How SEO Has Changed In Recent Years

As we all know, it is so important to create and publish only the highest quality content. This has actually always been the case, you might have got away with publishing any old stuff years ago but now, the search engines want more and it’s not just them, visitors to your site want to read something interesting and that is well written. In order to find your articles, you need to make use of good keywords (long tail keywords are very useful for local searches). Beware of keyword stuffing, this has been frowned upon for a number of years now and you will be be punished if you do this. Be creative with your keywords, use other ways of saying the same thing and make sure that they are what people are searching for. The search engines are getting smarter and can interpret what a searcher is looking for with more success than ever before. Due to Google’s algorithms, the quality of the results has improved and as such, the sites with the best articles will rise up the organic rankings. Social media plays a part here as well, when a visitor likes what they read, they will generally share it with others which of course generates more visitors to your site. Find out more about how SEO has changed over the last few years and how you can make yours better, read on.

Change #1: Don’t Miss Using Google’s Keyword Tool

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool has been gone for about a year now (replaced with the new Google Keyword Planner).

Many bloggers, myself included, relied heavily on this tool; however, I think our reliance was misguided. The keyword tool only measured what people were willing to pay for and was really created for products. It was specifically created to work with AdWords and while the hack that most of us used it for was fine, its data was probably not as relevant as we believed – at least, for those of us more interested in organic search results who didn’t use AdWords. In retrospect, I now feel freed from hours of pouring over results that may or may not have had a beneficial return on the time I invested. There are better ways to find out optimal keywords than these keyword tools.

Modern SEO Strategy #1: Go To The Source for Answers

You should be using Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, and going to the source for SEO information. Instead of wondering what’s new, good or outdated, simply start following and watching Matt Cutts’ Google Videos, which are organized by topic at SEO In House, to answer your questions.

If you installed Analytics a while ago, make sure you are upgraded to Universal Analytics and have the new code pasted into your site. Really dig in and examine your analytics. Click your blog under “Webmaster Tools,” go to Search Traffic, select Search Queries and download the table. I advise importing it into Excel, so you can sort it. It will give you the real story of how people are getting to your site.

Change #2: Google is Smarter than You Think

Some years back, I had a small business client who spent a ton of money engaging an SEO firm. They researched a 3-word phrase and then created a page where they repeated that phrase in a document – ad nauseam. No human would read that page. At the time, that kind of SEO was technically acceptable. Personally, bending and shaping words to match the exact 3-5 word phrase I believed people to be searching for has always been a painful exercise for this wordsmith.

How could I put my name on something like that and still build my reputation as a writer? Turns out, you can’t.

Thankfully, Google can handle whatever you write. It’s smart enough that you can place the group of words in the same or near order and still get the juice for your keyword phrase without being redundant. You do have to be careful as your long tail grows, but my best advice is just to write the best you can. You will find that from time to time, you are writing articles with no other way to say a word. For example, I just completed a piece on grass fed vs. conventionally raised cattle. There’s no other way to say either of those terms accurately, so they were repeated throughout the article. Good for my SEO, but not necessary every time.

Modern SEO Strategy #2: Use Your Head When Writing

It’s time for all of us to go back to Journalism 101 and write or curate valuable content for our audience.

If you have a new blog, don’t write too much until you start to build readership and connect with the leaders in your niche. Headlines and descriptions should entice or scare people into clicking. Articles should give provide readers with something they need and engage them, even if there is a call to action in it that benefits you. Click here to continue

Further information

Back to basics: how to get SEO right

4 ways quality content improves SEO rankings

Consider Your SEO Strategy Carefully

Using SEO to improve your website’s online profile is a sensible thing to do. However, there are so many different facets to SEO that you could be forgiven for being confused as to what to use and how to use it. Finding the right routes to take for your site is going to be essential for success. Using a combination of SEO methods that is best suited for your site and your business will help raise your site up the rankings. Set a well considered strategy, which you have prepared and planned carefully. Be prepared to change course as and when necessary so that if you find one thing is not working, you can adapt it or switch to something else. Using social signals and backlinks are important however, make sure that any links you have are good quality, relevant and go to different pages, i.e. don’t always link to your home page. Prepare your keyword list carefully, make sure that these are being searched for and you can also make use of long-tailed keywords which are actually very useful for local searches. Intersperse these sparingly through your content and change them around if you can so that the same word or words does not come up time and time again. Your content should be unique and written for a human reader as opposed to writing purely for the search engines, if people find it interesting, they will share it with others and return for more as and when you post it. Attracting visitors is crucial to the success of your strategy and the search engines do take note of visitor numbers, how long they stay and whether they share your content.

SEO platform and search analytics firm Searchmetrics has released its 2014 SEO Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations report, which it says provides an “in-depth definition and evaluation of the factors that have a high rank correlation with organic search results.”

The study, which is focused solely on Google results, found high-quality, relevant content ranks better on average and also that the well-optimized technical performance of a page contributes to a good ranking.

In addition, Searchmetrics says the quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial because new features have been revised to improve the quality of results. What’s more, the correlation values regarding coefficients out of the social sector have decreased slightly and the growth of the average total number of signals per position was small, Searchmetrics adds.

And, finally, for the first time, Searchmetrics says it measured user signals and found there is a relationship between rankings and higher click-through rates, lower bounce rates, and a high time-on-site.

Searchmetrics provides the following tips to “survive and thrive in a constantly changing SEO world”:

Tip #1: Create Robust Site Architecture

Before webmasters can look at content or optimization, they must build their sites correctly and Searchmetrics provides a list of Do’s and Don’ts for site architecture:

Do

  • Include a well-balanced number of good internal links
  • Aim for short loading times
  • Keep sites up to date
  • Maintain presence of all relevant Meta tags

Don’t

  • Lose focus
  • Focus only on the technical aspects of the site

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Tip #2: Pay Attention to Keywords in Titles and Descriptions

Rankings for proper use of keywords in onpage copy have increased from 2013 to 2014. The chart below shows the correlation between keywords in titles, tags, and descriptions and rankings. Click here to continue

Further information

Why internal links and hub pages are the key to SEO success

The Google feature that can improve your SEO

Google Authorship Has Been Retired

We all ( or at least we should) know about the benefits of high quality content for publishing online. It does not matter whether this is on your personal blog or for populating your business website, good content is of interest to many people and is of course what the search engines are looking for too. Google made it clear some time ago that it would not be tolerating what it considered to be rubbishy spammy content and sites that were found to contain such writing would be penalised severely. So, as well as implementing their menagerie of algorithms to weed out the undesirables, they also came up with the idea of authorship. The whole idea of this was to reduce the amount of anonymous posts, put faces to the names and give credence to experts in their field. What Google did not bank on was the fact the there were lots of people, many of whom are respected experts, who did not want to be dictated to in this way and who refused to take this up. The result is that Google have now retired their authorship project. This will please some but will be a disappointment to others.

Google introduced authorship support over three years ago, leading webmasters and anyone concerned with SEO to jump through a new set of hoops to make sure their faces were visible in Google search results, and hopefully even get better rankings and overall visibility in the long run. Now, Google has decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.

Do you feel that authorship was a waste of time? Are you glad to see it go? Is Google making the wrong move? Share your thoughts in the comments.

To be fair, Google called its authorship efforts experimental in the first place, but for quite a while, it looked like it would play more and more of a role in how Google treated search results, and more specifically, the people providing the content that populates them. Of course Google seems to be relying much less on people (at least directly) for search result delivery these days, favoring on-page “answers” over links to other sites.

Google never came right out and said it would use authorship as a ranking signal to my recollection, but it did go out of its way to really encourage people to take advantage, recording multiple videos on various ways to implement authorship markup on your website. As time went on, they added more ways to implement it, sending a signal that doing so would be in your best interest.

They also added features, such as display of comments, circle counts, etc. They added authorship click and impression data to Webmaster Tools. They dropped the author search operator in Google News in favor of authorship. They added authorship to Google+ Sign-In less than a year ago. It seemed that Google was only valuing authorship more as time went on.

A year ago, Google’s Maile Ohye said, “Authorship annotation is useful to searchers because it signals that a page conveys a real person’s perspective or analysis on a topic.” Emphasis added.

Also last summer, Google’s Matt Cutts said, “I’m pretty excited about the ideas behind rel=’author’. Basically, if you can move from an anonymous web to a web where you have some notion of identity and maybe even reputation of individual authors, then webspam, you kind of get a lot of benefits for free. It’s harder for the spammers to hide over here in some anonymous corner.”

“Now, I continue to support anonymous speech and anonymity, but at the same time, if Danny Sullivan writes something on a forum or something like that I’d like to know about that, Click here to continue

Further information

The end of authorship

Dropped authorship, an imminent Penguin & Google recon