TikTok Was Downloaded More Times Than Instagram Last Year by @MattGSouthern

Short-form video app TikTok has reached the 1 billion download mark across Android and iOS.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is that it was downloaded more times than Instagram in 2018.
App analytics site SensorTower released the data this week, adding that the billion figure does not include Android installs from China.
So it’s likely that the total number of downloads is even higher than what was reported.
Over half of TikTok’s total downloads, roughly 663 million, came in 2018.
By comparison, Instagram was downloaded 444 million times.
TikTok was the fourth most-downloaded non-game app for 2018, behind WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook.
SensorTower reports that TikTok’s momentum has carried into 2019. In January it was the #3 app worldwide in terms of new installs across Android and iOS.
Further, TikTok was the #1 non-game app in the United States in January 2019.
Despite being the top non-game app, TikTok is not especially popular in the US compared to other markets.
SensorTower notes that 25% percent of TikTok’s downloads to date have come from India. In January 2019, 43% of the app’s new users were from India.
The share of new users from the US is growing year-over-year, just less significantly than other markets.

Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!

Google: Mobile Speed Should Be an Ongoing Priority by @MattGSouthern

Google encourages businesses not to think of mobile speed as a one-and-done fix. It should be an ongoing priority.
Mary Ellen Coe, president of Google Customer Solutions, penned an article outlining the reasons why mobile speed should be taken more seriously.

“While there are as many growth strategies as there are types of businesses, there’s one area where nearly every business has room to improve: the mobile web.”

Having a mobile presence is no longer enough. In order for businesses to grow, they need to continue delivering speedy mobile experiences.
Fifty-four percent of people say that as the load time for a brand’s mobile site increases, so does their frustration.
To that end, a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rates by up to twenty percent.
Conversely, a fast mobile experience can help attract and retain customers.
Milliseconds can earn millions, Coe says. No matter how fast a site is today, the will eventually degrade over time if it’s not an ongoing priority.
Mobile Speed Case Studies
Outdoor clothing company Dakine cut the load time of its start page by 55%, of category pages by 48%, and of product pages by 65%.
Over the next year, Dakine saw mobile traffic increase by 31%, mobile revenue by 45%, and tablet sales by 4%.
BMW improved its mobile speed using AMP and Progressive Web Apps (PWA).
After those changed, the proportion of people clicking from BMW.com to a BMW sales site soared from 8% to 30%. That’s nearly 4X higher than it was before.
Google’s New Test My Site Tool
When figuring out where to invest your resources when it comes to mobile site speed, Google recommends its new Test My Site tool.
A completely rebuilt version of Test My Site was rolled out earlier this week. See our coverage of the update to learn what’s new.

Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!

Daily Search Forum Recap: February 28, 2019

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.
Search Engine Roundtable Stories:
A Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update On February 27th?I am seeing some new chatter and most of the tools are backing up the chatter around another Google search ranking algorithm update that started around yesterday, February 27th. The chatter is pretty limited and fresh but I suspect it will pick up soon in the ongoing WebmasterWorld forums.
John Mueller’s Greatest SEO Success Story Was…A Reddit thread is asking folks to share their greatest SEO success story and there are some good ones. But Google’s John Mueller chimed in and said his was as simple as instructing someone to remove the noindex from their site. He said “sometimes good things come in small checkboxes.”
Multiple Google User Interface Tests Including People Also Ask IconsOver the past several days I have been inundated with reports from SEOs about Google testing different interfaces. I’d say 80% of them are interfaces we’ve reported on before but here are some new ones I haven’t seen before including an icon for the people also ask section in Google Search.
Google My Business Launches New Spam Report FormGoogle announced they have launched a new form to submit spam reports about Google local, maps and Google My Business related spam. Google calls it the Business Redressal Complaint Form and is for fraudulent activity.
Martin Splitt From Google To Host Video Series On JavaScript & SEOGoogle’s Martin Splitt announced on Twitter that Google is starting a new video series around JavaScript and SEO. He said “they are coming out now, you definitely want to stay tuned.” You can watch them on the the Google Webmaster YouTube channel.
Google Dublin ExpandingHere are some photos of the skyline around the Google Dublin offices showing how Google is expanding over there. You can see the construction and buildings Google is erecting in the area.
Other Great Search Forum Threads:
New free + slick speed monitoring tool: https://t.co/WObsmnKr4p • Track site speed over time • Alerts when speed drops • First contentful paint • Time to first byte • Number of requests • Free? Get out of town! Run a test he, Cyrus on Twitter
AMP isn’t a ranking factor, so it wouldn’t be that. It sounds like it would make sense to post your details in the help forums, to get input from others.… https://t.co/sURyZAEBkW, John Mueller on Twitter
Did you receive a manual action for linkspam? If so, and if you really don’t know what happened, it’s useful to chat with peers in the help forums to find out more about your site’s specific situation.… https://t.co/gmljwank, John Mueller on Twitter
F.T.C. $12.8 Million Settlement for Fake Reviews by Amazon Seller, WebmasterWorld
I have the Two Click Penalty every month, WebmasterWorld
That’s an unnatural link and would be against our webmaster guidelines, which could negatively affect both sites.…, John Mueller on Twitter
Search Engine Land Stories:
Other Great Search Stories:
Industry & Business
Links & Promotion Building
Mobile & Voice

5 On-Site SEO Factors That Matter Most by @krisjonescom

Let’s escape the narrow mindset that Google and search engines only prize three primary ranking factors.
As important as links and publishing content remain, search engines are growing far more complex than relying on traditional text and document analysis to rank its index.
Instead, we should view SEO as an organic ecosystem, where each small snippet of code directly or indirectly ties into the performance of your website.
Link building to a slow site becomes useless, as is publishing content that gets interrupted by obtrusive interstitials on a mobile device.
Following the best practices is pointless, unless you’re following all of them.
While not everyone will entirely agree on the best practices of SEO, we can at least agree on some.
Here are five on-site SEO factors that you should always keep in mind when designing and auditing your website.
1. Content
Certainly content is king. But simply having content is not enough to help your site rank for the keyword terms it’s targeting.
According to an Ahrefs study, 91 percent of online content generates no traffic from Google. So what do we know that search engines prize in content creation?
Content Relevance to User Intent
Understanding user intent is the future of search engine development.
In fact, a large proportion of Google ranking shifts in the past year were attributed to experimental algorithm changes, including new neural matching capabilities and the dawn of neural embeddings.
Without getting too much into the details, Google’s algorithms are working tirelessly to better understand the syntax and semantics of user searches.
We’ve already seen some of the benefits this can offer in the form of answer boxes, knowledge panels, and more diverse search results for broad tail queries.
In fact, content relevance to user intent can be argued to be its most important ranking factor because if your content is not relevant to a search than it will be devalued.
How to Optimize
Understand the intent of your keywords (informational, shopping, navigational).
Analyze the SERP of these keywords and see what type of content is ranking.
Research semantic similarities to that keyword and optimize content around those terms.
Deep Content
Deep or long-form content addresses as many user concerns as possible, while providing fresh perspectives over a topic. Even search engines seem to prefer long-form content for many informational user searches.
A HubSpot study found that content between 2,250 and 2,500 words tended to receive the most organic traffic. This seems to be the sweet spot for SEO, although creating pages much longer than 2,500 words, when necessary, can also be beneficial.
Becoming a master over your subject matter isn’t just beneficial for SEO, it can also help you become a thought leader in your industry and create additional business opportunity.
How to Optimize
Research top ranking pages for a target keyword and analyze their content.
Add semantically related keywords to flesh out content with additional sub-topics.
Answer any and all questions users may have about that topic.

Organized Content
SEO tags still play an important role in content creation, despite the rise of semantic analysis.
Optimizing title tags and header tags can help with:
Communicating the intent and syntax of your webpage document.
Organizing your document to make it easier for users and search engines to read.
Making pages more scannable.
Helping your page pass the 5-second rule.
How to Optimize
Insert focus keywords into title tags, URL slug, and page titles.
Create header sections (H2, H3, H4s) using related keywords.
2. User Engagement
Ultimately, we design websites for both people and search engines. When designing for users, it’s always good to look at your website and website content from a fresh perspective.
Mainly, how engaging is my content and am I already bored with my site?
User engagement, or user signals, have long been suspected to be a ranking factor for Google, even if indirectly. Regardless, user signals can be a good indicator of improvements that you need to make on your website.
Pages per Session
The Pages per Session metric indicates how many pages a user views before leaving your site.
This metric, along with average session duration (the amount of time a user spends on your site), can be found in Google Analytics.
What this metric tells you is how interactive and engaging your site is, from a navigational perspective. Analyzing this, along with your behavioral flow, can shed some light on holes impacting your sales funnel or impeding conversions.
It can also show you how interactive and engaging your blog or news articles are. Usually, if a reader is consuming multiple articles in one session on your site, it means you are doing something right to satisfy their intent.
Tips to Optimize
Analyze pages with high bounce rates and search for opportunities to encourage longer session durations or more pages-per-session.
Insert calls-to-action on pages to encourage conversions.
Provide additional navigation options within content, such as placing interlinks in body content or providing related reading materials.
Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is another confusing metric that could either be positive or negative, depending on how you look at it. Ultimately, your bounce rate indicates how satisfied users are with your landing page or website.
High bounce rates could indicate that your pages aren’t engaging and don’t satisfy user intent, especially for ecommerce pages. User bounces could also indicate that they are satisfied and got the answer they were looking for.
Tips to Optimize
Tell a story or lead with a compelling hook.
Get rid of intrusive interstitials and pop-up advertisements.
Improve page load time.
Ensure landing page copy is relevant to search queries.
Click-Through Rate
Your website listing is the first interaction a user has with your site. CTR in one indicator of whether that interaction was successful.
A low CTR could indicate that your messaging is not relevant to a user search. It could also indicate that your meta description or title tag is not compelling enough.
Tips to Optimize
Insert exact match keywords into title tags and meta descriptions so they are bolded.
Add a benefit of clicking on this page (e.g., “BOGO”) into your meta description.
Ensure your tags are the proper length so they don’t get truncated.
3. Technical Structure
Next, we need to consider how our technical structure is impacting user engagement and our keyword rankings.
Technical SEO could be considered the foundation of SEO where everything else is built on. Without a solid technical foundation, your house of content will crumble.
To get indexed, your website needs to be crawled. Search engine crawlers only have access to the links provided in your sitemap and available from your homepage.
This makes the practice of interlinking vastly important, which we will discuss later. For now, we will only concern ourselves with making sure our website is crawlable and out crawl budget is optimized.
Your crawl budget determines how many pages search engines will crawl during a crawl session. This is determined by your crawl rate and crawl demand.
Crawl rate is a measurement of how many requests per second a search engine spider makes to your site, while crawl demand determines how often search engine spiders will crawl your site (depending on how popular it is).
While most webmasters don’t worry about crawl budget, it’s a huge concern for larger sites. Crawl budgets allow webmasters to prioritize what pages should be crawled and indexed first, in case crawlers can parse through every pathway.
Tips to Optimize
Create a sitemap using your CMS or Screaming Frog and submit it manually through Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Block all pages you don’t want crawled or index by placing them under the disallow file of your robots.txt file.
Clean up redirect chains and set parameters for dynamic URLs.
Having an HTTPS secure website is very valuable for ensuring the security of transactions on your site. It’s also a soft ranking factor for Google.
The number one technical error we find on clients sites is linking to mixed content or HTTP pages. This can occur during an SSL migration and arise from a number of causes.
While pages should theoretically redirect to their HTTPS counterpart, it still isn’t advantageous to have links to mixed content. More importantly, these links do not always redirect.
How to Optimize
Contact your hosting provider for any issues that persist with SSL certification and implementation.
Run a crawl of your website using Screaming Frog to identify mixed content errors.
Place sitemaps in your robots.txt file independent of any user-agent commands.
Rewrite your .htaccess file to redirect all website traffic to a specific domain using the HTTPS URL.
Clean URLs
Equally as important, you don’t want content that links to broken or redirected pages. Not only can this affect speeds, but it can also impact indexation and crawl budgets.
Status code issues may appear naturally over time or due to a site migration.
Generally, you want clean URL structures with status 200 codes.
Tips to Optimize
Run a crawl of your website using Screaming Frog to uncover 4xx and 5xx status codes.
Use 301 redirects on broken pages to send users to a more relevant page.
Implement custom 404 pages with available URLs to redirect traffic to relevant pages.
Contact your web host provider for any 5xx errors impacting URLs.
4. Interlinking
Interlinking is important from multiple SEO perspectives:
UX and IA
Link Building
If technical SEO is the foundation of a website then internal links are the doors that allow you to move from room to room.
But as websites grow older and businesses change, maintaining consistency across your site and a solid interlinking structure can be difficult.
Deep Links
Deep linking has served as an SEO best practice since the dawn of the internet.
Essentially, the idea is to link to orphaned pages on your site from a higher level category page to pass authority from one page to the other and also ensure that page gets indexed.
Creating an organized interlinking structure around similar topics allows lower pages on your site to pull some authority from higher authority pages.
It also provides users with additional actions to take on your site, such as reading more about a particular sub-topic or traveling to another section of your site.
Tips to Optimize
Conduct a crawl to identify orphaned pages that are not being indexed.
Use links strategically within content to pass along authority and provide additional reading content (2 minimum per post).
Organized Hierarchy
All websites are comprised of a topic hierarchy that is designed to communicate to users and search engines the purpose of each section of the site.
Go to a site like Search Engine Journal and you’ll see how the top navigation is designed to create a topic tree under the umbrella of digital marketing.

Tags are even implemented to help organize content and readers understand the context of certain topics.

Generally, your hierarchy should be designed from a top-down approach, allowing search engines to crawl and index certain pages under buckets or clusters.
Tips to Optimize
Conduct user research to see what customers are searching for.
Use exact match keywords to optimize category pages and semantically related keywords for sub-category pages.
Add breadcrumbs or links in footers for users to navigate back to a specific page.
5. Mobile Responsivity
In the age of the mobile-first index, it’s absolutely crucial that your website is mobile friendly. The mobile first index has become Google’s primary ranking index, meaning it is updated before its desktop index.
When designing for a mobile user, it’s important to keep in mind the dimensions of the device itself, as well as different considerations for surfing on a mobile device.
For example, long-scrolls are preferable to links that force users to load another page and impede their surfing experience.
But generally, the two most important mobile factors include mobile-friendly design and fast page speeds.
Tips to Optimize
Implement responsive web design.
Tag pages with AMP code using your CMS.
Improve page speeds by minifying onsite resources.
We may not have been able to cover each and every element of SEO, but this should serve as a foundation of areas to check during your next audit or website build.
SEO is a dynamic and organic industry and by looking at it from a more holistic point of view we can better serve our users and survive changing algorithms.
More Resources:
Image Credits
All screenshots taken by author, February 2019

Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!

Call Now ButtonCall Now!