Mar 16, 2021 10:03 AM
Episode 2, Email with Alyssa Wilie of Lynton Web is in the books and we are turning to our next topic, SEO which I will be the first to admit is not my strongest capability so I am going to be learning a lot this time.
To school me, I will be joined by some incredibly gifted people. Rikki Lear, @rikkilear is Founder and Director at Digital 22 bringing to the table a wealth of experience in marketing.
Victor Pan,, @VictorPan , - Principle Marketer atHubSpot, currently working on technical SEO. Previously Search Director at Catalyst Digital, managing multi-million dollar ad budgets P&G's oral care brands (e.g. Crest, Oral-B, Fixodent) and executing a 7-sites-to-1 "migration" with 0 traffic loss.
No animals were harmed in the process.
Start-up grunt at WordStream, a PPC SaaS company which was acquired by Gannett Co. (US News), earning enough media mentions to rank for almost any online marketing search terms.
Last, and certainly not least, AJ LaPorte, @AJLaPorte , is a Senior Developer Advocate at HubSpot, when not waxing poetic on SEO, he can be found under a pile of his twins, dreaming of the fjords of Norway.
@rikkilear recently did an AMA on SEO in the Community and I am going to move that conversation over here. A lot of good questions have already been asked and I can't wait to read more of your questions!
Feb 12, 2021 6:37 AM - last edited on Mar 16, 2021 10:12 AM by dennisedson
Hey, I’m Rikki from Digital 22 and I’ll be running an AMA about SEO.
I started working in SEO 11 years ago as an in house Digital Marketer. One of my first tasks in that role was to update keywords, title tags, meta descriptions and on page content for 50,000 pages on an ecommerce site. It was a HUGE task but I loved it. I loved doing something that many times I felt like an expert in it and I loved the growth the company saw as a result (nearly £2m in annual revenue was attributed to it in year one 😲).
Since then I’ve run Digital 22, a top tier HubSpot agency, for the last 8 years. In that role I’ve been involved in SEO for over 160 companies.
This ask me anything is all about SEO and can cover the full range of SEO topics: Technical foundations, On-page optimization and Domain authority building (link earning). These can be very specific questions about your website’s SEO or overall industry trends.
Some of the most popular questions I get asked to help get your ideas flowing:
Can’t wait to chat about SEO!
Ask your question below to join in...
Feb 12, 2021 9:29 AM
Hi Rikki. Thank you for offering to share your advice.
With so much data to analyze how do you prioritize what to optimize? How do you make sure your time spent is actually going to drive leads/sales instead of just traffic.
HubSpot CMS web design & optimization consultant
Creator of the FREE Industrial HubSpot Theme which helps manufacturers quickly build their website or blog on HubSpot.
Feb 15, 2021 5:12 AM
That's a brilliant question. You are totally right that SEO is something that you can spend a lot of time on (there's a never ending list of things to do 😃) but not everything is going to move the needle.
For people new to SEO most tools (Moz, SEMRush etc) do a decent job of priority scoring the errors lists into those which have a big impact, to those which have a small impact.
In terms of making sure SEO drives sales / leads, instead of just traffic, I'd say you need to spend a good amount of time on strategy and research. A lot of people just ahead and starting building links, 'optimising' pages etc without truly understanding how it's going to impact sales.
The best example of this is keyword research. Spending as much time as possible at this stage is critical to the projects success as everything from that point onwards is going to centred around it - if the keywords you select at this stage aren't commercially correct (actually target people who can and do convert into sales) then you are only going to drive traffic at best.
Thanks for kicking us off with a great question 👏
Feb 24, 2021 8:30 AM
Google used to have a fixed character limit for meta titles and descriptions which made these types of questions easier.
Now Google uses pixel length plus makes the odd expectation to display longer descriptions on the odd occasion when they believe it to be beneficial for the user. The average snippet is displayed at 155–160 characters so I agree with the HubSpot tool here, keep it under 155 and you are likely to have your whole description show without it truncating.
I'd also add, remember the role of a meta description. It isn't a ranking factor so you don't need to get keywords into it. It's simply your 'shop window' to entice someone to click your result over someone elses.
Mar 2, 2021 12:47 PM
Great question. I certainly understand what you mean - I hear people tell me they "have done SEO" in the checkbox like manner you suggest. In terms of the two questions you asked:
Feb 15, 2021 5:18 AM
Thanks for the question 👍
I'd say the biggest HubSpot CMS specific tip is how the site is actually built. While HubSpot sites tend to be very quick because of their hosting and infrastructure they can be hard to optimize further for speed if they are built some ways. We have found using the boilerplate as a starting point and developing from there leads to the best results - ie really highly optimised sites of 90+ on Google PageInsights.
The other one I'll mention is around the HubSpot SEO tool for topic clustering. Topic clustering is a big topic in itself so for now I'll just say make sure you take advantage of the tool and organize your content this way. It's a big job but long term it drives more value from SEO and it's very trackable.
Feb 16, 2021 9:15 AM
Thank you @rikkilear for hosting this AMA!
Hey @Carloberg @GTerry @kmares @Diana1 @JJace @JWyatt @Ben_M @KTownsend @webdew @Aakar I want to bring this AMA to your attention! All the questions are welcome, don't miss the opportunity to learn from Rikki!
Feb 16, 2021 1:02 PM
Thanks for coming on here for an AMA on SEO. I have two questions for you.
My first question relates to page architecture for site redesigns. I know that shorter URLs 'tend' to perform better than longer URLs. So let's say I have a product 'call tracking' and on my website that page is organized under 'products' in my navigation/foldering. What are the reasons I would not want the URL to be www.site.com/product/call-tracking and I would need it to just be www.site.com/call-tracking? There could be blogs, knowledge centers, FAQs, and more on the same topic so in my eyes the /product/ component is telling me that this is the product-page but if that page was www.site.com/blog/call-tracking then I would know that page is a blog article-page. At the same time, I do not want it to look like duplicate content so any pages with a similar page name would want to be different both in purpose and in scope. I hope that helps give context to my question and why I am uncertain about how best to define a page architecture.
My second question is a lot more self-serving based on our companies products (we are a call tracking company). We get asked all the time, "Does call tracking negatively impact my SEO?" It is a common question we handle by pointing out that search engines like Google do the same thing... and there are a lot of other reasons too. But it is true that dynamic elements in web pages can be used for good (Google Optimize, etc) and for bad (Spam, Fake Ad Clicks). What are your thoughts and opinions on all/any of this as it applies to SEO?
Feb 18, 2021 10:14 AM - edited Feb 18, 2021 10:18 AM
Hey, thanks for taking the time to ask a question.
1 - That's a really interesting question. Based on what you have said I would say the best approach is to use the www.site.com/product/call-tracking structure. This is based on your logic of needing multiple different uses of a page called call tracking. My opinion more broadly on this is shorter URLs are not a cause or metric of better rankings, more so it's purely correlation that shorter URLs are the ones that tend to rank better because they are typically more easily accessed by navigation and are more important pages. In truth, I don't believe the URL length matters at all as long as it isn't taken to the extreme. Having a subfolder in the URL v not having a subfolder in the URL will have no positive or negative difference (unless the sub-folder is part of the keyword targeting strategy). What I believe is more important here is a logical, clear, scalable URL structuring strategy.
2. I'd say using or not using call tracking on a site will have no positive or negative direct impact on SEO. It's likely the way a search engine will crawl a website with call tracking is it will see the default phone number with the script to change it to the dynamic one. There are a couple of very slight indirect negatives to consider but all in all they are not something I would worry about (ourselves and clients have used call tracking for years, we recommend it):
- If the script is heavy and used frequently on a page it could slow down the site and have an indirect impact, very unlikely as call tracking scripts are usually very lightweight but possible
- You could have an indirect negative impact on local SEO by having an inconsistent NAP profile across the web if people regularly post about you using dynamic numbers (more on NAP here: https://www.brightedge.com/glossary/importance-accurate-name-address-phone-number). It's not something I would personally worry about as you need to be a specific type of company for people to post about you by copying and pasting a phone number but it's possible.
They were good questions to think about. Thank you
Feb 18, 2021 11:56 AM
Rikki - Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
I was leaning towards a subfolder-based URL structure since there are many dimensions to some of our business's core topics (aka call tracking). I really appreciate the insights you bring up on the page length as well. I hope it's not just me but one of the most fascinating and simultaneously frustrating aspects of SEO is never being able to get or give a straight answer. Usually, I'm explaining this to stakeholders as, "Based on the evidence we have seen..." or "To the best of our knowledge...."
As for the second answer I wanted to say that I 100% agree. You bring up some great pros and cons of dynamic personalization. The problems with NAP consistency are there and of someone else posting the tracking numbers instead of the true target numbers. At the end of the day, I believe the best business decisions are made with all the available facts. It is just difficult to get that :p.
Feb 18, 2021 12:39 PM
Yeah, totally hear you there. The challenge with SEO is there are no definitive answers. That's because its people making educated guesses about how they think an algorithm works. All we can do is look at correlation data and try take extract what we believe are the causes of those results.
That's why meme's like this exist in the SEO world 😁
Feb 17, 2021 7:15 PM
Welcome new Community users,
Wanted to add you in this AMA to ask any questions about Seo to Rikki.
Feb 19, 2021 9:37 AM
This week I saw a new SEO category in the SEO tool called 'Performance' and I'm seeing a large number of pages now being flagged for 'Delay loading images that appear below the fold.' There isn't a recommendation that I can find readily available for how to solve this. What would you recommend? Does this have to do with the Web Core Vitals Google algo change coming later this year? Thanks!
Feb 22, 2021 4:14 AM
As Google push for website performance and thus make it part of the ranking Algorithm there are indeed a lot more performance based flags / warnings showing in SEO tools. Which I think is a win for everyone to be honest.
In terms of this particular flag 'Delay loading images that appear below the fold' it's referring to the site loading images which are offscreen during the initial request. These images are unneeded as the user won't be able to see them so by deferring them you can speed up that initial load time.
A lot of people achieve this by utilising lazy loading for the images below the fold. This is a good Google source on lazy loading: https://web.dev/lazy-loading-best-practices/
Feb 23, 2021 9:33 PM - edited Feb 23, 2021 9:35 PM
I just wanted to follow up Rikki's great answer with some stuff going on at HubSpot on the performance and image lazy loading front.
Both of those features use browser-based lazy loading. Technically a developer could by choice in a custom module choose to use a different lazy loading method. We specifically recommend using browser-based lazy loading to get the biggest performance benefit.
We have a guide for developers to optimize sites for performance. Highly recommend checking it out or passing it on to developers on your team.
Feb 23, 2021 10:28 AM
What's the ideal Meta description length for a blog post? Finding the HS suggested limit of 155 constraining and have seen other sources say 300-350 characters is ideal. What are your thoughts?
Thank you, Lloyd
Feb 23, 2021 10:47 AM
We're in the electronic health record or EHR business. We're resellers for two types of EHRs. One is for our older legacy product and one is for our newer cloud based product. We frequently will write a post and publish it on both blogs, with everything the same (content, title, meta description etc) We're getting duplicate content warnings as a result.
Is this hurting our SEO? if yes can we just change the title and Meta description?
Thanks again! Lloyd
Feb 24, 2021 8:24 AM - edited Feb 24, 2021 8:26 AM
That's a really common question in those types of spaces so you aren't alone in that.
I'm going to assume for this answer that they are on different root domains (eg www.XYZ1.com and www.XYZ2.com) for this answer so correct me if I am wrong.
If you are doing it on a large scale it could hurt the domain which is secondary posting it, this is because in Google's eyes you could simply be stealing someone else's content and reposting as your own. It's an unlikely scenario but one to be careful of.
What I would say though is you are very unlikely to get any SEO benefit, ie organic traffic, from copying and pasting a blog from one site to another. One of those sites will be indexed as the primary source and it's likely the second posting site of the content will be largely ignored.
Changing the meta title and description of the content when reposting won't really help. Google is looking to rank unique content in each of the positions on the listings page so to get the actual benefits on both sites you need two unique pieces.
There are of course other benefits to having the pieces of both sites if you ignore SEO - social sharing, email marketing etc are all unaffected by the above and they could benefit from using the articles in the strategy for both companies / websites.
Feb 24, 2021 2:41 AM
Thanks for offering your advice!
Quick one - I was in a conversation with an SEO who said that 'fresh' content is higher ranked than any other. I asked him how that would relate to what I understand as evergreen content. As in, all the views, and links that content will have garnered over time. He says that event evergreen content benefits from being 'freshened' and that 'old' stuff drops down the rankings... Any thoughts?
Feb 24, 2021 8:13 AM
From experience content does 'decay' i.e. move down the rankings over time and therefore gets less traffic if it isn't updated. However, the important factor here to consider is the topic. It all ties back to satisfying the user and that's a good way to think of it. Take two examples of evergreen content:
- 'Top 10 best laptops for gaming' - that is a piece that is going to need to be updated monthly to stay relevant as the technology changes so quickly that a blog from a year ago on the subject isn't going to satisfy the user's query.
- 'Types of management styles' - the management styles from many years ago are still used as viable options today. It's a slow-moving, somewhat theoretical, subject which would benefit more from depth and authority than freshness. A blog from 5 years ago on the subject could easily still rank highly.
In fact, let me Google these two and see if this holds true:
Thankfully they do 😅
Feb 26, 2021 10:03 AM
Hi @rikkilear! Thank you for doing this AMA.
I work in a geographic area that is considered to be very behind the times when it comes to anything in the realm of "digital" marketing. My experience in this area is that "SEO" is more a buzzword and a checkbox to mark than an actual strategy or tactic. Where do you suggest a client start putting in effort to improve their SEO so they get visible outcomes quickly and start to grow their understanding of this concept and what it can do for their business?
Mar 16, 2021 4:34 PM
Mar 17, 2021 10:20 AM
@rikkilear Would love to hear some tips on how to determine when to use structured data. Do you have any sort of system for going through a website and figuring out where and what schema would be useful? In Hubspot do you mostly use inline structured data or JSON schema? If using JSON schema where in templates is it best to place it?
Looking forward to watching the podcast!
Mar 25, 2021 12:44 PM
Great question. I'll be happy to chat about what structure data should be used and where (sneak peak: I mainly Google to see what is showing in Google for the board types of keywords we are looking to target for that page - pretty simple but help understand what is worth investing in).
Inline structured data v JSON schema - that one is above my technical area of expertise but hopefully one of the other folks on the show can help you with it 😁
Mar 22, 2021 2:07 PM