I would like to start by telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Tommie and at the risk of causing potential readers to turn away I feel I should tell you that this is my first post ever! After completing a three month SEO internship at Hit Reach I am currently working here on a part time basis whilst I finish my degree.
As a complete newbie to the scary world of SEO I have found myself completely fascinated by the lengths people are going to in order to impress Google, Ask Jeeves and the likes. Anyway I will get onto the post as I think that’s enough flirting (for now). Chris and Patrick have kindly set me the challenge of creating a “if I did SEO for….” post so here I am.
We have all seen similar posts floating around the WWW and they seem fun so I thought I could give it a bash. Taking inspiration from posts such as Anthony Nelson’s fitocracy post and Tom Critchlow’s recommendations for Hipmunk I opted to delve into the world of Stripe.com.
Hopefully I have been able to come up with some genuinely useful suggestions which Stripe may want to consider implementing in the near future.
What is Stripe.com anyway?
For those of you not familiar with the service provided by Stripe they offer a “developer-friendly way to accept payments online and in mobile apps”.
As self-proclaimed web lovers they aim to offer friction-less financial transactions whilst taking into consideration outstanding code, API’s and documentation. They clearly do a very good job of achieving this as they process billions (yes with a B) of dollars a year for thousands of companies of all sizes. With a simple and beautifully designed service it is also clear to see how Stripe have managed to attract a large number of both investors and clients in a relatively short period of time.
Add this to the recent revelations surrounding Paypal, following what I am calling @N-gate, it may be the perfect time for Stripe to consider implementing some changes to their SEO practices.
Everyone and their dog is now aware that the benefits of SEO are abundant. From the clear benefits of appearing higher in organic searches to the potential increase in online social engagement. I thought the best way to tackle this post was to break it up into three main areas which Stripe could potentially identify as having room for improvement from an SEO point of view:
- On page optimisation
- Content creation and potential future link building ideas
- Link reclamation
Before any analysis can be carried out and subsequent conclusions drawn it makes sense to look at how Stripe are currently performing. After all, how can you make recommendations without carrying out analysis in the first place?
Throughout the post I will look at certain aspects of Stripe’s SEO efforts in more depth to substantiate any recommendations however it also makes sense to look initially at the sites overall traffic in comparison to its competitors.
The year-to-date traffic figures from SEMrush show that Stripe (the orange line) has over taken a number of its competitors in terms of site visits. However whilst they have increasing traffic most of that seems to be down to brand terms, showing that they are doing a good job in terms of branding, yet there are some SEO opportunities that they are missing out on.
Looking at their organic keyword research backs up this theory. Whilst they are ranking highly for brand terms their positions for important search terms could really do with some improvement. If Stripe wants to rank better for non-brand related keywords then SEO has to take priority. Now let’s look at what could be changed to hopefully achieve this.
On page optimisation
(Please forgive the stock photo). Personally I love the Stripe.com site. Its stunning design flows effortlessly across the computer monitor (even on the Amstrad CPC6128 Hit Reach have given me). However there are a number of simple changes which could be made to optimise the site allowing them to hopefully jump up the SERPs:
The title tag is still very important in terms of SEO. They may in fact still directly influence a sites ranking and they also have numerous other benefits such as increasing CTR and establishing keyword relevance.
Rick DeJarnette describes title tags as “a huge opportunity to properly introduce your page to both human users (via the SERPs) and to search engines (for building keyword relevance)”.
If we look at the Stripe homepage as it appears in Google it is clear to see how including more information in the title tag could increase click through rate.
The page title should include keywords and a brief summary of a page’s contents whilst being no longer than 70 characters long.
Multiple H1 tags
Arguably header tags can still be influential on a sites SEO. It therefore makes sense to optimise them as it is as simple as peas to do so. It is also important to note that even Google recommends using only one H1 element on any page. Stripe currently employs a number of heading tags and they don’t include relevant keywords.
The headings should be different to the page titles and it is recommended they are as short and precise as possible.
The small snippets of text (usually about 155 characters long) that appear in search engine results and with links shared on social media and bookmarking sites. Optimising meta descriptions will not necessarily directly influence a sites ranking however they are extremely important for communicating a brand message and for conversion rates.
As you can see the current meta descriptions hardly encourage potential visitors to enter the site. I would change the descriptions to include the following three aspects: A quick summary of the content, a reason to read the content and be no longer than 155 characters. I would also consider including calls to action such as “SIGN-UP FREE TODAY” as suggested in this post by the guy with the hat, Joel Klettke.
Screaming Frog shows that not every page has its own unique meta description, if they in fact have one at all. This is a simple adjustment that Stripe could make which could have quite a strong impact on the sites CTR.
With the current importance being placed upon responsive design, steps should be taken to ensure the mobile version of Stripe is as user-friendly as possible. One way of achieving this is by optimising images through compression. This will decrease page load time to the benefit of the user which in turn satisfies Google and Mr. Cutts.
Running the site through Google page speed also highlights other potential measures which should be taken to improve a pages load time.
Add social buttons
Whilst not strictly being on-site SEO the following two points are further ways that Stripe could optimise their site and improve user engagement.
Encouraging site visitors to share your content is naturally a good thing. An easy way to do this is by adding the social buttons to each blog post and they can also be added to each page on the site. A prime example of the importance of social buttons comes from Upworthy. Their shares increased by 398 percent after they added those little buttons!
Stripe is at present on the big three social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Google+) yet from what I can see they don’t link to them from the site itself, except for a link to Twitter from within the footer of the documentation page.
Making the blog more visible
The Stripe blog is currently only visible by clicking on the drop down menu under the ‘About’ section of the site and in the footer of the homepage, which you can barely see. I would advise Stripe to give the blog its own section which would be visible on every page of the site. It could also be added to the side bar of the homepage and perhaps accompanied by a list of “The most read posts” or something along the same lines.
Content creation and potential future link building ideas
As part of the link building process Stripe may want to look into creating and sharing their own content. Behind every successful SEO strategy is the potential for the creation of scalable quality content. They do currently produce a blog and keep it regularly updated which is a great start.
However with further outreach and social media incorporation Stripe could vastly enhance its online presence whilst reaching a wider audience of prospective customers.
If I did SEO for Stripe I would recommend the following modifications to their blog and link building efforts:
Stripe: Capture the flag
Admittedly the majority of this programming game makes little sense to me but I have been reliably informed by Patrick that it was a cool and popular feature.
It would seem other “programming types” agree as Ahrefs shows it currently has 172 referring domains and over 650 related tweets. This is clearly great news for Stripe in terms of SEO. However the game is currently hosted on its own domain (https://stripe-ctf.com/) so they could be getting more SEO value by hosting the content on their own site, perhaps using a subdomain such as (ctf.stripe.com).
Another way to redirect some of this link equity would be to find out who is linking to the CTF game and politely suggest that they link to your main site as well/instead. Chances are if they link to the game then they already like you lots and should be happy to help you out.
Utilising what already exists
It is hardly surprising, given Stripe’s target audience, that the most popular blog posts (in terms of social media shares and backlinks) are related to coding/programming. I would suggest Stripe continue to create content exploring similar themes and issues as they clearly appeal to their users.
The most popular post from the blog (jquery-payment) highlights the previous point. The post gained over 580 mentions on twitter alone. Its backlink stats also make pretty impressive reading for a small self-promotional post.
The majority of the current posts however are short and often news-like. Stripe should look at improving upon its popular content by extending it through adding depth and insight. This could allow the Stripe blog to have a more universal appeal, creating more links and then hopefully more customers.
Stripe may have the potential to start a developer’s forum. Forums, bulletin boards or discussion boards, can be a great way to increase the traffic to a site. While admittedly creating one isn’t the easiest thing to do I feel that with Stripes popularity among developers this idea could definitely be worth considering.
There are a number of plugins which allow for forums to be simply added to a site such as WPMU Dev Forum Plugin.
Comparison posts on their blog would allow Stripe to clearly outline the benefits of using their online payment service instead of their competitors. For example “Why you should be using Stripe.com instead of Paypal – the horrifying truth”. Okay maybe not the sensationalist bit at the end but something along those lines could help create interest and attract new customers.
Furthermore people searching for this are probably very highly qualified – in that they already know that Stripe exists and they are almost ready to implement a payment solution, so this type of content could be really good for conversions as the prospect is very close to buying.
A simple Google search creates a list of questions Stripe could be answering. If they are doing this they would want to be as open and transparent as possible (rather than using ‘viral’ sounding titles). The content needs to solve real user issues/questions.
Useful advice posts
Stripe could use resources such as slideshare to create tutorials and guides on how to, for example, integrate stripe on your wordpress blog. This could be easily scaled out to incorporate all of the different CMS options available (Joomla/Drupal/Magento/Shopify/etc).
This enables Stripe to offer both link-worthy content whilst informing and helping present users. Pippin’s plugins has created its own similar tutorial – as shown below. This shows there is an audience for this type of post and Stripe could create the perfect resource to address this concern.
Equally, whilst Stripe has done a lot of work to appeal to the development community, there is a more casual community of website owners who could use Stripe in future. So consideration should be given to these potential users through the creation of more simplified guides and articles.
Another idea for advice posts would be to think about the benefits of Stripe for different geographical locations. Typing the term “stripe online payments” into Quora shows that the majority of questions asked by users relate to advantages of Stripe for a specific location, for example “Would you recommend using Stripe web payments in the UK?”.
It is important to remember that primarily any content should be created with the purpose of exposing more people to Stripe as a brand/product, links are just a secondary bonus.
If you have stuck with me up until this point then thanks. I am going to end with a few changes I would make relating to Stripes current link reclamation efforts.
As with any growing and developing company, changes within strategies – and practices – can naturally lead to changes in website design and structure. Often this can result in broken links from other sites as URLs are changed and pages are removed. Link reclamation is the process of finding and fixing these broken links through the utilisation of the various different methods available.
The process can be carried out quite easily, using a few simple tools and a relatively short amount of time. Redirecting that link juice back into the Stripe site is an easy win that will have a significant impact on their search engine optimisation efforts.
Finding ‘broken’ links
One of the easiest ways to identify broken links is by locating the pages on a site which no longer exist or have been redirected. This can be done by analysing the site through a crawler such as Screaming Frog and filtering the subsequent results.
Now you have a list of pages that can be exported into a backlink research tool to identify any sites linking to them. The links that are worthwhile salvaging should be the focus of your attentions now as you notify the relevant webmasters of these SEO travesties. Luckily being a relatively new company has helped Stripe avoid this problem as they currently have no broken/missing pages. However these steps could prove to be useful to refer to in future should the situation arise.
Mentions without links
Like a retweet without a follow, mentions without links can be painful to take. Whatever the reason for this be it intentional or accidental there are measures that can be taken to identify and hopefully change these mentions to include that all important endorsement.
A simple search for “stripe payments” in Google finds an example of this on the create blog. This could result in a quick and easy link and this is the ideal opportunity to reach out and thank them for mentioning your product in order to begin to build relationships.
Any infographics or pieces of code Stripe create could be being shared on other sites without accreditation. There are a couple of ways that examples of this can be found and hopefully amended. If the content was an image then a reverse image search in tools like Tineye or Image Raider would display the locations of that image.
The next step would be to contact the right people and thank them for sharing your content whilst politely ask for that citation.
Misspelling of brand names
Typos can be made even by the most respected webmasters. John-Henry Scherck outlines a relatively simple 7 step process to finding the people who meant to link to you but haven’t.
To briefly summarise the post it begins with using a keyword typo generator and excel to produce a list of misspelled domains which are then copied and pasted into a bulk backlinks checker. Organising the misspelled domains by the amount of links they have can produce a list of URL’s that may have been linked to instead of Stripe.
(I tried number 5 purely for professional reasons but I would maybe ignore it for now). If they are parked domains Stripe could try and acquire them. If they can’t acquire them they should contact the webmasters responsible for the most valuable links and ask for the links to be corrected.
If all else fails and Stripe were unable to persuade the sites to alter their links to direct to existing pages then redirects should be set up instead. Some of the link juice will be lost in comparison to a direct link, however this is still better than no juice at all.
There are clearly a number of changes Stripe should make to their site as soon as possible. Hopefully I have been able to provide some genuinely useful points for Stripe to consider and if not I hope you enjoyed the stock photos anyway.
If you have any questions feel free to post a comment and I will do my best to provide a sensible answer. Or if you want to know anything else, or just like the over use of parenthesis, then I am on twitter: @gleavets.
Thanks for reading!