The Roaring PJ - A Social Media Blog

How the Hreflang Tag Boosts Your International Site’s SEO

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Correctly using the hreflang tag offers many benefits for SEO if you run a website with target audiences in multiple countries, languages or even dialects of a single language.

For all its power, Google is still a machine and doesn’t know what it’s reading unless you properly identify your content. The Hreflang tag tells Google the language of a page on your site and the country the page serves. This tag ensures different pages on your site end up in front of the right people.

What is hreflang?

Pronounced “h-ref-lang”, hreflang is an HTML tag used in the backend HTML of your website that tells Google all of the language and/or country variants of a given url on the site. You may translate the same set of pages into different languages for different audiences and you want to identify the language for each version of a webpage.

Perhaps you ship products to many parts of the world – someone in Sweden doesn’t want to see information about costs and shipping to the United States. With this tag, you can tell Google which url contains Swedish content and provides information and costs for shipping to Sweden.

The hreflang tag also prevents Google from assuming you’re making duplicate content; pages for the UK and US are similar content-wise since they are both in English, but they serve different countries. This tag helps Google know you aren’t duplicating content but in fact making slightly different content for each place.

How does hreflang work?

Like other HTML tags, hreflang can be easy to get wrong if you flub the syntax. Luckily, there are tools online to help you.

The first thing to know is there are three places you can put the code, and where you choose to put it determines how you write the code. The three locations are in the:

If you choose to add this to the HTML code in the <head> you will want to add all of the language variants including itself in the tags. (see Google article)

The first part of the code specifies the url and the second part specifies the language and/or country. For example, the code might look like this:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com” hreflang=”en-us”/>

Here you are specifying the url https://www.example.com is in American English (en-us).

You can differentiate between the same language spoken in a different country, e.g. Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Mexico. In hreflang, this might look like

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https:/www./example.com/es” hreflang=”es-es”/>

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/mx” hreflang=”es-mx”/>

The first url is in Spanish from Spain and the second is in Spanish from Mexico.

A user’s current location and language settings determine what they see when they search in Google. If someone’s IP address gives the impression they are in a country in which a certain language is spoken, they are more likely to get results in that language.

If all this sounds a bit too technical, fear not: there are tools you can use to generate hreflang code. There are also great companies out there like Webcertain who are experts at international SEO and can help you if it’s all a little too much.

On the other hand, if you want to get started tackling the code yourself, Google’s own post about hreflang is a good place to start, as well as this post from Moz.

Examples of sites using hreflang well

Let’s take a look at a site using hreflang effectively. When I query ‘Zara’, Google brings up the US English version of their site because my default Google search settings are for American English:

If I change my Google search settings to the country of France and language to ‘French’, I get the following result for the same query (‘Zara’):

How using hreflang can boost your SEO

Using hreflang doesn’t necessarily help with ranking, but it ensures the right page gets served to the right people. This reduces your bounce rate because people are finding the page they want (and can read!) and aren’t clicking away quickly. A lower bounce rate is better for your site’s SEO.

At the end of the day, both you and Google have the same goal: you both want people to find the best possible landing page for a given keyword search (your page of course!). Knowing how to use hreflang in your HTML markup is an excellent step to get you there.

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Should I Use Meta Keywords on My Website for SEO?

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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As an SEO agency, we are often asked about the use of meta keywords. Search engines and their algorithms change on a continual basis. Since our clients understand that search engine algorithms and search engine optimization rules change over time, they often pose the question, “Should I use meta keywords?”

This blog is here to answer that often-argued question. To begin, let’s confirm exactly what the term means. Meta keywords are the strategically chosen phrases that are placed into the HTML of a web page and are used to help inform a search engine of the given topic of a web page.

The meta keywords are not visible in the text on a web page but reside in the HTML code. These keywords are placed behind the scenes, such as through a WordPress plugin, like Yoast.. Well, it used to be available in Yoast. You’ll learn momentarily if that’s still true today.

The history of meta keywords helps reveal how you should address your own SEO and digital marketing now.

The Story of Meta Keywords

Early on, search engines did not restrict the number of keywords allowed in the meta keywords tag. However, at some point, Google and other search engines noticed users were “keyword stuffing” into this meta tag. In other words, some marketers were cramming a high volume of meta keywords into the back end of their web pages. This action was seen as “spammy.” Google took action and created a limit that has been reduced over time. Today, Google suggests allowing only a maximum of 2 – 3 meta keywords for each web page.

Around 2011, Google made an announcement via a Youtube Video that Google was not using meta keywords as a ranking factor. This change kicked off other platforms’ changes. There was a popular WordPress plugin by Yoast for example that, mentioned before, infused the meta keywords into that given page or post. Recently, the Yoast plugin on WordPress eliminated the field for adding keywords to the meta keywords tag. These actions have led many marketers and companies to ask if meta keywords, in turn, have any benefits.¹

To Use or Not Use, That is the Question

We still recommend using meta keywords because although they are not acknowledged by Google or Bing, remember there are other search engines. While Google may make up a majority of the market, other search engines, especially internationally, still exist and they should be considered if the target audience for a website requires these other search engines. Examples of these other search engines include Baidu (a China-based search engine), Yandex and Naver.

Each of these search engines uses meta keywords differently.

  • Baidu does take meta keywords into consideration for ranking. The ideal number is 3 – 5 keywords implemented on every page. Do not go to a higher number as that may be considered keyword stuffing.
  • Yandex: May be used when determining the page’s relevance to search queries.
  • Naver: The search engine does use meta keywords. They should be implemented on every page on the site and should include 3 keyword phrases. Avoid keyword stuffing.

When asking yourself, “Should I use meta keywords?”, consider that these other search engines could be using them and, if you opt out of implementing the meta keywords, you could be missing important opportunities to rank, increase organic traffic and convert visitors to customers.

For example, a project manager at Bing, Duane Forrester, shared that “meta keywords is a signal. One of roughly a thousand we analyze. Getting the use of meta keywords right is a nice perk for us, but won’t rock your world. Abusing meta keywords can hurt you.”

In other words, meta keywords, when used properly and in a safe proportion, can help your ranking.

To be safe rather than sorry, we recommend to all our clients that they use meta keywords. There is no need to be worried about your Google ranking, either. In a Search Engine Round Table with Gary Illyes of Google, he shared that Google does not see the use of meta keywords as spam so it will not penalize a site for using this tag.


¹Source: https://datadrivenlabs.io/blog/meta-keyword-tag-google-2018/

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What’s the Future of Social Media? Social Media Trends 2019

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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You want to know the social media trends 2019 – and for good reason. After all, you know that social media is critical to almost all brands’ marketing and overall success. Because social media is ever-changing, staying “in the know” will help you confidently strategize and grow your business further this coming year.

That’s why, to help you be one step ahead of the rest of the pack, our team at Roaring Pajamas is sharing our insights into the future of social media.

Remember, even if social media felt like a challenging “To Do” for you this past year, know there is hope.

In fact, the chief marketing officer of Hootsuite, Penny Wilson, shares that, “While 2018 had its challenges, they translate into tremendous new opportunities for brands to establish deeper, more authentic and longer-lasting relationships with customers in 2019 and beyond—connections that will help achieve those broader business objectives.”¹

Ready to use the power of social media to build these kinds of authentic, long-term connections with dream customers? Let’s share the trends that’ll help you get there!

The Theme of Social Media Trends in 2019

An overarching pattern exists for the future of social media. We, like most experts, predict a shift from the written word into visuals, especially video. Other social media savants agree. Take Marcus Sheridan. Formerly known as The Sales Lion, this author and podcast host has proclaimed that by 2019, he estimates 80% of all content we consume will be video.

The popularity of video is a rise of both evergreen video and live streaming. Live streaming offers immense power due to the level of highly engaging interaction. By using live video, brands and individuals can respond to comments, answer questions live and create a greater sense of connection. That’s why live and video-based mediums are important social media trends for 2019.²

Another reason live video is so engaging is because this medium feels authentic. With the fears around fake news and overly perfect feeds, consumers are feeling that need for genuine connection and are more likely to build trust and loyalty with brands that create down-to-Earth video and live content.

This brings us to a few of the top, specific social media trends for 2019.

Insta-Stories

In 2016 Instagram added Insta-Stories, the SnapChat-like feature letting accounts post short storytelling segments that disappear in 24 hours. With the attraction and growth of “live” and content that feels more spontaneous and authentic, Stories is only growing as one of the top social media trends in 2019.

There may also be more advertisements in between stories of followed accounts. Paid ads are a powerful way to use marketing dollars to get in front of ideal audiences and measure your ROI.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live was rolled out to some users in August 2015 and, by August 2016, anyone with a Facebook account had the ability to utilize this live streaming capability. Since launching, Facebook Live has helped many brands grow their reach and connect more deeply with more clients. Facebook Live will continue as one of the top social media trends in 2019.

The numbers speak for themselves. For example, Search Engine Journal cited that their average Facebook Live engagement was 178% higher than the average engagement of a regular post. In addition, Live posts achieved reaches of at least double the amount of “normal” posts.³

Ads in Facebook Stories

Currently, most ads we see on Facebook are in our main feeds and sidebars. The same way Instagram features advertisements in between stories of followed accounts, it’s likely Facebook will introduce such ads, as well. As ads are key to the future of social media, keep this information in mind when considering your Facebook and overall marketing budget for 2019.

Bots on the Rise

Chatbots are growing in popularity – and will only continue to expand this coming year. From setting up accounts to purchasing airline tickets and booking hotels, chatbots are being used to maximize efficiency and increase convenience. After all, a bot can be at work on a website 24/7 – rather than having a human working at 2 am, a bot can be there to help.

Influence Marketing

Partnering with influencers is a trend that is continually effective – and certainly one of the key social media trends 2019. In our work at Roaring Pajamas, we’ve found continued effective results by partnering with influencers. The right partners have like audiences with built-in trust with their followers, so when an influencer features your brand – ears are already perking up to listen!

Buy Direct on Instagram

Look out for Instagram adding a new shopping feature, which lets consumers buy products directly through the platform. For example, a decorator can post an image with household items and let visitors purchase by tapping on the item.

What Social Media Trends 2019 Do You Predict?

Our team and other experts feel strongly that the trends listed through this blog are the future of social media, but we want to hear your input too.

What trends do you think the New Year will bring?

Please share in the comments below!

¹Source: Ad Week
²Source: Social Media Examiner
³Source: InfusionSoft

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