Showing posts with label seo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seo. Show all posts

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, 23 October 2020

Still Focused Exclusively on Search Engine Rankings?

 For much of recent history, it’s been the norm to focus on SERP rankings above and beyond everything else. Which of course makes sense, given the way in which a high position in Google or Bing can result in the most enormous traffic boost for any website. 

But here’s the thing – rankings never have been the be and end all of things.

What’s important to acknowledge is the way in which your current position in any search engine doesn’t accurately indicate the success of your wider campaign. There are three primary reasons why an unhealthy fixation on rankings is exactly that – detrimental to your business and your marketing strategy:


First up, it’s becoming extremely difficult – impossible even – to accurately measure your own SERP performance. The reason being that search results have never been more meticulously personalised. From location to browser to device to language to personal preferences and so on, thousands of different search results are delivered by the hour for the exact same search terms. You cannot look how you perform for one or two specific terms and interpret this as a constant for all searchers across the board. It might show one thing for you, but could show something totally different for someone else. Particularly in the case of local businesses and local search, personalisation has never had a greater influence on both exposure and performance.


No matter what you do and how much you do it, you’re never going to hold onto the same ranking indefinitely. It just doesn’t happen. One day you’re third, the next you’re second, then you fall to page 5 and jump back to the first page once again. Why? For any number of reasons – being outperformed by competitors, algorithm changes at Google, flaws in your own SEO strategy etc. In any case, your position is always going to change on a fairly regular basis. As such, and given the fact that there’s often nothing you can do about it, you cannot gauge your overall performance by rankings alone. There are so many external influences that can affect your ranking – it isn’t all nearly as within your control as you might think.


Last but not least, traffic represents just one contributory element to wider success in business. Without exception, a solid Google ranking for a competitive keyword is going to win you a lot of traffic. But what then? What if just 5% of these arrivals stick around and less than 1% convert? You’d perhaps have been better-off with a tenth-place position and greater focus on improving conversion rates. If you focus all your time and attention on rankings, you cannot focus sufficiently on the quality of your website. Even a number-one ranking is all but useless if it isn’t backed-up by an outstanding user-experience. The problem being that far too many businesses seem unable to strike the ideal balance between the two, in terms of their own efforts and investment.

So if you are still focusing somewhat obsessively on rankings above all else, it’s worth asking:

What might you be allowing to suffer in the background?

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Aiming for the Top-Spot On Search Engines? Time for a Rethink

If your business is involved in SEO, chances are you share the same goal as everyone else. That being, to climb right to the top of the rankings to the number-one position.

It’s no secret that the higher the ranking, the more likely you are to win the lion’s share of traffic. With three-quarters of web users now refusing to look beyond the first page, this really is the place to be. 

But what if we were to tell you that fighting tooth and nail for the top-spot isn’t always the best way to go? What could be more important than doing whatever it takes to claw all the way to that prestigious number-one spot?

Particularly if this is the main goal of your SEO strategy, it could be time for a rethink…and here’s why:

It Might Be Impossible

First and foremost, actually getting yourself to the number-one position could be impossible. There’s every chance that whatever your niche and specialist area, you’ll always be outperformed by a bigger rival. If their SEO spend is literally 100X yours, you can’t expect all the strategy in the world to give you the upper hand. You could throw every penny you have at your SERP performance, but it might not be enough. Painful as it may be, it’s sometimes necessary to accept the top-spot for certain key words is completely out of reach.

SEO is Unpredictable

A strategic SEO campaign should be all about solid performance and measurable improvements. The SEO landscape is just too unpredictable to have such a stubborn and specific goal in mind. You spend more than you can afford boosting your SEO strategy, you finally hit the top-spot and you’re happy. Only then to watch Google alter its algorithm and drop back to your prior fifth position. If you can reach a strong position and hold onto it, you’re golden.

Position Zero is Better

The interesting thing about position-zero is that not only is it better, it’s also more achievable. Check out a few position-zero pages and you’ll see how comparatively few come from the biggest brands and businesses out there. If you can offer something that perfectly answers the question being asked, you’ve every chance of hitting this prestigious beyond-top-spot. Lists, top-tens, detailed snippets – all great for attracting Google’s attention. If planning on campaigning for the top-spot, try campaigning for position-zero instead.

Hedge Your Bets

Last up, campaigning to hit the top-spot for one particular search term means investing heavily in this one term. In the meantime, search terms and keywords of enormous value could be denied your time, effort and attention. You may dominate the rankings with this key term of interest, but what about the rest? What if you end up on page two or three for a bunch of other major keywords and search terms? Rather than attempting to rule the roost with just one or two terms, think about hedging your bets with a more widespread approach to your SEO strategy.

Friday, 1 November 2019

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Unfortunate as it may be, most of the 2 billion or so websites up and running right now attract little to no traffic. Shocking at first, but less so when considering that just a couple of major search engines direct around 95% of the web’s collective traffic.

So it’s really no surprise that competition for the top spots with Google and the like is ferocious. Climbing the rankings means implementing an effective marketing strategy, which brings two distinct options into the spotlight:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

2. Search engine marketing (SEM)

Often confused as one and the same, SEO and SEM are in fact quite different. But if you’re serious about appearing prominently in the rankings, you’ll need to bring both into your digital strategy. 


In a nutshell, SEO refers to the activities and initiatives implemented to boost a website’s appeal in the eyes of the major search engines. By contrast, SEM refers to paid search advertising programmes, which most commonly manifest in the form of PPC advertising (pay-per-click).

Why is SEO important?

Taking a look at SEO first, search engine optimisation affects the extent to which visitors will find and visit your website organically. In this instance, ‘organic’ means you didn’t use any form of paid marketing, advertising or promotional materials of any kind to attract them. Instead, they found you ‘organically’ because you’re clearly the best match for their needs.

SEO is important because it is an ongoing strategy that boosts not only traffic volumes, but also brand recognition, authority in your niche and the potential to drive better conversion rates. Organic listings in the search page results attract exponentially more attention and interest than their paid counterparts, making SEO a must for small and large businesses alike.

What is SEM?

At the opposite side of the spectrum, search engine marketing is all about paying to have your ads positioned prominently at the top of the rankings. Rather than attempting to appeal to the major search engines by improving and optimising your website, you instead pay them to showcase your message in accordance with your chosen keywords and search terms.

SEM differs from search engine optimisation in that it has the capacity to deliver an immediate influx of traffic. The moment your ads go live, they begin directing traffic to your landing pages accordingly. This can therefore be ideal for generating an initial burst of interest in a new website, advertising a temporary promotion or introducing a new product.

On the downside, the benefits of PPC advertising are usually limited to the period during which the campaign is operational.

The Best of Both…

Essentially, therefore, you’re looking at a free and organic search strategy geared towards long-term benefits, alongside a paid initiative that can deliver near-immediate results. A strategic combination of both clearly represents the ideal approach for any business out to improve their exposure.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Why PPC and SEO Campaigns Should Be Run Simultaneously

It is common to come across a debate regarding which is better – PPC or SEO. In reality, you can do with bringing both of them into your marketing strategy.

But the question is still there – which one should you prioritise? For some businesses, it is a case of bringing an SEO marketing strategy underway, wait some time until it starts generating traffic and then move on to PPC. For other companies, it is the other way around.

Both PPC and SEO have the potential to generate Internet traffic in generous volumes. Nonetheless, anyone trying to maximise their ROI may want to consider running both SEO and PPC campaigns at the same time.

Here is why:

SEO Will Take Time

For starters, even an outstanding SEO strategy takes time to reach fruition. What is more, it’s fundamentally impossible to predict how much time it will take for an SEO strategy to reach a certain result. It will simply take as long as it takes. Meanwhile, there might be a little to no difference when it comes to the traffic your website is able to pull in.

By contrast, PPC is about immediate impact when you happen to need it most. Rather than sitting and waiting to see what happens, your PPC ads will be published both instantly and prominently. While your SEO marketing strategy is working hard to get the job done, your PPC ads deliver a steady and strong stream of traffic.

Paid Ads Will Appear More Prominently

No matter how great your SEO strategy is, you will always play second fiddle to the paid ads. In fact, you are unlikely to reach the top of the search rankings for the most popular keywords. It is important to bear in mind that above all else, Google is out there to make money – that’s a fact. This is precisely why Google gives those businesses who hand over cash priority in the search result listings.

With a PPC marketing campaign, you have the chance to position your ads at the very top of the search results page. If the best you are managing so far with your SEO campaign is tenth position, you may find PPC ads very useful for boosting the traffic to your page. That is also something that can help your SEO marketing strategy – Google considers page hits and visitor numbers into its indexation algorithms. So again, a combination of PPC and SEO wins the day.

Lessons Learned

Lastly, PPC campaigns could be used to learn important lessons for your SEO strategy, and vice versa. By monitoring their respective progress, you will tap into a world of invaluable data for the improvement of both campaigns.

Especially when it comes to keywords data and analytics, a PPC campaign could be worth its weight in gold. Google usually reserves the most valuable insights and data for those businesses willing to pay for it. Therefore, your PPC ads can teach you more about your business audience than your SEO strategy alone.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

5 Timeless SEO Strategies You Will Always Benefit From

In the ever fast-paced world of online marketing, SEO strategies come and go all the time. What is supposedly a sure-fire method for success this week often becomes entirely ineffective next week.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean there are no evergreen SEO hacks you simply cannot go wrong with. The kinds of evergreen tactics you will always benefit from if you dedicate to them enough time and attention.

So beyond the temporary trends and passing fads of SEO, what follows are five times strategies that will always benefit your marketing campaign:

1. Publishing Quality Content

The important keyword in this case being “quality” – as in the type of content that holds some kind of value and purpose. It is perfectly possible to post a compellingly written article on any topic and gain precisely nothing from it. Quality means thinking about what matters to your audience, as opposed to your company or the SEO bots you are trying to win over. Just as long as the content you create is relevant, fresh and of interest to your readers, there is no such thing as producing too much of it.

2. Enhancing the performance of your website

Similarly, there is no such thing as a site that performs too well. The fluidity, the speed and overall consistency of your site will all play a role in determining its SEO prowess. If there is anything you can do to improve or speed up the way your website functions, it is something you should be doing. The same also applies to any improvements that can be made for mobile audiences – also a guaranteed SEO element for the indefinite future at least.

3. Focusing on backlinks of value

We are unlikely to see a time when high-profile backlinks will not add up to serious credit in the eyes of Google and co. The days of getting away with low-quality links are gone for good – backlinks of value are the only links that can benefit your SEO campaign. Building a contingency of quality links is not easy, but can benefit your site and your marketing strategy indefinitely.

4. Optimising your social platform activity

While it is true to say that social media does not directly influence SEO, it is nevertheless a strong contributor to your promotional efforts. Posts on the most popular social platforms can drive as much traffic to your website as links positioned elsewhere on the web. Additionally, the more interest you are able to generate, the more likely the major search engines are to also take note.

5. Website improvements and updates

Lastly, there is always something that can be done to update and improve your website. Whether it is a visual design overhaul, simplification of your navigation system or update to the static text content, , it is an effective way of boosting your SEO. Always keep in mind that whatever you could do to improve things for the end user would have a knock-on effect on your overall SEO strategy. Offer a flawless experience for all visitors and the rest will take care of itself!

Monday, 29 April 2019

5 Key SEO Tactics and Trends in 2019

Looking ahead to this year’s upcoming online marketing trends can be daunting and exciting in equal measure. Visualising your success and planning your strategy, though also accepting you are not in for an easy ride.

Nevertheless, the better idea you have of what is to come, the better your chance of making it work in your favour. With this in mind, here is a brief overview of the five key SEO tactics and trends to keep in mind going into 2019:

1. Increased Visibility Competition
The first entry is also the most obvious and arguably the most important of all. Every year, visibility competition grows at its fastest rate. And 2019 looks to be no exception. The search engines are evolving and space at the top is becoming ever more confined. In online marketing stakes, the phrase
survival of the fittest” has never been more appropriate.

2. Old School SEO Tactics Will Lose Value 
You will still need to have a strategy with your on-page SEO, but relying exclusively on old-school methods is just not going to cut it in 2019. Instead, it will be more about the all-round customer experience and the level to which you can foster a sense of genuine engagement with your web audience. On-page SEO will always play a role, it is simply a case of accepting you cannot rely on it alone.

3. Growth of Voice Search
As far as the industry watchers are concerned, more than half of all online searches will use voice search by 2020. Which is only a year away. Which should be a concern for anybody who is yet to give any thought to voice search optimisation whatsoever. Incredibly, the most popular voice assistants on the market today have achieved an understanding accuracy of more than 90% on average. If you are not yet giving thought to voice search, you are in danger of falling behind.

4. Mobile-Optimised Websites Will Gain Value
What this means is that Google and the other major search engines have begun the process of assessing pages and websites firstly from a mobile perspective. This essentially means that if you want your website to rank higher in 2019, you will need to give mobile SEO more time and focus. If you don’t, your content will not add as much value as it could and your SEO performance will suffer.

5. There Is Life Beyond Google
Last but not least, it has never been more important to realise the fact that Google is not where the buck starts and stops when it comes to SEO. It is the biggest and most important by all means, but it is not the only search engine at all. What is more, Bing has started gaining significant traction by occupying a bigger share of the search market in 2018. Therefore, you may want to stop putting all your SEO eggs in the same proverbial basket.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Six SEO Myths to Ignore

SEO may have been around for decades now, but the concept remains a subject of confusion for millions of businesses worldwide. Every year, we’re bombarded with a completely fresh set of ‘rules’ and ‘best practices’ that can supposedly maximise the value of an SEO strategy.

Not to mention, all manner of myths and untruths – some of which are downright dangerous.

So just to illustrate how things are looking from a 2019 perspective, here’s a brief rundown of six dangerous SEO myths that are still doing the rounds with gusto right now:

1. Quality content alone is more than enough

First up, you cannot and will not achieve SEO glory without plenty of outstanding content. Nevertheless, you cannot run an effective SEO campaign on quality content alone. Content matters – and matters a lot – but is nonetheless just one of many components you need to address. Try to avoid putting all of your eggs in the same proverbial basket.

2. It’s all about the keywords

Likewise, getting too bogged down with keywords in general isn’t a good idea. Keywords are a critical element of the successful SEO strategy, but cramming in as many as possible and damaging the quality of your content in doing so is a risky tactic. Not to mention, the kind of tactic that doesn’t tend to curry favour these days with any of the major search engines.

3. More pages = better rankings

Contrary to popular belief, more pages will not necessarily guarantee more prominent SERP positioning. Unless the pages add genuine value and quality to your website, they won’t do a great deal for your SEO profile at all. Creating more pages simply for the sake of it is a common tactic, though one that’s unlikely to do you any favours.

4. Pictures are pointless

Just because search engine spiders cannot yet crawl the content of website pictures doesn’t mean they’re without value. The reason being that all major search engines now take into account various aspects of the user experience, which includes the provision of a rich mixture of media. What’s more, SEO-rich file names and alt-tags can and should be used to your advantage.

5. Mobile focus is overrated

If anything, it’s the exact opposite. Evidence suggests that not nearly enough business owners worldwide are yet giving mobile focus the attention it deserves. With mobile web traffic having comfortably overtaken desktop traffic, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the importance of mobile SEO focus.

6. It’s not necessary to hire help

Last but not least, it’s highly unlikely that any in-house effort that lacks extensive specialist expertise is going to get the job done properly. It just isn’t going to happen. Contemporary SEO is an infinitely more complex and challenging concept than it was even just a couple of years ago. You can’t make things up as you go along and expect to get by – nor can you rely on a half-cooked strategy to deliver positive results. If you’re serious about making the most of your SEO strategy, hiring help comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Negative SEO: Protecting Yourself

Statistically speaking, your likelihood of being directly affected by negative SEO is actually relatively low. Nevertheless, it does exist, does happen and does have the potential to wreak havoc with your business.

In the simplest of terms, negative SEO refers to anything done by outside parties to either harm your rankings or redirect traffic elsewhere. It’s sometimes used to hijack traffic for material gains, though can also be used for no reason other than to destroy your reputation and business. And as it can be very difficult to reverse once you’ve been attacked, the best approach is to keep your eye out for anything suspicious and protect your business on an on-going basis.

Perform Regular Link Audits

For example, link audits represent an important SEO tool in general and can be very helpful in detecting negative SEO. You basically need to keep a constant eye on the links pointing toward your site and those your site features. Should any turn out to be spammy, fraudulent or invalid, your SEO prowess could take a hit.

Monitor Site Speed

Never forget that these days, Google pays close attention to the speed and overall performance of your website when determining its SERP rankings. Which is precisely why many negative SEO attacks target overall speed and performance, which can and often do make a big difference in terms of rankings.

Check for Scraped Content

This basically refers to the all-too common process of content being directly lifted from your website and published word for word elsewhere. The attacker may then subsequently claim that the copy is their own, which will lead to your site being penalised for duplicating their content. If not, the fact that the copy is repeated any number of times in various locations could automatically affect your rankings.

Check Google My Business

The occasional negative review tends to be both inevitable and potentially beneficial for your business. However, if it seems as if you are unfairly and inexplicably attracting negative press from all over the place, it could be that someone is trying to do your reputation damage with fake reviews. All of which is precisely why it is important to keep tabs on your online reputation at all times.

Upgrade Your Security

Last but not least, the single most effective way of protecting yourself from the kind of negative SEO that happens directly on your website itself is to upgrade the security of your site. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always blatantly obvious when hackers have made their way through some kind of back door and done their bidding with your coding. Quite the opposite, as with negative SEO it’s more a case of sneaking in, wreaking havoc and making it as difficult as possible for the changes to be detected. So for obvious reasons, it simply makes sense to protect yourself to the highest possible extent.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Five Ways to Wreck Your SERP Score with Google

It seems the one constant in the whole digital marketing landscape over recent years has been the importance of SEO. Or more specifically, achieving solid SERP performance. And as far as the immediate outlook is concerned at least, it doesn’t look as if things are about to change anytime soon.

That said, the one thing that has changed beyond recognition is the list of errors and oversights that can get you in trouble. Reaching the top spot with Google has never been more difficult – doing yourself a disservice has never been simpler. Which is exactly what a surprising number of online businesses are doing right now.

To just look at things from a slightly alternative perspective, here’s a rundown of five guaranteed ways to wreck your SERP score with Google:

1. Anything black hat

First up, there’s really no sense in listing the various examples of black hat SEO techniques you should be avoiding. The reason being that all black hat SEO should be avoided at all costs. Even if it’s the kind of thing you’d once get away with, or genuinely believe you’ve hidden sufficiently from view. These days, there are no short cuts to positive SEO whatsoever – trying to find them will only ever land you in hot water.

2. Duplicate content

As time goes by, the rules in terms of duplicate content are also becoming more and more severe. Bad enough when there’s duplicate content within the same site, even worse when the same content appears in different locations. Whatever your excuse, Google sees duplicate content as nothing more than lazy and of poor quality for web users. Even if you don’t agree, you still need to abide by the rules.

3. Too much guest blogging

You know how guest blogging can be a great way of an invaluable and abundant backlink? Well, as far as Google is concerned, too much of a good thing is bad. Just to clarify, guest blogging should in no way be considered black hat or inadvisable. It can actually be enormously beneficial and positive. Nevertheless, any kind of duplicate, poor-quality or spun content used for guest blogging is exactly the kind of thing that could reflect bad on you. Both in terms of your reputation and your SERP score.

4. Site performance issues

The problem with this particular consideration is that it didn’t use to be a consideration at all. At one time, you could get away with a website that wasn’t particularly speedy, reliable or easy to navigate. These days, all these things and everything else to do with performance are taken into account and considered accordingly. Which in turn means that even if your site’s content is no less than outstanding, it could be rendered redundant if site performance isn’t up to scratch.

5. Poor security

Last but not least, there’s nothing quite like being kicked when you’re already down. It’s not as if getting hacked isn’t bad enough. Nevertheless, evidence of hacking suggests that your website may have serious security issues – something that doesn’t go down well with Google. The long and short of it therefore being that as far as security is concerned, there’s no such thing as overprotecting your website.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Google Latest Algorithm Tweak Shouldn’t Shock Anyone

These days, most online business owners keep a fairly close eye on their SERP rankings. Assuming they count on search engines to send traffic their way, their prominence or otherwise can make or break their businesses. The problem being that every now and then, many businesses bear the brunt of a sudden yet perhaps dramatic fall.

Falling down the rankings just a few positions can transform solid performance into near-zero performance in an instant. Particularly in the wake of major changes to Google’s search algorithm, it’s normal to see thousands of casualties on a global basis. But what many fail to realise is that outside these major changes, minor tweaks are made to Google’s indexation system all the time.

Hundreds of them every year, in fact.

So it’s technically no surprise that a couple of weeks ago, a fair few businesses and SEO analysts alike noticed slight changes to their respective sites’ performance. Nothing major, but the apparent algorithm tweak generated such huge discussion online that Google stepped away from tradition and broke silence on Twitter.

“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements,” wrote a Google spokesperson on Twitter.

“Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year. As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.”

The obvious issue being that while they may have confirmed the change, they didn’t go into any detail at all regarding its nature. Neither did they offer any pearls of wisdom as to how to go about repairing the damage where necessary.

“There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content,” Google stated.

“Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

So once again, we find ourselves with countless businesses and website owners wondering why they’ve been punished. Or more importantly, what to do to reverse the damage. The thing is though, these kinds of changes really aren’t surprising at all. Nor should they be interpreted as punishments.

As Google stated, a fall in the rankings doesn’t mean you’ve been punished to some extent or another. It simply means that something to do with your rivals’ websites that wasn’t previous awarded due credit has now been rewarded. So it’s not a case of repairing the damage – it’s a case of taking your own SEO strategy to the next level.

Google’s rules have never changed…at least as far as their intentions are concerned. Serve you niche with a quality, content-rich and well-optimised website to feature prominently in the rankings. Fail to do so and your competitors will outperform you.

Make it happen with a quality, long-term SEO strategy and you can ensure you stay one step ahead of both Google’s algorithm tweaks and those you’re looking to outperform.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

How Will the Face of SEO Change in 2017?

The beginning of the new year usually raises a variety of questions as to precisely what will happen in the SEO field over the next 12 months. SEO’s landscape has changed dramatically over recent years, but it remains every bit as crucial and powerful as it ever was. The major search engines are obviously not going anywhere, which means the same could be said for SEO.

So as far as the professionals are concerned, what are the predictions for 2017 when it comes to SEO?

1. Better Mobile Websites
The first and most crucial priority seems set to be to a large extent similar to that of 2016. That being, to offer increasingly sophisticated and improved mobile websites for the growing mobile market. The only difference this year being that just satisfying mobile clients with a basic responsive webpage will just not be enough. Instead, the future of you webpage’s SEO prowess will depend on enhanced and improved mobile focus.

2. Intensive Analysis and Measurements
Along with SEO techniques and tools in general, available methods of analysing and measuring the success of SEO strategies are becoming more sophisticated than ever before. Which in turn means that one major SEP trend in 2017 will lie in meticulously and consistently monitoring each effort made, as and when it is made. This way, no time and efforts are wasted on SEO strategies that are unlikely to deliver results.

3. Increase in Long-form Content
Along with long-form keyword phrases and keywords, long-form content also represents a major element of modern SEO. Along with meeting the requirements of the search engines, long-form content also instils a sense of authority and trust among website visitors. It means having to put a bit more effort into producing the content, but what you get in return more than justifies the outlay.

4. Responding to Customer Experience
While SEO might traditionally have been entirely objective – focusing on statistics and numbers – SEO in 2017 will see much more focus on the overall user experience, but instead using actual user encounters to build effective strategies. The reason being that nowadays, the longer users stay on your site, the more pages they view and the more often they come back, the better the rankings you can expect as a result.

5. Regular Audits
Last but not least, just revisiting an SEO strategy every six months or so to determine its effectiveness is simply not enough anymore. The trouble is, the fact that rankings volatility has been reduced as of late has led many web developers and business owners into a false state of security. They create an SEO strategy that seems to be working and leave it to its devices. Nonetheless, the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to carry out an audit strategy on a monthly basis, in order to be able to eliminate anything that you might be wasting your money and time on.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

How to Instantly Improve Your Local SEO

It’s probably safe to say that most people these days are aware of the importance of local landing pages. As part of a wider web marketing strategy, local landing pages are known to have a direct and enormous impact on everything from bounce rates to conversions.

But at the same time, evidence has also shown that so many are getting things entirely wrong with their own local landing pages. It may take some time and effort to bring things up to speed, but those willing to do so may well note immediate and impressive improvement.

Individual City Pages

For example, if you are in the habit of using the same template for each local landing page with the relevant city or town slotted in where appropriate, it’s a habit to think about breaking. Not only does this kind of duplicate copy wreak havoc with your SEO performance, but it also gives your visitors the impression that you couldn’t be bothered providing them with a targeted, individual city page. Which is, when you think about it, pretty true. Take the time to create unique pages of genuine value and interest for each area you operate in and your visitors are guaranteed to respond favourably.

Unique Content

Just to reemphasise that point once again, unique content when it comes to individual local landing pages does not mean spun or rephrased versions of your other landing pages. Once again, this is the kind of thing that is absolutely guaranteed to turn off those who coin on to what you’re doing. You might get away with it with Google, but most probably not with your customers…who are quite a lot more important.

Answer Their Question

Think of the question, problem or need that’s in the head of the customer when they arrive at your website. Put yourself in their position and think about exactly what you would want and expect by way of an answer or solution. Then, make absolutely sure that your landing page gives them what they need. And just in case it doesn’t, you absolutely must ensure that your contact details are presented prominently, completely and accurately.

Caution with Links

It’s important to be cautious when it comes to the links you use or choose not to use on your local landing pages. The reason being that the more links you present pointing to other sites and pages, the more likely it is that new arrivals will get the impression they have not in fact landed on the page they require. Links in abundance can be distracting and discouraging, taking attention away from your key message and points of importance.

Local Content
Last but not least, always take things one step further by injecting some genuine local content of relevance into your localised landing pages. It could be something cultural that will strike a chord with the local community, perhaps testimonials and reviews from those living in this specific area, images of you doing whatever it is you do in the area in question or really anything else that generates a sense of authenticity. Which is in every respect the keyword you should be working in accordance with – ‘authentic’.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Few Key Points Regarding Human Raters at Google

Contrary to popular belief, not all that goes on behind the scenes with regard to Google’s SERP rankings is controlled by machines. Instead, there is also a bank of professional human raters at work, charged with the task of determining search results quality.

In terms of what such individuals are looking for, a document was recently leaked detailing the guidelines provided by Google – some key examples extracted and takeaways from the document including the following:

1. Human raters have no influence over SERP rankings themselves, but instead help Google determine future algorithm tweaks. Which in turn means that no matter what a rater thinks of your website, it will not have a direct impact on its position in the rankings in the immediate moment.

2. There are three factors taken into account by raters when it comes to determining the quality of a page – trustworthiness, authoritativeness and expertise.

3. The primary purpose of human raters is to determine whether or not the results successfully met the needs of the searcher. They work with complex analytics and the sites themselves to evaluate Google’s own algorithms, in terms of performance and accuracy.

4. One of the most important things taken into account by raters is whether or not the site is mobile-friendly – those that are not instantly fail. Google has been paying greater attention to mobile-friendly site content as of late than ever before – a trend set to continue indefinitely.

5. Length of content only has any relevance if the content itself is of comprehensive value and relevance. Expanding word count just for the sake of it does not bring the page any additional value in the eyes of Google.

6. Google is beginning to pay much closer attention than ever before to the kind of supplementary content that either takes away from the value of the page or is simply distracting. This includes unnecessary pop-ups.

7. The vast majority of solid websites are rated as ‘medium’ which is actually a decent accomplishment. You have to do something particularly special to achieve a higher rating.

8. One highly important point for those selling services or products is to make the company’s contact details as clear and obvious as possible. It should not be necessary to look for them and the required information should appear on multiple pages.

9. Google is also continually showing growing preference to websites that display customer feedback. Quite simply, the more reviews, recommendations and items of customer feedback you collect, the better for your overall SEO performance.

10. The smallest details can have the biggest impact when it comes to the way in which a website is interpreted by Google – spelling mistakes and grammatical errors rarely going overlooked.

11. Scrapped content never slips under Google’s radar and should therefore be avoided at all costs. Breaking the rules may not lead to an immediate drop in the rankings, but could prompt a manual site inspection that may lead to penalisation.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Small Business Link Building – DIY Tactics to Try Today

While most small business owners understand the value of link building, the overwhelming majority do nothing about it. Even if they hire others to tackle the job on their behalf, they themselves tend to make no effort whatsoever to contribute to the cause. Which is a shame, given the way in which strong backlinks have a multi-pronged beneficial effect on the business they point to.

Of course, most business owners would argue that they a) do not have the time to get involved in link building and/or b) lack the expertise necessary. In reality however, there are various simple yet incredibly effective approaches to make a real difference starting right now.

So rather than just sitting back and wondering whether you could and should be doing more, here’s how to give yourlink building efforts a boost starting today:

1 – Why Not Ask?

First of all, chances are that whatever niche you’re in, there are literally thousands of businesses just like you that are gagging for good-quality links. As such, why not make the first move and simply ask them outright if they are interested in a link exchange? Worst case scenario, they say no and you try elsewhere. Best case scenario, you get seriously powerful and invaluable links free of charge. Send an e-mail, make a telephone call or even go visit them in person. There’s absolutely nothing to lose by trying and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

2 - Complementary Products and Services

Take a moment to think about the products and services you sell. Now, take another moment to think about the kinds of products and services that complement what you yourself have to offer. You run a taxi service, how about a car wash or motor spares shop? You sell toys for kids, how about children’s clothing or kidder theme parks? Think not about your rivals, but those that offer something within the same niche that you and they alike could send business between. Once again, you need only pick up the phone and ask.

3 - Use Infographics

Never underestimate the power of infographics when it comes to link building. And for two very good reasons as well – the first of which being that research has shown that infographics are exponentially more likely to be read, shared and to generate links than most other types of content. Not only this, but you can create (or have created) one outstanding infographic and have it published a thousand times over, without search engine spiders picking up so much a word of duplicate text. If you aren’t already working with infographics, it’s high time you started.

4 – Contests and Competitions
Last up, there’s one very slightly sneaky approach to link building and traffic-generating that’s more than worth exploring. In a nutshell, you run some sort of competition on your website, but instead of creating a competition page, you add the info to an existing product page or even your home page. You list your contest in competition directories, you ask as many sources as you like to feature it and in doing so, you get a ton of high quality backlinks to the permanent pages of your website. And just as long as you make sure that the competition itself is legit and relevant, you aren’t breaking so much as a single rule of any kind!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Why Your SEO Strategy Has Hit a Brick Wall

Having invested heavily in an SEO strategy, the very last thing you want to see is a sudden slump. All seemed to be going as planned, only for your website to drop in the SERP rankings for no apparent reason.

Of course there is a reason why this happened – it’s simply a case of identifying the cause and addressing it. Easier said than done? It certainly can be, though if you’re guilty of any of the following crimes against SEO, you’ll most likely have your answer as to why you’ve hit a brick wall:

1 – Too Much Keyword Focus

First of all, it’s crucially important to acknowledge that we have well and truly entered the age of the natural language search. These days, consumers in growing numbers are speaking or typing extensive search sentences into their chosen engines, as opposed to just using one or two keywords. As such, the kind of keyword focus that would have struck gold in years gone by is slowly but surely becoming obsolete.

2. Dancing Around Google’s Every Move

One of the most critical mistakes any business or marketer can make is that of continually adjusting their approach to SEO, in accordance with Google’s latest algorithm updates. Why? Well, quite simply because if you are focusing on what matters, you will automatically satisfy everything Google is looking for. The SEO rulebook will always change, but only as a means by which to highlight and promote sites of quality. Which means that if you focus on quality, you’re future-ready.

3. Website Alterations

Never forget that each and every change you make to your website can have an impact on its SEO prowess. Even in the case of changes implemented to vastly improve the overall user experience, there’s still every chance you’ll experience a slide in the rankings. Which is precisely why it is a good idea to consult with the experts, before going ahead with any overhauls.

4. Content Stagnation

Just because your website ranked extremely well last week doesn’t mean the same will be true this week, if you are unwilling to regularly and routinely refresh its content. Even if your evergreen content is top-notch, it will quickly go stagnant in an SEO capacity and needs to be complemented with regular additions.

5. Bum Links

The same also goes for both the links you present on your website and the backlinks pointing your way. If your own links become invalid, it’s bad news. If you lose a quality backlink, even worse news. It’s crucial to carry out regular link audits to check on the health and relevance of both, in order to keep your SEO strategy on the straight and narrow.

6. Fierce Competition

Last but not least, it’s also worth bearing in mind that it may in fact be nothing that you yourself have done wrong, but rather what your rivals are doing better. If you are not continually stepping up your game when it comes to new-generation SEO, it is inevitable that you will be overtaken by the competition