Alexa Blog https://blog.alexa.com Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:34:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 The Ultimate Competitive Analysis Kit to Beat Your Competitors https://blog.alexa.com/ultimate-competitive-analysis-kit-beat-competitors/ https://blog.alexa.com/ultimate-competitive-analysis-kit-beat-competitors/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 14:40:50 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3453 Competition exists in all industries. Whether a marketer or sales executive, we constantly compete to have our content seen, clicked-on, or converted from first. But how do you get ahead of the competition when they are working to do the same? A thorough competitive analysis is a great way to get insight into what’s working [...]

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1 minute read

Competition exists in all industries. Whether a marketer or sales executive, we constantly compete to have our content seen, clicked-on, or converted from first. But how do you get ahead of the competition when they are working to do the same?

A thorough competitive analysis is a great way to get insight into what’s working for your competitors’ organic, social, and paid strategies. When you dive into their strategies, you also uncover things that could work for you.

So where do you start?

We partnered with Hubspot to bring you a complete Competitive Analysis Kit to get you started.

Download Your Kit Now!

What you get:

[Guide] How to Run a Competitor Analysis – A Marketer’s Guide

[Template] Customizable Competitive Analysis Template

What you learn:

  • Tips for identifying your top competitors
  • How to uncover your competitor’s digital strategy
  • Finding major trends in organic search volume
  • Understanding your competitors’ social channels and audience
  • Finding what keywords are driving traffic to your competitors
  • Where your competitors are getting backlinks

Find your next growth opportunity today

You won’t find a more complete resource for maximizing your competitive potential. Download your free Competitive Analysis Kit now!

download the ultimate competitive analysis kit

Competitive Analysis Kit provided by Alexa.com and Hubspot.

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The Beginner’s Guide to a Technical SEO Audit (Infographic) https://blog.alexa.com/beginners-guide-to-technical-seo-audit/ https://blog.alexa.com/beginners-guide-to-technical-seo-audit/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 14:26:42 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3823 Do you know what SEO problems may be lurking in your website? No matter how good your SEO content is, any number of technical issues can dramatically lower your website’s search ranking, incur penalties, or worse—make it invisible to Google and others. A forgotten no-index tag? Duplicate content? Excessive H1 tags? Faulty robots.txt file? Low [...]

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1 minute read

Do you know what SEO problems may be lurking in your website?

No matter how good your SEO content is, any number of technical issues can dramatically lower your website’s search ranking, incur penalties, or worse—make it invisible to Google and others.

A forgotten no-index tag? Duplicate content? Excessive H1 tags? Faulty robots.txt file? Low value, or slow-loading pages? 404 errors?

Not to worry! A technical SEO audit will identify issues that keep your site from ranking.

ToTheWeb created a Technical SEO Audit Guide for Beginners that will help you follow best practices and performs well in search. Use the step-by-step infographic below as a technical audit checklist along with Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool to keep your site’s SEO in tip-top shape.


Find out if your site suffers from these common SEO problems with this checklist by @totheweb
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technical seo audit guide for beginners

Improve SEO performance with Alexa’s technical SEO Audit tool

Find and fix technical problems that keep you from ranking. Our SEO audit report will uncover missed opportunities to make your site more easily found in search. Sign up for a 7-day free trial of the Advanced plan today.

try alexa free for 7 days

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Negative SEO Is Real: Here’s What You Need to Do https://blog.alexa.com/negative-seo-real/ https://blog.alexa.com/negative-seo-real/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 21:16:02 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3807 Google does everything in its power to reduce the effectiveness of black hat SEO and discourage disreputable agencies from using this type of strategy. However, while the use of black hat SEO to promote a website is decreasing in popularity, using negative SEO tactics to attack other sites is increasing. Negative SEO techniques pop up [...]

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7 minute read

Google does everything in its power to reduce the effectiveness of black hat SEO and discourage disreputable agencies from using this type of strategy. However, while the use of black hat SEO to promote a website is decreasing in popularity, using negative SEO tactics to attack other sites is increasing.

Negative SEO techniques pop up in a variety of unseemly forms. Some are mild and develop over time, while others are immediately noticeable.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from these unsettling marketing strategies.

Negative SEO Problem #1: Link Farms and Spammy Backlinks

Answering the question “what is Negative SEO?” is complicated because there are so many tactics employed by black hat scammers. However, if you understand the basics of white hat SEO, then you should be able to figure out how people can use these strategies to attack others.

One of the most common forms of negative SEO is the use of link farms to create a bunch of low-quality, spammy links that lead to a website. This is also a clear example of black hat professionals using Google’s guidelines to intentionally harm the website they build links to.

When this happens, within a matter of days or weeks, spammers build a series of negative SEO backlinks by writing similar content with the same anchor text on dozens of low-quality websites.

From the search crawler’s perspective, it looks like your website is trying to develop a link-building campaign (and doing it very poorly). The spammers go out of their way to make the links seem poor and unnatural, so your website will get flagged for penalties and drop your rankings.

An example of this happened to Jacob King on his website for his podcast, “WP Bacon.” King noticed that thousands of links started coming in with the text “porn movie” and other adult film-related keywords. The original keyword “porn movie” alone made up 20 percent of his link profile just 10 days after King noticed the negative SEO campaign. What’s worse, in that time, “WP Bacon” fell more than 50 spots for the majority of its ranking keywords. Traffic plummeted, new listeners dropped, and “WP Bacon” was left to pick up the pieces.

Make no mistake, negative SEO is a severe threat to your website and can decimate years of search efforts within a few days.

The Solution: Link Monitoring and Disavow Files

Like any disease, it’s best to catch a negative backlink campaign before it spreads and wreaks havoc on your website. Without proper monitoring, it might take weeks before you realize the drop in traffic and rankings was caused by suspicious backlinks harming your SEO. The longer these spammers have to build their campaigns, the more damage they can do to your pages.


Like any disease, it’s best to catch a negative backlink campaign before it spreads
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You must be proactive and keep an eye out for this type of activity. For that, Alexa offers a Competitor Backlink Checker as a part of our Advanced Plan that allows you to review the backlinks pointing to your site. It also includes the Alexa Rank of the linking sites, so you can see if they have a low authority and are likely to be a spammy site.

monitor links for negative seo

Prevention is key when it comes to someone trying to point bad links to your brand, so this report is helpful in keeping an eye on your backlink profile. (This tool also allows you to find competitor backlinks, so you can use it to learn about your competition, too.)

If you do find that spammers are running negative SEO campaigns against your brand, submit a disavow file listing the attacking domains.  submission through Google Search Console instructs Google to ignore all links coming from bad domains, so they don’t affect your rankings. Even though this solves the problem, it isn’t a one-time fix. You need to monitor and disavow spammy links as they appear continuously.

Negative SEO Problem #2: Scrapped Content Duplicated Across the Web

The first negative SEO strategy takes advantage of Google’s fight against bad links and causes websites to get penalized through the search engine’s Penguin updates. The second negative strategy takes advantage of Google’s Panda updates.

In this case, content scrapers take your content and repost it as their own. While Google is typically good at identifying original versus copied content, it’s possible that your website will be punished for the copied posts instead of the spammers.

There are two reasons spammers will scrape your content:

  • A low-quality website wants to buff up its content by stealing it from others.
  • A spammer wants to scrape your content before Google crawls it, so your website is punished for duplications.

While the first reason is less malicious (though clearly ethically wrong), the latter can destroy your SEO when your content is repeatedly stolen to discredit your work. Often, the content is spread across link farms to confuse search engines further and convince Google that your content should be punished.

In a world of content marketing where it takes hours and days to write quality SEO content and blog posts, this type of attack can be particularly disheartening for content creators who see their work immediately discredited and used against them.

The Solution: Google’s Copyright Infringement Report

The first step when you discover duplicate content is to reach out to the webmaster.

It’s entirely possible that the website’s editor or administrative staff didn’t realize the content was stolen, especially if it works with several contributors and guest editors. Bringing the stolen content to their attention could actually prevent that website from getting penalized for duplicate content in the future, because they may identify a content provider who is contributing stolen content.

If you find that content was stolen maliciously, and the webmaster refuses to believe your content is the original, then turn to Google’s Online Copyright Infringement form. You can report scraped content to make sure Google acknowledges you as the true publisher and doesn’t hurt your SEO through a duplicate content penalty.

report negative SEO copyright content

Negative SEO Problem #3: Hacked Websites and Malware Attacks

When you think about hackers breaking into your website, what images come to mind? In all likelihood, you picture masked criminals gaining access to your website to shut it down.

While this is definitely a real threat, there are also more subtle hacking techniques used to create negative SEO.

If hackers break into your website with the goal of implementing negative SEO techniques, then it’s unlikely that you would even notice. They might target pages that are rarely accessed (like old blog articles) or make subtle changes on your latest pages that do damage to your site.

A few of these tactics include:

  • Adding low-quality or disturbing content to your pages.
  • Replacing your content with duplicate content from other sources, so you get penalized.
  • Adding or replacing links to drive to their pages or that drive traffic to unethical websites.
  • Removing links and images from your pages.
  • Hiding content changes in the HTML, so webmasters would only notice it if they check the code.

If you have been creating content on your website for years and post frequently, then you might have a website that is a target for this tactic because you have so much content. You may also have a problem if you have a website you haven’t accessed in a while, or you have web pages that receive relatively low traffic levels. It’s easy for these subtle hackers to change those websites and put a negative effect on your SEO.

The Solution: Regular Website Audits and Admin Monitoring

When you regularly audit the performance of your website, it’s possible to keep track of noticeable changes on your pages.

Alexa’s SEO Audit tool helps you keep an eye on your site. It reviews technical issues and offers easy steps you can take to correct them to get back on track. Also, Alexa’s Site Overview helps you keep an eye on your traffic and Alexa ranking, so you can see what changes are happening.

monitor negative seo with alexa

You don’t have to be an expert at fighting black hat techniques like this. A few warning signs you should look out for include:

  • A spike in traffic to a few pages that have remained consistent over the past few years.
  • A sudden influx of backlinks to previously dormant pages, or backlinks from websites that would not normally link to you.
  • Keyword rankings increase for unsavory or irrelevant keywords.

These negative SEO tactics could also be the result of a disgruntled employee or contributor.

Spammers might not be competitors trying to get a leg up, but rather upset employees who want to get back at an employer. If you recently let an employee or contractor go but didn’t completely revoke their access, then they could subtly be wreaking havoc on your website.

Negative SEO Problem #4: Fake Reviews Across the Web

Negative SEO tactics don’t just target your website; they also go after other pages on the web.

Some business owners have noticed a flood of bad reviews hitting Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other accounts. While the attacks on third-party sites are often used to discredit businesses, the results on Google can have a direct impact on your local SEO.

These low ratings also directly impact your sales, as businesses tend to see a significant dip in sales whenever they lose a star in online reviews. This is even worse when paired with a drop in traffic because of lower SEO.

The first step in determining whether negative SEO is to blame for your sudden drop in ratings is to check the reviews. Unless you are in the middle of a major PR crisis, then it’s unlikely that you would suddenly see a spike in reviews – especially negative ones.

There are a few qualities to check for when determining whether a review is fake:

  • The review typically only has one star and a one- or two-word review (e.g.., “bad” or “hate”).
  • The reviews typically occur within a few hours or days of each other.
  • The reviewers typically don’t leave reviews for other companies or have a long history of reviewing other pages.

On the flipside, most normal reviewers offer authentic feedback for companies or use review sites to warn others why they should avoid a business.

Businesses should be able to see what other reviews they leave, which is usually a mixture of positive and negative feedback. Expect to see both good and bad reviews. But if you see a series of one-word negative reviews, that is likely a sign of a negative SEO attack.


Negative SEO tactics don’t just target your website; they also go after other pages on the web.
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The Solution: Flag Fake Reviews

Most review sites let businesses flag fake reviews. While you should respond to legitimate negative reviews politely and honestly, there’s no point in being courteous to fake reviewers. By flagging the fake reviews, Google and other review sites can identify spammers and stop them before they can damage the reputation of other brands like yours.

flag fake reviews from negative seo

Monitoring Is the Key to Negative SEO Protection

Negative SEO is a real threat and will continue to be as more black hat spammers turn to attack others instead of using shady ways to promote themselves.

While there is no surefire way to protect your website from an attack, you can monitor your website and immediately stop an attack when it begins. With the right tools, you can quickly undo the damage caused by negative SEO techniques without seeing a major drop in traffic, sales, and customer engagement.

To arm yourself with the SEO tools you need to keep an eye on your site, while improving your SEO, and creating strategies to legitimately rank above competitors, sign up for a free 7-day trial of our Advanced Plan.

try alexa free for 7 days

 

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How to Repurpose Content to Work Smarter, Not Harder https://blog.alexa.com/how-to-repurpose-content-to-work-smarter-not-harder/ https://blog.alexa.com/how-to-repurpose-content-to-work-smarter-not-harder/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:37:24 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3772 Content creation takes time, money, and talent. Every blog post, e-book, or infographic requires ideation, research, writing, editing, and design. The process for putting together a great piece of content is long and arduous. If you’ve created content, you know this. But do you also know that there is a way to simplify this practice [...]

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5 minute read

Content creation takes time, money, and talent. Every blog post, e-book, or infographic requires ideation, research, writing, editing, and design. The process for putting together a great piece of content is long and arduous. If you’ve created content, you know this.

But do you also know that there is a way to simplify this practice – that with just a bit more strategy and effort, you can get a larger yield from your content creation?

When you know how to repurpose content, you can stretch your production, get more from your efforts, and work smarter, not harder.

What Is Repurposing Content?

Repurposing content means that you take one content asset and alter it to create other pieces of content. You take an original idea, piece of research, or content product and rework it to create something new and unique.

When you repurpose content, you find a new application for it. You recycle it and give it new life. There are obvious upsides to this strategy. The benefits of repurposing content allow you to:

When you don’t shelf and forget about assets once they’re complete, you can find a plethora of resources to simplify and support new content creation efforts.

The Difference Between Repurposed Content and Duplicate Content

Before we go into the details of how to repurpose content, there is an important clarification to make.

Repurposed content is not the same as duplicate content.

Duplicate content is created when a brand posts the exact same content on multiple pages of its website. It’s also created when a brand posts content on its website that is exactly the same as content posted on another brand’s website.

Unlike repurposed content, duplicate content has not been altered in any way or has only been very slightly altered. It is the same content posted multiple times.

Also unlike repurposed content, duplicate content can create SEO problems. Search engines do not like to see the same content published on multiple sites or webpages, and they may penalize sites if they don’t follow SEO content best practices for publishing duplicate content.

So as you begin plans to repurpose content, keep in mind that you must make substantial changes to your content to avoid it being considered duplicate content. If you aren’t sure if you have duplicate content issues, you can use Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool to identify potential problems on your site.

How to Repurpose Content

Now, let’s dig in and look at the actions you can take to repurpose your content and start working smarter, not harder. The following list includes content writing tips for how to turn your existing content assets into something new and valuable.

Turn one content format into another content format. Content comes in a variety of formats from copy, graphics, and audio to slideshows and videos. Use this variety of content mediums to your benefit. If you create a piece of content as one content format, repurpose it by turning it into another content format. For example, at Fractl, we record and release audio content marketing podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. We then turn those podcasts into posts that are published on our blog.

repurpose content example podcast

Turn one asset into multiple assets. When you put a lot of time and energy into creating a long-form or lengthy content asset, make sure you get the most out of your efforts. Cut up the single version of the long asset, and turn it into multiple pieces of content. For example, if you create an infographic with a series of graphics, pull out each graphic and turn them into single images that are shareable on social media.

Turn multiple assets into one asset. On the flip side, you can also repurpose content by curating a bunch of smaller content assets and combining them to create a larger asset. Keep track of all the mini or shallow content assets you create, and regularly review them to look for themes. Combine small content pieces about similar topics to create a more thorough resource. For example, repurpose blog posts that are short or have little value to create a downloadable PDF guide.

Present one idea from different angles. It’s not just tangible content assets that you can repurpose. You can also reformat ideas to get more use out of them. If you construct concepts or information in one content asset, you can restructure your idea in a new way. You can reorganize the concepts to create something new, or you can reposition your ideas to reach a different audience. Both strategies allow you to get more out of a single idea. For example, at Fractl, we wrote about travel hygiene. We then shifted the way we spoke about the topic to focus on the cleanliness of hotel rooms for one article and the cleanliness of the New York subway for another.

repurpose content blog post

Share research in multiple ways. Like ideas, pieces of research can be reused in multiple ways. If you’ve done a large research project or completed a lengthy survey or study, don’t publish all of your findings in just one place. Spread out the insights by publishing them in multiple articles and content formats. For example, if you found 50 interesting stats in a survey, publish it all in one white paper on your site. But also share insights with other publications that would be interested in writing about your findings.

Which Content Should Your Repurpose?

Once you know how to repurpose content, it will be easier to look at your current content assets and envision how you can reuse them.

But depending on the amount of content you have, it may still be overwhelming to sort through your work. So as you begin your strategy, start by doing a content audit to identify the pieces that work best for repurposing, which include the following types of content.

Evergreen Content: Evergreen content covers a topic that has long-lasting value. It’s not time-sensitive or trendy. This type of content is a good candidate for repurposing because it will maintain its significance in the long run. By repurposing this type of content, you get even more longevity and use out of your work because it offers value for years to come.

Popular Content: If you find that audiences are responding well to a piece of content you created, that is another positive signal for repurposing. Stretch the attention and popularity of a topic by reusing or reformatting it in a new way. If the original idea connected with audiences, it’s likely that the reincarnation of the idea will too.

Extremely Deep Content: Don’t spend a lot of time and resources on creating a large content asset and then put it on the shelf and forget about it. Consider all of your long-form, in-depth resources as an opportunity to pull out information and create new, shorter assets.

Extremely Shallow Content: Also look for pieces of content that were created in a rush or for small content platforms like social media. While those assets may not be achieving much in their shallow state, you could combine them to create a strong piece of cornerstone content.

Stop Working Harder; Start Working Smarter

There are a lot of steps that go into creating content assets that support a strong digital marketing strategy. So if there are shortcuts like repurposing content that stretch your resources and creative output, don’t overlook them. Embrace strategies like this that help you work smarter, not harder.

To see more examples of how you can repurpose content to turn one piece of content into multiple assets, check out Fractl’s guide on How to Repurpose Your Most Successful Content. It includes an example of how to turn one asset into 10 other useable pieces of content.

Find the Right Keywords for Your Repurposed Content

Use Alexa’s suite of SEO tools to help you avoid duplicate content and follow SEO best practices. You’ll get the Competitor Keyword Matrix for discovering the best keywords, and the On-Page SEO Checker to make sure your content is optimized for search. Sign up for a free 7 day trial of the Advanced plan today.

try alexa free for 7 days

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Fix Keyword Cannibalization To Prevent Hidden SEO Issues https://blog.alexa.com/fix-keyword-cannibalization-prevent-hidden-seo-issues/ https://blog.alexa.com/fix-keyword-cannibalization-prevent-hidden-seo-issues/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:03:36 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3738 All of your SEO efforts are executed with the goal of making your site easier for Google to crawl and understand. In theory, the clearer your layout, linking, and schema data are, the more likely you are to reap the benefits of search through higher organic traffic and links. However, even the best SEO professionals [...]

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5 minute read

All of your SEO efforts are executed with the goal of making your site easier for Google to crawl and understand. In theory, the clearer your layout, linking, and schema data are, the more likely you are to reap the benefits of search through higher organic traffic and links.

However, even the best SEO professionals with the most organized websites can fall prey to keyword cannibalization. If you’re not careful, you could be eating away at your growth potential because of a poor keyword strategy.

Here’s what you need to know about keyword cannibalization and steps you can take to prevent it.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when too many pages are optimized for the same keyword.

When Google crawls a website that has multiple pages targeting the same keyword, it’s forced to determine which page has the most relevant content. This creates confusion and increases the chances that search engines will choose a less-than-ideal page to rank for that keyword.

It’s understandable why keyword cannibalization is so common.

Many marketers and webmasters believe if they have multiple pages on their website related to certain terms, their rankings for those terms will increase. In theory, Google would notice the domain’s expertise in an area and give the page a higher ranking.

However, instead of concentrating keyword efforts, it actually spreads them out. Search engine crawlers are left to wonder which pages provide the best information for that keyword or query.

Optimizing for one keyword across your website forces your pages to compete against each other. Instead of fighting against your competitors’ domains for ranking superiority, your pages have to fight against each other to get noticed.


Keyword cannibalization occurs when too many pages are optimized for the same keyword.
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How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

There is good news for marketers who identify keyword cannibalization within their accounts: If you’re already strategically determining how pages are tagged and optimized, then most of your infrastructure already exists.

You simply need to change how you develop your strategy and assign keywords. It’s much easier to adjust your keyword strategy than to develop a new one from scratch.

To check your current content for keyword cannibalization and to fix potential issues:

1. Run an SEO audit report to determine the state of your keywords. From there, you can develop a plan to clean up your results and improve your rankings. Start by developing a spreadsheet with your website URLs and relevant information, including your headline, meta description, target keyword, and internal links. This will be your guide to reviewing your situation.

solve keyword cannibalization with seo audit

2. Sort your spreadsheet by keyword and conduct audits on your pages. If you have a dozen pages with the same keyword, then you will need to optimize the content on those pages to target a different term.

3. Designate top keywords for main pages within your spreadsheet that direct to the best content possible. For example, if you created a whitepaper for your industry, you would probably want to rank for that over a few blog articles you casually put together.

4. Set up 301 redirects for weaker pages with duplicate content, outdated content, or pages with minimal information. This will channel traffic to your main pages and allow the search engines to concentrate their efforts.

5. Update all internal links, so the anchor text matches the target keyword of the page they are pointing to. You never want to link a target keyword for one page to another page that isn’t targeted for that keyword.

Once you correct this SEO problem, then you can learn how to avoid keyword cannibalization in the future.

Simplify Your SEO Audit Process

If you don’t want to do a manual audit to check for keyword cannibalization, you can also use SEO tools like Alexa’s audit report.

Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool produces reports that will help you identify duplicate content issues. It includes a list of title tags and meta descriptions that appear more than once on your site. If the title tags and meta descriptions are the same on a site, they could be contributing to keyword cannibalization issues.

check duplicate metas for keyword cannibalization

The report will also list the URLs that include the duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. This way you can quickly identify the specific pages that need to be fixed.

duplicate content and keyword cannibalization

The report is also helpful as it includes a grading system for categories of SEO factors. Use the report to track your progress and see how your SEO improves as you solve keyword cannibalization issues.

Prevent Cannibalization Through Content Strategies

Like most SEO efforts, you can’t prevent cannibalization once and then never address it again. It’s something that requires ongoing effort. This is why most experts suggest creating a long-term strategy to prevent future issues.

Once you create a spreadsheet to track your content and links, continue to update and monitor it to prevent and resolve issues that could lead to keyword cannibalization.

That process can even help your content team. If they’re trying to create engaging e-books or guides but lack the resources to publish them, they can use the audit to find content to fill their needs. For example:

  • They could take a series of posts optimized for the same keyword and combine it to create an e-book.
  • They could identify low-quality content that doesn’t fully cover a topic and combine it with other, smaller pieces to create a thorough resource.
  • They could identify gaps in your content calendar that lead to new ideas and better articles.

Instead of treating cannibalization cleanup as an extra task for improved SEO, you can use it as an opportunity to create impressive content that you lacked the resources to create before or for new content ideas you hadn’t thought of.

Just remember, as you combine and improve old content, to make sure the weaker pages have the right redirect tags, so all roads within your URL page lead to the main pages you want to rank for. This makes reading your website easier for Google while presenting content that you would be proud to rank for.

Create Canonical Tags for Duplicate Content

Before you can create a strategy for reducing keyword cannibalism on the same content, you have to answer the question: What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content is often considered a negative thing. For example, websites might steal content and publish it as their own. Or, poor SEO strategists post the same content multiple times to help a website rank better.

While both of these instances should never be a part of your SEO strategy, there are times when duplicate content in necessary for your marketing efforts, such as:

  • Press releases are passed across the web to share news.
  • Writers quote other bloggers to expand on or counter against their ideas.
  • Websites syndicate the content of others to create a better experience for their readers and to scale content.
  • Brands hold events multiple times with similar information.

If you feel like the content you’re creating or sharing might have enough duplicate elements to confuse Google and lead to content cannibalization (or worse: search engine penalties), remember to include canonical tagging.

The rel=canonical tag points search engines to the original or preferred content, which reduces confusion and makes attribution easier.

For help with identifying potential duplicate content issues, refer back to the Alexa SEO Audit. The report also includes a section that lists any pages that may have duplicate content issues.

find duplicate content for keyword cannibalization

Stopping Keyword Cannibalization Will Help Your SEO

Understanding how to solve keyword cannibalization is half of the process to fixing it. Many SEO professionals have no idea that they’re hindering their own search rankings by optimizing their pages for the same keyword. By following these steps, your pages will compete against competitors in SERPs and not against your own SEO content.

To access tools that will help you prevent keyword cannibalization and perform in-depth SEO audits, sign up to get a free 7-day trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan. It includes access to our SEO Audit tool and other SEO research and optimization tools to help you plan, review, and improve your content.

try alexa free for 7 days

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3 SEO Problems You’re Probably Not Monitoring https://blog.alexa.com/seo-problems-youre-probably-not-monitoring/ https://blog.alexa.com/seo-problems-youre-probably-not-monitoring/#respond Wed, 13 Sep 2017 20:03:59 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3724 There are three lesser-known SEO problems that can hinder the success of your site: negative SEO, Google penalties, and keyword cannibalization. An Alexa survey of 17 SEO specialists reveals the impact these issues can have on a site’s search rankings and how to overcome them. Before looking into the SEO problems, it is crucial you [...]

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5 minute read

There are three lesser-known SEO problems that can hinder the success of your site: negative SEO, Google penalties, and keyword cannibalization.

An Alexa survey of 17 SEO specialists reveals the impact these issues can have on a site’s search rankings and how to overcome them.

Before looking into the SEO problems, it is crucial you have already implemented the most important SEO best practices. If you have yet to implement SEO initiatives, read this article on how to start SEO with a few quick wins.


3 SEO problems you're probably not monitoring: negative SEO, Google penalties, keyword cannibalization
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Top SEO Factors

According to Alexa’s survey, the top 3 SEO factors to consider are:

  • Mobile-friendly
  • Inbound links
  • Content quality

About 88 percent of the SEO survey respondents ranked “mobile-friendly” a 5 on a 1–5 scale, making it the most important SEO consideration. With Google’s mobile-first index, your site should be accessible from a mobile device, which you can check on Google’s test page.

The second most important factor you should consider in your SEO strategy is inbound links, which all but one of the SEOs ranked as either a 4 or 5. One innovative way to find backlinks is to be creative offline, such as setting up unique photo opportunities that will entice others to link to your site or sponsoring an industry event.

Content quality is also important, according to the respondents. Almost 77 percent ranked it a 4 or 5. In addition to creating high-value newsworthy content that attracts the attention of notable publishers – which earns you those inbound links – focus on building a library of high-quality evergreen content. This type of content will go a long way since it’s extremely relevant to your site’s core topics and doesn’t have an expiration date.


Alexa survey: top 3 SEO factors are mobile-friendly, inbound links, content quality
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most important seo problems

The SEO considerations that are not as important, according to the SEO experts surveyed, include directory links, image sizing, and alt tags.

Focusing on the most important SEO factors for your site is a great start, but there are three concerns you need to be aware of. First is negative SEO.

SEO Problem #1: Competitors and Hackers Using Negative SEO

Negative SEO is an often-overlooked problem that could be adversely affecting your site’s search ranking. All of the SEO respondents had heard of negative SEO – which is when third parties use tactics to sabotage a site’s rankings purposefully – and over half reported being at least somewhat concerned about it.

Forty-seven percent believe the issue is on the rise, 41 percent know somebody who it has happened to, and almost a quarter have experienced it themselves.

Eight of the SEOs said both hackers and competitors are likely culprits, while five reported being most concerned about the competition.

Red flags that indicate your site may be suffering from negative SEO include:

  • A large number of spammy inbound links
  • A de-indexing of the site
  • A scraping of the site
  • A DDoS attack
  • Another type of hacking of the site

seo problems negative seo

What can you do about negative SEO if it happens to you?

Unfortunately, almost 60 percent of the SEOs said it is nearly impossible or extremely time-consuming to undo the damages of negative SEO. However, there are some ways to recover.

One of the SEO specialists said they submitted the issue to Google when they noticed a flood of poor-quality backlinks. This SEO also suggests consistently monitoring your inbound links so you can rectify any issue immediately.

Another one of the respondents said their site was de-indexed due to negative SEO, but a full SEO audit and spammy link/content rectification combined with a penalty removal request helped resolve the issue.

To avoid negative SEO from occurring in the first place, one SEO has this advice: “Create the best site possible to avoid any impacts from a negative SEO campaign. Hopefully, your site is built so well that any negative campaigns will not have any impact.”

SEO Problem #2: Black Hat Tactics or Algorithm Updates Causing Google Penalties

Sixteen SEOs weighed in on Google penalties, with over 81 percent of them being at least somewhat concerned by them. What causes the penalties? Poor SEO practices or new Google algorithm updates can trigger them.

Almost 19 percent said penalties from the search engine giant are on the rise, and 31 percent said it has happened to them personally. About 56 percent believe it is nearly impossible or extremely time-consuming to have the penalties removed.

Half of the SEOs have dealt with their clients’ sites receiving Google penalties: Four had sites penalized over algorithmic updates, and the other four had sites penalized manually by the Google spam team.

The most reported causes for Google penalties reported by the SEO experts are:

  • Bad backlinks
  • Duplicate content
  • Scraped content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Too much anchor linking
  • Hidden links
  • Cloaking
  • Hacking
  • Irrelevant content
  • Website timeouts

google penalties seo problem

The best way to deal with Google penalties is to avoid them in the first place. To do this, follow white hat SEO techniques that aim to keep the searcher (not just Google) happy and build your site correctly from the start.

If you are hit with a Google penalty, here are some ways the SEO specialists managed them:

  • Eliminate overuse of anchors in author’s box and make all anchors conversational.
  • Disavow low-quality backlinks.
  • Build more high-quality backlinks.
  • Rewrite duplicate content.
  • Conduct a full audit to be sure you are focused on the correct penalty.
  • Replace the website and hosting and resubmit through Webmasters.

One SEO offered some valuable blanket SEO advice: “Follow the rules.”

SEO Problem #3: Low Ranking Due to Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization is when multiple pages of a site target the same keyword, which greatly reduces the chances of any single page ranking for that keyword. Twelve of the SEO experts were familiar with this issue, and all but two were concerned about it.

How does it happen?

About 83 percent of the SEO respondents have experienced keyword cannibalization with client sites, and the top cause cited was the client/company had used the same key phrases for every page on their site before they became their SEOs.

Other catalysts include:

  • The client/company changed content to focus on the same keywords on multiple pages.
  • The client/company created duplicate pages instead of redirects.
  • The CMS created duplicate content.

keyword cannibalization seo problem

To overcome low rankings because of keyword cannibalization, conducting keyword research and mapping is paramount. Restructuring your site may be necessary.

Specific advice from the SEO specialists includes:

  • Rework all pages for keyword and topic pairings.
  • Remove pages, edit copy, and change keyword targeting.
  • Change titles and content. Then, publicize changes by launching a social campaign.
  • Leverage semantically related keywords to target keyword topics on pages as opposed to one keyword on each page. Then, map certain keyword topics to pages to ensure each page is needed from a search perspective.

Avoiding SEO Pitfalls

Most of the time, negative SEO, Google penalties, and keyword cannibalization can be prevented. Check backlinks routinely, run site audits, and perform best SEO practices for every page of your site. If SEO problems do arise, reach out to Google immediately.

Identify SEO problems fast with Alexa

Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker and SEO Audit tools will help you monitor for and overcome SEO problems that keep you from ranking. Get a clear list of action items to maximize the results of your content and drive more traffic in search. Sign up for your 7 day free trial of the Advanced plan now.

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How to Optimize for Three Types of Buyer Keywords https://blog.alexa.com/how-to-optimize-for-three-types-of-buyer-keywords/ https://blog.alexa.com/how-to-optimize-for-three-types-of-buyer-keywords/#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2017 19:57:23 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3669 To sell products and services, you need to get in the mind of your customers. You need to outline the process, or buyer’s journey, from research through making a purchase. And when your customers are online, you need to know the buyer keywords they use during that process. What Are Buyer Keywords? Buyer keywords are [...]

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7 minute read

To sell products and services, you need to get in the mind of your customers. You need to outline the process, or buyer’s journey, from research through making a purchase. And when your customers are online, you need to know the buyer keywords they use during that process.

What Are Buyer Keywords?

Buyer keywords are the search terms people use when they are planning to make a purchase.

There are three types of purchasing keywords that shoppers use as they go through the buyer’s journey:

  • Informational keywords that help them find general information (AKA “know” keywords)
  • Navigational keywords that help them find a specific brand, product, or service (AKA “go” keywords)
  • Transactional keywords that help them find the place to make a transaction or exchange (AKA “do” keywords)

types of buyer keywords


3 types of buyer keywords: informational, navigational, transactional
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As customers go through the buyer’s journey, they use these types of keywords in each phase of the process. Buyers use:

  • Informational keywords in the awareness phase. They know they have a problem or need but they aren’t sure how to solve it or fill the need. They use informational keywords to find solutions and answers.
  • Navigational keywords in the consideration phase. They have an idea about what they want or need and are researching to see if it is the right solution for them. They use navigational keywords to find information about specific products, services, and brands.
  • Transactional keywords in the conversion phrase. They have decided on a product or service and are ready to make a purchase. They use transactional keywords to find the right place to make their purchase.

The rest of this article will explain how to find and use the right buyer keywords and content strategy in each phase of the buyer’s journey to guide customers toward making a purchase of your product or service. Plus, download a free workbook that will walk you through choosing the best informational, navigational, and transactional buyer keywords for your strategy.


How to find and use the right buyer keywords and content at each stage of the marketing funnel
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Informational Keywords
For the Awareness Phase

The buyer’s journey starts with the awareness phase. Customers are just beginning to realize they need a product or service to make their lives easier or to solve a problem.

They are ready to “know” something, so they use informational keywords that will help them learn more about a topic, problem, product, or service. (This is why informational keywords may be referred to as “know” keywords.)

To help them find what they need, customers conduct searches using industry terms and informational phrases like:

  • How do/does
  • How can I
  • What is/are
  • What are the benefits of
  • Ways to
  • Guide
  • How to
  • Tutorial
  • Best
  • Cheap
  • Alternatives
  • Compare
  • Improve

For example, a paddle board retailer may target the following buyer keywords with informational phrases + an industry term.

  • How to paddle board
  • Compare paddle boarding to kayaking
  • What is paddle boarding

To capture the attention of potential buyers in this phrase, create content that is positioned around informational phrases and keywords related to your products, services, industry, and value propositions.

Then, deliver the content to shoppers through the mediums that are most useful in this phase. The most effective content types in the awareness phase include blog posts, infographics, videos, guides, checklists, and interactive content.

How to Optimize for Informational Keywords

To find the best information keywords to use for your awareness content, use Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool.

informational buyer keywords search

Enter an industry term related to your products, services, or value proposition. The tool produces a report of keyword opportunities along with a:

  • Relevance score so you can identify the terms most closely associated with your industry or brand.
  • Popularity score so you can identify the terms most frequently used by searchers.
  • Competition score so you can identify the terms you’re most likely to rank for.

buyer keywords list by competition

With this data, you can plug your list of keywords into your informational queries to develop content ideas that will connect with buyers in the awareness phase. For example, the paddle boarding business could use this list to target the best industry terms to pair with their list of informational keyword phrases.

Navigational Keywords
For the Consideration Phase  

The next phase of the buyer’s journey is the consideration phase. Customers have already started to assess their options. They have gathered information and are ready to research specific products, services, or brands.

They are ready to “go” to a specific website to learn about a particular offering, so they use navigation keywords to help them get there. (This is why navigational keywords are often referred to as “go” keywords.)

Rather than type in the exact URL of a website, customers in this phase use search terms they know will lead them to the intended webpages. These search queries include a variety of brand-specific terms and navigational phrases which may include:

  • [Brand name]
  • [Product name]
  • [Service name]
  • Location of
  • Near me
  • Features of
  • Cost of
  • Hours of
  • Directions to
  • Reviews
  • Free shipping
  • Prices
  • Testimonials

A paddle board retailer named “USA Paddle Boards” may choose to target the following keywords because they use a brand name or combine a navigational phrase + brand name.

  • USA Paddle Boards
  • Features of USA Paddle Board Model X
  • USA Paddle boards near me

Shoppers in this phase are looking for information about a particular brand or offering, so target branded keywords that help them find your website, products, and services.

Create content that will both lead potential buyers to your page and provide the information they need about your product or service. Develop landing pages, case studies, product demo videos, product and service lists, data sheets, webinars, e-books, and whitepapers that relate to your navigational keywords.

How to Optimize for Navigational Keywords

Optimizing for navigational keywords is less about finding keywords (as is typically the case with informational and transactional keywords) and more about optimizing your site.

You should identify navigational keywords that relate to your business, create pages around those buyer keywords, and then ensure that customers can find those pages.

To confirm your site is up to proper SEO standards, perform an audit to verify you’re using proper techniques and best practices through your entire web presence. Also, run optimization checks on all of your important individual pages.

To conduct those tests, Alexa has two tools to help. The SEO Audit Tool scans your entire site and produces a report that highlights errors and opportunities in more than two dozen categories as they relate to SEO, performance, security, HTML, and crawlers.

optimize for buyer keywords with site audit

While highlighting errors on your site, the site audit report also includes step-by-step directions for resolving issues to improve your site’s SEO performance.

Alexa also has a tool that allows you to dig into the SEO performance of individual pages. The On-Page SEO Checker scans an individual webpage and produces a report on its SEO performance and suggestions for improvements.

on-page seo checker for buyer keywords

Perform an audit on your entire site and then on each of your primary landing pages to ensure your web pages are optimized and visible so customers can find you during the consideration phase.

Transactional Keywords
For the Conversion Phase  

The last phase of the buyer’s journey ends with the conversion phase. This is the point at which customers are ready to take action, whether they want to buy, download, complete a transaction, or conduct an exchange with a business.

They are ready to “do” something so they use transaction keywords to help them find the website or webpage they can use to take action. (This is why transactional keywords may be referred to as “do” keywords.)

To get to pages where they can take action, searchers use buyer intent keywords that often include action phrases or sales terms paired with general product names or branded terms. Transactional buyer keywords often include phrases like:

  • Apply
  • Buy
  • Coupons
  • Clearance
  • Deals
  • Discount
  • Download
  • For sale
  • Order
  • Purchase
  • Reserve
  • Schedule appointment
  • Special
  • Where to buy

At this point, USA Paddle Boards would target terms that include transactional phrases + branded product and service names to connect with searchers who know the exact product or service they want. They may also target phrases that include transactional phrases + general industry terms/products/services to draw in searchers who may not know the specific brand they want.

  • Buy USA Paddle Boards Model X
  • Paddle board clearance
  • Where to buy paddle boards

Many of these phrases are similar to keywords used in advertising. Use them to develop content that helps customers in the conversion step of their purchase process. Create content that includes sign-up pages, live demos, free consultations, and sales pages.

How to Optimize for Transactional Keywords

To find the best transactional keywords for your industry and build a buying keywords list, use Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix. Start by entering up to 10 competitors for your business.

If you don’t know your competitors, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool.

In the Audience Overlap Tool, enter your site or one of your known competitor’s sites, and select the button to “Find similar websites.” Then, select up to 10 sites from the report to use as your competitor list and click to run the Competitor Keyword Matrix.

find competitors buyer keywords

The tool will produce a list of keywords that the competitors have in common. The terms will be ordered by the number of sites they have in common and include:

  • Popularity score that indicates how frequently users search for the term
  • Competition score that indicates how hard it is to rank for the term

Along with keyword data, the report also includes traffic data for each of the competitors as it relates to the keyword. A traffic score appears for each site and correlating keyword to show how much traffic the site receives from the keyword.

list of competitors buyer keywords

This information helps you identify popular, low-competition keywords and phrases that are driving traffic to your competitors. You can also dig deeper into the data to identify specific, transactional keywords.

Use the filter to select the option to “Show potential buyer keywords.” (There are also other filter options you can use to eliminate and include terms and set ranges for scores to produce a more targeted report.)

show buyer keywords for competitors

This filter narrows the results to buying keywords that have purchase intent. Phrases that appear in this report are terms someone would use when they are close to making a purchase.

competitors buyer keywords list

With this tool, you can identify and research buyer keywords to use for your transactional phase content. The paddle board company could use this process to easily identify the best keywords to connect with their target audience near the end of their buyer’s journey.

Optimize Your Buyer Keyword Strategy Now

A strong marketing plan draws shoppers to the top of a purchase funnel and then guides them through the rest of their purchase process. When this takes place online, keywords and content are the main guides that take customers on their journey.


A strong marketing plan draws shoppers to purchase funnel, then guides through purchase process.
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So use and optimize your site for the buyer keywords most likely to connect with searchers in each phase of their buyer journey. Utilize informational, navigational, and transactional keywords to inform, guide, and direct at each step.

Need help identifying the best buyer keywords for your website and unique customer journey?

Use our free cheat sheet to create a keyword strategy for informational, navigational, and transactional keywords. And sign up for your free 7-day trial of Alexa’s Advanced plan to get access to all the tools mentioned in this post: Keyword Difficulty Tool, Competitor Keyword Matrix, and more.

try alexa free for 7 days

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How Linux Academy Increased Organic Traffic 84% with Incremental SEO Improvements https://blog.alexa.com/how-linux-academy-increased-organic-traffic-84-with-incremental-seo-improvements/ https://blog.alexa.com/how-linux-academy-increased-organic-traffic-84-with-incremental-seo-improvements/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 20:58:02 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3661 Like most startups, Linux Academy is in a competitive industry. They offer hands-on online cloud training courses on topics like AWS, DevOps, Linux, OpenStack, and more. However, they compete against popular sites that have greater brand awareness because of the broad mix of course topics those sites offer. While the larger brands might have the benefit [...]

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3 minute read

Like most startups, Linux Academy is in a competitive industry. They offer hands-on online cloud training courses on topics like AWS, DevOps, Linux, OpenStack, and more. However, they compete against popular sites that have greater brand awareness because of the broad mix of course topics those sites offer.

While the larger brands might have the benefit of brand awareness, Linux Academy is executing an effective SEO strategy that is giving them a competitive edge.

In six months, their organic traffic increased by 84%. The percent of their total traffic coming from search also increased from 37% to 63%. And with a 25% improvement in Alexa Rank during that time, they have strengthened their leading position against direct competitors who offer similar course topics.

linux academy site comparison 

Figure 3: Linux Academy is leading the pack of direct competitors that have similar offerings. 

How they did it

How does a small brand with a niche focus stand out against larger competitors with broader appeal?

They did it one step at a time, by making incremental improvements.

Colette Wladyka, Linux Academy’s Marketing Director, monitors her bi-weekly Alexa SEO audits and tackles a few action items at a time. She focuses on the issues that will have the most impact and delegates those tasks to her development team.

“Before using Alexa, I was already well-versed in SEO. Learning best practices and implementing them wasn’t an issue. But Alexa made it so much easier and quicker to prioritize action items. The site audit drills down beyond high-level best practices and takes you straight to the issues that need to be addressed. It then tells you specifically how to fix them.”

Over time, she has watched these improvements produce higher organic traffic and improved site audit scores. “Tracking the impact your changes are having is so satisfying,” says Colette.

In addition to resolving technical issues uncovered by the site audit, the Linux Academy team uses the Competitor Keyword Matrix and Keyword Difficulty Tool to find new content ideas and target new keywords. These tools help identify the top opportunities for ranking highly with new content and keywords.

“Alexa is a great resource for improving your website performance. Our entire marketing team is using it in one way or another, from finding and fixing SEO issues to discovering new content ideas,” says Colette.

How are they performing against the larger competitors?

Compared to direct competitors with similar offerings, Linux Academy is a big fish in a small pond. While Linux Academy has the best Alexa Rank among its direct competitors, there is a large gap between them and the larger, more popular online course providers with a more diverse offering.

On the surface, it looks like their larger competitors are miles ahead of them. However, take a look below at how Linux Academy compares to the larger brands on their core topics. Linux Academy has 74.1% share of voice on keywords relating to “linux.” Two of the large competing brands have only 11.8% and 7.8% share of voice. Smaller, direct competitors have even less share of voice.

linux academy share of voice

Figure 5: Share of voice for keywords that contain “linux”

On “DevOps” related topics, Linux Academy has 62.4% share of voice. The larger big brand competitors are nowhere to be seen. And smaller direct competitors have 20.2% and 17.4% share of voice on the topic.

linux academy keyword share of voice

Figure 6: Share of voice for keywords that contain “dev ops”

Results

In six months, Linux Academy:

  • Increased organic traffic by 84%
  • Dominated the organic share of voice on their most important topics
  • Increased the percent of total traffic coming from search from 37% to 63%.
  • Improved their Alexa Rank by 25%

Takeaway

Linux Academy is reaping the compounding benefits of making small, continual improvements to their site. And by staying focused on core topics, they strengthened their foothold in the niche that matters most. Alexa’s tools help them to identify the projects that will have the largest impact, making the most of available resources. By taking one step at a time, and making each step count, Linux Academy has charted a clear path to success with the help of Alexa’s SEO and Competitive Analysis Tools.

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SEO Meta Descriptions: The What, Why, and How https://blog.alexa.com/seo-meta-descriptions/ https://blog.alexa.com/seo-meta-descriptions/#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:38:03 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3611 When it comes to using content to improve the value of a webpage, it isn’t all about the copy on the page. There are also hidden HTML attributes and metadata blurbs you can add to the back end of a webpage to send useful signals to both search engines and users. An important part of [...]

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7 minute read

When it comes to using content to improve the value of a webpage, it isn’t all about the copy on the page. There are also hidden HTML attributes and metadata blurbs you can add to the back end of a webpage to send useful signals to both search engines and users. An important part of those text snippets are SEO meta descriptions.

What Are SEO Meta Descriptions?

They’re blurbs of text that provide a brief description of a webpage.

This text appears as a meta tag in a page’s HTML code.

The HTML version of the text looks like this.

SEO Meta Descriptions HTML example

Text from SEO meta descriptions also appears on search engine results pages (SERPs). The blurb is a part of a larger snippet that also includes a:

  • Title Tag: A version of the page title that is added to the HTML. (This page title can be different from the headline that appears on the page.)
  • Slug: The URL for the page.

Together, the title tag, slug, and meta description create the snippet that appears on a search results page.

This snippet looks like this.

SEO meta descriptions SERP results example

This copy also appears in a few other places associated with the webpage. The title tag appears in a web browser tab, and the title tag and meta description are often featured on social media posts that share the page.

This is how a page’s title and descriptions look when shared on Facebook.

SEO meta descriptions on social media posts

SEO meta descriptions provide extra page data, but they do far more than simply deliver bonus content. Marketers can benefit from using strategic meta descriptions on each of their webpages.

Why Should You Use SEO Meta Descriptions?

While Google has said that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, this content is still an important part of driving traffic and improving a page’s performance in search.

1. Descriptions are like mini ads for a webpage.

When SEO meta descriptions appear on SERPs and social media feeds, they act as a small promo for the webpage. The copy gives marketers an opportunity to promote the page and tell readers why they should click on it.

good meta description example

2. Defined meta descriptions look better in search results.

When you don’t tell search engines and social platforms which page description to use, they decide for themselves. This could result in an unflattering appearance for your page snippet. Text could be cut off, important details could be missing, and irrelevant page data could appear. Defining the text you want to use allows you to ensure the best, most relevant content appears.

In this example, you can see how distracting it is when the description is cut-off and incomplete.

bad seo meta descriptions example

3. Strategic meta descriptions increase click-through rates.

When properly optimized for audiences, meta descriptions receive more clicks. More users choose the result because they can clearly see that it offers what they need.

4. Higher click-through rates increase search rankings.

While an SEO meta description won’t increase a page’s search rankings on its own, the results of a well-crafted meta description can boost a page’s rankings. When a link is frequently clicked on in search results, it sends signals to search engines telling them that the page is important and a good result that users prefer. This helps boost a page’s rankings in search results.

5. Meta descriptions can be a part of a larger rich snippet plan.

Search engine results aren’t restricted to displaying only a title, slug, and description. There are a variety of other tags (or schema) that can add bonus rich snippets to search engine results. They may be small details such as the data and extra links shown in the example below.

seo meta descriptions rich snippets

Or, rich snippets could include larger chunks of copy, links, icons, and images as you might find for pages with reviews, recipes, or product information.

seo rich snippets example

Optimizing for other rich snippets is just one of the best practices you can use to highlight meta descriptions and improve the performance of a page in search.

How to Create and Optimize SEO Meta Descriptions

Let’s review the best practices of creating rich snippets and look at a few meta description examples that put these practices to work.

Write a meta description for every webpage. As a best practice, create a meta description and title tag for every landing page and blog post you publish. If you haven’t followed this practice and already have hundreds of pages, start with the most important pages.

An easy way to create text snippets for WordPress is by using the Yoast SEO for WordPress Plugin. Once you install and activate the plugin, you gain access to a feature box that allows you to add a custom title tag, slug, and meta description.

add seo meta descriptions

Do not use duplicate SEO meta descriptions. Each meta description and page title you create should be unique. Do not use the same phrases or language for multiple rich snippets.

To check your current site to see if you have duplicate SEO meta descriptions, use Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool. Enter your site and run the complete site audit. Scroll down to the section “Duplicate Meta Descriptions” to see how many pages (as well as a list of the exact pages) that have duplicate content problems.

seo meta description audit

Write between 135 and 160 characters. The length of meta descriptions that display in search results change based on screen size, device type, and other technical factors, so there is no golden rule for how long SEO meta descriptions should be. But to fit within the most common range of length, write copy that is between 135 to 160 characters.

Include the page’s targeted keyword. Every webpage should include a targeted keyword that the page is intended to rank for. Perform keyword discovery to find the best keyword, and then include that keyword in the SEO meta description.

Search engines highlight terms in results when they match the user’s search phrasing by bolding the words. So when you incorporate words in your description that searchers are using, users will notice them more easily. As you can see in this example, the results for a search for “marketing” bolded the related terms.

Don’t use quotation marks. Because SEO meta descriptions are included in the HTML, you must be careful not to use characters that will break the HTML language. One of the characters that most commonly causes problems is a double quotation mark. Double quotation marks (“quote”) can cause problems in meta descriptions, so avoid using them. If you must use a quote, use a single quotation mark (‘quote’) instead.

bold words in meta descriptions

Include value propositions. Give readers a reason to click on a link by explaining the benefits they will receive by visiting the page. Highlight the value they will get, the things they will learn, and the problems they will solve.

In this example, the publisher tells the reader how the post will help them (“consistently produce quality blog posts”). They also tell audiences that the post includes a template that provides additional value.

seo meta descriptions value propositions

Maintain the active voice. Passive language, when the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, is boring and drab. Active language, when the subject of the sentence is taking action, is interesting and easy to visualize and understand. Therefore, an important content writing tip is to maintain the active voice as much as possible. Write meta descriptions in active voice to help engage readers and hold their attention.

Include a call to action. Treat your meta description as a piece of your customer’s journey and use language that guides users to take the next step. Include a call to action that encourages them to act.

seo meta descriptions call to action

Don’t try to trick the audience. While you should use your meta tag information to pull readers into your copy and encourage them to click to read, you must always do it in an ethical way. Never use misleading language, outrageous claims, or unrelated copy to promote your content or try to attract attention. Using incorrect statements to lead readers to your page will disappoint and push away readers, and can even negatively impact your SEO rankings.

If the content on a page does not match the page’s meta information, search engines may penalize the site. Plus, the high bounce rates that are created from users landing on the page and quickly clicking away can also send negative signals to search engines, telling them that it is a bad or useless page.

Support meta descriptions with strong page titles. Unlike meta descriptions, meta title tags do have an impact on SEO rankings. This SEO content also plays an important role in catching the attention of searcher and readers. So to support your meta descriptions, you also need to use a strong meta page title:

  • Use the keyword but don’t overuse it.
  • Place the keyword near the front of the title.
  • Focus on readers, not just search engines.  
  • Show benefits and value.
  • Include your brand name when relevant.
  • Write 50 to 60 characters.
  • Write unique page titles for each page.

As with meta descriptions, you should not use duplicate title tags for any of your pages. For help with identifying existing pages on your site that may have title tag problems, go back to the Alexa Site Audit Tool. View the portion of the report that identifies pages with missing or duplicate meta title tags.

duplicate meta title

Don’t worry about meta keywords. Like a meta title and description, meta keywords are terms that are tagged and placed in a page’s HTML. But unlike titles and descriptions, meta keywords have very little impact on the value of the page for search engines or users. Major search engines have publically stated that these hidden terms are not ranking factors. Also, meta tag keywords are not visible to users, so don’t exert energy adding these extra terms to your pages.

Use different rich snippets for Facebook and Twitter. Social media platforms typically use a page’s defined meta description as the blurb for their featured posts. But you can adjust this. By using a tool like the Yoast SEO plugin, you can change the text that will appear when the page or post is shared through social media.

This gives you more options for customizing your page data to best fit the platforms it is shared on.

change page descriptions for social media

Optimize for other rich snippets when you can. If other schema markups are relevant to the content on your page, add structured data to your page to improve the look of your search engine results listings. This is useful if your page features reviews, recipes, products, event information, and videos.

Double-check your work. Once you add metadata to your post to optimize it for SERPs, check to make sure you hit all of the best practices. Use Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker to scan your page. The report highlights any errors that exist on a page as they relate to overall on-site SEO. It also includes a section specifically for SERP appearance.

alexa on page seo checker

Use details from the report to check on-page SEO and identify places where you may have missed optimization opportunities for both your meta description and title tag.

It’s Time to Review and Improve Your SEO Meta Descriptions

As you can see, SEO meta descriptions are more than bonus content blurbs. They are a part of a larger strategy that can help you attract readers from search results pages, increase your rankings, and draw extra traffic from social media platforms.

So don’t overlook this data on your webpages. Create a plan for adding unique metadata to each of your new pages and go back and review your existing pages to ensure they meet the standards and best practices for SEO meta descriptions.

For help with identifying errors in your current metadata structure, try out Alexa’s Site Audit Tool and On-Page SEO Checker by signing up for a free 7-day trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan.

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How to Use MOFu Marketing to Improve B2B Content https://blog.alexa.com/use-mofu-marketing-improve-b2b-content/ https://blog.alexa.com/use-mofu-marketing-improve-b2b-content/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:49:28 +0000 https://blog.alexa.com/?p=3589 MOFu marketing is the strategy of using middle-of-the-funnel content to nurture leads and turn them into paying customers. It moves prospects from the awareness phase of the sales funnel down to the conversion phase. In this article, we’ll explain how you can create an effective MOFu marketing strategy that supports a strong B2B content marketing [...]

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5 minute read

MOFu marketing is the strategy of using middle-of-the-funnel content to nurture leads and turn them into paying customers. It moves prospects from the awareness phase of the sales funnel down to the conversion phase.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can create an effective MOFu marketing strategy that supports a strong B2B content marketing funnel.

What Is MOFu Marketing?

A content marketing sales funnel has three parts. These 3 marketing funnel stages include:

  • Top of the Funnel or TOFu where you cast a wide net to catch a large group of interested audiences.
  • Middle of the Funnel or MOFu where you focus on connecting with a select group of prospects who have shown interest in your business or offerings.
  • Bottom of the Funnel or BOFu where you encourage qualified leads to make a purchase.

While all the stages of a purchase funnel are important, the middle of the funnel is especially useful to B2B brands.

Why Is MOFu Marketing Important?

MOFu is an important part of the sales funnel because it’s the point where brands have interested leads and the ability to both nurture and qualify those leads.

This allows B2B brands to make more sales because:

Nurturing leads is an effective way to increase sales. Through lead nurturing, businesses can position their brand as an authority, show off their expertise, and build deeper customer relationships to increase sales. Brands that are effective at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost, according to Forrester Research.

Qualifying leads is an effective way to increase sales. By collecting data and qualifying leads, brands can determine if prospects are ready to buy and which products and services are right for them. This helps sales teams get the data they need to target sales opportunities and deliver the right information to the right prospects at the right time.

MOFu marketing helps both brands and prospects get what they need. So how can you improve your middle of the funnel content to reap these benefits and make more sales?

How to Nurture Leads in MOFu Marketing

At this point in the buying process, prospects already have a basic knowledge about your brand and industry. They are now ready to learn more about the specific details of your brand, products, and services. So as you approach your MOFu marketing content, aim to:

  • Educate. Provide information that helps prospects get answers to their questions. Create evergreen content and resources that will continue to provide value over time.
  • Solve. Show prospects how your products and services solve their specific problem. Offer proof when possible.
  • Relieve. Deliver facts and data that help prospects overcome objections and concerns they may have.
  • Differentiate. Highlight your brand’s unique selling propositions so prospects can see why you are better than and different from your competitors.
  • Persuade. Encourage your audience to see your perspective and take the next step by using action phrases and buying keywords.
  • Personalize. Customize content and communication to match the prospect’s unique needs. Also include personal touches like using his or her name or targeting his or her location.

There are a variety of content mediums and delivery methods to accomplish these goals. Consider sharing MOFu marketing content though:

  • Email
  • Webinars
  • E-books and guides
  • Resource libraries
  • Microsites
  • Landing pages
  • FAQs
  • Interactive apps and tools
  • Checklists
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Buyer’s guides
  • Success kits

While creating content for the middle of your sales funnel, also keep these content creation best practices in mind.

Always include a call to action. Guide prospects to the next step of the marketing funnel by ending MOFu marketing content with a call to action that tells them what to do next.

Create funnels within the funnel. Break down your middle of the funnel content into smaller funnels organized by prospect data. Use segmented lists to deliver only relevant content that matches a prospect’s needs and wants.

Use the best keywords to attract your audience through search. Perform keyword research to find low-competition keywords that are popular among your target audience. Optimize your content for those keywords to help attract audiences through search.

When you create MOFu marketing, you develop content assets that help and guide prospects and collect valuable information for your sales team.


MOFu content guides prospects and collects valuable information for your sales team.
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How to Qualify Leads in MOFu Marketing

You can use two tactics to collect information on prospects and qualify leads with MOFu marketing.

1. Utilize gated content – content that requires users to provide their information to access the content – to collect data from prospects. When you set up a form that users must fill out before they can receive content, you can collect information such as:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Company revenue

This information helps you personalize communication and begin to qualify the lead based on data about their organization and their position in that organization.

2. Use software that tracks user behavior. Tracking codes on your website can collect data on prospect activity such as:

  • Pages viewed on your website
  • Forms filled out
  • Content requested
  • Emails received
  • Emails opened
  • Links clicked

With prospect-level data and action-level data, you can identify and qualify prospects as they absorb your content, navigate your site, and share details about their purchasing needs.

Examples of MOFu Marketing Content

To see MOFu marketing in action, we can look at a few examples of mid-funnel marketing tactics. The following brands have done a great job at using content as a means to nurture and/or qualify their leads.

T. Rowe Price Microsite

To promote their college savings plan, investment management firm T. Rowe Price developed the College Savings Chillout microsite. The website, which is not housed on the same URL as T. Rowe Price’s main website, includes a detailed, beautifully designed six-step guide and video library.

middle of the funnel marketing example t rowe

Both the guide and videos are unlocked and do not require users to enter their information to view them. T. Rowe uses this resource page as an initial way to educate prospects about saving for college. Then, they usher audiences to take the next step by using call to actions that tell them to get a downloadable guide, call to talk to a representative, or click to start an account.

mofu content example

HubSpot Guide

HubSpot is a content marketing company and software provider, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their website includes a full library of downloadable MOFu marketing materials. An example of one of their resources is the free e-book “The Essential Guide to Internet Marketing.”

mofu marketing example hubspot

The guide targets Hubspot’s ideal audience and requires users to enter information before getting access to the free resource. Their form collects a variety of data, which Hubspot can pass on to their sales team so they can target the best, most qualified leads.

MOFu Marketing Lead Qualifying Form

Career Contessa Webinars

Career Contessa is a website that provides career resources for women. They offer career consulting and coaching services and frequently use webinars as a way to generate leads for those offerings. An example is their “Considering an MBA? What Every Woman Should Know” webinar.

mofu webinar example

Career Contessa used a blog post “Want to Switch Careers? An MBA Might Be Your Answer” to lead into a promotion for the webinar. They then used the webinar as a way to collect email addresses from that target audience and directly promote their services at the end of the webinar.

MOFu Marketing Content Example

Betterment App

Betterment, an online investment website, uses interactive tools as part of their MOFu marketing content. One example is their Retirement Savings Calculator that is part of their post “How Much Social Security Income Can You Expect?”

MOFu Marketing App Example

The calculator collects financial data from the user and creates a picture of their financial future. Depending on the results, the calculator also provides additional Betterment resources that tell the audience what to do based on their financial situation. This naturally guides them to the next phase of the purchasing funnel.

MOFu App Example

How to Get the Most Out of Your MOFu Content

Using MOFu marketing content is an excellent way to target the middle section of a sales funnel and work to nurture and qualify leads. But as you develop this content, keep something in mind. MOFu content is an important part of the marketing funnel – but it’s not the only part.

For a marketing funnel to deliver strong results, it needs content and strategy at each phase of the journey.  Don’t focus solely on the middle. Fill the top and bottom of the funnel with strategic content to get the best results. Read how to optimize for three types of buyer keywords to create compelling content that targets each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Ready to find keywords for your MOFu content?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial of Alexa’s Advanced plan. Get access to SEO and Keyword Research tools that will help you find competitive keywords and optimize your content for each stage of the marketing funnel.

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