phrases. Finally, we should keep track of how much traffic search results are bringing us as an overall baseline for how our SEO strategy is doing.

How to Track: Search Tools

There are a few tools we can use to check our SEO rank and relevant keywords. However, to see the a fuller picture of how our SEO strategies are performing, we can use Google Search Console, an SEO tool that shows us how Google ranks and presents our sites.

Want to Learn More?

By measuring our efforts, we can make clearer strides towards optimizing our website for more traffic and more conversions. Explore our other blogs to learn more about what you can do to improve your site! If you are interested in a more hands-on course about how to optimize your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into important factors that aim to increase the conversion rates of your site!

First Impressions: Creating your Brand

Part of establishing an online presence when it comes to our businesses is having a distinguished brand. With a quality brand, customers should be able to quickly recognize our business no matter what platform we are using, as well as understand who we are. However, a company brand is more than just our logos and slogans. Brand bleeds into the words we use, the visuals we utilize, and the stories we share. In this article, I want to go over some key aspects to keep in mind when shaping our brands.

What makes a Good Brand?

Our brands are what many potential customers will notice first, as well as what they will remember when leave our sites. Having a good brand means that your business is recognizable both in its visuals and its story. Company purpose, values, and origins can be communicated through your brand, and a successful brand will be memorable and attractive to your target audience. Just like many other aspects of our sites, our brand is another part of our business that should speak to our users.  

How do I create my brand?

Know your Audience

The key to creating content that resonates with your users is to know your users well. When creating our brands, we need to understand what our customers are looking for. This includes researching their pain points, demographics, as well your competitors.  By understanding what is available to your target what they really want, you can design your brand around a gap in your industry. We can find this gap by identifying issues our ideal customer is having with other companies as well as potential audiences who seem absent from the market.

Share your Story

After we have a firm grasp on our audience, we should decide how we want to share our story. How did your company start? Why are you invested in it? What makes your company special? Sharing our story can help us illustrate values that our customers can connect with. In terms of our brand, this is important since the stories we tell create a persona around our company. Creating a persona that is comfortable, relatable, and reliable can establish trust between us and our customers.

Choose your Words

Since the stories we share shape the face of our company, the words we use also come into play in creating a trustworthy and memorable brand. In our blogs concerning SEO, we emphasize the importance of communicating with words that your users use and understand. Consider how your customers talk about their troubles and the solutions they are looking for. By speaking the language of our customers, our brand will better resonate with our target audience since we will be speaking directly to their concerns and needs.

Create your Visuals

With the “voice” of your brand established, the next big step is creating a visual representation for your company. This includes your logo, color choices, fonts, and commonly used images. Your logo and colors will depend on what is recognizable in your specific industry and to your target audience, as well as what your company’s story and goals are. Fonts should be readable and create the tone your company wants. Having of a collection of images to use on your site and promotional content can help add variety to your content. The key aspect to having successful visuals is consistency. Make sure to use the same fonts, logos, colors, and types of images throughout your content to create a sense of professionalism and make your company easily recognizable.

What’s the secret to a Memorable Brand?

When creating a quality brand, we need to make sure that we are consistent and that our brand is in everything we create. Whether it be on our site, on social media, or in marketing content, the voice and appearance of our business should be present and similar to the rest of our material.  We can do this by documenting our brand. Have your colors, fonts, keywords, and images saved and annotated in terms of when, where, and how to use them. Having a variety of sizes, file types, and styles for your brand material can also aid in maintaining consistency throughout your channels. Overall, creating essentially a kit for your company can aid in making sure your team is all on the same page when creating content.

Want to Learn More?

Our brand is just one part of our business identity that we need to consider when creating quality content and attracting more customers to our site. Explore our other blogs to learn more about what you can do to improve your site! If you are interested in a more hands-on course about how to optimize your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into important factors that aim to increase the conversion rates of your site!

Making Your Site Mobile Friendly

With the popularity of smartphones, many first-time users of our site will be visiting from their phone screen rather than on a desktop computer. In order to ensure that our site makes a good first impression no matter what device users are coming from, we need to create sites that are mobile friendly. This means our site should adjust appropriately to the device it is being viewed on.

Why are Mobile Friendly Sites important?

Beyond the fact that many eCommerce customers shop via their phones, there are other benefits to making our online shops and websites mobile friendly.

To start, having a quality mobile site can increase your ranking in search engines. Some search engines, such as Google, not only incorporate mobile friendliness into their ranking criteria, but they also have taken to ranking mobile sites first. This means that, even with a quality desktop site, your mobile site may be reviewed for search results instead, impacting your SEO score.

Other than SEO, having a good mobile site directly impacts user experience. With the potential of visitors viewing your site on their phones, we want to make sure that our site shows the best our company can offer. This includes things like fast loading times and complete access to the same features your desktop site offers. By having a quality site no matter the device, we can create an experience that positively impacts our reputation and encourages reoccurring customers.

What Makes a Site Mobile Friendly?

Mobile Responsiveness

When visiting your site on mobile, it may be hard for users to interact with your pages if they are the same size and format of your desktop site. If your site is too difficult to use, a potential customer may leave before giving your products a chance. To avoid this, a responsive design on your website is a must have. A responsive site is a site that is able to reformat itself to the screen size it’s on. This means that, if your site is visited on mobile, the page’s text, buttons, menus, and so forth will be resized for better use on a smaller screen.

Adjusted Navigation

A responsive mobile site will not only adjust the pages themselves, but also the navigation menus and search features as well. On mobile, a full navigation menu could either take up too much space, or be too small to interact with. Instead, the menu should be resized and reformatted. Many sites utilize the “Hamburger Menu” for mobile view. A hamburger menu appears as a button that users can click to open up the menu as well as close it. This allows users to explore your site without the menu being in the way while also keeping the menu properly sized and usable.

Note: Make Your Search Option Obvious

A part of making your site mobile friendly is making it easy to find the content a user is looking for. However, even with adjustments to size and navigation menus, it still may difficult to locate specific pages on such a small screen. Having a search option easily accessible and clearly visible can give mobile users another option to use when exploring your site.

Readable Text and Buttons

On a small screen, reading content and clicking buttons can be a difficult task for users. Some users may click a button only to accidentally hit another, or even miss it entirely. Zooming in to read small text can quickly become a chore while exploring your site. To avoid discouraging your user from using your site, your site should have bigger text and optimized buttons for mobile use. Text should be readable without zooming in and buttons should be adjusted for touch rather than clicking. Making your site easy to use and readable will help keep users on your site longer.

Optimized Visuals

While our banners and videos may look great on a desktop computer, squeezing those visuals onto a smaller screen can result in diminished quality and usability. Especially with our Above the Fold content, we want to make sure that the presentation of our visuals translates over to mobile view. This means that our site should resize these visuals and re-arrange them according to the device they are on.

Note: Hiding Features can Negatively Impact your Site

When adjusting our site to mobile view, we may be tempted to hide certain features and images that are available on the desktop version of our online shop. However, hiding content from viewers can impact your SEO score. While your users can’t see the missing content, search engines like Google can tell that you have hidden content from the page. Google does not approve of hidden content and will note it when ranking your site. Avoid hiding content and instead reformat the content the best you can for mobile use.

Want to Learn More?

Improving our site for user experience is key to bringing more traffic to our sites, and thus attracting more potential customers to consider our content and products. Explore our other blogs to learn more about what you can do to improve your site! If you are interested in a more hands-on course about how to optimize your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into important factors that aim to increase the conversion rates of your site!

Keywords & SEO: Getting Started

Finding the right words to focus on when optimizing your site for searchability is an essential step to increasing your visibility.  However, with the variety of words available to us, it can be hard to get started. Luckily, there are a few steps we can take to begin finding keywords that will define our business and help us begin our SEO strategies.

Defining Keywords

Keywords are the words that your audience use when searching for specific products or services. Depending on what you are offering, who your audience is, and what industry you are in, which words attract people to your business can vary. Finding the words you want to focus on is essential to SEO since these words will be used in your content, titles, URLs and so forth.

Finding Words that Benefit your Company

One thing to note is that we must research which words we should be using thoroughly. While we could try to use any word that seems related to our services, it could detract from more important words as well as bring unwanted traffic to our site. Even using words that are popular in your industry can be pointless since those words are already heavily associated with other companies.

In the end, the keywords you decide to focus on should be a mix well-known words in your industry alongside niche vocabulary that relates to your target audience and specific expertise.

Steps to Get Started

Understand your Business

Before beginning keyword research, it is important to have solidified idea of who your company is. Knowing your products and services is the first step, followed by defining the “why” behind them. Why did you choose to sell these products and services? What is your mission or goal? Realistically, our offerings will have substitutes to compete with, so establishing what our “niche” is, what makes us different from other companies, is a key part of figuring out which words we will want to use to describe ourselves.

Note: Look for the Gaps

We can find our niche by looking for what gap we are filling in our industry. What is your company providing that other companies are not? This gap can be found within our products, target audience, work methods, history, mission, and so forth.

Know your Audience

Knowing our audience is essential to finding good keywords. We need to understand what words and phrases they are searching for in search engines so that we can use them in our content. By matching our content with our audience’s words, we will be more likely to show up in their search results. To do this, we need to first identify who our target audience is. What do they want? What pain points are they trying to solve? By looking at your products through the customer perspective, we can better define what keywords we should use.

Research your Competitors

The last thing we should keep in mind when beginning keyword research is our competitors. Our selection of words will be heavily based on the industries we are in, but we also want to make sure we stand a fighting chance to rank in the keywords we choose. Conducting searches of words you are interested in and seeing which competitors come up can help us figure out if the word is worth investing in. Consider the size and influence of the businesses that come up as well as the type of company they are. Sometimes, we will find that the word is heavily associated with a specific business, or that the companies that show up in certain results are not relevant to your own offerings.

At the same time, continue looking for gaps as you research your competitors. Are there words that your industry is not using that could be relevant? By looking for gaps, we can find opportunities to make strong associations with keywords that other companies have not used.

Want to Learn more about SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is a continuous process, moving beyond just keywords. Explore our SEO blogs to learn more tips and tricks to improve your ranking! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

Google’s Helpful Content Update: Impact to SEO Rank

In previous blogs, we have discussed many ways we can increase our visibility in Google Search through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, it is important to note that Google also continues to optimize their own system for serving useful content and ranking sites. As Google improves their ranking process, we also must adapt our SEO content to follow Google’s rules and expectations. One recent update we may want to be aware of is the Google’s “Helpful Content Update”.

What is the Google Helpful Content Update?

Starting in early December of 2022, Google began rolling out an update to its algorithm called the helpful content update. This update aims to further refine the process of defining quality content when ranking and serving sites. In this case, Google’s new update achieves this through adjustments to how it detects low quality content, as well as noting more signs that identify content that is made for search engines rather than for users.

Why is this update important?

Google’s updates aim to improve one thing: user experience. The sites that are served at the top of a search engine should provide value to users and answer user questions. There are many businesses that want to be at the top of relevant search results, so many of us work hard to optimize our websites for search engines. We focus on keywords, content, SEO friendly site structure, and other aspects that have been noted to increase search rank. However, this update could cause lower visibility for some companies.

SEO is an important aspect of bringing traffic to our site, but it must be balanced with user experience. Google’s helpful content update is cracking down on content that is made specifically to increase a site’s rank. This means that we need to be cautious as we optimize our websites for searchability.

What can we do if our rank drops?

There are a few things we can do if we are concerned that our SEO rank may fall due this update. The main thing we should focus on is ensuring that our content is valuable to readers. Is the content useful? Is it content that your target audience is interested in? Does it provide depth to a topic that was missing? These kinds of questions can help us understand if our content is focused on our users or on SEO alone.

It is important to note that optimizing your site for searchability is not a bad thing. However, we should not be creating a site that optimizes for visibility at the expense of quality content. Often, good SEO goes hand in hand with good user experience, so creating valuable content that your users want and enjoy should aid in increasing your SEO scores.

Note: If your score drops, it could take time for it to recover

Changes in rank can take time to occur, so if you find that your rank has dropped recently, don’t panic if it doesn’t jump back up right away. By continuing to improve your website and optimize your site’s searchability, your score should rise once more over the course of a couple months. Overall, website optimization should be a continuous process, so looking for places in your site that could use improvement should aid your SEO rank over time.

Want to Learn More about SEO?

There are many ways we can increase our website’s visibility and bring more traffic to our sites. Explore our SEO blogs to learn more tips and tricks to improve your ranking! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

SEO & Platform Migration: Protecting your SEO Rank

In previous blogs, we have explored Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in many contexts. From its benefits to the ways we can create SEO friendly websites and content, bringing people to our site via search engines is a broad topic. Another important aspect to consider when optimizing our sites for searchability is maintaining the hard work we have accomplished.

As our businesses grow and our needs and goals change, we may have to change the platform that we are hosting our online shop on. Such a major change can impact our current SEO ranking drastically. However, there are some key factors we can keep in mind while migrating our websites that can help us maintain our current SEO score.

Why is SEO Important to Think About when Re-Platforming a Site?

Major changes to our site can impact our online shop’s functionality and quality, but also our sites visibility. When we re-design a page or add new content or features to our site, search engines such as Google notice these changes and review them. Sometimes, big changes can lead to re-indexing by Google, meaning that Google will re-evaluate your page’s SEO rank.

Many times, our changes are aimed to positively impact our SEO rank, but changes can do the opposite as well. When migrating a site, not only could your SEO score change, but your site could lose its previous SEO score all together. Your SEO history is attached to your domain, and so changing your domain can result in total re-evaluation. Keeping this in mind when migrating your website, which will inevitably involve changes, is very important for us to keep our current traffic.

What should I keep in mind for an SEO friendly migration?

Before Migration, Document Your Current Site

Before migrating your site, benchmarking your website both in terms of functionality and in terms of SEO is an important step to take. Knowing where your site stands now is key to identifying any changes that may occur once you have migrated your site.

Documenting all of your existing content is also important in maintaining your current SEO score. Every URL should be noted, even if they are not your top pages. While doing so, also note any broken pages as they can be fixed during migration.

When Migrating your Site, Save Changes for Later

While we may have ideas to improve out sites during migration, it is best to save those plans for later. In order to ensure that we maintain our current SEO score and can troubleshoot SEO problem later, we must keep changes minimal. During migration, your new site should reflect your old site as much as possible. This includes content and structure. Wait to remove pages you plan to discontinue or new features you want to incorporate in your future site. Document your changes for future use.

Consistency is key to maintain your SEO score, so we must pay close attention to every part of our site. This includes transferring over things like page titles, meta descriptions, robot.txt files, sitemaps, and more. Anything that can be seen by Google’s crawlers is important to keep consistent in your new site.

Note: Migrate in Sections

One method we can use during migration is to migrate our site piece by piece rather than all at once. We can start with less important sections of our site and see what changes occur. Migrating in sections helps us see what we may need to adjust in our migration strategy as well as gives us some practice for when we migrate more critical parts of our online shops.

Redirect Every Page

When migrating your pages to your new platform, make sure that you redirect your old pages to your new pages. This will not only ensure that users trying to use your old URLs will be able to reach your new site, but also will help inform search engines that your pages have moved. This includes changing any existing redirects to lead users to the correct content.

When redirecting pages, it is best to use a one-to-one method. This means that each page is recreated on your new platform and is redirected to it. While it may be tempting to do many-to-one redirects, such as guiding users on older product pages to a page with a collection of products, it can negatively impact your SEO score.

Monitor Duplicate Content & Errors

During migration, you will run into the issue of duplicate content since you are duplicating your website. Duplicate content can negatively impact our SEO scores. However, there are a few things we can do to avoid our score dropping due to page creation:

  • Use ‘noindex’ tags – During migration, we will inevitably run into the issue of having duplicates of every page of our site. To avoid impacts to SEO, make sure to use ‘noindex’ tags on your new pages. This tag will tell Google’s bots to not index this page, which will keep search engines from noticing the duplicates for the moment. Note that these tags must be removed once we want to go live on our new platform.
  • Keep in mind HTTP to HTTPS changes – During migration, you may want to enhance your sites safety and reputation by securing your site with HTTPS as suggested by Google’s Search Essentials. However, keep in mind that HTTP and HTTPS pages are considered two different pages and may result in duplicate content. Make sure to redirect HTTP pages to your HTTPS pages to avoid impacts to SEO.
  • Use canonical URLs – Canonical URLs are a way that we can tell search engines what page we would want them to send users to if there is duplicate content. By using canonical URLs, we can tell Google that we prefer that users be led to our original content while we are working on our new pages.

Keep Mobile in Mind as you Migrate

While we want to keep changes minimal while we migrate our site to a new platform, we should be paying close attention to how our new site runs on mobile. Search engines like Google have taken to indexing mobile sites first, which can impact our SEO score if we are not careful. This means that we need to make sure that our mobile site is optimized. It should feel fast and adjust to smaller screens to be readable and easy to use.

Note: Avoid hidden content

Some developers hide content in mobile view that would be visible on desktop in order to increase readability and speed. However, hidden content is noticeable by crawlers and can negatively impact our SEO scores. When optimizing your site for mobile, avoid hiding content and instead adjust the content to suit mobile use.

Document any Tools or Services that you have currently Incorporated into your Site

Besides migrating pages, we will want to document all the tools we may use on our site as well. These could be analytics tools, crawlers, or plug-ins that we are currently using. Create list of these features and take a look at their documentation if they have guides for migrating the tool itself and the data it has collected. For tools that are not compatible with your new platforms, consider looking for a substitute to incorporate during post-migration.

Create a Post Migration plan for SEO

After migration, you will want to have a plan to analyze and troubleshoot your new site. This includes keeping an eye on your logs and analytics for changes in traffic and rank. With minimal changes to your site, finding the source of these changes should be easier.

Aside from troubleshooting, starting a new platform means we have new opportunities to explore. While during migration we suggest keeping changes to a minimum, after migration we can continue optimizing our site for user experience, quality of service, and SEO. Optimizing searchability is a continuous process, so create an SEO plan for your future online shop to push your site further!

Want to Learn more about SEO?

For your post-migration plan, there are many ways that we can optimize our websites for both SEO and improved user experience. Explore our SEO blogs to learn more tips and tricks to improve your ranking! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

Security Vulnerabilities in OpenSSL: CVE-2022-3602 & CVE- 2022-3786

In eCommerce, providing a sense of security to your customers is essential in creating trust and long-term relationships. Part of that mission requires us to stay up to date with possible security concerns that may impact our customers and the safety of their data. A current vulnerability that we should be aware of is OpenSSL’s recent CVE-2022-3602 & CVE- 2022-3786 vulnerabilities.

What is OpenSSL

OpenSSL is an open sources software that we can use to secure our websites. Websites that are secured tend to have “https” in their URL and a small padlock next to their web address, but what those two visual queues mean is that your site has a valid certificate.

Example of a secure site with a valid certificate.

A certificate is a way of establishing that 1) you are who you say you are, and 2) the communications that happen on your site are encrypted. While the contents and creation process of certificates involve multiple steps, they are essentially a bundle of information about your site that is signed by a trusted authority, allowing your customers to also trust your business. OpenSSL is a way to create and implement these certificates on your site.

Why should I care about Certificates?

While sites can run without certificates, web browsers and search engines are very particular about security. Not having a certificate or having an invalid certificate can lead to your site being marked as a risk. Sites deemed questionable will require customers to manually click a button to accept this risk to visit your site. This may result in potential customers leaving your site before even seeing your content.

Example of a warning concerning a site with a invalid or bad certificate.

Another downfall to not having certificates is that search engines like Google will rank your site low on their search engines, if not leave your site off of relevant searches entirely. As discussed previously in our blog on Google’s search essentials, having proper security is a bare minimum for Google to consider indexing your site. Organic traffic relies on the searchability on your business, so ensuring that your site has a proper certificate is essential to your online shop’s success.

Beyond that, having safe lines of communication with your customers, especially considering the exchange of financial information in online shops, is imperative to protect your customers and your business. Not having proper security leaves your site open to hackers and attacks, and that can affect the functionality of your site, the privacy of information, and the overall reputation of your business.

What is CVE-2022-3602 & CVE- 2022-3786?

CVE-2022-3602 & CVE- 2022-3786 are vulnerabilities that appeared on October 25th, 2022, that were originally marked at a critical threat vulnerability to those using OpenSSL. OpenSSL’s ranking of risk follows a four-level scale, with critical being the highest. This means that these vulnerabilities affect both common usages of OpenSSL and have a high risk of being exploitable, meaning that someone with malicious intent could use these vulnerabilities to their advantage.

In this case, these vulnerabilities involve a common software weakness called buffer overflow. Buffer overflow is essentially how the internet handles large pieces of information. Just like how we can only carry so many groceries from our cars into our houses after going shopping, the internet can only take so much information at a time. When we try to carry too many bags at once, we may drop something or struggle to successfully carry everything into the house. This vulnerability targets that weakness.

CVE-2022-3602 & CVE- 2022-3786 target the process of proving the validity of a certificate, that a site is who it claims it to be and that it is safe to visit. These vulnerabilities can be acted on after an application or user has manually approved an invalid certificate or has encountered a falsely signed certificate. In turn, a malicious actor could send a bunch of information on this open channel when looking at the certificate and cause one of two things:

  • Crash the service to where the user can’t access your site.
  • Possibly tell the browser or site to do something, like execute code.

Now, on November 1st, 2022, OpenSSL lowered the risk level of these threats to high, meaning that these vulnerabilities were less exploitable than originally anticipated, but still something to be aware of. This is because both of these vulnerabilities require many factors to be in place to work effectively. Your server must have adopted the specific version of OpenSSL, version 3.06, and our users would have had to accept a bad certificate OR a malicious actor would have had to convince a certificate authority to sign a bad certificate. All these factors are unlikely. With OpenSSL version 3.06 being new, adoption is low. Most users and applications are aware of the risks of accepting bad certificates, and it is not easy to forge a fake certificate that is properly signed.

Who does this effect?

These CVE vulnerabilities can affect those who:

  • Interact with OpenSSL.
  • Trust third party or untrusted certificates manually or automatically.

What should I do?

If you think you fall into one of those categories as a business owner, the good news is that OpenSSL released a patch that removes the threat of these vulnerabilities. All you have to do is make sure that, if you are using OpenSSL, you update to the newest version, version 3.07. In terms of maintaining future security, make sure your site has a valid certificate and that your site isn’t accepting invalid certificates.

Blog Posts: Writing Effective Content

In our previous blog, we explored some of the ways we can use content marketing to keep our customers engaged with our offerings and brand. With a variety of content types to choose from, it can be hard to get started. A good starting place for content creation is blog posts.

Blog posts are a collection of regularly posted articles that share information to your audience. Varying in length and content, blogs tend to be an informal way to keep in touch with your users. Blogs can be used to educate, promote, and push brand awareness for your company. Before we dive into how to write a blog, let’s explore some of the types of blogs we can write.

Types of Blogs

There are many types of blogs on the internet today. In order to determine what kind of content you want to create, you will need to have a good understanding of the way your audience communicates and digests content. A few types of blogs we can consider starting with are:

  • Tutorial Blogs: These blogs help teach and guide readers on a topic. They can be comprehensive, step-by-step blogs or even a collection of general tips. If your customer base is interested in learning, sharing your insights through blog posts can catch their interest.
  • News Blogs: These blogs aim to share recent information that may affect your audience. These updates could be directly about your company or about other important occurrences that will affect your business and customers. Keeping your audience up to date on factors that will impact them can be valuable to your readers.
  • List Based Blogs: These blogs can vary in terms of topics or goals, but generally share a list of similar topics. A list of the pros and cons of hosting products, for example, would fall into this category. Informing your users of multiple solutions or things to consider through a list blog can help them make educated decisions and even better understand your offerings.

What blog type you choose to write will depend on your expertise and customer base. What information or insights do you have or want to share? What are your customers interested in? Answer these questions to better determine what kind of blog may best suit your business.

How to Start blog Post

Getting started is the hardest part of most projects and writing a blog post is no different. There are three steps we must take when determining what we are going to write:

Choose a topic

When choosing your topic, consider your ideal customer’s interests and concerns. What problems do they struggle with? Why do they purchase your products? How can you help them? By connecting your expertise to something they care about, you can define a topic that will be both interesting and valuable to your customer.

Research your topic

One thing to remember when writing blogs is that you are not expected to be an expert immediately on the topic you are writing about. Consider your knowledge when thinking about what you want to write, but also research your topic by reading similar blogs, listening to podcasts, analyzing courses, and so forth.

Note: Gaps in Knowledge can Offer Opportunities to create something Unique

An important detail to note when researching a topic is what is missing or incomplete. If there are gaps in information being shared about your topic, you may be able to fill that gap in your own writing. By providing new knowledge to the context of your topic, your blog can stand out amongst others.

Write an outline

After your have collected notes on your topic, write an outline about what you want to share and how you want to share it. Creating structure helps you both share information in an organized way, but also see visually if your ideas are connecting like you thought they would. When writing your outline, consider the structure of your blog along alongside the topic you are discussing and the solutions you are providing.

Writing your Blog

Most blogs are structured with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Following this structure can help get your started on writing a piece that is complete and easily digestible. However, there are multiple details to consider while writing your blog.

Titles & Headings

When writing a blog, you will eventually need to decide on a title for it. Titles can be determined at any time as you write your blog. Some blog titles are clear and concise, such as “How to decorate a Christmas Tree,” while others are intentionally vague, such as “10 things you shouldn’t do when decorating a Christmas Tree.” Both of these hypothetical blogs could contain the same details and insights, but they work to attract different audiences. Consider what titles would attract your specific reader base.

Beyond titles, your article may contain multiple subheadings that divide your article. Headings make your blog more palatable and easier to understand. When considering your headings, or even your title, keep in mind the keywords your audience associates with the topic you are writing about. How do they communicate about this topic? What words are they using to search information about these topics? Determining important keywords around your topic can help you not only communicate effectively with your audience, but also improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Writing Introductions

Introductions are said to be the hardest part of writing a blog. However, the main goals of an intro are to catch your reader’s interest and provide them a brief explanation of what your blog is going to be about. Your introduction could present a problem that your readers are struggling with and then explain how the following blog will provide solutions or insight into that problem. The “hook” of your intro will depend on your audience, but overall, readers should understand who this blog is for and what value it will share when reading your introduction.

Creating the Body of your Blog

The body of your blog will be where the meat of your insights reside. In the body, your audience should learn about the details or solutions your introduction said your blog would discuss. Making sure this information is easy to read and understand is key. A few factors to keep in mind to help readability are:

  • Keep your sentence and paragraph length in mind:When writing the body of your text, you will want to make sure your sentences are easy to digest. Keeping your sentences short can help readers take in your topic in small bites. The size of your paragraphs at first glance can also encourage or discourage your audience from reading your blog. Use paragraphs to break up your text and keep them as small as you can, maxing them out at about three to five sentences.
  • Highlight important aspects of your blog: While we want our audience to read our blogs, there are many readers who will want to quickly find the insights we are offering. Making our blogs skimmable can make them more valuable to such readers. One way we can emphasize important moments in our blogs is by bolding or highlighting them.
  • Link to existing content:While reading our blogs, some readers may find themselves confused or interested in specific factors surrounding our topics. If we have other blogs or resources that can offering our audience more reading or insights, we can link those into our current blog. By linking to other content, we also add more value to the page in terms of SEO.
  • Use images when needed: Images can be used in our blogs to break up text as well as provide further detail into complicated topics. For example, tutorials can be enhanced with the use of images to help guide the reader not only through words, but with visuals.

Concluding your Thoughts

At the end of your blog, not only can you finish up your thoughts, but you can also offer actions for your readers to take. If they liked this blog, what can they do next? In your conclusion, you can use Call to Actions (CTAs) to guide your reader towards a next step. These CTAs could be as simple as reading more blogs or could be a promotion for your products and services. Conclusions can also be a place to ask your users for feedback on the topic, opening a channel for communication.

Note: Consistency is Key

When writing blogs, the main thing to remember is to keep writing them! Having a regular schedule of blogs can keep your audience engaged and deepen the connection they have with your company.

Want to learn more about content creation?

Writing blogs is just one type of content we can use to connect with our customers and bring more traffic to our websites. Explore our other blogs to learn more about what you can do to improve your site! If you are interested in a more hands-on course about how to optimize your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into important factors that aim to increase the conversion rates of your site!