Tag Archive | "navigation"

Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Bugs, Navigation Removal, AMP Updates, OMG I Don�t Know & More

This week, we covered the ongoing Google bugs, this time with Google News indexing, Search Console issues, and other issues with Google. Google also is unaware of a…


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Faceted Navigation Intro – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by sergeystefoglo

The topic of faceted navigation is bound to come up at some point in your SEO career. It’s a common solution to product filtering for e-commerce sites, but managing it on the SEO side can quickly spin out of control with the potential to cause indexing bloat and crawl errors. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome our friend Sergey Stefoglo to give us a quick refresher on just what faceted nav is and why it matters, then dive into a few key solutions that can help you tame it.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name is Serge. I’m from Distilled. I work at the Seattle office as a consultant. For those of you that don’t know about Distilled, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, but have branched out since to work on all sorts of things like content, PR, and recently a split testing tool, ODN.

Today I’m here to talk to you guys about faceted navigation, just the basics. We have a few minutes today, so I’m just going to cover kind of the 101 version of this. But essentially we’re going to go through what the definition is, why we should care as SEOs, why it’s important, what are some options we have with this, and then also what a solution could look like.

1. What is faceted navigation?

For those that don’t know, faceted navigation is essentially something like this, probably a lot nicer than this to be honest. But it’s essentially a page that allows you to filter down or allows a user to filter down based on what they’re looking for. So this is an example we have here of a list of products on a page that sells laptops, Apple laptops in this case.

Right here on the left side, in the green, we have a bunch of facets. Essentially, if you’re a user and you’re going in here, you could look at the size of the screen you might want. You could look at the price of the laptop, etc. That’s what faceted navigation is. Previously, when I worked at my previous agency, I worked on a lot of local SEO things, not really e-commerce, big-scale websites, so I didn’t run into this issue often. I actually didn’t even know it was a thing until I started at Distilled. So this might be interesting for you even if it doesn’t apply at the moment.

2. Why does faceted navigation matter?

Essentially, we should care as SEOs because this can get out of control really quickly. While being very useful to users, obviously it’s helpful to be able to filter down to the specific thing you want. this could get kind of ridiculous for Googlebot.

Faceted navigation can result in indexing bloat and crawl issues

We’ve had clients at Distilled that come to us that are e-commerce brands that have millions of pages in the index being crawled that really shouldn’t be. They don’t bring any value to the site, any revenue, etc. The main reason we should care is because we want to avoid indexation bloat and kind of crawl errors or issues.

3. What options do we have when it comes to controlling which pages are indexed/crawled?

The third thing we’ll talk about is what are some options we have in terms of controlling some of that, so controlling whether a page gets indexed or crawled, etc. I’m not going to get into the specifics of each of these today, but I have a blog post on this topic that we’ll link to at the bottom.

The main, most common options that we have for controlling this kind of thing would be around no indexing a page and stopping Google from indexing it, using canonical tags to choose a page that’s essentially the canonical version, using a disallow rule in robots.txt to stop Google from crawling a certain part of the site, or using the nofollow meta directive as well. Those are some of the most common options. Again, we’re not going to go into the nitty-gritty of each one. They each have their kind of pros and cons, so you can research that for yourselves.

4. What could a solution look like?

So okay, we know all of this. What could be an ideal solution? Before I jump into this, I don’t want you guys to run in to your bosses and say, “This is what we need to do.”

Please, please do your research beforehand because it’s going to vary a lot based on your site. Based on the dev resources you have, you might have to get scrappy with it. Also, do some keyword research mainly around the long tail. There are a lot of instances where you could and might want to have three or four facets indexed.

So again, a huge caveat: this isn’t the end-all be-all solution. It’s something that we’ve recommended at times, when appropriate, to clients. So let’s jump into what an ideal solution, or not ideal solution, a possible solution could look like.

Category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory pages open to indexing and crawling

What we’re looking at here is we’re going to have our category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory pages open to indexation and open to being crawled. In our example here, that would be this page, so /computers/laptops/apple. Perfectly fine. People are probably searching for Apple laptops. In fact, I know they are.

Any pages with one or more facets selected = indexed, facet links get nofollowed

The second step here is any page that has one facet selected, so for example, if I was on this page and I wanted an Apple laptop with a solid state drive in it, I would select that from these options. Those are fine to be indexed. But any time you have one or more facets selected, we want to make sure to nofollow all of these internal links pointing to other facets, essentially to stop link equity from being wasted and to stop Google from wasting time crawling those pages.

Any pages with 2+ facets selected = noindex tag gets added

Then, past that point, if a user selects two or more facets, so if I was interested in an Apple laptop with a solid state hard drive that was in the $ 1,000 price range for example, the chances of there being a lot of search volume for an Apple laptop for $ 1,000 with a solid state drive is pretty low.

So what we want to do here is add a noindex tag to those two-plus facet options, and that will again help us control crawl bloat and indexation bloat.

Already set up faceted nav? Think about keyword search volume, then go back and whitelist

The final thing I want to mention here, I touched on it a little bit earlier. But essentially, if you’re doing this after the fact, after the faceted navigation is already set up, which you probably are, it’s worth, again, having a strong think about where there is keyword search volume. If you do this, it’s worth also taking a look back a few months in to see the impact and also see if there’s anything you might want to whitelist. There might be a certain set of facets that do have search volume, so you might want to throw them back into the index. It’s worth taking a look at that.

That’s what faceted navigation is as a quick intro. Thank you for watching. I’d be really interested to hear what you guys think in the comments. Again, like I said, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. So I’d be really interested to hear what’s worked for you, or if you have any questions, please ask them below.

Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Google Tests Navigation Slider For Mobile Search Results

Google is testing a scroll navigational slider for the mobile search results. Valentin Pletzer spotted this one showing screen shots of the slider in action. He told me the navigation tool slides in from the right once you begin scrolling and disappears after a few seconds after inactivity.


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How Links in Headers, Footers, Content, and Navigation Can Impact SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Which link is more valuable: the one in your nav, or the one in the content of your page? Now, how about if one of those in-content links is an image, and one is text? Not all links are created equal, and getting familiar with the details will help you build a stronger linking structure.

How Links in Headers, Footers, Content, and Navigation Can Impact SEO

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about links in headers and footers, in navigation versus content, and how that can affect both internal and external links and the link equity and link value that they pass to your website or to another website if you’re linking out to them.

So I’m going to use Candy Japan here. They recently crossed $ 1 million in sales. Very proud of Candy Japan. They sell these nice boxes of random assortments of Japanese candy that come to your house. Their website is actually remarkably simplistic. They have some footer links. They have some links in the content, but not a whole lot else. But I’m going to imagine them with a few more links in here just for our purposes.

It turns out that there are a number of interesting items when it comes to internal linking. So, for example, some on-page links matter more and carry more weight than other kinds. If you are smart and use these across your entire site, you can get some incremental or potentially some significant benefits depending on how you do it.

Do some on-page links matter more than others?

So, first off, good to know that…

I. Content links tend to matter more

…just broadly speaking, than navigation links. That shouldn’t be too surprising, right? If I have a link down here in the content of the page pointing to my Choco Puffs or my Gummies page, that might actually carry more weight in Google’s eyes than if I point to it in my navigation.

Now, this is not universally true, but observably, it seems to be the case. So when something is in the navigation, it’s almost always universally in that navigation. When something is in here, it’s often only specifically in here. So a little tough to tell cause and effect, but we can definitely see this when we get to external links. I’ll talk about that in a sec.

II. Links in footers often get devalued

So if there’s a link that you’ve got in your footer, but you don’t have it in your primary navigation, whether that’s on the side or the top, or in the content of the page, a link down here may not carry as much weight internally. In fact, sometimes it seems to carry almost no weight whatsoever other than just the indexing.

III. More used links may carry more weight

This is a theory for now. But we’ve seen some papers on this, and there has been some hypothesizing in the SEO community that essentially Google is watching as people browse the web, and they can get that data and sort of see that, hey, this is a well-trafficked page. It gets a lot of visits from this other page. This navigation actually seems to get used versus this other navigation, which doesn’t seem to be used.

There are a lot of ways that Google might interpret that data or might collect it. It could be from the size of it or the CSS qualities. It could be from how it appears on the page visually. But regardless, that also seems to be the case.

IV. Most visible links may get more weight

This does seem to be something that’s testable. So if you have very small fonts, very tiny links, they are not nearly as accessible or obvious to visitors. It seems to be the case that they also don’t carry as much weight in Google’s rankings.

V. On pages with multiple links to the same URL

For example, let’s say I’ve got this products link up here at the top, but I also link to my products down here under Other Candies, etc. It turns out that Google will see both links. They both point to the same page in this case, both pointing to the same page over here, but this page will only inherit the value of the anchor text from the first link on the page, not both of them.

So Other Candies, etc., that anchor text will essentially be treated as though it doesn’t exist. Google ignores multiple links to the same URL. This is actually true internal and external. For this reason, if you’re going ahead and trying to stuff in links in your internal content to other pages, thinking that you can get better anchor text value, well look, if they’re already in your navigation, you’re not getting any additional value. Same case if they’re up higher in the content. The second link to them is not carrying the anchor text value.

Can link location/type affect external link impact?

Other items to note on the external side of things and where they’re placed on pages.

I. In-content links are going to be more valuable than footers or nav links

In general, nav links are going to do better than footers. But in content, this primary content area right in here, that is where you’re going to get the most link value if you have the option of where you’re going to get an external link from on a page.

II. What if you have links that open in a new tab or in a new window versus links that open in the same tab, same window?

It doesn’t seem to matter at all. Google does not appear to carry any different weight from the experiments that we’ve seen and the ones we’ve conducted.

III. Text links do seem to perform better, get more weight than image links with alt attributes

They also seem to perform better than JavaScript links and other types of links, but critically important to know this, because many times what you will see is that a website will do something like this. They’ll have an image. This image will be a link that will point off to a page, and then below it they’ll have some sort of caption with keyword-rich anchors down here, and that will also point off. But Google will treat this first link as though it is the one, and it will be the alt attribute of this image that passes the anchor text, unless this is all one href tag, in which case you do get the benefit of the caption as the anchor. So best practice there.

IV. Multiple links from same page — only the first anchor counts

Well, just like with internal links, only the first anchor is going to count. So if I have two links from Candy Japan pointing to me, it’s only the top one that Google sees first in the HTML. So it’s not where it’s organized in the site as it renders visually, but where it comes up in the HTML of the page as Google is rendering that.

V. The same link and anchor on many or most or all pages on a website tends to get you into trouble.

Not always, not universally. Sometimes it can be okay. Is Amazon allowed to link to Whole Foods from their footer? Yes, they are. They’re part of the same company and group and that kind of thing. But if, for example, Amazon were to go crazy spamming and decided to make it “cheap avocados delivered to your home” and put that in the footer of all their pages and point that to the WholeFoods.com/avocadodelivery page, that would probably get penalized, or it may just be devalued. It might not rank at all, or it might not pass any link equity. So notable that in the cases where you have the option of, “Should I get a link on every page of a website? Well, gosh, that sounds like a good deal. I’d pass all this page rank and all this link equity.” No, bad deal.

Instead, far better would be to get a link from a page that’s already linked to by all of these pages, like, hey, if we can get a link from the About page or from the Products page or from the homepage, a link on the homepage, those are all great places to get links. I don’t want a link on every page in the footer or on every page in a sidebar. That tends to get me in trouble, especially if it is anchor text-rich and clearly keyword targeted and trying to manipulate SEO.

All right, everyone. I look forward to your questions. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Bing Predicts Scotland Vote, Google Maps Navigation Expands & Bing Ads Sitelinks

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Cortana Coming To Windows 9, Will It Replace Bing? Next week in San Francisco, Microsoft will unveil Windows 9 for the press. Among the features of the new OS is…



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How to optimize your WordPress navigation

Author (displayed on the page): 

WordPress is embraced as both a blogging platform and a full-blown CMS, running both small sites and enterprise properties elegantly. It does so many things so well that it has emerged as the sound CMS choice for bloggers and business owners that care about search rankings.

Out of the box, WordPress delivers better-than-average search engine readiness, but layer on a few power tips, and it becomes downright supernatural. I want to share some of the approaches to link architecture that I employ in my work as a digital marketer and all-around SEO guy that I’ve found have improved both rankings and user engagement on websites. These advanced link architecture techniques bring both higher rankings and improved user engagement. While advanced in theory, these tips are very simple to implement.

The weakness of navigation links

All websites need navigation so users can, well, navigate. That’s why WordPress offers several tiers of navigational options that can clutter a site and undermine rankings. Including date-based archives, seen here.

Date-based archives have two very serious inherent weaknesses: first, they aren’t that useful for users. How many users actually think, “I want to see what was posted here back in May of 2012″? Aren’t you as a webmaster better off offering links to related content, rather than links to random content based on an arbitrary time period?

Secondly (and here’s where search rankings get impacted), date-based archives are “navigation without context.” This means that these particular links do not send signals to search engines. Consider also that any WordPress archive (date, tag, category, or author archive) serves up duplicate content – a search engine ranking negative. WordPress generates archives by grabbing each post title and a few sentences from the body of each post; the system then stacks this duplicated content on a blog page. I almost never recommend employing date-based archives except on sites where dates are the context, such as a news site.

WordPress Author archives are also potentially devoid of context, but may have value to users on a multi-author blog. Category and tag archives, unlike date-based archives, do offer context and category signals because they are, after all, grouped according to keywords and phrases.

But category links are still navigation links generated by WordPress archive functionality, and potentially lead to pages of duplicate content, as outlined above. Combine category archive links with tag archive links, and the duplicate content problem is compounded.

Finally, you must also consider how PageRank and authority pass throughout a site. Sure, PageRank has been diluted from its pure state, but this principle remains unchanged: that internal links send signals to search engines “this page I am linking to is important.” You can highlight important content with greater precision through in-content links than you can with site-wide navigation.

The role of site-wide navigation on mobile devices

We also need to consider the fastest-growing segment of website traffic: mobile users. Excessive navigational choice is simply not the best way to engage users on palm-sized devices. First of all, where do you put your tag navigation or date-based navigation on a mobile device? Would you put it above the body content? Of course not.

A better approach: contextual linking between related pages

Now let’s examine a better approach: in-content contextual linking. Sophisticated link builders and SEOs have always understood the power of an in-content link over a navigational link. It is well understood that Google can discern, in most cases, the difference between links in the body of a website and links in the footer of a website. Google’s Matt Cutts has said, “our link analysis continues to get more and more sophisticated… if something’s in a footer it might not carry the same editorial weight… whereas something that’s in an actual paragraph of text is a little more likely to be an editorial link.” You can see Matt’s full explanation on the Google Webmasters YouTube Channel.

There is another reason why in-content internal linking is a good idea. “SEO Engineer” Mike King of iPullRank stated at the 2012 Pubcon, “when a site or blog doesn’t link to itself, that’s a spam signal.” Mike continued to note that it simply isn’t natural for a site to have dozens of pages of text between 400 and 600 words and then not link to itself. In-content internal linking is natural, user-friendly, and search-friendly.

Implementing more enlightened WordPress navigation

So let’s implement this idea. Imagine an article or blog post on the topic of social media tips for restaurant owners – but this idea works with any topic. Your article obviously has a topic and keywords on the page, and Google is skilled at the categorization of both your site and individual pages on your site. In the body of your document, you link to a prior article you did for social media tips for taxi drivers. The two articles share common keywords and a common category, so you are strengthening the keyword signals for both pages. And, because the pages are related, it’s quite easy to link between them without sounding awkward.

In our example, the in-content links that share a common context will be useful to a reader because after all, the reader is already enjoying particular article on a certain topic. This is not unlike the principle behind Related Posts-type plugins. The purpose of these plugins was to keep a user on your site by providing a simple path to continued engagement on your site.

And of course, you can also drop a link to one or more of your services pages. So, for example, if you offer social media management you can easily drop on in-content link to your services page with fairly aggressive anchor text. Remember that you can always be more aggressive with anchor text within your site than you can with inbound links.

Link to your “money pages”

Your website has “money pages” – they are the pages that engage customers and make them act. If you are tracking conversions as you should, your analytics will give you a clear picture of what pages are delivering customers to you. Those high-converting pages are the pages you want to be linking to with contextual links to drive both rankings and user clicks.

If you have goal tracking set up in Google analytics, you can navigate to Behavior > Landing Pages to see the high-converting pages that are truly delivering customers.

Conclusion

To distill all this down, if you want to rank better and improve your customer engagement, implement contextual links and minimize your traditional WordPress navigation. Remember: you need not ditch your WordPress archive navigation entirely, just keep it to what is necessary.

Start the new year right, with a smarter WordPress navigation.

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