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SEO Ranking Factors 2017: What's Important, What's Not By Herndon Hasty

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From the SMX East Conference in New York City,Oct 24-26, 2017. SESSION: SEO Ranking Factors In 2017: What's Important, What's Not. PRESENTATION: SEO Ranking Factors 2017: What's Important, What's Not - Given by Herndon Hasty, @herndon - The Container Store, Digital Marketing Manager. #SMX #11A

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  • I sadly was not at the conference but did read the trends article by Jessica. HTTPS was a reocurring theme, and certainly all sites should be HTTPS. However there were some 'incorrect' statements made concerning HTTPS. First it is not slower than HTTP when paired with HTTP/2. should implement HTTP/2. Most CDNs offer this service, so use it. Your site will load much faster from the server. Next, I see another common misconception, images cause the biggest lag in your page load. This is not correct JavaScript causes the biggest loading impediment. Images get the credit because they tend to be the largest part of the payload. But they are not blocking assets, JavaScript and CSS are. They choke the critical rendering path due to parse and execution times. The average page uses less than 40% of the scripts it loads, but the scripts are responsible for about 60% of the latency. Yes optimize and use responsive images, but also eliminate your script fat. Remember 95% of your page's load time is on the client, not time to first byte, which is what most SEO folks focus on.
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SEO Ranking Factors 2017: What's Important, What's Not By Herndon Hasty

  1. 1. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Herndon Hasty, The Container Store SEO Ranking Factors In 2017: What's Important, What's Not How to put these findings into action
  2. 2. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. § Digital Marketing Manager, The Container Store – SEO + Digital Consultant § 9 years, SEO XYZ at iProspect § 15+ years in digital marketing § 12+ years in SEO for retail / lead gen / int’l / etc. Herndon Hasty
  3. 3. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Taking the awesome data these folks just shared with you, and giving you some actionable, take-home items. (also, some points on Google’s SERP changes, because adjusting to the way SERPs are changing is a WHOLE other beast.) How I’m going to help
  4. 4. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 1. SITE SPEED
  5. 5. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Long-standing factor • More mobile = more important • • Main areas to address • Cache more • Combine external files • Vendor tags – remove, update Key Area :: Site Speed
  6. 6. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. SIZE YOUR IMAGES CORRECTLY • Usually being done for zoom options, retina • Products (zoom vs. on- screen) • Small repeated elements • Logos Scaling images
  7. 7. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Product images reduced 25-75% • Bounce rates for all entrances on product pages went from +4% YOY to -30% YOY. • Pages per session: From +3% to +96% • Natural entrances: From +10% to +75% Case study – image size reduction
  8. 8. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 2. HTTPS
  9. 9. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Google 2014 announcement • Still waiting for other shoe to drop as a requirement • Balance issue with site speed Key Area :: HTTPS
  10. 10. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • All of the challenges of a re- design, with fewer of the immediate, visceral benefits. • Package it with wider URL changes. • Re-direct old pages. • Update your canonicals from HTTP to HTTPS HTTPS Transition Pitfalls
  11. 11. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Why update your canonicals? Canonical Wrong -5 pts wow Canonical Right +7 pts wow
  12. 12. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 3. META DATA
  13. 13. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Titles CAN make a difference…may be a question of where you start from? AGGRESSIVE. • Meta descriptions, of course, don’t, but can affect clickthrough rate. Key Area :: Meta Data 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 Rankings Changes Position 1 Rankings Position 2 Rankings Position 3 Rankings Top 10 Rankings
  14. 14. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Keywords • Free shipping • Free returns • Big Brands That Everyone Knows • ‘Official site’ (if you’re a BBTEK, have retail partners, etc.) • % off, $ off and any promotions What works in meta descriptions? YOUR RESULTS MAY VARY! • Whatever you test and find works – different from vertical to vertical, site to site, audience to audience • Use Adwords ads to find winners
  15. 15. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Added ‘from $XYZ’ in title tags, descriptions • Category CTR on pages, product pages • Titles = no effect…not even negative? • Meta descriptions = 5-15% lift in CTR on categories, nothing on products Price point experimentation Get free shipping on all purchases over $75 & free in-store pickup on Makeup Organizers, Cosmetics Storage, Nail Polish Racks and more at The Container Store. Get free shipping on all purchases over $75 & free in-store pickup on Makeup Organizers, Cosmetics Storage, & Nail Polish Racks from $3.99 at The Container Store. Food Storage: Food Containers, Airtight Storage & Mason Jars | The Container Store Food Storage: Food Containers, Airtight Storage & Mason Jars from $4.99| The Container Store
  16. 16. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 4a. SERP CHANGES (A quick primer on how much things have changed and the effects)
  17. 17. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Natural traffic is harder to come by Source: AWS Clickthrough rate study data – CTRs are for #1 position 2010 Early 2015 Mid 2015 Early 2016 Mid 2016 Early 2017 Mid 2017 Mobile % of searches 10-20% 48% 50% 53% 58% 58% 60% Mobile CTR n/a 27.75% 26.41% 24.98% 23.86% 25.12% 23.2% Desktop CTR n/a 28.09% 30.35% 28.55% 29.81% 29.32% 27.9% Shopping intent -Desktop n/a 31.0% 25.8% 25.6% 28.5% 26.6% 26.8% Shopping intent - Mobile n/a 36.3% 26.7% 27.0% 25.0% 26.5% 24.5% Mobile vs Desktop Traffic Share & Average Clickthrough Rate (CTR) With more search coming through mobile devices rather than desktop, and both seeing lower clickthrough rates as a result of busier results pages, SEO doesn’t drive the same traffic today as it did just six months ago, let alone two years ago. Device changes alone mean a 10% drop in natural clicks for a # ranking vs. 2015.
  18. 18. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Changes to SERPs drive down clickthrough rates • 40% of all searches (57% of mobile) do not result in a click! 1 • More / larger rich snippets • PLAs, ads from righthand rail • Etc. Changes to SERPs -125.00% -25.00% 75.00% 175.00% 1/1/2016 2/1/2016 3/1/2016 4/1/2016 5/1/2016 6/1/2016 7/1/2016 8/1/2016 9/1/2016 10/1/2016 11/1/2016 12/1/2016 Unnamed Department page natural searchYOY growth rate – 2016 vs 2015 1. Source: Moz
  19. 19. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Even Google’s relevance efforts can hurt – dropping from #1 to #30 for baskets when the TV show’s new season started. Super-relevance ≠ your friend + 1,500 visits / week YOY - 1,300 visits / week YOY
  20. 20. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 4b. SERP CHANGES (Things you can do to combat them.)
  21. 21. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Instant answer boxes are part of the dropping CTR trend, but at least one that can work in your favor. • Expanding from questions to generics • 15-30% CTR, 15-90% of SERP above the fold • Source for digital assistants’ responses Instant Answers
  22. 22. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Look for terms that already have quick answers • High-ranking result (not necessarily #1) • Content block § Top? Bottom? Doesn’t seem to matter § Sub-heads / bullets § More words, the better. Winning instant answer boxes
  23. 23. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Other ways to play to the SERP Front page Wikidata Google Posts
  24. 24. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. • Calls out important information to search engines. • Names • Prices, reviews • Calories, length, distance • Availability • Address and phone number • Actions? • Markup Meta data – MUCH easier to implement
  25. 25. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Source: today
  26. 26. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Fish
  27. 27. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Sound a little familiar? CURSE YOU, BASKETS!!!!!!!
  28. 28. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Tomorrow’s algorithm to beat Monday – 9 AM at home Wednesday – 4 PM at work Friday – 4 PM at a bar
  29. 29. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Schema tomorrow
  30. 30. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 5. WRAPPING UP
  31. 31. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. 1. Site speed – GTMetrix, especially look for anything to do with images. 2. HTTPS – Do it, re-direct it, fix your canonicals 3. Meta data DOES still work – be aggressive, test 4. Mitigate SERP changes with Instant Answers and Takeaways & To-Do’s PS: Get organized! Buy some elfa custom closets & shelving! Go Frogs!
  32. 32. #SMX #11A @herndon ©2016TheContainerStore,Inc.Allrightsreserved. Herndon Hasty, The Container Store SEO Ranking Factors In 2017: What's Important, What's Not How to put these findings into action