Acronym Check! Helpful Marketing terms and descriptions

In digital marketing, as with any industry, a certain jargon gets entrenched in every day conversations. You may find yourself nodding along wishing there was a dictionary you could reference not only to know what the many, many acronyms stand for – but what they mean. Well look no further!

  • AWQL – Adwords Query Language – Within Google Ads (previously Adwords) there is a proprietary set of function calls riding on top of traditional SQL (Structured Query Language) that allows you to perform some pretty cool and powerful reporting actions.
  • CPC – Cost Per Click – this describes the amount of money you pay each time your advertisement is clicked on a search engine results page.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheet – this is a file format for setting styles on a website. Everything from the page layout to the font, sizes, and colors, can be controlled centrally from the CSS file. Different styles can “cascade” down to members and children of different classes or identifiers.
  • CTA – Call To Action – once someone arrives on your site either from an organic listing or a paid ad, there’s usually something you want them to do. Either purchase an item, make a donation, download a whitepaper. A call to action is typically a big, bold, brightly colored button with command language directing your visitor to perform the desired action.
  • CTR – Click Through Ratio – for search marketing ads, there are a lot of different metrics to consider, but how often that ad generates a click through to your website is one of the main ones to monitor. This ratio is typically reporting on clicks divided by impressions (or how many times your ad was seen).
  • DNS – Domain Name System – when you typed dijonmarketing.com into your websites address bar, it was a DNS server that returned the actual IP address of my website’s server. DNS translates human-friendly names into computer-friendly addresses. DNS can also host text records for things like verifying Google Search Console or Facebook page ownership.
  • PPC – Pay Per Click – This describes one specific advertising payment format, though sometimes industry professionals will refer to the entire practice of search engine paid advertising as PPC ads. Strictly speaking, this is only applicable if you pay per click and not per impression, for example.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – this refers specifically to the best practices employed by website owners and marketers to indirectly influence your sites rank on search engines like Google or Bing. Ranking higher on the search results page means lots more clicks which can lead to more sales or conversions.
  • SERP – Search Engine Results Page – after you’ve entered your search query on Google or Bing, the list of top results is sometimes referred to as a SERP. The SERP can also contain ads, local results, images, videos, etc. Owning more of the SERP helps you get more eyeballs onto your site.
  • TLD – Top Level Domain – some discussion of domains and URL structure will refer to the Top Level Domain. Examples are .com, .org, .net. There are also country code TLDs called ccTLD like .fr (France), .co.uk (United Kingdom).
  • UI/UX – User Interface/User Experience – these are often used together but can also stand alone as separate practices. The User Interface typically describes how your website looks. The User Experience is how a visitor interacts. Creating an attractive and frictionless experience will greatly increase your conversion rates.

What are render-blocking resources?

If you’ve run a speed test on your website, you may find that one of the biggest contributors to slow load speed are render-blocking resources. But what are render-blocking resources? And more importantly, how can you minimize them to help speed up your website’s load times?

Which resources block rendering?

Any file that needs to load, but does so before the page has finished rendering is render-blocking. Rendering just means that the page becomes visible and is ready for interaction with menus and links. If the site is busy downloading a file before it begins to paint the picture of the final website, then that produces a poor user experience. Our attention span has become so short that even a load time of a few seconds can feel like an eternity.

Imagine you are preparing to bake a pie using a recipe. If the first step of that recipe says, “Refer to Chapter 2 for a basic pie crust,” then you must leave the recipe to go read the reference. While you are doing that, the recipe will not progress. But it may be a critical step to the finished product. If you skip the step you’ll have a pie tin full of filling. If you wait until the end of the recipe, you’ll have the crust sitting on top of the filling. So it’s not always guaranteed that render-blocking resources are unnecessary.

What can you do to mitigate the impact?

Evaluate each file that is being loaded. In many cases, the render-blocking files are not even used by the finished page. In this case, it’s an obvious benefit to remove the files. If you’re using WordPress, a lot of plugins will come with their own CSS style sheets or JavaScript files. Even if you deactivate a plugin, it may not remove all of the files from the page load. Determine which plugins can be removed, and deactivate and delete them.

In some cases, render-blocking content is absolutely necessary. In that case, all you can do is try to keep the number o files to a minimum. You can also “minimize” the files, which removes all white space, comments, and makes certain functions and loops use fewer characters. Reducing the kB size of the file will make it download faster.

You can also keep the files just as they are, but load them last. Moving certain file references from the header to the footer means the whole page will load first, and only after it is almost entirely finished will it load the footer. Depending on the file, this may be perfectly acceptable. Your page could take 20 seconds to fully load, but if all of the visual and interactive elements are available after 1 second, then your load speeds are good.

Check out the blog on Measuring load speeds with Google PageSpeed Insights to see if render-blocking resources are a problem for your site. Faster load speeds can not only delight your users, but can have indirect benefits like better SEO ranking.

Measure load speeds with Google PageSpeed Insights

Load speeds for your website are an important metric to be aware of. The most obvious impact of a slow site is frustrated users – especially on mobile devices. However, it can also create a technical debt that can be difficult to overcome. Search engine crawlers aren’t going to wait around for your site to load so they can crawl and index it. That will indirectly impact your SEO ranking and could lead to less organic traffic over time.

Be aware of site load speeds

Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings

There are two free tools from Google that can tell you about your site’s load speeds: Google Analytics and Google PageSpeed Insights. I like to start in Google Analytics, because you can see aggregate data over time for each and every page of your site. It might be that you have a fast home page, but a very slow blog archive. Google Analytics will also link directly to PageSpeed Insights suggestions.

Navigate using the left-hand main menu to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings. Here you can look for any problem child in your entire site and start your focus there. First, the average load time for all pages is show at the top of the chart. Then each page is assigned a bar chart for its deviation from the average. The red bars show the slower page and what percentage above average they took to load. This is accumulated for all users over a period of time, so may not perfectly represent a single load experience you may have had.

Average Page Load Time compared to site average

Get more detailed data on load speeds

The menu item just after “Page Timings” is “Speed Suggestions.” If you’ve determined that you have a page with a load speed problem, this is the next place to go to view suggestions. The link for suggestions will actually take you to a new window loaded with PageSpeed Insights. So you could skip right to there from the beginning if you already know you have some slow pages. Here you will see more detailed information about some timing measurements.

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP) – how long it takes your site to go from a blank screen to the user seeing something
  • First Input Delay (FID) – any delay between a user interacting with an element, say clicking a button, and the page being ready to respond
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – basically how long it takes your site to look good and as if its finished loading (even if maybe it’s still doing some work in the background)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – how much do items move around on the page as they are being loaded

There may be no problems with the perception of your load speed, and often times, perception is reality. Take a look at these advanced measurements and look forward to another blog describing some common problems and things you can do to speed things up!

Anchor Text: Good, Better, and Best Examples

Anchor text is an important and often overlooked aspect of SEO onsite optimization. Understanding the role it plays in crawling evaluations can help you eke out incrementally better performance.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text refers to the words you click on when clicking a hyperlink on a website. Traditionally they are blue and underlined. While it may seem like a technical necessity, there is an art and a strategy to selecting text. The more you can tell your visitor about where they will go when they click the link, the better. Think about anchor text as a keyword, and a link as a vote in favor of the destination URL to rank for that keyword.

Examples of good, better, and best

  • For our good example, we’ll make a link that is merely functional. It takes you from the page you are currently on to where you want to go.

    To learn more about Lorem Ipsum, click here: https://www.dijonmarketing.com/blog/what-is-lorem-ipsum/

    In the above example, the raw URL is not terrible since the URL has been well optimized for SEO and easily tells you the content of the link.
  • Still, it would be better to define some anchor text and hide the big, long URL. It can help with formatting as well not trying to cram that big long string onto a single line.

    To learn more about Lorem Ipsum, click here.

    That is much more compact and visually appealing. However, it is a little bit old school. When the internet was brand new and navigation wasn’t intuitive, it gave the user a directive of what to do. But it tells them nothing about what they will find.
  • The best anchor text in this scenario would tell the user what they will discover, as well as give directives to crawlers about the most valuable content available for a set of keywords.

    Continue reading to learn more about Lorem Ipsum.

    In today’s web, users can be trusted to know what a hyperlink looks like and to be able to decipher clickable text, so the words “click here” don’t need to appear.

You can see the evolution from good to better to best. If you discipline yourself to stop and think before every link is added to your website, you will see a benefit in your SEO performance. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time than to go back and correct everything. Next time you see a good or better example, you’ll know how to make it best!

How to maintain a blog long term

Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Many well intended authors set up a blog, feverishly post to it for a few weeks or months, and then abandon it altogether. The main purpose of a blog (like on this website) is to keep fresh content and ideas, and to expand the footprint of an otherwise small website. Additional thought leadership pieces can introduce new keywords and bring new audiences to your page. Finding a stagnant blog that has gone 2 years without a new post, however, can do just as much harm as a maintained blog can do good.

The important thing is to post regularly. But “regularly” just means … regularly. Not often. Not daily. I post on this blog every 18 days, give or take. That gives me time to think of new topics. It gives me a little break between blogs. And it is not too taxing. The reason I chose this topic for today is that it is now the 3 year anniversary of posting every 18 days. Obviously, it has been quite sustainable.

Tips for keeping a blog going

  1. Set a cadence you can easily maintain. Even if you have a ton of ideas right now, there will come a day that the well runs dry. You want to give yourself ample time to discover new topics.
  2. Don’t post every idea all at once. If you have 50 great ideas for blogs, congrats! That means you have 50 or 100 weeks of content queued up. Having a backlog of great topics you can’t wait to write about is a good thing. Don’t squander it too quickly.
  3. Maintain an editorial calendar. Posting regularly doesn’t have to be quite as strict as my every-18-day rule. But it should be spaced somewhat evenly. Don’t do 3 blogs today and then none for 5 months.
  4. Keep a backlog of topics. When you think of the next great topic, add it to the list. Then when it’s time to write your next blog, you can review that list and pick your favorite or most timely.
  5. Write. Don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t hope you feel like it tomorrow. Be disciplined. The hardest part to writing is getting start. So sit down, and write.
  6. Don’t obsess. This is blog content. Get your idea across. Inspire some thoughts, then move on to the next. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can always edit it later if you need to.

I’ve seen far too many blogs putter out and die after far too short of a time. Following these few helpful hints should help you extend your influence out over several years, increasing your footprint, benefiting SEO, and representing your brand!

Using Permalinks in WordPress

A permalink is exactly what the portmanteau suggests – a permanent link. All WordPress content, whether it’s a post or a page, has a permalink. That lets you easily create internal links and to build a backlink portfolio for SEO. But there are a few tips for making the best use of permalinks.

WordPress General Settings for Posts

Each new post can be assigned a permalink in a few different ways. Navigate to Settings > Permalinks from the main WordPress menu. There you will see options for:

  • Plain /?p=123 (bad choice)
  • Day and name /2020/20/08/sample-post/
  • Month and name /2020/08/sample-post/
  • Numeric /archives/123 (bad choice)
  • Post name /sample-post/
  • Custom Structure

You’ll notice I’ve marked anything that uses numbers to represent your blog posts as a bad choice. The URL can be configured to contain keywords that you want to rank for. Giving up the opportunity to add keywords to your URL is a mistake. Be sure you’ve selected one that uses the post name. On my blog, I use a custom structure of /blog/%postname%/.

Edit a Permalink

In both a post and a page, the Document Settings > Permalink will allow you to edit the permalink after it’s been generated. It will default to the post or page name, forced to lowercase, and separated by dashes. For example: using-permalinks-in-wordpress. If you want to change that, you can do it from the URL Slug under Permalink Document Settings.

Just be careful that you either create a 301 permanent redirect or that you’ve set up your redirect plugin to automatically create redirects when you change a URL Slug. If it’s a brand new piece of content there’s no risk, but if it’s been indexed by Google or linked to by someone else, those links will break when the permalink changes.

Just a few easy settings, and little bit of forethought will have you with attractive, easy to read, high CTR links in Google results!

COVID-19 impacts on Google My Business

If you use Google My Business for local SEO optimization of your business or charity, there are a couple of things to know about how COVID-19 is impacting the service.

Log in to your Google My Business account and you will see information about how to best update your information linked directly on your home screen, like below.

Google My Business COVID-19

Things to do to your Google My Business during COVID-19

  1. Update your hours. If closed due to social distancing or quarantine, indicate that temporarily or update the hours of operation.
  2. Add new information about your COVID-19 response. If you’ve taken extra measures for safety, indicate that in your business information.
  3. Create a post. Let your users know how long you may be closed or any alternatives like take away versus dine in.
  4. Watch your My Business listing. User input may mark you as closed automatically. If that is not the case, you can remove erroneous information through your console.

Additionally, be aware that Google employees have been impacted the same as everyone else. They have pared down to essential staff and are only supporting reviews and responses from companies that directly impact public health, like doctors and clinics. They are working to prevent the spread of misinformation. You may wait a few weeks before new reviews of your business are posted.

For more information visit Google’s support pages about business impact to Google My Business and limited Google My Business functionality.

Long tail versus short tail

To sound like an SEO expert, just ask about “long tail keywords.” What exactly does that mean?

“Long tail” merely refers to the length of the phrase. The term “keyword” gets thrown around a lot. A more apt description for the concept would be “key phrase.” SEO optimization targets specific key phrases that are relevant to your organization, have sufficiently high search volumes, and that you have a chance at ranking on Page 1 for.

When Long Tail is Preferred

That last requirement is where long tail keywords can come in handy. Let’s say you run a small handmade candy shop. Sure, you’d love it if you were #1 on Google for anyone searching candy. The odds of that happening are basically nil. And that’s not a bad thing either. Someone searching on Google for “candy” could be looking for stock photos of candy, a Wikipedia article, or a recipe. There’s nothing indicating intent of their search suggesting that you want them to land on your site and buy candy. So since you won’t, can’t, and don’t want to rank #1 for candy, we start to investigate long tail variations. Use your imagination or a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner (or both).

  • candy store near me
  • old fashioned candy
  • peanut butter kisses candy
  • handmade cotton candy

An Engaged Audience is a Valuable Audience

As you narrow your focus, you can capture much more traffic. That traffic is much more engaged, or more likely to convert and make a purchase on your site. The downside is, the more focused your keyword is, the lower the search volume will be. Congrats on ranking #1 for a term with 0 average searches per month. The ease of ranking is inversely proportional to the value of the keyword. More valuable keywords are more competitive.

That’s the heart of what SEO practitioners refer to as a “keyword strategy.” Knowing what you want to rank for can sometimes be as hard as actually ranking for it. With a little research, creativity, and maybe a bit of help, you can get a rock solid plan with real return on investment.

Request indexation through Google Search Console

Every now and then, you will find a page on your website that doesn’t seem to be getting any organic traffic. If you refer to our blog on The Most Basic SEO Test, you may discover it’s because Google isn’t serving it up as a result, no matter how specific you are with your queries (even using site: syntax). If Google hasn’t discovered your content, how can you get organic traffic? The answer is to submit a crawl request through Google Search Console.

The first step is to inspect the URL using the dialog that is now present at the top of every page in GSC. Pop in the URL in question and see what the results say.

Google Search Console Inspect any URL
Google Search Console: Inspect any URL on the domain

The image above shows one possible result. “URL is not on Google. This page is not in the index, but not because of an error. See the details below to learn why it wasn’t indexed. Learn more”

Google either hasn’t had time to discover the content, or there aren’t any internal links that it could follow. Link to it from other pages and the sitemap.xml to rectify. Either way, Google will probably discover it eventually, but we’d rather control that indexation.

There is a button at the lower right corner of the dialog that says “REQUEST INDEXING.” Hit that button and your content should be discovered, crawled, and available from Google searches within just a few minutes. As with everything, you cannot tell Google what to do, so this is merely an invitation. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work immediately. It will eventually result in your content being discovered and traffic flowing in to your new content.

What’s in a name?

When thinking of a new name (for a company, an event, or a product) the sooner you consider SEO, the better. One method for evaluating SEO is to get techy. Perform keyword research. Discover seasonality of search trends. Map out audience analysis. Or you can keep it simple and just Google it!

Situations to look for

  • A company 3 blocks over already took the perfect name you just thought up
  • A major international behemoth copyrighted the latest idea for a new product name
  • Common, every-day, high search volume keywords intermixed in the phrase make it impossible to rank

I often think about the precursor to the phenomenon of internet search engine optimization – the Yellow Pages. There it made sense to name yourself “A1 Plumbing,” or “AAA Insurance.” Because everything presented alphabetically, A’s and 1’s optimized your visibility on the page. Nowadays, it’s less about coming first in the alphabet, and more about standing out from the noise.

Where did “Dijon” come from?

When I firsted started trying to pick a company name, everything I thought of and googled was either taken or flooded with competition. The nickname Dijon derives from my first and middle names – David John. Shortened, that became D. John > D’jon > Dijon. When I tried “Dijon Marketing” I found it to be totally unique! Only a few small marketing firms in Dijon, France came up as results. I minted the name and within the first week, ranked #1 on Google. I ran a few ads, optimized local SEO, and dominated the remainder of the search page. Every company dreams of achieving such results!

Next time you brainstorm a name for your organization or a catchy title for a fundraising event, raise your hand and suggest that a browser open to Google be front and center in the conversation.