Search Engine Optimisation and Link Building in 2018

Let’s face it, SEO is considered by many to be a ‘black art’, by others to be a waste of time, whilst those who do agree that SEO is worthwhile will endlessly debate about what is good and what is bad, what tactics are ‘white’ and what are ‘black’.

“If you ask six SEO experts a question you will probably get 7 answers….”

Then again, if you turned to Google to ask them about SEO, they appear to suggest that they disagree with the concept (wanting their results to be natural and not manipulated), whilst at the same time knowing that without someone to help all the website owners ‘understand’ how to set up their sites so that Google can read them properly, they (Google) would be lost.

The Death of Link Building Announced Again (and Again and Again)

When it comes to the thorny topic of Link Building, not only do we see Google denouncing the process because it is not natural, we also see them desperate for some help in deciding what sites to list and what ones not to bother with. Like it or not Google needs links..

BUT, not all links are equal and there is definitely a way of gaining Google’s displeasure when it comes to building them. Do it the wrong way and your site is doomed, that is one of the known Google rules and is put into play all the time.

Turning to the Experts

This is why many businesses turn to the experts, as here they can rest easy, knowing their site will be built in a way that Google can read and the content will be created to suit the Search Engines and their readers alike. They will also know that the links built to their site will be created in such a way that it will not be penalised by Google. They will then expect that their site gets better rankings and more traffic. In many cases this is exactly what happens, but in some it does not, and sometimes it is impossible for anyone to discover just what has gone wrong, what appears to be working in one area, fails to do so in another…

Either way, you can be pretty sure that the website owner will not really be aware of what is going on and that there are many ways of creating a ‘buzz’ and the boost of (relevant) traffic that all website owners want.

The Key to Top Class Traffic

If you own a business which has a website, you will, I am sure, have been inundated with telephone calls and emails promising you top rankings on Google, sometimes for little cost. You will also have seen countless bits of software that will boost your site, often, they say, at the touch of a button….

Some of these claims will be by bona fide companies and of the software – particularly research software – can be useful, but what few of them will tell you is that it will be the CONTENT of the site that will win the day, both for getting traffic and for converting your visitors to customers.

The True Power of Content

So why is content so very important? This may seem to be a strange question, but many site owners do not give it much attention. They spend a get deal of time discussing format and presentation, but often give scant regard to the content the pages are to hold. So doing things this way is simply not going to work because there is nothing for Google to get its ’teeth’ into, so the rankings are poor. When (and if) a potential customer arrives, there is nothing to ‘make’ them want to buy or at least to take the relationship any further.

The correct way of approaching any market place (and the keyword market place of the web is no different) is to see what people want. When it comes to Google, this means finding out what phrases people use in the market sector which relate to your products, and thus the pages of your site that will be selling those products.

Reverse Engineering and Latent Semantic Indexing

Then you can start writing content that uses those phrases (and similar words using a technique called LSI (or Latent Semantic Indexing) – this being vital as Google gets cleverer and cleverer). You can even reverse engineer the top sites in Google for a given phrase, therefore TELLING you what words to use.

Pages written this way will not only give Google what it wants, but will also give the visitor the information that will enable them to decide if your product is for them or if you can help them solve the problem that drove them to search for help in the first place.
This content ought to include images, videos, flow charts and anything else that will help them to make a good decision (which hopefully means doing business with you).

The OTHER reason for TOP QUALITY CONTENT

Saying all this, content has another VITAL job to do in the battle for traffic and sales. Having good content will mean that others will link to the site and mention it in their Social Media postings, after all they will have good reason to, they will have something WORTH SHARING.

content is king internet concept

content is king internet concept

But, it is not always easy getting people to notice how good your copy is. The whole thing is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. After all, your fantastic copy can’t get links until someone finds it, and reads it. Without rankings or some form of Social Media chatter, no one will ever know it is there..

Priming the Pump (and keeping the pressure up too)

This is where SEO, Paid Search and Social Media come into play. By using all or some of these systems, website owners can start the ball rolling so that people can see just how good they, and their all important copy, is.

Great Copy Required

This is where the need for the top rate copy comes in, as even though the SEO and Social Media work above will bring in the visits, if there is nothing there to grip the audience, all the time and effort will have been wasted as no sales will be made and perhaps as importantly, no one will find anything worthwhile to come back for, mention or link to.

Without these mentions and links Google will not get the signals it wants to give the site repeatedly better rankings and thus more effort is needed to keep things going. If, however, there is something to ‘write home about’ then the links will come in, your site / product will be mentioned on Social Media, and what is more you will get repeat visits.

Are you Getting Returning Visitors?

This is just one area where Google Analytics can help. Just as having lots of New Visitors is good, a low percentage of Returning visitors indicates that you site is not delivering and people are not coming back for more.

 

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

If your site is one with a poor level of returning visitors, then a long hard look at the contents is a must…

The Different Processes of SEO

The term Search Engine Optimisation covers a host of things, usually divided (basically) into Technical, On Page, Off Page and Social Media.

Technical SEO

This covers the way a site is built, how fast it is, how easy it can be read and navigated as well as topics like Rich Snippets and Schema. Some of this is easy to do, some of it a bit more difficult, and not all website developers or SEO professionals cover all of these areas.

On Page SEO

Here we are talking about the words on the pages and the placement of the ‘target keywords’ in the important places on the page, all with a view of ensuring that Google finds what it needs in the ‘appropriate places’ on a sites’ pages. Of course this includes the copy / content of a site, but that is not SEO.SEO is how you make sure that the copy is found, not the actual copy itself (except that SEO will help you find out what to talk about in the first place via the Keyword / Market Research phase).

Off Page SEO

This area covers the issue of Links (and to a degree Social Media). It is these ‘signals’ that attract Googles attention and that will get the rankings and ‘seed’ traffic needed. Creating links also helps to keep the pot boiling while the site builds up its momentum.

Social Media

This is included here because even though this is nothing to do with SEO per say, it is important when considering the process of getting the site, brand and product noticed and talked about in a way that will enhance the site in Google’s eyes and extend the reach of the site beyond that of the Search Engine Results.

The Basic SEO process

In all cases it is necessary to carry out the keyword research so that you can target the phrases that are relevant to your market place AND are being used today.

The site must then be built the right way (the technical SEO bit), and then the copy created. This should be of a high quality, but does not have to be as good as it has to be for ‘Top Notch SEO’, for reasons that will be apparent later. Things such as internal linking should be carried out of course, but basically this is a ‘quick’ method of SEO.

Then the link building starts. These are built in the right way at the right speed, using techniques like ‘Power Link Structures’. Social Media signals are also created using this method. In some cases the pump is also primed by actually creating a small amount of traffic to some of the articles and posts that form a part of the linking structure.

Guest Posts Are Used in the quick method too

Guest posts are included in the ‘quick’ method too of course, but they are used differently. As you will see later on, the ‘proper way’ of placing Guest posts is to find a top Infuencer site, chat to them and get them to accept the post (or pay an lot of money for the privilege). However, this process is a LOT more expensive than just placing an article on a relevant site, so for those clients with limited budgets this is the way we go. Basically, these Guest Posts are ‘link vehicles’ and as long as they are well written (no article spinning here at SOM) and contain links that are not going to trigger a Penguin penalty, they do help, we have many examples  the prove the point.

Carrying out SEO in this manner DOES work and is the way the majority of SEO companies work.

The Top Quality SEO process

If you talk to those SEO professionals who practice only the whitest of white SEO, then they will say this is the only way, everything else being a waste of time. Well I disagree with that, but there is no doubt that this process is superior and offers a greater chance of success, BUT, it is a lot harder and thus more expensive in time and money.

This process includes all the On page SEO that Basic SEO requires, including things such as having explanatory ‘Category Pages’ for Ecommerce sites. These are needed as most sites of this type have lots of product pages that (a) often use the same words as a host of other sites and (b) are also often far too short. Thus these Category pages allow the owner to present the products they sell, with links of course to the product pages themselves. These pages can be much better at getting rankings and thus their use should be seriously considered for all levels of SEO.

Power Pages

Remember, this whole process is based on having TOP QUALITY content on your site. Such pages are often called ‘Power Pages’, their contents varying from ‘How to do something’ to a great infographic, anything that would be interesting to visitors and has not been done before (or at least as sufficiently).

Text based Power Pages need to be around 2,000 words long and contain images, videos and links to other authoritative content on the web, PLUS of course the areas in your site that you want people to see and the pages that will result in conversions and sales. Infographics can be just that, but having some words on the page as well can help in my opinion (just as having a transcript of the words used in a video can).

What to Create the Power Page About

The Keyword Research for the site would of course have been carried out first, so the target phrases are known and understood. Using these words, the bulk of the site, (the ‘normal’ pages) will be written and optimised, this including interlinking relevant pages (Google likes this).

Power pages, however, have a different mission. Their job is to get noticed BIG TIME, to become a fount of knowledge and a ‘go to’ source of information on a particular subject (relevant to the products and services of the hosting website). With this in mind it is easy to see that the very first thing you have to know is what subject to write about.

Research into Trends (or try to start one yourself)

This is where checking on trending posts and web pages can be a great help, as it allows you to see what people have become interested in over a period of time (which you can set). You can then have a look at these posts / pages and use them as a basis of your own works, all in the knowledge that people are INTERESTED in the topic.

finding trending topics

 

Of course you can also plough your own farrow, choosing a topic that is relevant to your market place, for instance ‘What is the History of Plastering’ or ‘How to choose the right lawnmower’. There are countless topics to choose from. Besides Kudani, you could also use Buzzsumo.

Writing the Page

Either way, you can start your research into what to talk about, and that will mean looking not only at the trending sites, but also at all the top INFLUENCER sites, in this instance the ones that are at the top of the Search Engines’ results for some top terms.

All the while it is vital to make sure that the page will be ‘entertaining’ and fulfil one of its main purposes, that of being WORTH SHARING.

Note, for a great definition of what an Influencer is, click this link.

Supporting Guest Posts

One important part of this SEO process is to make sure that there are links to the Power Page from trusted sites, but as it can take some time to get an INFUENCER to mention the page or allow a Guest Post on their site, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a well written ‘taster’ post on a High Domain Authority site.

Thus one post (perhaps more) is written and placed on some relevant sites. In most instances this means paying a ‘publishing fee’. Here I must state that there are some SEO’s who think that placing a post on a site that is known to take money for the privilege is worthless. However when you know that high profile sites like the HuffingtonPost take money for Guest posts, you can see that their argument holds little water.

Converting the Influencers

This starts at the website level, where some selected sites are contacted with a view to them mentioning the Power Page or by having a Guest post placed on their site. It need not contain a DO FOLLOW link as we are after traffic as much as link juice, but if they will allow a FOLLOW link then all the better.

It is best if these influences have been contacted and nurtured for some time before you make a request to place a guest post on their site (this also being the case with Social Media Influencers).
Hopefully one of the sites you contact will allow the publication and thus provide you with a link and the potential for a lot of relevant traffic.

Create a Press Release

Press Releases are a well known way of creating a ‘buzz’ in a manner in which Google approves. All the posts are the same of course, but as the links are always NO FOLLOW this does not matter. Google, it is said, really loves press releases and so one pointing to your power page and telling all about how interesting it is and how they should not miss it, is a good idea.

Posting on your Own Social Media Channels

Presuming you have some Social Media accounts, now is the time to start posting about the power page, (although maybe you have been talking about it coming for a few weeks already – another neat trick). Remember that you will have to post again and again here, Social Media posts being, for the most part, short lived, as they are soon replaced with the next tweet and thus scroll off peoples screens. This makes choosing the right time to post important too.

Contacting the Social Media Influencers

Now is the time to start contacting the Social Media Influencers. There are various ways the leaders in a field can be found and once found the ‘nurturing process’ needs to be continued. This process needs to have been started before the power page is posted, the SEO Agency in question having to have commenced this process some time before.

The idea here is to mention that they may be interested in the Power Page’s contents, perhaps also mentioning the Guest Posts that have already been posted and the Press Release. All of this with the aim of getting them to ‘add their weight’ to the campaign.
This is important, as if they can be convinced to mention the power page on their Social Media accounts, the ripples will build and build, all resulting in more traffic and higher rankings.

Monitor and Interact

Hopefully you will have had some comments on your Social Media channels and on the Guest Posts (where the sites allow). It is VITAL that you monitor these and respond as that will only strengthen the whole campaign.

In Conclusion

So there we have it, a brief summary of what SEO is, and how the two main types differ. Hopefully you can see the differences between the two approaches and can understand why SEO carried out ‘by the book’ is such a long, complicated and thus expensive process.

The good news for businesses with shallower pockets is that the ‘basic SEO’ does work in most markets, you just have to choose to approach any highly competitive areas in a cleverer manner, and not try to charge headlong in to get top rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

Why PPC Is Still Relevant In Online Marketing – Making The Most Of Everything

There will always be challenges involved with online marketing and even when you think you have got the perfect system in place, things change and you find yourself back to square one – searching for effective ways of reaching your target audience. In other words, you have to stay current with the “here and now” if you want your online marketing campaign to produce a solid return.

However, some tactics have a longer lifespan than others. For example, word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to spark interest in a business or product. That’s because people have a tendency to follow, and history has shown it’s a trait that will probably never change.

But, it’s definitely not the only example of marketing that remains effective, PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing is also still relevant in online marketing, and if you haven’t found success with it yet, you are maybe not using the PPC campaigns in the right places. Granted, many users have developed a sense of banner blindness and they use software to block ads, but that doesn’t mean PPC has lost its edge, it only means you have to customise your tactics.

Using another example, search engines like Google will help your PPC campaign reach the front page of search results, and statistics show this is incredibly effective. Why? Because people trust search engines. In fact, more than 80 % of people online will use a search engine to find whatever they are interested in and if you bid on the right keywords, your ad will show up right at the top.

But what about investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) instead? Won’t it be more affordable? Essentially, SEO is more affordable, and it brings about great long-term results. But you are also going up against some tough competition, seeing as most website owners who are serious about their sites will also be investing in SEO. Plus, you have to take into consideration the amount it takes to reach higher rankings through SEO. There is no reason why you cannot include PPC in your SEO strategy as this will give you benefits from both. With a strong PPC campaign, you can reach the top almost instantly, while SEO as a long-term approach.

However, not all PPC campaigns are the same and some advertising spaces are just going to waste your time. Assuming for a moment that you pay a company to run a few PPC ads for you and they run those ads on sites where users love to click but they don’t convert. Or they run them on sites that have no connection with what you are selling, can you really expect to make money? Of course not, having a proper plan of action is essential so that you get a return on your investment.

Make sure that you hire a company with connections to authority sites and organic traffic. Google is a great place to start if you want to see some substantial traffic, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t or can’t try other channels. If the site running the ad has a strong online presence, you are bound to get clicks that typically turn into profit.

 

I believe artificial intelligence (AI) will be a key driver of change in PPC in 2018 as it leads to more and better PPC intelligence.

So far, I’ve discussed the roles humans will play when PPC management becomes nearly fully automated and six strategies agencies can take to future-proof their business. In this final post on the state of AI in PPC, I’ll cover the technology of AI.

Why AI took years to matter to PPC

AI has been around since 1956, and PPC has existed since the late 1990s. So why did it take until now for AI’s role in paid search to become such a hot topic in our industry?

It’s because we’ve recently hit an inflection point where, due to the exponential nature of technological advances, we’re now seeing improvements that used to take years happen in weeks.

What’s driving this is the exponential growth explained by Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months. The outcome of exponential growth is hard for humans to grasp, so let me give an example that doesn’t involve computing speeds since those can be a bit too conceptual. Instead, let’s apply this doubling of speed to cars, where we can more easily understand how it impacts the distances we travel and how quickly we get somewhere.

Imagine if the first car, invented by Karl Benz in 1885 with a top speed of about 10 mph, was doubling its speed every 18 months. In 1885, we could have driven that car across a typical town in an hour. After 27 times doubling its speed (the same number of times the microchip has doubled its speed since it was invented), we could have gone to the sun in about 4 minutes. And less than 18 months later, it would take just about 2 hours to travel to Neptune, the farthest planet in our solar system. (Voyager 2 did that same trip in about 12 years.)

Because computing speed has already doubled 27 times, every extra doubling leads to new capabilities that are beyond imagination.

What exponential growth means for PPC

So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.

And just like the first car is not the right vehicle for a flight to Neptune, the tools you used to manage AdWords a few years ago may no longer be the ones that make sense for managing AdWords today. So let’s take a look at what AI is doing to PPC tools.

The technologies driving PPC intelligence

Just like you want to know what your employees are capable of by interviewing them before hiring them, you should understand a technology’s capabilities (and limits) before adding it to your toolkit. So let’s see how artificial intelligence works in PPC.

PPC intelligence through programmed rules

Before the advent of AI as a research field in 1956, you could make a machine appear “intelligent” by programming it to deliver specific responses to a large number of scenarios. But that form of AI is very limited because it can’t deal with edge cases, of which there are invariably many in the real world.

In PPC, this would be akin to using Automated Rules to write rules for every possible scenario an account might encounter. Rules are great for covering the majority use cases, but the real world is messy, and trying to write rules for every scenario is simply impossible.

PPC intelligence through symbolic representations

Between the 1950s and 1980s, AI evolved into using symbolic systems to be able to take heuristic shortcuts like humans do. By framing problems in human readable form, it was believed the machines could make logical deductions.

Here’s a PPC problem: you’re adding a new keyword, but you don’t know the right bid to set because there is no historical data for it. By teaching the machine concepts like campaigns and keywords and how these relate to each other, we are providing it with the same heuristics we use to make reasonable guesses.

So the system can now automate bid management and might set a similar bid to other keywords in the campaign because it knows that campaigns tend to have keywords that have something in common.

Read more here: https://searchengineland.com/technology-behind-ai-ppc-289777

 

What SEO Strategists Need to Know About the Google AI in 2108

The search engines have matured much since their humble beginnings and the SEO strategies of the future must become fully aware of their increasing potential if they hope to stay in their good graces and be blessed with plenty of high-value traffic.

Last year saw the full performance of Semantic Search and the prospect of the Google AI behaving much less like a directory machine and more like an insightful guide. Rather than taking the search queries as mere entries to be matched with equal entries, this incredible thinking machine now has the capacity to look for meanings behind words and provide more meaningful results to their users.

This contributes to Google’s primary goal of providing their users with the results they are truly looking for. It was the creation of the Knowledge Graph database that set the foundation for Google’s latest Semantic Search technology, which allows the results provided to have more meaning by rethinking what truly is relevant to the query and possible interpretations of the query.

The Google AI will apply more than simply a massive database it contains on just about everything on the planet, Knowledge Graph, but more importantly, the many ways that the information it holds on all these topics is interconnected. This means that the results for a query about “Elizabeth Taylor” also includes notable and relevant details like her birthday, her unique eye colour or her first great performance.

Highly meaningful results will be the flavour of the day as the Google AI accesses more properties on the entries it contains. These results will be far more accurate to the user under the understanding that things are connected to other things in very important ways. It will be the subtle connections that will make or break the strategy.

What This Will Mean You When Planning Your SEO Strategies in 2018

The Google AI of the future will rely heavily on elements like anchor texts, meta tags, substantive content and links to form these precision results. But, the real trick this year will be learning how to make an advance in all directions.

It will be essential to consider SEO as a crucial weapon in a much larger arsenal of marketing efforts that will be used in combination to reach your goals. Then you must consider every small adjustment and action taken by your campaign as a part of a greater semantic identity you are creating as you go.

From the web design, to social networks to the blogs you choose to engage everything will be creating a credible and successful campaign in the future or a flop. Here we will see the essential importance of marrying your SEO and Digital Marketing efforts in one seamless strategy.

There will be three crucial areas of your marketing campaign you will need to focus on, creating Authority, building Trust and gaining relevance. The quality of the methods applied in boosting these three areas will decide the final success of your venture.

 

The media has not got a clue about artificial intelligence (AI). Or technology. ‘Robots are coming for your job’ is a popular cry, but the next day it’s fears about AI starting World War III.

Not only do robots and AI have very little to do with each other, but AI is at a very early stage. What’s more, it can be split into several separate technologies.

The masses are being misled into fearing automation and a nebulous super-intelligence, but it’s those with a working knowledge of how AI works – and how it can be exploited – that will be best prepared for the future of work.

What is AI?

There is no precise answer to this question, but it’s got nothing to do with robot overlords. AI is a field of computer science that examines if we can teach a computer to ‘think’.

AI as a phrase has been around since 1956 when it was coined by American computer scientist John McCarthy, six years after English mathematician Alan Turing had published a paper called ‘Computing machinery and intelligence’ in 1950.

AI is generally split into various subsets that try to emulate specific things that humans do. Speech recognition mimics hearing, natural language processing mimics writing and speaking, image recognition and face scanning mimic sight, and machine learning mimics thinking.

That’s a lot of different, often unrelated technologies; AI is an umbrella term, and certainly not a general purpose technology.

Why is AI so hyped up?

Research into AI is currently riding the wave of increased computing power and big data. Together they make AI both possible and imperative; as a society we now produce way too much data to ever process ourselves or get any insight from. Collected data is growing 40% a year, and it’s mostly going to waste.

The existence of all this data also means that AI software has enough information not only to work with, but to learn from. Is this AI’s big moment? Venture capitalists and technology giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple think so, and are investing heavily in research.

It’s these companies that have unimaginably huge data sets collected in the last few decades, and a vested interest in automating tasks on that data. Together they’re becoming the arbiters of AI know-how, so it’s AI techniques developed by Google et al. that are being used by scientists to trawl through data to get new insights.

There’s about to be an AI-powered knowledge explosion.

Supervised machine learning

Machine learning is the act of computer scientists training a computer to do something. It’s about automating repetitive tasks, essentially training a computer to recognize patterns, and categorize data.

The classic example is image recognition or ‘AI vision’; give a computer a large number of images containing labeled objects, and the computer can learn to identify them automatically. The computer creates what AI researchers call a neural network; a virtual brain connection similar to a basic process in the human brain.

However, creating a neural network like this takes a lot of human labor, and also a lot of processing power. Google AI and the University of Texas recently used AI on a labeled data-set of signals from the Kepler space telescope to discover two exoplanets when astronomers had failed to find anything.

It’s also being used to identify cracks in reactors, and even help engineers at the UK’s Joint European Torus facility capture and deploy nuclear fusion energy.

This is supervised machine learning, and while it’s getting better at not forgetting, its usefulness at predicting patterns in data is hamstrung by the data it is fed.

Read more here: http://www.techradar.com/news/why-we-should-embrace-ai-not-fear-it