SEO in 2018 – The Gurus, Myths and Legends

There is no doubt that SEO is a continually changing beast, and one where the old practices can often not work so effectively anymore. However saying that, there are really only 4 things that can affect a sites rankings

  • Content
  • Links
  • Technical SEO
  • Social Media

To make things worse, Google does not tell you all the ‘signals’ that is uses to decide what to rank first. It is said there are some 200 of these, but NO ONE knows all of them, and even if they did, Google keeps changing them and their ‘weighting’.

Google and the SEO Arms Race

Seo and Google

Seo and Google

In the early days, the number of factors (signals) used was quite low, and thus it was fairly easy to manipulate the ranking of a page. The main one of these was LINKS, this being the source of Google’s Page Rank. In  those heady days, it was said to be possible to rank a blank page for a term, just using the power of links.

The power of links was still powerful in the days of the US president W Bush, and it is suggested that a so called ‘Google Bomb’ was used by his detractors to get the term ‘miserable failure’ linked with a page about Bush on the White House website. Here it is said that this term brought up the WhiteHouse site in the number 1 position on Google. Now this could well be just another myth, but it fits in with the logic of the day.

It was this sort of behaviour, together with the way SEO experts started to manipulate other items, such as keyword density and Header tags that made Google decide to change how they ranked sites. Thus in 2015, it introduced ‘Semantic SEO’, this just being a more holistic way of ranking a website and it’s pages.

This in effect meant that no single factor could dominate the others and thus website owners had to attend to ‘everything’ on their website, especially the content (where they had to make it really worth reading) if they wanted to score well.

The Guru’s

I do not propose to consider myself an SEO Guru, but do have a problem with those that are so rated. The problem is that they simply do not agree with each other on most subjects, and even when they do, their answers to a direct question are often ‘woolly’ and unclear. Saying that, they do come up with a whole host of interesting information, you just have to listen and pick the bits that seem to be true (at least in your own mind).

 

So What Can You Do

There are 4 areas that you can improve on a site.

 

Content

It has been said for many years that ‘Content is King’ and that the only way of getting Google to rank a page is to make it a really good read, providing information, entertainment or just something that people want. This means that short, duplicate or thin content is out as it will do nothing to help, and may just reduce the overall ‘Quality’ score of the website as a whole.

The latter is important, as even though each page ‘fights its own battle’ for a rank, if the site as a whole is deemed to be of poor quality (see the Technical SEO section for more on this) it will drag the page down (a good analogy is that if the page was a race horse, a bad site would cause more lead weights to be put in the horses saddle, thus handicapping it in the race.)

So, if you want to impress Google, you have to continually create content that is a good read, is of a ‘reasonable length’ (there is no exact figure here, but I always suggest 500 words as minimum) and uses as many ‘related words’ (to the main target keyphrase for that page) as it can.

Now you cannot rely just on using on the ‘right sort’ of words (we have software that will analyse the words used on the top pages for a term, but this is only an ‘aide memoir’). What you have to do is to create content that matches the ‘user intent’ behind the search query you want to rank for.

This is what Google’s Rankbrain is all about. The results it gives are far from perfect, but it is constantly gaining knowledge  (and using us as rats in the maze in the learning process) and this is something that you just have to take into consideration in SEO today.

Also, must never stuff the page with keywords (this is one of those old tactics that does not work anymore) or over use the Header tags, although again, their power has been reduced over the year.

There is another thing that content can do, and that is to create ‘User Interaction’, something that Google ‘love to see’. It is, however difficult to get people to comment on the items that you post or talk about, unless it is something really interesting or topical being discussed. However, if you can come up with content that will get some reaction from your readers, this can help.

There is more to content than just words too. Pictures and video are vital to any page that really wants to be considered favourably.

 

Links

As mentioned in previous posts, the power of links has been declining over the years, BUT saying that, I have seen again and again that links are ESSENTIAL if a site (page) needs to be ranked. For me, it is all about logic.

We know that Google uses a computer rule set to work out which page is best, and we also know that it does use links, so it makes sense that links are needed. To confirm this, you only have to look at the many sites that have good content, but because they have too few links, simply don’t get the ranks that they deserve.

What has changed however is the way that Google ‘looks’ at links. The first and most important thing to bear in mind is that having too many links that use the ‘money phrases’ (the terms you want the site to be found for) in their anchor text will cause Google to down rank the page.

The same goes for having links from a narrow list of sites, because Google likes to see what it terms as a ‘natural linking structure’, which in turn means links from many different domains, all using a variety of anchor text phrases.

However, that is not the end of the matter, as besides just looking at where the links come from (domains that are more relevant being more highly regarded than the others) and the anchor text they use, today Google also looks at the domain that link to the domains that are pointing to your site. This has led to a change in the way that links are built, as now it is necessary not only to build links to a site, but also to build links to those links, this being termed ‘Power Linking’. All of which adds to the costs.

 

Internal Linking

Internal links are a very effective way of pointing both users and the Search Engines to the best page on your site on a particular topic and should be used in the content of your pages wherever it is logical so to do.

You can also use Canonical Tags for this, but this is normally just there for the Search Engines when you have lots of pages about the same thing and want them to just look at one.

Links are however not just a one way thing, and some SEO Gurus also suggest that linking OUT to other interesting and relevant sites from a page is also necessary.

 

Technical SEO

This has become a hot topic lately, as Google are now placing even more emphasis on the speed of a site, because more people are accessing the web from mobile devices (these  having a lower bandwidth and thus need a site to be as fast as possible). This is what is behind the ‘Mobile First Index’, Google now assessing sites as to how well they look and work on mobile devices, considering those that do as being better than those that don’t.

This means that you have to have a Fast site and one that is Useable on the smaller screens found on smartphones and tablets.

There is also the matter of using Structured data markup HTML, although in my experience, it is hard to get most web designers to use it. There are firm SEO benefits, as if you have an appropriate site (some areas do not fit in well with the use of Rich Snippets) then using a markup system like JSon can get you some interesting very high profile listings on the Search Engines.

 

Social Media

Before we go on, we have to say that in the past, Google has said that it does not take into account Social Signals when deciding what to rank. In the end you have to either decide to ignore this statement  (and some of the research in to how Social Media does positively affects SEO) and use Social Media, or just not bother.

If you believe that Social Media will help with your SEO you need to bear a few things in mind.

  1. Getting mentions (so called signals) for a URL can boost its rankings
  2. You should also get these signals for those URL’s that are linking to your site
  3. You can get mentions by either ‘buying them’ (but please just use reputable sources) or that you can ‘earn’ them by creating the great content we mentioned above and ‘spreading the word’ about it using your own Social Media channels.

 

Conclusion

The ‘old SEO methods’ are not dead, just not as powerful as they were. However they are still very much needed as Google is still using them in the ‘mix’.

So, don’t forget to optimise your pages, or to create those links (and social signals), BUT DO bear in mind what your users want and require and write your content accordingly.

Why You Should Care About Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an Open Source tool that effectively audits web pages and applications to enhance the quality of them. The audits are conducted to measure a variety of areas of a website and webpage. For one, it focuses on performance. The other areas it focuses on include the accessibility and the best practices in order to figure out how the entire user experience scores and whether or not there are any specific problems with it that can detract from a good end-user experience. Below, we will be going over some of the reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse.

Reasons You Should Care About Google Lighthouse:

1. Receive Actionable Advice.

One of the main reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse is due to its unique ability to offer you actionable advice from real data that can help you boost your end-user experience. You are going to get presented with all kinds of data that can help you improve your website in total. Not only will you be able to get the metrics that mean something, but you will also get an actionable report that includes information regarding the most technical aspects of your entire website including CSS selectors, DOM elements, and even the entire infrastructure set up that your website is built on.

2. It’s Built By Experts.

Another good thing that comes from Google Lighthouse is derived from it being uniquely built by the best experts at Google. The engineers that built the performance tooling software have a deep understanding of browsers and what matters inside because they effectively build them. Therefore, you know that they have the greatest expertise when it comes to auditing a website because they fully understand the inner workings of the browser and search engine experience as a whole. They also have direct access to API creators which can help them with both benchmarking and accurate tracking.

3. Measure a Website’s Speed.

When it comes to measuring a website’s speed, there is no better way to go about it. The fact is, the speed of your website is crucial in today’s mobile dominated marketplace. As more consumers change to using their mobile devices rather than traditional desktop or laptop computers, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain as fast of a speed as possible. Everything can affect a website’s speed including the response time, animation time, idle time, and even load times. Thus, you will need to have the proper analytics on each to see where improvements can be made, where they should be made, and if they need to be made in the first place. Being able to use tools like this to help measure website speed can be a game-changer for optimizing your end-user experience.

For anyone that is looking to improve their end-user experience, Lighthouse is an invaluable collection of tools. Not only will you be able to get quantifiable and actionable metrics, but also having actionable advice laid out in an easy to understand way which can help you make the proper adjustments and corrections to your web app or website to improve the end-user experience.

 

Lighthouse is Google’s free, open source, and automated site monitoring tool. It can help ecommerce businesses track site load times, accessibility, and search engine optimization.

Lighthouse is available in a few forms, including via current versions of the Google Chrome web browser.

An ecommerce owner or manager simply opens Chrome’s developer tools by alt-clicking anywhere on a web page, selecting “Inspect,” and then opening the “Audits” tab to find Lighthouse.

Lighthouse is available under the “Audits” tab of Chrome developer tools.

When an audit is run, Lighthouse will load the target website several times as it gathers information about site structure, tags, and performance. The tool puts a premium on mobile, so Lighthouse does its best to emulate a smartphone, even throttling the network connection to something like 3G and testing the page offline.

Improving Your Site

Lighthouse is meant to “help you identify and fix common problems that affect your site’s performance, accessibility, and user experience,” according to Google.

Put another way, the world’s largest search engine wants to use its extensive experience to give your company advice. Followed intelligently, Lighthouse’s findings could help your online store improve, and, perhaps, become easier for shoppers to find and use.

Lighthouse provides a score for each audit category and then offers actionable feedback to improve your site.

A Lighthouse audit will provide five categories of feedback, each with a ranking of zero to 100.

  • Performance. How quickly your site loads or how quickly key elements become available to users on mobile. This audit is based on several data points including when the first elements are painted and when the page becomes interactive.
  • Progressive Web App. Based on the progressive web app basic checklist, Lighthouse looks for your site’s level of completeness. Google is emphasizing PWAs, which improve mobile performance and may boost search engine rankings.
  • Accessibility. This score is a weighted average of about 35 accessibility traits. Accessibility is one of the most important things online merchants can monitor; it is very helpful to have this built in. Not providing an accessible site might be illegal.
  • Best Practices. Checks for the use of current web development best practices, such as employing HTTP/2.
  • SEO. Audits nine search engine optimization basics. This is significantly less thorough than some third-party SEO audit tools or extensions, but it can still help your business get an idea of how it will perform in Google and other search engines.

Usable Results

In many cases, Lighthouse provides details a business can use to improve its site.

As an example, a Lighthouse audit of Walmart.com conducted on May 7, 2018 found a few accessibility errors, including an iframe without a title attribute. Lighthouse points out that this missing title could make understanding the page relatively more difficult for shoppers using a screen reader and shows the specific iframe tag in question.

Lighthouse’s feedback is often specific enough to take action and improve your score.

Armed with this information a Walmart developer could add the required title attribute and improve the site’s accessibility.

Similarly, a Lighthouse audit of Kohls.com on May 7, 2018 identified several CSS declarations not used. The tool pointed to the specific style sheets in question and estimated how many bytes of data Kohl’s might save if it edited this CSS.

Kohl’s might save a few bytes by removing unused style declarations.

Read more: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/google-lighthouse-monitor-site-performance-seo-accessibility

 

SEO Boosting For A Local Business

These days, not having a website for your small business is unthinkable especially if you are looking to grow your company. Even small local businesses have an online presence and it can be hugely beneficial to harness the power of a well constructed and executed marketing strategy to boost the online profile. Obtaining a high position in the search engine rankings is the goal of many businesses but achieving it can be fraught with difficulties. Being in control of your own content is key and there is so much you can do to ensure that it has a very positive effect on your brand, even if all you want is to promote yourself to a local audience.

A good way to start is to have a domain name that includes your business name, perhaps the type of business and where it is located. Use common sense, do not have a domain name that is so long it take ages to type in or that could be confusing, if possible, short and snappy. When setting up your site, make sure that you include a map showing your location so that people can find you easily. You might like to include information such as parking or public transport links, this can make it an easier decision for prospective customers to visit you if they know they can get there easily.

Making use of local business directories is essential but do ensure that you choose sites that are relevant to your niche, do not be tempted to add your business to a directory that specialises in particular businesses that have got nothing in common with yours. Spend some time choosing carefully and then when your business is listed, update the details when necessary and delete any duplicate pages. Ensure that all details are correct, so your company’s name, address and telephone number, also, your website URL and email address need to be accurate. Mistakes here could be very costly indeed.

Make use of social media to enhance your brand and also to interact with people. Many local businesses have used several social media platforms very successfully to obtain new customers, so think about the social media your existing customers use and harness that power. Twitter, Facebook Pinterest and so on can be a great friend to local business. You might be able to offer discounts or coupons to people who wish to do business with you on a particular day or time, depending on the type of business you run. For example, if you run a cafe, you might want to provide an offer during a known quiet time of the day, this could increase custom by a significant amount and you won’t have that ‘dead’ time.

Whilst we are talking about social media, encourage and respond to reviews left online. People are interested in reviews and how you respond can make a big difference to whether they choose to use your services or buy from you. So, if you get a negative review, try to turn it into a positive, why was the customer dissatisfied, how could your company have done better, is there anything that would make up for the shortcomings? It is actually very important to be proactive when it comes to reviews, if someone is particularly glowing, thank them.

Make use of media coverage that includes your local business, this can result in a positive impact on your business standing and the search results. If your business is involved with any local events or charitable functions, make sure the press knows about the event so that it is covered. Press releases are another string to your bow, use these when you have important news to share. Any PR efforts can result in a higher ranking as well as boosting your company’s reputation.

 

A game-changer is about to hit the social marketing world. Well-known blogs are claiming that beacons are going to be a revolutionary way for customers to search. In fact, Search Engine Watch is even calling 2020 “The Year of the Beacon.” They are predicting this is going to be a major change in searching function and capability, so it is definitely important for us to start talking about how this might impact SEO strategy. It got me thinking: Are beacons going to be as influential as they sound?

What are Beacons? Before we start talking about how Beacons are going to change SEO in the coming years, we might want to address what they are and how they work. Beacons are small, Bluetooth-enabled hardware devices that are installed in physical locations. Beacons can be used by any brand, business, or institution to set up notifications for those who “op in” and want to be alerted by that institution directly on their phone (via Bluetooth).

What do beacons cost? Beacons are low-cost and can be purchased for as low as $30, which is really great for businesses looking to implement them into their marketing strategy. They are also small and can easily fit on a counter/desk or can be mounted on a wall.

Where can Beacons be used? The possibilities of where Beacons can be used are endless, but some examples include retail stores, airports, events, restaurants, festivals, and even entire cities. The sky is the limit with purpose and location, but the important aspect is that they are tied to a physical locale. They silently broadcast a message to any Bluetooth-enabled devices in their proximity. One of our past articles said it perfectly when they claimed that Beacons are like “a lighthouse with text.”

How might a business use a Beacon? Let’s take, for example, a store that is having a sale. If a customer with a Bluetooth enabled device were to walk past the store, they could receive a notification about the promotion with the details. This is kind of like an advertisement that directly pops up on the consumer’s phone. This sounds like a pretty great way to gain access to passers-by or market to customers in your immediate location, right? Well, the truth is that there are some obstacles that need to be overcome before this takes off, but more on that later.

Let’s turn to how Beacons can directly impact your online marketing and SEO strategy.

How Beacons Could Impact Your SEO Strategy

  1. More Ratings: People seem to like the concept of Beacons and have rated the app highly. Since many businesses have not implemented Beacons yet, you could be one of the first, and this could bode well for things like business ratings, which of course, positively impacts your SEO.
  2. Website Landing: Since Beacons give you the ability to reach out via Bluetooth, they also give you the opportunity for more people to land on your website or content-related pages. This boost in new visitors will certainly increase your landings and help your overall standing with Google.

 

Read more: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/beacons-coming-fit-seo-strategy/166740/

Using A Blog To Promote Your Business

It is so important for all businesses to be on the lookout for ways of promoting their brand and their products and services so that their name becomes familiar and is in the public eye. Blogging can be very useful for this purpose and it not only provides publicity, it allows you to communicate with your customers.

There are many online marketing tools and blogging is only one that can be a part of a complete internet marketing strategy. You can make use of your blog to provide information about new product ranges, new services, tell customers the company news, in fact, you can use it to tell the world about anything to do with your business.

A business blog, particularly if you make your own videos, is a great way of showcasing every aspect of your company. A well written article in combination with a video will provide customers old and new, with the information they need in order to choose you to do business with. Your blog can also provide customers with offers or discounts as well as showing them how to use products. It’s a really effective method of connecting with people and demonstrating what your business is about.

Blogging can be very effective in allowing your customers to converse with you, they can comment on your blog posts which can create a more personal experience. Where customers feel valued, they are more likely to be loyal to your brand, they will recommend you to others and they will voice their opinions.

Having a strong business brand is essential to success and blogging will help to achieve this. Using your blog as a voice for your brand provides the opportunity to increase your business base as well as presenting your company to the world. The impression your company conveys is important and if you are presenting a sound business brand consistently, customers become familiar with this and this encourages trust and loyalty.

Blogging is not that hard, anyone can do it and if you can update your blog once or twice a week, that will help a great deal. Obviously, if you can update your blog more often, all the better but the reality is, most business people are too busy to write articles for their blogs. It all depends on what you want to put up, if you have lots of snippets, it might be better to put each one up on different days. Longer posts can be uploaded at any time. Try to be consistent with your posts as visitors have favourite sites to visit for new updates and they could be disappointed not to find any new information when they land on your website.

Of course, if you really don’t have time to update and maintain a blog, you could pay someone else to do it for you. There are specialist companies who will do this for you, all you have to do is to provide a bit of information regarding what you want posting and they will do the rest.

 

As any good SEO services provider will tell you, blogging is an important tool when it comes to marketing your business. Not only is it an effective way to communicate with your customers, but it can help with SEO on your main company website when linked to a successful blog.

To create a blog that works and gets lots of people reading it, you need to ensure that people can easily find it. This means doing your search engine marketing research and ensuring you optimise your blog posts for SEO, so that Google and other search engines rank your blog highly.

Here are nine of the best tips for perfecting your blogs for best SEO results:

Original and relevant content

Google values relevant and informative content and originality counts for a lot. If it’s already been written a thousand times before, the likelihood is that a search engine will just pass over your blog. You need fresh ideas and when writing for your blog, try and come at it from a different angle.

Utilise keywords

Keywords are incredibly important for on-page optimisation and taking the time to thoroughly research the best and most relevant keywords for your blog will pay in the long run. Make a list of words that are appropriate for your site. If you are stuck, there are plenty of free tools that can help generate relevant keywords such as Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This tool can even show you what keywords your competitors are using and provide SEO analysis.

Regular content

To optimise your blog, you must add content frequently. Google and other search engines need to know that your site is active and not dead space so creating regular blogs will help with this.

Relevant links

Building links into your blog post is a great way to enhance your SEO and also helps readers to link through to other relevant pages, either internally or externally. If you mention something that is covered on your main company website, make sure you include a link to that page. If you reference another blog or article on your page, include a link.

Optimise your theme

Make sure that your code is clean and that search engines can find it. Ensure there are no broken links or broken navigation menus. The blog site must have a fast loading speed to create a good user experience. Companies that provide SEO services will be able to offer advice about this.

Install a sitemap

This will provide readers (and therefore Google) with a full map of all blog posts, all pages and any archives. This makes it easier for readers to navigate their way around the site and find the most relevant information more easily. It also means that search engines can index your site properly.

Optimise images

We have talked a lot about words but images are also important. If you are including images with your blog posts, you must ensure that you include relevant keywords within the saved file name and always provide alternative text with a relevant description of the photo.

Build up social media profiles

If you are utilising social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for example) for your business then you must ensure you crosslink them with your blog. Promote your new blog posts across your social media platforms to drive more traffic to your site.

– See more at: https://www.b2bmarketing.net/resources/blog/9-seo-tips-small-businesses-get-your-blog-noticed#sthash.qyaYb5mM.dpuf

 

Why Links DO Matter for SEO

There has been no end of talk about the death of SEO and of how it is now impossible to do anything that will make any difference to the rankings a site gets for any given term. Those who espouse this opinion go to great lengths to tell that trying to ‘influence Google’ into giving a site better rankings and hence exposure, is just a waste of time and money…

Now, if they were to say that ‘trying to trick Google was a waste of time‘ then I would agree, well at least for the most part, as today Google has far more sophisticated tools to ‘decide’ whether a page is any good or not, that is to say that the page:-

  • Answers the viewers question
  • Provides useful information on the topic (relating to the search term)
  • Assists by providing details of where help may be found
  • Looks at the problem / issue a different way (one that could be said to be interesting)
  • Sells the person the goods / services they want
  • Is funny or educational
  • Is in someway a useful resource for the viewer.

How it does all of the above is a well kept secret, but while we do not know 100% what does work, we know a lot about the things that do not work. This include building links the in the wrong manner (basically too many ‘money keywords’, or building them too quickly) or by having copied or ‘thin’ content.

SEO FACTORS THAT DO MATTER

But, returning to matters that we do know help rankings, let us look again at links. I have been told many times that links do not matter, and however I much that I protest that this is not true, those that hold this view will not be moved. I think that in some cases the persons concerned have been dealt a bad blow by another SEO company that took their money and then built either the wrong links or simply not enough to make any diffference, but whatever they will not move from their stance, and that after all is their right.

For my part all I can do is to prove to them that links, when built in the right way, and when part of an orchestrated plan (which includes having good quality, original content on the site) DO ASSIST in getting better rankings.

The best way of showing how links have improved matters is by looking at an example, and what better example to show than one relating to Serendipity’s own site..

SEO WEST MIDLANDS – THE QUEST FOR A FIRST PAGE RANK

The term ‘seo west midands’ was in part chosen as an agency that I used to work with had a first page ranking for the term, and I wanted, for purely personal reasons, to get a better one than them. For one I thought that our site was far more relevant to the subject (they are a design agency with an SEO bolt on, while we at Serendipity do nothing else than SEO / Marketing), but also that our site contains huge amounts of info on SEO whilst their blog, for example, has only 3 posts in the last 5 months…

The question that first has to be asked is why was Google giving us such a poor rank for this term in the first place? All the information available to them should have made our site a better choice, but no, we were left on the second or third page of results. That is until we started creating links…

the effect of building links

Here we can see how the addition of links to the SEO ‘recipe’ for the SOM site made all the difference, suddenly the site was catapulted over the top of my rival, staying there consistently since.

Now, here is a bit of a rub, in that any ranking reporting system you use is only gives one ‘view’ of reality, and the fact is that Google will display it’s results in many different ways, for all sorts of different reasons. So it was  not much of a surprise when another system that I use showed us just below my rival.

This system, which we use to check out the competition for any given term when running our free SEO Health Checks, provides a lot of useful data:-

seo west midlands data

 

As can be seen, here the SOM site is still on the first page, but lower than reported on the other system, but what is more interesting is that the data shows quite a few patterns.

The first is that overall, the sites with the higher TRUST FLOW are ranked higher than the others (there is always an exception to every rule, sometimes the sites in question quickly disappearing as Google ‘gets it’s act together), whilst also showing that pages which have links to them are liked better by Google. On the latter point it must be said that if a domain is very strong, that each of it’s pages have a better chance of getting a rank, even when the page has no links pointing directly to it, the rank for esterling.co.uk being a good example.

What does all this prove? Simply that LINKS DO MATTER and that if they are created to a page on a site that contains relevant useful information, that a better rank on Google is 9 out of 10 times achieved.

I will be adding more on this subject later in 2016 as we have another test in process at the moment. The aim here is to get better rankings for some other local SEO terms. Before we started the process our ranks for these terms were to all intense and purposes nil, so we have added a new page to the site, especially for these terms and are in the process of building links to the site and page to support the drive. The first results (really a benchmark BEFORE the links have any effect) is shown below:-

keyword rankings 140216

Please look out for more posts on the subject of Linking and SEO

Searches And Mobiles, What’s The Plan?

Google’s new algorithm is aimed at sifting through mobile searches. These days most people use their mobile phones to perform searches on the internet. If your site is not optimised for mobile, you will not rank so it is important to make sure that your website is accessible on any device. What this means is that searches performed on mobiles are going to be provided primarily with a list of sites that are mobile friendly. Recent research has shown that there is a high number of high profile sites that are not compatible with mobile devices.

The average person will not notice the changes but for those companies who have not been able to get themselves sorted, they will be affected by these changes and will find themselves either sliding down the rankings or not appearing at all. The number of searches on computers has decreased significantly so it really does make perfect sense to make life easier for visitors to your site who are using mobiles.

There is another reason for these changes taking place, the behaviour of people. Those who perform a search for a particular product on their Smartphone are more likely to be wanting to make a purchase. Often, mobile searches are not looking to research the products rather, they have often done this beforehand on their PCs so are ready to buy.

With the numbers of mobile searches, making your website mobile-friendly is in fact more important than performing SEO. The whole point of the new algorithm is to ensure that the right search results are provided regardless of the device being used. The easier the access, the more likely it is that a purchase will be made there and then. So, if the visitor can make their purchase quickly and easily, it will affect businesses who have failed to adapt.

It is important to keep up with all the changes that are taking place so that you are not concentrating on doing things that are perhaps not quite as relevant as they once were. For instance, where unique high content was the key to attracting search engine attention, there is a bit of a shift towards compatibility and how user friendly the site is. This does not however, mean that you can forget about providing quality content, this is still an very important aspect of SEO but you need to balance the user’s experience as well. Having a content rich website is still a main goal but do make sure that your site is accessible on a variety of devices so that you do not miss out on all that potential business being done via mobile devices.

 

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales once reportedly said: “If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist”.

While statements like this may be best left on the sun-blessed coffee shop terraces of Silicon Valley, as far as brand and business awareness is concerned, it isn’t far wrong.

The numbers are staggering. Google currently accounts for 88 % of the UK’s search engine market. It processes an average of over 40,000 global search queries every second, 3.5bn searches per day and 1.2tn searches per year worldwide.

On the web, sole traders can in theory compete with the corporate big boys, so being able to be found – and found easily – among those searches is essential for any firm. It’s this desire to be higher up the Google rankings that has led to the explosion of the search engine optimisation (SEO) industry.
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Successive Google algorithm updates have seen the nature of SEO change radically. Where once processes such as keyword stuffing – cramming words that are popular in Google searches into your website’s copy, whether they make sense or not – may have worked, now they can actually work against you.

These algorithm updates, such as the exotically named Panda and Penguin, mean that now – as Bill Gates once famously said – “content is king”.

Meaningful content that operates as part of a wider digital marketing strategy, with the likes of social media and blogging all playing a part, is now key. The ability to view your site on smartphones is also gaining importance at an exponential rate.

But because of the rapid speed of change, there’s a feeling among experts that some small businesses are still getting it wrong.

“There seems to be a belief that if we cram keywords into content then this will push those all important rankings up,” says Sarah Duffy, MD of creative marketing agency Red Hen Creative.

When we approached Google, they said they don’t comment on SEO, and much of what’s under the bonnet is still the subject of supposition from the outside world.
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One thing’s for sure though, Google is getting smarter. It’s now much harder to take shortcuts or to pull the wool over its eyes and cheat your way to the top – you have to earn your place.

But lack of time and writing expertise can prove hefty roadblocks for firms looking to evolve their content. A lack of patience too (SEO can take months to start showing any real impact) is also a problem.

Phil Morgan, head of search at advertising agency Delineo, says: “SEO results are only keenly felt long-term, and therefore it can be difficult for small business owners to see the value in taking time out of their day to write about their industry.”

He adds: “The online audience has evolved and expectations are high. They are mobile, they are time poor and they live in a world where sharing ideas and content on social networks is just a natural part of consuming online content.”

Cheshire-based wedding photographer Christopher Ian has seen first hand how much Google has changed.

“Google is my primary source of enquiries so it is of vital importance. When I first started my wedding photography website in 2011, I found that ranking well depended largely on key wording specific phrases,” he says. “I’d just put in a list of locations or photography styles, listed one after the other in a robotic style. But now Google will look for these words and phrases in the form of structured and real-world paragraphs that actually make sense, it is more human.”

So what options do businesses have if they want to get their SEO in order? Firstly, when it comes to creating content, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of being earnest – create content that’s enjoyable to read and genuinely relevant to your customers.
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Duffy says: “Don’t stuff content with keywords – it’s just awful to read. Yes, you’ll probably boost rankings for a short time, until Google blacklists you, and in the interim once you do get a potential customer on your site, they’ll click off within seconds. People buy from people – be natural, be engaging, be human.”

Another tick in the plus column when Google is ranking you is if reputable websites link to you, and if people are talking about you online.

Leon Brown, founder of Nextpoint, which sells education services and content, says: “I use social media to engage in conversation with people, it’s also useful for opening opportunities.

“You can use it to refer people to your content as part of the conversations and find people who can share your content, such as retweeting on Twitter.”

Faced with a real lack of understanding about this rapidly changing industry, SEO experts and agencies are still highly sought after.

Alex Fenton, lecturer in digital business at Salford Business School, runs courses at MediaCityUK. He says: “A lot of SMEs come on our courses and quite often they will have had some kind of bad experience, either being ripped off by someone taking their money and not delivering results, or some kind of search engine penalty.”

Paul Delaney, head of natural search at Vizeum Manchester, adds: “To ensure no opportunities are missed, having the right team members focus on SEO and essentially learn through training will really help get the business on the right track.”
Five ways to improve your SEO

Create great content. Google’s reputation depends on it leading users to high quality sites, so the better and more original your content is, the more Google will like you.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/jul/27/master-seo-google-rankings-search

How To Plan An SEO Strategy That Will Work

SEO is the process of ranking your website on the search engines. It is important to develop an SEO strategy that will suit both your website and your business. It is actually very important to know what position your website holds and what to do to improve it.

There is no magic wand for SEO, there is no exact formula to follow, it is one of those things that if you try to grab it, it disappears. It does pay to be cautious with whatever optimisation techniques you decide to use. Any mistakes will result in penalties so you do need to be sure that what you do is legitimate and is within the rules.

So, planning an SEO strategy means that you need to know what your product is and who your target audience is. This is actually the first step, understanding what you sell and who you sell it to. This will give you the understanding that you need to begin formulating your strategy. You need to identify areas where your website is not performing so well on the search engines.

Keywords: Find out whether your target keywords are spread equally around your site. Keywords are still one of the main sources used to rank your site on the search engines.

Content: Content is more important than ever and it has to be unique, well written and contain a good density of keywords and key phrases that appear in a natural fashion.

Image Optimization: make sure that keywords are showing in the ALT Tags.

Google Analytics: Run Google analytics regularly so that you can see what is going on and where you can make improvements.

Index Status: It is vital that your site is crawled and indexed, if it is not, you will never rank on the search engines.

Check Backlinks: Find out how many back links your site has and make sure that they are to other high quality sites that are relevant to your website. Use Google’s disavow tool to remove unsuitable backlinks.
Social media status: Check your website’s social media status. It is important for businesses these days to engage with their followers so make sure you update these accounts regularly.

By checking all these points, you will be in a better place for developing your SEO strategy. Your business can have a prominent online profile which in turn lead to higher profits. Having a carefully planned and executed online marketing strategy will go a long way to achieving this.

 

Millions of blog posts are being written every day for various blogs across the web. One of the obvious facts that new bloggers learn quickly is that not all blogs and blog posts get equal attention. On a particular blog, some blog posts get more attention than others. There are some blog posts on this blog that always get more traffic than others. There are also some blogs that get more traffic than other ones. Out of all of the blogs I have, this one is by far the most successful.

The amount of traffic your blog gets is dependent on social media and SEO. Social media covers the sharing aspect and growing an audience on the networks you use. However, SEO is a much deeper concept that a select few understand. To everyone else, it looks like the extensive math problem that takes up the entire chalkboard.

Understanding SEO is important because it is a big avenue for traffic. Some people get thousands of daily visitors from SEO which means it is valuable. Although SEO is not exactly the do or die stage of a blog, it is important, and here are 11 mistakes you need to avoid so your blog can have better SEO.

#1: Not submitting your blog’s sitemap to Google.

One of the reasons why blog posts do not get SEO traffic is because they are not even indexed by Google. A sitemap presents all of the contents of your blog in a way that makes it easier for Google to read them. Submitting your blog’s sitemap to Google will allow them to properly index your blog posts. Indexing your blog posts on Google makes it possible for anyone to find any one of your blog posts with a particular search phrase.

There are many options for creating your own sitemap, but out of all of the options, the Google XML Sitemaps WP plugin is the easiest to use. This plugin makes it easy to create an XML sitemap to submit to Google so all of your blog posts can be properly indexed. Once you get your sitemap, head over to Google Webmaster Tools and submit your sitemap.

#2: Not knowing the difference between http and https

Actually, there is no difference, and that’s the problem. Search engines see http://www.example.com and https://www.example.com as two different websites with identical content. This is duplicate content that search engines associate with plagiarism. As a result, your SEO ranking will go down for both the http and https versions of your website.

In order for you to identify whether your blog has this problem or not, simply enter http:// before your blog’s URL. Then, do the same thing but with https:// in the front. When you do this, check your URL for spelling because you do not want a misspelled URL to give you the wrong webpage.

Your SEO is doing just fine if one of the two options worked. If both options work, then your blog’s SEO is getting hurt. For a WordPress blog, you can change your blog’s URL by going into settings–>general. Then, you can change your blog’s URL to your preference so people can either use http or https to access your blog. Visitors should not be able to use both http and https to access your blog.

#3: Not having meta tags for your blog posts

Search engines have a big responsibility in organizing billions of blog posts based on popularity, keywords, and value. Although search engines have this big responsibility, they struggle to understand a majority of blog posts. The reason why some valuable blog posts are not getting any search engine traffic is because they do not have meta tags.

I got introduced to meta tags more than a year and a half after I created this blog. I had to go through every blog post I ever wrote and add meta tags to them all. It was painstaking work that took several months of my time, but it was all worth it. My search engine traffic jumped up significantly after making the change. Any of my blog posts that were already doing good traffic from the search engines got a big jump in traffic.

I use the Add Meta Tags WP Plugin to add meta tags to all of my blog posts. I include keywords in these meta tags so search engines can pick up on them and promote my content. Meta tags, especially the meta tags with the right keywords, make it easier for the search engines to understand what your content is.

#4: Not understanding how Google sees your blog

Google sees your blog completely differently from you. It does not see the colors and pictures that may be on your blog posts. In order to make it easier for Google to see the way your blog looks, use the data highlighter in Google’s webmaster tools. Once you verify your blog, the data highlighter will allow you to let Google know how your blog looks (pictures, text, author name, etc). Using the data highlighter only takes 10-15 minutes, and it can have a big impact on your search engine traffic.

#5: Not improving your blog’s bounce rate

Your blog’s bounce rate allows search engines to identify how interesting your blog is. If your bounce rate is 100%, that means people are visiting your blog and then leaving without reading another article. A high bounce rate is bad for SEO and results in fewer conversions.

In order to see where your bounce rate is at, verify your blog with Alexa and then see their stats. Your blog’s bounce rate should be under 70%. A bounce rate under 70% means that at least 30% of your visitors are reading multiple articles on your blog. The lower you can get that bounce rate, the better your SEO and conversions will be.

You can lower your bounce rate through a variety of ways. Here are some of them:

Include links to your older blog posts in your new ones
Use Hello Bar to promote one of your articles, or better yet, a landing page
Show related articles at the bottom of every blog post
Show popular articles on your sidebar
Redirect people to another page on your blog after they subscribe. This page should contain links to the best content on your blog.
Show summaries of blog posts so people have to click (lowering bounce rate) to read the entire blog post

Most people do not see a sudden drop in their bounce rates. It takes a few weeks before seeing a significant drop in your bounce rate, and when I say significant drop, that usually means a 5-10% drop. Getting your bounce rate under 60% means you are moving in the right direction.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/blogging/10-seo-mistakes-will-hurt-blogs-search-ranking-01280760#LQ697pB5LWihm3OY.99

Don’t Miss Out On Local Business When Planning Your SEO

These days it is more important than ever for businesses to have an online profile. This is not only a positive step for the business itself but also so that customers and potential customers can find them. For brick and mortar businesses the use of local SEO is essential as most people now use their smartphones to locate goods and services in their area. So, it makes perfect sense to make use of the internet to provide information about business location, goods and services offered, opening hours and so on. You do not even need to have a big fancy website either, there are plenty of free local business directories that you can use so that people can find you. The best thing is that your business can be any size to make use of local search engine optimisation strategies, so whether you have an office in your dining room or have branches all over the country, you too can obtain more business.

SEO covers a whole plethora of strategies that you can make use of to promote your business locally and that will increase your turnover. In the end, this is what it’s all about, increasing business and making more money. The one thing you do need to remember is that whatever techniques you use must be natural looking. It is vital that you do not fall foul of the rules and that you don’t force anything. You could write a blog that has local information on it and optimize that content so that it is relevant to your local area. Make sure you register your business with Google My Business, this will make sure that the search engine knows about your business and where it is located which means that it will feature when people are looking for whatever you offer in your area. Don’t discount social media, it can really help boost your local profile particularly if you are willing to spend a little bit of time interacting with your local followers. If you can exchange links with other relevant local firms, this can be a real gem because obtaining really good quality links can be extremely difficult these days. It is however, vital that you only link with businesses that have a common interest with yours, so for instance, if you own a pet supplies shop, you could link with the local veterinary surgery or boarding kennels and because they are not in the same niche, they are not competitors so you can help each other.

As I’ve already said, so many people now use smartphones to surf the net and in fact, it is believed that within a few years this number will overtake the numbers using laptops or desktop computers. Do not miss out on this opportunity, being left behind now will mean that you won’t catch up or will have missed out on so much potential business that your competitors will have overtaken you.

 

Local search engine optimization isn’t just about local mom-and-pop shops anymore. Practically any business can take advantage of local SEO’s benefits. Since Google’s fan-named “Pigeon” update in 2014, the importance of local SEO has grown, leading many entrepreneurs to focus on their strategy despite going years without considering a local tangent to their inbound marketing campaign. Others, who already practiced regular local optimization strategies, saw the update as an opportunity to increase their efforts even further.

These moves are savvy, because local SEO has risen in importance, but the ride isn’t over yet. Over the next few years, I anticipate that local SEO will become even more impactful and more useful for businesses. Here’s why.

Google loves local businesses.

Over the years, Google has shown slight favoritism toward newer, smaller, more agile companies. While most of its ranking biases have to do with a brand’s history and authority, Google also wants to give the people what they want — and that often means showcasing nimbler, more popular brands.

It also has to do with enabling small-business owners, who have limited access to resources, more potential in breaking new ground. Google has a long history of providing free tools — such as Analytics, Webmaster Tools and so on — to business owners for the sole purpose of helping them increase their online visibility. Because Google cares about (dare I say “loves”) local businesses, you can expect Pigeon to be only the beginning of its locally-focused updates.

There will be more individualized results.

Google also loves giving people individualized results. While its predictive and customized search features are relatively limited for the time being, already the search engine is able to generate specific results based on the person who is searching. As long as you’re logged into a Google account, your search history and your geographic location both play into the type of results you see.

As Google grows more sophisticated and users start demanding even more individualized results, the importance of local optimization will only grow.

The growth of mobile and wearable devices.

Each year, the percentage of online searches performed on mobile devices has grown definitively, and as you might imagine, the majority of mobile searches are performed while on the go. With the dawn of wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, users will start using on-the-go searches even more frequently, with even more immediate needs.

As a result, proximity-based searches will likely start to become popular, and local searches will be based on hyper-specific locations, rather than just on a regional or neighborhood-specific basis. In effect, wearable devices will drive a much more geographically relevant network of information and eliminate even more barriers between the digital and physical worlds.

Competition is increasing.

Every year, millions of new sites are created and thousands of new businesses stabilize as formidable enterprises. In response, potential search visibility is actively dropping in many areas, with features such as the Knowledge Graph taking over search engine results pages and long-standing blue chip brands dominating the national search landscape.

Competition is increasing, so business owners will be forced to find smaller target niches in order to achieve relevant visibility. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to optimize locally, so local SEO will only grow in importance as competition continues to increase.

How to get started with a local SEO campaign.

If you’re intimidated by the notion of starting a local SEO campaign, don’t be. It’s actually a pretty straightforward process, though it will take you some time and effort.

Local citation correction. Your first job is to make sure your business is listed accurately and appropriately throughout the web. Claim your local business profile on local directory and review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as any other directories that are relevant for your business.

Read more here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247515

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How Google authorship can help your site gain authority

We all know how important it is to have the best possible content associated with our sites however, these days it is becoming just as important to have authorship. Google authorship is being seen as reinforcing your authority on a subject and it is becoming commonplace to see photo thumbnails of authors beside links when doing a search. Current thinking is that those links which have a photo of the author attached are more likely to be clicked than those without. As Google is trying to promote the best quality results for a search, they would like to tie in authors with articles/blogs so the more of these ‘good’ footprints that you can leave, the better and you will be ‘seen’ as being an authority on a particular subject. So, establishing and creating authorship that you can use to promote your business can only be a good thing. It is also becoming an important aid to SEO, so consider how setting up your Google authorship might help your business.

When it comes to Google authorship, it is critical that you go through the process and set up the authorship for as many authors as you have on your website. Ironically, it may not be as simple as you as you think to set up the authorship.

Determining what you have first

The first thing that you need to establish is how many authors you actually have. If you have more than one author (including you), does each one of your authors have an “About” pate on your website? If that is not the case, that needs to happen as quickly as possible. On the other hand, if you are the only author on your website, it will be very easy to set up your “About Me” page.

In the event of your website having several authors

If you have multiple authors on your website, you will have to arrange it so that each article (that is written by someone else), you will have to include a byline for that particular author. That byline should be hyperlinked. You can either add the name manually or you can link it within your website template. Both methods will work fine All that is important is that you put the name in. It is important to allow your readers to “get to know” the other authors so that they can build a relationship with those people if they wish to do so.

Mutual linking

Whichever way you choose to present the authors of the content on your website, it is critical that you link the name back to your website from your profile on Google+. You will do this by inserting a text link to either your blog’s homepage or your website in the section called “Contributor to” section of Google+. The reason that this is important is that it lets Google+ know that the person who owns the profile is the same person who is claiming attribution of the article. It is protection against plagiarism. Linking back and forth (or reciprocal linking) is a relatively painless part of the process but you still need to make sure to remember to do it. You must also remember to ask all of your other content contributors to give you a link to their profiles as well.

Make sure that it works

Once you have established the links, you should verify that they actually work. You can do that by using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. If you test it, you will be able to determine any issues that may have occurred while you were setting up the links. If you see that everything has been set up correctly and things seem to be functioning, there may still be cases when your web page will not appear in the search results that are connected to one of your authors’ names. When it comes to choosing your photograph and the photographs of your other authors, make sure to choose a good-quality headshot. A passport photograph is perfect, if you want to use that. Remember that it may take a little while (several weeks in some cases) before the information about your authorship shows up. Don’t worry. It will show up. You just need to have a little patience.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/seo/establishing-google-authorship-0727568#7H6fjipqViIVfVYS.99

Further information

Does Google authorship matter for SEO?

How to leverage author rank and reputational scores to increase Google rankings