This may be of some interest.
Posted by Cyrus-Shepard
When you publish new content, you want users to find it ranking in search results as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks in the SEO toolbox to help you accomplish this goal. Sit back, turn up your volume, and let Cyrus Shepard show you exactly how in this popular and informative episode of Whiteboard Friday.
[Note: #3 isn’t covered in the video, but we’ve included in the post below. Enjoy!]
Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!
Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Cyrus Shepard, back in front of the whiteboard. So excited to be here today. We’re talking about ten tips to index and rank new content faster.
You publish some new content on your blog, on your website, and you sit around and you wait. You wait for it to be in Google’s index. You wait for it to rank. It’s a frustrating process that can take weeks or months to see those rankings increase. There are a few simple things we can do to help nudge Google along, to help them index it and rank it faster. Some very basic things and some more advanced things too. We’re going to dive right in.
1. URL Inspection / Fetch & Render
So basically, indexing content is not that hard in Google. Google provides us with a number of tools. The simplest and fastest is probably the URL Inspection tool. It’s in the new Search Console, previously Fetch and Render. As of this filming, both tools still exist. They are depreciating Fetch and Render. The new URL Inspection tool allows you to submit a URL and tell Google to crawl it. When you do that, they put it in their priority crawl queue. That just simply means Google has a list of URLs to crawl. It goes into the priority, and it’s going to get crawled faster and indexed faster.
Another common technique is simply using sitemaps. If you’re not using sitemaps, it’s one of the easiest, quickest ways to get your URLs indexed. When you have them in your sitemap, you want to let Google know that they’re actually there. There’s a number of different techniques that can actually optimize this process a little bit more.
The first and the most basic one that everybody talks about is simply putting it in your robots.txt file. In your robots.txt, you have a list of directives, and at the end of your robots.txt, you simply say sitemap and you tell Google where your sitemaps are. You can do that for sitemap index files. You can list multiple sitemaps. It’s really easy.
You can also do it using the Search Console Sitemap Report, another report in the new Search Console. You can go in there and you can submit sitemaps. You can remove sitemaps, validate. You can also do this via the Search Console API.
But a really cool way of informing Google of your sitemaps, that a lot of people don’t use, is simply pinging Google. You can do this in your browser URL. You simply type in google.com/ping, and you put in the sitemap with the URL. You can try this out right now with your current sitemaps. Type it into the browser bar and Google will instantly queue that sitemap for crawling, and all the URLs in there should get indexed quickly if they meet Google’s quality standard.
3. Google Indexing API
(BONUS: This wasn’t in the video, but we wanted to include it because it’s pretty awesome)
Both of these solutions allow for the potential of massively speeding up indexing by submitting 100s or 1000s of URLs via an API.
While the Bing API is intended for any new/updated URL, Google states that their API is specifically for “either job posting or livestream structured data.” That said, many SEOs like David Sottimano have experimented with Google APIs and found it to work with a variety of content types.
If you want to use these indexing APIs yourself, you have a number of potential options:
- Richard Baxter wrote an excellent post on using SEO Tools for Excel with Google’s API
- Google’s Indexing API documentation
Yoast announced they will soon support live indexing across both Google and Bing within their SEO WordPress plugin.
Indexing & ranking
That’s talking about indexing. Now there are some other ways that you can get your content indexed faster and help it to rank a little higher at the same time.
4. Links from important pages
When you publish new content, the basic, if you do nothing else, you want to make sure that you are linking from important pages. Important pages may be your homepage, adding links to the new content, your blog, your resources page. This is a basic step that you want to do. You don’t want to orphan those pages on your site with no incoming links.
Adding the links tells Google two things. It says we need to crawl this link sometime in the future, and it gets put in the regular crawling queue. But it also makes the link more important. Google can say, “Well, we have important pages linking to this. We have some quality signals to help us determine how to rank it.” So linking from important pages.
5. Update old content
But a step that people oftentimes forget is not only link from your important pages, but you want to go back to your older content and find relevant places to put those links. A lot of people use a link on their homepage or link to older articles, but they forget that step of going back to the older articles on your site and adding links to the new content.
Now what pages should you add from? One of my favorite techniques is to use this search operator here, where you type in the keywords that your content is about and then you do a site:example.com. This allows you to find relevant pages on your site that are about your target keywords, and those make really good targets to add those links to from your older content.
6. Share socially
Really obvious step, sharing socially. When you have new content, sharing socially, there’s a high correlation between social shares and content ranking. But especially when you share on content aggregators, like Reddit, those create actual links for Google to crawl. Google can see those signals, see that social activity, sites like Reddit and Hacker News where they add actual links, and that does the same thing as adding links from your own content, except it’s even a little better because it’s external links. It’s external signals.
7. Generate traffic to the URL
This is kind of an advanced technique, which is a little controversial in terms of its effectiveness, but we see it anecdotally working time and time again. That’s simply generating traffic to the new content.
Now there is some debate whether traffic is a ranking signal. There are some old Google patents that talk about measuring traffic, and Google can certainly measure traffic using Chrome. They can see where those sites are coming from. But as an example, Facebook ads, you launch some new content and you drive a massive amount of traffic to it via Facebook ads. You’re paying for that traffic, but in theory Google can see that traffic because they’re measuring things using the Chrome browser.
When they see all that traffic going to a page, they can say, “Hey, maybe this is a page that we need to have in our index and maybe we need to rank it appropriately.”
Once we get our content indexed, talk about a few ideas for maybe ranking your content faster.
8. Generate search clicks
Along with generating traffic to the URL, you can actually generate search clicks.
Now what do I mean by that? So imagine you share a URL on Twitter. Instead of sharing directly to the URL, you share to a Google search result. People click the link, and you take them to a Google search result that has the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and people will search and they click on your result.
You see television commercials do this, like in a Super Bowl commercial they’ll say, “Go to Google and search for Toyota cars 2019.” What this does is Google can see that searcher behavior. Instead of going directly to the page, they’re seeing people click on Google and choosing your result.
- Instead of this: https://moz.com/link-explorer
- Share this: https://www.google.com/search?q=link+tool+moz
This does a couple of things. It helps increase your click-through rate, which may or may not be a ranking signal. But it also helps you rank for auto-suggest queries. So when Google sees people search for “best cars 2019 Toyota,” that might appear in the suggest bar, which also helps you to rank if you’re ranking for those terms. So generating search clicks instead of linking directly to your URL is one of those advanced techniques that some SEOs use.
9. Target query deserves freshness
When you’re creating the new content, you can help it to rank sooner if you pick terms that Google thinks deserve freshness. It’s best maybe if I just use a couple of examples here.
Consider a user searching for the term “cafes open Christmas 2019.” That’s a result that Google wants to deliver a very fresh result for. You want the freshest news about cafes and restaurants that are going to be open Christmas 2019. Google is going to preference pages that are created more recently. So when you target those queries, you can maybe rank a little faster.
Compare that to a query like “history of the Bible.” If you Google that right now, you’ll probably find a lot of very old pages, Wikipedia pages. Those results don’t update much, and that’s going to be harder for you to crack into those SERPs with newer content.
The way to tell this is simply type in the queries that you’re trying to rank for and see how old the most recent results are. That will give you an indication of what Google thinks how much freshness this query deserves. Choose queries that deserve a little more freshness and you might be able to get in a little sooner.
10. Leverage URL structure
Finally, last tip, this is something a lot of sites do and a lot of sites don’t do because they’re simply not aware of it. Leverage URL structure. When Google sees a new URL, a new page to index, they don’t have all the signals yet to rank it. They have a lot of algorithms that try to guess where they should rank it. They’ve indicated in the past that they leverage the URL structure to determine some of that.
Consider The New York Times puts all its book reviews under the same URL, newyorktimes.com/book-reviews. They have a lot of established ranking signals for all of these URLs. When a new URL is published using the same structure, they can assign it some temporary signals to rank it appropriately.
If you have URLs that are high authority, maybe it’s your blog, maybe it’s your resources on your site, and you’re leveraging an existing URL structure, new content published using the same structure might have a little bit of a ranking advantage, at least in the short run, until Google can figure these things out.
These are only a few of the ways to get your content indexed and ranking quicker. It is by no means a comprehensive list. There are a lot of other ways. We’d love to hear some of your ideas and tips. Please let us know in the comments below. If you like this video, please share it for me. Thanks, everybody.
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Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
If I write a blog post on any topic, what do you think happens?
It typically gets indexed by Google the same day I publish the content and within a week it tends to rank high on Google.
Then again, I have a domain score of 94 and I have 633,791 backlinks. Just look at the image above. (If you are curious what your link count or domain score is, put in your URL here.)
But if you have a lot fewer backlinks and a much lower domain score, what do you think would happen?
Chances are your content won’t get indexed fast and it won’t rank as high as you want.
But there has to be a way to change this, right? Especially without building more backlinks because we all know that’s time-consuming and hard.
To find the most ideal solution, I decided to run a little experiment.
Around five months ago, I sent out an email to a portion of my mailing list asking people if they wanted to partake in an SEO experiment.
As you could imagine, I had well over a thousand websites who were willing to participate. I had to narrow down the list because for this experiment to be effective, a website had to have a domain score of 30 or less and no more than 40 backlinks.
That way it’s at least a challenge to figure out how to rank new content higher.
In addition to that, the site couldn’t be a subdomain, such as domain.wordpress.com. It had to be a standalone site.
Once I removed all of the outliers, I was left with 983 people who agreed to participate in the experiment. Of those, 347 stopped replying or backed out of the experiment due to time commitments, which means I was left with 636.
How did the SEO experiment work?
For all of the sites, we had them write a piece of content. We didn’t make it a requirement that the content had to be about any specific topic or that it had to be written a certain way… we just had them write one piece of content that was between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length.
We enforced the minimum and maximum length limit because we needed the post to be long enough to naturally include keywords, but if it was too long… such as 10,000 words, it would have a higher chance to rank on Google.
Each site had 30 days to write the piece of content and publish it on their site. Within 30 days of the content being published, we looked up the URL in our Ubersuggest database to see how many keywords the post ranks for in the top 100, top 50, and top 10 spots.
We also repeated this search 60 days after the article was published to see if there were any major differences.
The Ubersuggest database currently contains information on 1,459,103,429 keywords from around the world in all languages (a lot of keywords have low search volume like 10 searches per month). But for this experiment, we focused on English speaking sites.
We then split the sites up into 9 groups. Roughly 70 sites per group. Each group only leveraged 1 tactic to see if it helped with rankings.
Here’s a breakdown of each group.
- Control group – this group just published the article and didn’t leverage any promotional or SEO tactics. Having a control group allows us to compare how specific tactics affect rankings.
- Sitemap – all this group leveraged was a sitemap. They added the article to their sitemap, and we made sure the sitemap was submitted to Google Search Console.
- Internal linking – this group added 3 internal links from older pieces of content to the newly written article.
- URL Inspection – within Google Search Console you can request that they Crawl and index a URL. That feature is called URL Inspection.
- Social shares – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit were the social sites that this group submitted and promoted their content on.
- Google Chrome lookup – for each site in this group, we had 40 people type in the URL directly into their address bar and look up the site. This could have been done on either mobile or desktop versions of Chrome. I added this group in there because I was curious to see if people visiting your site from Chrome browsers affects your rankings.
- Meta tags – my team optimized the title tag and meta description for everyone in this group. Based on the article, we crafted the optimal meta tags to not only include keywords but also to entice clicks.
- URL – with this group we only optimized their article URL to include keywords and we tried to keep the length around 50 characters as that is what they supposedly prefer.
- Everything – this group combined all of the tactics above other than the control group as they didn’t do anything.
Before I dive into the data, keep in mind that if someone was in one of the groups, we did our best to make sure that they weren’t leveraging any other tactic. For example, for everyone who wasn’t in the sitemap group, we had them remove their existing sitemaps for Google Search Console (other than the everything group).
So how many keywords does an average website with a domain score of 30 or less rank for in Google within a month and even two months?
I was shocked at how many keywords a site could rank for when it barely has any links and a low domain score.
But what wasn’t as shocking is how a web page’s ranking can increase over time. The orange line shows the number of keywords that ranked within the first 30 days and the green line shows the number over the first 60 days.
You know how people say you need an XML sitemap, well it is even more important if you have a low domain score. At least, that is what the data shows.
When your site has very few links and a low domain score, you’ll find that Google may not crawl your site as often as you want. But by leveraging a sitemap, you can speed up the indexing process, which helps decrease the time it takes for your site to start ranking for keywords.
Internal linking group
Links, links, and more links… it’s what every site needs to rank well. Ideally, those links would be from external sites, but that’s hard to do. So, we tested how internal links impact rankings.
When you add internal links from your old content to your newer articles, it helps them get indexed faster and it helps push them up in the rankings.
Especially when these internal links come from relevant pages that have some decent rankings on Google.
Articles that leveraged 3 internal links had more page 1 rankings than sites that just used an XML sitemap.
URL inspection group
If you aren’t familiar with the URL inspection feature within Google Search Console, it’s a quick way to getting your content index.
Just log into Search Console and type in your article URL in the search bar at the top. You’ll see a screen that looks something like this:
All you have to do is click the “request indexing” link.
Leveraging this feature has a similar result to using the sitemap.
Social shares group
I’ve noticed a trend with my own website, in which if I create a piece of content that goes viral on the social web, my rankings for that new piece of content skyrocket to the top of Google… at least in the very short run.
And after a few weeks, I notice that my rankings drop.
Now, my site isn’t a large enough sample size and there are many reasons why my site ranks really well quickly.
Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how much social shares impact rankings.
Getting social shares substantially performed better than the control group, but similar to my experience with NeilPatel.com, the rankings did slip a bit in month 2 instead of continually rising to the top.
Social shares may not have a direct impact on rankings, but the more people who see your content the higher the chance you build backlinks, increase your brand queries, and build brand loyalty.
Google Chrome lookup group
Do you know how people are saying that Google is using data from Google Analytics and Chrome to determine how high your site should rank?
Well, I wasn’t able to prove that from this experiment.
I had 40 random people directly type in the URL of each new article into Google Chrome. I spread it out over a week, making sure they clicked around on the site and stayed for at least 2 minutes.
The ranking results were very similar to the control group.
Meta tags group
Now this group performed very similarly to the group that leveraged internal linking. And the month 2 results outperformed all other groups.
User metrics are a key part of Google’s algorithm. If you can create a compelling title tag and meta description, you’ll see a boost in your click-through rate and eventually, your rankings will climb.
If you want to boost your rankings through your meta tags, it’s not just about adding in the right keywords, you’ll also want to boost your click-through rate. Follow these steps to do just that.
The 8th group tested if URL length impacts how high a new piece of content ranks on Google.
Based on the graph above, you can see that it does. It didn’t have as much of an impact as internal linking or meta tags, but it did have an impact.
The key to creating SEO friendly URLs is to include a keyword or two and keep them short.
If your URL is too long and descriptive, such as:
The article will rank for very long tail phrases but will struggle to rank for more popular terms like “meta tags” compared to URLs like:
The beautiful part about the short URLs is that they rank well for head terms and long tail phrases.
The charts clearly show that little things like meta tags, URLs, internal linking, social shares, and even sitemaps help.
But the key to doing well, especially if you want your new content to rank well is to not just do one of those things, but instead do them all.
As you can see from the chart, doing everything gives you the best results. Now sure, some of the things are redundant like using an XML sitemap and using the URL inspection feature, but you get the point.
You’ll also notice that when you leverage everything together your results aren’t exponentially better… SEO is competitive and has turned into a game where every little thing adds up.
If you want to do well and have your new AND old content rank faster and higher, you need to do everything.
I know the tactics above aren’t anything revolutionary or new, but it’s interesting to look at the data and see how specific tactics affect rankings.
So, what do you think?
Thank you for reading.
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