Implementing Robots – Technical SEO – Robots.txt Advice

Implementing Robots – Technical SEO – Robots.txt Advice

Home > Digital Guides

Robots Implementation Guide for Developers

What are Robots?

Robots is one of 3 different ways to tell crawlers what they should and should not crawl and index on your site. 

You should only use one of these 3 methods for a page:

    • Robots.txt file
    • Robots meta tag
    • X-Robots HTTP Header

The process crawlers take when they visit your website is as follows:

  • A crawler comes along and before it accesses any pages on your site, it looks for a robots.txt file
  • If it finds a robots.txt file, it does or doesn’t crawl based on those directives
  • If it doesn’t find a robots.txt file, then it looks for a robots metatag or x-robots header to tell it whether or not to index a page and follow the links on it to other pages. 
  • If it doesn’t find a metatag or x-robots header, it indexes and follows a page anyway. This is the default. 

Whereas robots.txt file directives give bots suggestions for how to crawl a website’s pages, robots meta directives provide more firm instructions on how to crawl and index a page’s content.

In most cases, using a meta robots tag with parameters “noindex, follow” should be employed as a way to to restrict crawling or indexation instead of using robots.txt file disallows.

The robots.txt file is used to guide a search engine as to which directories and files it should crawl. It does not stop content from being indexed and listed in search results.

The noindex robots meta tag tells search engines not to include content in search results and, if the content has already been indexed before, then they should drop the content entirely. It does not stop search engines from crawling content.

Robots.txt

robots.txt is a text file which sits in the root folder of your website. You can access it via FTP or your hosting login panel. 

The file must be named exactly robots.txt not Robots.txt or ROBOTS.TXT.

The robots.txt file is used to guide a search engine as to which directories and files it should crawl. 

It does not stop content from being indexed and listed in search results:

Reasons to use Robots.txt

Robots. txt files are best for disallowing a whole section of a site, such as a category.

Point Bots Away From Private Folders –  Prevent bots from checking out your private folders will make them much harder to find and index. Robots.txt does not prevent all bots from crawling pages, so If you have private information that you don’t want to make publicly searchable, choose a more secure approach, such as password protection, to keep visitors from viewing confidential pages.

Keep Resources Under Control / Crawl Budget – Each time a bot crawls through your site, it uses crawl budget. For sites with thousands of pages such as ecommerce sites, you can use up crawl budget really quickly, as it will crawl all pages, files and images. 

You can use robots.txt to make it difficult for bots to access individual scripts, PDFs and images; so it spends more of your crawl budget on the pages which actually matter. 

Specify Location Of Your Sitemap – Let crawlers know where your sitemap is located so that they can find pages and crawl your site easier.

Robots.txt directives

There are various commands you can use in a robots.txt file to tell crawlers what to do. Bear in mind that not all bots and crawlers will respect robots.txt and therefore you should not rely on it to prevent content from being indexed and crawled. 

Disallow

To block all web crawlers from all content use:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

To block a specific folder from being crawled by all crawlers:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /example-subfolder/

This would block an individual pdf file:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /directory/some-pdf.pdf

This would block an individual page:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /useless_file.html

This would block an individual image:

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /images/dogs.jpg

To block all images from being crawled, you can use this:

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

Remember – Even if you disallow a page in the robots.txt file, Google will still crawl the page if you have internal links pointing to it.

Be careful with trailing slashes on directories! For example:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /directory

This directive actually doesn’t allow search engines access to all of these:

  • /directory
  • /directory/
  • /directory-name-1
  • /directory-name.html
  • /directory-name.php
  • /directory-name.pdf

This is because when you append a forward slash to the directory name, it actually disallows crawling of a whole directory. 

Also bear in mind that the disallowed string may appear anywhere in the path if you use a trailing slash on the end, e.g. /directory/ would also block /my-folder/cards/directory/.

Wildcards

Using an asterisk * or wildcard means that it applies to all things you specify. It can be used to specify all crawlers (apart from Adbots) or it can be used to specify parts of URL, e.g.

User-agent: *
Disallow: *.html

This would stop crawlers from accessing any .html files on the site.  

Using an asterisk (*) matches all crawlers except the various AdsBot crawlers, which must be named explicitly. For example:

# Example 1: Block only Googlebot

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /

# Example 2: Block Googlebot and Adsbot

User-agent: Googlebot
User-agent: AdsBot-Google
Disallow: /

# Example 3: Block all but AdsBot crawlers

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The wildcard is supported by Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.

General Directives

To allow all web crawlers access to all content use:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

To block a specific crawler from crawling your site:

User-agent: Bingbot
Disallow: /

To block a specific crawler from crawling your site, but allow all others:

User-agent: Unnecessarybot
Disallow: /
User-agent: *
Allow: /

 

Allow

You might occasionally see an allow in a robots.txt file. This is used to tell a crawler it can crawl part of a subfolder previously not allowed – it is basically an override.  

User-agent: *
Allow: /media/terms-and-conditions.pdf
Disallow: /media/

Using the Allow and Disallow directives together you can tell search engines they can access a specific file or page within a directory that’s otherwise disallowed.

In the example above all search engines are not allowed to access the /media/ directory, except for the file /media/terms-and-conditions.pdf.

You could also just allow a single crawler (in this case Googlebot-news) to access the site and all others are disallowed, like this:

User-agent: Googlebot-news
Allow: /
User-agent: *
Disallow: /

If you wanted to hide your pages from search results, but allow access to Mediapartners-Google to analyse them, you would use this: (note the order is different to the example above, as the order matters!):

User-agent: *
Disallow: /
User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
Allow: /

The allow directive is supported by Google and Bing. 

Using $

The $ sign is used to specify the end of a URL, for example:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*.php$

In the example above search engines aren’t allowed to access all URLs which end with .php.

In this example, Googlebot cannot crawl any GIF files:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /*.gif$ 

In this example, no XLS files can be crawled by Googlebot:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /*.xls$

However, URLs with parameters, e.g. https://example.com/page.php?lang=en would not be disallowed, as the URL doesn’t end after .php

 

Path Matches

Here are some example path matches:
/ Matches the root and any lower level URL.
/* Equivalent to /. The trailing wildcard is ignored.
/$ Matches only the root. Any lower level URL is allowed for crawling.
/fish

Matches any path that starts with /fish.

Matches:

  • /fish
  • /fish.html
  • /fish/salmon.html
  • /fishheads
  • /fishheads/yummy.html
  • /fish.php?id=anything

Doesn’t match:

  • /Fish.asp
  • /catfish
  • /?id=fish
  • /desert/fish

Note: Matching is case-sensitive.

/fish*

Equivalent to /fish. The trailing wildcard is ignored.

Matches:

  • /fish
  • /fish.html
  • /fish/salmon.html
  • /fishheads
  • /fishheads/yummy.html
  • /fish.php?id=anything

Doesn’t match:

  • /Fish.asp
  • /catfish
  • /?id=fish
  • /desert/fish
/fish/

Matches anything in the /fish/ folder.

Matches:

  • /fish/
  • /animals/fish/
  • /fish/?id=anything
  • /fish/salmon.htm

Doesn’t match:

  • /fish
  • /fish.html
  • /Fish/Salmon.asp
/*.php

Matches any path that contains .php.

Matches:

  • /index.php
  • /filename.php
  • /folder/filename.php
  • /folder/filename.php?parameters
  • /folder/any.php.file.html
  • /filename.php/

Doesn’t match:

  • / (even if it maps to /index.php)
  • /windows.PHP
/*.php$

Matches any path that ends with .php.

Matches:

  • /filename.php
  • /folder/filename.php

Doesn’t match:

  • /filename.php?parameters
  • /filename.php/
  • /filename.php5
  • /windows.PHP
/fish*.php

Matches any path that contains /fish and .php, in that order.

Matches:

  • /fish.php
  • /fishheads/catfish.php?parameters

Doesn’t match: /Fish.PHP

 

Comments

Comments are preceded by a # and can either be placed at the start of a line or after a directive on the same line. Everything after the # will be ignored. These comments are meant for humans only. For example:

# Don’t allow access to the /wp-admin/ directory for all robots.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/

Blocking Parameter URLs

You can disallow parameters wildcards in robots like this:

Disallow: /*?*

However, this isn’t the best idea. It can lead to pages being blocked that you don’t want blocked, for example blog pages and also it doesn’t allow the crawlers to even look at those pages. 

Take a look at what Google’s John Mueller has to say:


Robots.txt Order of Rules

When matching robots.txt rules to URLs, crawlers use the most specific rule based on the length of the rule path. In case of conflicting rules, including those with wildcards, Google uses the least restrictive rule.

Sample conflict situations

http://example.com/page

allow: /p

disallow: /

Applicable rule: allow: /p, because it’s more specific.

http://example.com/folder/page

allow: /folder

disallow: /folder

Applicable rule: allow: /folder, because in case of conflicting rules, Google uses the least restrictive rule.

http://example.com/page.htm

allow: /page

disallow: /*.htm

Applicable rule: disallow: /*.htm, because the rule path is longer and it matches more characters in the URL, so it’s more specific.

http://example.com/page.php5

allow: /page

disallow: /*.ph

Applicable rule: allow: /page, because in case of conflicting rules, Google uses the least restrictive rule.

http://example.com/

allow: /$

disallow: /

Applicable rule: allow: /$, because it’s more specific.

http://example.com/page.htm

allow: /$

disallow: /

Applicable rule: disallow: /, because the allow rule only applies on the root URL.

Specifying Your Sitemap

You should always try to specify the sitemap in the robots.txt file as it helps Google to find it. 

You do this by showing crawlers where it is, like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/

Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap_index.xml

You can also specify multiple sitemaps too – 

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Sitemap: https://www.example.com/people.xml
Sitemap: https://www.example.com/blog-posts.xml

Always use the absolute (complete) URL for the sitemap, not just /sitemap.xml

Specifying A Crawl Delay

You can also use robots.txt to tell crawlers unofficially to crawl your website more slowly if they are crashing or overloading the site. You do this by adding a crawl delay, like this: Crawl-delay: 8

You can see how it works in action here, with the crawl delay only applicable to Bingbot in this robots.txt file:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /compare/

User-agent: BingBot
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /compare/
Crawl-delay: 10

Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

Google’s crawler, Googlebot, does not support the Crawl-delay directive, so don’t bother with defining a Google crawl-delay. Do it in Search Console instead.

The Crawl-delay directive is an unofficial directive used to prevent overloading servers with too many requests. 

Adding Crawl-delay to your robots.txt file is only a temporary fix.

Robots.txt Best Practices & Tips

  • Google has indicated that a robots.txt file is generally cached for up to 24 hours. It’s important to take this into consideration when you make changes in your robots.txt file.
  • Crawlers read the file from top to bottom and will obey the first directive it thinks matches
  • By blocking unimportant pages with robots.txt, Googlebot can spend more of your crawl budget on the pages that actually matter. Don’t block CSS!!
  • You can use a robots.txt file to block resource files such as unimportant image, script, or style files, if the page does not need this resource to be rendered.. However, if the absence of these resources make the page harder for Google’s crawler to understand the page, don’t block them, or search engines will not be able to analyse the page properly.
  • Rules are case-sensitive. For instance, disallow: /file.asp applies to https://www.example.com/file.asp, but not https://www.example.com/FILE.asp.
  • The # character marks the beginning of a comment.
  • Each directive needs to go on a separate line
  • Google no longer supports the NoIndex directive in robots.txt
  • You can only define one group of directives per search engine. Having multiple groups of directives for one search engine confuses them. 
  • If your content is already indexed, blocking access to it in robots.txt will not remove it from Google’s index
  • You need a separate robots.txt file for each subdomain, e.g. https://website.example.com/robots.txt

 

WordPress Robots.txt

Ideally, you want to allow / block the following for WordPress installations in robots.txt

User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/

You can find the robots.txt file in the root directory via FTP, or you can access robots.txt via various plugins such as Yoast SEO. 

Testing Robots.txt

You can test to see what’s blocked using the robots.txt testing tool on Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/robots-testing-tool

More Information on Robots.txt

For Joomla – https://docs.joomla.org/Robots.txt_file 

Wix – https://support.wix.com/en/article/editing-your-sites-robotstxt-file 

Shopify – https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/promoting-marketing/seo/editing-robots-txt 

Magento – https://docs.magento.com/user-guide/marketing/search-engine-robots.html

Robots Meta Tag

The robots meta tag is different from the robots.txt file. The robots.txt is better for excluding whole directories, whereas the robots meta tag is best for individual pages

It looks like this: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

It goes in the <head> section of a web page and it tells crawlers whether to index and follow a page or not. 

If you don’t add a robots meta tag, it’s assumed that the page is to be index, follow.

It does not stop search engines from crawling content, but it can stop them from indexing content.

Meta Tag Options

You can use these options with the meta tag – 

  • all – this is the default and is the same as index,follow
  • noindex – don’t index this page
  • noarchive – don’t show a cached link in search results. If you don’t specify this directive, Google may generate a cached page and users may access it through the search results.
  • index – this is the default – you don’t need to add this as it’s already implied
  • follow – Even if the page isn’t indexed, follow all the links on a page and pass on the link juice
  • nofollow – Don’t follow any links on a page or pass along any link equity.
  • noimageindex – Don’t index any images on a page
  • notranslate – don’t offer to translate this page in search results
  • nositelinkssearchbox – don’t show a site links search box for this page
  • nosnippet – Do not show a text snippet or video preview in the search results for this page. A static image thumbnail (if available) may still be visible, when it results in a better user experience. This applies to all forms of search results (at Google: web search, Google Images, Discover).
  • none – Equivalent to using both the noindex and nofollow tags simultaneously.
  • unavailable_after – Search engines should no longer index this page after a particular date.
  • indexifembedded – you can tell Google you’d still like your content indexed when it’s embedded through iframes and similar HTML tags in other pages, even when the content page has the noindex tag.

You can also implement max-snippet, max-image-preview and max-video-preview which sets the number of characters in a snippet, maximum size of an image preview and maximum number of seconds to show of a video.

 

Noindex, Nofollow

The noindex, no follow tag looks like this:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

This meta robots tag tells crawlers to not index the page in the search engines and to not follow any links.

If the page has already been indexed before, then search engines should remove the page from the search results.

It does not stop search engines from crawling content. 

Shopify Robots Meta Tag

You can add a noindex tag to individual pages using the <head> section of your theme.liquid layout file like this:

{% if handle contains ‘page-name’ %}

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”>

{% endif %}

X-Robots HTTP Header Tag

In order to use the x-robots-tag, you’ll need to be able to access your site’s website’s header .php, .htaccess, or server configuration file. If you do not have access to this, you will need to use meta robots tags to instruct crawlers.

The x-robots header goes in the HTTP header of a page and it looks like this:

 

You do not need to use both meta robots and the x-robots-tag on the same page – doing so would be redundant.

You can use the x-robots header on pages or files which you can’t use the robots meta tag, such as PDF files, videos etc. You can also use it to noindex only certain parts of the page as well. You can also specify crawling directives that are applied globally across a site. The support of regular expressions allows a higher level of flexibility than the robots meta tag.

You add the X-Robots tag to a website HTTP response header via either .htaccess or httpd.conf file on Apache or using NGINX.

You can use the same options for X-Robots as the meta tag options above. 

Apache

Add X-Robots For Certain File Types

For example, to add a noindex, nofollow X-Robots-Tag to the HTTP response for all .PDF files across an entire site, add the following snippet to the site’s root .htaccess file or httpd.conf file on Apache:.

<Files ~ “\.pdf$”>
   Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”
</Files>

Or if you wanted to noindex, noarchive and nosnippet all .doc and .pdf files you would add this in Apache:

<FilesMatch “.(doc|pdf)$”>
Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, noarchive, nosnippet”

You can also apply this to images across the whole site for example in Apache:

<Files ~ “\.(png|jpe?g|gif)$”>
  Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”
</Files>

Add X-Robots to Block Individual Files

You could also block individual files like this in Apache:

# the htaccess file must be placed in the directory of the matched file.
<Files “unicorn.pdf”>
  Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”
</Files>

The syntax is as follows for Apache to block any individual file:

<FilesMatch “filename”>
Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”
</FilesMatch>

Blocking Whole Directories with X-Robots

The X-Robots tag isn’t suitable for protecting entire folders in one go on a global level. However, you can create a separate .htaccess file to go in a folder you want to protect. The HTTP header will then apply to all pages and files within that folder. 

Say for example you want to prevent /wp-admin/ folder in WordPress from being indexed. You need to create a new .htaccess file with the following rule:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”

Then you can upload this to the /wp-admin/ folder via FTP. Every page in the /wp-admin/ folder will now serve the X-Robots HTTP header tag with the noindex, nofollow directives. 

Blocking Certain Crawlers with X-Robots

To set the header for an individual crawler, you can do this:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “googlebot: noindex, nofollow”

NGINX

Add X-Robots For Certain File Types

For example, to add a noindex, nofollow X-Robots-Tag to the HTTP response for all .PDF files across an entire site, add the following snippet to the site’s .conf file on NGINX:

location ~* \.pdf$ {
  add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;
}

Or if you wanted to noindex, noarchive and nosnippet all .doc and .pdf files you would add this in NGINX::

location ~* \.(doc|pdf)$ {
    add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow, nosnippet”;
}

You can also apply this to images across the whole site for example in the site’s .conf file on NGINX:

location ~* \.(png|jpe?g|gif)$ {
  add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex”;

Add X-Robots to Block Individual Files

You could also block individual files like this in the site’s .conf file on NGINX:

location = /secrets/unicorn.pdf {
  add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;
}

The syntax is as follows to block any individual file:

location = filename {
  add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;
}

PHP

You can also use PHP to set X-Robots tags like this:

header(‘X-Robots-Tag: noindex,nofollow’);

Or this

<?php header(‘X-Robots-Tag: index,archive’); ?>

They need to go at the very top of the file before any other code is run in order to work correctly. 

Checking X-Robots HTTP Headers

To check the tag using Google Search Console, go to URL Inspection, and click on Test live URL and View crawled page. You’ll see the information about the HTTP response in the More info section.

How To Stop Content From Being Indexed

If you want to stop content being indexed, you:

MUST use the NOINDEX tag
and
you MUST allow search engines to crawl the content.

If search engines CANNOT crawl the content then they CANNOT see the NOINDEX meta tag and therefore CANNOT exclude the content from search results.

Need a hand? Check out our SEO Services, get in touch or reach out for a free audit!

Blog

Giant Wednesday

Sign Up For More

Stay up to date with the latest happenings, learnings, events & more with our GIANT Newsletters.

Contact Us

Top Floor, The Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2QY.

 Show me directions

 01303 240715

 Send us a message

Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.

Implementing Canonical Tags – Technical SEO – SEO Advice

Implementing Canonical Tags – Technical SEO – SEO Advice

Home > Digital Guides

Canonical Tags Implementation Guide for Developers

What is a Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page.

We would use this where there are instances of duplicate or near-identical content existing on multiple URLs, that are unable to be resolved through another method such as rewriting content or implementing a redirect.

Essentially, it is a directive that tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.

Any content which is classed by search engines as being duplicate or extremely similar can have negative effects on rankings and user experience. Just a few instances of duplicate content can trigger Google to rank your site lower in the search results. You will be unable to recover your rankings until you’ve addressed the duplicate content. 

If you don’t tell Google which version of your content should be indexed, then Google will make that choice for you and the duplicate versions will be crawled less often. Sometimes this can lead to the wrong URL being indexed. 

Remember – even if you specify a canonical URL, Google may choose a different page as canonical, for various reasons. A canonical tag is a hint not a directive. 

Put simply:

Definition of canonical tags by Google Search Console

A canonical tag can either be self-referencing (where a canonical tag points to a page’s own URL) or can reference another page’s URL to consolidate signals.

Canonical Tags vs 301 Redirect vs Unindex

You should 301 redirect rather than canonicalise the following:

  • HTTP to HTTPS
  • Non-www to www (or vice versa)
  • Non-trailing slash to trailing slash (or vice versa)
  • When you delete a page or move it from URL A to URL B
  • You move to a new domain name
  • If you change your URL structure

Google doesn’t recommend blocking pages via robots.txt or noindexing the content, instead, it is better to let them crawl it and then mark them with a canonical tag:

Google Recommendation for Canonical Tags

Valid Reasons for Duplicate Content

There are a few valid reasons why you might have different URLs pointing to the same page:

To support different device types where the site serves different content: 

To enable dynamic URLs for search parameters, tracking parameters or session IDs:

If your site saves multiple URLs for the same post or content e.g. Shopify:

 All of these can cause duplicate content if they are not canonicalised to the main URL. 

Canonical Tag Example

So for example, say you have these 3 duplicate pages:

https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses

https://example.com/dresses?colour=green

https://example.com/dresses/women/green

You would (via Analytics and other methods) determine which is the “strongest” of these 3 pages – this would be your canonical page (not the one with parameters!) 

You need to mark the all 3 pages with the same rel=”canonical” link tag, like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses” />

This points Google to the strong version of the content and tells it that it should only index that one. 

So in this case, the strongest page has a self-canonical tag and the other two URLs are canonicalised to the main one:

https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses has a self-canonical of https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses

https://example.com/dresses?colour=green is canonicalised to https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses

https://example.com/dresses/women/green is canonicalised to https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses

This means that https://example.com/dresses/green-dresses should be indexed by Google. 

How to Implement Canonical Tags

There are 2 main ways to implement canonical tags, the most common of which is to use a meta tag in the <head> part of the page. 

rel=canonical <link> tag

Add a <link> tag in the code for all duplicate pages, pointing to the canonical page.

Pros:

  • Can map an infinite number of duplicate pages.

Cons:

  • Can be complex to maintain the mapping on larger sites, or sites where the URLs change often.
  • Only works for HTML pages, not for files such as PDF. In such cases, you can use the rel=canonical HTTP header.

The tag looks like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”URL OF PAGE”>

Canonical tags only go in the <head> part of the page, it cannot go in the <body> or anywhere else.

Canonical HTTP header

If you have access to your server and configure it, you can send a rel=canonical header in your page response rather than a HTML tag. This is especially useful for non-HTML documents such as PDF files.

Pros:

  • Can map an infinite number of duplicate pages.

Cons:

  • Can be complex to maintain the mapping on larger sites, or sites where the URLs change often.

 

Using PHP

Adding this header() function before any HTML is output will append a link rel=”canonical” HTTP header to the headers before they get sent.

Using .htaccess

The HTTP Header can be modified relatively easily using .htaccess for all content-types, such as PDF files. This solution works well for sites that have a relatively small amount of files which you need the header added to.

Simply replace file.pdf with the name of your pdf file and then page.html with the canonical URL for the PDF like this:

<Files “file-to-canonicalize.pdf”>

Header add Link “< http://www.website.com/canonical-page/>; rel=\”canonical\””

</Files>

 

Yoast SEO (WordPress) & Canonical Tags

You can add canonical tags to WordPress sites on individual pages by navigating to the Advanced section of the Yoast SEO section of a page (at the bottom) and adding a canonical tag there. This is only really suitable for individual pages, as it is very time-consuming to implement on larger sites page by page. 

Shopify & Canonical Tags

You can “fix” the canonical tags on Shopify by editing the theme’s liquid files. Shopify typically shows a single products on the following URLs:

They all return the same product, just on different URLs, and although Shopify does automatically canonicalise URLs, you will find internal links pointing to the duplicate versions, which can be confusing for search engines. You can clean this up by editing the theme’s collection-template.liquid file. Search for {{ product.url | within: collection }} in the file:

Edit this to say {{ product.url }}

You should now find that both your canonical tags and internal links are correct. 

Blogs & Paginated Pages and Canonical Tags

Paginated pages such as news and blog pages need to be specially considered. You should not canonicalise to the first page of a series, otherwise Google won’t necessarily see the other content. 

Each news / blog paginated page should have a self-canonical tag, e.g. page 2 should have this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=” https://www.domain.com/category?page=2″/

Here’s how your canonical tags should look:

Root paginated page (the first page in your paginated series)

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.domain.com/category“/>

Second page in the series (first after the root)

<link rel=”canonical” href=” https://www.domain.com/category?page=2″/>

Try to ensure that each paginated page is unique and valuable by adding relevant text to those pages. 

Note: If you have a “view all” version, then it is ok for all pages within a series to be canonicalised to the view all page. 

 

Parameter Pages & Canonical Tags

If you have pages with parameters on your site, this can lead to extensive duplicate content. Some examples may be from site searches, product filter options or tracking parameters, e.g:

You can add a self-canonical tag to the main page, which will help to avoid parameter pages being indexed in search results. 

So the canonical tag for https://www.domain.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email would be <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.domain.com/”>

The canonical tag for https://www.domain.com/collections/women?pf_t_colour=Pink&pf_t_outsole=Light+Duty  would be <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.domain.com/collections/women“>

The canonical tag for https://www.domain.com/search/?tag=rainbows would be <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.domain.com/search/“>

Canonicals and Languages 

It is a common misconception that languages are not considered duplicates. If the main content is in the same language (e.g. the header, footer and other text) is translated, but the body remains the same, then these are considered duplicates. 

For example, if you have a site which has different pages for English speaking users in the UK, USA and Ireland, these pages will be considered duplicates. 

To avoid this, you need to use hreflang tags along with canonical tags to help search engines work out which version of a page is for which language. 

  • Always specify a canonical tag in the same language. If you can’t use the best possible substitute language. 
  • Make sure you specify self-canonicals too. 

 

Syndicated Content & Canonical Tags

This is where your content is used on other peoples websites, for example news posting or blog posts which appear on multiple sites which you are the author of

You can reach out to the sites which have your post or news article on and ask them to add a rel=canonical tag pointing back to your post on their page. 

Your site then is recognised as the original publisher and any links to the article on other people’s sites will help you too! 

Canonical Tag Best Practices

  • If you are canonicalising a page to another page, make sure it’s an indexable page! Also, make sure it’s not blocked by robots.txt! 
  • Don’t canonicalise to a redirected page or a 404 page
  • Only canonicalise pages which are a duplicate or are near-identical.
  • Keep internal linking consistent – only link to the canonical URL, not the duplicate ones
  • Use absolute URLs not relative ones e.g. https://www.mysite.com/page-one rather than /page-one
  • Only specify one canonical tag per page
  • Specify the correct domain protocol e.g. http or https, either trailing slash or non-trailing slash and non-www or www URLs
  • Use Self-Referencing Canonical URLs if you are not canonicalising that page to a different URL. This helps prevent spammy scraper sites from taking credit for your content if you add a self-referential rel=canonical link on your site’s pages.
  • Don’t chain canonical tags (e.g. A -> B, B -> C).
  • Don’t use the URL removal tool for canonicalization. It removes all versions of a URL from Search.
  • Don’t specify different URLs as canonical for the same page using the same or different canonicalization techniques (for example, don’t specify one URL in a sitemap but a different URL for that same page using rel=”canonical”).

Interested in learning more, or having someone do this stuff for you? Get in touch, or check out our free SEO audits.

Blog

Giant Wednesday

Sign Up For More

Stay up to date with the latest happenings, learnings, events & more with our GIANT Newsletters.

Contact Us

Top Floor, The Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2QY.

 Show me directions

 01303 240715

 Send us a message

Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.

How To Structure & Add Content To Your Presentations & Talks For Online Events

How To Structure & Add Content To Your Presentations & Talks For Online Events

Home > Digital Guides

How To Come Up With Ideas & Structure Presentations/Talks For Online Audiences

How to structure and write talks for an online audience – those sitting behind webcams with plenty of distractions, rather than those in a room where their sole focus is you.

The structure of your talk, presentation or event is everything. If you’ve promised you’re going to debunk some myths, share some knowledge or answer some questions, then you’ve got to make sure you actually do – and not just with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer!

With the current state of the world meaning all these events, talks, presentations and workshops are hosted virtually online, and with a lot of people doing them, it’s now more important than ever that you make sure yours is best. 

The subject you talk about needs to be relevant and of interest to your audience, and like a real face-to-face presentation, the resources you use, like your slides, and the things you say will determine the value of your live experience.

These are the things that will make you stand out from the over-populated Zoom recording world we live in right now.

Content, the second pillar from the five we found made a kick-ass virtual experience.

  1. Personality
  2. Content
  3. Technical
  4. Creative
  5. Execution

Let us share some top tips on helping you define your content and structure your online talk:

01303 240715 | hello@sleepinggiantmedia.co.uk

☝️ Online event – 26th November @ 2pm ☝️

👇 Learn new, or more, digital skills to help your business grow online 👇

How To Come Up With Ideas & Structure Presentations/Talks For Online Audiences

How to structure and write talks for an online audience – those sitting behind webcams with plenty of distractions, rather than those in a room where their sole focus is you.

The structure of your talk, presentation or event is everything. If you’ve promised you’re going to debunk some myths, share some knowledge or answer some questions, then you’ve got to make sure you actually do – and not just with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer!

With the current state of the world meaning all these events, talks, presentations and workshops are hosted virtually online, and with a lot of people doing them, it’s now more important than ever that you make sure yours is best. 

The subject you talk about needs to be relevant and of interest to your audience, and like a real face-to-face presentation, the resources you use, like your slides, and the things you say will determine the value of your live experience.

These are the things that will make you stand out from the over-populated Zoom recording world we live in right now.

Content, the second pillar from the five we found made a kick-ass virtual experience.

  1. Personality
  2. Content
  3. Technical
  4. Creative
  5. Execution

Let us share some top tips on helping you define your content and structure your online talk:

Finding Content Ideas For Your Talk & Presentation

So, finding things to talk about should be your first port of call really! You don’t just want to deliver a talk or host an event because everyone else is… you need to have something worthwhile to deliver. 

Finding common questions or regularly sought after topics of discussion is a great way to find content ideas that you can generate into talks for social media lives, or event style talks if other content mediums don’t quite cut it. 

For some inspiration we recommend:

  • Identify 25 ideal customers on LinkedIn – look at the content they share and engage with – are these things/topics/ideas something you can add more value to? Is live delivery a great idea for these so you can provide further insight into with a live question and answer session?
  • Use tools such as Answer The Public to see what questions are being asked in your sector, or based on a topic/product/area you’re particularly interested or knowledgeable in – again if you can provide further value to these audience members in a live capacity, go for it!

Ok, so now you’ve got your idea and are ready to build this bad boy out, let’s talk presentation structure.

How to structure your knowledge-share presentations

In public speaking, debate, and in much communication in life, three really is the magic number. 

The human brain finds it relatively easy to grasp three points all at once – which gives us, as presenters and speakers a really nice way to set the scene, set our argument/point and then conclude it. 

The best way to structure your presentation then, based on the magic three that helps us digest and understand points better, is the following:

  • An introduction – set out the purpose or focus for the session, set the dilemma or the problem.
  • The middle – where you present your information and knowledge, your argument or debate, giving the audience insight and food for thought.
  • A conclusion – something that sees the introduction issue resolved, or focus achieved, as well as road-mapping your audience to further experiences, resources or learnings

Within the main body of your presentation, you can divide your key message into three elements also, and then expand each of those points into three sub-points. You get the picture.  

If you are using a visual aid, such as some slides, limit the number of bullet points to three on each slide and expand on each of these as you go along. Don’t let them tell the story, let them assist in your telling of the story instead. 

Slide decks in a virtual arena need to be minimal but well designed. They are no longer being projected or displayed full screen so pay attention to visuals, font sizes and the positioning of other information on the screen specific to the streaming/virtual platform being used.

What, Why, How?

Another structure for your presentations or events uses the questions “What?”, “Why?” and “How?” to communicate your story to the audience. In a way, this also harnesses the power of three but is more attuned to driving a specific action.

What?” identifies the key message, issues or dilemmas you wish to communicate. Think about the benefit of your message for your audience. What will they gain, what can they do with the information, and what will the benefit be? In a virtual world, you will need to keep this punchy and engaging.

Why?” addresses the natural curiosity that arises for the audience. Having been shown the “what”, the audience will naturally then start to think “why should I do that?”, “why should I think that?” or “why should that be the case?”. 

Directly addressing the “why?” question in the second stage of your presentation means that you are answering these curiosities and your talk is following a natural flow through the material. This will ensure that you have the audience on your side from the start.

How?” is the final question that naturally arises in the audience’s head. They want to know how they are going to achieve this new ideal. Instead of telling people exactly how they should act on your message, offer suggestions as to how they can act, perhaps using real-life examples.

You should always use evidence, case studies or personal examples to try to back up what you say, but try to ensure that you use them in the form of stories. Who doesn’t like a story?

How to refine your talk from its first draft

Once you have the first draft of your presentation or talk, it is important to review and edit this over time, so make sure you have created your deck in plenty of time. This will help to ensure that it really does get your point across in the most effective way. 

When editing presentation content for a virtual audience, you should consider:

The language

Make sure that what you are saying will be clear to your audience. Remove any jargon and try to use plain English instead. If necessary, explain the terms when you first use them. Put new words on screen.

Sentence structure

Use short sentences and keep the structure simple. Remember that you will be talking through your ideas and that the audience will be listening rather than reading. Also, note the slides are there to provide and assist in a narrative not to detail all the information.

The flow

Make sure that your presentation structure leads your audience through your ideas and helps them to draw your conclusion for themselves. Use metaphors and stories to aid understanding and retention.

‘Hooks’ 

These hooks are used to gain and hold the audience’s attention. Ensure that you have included several ‘hooks’ at various points in the presentation. This could be a game, a joke, a leading question. This will help you to get and then keep the audience’s attention. Also consider including stories, or audience participation, or some alternative visual aids, such as a short video or demo.

Check, and double-check

Most specifically, for spelling and grammar. Make sure that any presentation slides or illustrations, titles, captions, handouts or similar are free from spelling mistakes and copyright infringements. Online is online.

What else is there other than Powerpoint presentations?

And as we’ve alluded, the above advice doesn’t just apply to the classic slide deck or Powerpoint presentation – these apply to most forms of content you chose to accompany your voice when presenting. 

Other content types you could use include: 

  • Competitions 
  • Live challenges
  • Interviews
  • Product/Service Reviews
  • Screen sharing (not of your slides, maybe a live demo?)
  • Quizzes (we recommend Kahoot)
  • News Roundup
  • Video
  • Animation
  • Downloadables/Resources

All of these things can accompany a slide deck, or be the primary. If it doesn’t come easily to mind how you could incorporate your story or narrative into one of these, then it’s safe to say it’s probably not the best content medium for your talk – so have a bit of a brainstorm and see what you can produce.

The actual writing of your presentation or talk is really the final stage of your preparation. The subconscious has got to work on it in the background from the get go.

If you have done your homework, you will already be clear about the reason why you are presenting, the subject content and the main points you want to discuss.

Actually putting it down on paper or into a slide deck should, therefore, be relatively straightforward and the last act in the process.

So that was some advice on how to structure your presentation and talk, especially in an online world and virtual environment. And how you can mix it up with different content types.

Remember, whilst we are all at home watching these in our lounges there are a hundred more distractions than there were in an events venue or hall – capturing and retaining the attention of our audiences is more important and challenging than ever before.

Giving them exactly what they want from the get go by providing talks and presentations on topics they’re actually interested in is the first step to success in a world where everyone and their aunt seems to be running a talk of some kind. 

Value. Engagement. Takeaways. Experience – think of these and you’ll be fine. 

And if you’ve got the talk written or ready, but are now panicking a bit about your delivery of the talk from a personal perspective, then here’s some advice on how to public speak online!

Sign Up For Updates Like This Straight To Your Inbox

Just fill in the form to sign up and we’ll send you out digital updates when we have them! Don’t worry, we won’t spam your inbox, who the heck wants that?!

Want to know more?

Reach out and say hello. Come experience the GIANT side.

Blog

Giant Wednesday

Sign Up For More

Stay up to date with the latest happenings, learnings, events & more with our GIANT Newsletters.

Contact Us

Top Floor, The Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2QY.

 Show me directions

 01303 240715

 Send us a message

Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.

Tips On Improving Your Online Public Speaking & Virtual Delivery Skills

Tips On Improving Your Online Public Speaking & Virtual Delivery Skills

Home > Digital Guides

How To Improve Your Online Public Speaking & Virtual Delivery

Advice on delivering events, meetings, classes and more online and virtually in a confident and professional manner to improve your audiences experience – leaving them wow’ed.

The world is awash with virtual events and virtual networking with essentially everything that once was…  now virtual and online. Your meetings, your yoga classes, your pub quizzes, recruitment, sales pitches… even your Grandad’s birthday party!

Like in the ‘real world’ (which we should probably stop calling the real world now…), not everyone is designed to be a master of ceremonies. Not everyone is confident delivering or public speaking to an audience, and that’s fair enough! But there are SO many benefits to killer virtual delivery and public speaking.

In fact, some people find delivering virtual events much easier than in person, and some find it to be the other way completely. But it’s safe to say that you won’t know until you try it. 

 

Whether you want to learn how to improve your own presentation and public speaking skills, or you want to know what to look for when auditioning or finding representatives to lead on the live delivery itself, we’ve got some advice. 

We were able to break down awesome and effective live delivery into five pillars after months, if not years, of trial and error. Five pillars that will constitute success if executed beautifully. And one such pillar is ‘personality’.

The personality pillar is all about the lead, the host, their likability and general ability to deliver to an audience. 

So, whether you’re looking to deliver virtually or physically, here are some live presentation skills:

01303 240715 | hello@sleepinggiantmedia.co.uk

☝️ Online event – 26th November @ 2pm ☝️

👇 Learn new, or more, digital skills to help your business grow online 👇

How To Improve Your Online Public Speaking & Virtual Delivery

Advice on delivering events, meetings, classes and more online and virtually in a confident and professional manner to improve your audiences experience – leaving them wow’ed.

The world is awash with virtual events and virtual networking with essentially everything that once was…  now virtual and online. Your meetings, your yoga classes, your pub quizzes, recruitment, sales pitches… even your Grandad’s birthday party!

Like in the ‘real world’ (which we should probably stop calling the real world now…), not everyone is designed to be a master of ceremonies. Not everyone is confident delivering or public speaking to an audience, and that’s fair enough! But there are SO many benefits to killer virtual delivery and public speaking.

In fact, some people find delivering virtual events much easier than in person, and some find it to be the other way completely. But it’s safe to say that you won’t know until you try it. 

 

Whether you want to learn how to improve your own presentation and public speaking skills, or you want to know what to look for when auditioning or finding representatives to lead on the live delivery itself, we’ve got some advice. 

We were able to break down awesome and effective live delivery into five pillars after months, if not years, of trial and error. Five pillars that will constitute success if executed beautifully. And one such pillar is ‘personality’.

The personality pillar is all about the lead, the host, their likability and general ability to deliver to an audience. 

So, whether you’re looking to deliver virtually or physically, here are some live presentation skills:

Bring Your Public Speaking To Life

Just like delivering live presentations or when talking on a stage to deliver a talk, you want to present with energy, animation and enthusiasm. 

To slow, to monotone, to lifeless and it’s easy for your audience to disengage, tune out and not give you the chance you thought you deserved. 

Essentially, if you want to keep people engaged, virtually or otherwise, you need to actually be engaging. 

Why not watch a video, or sign up to talks with your favourite presenter or host – watch the way they deliver looking at things like their tone of voice, how they emphasise certain words, how they use hand gestures and body language and how they convey their confidence. 

Even the most practised public speaker will still be nervous during their presentation delivery to this day – but with confidence and engagement as their goal, they’re able to power through. 

Pace Yourself Well When Public Speaking

I don’t think anyone knew how much we relied on body language and facial expressions as feedback cues until we entered this world where it’s so easy to literally block your face from view!

And no one was sure of the impact this would have on your virtually delivery pacing and style either.

We’ve mentioned bringing your delivery to life through things such as adding energy and animation but don’t let that increase your tempo too much. And the same with nerves, if you practice ahead of time a few times you’ll know what’s coming next and won’t be rushing one line in an attempt to remember what’s coming next. 

If you tend to be a fast talker, practice slowing down just a little bit. Use pacers such as taking a sip of water which can let you stop, breathe and re-evaluate. A great time to look at the clock and see if you’re further ahead of behind where you should be. 

And if you’re a slow talker, then you should practice speeding it up a little bit. This could be by just increasing your tempo, or even by minimising the amount you have to say – condensing two sentences into something sharper, snappier and more succinct.

Engage your virtual audience

Just as if you were doing an in-person presentation, talk, pitch or class, you want to create content that will engage your audience – keeping them focused, attentive and entertained. 

The virtual world of public speaking offers some advantages to engagement activities in comparison to the ‘real world’:

Things like the chat function in most platforms like Zoom and Google Meet enable constant interaction and conversation – something that isn’t easy to do in real life as no one wants to talk over the host! As a host you can use this to engage individuals too, calling out people’s names when they make good points or ask questions. 

Some streaming platforms also have options like polls, Q&As and raised hand buttons – all of these involve and engage the audience, rather than them just watching the host and nod along behind their devices. 

Gamification is a great way to engage your audience online so look at things like Kahoot and look at how you could incorporate games and engagement points into your delivery. 

Keep these engagement methods and visual interruptions regular, but don’t let them distract from the points you’re trying to make, only enhance them. 

Look the camera in the eye

Exactly what it says on the tin… look into your camera when you’re speaking – not the screen, not yourself, not the participants, the camera.

This will give the illusion of eye contact to each individual member of your audience, and we all know how engaging a tool eye contact is in any conversation, let alone public speaking.

This will take some practice, but putting your camera at eye level and central will help you achieve this. 

Maintaining this faux eye-contact is essential to give the illusion of (or better yet actual) paying attention. It also screams confidence! 

Try and keep this up whether you’re talking or not, don’t give yourself a chance to look distracted and uninterested.

Frame yourself on camera

This is something you should do regardless of whether you’re the speaker or not, it’s an element of professionalism.

Frame your face, neck and shoulders central to the screen – naturally we’re drawn to each other’s faces, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to form that natural connection with your audience.

There’s nothing worse than looking to see who’s speaking and someones looking down at their camera so you can see up their nose, or it’s just their forehead up close.

Actually, this isn’t only a matter of professionalism… it’s a matter of not looking unflattering!

Depending on your reasons for live delivery, you may need to frame yourself differently, but we recommend the head and shoulders approach for most direct talking. 

Too far away, and your message is lost as we take in your surroundings rather than yourself… unless you’re a yoga instructor, in which case you probably need some space to do your thang.

 

On your feet soldiers

Whilst still considering your framing, see if you can use a standing desk or a taller setup when delivering virtually. 

Standing up helps you with all the points mentioned above, giving you higher energy levels and forcing your body into presenter mode as you stand up straight and tall. 

If you cannot stand up and have to sit down, position yourself like you’re a newsreader – don’t slouch or shy away, scream confidence in your body language.

It’s been scientifically proven that when you slouch over, you compress your lung capacity which, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen in your brain – so not only will it convey an element of timidness, it’ll also stop your brain from working in all its glory!

Sit or stand up straight – think better, feel better.

Use a chat moderator

The best piece of advice we can give to avoid distractions and give you an otherwise flawless virtual delivery, is to use a chat moderator and turn off/hide chat whilst you’re delivering. 

As soon as you hear those chats come through, you are distracted and you might not think it does… but it shows. From an eye darting across the screen (remember we can see you close up these days) through to you stumbling over a word. Even worse, when you forget what you were saying and the dreaded ‘dead air’ happens. 

A moderator, however, can help you monitor the chats. Their sole responsibility will be to reply to any quick questions like ‘will we be sent the slides?’, to post any links to things you reference, engage with your audience generally and even to collate the bigger questions and present them back to you at the end. 

If you do ask people to get involved in the chat then don’t let it fall to silence. Read out the questions, answers or chats you’re receiving – don’t assume everyone’s reading the chat just because you are. Reference people by their name to engage them further and to let them know you’re addressing their comment. Another engagement opportunity!

 

Know Your Virtual Speaking Technology

Nothing kills the flow faster than a host who fumbles with the technology. It was funny at the beginning, but if you don’t know how to screen share over 200 days into a virtual working lockdown… then there’s a larger problem at hand!

Consider this a performance, but without the opportunity to do more than one take – you’d learn your lines, your directions… right? Now do the same, but your technology.

A practice run is essential so that not only are you comfortable with the platform you’re presenting on and all it’s many buttons, but so you know, in advance, if anything is glitching out. At least if you know the Q&A function, or the second camera isn’t working you can steer clear of it in your delivery and try something you know does work. 

And to really help you out, try and involve a co-host, moderator or producer to support you. They can be in charge of admitting people into rooms, sharing certain slides, clicking certain buttons… all of this taking one less stress of your shoulders so you can deliver beautifully and confidently.

Ultimately, you should just have fun – if you’re having fun, it will be a better experience for all involved. Audiences connect to authenticity, so just be yourself. 

Let your personality and humour shine through, and set yourself goals to get people smiling and involved.

Really, all of this boils down to knowing your stuff in advance of your live delivery. Knowing your stuff will mean you’ll be brimming with confidence, providing a stellar experience for your audience and delighting them in every which way. 

Who wouldn’t want their virtual speaking personality to be that of ‘oh, they really know what they’re doing!’?

Where possible, always look to evaluate and improve your performance. Perhaps you could record your session and play it back to look for things you could work on next time? Maybe you could ask for feedback from your guests? Either way, make sure you look for strengths as well as areas of improvement.

Remember, whether you are presenting in-person or virtually, to a few people, to thousands of people, all presentations are performances

Your audience’s time is valuable, so pay tribute to that by delivering the best virtual experience you can. No matter what kind of talk, show or presentation you are giving, try to find ways to create authentic audience connection, engagement, and value from the experience. 

 

And if you fancy learning even more about how you can be a fantastic speaker, host or presenter then join us on the 26th November to become Virtually Perfect – we’ll be covering all five pillars of virtual content.

Sign Up For Updates Like This Straight To Your Inbox

Just fill in the form to sign up and we’ll send you out digital updates when we have them! Don’t worry, we won’t spam your inbox, who the heck wants that?!

Want to know more?

Reach out and say hello. Come experience the GIANT side.

Blog

Giant Wednesday

Sign Up For More

Stay up to date with the latest happenings, learnings, events & more with our GIANT Newsletters.

Contact Us

Top Floor, The Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2QY.

 Show me directions

 01303 240715

 Send us a message

Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.

Getting More Blog Traffic To Your Website In 2020

Getting More Blog Traffic To Your Website In 2020

Home > Digital Guides

How To Get More Traffic To Your Blogs & Website In 2022

You want more traffic to your blogs and website, understandable, so follow this guide on how to up your existing blog game.

So, you’ve had a look at your numbers, you’ve had a look at your search rankings, and have decided you could do with more traffic to your website. We understand! Not to mention that the content world had a bit of a shake-up in 2019 with Google’s BERT update. 

The best way to get a quick boost is to refresh old content on your blog. Creating new, great quality blog content can be time-intensive; so, instead of spending all of your time writing new content, leave some time to update your blog content and make sure it still answers people’s questions. This will help you in search results.

This process is often known as historical optimisation.

01303 240715 | hello@sleepinggiantmedia.co.uk

How To Get More Traffic To Your Blogs & Website In 2022

You want more traffic to your blogs and website, understandable, so follow this guide on how to up your existing blog game.

So, you’ve had a look at your numbers, you’ve had a look at your search rankings, and have decided you could do with more traffic to your website. We understand! Not to mention that the content world had a bit of a shake-up in 2019 with Google’s BERT update. 

The best way to get a quick boost is to refresh old content on your blog. Creating new, great quality blog content can be time-intensive; so, instead of spending all of your time writing new content, leave some time to update your blog content and make sure it still answers people’s questions. This will help you in search results.

This process is often known as historical optimisation.

Why does refreshing blog content generate more traffic?

Out of its many ranking factors, freshness is high on the list of what Google looks for when it decides quality. This makes sense; what matters most with the BERT update is how well your content answers a user’s query. So if you wrote about something three years ago, then some things in the post are likely to be outdated now. So, it’s time to blow off the dust and give it a (soon-to-be) spring clean.

That said, you’ll find that often what you were fundamentally talking about remains the same – it’s just a few of the details that have changed. So a real benefit here is that you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time updating posts to ensure you still have great content.

The other main reason why refreshing content is a great idea is that you have much more data on older posts – you can use this data to avoid the time-consuming guesswork you’d otherwise have to do with new content.

Older blog posts, just through having been live for longer, have more search authority. This means that comparatively smaller changes on these posts can have more of an effect in the short term than writing new posts. 

It often helps to think of this through the analogy of housekeeping: if you’ve already gone through the time, effort, and expense of building your ‘house’, then it’s a huge waste if you let it fall apart.

 

What content should you choose to refresh?

So, you have your pile of old content, but where do you start with the refresh? If you haphazardly go into different articles and change things without a plan – you’re unlikely to see any positive results.

Firstly, you need to collate a list of the older posts on your blog so you can create a strategy for revising them. You need to use this in order to decide where you’re going to see the greatest return on time investment. A post getting 20k clicks a month may seem great, but if you can spend a few hours getting a 2% increase on this then it’ll be a much more profitable increase than seeing a 200% rise on a 200-click-a-month post.

In short, start with your old highest-performing posts and see what changes can be made there.

The best way to check this is by utilising your Analytics software: in Google Analytics simply go to “Behaviour > Overview”, click ‘view full report’ at the bottom, show the max amount of rows and export to whichever format you prefer.

Now, search volume and click-throughs may not be the most important metric for you to measure success by. So use this exported file to filter your data based on what’s valuable to you. You may, for example, get a steady 1k click-throughs per blog post, but some posts may have much higher email signups; if that’s what’s important to you, then clearly you need to optimise your content for this.

These high-performing posts are also the ones your competitors are going to be most likely to imitate. So be proactive and make sure they comprehensively answer what your readers need answering.

Considering the amount of content that’s published every day, competition for those top spots is fierce. Spending time revisiting content (even using some free tools along the way) is going to give you a great shot of driving more traffic.

So how do you actually refresh your blog content?

Take a look at the sections below where we explore ten ways to refresh your blog content.

1. Optimise for the search terms that people are already using 💻

The best thing about older posts is that you can see how people have actually found them, regardless of which keywords you think people were using.

For a social media perspective, you can use a tool like Buzzsumo to track your most-shared posts, as well as see how people are talking about them. You might realise that people refer to your products or services in a much different way than you think.

A great, free, way to check how people are landing on your pages is to use Google Search Console. Get together a list of the keywords people are actually using to reach your pages and optimise for them. The more topically relevant pages that are bringing in traffic, the better! 

That said, be careful of overly-broad keywords or phrases. A digital marketer trying to optimise for ‘ad manager’, for example, may think they’re competing against other ad management services rather than the more likely option – Facebook.

Remember to use the exact keyphrases you found in Search Console in your CTAs – if that’s what people were using to find your site, then that’s what they’ll click on.

3. Update your older posts’ titles and meta descriptions for SEO 🕵️‍♀️

You do need to grab people’s attention. But try to avoid overly-clickbaity language because it rings false: if everyone is offering ‘REAL business changes that convert’ then people quickly stop believing you. 

Keep your titles between 50-60 characters, use your keywords, and use emotive language that encourages people to feel a certain way. You don’t need to deceive people, you just need to let them know why you matter.

5. Check for any knowledge or information deficits in older posts ✅

Times change. Older posts you’ve written may suggest using best practices that are now outdated or recommend methods and tools that you no longer use.

As you learn more, you realise that a lot of what you used to know is no longer all that relevant. Make sure you reflect this in your blog posts so you’re not sending your readers to 404 pages or inefficient tools.

7. Update your blog contents publishing date or make a note 📅

If you’ve made a substantial change to your blog post, then it could quite naturally be considered ‘newly published’, so it’s worth updating your publication date. Google will see this as fresh content and users will likely think of it as more relevant to them now.

And if you’re conscious of having been the first to say something, just add an ‘originally published’ note at the end of the post!

9. Invest in visuals for your blog content 📸

After all this, you could have the most well-written content in the world, but if your site looks and feels low quality then people are going to assume the content is too. Ultimately, this is going to result in a higher bounce rate and, subsequently, lower ranking.

Invest in the look and feel of your site. Great infographics, beautiful imagery, and cross-platform video content go a long way to keeping people engaged.

Pro tip: repurpose your refreshed content into multimedia formats.

Different people like to digest information in different ways – so if you convert your blog content into a YouTube video or a Spotify podcast, then it gives you more general reach across social networks and allows people to engage however they wish.

2. Make your content more relevant, more accurate, and more comprehensive 🧠

If you’re wanting to promote it as such on social channels, you need to make enough of a substantial update to a blog post to justify ‘publishing as new’. This doesn’t have to take forever!

Once you’ve checked that your content is really up to date, be sure to take some simple steps to improve readability. The easier your content is for users to digest, the more they’ll stick around, and the more Google will see this as a signal that your content is great!

Format your lines to be roughly 50-75 characters across and ensure your paragraphs are economic. Aim for around 2-to-4 sentences (5-6 lines) per paragraph – make it varied. Say what you need to say and grab your audience without resorting to 1-line-at-a-time gimmicks or overly-clickbaity language.

However… 

4. Weave your internal links to help the spiders (and readers) 👓

As you write more content for your blog, you likely explore some topics in much more in-depth ways than you did in your older posts. So, as you go through your older posts, make sure you link to more in-depth recent content. This helps the search engine bots find your content more easily and helps your readers gain a more comprehensive knowledge of whatever it is they’re searching for.

Internal links also aren’t very obtrusive. Readers can choose to follow them or not, at their own pace. So using them in ways that provide sources for information or provide more information is a great way for readers to want to stay on your site.

6. Check your internal and external links and react accordingly 🔗

Not only should you check the links you’re offering out to people (as well as other pages on your site), but you should check the links that your site is receiving. 

You may have moved a page and forgotten to set up a redirect, or someone else may be linking to a now-outdated page of yours. Google has always thought of backlinks as a significant quality indicator; so conducting a backlink analysis and contacting relevant webmasters to let them know about your newly-spruced content can be a great way to give a quick boost.

8. Proofread your blog content! 📚

This should go without saying, but proofread your blog posts as you go.

When you’re in the writing zone, it’s easy to pass over grammar and spelling mistakes because you know what you intended with a piece of writing. With that bit of time and your fresh eyes, however, you can much more easily spot things you didn’t before.

As we said already, there is a lot of competition, so you need to make sure that your content is the best it can be.

10. Let your email lists know about your ‘new’ content 📧

People on your email lists have signed up because they liked something of yours at some point. If someone found value from older blog content of yours, they’re likely to be open to the value of an updated blog. 

So let them know. Tell them that you’ve updated your blog content and there’s a good chance that they’ll not only go to it, but they’ll recommend it to other people – and boost traffic to your site.

1. Optimise for the search terms that people are already using 💻

The best thing about older posts is that you can see how people have actually found them, regardless of which keywords you think people were using.

For a social media perspective, you can use a tool like Buzzsumo to track your most-shared posts, as well as see how people are talking about them. You might realise that people refer to your products or services in a much different way than you think.

A great, free, way to check how people are landing on your pages is to use Google Search Console. Get together a list of the keywords people are actually using to reach your pages and optimise for them. The more topically relevant pages that are bringing in traffic, the better! 

That said, be careful of overly-broad keywords or phrases. A digital marketer trying to optimise for ‘ad manager’, for example, may think they’re competing against other ad management services rather than the more likely option – Facebook.

Remember to use the exact keyphrases you found in Search Console in your CTAs – if that’s what people were using to find your site, then that’s what they’ll click on.

2. Make your content more relevant, more accurate, and more comprehensive 🧠

If you’re wanting to promote it as such on social channels, you need to make enough of a substantial update to a blog post to justify ‘publishing as new’. This doesn’t have to take forever!

Once you’ve checked that your content is really up to date, be sure to take some simple steps to improve readability. The easier your content is for users to digest, the more they’ll stick around, and the more Google will see this as a signal that your content is great!

Format your lines to be roughly 50-75 characters across and ensure your paragraphs are economic. Aim for around 2-to-4 sentences (5-6 lines) per paragraph – make it varied. Say what you need to say and grab your audience without resorting to 1-line-at-a-time gimmicks or overly-clickbaity language.

However… 

3. Update your older posts’ titles and meta descriptions for SEO 🕵️‍♀️

You do need to grab people’s attention. But try to avoid overly-clickbaity language because it rings false: if everyone is offering ‘REAL business changes that convert’ then people quickly stop believing you. 

Keep your titles between 50-60 characters, use your keywords, and use emotive language that encourages people to feel a certain way. You don’t need to deceive people, you just need to let them know why you matter.

4. Weave your internal links to help the spiders (and readers) 👓

As you write more content for your blog, you likely explore some topics in much more in-depth ways than you did in your older posts. So, as you go through your older posts, make sure you link to more in-depth recent content. This helps the search engine bots find your content more easily and helps your readers gain a more comprehensive knowledge of whatever it is they’re searching for.

Internal links also aren’t very obtrusive. Readers can choose to follow them or not, at their own pace. So using them in ways that provide sources for information or provide more information is a great way for readers to want to stay on your site.

5. Check for any knowledge or information deficits in older posts ✅

Times change. Older posts you’ve written may suggest using best practices that are now outdated or recommend methods and tools that you no longer use.

As you learn more, you realise that a lot of what you used to know is no longer all that relevant. Make sure you reflect this in your blog posts so you’re not sending your readers to 404 pages or inefficient tools.

6. Check your internal and external links and react accordingly 🔗

Not only should you check the links you’re offering out to people (as well as other pages on your site), but you should check the links that your site is receiving. 

You may have moved a page and forgotten to set up a redirect, or someone else may be linking to a now-outdated page of yours. Google has always thought of backlinks as a significant quality indicator; so conducting a backlink analysis and contacting relevant webmasters to let them know about your newly-spruced content can be a great way to give a quick boost.

7. Update your blog contents publishing date or make a note 📅

If you’ve made a substantial change to your blog post, then it could quite naturally be considered ‘newly published’, so it’s worth updating your publication date. Google will see this as fresh content and users will likely think of it as more relevant to them now.

And if you’re conscious of having been the first to say something, just add an ‘originally published’ note at the end of the post!

8. Proofread your blog content! 📚

This should go without saying, but proofread your blog posts as you go.

When you’re in the writing zone, it’s easy to pass over grammar and spelling mistakes because you know what you intended with a piece of writing. With that bit of time and your fresh eyes, however, you can much more easily spot things you didn’t before.

As we said already, there is a lot of competition, so you need to make sure that your content is the best it can be.

9. Invest in visuals for your blog content 📸

After all this, you could have the most well-written content in the world, but if your site looks and feels low quality then people are going to assume the content is too. Ultimately, this is going to result in a higher bounce rate and, subsequently, lower ranking.

Invest in the look and feel of your site. Great infographics, beautiful imagery, and cross-platform video content go a long way to keeping people engaged.

Pro tip: repurpose your refreshed content into multimedia formats.

Different people like to digest information in different ways – so if you convert your blog content into a YouTube video or a Spotify podcast, then it gives you more general reach across social networks and allows people to engage however they wish.

10. Let your email lists know about your ‘new’ content 📧

People on your email lists have signed up because they liked something of yours at some point. If someone found value from older blog content of yours, they’re likely to be open to the value of an updated blog. 

So let them know. Tell them that you’ve updated your blog content and there’s a good chance that they’ll not only go to it, but they’ll recommend it to other people – and boost traffic to your site.

Use this strategy as a parallel to new content

It might be easy as a content marketer to think that you can just revise your old content and rest on your laurels. Unfortunately, this needs to still be parallel to writing new content. The world is always changing, so you need to keep up, but it’s easier to keep up when you have a good foundation to run on!

The key takeaway here is that you can be spending less effort revising older content so that you can use your saved time writing even better new content. So go forth and give your blogs some much-needed new life!

Sign Up For Digital Marketing Updates Straight To Your Inbox

Just fill in the form to sign up and we’ll send you out digital updates when we have them! Don’t worry, we won’t spam your inbox, who the heck wants that?!

Want to know more?

Reach out and say hello. Come experience the GIANT side.

Blog

Giant Wednesday

Sign Up For More

Stay up to date with the latest happenings, learnings, events & more with our GIANT Newsletters.

Contact Us

Top Floor, The Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2QY.

 Show me directions

 01303 240715

 Send us a message

Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.