Improving the ranking: What are on-page tools really good for?

Onpage tools analyze the website for SEO suitability and help to improve the ranking. To do this, they identify loading times that are too long, duplicate content and URL problems – and give recommendations for optimizing the website. However, there are also limits to the tools.

You index page by page, follow internal links and check the content for search engine-relevant criteria: On-page tools help to improve the ranking of your website on Google. The tools start at a specific page and then crawl the individual subpages. It’s not just about getting a list of all pages, but rather checking the content for certain SEO criteria. The onpage tools then also suggest improvements with which operators can optimize their website.

Who is which onpage tool is suitable for, depends on both the purpose of use and the size of the website. If you have very large websites with more than a million pages, you should think about tools like Audisto or Deepcrawl (see table). Other tools can crawl large websites as well, but they are typically more used for smaller websites.  The Screaming Frog SEO Spider, a free tool that is popular in the SEO scene, complains about a lack of memory in the standard installation with a medium five-digit number of pages. Even if the memory problem has not been solved, it cannot be said that the tool is still performing particularly well with large amounts of data. It’s also the only one of the tools mentioned in this article that doesn’t work in the cloud.

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider can now also check the rendering of pages.

The functions of the individual tools are extremely different, the specific scope partly depends on the packages booked. In addition, some functions have not been proven in terms of their effectiveness. For example, some tools have text readability analyzes based on the Flesch score. However, since it is not known whether Google uses the same method for text rating, the use of many tools is a philosophical question anyway.

Advantages of on-page tools

Even if the options primarily depend on the tools, there are specific tests that on-page tools generally enable:

Important page elements

Page title and meta description are important elements of a page, as these are primarily displayed in the search result. SEOs can also check elements like <h1> very easily using the tools: Are they too long and are then displayed cut off? Aren’t they unique that Google discards them a lot? Or are they too short and only consist of one word, which can lead to an unattractive search result?

Canonization, duplicate content

Often there are problems with duplicate content on websites – even if there is only rarely a reason for the often feared punishment or devaluation. Nevertheless, website operators should get to the bottom of such problems, for example to bundle important SEO signals on a single page or to avoid wasting a crawl budget. After all, the number of pages crawled by Googlebot every day is limited.

Content quality / quantity

Content only leads to a good ranking if it has the necessary quality and quantity. Some tools can rate content, for example via WDF-IDF. In this way, they enable website operators to recognize and correct text deficits to a certain extent.

HTTP status codes

In the case of an internal crawl, all URLs should deliver an HTTP code of 200, that is, “content was loaded successfully”. Incorrect internal links and incorrect configurations can, however, result in internal redirects (code 3xx), errors when accessing pages (code 4xx) or server errors (5xx). These errors can be found with the help of on-page tools and then corrected.

Click depth

The click depth defines the minimum number of clicks that a person or a crawler needs to get from the start page to a specific page with just a link click. If this click depth is too high, it can happen that the respective pages are no longer crawled at all and subsequently not indexed. Such errors can arise from incorrect pagination, for example.

Performance / loading time

The loading time of a page is gaining importance as a ranking factor. Some tools now also measure this performance data, as this can vary greatly from side to side. At this point, it should be said that Google Analytics also provides this data from real users – in many cases also much more meaningful data.

Url problems

Many problems can arise with URLs: special characters, excessively long URLs, mixed use of lower and upper case, GET parameters in different order. Since one tool crawls all URLs on the website, it can quickly find cases that can lead to serious problems.

Comparison with the XML sitemap

During a crawl, only content that is internally linked can be found. Sometimes there are also so-called orphans – pages that do exist, but which a crawler and thus Google cannot find. It therefore makes sense to compare the generated XML sitemaps with the real crawls in order to track down such problems with internal linking.

Search analysis data

Some tools also offer the import of search analysis data from the Google Search Console. The main advantage of this is that it gives you access to more data than the 90 days offered in the console. As the duration of tool usage increases, the amount of data increases more and more. The data can be used to generate recommendations, for example keyword opportunities, i.e. rankings in positions eleven to 20, which can possibly be optimized for the first page, or competing pages, i.e. two or more pages that cover the same search term and differ Times rank.

Limits of the tools

The points give an insight into what onpage tools can do. However, there are also aspects where the tools cannot help.

Coverage of search terms

It can happen that a page is incorrectly named and targets the completely wrong search term that no one is typing. And it can happen that there are exciting, relevant search terms for which no suitable content is currently available. In these cases, the tools are usually powerless. It must of course be mentioned that Google is getting better and better in so-called matching and is showing a page for “Carnival costumes” also for the search query “Carnival costumes”. In many cases, however, the matching does not work, as many – especially very special – search queries are not fully understood in terms of content.

Content visibility, rendering

Google no longer just downloads a pure HTML page, but renders it completely – like a browser, i.e. including JavaScript, CSS and image files. Some tools can now also check the rendering (see figure).

(Source: t3n)

Thanks to the rendering, Google can recognize whether a certain text is collapsed (“click-to-expand”) or, for example, is “hidden” behind tabs. In the Google guidelines it is clear:

“Make sure that the most important content on your website is visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content that is hidden behind navigation elements such as tabs or areas that can be expanded. However, we classify this content as less accessible to users and believe that the most important information should be visible in the standard page view. “

The common tools cannot tell whether a content is hidden and whether it is relevant. And the question of whether particularly important content is in the directly visible area (“above the fold”) or whether the website displays too much advertising usually has to be checked manually.

Further problems

In addition, the tools are usually not helpful for things like:

  • Implementation of internationalization: Especially international companies that offer content for many countries and languages ​​often have deficits in terms of domain strategy. As a rule, it is not advisable to create a separate country-specific domain for each country. But even a suboptimal internal linking of the different country and language versions or a failed redirect based on the IP address can usually not be recognized by the tools.
  • Optimization of the internal linking: The tools can of course provide information on internally well or poorly linked pages. But only experienced SEOs can determine the optimal link flow.
  • Missing markup: Are there pages that are missing certain markup, although it would be useful there in principle?
  • User-generated content: Are certain options for user-generated content, for example comments or a forum, not currently being used?
  • Crawler problems: There are occasional problems because the Google crawler is treated differently from a “normal” crawler. Anyone who uses redirects based on the IP address will not be able to see these errors if only crawling from Germany is carried out. But how is the Googlebot treated, whose IP usually comes from the USA?

What website operators should consider

A website operator should not only know the possibilities of his tool, but also the faulty gaps so that he can close them with his own analyzes – or other tools. To do this, it is important that he knows the features of his tool inside out. Many manufacturers now offer certifications or online tutorials that operators can use.

The knowledge is not limited to the tool itself. The digital helpers often show problems, but do not help very well with the solution. An example: The click depth of a page is too high. How is this problem to be solved? An operator should therefore not only be adequately trained in the tool, but above all in the area of SEO , in order to derive the right decisions.

It should be clear to him, for example, that on-page tools cannot detect all errors. A website with zero defects doesn’t mean that it is bug-free. You could run into massive keyword coverage shortfalls without the tool raising the alarm. In addition, many errors are systematic in nature. An error can occur 10,000 times for 10,000 pages. Website operators should not be put off by the high number of errors.

Perhaps the most important note: users of onpage tools should trust their own judgment. Recommendations provided by the tools are not necessarily relevant for the individual operator. If you have 10,000 meta descriptions that are too long, you shouldn’t shorten them all manually – as a rule, that would not make economic sense. In the end, it is primarily up to the user to decide whether a change really brings a ranking advantage or whether it is a “nice-to-have”.

9 essential newsletters for journalists

Are you a journalist looking for tips, tricks and practical tools for your job? Then these e-mail newsletters are just the thing for your inbox.

The  e-mail newsletter is still  one of the most effective ways to reach your target group. In this respect, it is also predestined to provide web workers and other digital professional groups with knowledge and inspiration. Journalists too: We are presenting nine newsletters that writers should subscribe to.

Journalist tools

What kind of tools do journalists need in their everyday work? Which tools, plugins and apps for Windows and Mac are currently popular among media makers? The German-language newsletter Journalist Tools  on the website of the same name provides answers to these questions . It is sent out on the 15th of each month and provides information about contributions from the past four weeks.

Read This Thing

With Read This Thing  , Wall Street Journal author Tim Annett runs a really exciting newsletter for journalists: once a day he recommends a handpicked article of high journalistic quality.

Turi2

The newsletter from Turi2 , the well-known industry service from Germany, is explicitly aimed at journalists and media makers . Twice a day during the week – at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., on the weekend around 10 a.m. – the newsletter provides information on developments and personal details from the German media landscape. Subscribers also receive tool tips.

Lousy pennies

At Lousy Pennies , Karsten Lohmeyer thinks about “making money with (good) journalism on the Internet”. If you do not want to visit the website regularly or place it in your feed reader, you can also subscribe to a newsletter. It informs journalists about the latest articles and explains which of the seminars offered by Lohmeyer take place when and where.

DJV newsletter

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) has four newsletters up its sleeve. The DJV-news, which appears once a week, offers an overview of the current weekly topics of the DJV. The education newsletter lists the most important seminars and webinars in the professional field. The Freie Newsletter also provides information on topics for freelance journalists. The quality newsletter provides information about events and documents on the subject of quality journalism.

Emerge

Behind Emerge is a still young online magazine for photojournalism that brings together multimedia productions and classic documentary series on a joint photo platform. The newsletter primarily offers something for the eye and provides information about new articles published on Emerge.

Daily Digest by Nieman Journalism Lab

The Nieman Journalism Lab is the authority in the industry when it comes to questions about the future of journalism. Journalistic business models are discussed on the platform, such as the use of Slack in everyday editorial work . With the newsletter – which appears once a day – you won’t miss anything from the past 24 hours.

Washington Post must reads

The Washington Post has also been known to a wider audience outside of North America as a journalistic authority since the box office hit “Spotlight”. With its own newsletter , the newspaper delivers the best stories of the week to its subscribers in the inbox every Saturday.

Mediashift

Mediashift is based on an online platform that deals with current trends in journalism and new media technologies. If you want to be informed about it regularly, you can subscribe to several newsletters on different topics (news, courses, analyzes).

3 tips on how to defend yourself against content theft

If you want to be successful online, you need good content. But not everyone is willing to take care of it themselves and prefers to boldly copy from other sites. We’ll show you what you can do against content theft.

Hardly anything is as easy online as copying a text or an image and inserting it on another page. Content theft is the supposedly easy way to get high-quality content without spending a lot of time and money. Aside from the fact that it’s very annoying when others simply use your creative output, content theft can also lead to problems for Google. However, Webmaster-Hangout confirmed to John Mueller that content theft can in some cases also have a negative impact on the original page. To protect yourself from this, however, you first have to know whether your content has been stolen at all.

Uncover content theft

Sometimes content theft is only accidentally discovered or brought to the attention of other users. However, you can also actively check whether your texts or images have been taken over without permission.

Tools like Copyscape search the web for plagiarism of your website text using a URL. But not only texts, but also – or above all – pictures are often simply stolen. Here tools like Plaghunter can help with the detection.

You can also use Google to track down stolen content. Click on the camera symbol in the search bar in the Google image search and either upload a photo or paste the image URL. Google will then show you on which pages the image was used. In order to recognize textual plagiarism, simply enter an excerpt of your text in quotation marks in the Google search (or with another search engine).

Tips against content theft

Unfortunately, there is no absolute protection against theft of intellectual property on the Internet. And not everyone has the time and money to take legal action against it. Nevertheless, website operators can do a lot to protect their content. We’ll give you tips on how to proceed if you’ve discovered content theft and how you can better protect yourself from it.

1. Shorten your RSS feed

For many content thieves it is easy to pull texts from an RSS feed using a script. Therefore, you should not provide your entire content, but only excerpts in the feed. You can easily avoid the risk of losing potential readers who want to click on your page to read on: Just write good teaser texts that make you want more.

Various SEO plugins for WordPress , such as the one from Yoast, offer the option of creating copyright or author notices for RSS feeds. This will then be displayed above every post in your RSS feed. This makes your feed less attractive to content thieves, but not to your subscribers.

2. Protect your content against simple copy-and-paste

To protect your pictures against theft, you can add your own watermark to them. However, if this interferes too much with the aesthetics of the image, you can also protect it from being linked on other pages from your server with an entry in the .htaccess file.

# Prohibit hotlinking
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond% {HTTP_REFERER}! ^ $
## insert your domain !!!!!!
RewriteCond% {HTTP_REFERER}! ^ Https: // (www \.)? Democraticpost \ .de (/.*)? $ [NC]
RewriteRule \. (Jpg | jpeg | gif || png) $ – [F]
</ifModule>
view raw hotlinking.htaccess hosted with ❤ by GitHub

This makes it difficult for you to steal pictures. These can then only be used for other purposes if they have been downloaded beforehand. You can make this more difficult by deactivating the right-click with the help of a script or plugin.

You can also use a script to prevent the texts from being marked on your page and copied by right-clicking. The text can still be copied via the source code of the page, but the simple stealing via copy-and-paste is prevented.

However, this could also be annoying for your visitors. Maybe we just want to highlight a term to google it or quickly copy a handy quote to share a text on the social web. An elegant option is to use a script to automatically generate a link to your page when parts of your text are copied and pasted. Andre Alpar and the Moz team explain how this works in detailed instructions .

3. Develop a distinctive style

From a pure content marketing perspective, it is important to develop an unmistakable style that creates brand awareness among your site visitors. At best, a sentence or a quick look at an image is enough for your customers to know who the content is from.

Of course, that doesn’t protect you from thieves using your content. In any case, it helps that other users can recognize content stolen from you on other pages and inform you about it. And once you’ve earned recognition in your industry or niche, that might deter content thieves from simply helping yourself.

What to do with content theft?

If you have discovered your content on foreign pages, you should first try to contact the operator of the pages and request that the copied content be deleted. There is not always malicious intent behind content theft. Many a website operator may not be aware of the consequences of copying content without asking.

If your inquiries remain unanswered, you can report the content theft to Google and request that the affected page be removed from the search results.

Content marketing: less and better – instead of more current and more

Many companies seem to confuse content marketing with a news ticker and produce way too much content. Our guest author shows how it can be done better.

Always more. Always up to date. Many companies today run newsrooms and do content marketing as if they were a newsroom. Do you have to do that? Not when you have data.

The data says this:

1. Whoever comes to a website is usually there for the first time. Only a small minority comes twice or more. Do these users need new content more often? No.

It’s similar on social channels. The only ones who follow brands closely and see every post are employees and agency representatives. On the one hand this is due to the delivery algorithms of the social media platforms, on the other hand it is also due to the fact that you don’t work through your Facebook or Instagram account as well as an email inbox.

2. The users have little time. You’ll be on the page for between a minute and two and two or three clicks. Do you need a lot of content? No.

However, many brands can use their energy better: By concentrating on a small content portfolio that they can manage well and regularly optimize based on data.But those who now have a high urge to publish and sufficient editorial resources should not feel held back by these arguments. More content makes perfect sense if you want to reach new people: For example, if you previously only addressed people who are looking for product information for insulating glass windows and now also want to address people who are interested in saving heating costs. On the other hand, being up-to-date can help if you have the basics – the right content in the right amount – completely under control and want to tease out a little more success.

Find the right content portfolio

But often it fails because of the necessary know-how. The following practical tips show how a brand defines and continuously optimizes a content portfolio.

First of all, the “hits” must be found under the content. They are characterized by their higher target group relevance – for example, they generate more search engine traffic. You can find out what content this is in the web analytics system. Or the content generates higher free reach on social media because it is shared more often. You can find this out in the evaluation tools of the social networks – for example with Facebook Insights.

But it’s not just about the relevance of the content for the target group. The content must also be relevant for the client and do its job. Specifically: ensure deals in the online shop, generate leads, interest job applicants – or whatever the goal of the content project is.

This doubly relevant content – for both the target group and the client – form the content portfolio, which you then optimize on a regular basis. Data from various sources can also help here:

  • Web analytics tools : It is worth taking a look at the website bounce rates here – i.e. whether visitors leave the page immediately without making another click. Are there sites that “onboard” visitors particularly well? What can you learn from these pages for the content of the portfolio, which have an above-average bounce rate?
  • Brand managers can do the same with conversion rates. If some sites are doing better conversion, ask yourself the following questions: Do they offer different information? Other pictures? Cheaper prices? Better ratings? What can you learn from them for the weaker sides?
  • Search engine tools : Search engine tools like Search Metrics or Sistrix can be used to find out which terms are used to find content in search engines. With these tools you can quickly find “quick wins” for optimization. If, for example, Google does not find content that bad and therefore places it on page two, this usually means that the content can be highly optimized on page one with little effort – and generates a lot more reach there. Furthermore, with Sistrix and Co. you can analyze the search engine rankings of the competitors and thus come up with new ideas for improving your own content.
  • Social media tools : what is the most relevant content for the target audience? What does she share, comment on and like about the competition? This can be found out with the analytics tools of social channels such as Facebook. Ideas for content and the preparation of your own content can also be found for this.

If you map such data-based optimization approaches in a regular process, you can work your way forward very quickly. Because: Instead of concentrating on offering a lot of current content, you set yourself the goal of producing the best content – against which the competition newsroom has no chance. So if you focus on a few, important content and do it really well, you will have a content offering quickly and with little effort that really inspires the target group.

Content audit for long-term successful content

Publishing content once is not enough to assert yourself on the Internet in the long term. To do this, you should check your content regularly and take an inventory with an audit.

When a content audit makes sense

The intervals at which a content audit makes sense depends on the size of the website. With large websites, the effort is higher, so larger intervals are often recommended here. For online shops, one audit per year is usually sufficient to determine the performance status of category and product pages. Apart from that, however, there is one event where an unscheduled audit is very useful: When there is a significant loss of visibility.

How to proceed with your content audit

1. Inventory

You do the inventory using an Excel sheet in which you enter all the important data of the URL that you want to analyze. The sheet gives an overview of the content right from the start and can serve as a further working basis. The filter option of Excel makes the subsequent data analysis much easier.

The following are relevant for the inventory:

  • Url
  • Status code
  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • H1 headings
  • Internal links
  • Click depth
  • Word count

So that you don’t have to manually record this data, you can use a crawling tool such as Ryte or Screaming Frog . It is useful to classify the URL according to page type: for example, category page, product page, blog post, news article and so on. This helps in evaluating the content. Once the overview is ready, you can immediately identify the first errors, for example missing page titles and meta descriptions or several H1 headings on one page.

2. Ranking check

The rankings are one of the most important indicators in a content audit. Because as already mentioned above, only those pages that have positive user behavior keep rankings in the top places. You surely have a list of the keywords that you are optimizing your content for. If you don’t want to check the rankings manually, use a tool such as Sistrix or Drink  .

3. User behavior analysis

To check how the content is received by users, you should look at the following metrics:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Length of stay
  • Bounce rate
  • Entrances to the website
  • Pageviews

You can get these metrics from Google Analytics or another web analysis tool such as Webtrekk , provided that you have set up proper tracking. Use the maximum possible time in the tool or the date of your last content audit as the period for the user behavior analysis. The longer the period, the more reliable the data.

4. Interaction Analysis

The direct interactions of the users with the content show how much they like it. Backlinks and social signals are of course created when the users find the content really interesting and recommendable. The Google Search Console as well as Majestic or Ahrefs for the backlink analysis and Sistrix or Buzzsumo for the social signals help with the analysis .

5. Evaluation

When all the data from the tools have been transferred to the Excel sheet – the easiest way to do this is by using the S reference – you can start the evaluation. It is important to note that the key figures that are relevant for the content audit should be viewed in relation to each other. They are often not an absolute figure, but only give a clear picture of the content performance when viewed with other key figures.

How good is the CTR?

If a snippet is clicked too seldom, although the page ranks well on Google , something is wrong with it. This can lead to a loss of ranking, as the search engine assumes that the page is not relevant enough for the search query. If the CTR is bad, checks whether the snippet is well optimized, appeals to the user and matches the search query. The search intention is also important here: If the first page is primarily shops, it is transactional. Then a blog post or news article will not satisfy the search interest even with a well-optimized snippet.

How long is the length of stay?

A long stay is not always a purely positive sign. It depends on the type of page: With a distribution page, the user should quickly decide where he wants to go. If he stays for a long time, he may find it difficult to find his way around the site. In the case of a long blog post with pictures and videos, however, it is imperative that you stay as long as possible.

What is the bounce rate?

The bounce rate is only meaningful when viewed with the length of stay. If the length of stay on a content page is long and the bounce rate is high, this is a positive signal. The user has very likely found what he was looking for and has therefore returned to Google.

What content has the most page views?

Content with many page views was clicked often and a lot. But did the content also arrive? The length of stay and bounce rate are also important here: content pages that are called up often and have a long stay are really read.

Which to-dos result from the audit

A topic has been dealt with several times and not all of the pages on it are performing well?

  • Checks what could be the reason for the poor performance: Is the content out of date? Are they badly optimized? Are they too superficial?
  • Decide whether you can optimize the pages, or whether you’d better delete the page. If it has backlinks, you should then forward the URL to another, suitable page.
  • Also check if you can group pages with similar content. Google values ​​holistic content. Therefore, it can bring a ranking boost if you combine pages that thematically overlap into one comprehensive one.

Some pages are rarely visited?

  • Just because they’re badly attended doesn’t mean they’re bad. Do they have anything in common? Are they perhaps deeper in the website structure? In this case, the pages are more difficult to reach from both the Google bot and the user, which can affect the ranking.
  • If the quality of the content is right, try to link the pages better.

Some pages are not ranking well?

  • Do an SEO Analysis: Are Important Keywords Missing? This can happen quickly if the SERP changes.
  • Uses a WDF * IDF tool such as the Content-Success from Ryte or the TF-IDF Data from Termlabs.io . This shows you which relevant keywords are missing from the content.
  • Inserts the missing keywords into the text and checks the overall quality again. If necessary, you should update or expand the content.

Learnings from the content audit

Some pages have a lot of traffic from organic search?

  • You did a lot right here: The pages rank well on Google AND users like to click. If the other user signals also match, then these pages are perfect prototypes for further content production.
  • Checks what the pages have in common: Do they have a certain length, videos or other special content formats?
  • Make a note of the similarities and create a general briefing for you or your editors.

Some pages have a lot of backlinks and / or social signals?

  • Here, the direct feedback shows that users like the content.
  • Checks whether the sides have anything in common. From this you can deduce which topics or content formats are particularly popular with users.

Conclusion

A content audit is the basis for content production and an essential factor for long-term success on the Internet. Since Google is getting better and better at evaluating content and also increasingly incorporating user behavior into the ranking, you can position yourself strategically well in the long term and stand out from the competition with a regular audit.

Local search: These are the most important ranking factors on Google

The SEO service provider Moz has analyzed the most important ranking factors for the local search – and the results allow some conclusions to be drawn about the strategy in connection with local SEO.

The Google My Business entry (GMB) is obviously most important if you want to be present in the Local Pack or in the Local Finder. Although numerous findings in the basic trend could already be observed in this way last year, there is one important difference: Google’s My Business signals have become a lot more important in the last year than before – Moz recorded an increase from 19 to 25 percent. The importance for the Local Pack, ie the first three search results in the SERPs and for the Local Finder, which appears when you click on “More Places”, has increased by 38 percent.

The study also names questions and answers and Google Posts as other top ranking factors, while (as expected) the Google+ connection apparently no longer plays a decisive role. The reviews in the local environment have also become more important – one more reason, also and especially as a local company, to keep an eye on them and, for example, to respond to corresponding entries with (considered!) Answers. The initiators of the study even recommend answering each of the customer’s entries with a suitable reaction, because this not only goes down well with customers, but also gives Google an affinity for the Internet. According to the Moz experts, you can also create questions yourself with the appropriate keywords to be launched, which can bring a lot, especially in the context of semantic search and keyword setting. In addition, moving image content is also beneficial here when it comes to being considered committed and versatile and generating fresh content on a regular basis.

Google Posts can push local searches

Links and recommendations on other sites also remain important, but the presence in pure address directories without added value is apparently continuing to decrease. It is important to ensure that the same information is present everywhere and that it appears on the social media side in the relevant environments. Particular attention should be paid to Google Posts , especially in the local area . According to the Moz Local study, those who are regularly present here also improve their ranking.

However, the use of appropriate keywords also plays an important role in the evaluation, as the study shows. Links, on the other hand, remain an important factor for the rankings. Incorrect information in the entry is considered an absolute SEO killer and negative factor – you should not only fill out a lot of your own company entry if possible in order to be optimally present in the Local Finder, but also update information such as changed opening times yourself. This is not only in the service of the customer, but is also better received by Google than if a customer does it at some point.

The detailed evaluation with positive and negative ranking factors shows a few more details that can help you to be better present in the local search for your own business.

Brand management: It doesn’t always have to be a rebranding

Change is the only constant, they say in marketing. The paradoxical phrase tries to convince us that there is no rest for brands and companies in their external presentation.

This endeavor is also the reason why a complete rebranding is a rather rare event in the history of a brand. The risk of confusing loyal fans and maybe losing them should not be underestimated. That is why many companies decide to make minimally invasive course corrections: facelifts, a new visual language … But company color, logo and house font are taboo.

How resilient is the identity of my brand? There is no quick answer to this question. Each brand has to go its own way. The good news: With small changes you can give ailing brands new strength and move them back in the direction of “timeless”.

Stand on quicksand

In the past, a rebranding was usually associated with a groundbreaking corporate decision. It could be influenced from outside, for example with the invention of television in 1931 – but it could also be internal, for example through the introduction of a new product or the ironing out of a scandal. Such triggers were obvious, and the resulting changes were predictable. And they took a leisurely pace.

But those times are over. New devices and apps are constantly emerging , and social media platforms are constantly introducing new features. And as these channels evolve and attract new users, consumer expectations are constantly changing. Brands are exposed to a flood of trends, where it is not clear which ones will last and which ones won’t. How do you find your center with all this noise?

Rebrand? Refresh? What is the difference?

A brand refresh is more about a brand update. The cornerstones of the brand – brand loyalty, image, social media engagement, reaction to newsletters as well as sales – are basically healthy.

However, certain aspects of visual identity appear outdated or have proven to be difficult. Colors, imagery and fonts may work excellently in print, but they no longer represent the brand consistently in the digital channels. In these areas, improvements must then be made so that the brand remains relevant for young buyers and the future. Successful brands are constantly refreshing their visual identity. They stay true to their classic brand identity, but add fresh elements.

The rebrand, on the other hand, is a complete renewal. It is based either on a new perspective, message or product series. A new testimonial may come into play or the brand may have been taken over by a new company. It is not uncommon for a new startup to stir up the market or a brand to lose customers because a competitor is aggressively poaching them.

From easy to difficult

Getting started with a brand update can be daunting. It is therefore helpful to focus on the basic elements first instead of completely rebuilding the brand. Since these form the basis of the brand building, any change will affect the entire visual identity.

logo

When realigning the logo is rarely completely changed. The existing trademark is much more often the basis for an updated further development. Corrections to the look and feel, the brand colors or the font work in the background, but the logo should always be recognizable for loyal customers. Even if you opt for a comprehensive rebranding, for many customers the logo will be the bridge to the qualities that they associate with the brand.

The corporate language

The brand refresh is an ideal opportunity to update or sharpen the brand message. Language is constantly evolving, so you have to carefully examine its role.

Design system – color, fonts and more

The design system includes all the components of a brand that give it life and personality: color, fonts, symbols, images, sounds and the rules for the interaction of the elements. Design trends tend to develop in a cyclical manner, with earlier styles often revived. Does the design system reflect who the company is and what the brand is aiming for? Does the look match the ideas customers have nowadays? Brands evolve. With this in mind, one should consciously look to the future in order to be flexible for adjustments and improvements that will inevitably follow.

documentation

The ongoing consistency of all marketing measures depends on the rules defined in the style guide. It should therefore be ensured that it really contains everything that has been newly developed and contains precise instructions on how to use each element sensibly and precisely in accordance with the respective brand standards.

Don’t just question, set goals!

Probably the biggest challenge with a brand update – regardless of whether it is small or large – is to remain true to your own goals and visions. Along the way, there will be many decisions and endless questions and constant scrutiny at all levels of the company. It’s a natural part of the process because after all, everyone wants to participate and understand everything. It is therefore helpful to agree on specific goals and to demand commitment to these goals. You are the benchmark for results.

And what’s next now?

The honest answer: there is no silver bullet. Every brand manager has to find out for himself. But there are some milestones along the way that may now be a little clearer.

Perhaps talking to brand stakeholders is a good idea to learn from their perspective and offer your own. One of the most important aspects of any brand update is backing. Everyone needs to pull together and work towards the same purpose and result – listening is the first step.

After that everyone has to go their own way. But with an open view of the visual identity and with the will to try new possibilities, every brand can be breathed new life. And keep customers engaged, loyal, and enthusiastic, full of curiosity about what’s next.

Follow the consumer

Many companies make the mistake of managing their brand from their own perspective. That means: as long as you are in harmony with your brand, the brand is also healthy. And when a competitor uses new technologies, you do it yourself. A typical inside-out approach, purely reactive, based on mere guesswork.

Today, a brand’s reputation no longer belongs to the owner, it belongs to the customer. As a brand leader, one should therefore closely monitor how customers see, talk about and react to the brand.

If you are new to this perspective, you should find out the opinion of your customers through surveys and observations on social networks: How is the brand thought here? What is the meaning of the logo and what is the reputation of the brand? How strong is brand loyalty? When the responses suggest that the brand is no longer in line with your own point of view, the need for change emerges. Or worse: a radical change is about to take place.

When brands enter a serious dialogue with consumers, they will pretty much tell you what needs to be improved. The answers might surprise you.

Writing texts for websites, blogs, and emails – Here’s How To Do It Right

“Writing is easy. You just have to leave out the wrong words. ”That’s what Mark Twain said. I add: Writing good texts is easy. Just leave out the following errors.

Mistake 1: don’t care who will read this later

Maybe it’s just a quirk from school: At some point, most authors’ brains switch to “fill the paper” or we just write for ourselves. Wrong key question: What do I like? The fish must like the bait, not the angler!

Therefore: Give yourself a lot of thought about who you want to address in your text. The safest way to go is to formulate a problem. Example: “Is part of a manageable team that will do content marketing in the future . Looking for input for writing how to create customer-friendly texts. ”This could be the problem definition for this article here. If you don’t have a problem or a specific need of your readers in mind, you write in the air – for everyone and nobody.

Mistake 2: Don’t worry about where the readers are from

Visitors don’t come from nowhere. But if you know where readers can and should come from, you can adjust to these channels. Example SEO: If you are pursuing an SEO strategy , you have to know it. And you have to know how to get a text to be relevant to Google users and to be really relevant.

Depending on the channel, your address is also different:

If the text is aimed at existing customers from your email list, you can skip the clickbait exercises and instead address an aspect that existing customers know and make them sit up and take notice. Something like this: Dear guests, we hope that the pool was heated tonight …

Every channel needs an extra sausage:

A landing page that is to be advertised on Facebook, for example, has to pay more towards the interests of the user and easily, almost playfully, pick them up in the virtual living room. A landing page for Google Ads can easily sell more and also sound like a seller – because here the users expect nothing else and usually want to close the deal immediately and buy something.

Mistake 3: leaving it up to the reader to see the benefits

Attention, irony: It’s best to leave out all headings or keep them in general. Your introduction shouldn’t reveal much about the text either, just say what the reader already knows. Another great idea is a lengthy introduction. Lead deserts. Also: hide important details behind unimportant details or in nested sentences. Then your text will definitely remain unread.

Mistake 4: Long sentences, long words!

The longer a sentence, the more uncomfortable it is usually to read. Many long words in a text are also uncomfortable to read, and the reader’s brain has to do a lot of work. This reduces the customer’s attention and desire to stay on the website. Omitting!

Mistake 5: using complicated, puffy words

Can be used to convey to the reader that you consider yourself to be very important and that you are actually not interested in your understanding. Omitting!

Mistake 6: inflate text!

If you artificially lengthen your text, it is just as tasty for the reader as a glass of beer mixed with water. Please do without it. Text length for SEO is old hat and one-dimensional. A topic needs a text of appropriate length – the user and his needs decide how long it should be. And the rule is: Always as short as possible, as long as necessary.

Mistake 7: digress a lot

A classic beginner’s mistake that also happens to professionals. I tried to write a book three times. I always failed because of details in which I got lost. If you are writing text for a website, the risk is less than with a book project. But even here you can get lost as an author and get bogged down.

Don’t forget the user needs and make sure that the text doesn’t waste visitors’ time. They won’t let that happen and run away. When in doubt, ask yourself: Can the text do without this detail? Without this detail, will the reader understand the core, take in the message, get the benefit?

Mistake 8: Lots of foreign words, lots of unknown words

Unusual words make everything difficult to understand. This mistake is almost as effective as too long and complicated sentences.

Another tip: even the brains of professionals like simple, human, lively language.

Mistake 9: smear the headline

I’ve rarely spent as much time on sentences as I did on headings. The headline is the first and most important sentence of your text, your landing page. Headlines decide whether the user continues reading. Saving time here at the expense of an appealing headline is a serious and popular mistake.

Mistake 10: Promising too much

On the other hand, many titles promise more than the content then delivers. There is nothing better than giving your readers false hopes; assuming you hate your customers.

Mistake 11: cheating your marketing colleagues

Hey, between us: It doesn’t matter what the marketing guys say. Keyword analysis? Goethe didn’t have either! Generate leads? That’s what sales should do. Your text should just sound nice and please yourself.

Joking aside, a copywriter can learn an endless amount from marketers. We authors are so in love with our texts, with our language, with our structure. But all of the data and information about target groups that marketers hoard in their tools, concepts and surveys are pure gold for working on texts. It is a big mistake to dismiss marketing guidelines as annoying or even to ignore them. Unless you only write for yourself.

Mistake 12: building one-way streets and roadblocks

Readers need to know what to do after reading it. A text is a one-way street when the visitor pulls away satisfied but shrugging because you haven’t told him what he can and should do next.

Should he read something else from you? Should he click on this? What do you want from the visitors? The texts must move towards this one goal. Not necessarily through clumsy advertising, but because the text and topic lead to it simply and naturally. Of course, the topic has to be right for this.

So: if you find out about circular saws, you probably want to buy one too. Purchase advice in, links! If you are looking for safety tips for circular saws, you would also like to read a paragraph on hearing protection. And maybe a related article on the subject. And so on.

You learn to write really well when you write and rewrite everything!

Let these mistakes out and your text will be better than most out there. If you then leave out the superfluous and simply bad and wrong words, your style will also get better and better and people will read your texts carefully and happily.

Write as much as you can and get feedback – as often as possible! For example from an experienced colleague, but also from friends, customers, acquaintances. I’ve never learned as much as in the time when my lecturers and mentors threw texts around my ears and motivated me to keep getting better.

The shortcut to a good (marketing) copywriter

Here is a shortcut to the professional copywriter: Don’t just take care of yourself and your company, but also your readers. Take their point of view. Think about it.

This is how you get website visitors the right answer at the right time

People go to company websites when they have a specific question. But instead of answers, you will find catalogs. That needs to change.

Let’s take a look at the initial situation: Websites with a high level of content often have tree structures. Contents are bundled according to topic, information hierarchies are derived from them and finally the page structure visible to the user is built up. If there is a topic that seems big enough, the tree structure is expanded in width or depth. The companies use the navigation as a table of contents and expect users to use the website like catalogs and to understand what is behind it. True to the motto: The content determines its structure.

But the greater the need for explanation, the more complex the structure becomes. Navigating back and forth between pages or long blocks of content frustrates users and doesn’t provide the right answers efficiently enough. If the expectation of the underlying content is not met quickly, the users jump off. In order to prevent this, many pages refer to related or more in-depth content – but have still not answered the user’s question.

An example to illustrate: Many vehicle manufacturers are experiencing the greatest upheaval in decades with the electrification of their fleets. Users also have completely new questions before they buy a vehicle. Many manufacturers dedicate their own areas and sub-pages to the topic of “electric driving”, but often forget to answer critical questions from potential buyers, such as about the charging infrastructure, directly at the points where they arise – such as on the model pages or even in the configurator .

When classic approaches meet modern demands

The handling of content provided by websites has to change: With traditional structures, companies can neither achieve their users nor their business goals. Increasing complexity and increasing need for explanation in many areas meet increasing demands – with the user’s attention span becoming ever smaller. Websites must therefore be understood as intelligent tools that adapt to the situation and motivation of the user.

The decisive step is to break away from the inner view of the provider and to take the perspective of the user. The methods that companies can use for this include, for example, so-called user stories, which in interaction with personas, i.e. prototypes for target groups, define very specific tasks for website users in order to be able to offer suitable solutions. The “jobs to be done” method works independently of personas: Here so-called job stories are formulated which are dedicated to precise situations, motivations and the associated expectations of users and represent a very empathic approach in terms of customer focus.

The aim is to lead the information architecture back to a real consideration of all content in content modules and consequently to connect, for example, with the mentioned job stories in order to be able to define in which situations users are looking for which answers. The information architecture is then no longer misused as an extended sitemap, but provides the clear, informative basis for the first steps to implement the actual navigation and page structure.

The progressive content approach

With the progressive content approach, companies provide content on their websites that is displayed to the user according to their behavior so that they can achieve their goal. This also means: If the situation and motivation of the user change, ideally the content module must also adapt to it.

This approach assumes that the navigation with as few levels as possible is only used for a rough introduction, but the pages themselves can then react much more efficiently than navigation and the complex structure behind it to the demands of the user. The foundation for this is strongly compressed content that leads to quick understanding and shows much better than tree structures which deeper information is hidden behind them – without piling up mountains of content. From here, users can access further content and stay directly on the page.

A good example of this is Tesla’s US site : navigation focuses on vehicles and energy as another product. Only a single, full-screen module is used for each topic block on the model side, which clearly outlines the topic. Each of these modules has a Learn More button, which can then be used to open the in-depth content. However, the user remains on the model page and can easily change the depth of the content at any time. In this way, the site succeeds in meeting as many user motivations as possible in the shortest possible time.

The progressive content approach can also result in content being offered several times, depending on the context, on different pages. In combination with clear, conversion-driven actions and call-to-actions, user and business goals are combined.

Modern content management systems, which no longer function in templates for fixed page structures, but as interfaces of building blocks for every type of content, facilitate precisely this path for modern websites. Because these systems no longer only think in terms of predefined modules or entire pages, but in terms of content modules that can be adapted to the situations and motivations of the users in their form and depth. A smart CMS can therefore keep important information ready in the system at any time and react to user requests in real time.

A look ahead

The next level of the progressive content approach is not only to think of content in clusters, but to react directly to obvious user needs – that is, not only to deepen the existing content, but to offer decisions and thus solutions. This model can be optimally combined with tracking and analysis data in order to develop pages that can be adapted to requirements in terms of form, content and visual appearance: Personalization takes place in real time via a dynamic page structure – indirectly via user behavior as well as directly via Interactions.

Then the website will finally go from a catalog to a tool that provides users with holistic solutions – and companies have shown that they understand what their users want.

Creating a content seeding campaign: step by step to more backlinks

Content seeding is one way of getting good backlinks. But the conception and creation of such a campaign should not be underestimated. That’s how it works.

In addition to classic advertisements in various media, the awareness of your own web shop can also be increased with content seeding. You can read here what exactly this is and how a successful content seeding campaign is designed and how a seeding product is created.

Content outreach: classic backlink structure vs. Content seeding

Content outreach can be roughly divided into two areas: On the one hand, there is classic link marketing, which includes sponsored posts, advertorials and the like. A certain number of articles containing a link to a commercial website are placed here with a fixed media budget. Although the reader is provided with useful information about products, the primary goal is to draw attention to a company and its shop. This is carried out over a longer period of time, editorial offices and webmasters are contacted and the possibilities of native advertising are explored.

On the other hand, there is so-called content seeding: E-books, statistics and infographics fall into this area. While the classic backlink structure is mainly about pure backlinks , seeding is about the dissemination of a product that offers the user real added value. This can be, for example, a guide to an exciting topic or an online tool that the user can use to find out something interesting. The time required here lies primarily in the creation process. The aim is to ultimately create a product that will spread almost by itself. The name comes from the fact that you sow a seed from which something grows, which bears fruit and spreads.

Planning phase and brainstorming

Once the decision to seed has been made, a topic must first be found. To achieve this, a non-judgmental brainstorming takes place. Ideas are collected here – no matter how absurd they may seem. In a second step they are worked out and refined. Possible questions in this phase can be:

  • What does the topic produce?
  • How can you implement the topic?
  • Are there any well-known organizations, influencers or other possible experts?
  • Who is the target group?
  • Which key points can be associated with it?
  • Is the topic current?
  • Is there already something comparable?

Implementation of the topics

Once a topic has been identified, it is time to implement it. There are various possibilities:

E-book: An e-book is usually included on a separate landing page. It should be noted that this is provided with a clearly recognizable download button and the user immediately recognizes that the e-book is free. A lot of information can be processed in an e-book. From statistics to guides and tables to photos and graphics, everything is possible here that can be displayed in a digital file. The texts can be designed in detail and adapted to the respective target group, which further individualizes the end product. However, the time and budget required should not be underestimated.

Infographic: An infographic provides a quick overview. Mostly it’s about a current topic related to the time of year or seasonal events. Graphics on topics from politics (e.g. regulations on CO2 emissions by companies) can also generate a wide range and attract a lot of interest. Since a mostly manageable amount of data is used here and a target group-specific graphic is created from it, the effort is less compared to the e-book. It becomes problematic if the graphics are limited too much to a seasonal event. Then the seeding period is very short and you have to catch exactly the right time.

Statistics: At first glance, the term statistics may give the impression that it is something boring: Numbers and data that are lined up in an Excel table and processed into three diagrams. It’s not that simple and dry, however. Statistics based on a representative survey don’t have to be boring. It always depends on the implementation. A target group-oriented presentation of the data is just as essential here as with all other seeding formats.

Online tool: An online tool is ideal if the user is to become active himself. Such an interactive tool can cover a wide variety of topics. A meaningful result can be obtained using simple questions or various options. For example, this could be a calorie counter tool that shows how much exercise you have to do to work off a serving of french fries. How the results are achieved must be scientifically founded. An additional e-book that explains everything in more detail is advisable, but not a must.

Find cooperation partners and experts

The influence of expert knowledge is very important, but how do you find the right experts for your own product? And what exactly is an expert anyway? All of the following work well:

  • Organizations, foundations and associations
  • Individuals who have expertise in the relevant field
  • Firms and other manufacturers
  • People who have a suitable job

Several experts can also collaborate. For example, a well-known illustrator who makes drawings for an e-book would also be conceivable. Then there is a non-profit organization that deals with the topic of e-books and a blogger with a large fan base who often posts something suitable. The seeding product is upgraded and shines in a completely different light through technically sound knowledge and well-known people. The user must definitely find out about the experts, which is why they must appear on the landing page. So everyone can see immediately that experts have worked on it and that it is a credible product.

The experts can be involved in various ways. It can be an interview or a story from their life. It is also possible to contribute specialist knowledge by exchanging information sufficiently and then implementing the knowledge. It would also be conceivable that the expert appears as a co-author or author.

You shouldn’t be put off by the apparent popularity and size of your dream partner, especially if the topic is current, exciting and individual. In the worst case, there is no cooperation and you keep looking.

Conclusion

With the right topic and cooperation with experts, the first foundations have been laid. The target group and the added user value must never be lost sight of. The time and budget required should also not be underestimated. The conception of a seeding campaign takes a lot of time, but because the product has to be of high quality in the end, savings should not be made at the wrong end. To create good content, you have to be willing to put in a lot of work. In the end, however, this is always worthwhile when large websites report on their own content and it spreads as a result.