Tag Archives: seo marketing

You Asked: Top 10 Questions about SEO from our webinar

The post You Asked: Top 10 Questions about SEO from our webinar appeared first on HostGator Blog . When you think about Search Engine Optimization, you probably think about how to increase your website’s ranking in Google. While that’s correct, it’s not as simple as it may sound, and there’s a lot that goes into the practice of SEO.  HostGator offered a free webinar about the 5 Steps to SEO Success to help website owners get started with optimizing their website for search.  We focused on on-page SEO and covered the following steps:  Implement keyword research  Set up metadata on all pages Create quality content Format URL structure and links Use schema, if appropriate  Missed the webinar? No worries. Check out the recording below. Here are the top 10 questions about SEO that our webinar attendees asked.  1. Once you have a website, what is the #1 thing you should do to immediately increase your rankings?  The easiest thing you can do to quickly impact your search results and rankings is to register your business with Google My Business. Google My Business is the official business profile listing from Google that integrates with Google Maps and Google search. GMB is Google’s way of allowing you to control what shows up in search by giving you the space to provide as much information as possible about your business. You’ll want to make sure that your Google My Business listing is accurate and matches all your listings online.  2. I don’t have a physical address or storefront. Do I still need a Google My Business account?   Yes! If you want to be found online you should definitely have a Google My Business account even if you don’t have a physical address or storefront. In fact, when you set up your Google My Business account, you can note your business as a “ service area business ,” meaning you serve a certain cities or zip codes.  When you set up your account, one of the first questions will be ‘do you have an address where customers can visit you?’ Follow these prompts to indicate that you do not have a physical location. If you already have a Google My Business account, you can edit your physical location from the dashboard. You will see that “service area” and “storefront address” can now be edited separately. 3. How important are sitemaps? Do I need one?  Sitemaps help Google identify and crawl all of your site’s pages and URLs. Without a sitemap, Google might not be able to index all of your pages – meaning you could be missing out on a lot of organic traffic.  A lot of CMSs automatically generate sitemaps; or if you use the Yoast plugin for WordPress, it will create your sitemap for you. Manually creating a sitemap is a fairly intensive process, especially if you have a lot of pages. So if your CMS has the functionality to create a sitemap for you, take advantage of it!  It’s important to note that when SEO’s refer to “sitemaps” we’re typically referring to sitemap.xml not HTML sitemaps that you might find front-of-site.  4. How important are good Google reviews for SEO?  Google reviews are important for SEO! Essentially, Google reviews show Google that your business is real and that people have interacted with it. Additionally, reviews frequently contain relevant keywords which add to Google’s understanding of your business. The more context you can provide to Google about your business, the better.  5. For SEO purposes, is it more important to update existing content or create new content?  This is a great question and one that we debate at HostGator as well! You should do both! As content gets old, it may no longer be relevant, which then causes it to not rank well anymore (don’t forget, you want your content to be timely!) For example, an article about ‘top web design tips of 2015’ only holds value during 2015 because people always want the most current tips. To improve your rankings of that article, you should update the content to make it more evergreen and relevant to your readers no matter when they find the article.  Updating older posts is great because they typically have more SEO value, since they have been indexed longer and have more backlinks. If you do have to delete a post or page however, you’ll want to do a 301 redirect to a new, highly-relevant article. A 301 redirect indicates to Google that the page has permanently moved and allows you to pass 90-95% of SEO value from the original article to the new one. 301 redirects allow you to both maintain your rankings and update your content.  If you can, we recommend that you publish new articles on a regular basis to indicate to Google that your website is current, relevant, and active.  6. How many keywords should I have? And where do I put them?  The number of keywords you need is really dependent on your business. You should have a mix of both long-tail keywords (phrases or questions that are fairly specific) and head terms (general keywords with high search volume). For HostGator, our head terms include our products, such as web hosting and shared hosting, while our long-tail keywords include phrases like what is web hosting, how expensive is web hosting, and how to keep my website secure.  If you are a local business, be sure to include the city or state in your keywords to target people in your area. We covered keyword research in detail during the webinar – go back and watch from minute mark 7:05-12:45. As a reminder, you can target three to five keywords on any given page and the biggest tip we can offer is this – use your keywords naturally.  Finally, think about keywords like topics. Don’t just “say” them, talk about them. Write as much as you know about the topic and make the conversation natural. 7. How do I get backlinks?  Essentially, a backlink is when another website links to yours. The absolute best way to get backlinks is to develop quality content, like blog articles, and wait for other websites to link to your articles. If your content is helpful and original, this should happen naturally.  If you want to take a more proactive approach to building backlinks, you can find a website that might find your information helpful for their readers and actually ask them to link to it.  If you are a local business, you can consider partnering with another business on a promotion and exchanging links in return. Think of this like networking in real life – meet people who have similar interests and ask them to link to your articles, specifically if the content is helpful for their readers.  8. What are the best SEO plugins for WordPress?  Yoast is well-known as the best SEO plugin for WordPress. With a few short configurations, Yoast will manage your metadata, canonicals, sitemaps and your robots.txt. While Yoast automatically selects certain configurations for you, you also have the ability to fully customize your selections. Check out this article for eight more awesome SEO plugins for WordPress .  9. If I’m working with a contractor for SEO, what questions should I be asking my SEO person each month?  I always want to see metrics. While it’s important to note that SEO changes usually take a long time to see results, there are still analytics your SEO contractor could be sharing with you. Things you might be interested in seeing are:  Month over month, or year over year keyword changes The number of keywords you have ranking on pages one and two Organic traffic, transactions and revenue Top organic landing pages Chances are that your SEO contractor is already pulling this information to guide their strategy, so it shouldn’t be too much effort to share that information with you.  You and your SEO contractor should also be monitoring your competitors and any changes they may be making to their sites that could impact their rankings and therefore affect your organic traffic.  10. Are SSL certificates important to being found on Google?  An SSL certificate is very important for a few reasons! To provide context, an SSL certificate prevents a “middle man” from stealing information as it is passed through to your website. This is especially helpful for eCommerce websites where customers are entering their credit card information. Even if you don’t have an online store, an SSl certificate can protect the contact forms on your website.  SSL certificates are also essential for ranking highly in the SERPs. For many years Google has indicated that the presence of an SSL certificate will help your site rankings. Google further proved this statement in July 2018 when Google Chrome started flagging websites without SSL certificates; as of last summer, website visitors started receiving notifications when they visited a site without an SSL certificate. Obviously when visitors see this alert, they will quickly leave your website, which will increase your bounce rate and decrease your rankings.   Luckily, HostGator offers free SSL certificates with all hosting plans . Follow the steps to set yours up today! Want to learn more about SEO? Check out our SEO blog articles or download our free ebook , the Beginner’s Guide to SEO.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Filter Spam Bots in Google Analytics [Step by Step Guide]

The post How to Filter Spam Bots in Google Analytics [Step by Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog . You know how valuable Google Analytics is and you’re ready to take all the insights it can offer to improve your website’s performance. But as you pull up the Acquisition data to see how people are finding your website, you notice some strange entries.  Chances are, this means that you’ve become a victim of spam bots. What Is Google Analytics Referral Spam? Spammers will do anything to drive more traffic to their websites. One of the tactics they’ve employed to this effect is finding ways to show up in Google Analytics, hoping that website owners will click on a site to see why it’s sending traffic their way. Google Analytics referral spam used to be much more common, but Google works hard to keep those spammy sites from showing up in your data. Nonetheless, many websites will still see some results in their Google Analytics data produced by spam bots. If you care about getting accurate data about your website’s performance—and you should, because it’s the only way to understand what’s working—then you need to filter spam bots in Google Analytics.  Here’s a handy guide on how to do just that.   How to Filter Spam Bots from Your Google Analytics Results There are two main types of filters you should set up to capture most referral spam from bots. For both, you have the same first few steps.  Getting Started 1. Keep an unfiltered view. When you make any technical change, you always want to have a backup. In Google Analytics, that means keeping an unfiltered view . This provides you with data you can use for comparison with the filtered results you get, to make sure they’re working. And it provides you with a view you can revert back to if one of your filters doesn’t work right. To do this, go to the Admin section in Google Analytics by clicking on the Gear icon in the bottom left corner. Click on View Settings in the third column.  Click on Copy View, then name your view Unfiltered , or something similar.   2. Click on Filters under the View column. With that done, go back to main Admin page by either clicking the back icon or the gear icon again. Click Filters in the View section (Note: this is different than All Filters in the Account section). 3. Click +Add Filter.  Click the red “+add filter” button. Then move onto the next section for the specific filters to create.  2 Google Analytics Filters to Set Up Valid Hostname Filter A valid hostname filter is the best way to filter out ghost spam. These are the spam bots that manage to ping your Google Analytics without ever actually visiting your website. Ghost spammers use automated scripts to send traffic to random websites, usually using a fake host. By telling Google Analytics how to recognize a valid host, this type of filter cuts the ghost spam from your analytics view.   1. Find your hostnames in Google Analytics.  A valid hostname is anywhere that you’ve legitimately set up Google Analytics tracking. That includes your website, most obviously, but also services like marketing tools you use and payment gateways. You can find a hostname report in Google Analytics in the Audience section by selecting Technology , then Network . Select Hostname as your Primary Dimension . Set your date range to go back at least a year. Scan the list to identify your valid hostnames. You should be able to recognize these as your own domain name, and any tools you use and knowingly allowed access to your Google Analytics tracking. Anything you don’t recognize or don’t manage yourself is probably spam.  If there’s an entry you’re not sure about, do some Googling. For example, Google Web Light isn’t something I manage directly, but it’s a service Google provides to load speedier pages on mobile devices with slow connections. That makes it legit.  2. Create a filter listing your hostnames. Back over in our Add Filter screen (scroll back up to the Getting Started section if you need a reminder), name the filter something like “Valid Hostnames.” Select Custom under Filter Types , Include in the list of bullets below that, and Hostname from the dropdown menu.  Under Filter Pattern, list all your valid hostnames in this format: yourdomain.com|hostname2|hostname3|hostname4  You want to fit all of your valid hostnames into one filter here—you can’t create more than one filter that includes hostnames.  3. Test your filter.  Before you click save, take a few seconds to test the filter out and make sure you configured it right. You can use the Verify Filter option right there on the page to run a basic test and see how the filter would affect your data for the past 7 days. Note that, if your website doesn’t currently get that many spam hits, 7 days might not be enough of a sample set to show a difference. Once you’re confident your filter is accurate, click Save .  Crawler Spam Filter The other main category of spam bots that show up in Google Analytics is crawler spam . These are bots that actually do visit your site. They leave a correct hostname, so won’t get caught in your valid hostname filter. Instead, you need to exclude these from your analytics.  1. Find the crawler spam in your analytics. To start, identify the crawler spam that shows up in your analytics now. In the Acquisition menu, choose All Traffic , then Referrals . Change your date range to include at least a year. Now browse the list of websites to look for any that appear to be spammy.  Some will look immediately suspicious. For example, display-your-ads-hereti.info jumps out in the list above as probably spam. But for anything you’re not sure about, do a Google search for “what is ” and you can usually get your answer for whether or not it’s spam. If the list here is long, it’s probably not worth your time to try and filter out every single spam bot, but if there are a main few sending a lot of fake traffic to your site, make note of them to include in your filter.   2. Look up common crawler spam lists. In addition to the spam examples you find in your own analytics, you can find pre-created filters that list many of the most common offenders on sites around the web (such as here and here ). These will cover many of the spam bots that may not have hit your website yet, but could.  3. Create a filter (or multiple filters) listing the crawler spam. Back in our Add Filter screen, name your filter something like “Referral Spam.” Choose Custom as your Filter type, click on the Exclude button, and select Campaign Source in the dropdown menu.  For the pre-created filters you find, you can simply copy-and-paste them into your Google Analytics. For any you manually create, use the same format you did for your hostname filter: Spamname|spamname2|spamname3 Since you have a limited number of characters you can use for each filter, you’ll likely be creating several different filters in this step. Be sure to give them each a unique name. 4. Test your filter. For each filter you create, take a minute to test it. If you’re satisfied it’s accurate, click Save . Filtering Spam Bots on a WordPress Site Setting up filters within Google Analytics can feel pretty complicated. But if you have Google Analytics set up for your WordPress website, you have an easier solution you can take advantage of: plugins.  There are a number of WordPress plugins devoted to blocking referral spam, including: Block Referrer Spam SpamReferrerBlock WP Block Referrer Spam Stop Referrer Spam You can block a significant amount of spam from your analytics simply by choosing one of these plugins, installing it to your WordPress site, and activating it.  If you’re not on WordPress now, but liking the idea of a simpler process for filtering spam bots, the first step to setting up a WordPress site is investing in WordPress hosting . Many aspects of designing, managing, and maintaining a website are easier with WordPress, so for website owners without extensive tech skills, it’s worth considering.  Google Analytics Spam Bots FAQs Those are the main steps you need to know to filter spam bots in your Google Analytics. But if you still have questions about Google Analytics spam bots, here are answers to some of the most common questions people wonder about.  1. How do I detect spam in Google Analytics? First things first, don’t click on the link! If you visit the website itself, the spammers are getting what they want from their shady tactics.  Instead, either do a search for the website in quotation marks, e.g. “99-reasons-for-seo.com” or a search like “what is 99-reaons-for-seo.com.” That will ensure Google doesn’t take you to the spammer’s website—the thing we’re trying to avoid here—and instead you’ll see results from other websites about it. If the website’s a known source for analytics spam, someone’s probably written about it.  2. Why does filtering spam from my Google Analytics results matter? Website analytics are a rich source of information about what your audience responds to. They can show you what your website gets right now, and reveal areas for improvement. And they’re your best way to track the success of your online marketing activities so you know what tactics are worth the investment. Referral spam clouds the accuracy of your analytics. It puts you at risk of misinterpreting the data you have, because the data itself isn’t accurate. You don’t want to spend time and money on tactics that aren’t working because a spam bot makes you think a particular page is more popular than it truly is with your audience. By cleaning up your data, spam bot filters ensure your analytics deliver insights that are more accurate and useful.  3. Can I clean past Google Analytics data? These filters will mean you get cleaner data moving forward, but they won’t be applied retroactively. Your historical data will still include inaccuracies caused by spam bots. But, seeing the comparison between your analytics before and after applying the filters can help you make an educated guess about how much of your traffic was due to bots. You can take that into account when analyzing the data you have to help you get closer to an accurate picture.    Gain Clarity by Skipping the Spam Google Analytics is one of the most valuable tools available to every website owner. While you can’t completely avoid spammers online (they have an obnoxious skill for being everywhere), you can control the influence they have on your website data. Applying the right filters and plugins to your website analytics will rob spammers of their power, and give you back the accuracy you need to build a stronger website for your audience.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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