This may be of some interest.
They say in SEO you need to use headings.
Those can be H1, H2, or even H3 tags.
But do they really impact your rankings?
Sure, a lot of CMS systems put headings on each of your web pages by default. They do this with the title of the page (or blog post) and sometimes to sections within a page.
But again, the real question is, do they help with rankings?
I decided to run a fun experiment to find out if they really help.
How the experiment worked
Similar to past experiments I ran, I reached out to a portion of my email list to ask if they would like to participate. Just like how I did with the one on blog comment links and this one on link building.
4,104 of you responded wanting to participate. But unlike previous experiments, we only ran this one on websites that generated at least 100,000 visitors a month from organic search.
We picked larger sites because you can easily tell if a change had an impact on traffic. With smaller sites, external factors can more easily skew results, especially if a site only gets 100 visitors a month. One simple thing like a PR push could cause double the visitors in that case.
We also removed sites with seasonality and sites that weren’t at least 3 years old. Again, we just wanted to decrease anything skewing the results.
For example, with young sites, they tend to grow faster in organic traffic versus established sites… even when they do less SEO work because they are starting from a smaller base.
In the end, 61 sites met our requirements. It wasn’t a big number, but each site on average has 426 pages.
Now with a traditional A/B test, you would show 50% of your visitors one version and the other half a different version. But when it comes to SEO, you have to make a change and once Google indexes the change you have to compare the results to the previous 30 days.
So, with each site, we ran numerous tests at the same time to see the impact of headings. With each site, we took their web pages and split them up in 4 groups:
- Control group – we left these pages unmodified. Whether they used headings or not, we wanted to see what happened to their organic traffic over time as it would give us another baseline to compare the results.
- Headings – with this group, we used H1 tags for the title of the page, H2 tags for the subsections of the page, and even H3 and H4 tags if the subsections had subsections.
- Using normal <p> text – with all of the pages in this group, we made sure they were not using headings. In addition to that, we made sure all of the font sizes were the same size.
- Using normal <p> text and adjusting font sizes – with this group, we didn’t use headings. Instead, we made sure different parts of the text were in different font sizes. For example, the title of the page was the largest font size.
Before we dive into the results, the last thing to note is the experiment ran for 90 days. Even though we were comparing results of the pages we made the changes to using data from 30 days prior and 30 days after, keep in mind Google has to index the change, so you have to account for that as well.
The control group saw an increase in traffic of 2.89%.
As I mentioned above, no changes were made to the control group. But it shows that they naturally grew in their rankings and search traffic over time.
This wasn’t much of a shocker either as 2.89% isn’t a large
Now when I saw the results of the group that was using
headings, the results were pretty much what I expected…
As you can see from the graph above, the before and after results weren’t much of a change when you compare it to the control group. Instead of a 2.89% gain, they had a 2.72% gain.
Keep in mind some of the pages in the control group were naturally using headings and some weren’t. Again, in that group, we made no changes.
But now as we dive into the next two experiments, you’ll see
that the data gets interesting.
Using normal <p> text
What was interesting about this group is that no headings were used. And on top of that, we made sure all of the font sizes on these pages were exactly the same size.
What we saw was a decrease in traffic of 3.53%.
That doesn’t seem like a big swing, but when you compare it to the control group that’s a difference of 6.42%.
Now I wanted to see if the drop in traffic was due to the use of headings or usability. Because you have to keep in mind that when you make all of the text on the page the same size it impacts usability as well.
It makes the page less readable. And we saw that as the average time on page dropped by 12%. As for the bounce rate, we didn’t see much of a change.
Using normal <p> text and adjusting font sizes
This group didn’t use any headings but they did use different font sizes on the page to keep the pages usable (readable).
The graph shows that this group saw an increase in traffic of 2.85%.
Although headings may not be the biggest SEO factor, it does seem usability is.
When font sizes on a page are larger, it helps tell users and potentially search engines what part of a page and even which keywords are more important.
When you compare all 4 groups, the control had the largest gains. But it was insignificant, and you have to keep in mind that a lot of the pages in the control group also use headings. That group just had no changes.
From what the data shows, it doesn’t look like headings have a big impact on rankings.
Maybe if I ran the experiment longer the data would have shown otherwise, but my hunch tells me the data would be similar.
One thing we didn’t try was removing headings from all pages of a site or adding headings to all pages of a site that didn’t have any in the first place. If I were to re-run the experiment I would add in these 2 tests.
From what the data shows, Google does care about usability. Having different font sizes on a page helps tell the reader which elements are more important than others. It also makes the page easier to read.
Whether you make certain elements or words on the page stand
out through large font sizes or headings, it’s clear that it is a good
Now if I were you, I would still use headings because it can be useful for accessibility software that helps users navigate a page. Plus, it can potentially help with other search engines like Bing.
Plus with SEO, you aren’t going to see massive gains from one single tactic like you used to be able to. It’s about doing every little thing right. That’s why I recommend you run your site through this audit and fix every error.
So, do you use headings on your site?
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
YouTube reportedly considered screening every video for kids 8 and under, but it backed off at the last minute.
One of the reasons I seldom let my young kids watch YouTube unsupervised is because I don’t trust its recommendation algorithms. Even when YouTube’s suggestions don’t completely run off the rails into unsafe territory, they can easily be overrun by toy unboxing videos and other assorted junk.
Thank you for reading.
Traffic is something that every marketer wants more of. Whether you have a corporate site or a wordpress blog, a landing page or a funnel, you want more traffic and you want it as cheap as possible.
How about getting it for free?
Yes that is what a new product called Traffic Zion claims to get you – 100% Free Traffic.
What is TrafficZion?
This is a groundbreaking software, battle-tested for over a year, so that virtually anyone can start getting consistent free traffic on complete autopilot to their affiliate offers, products, services etc. I’m not a fan of supporting any kind of “push button” system, but I’m telling you right now…this is as close as you’ll ever get!
Who is TrafficZion for?
TrafficZion is very simple to use, so from that point of view, it is newbie-friendly. However, it assumes you’ve already started an online business of some sort (or at least know which type of online business you want to get into, and you have a plan). From that point of view, it is aimed at slightly above newbie-level and beyond. Basically, anyone who needs traffic coming in to their products, services or affiliate offers, but find paid traffic extremely expensive, can benefit from TrafficZion:
- Affiliate marketers
- Online product owners
- Email marketers
- Offline businesses
- Social media marketers
- Local marketers
SEE THIS DEMO VIDEO and see the software in action…
I like that the guys behind this software have really done their homework, and have tested this software like crazy before releasing it, with beta tester experiencing results almost immediately after turning on the software. Some of these beta tester have been using this software for over one year, so the creators are really making sure that this isn’t some ‘fly by night’ software that works today, but is defunct just a few short weeks later.
The software dashboard is one of the easiest, newbie-friendly ones I’ve ever seen. I’m not the most technical person, and some dashboards have left me feeling like I’m operating a space shuttle! TrafficZion is fantastic because it’s so simple – just search for your niche by using your tags and keywords, press start, and watch traffic start hitting your sites, products and offers.
The traffic is completely free from an untapped reputable source, which makes it ideal for new affiliate marketers and online marketers who have little or no budget.
What will I get inside TrafficZion?
You get the full, intuitive TrafficZion software platform, which includes:
One click install onto any WordPress site
Choose tags and keywords to target your perfect niche (this is important as many free traffic sources are untargeted and therefore useless). This function allows you to only get traffic from people who would be interested in your specific offers and products
Autopilot function which eliminates user management. This is a comprehensive system that can auto-generates a steady stream of traffic, without your involvement, after initial set up.
Any drawbacks to TrafficZion?
The main drawback is that this is not newbie friendly. It is, however, beginner friendly. Let me explain! A newbie is someone who is looking into making money online, maybe has an idea of which business model to follow, but needs a ‘start from scratch’ course showing them what to do. TrafficZion does not do this. It assumes that you’re either already in business, or are about to start an online business, and you need what all online businesses need – targeted traffic. However, TrafficZion is beginner friendly in that, even if you’re not normally a fan of software because you find them complicated, you’ll be able to install and set up TrafficZion with no issues
Do I get any bonuses with TrafficZion?
Yes, you get 3 bonuses:
Bonus Library – get hundreds of products to download and offer as bonuses in your promotions – perfect for affiliate marketers
Link Supercharger Software – a powerful solution to generate more traffic, brand your domains & maximize your commissions
WordPress SEO – everything you need to start getting massive traffic to your WordPress website
Final thoughts on TrafficZion:
It doesn’t matter what offers or services you’re promoting… if you aren’t seeing the results you want, chances are, you’re not getting enough targeted traffic to your offers. And lack of targeted traffic is the number one reason why businesses fail. Right now, at least 9 out 10 marketers are struggling to get traffic these days. But now, with TrafficZion, there is plenty of room for all of us to generate autopilot, super-targeted traffic back to our websites, blogs and offers… which translates into profits!
This may be of some interest.
We all know that links help rankings. And the more links you build the higher you’ll rank.
But does it really work that way?
Well, the short answer is links do help with rankings and I have the data to prove it.
But, you already know that.
The real question is what kind of links do you need to boost your rankings?
Is it rich anchor text links? Is it sitewide links? Or what happens when the same site links to you multiple times? Or when a site links to you and then decides to remove the link?
Well, I decided to test all of this out and then some.
Over the last 10 months, I decided to run an experiment with your help. The experiment took a bit longer than we wanted, but we all know link building isn’t easy, so the experiment took 6 months longer than was planned.
Roughly 10 months ago, I emailed a portion of my list and asked if they wanted to participate in a link building experiment.
The response was overwhelming… 3,919 people responded, but of course, it would be a bit too hard to build links to 3,919 sites.
And when I say build, I’m talking about manual outreach, leveraging relationships… in essence, doing hard work that wouldn’t break Google’s guidelines.
Now out of the 3,919 people who responded, we created a set of requirements to help us narrow down the number of sites to something more manageable:
- Low domain score – we wanted to run an experiment on sites with low domain scores. If a site had a domain score of greater than 20, we removed it. When a site has too much authority, they naturally rank for terms and it is harder to see the impact that a few links can have. (If you want to know your domain score you can put in your website URL here.)
- Low backlink count – similar to the one above, we wanted to see what happens with sites with little to no backlinks. So, if a site had more than 20 backlinks, it was also removed from the experiment.
- No subdomains – we wanted sites that weren’t a Tumblr.com or a WordPress.com site or subdomain. To be in this experiment, you had to have your own domain.
- English only sites – Google in English is more competitive than Google in Spanish, or Portuguese or many other languages. For that reason, we only selected sites that had their main market as the United States and the site had to be in English. This way, if something worked in the United States, we knew it would work in other countries as they tend to be less competitive.
We decided to cap the experiment to 200 sites. But eventually, many of the sites dropped off due to their busy schedule or they didn’t want to put in the work required. And as people dropped off, we replaced them with other sites who wanted to participate.
How the experiment worked
Similar to the on-page SEO experiment that we ran, we had people write content between 1,800 and 2,000 words.
Other than that we didn’t set any requirements. We just wanted there to be a minimum length as that way people naturally include keywords within their content. We did, however, include a maximum length as we didn’t want people to write 10,000-word blog posts as that would skew the data.
Websites had 2 weeks to publish their content. And after 30 days of it being live, we looked up the URLs within Ubersuggest to see how many keywords the article ranked for in the top 100, top 50 and top 10 spots.
Keep in mind that Ubersuggest has 1,459,103,429 keywords in its database from all around the world and in different languages. Most of the keywords have low search volume, such as 10 a month.
We then spent 3 months building links and then waited 2 months after the links were built to see what happened to the rankings.
The URLs were then entered back into the Ubersuggest database to see how many keywords they ranked for.
In addition to that, we performed this experiment in batches, we just didn’t have the manpower and time to do this for 200 sites all at once, hence it took roughly 10 months for this to complete.
We broke the sites down into 10 different groups. That’s 20 sites per group. Each group only leveraged 1 link tactic as we wanted to see how it impacted rankings.
Here’s each group:
- Control – with this group we did nothing but write content. We needed a baseline to compare everything to.
- Anchor text – the links built to the articles in this group contained rich anchor text but were from irrelevant pages. In other words, the link text contained a keyword, but the linking site wasn’t too relevant to the article. We built 3 anchor text links to each article.
- Sitewide links – they say search engines don’t care for sitewide links, especially ones in a footer… I wanted to test this out for myself. We built one sitewide link to each article.
- Content-based links – most links tend to happen within the content and that’s what we built here. We built 3 content-based links to each article.
- Multiple links from the same site – these weren’t sitewide links but imagine one site linking to you multiple times within their content. Does it really help compared to having just 1 link from a site? We built 3 links from the same site to each article.
- One link – in this scenario we built one link from a relevant site.
- Sidebar links – we built 3 links from the sidebar of 3 different sites.
- Nofollow links – does Google really ignore nofollow links? You are about to find out because we built 3 nofollow links to each article.
- High authority link – we built 1 link with a domain score of 70 or higher.
- Built and removed links – we built 3 links to articles in this group and then removed them 30 days after the links were picked up by Google.
Now before I share what we learned, keep in mind that we didn’t build the links to the domain’s homepage. We built the links to the article that was published. That way we could track to see if the links helped.
Do you really need links to rank your content? Especially if your site has a low domain score?
Based on the chart, the older your content gets, the higher you will rank. And based on the data even if you don’t do much, over a period of 6 months you can roughly rank for 5 times more keywords even without link building.
As they say, SEO is a long game and the data shows it… especially if you don’t build any links.
They say anchor text links really help boost rankings. That makes sense because the link text has a keyword.
But what if the anchor rich link comes from an irrelevant site. Does that help boost rankings?
It looks like anchor text plays a huge part in Google’s rankings, even if the linking site isn’t too relevant to your article.
Now, I am not saying you should build spammy links and shove keywords in the link text, more so it’s worth keeping in mind anchor text matters.
So if you already haven’t, go put in your domain here to see who links to you. And look for all of the non-rich anchor text links and email each of those site owners.
Ask them if they will adjust the link and switch it to something that contains a keyword.
This strategy is much more effective when you ask people to switch backlinks that contain your brand name as the anchor text to something that is more keyword rich.
They say sitewide links are spammy… especially if they are shoved in the footer of a site.
We built one sitewide footer link to each article to test this out.
Although sites that leverage sitewide links showed more of an increase than the control group, the results weren’t amazing, especially for page 1 rankings.
Do relevance and the placement of the links impact rankings? We built 3 in-content links that were relevant to each article.
Now the links were not rich in anchor text.
Compared to the baseline, rankings moved up to a similar rate as the sites who built rich anchor text links from irrelevant sites.
Multiple site links
I always hear SEOs telling me that if you build multiple links from the same site, it doesn’t do anything. They say that Google only counts one link.
For that reason, I thought we would put this to the test.
We built 3 links to each article, but we did something a bit different compared to the other groups. Each link came from the same site, although we did leverage 3 different web pages.
For example, if 3 different editors from Forbes link to your article from different web pages on Forbes, in theory, you have picked up 3 links from the same site.
Even if the same site links to you multiple times, it can help boost your rankings.
Is more really better? How does one relevant link compare to 3 irrelevant links?
It’s not as effective as building multiple links. Sure, it is better than building no links but the articles that built 3 relevant backlinks instead of 1 had roughly 75% more keyword placements in the top 100 positions of Google.
So if you have a choice when it comes to link building, more is better.
Similar to how we tested footer links, I was curious to see how much placement of a link impacts rankings.
We looked at in-content links, footer links, and now sidebar links.
Shockingly, they have a significant impact in rankings. Now in order of effectiveness, in-content links help the most, then sidebar links, and then sitewide footer when it comes to placement.
I wish I tested creating 3 sitewide footer links to each article instead of 1 as that would have given me a more accurate conclusion for what placements Google prefers.
Maybe I will be able to run that next time. 🙁
Do nofollow links help with rankings?
Is Google pulling our leg when they say they ignore them?
From what it looks like, they tend to not count nofollow links. Based on the chart above, you can see that rankings did improve over time, but so did almost every other chart, including the control group.
But here’s what’s funny: the control group had a bigger percentage gain in keyword rankings even though no links were built.
Now, I am not saying that nofollow links hurt your rankings, instead, I am saying they have no impact.
High authority link
Which one do you think is better:
Having one link from a high domain site (70 or higher)?
Having 3 links from sites with an average or low domain score?
Even though the link from the authority site wasn’t rich in anchor text and we only built 1 per site in this group… it still had a bigger impact than the sites in the other group.
That means high authority links have more weight than irrelevant links that contain rich anchor text or even 3 links from sites with a low domain score.
If you are going to spend time link building, this is where your biggest ROI will be.
Build and removed links
This was the most interesting group, at least that is what the data showed.
I always felt that if you built links and got decent rankings you wouldn’t have to worry too much when you lost links.
After all, Google looks at user signals, right?
This one was shocking. At least for sites that have a low domain score, if you gain a few links and then lose them fairly quickly, your rankings can tank to lower than what they originally were.
I didn’t expect this one and if I had to guess, maybe Google has something programmed in their algorithm that if a site loses a large portion of their links fast that people don’t find value in the site and that it shouldn’t rank.
Or that the site purchased links and then stopped purchasing the links…
Whatever it may be, you should consider tracking how many links you lose on a regular basis and focus on making sure the net number is increasing each month.
I wish I had put more people behind this experiment as that would have enabled me to increase the number of sites that I included in this experiment.
My overall sample size for each group is a bit too small, which could skew the data. But I do believe it is directionally accurate, in which building links from high domain score sites have the biggest impact.
Then shoot for rich anchor text links that are from relevant sites and are placed within the content.
I wouldn’t have all of your link text rich in anchor text and if you are using white hat link building practices it naturally won’t be and you won’t have to worry much about this.
But if you combine all of that together you should see a bigger impact in your rankings, especially if you are a new site.
So, what do you think about the data? Has it helped you figure out what types of links Google prefers?
Thank you for reading.