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FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A: Using New Schema Types to Create Interactive Rich Results

Posted by LilyRayNYC

Structured data (Schema markup) is a powerful tool SEOs can use to efficiently deliver the most important information on our webpages to search engines. When applied effectively across all relevant entities, Schema markup provides significant opportunities to improve a website’s SEO performance by helping search engines to better understand its content.

While is continuously expanding and refining its documentation, Google updates its list of supported features that are eligible to be displayed as rich organic results far less frequently. When they happen, these updates are exciting because they give marketers new ways to affect how their organic listings appear in Google’s search results. To make things even more interesting, some of this year’s new Schema types offer the unique opportunity for marketers to use Schema to drive clicks to more than one page on their site through just one organic listing.

Three new Schema types worth focusing on are FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema, all of which present great opportunities to improve organic search traffic with eye-catching, real estate-grabbing listing features. By strategically implementing these Schema types across eligible page content, marketers can dramatically increase their pages’ visibility in the search results for targeted keywords — especially on mobile devices.

Pro tip: When rolling out new Schema, use the Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your Schema can appear in Google’s search results. Google Search Console also offers reporting on FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema along with other Schema types in its Rich Results Status Report.

FAQ Schema

According to Google, FAQ Schema can be used on any page that contains a list of questions and answers on any particular topic. That means FAQ Schema doesn’t have to be reserved only for company FAQ pages; you can create a “frequently asked questions” resource on any topic and use the Schema to indicate that the content is structured as an FAQ.

FAQ Schema is a particularly exciting new Schema type due to how much real estate it can capture in the organic listings. Marking up your FAQ content can create rich results that absolutely dominate the SERP, with the potential to take up a huge amount of vertical space compared to other listings. See the below example on mobile:

Like all Schema, the FAQ content must be a 100 percent match to the content displayed on the page, and displaying different content in your Schema than what is displayed on the page can result in a manual action. Google also requires that the content marked up with FAQ Schema is not used for advertising purposes.

Impacts on click-through rate

There is some risk involved with implementing this Schema: if the content is too informational in nature, it can create a situation where users to get the answers they need entirely within the search results. This is exactly what happened when we first rolled out FAQ Schema for one of our clients at Path Interactive — impressions to the page surged, but clicks fell just as quickly.

This conundrum led to us discover the single most exciting feature of FAQ Schema: The fact that Google supports links and other HTML within the answers. Look for opportunities within your FAQ answers to link to other relevant pages on your site, and you can use FAQ Schema to drive organic users to more than one page on your website. This is a great way to use informational content to drive users to your product or service pages.

Note that this tactic should be done within reason: The links to other pages should actually provide value to the user, and they must also be added to the page content so the Schema code is a 100 percent match with the content on the page. Check out my other detailed article on implementing FAQ Schema, which includes recommendations around tagging links in FAQ answers so you can monitor how the links are performing, and for distinguishing clicks to the FAQ links from your other organic listings.

HowTo Schema

HowTo Schema is another new Schema type that can be used to enhance articles containing instructions on “how to” do something. Like FAQ Schema, Google lays out certain content requirements about what can and can’t be marked up with HowTo Schema, including:

Not marking up offensive, violent or explicit contentThe entire content of each “step” must be marked upNot using HowTo markup to advertise a productIncluding relevant images, as well as materials and tools used to complete the taskHowTo should not be used for Recipes, which have their own Schema

Unfortunately, unlike FAQ Schema, the text included within each HowTo step is not linkable. However, the individual steps themselves can become links to an anchor on your page that corresponds to each step in the process, if you include anchored links and images in your HowTo markup.

HowTo has two visual layouts:

Image source:

One layout includes image thumbnails for each step in the process. With this layout, users can click on each step and be taken directly to that step on your page. Anchored (#) links also appear separately in Google Search Console, so you can track impressions and clicks to each step in your HowTo process.

Image source:

The second HowTo layout uses accordions to display the steps.

One added benefit of HowTo Schema is its voice search potential: properly marked up HowTo content is eligible to be read aloud by Google Assistant devices. When voice searchers ask their Google Assistants for help with a task that is best answered with a “how to” guide, content marked up with HowTo Schema will be more likely to be read aloud as the answer.

Like FAQ Schema, HowTo markup presents pros and cons for marketers. Given that the rich result takes up so much space in the SERP, it’s a great way to make your listing stand out compared to competing results. However, if users can get all the information they need from your marked-up content within the search results, it may result in fewer clicks going to your website, which coincides with Google’s rise in no-click searches.

In rolling out HowTo markup, it’s important to monitor the impact the Schema has on your impressions, clicks, and rankings for the page, to make sure the Schema is producing positive results for your business. For publishers whose sites rely on ad revenue, the potential loss in click-through-rate might not be worth the enhanced appearance of HowTo markup in the search results.

Does HowTo markup earn featured snippets for “how to” queries?

Given that virtually every “How To” query generates a Featured Snippet result, I wanted to see whether there was any correlation between implementing HowTo Schema and earning Featured Snippets. I conducted an analysis of 420 URLs currently ranking in Featured Snippets for common “how to” queries, and only 3 these pages are currently using HowTo markup. While this Schema type is still relatively new, it doesn’t appear to be the case that using HowTo markup is a prerequisite for earning the Featured Snippet for “how to” queries.

Q&A Schema

Q&A Schema is another new Schema type used for pages that contain a question and a way for users to submit answers to that question. The Q&A Schema should be applied only on pages that have one question as the main focus on the page — not a variety of different questions. In its documentation, Google also distinguishes between Q&A and FAQ markup: If users are not able to add their own answers to the question, FAQ markup should be used instead.

Q&A Schema is great for forums or other online message boards where users can ask a question and the community can submit answers, such as the Moz Q&A Forum.

Google strongly recommends that Q&A Schema include a URL that links directly to each individual answer to improve user experience. As with HowTo Schema, this can be done using anchor (#) links, which can then be monitored individually in Google Search Console.

Image source:

Blending Schema types

Another exciting new development with these new Schema types is the opportunity to blend multiple types of Schema that generate rich results on the same page. FAQ Schema in particular works as a great supplement to other Schema types, such as Product or Professional Service, which can generate stars, review counts, or other attributes in the SERP. Below is an example of how these combined Schema types can look on mobile:

If it makes sense for your content, it may be worth testing adding FAQ or HowTo markup to pages that already have other Schema types that generate rich results. It’s possible that Google will display multiple rich result types at once for certain queries, or it could change the rich appearance of your listing depending on the query. This could potentially lead to a big increase in the click-through-rate given how much space these mixed results take up in the SERP.

Note: there is no guarantee Google will always display blended Schema types the way it currently does for websites who have already done this implementation. Google is always changing how it displays rich results, so it’s important to test this on your own pages and see what Google chooses to display.

Risks involved with implementing Schema

It would be irresponsible to write about using Schema without including a warning about the potential risks involved. For one, Google maintains specific criteria about how Schema should be used, and misusing the markup (whether intentionally or not) can result in a structured data manual action. A common way this occurs is when the JSON-LD code includes information that is not visible for users on the page.

Secondly, it can be tempting to implement Schema markup without thoroughly thinking through the impact it can have on the click-through-rate of the page. It is possible that Schema markup can result in such a positive user experience within the SERP, that it can actually cause a decline in click-through-rate and less traffic to your site (as users get all the information they need within the search results). These considerations require that marketers think strategically about whether and how to implement Schema to ensure they are not only complying with Google’s guidelines but also using Schema in a way that will provide meaningful results for their websites.

Lastly, it is possible that Google will update its quality guidelines around how rich results are displayed if they find that these new Schema types are leading to spam or low-quality results.

Avoid misusing Schema, or it’s possible Google might take away these fantastic opportunities to enhance our organic listings in the future.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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How to Get Started Building Links for SEO

Posted by KameronJenkins

Search for information about SEO, and you’ll quickly discover three big themes: content, user experience, and links. If you’re just getting started with SEO, that last theme will likely seem a lot more confusing and challenging than the others. That’s because, while content and user experience are under the realm of our control, links aren’t… at least not completely.

Think of this post as a quick-and-dirty version of The Beginner’s Guide to SEO’s chapter on link building. We definitely recommend you read through that as well, but if you’re short on time, this condensed version gives you a quick overview of the basics as well as actionable tips that can help you get started.

Let’s get to it!

What does “building links” mean?

Link building is a term used in SEO to describe the process of increasing the quantity of good links from other websites to your own.

Why are links so important? They’re one of the main (although not the only!) criteria Google uses to determine the quality and trustworthiness of a page. You want links from reputable, relevant websites to bolster your own site’s authority in search engines.

For more information on different types of links, check out Cyrus Shepard’s post All Links are Not Created Equal: 20 New Graphics on Google’s Valuation of Links.

“Building links” is common SEO vernacular, but it deserves unpacking or else you may get the wrong idea about this practice. Google wants people to link to pages out of their own volition, because they value the content on that page. Google does not want people to link to pages because they were paid or incentivized to do so, or create links to their websites themselves — those types of links should use the “nofollow” attribute. You can read more about what Google thinks about links in their webmaster guidelines.

The main thing to remember is that links to your pages are an important part of SEO, but Google doesn’t want you paying or self-creating them, so the practice of “building links” is really more a process of “earning links” — let’s dive in.

How do I build links?

If Google doesn’t want you creating links yourself or paying for them, how do you go about getting them? There are a lot of different methods, but we’ll explore some of the basics.

Link gap analysis

One popular method for getting started with link building is to look at the links your competitors have but you don’t. This is often referred to as a competitor backlink analysis or a link gap analysis. You can perform one of these using Moz Link Explorer’s Link Intersect tool.

Link Intersect gives you a glimpse into your competitor’s link strategy. My pal Miriam and I wrote a guide that explains how to use Link Explorer and what to do with the links you find. It’s specifically geared toward local businesses, but it’s helpful for anyone just getting started with link building.

Email outreach

A skill you’ll definitely need for link building is email outreach. Remember, links to your site should be created by others, so to get them to link to your content, you need to tell them about it! Cold outreach is always going to be hit-or-miss, but here are a few things that can help:

Make a genuine connection: People are much more inclined to help you out if they know you. Consider connecting with them on social media and building a relationship before you ask them for a link. Offer something of value: Don’t just ask someone to link to you — tell them how they’ll benefit! Example: offering a guest post to a content-desperate publisher. Be someone people would want to link to: Before you ask anyone to link to your content, ask yourself questions like, “Would I find this valuable enough to link to?” and “Is this the type of content this person likes to link to?”

There are tons more articles on the Moz Blog you can check out if you’re looking to learn more about making your email outreach effective:

Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard FridayLink Building in 2019: Get by With a Little Help From Your FriendsHow We Increased Our Email Response Rate from ~8% to 34%Why You Should Steal My Daughter’s Playbook for Effective Email Outreach
Contribute your expertise using services like HARO

When you’re just getting started, services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) are great. When you sign up as a source, you’ll start getting requests from journalists who need quotes for their articles. Not all requests will be relevant to you, but be on the lookout for those that are. If the journalist likes your pitch, they may feature your quote in their article with a link back to your website.

Where do I go from here?

I hope this was a helpful crash-course into the world of link building! If you want to keep learning, we recommend checking out this free video course from HubSpot Academy that walks you through finding the right SEO strategy, including how to use Moz Link Explorer for link building.

Watch the video

Remember, link building certainly isn’t easy, but it is worth it!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Here to help: Make today an adventure with Google Maps

Explore the world around you and turn every day into an adventure, with a little help from Google Maps.
Music: “You Make My Dreams” by Daryl Hall & John Oates

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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How to Screen and Recruit the Best SEO Content Writers

Posted by Victor_Ijidola

It’s easy to find writers; they’re everywhere — from a one-second Google search to asking on LinkedIn.

But hiring the best ones? That’s the daunting task marketers and business owners face. And you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.

Mainly because that’s what Google (aka the largest traffic driver of most sites) has clearly been clamoring for since their Panda update in 2011, RankBrain in 2015, and their “Fred” update (and by the way, Gary Illyes from Google coined “Fred’ for every unnamed Google update) in March, 2017.

It’s obvious how each of these major updates communicates Google’s preference for excellent SEO writers:

If you’re a frequent Moz reader, you probably know how they work — but if not: Panda penalizes every webpage with content that adds little to no value to people online, giving more visibility to content pieces that do. On its own, the RankBrain update has made Google almost as smart as humans — when choosing the most relevant and high-quality content to rank on page #1 of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The “Fred” update further tackled sites with low-quality content that aren’t doing anything beyond providing information that’s already available on the internet. It also penalized sites that prioritized revenue above user experience.

After this update, 100+ sites saw their traffic drop by 50 percent to 90 percent.

It is evident that Google has, through these core updates, been requiring brands, publishers, and marketers to work with SEO content writers who know their onions; the ones who know how to write with on-page SEO mastery.

But how do you find these exceptional wordsmiths? Without a plan, you will have to screen tens (or even hundreds) of them to find those who are a good fit.

But let’s make it easier for you. Essentially, your ideal SEO writers should have two key traits:

Good on-page SEO expertiseA great eye for user experience (i.e. adding relevant images, formatting, etc.)

A writer with these two skills is a great SEO writer. But let’s dig a bit deeper into what that means.

(Note: this post is about hiring exceptional SEO content writers — i.e., wordsmiths who don’t need you monitoring them to do great work. So, things can get a bit techie as you read on. I’ll be assuming your ideal writer understands or is responsible for things like formatting, on-page SEO, and correctly uploading content into your CMS.)

1. On-page SEO knowledge

By now, you know what on-page SEO is. But if not, it’s simply the elements you put on a site or web page to let search engines understand that you have content on specific topics people are searching for.

So, how do you know if a writer has good on-page SEO knowledge?

Frankly, “Can you send me your previous writing samples?” is the ideal question to ask any writer you’re considering hiring. Once they show their samples, have them walk you through each one, and ask yourself the following questions:

Question A: Do they have ‘focus keywords’ in their previous samples?

Several factors come into play when trying to rank any page, but your ideal writer must know how to hold things down on the keyword side of things.

Look through their samples; see if they have optimized any content piece for a specific keyword in the past so you can know if they’ll be able to do the same for your content.

Question B: How do they use title tags?

Search engines use title tags to detect the headings in your content.

You know how it works: put “SEO strategy” — for example — in a few, relevant headings on a page and search engines will understand the page is teaching SEO strategy.

Essentially, your ideal SEO writer should understand how to use them to improve your rankings and attract clicks from your potential customers in search results.

Are title tags really that important? They are. Ahrefs, for instance, made their title tag on a page more descriptive and this alone upped their traffic by 37.58%.

So, look through the titles in your candidate’s samples, especially the h1 title. Here’s what you should look for when examining how a candidate uses HTML tags:

i. Header tags should, ideally, not be more than 60 characters. This is to avoid results that look like this in SERPs:

(three dots in front of your titles constitutes bad UX — which Google frowns at)

ii. The subheadings should be h2 (not necessarily, but it’s a plus)

iii. Headings under subtopics should be h3 (also not necessary, but it’s a plus)

Look for these qualities in your candidate’s work and you’ll be able to confirm that they properly implement title tags in their content, and can do the same for you.

But some writers may not have control over the title tags in their published works — that is, the sites they wrote for probably didn’t give them such access. In this case, request samples they published on their own site, where they actually have control over these tags.

Question C: What do they know about internal linking?

Orbit Media once shared how they used internal linking to shoot a blog post from position #29 up to #4.

So, it’s important that your writers know how to contextually link to your older content pieces while writing new content. And it works for good reason; internal linking helps you:

Communicate the relevance and value of your pages to Google (the more links a page gets, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes)
Demonstrate to Google that your site contains in-depth content about any specific topic
Tell Google your site has easy navigation — which means it has good UX and is well-structured.

Internal linking is a major key to search ranking, so you need writers who have internal linking in their pocketful of tools. But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts; in a recent LinkedIn post, expert editor Rennie Sanusi hinted at two key anchor text elements to look for in your candidate’s samples:

[Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to[Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long
Question D: Do they write long-form content?

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,800+ words long — according to research from Backlinko.

Google has been all about in-depth content since its inception; you’re probably familiar with their mission statement:

Every algorithm change they make is geared toward achieving this mission statement, and ranking long-form content helps them in the process as well.

Because, to them, writing longer content means you’re putting more information that searchers are looking for into your content.

So you need writers who can produce long-form content. Check their samples and confirm they know how to write long-form content on a regular basis.

Question E: Have they ranked for any important keywords?

Ultimately, you need to see examples of important keywords your ideal content writer has ranked for in the past. This is the utmost test of their ability to actually drive search traffic your way.

That’s it for finding writers who know on-page SEO. But as you know, that’s only one part of the skills that makes a great SEO content writer.

The other important bit is their ability to write content that engages humans. In other words, they need to know how to keep people reading a page for several minutes (or even hours), leading them to take actions that are important to your business.

2. A great eye for user experience

Keeping readers on a page for long durations also improves your ranking.

In the aforementioned Backlinko study, researchers analyzed 100,000 sites and found that “websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.”

And you know what that means; your ideal SEO writer should not only write to rank on search engines, they must also write to attract and keep the attention of your target audience.

So, look for the following in their samples:

Headlines and introductions that hook readers

You need writers who are expert enough to know the types of headlines and opening paragraphs that work.

It’s not a hard skill to spot; look through their samples. If their titles and introductions don’t hook you, they probably won’t hook your audience. It’s really that simple.

Explainer images and visuals

The report also revealed that: “Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.”

But of course, they have to be relevant images (or other visual types). And many times (if not most of the time), that means explainer images — so look out for those in their samples. And there are two examples of explainer images:

Example #1: Explainer images with text and pointers

This one has elements (an arrow and a text) on it, explaining how the image is relevant to the topic the content is about.

Example #2: Explainer images without text and pointers

Why does this image not have any text or arrows on it? It’s a self-explanatory screenshot, that’s why.

As long as it’s used appropriately — where the “online sales of Nike products” is mentioned in the content — it gets its message across.

In general, your ideal SEO writers need to know how to use tools like Skitch and Canva to create these images. Remember, you’re on a hunt for the exceptional ones.

References and citing resources

Your ideal writer should link to stats or studies that make their points stronger. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check the links in their samples and make sure they cite genuine resources.


Illustrations make understanding easier. Especially if you’re in a technical industry (and most industries have their geeky side), your ideal writer should know how to explain their points with examples.

Simply search their samples — using Command + F (or Ctrl F if you’re using Windows) — for “example,” “instance,” or “illustration.” This works, because writers usually mention things like “for example,” or “for instance” when providing illustrations.

Excellent SEO content writers = Higher search rankings

Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills I’ve mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content. These writers are, again, everywhere. But here’s the thing — and you’ve probably heard it before: You get what you pay for.

Exceptional SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. They can send your search traffic through the roof, but, like you: They want to work for people who can afford the quality they provide. So, if you’re going on a hunt for them, ready your wallet.

But ensure you get their samples and ask the questions in this guide as you deem fit. If you’re paying for content that’ll help you rank higher on Google, then you really should get what you pay for.

Did you find any of my tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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20 Google Maps Tips and Tricks You Should Know

Google Maps is my go-to app as soon as I step out of the door. Not just for knowing my way, but for the invaluable information it provides regarding my route. I get traffic information, learn more about nearby places, keep tabs on time and distance, plan my full trip, and much more.

From styling Google maps to zooming in really close, as my companion app for over 5 years there are a lot of tricks that I’ve learned. So for today, I’ll share this useful information with you so you too can get the best out of Google Maps.

Let’s see how these 20 Google Maps tips and tricks can help you with your daily life.

1. Measure distance

Google Maps allows you to measure the distance between two points. You can either create a full point-to-point custom route and measure its distance, or simply see straight line distance of two points.

How to do it:
Press and hold on a location to drop a pin, it will be the starting point to measure distance. Afterward, tap on the “Dropped Pin” button below to open its options. Here tap on “Measure distance” to start the process.
A crosshair second pointer will show up that you can move by dragging the screen around. You can use the + icon button on the right to add points and create a custom map.
The total distance will be shown at the bottom left corner in miles or kilometers based on your preferences.
measure distancemeasure distance2. Share real-time location

Google recently added the feature to share your location in real-time. You can use this to let others know exactly when you’ll be at your destination, or simply let someone know if you are on the right track or not.

How to do it:
Tap on the main menu on the top-left corner and select “Share location” from the menu. On the next page, you can select a total duration for which you want to share your location, and how you want to share the location.
Here tap on “Select People” to select a friend from your Google contacts. If they don’t have a Google account (or are not in your contacts), then you can tap on the “More” button to select a messaging app.
share location in realtimeshare location in realtime

Note: Google Location services must be enabled on your phone to be able to use this feature. When you tap on “Share location” you’ll be asked to enable it if it’s disabled.

3. Google Maps Lite Mode

Google Maps has a Lite Mode that is lighter on system resources and uses lesser internet data. I didn’t get a chance to use this feature often, but as far as basic navigation is concerned, it works perfectly.

However, this feature can only be used in the web version of Google Maps, either on your PC or from your smartphone’s browser.

How to do it:

Simply visit this Lite mode link using your browser and Google Maps will load in Lite mode. A lightning bolt at the bottom-right corner will confirm that you are in Lite mode. The same icon will allow you to switch between full and Lite modes.

lite modelite mode4. Google Maps Street View

You can also see Street View right inside the Google Maps if it is available for a specific place. A really cool feature for quickly viewing the surroundings of an area.

How to do it:
Tap and hold on your desired location to drop a pin. Next, tap on the location name at the bottom to view options for it.
In the options tap on the Street View thumbnail image of the location and Street View will open up. You can drag to move around in the Street View.
street viewstreet view5. Download maps

You can download a map of a specific area to navigate and get location information without any internet connection. I have used this feature many times for my trips to remote areas and apart from real-time features like traffic updates, almost all of the navigation and information features work offline.

How to do it:
When you search a location or drop a pin in any of the locations, tap on the location name/address to access its options. Here tap on the blue “Download” button to start the process.
A square will come up indicating a total area that will be downloaded. You can zoom in or out to tell the exact area you want to download.
The download size of the map will be shown below, the larger the area; the more space it will take. After highlighting the area, tap on “Download” to start the downloading.
download offline mapdownload offline map

Google will automatically update the downloaded map after every 15 days (sometimes earlier).

6. Add multiple stops

If you need to go to multiple places in your trip, then you can add them as stops to get directions accordingly.

How to do it:
Search for your first stop and tap on the car icon to create a route. But before entering the navigation mode, tap on the menu at the top-right corner (three vertical dots) and select “Add stop” from the menu.
Now, tap on the second stop and select the location or place. Repeat the process to add as many stops as you like.
add multiple stopsadd multiple stops

You can tap and hold on a stop to drag it up and down to manage priorities.

7. Find required stops

You can search for required stops in your route while navigating, such as gas stations, banks, restaurants, ATMs or even bakeries. And then manage your trip accordingly.

How to do it:
While in the navigation mode on your route, tap on the “Search” button on the right side.
Here you can either select a category from the given categories or enter your own in the Search bar above.
When the category is selected, you will see all the places that come under that category right on your route.
find stop in routefind stop in route

You can also tap on the place you want to stop in your route, and then tap on “Add stop” button to add it as a stop.

8. Add custom labels

To easily find places that Google hasn’t added to Maps, you can add custom labels. These labels will be shown on your maps and you can also find them from the search bar. For example, you can add a label for your favorite hangout place, your friend’s house, or even where you first met your spouse.

How to do it:
Add a pin to the location by tapping and holding. Next, access the pin menu and tap on the “Label” button.
Enter the name of the label and confirm it. Now you will always see this label whenever you will navigate to the area.
add custom labeladd custom label9. Check the typical traffic

It’s one of my favorite Google Maps features for planning trips. Apart from the live traffic updates, Google Maps also allow you to see typical traffic condition of an area at a particular time. You can use this information to plan a trip just at the right time and day. However, this feature is only available on the web version of Google Maps.

How to do it:
From the main menu at the top-left corner, select “Traffic”.
You’ll see a bar at the bottom showing the traffic condition with color indication and a drop down menu to select “Live traffic” or “Typical traffic”. Select “Typical traffic” and you’ll see a time and date changer bar.
You can adjust this bar to see typical traffic conditions at a particular time or day.
typical traffictypical traffic10. Add parking location

If you have set “Driving” as your usual method of commuting in Google Maps, then you may see cards to save parking location when you get out of the car. If you don’t like this feature (it can be pushy) or it doesn’t work accurately for you, you can also manually add parking location to easily find your car.

How to do it:
Tap on the blue dot (your current location) while you are near your car and select “Save your parking” option.
This will mark the location with a P icon indicating your parking location.
To manage your location, tap on the P dot and you’ll see all the options, including the ability to change the parking location manually or take a photo of the location.
add parking locationadd parking location11. Avoid tolls, highways, and ferries

Tolls, highways, and ferries can cost you time, money and resources. If you want to avoid them in your route, then Google Maps can easily help you find a route that doesn’t have ferries, tolls or highways.

How to do it:
Search for your destination and tap on the Car icon to see the fastest route to it.
Then, tap on the three vertical dots menu at the top-right corner and select “Route options”.
Just check the checkbox next to highways, tolls and ferries option and tap on “Done” to re-route.
avoid ferries highways tollsavoid ferries highways tolls12. Contribute to Google Maps

Google Maps largely depends on contributions from locals to improve information about nearby places. You can also easily contribute to Google Maps and make information about your local area better.

You’ll earn points for doing so (I only earned 11 points so far) and get rewards if you earn enough points, such as free Google Drive storage or invites to beta tests.

How to do it:
Tap on the main menu at the top-left corner and select “Your contributions” from it.
On the next page, you’ll see your name, current earned points and ways to contribute.
contribute to google mapscontribute to google maps

There are many ways to contribute; you can review places you have been to, add photos, correct information, or simply answer basic questions about a place.

13. Add a missing place

This is another way to contribute to Google Maps, but the “Your contributions” section doesn’t offer an easy way to add missing places. However, you can easily add any missing place on the map and it will be officially added after passing Google Maps verification.

How to do it:
Tap and hold on the exact location where something is missing and drop a pin. From the pin options, tap on “Add a missing place”.
You’ll see a page where you can add location name, category, opening/closing time and other key information.
Add as much information as you know, and tap on the “Send” button at the top-right corner to send the edit to Google.
add missing placeadd missing place

Such edits will add to your overall contribution to Google Maps and you will earn points for them.

14. See location history

It can be a bit scary to know that Google Maps tracks every move you are making and keeps a complete record of it. However, Google is nice enough to share this information with us so we could see a complete history of where we went and when.

You can see the places you’ve visited on any particular date along with route that you took to reach there.

How to do it:
Click on the main menu and select “Your timeline”.
Your timeline will show you all the places you ever visited along with handy suggestions, such as frequently visited places, or recent places.
You can also click on the “Calendar” at the top-left corner to select a date and see your activity on that specific day.
timelinetimeline15. Call a ride

Google Maps also allows you to call a ride such as Uber, right from the app. It will search for all the ride hiring services in your area and then recommend you to hire one along with the information about nearby cars and fares.

How to do it:
Search for your destination and check the fastest route.
On top, you will see options to select how you want to reach your destination.
Select riding services here, the one with the man with a briefcase icon.
You’ll see all the available ride calling services along with their estimated fares and nearby cars.
hire ridehire ride

For Uber, you can hire the car right from the Google Maps app. However, for others, you will have to use their official app.

16. Zoom with one hand

Usually, you have to use two fingers to zoom in or out on the map, which requires two hands to easily do it. But there is a trick that lets you do it with one hand only.

How to do it:

Double tap on the map and hold. Now simply move the finger down to zoom in, and move it up to zoom out.

17. Directly enter navigation mode

Another very simple but handy trick. When you need to navigate somewhere, you usually have to select commute method or best route, etc. However, in most cases, the default settings are perfect for navigation and you just tap the navigation button.

If you trust Google Maps for offering you the best route every time, then you can skip this check and directly enter navigation mode.

How to do it:

Search for your destination and tap and hold on the “Directions” button. After a second, you will directly enter navigation mode with the best route and default commute method selected.

18. Speed limit of an area

Currently, Google doesn’t offer any way to check the speed limit of a route and measure it with your current speed. However, you can get this cool feature with the help of a third-party app.

How to do it:

Velociraptor is an Android app that lets you add speed limit widget on Google Maps or any other maps app. It uses data from OpenStreetMap and HERE Maps to offer this service.

Now whenever you will open Google Maps, a widget will show up showing your current speed and max speed limit of your route. You will be notified if you will break the limit.

check speed limitcheck speed limit19. Create custom maps

Adding custom labels on the map might be handy, but for ultimate customization, you’ll need some extra help. There is a handy tool for this purpose that will help you create custom Google Maps using hundreds of markers and drawing tools.

How to do it:

Go to Scribble Maps and it will open up Google Maps in its interface. You will see multiple editing options in the top bar, including drawing tools, lines, shapes and text adding tools. You can use these tools to edit the map and then save it as an image or embed it anywhere you like.

scribble mapscribble map

Most of the required tools are available for free, but for access to advanced tools and editing options, you will have to upgrade to the pro version.

20. Open Yelp links

If you click on an address in Yelp, it will open up in Yelp Maps. This can be really annoying if Google Maps is your go-to maps app. This issue can be easily resolved with a Chrome extension.

How to do it:

Install the Yelp to Google Maps Chrome extension, and whenever you will click on a Yelp address it will automatically open in Google Maps.

Rounding up

These easy to follow tips and tricks make my everyday trips hassle free. I will recommend you to check the Google Maps contribution section to help make your surrounding better.

I have recently started contributing and it feels great to contribute to a service that helps you with your trips in so many ways for free (leaving the data tracking debate aside).

The post 20 Google Maps Tips and Tricks You Should Know appeared first on Hongkiat.

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