Writing a Page for the User NOT for Google

The primary reason to write any page, or add any content to your site must be to entice your visitors to do what you want them to do. That could be to subscribe to your newsletter, to buy from you, to contact you, or even just to get them to come back later on. The page/content is not necessarily the penultimate step in the process of getting you more business, but it could well be a ‘link in the chain’ and therefore needs to be carefully crafted.

You will note that I say the page needs to be written for the user, and not Google. This may seem to be a strange thing for an SEO Expert to say, but it is said with good reason. The fact is that Google, with its advanced algorithms (like Rankbrain) are now looking for content that answers peoples needs and questions, and not for a document liberally sprinkled with keywords and phrases. That is old school now and is an avenue no longer worth pursuing.

What Sort of Content Should You Write

It is pretty easy to write a 2,000 word article that says very little, provides minimal information and does not answer any questions. What is hard, is creating a compelling content that will stand out from the crowd and will meet the user’s expectations.

For instance, this article is designed to help you know what to write about, what to include in your page at a technical level – the headers, titles and descriptions – and why this is needed. It also must give you some idea of where to start, that is, what you should be writing about in the first place.

What to Write About

So, lets start here, what should you write about?? The first thing, when you can, is to write about something that you know and care about, something that perhaps you can add your own personal view on, one that may not be in tune with others. Of course, this is not always possible, so when you are ‘forced’ to write about something you do not know enough about, the first rule is to do the required research. This will enable you to create an article that is worth reading, it being, (hopefully) factually correct, whilst at the same time providing the reader with your own slant on the subject.

But before you can start writing, you need to know what to write about. One of the best ways of helping your users (and attracting Google’s interest) is to start answering one of the thousands (millions?) of questions being asked every day online.

Finding the Questions to Answer

One of the best sources for questions is provided by KWFinder – https://app.kwfinder.com . This app allows you to search for the questions being asked as well as carrying out conventional keyword research.

example of questions being asked on the web

examples of questions being autocompleted by Google

examples of questions being autocompleted by Google

 

As you can see, many of these searches are not used very often, but that is the case for any long tail phrase (longer than 3 words) and is of no matter. What is important is that you KNOW that someone is searching for the answer to these questions, and that, if you write a good enough article, that it could answer a lot more than one question. It should also be kept in mind that people who use these long phrases are often far further down the buying cycle and therefore much more likely to purchase something. This means your article could well result in a sale…

Now You Have Your Topic

Once you have decided upon the topic, you can start writing the copy. This will be easy for some, but very hard for many, and is no doubt a skill in itself. However, even though you might not be Shakespeare, I am sure that you can have a pretty good go. All you have to do is to remember what question you are trying to answer and to break down that answer into simple steps and ensure that the layout does not present the user with a wall of text. Break up the copy with images and whitespace as needed.

Titles, Descriptions and Headers

The Title of a page is always in the <head> block or the beginning of a web page’s source code. The title tag is text wrapped in the <title> HTML tag, this being shown (in most cases) as the headline of the search listing on results pages, as well as on the user’s browser tab. Its purpose is to describe the overarching intent of the page and the type of content a user can expect to see when they visit the page. You can use up to 70 characters here, but many experts recommend a maximum of 60.

The Meta Description is used by the search engines to provide a bit more information about the page, this being shown underneath the Title in the SERPS results. It does not directly affect the ranking of that page, but as it is used as a factor in the overall ‘quality’ of a site, it is something that deserves your attention.

Paying close attention to three things when writing a perfect meta description can provide dividends, the three areas being branding, user-intent, and what’s working well in your market place for others. It is in effect an ‘elevator speech’ and these 180-300 characters offer a special opportunity for your page to stand out from the crowd.

Headers are the next thing for you to consider.  These ‘section headers’ (H1-H6) were originally intended to size text on a webpage, with the H1 being used for the primary title of a document, it being the largest text on the page. The others, H2 to H6 being progressively smaller. However, the advent of Cascading Styling Sheets (CSS) in the late 90’s, meant that few designers used them for this purpose (indeed many misuse them today). Now their main purpose is to assist Google to understand the importance of each element on the page, i.e. what is the most important and what is the next most important.

Internal and External Linking

The purpose of any link on a page should be to enhance the user experience of any reader. In many cases this could mean linking out to an external site, which could mean you lose the visitor, but if it helps the user to better understand your message and to answer the question, then it should be used.

It may also help the SEO / ranking of the page (because Google is said to like pages that help others), but this is a debateable point, so it is best to use external links ‘where you think it helps’ and for no other reason.

As for internal links. Again these should not be used for SEO, but instead to help users move around your site to better understand the answer to their problem.

Hopefully this will have provided you with some idea of what to write and how to construct the page in a way that will impress your visitors and Mr Google…

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

 

Some Reasons Why People and Google Hate Your Website

The reasons that Google could dislike your website are many, in fact there are over 200 so called ‘signals’ that Google takes into account, some of which are known and some of which are not.

As to why people hate your site, well, they are much more noticeable and easily fixed.

Let’s start with this easy area.

  • It takes a long time to load
  • It does not work well on mobile devices
  • The navigation is poor
  • It has auto play videos
  • The copy is badly written and is stuffed with keywords
  • The fonts are poor
  • Has many Google Ads, especially if they are at the top of the page
  • No About Us page
  • There is no easily found contact info
  • There is no blog

Now some of these are also on Google’s list of dislikes too, which makes them doubly important.

Slow Loading Sites

It is understandable that sites that load slowly will really annoy people, time being so precious in today’s fast moving world. However, Google have also made it very clear that they will rank fast loading sites higher than those that are slow.

There are many reason that sites load slowly, one being the fact that the host being used is overloaded, something that is not always considered. Other reasons include images that have not been optimized for the web, pages that make too many ‘calls’ on the server to build the pages or are just too code heavy.

Whatever the reason, this is an area that needs to be addressed.

Not Optimised For Mobile Devices

With the rise in the use of mobile devices to access the internet, it is vital that any site can be viewed on the many mobile devices in use today. If it is not then users could well leave the site just as soon as they arrive, never giving the chance for the site to engage with that potential customer.

But there is another reason, as if a site is not mobile optimized, then this is one of those signals that Google is looking for, and will result in a poorer ranking for the site than it otherwise deserves.

Poor Navigation

This is another one of those areas that covers both the efficiency of a site at converting visitors and in the way Google views the site. The first is easy to understand, as if a user can’t find their way around a site easily, they are very likely to leave. However, Google also measures User Experience levels, and somehow, it can tell that a navigation system is poor and will mark it accordingly.

Auto Playing Videos

It is well known that users hate videos ‘playing at them’ when they arrive on a site, and as it is quite possible that Google will also note this fact and again mark a site down.

Poor Copy

There is little doubt that poor content is a big turn off for viewers, this including poor grammar and spelling, as well as obviously uninteresting stuff. Putting it simply, if a viewer does not get something out of the interaction with a page, be it education, fun, or advice, they are likely to leave and never return.

Google also dislikes poor copy, and will not rank such a page well, plus, if they find too many such pages on a site they are likely to downgrade the entire site.

Badly Chosen Fonts
Some fonts look better than others, and because now, the fonts used on a site can be controlled (at least to some degree) it is wise to choose a font that looks the part.

Using Too Many Google Adverts

There is nothing against placing Google adverts on a site, but if you use too many, especially if they are ‘above the fold’ the again Google will downgrade the site and users too may leave earlier than they otherwise would.

No About Us Page

About us pages are yet another way that both Google and users can be affected by the contents of a site. Users are known to like to check out the history of a business before they commit to contacting them or buying from them, and thus often will want to see what the business has to say about itself. Thus, failure to provide this information or to provide little data is likely to have a negative effect.

Similarly, Google likes a good About Us page, believing that this is a way of increasing the level of User Experience. So again, it is vital, in order to boost the overall site quality to include a very detailed About Us page.

Contact Information Not Easily Found

Most sites have some contact on them, but in some cases this is not easily found, requiring the user to visit the Contact Us page before finding out what they want. If on the other hand, the contact information is easily found, then both the user and Google will be pleased.

This is thought to be one of those signals that Google looks for and thus it is a very good idea to include contact information on every page of a site.

Lack of a Blog

Blogs are a great way of providing users with the sort of information they want, as well as creating content that Google too can rate. One big reason to have a blog is that before they ever contact a business, potential customers will want to know the business can help them. So, if they find answers to some of their questions they are much more likely to enter into the sales process.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways you can get things right on a site and many ways you can get them wrong too. Paying attention to the factors above will help your site not only convert better, but also obtain higher rankings on Google.

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

 

Getting Business from the Web is Not Just About SEO

There is a very old saying…

‘You can get the horse to water’

‘But you cannot make him drink’

This is just as true for websites as it is to horses…

Simply put, no matter how you get people to your site, if they do not like what they see, they will be off like a shot…

I found this interesting Infographic from the well know red-website-design.co.uk and am pleased to replicate it below for you.

It is interesting that it is not also on the site that produced it:- https://www.spencerkinney.com/ but I am sure that they have a reason for this.

The Infographic covers 7 things that you REALLY don’t want to be going on on your site.

Best to check to make sure you are not guilty of these 7 ‘deadly sins’

The 7 Deadly Sins of Web Design – from Red-Website-Design.co.uk

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

How SEO Trends Have Changed Over Time (And What It Means for Your Site)

Anyone who’s not a snake oil salesman will tell you there’s no magic bullet when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) If you want to get to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and more importantly, stay there, you have to be on board with the latest SEO trends and best practices.

Online marketing explained

So how do we do this for our clients?

Simply put, knowing what the latest trends in SEO are enables us to adjust the way we do things, which helps us keep our clients a step ahead of the competition. The good news is that SEO fundamentals tend not to change too much (despite what many SEO companies say), so we don’t need to continually rebuild the strategies we use from the ground up every time Google puts out an update.

In this article, we’ll give you a brief crash course on SEO and its history, and then we’ll move onto four of the most recent trends in SEO, and discuss how they can be used to get your site more traffic.

A Short History of SEO

The search engines (like Google) take a lot of factors into consideration to determine when and where to show your website on their results pages. However, not all are known and in anycase, their effect and value is bound to change over time, so you cannot just concentrate on one or two, you have to cover as many as you can, and then look for ways to rank more highly by optimizing their content and structure (hence the term ‘SEO’).

SEO has been around since the search engines started up

At the start, the Search Engines were quite easy to manipulate, but over time they have become more sophisticated and that has had a huge impact on the way you have to do SEO.

Simply put, if your website relies on search engines for its traffic, then you just have to take SEO into account.  The problem is that search engine algorithms are constantly changing, which means that even thought the basics (High Value Content and Links) remain the same, it means there isn’t a magic set of rules that will guarantee you high ranks and traffic.

4 Recent SEO Trends (And How to Harness Them)

Before you start to implement any of the issues we cover below, we would recommend that you first check on how well your site is optimised and whether you need to fix any basic issues (you will be surprised how many sites we see that simply don’t even have these right). The good news here is that we offer a FREE SEO check, so please contact us if you would like a report on your site.

Prioritize Mobile Optimization

You may not know it, but mobile traffic has long since overtaken that of desktop traffic. In other words, most of the people who visit your website will probably do so from their phones or other mobile device/

This is a problem for lots of sites as they were built with the idea that they would be looked on by people using a desktop or a laptop PC. This means they may not be optimized to provide a good mobile experience, and that’s a big problem, because a poor user experience on mobiles will more than likely lead to people leaving very quickly.

With all that potential traffic in danger of being lost, you just have to take mobile optimization seriously, this being even more vital now that Google is rating sites on the basis of them being viewed from a mobile device, whether or not the user is using a desktop PC or not.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your website more mobile-friendly, including:

  • Make sure your site is fully responsive
  • Test your website using multiple mobile devices, to ensure that it works perfectly across them all
  • Optimize your website’s construction to ensure it loads quickly

Optimize Your Content for Voice Searches

The way people search for things on mobile devices are often quite different from how people do on desktops or laptops. For example, say you got a craving for a Chinese meal and  decide to look up what’s nearby

If you’re on a PC, you’ll probably jump over to Google and type in something like “best Chinese restaurants” However, if you’re on a phone, you’re more likely to use a voice search and ask something along the lines of “what are the best Chinese restaurants near me?”:

Whatever the search method is used, the search engines rely heavily on the keywords in the content to determine when to show what page, but when it comes to voice searches, people are more likely to use long-form keywords and ask full questions. This means that if you only optimize your content for “Chinese restaurant” you may be missing out on some traffic.

The experts are predicting that by 2020, half of all online searches will be voice-based, so it looks to be a smart move to start including long-form keywords within your SEO strategy. However, whilst the format might be a little different, at Serendipity we have always used / recommended the use of long tail keywords, something that will benefit businesses with a local presence, since users are more likely to use mobile devices to look for nearby resources.

Add Structured Data Markup to Your Site

These days, search engines do a pretty good job of determining what is relevant content and what isn’t, relying on an increasingly complex system of content analysis. However, it is still a good idea to give then a little help.

There are many ways you can do this, such as by using relevant Meta Titles, descriptions and Header and subheading tags, adding alt tags to your images, and more.

However, if you want to go a step further, you can also add structured data to your content.

Structured data markup is a language you can use to include more information for search engines about what your content involves.

Search engines, in turn, can use this data to display ‘rich snippets’ , which are search results that contain all that extra information:

There are many types of structured data that you can add to your content, ranging from articles to recipes, online products, and more, but it is easy to get this wrong and so you have to approach this with caution, not to mention a little knowledge.

Optimize Your Content for Google Answer Boxes

Sometimes, when people ask Google a simple question, they will see the answer right within the SERPs in an ‘answer box’ format:

Answer boxes tell searchers: “Hey, here’s what you were looking for, so you don’t need to check out any other sources” In fact, having one of your pages show up within a Google answer box can increase click-through rates by up to 32%. The problem is that you can’t just ask Google to feature your content within its answer boxes .

What you can do is to optimize your content to increase your chances. First, it’s important to understand that not all types of content work with answer boxes and also they will only show up when it’s a question Google is ‘confident’ it can answer.

That means most complex queries are out of the question, but if you’re confident that your content is a good fit for answer boxes, you can increase your chances of it showing up that way by following three simple steps:

  • Ensure that you clearly and concisely answer the question.
  • Break down your response using bullet point lists (search engines just love lists)
  • Optimize the meta descriptions , so that it is clear that you’ll provide an answer within the content

Do bear in mind that, you’re probably competing with a lot of other websites for the same answer boxes, so you will need to do your very best to beat out the competition

Conclusion

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, this being done to stop people from ‘gaming’ the system. This means that apart from doing the obvious (Great content and good quality links), understanding the latest trends can give you an advantage on the competition, and enable you to overtake them in the SERPs

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

 

 

How to Choose a Trustworthy SEO Agency?

Many businesses want improved rankings so they can get more leads and sell more products. This has led to a whole business developing around getting these rankings. Unfortunately, not all SEO companies go about this the right way and this can mean BIG trouble.

How to tell good SEO companies from bad ones?

How can you decide whether the SEO company that’s offered to help you is really any good? And how can you know if they’re properly equipped for the quest for better traffic? Thirdly, how can you make sure the work they do will help you and not hinder any progress? It’s very difficult for non-SEO professionals, as the subject is very complex and changes constantly.

Basically you need someone you can trust…..

Trust has to be earned and takes time to gauge. However, there are ways of identifying a trustworthy SEO agency before giving them your business.

First See how the SEO agency does business…..

One of the best ways to decide which SEO firm to work with is to check out how they work and what reports they’ll give you. For instance, if the firm only supplies automated data, with no real human interaction, there’s a distinct probability that you’re just a ‘number’ to them and that very little real thought is being given to your SEO work.

And then there’s the data itself. How useful is it? Does it cover the areas that you want and expect? And does it give detailed descriptions of the work carried out that month?

Read their SEO blog…..

Does your prospective SEO partner have an SEO blog and is it up to date? If so check the content, it will give you a good idea about how much they really know.

SEO Case Studies…..

The presence of SEO case studies, including ones which you can check up on by contacting the company in question, are another way of deciding whether an SEO company is worth dealing with.

How SEO Must be Done….

This is the crux of the matter and an area that’s simultaneously simple and complex. It’s also an area that’s constantly changing and getting more difficult – and trying to ‘trick’ Google is not recommended. Gaming Google might have worked 15 years ago, but nowadays you must help Google by making sure the content is laid out in the way Google expects. That’s the way to SEO success.

The journey can be challenging and takes time, so if an SEO promises the earth and promise it quickly, they simply aren’t worth dealing with.

So for SEO work you can trust, call us on 0845 170 1800 or use the contact form on our site.

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

Why Bother With Blogs and What to Write

The reason, from an SEO point of view, is to increase traffic to the web site, not just the blog you have written. This is achieved in many ways:-

 

Writing Blogs - What and When

Writing Blogs – What and When

  • By creating more content, Google will give the site quality a positive boost (that is the site is seen not to be stagnant)
  • The actual creation on the content, as long as it is good enough, will attract links and be shared, this is the very best outcome, but is hard to get too, as there is so much competition in any but the smallest of niches
  • Actual traffic (to the blog in question) can be achieved by targeting long tail keyword searches, or time sensitive subjects, or a unique version of a primary keyword phrase (eg ‘the best insolvency practitioners’)

The overall aim is to become an authority site for that niche or topic, thus increasing the number of repeat visitors, and creating a site that people love and want to visit multiple times a day.

The aim therefore is to create high quality, magazine level content, it being better to create one of these a month, than four poor ones.

I hope that this short article helps

(By the way, in case you have spotted that this is a short article and therefore does not actually ‘fit in’ with the idea of quality blogging, it’s sole purpose being to give my readers a very quick synopsis about the reason behind writing blogs).

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

SEO Trends for 2019.

I have been working in the SEO field for some 17 years now, and am one of the few SEO consultants who state that overall, things are not that much different from the past, at least at the basic level.

I say this as today:-

  • Links are important, just as they were in 2000
  • Content is important, just as it was in 2000
  • Technical SEO is important, again, just as it was in 2000.

The difference is that in the first two cases Google has become more savvy (through the many changes to its algorithm) about what is good and what is not.  In the case of Technical SEO, in 2000 you had to ensure that your site was well built; in that it was ‘clean’, not because you wanted to please Google, but because you had to contend with very slow download speeds (hence the reason for the ALT tag; this not being for SEO at all, it’s purpose being to allow users to switch off image downloads because they could sometimes, simply not wait for the image to appear).

That’s not so say that there have not been changes though..

SEO Trends for 2019

SEO Trends for 2019

The changes in Links (also known as Off Page SEO)

I have touched on the subject of backlinks (a backlink is a link from another site to yours, the anchor text used in the link – the bit you click – being ‘read’ by Google and used to create an idea about what subject your site covers), stating that Google has become much cleverer at spotting links that have been built solely for the purposes of getting better rankings. Today, if you try to trick Google by creating lots of links with your ‘money’ phrases like ‘pet cremation’ or ‘video marketing’ you will more than likely to penalised.

However, what this has really done is to weed out those SEO’s who do not keep up with the changes. For those that do, all it means is that you have to create more Brand and Natural links. The position is the same as 2000 though, Google likes sites that have lots of links (from lots of domains).

EAT – Expertise – Authority – Trust

The other change in the linking world is that the ‘relevance’, ‘trust’ and ‘authority’ of the sites providing the links has become more important. This has been the case for many years though. Trust is relatively easy to gain, all you need are links from sites that themselves have a high Trust rating, this also giving you some ‘authority’. The ‘expert’ rating of a site is becoming a more important factor and one that is hard to influence easily.

The changes in content

Here the changes are in my opinion very much deeper. In 2000, you could keyword stuff a page and get away with it, getting good rankings in the process. In my view this was never a really practical method, as even though you could get a good ranking, such pages never had that good a conversion rate, thus you got a lot of ‘horses to the water’ but few of them drank, which made that practice a poor one.

Today, Google is very much better at working out what good content is, (which means you need to improve your copywriting skills) looking for a whole host of ‘signals’, these including how well it is written, how many synonyms are used and if it includes images and videos.

Content Development and Marketing

With the importance of content growing so much over the years (the reason content has become more important is that in 2000 Google relied heavily on Pagerank, which was all about links, whilst today, Google can better understand content, this now accounting for at least 50% of the points that Google give any page), two new buzz phrases have been brought into play:-

  • Content Development
  • Content Marketing

As you would imagine the first is about creating the content, whilst the second is about getting it noticed, the planning for this being given the grand title of ‘content marketing strategy’.

Google has also improved its ability to spot duplicate content, this being the reason so many Ecommerce stores have to tweak the descriptions of their products. Failure to do this means that the pages on their sites are just the same as countless others, which makes it harder to rank…

Meeting User Intent is the key

However, the biggest change since 2000, is that now Google is looking for pages that match the ‘intent’ behind the search. Saying this, at the moment, Google is still guessing most of the time, its AI helper ‘Rank Brain’ still having a long way to go. In the meantime, we are all ‘rats in the maze’, Google constantly checking to see what sites people stay on for a given term. This way they can start to associate sites with phrases, and by looking at the content of the sites, deduce (to some degree) what the user wanted in the first place.

As I say, this has a long way to go, but it is going to get more important in 2019.

The changes in Technical SEO since 2000

The obvious change here is that website construction has come a long long way since 2000, but that to some degree has been a double edged sword, many companies offering web design services  taking advantage of the faster download speeds available by not optimising the amount of code the text rating (the amount of code versus the actual words seen by the visitor). This can lead to a site that is too code heavy and this must have an impact on speed which is not good at all.

The rise of the use of mobile devices (with their lower download speeds) has however put this issue back under the microscope, so again Google are looking for sites that download nice and fast AND offer the required level of usability when viewed on the smaller screens that most mobile phones and tablets have.

Actionable Changes – What can you do in 2019 to improve your rankings?

 

Satisfy the Intent of the user

“You need to understand what someone is expecting to find when they query a word or phrase and you need to give them the answer in the simplest way possible,” said Mindy Weinstein CEO of Market Mindshift.

To me this sounds like an excellent point, but it is not always that easy. There is no problem when someone asks a direct question, eg ‘how to you fix a leaking tap’, or ‘what ratio of links should use money phrases’, but when it comes to more generic phrases like ‘maps’ (20 million searches in the USA in October 2018) or ‘entertainment’ (16 million in the USA). You can have a guess at both, but it would be impossible to know exactly what the user was searching for.

The good news is that ranking for such phrases is pretty useless anyway, but even some ‘long tail’ phrases beg the question ‘what is the user looking for’ a great example for me being ‘bed bath and beyond’ (6 million searches in the USA in Oct 2018)…

So how can you win here?

The advice I always give to my clients is that as you cannot really guess what someone is looking for, is to provide them with the answers to some questions that you can help them with. So in relation to the terms ‘maps’ a site could provide information as to how they could provide ‘large scale digital maps’, or maps that could be used to support ‘planning applications’. That way, they are going to strike lucky some of the time, and as long as the content is really informative / useful, it’s bound to help the site’s standing in Google’s eyes.

To achieve this, we go through a very detailed process of finding what sort of content is already ‘liked’ by Google, then after writing a useful article / page / post, we then compare this with those pages that have proven their worth, altering them to include as many of the words as possible, whilst of course, maintaining good readability and thus user experience.

You can also tune a site so that Google will use the content as a rich snippet.

“Answer boxes, recipes, the knowledge graph, carousels, and who-knows-whatelse will take an even bigger bite out of organic traffic,” said Ian Lurie, CEO and founder of Portent. “That makes SEO even more important, because exposure is as much about visibility in the SERPs as it is about clicks.”

This can be a really good idea, but you can only do this for certain terms. But if the cap fits then it is a great idea to wear it.

Structured Language Mark Up

“With AI becoming increasingly important for Google, structured data is becoming more important as well,” Tandler said. “If Google wants to move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world, structured data is key. No matter how good your AI is, if it takes too long to ‘crawl’ the required information, it will never be great. AI requires a fast processing of contents and their relations to each other.”

You cannot use Structured Markup Language on every page, but as with rich snippets, if you can integrate this code in your site then it is yet another thing that will help your SEO in 2019.

Do beware though, if you use SML on a page incorrectly (that is to include data that is not relevant to the actual page) then Google will actually penalise your site.

Voice Search

This is an area tipped to be more important in 2019, however, the amount of work needed is, at the moment, not matched by the expected gains.  This is one to keep an eye on in 2019.

On Page SEO

This is an area that is often not attended too and one that has been a ‘winner’ for many years. Putting it simply, on page SEO is all about making sure that the important areas of a page are populated with the right keywords; those that tell Google what the page is all about.

These areas are:-

The Title of the Page. This is the text you see in the tab on your browser and in the SERPS listing. It remains the most important and vital piece of ‘web real estate’ for 2019

The Header Tags – These are a throw back to the time before Cascading style sheets were introduced, but are still very important. It is best to use just one H1 and then use H2, H3, H4. H5 and H6 tags to introduce deeper and deeper topics within the content.

Using keywords (or a synonym) and then use the bold, italic or list attributes to highlight them

Lastly, the Meta Description.  This does not have a huge effect on the rankings for a page, but they are important as the words in this meta tag are normally used in the Google SERPS. As such their main job is to act as an ‘elevator speech / pitch’ the idea being to encourage people to click on the link. Besides this ‘positive’ use, a site that had a lot of duplicate meta tags can have their overall quality rating reduced, something that is best to avoid.

Other Things to do

If you have not yet registered your site for two of the very best web analytics tools –  Google Webmaster Tools (now called Google Search Console) and Google Analytics, I would suggest that you do so immediately as it will help immensely. Together they allow you to see:-

  • what keyword phrases your site is being found for
  • which enables you to see if you are getting the targeted traffic you desire

You should also check to see if your site needs some local search marketing, the answer being a clear yes if it is not appearing in the Google 3 pack (that maps with the pins) for a relevant term. Local search marketing optimisation covers much the same ground as SEO, but with the added issue of Local Citations.

If your site is not doing well in 2018, then you will have to go back to the basics and go through the process of keyword analysis (to make sure you are targeting the right words), get an SEO Audit (a detailed form of website analysis), to make sure your site is SEO friendly and is not breaking any of Google’s webmaster guidelines, and more than likely have to take advantage of the link building services and other professional seo services, that companies like Serendipity provide.

 

Hopefully, the above data will help you improve your SEO tactics for 2019.

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

Aiming for Perfect On Page Search Engine Optimisation

Those of you that have been researching or running SEO will no doubt have come across ‘TheHoth’, a very useful site that provides all sorts of information and services, whilst also running a very good blog.

Their latest post is all about ‘On Page Search Engine Optimisation’. It covers a lot of the ground that has been ‘well trodden’ over the past few months, but is nevertheless, a useful read.:-

https://www.thehoth.com/blog/on-page-seo/

The cover what they define as the top 3 Steps to getting On Page SEO right:-

  • Keyword Research
  • Optimising the Titles, Description, and H1 (Header tags)
  • Not stuffing the pages with the target keywords

There are other issues that are connected, such as using ALT tags for images and using ‘descriptive URLs’ for both file and image names (i.e ‘picture-of-dog.jpg’ rather than ‘image001.jpg’), plus of course ‘technical SEO’ issues like the speed the site downloads and ‘geographically tagging’ images (very useful for Local SEO).

Getting Keyword Research Right

This is an essential part of any SEO project, you simply cannot guess what people are using to find the sort of service or product you are selling. Even if you did guess correctly, without other research into the ‘power’ of the sites you are competing against (and you can bet your last pound that you will have lots of competition) you could well select keyword phrases that you can just not get a  good rank for, the competition simply out gunning you.

In their blog, TheHoth, point out the value of using SEMRush (this now being added to their services). I can only agree with them about this tool, it providing a host of information about what keywords are being used, together with an idea of how often they are used and the competition levels. Also, and this is VERY important, it allows you to see what your competition is being found for, this being especially useful for Local SEO.

But, there is another set of tools that you should also know about, these being provided by Mangools (https://mangools.com/). Their suite of tools is most useful indeed, covering not only Keyword Research (with a lot of information about the power of the competition included), but also data on the strength of sites too. All very useful and well worth a look if you are looking to carry out SEO on your own site.

Some Interesting SEO Tools

Some Interesting SEO Tools

Optimising Your Titles, Description and Header Tags for SEO

If you want a page to be ranked for a certain phrase, then you simply MUST ensure that the Title contains some relevant words (normally the phrase that you are targeting). There is some debate as to whether this needs to be in the form of a sentence, or whether you can use the keywords as they are, separating them with a pipe symbol | . Either seem to work, but it is possible that the sentence version could increase conversion rates (from being listed in SERPS to getting a click).

As with everything in the SEO World, you should not use your target words too many times in the Title, and it is best to keep to about 70 characters, even though Google, for example will read / index many more.

On a side note, I am AMAZED at the number of sites that do not use these areas of a page ‘correctly’. This seems to be madness to me, as they are quite simply denying themselves lots of free, targeted traffic….

 

The Meta Description

TheHoth goes on to mention that you should then make sure your Description is completed, but don’t tell you that the Meta Description is not used that much for SEO (as the words within it are not taken into account in the same way as the Title or Body copy). The main thing to do here is to NOT REPEAT the same Meta Description throughout the site as this looks ‘lazy’ and can reduce the overall ‘Quality Score’ for the domain (this being a different ‘Quality Score’ to that used in Google’s Adwords system).

The other thing that TheHoth says, is that you should not repeat the keywords in the Description. I am not sure of that, although of course, you should not ‘stuff’ this area either.

The Real Purpose of the Meta Description Tag

By the way, the real purpose of the Description text is to act as the ‘elevator speech’ for a page, the idea being to get the viewer to click the link when it is displayed in the Search Engine Results.

The Header Tags

Looking at TheHoth’s article we see that they mention the importance of the H1 tag. Again this is an area of contention, as I have seen many pages performing very well with no H1’s, or with tags that do not use any of the target keywords (or anything like them).

However, I agree that it is best practice to use H1’s (and only one per page), whilst also using H2’s down to H6 in a cascading manner, as best fits the way the copy is divided up.

They also point out that you could over-optimise a page by using the target Keywords in the H1. Again I am not sure that this is totally true, as I have seen that work too. I feel that the best approach is to write the copy, some Good Solid, Useful Copy and then add Headers that look ‘right’, all the while making sure that you do not ‘over-cook’ the area of keyword usage.

Variations of Target Words

This is where the use of variations (synonyms) of the target words come into play, and it pays to use them throughout the site’s pages, especially in the body copy, for the simple reason that Google ‘likes it’. It is therefore reasonable to also use these variations in the Title / Description and Headers, if it looks OK.

This leads nicely on the third area that TheHoth covers, that of Keyword Density.

Keyword Stuffing and The Use of Synonyms

In the old days of SEO, you could quite happily repeat your target keyphrases again and again and again, and the Search Engines would reward your site with lots of top ranks. However, in the game of cat and mouse that SEO is, things have changed quite dramatically in this area, now of course repeating your keyphrases has dire results…

This change, like the majority, has been made with one aim in mind, that of increasing the quality of the pages listed for any given phrase, in the Search Engine Results. The other reasons are because there were many SEO’s who were gaming the system and skewing the results, which was something that Google was not prepared to put up with.

Hence the many changes to how pages are ranked – this including Off Page SEO, which is another topic.

The problem Google had (has) is how to calculate quality, especially when copy / an article that is deemed great by one, is thought of as rubbish by another. This being made even more difficult when a computer is being used to score pages, after all, ‘English’ is not exactly the first language of a Computer….

To this end, Google (being the front runner here) built a sort of Artificial Intelligence into its algorithm, its job being to deduce the real ‘meaning’ of a page from the words on the page. Here it was not looking from the angle of ‘what keyphrases’ does this page target, but rather ‘what is the page talking about as a whole’. To this end it was trained to look for words that are associated with each other, so that for example, a page that uses the words ‘cat’, ‘feline’, ‘kitten’, ‘purr’, ‘pet’ and ‘bed’ would automatically be associated with the phrase ‘cat beds’, in a stronger way than a page that just used the words ‘cat beds’ would be.

How to Deduce What Synonyms to Use

One way is to spend your life looking at a Thesaurus, but the perhaps the best way is to examine the words used on the pages that Google is known to like (we can tell because they are ranked well for any given phrase). The list that is created from such research can then be used in the copy in the knowledge that they must be relevant to some degree. This is the way that Serendipity Online Marketing goes about the matter of copy creation and it has been seen to work.

Long Tail Keywords

Any site gets a huge percentage of its non Brand traffic from what are called ‘long tail keywords’, these being phrases using 3 or more words. Often these phrases are not used very often, which in turn means that they do not appear on the ‘SEMRush radar’ and thus cannot be directly targeted.

Instead, what you have to do is to write the copy with a view to providing information to the reader, copy, which if it is good enough, WILL be associated with many of the relevant long tail keyword searches made, whether or not they actually use the words in question.

There Is More of Course

TheHoth’s article finishes at this point, but there is of course a lot more too why pages are ranked and why they are not. This includes Off Page SEO, and this is an area that cannot be ignored, as a page which uses the very best of copy, placed on a site that uses the Titles, Descriptions and Headers to full effect, is more than likely to be beaten to the top spots by other pages, simply because they have more links…

This is one reason why Keyword Research is so important, as when selecting the target words, it is vital, especially for a new domain, to select the possible, rather than the impossible.

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

Combined Arms is as necessary in SEO as it is in warfare

Any army general or historian will tell you that in order to win a battle, you need to use all the different types of offensive weaponry available, this being the same across the ages, from the time of 1066 (and earlier) to today.

This is called ‘Combined Arms’ it being the process where an army will use the three main types of fighting unit together in order to win. In the past, these were represented by the Infantry, the cavalry and the artillery. Over time of course this has changed, the role/type of cavalry changing the most, with tanks replacing the horse.

the three arms of SEO

You need to use the 3 arms of SEO just as you do when at war.

But regardless of the change, all three are needed. The artillery to subdue the enemy before the main attack, with the cavalry, after performing the important job of reconnaissance, taking on the task of pinning the enemy in place, thus allowing  the infantry to advance to take the objective.

Of course all this has changed since the days of Napoleon, but they are still basically the same today, all being  needed (with air power taking over a large part of the role of artillery of course).

I understand all of this, not because I have ever fought in a war (or am an acclaimed war historian) but rather because of my hobby, that of wargaming. I play games that cover battles fought by the Vikings, the Persians, the Crusaders, as well as the Napoleonic period. My favourite being that of World War Two. Here I have ‘fought’ in the deserts of Egypt, the steppes of Russian in Normandy, of which have been immensely  enjoyable.  In each battle I have learnt of the importance of using the three different arms together, something that lies at the heart of the hobby.

But what has this got to do with Search Engine Optimisation?

Well, putting it quite simply, there is no ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to getting the best possible rankings on Google (other search engines are available). Instead, you have to make sure that the three areas of Technical Site Build, Content, and Linking Structure are all properly attended too. It is vitally important that these three areas work together just as the three ‘arms’ on  the battlefield, if success is wanted.

The reason for this is that Google look at all three areas, giving ‘marks’ for each. To fail on any of them risks loosing the chance to get a top ranking, the reasons, and the details of each one being covered below:-

Technical Site Build

This is an area that is often forgotten, but is vital, as if the site is not built to allow Google to find all the pages easily, the site will fail at the very first step. Besides this, it is also vital to allow users to move around the site easily and to make the navigation easy to understand and use.

Perhaps the greatest area is however that of site speed, Google now more than ever (with the advent of the Mobile Index) looking for sites that download in the shortest times possible. If they are built in a manner that slows the page delivery  down, or are placed on a server that is overloaded, Google will downgrade the site severely, preventing it from gaining the high positions that it otherwise may deserve.

Content

The reasons that people visit sites are many, but in all cases they are looking for something, maybe the answer to a problem, or for a particular product or service. If the pages of a site do not provide these answers, or give enough detail on a product or service, they will fail to meet the needs of any visitor. And hence, as Google’s aim is to only list pages that are ‘worth the time of their users’ they will fail this important test.

It is therefore necessary to ensure that the pages of a site meet the needs of the visitor. This means that there is not only enough text on the page, but also that it contains pictures and where possible video content (this being another example of ‘combined arms’).

There is by the way a ‘hidden’ advantage to having lots of text on a page (as long as this is laid out in a manner that allows it to be easily absorbed – ‘walls of text’ not being a good idea – whitespace being important). This is all to do with what is known as ‘long tail keywords’ and the capturing of such searches on Google.

Long Tail Keyword Search Phrases.

It is well understood that users use different types of search phrases when they are looking for a product or service. For example, when looking for a TV, they may search for ‘large screen TV’ only to find that the number of search results is too large and that it is impossible to know where to start.

In such cases it is normal for the search phrased to be changed with a view  to getting a better list of sites to check. Perhaps the phrase will be altered to ’40 inch Smart TV’ at this stage.

Further pages and terms will be used until the searcher finds out the model that they want. This is the ‘buying stage’ of the search ‘lifecycle’ and is therefore most important. A term that is used here could be ‘Sony 40EXDB Smart TV in black’. In such cases, it is vital to make sure that your website is in the position to capture such a query.

There are many examples of long tail keywords, and in many cases they are the best ones to capture, as they are often used towards the end of a search for a product etc, at the very time the searcher is ready to purchase.

This is just what using a lot of text on a page can do for any website owner, it allowing them in effect to put more hooks in the ‘water’ of the internet. More hooks lead to more fish being caught, this translating to more visitors and thus hopefully sales.

The overlap with Technical SEO

There is also an overlap with the area of technical search engine optimisation to consider here, that of ensuring that the important areas on a page are used to best effect. These include the Title of a page (the most important real estate a page has) to the Header tags (the H1 being the most important and is best used only once). Besides this, using the other attribute tags like Bold, Italic and List should not be overlooked, these all being places where a part of the content of a page will be placed.

Linking Structure

The third arm of SEO trilogy is still very important today, but it must be said is not as all powerful as it was in the not so distant past (when it was said to be possible to get a blank page to position 1 on Google).

Today, it is still necessary to ensure that a domain, and the pages within the site, have a good number of links, the numbers needed being very different from market sector to market sector and from niche to niche, some being more highly contested than others.

There was a big change in the recent past however, a very big change, one that was started with the introduction of the so called  ‘Penguin’ update by Google. Google felt that they had to make these changes to their algorithm as SEO professionals started creating links in huge numbers to get the pages they wanted to the top of the SERPs.

Basically, this algorithm checked (it is now not run every now and then, but is integrated into the rule set that is used every day) on the links pointing to a site, penalising those that had created too many ‘spammy’ links or a linking structure that use too high a percentage of ‘money keywords’ (these are the phrases that are thought to bring in the sales / enquiries).

All of this means that this part of the ‘combined arms’ team needs to be very carefully handled indeed. So carefully that at Serendipity Online Marketing use specially designed software to handle the whole process, thus ensuring that we only build links that will enhance the standing of sites we work on.

 

So that is it, to succeed in SEO you have to use all three ‘arms’ and use them correctly.

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.

The Decline of the Insect and The High Street..

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in, or visit the countryside, there is no doubt that the number and variety of insects has diminished dramatically over the past years. For instance, I can remember having to scrape the hordes of dead bodies from my car windscreen and lights every few days in the 1970’s, the numbers of insects about being so very high.

Do we want to see insects like these disappear?

Now days, however, you hardly notice them, and even when walking the fields you see and hear so very few. Only the other day I was walking through a wheat field and hardly saw anything fly past and certainly nothing crawling along the path.

Of course, this has all to do with our modern way of life and the desire to have unblemished fruit and vegetables (sometimes when I view that perfect lettuce, I cannot imagine that anything ever walked upon it, let alone tried to eat it). This desire (as well as the need to grow as much as possible, both because of demand and the need to make more profit) has in turn led to a huge increase in (even more deadly and effective) insecticides, which naturally (excuse the pun) has had a dramatic impact on insect numbers. Besides this the insect has also to contend with climate change, the way that land is now being farmed and other reasons for loss of habitat.

Whilst this may seem not to matter, the long term effects of reduced insects could be catastrophic. The food chain and the way the planet works being totally disrupted, “they are the little things that run the world” according to one eminent biologist.

The High Street is in Decline Too

But insects are not the only thing in decline in the modern world, the other one that has been making (the bigger) headlines being the decline of the high street.

Can we save the high steet?

Now there are many reasons why the high street is suffering at the moment, the BBC listing 6 of them in its’ new article published in March 2018. These include the fact that people in the UK have less disposable income because pay growth has been lower than inflation. Another good reason is the recent hike in Business Rates. However, the area I am most interested in is that of the competition that the high street faces from Online Retailers.

The Rise and Rise of Internet Shopping

The Internet dominates our lives today, we use it to chat (on social media), to exchange information (using email), to view entertainment programmes via the many streaming services, plus of course more and more people are purchasing their goods online as it is easier, simpler and in most cases cheaper than buying from a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop.

Being An Online Marketing Consultant

This makes me a little bit sad, as for the last 18 years, I through my work as an Online Marketing Consultant (specialising in Search Engine Optimisation and Adwords) I have been contributing, in my own little way, to this decline. It does not cause me to want to stop, as I am after all fulfilling a need my customers have, but it does make me sad.

There is however, as in the case of the decline in the number of insects, little that I can do to stop these changes, and here I can only hope that some great man or women, will step forward and take the necessary actions, before it is too late.

When it comes to the insect population issue, the answer will not be easy to find, especially with the continuing increase in the human population of the world, but it is not a problem that can be ignored forever…

The same is the case with the decline of the high street, but here there are already a number of ideas being floated, these including reducing the level of business rates, whilst at the same time increasing the level of taxes on online purchases; this being an attempt to level the playing field a little when it comes to the costs of operating a retail business.

Others include making the shopping process more enjoyable by ‘engaging’ more with the potential customer and having other entertainments available, plus of course to make parking, or the means to get to the shops (via Park and Ride schemes) easier. Here, what amazes me is the lack of any form of transportation to get heavy items back to the car park, it is after all not that easy to carry a bulky heavy object back to your car. This is something else that drives people to shop online, where delivery to your home is built it.

One idea could be to have shops that hold no stock and where you can only look at the goods you  are interested in, perhaps also trying on clothes, shoes and the like. Orders would be placed with the ‘shop’ with the goods being delivered the next day (as Amazon do today). The shop could be shared by a number of businesses if wanted, thereby keeping their costs down, whilst, and this is the important bit maintaining a presence on the High Street.

Maybe it is an idea that will catch on, who knows, but like the issue with our insect friends, it is something that cannot be ignored forever.

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.