SEO Ho Ho – Search Engine Optimisation in 2016 – Xmas Message

The year is nearly at an end and Xmas has been and gone, but there is still a lot of cheer in the air and pleasant memories of all the festivities to boot (amongst them our company Xmas card – see the image below) which went down very well with our customers).

seo-ho-ho-card

But there are other reasons to be grateful about 2016, in that in my view Google has made some really good moves to make the results fairer and more accurate, the latest Penguin update really sorting things out.

This has been somewhat of a relief to SOM as we have been ‘preaching’ what we call ‘Proper’, ‘Scientific’ SEO. What we mean by this is that we research the words that people are searching for in a market area, find the words that Google ‘wants to see’ for these phrases so that they can be incorporated in to the copy. Then we add some relevant links (with a natural anchor text and source type mix) and he presto , things start to happen.

The best part of this is that it is all totally ‘Google legal’  and can never in our view be subject to any penalties that Google may dream up at some time. We can say this as all we are trying to do is to make sure that any site we optimise offers some of the best information there is on a given subject, and of course we make sure that there are enough links to the site’s pages so that Google thinks the same. We call this link building programme ‘priming the pump’ as once the site gets traffic, the links will start building organically. Link building is still required in many cases, but perhaps, only because others are trying to get their sites rankings higher too…

As to the blog post we have included below, we certainly agree about the rise of AI and believe that Google searchers have for some time been ‘rats in the Google maze’, in that they have been analysing what we click on and what sites we like, thus getting closer and closer their goal of truly understanding the real intent behind a given search term.

The other interesting thing raised here is the increased importance that mobile search is being given these days, not really surprising when you realise that people are accessing the web using mobile devices more and more these days.

For 2017 we see it as more of the same, Google getting cleverer and cleverer at spotting the good sites (the ones that deserve rankings) from the ones that don’t, all of which means you just have to ‘Do SEO properly’ or suffer the consequences…

To see the full article on SEO in 2016 and some predictions for 2017 please click the link.

What we’ve learned about SEO in 2016?

Since the inception of the search engine, SEO has been an important, yet often misunderstood industry. For some, these three little letters bring massive pain and frustration. For others, SEO has saved their business. One thing is for sure: having a clear and strategic search strategy is what often separates those who succeed from those who don’t.

As we wrap up 2016, let’s take a look at how the industry has grown and shifted over the past year, and then look ahead to 2017.

A growing industry

It was only a few years ago when the internet was pummeled with thousands of “SEO is Dead” posts. Well, here we are, and the industry is still as alive as ever. SEO’s reputation has grown over the past few years, due in great part to the awesome work of the real pros out there. Today, the industry is worth more than $65 billion. Companies large and small are seeing how a good search strategy has the power to change their business.

As search engines and users continue to evolve, SEO is no longer just an added service brought to you by freelance web designers. With the amount of data, knowledge, tools and experience out there, SEO has become a power industry all on its own.

Over the course of the year, my agency alone has earned a number of new contracts from other agencies that are no longer able to provide their own search efforts. A large divide between those that can deliver SEO and those that can’t is beginning to open up across the board.

The rise of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now prevalent in many of our lives. Google, IBM, Amazon and Apple are very active in developing and using Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). ANI can be used to automate repetitive tasks, like looking up product details, shipping dates and order histories and performing countless other customer requests.

The consumer is becoming more and more comfortable with this technology and has even grown to trust its results. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system, is now among the top three ranking signals for Google’s search algorithm. Why? Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches per a day, and 16 to 20 percent of those are unique queries that have never been searched before. To handle this, the team at Google has harnessed the power of machine learning to help deliver better results.

While we can’t “control” RankBrain, what we can do is learn more about how Google is using it and then help the tool by creating good content that earns shares and links, building connections with others in our niche or related niches, and building trust in very targeted topics.

We are still in the beginning stages of this technology, but as more and more homes become equipped with smart tools like Amazon Echo and Google Home, we can be sure that these tech giants will use the knowledge they gain from voice search to power their AI technology.

The “Google Dance”

Every so often, Google likes to surprise us with a major algorithm update that has a significant impact on search results — some years we get one, and other years we get a little more.
While they do make nearly 500 tweaks to the algorithm each year, some are big enough to garner more attention. Let’s look back at four of 2016’s most memorable updates.

Mobile-friendly algorithm boost

A little under a year after “Mobilegeddon,” an event marked by the launch of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, the search giant announced that it would soon be increasing the effects of this algorithm to further benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. That boost rolled out on May 12, 2016, though the impact was not nearly as significant as when the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm initially launched.

Penguin 4.0

While this ended up being a two-phase rollout, Penguin 4.0 made its entrance on September 23, 2016. This has been considered the “gentler” Penguin algorithm, which devalues bad links instead of penalizing sites. The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was the recovery period, in which sites impacted by previous Penguin updates began to finally see a recovery — assuming steps were taken to help clean up their link profiles.

“Possum”

While this update was never confirmed by Google, the local SEO community noted a major shake-up in local pack and Google Maps results in early September 2016.

Fellow Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins noted that this was quite possibly the largest update seen in in the local SEO world since Pigeon was released in 2014. Based on her findings, she believes the update’s goal was “to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.”
Divided index

As mobile search continues to account for more and more of the global share of search queries, Google is increasingly taking steps to become a mobile-first company. In November, Google announced that it was experimenting with using a mobile-first index, meaning that the mobile version of a website would be considered the “default” version for ranking purposes instead of the desktop version:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

The time to say goodbye to 2016 is fast approaching, and I am truly excited to see what 2017 has in store for the world of SEO!

The Importance Of Hiring The Right SEO Firm

As a website owner, our desire is to see that our website reaches the top spot in the search engines and receive a lot of traffic that converts. You can have the best content in the world but without search engine optimization you will not reach that goal. It is a rather depressing scenario as SEO seems so simple.

However, if you have ever tried to play around with your own site, you realize it is anything but a simple task. There are so many nuances and algorithms to take into account. Learning how to do SEO and then implanting those techniques on a site would be a full-time job for many of us. Thankfully, there are people who do this for a living and many of them do it well. This article is going to shed some light on how to find the best SEO services.

Solid Portfolio

One of the most important aspects in finding an SEO firm is going to be the quality of their work, They should be able to offer up a full portfolio of sites that they were able to rank for several keywords and phrases over the years.

It is essential to take note of the competitive nature of the keywords they ranked for. Are they easy words like “best fried chicken dinner in Louisville KY?” Or is something that would take skill to rank for like, “best credit cards?” Anyone can rank for that first phrase, but there would be skill and expertise needed for such a competitive word as the second.

Guarantee

Not too long ago the internet could have been compared to the wild west. And some SEO professionals were the proverbial train robbers. They would charge companies large amounts of money for really no work at all. This was due to many companies not really understanding search engine optimization like they do today.

Now most SEO companies will offer a guarantee on the work they do and will not expect a blank cheque in advance. This is advantageous for smaller companies with a limited budget. If the ranking is not completed within a specified time you can either get your money back or allow more time for the individual to rank the keyword.

The Secret Sauce

One final ingredient to keep in mind when looking for the best SEO company is to find out how they plan to rank their site. You will not get any specifics, you just want to make sure that only ethical and white-hat methods are being used. If an SEO agency were to use underhanded methods to rank your site, it may be penalized down the road. When this happens you will either have to pay a good deal of money to get the site back in the rankings or simply begin a new one.

It can be a very time-consuming process, so make sure they are doing things that will not harm your site.

If it was easy to rank a site, everyone would be doing it! However, it is a difficult task that is best left to the professionals to handle. Let them rank your site, while you reap the long-term rewards.

 

Like any worthwhile business investment, selecting a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency requires time for careful consideration, and this is doubly true if your business relies heavily on online search for brand discovery.

The sheer number and variety of SEO firms to choose from is enough to give anyone pause.

During this process of intensive research and analysis for service procurement, a number of facets may not be as upfront as looking up an About Us page or researching an agency on LinkedIn.

Yet these same facets are crucial to return on investment, you don’t want to kick yourself for now knowing about them before committing to a potentially long-term relationship.

 

Culture of Transparency and Communication

You’ll want to ensure that the SEO vendor you partner with embraces the same values of transparency and effective communication you expect between in-house teams and/or employees, and for the same reasons, really.

Transparency affords businesses better relationships, synergy, engagement and solutions. Your SEO agency needs to meet the same standards your internal people do on a regular basis.

Some things to consider:

  • Which key performance indicator (KPIs) will be available to you on-demand? Are they the right ones for performance tracking?
  • Can you request any data relevant to your relationship at any given time with good reason?
  • What about communication times? Some changes in long-term strategies like link building obviously require some time to take root, so you need to be able to immediately shift tactics, can your SEO agency turn on a dime in these cases?
  • How can you ensure you’re getting the truth and not a dressed up version of events to make things look good?

Secondary and Tertiary Competencies

While most SEO agencies might list secondary and tertiary competencies in their packages, always make sure to ask.

SEO on its own is strictly limited to traffic, not conversion. It’s a means to the bottom-line, which means it functions in concert with relevant channels within search (e.g. pay-per-click ads) as well as efforts indirectly related to it.

Your SEO agency needs to be at least competent enough in coordinating and communicating to the other moving parts of your digital marketing machine to guarantee that their efforts won’t exist in a bubble, and your campaigns are not in disparate silos not working together toward a single goal.

Tech Stack

You’d be surprised how many people brush off the importance of tech stack compatibility when looking for partners across the many channels of digital marketing. There are a few simple questions that can help you determine if your SEO agency of choice has the right tech stack for your operation:

  • Are they experts in your current tech? If you’re running on WordPress, as is more than 70 million sites on the web, can your SEO agency work with that, or are they better with more technical CMS like Drupal or Joomla? Also, it’s one thing to be an expert at a certain tech stack or build, and another to just be “handy” in it.
  • Can they help you migrate to a new one, if necessary? Might seem contradictory to the above, but technology is constantly shifting. E-commerce portal Bluefly, for instance, recently found itself on the wrong end of tech adoption when the E-commerce platform they originally signed up for, among the most popular ones in the past decade, couldn’t support what they wanted to do on mobile. They ultimately had to switch providers.
  • APIs, APIs, APIs: The tech world is badly fragmented, and your SEO agency needs to ensure it either has the right application programming interfaces (APIs) or the capacity to support them from third parties.

Scale Potential

Your partner’s tech stack is relevant to this factor: scale potential refers to how big your partner can help you get before becoming too small for your operation.

It’s a simple truth that different SEO firms have various clientele targets. Some cater to small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), others focus on enterprise. While the ones that focus on SMBs can offer unique insight to enterprise level clients, they neither have the manpower or tech infrastructure to support enterprise-level SEO.

Read more: http://www.business.com/seo-marketing/7-things-to-keep-in-mind-when-choosing-an-seo-agency/

 

95% of websites are HURTING their Own Google Rankings

We have checked hundreds of websites over the years and the sad fact is that 95% of them are actually doing things that will make it harder (or impossible) to get rankings on Google.

95percent

Is Your Site One of the 95%?

The question that you (as a business website owner) might well be asking is MY site one of the 95%?? Of course, you may not be bothered, thinking that your site’s ‘job’ is just to ‘be there’ when someone wants to check on you. But that is really a waste, your site could be doing so much more than just sitting back, waiting for the occasional visitor…

Brochure Sites

Brochure sites are sites that are just meant to act, well, as an online brochure, a means to impart information about a business to anyone who is interested. They are often just visited by people who having heard about a company (or maybe they met someone at a networking event?) want a bit more information before they contact them for a quote etc.

A Wasted Marketing Opportunity?

This is a good way of using the power of the Internet (saves on a lot of brochure printing for a start), BUT, is it also a wasted opportunity? The thing is here you have a website, full of (hopefully) interesting stuff about your business, the services that you offer and ‘what makes you special’ and yet no great efforts are being made to get more people to read it all. This must be a wasted opportunity, as any one of those visitors (that the site is not getting) could be a potential customer…

So What Are These Sites Doing Wrong?

The fact is that there are many ways that business sites are ‘getting it wrong’ when it comes to getting Google to ‘like’, and thus give their pages a prominent position for a given search term. Some of them are quite basic mistakes too and could easily be fixed with a few clicks (and a little bit of thought).

Some Examples of the Mistakes Sites Make

The Title Tag

You may not notice (although Google always does) this one, as it a bit hidden, but if you take a look at the top of your Internet Browser window, you will see the ‘Title’ information for the page you are looking at. In many cases you will see words like ‘Home’ or ‘About Us’. Whilst not being incorrect (as you would be looking at the Home or About us page), they are not really very informative to the very ‘person’ you really want to impress and that of course is Google.

Think about it, would not a phrase like ‘IT Support Services | Computer Repairs’ ‘tell’ Google a bit more than the word ‘Home’? It really is a no brainer and so very easy to fix….

The Meta Description

When you look at a page you don’t even see this (not even at the top of the Browser), it only being visible in Google’s search results, under the Title and the URL of a site. This might make you think that it is worthless from an SEO point of view, but you would be wrong. It is true that the words in the Description do not have a lot of clout SEOwise, but if you leave the field empty or use the same one on many pages, you run the risk of making the site appear to be ‘lazy’ as far as Google is concerned and that ‘black mark’ could make all the difference when Google has to decide what site to list for a phrase you want to be found for.

Again, a few clicks on the keyboard can make the problem go away.

The Elevator Speech

Another thing you should bear in mind is that a good Description can make all the difference when it comes to getting that all important click from the Google search results. Think of this 160 character text block as your ‘elevator’ speech and create one that would make someone just have to click through to your site, as it is only then that you get a chance to start that dialogue that could result in a sale or enquiry.

The Header Tags

This is another of those things that you will probably not have noticed (and yes you guessed it, Google is looking at this too), other that is that the text might look a bit bigger. But why is the correct use of Header tags important? To explain this I need to give you a bit of a history lesson, it all starting with the way that documents are constructed. This actually goes back to the time that newspapers were laid out using lead type as here the editors had to be able to let the people who were laying out the type which bits were the important, that is, what words (like the Headlines) needed to be big. This was all done using a ‘Header Tag Number ranging from 1 to 6 (or something similar).

This rule set was used when the code that describes how a page would be displayed on Wordprocessors and screens was written , it again being used to control how words would be displayed. This in turn fed through to the language that controls printers and also, most lately, how web pages are rendered by Browsers, this of course being HTML.

The Advent of CSS Styles

In the early days on the Internet there were in fact only a few ways you could control how big the words on a page were, these Header tags being one of them. Today of course you can control the font, size and colour of the text on your webpages using CSS Styles, but the importance of the Header tag lives on as Google still use these to work out which words on a web it should take more notice of, something that is vitally important when trying to get your page to the top of the results.

A Problem With Web Designers

It must be said that most sites use these Header tags, but the problem is they are often used incorrectly, the majority of web designers still using them to control the size of text, often compounding the issue by then using them for such terms as ‘Home’, ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Blog’. Highlighting words like these to Google is useless, far better to use them to point out to Google those words that you want to be found for like ‘IT Support Prices’ or ‘Best Anti Virus Software’.

Putting this right is a little harder than both of the above, but it is still not that big a job and makes your site that bit better in Google’s eyes and thus that bit more likely to get a good listing in their results.

Links – The Popularity Voting System of the Internet

Whilst the majority of the power that links bestow come from links to a site from other sites (so called ‘backlinks’ as they link back to you), the links FROM a webpage to other sites and the INTERNAL links in a site are also important. The first tells Google that you are a part of the community that makes up your market place (as well as pointing them at some other valuable resources, which Google likes to see), whilst the second type helps Google understand what each of your pages is about as well as helping people move about your site. As Google rates sites that offer the best ‘user experience’ higher than others, such internal links can only help.

Incoming Links

Whilst the links to a site cannot be put right by making changes to the site, they are a vital part of the ‘battle’ to get a site listed on Google, accounting for about 40% of the marks that Google allocate when deciding what site to list for what term. However, the fact is that the majority of sites either don’t have the any (or enough) links or have the wrong sort. Both of these can really hinder a sites chances of getting a first page (or any) ranking. Fixing them can take a long time and a lot of work though and has to be done very CAREFULLY.

 

SEMANTIC SEO and the Words on the Page

Semantic SEO is all about making sure that Google understand what a site is all about, thereby ensuring that it’s ‘meaning’ is fully comprehended. This is easier to do than you might think, the major thing to get right being to make sure you use the right words on the page. The right words of course are the words that Google wants to see. The good news is that Google will tell you what these words are, all you have to do is to ask in the right way, this being done by ‘Reverse Engineering‘ the top pages on Google …

Writing the Right Copy

Armed with these words and phrases, and a good understanding of the subject (it helps if you are a genuine expert) you can then write the right copy, adding some images, and if you can audio and video components as you go. Sprinkle some internal and external links at the same time and you have gone a long, long way of cracking this particular nut.

 

Polishing the Spitfire

You may not believe it, but it is said that back in World War 2 they used to polish the photo reconnaissance Spitfires (as well as painting them pink so that they were harder to spot in the dawn or dusk skies) just so that they could gain a few mph, something could make all the difference, life or death in this instance, when being chased by enemy fighters.

If you follow the guidance above and fix any of the items mentioned in the above information, it will in effect polish your website a little, perhaps gaining just enough extra speed to get your site onto Page 1 of Google and thus get the extra traffic that could make all the difference to your business.

 

Need Help With the Polishing?

However, if you need help with the polishing, even if it’s just some assistance in finding out what bits to polish the hardest, please do give us a call. We are here to help and offer a lot of free advice and assistance.

WHAT IS SCIENTIFIC SEO?

First a bit of history about Search Engine Optimisation

SEO can trace its history way back to 1994 when the early pioneers discovered that they could use the Internet to drive traffic to their sites and hence sell their goods. As this idea became more accepted, people started competing with each other for traffic and that meant that they had to ‘convince’ the Search Engine of the day to list their site for appropriate terms.

The Search Engine of the Day has changed over the years, Alta Vista, Ask Jeaves and Yahoo all being the top dog at some time. However, today, the big player is Google and thus that is the engine everyone wants to get listings on, and that of course means you have to understand the rules.

 

The Rules of The Old SEO

The rules that the Search Engines use have altered drastically over the years, as they have become more and more sophisticated. At the start, it was easy to ‘trick’ the Engines, all you needed to do was to stuff the pages with your keywords and get some links to the site (Google’s first stab at SEO was based on something called PageRank which basically is all about the number of links to  a site – and not much else).

These ‘old’ rules however had one big problem, in that the SEO professionals of the day kept finding ways around them and thus the Engines had to keep taking steps to close these ‘holes’ in their rule sets.

This process escalated over the years, especially since 2010, and basically Google decided that enough was enough and decided on a whole new approach, one that could not be
tricked and relied on one thing, perceived quality.

 

The New SEO and Perceived Quality

Today, with the advent of something called ‘SEMANTIC SEO’ (the meaning of a site, what it is really all about), things are a lot different, it being all about the quality of the content of a site.

But Why use the term Perceived Quality?

I use this term as I believe that there are limits to what Google can do, in that its computer algorithms cannot ‘really’ decide on what is real ‘quality’ content and what is not. Also, as mentioned above, links had, and still have a vital role to play in how Google decides what site to list for what.  But it cannot always tell if these links are ‘real’ or have been created, thus in all cases Google looks at a page/site and decides (using it’s rule sets) if it is quality or not.

This is why I say it is the quality that Google perceives in a site that is important. So how can you convince Google that your content is good enough to get a top ranking??

The Rules of the NEW SEO in Detail

Despite all the changes that have taken place in the world of SEO since 1994, but all of them are based on four things, one of these only recently coming to the fore.

The Four Things SEO is and was Based Upon

 Site Construction

The way a site is built is important as if it is constructed in the wrong way then Google cannot (or may just not want to be bothered to) find all the pages in a site. Also if the site is built in such a way that it is very slow, or is not mobile friendly, then too Google will downgrade the site in various ways.

One thing that does not cause so much of a problem today is that of the ‘Code to Text’ ratio (the amount of code that is used to build a site versus the number of words visible to the visitor). In the old days, too much ‘construction code’ was an issue, but today, with the advent of WordPress and the like, Google has been ‘forced’ to ignore this area, virtually all sites being very code heavy.

You MUST however ensure that the site can easily be navigated, a failure in that department being very serious indeed. Plus you should also use a fair number of internal links (not just the navigation) to highlight to Google what each page is about.

Words, Pictures and Videos

This is the area most affected by the new SEMANTIC SEO, it being vitally important to use all the ‘right’ words in a page. Gone are the days of just stuffing a page with the words you want to be found for. Today you need to understand what words Google wants to see and then make sure you include them in the copy, also making sure that you include pictures and where possible audio and video content on the page.

Reverse Engineering is the Key

This is where reverse engineering can help, the idea being that if you know what words are being used on the top pages (for a given term) then by including them (using correct grammar of course, as this is also checked) you must be getting closer to the perfect page.

Links

In the early days of SEO Links were vitally important, in fact they could, all by themselves get a page listed. However, today things have changed a lot. Links are still important counting for some 40% of the reason for a site getting a rank, but they are not as all powerful as they used to be.

Google is Watching You

Besides not being as important as they used to be, the links to a site are now carefully checked by Google. Their aim?, to make sure that the links to a site are ‘natural’ and not all built by an SEO company (although they know of course that the practice goes on all the time).

This checking is carried out by Google, the process being labelled as ‘Penguin’. Basically this checks a sites linking structure to see if it complies with the ‘rules’ and is hence seen to be natural. Here the number of links using the domain or URL of the site as the anchor text (the bit we humans click on) are checked, as are the number of links using ‘money words’ (the terms that a site wants to be found for) and those ‘noise’ links, like ‘see this site’, or ‘click here’. If the balance is not right, or they seem to have been created too fast, then a site can be heavily penalised.

This means that a site’s links have to be built very carefully over time and not all in a rush.

Social Media

This is very new in SEO terms and the amount of ‘power’ that social media chit chat, comments on Facebook and Twitter provide is not fully understood. In my view, the importance of Social Media is more to do with other marketing channels, but nevertheless, obtaining links via things like ‘Social Bookmarks’ can be useful.

Putting it All Together – Scientific SEO

So, what does all this mean?? Basically, it means that you must

 

  1. Find the words you want your site to be found for – KEYWORD RESEARCH
  2. Find the words you need to include in the copy of the page(s) using Reverse Engineering – CONTENT RESEARCH
  3. Build the links to the site, CAREFULLY
  4. If you can get some Social Media comments going (more important for sites selling direct to the public than B2B sites)
  5. Monitor the progress and make changes to improve matters further

 

 

I hope this helps you understand how the matter of SEO has to be approached today.

What Google Wants…

So What Does Google Want?

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

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

 

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A Vital Point – Google Often Ignores Its Own Rules

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

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

Some of the Known SEO Rules

Keyword Stuffing

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

Status – Avoid…

Use of Title Tag

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

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

Meta Description Tag

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

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

Header Tags

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

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

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

Word Count

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

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

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

Tabs and Accordions (Copy Triggerd by User Interaction)

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

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

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

Status – Use with caution.

Internal Links and Links From Your Site

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

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

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

 

Links To Your Site.

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

There are however some important factors to bear in mind…

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

 

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

What is the aim of Search Engine Optimisation?

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

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

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

 The Start of The SEO ‘Battle’.

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

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

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

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

Google’s Penguin – The Link Checker

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

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

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

Google’s Panda

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

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

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

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

Then Came (or Comes) the Semantic Web

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

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

The Current State of Play

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

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

SEO What You Need To Do

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Local SEO

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Welcome to local SEO

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

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

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

Local Search Results

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

How to feature in local search results

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

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

Overall Local Ranking Factors:

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

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

On-page SEO

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

Links

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

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

 

 

 

Getting More From Your SEO Strategy

Most people use Google as their preferred search engine, it is estimated that around three quarters of searches are done using Google. Getting your website to retain a prominent position on the search engines is a huge challenge and they know this, with Google in particular, making use of its algorithms to sort the wheat from the chaff – at least that’s the theory! For the most part, it has worked in clearing out the lesser quality sites and has evolved to try to understand what the searcher is looking for, it tries to provide the right answer every time.

It is getting sites ranked highly on the search engines that is the goal of SEO, but there is no one clear path to success, there are many different ways and combination of tactics that will work. This is why there is no guaranteed method and nobody will say ‘this works every time’ because the method they have used might work several times but then not work for the next attempt. For most, it is a case of trial and error, using strategies that have worked in the past and ensuring that content is high quality and is updated on a regular basis. It is a good idea to make sure that any images or videos on your site are properly optimized as well, this can give your site a huge boost so should not be neglected.

Regular maintenance of your website should also be carried out. This is to make sure that there are no broken links, that all images and videos are viewable and that your new content is in the right place. Check the site map so that you can see that all the pages that should be there, are. If you have a blog page, make sure that the individual pieces of content have titles that contain relevant keywords and are descriptive regarding the piece. This is how the search engines find and sort the information on websites so that they can then categorize it and provide it when a search for those particular keywords are searched for.

If you are an expert in your field, make use of this gift, get yourself known as an expert through forums, social media platforms and professional sites. This can give your own website a lot of kudos and will increase the credibility and authority of it. Another benefit of gaining such status, is that other website owners will be delighted to be linked with yours, so choose these carefully so that you are increasing your own site’s authority and not just theirs.

Successful SEO has many threads that must meet and weave together in order to create a strong fabric that does not infringe any rules that the search engines set. The key is finding the threads that work for your site and weaving them together so that you rise up the rankings and stay there.

 

Perhaps you believe that you already found the easy stuff, the “low-hanging fruit,” as it were: good keywords for your niche, optimized titles and body copy, an XML sitemap. Nevertheless, you can’t seem to break past your competitors in the Google SERPs for your most coveted keywords.

You may not have the time or resources right now to do an expensive site overhaul or to even commit to SEO long-term. You may only want a few simple tweaks that will help move the needle.

Well, look no further. You are in luck, because you won’t need years of SEO training for the following hacks. And these hacks also won’t cost you a lot of time or money to implement. You won’t even need to change significant parts of your site. Intrigued? Then let’s continue.

1. Distribute your home page’s link authority to your most important pages

Your home page naturally attracts more links than any other page of your site. A crucial part of your SEO strategy should be ensuring that link authority gets effectively directed from your home page to your most important subpages. While Google can render JavaScript and AJAX better than ever, your safest bet is plain HTML links.

You’ve probably already ensured that your most important category pages are included in the top nav. But how about including links to your most important products (or the ones that you most want to rank) in the body of the home page? If you don’t have product pages, then feature things like articles and landing pages in the body. Links in the body of a page will typically pass more link authority than navigational links, especially footer links.

Creating clear, prominent links is useful from a user experience standpoint as well, because it ensures people can easily find your best stuff quickly.

2. Stop using such huge images

At least half of the sites I audit have issues with very large images on the home page. Often, designers or content creators don’t consider the file size or resolution of an image before adding it to a page. They won’t reduce an image to the maximum size needed on the page, nor will they save it at an appropriate resolution.

A 600 dpi image that was “resized” to be tiny using the width and height attributes in an IMG tag isn’t merely lazy, it’s an affront to website visitors. A huge image (I’ve seen single images as large as 6 MB on a home page) can substantially slow down the time it takes for the page to load, hurting both your rankings and the user experience (and consequently, the site’s conversion rate).

It is incredibly easy to optimize that image to a more reasonable size and then re-upload it. This is probably the number one “quick hack” for improving your site speed.

Use a tool like WebPageTest to check the file sizes of all the elements on a page. (Or you can use the Developer Tools built into the Chrome browser if you’re a geek like me.) Check your images, and have your designers optimize them. Train the people who create and upload your content to get into the habit of checking image sizes before they publish anything.

3. Check that people aren’t linking to pages that 404

Look for URLs that are returning a 404 on your site and have external links pointed at them. Google Search Console gives you the ability to check the 404 pages on your site and see whether they are being linked to (and from where). If you have a externally linked page which returns a 404, prioritize fixing it ASAP, as you are squandering link authority every minute that remains unfixed. Recovering that link equity and/or traffic is a very easy “quick win.”

To do this in Google Search Console, go to Crawl > Crawl Errors > Not Found and click on each URL returning a 404. Google will usually sort the errors by the most to least important and the most important include the ones with external links. After clicking on a URL, select the “Linked From” tab and it will show you the URLs linking to the page in question. Make sure these 404 URLs are 301 redirected to the next most relevant URL on your site.

Read more: http://searchengineland.com/7-quick-seo-hacks-seo-newbie-257385

 

Factors To Consider When Hiring A Search Engine Marketing Company

When people go online to find information, they almost always start by firing up their favourite search engine and typing in what they are looking for. The search engines, in turn, show a list of results that are related to the user’s query. These results are ordered by how relevant they are to the query, as well as a number of other factors. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing certain components of a website so that it will show up higher in the search results.

SEO is big business. In fact, there are companies that do nothing else but help businesses and website owners optimize their sites. It makes sense when you think about it. After all, if you are able to achieve a top listing with your site, you can get practically unlimited free traffic to your pages. This can dramatically boost your bottom line by allowing you to get more leads or sales.

Unfortunately, not all search engine marketing companies are created equal. The process of optimizing a website is rather complex. Even more important, however, is the fact that the variables that search engines look at when ranking websites are constantly changing. A good SEO agency needs to be up to date with all of the latest optimization techniques if they want to help their clients get results. This is especially important when you consider that certain optimization techniques that worked in the past such as link building can now get your site penalized in the search results.

Because of that, it is important to thoroughly vet any search engine marketing companies that you are planning on hiring to work on your website. A good place to start is by asking for a list of sites that they have worked on in the past. This can help you see firsthand how these sites are currently ranking in the search results. If the sites aren’t showing up on the first page for keywords that are related to the products or services that they offer, you should probably keep looking into you find a company that is more qualified.

You also need to be sure that the company you hire to work on your site provides excellent communication. They should not only keep you up to date with the changes that they are making to your site, but also with how your site’s ranking is changing over time. This can help you make sure that your money is being well spent.

Finally, you need to choose a company that is realistic about their expectations. If a company promises to get your site to the number one spot in the search engines, you should choose a different search engine marketing company instead. It is not possible to know for sure whether or not a site will ever achieve a top listing. Instead, they should clearly outline their overall optimization strategy for you, explaining how each step that they are going to take will benefit your site rather than making promises that they can’t keep.

 

If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of search results on Google, Bing or Yahoo, your potential customers might not even know you exist. Better search engine visibility can be critical to boosting visits to your website, which can lead to increased brand awareness and higher sales and profits.

But what if you lack the time and technical expertise to improve your site’s search engine ranking? It might make sense to hire an experienced, reliable search engine optimization (SEO) consultant.

Here are 10 essential questions to ask when considering prospective SEO consultants:

1. May I have a list of current and past clients?
A reputable SEO consultant should be open to sharing a brief list of current and former clients and his or her contact information, says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google (Wiley, 2012) and founder of Nine By Blue, a Seattle-based SEO software provider.

These references can help you gauge how effective the candidate is, as well as verify that the person did indeed work on specific SEO campaigns. Clients may not provide specific analytics, Fox says, but they should be able to at least tell you if they saw a positive impact on their search ranking, especially in conversions and in gaining an audience, as a direct result of the consultant’s efforts.

2. How will you improve my search engine rankings?
Steer clear of SEO consultants who won’t freely discuss their methods in detail, cautions Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, a Seattle-based internet marketing software company and co-author of The Art of SEO (O’Reilly, 2012). They should explain the strategies they would use to drive up your website’s search engine ranking, as well as estimate how long it could realistically take to achieve the SEO campaign goals you agree on.

Make sure the candidate’s proposal includes an initial technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower your search engine ranking, including broken links and error pages. Consultants also should provide “on page” optimization, a process to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. It involves improving your website’s URL and internal linking structure, along with developing web page titles, headings and tags.

Also, ask consultants if they provide “off page” SEO strategies to raise awareness of your content on other websites, often via blogs, social media platforms and press releases.

3. Do you adhere to search engines’ webmaster guidelines?
You want a consultant who strictly abides by Google’s publicly posted webmaster best practices, which specifically prohibit 12 common SEO tricks, including automatically generating spammy content and adding bogus hidden text and links. If a candidate doesn’t follow those guidelines, your website could be relegated to a dismally low search results ranking. Or, worse yet, Google could ban it from search results altogether.

Bing and Yahoo also post webmaster best practices that consultants should confirm they follow.

4. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?
If the candidate answers yes, Fox warns, “Turn and run in the other direction as fast as you can.” Although it’s impossible to guarantee a number-one ranking on any search engine, she says, some unethical SEO consultants do make such bogus guarantees.

Consider it a red flag if the candidate claims to have an insider relationship with Google or any other search engine that will get you priority search results rankings. Only Google, Bing and Yahoo can control how high or low websites appear in their search results.

5. Are you experienced at improving local search results?
Appearing in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract nearby customers, Rand says. You’ll want a consultant who has expertise in local SEO techniques.

If your website is optimized for what’s known as “local SEO,” it should appear when someone nearby is searching for keywords that are relevant to your business. To achieve that, a consultant should add your business’s city and state to your website’s title tags and meta descriptions, and get your site listed on Bing, Google and Yahoo’s local listings, which are online directories of businesses that cater to a specific geographical area.

6. Will you share with me all changes you make to my site?
Search engine optimization will most likely require a number of changes to your existing web page coding. It’s important to know exactly what adjustments the consultant plans to make and on how many web pages. If you would like the candidate to get your permission before accessing and altering your website code, be sure to say so.

 

Read more: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227229

Backlinks Are As Important As Ever

Linking has become a bit of a dirty work in SEO however, it can still be a valuable part of your online marketing strategy. If you do wish to make use of linking, you must be careful about which sites yours has links with. It is essential that any backlinks are relevant and niche specific, this means that high quality authority sites are the most desirable to link to. It’s not easy to get links to these sites but if you can, it will raise the ‘value’ of your website in the eyes of the search engines.

In the past, it was common practice to buy links and to use link farms to get lots of backlinks to a website. This is known to be very bad practice and will get your site in penalty faster than you can say ‘backlink’, so do not even consider this as a way of obtaining links. Linking needs to be done naturally and one of the best ways of doing this, is to have a blog that you update regularly with interesting and useful articles. The information contained within will then be noticed by people who will read it, share it, like and recommend it to their friends. The links gained here are very valuable over time because they tell the search engines that real people are visiting your site, that they like it and that they want to share it. These links are natural and will take time to cultivate so any time spent creating the content is time well spent, this is an investment in your site and this is how you should look at it. Quality attracts quality and once you have a good number of high quality articles that show you as an authority in your field, you should start reaping the rewards of your hard work and investment by attracting backlinks to authority sites.

It is very useful to promote yourself as an authority in your niche, by using professional sites like LinkedIn and Google+, you can really make yourself known. This can really help raise the profile of your business blog and website which in the grand scheme of things, is the goal. Having a prominent online profile and a high authority rating will do wonders for your business on the internet.

Social media links have been thought not to be very valuable however, more and more people use at least one social media platform and what they like, share, watch and recommend is in fact highly useful to your linking strategy. The more views, likes, shares and recommends you get, the better as these will raise your site’s profile which in turn leads to more traffic, which in turn leads to more sales, and that is the bottom line, increasing sales.

It can be hard to keep up with all the changes that seem to constantly occur with the search engines, the one constant though, is to keep your SEO natural, do things slowly and carefully so that the search engines notice your site for all the right reasons.

 

 

Creating compelling, customer-centric content isn’t enough to win rankings and shoppers. Without a strong internal linking structure, even the best content will still fail to perform in natural search.

The three strongest factors that Google uses to determine which pages will be ranked on page one are content, links, and Google’s proprietary machine-learning artificial intelligence system called RankBrain, part of its Hummingbird search algorithm.

Content for search engine optimization boils down to words that send signals of relevance to search engines. When combined with the signals of authority that internal and external links send to search engines, these two make up the first and second most important factors that Google uses to rank content for search results.

The third most important ranking factor, RankBrain, is out of our control to change. But while we can’t hope to impact the way that RankBrain functions, we can directly influence the content and internal linking structures within our own sites.

The three strongest factors that Google uses to determine which pages will be ranked on page one are content, links, and Google’s proprietary machine-learning artificial intelligence system…

Content Is King

First, you need to actually create great content. Search engine optimization professionals have been espousing the need for customer-centric content since the beginning of SEO. Some less reputable SEO professionals will settle for any mash up of words that contain keywords. Yuck.

No one wants to read what I call “SEO content” because it has no value to the consumer. And Google — as well as Bing and other modern search engines — absolutely do know the difference. Poorly written, keyword-overstuffed, duplicative, solely SEO-centric content will not improve natural search performance. Plus, it’s unpleasant for shoppers to read and does nothing to improve your brand perception.

If you’re hesitant to put it on a page that shoppers will see and buy from, or reluctant to link to it on your site, that’s a good sign that it’s the bad kind of SEO content.

“Great content” is useful and desirable to your shoppers. Depending on your industry, your specific area of product offerings, great content may describe products that need to be used together to work effectively, a list of critical products everyone should own, or a how-to piece that helps a shopper figure out what to buy or how to use a product.

Great content usually has some sort of visual component like checklists, pictures, illustrations, or video that aids in shopper digestion. But to influence SEO performance, great content needs to have some textual, descriptive explanation to go along with the visual aids to describe what the content is about, using keywords — the words that real shoppers use when they talk about the products.

Great content takes planning and effort to create. Yes, it can be hard, especially if you have a blog and are releasing great new content on a regular basis. Think of your customers’ questions, check social media, ask customer support, dig into keyword research data, or get ideas from reputable sources, such as our monthly “5 Content Marketing Ideas” list to make it easier to create useful content.

Links Are Gold

Great content is linked to, and in turn links out to the rest of the site as a valuable resource. When content lacks links, no matter how great that content is, it lacks the authority signals that Google requires to rank pages in search results.

Links from other sites — external links — are the most valuable because they send the strongest signals to search engines that your content is authoritative. However, external links take time to acquire and are harder to influence. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t work with the rest of the marketing department on a strong content marketing strategy. You should. But it takes time, skill, and luck for those efforts to mature into links.

Great content is linked to, and in turn links out to the rest of the site as a valuable resource.

Internal links — the links you build on your own site to cross-link pages — are easier to achieve and manage over time. They’re also important indicators of value to search engines because the pages that are linked to most frequently from other pages are deemed most valuable to searchers.

Said another way, if you want something to rank, you need to link to it from as many pages on the site as makes sense from a shopper’s experience standpoint.

And if you want great content to rank, or pass its value to ecommerce pages so that the ecommerce pages can rank, it also needs to be linked to in ways that send authority signals and adds value for your shoppers.

Blogs are good examples. They can be excellent for ecommerce SEO if they are regularly updated with compelling content and interlinked strongly with the ecommerce site. Nearly all of the sites I’ve worked with that have blogs lament their poor performance, but nearly all of them use their blogs poorly for SEO. They only link one way.

Ecommerce instinct is to keep the ecommerce pages pure, and link to them from any resource, tips, trends, or blog pages. That’s a one-way linking arrangement that is meant to feed authoritative value from the content through the links to the ecommerce pages.
What they don’t realize is that the content pages need to have value before they can pass value.

Read more: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/125368-SEO-Content-Is-King-but-Links-Are-Gold