Many myths surrounding SEO

There are many myths surrounding SEO and with Google’s alogrithms evolving, a lot of people are very confused as to what is acceptable and what is not. Take linking, there are so many contradictory stories regarding linking that many are put off even considering it now. Backlinks are still important to your SEO strategy and you need to check your links occasionally so that you are only linking to suitable sites. Google’s Penguin algorithm scared a lot of people into clearing out virtually all of their backlinks and has left many wondering what to do about linking. Many experts advise choosing links carefully so that you are only linking to relevant sites who will complement and raise your site’s profile, it pays to be choosy and to take your time considering linking strategies. So, what other myths are there? Take a look at this article to see some more.

One of the challenges that the world of SEO presents us with is its lack of clarity. The search engines obscure their algorithms, and as a result, SEO is really a best practices game. You can learn more about what works best by constantly testing ideas on your site, but ultimately your overall SEO strategy will be part art and part science.

Layer on top of that the fact that the search engines continuously tune their algorithms, and the result is an unstable landscape. Worse still, there is tons of misinformation published, often as the result of the ignorance of the author. Some SEO myths have been with us forever, but today I plan to focus on the newer myths that have been emerged only in the past few years.

7 New SEO Myths

1. All Guest Posting is Bad: This myth is the newest of them all, and it was spawned by Matt Cutts blog post of January 20th, 2014 called: The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO. In this post Cutts details the many ways that people have abused the concept of pursuing guest posts to obtain links to your site. In fact, he goes so far as to say: “stick a fork in it”.

However, it is foolish to translate this into the notion that all guest posting is inherently evil or bad. The article you are reading right now is effectively a guest post. However, I don’t publish articles here to obtain links for SEO, I do it because I value the Forbes audience, and because of the reputation and visibility benefits it brings. Click here to continue reading

Further information

After link-based penalty, will traffic increase?

3 things to consider before choosing multi-location social strategy

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A Video About Joomla! SEO – A Step by Step Tutorial

We are not Joomla! SEO experts at Serendipity, so it is really great when you come across a video like this. Saying that, we won’t be offering SEO for Joomla! ourselves, as at SOM we only provide services for areas we are ‘experts in’, or are at least ‘pretty good’ at…

So, if you have a Joomla! site and need some help in optimising it, then please view on, and if you need help with Joomla! then please let us know, we can’t help you ourselves, but we do know people who can and will be more than happy to put you in contact with them.

Joomla! SEO – A Step by Step Tutorial

 

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The 9 On-Page SEO Elements You Need In 2014 – From Forbes

We’ve all seen the posts saying that SEO has changed so much in 2014, and so it’s good to see a post that goes over the issue in detail and one that reaches such good conclusions, without a lot of hype and the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that are so often a part of SEO presentations these days.

With so many significant changes in the world of SEO over the past year, it can be hard for non-SEO professionals to keep track of what’s still relevant and what isn’t.

Fortunately, while Google completely replaced their previous algorithm with Hummingbird, their gold standard for webmasters hasn’t changed: they want us to provide the best content and the best user-experience possible.

But what does this mean in 2014? What on-page factors are still relevant, both for readers and search engines?

1.A Frequently-Updated Blog with Awesome Content

2. Google Authorship Integration

3. Optimized URLs

4. Title Tags

5. Heading Tags

6. Alt Image Tags

7. Keywords in Content

8. Appropriate Depth of Content

9. Appropriate Topical Targeting

Conclusion

As you can see, some important SEO elements really haven’t changed much over the years, while others have. Perhaps our understanding of their importance has, but Google’s goal has remained the same all these years: to provide the most valuable and relevant content to the people who are searching for it.

Ensuring that your topic and keywords are clearly identifiable in your content, URLs, and header and image tags isn’t difficult (though it does take time), and will go a long way toward ensuring the best possible organic search rankings for your content. But most important of all, ensure that you’re publishing awesome content on a regular basis. That’s the foundation of on-page SEO in today’s modern era of SEO.

Click here for the full article on SEO in 2014.

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How do Google’s algorithms work?

We’ve all heard about Google’s algorithms and how they have affected websites over the last few years. With Panda and Penguin taking down some very big branded websites, many ordinary website owners were left quaking in their boots and wondering what was going on. The whole point of these algorithms is to give searchers the best quality answers to their queries so that people find what they are looking for. Panda is all about content and the quality of it as well as ensuring the content is relevant to the site. Penguin is all about linking and the quality of the links and the sites to which the site is associated. Hummingbird reinforces what Panda and Penguin have done but also take into consideration mobile searches. So, now you have an idea of what these algorithms are, have you ever wondered about how they actually work? Read on to find out.

 

Have you ever been curious about how Google decides which algorithm is better than another, when they’re pushing out one of the many tweaks they do weekly? How do they judge which tweak actually produces better results and which produces lots of good results? Or does the spam team just wave a nerf bat over the server before hitting a big red button and hope for the best?

Google’s Matt Cutts spills the beans on how the search team actually does it in a webmaster help video, which asks what metrics Google uses to evaluate whether one iteration of the ranking algorithm is delivering better quality results to users than another.

While Cutts starts off saying that he could geek out on this topic for quite some time, and I’m sure many of us would love to hear him do just that, he said he will try and hold back for the sake of video length.

“Whenever an engineer is evaluating a new search quality change, and they want to know whether it’s an improvement, one thing that’s useful is we have hundreds of quality raters who have previously rated URLs as good or bad, spam, all these sorts of different things.

“So when you make a change, you can see the flux, you can see what moves up and what moves down, and you can look at example searches where the results changed a lot for example,” he said. “And you can say OK, given the changed search results, take the URLs that moved up, were those URLs typically higher rated than the URLs that moved down by the search quality raters?”

While Google tries to keep the specifics of their quality rater guidelines secret, they inevitably end up getting leaked. The most recent version became known in November and detailed exactly what quality raters are looking for when they rate search results. Click here to continue reading

 

Further information

5 ways SEO still dictates content marketing success

Not ranking in Google: manual penalty, algorithm change or content

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Busting the jargon of SEO

We are always being told that we must adhere to ‘white hat’ techniques when marketing our websites but what does this actually mean? There are so many terms and so much terminology that many ordinary business folk don’t really know what it all means. Take white hat, what it means is that you are using approved methods of site promotion, for instance, you are using high quality content with the right amount of keywords which have been carefully and naturally incorporated into the text. Your content is interesting for the human reader and is unique and attractive to the search engines. Black hat on the other hand is the murky underworld where the search engines and Google in particular takes a very dim view of such things as keyword stuffing, duplicate content and poor quality content. So, if you are a bit confused about some of the terminology used, see this guide to help clarify things for you.

I’ve been making a point in my journey as a writer for Econsultancy to investigate the many and varied terms in digital that I don’t understand.

As I am a relative newcomer to the digital marketing world, this is like a trial-by-fire.

In my first few weeks, terms like CRM, CRO, iBeacons, retargeting and PPC all felt like an alien language.

None more so than the phrases ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ in relation to search engine optimisation (SEO).

In this article I’ll be investigating what is meant by each of these terms by asking: What are the basic principles of each ‘hat’? What is considered best practice? and what should be avoided?

“Boy, have we got a vacation for you”

High noon

My basic assumption is that ‘white hat’ is all about being a goody-two-shoes and sticking to the rules. Abiding the law. Hiding under the table whenever trouble comes wandering into the saloon.

Whereas ‘black hat’ is all about being that trouble. A gun-slinging outlaw, working on the edge of society, disobeying the rules and generally being a bit dangerous and sexy. I assume you get a cooler costume too.

I guess the temptation to be that second guy is always strong.

However being that second guy, the one with the really good boots and slightly darker theme music, means that you won’t be long for this world. It’s only a matter of time before you’re either rounded-up by the lawmen or snuffed out and put in the ground with nothing but a lonely horse to mourn your passing.

By lawmen I of course mean Google, and Google can indeed be a merciless punisher of the transgressive. Click here to continue

Further information

Long term SEO: sustainable tactics, strategies and solutions

A complete glossary of essential SEO jargon

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How to create quality content that is optimized

As we often say, only ever release high quality content to your blog or website but there is more to successful SEO than that. Write for a human audience not for search engine spiders, it is the people who are going to appreciate what you have written, they are going to share it with their friends and/or followers on social media and the search engines do take notice of this as well. It is important to intersperse keywords within the fabric of the text so that it reads well for the humans and that there is something for the spiders to latch onto. Be careful with your keywords, use as many variations as you can for instance, if you are talking about accountancy, you can use a variety of words and phrases that are pertinent to the subject so that it is interesting to read for both humans and spiders. There are several steps to creating great content which is also optimized. Take a look at the following article for some great advice.

 

The content explosion and the search engines’ shift toward meaning-based content in 2013 has led to a tipping of the scales in the opposite direction from where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was before Panda and Penguin.

Gone are the days of black hat practices like keyword stuffing and paid linking schemes that resulted in a bad user experience and little focus on content quality.

While the increased focus on quality has created a better user experience, now the challenge of the marketer is to integrate SEO best practices into the content creation process.

User-friendly content must also be easy to find, and that means including SEO in every step of the process.

Because investments in content are growing at a record pace, the pressure for online marketers to show increased returns are heightened. And with organic search as a leading source of traffic for many marketers, streamlining the content creation process while optimizing for search is a business necessity.

In other words, the content must be optimized for the user as well as the search engines before it is even published.

The Integrated Approach To SEO

The integration of search engine needs and user needs means that the SEO has to be involved at every step of the content creation process. Here’s how SEO-focused thinking can be applied to the primary steps of content creation:

1. Understand User Needs & Behavior

How do users search for the type of content you offer, and in what volume?

Keyword research early on in the process will help focus content creation efforts, preventing the wasted effort of creating content for low-volume keywords. Keyword research hits the sweet spot in your content creation efforts by finding the balance between users’ product-related needs, the product offerings, and how users actually search the web. Click here to read on

Further reading

Planning a content strategy with SEO in mind

Deep SEE diving for SEO bloggers

 

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Don’t fall down because of negative SEO

In a world which is constantly changing, it is so important to keep up with any changes in rules regarding SEO. Many reputable businesses has their fingers seriously burnt when Google introduced it’s menagerie and have had to spend considerable resources on fixing what was wrong. Online business is worth billions and if your company can’t be found in your particular niche, you will miss out on valuable trade. Being able to avoid penalties, negative SEO and unnatural links will help you rise up the organic rankings and therefore benefit from valuable trade. It does not matter if your business is a one man band being run from your spare bedroom or a multi-national with branches all over the world, the rules for SEO remain the same. So, how do you make sure that your SEO and linking strategy have a sound base? Take a look at this article

When helping clients with Penguin or manual actions for unnatural links, it’s common for companies to start asking questions about negative SEO. Once clients understand how Penguin works, and how unnatural links could impact a website, they wonder what would stop competitors from launching an all-out attack on their own website. And more importantly, what type of defense strategy could they build to thwart a negative SEO attack?

Beyond negative SEO, unnatural links have an uncanny way of replicating themselves across more spammy sites (without a company actively setting up those new links). So, even if a competitor isn’t launching a negative SEO campaign, situations like “replicating unnatural links” could end up coming back to hurt companies down the line.

For example, my column from October explained how a company first got hit by Penguin 2.0, and then again by Penguin 2.1. It ends up they put a stake in the ground, and stopped monitoring unnatural links, so they ended up getting hit twice (versus recovering). Not good, to say the least.

This makes it hard for businesses that dug themselves into a hole to fully jump out of that hole. For some companies involved in unnatural link building over the past several years, it’s like being part of an organized crime family. You can’t just pick up one day and leave. There will be a price to pay.

Based on what I explained above about negative SEO and replicating unnatural links, defense measures can play an important part of a company’s SEO efforts.

This post will give you several methods for monitoring, tracking, and analyzing, new unnatural links. After I cover each method, I’ll explain what you can do with your findings (to avoid getting hit). Because when dealing with link problems, analysis is one thing, taking action is another. Click here for more information

Further information

Google is closing in on black hat SEO practices

The shift in SEO practices and how it is affecting small business

Posted in Google, Linking Strategies, Online Marketing, SEO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prevent your blog from becoming stale

Business blogs are an important part of your online presence and it may be that you have run out of steam with your blog. You might be thinking that there are only so many things you can blog about where your business is concerned however, if you can find a way to rejuvenate your blog, you could find that it inspires your followers. Take a look at fresh ideas or revisit past subjects and put a fresh light on them. You blog needs to keep visitors interested and if you are losing interest, there is no doubt, your followers will also be losing interest. So, lets get some oomph back into your blog, be positive and inspire.

Have you hit a wall in your business blogging?  Does it seem like your readers are no longer interested?  It’s ok to admit that your blogging efforts have become a bit stale; just as in life- in blogging there is always room for improvements.  Read on to discover 4 creative yet simple ways to turn your business blogging around, wake up your readers and even capture some new ones.

Stop Pushing Back Publishing

You know you need to blog but unfortunately that’s not the only demand your business is barking at you.  Customers, employees and vendors have much louder voices than your blogging platform.  It’s understandable then that when Friday afternoon rolls around you can usually find yourself scrambling to produce some kind- any kind of post.

These issues are not going to disappear and no one is expecting you to make a business blog your top priority.  However it’s safe to admit that scrambled Friday post is coming up as anything but inspired.  Turn things around by simply jotting quick notes at the end of each day (you could even text them to yourself).

Your notes should comment on that day’s specific challenge, customer complaints that you had to deal with or issues that your employees wanted you to address.  A quick activity like this will ensure that when it is time to post, you already have a list of relevant ideas and inspirations to work with.

Drawing from your own experience will not only make for insightful posts, but it will also help you connect with your online audience.  Readers are on the lookout for both personality and personal insights.  Being willing to share parts of yourself with readers affords them the opportunity to get to know you- and hopefully to grow to like and trust you.  Not to mention, personal insight ensures unique content as no other online platform can duplicate your specific experience.

Click here to continue reading

Further information

How do I become more efficient at blogging

What LinkedIn’s new blogging tool means for your business

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t dismiss PPC as part of your strategy

You might think that there is no place for pay per click or PPC in your online marketing strategy and this may well be true. However, do not discount it as means to rapidly increase valuable traffic to your site. It is important to identify and understand your audience before you begin so that you are targeting the right people from the start. There are now many channels you can make use of, from the traditional search engine PPC to social media and this is why it is important to understand who you are aiming your campaign at. There is no point in setting up a campaign on a channel where your target audience is not likely to subscribe to, this will be a complete waste of time and effort. When you have chosen your channels, make sure you measure everything as this information will tell you where you can make adjustments to improve return on investment. Here is some useful information to help you set up a winning PPC campaign.

Creating and managing a pay per click advertising strategy for your business can be a truly daunting task.  While pay per click advertising, or PPC, is one of the best ways to increase traffic to your website, it can also be risky. Without a properly managed strategy, you can end up paying more than your potential return. Fortunately, there are methods proven to optimize your PPC strategy. Here is a brief pay per click definition, along with the five basic principles of any PPC strategy.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

Pay per click advertising is a type of online advertising where the advertiser only pays when a web user clicks on an ad. In search engines, PPC ads can be differentiated from regular search results by their prominent placement, which is typically above or to the right of the search results. Often PPC ads will also be marked as “Sponsored Ads” or “Sponsored Links.”  Advertisers place bids on keywords or phrases designed to match search queries of your target audience. The rates charged for a PPC ad vary depending on the popularity of the keyword or phrase.

Track Measurable Conversions

Unlike other forms of advertising, PPC does not scale. As you get more traffic, you will continue to pay more money because your cost per click will stay constant. The best way to avoid losing money is to track conversions. A conversion can be defined as any useful action a visitor to your website takes. While it doesn’t have to be a sale, it needs to be measurable and valuable to you in some way.

Crunch the Numbers

While PPC can be pricey, it is worth it if you are profiting from all those clicks. Generally, the amount you spend per click needs to be less than the total profit earned per click. While your initial direct profit from your PPC campaign may not meet this guideline, it is important to consistently crunch the numbers in order to know if your PPC campaign is a success.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/5-basics-ppc-strategy-0777682#r50RYKoIYPbwo60M.99

Further information

Getting creative with PPC campaigns

3 important considerations for mobile PPC

How to generate awareness with PPC

Posted in PPC, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The new SEO and the part that it plays today

There has been a lot of talk about SEO being dead over recent months, but in my view, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “reports of SEO’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Why am I so sure about this? Well to use an expression that is said to have been used by the famous Sherlock Holmes (but never was it seems) it’s ‘Elementary my dear Watson’, because quite simply ‘Google Needs Help’ to reach it’s own goal of listing the best sites for any given search term.

Google Needs Help in Deciding What Sites to List

This, some may say is a bit of a bold statement, but when you come to think of it, it’s totally true and always has been. It may actually be even truer today, as Google have stated that they want to list sites with ‘Good Content’. They go on to say that one of the ways they ‘decide’ on what ‘good is’ is by seeing how many times the content has been shared, and of course this ‘sharing’ needs people to take an action and ‘share’ ,  ‘like’ or link to a site’s content.

The Old Old SEO

If you go back in time in SEO, it was all very simple, you just keyword stuffed a page, and then built lots and lots of links to it, this was enough to get any page listed, but that was a long time ago indeed and so  much has changed.

The Old SEO

Moving forwards in time a little, we see that it was Links that were the ‘silver bullet’ some people going so far as to say that they could get a blank page into the listings purely by the power of the links. One example of this was the ‘Google Bomb’ a technique that was used to get Google to come up with sites referring to George W Bush if you searched for ‘miserable failure’. This won’t work now of course, Google making changes back in 2007 to make sure that Links themselves would not work this way anymore. It however did work then and is an example of how Google took note of links.

The Arrival of Social Media

The arrival of Social Media however really changed the whole area of SEO, many of the ‘brownie points’ that Google gives to sites being re-allocated from the areas of On Page SEO and Links to Social Media ‘Chatter’.

This is really the change that you need to take into account, regardless of whether your business is active in Social Media or not, as just because you are not ‘talking about yourself’ does not mean that others are not (this by the way is another topic and is all about Brand Management / Protection, more on this another time).

Social Media Signal

It is this ‘Social Media Signal’ that is the real ‘killer’ today, Google ‘Wanting’ to see comments about a sites content in Twitter, Facebook  on the Social Bookmarking sites etc, as this in their view means that the pages must be interesting.

Content Marketing

However, it is not ‘good enough’ these days to just have good content on your site, you also need (especially in tough market places) to have interesting information on other sites, this process being known as ‘Content Marketing’. But even here it is not enough just to post this data, you have to make sure that this ‘shared content’ is itself ‘shared’ on Social Media sites.

How this Helps Google Decide to List Your Pages

This is of course the crux of the matter, as once you understand what you need to do to ‘help’ Google you will understand why SEO is still so very important…

Google the Blind Man

I believe that Google is much the same as a blind man in a department store, sure he will find the right department given time, but if he is helped, he’ll find it a lot faster (and perhaps before he just leaves) and be ‘happier’ when he does.

Helping Google find the right pages on a site starts with making sure that the site is well built and is structured to be ‘Search Engine Friendly’ (you would be surprised just how often sites are not built the right way even today). This includes, but is not restricted to, using the right Titles and Header tags for the pages. These together with a site map really helps Google know what the pages are about and where to find them.

Then there is the Links to a site. These are not anything like as powerful as they used to be, but they still count. You do however have to be careful as Google has many rules covering the linking arena .

Lastly, but not least we have the Social Signal mentioned above.

But What Part Does ‘Modern’ SEO  Play?

First, SEO means keyword research, as it is this that drives the On Page SEO (the words on the pages). Following the SEO rules then ensures that the site is built with the Search Engines in mind (so that all the pages can be found and SHOUT the right words).

Links are next on the agenda. Now whilst Google only really wants  to see links that are built by independent reviewers / visitors to a site and not by the site owner (or their agents), this is not always possible as people often won’t find a site unless it is listed on and Engine, so it really is a chicken and egg situation.

This means that the pump must be primed a little to start with at least, links being created by ‘artificial’ means. This is of course not liked by Google, but they know that it goes not and will turn a blind eye unless it is done in totally the wrong manner.

The New SEO’s real difference to the Old (and really old) SEO is that of Social Media.

As Google looks for social signal (the sharing / liking / bookmarking of sites) it is not surprising to find that today there is a huge industry whose one aim is to artificially create social signal to a site’s content or to its shared content. At the moment, in my view this is going a bit crazy and Google will no doubt put into place some checks and balances, so any work today has to be done carefully, but there is no doubt of its importance.

All the above helps the blind man

All of the three areas of the NEW SEO help the blind man find your site’s pages and what is more important understand what they are about and to at least ‘believe’ that they are ‘liked’ by others and are worthy of listing.

I hope that by now you will understand that SEO is far from dead as Google still needs help in deciding what pages to list for what.

If you would like to discuss your requirements, or just want to know a bit more, then please do contact us, we’ll be pleased to help.

 

Posted in Content Marketing, Facebook, Google, Online Marketing, SEO, Signal Creation, Social Media Marketing | Leave a comment