10 Free Marketing Tools Every Entrepreneur Can Use

10 Free Marketing Tools Every Entrepreneur Can Use
Reach your audience effectively without compromising quality.

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If you’re an entrepreneur just getting started, you know the meaning of a budget. You also probably know that in order to get your business idea off the ground, you have to reach your chosen audience at the right time. To help you do this cheaply, without compromising the quality of your marketing efforts, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 free marketing tools every entrepreneur should know.
1. Chattypeople
Chatbots have made their mark in the marketing world this year. Despite many still believing that the chatbot is just a customer care tool, others are seeing it as a must-have in their marketing strategies. Chatbot technology has improved significantly in the past decade, allowing marketers to create bots without any coding knowledge. Chattypeople is the perfect tool for those wanting to quickly create a Messenger chatbot. The platform allows entrepreneurs to create a bot that not only works seamlessly with Facebook, but also pushes promotions to customers on demand. With chatbots, you will be able to:
Use Facebook Messenger and comments to push customers through your sales funnel
Take orders directly from Facebook
Gather data about your customers to keep them up-to-date with relevant products
Related: The Top 8 Digital Trends to Watch in 2017

2. MailChimp
Email marketing is an important aspect of any business’s marketing strategy. With an email marketing tool such as MailChimp, you will be able to move your audience through your sales funnel more effectively with a higher level of control. MailChimp will allow you to:
Build on your marketing strategy by connecting your email campaigns directly to your website
Use your purchase data to send more personalized emails to further grow your business
Integrate with Facebook to find new subscribers and reconnect with current ones
Create a level of automation
Gather feedback from MailChimp reports
3. PromoRepublic
PromoRepublic is a free-to-try social media content builder and posting tool. It provides users with more than 100,000 ideas, templates and visuals for stunning Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn posts. All the social media templates are made by a team of professional designers and copywriters. Users can easily customize templates with a built-in graphics editor. With PromoRepublic you get:

Library with 100,000 post templates and visuals
Calendar of post ideas for every day with holidays, days from history, trending topics and events
Drag-and-drop graphics editor to customize stunning templates and create posts from scratch
Auto-posting and scheduling to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn
4. Hotjar
Hotjar is a powerful tool that will help you analyze your website’s performance. It tells you everything you need to know about how visitors are spending their time on your website. The tool operates primarily through heat maps that give you insights on the clicks that occur on each page and the parts of a page that are most popular. Some of Hotjar’s features include:
The recording of cursor movements and placements on various pages
A conversion funnel that tells you where most visitors left your website
A feedback collection survey tool
5. Buffer
Social media remains one of the most important and powerful parts of any marketing strategy. That said, social media management is a full-time job in itself, and if you are starting your own business, you will most likely not have time to spend your entire week on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other platform now available. Buffer, a social media management tool, will help you save time by allowing you to schedule posts on each platform in advance. The tool automatically publishes your content according to your chosen schedule, and from there, you can analyze its performance from one page.

inRead invented by Teads
Related: 3 Social Media Marketing Tactics to Help Improve Your Conversion Rates

6. Canva
You could be sending out killer content, but if it doesn’t look the part, you may find it difficult to grab your audience’s attention. Unfortunately, hiring a graphic designer for all your design work can be expensive, but with a tool like Canva, you can save money and time. From illustrations, banners and infographics, Canva can help you design virtually anything and with ease. With Canva, you’ll have access to:
A library of fonts
A variety of illustrations, images, and templates
A drag and drop system that makes using the tool quick and easy
7. Yoast
Yoast is all about providing you with the tools to fully optimize every aspect of your website. Yoast basically tells you everything you need to know about organic marketing through one WordPress plugin. Yoast will:
Give your page an SEO ranking
Help you write meta descriptions
Use a traffic light system to tell you what you are missing and what you are doing well
Give you a readability score to help your improve your SEO ranking
8. Hello Bar
Hello Bar is a simple tool that will help you convert visitors into customers by easily creating banners that highlight your most important content, products, services and messages to your clients. All you have to do is log in and select a goal. You can choose to:
Promote a specific offer or sale
Encourage website visitors to call your company
Grow your mailing list
Expand your social media connections
Create a customized goal specifically for your business
9. SumoMe
The SumoMe suite is all about generating a larger audience for your business. With this program, you can:
Get more customers on your mailing list
Create more effective share buttons
Track your traffic through heat maps
You’ll also have access to simplified image-sharing tools and the platform’s Welcome Mat, which is a tool that will help you create full-screen calls-to-action with clean imagery.

10. Majestic
Majestic is the largest commercially available backlink index with the most in-depth backlink data in the world. Despite having backlinks as its main focus, Majestic also offers:
Metrics including the number and quality of backlinks
Numerous backlink and domain comparison tools
A search engine with ranking factors
Multiple backlinking and link-building options
Related: How Real Marketers Create Backlinks That Matter

And finally…
This comprehensive range of tools is being used by industry experts across the world. By implementing the above into your digital marketing strategy, you will be able to automate your marketing efforts and reach your audience effectively without compromising quality, giving you the chance to focus on the operational aspects of your new business venture.
Exclusive Business Resources

The difference between deactivating and deleting a facebook account?

If you deactivate your account:
  • You can reactivate whenever you want.
  • People can’t see your Timeline or search for you.
  • Some info may remain visible (ex: messages you sent).
If you delete your account:
  • You can’t regain access once it’s deleted.
  • We delay deletion a few days after it’s requested. A deletion request is cancelled if you log back into your Facebook account during this time.
  • It may take up to 90 days to delete data stored in backup systems. Your info isn’t accessible on Facebook during this time.
  • Some things aren’t stored in your account. For example, a friend may have messages from you after deletion.
  • Copies of some material (ex: log records) may remain in our database but are disassociated from personal identifiers.

How do you deactivate a facebook account

You can deactivate your account temporarily and choose to come back whenever you want.
To deactivate your account:
  1. Click the account menu at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select Settings
  3. Click General in the left column
  4. Choose Manage your account then follow the steps to confirm
If you deactivate your account your profile won’t be visible to other people on Facebook and people won’t be able to search for you. Some information, such as messages you sent to friends, may still be visible to others.
If you’d like to come back to Facebook after you’ve deactivated your account, you can reactivate your account at anytime by logging in with your email and password. Keep in mind, if you use your Facebook account to log into Facebook or somewhere else, your account will be reactivated. This means your Facebook profile, including things like your friends, photos and posts, will be completely restored. Remember that you’ll need to have access to the email address you use to log in to reactivate your account.
To permanently delete your account: Permanently deleting your account means you won’t ever be able to reactivate or retrieve any of the content or information you’ve added. If you’d like to permanently delete your account with no option for recovery, please contact us.

Does your division need its own domain?

A website of a larger company often represents multiple divisions. If one division outgrows the others, or if expectations for one division are very high, the need for a separate website or domain may arise. What’s best to do for SEO in such a case? Set up a new domain for that division? Or build it on a sub-domain? In this Ask Yoast, we help you determine the best solution in case a division wants its own website.

Brooke Brown of smartbridge.com emailed us with this question:

“One division of our company is getting more presence, so they want to build that division its own website. What’s the best option?

1. Build it on a new domain like smartbridgemobility.com;
2. Build it on a totally separate domain;
3. Build it on a sub-domain like mobility.smartbridge.com.”

Check out the video or read the answer below!
Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

Technical SEO 1 training$ 199 – Buy now » Info
Division on separate domain

In the video, we help you decide what’s best for SEO if you want to give a division a separate website:

“Well Brooke, first of all I consider myself pretty good at branding and if your brand “Smartbridge” is strong, I would consider doing something much simpler. I would make it smartbridge.com/mobility. Give it its own look and feel, but keep it on one domain.

If you don’t want to do that, but you want to separate the two, then I would give it an entire brand for itself. Because that probably is best in the long run to sell or whatever you want to do with it. I’m not a big fan of sub-domains because they lead, or can lead, to all sorts of technical issues. And they’re a bit of nothing really. It’s not its own brand, it’s far too attached to your main domain.

So I would probably choose a sub-folder and if you can’t do that I would choose a completely different brand. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

How to optimize for voice search

How to optimize for voice search
Inspired by a recent presentation at SMX West, columnist Sherry Bonelli discusses why small businesses and local search marketers need to be thinking about voice search.

The way people search for information online is changing. Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices) to search for information on the internet. Siri is your best friend if you’re using an Apple device, Google voice search is popular on Android devices and Microsoft’s Cortana is useful on your PC and smartphone using their app:

According to Hitwise, nearly 60 percent of searches are now performed on a mobile device. With more and more people using mobile devices to search, people often find it’s easier to use their voice to search instead of typing on tiny screens.

This means SEO professionals need to start thinking about content and SEO differently.

Searching by voice is a hot topic among forward-thinking SEO professionals. At SMX West 2017 last month, Benu Aggarwal had a popular session on the subject, “Optimizing Content for Voice Search and Virtual Assistants.” During that session, she gave some great tips on how SEOs can start thinking and planning for a different type of search strategy for voice searches.

A new world for search
Mobile devices, smartphones and smart home devices featuring digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant are invading our lives.

These new voice devices and technology make it easier than ever for people to simply ask a question and get information from their device. This allows for a more natural way to interact with machines using a conversational voice. Using your voice, you can now play music, turn on your lights, search for a local pizza restaurant, order products and get information on everything from breaking news to the weather.

And interconnectivity between various devices is an interesting part of voice search technology. For instance, a Google Home tip can even show up on your desktop, giving you advice on how you can best use your Google Home voice assistant:

During her SMX West presentation, Aggarwal shared the follow stats:

This slide shows the importance of mobile and local search. But how might voice search factor in?

According to the 2016 Internet Trends Report, voice search is rapidly gaining market share:

In 2015, 1.7 million voice-first devices were shipped. In 2016, that number increased to 6.5 million devices. VoiceLabs predicts that in 2017, 24.5 million voice-first devices will be shipped.

The big question for SEO professionals is: How do you create a content and SEO strategy for this new way to search?

How to optimize for voice search
Since search engines were first introduced to the mainstream in the mid-1990s, users have learned how to succinctly enter keyword phrases to find information on the internet using a PC. Unlike search keyword phrases that you type into your computer, voice search is more conversational and natural in tone. Voice search is also typically mobile and often locally focused.

For example, when I traveled to San Jose for SMX West, my smartphone knew where I was physically located. So when I searched for a restaurant, my phone anticipated where I was (not in Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and the search results for restaurants were all in San Jose.

Because they’re more conversational, voice search queries are also usually longer than typical text keyword search queries.

Image Credit: Purna Virji, citing Bing data
It’s important to remember that the whole purpose of these new technologies is for the device to provide the best results for on-the-go searchers. To do this, the devices try to find easily identifiable, short and relevant pieces of content to serve back to the searcher. Here are some tips that can help you optimize for voice search.

What are people searching for?
According to the Internet Trends Report 2016, people are using voice search for a variety of searches. With an estimated 22 percent searching for local content and information, local businesses (and agencies that do local SEO) need to start strategizing for local voice search.

Claim your Google My Business listing
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing yet, what are you waiting for? It’s time! Claiming and optimizing Google My Business is a great way for Google to find out more information about your business, like the category of business you’re in, your address, phone number, business hours and more.

Since many voice searches are local in nature, having your Google My Business listing claimed and up-to-date can help increase your chances of showing up when a voice search is done pertaining to your local business, location or business category.

Conversational keywords
Now keywords are no longer just keywords. Keywords in the voice search world are long-tail+. The “plus” refers to the conversational phrases that you need to add when optimizing for conversational voice search.

Your keyword strategy must now be more conversational in nature and mimic how real people talk and ask questions verbally. Start thinking about the types of questions you get when customers call you on the phone to ask questions about your business, then start documenting and recording the exact words they use when they talk to your customer service representatives.

Once you have a list of questions and statements your customers give you over the phone, you can then start creating content pages that focus on those longer, more conversational search terms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages
A great way to use the aforementioned customer data is to create FAQ pages that focus on those long-tail+ conversational keyword phrases. Try to group common questions on the same page. Go for natural-sounding questions and phrases instead of the old SEO-keyword phrases you’re probably used to using. If you need to create several different pages so that the voice search technologies have a better chance of pulling information from your site, go for it!

Also, anticipate more direct questions from searchers. Searches like “best digital camera” will start to disappear, and hyper-specific searches will become more popular. Example: “Alexa, where can I find a waterproof video camera that works with Facebook Live?” Offer quick, succinct answers to questions that voice searchers are asking.

It can seem like a daunting task, but creating these individual pages and snippets of content centered around specific semantic questions that people are asking can not only help your site show up in voice search results, it can also increase your chances of appearing in a Google “Featured Snippet.”

Structured data markup
Use structured data markup (applying the correct schemas) to give these voice search devices even more information about your site and content. Structured data markup from schema.org is crucial for your site, as it defines more specific information and makes it easier for search engines to accurately parse your content and understand its context.

It’s a new world for SEO!
Voice search is not going away. It’s time SEOs start optimizing their sites for this brave new world of voice search — so they’re not left behind.

View Benu Aggarwal’s full presentation from SMX West here:
Optimizing Content for Voice Search and Virtual Assistants By Benu Aggarwal from Search Marketing Expo – SMX
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Self-help guide to SEO

Self-help guide to SEO

SEO is a term that is increasingly becoming more popular. But what does it actually involve? If you’ve ever wanted to do your own SEO, but don’t know what exactly you need to do, you’ve come to the right place. This self-help guide will let you know exactly what you need to do to achieve the results you want with your SEO.


One of the most important aspects of SEO is the keywords you use on your website and in your AdWords campaigns. After all, it’s the use of keywords that helps users find your website. There are various types of keywords you need to be using. This includes:

Generic keywords: these are terms that are not specific, such as “running shoes” – it doesn’t specify things like a brand, colour or size. The lack of specifics with generic keywords can be a problem, as it may not relate to the content on your website. Generic keywords can also be highly competitive, meaning they are difficult to rank for. However, they are worth pursuing if your website is ranking for it. These terms are often high cost, so if you’re running an AdWords campaign, carefully consider your budget before including too many generic keywords.
Broad match keywords: these keywords are more specific than generic keywords, and are terms such as “blue running shoes.” Including specifics means there will be a higher engagement rate, as the customer is more likely to find what they’re searching for. Broad match keywords are also going to have less competition, and are therefore easier to rank for. Broad match keywords are low cost, and with low competition they are often the preferred type of keyword.
Long tail keywords: this is a sentence that is typed into a search engine. Unlike broad match keywords, long tail keywords won’t account for a large drive in traffic. However, it is beneficial to rank for long tail keywords, as there is a high conversion probability, as the search term is so specific. Long tail keywords are also low cost, making it the most affordable for an AdWords campaign.
To get your website ranking, and to have a successful AdWords campaign, it’s vital to ensure you undertake keyword research.

One of the most effective ways to undertake keyword research is by using Google’s Keyword Planner. This will help you to get keyword ideas. You can even log into your existing AdWords account to see keyword ideas personalized for your account.

On-Site Optimisation

Once you’ve undertaken your keyword research, you’re ready to add content to your website. When trying to include keywords, it’s important to avoid any black-hat SEO strategies, such as keyword stuffing. Search engines’ algorithms will notice this strategy and penalise your website. This could see your ranking lowered, or removed completely from search engine results. This will not only have a negative impact on traffic flow but conversions as well.

Instead of keyword stuffing, you want to focus on key areas of your website that will help you rank:

Title Tag
Use the title tag to tell search engines what your page is about. This should be kept short and includes information such as your business name. Make sure to only use keywords that are specific to that page, rather than the whole website.

Meta Description
This is a description of what the page is about, and will appear in search results. Meta descriptions should be less than 160 characters, including spaces. While you should include relevant keywords, it won’t help with rankings on search engines. Meta descriptions are more important for gaining a high click-through rate. Make sure you let people know exactly why they should click your link, and what they can expect on that page.

Your headings and subheadings should be in the right order. The main heading on a page should be H1, subheadings H2, and sections within a subheading H3. This helps search engine crawlers know what the page is about and what it should be ranking for.

Alt tags
Text isn’t the only thing that gets indexed – images do as well. You need to add a brief description to each of your images, known as alt tags. This should simply describe what the image is.

Domain name
If you haven’t already set up your domain name, consider including keywords. This can significantly improve your website’s ranking. Make sure to keep your URL short, only include numbers and letters, and use dashes rather than underscores. This will make your page easier to be crawled and indexed.

When writing your on-site content, always remember to write with people in mind. Never write content for search engines. This will come across as unnatural, and people won’t want to read it. This will help to improve the user experience and improve your ranking.


An element of SEO that can never be overlooked is links. They are just as crucial as keywords for getting your site ranked on search engines.

So why exactly are links so important? They are essentially referrals to your website. Links can help increase your authority, as well as traffic flow. The more trustworthy websites that link to you, the higher authority you are perceived to have.

However, when adding links to your website, it’s best to avoid any black-hat SEO tactics, such as purchasing links. In 2012, Google released an algorithm known as Penguin. This algorithm looks for websites intentionally violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by manipulating the number of links that point to a page. If the algorithm detects there is a high number of low quality and untrustworthy links directing to your website, you could get penalised.

Legitimate ways to gain links are:

Directories: consider submitting your website to a directory that is relevant for your industry.
Outreach: sometimes the best way to get what you want is just ask. Find out who are the influencers in your industry and reach out to them. If you have a specific page you’re wanting a link to, ask a website if they will make a backlink. You could even consider asking to write a guest post. As these sites are generally the competition, don’t be disheartened if you don’t always hear back from websites you’ve outreached to.
Dead links: websites often go down, but the links directing to those websites don’t. If you find a dead link, and you have content about the same topic, why not email the website and see if they’ll replace the dead link with one to your page instead.
Fortunately, you can use Majestic to check link information about your own website including:

External backlinks
Referring domains
Referring IPs
Referring subnets
Indexed URLs
There’s even a new function which allows you to compare the backlinks of up to 10 competitors (for users on a PRO account and above). Using this tool means you can see who has the most number of backlinks, and who has the highest Trust Flow Analysing this data allows you to see how your website is performing, and ultimately improve your search engine ranking.


There is no point undertaking SEO work if you’re not going to track your progress. You can use tools such as Google Analytics to track visitors on your website. This not only allows you to see your organic traffic flow, but you can also monitor activity such as which keywords lead to conversions. You will then be able to see whether or not a keyword is working and achieving results. If not, it’s best to change strategies and look at different keywords.

It’s important to ensure you implement each of these tactics to ensure you achieve the best results. Always keep the user in mind, and never try to write and design your website for search engines, otherwise you may find your website struck with a penalty. Just remember that SEO takes time. Unlike with black-hat SEO tactics, you won’t see the results overnight, but it will be worth it in the long run.

This was brought to you by Matter Solutions. Matter Solutions are experts in digital marketing with over 15 years of experience in SEO and Web design.


8 Myths About WordPress You Can’t Afford to Ignore

8 Myths About WordPress You Can’t Afford to Ignore

The following is a guest post by Eugeniu Topolschi. Eugeniu is the marketing specialist at WPMatic and TeslaThemes. If you ever want to get in touch with him, reach out to @teslathemes or connect with him on LinkedIn.

You have probably heard about WordPress, but you may not have gotten all of the facts.

WordPress is the most popular CMS platform in the world, used on over 25% of websites on the Internet. It is considered to be the best among its competition.

Today, we are going to discuss some myths about WordPress which you can’t afford to ignore. Before choosing to use WordPress, like so many millions of other users have, it’s best to get the full story.

At the end of this post, you will feel completely free to start your business or personal blogs on WordPress and reap its benefits.

So, let’s get started and PROVE those myths about WordPress wrong!

1. WordPress Can Be Only Used For Blogging

Personally, this is the biggest myth about WordPress that I have heard. I really don’t know why people still believe that WordPress can only be used for blogging.

Thousands of successful corporate and eCommerce websites today are on WordPress. Yes, WordPress was born as a CMS for blogging, but it evolved to become the most powerful CMS in the world. It is now being used by top authorities in all types of businesses.

While most of WordPress plugins are used for customization, different post types, and other features, WordPress can be used for business websites, too.

WordPress can be used to build any kind of website. Whether you want to build an eCommerce store, a corporate website, or an online portfolio, WordPress is the best option.

Below are some big name sites built on WordPress:

BBC America
Sony Music
The New Yorker
Ford Social
Now, what other proof do you need?

2. WordPress is not secure


If WordPress is not secure, which CMS is 100% secure?

Unfortunately, small businesses are still very reluctant to set up their websites on WordPress because they feel it is not secured. This isn’t completely true.

Here, the problem of security doesn’t lie solely with WordPress. WordPress tries to make its site as secure as possible, but due to its popularity, it has become more prone to hackers.

It’s not just WordPress. This is a problem that affects other popular CMS as well. When you build a site on any CMS, it’s completely your responsibility to keep it secured by installing essential security plugins or get a third party service.

There are many other factors that affect the security of a site; even your web host is also a factor.

That’s why you should always go for a reliable web host. I always recommend WPEngine or CloudWays to people, because they use the latest technology to prevent your site from being hacked.

WordPress keeps rolling out frequent updates to make it sites secured, and it gets bigger and better by the day. If you’re a WordPress user, you will already know this.

Now, how you can you secure your WordPress website further?

If you’re just starting out, I would recommend you to install the following free security plugins:

When the traffic of your WordPress site increases, you can move to a reputable third party service.

In addition to this, you need to backup your website regularly. Don’t rely solely on your web host to do the backups for you. You can install UpDraft Plus to take regular backups for your sites.

3. WordPress is Free

Aha… FREE. A word loved by all, isn’t it?

I also love the word ‘FREE’, but you should know what’s actually free, and what isn’t.

Yes, WordPress is free, and it isn’t.

WordPress.com is free, but WordPress.org is not.

When you build a website on WordPress.com, it becomes free since it is hosted on the WordPress servers. Your site runs on a subdomain of WordPress with limited features to work with.

And when you build a website on WordPress.org, which is a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’re hosting your website on a third party server instead of WordPress. When you host on WordPress.org, the complete responsibility of maintaining your website is now in your hands and not WordPress. You must ensure you do regular backups, fix every bug, and install essential plugins when necessary.

When you need to customize your dream website, but eCommerce plugins are not available in the WordPress directory, you may need to purchase your plugins from a premium WordPress club.
WordPress is the most popular CMS platform in the world. Here are some popular WordPress myths which you can’t afford to ignore.

Not all WordPress themes in the WordPress directory are reliable. To be on the safe side, you need to go for a premium WordPress theme to build your website.

So what’s the real cost of running a WordPress website?

Domain: $10/yr

Hosting: $50/yr

Theme and Plugins: $300/yr (Optional)

Total: $360/yr

4. WordPress is complicated and not easy to Customise

WordPress, when compared to other CMS, is the easiest to customize. In the past, I tried to build an ecommerce store on Magento and it was really difficult to customize. But building that same eCommerce store on WordPress was really easy.

I also tried to build a forum on Pligg CMS and being a non-techie, I ended up shutting it down because it was a really difficult for me. But building a membership forum on WordPress was child’s play.

To do any customization in WordPress or make any changes, you don’t need to edit a single line of code. There are tons of WordPress plugins available to help you out with any additional functionality.

If you’re unable to find a suitable plugin, you can hire someone from sites like Elance, WPMatic, Freelancer, Fiverr, etc.

5. WordPress is not good for eCommerce websites


Before building my own eCommerce store on WordPress, I also had my doubts. When I started my research, I visited sites like Quora. In the comment section, when I didn’t find anyone recommending WordPress for an eCommerce site, I was shocked.

There were two reasons given for not using WordPress for eCommerce:

WordPress is not secure.
WordPress can’t handle a large number of products.
I’ve already discussed WordPress’ security issues and how to fix them.

Saying that WordPress can’t handle a large number of products is another big myth.

WooCommerce is a great free eCommerce plugin for WordPress which can easily handle about 2,000 products. Except, if you’re launching a series eCommerce site, 2,000 is still a relatively small number of products.

Case in point, here are some of the top eCommerce websites built on WordPress:

6. WordPress websites load very slow

As I said earlier, if you are building a self-hosted WordPress blog, maintaining it is completely your responsibility.

Some WordPress sites may load in milliseconds, while some WordPress sites may take much longer to load.

Improving the speed of your site involves technical approach and analysis. Optimizing your images, caching, etc., are some ways to increase the speed.

But if you’re just starting up, I would recommend you to go for a good quality host like WP Engine, as recommended above.

7. Bugs appear in WordPress

Bugs usually arise due to our carelessness or mistakes. Bugs may arise from installing faulty plugins, some free themes, or when codes in a theme are messed up.

If you find it difficult to fix a bug, you can get WordPress support.

The WordPress community is also available. Its forum has experienced developers and designers who are willing to help you.

If in the end, you don’t get a solution to fix the bug, you can hire a freelancer who would fix it at a reasonable cost.

8. WordPress sites are not responsive


It is completely wrong to say that WordPress sites are not responsive because it depends solely on the theme you are using. You can’t use a non-responsive WordPress theme and expect it to be responsive. WordPress is actually very responsive as far as CMS go.

Please feel free to share your views on the above myths about WordPress. Let’s discuss them in the comments!

P.S. For those of you who have never used WordPress, I am offering a Freemium Theme for you to test so you could know what it is to expect from the WordPress Dashboard. The Theme is Coup Premium WordPress Theme. You can test it for one week.


5 must-dos for SEO beginners

5 must-dos for SEO beginners
If you’re new to SEO, or if it isn’t your primary focus, you might be neglecting tactics that will really move the needle. Contributor Jordan Kasteler outlines 5 things you should be doing and shares tools to help you accomplish these tasks.

You might disagree, but I see Search Engine Optimization as both an art and a science. You need to be creative in your approaches to please search engines and outsmart competitors while also applying solid research and analytics-based strategies.

To do this, you need to employ a variety of techniques and tools. Unfortunately, however, most people tend to stick to what they know. That can be dangerous in the rapidly evolving SEO space, as the search engines continually adjust what they’re looking for and how they display results.

Following are some of the significant — but sometimes forgotten — levers you can pull to enhance your SEO efficiency.

Keyword grouping
Keyword grouping refers to the organization of keywords into clusters for a variety of purposes — to inform your site’s information architecture, to optimize landing pages, to identify potential areas of content development opportunity and more.

But organizing your search keywords into the most valuable groups can be a difficult task, even for a seasoned guru. While different SEOs and tools take a variety of approaches, I find it best to unite keywords into clusters based upon whether queries using them results in similar URLs appearing in the top 10 results in Google.

If you have many landing pages to work with, it can be a weighty task to make reports, optimize and manage your SEO projects. As the keyword landscape is always changing, you need a tool and a solid strategy to cope with the challenges.

Benefits of keyword grouping

A keyword grouping strategy allows you improve your SEO and PPC workflow and get a better understanding of how each type of a keyword is working for you.
It helps with on-page SEO optimization, copywriting, topic selection and organizing your website architecture.
You can prioritize your landing page creation based on what seem to be the most promising keyword groups.
Many webmasters use Excel or AdWords Editor to group big collections of keywords into smaller and more targeted lists, but it’s easy to make mistakes when working manually with large volumes of data. Using special tools for keyword grouping — such as SE Ranking Keyword Grouper or Wordstream Keyword Grouper — speeds up the process tremendously while maintaining quality and efficiency. Of course, no tool is perfect. It still takes a careful eye and some spreadsheet skills to make the groups perfect.

Page change monitoring
Monitoring page changes is a new tactic for me, but I find it’s absolutely crucial to SEO. With page change monitoring tools, you can receive alerts about any changes on the pages you are optimizing. If you’re a small business owner who is the only one touching your pages, this tip isn’t for you. But it will be invaluable for those who work within large marketing teams and agencies on projects where the website is accessed by many webmasters, marketing experts or clients.

When you monitor pages, you will always know when your client or a webmaster make a website change that will impact your rankings — and you’ll be able to make any necessary adjustments before your rankings drop or you get penalized by Google. We all know that even minor changes can have serious consequences, so it is really important to be aware of any adjustments before the pages are indexed by search engines.

You can use a variety of tools and apps to set up alerts for any page changes. These include VisualPing and ChangeDetection.com.

SE Ranking’s Page Change Monitoring also allows SEO experts to set a scan frequency and track and analyze the changes that occur between each scan. If your website is getting hacked, the feature will detect and show malicious code and bad links as well. You can monitor any pages — yours, clients’ or competitors’.

Competitor SEO research
Staying smart on the competitive landscape is critical for SEOs and marketers. Inform yourself by keeping track of your competitors’ marketing activities, starting from search rankings down to new content and links.

Lots of tools can help you discover competitors’ keywords for organic search. SpyFu, SEMrush, BuzzSumo and Ahrefs are some of my favorites.

As I mentioned briefly above, one often-overlooked tactic is to use a monitoring tool to spy on the changes (like new links or new content) competitors are making on their sites. This will allow you to discover what they are doing to generate quality traffic and let you develop your own outsmarting strategies based on those findings.

Long-tail keyword variations
Embracing long-tail keywords is vital for online businesses that want to get high rankings in organic Google searches. Long-tail keywords are often neglected because they initially get less traffic, but by cultivating those who search for these terms, you will get better results in the long run. That’s because these searchers — with their very specific lower-funnel queries — are exactly the target audience you are seeking.

The challenge is to find profitable and useful long-tail keyword variations for your niche and your website. Luckily, a lot of keyword suggestion tools provide this feature for use in optimizing your pages. Some of the more well-known include Google’s Keyword Planner (in AdWords) and WordStream’s free keyword tool.

Mobile rank tracking
It’s impossible to ignore the incredible impact mobile devices are having in everyone’s daily lives, so mobile metrics are growing increasingly important.

Though Google hasn’t yet fully rolled out its mobile-first index, it’s on the way. And the mobile-friendly algorithm is already in play. For these reasons, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your mobile rankings, and any mobile fluctuations and changes, as they occur.

Using Google Search Console, you can check mobile rankings using the Search Analytics report. There, you can compare desktop and mobile rankings, looking at time frames, impressions and clicks for mobile rankings.

Comparing desktop and mobile ranking will allow you to quickly identify problems posed by the mobile-first index rollout. If a page is ranking significantly lower in mobile, look closely at the factors that might be less than mobile-friendly.

There are also a variety of SEO platforms (too many to name) that provide info on mobile ranking, so consider utilizing these when optimizing for mobile search. You can import the results from multiple tools, including Google Search Console, into a keyword rankings dashboard to centralize your information in one place.

Local keyword ranking
If your products or services are of interest to folks in your geographical area, make sure you’re also optimizing for local searches. As people carry around their smartphones and perform searches while out and about, local search — like mobile — is becoming increasingly important.

A challenge here is that proximity has been identified as a key factor in local search rankings, which means that different people in different places will receive different results for the same queries. Therefore, you need to employ tools that are designed especially to take on this task.

Some possibilities include SERPs’ Keyword Rank Checker (which lets you input local parameters) and BrightLocal’s free localized ranking tool.

SEO is a dynamic marketing field, which makes it both challenging and exciting. The good news is that you can gain a competitive advantage if you keep up with the latest tools and techniques, such as the ones I’ve detailed here.

SEO & website design: Everything you need to know

SEO & website design: Everything you need to know
SEO is important to any business that operates online, and many don’t realize it needs to be built into the web design process — not added in later. Here, columnist Marcus Miller has provided a comprehensive guide to SEO and web design.
Marcus Miller on April 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Your website is the center of your digital marketing world — the place that all digital rivers run toward. And of course, the largest of its traffic sources is generally organic search.

Yet all too often, businesses don’t think about SEO until after having a website designed (or redesigned), and these sites are often sadly lacking on the SEO and digital marketing front. They may look shiny, but if the marketing smarts are not cooked in at design time, then you will be running the marketing race with a wooden leg. Or at the very least, faced with going back to the drawing board and wasting a whole load of time and money.

We have been thinking about the SEO and web design connection a lot recently at Bowler Hat and have just published a website design planning guide to help in what can be a complicated process. This is a companion piece to that guide that really covers the SEO considerations in far more granular detail.

In this post, I have a look at how SEO should be an integral part of your website design (or redesign) process. We are going to look at what you need to consider to have a site that is built for search marketing and lead generation — and how focusing on happy users keeps the Google gods on your side.

We will also take a look at some of the common pitfalls that can befall businesses looking to build a new website that is central to your digital marketing efforts.

In brief, I am going to help you ensure your next site is a lean, mean SEO and digital marketing machine.

What usually happens…
A phone rings at Bowler Hat HQ.

Marcus: “Hey, Bowler Hat here. How can we help?”

Caller: “Hi there. We have just had a website built and… we seem to have lost a considerable amount of traffic.” OR “… we don’t rank for the keywords we used to be visible for.” OR “… we are just not getting any inquiries.” OR “… we want to look at what we can do to improve our SEO.”

Marcus: “Ah, okay. If you can let me know your URL and a number to call you back on, I can take a look and make some suggestions.”

There is a problem here. SEO is not some band-aid you can just plaster onto an existing site. Website SEO is fundamental to succeeding online for the majority of businesses. And the same concepts that fuel solid SEO help with paid search, social and any other inbound marketing efforts. Get this wrong and you will certainly fail to hit your digital marketing goals.

Developing an SEO-friendly website
At a fundamental level, an SEO-friendly site is one that allows a search engine to explore and read pages across the site. Ensuring a search engine can easily crawl and understand your content is the first step to ensuring your visibility in the search engine result pages.

A search engine utilizes a web crawler for this task, and we are trying to work with the search engines rather than against them. Unfortunately, there are many ways to make a website, and not all technologies are built with search engine optimization in mind.

Building an SEO-friendly site requires careful planning and a structured approach to representing your business and the services you provide. For many businesses, this can be complicated — it’s not always easy to document exactly what you do.

As a marketing tool, your website should be built upon a solid digital marketing plan with a clear business model and value proposition. If that’s unclear, then you need to revisit that first.

Assuming you have all that good stuff in place, let’s dive in.

There are a few core elements that set the stage for a well-optimized website design process.


Your business may use example.com as the primary domain. But you may have others. Ensuring your domain makes sense and relates to what you do is super-important. Ensuring that all variations and subdomains correctly point at the main site and redirect to a single canonical version of the site is important.

Our business is called Bowler Hat. We operate in the UK. We are a web-based business. It naturally follows that our domain is www.bowlerhat.co.uk. All subdomains 301 redirect back to the main URL www.bowlerhat.co.uk. We have few domain variations that 301 redirect back to the main URL. This all makes sense.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that having-my-keywords-in-my-domain.com helps. It just looks daft. It can help a little for local businesses, but ensure you are mapping to the real world. Be sensible.


Your hosting is also important. A slow site makes for unhappy users. Your hosting should follow common-sense rules. Be situated where your audience is situated. Be fast. Be platform-specific, if necessary. WP Engine is a great example, as it provides a platform tailored to WordPress websites.


The CMS (content management system) you choose for your business can hugely influence how successful you are. WordPress is a great option in many situations, but it’s not the only one. It certainly is wired up at a basic level in a way that Google can understand. This is not to say it is the best choice for all situations, but certainly, it’s a good starting point for most businesses. Just be sure that the CMS you choose is the right one for your situation, rather than the one your chosen web company prefers to work with.

Crawling & accessibility
The first step is ensuring a search engine can crawl your site and understand what it is that you do (and where you do it).


To understand your site, they have to be able to read the content of the page. This means that the main content of your site should be text-based behind the scenes. Not images. Not flash or video. Even in this ever-advancing world, your main content should still be text-based. There are some great tools, like web fonts, that mean you can still look the part, and your images have a place, but be sure to talk in clear language about what it is you do so the search engine can read and understand your offering.

Images, videos, PDFs and content are also important and can be a source of search engine traffic. Again, these need to be discoverable and indexable.

Link structure

To index your content beyond the home page, you need internal links that the search engine can crawl. Your primary navigation, search engine directives and tools like XML sitemaps all help the search engine crawl your site and discover new pages. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you ensure that your site can be easily crawled by a search engine.

Information architecture and structuring your site
I have always like the filing cabinet analogy for website structure. Your site is the filing cabinet. The major categories are the drawers. The subcategories are the folders in the drawers. The pages are documents in the folders.

Cabinet: your website
Drawer: high-level category
Folder: subcategory
File: individual document/page
Context is indicated not only by the site it exists on but also by the position within that site. Our own site has a drawer for services, and each service has sub-services in folders. Your site will be largely the same.

If we consider the following structure of the Bowler Hat site as an example:


– Services

– – Service Area

– – – Individual Service


– Services

– – SEO

– – – SEO Audits

So, there is a page in this information architecture that is simply /audits/.

The /audits/ page exists in the SEO folder in the services drawer. Nice and organized. This can follow through with other SEO elements to clearly indicate context far beyond that which can be indicated by the document alone.

This is relevant to blog posts, articles, FAQ content, services, locations and just about anything else that is an entity within your business. You are looking to structure the information about your business in a way that makes it understandable.

Some sites may take a deep approach to structuring content. Others may take a wide approach. The important takeaway here is that things should be organized in a way that makes sense and simplifies navigation and discovery.

A three- to four-level approach like this ensures that most content can be easily navigated to within four clicks and tends to work better than a deeper approach to site navigation (for users and search engines).


Context is further indicated by the URL. A sensible naming convention helps provide yet more context for humans and search engines.

Following are two hypothetical sets of URLs that could map to the Services > SEO > SEO Audit path laid out above — yet one makes sense, and the other does nothing to help.



Of course, the second set of URLs is a purposely daft example, but it serves a point — the first URL naming convention helps both search engines and users, and the second one hinders.


Your navigation is equally important. When a site is well-structured, the navigation works with the structure, the URLs and other components, like XML sitemaps, to help solidify what each page or piece of content is about.

Navigation is more than just the menu at the top of your website. It is how you signpost users to the most relevant part of your site. Navigation can be a tool to raise awareness of additional services and includes not just text links but content on all pages and in the templated design elements of your site.

I have always liked the signpost analogy. I walk into a supermarket and look for the signs to find what I need. Your website is no different. If a user is referred and searches for your brand name, then they will land on your home page. They then need a signpost to get them to the relevant service. And it had better be easy to find!

It is very easy to get this wrong, and careful thought must be applied — before you build the site — regarding the needs and wants of your users. A website is a digital component that should execute the strategy from your marketing plan. Understanding users here is crucial so you can ensure you are meeting their needs.

Navigation should not need any real cognition — it should not make the user have to think. The following image is a sign from my local home improvement store. Which direction takes you to the car park and which direction takes you to the deliveries entrance?

My brain follows the “customer car park” line from left to right, so I of course turn right. However, the customer car park is to the left. There is nothing there to clearly illustrate which is right or wrong.

I have to think. Or in practice, I go in the wrong direction a few times before I learn. However, if users don’t find what they are looking for on a website, they will return to the great ocean of competition that Google search results represent.

Ensure your navigation is crystal-clear — if one user can make a mistake, many others can, too.

Common problems

There are many potential issues with content that can’t be found or can’t be understood by the search engine that can work against you. For example:

Orphaned content that can’t be found
Content only available via site search
Flash files, Java programs, audio files, video files
AJAX* and flashy site effects
Frames — Content embedded from another site can be problematic.
Subdomains — content split into subdomains rather than sub-folders
* Google has gotten a lot better at reading AJAX pages, but it is still possible to obscure content with pointless effects.

Be sure that important content is easily discoverable, understandable and sits in the overall structure of the site in a way that makes sense.


If everything is done well, a human and a search engine should have a pretty good idea what a page is about before they even look at it. Your typical SEO then just builds on this solid foundation that is laid out by your information architecture and site structure.

Mobile-friendly design
The most popular device used to conduct internet searches and to browse websites is the mobile phone. We live in a mobile-first age. Sites optimized for search engines should give equal consideration to the mobile layouts of their websites (rather than just bolting on simple responsive website design).

Yet, in 2017, responsive design is not enough. We were talking about the importance of responsive website design in 2012. Five years later, with massive technological progress and greatly improved mobile data networks, your future customers are using mobile as the first, and often only, device to interact with your business.

To create a truly mobile-friendly design and maximize results from mobile search, you must think of the needs and wants of mobile users. What a user will do on a phone is often far different from what they will do on a computer. And even if your conversions tend to be on a desktop, that crucial first touch may well be on mobile.

A few months back, I looked at 28 key factors in creating mobile SEO-friendly websites that will help you move beyond simple mobile-friendly responsive design.

From an SEO perspective, it is worth noting that mobile-friendliness is a confirmed ranking factor for mobile search, and it is the mobile version of your site that will be used by the search engine to review and rank your site. However, far more important, mobile is how your prospective customers are searching for and browsing your site.

Work hard on optimizing the user experience for mobile users and you will reap the rewards for your efforts in terms of traffic and user engagement.

Page speed
Another key consideration in the mobile era is page speed. Users may be impatient, or they may not always have a great mobile data connection. Ensuring your pages are lean and mean is a key consideration in modern SEO-friendly website design.

A great starting point is Google’s mobile-friendly test. This tool will give you feedback on mobile-friendliness, mobile speed and desktop speed. It also wraps everything up into a handy little report detailing what exactly you can do to speed things up.

I went into a little more detail on how to optimize for speed in a recent column on mobile optimization. Suffice it to say, page speed is yet another important consideration that spans how your site is built and the quality and suitability of the hosting you use.

Web usability is a combination of other factors: device-specific design, page speed, design conventions and an intuitive approach to putting the site together with the end user in mind.

Key factors to consider include:

Page layout. Important elements should have more prominence.
Visual hierarchy. Make more important elements bigger!
Home page and site navigation. Clearly signpost directions for users.
Site search. Large sites need a sensibly positioned search option.
Form entry. Make forms as lightweight and easy to fill as possible.
Design. Great design makes everything easier.
This is just scratching the surface here, and usability really has to be customized to the individual site. A couple of resources I would check out would be the book, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,“ by Steve Krug and my mobile optimization checklist.

The content marketing funnel
Your website has a hell of a job to do: it must help your business get in front of prospective customers on search engines, and then it has to engage and convert those customers.

Your site needs content to help with all of these stages of the customer journey. Content and SEO is an important combination here, as you may get in front of a customer as they look for similar services from another company they are already considering.

A structured way to consider the content you need here is a typical marketing funnel:

Awareness — top of the funnel

Awareness content will typically be your blog and informational articles. We are helping your prospective customer understand the problems they face and illustrating your experience and credibility in solving them.

Blog posts
Informational articles
Comprehensive guides
Consideration — middle of the funnel

The content at the consideration stage helps your prospect compare you against the other offerings out there. This tends to be practical content that helps the customer make a decision.

Case studies
Product or service information
Product demonstration videos
User guides
Conversion — bottom of the funnel

Bottom-of-the-funnel content drives conversions and should gently encourage a sale or lead.

Free trial
Free consultation
Remember that customers will search across this entire spectrum of content types. Therefore, ensuring all of these areas are covered aids discovery via search engines, consideration and conversion.

SEO nuts & bolts
As you can see, there is a lot to consider before we even look at the more familiar elements of optimizing your site and pages. We should only really start to think about keywords and basic on-page optimization once we have this solid foundation in place. And hopefully, if we have structured everything correctly, then the actual optimization of the pages becomes far easier.

Keyword targeting

Nailing your keyword strategy is so much easier once you have a solid structure without internal duplication. If we look at our previous examples for site hierarchy and structure, then adding keywords is relatively straightforward (and is something we would often do in a spreadsheet pre-design).

– Services
– – SEO
– – – SEO Audits


If I use these pages as an example, we have a natural progression from broad keywords to more refined search terms. We can even consider basic modifiers such as location if we are a local business.


– digital marketing agency

– digital marketing company

+ Birmingham

+ UK


– marketing services

– digital marketing services

+ Birmingham

+ UK



– Search Engine Optimization

+ Company

+ Agency

+ Birmingham

+ UK

SEO Audits

– SEO Audits

– Technical SEO Audits

+ Agency

+ Company

+ Birmingham

The point here is that a well-structured site gets you a good way toward determining your keyword strategy. You still have to do the research and copywriting, but you can be sure you have a solid strategy to target broad and more detailed terms.

HTML title tags

The <title> tag is the primary behind-the-scenes tag that can influence your search engine results. In fact, it is the only meta tag that actually influences position directly.

Best practice for title tags are as follows:

Place keywords at the beginning of the tag.
Keep length around 50 to 60 characters.
Use keywords and key phrases in a natural manner.
Use dividers to separate elements like category and brand.
Focus on click-through and the end user.
Have a consistent approach across the site.
Even in 2017, we still see a lot of overoptimized page titles. We want our keywords in the title tag, but not at the expense of click-through and human readability. A search engine may rank your content, but a human clicks on it, so keep that in mind.

Meta description tags

Meta descriptions don’t directly influence rankings. We all know that, right? But of course, that is completely missing the point here. Your meta description is the content of your advertisement for that page in a set of search engine results. Your meta description is what wins you the click. And winning those clicks can help improve visibility and is absolutely vital in driving more users to your pages.

Meta descriptions must:

truthfully describe the page content.
advertise the page and improve click-through rates.
consider the user’s thought process and why they will click on this page.
include keywords where relevant and natural to do so.
The search engine will highlight search terms in your page title and meta description which help a user scan the page. Don’t use this as an excuse to spam the meta description, though, or else Google likely will ignore it, and it won’t lead to that all-important click!

There are also situations where it can make sense not to create a meta description and let the search engine pull content from the page to form a description that more accurately maps to a user’s search. Your brief meta description can’t always cover all the options for a longer-form piece of content, so keep this in mind.

Heading tags

Heading tags help structure the page and indicate hierarchy in a document: H1, H2, H3 and so on. Text in heading tags correlates with improved rankings (albeit slightly), but what really matters is that alignment between the structure of the site, behind the scenes optimization like page titles and meta descriptions and the content itself. Line everything up, and things make more sense for users, and we help search engines categorize our content while eking out every last bit of simple, on-page optimization we can.

Remember to align header tags with the visual hierarchy. Meaning the most important header on the page (typically the <h1>) should also be the biggest text element on the page. You are making the document visually easy to understand here and further ensuring that design and content are working together for the best end result.

Page content

The content should generally be the most important part of the page. However, we still see archaic SEO practices like overt keyword density and search terms with a lack of connective words used in the copy. This does not work. It certainly does not help with your SEO. And it makes for a poor user experience.

We want to make sure the context of our page is clear. Our navigation, URLs, page titles, headers and so on should all help here. Yet we want to write naturally, using synonyms and natural language.

Focus on creating great content that engages the user. Be mindful of keywords, but certainly don’t overdo it.

Considerations for page content:

Keywords in content (but don’t overdo it)
Structure of the page
Position of keywords in the content — earlier can be better
Synonyms and alternatives
Co-occurrence of keywords — what else would other high-quality documents include?
Rich snippets

Rich snippets are a powerful tool to increase click-through rates. We are naturally attracted to listings that stand out in the search engine results. Anything you can do to improve the click-through rate drives more users and makes your search engine listings work harder. Factor in possible ranking improvements from increased engagement, and you can have a low-input, high-output SEO tactic.

The snippets that are most relevant to your business will depend on what you do, but schema.org is a great place to start.

Image optimization
Image SEO can drive a substantial amount of traffic in the right circumstances. And again, our thoughts regarding context are important here. Google does not (yet) use the content of images, so context within the site and the page and basic optimization are crucial here.

As an example, I am looking for a hobbit hole playhouse for my five-year-old, and the search brings up image results:

I can dive right into those image results and find a multitude of options, then use the image to drive me to the site that sells the playhouse. Optimizing your images increases the chance of improving prominence in the image search results.

Image optimization is technically straightforward:

Image name — provide a name that clearly describes what the image is.
Alt text — use descriptive alt text to help those who can’t see the images to reinforce the image content.
Add OpenGraph and Twitter Cards so the image is used in social shares.
Use the image at the right physical size to ensure fast downloads.
Optimize the image’s file size to improve loading times.
Consider adding images to your XML sitemap.
Image optimization is relatively simple. Keep the images relevant. Don’t spam the filenames and alt text with keywords. Be descriptive.

Common problems
SEO projects at Bowler Hat often include an SEO audit as the first port of call. We can’t cover every eventuality here, but the following are the usual suspects that crop up and that web designers should be mindful of.

Duplicate content

There tend to be two kinds of duplicate content: true duplicates and near-duplicates. True duplicates are where the content exists in multiple places (different pages, sites, subdomains and so on). Near-duplicates can be thin content or substantially similar content — think of a business with multiple locations or shoes listed on a unique page in different sizes.

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization refers to the situation where multiple pages target the same keywords. This can impact the ability of your site to have one page that strongly targets a given term.

Where the site architecture and hierarchy has been carefully planned, you should eliminate this during the planning and design stages.

Domains, subdomains and protocols

Another potential issue where duplication crops up is where the site is available on multiple domains, subdomains and protocols.

Consider a business with two domains:

With www and non-www versions:

And the site runs on HTTP and HTTPS:

Before too long, we can get to a situation where the site has eight potential variations. Factor in the site resolving on any subdomain and a few duff internal links and we can often add things like “ww.example.com” to the list above.

These kinds of issues are simply resolved with URL redirections, but again, they deserve consideration by any web design agency that takes care of hosting and is serious about the SEO of their customers’ websites.

Botched canonical URLs

Another common issue we see is an incorrect implementation of canonical URLs. What typically happens here is that the person building the site looks at canonical URLs as an SEO checklist kind of job. They are implemented by dynamically inserting the URL in the address bar into the canonical URL.

This is fundamentally flawed in that we can end up with the site running on multiple URLs, each with a canonical URL claiming that they are the authoritative version. So the canonical implementation exacerbates rather than resolves the issue.

Canonical URLs are a powerful tool when wielded wisely, yet they must be used properly or they can make matters worse.

Questions or comments?
There are a lot of moving parts with website design and SEO. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. My goal here was to furnish you with the key SEO elements to consider before, during and after a website design project.

I would love to hear any questions or comments on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

The 10 Most Harmful Mobile SEO Mistakes

The 10 Most Harmful Mobile SEO Mistakes

From “mobilegeddon” in 2015 to mobile-first indexing in late 2016, Google has been delivering one consistent message: you need to be mobile-first.

That means mobile SEO is more important than ever.

Here are the top 10 mobile SEO mistakes you need to avoid if you want to earn better positions in the SERPs, drive more traffic to your mobile site, and keep your mobile visitors happy.

1. Slow Site Speed

Page load speed is an important Google ranking factor. But it’s also important to the people who will visit your site. According to Google research, 53 percent of people will abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Your goal should be to get every mobile page to render in under one second.

How? Well, all of these optimization tips should help, but here are a few immediate fixes to help speed up your mobile site:

Minimize requests and redirects: Keep pages clean and simple. Eliminate as many 301 redirects as possible, remove unnecessary elements from your page, optimize your HTML code, and minify anything that might slow site speed like CSS and JavaScript.
Resize and compress images: You can use built-in tools in WordPress to automatically resize images for you, and tools like compressor.io to compress your file size.
Check your hosting solution: Cheap third-party hosting solutions won’t give you the site speed you need to host huge volumes of traffic. This is especially true for e-commerce.
Check your progress: Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights as a quick and easy check of your website’s performance.
You can also consider creating AMP optimized pages. These pages load four times faster than regular mobile pages thanks to their stripped down HTML coding, and it’s easy to adapt your existing content into AMP content.

2. Blocked Files

Googlebot should be able to crawl your website like an average user, which means restricting access to JavaScript, CSS, and image files on your website can potentially harm your rankings.

Check your website’s robots.txt file to see if any essential elements are disallowed. Go to Google Search Console and test your robots.txt file. Use Fetch by Google to ensure you have no further indexing issues.

Remember to test all of your URLs, especially if your site uses separate mobile and desktop URLs.

3. Interstitials Ads

As of January 10, Google announced that “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.” However, as Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive noted, it hasn’t had a huge impact.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to check your mobile site’s use of interstitials and popup ads. If you’re displaying any popup that covers your screen, you might want to rethink your mobile design — even if it is your most compelling CTA.

Any page that provides a poor user experience could rank lower in organic search. This includes:

Popups that cover a page’s main content, regardless of whether that occurs as soon as a user clicks through from Google search results or occurs as users scroll through the page
Standalone interstitials that are difficult to dismiss — especially if accidentally clicking these interstitials redirects you to a new page
Deceptive layouts, where the above-the-fold portion tricks users into thinking they’re viewing an interstitial
Note that there are some exceptions to this rule. Interstitial ads that are not adversely affected by the new ranking signal include:

Legally necessary interstitials, including those for age verification and cookie usage.
Login dialogs for unindexable content (e.g., private content like emails and content behind paywalls).
Reasonably sized banners (e.g., the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome). Generally, these take up no more than 20 percent of a screen.
4. Unplayable Content

Before you include video or multimedia on your page, consider how it will affect your site speed and whether your video-embedding is playable on all devices.

Also, include a transcript whenever possible. This will assist both Google (for indexing) and users who need closed captioning.

If you wish to include animated content on your website, Google recommends using HTML5. You can easily create these animations in Google Web Designer, and they should be supported across all web browsers.

5. Bad Redirects/Cross Links

Faulty redirects are a major issue in websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile. This is especially true on websites with separate desktop and mobile URLs.

Common areas of improvement include:

If a mobile user mistakenly lands on the desktop version of your website, redirect them to the mobile version of the page they were seeking. They should not be redirected back to your mobile site’s homepage.
If you do not have a smartphone equivalent of your desktop pages, remedy that ASAP. Until those pages are live, you should leave users on your desktop page as opposed to redirecting them to your mobile homepage.
Mobile users who request dynamically generated URLs should be taken to an equivalent mobile URL that will properly display the information they’re seeking.
Mobile users across all devices should be served the same content.
Avoid mistakenly linking to desktop-optimized versions of your pages from your mobile URLs.
If you want to be automatically alerted to faulty redirects, you should verify your mobile site with Google. This will help you isolate mapping issues and detect crawling errors that you can later correct in Google Search Console.