Community Q&A

Each month, Ezoic publishers can ask questions about the digital ecosystem or about digital publishing to expert members of the Ezoic staff. At the end of each month, members of our team answer these questions and provide the information in video and text below.

Submit questions to future Q&As here. Note: Support questions should be directed at support@ezoic.com

May 2019

(VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION BELOW)

Question #1: How do you reduce bounce rates? I have good quality content, but my bounce rate is too high.

Tyler: When we look at bounce rates, realize that it’s a relative metric, meaning that a bounce rate for Jan’s site and a bounce rate for my site could be completely different. It could be because he’s in a completely different content niche or we can have the exact same type of content and be in the exact same niche, but because our audiences are different the behavior could be different.

So for me to compare my bounce rate to his isn’t really a fair comparison – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. So really when it comes to bounce rate, what you need to be looking at is how yours tracks over time. When you make changes to your site, how does bounce rate move up or down? Do you create more longer-form content or short form content? On your landing pages that are above 1000 words, how does bounce rate track versus articles where it’s less than a thousand words?

If you use Ezoic’s Big Data Analytics, I recommend going into site content and landing pages and then looking at all the landing pages that have a lower than normal bounce rate or higher than normal page views per visit and see what those articles have in common. You may be able to identify some things that ultimately produce articles where people are more engaged and going to additional pages.

Keep in mind that if you have something where the vast majority of your site visitors are coming and then leaving and getting the information they want, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if they’re staying less than 30 seconds on the page and they’re coming to your site and bouncing off, it’s worth looking at things like your site speed or maybe even how your site is appearing in browsers, mobile browsers, things along those lines to make sure that there’s not something is disrupting their experience.

So bounce rate: is there a good one, is there a bad one – it’s all relative. There are good sites with a bounce rate above 90% and they’re great sites a bounce rate below 10%. It really just depends, but ultimately it comes down to what are you doing to be able to identify when your users are having good experiences and bad ones.

Jan: On that point too, I’m sure many people are familiar, but we track bounce rate a little bit different than what Google does out of the box. So Tyler mentioned the 30 seconds time on site – as long as somebody’s been on a page for 30 seconds, that registers as a real visit for us, so maybe that’s something to look at when you are looking at a really high bounce rate.

Question #2: How do I make my site’s plugins and CSS work in PWA?

Jan: With the PWA converter, Ezoic is using the WordPress API to pull in content from a site, and putting it into the PWA templates that are predefined by Ezoic. So currently you do not have the ability to edit the CSS. If you have specific aspects of the site such as a subscribe widget, you can add that CSS within the PWA app.

As for plugins, there is a list of supported plugins in the PWA app. If you have specific plugins that you would like to use on PWA you can request them in the PWA app as well. We will continue to add supported plugins based on which are the most popular amongst publishers.

Question #3: I would like to know if Ezoic has any plans to combat adblocking. Also, I hear about a tech called ad-reinsertion to recapture income lost due to ad blocking. Can you please comment on these?

Tyler: So one of the things I’ll bring up first is that a lot of the research recently on ad blocking shows that it’s sort of been curbed a little bit. Additionally, ad blocking was a bigger issue I think a few years ago before industry analyst really had a chance to dig in and see just how little it was actually affecting certain publisher revenues.

It’s much higher in areas of Europe and also much higher and certain niches than others. If you happen to have an audience in Europe and potentially in one of the niches where ad blocking is even higher, one thing you can kind of rest assured knowing is that ad blocking doesn’t happen very often on mobile which more and more visitors are on mobile as well.

Those are all the things I’ll tell you about why ad blocking isn’t something that’s worth a major concern. However, I will mention that the biggest issue with technologies or solutions that reinsert ads on someone that using an ad blocker is that number one, you’re likely to not make very much revenue at all. Those services usually pay very, very poorly. We actually had an app for a long time that allowed our users to show ad blocking visitors ads and we actually removed the app because we found it is really bad for user experiences and publishers usually didn’t recover enough revenue for it to be worth it. You usually see really low-quality ads in those spaces and additionally, what you’ll find is that the users that are already blocking ads are the ones that are going to be the most vocal and are also the ones that are probably going to have the biggest negative experience from that.

The last thing I’ll mention on this is that when you start showing ad blocking users ads, what happens is they start adjusting ad blocker settings and then the ad blockers themselves will start to add additional features to help block the ad that you’re reinserting. What that means is that ad blockers are not smart and so they will start breaking elements your site. For people that start using ad blockers on your site, things like your menu and other parts of your site will start to break in their attempts to remove ads. My best advice is basically to use technologies like Ezoic that are designed to measure user behavior and ensure that they’re not annoyed or disrupted by ads.

For those that are already using ad blockers and things along those lines, you can try all the different features that are out there in terms of asking them to turn off ad blockers and using interstitials. If you go to community.ezoic.com, there was a thread on this recently and Anita from Small Business Trends had some really great insights as to specific strategies that publishers can use to prevent ad blocking, so I recommend checking that out as well.

Question #4: How do I use the Site Speed app and caching? The problem is that I cannot see immediate results, and sometimes I see a problem more than 72 hours after I set up caching and the Site Speed app.  

Jan: I’ll go into both of these separately. So for the Site Speed app, you can go in and actually just enable all the different features. Right now, we have critical CSS loading, as well as features for resizing images, next-gen format, and lazy loading images. Some of these things are going to take a little bit of time or some visits for the system to pick up on exactly where the images are and actually resize them, find the right size, and turn them into to next-gen format. So this does take a little bit of time. With critical CSS, you should be able to look into the code of your site and see if it’s breaking anything. If you do have any issues with this, feel free to reach out to the support at Ezoic and the team is always available to help you in trying to troubleshoot all these issues.

On the caching side of things, the biggest issue I see is that people end up enabling Ezoic caching and they don’t really check afterward to see if it’s working. A lot of times, there’s some cache control headers that are on the site that are basically saying do not cache this page at all, do not store any cache or maybe a cookie set that doesn’t allow caching.

What I would recommend is to look into your headers. You can also use the tool called redirect tool – it’s a Chrome extension and you’ll be able to see on there if it says Ezoic CDN caching hit or miss. If it’s missing pretty consistently and you’re refreshing the page and it’s missing, feel free to again to reach out to to the support team at Ezoic. We’ve figured out what the typical issues and it should be pretty quick to resolve.

Tyler: I’ll also add that inside of Big Data Analytics, we also have a report that you can pull. If you look at, I think it’s technology, there’s one that says Ezoic cache and it will show you on average if the Ezoic cache is hitting or missing. That’s a really good way of being able to see if there’s something on your site that’s causing the Ezoic cache to not work properly.

Jan: I’ve seen some sites that maybe 20% of page views are actually getting cached, the other 80% are missing or may be off for some reason. This will give you an idea of how many of these pages actually are getting cached and whether you need to look into it. Obviously, you don’t want to be caching every single page because some may be updating pretty frequently. Big Data Analytics is definitely a good place to go look at a week’s worth of data and see if it’s a reoccurring thing.

Tyler: One of the common things that we see is that if you’re a WordPress user and you have a plug-in like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache, sometimes the rules will be set by those plugins that automatically override Ezoic cache. There are some things you can do about this, but if you have questions reach out to support@ezoic.com

Question #5: With Google making Changes to the Chrome browser for privacy reasons, what can publishers expect from Ezoic in terms of how this will affect us? I.E. Will we see a revenue drop or will we see no changes due to Ezoic being Google Partner?

Tyler: I had a really interesting conversation with our CEO here recently about the changes that not only Google has made to privacy and cookie tracking, but also Apple. I think a lot of people sleep on just how much control someone like Apple has with their Safari browser on mobile and the amount of people that are using Apple phone.

That being said, digital advertising is continuing to grow. It’s set to surpass television this year and there are no analysts in this industry that expect digital to go down. In fact, it’s the opposite – digital advertising continues to grow and for publishers, that’s a good thing. Advertisers are trying to reach your audience and who this is really going to change things for the most are advertisers and marketers. The infrastructure by which they use to market and target their audiences will have to become more and more first-party.

Google and Amazon are the two largest providers that basically are going to allow this to happen. Amazon has tons of data from people that browse their site. Google has tons of data from people using their technology. The vast majority of revenue in the entire digital ecosystem for display is running through Google. So for publishers, just on that alone, there’s very little to worry about in terms of impact.

Now beyond that for publishers, advertisers are still going to have to advertise on your site. For publishers with quality content and a strong audience, this is actually a good thing because first-party data means more accurate targeting on these platforms. Additionally, anyone that’s not using first-party data, so all these other ad platforms and networks that are out there, are going to have to sell to advertisers and marketers using quality and engagement metrics. Hopefully, these are things that you can provide through your audiences.

I see this is being a good thing for publishers, meaning that it will potentially produce higher revenues for publishers with higher-quality audiences and eventually lead to advertisers wanting to maybe even work with you more directly. So I think it’s a good thing. I certainly don’t expect it to disrupt anything that customers are doing or to see any downturns and revenue.

Question #6: Why do Ezoic ads make slow website speeds? I hope the Ezoic team can overcome this problem. I am asking because I previously compared with ads without Ezoic using full AdSense.

Tyler: This is one that comes up a lot and one that we have to combat quite a bit.

Jan: Yeah, this is probably one of the top five questions that I get. So, the biggest thing to remember and really pay attention to is that Ezoic ads are going to be loading asynchronously.  This means that they’re loading completely separately from the content from your CSS, all your plug-ins, and whatever. What you really should be focusing on is looking at dominteractive. That is how much time it takes to load everything so that the user can start scrolling an interacting with the contact

Again, the ads are loading asynchronously – there are some biddings and optimizations going on, so if they are slower just remember that this isn’t taking away from user experience. This isn’t taking away from really key metrics with Google search rank or really any metric tied to user experience.

Tyler: We just released a study on blog.ezoic.com on time interactive and how it correlates to bounce rates, page revenue, and a couple other really important metrics. It’s something that I think is really worth looking at. So if you’re optimizing around speed that’s definitely the metric to pick.

Ezoic sites on average have a much higher TTI as it’s called than the average publisher out in the ecosystem. That’s because this is something Ezoic focuses on. If you ever load your site and it seems like the Ezoic ads are loading slow, one of the things I want you to think about is how many times you go to a site and as you begin scrolling, the text moved because of an ad that loads and pops up. One of the things that Ezoic does strategically is we don’t load the ads to where they pop open into space and move the content around. That’s very jarring to the visitor and usually produces higher bounce rates and fewer page views per visit.

One of the things we make sure that we do is we leave the placeholder location until the ad loads in a lot of cases. This is so that we can get higher bids and increase the total amount of revenue that you get from ads. Having the ads show up quickly offers no benefit to the user and in many cases is going to cost the revenue, so the Ezoic ad loading time is not something that is worth taking a close look at.

What you should be focusing on is how quickly your content is loading for the users. I know a lot of accusers are Ezoic users are obviously using industry tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to measure site speed. It’s really important to make sure that you have the Site Speed app configured and Ezoic Caching app configured in the way that Jan was talking about earlier.

Both of these features will help you with those speed tools. If you’re seeing a major discrepancy for any reason, it’s really worth trying to make sure that you got everything configured properly, because if so, I’d be seeing site speeds that are at least the same, if not better in many cases when running it through those tools. We are continuing to improve this, we expect that soon the Site Speed app will make it much much easier to achieve fast site speed when using Ezoic.

Question #7: What is the impact on site X when competitor Y is doing link building for X? Due to massive unnatural link building, will X get penalized by Google? This is seeming to be a bigger problem in the market.

Tyler: So I think what they’re saying is: what is happening when someone is doing link building on their site and it’s competing with yours, maybe in search results? So one of the things I’ll speak to is this is definitely not something that is getting worse in the in the space. It may seem like that subjectively, but it is definitely not the case. I will say looking back even two years ago, the ability for someone to build unnatural links and beat search engines like Google and outrank their competitors was much easier and rewarding to do than it is today.

Today, it may work for short-term but in most cases those sites are going to get burned pretty quickly if not today, in the next couple of months – It usually works that way. I would say if it’s something you’re concerned about, there are a billion other things that you can focus your attention on when it comes to trying to get your site to rank against competitors.

I wrote an article here recently about using Google’s Natural Language Cloud to be able to compare your content to competitors and I really recommend that. If you go to cloud.google.com/natural-language, there’s a box where you can throw in the content of your page and the content of your competitor’s page, and you’ll get an idea of how Google’s machine learning reads different content and what it picks out as general categories and concepts. It’ll give you a really good idea of the types of information that you may want to add to your existing articles or pages to outrank your competitors.

It’s really hard to be able to say competitor is beating you because of their links. There’s almost no evidence of that. In fact, I would say that it if you have a strong suspicion that the chances of them getting burned badly is really, really high so don’t do anything about it. If they’re just beating you for another reason, it’s all the more reason to use what I would say are ‘white hat’ techniques like augmenting your content and things along those lines.

Question #8: When will Ezoic use bank wire payment method without Payoneer?

Jan: We get this question occasionally. It’s something that we’re looking into. This isn’t something that we can just change overnight, but we’re hoping that in the near future we will look into some new payment methods.  

Question #9: How do I get my site in Google Discover (formerly Google feed)?

Tyler: This is a good question. Inside of Search Console, some of you may have noticed where you used to be able to see impressions inside of search engines, clicks, and everything from Search Console, you can now see that it’s divided up between search and discover.

Discover is basically if you go on to Google on a mobile app right now and go to the google.com home screen, you’ll notice that based on your browsing history and Google’s algorithms, which are completely separate from their search one, they’re going to start serving you content. So the idea behind Discover is that they want to show you what you’re looking for before you can even think of it – what a great idea Google!

So to appear in those results, which are actually sharing a fair amount of traffic, Google has mentioned that they want content that is rich and media, meaning videos and images. If you don’t have any images or video in a lot of your existing articles, it may be worth going back and creating something unique for those.

Additionally, they’ve mentioned content being snappy, quick, and easy to digest for these type of things. You may want to think about, as you create new content or augment your existing content, how do you break up paragraphs? How do you include H2’s with section headings that may result from queries around certain subjects?

One of the examples that I saw was they asked about the pyramids of Egypt and then there were all these topics underneath that become a part of the Discover channel and they were all the most recently asked questions about that larger topic.

So if you want to think about your niche and the types of things that may be covered in that, you may want to search it broadly and then look at things inside of a search like ‘people also look for’ and then figure out what articles you have that maybe answer those questions or what kinds of content you can create that would answer those questions and then include lots of rich media in those.

Also, Google has mentioned this, it’s no secret, they love for publishers to markup their sites with rich data. The newest Yoast plug-in for those using WordPress is a really great source of this. If not, there are tons of great resources online schema.org, that will show you how to use JSON or something like that to markup your site’s content it.

Google just said that they support ‘How-To’ and ‘FAQ’ related schema markup. There’s a lot of really great options and a lot of things to work on if you want to try to take advantage of Google Discover.

Question #10: How should websites handle sponsored content from brands in a way that it doesn’t affect the SEO negatively or gets you on a “blacklist” in Google Search?

Tyler: I think it’s really important to clarify what I think this person might be asking. So sponsored content, native advertising, or guest posting all mean something slightly different. I saw a post recently in the community about this and the words native ads and sponsored content were used sort of interchangeably.

Native ads are essentially content recommendations and ads that essentially look like more content or related articles that rely on a user clicking on those things that are essentially ads, but they look like they’re additional content. Taboola and Outbrain are examples of native ad providers that are out in the marketplace. If you’re in an Ezoic customer, you may be leveraging some degree of these on your site. I’ll preface it by saying those don’t have any consequences with Google search inherently. I will say that they can cause a negative experience for users in many cases. That’s why with Ezoic if you have native ads turned on, they may not show for a large portion of your visitors on based on what Ezoic has learned about your audience.

That being said, sponsored content is something very different. I divided it into two different categories. So there’s the category of Jan being an advertiser coming to me and saying ‘I will give you a very small amount of money to post this article that I’ve already written’ and he’s probably reached out to multiple other websites to publish. I would say those offer very little value to your site. I don’t know that it’ll be something that will get your site blacklisted unless the information or categories are outside of Google policy. However, it’s not going to be a great thing for your site in general and definitely not something that you want an outside link to – especially with a follow link. I would say you’re in the best shape to just ignore most of those offers that come to your email inbox.

Now, there are direct deals where you may build a relationship with a specific advertiser. Let’s pretend Jan is Apple and he comes to me and says: hey, we’ve got a great new product coming out we were wanting to do some sponsored content – maybe you can highlight the three latest features in our new iPhone. Now, if I want to create some specific content by working with him and he’s going to pay me for it, usually the rates for that are a lot better. They’re direct work with a brand and you can kind of create something unique for your audience with that person. Rarely do they have something specific templated that they want you to publish.

The too long didn’t  read version of that is if someone is coming to you and asking you to publish something straight away on your site, usually it’s not worth the money and it’s worth ignoring

Question #11: Is backlinking dead in new Google updates? How should you improve a search position for a new website?

Tyler: Backlinking isn’t dead, but I will say I think that far too many webmasters focus attention on backlinks or this idea of building backlinks. There are no really great strategies for this outside of writing articles that may include, name, or list specific entities, organizations, or people that may, because they’re featured in your articles, want a link back to you or doing outreach. How many of you get emails from different publishers or websites all the time asking ‘you wrote a great article here maybe you’d like to link to my article’ about whatever it is. That’s not a very effective method either because it’s spam. In most cases, the links that you’ll build this way are not very good. Most of the activities that you would do to try to actively build backlinks aren’t very good.

Quality backlinks are usually built through building quality content, sharing content on social media and communities like Reddit and Quora, and then also including information about people places and things that you can also then say hey we wrote something really great about you here, you might want to link to it. Those are usually the most casual and best ways to do it. There was a thread in the community here recently where other methods were discussed as well. It’s worth taking a look at that, however, I would say it’s not worth paying someone to build backlinks.

Also, any effort that you do to build backlinks, Google ignores most of them. Their patent on linked building basically says they’re going to pay attention to the links that people click on from the website that people visit the most. They’re also going to measure how that traffic performs on your site, so the percentage of those links that you have versus the ones that don’t have any of those things are like 20 to 1. So in many cases of backlinks that people spend all their time building are all for naught.

To get a new site to rank quickly, it would be great to have some good backlinks, but the best way to get those is to have quality content. It’s always a catch-22 and that’s the game and that’s why a lot of the publishers that are probably listening to this are really happy that they started creating their sites a long time ago. If you have a new site works really well to be able to get your content in the communities, the higher-quality to better because that will be what people want to share and like to

Finished:

We finished all the questions we’ve had for today Thank you for joining us for the Ezoic Q&A. 

If you have additional questions that are related to support you can always get at us at support@ezoic.com. The community is always a great resource to not only leverage our thoughts, opinions, and expertise, but the collective thoughts, opinions, and expertise of all the publishers using the Ezoic platform.

You can submit questions for future Q&As here.