What Google Wants…

So What Does Google Want?

If the full answer to this question was indeed understood, you can bet just about every site that wanted top rankings would make changes to the way their site looked and worked in pretty short order, the prize, that top place on the first page of Google being worth a lot of money…

But of course, Google won’t tell anyone just what they want, instead they just give out information about some of the things they want to see and as importantly, don’t want to see. Whilst the knowledge that is imparted is useful, it only gives us a part of the picture.

 

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A Vital Point – Google Often Ignores Its Own Rules

The biggest problem, from my point of view (as a SEO Professional) is that Google don’t only not tell you the rules, they also don’t keep to the ones you know about. This makes applying any scientific approach to the process difficult, its just like trying to find the boiling point of water when someone  is altering the  air pressure all the time. One time water will boil at 100’C, whilst at another it will boil at 90’C….

You can see this ‘not following their own rules’ phenomenon all the time (if you know what to look for) sites that break the rules still enjoying top ranking positions. This does make life difficult, but does not invalidate the data you can obtain by checking a site’s linking or page structure as it is more than possible (especially when it comes to links) that Google have yet to impose some form of penalty, the site then potentially losing the rankings it currently has.

Some of the Known SEO Rules

Keyword Stuffing

In the early days of the web, it was quite easy to trick the Search Engines into providing a first page rank simply by using the target words over and over again…. Things have moved  on now though, and if you try this trick today you will (more than likely) get worse rankings and not better ones.

Status – Avoid…

Use of Title Tag

The Title tag is not on the page, but is shown in the Browser Window and is used by Google to ‘understand’ what topic the page I question is all  about. It also, importantly forms the phrase that is seen when a site is listed by a Search Engine, so is something that needs to be carefully chosen.

Status – Use Wisely (best to keep to 65-70chrs)

Meta Description Tag

Like the Title tag, the words in this area are not  shown on  the actual page, instead they are used in the Search Engine listings and are to all intents and purposes an ‘elevator speech’. Their effect on SEO is very limited, expect that if they the same text is used on lots of pages that is. In such instances, it is believed that they may have a negative effect.

Status – Ensure that your website has a unique ‘elevator speech’ and is 165 – 170 characters long.

Header Tags

These tags have a long history, their use dating back to the days when newspapers were printed using lead type in blocks. More recently, they formed a part of the postscript language that allowed computers to communicate with printers. They were then subsumed into HTML and at the very start of the Internet, were the only way of creating bigger text on the screen. There are 6 Header styles, from H1 (the most important) to H6 (the least).

Google have stated in the past that they use the text within these tags <H1>the text</H1> as pointers about what the page is about, but now, as CSS styles are used to  control the size of the text on pages there is some debate that Google also treat any BIG text as important..

Status – Use, but only for important phrases (not for Navigation) and only have one H1 tag.

Word Count

There is evidence that the top pages for many search terms are ones that have over 1,000 words of copy, although this ‘requirement’ can go up and down depending on the level of competition. The most important factor here is to use the ‘right words’ on the page (this best found by reverse engineering the top sites  for any term) and to use as many as you can. Size is important here for two reasons, the first is (as explained above) that Google likes lots of words (words are its food after all) but there is another, as important reason  to have lot of text.

This second reason is based on the fact that obtaining traffic for ’long tail searches’ can be great for business, such search terms (normally 4 words or longer) often being used by people who are nearer the end of the buying process and thus that more likely to convert.

Status – Try to create pages that are 1,000 words or longer which contain relevant words and terms

Tabs and Accordions (Copy Triggerd by User Interaction)

One of the reasons that pages are often to light in copy is that the site owner (and the designer) rightly points out that a page that looks like  a ‘wall of text’ is likely to be off putting to viewers and would therefore increase bounce rates and reduce conversion rates.

There is a way of placing the text on the page so that Google can read it, but at the same time ‘hide’ it from viewers, until that is they want to see it. There are various methods doing this, but in every case, it is a user action  that causes the text to be made visible. This process is not treated as hiding text (in the old days people used white text on a white background would  you believe), something that Google frown upon and which could get a site banned, but is a practice that Google have reportedly said they are not altogether happy about.

I find this stance of Google’s somewhat strange as they also want sites to offer the best possible ‘user experience’ and  makes me feel that Google want the cake and to eat it too. But as I don’t believe they are actively  penalising sites that use this in their interface, it seems the  best way of providing Google with the words it needs whilst giving users the best way of assimilating the site’s message.

Status – Use with caution.

Internal Links and Links From Your Site

The power of links to sites are well understood, the right type and number enhancing the possibility of a site getting better rankings. However, it is not so widely understood that the links from a site also have their place. The reason that they are important is that they ‘prove’ to Google that the site is a part of the wider community (in that market area) as well as potentially helping users locate other relevant information.

Internal links also have a role in that they allow users to move through a site in an easier way than just using the navigation system. Used carefully these link types can really assist in improving both the ‘user experience’ and Search Engine rankings.

Status – Do implement links to relevant sites, the more powerful the better. Also, consider what internal  links you could place on your pages.

 

Links To Your Site.

Links to a site are still very powerful, accounting for at least 50% of the reason that a site is selected by Google for a ranking and form a VITAL part of any plan to get better Search Engine listings.

There are however some important factors to bear in mind…

  • Ensure that the links come from a wide number of locations / sites
  • Make sure that the anchor text used contains no more than 25% of ‘money phrases’
  • Check to see that the number of ‘other phrases’ is high, at least 30-40%.
  • Remember that a site is more than just a home page, links to internal pages also being needed
  • Plus when building links, make sure that you don’t build too many too quickly..

 

There is more to SEO of course, so please do see our site for more details and assistance.

What is the aim of Search Engine Optimisation?

The aim of Search Engine Optimisation is obviously about getting traffic, the right sort of traffic from the Search Engines, this being achieved by making a website more ‘attractive’ to Google, Bing etc, so that for certain phrases, the site is listed when someone searches for that phrase.

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The process of making a site appeal to the Engines is well understood, the rules dictating where you place the words that are important to the sites SEO being one that Google, for example, are happy to share. Some of the things that you should NOT do have also been shared, but the content of a site is only half the story, the power of links still being one that cannot be ignored.

It is this latter point that is to a degree strange, it being an effect of the very start of Google when it’s PageRank algorithm powered the way by which sites were graded. PageRank was based on the idea that sites that had lots of links MUST be good (or otherwise why did people take the time to create the link). It was not just numbers of links that counted though, the PageRank system looked at the page that held the link and at what pages linked to it, then checking the links to that page and so on. I am not sure as to the ‘depth’ that Google went to here, but it was quite deep and in the beginning worked quite well.

 The Start of The SEO ‘Battle’.

As soon as people became aware of how  the PageRank system worked, and bearing in mind the pot of gold that this form of marketing seemed to offer, companies sprung up offering services that were designed to create links, thus ‘fooling’ Google into thinking that a site was more popular than it really was.

Besides the links, Google also (at this early stage) took a cursory look at the words on the pages, it being heavily influenced  by the simple inclusion of a phrase, hence the start of pages that were ‘stuffed’ with strings of words, no real effort being made to make the page appeal to anyone  other than the Search Engines themselves.

Once this ‘war’ started, Google began to fight back, their systems starting to spot and penalise sites that stuffed their pages with the words they wanted to be found for, while also starting to check on the linking structures of sites in greater and greater detail, both of course with the idea of stamping out the ‘cheating’ that was going on.

Like most wars, both sides got cleverer and cleverer, one thinking of ways to get around the checks and rules that were created, the other trying to combat the attempts, one of the results being the birth of two of Google’s animals, Panda and Penguin.

Google’s Penguin – The Link Checker

As mentioned above, at the start it was links that mattered more than anything else, it being said by some that they could get a blank HTML page ranked if they created enough links to it. Google of course tightened its rule sets to try to counter such practices, in the end deciding to run periodic checks on the links to a site, the rule set being named ‘Penguin’.

Penguin’s aim is to ensure that the linking structure looks ‘normal’ (that is one that has not been manipulated too much) and there many checks that we know it runs (and many that I suspect we do not), these including the type of sites the links come from, and the words used as the ‘anchor text’ (the bit you click on). Failure to keep your linking structure looking ‘normal’ could result in an automatic penalty, one that could cause a site to lose rankings and potentially to be removed from the listings entirely.

However, the real change is not so much about checking the links, but the way that Google evaluate sites in an overall manner.

Google’s Panda

Besides links, it is the power of the content that Google measures. In the beginning, it was quite easy to ‘fool’ Google by simply including the words you wanted to be listed for, the quality of the site was not important. Of course, Google, who wanted to make money from advertising, could not allow these poor quality sites to dominate its rankings, as that would cause people to switch to another Engine, and with Google competing against the likes of Yahoo and AskJeaves this was important…

What Google needed was a system by which they could ensure that the pages they listed first were relevant and offered the information/service which people needed and  wanted. Poor quality sites with little or copied content were not wanted…

Thus the Panda rule set was born, its job being to sniff out sites and pages that were of poor quality this including sites that were not updated frequently enough, or seemed not to be ‘bothered’ enough even to create the right Meta Descriptions and Titles, in short sites that appeared to be ‘lazy’.

Panda also checked for copied and duplicated content as well as looking for pages that were ‘thin’ on words (less than 250), at the same time giving points to sites that included videos and images as well as links to interesting and relevant sites.

Then Came (or Comes) the Semantic Web

Both Penguin and Panda (in their various forms – they kept being altered to make them tougher to fool) were attempts by Google to ensure that the sites they listed were the very best (for any given search phrase), but they were not perfect and time after time the SEO community found ways around them.

Google could see this was going to be a never ending battle, so turned their attention to creating a set of rules that could not be fooled, this rule set looking not just at pages and links, but at the overall ‘meaning’ of the site (this is what Semantic SEO is all about), what ‘it was really all about’ and what problems it was trying to solve and the services it provided.

The Current State of Play

Once Google have perfected this rule set, then it is pretty certain that only the best sites and pages will appear at the top of its rankings, BUT and it is still a BIG BUT, they are far from achieving  this at the moment. The truth is though, at least for the very near future that they are far from achieving their aim, you only have to look at the top sites to see that in many cases, there are far better sites that should be occupying those coveted first page positions.

This of course is extremely annoying for any site owner who KNOWs their site deserves better treatment, but until Google (for one) really do implement this strategy in full, all you can do is to make the best you can to promote your site and that means carrying out works both on and off page.

SEO What You Need To Do

There are two main areas that need to be done in the right manner, one is making sure that the pages are full of useful content, the other to make sure that they site has enough links so that Google ‘believes in it’ enough to rank it. This is as you can imagine, quite a wide topic, but one that we cover in great detail.

So, please see the other pages of this site for more details on what Search Engine Optimisation is all about and the services that we offer at Serendipity Online Marketing Ltd

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Local SEO

In the modern world, consumers are now looking online before purchasing goods and services from businesses. This is driven by the fact that smart phones have become common and wi-fi is freely available in most developed parts of the world. As a result, more people look for businesses online before purchasing from them. Therefore, if you are a business owner, it is essential that you have an online presence and that you use SEO in order to get your website ranking highly in Google and other search engines. This is important because the businesses and websites that rank highly in Google get more relevant traffic to their website which can result in more customers and sales.

 

For example, if you have a business that sells car accessories in Gloucester, then your website should be optimized for keywords such as “car accessories in Gloucester”, “car accessory stores in Gloucestershire”, “Gloucestershire car accessories” etc. If you SEO optimize your website for keywords like these and you rank in the top 5 search engine results, your site will naturally get most of the traffic for those keywords. This means that you will naturally get people who are interested in buying car accessories to look at your website and business, which you can then convert into customers.

 

It is important to remember that having an SEO optimized site that ranks highly in Google and other search engines is not enough. You also need to ensure that your website is built to convert visitors into customers. So, you should have a site with high quality copywriting that thoroughly explains your business, your services and what you can do for a possible customer. You should make sure to have real testimonials and use lots of actual pictures of your business as well as videos throughout your site to help possible customers further understand your business so that you can gain their trust.

 

In addition to creating a business website, you should also create a blog as well as various social media business pages. More consumers are looking towards Facebook business pages, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles for information, so make sure that you create and constantly update these pages. You should have at least one social media manager to manage these pages and reply to people who comment in a timely and appropriate manner. Your social media presence and the content that you post will form your brand and business image, so make sure that you create an impressionable one.

 

As you can see, having an active online presence and SEO optimized website are absolutely essential for business success in 2016 and beyond. With that said, SEO does take time to work, so be patient and you will soon have more customers and business than ever before. Remember that search engine optimization is not a sprint, it is a longer race and one that might take a very winding road before you reach your goals.

 

 

All small businesses should have an online presence. It’s essential for local consumers to be able to find local products and services online.

Having a well optimised website is the first step, but it’s certainly not the last. SEO (search engine optimisation) enables you to put your website in front of hundreds or even thousands of potential customers online.

However, when it comes to search engines like Google, small businesses have to compete against much larger organisations with bigger budgets and more established brands.

So how do you level the playing field and ensure local consumers are able to find you online?

Welcome to local SEO

Local SEO, or local search optimisation, helps small businesses attract local consumers online.

If you search for products or services online, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo display not only traditional organic results, but also local results, which show businesses and maps in your area.

To do this, search engines will identify your current location via your IP Address and return the most relevant businesses within your immediate area.

Local Search Results

Local search results are probably already familiar to you. Google, Bing and Yahoo all return local results, and all have slight variations on the style and number of results featured. But for now, let’s look at Google:

 

Google’s local search results are known as the ‘local pack’, and also referred to as the ‘snack pack’ or ‘3-pack’. Although the display is likely to change over time, there are some elements that remain a constant:

  • Map – shows the local area with highlighted local businesses
  • Local businesses listings – Google shows three but we expect this to become two
  • Local business info – address and contact information, reviews, website, directions
  • Link to ‘more places’ – This directs to a ‘local finder’ page where more local businesses can be found

Google recently announced that they intend to replace one of the three local business listings with a paid result. This is huge news for local SEO, and with less space in the local pack it means that many local businesses will have to ‘pay to play’ going forward.

However, this doesn’t mean that ranking is impossible – it’s just a little harder. Even if you don’t rank in the pack, you can still feature in the ‘local finder’ page, which lists many more local businesses.

 

How to feature in local search results

So how do you go about getting your business listed in the local pack?

Luckily for us, every year a bunch of local SEO experts contribute to a study called the Local Search Ranking Factors. From this study we are able to identify the top factors that Google considers when ranking local businesses.

Overall Local Ranking Factors:

  1. On-page SEO – 20.3%
  2. Links – 20.0%
  3. Google My Business – 14.7%
  4. Citations – 13.6%
  5. Behavioural signals – 9.5%
  6. Reviews – 8.4%
  7. Personalisation – 8.5%
  8. Social – 5.0%

Let’s take a look at each of these factors and discuss what you can do to optimise and improve each ranking factor for your business.

On-page SEO

80% of local SEOs say on-page SEO has a high / very high impact on search rankings. Having great on-page SEO means optimising all the elements on any given web page. This means optimising title and description tags, creating compelling content, having detailed service or product information and providing reviews and testimonials. Only once your own website is well-optimised for search engines should you then start to focus on external factors.

Links

External backlinks are growing in importance for local SEO. Do you have relevant and authoritative websites linking to your content? Whilst the most valuable links are often difficult for small businesses to attract, earning links from your community like local authorities, clubs, associations and events is much easier and can be just as effective.

Read more: http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2016/09/bright-local-introductory-guide-to-local-seo-for-small-business/