Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Is Keyword Stuffing Really a Big Deal?

Keyword stuffing has been one of the biggest grey areas of SEO for some time. If not, the dictionary definition of a black-hat tactic to avoid at all costs.

But when considering the endless complexities of SEO from a 2022 perspective, is keyword stuffing really such a big deal? Does the overuse of keywords have any negative effects, or does it simply result in the keywords you use being ignored by Google?


 

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Putting an exact definition to keyword stuffing isn’t easy. This is because depending on what it is you are writing about, it may be absolutely necessary to include a specific keyword or term throughout your copy.

Keyword stuffing refers to the deliberate overuse of a specific target term, with the goal of tricking the major search engines into handing out higher rankings. Irrespective of whether these keywords are visible or concealed, any signs of deliberate overuse will be picked up and acted upon by Google.

What’s the Problem with Keyword Stuffing?

Google’s job is to recommend websites and pages that deliver the best possible user experience. Where keywords are deliberately overused for SEO purposes, it has a major impact on the quality of the copy in question.

Consequently, these are exactly the types of pages Google does not want to recommend. Keyword stuffing is a sign of desperation on the part of the publisher - not an indicator of quality or relevance.

Increasingly, Google’s crawlers are scrutinising the overall UX of a website with remarkable sophistication when handing out rankings. If there is clear evidence of the overuse of keywords, it indicates a substandard user experience.

In which case, the efforts of the publisher to get ahead through the excessive use of keywords will almost certainly backfire.

Are There Any Real Consequences to Keyword Stuffing?

Attempting to take these kinds of shortcuts almost always proves counterproductive. Where Google makes clear its attitude and approach to a low-road tactic, it makes sense to listen.

“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context,” as spelled out in clear terms by Google.

In practice, keyword stuffing can (and often does) result in a major fall in the rankings. Take things too far and you could even run the risk of your pages being delisted entirely.

Of course, this only applies in instances where keywords have clearly been used excessively without justification. If there’s no alternative but to use the same terms dozens of times - such as in a technical post or academic piece - Google will pick up on this and you won’t be punished.

In all other instances, it’s a case of following a few basic guidelines to get your keyword game in order:

1. Always ensure your keywords are included in your copy naturally

2. Focus on one primary keyword and several secondary keywords

3. Write content in a way that prioritises the user experience

4. Optimise in other ways and don’t rely too heavily on keywords

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

How One Page Websites Can Achieve High Rankings, Google Confirms

 In a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, John Mueller was questioned on the hotly-debated topic of website authority. Specifically, Mr Mueller sought to address the age-old question of whether a website needs to become an authority in its niche to rank well.





The short answer is, apparently, no - it doesn’t.

But what was even more interesting is how Mr Mueller confirmed that even a one-page website can climb the rankings to prominence. Meaning that not only does a site not have to be packed with thousands of pages of content to rank well, but also doesn’t necessarily need to be an authority site.

Here’s what Mueller said in response to a post on Reddit:

“I think you can make good one-page sites. So from that point of view I’m not too worried about that.”

“I think the Reddit post, as far as I remember, was something along the lines: ‘I created 30 blog posts, and they’re really good, and therefore my website should be authoritative.”

“And from my point of view, you going off and creating 30 blog posts does not automatically make your website authoritative.”

“And especially for the higher or the more critical topics, it’s something where you can’t just create 30 blog posts on a medical topic and then say: ‘I am a doctor I’ve written 30 articles.’ So that was the direction I was headed there.”

He went on to emphasise how smaller businesses need not concern themselves with becoming a market-leading authority, simply to rank well and pull in traffic from their main target audience:

“For a lot of websites, it’s not that you need to be seen as an authority. You essentially put your content out there. If you’re a small business you’re selling something. You don’t need to be an authority.”

“And especially things where like one page websites they’re often very focused on this one thing and you don’t need to be an authority to do that one thing.”

“To sell, I don’t know, an ebook, or to give information about opening hours for a business. It’s like, it’s just information.”

“So from that point of view, having a one page website, I think it’s perfectly fine.”

Of course, Mr Mueller was keen to highlight the point that while a one-page website can be fine, it’s better to use it as a basis to grow and develop a deeper site:

“With regards to starting out with a one-page website, I think that’s fine, but I would think about where do you want to go from there at some point.

Maybe you do want to create more pages and try to find a way that you don’t paint yourself into a corner by saying, well, I have to put everything on one page all the time. But rather expand when you see that it fits.”

Still, confirmation that a quality site with just a single page has every potential to climb the rankings and pull in a ton of qualified traffic.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Reciprocal Linking is Not Necessarily Bad

Quite some time ago, Google made its thoughts on unnatural link exchange schemes perfectly clear. The long and short of it being that swapping links for reciprocal benefit was not conducive with quality SEO.

A stance which stands to reason, as reciprocal linking paves the way for black-hat SEO. Where two or more sites agree to link to each other for mutual SEO benefit, they do so without having technically earned these backlinks.
                                     



Backlinks which could be placed on sites of no direct relevance to the other sites included in the exchange scheme.

More grey-hat than black-hat SEO, Google has nonetheless made it clear that backlinks earned through merit are really the only backlinks worth bothering with.

But what about reciprocal linking that takes place following the placement of a link earned through merit? If a relevant business within your niche posts a link to your website, can you return the favour without fear of reprisal?

When Reciprocal Links Are Perfectly Justifiable

Somewhat backtracking on the whole issue, the latest comments direct from Google suggest that reciprocal linking is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is perfectly natural to host a link to a site that links to yours, if the original link was indeed relevant and credible.

Google’s John Mueller took the opportunity to set the record straight last week, during a recent Google Search Central SEO office hours hangout.

Mueller was quizzed by an SEO on Google’s approach to this type of link exchange, and whether it was best avoided to preserve backlink value. Or to put it another way - is it ok to link back to a site that links to you, or is it better for your SEO profile to leave things be?

In response, Mr Mueller offered the following advice:

“That’s perfectly fine. It’s also kind of natural. Especially if you’re a local business, you link to your neighbors. Or if you’re mentioned in the news somewhere you kind of mention that on your website like ‘I was featured here in the news’ and essentially you’re kind of linking back and forth.”

It all comes down to the way in which Google’s crawlers are sophisticated enough to decipher between a synthetic link exchange scheme and natural linking. Which in turn means that if reciprocal linking activities are justified and valid, they are perfectly fine.

“It’s kind of a reciprocal link essentially, but it’s a natural kind of link. It’s not something that’s there because you’re doing some kind of crazy link scheme. So from that point of view, I think it’s easy to overthink it. And if you’re doing something naturally, if you’re not kind of making weird deals, behind the scenes, then I really wouldn’t worry about it.”

In a nutshell - reciprocal links do not always contravene Google’s webmaster guidelines.

It is entirely down to their relevance and value - the natural, 100% organic exchange of relevant backlinks is permitted.




Friday, 7 January 2022

How to Turbocharge Your TikTok Strategy

 By early 2019, TikTok had already chalked up more than a billion downloads from the world’s two biggest app stores. Today, it’s the number-one social media app on both by a clear margin.





TikTok is renowned for its viral marketing potential, attracting the attention of small and large businesses from all over the world. But with such a frenzy of competition from all corners, running a successful TikTok strategy is far from a cakewalk.

Ultimately, it is the quality and relevance of the content you publish that will determine the outcome. Other than this, the following tips and guidelines could help you take your TikTok strategy to the next level:

#1 Use the Right Hashtags

The hashtags you attach to your videos will play a major role in determining which viewers are sent your way. Your job is to find the right hashtags to represent your content - i.e. those that are both relevant and trending at the time. Avoid the temptation to overuse hashtags, or use those of questionable relevance to your content. Tactics like these will only ever prove counterproductive.

#2 Research Your Audience Continuously

The key word here is ‘continuously’, given how the preferences and habits of all social media audiences are constantly shifting. Irrespective of who you are targeting on TikTok, you need to develop the deepest possible understanding of them. Never view audience research as a one-time-only task, but as a continuous and cyclical process.

#3 Keep it Casual

TikTok is not the platform people head to for anything too serious. Instead, it’s with a head for cheap laughs and casual entertainment. Keeping things casual and light-hearted is therefore the way to go. Unless, of course, doing so would be inappropriate for the topic/video in question.

#4 Keep it Concise

Likewise, TikTok is also not the kind of place people go for long-form content. Instead, it is where they head with instant gratification in mind. The most engaging and shareable videos on TikTok are those that get the job done in a matter of seconds. The quicker you can get your point across and hook the viewer, the better.

#5 Prioritise Authenticity

Avoid the temptation to jump on every bandwagon that comes along, simply because it is trending at the time. Everything you share on TikTok needs to be authentic for your brand and relevant to your audience. Or in other words, be true to the genuine voice and personality of your brand, rather than putting on a fa├žade in hope of influencing TikTok audiences.

#6 Reach Out to Influencers

Last up, even a brief mention from an established influencer can be all it takes to hit the big time. However, influencers are not in the habit of chasing down potential partners to recommend and represent. If you want to get influencers on board - which you should - you need to do the legwork and outreach.