All posts in SEO

Wonder what happened to your appearance on page 1? It’s not uncommon for sites to make a brief appearance near the top, only to take a quick tumble back down the rankings list. For most, an occurrence like this one is the definition of panic in the streets. What can you do if it happens to you? It starts with a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the rankings loss.

Server Outage: It might sound a little on the outrageous side, but if your server crashes, your rankings can actually go with it, especially in the case of extended outages. Don’t worry. If you have a brief crash, then a return, you likely won’t lose any rankings over it, but a crash of twelve hours or more, and you’re headed into serious damage territory, and it will take some time to restore your rankings to their previous level of glory.

Your Site Got Hacked: As unfortunate as it is, sites get hacked all of the time, even good sites that are high on the security end of things. Once a site gets hacked, all kinds of bad things can happen, and among the terrible, horrible things that might occur is a serious rankings loss. In fact, one of the first things you may want to check if you lose your rankings is whether your site has been hacked and your code compromised.

Bad Optimisation Techniques: Whether you’re handling the optimisation of your site on your own or you’ve hired another company to do it for you, poor optimisation is the single biggest reasons sites lose rankings. Google doesn’t even care if it’s your fault. If you outsourced your SEO work to another company, and they completely messed everything up, Google isn’t going to just take your word for it and restore your rankings. Instead, you’ll have to pay your dues to get back up to the top again.

No matter what the reason you lost your rankings, the result is always going to be the same – poor traffic flow. Your best bet to get things up and running quickly is to consult with a reputable SEO team, even just in the short term to enhance your rankings again.

Panda. Hummbingbird. They sound like a nice trip to the zoo, but for online marketers and businesses alike, they’ve added up to one thing – a big fat headache. Google seems to make shifts as often as the wind blows across an open prairie, but how does that affect your site? At the end of the day, do you really need to care?

The Rebellious Answer

In some ways, you really can be a rebel when it comes to caring about this update or that one. The bottom line is that if you stick to good content that your readers or customers will enjoy, full of keywords that they might actually search for, you don’t need to be worried about the changing nature of Google or any other search engine for that matter. Your existing customer base will find you again and again, and that will likely lead to new customers finding you, particularly if you use your URL in your other marketing.

The Right Answer

For many businesses, new and old alike, higher page ranking means more customers. Without new customers headed to your business, you may as well file for bankruptcy. Often that means better optimisation practices, and the best SEO work comes with a better understanding of how Google indexes the various sites on the web. The more you know about those practices, the more likely you are to be able to address them as Google changes.

Google’s ultimate goal is to become the most intuitive search engine, and update after update, they’re getting closer to that goal. For many sites, though, that means making changes to their optimisation practices, often in a hurry.

So, should you prepare for a panic attack with the next update release? Maybe. Or you could just stick to the best practices for your site, and do what you can on the optimisation end as things change.

Attracting Guest Posters

All of the infinitely more successful sites have them. They’re guest bloggers, and if  you haven’t considered adding a few guest posts to your site, it may be time to do just that. They can do wonders for your ranking, not to mention your time management skills, as just imagine what you could do with the extra time if you had just one guest post per week! How do you actually get these people who want to work for free to your site? Here’s a quick tutorial that may help.

  1. Visibility Matters. If you’re going to get people to post to your site, you need to make certain there’s an easy way for them to do it. Add a tab, a link at the bottom, or even an ad to the side just to let them know that you’re willing to accept guest posts.
  2. SEO Can Help. You optimise your site for your keywords, why not optimise it for something like “guest posts” as well. Some people search for opportunities like that on a regular basis, so adding it to your site’s keywords could only help your efforts.
  3. Ask and Ye Shall Receive. You likely follow several other blogs on your own, and if they work well with your site, you may want to consider asking those bloggers to post to your site. You may also get turned down, but it never hurts to ask.

As you start thinking about guest posters, there are two things you want to remember. First, the better your site is, the more likely you are to get great authors who want to post to your site. Second, if you start asking for guest bloggers, there’s a chance you could get overwhelmed quickly, so you may want to put some editorial guidelines in place before you ever begin your search.

The value of user generated content, at least according to Google, is almost immeasurable. Adding it to your site can do amazing things for your rankings that other optimisation techniques simply can’t provide. The desire to include user generated content, though, and the ability to do so are two very different things. So, how do you get users to participate in your site? Here are a few tips that can help.

  • Feedback rocks! People love to offer their feedback. It makes them feel like they actually have a bit of input into your services or products in the future. Giving them a chance to give feedback on any part of your site is a great way to get them to participate. You may need to moderate what’s being posted, but in general, you’ll get constructive responses that will be as helpful for your brand as they will be for your optimisation programme.
  • Reviews rule! Sites like Amazon have been incorporating user reviews almost since their inception, and many shoppers expect to see reviews and ratings before they buy a product online, so ignoring the potential could be damaging for your site. It’s a platform for customers to rave about great products and bash the bad ones, and people love to become ace reviewers, so go ahead and let them express their feelings on your site.
  • Forums still helpful! Forums haven’t disappeared, even in the age of Facebook. Instead, many sites still find them a useful place for customers to interact, and it’s a natural way to incorporate user generated content into your site.

User generated content is a great way to increase organic search performance. This level of power is phenomenal, so if you haven’t yet considered it, it might be time!

You want your site to be at the top of the listings no matter what, right? Many throw off the chains of optimisation in favor of ads for a variety of reasons. Before you make a move one way or the other, there are several things you may want to consider.

The Benefits of Ads

Paid ads offer you several benefits over organic optimisation. For starters, they pay off at a far faster rate than their counterpart. They can also work well with your other efforts. Google has published information that suggests paid ads offer an 89% lift in site visitors, even over your own SEO efforts. Ads also offer you instant access to a level of trackability that you don’t always find with organic optimisation.

Organic Optimisation

Before you start to cancel your SEO service, though, you may want to look at what natural SEO has to offer. A 2012 survey published by eConsultancy suggested that search engine users click on organic results at a rate of 94 percent while they click on ads at a rate of just 6 percent. What’s more, though, is that those who organically rank at the top end up with far higher click through rates than advertisers do.

The Verdict: It’s optimisation by a long shot, but if you simply can’t make it work or you don’t have time for it to move forward, go with the ads. You’ll get at least some semblance of results then.

You know your site could be doing more every single day. From a higher traffic volume to better CTRs, it could be working harder for you, right? Wondering how to make sure it gets there? Many look to an SEO audit, but if the concept alone seems confusing, you’re certainly not alone.

What is an SEO Audit?

Every process of your business is examined and evaluated periodically, right? It’s the only way to make certain that your business is moving forward. When was the last time  you offered the same careful evaluation to your website? Some businesses build it then just sit back and wait for the visitors to come. Sites just don’t work that way anymore, and if yours isn’t well optimised, easy to navigate, and offering the level of content visitors want to see, you’re missing out. An SEO audit looks at all of those factors and more.

SEO Audits 101

So, what exactly does an SEO audit look at? It takes a closer look at your tag optimisation, both on and off page. It also looks at broken links and dead pages. Additionally, it ensures your site can be indexed by the search engines, factors in the link profile compared to your competitors, and tests your site’s speed.

Can I Handle It?

An SEO audit isn’t necessarily hard, unless you’re (a) pressed for time, or (b) SEO challenged. If you’re not sure what any of the terms mean or even how to begin checking for dead links on site, it’s probably time to enlist a bit of professional help. This is particularly true if you think you have much bigger problems, because you may need someone to handle a custom audit that’s a bit tough to tackle on your own.

It seems everyone is looking to save some cash here and there, and often that digital marketing budget takes the hit. There’s not a company out there that doesn’t want to believe it’s possible to do more with less. Unfortunately, many of your cheaper efforts may be a complete waste of time as well as any money you happen to spend on them. If you’re thinking of cheap SEO, here are a few tactics you don’t want to try.

  • Link Buying: When you start reading about SEO, you’re likely to initially read that links are everything. Backlinks are so incredibly valuable, you’ll see ads for them splashed almost everywhere. The problem? Buying those links isn’t actually going to get you the linking strategy you need. Amassing links is good, but only when it’s fair, and Google is vigilant about suspicious link activity, so be careful!
  • Press Releases: There’s a time and a place for press releases, and if you don’t have any news to offer, it’s not the time or the place to put out a press release. Sure, it’s cheap. Sure, it’s relatively quick. There are no easy ways to build good links, though, and press releases just for the sake of the link aren’t going to do you any favors.
  • Automated Content: More content is great, right? Not if the content itself isn’t valuable to your users. Search engines like Google once thought in terms of “Content, good, More content, even better.” That’s no longer the case. You have to write to build an audience that may actually want to link to your content.

SEO isn’t ever going to be cheap, fast, and easy again. It takes a solid amount of work to properly optimise your site, and that’s only going to get tougher as the months go by.

 

+Newspaper Series+ 1If 100 people find their way to your blog or website, most will read your headlines. Only a small percentage – 20 percent or less – will actually read your article. It’s the power of headlines that pull people in, that tell them that there is information, or entertainment, in here that is relevant and interesting.  All that power – in just a few words. Far from an afterthought, your headline should be as carefully crafted as the rest of your content.

Here are some tips for excellent, attention-grabbing headlines:

  1. Include a number. 7 Ways to Beat Stress; Top 5 Tips for Synchronized Swimming Success; 3 Easy Steps to Mastering Chess. Whatever your industry and niche, there are always tips, tricks, and lists to share. Numbers indicate to readers that they will be getting some helpful advice.
  2. Ask a question. Increasingly, searchers enter questions instead of keywords. For example, instead of “mount plasma screen,” they might query: “How do I mount plasma screen on wall?” In addition, asking a question in your headline implies that you have the answer. It invites readers to click through or keep reading so they can find it.
  3. Use tried and true structures. Top 5 Mistakes SEOs Make, for instance, combines a number, as well as a point of pain for your audience. Both will help draw people in – if only so they can check whether they’re making the mistake!
  4. Use a thumbnail image to accompany your headline. Research from the Guardian indicates that headlines with an image saw an increased CTR of 27 percent. It’s worth a shot!
  5. Don’t use your brand. Testing shows that when you use your brand in your headline, you see a drastic decrease in engagement and CTRs. Here’s an example: Brand X Announces Their Secret to SEO Success. Well, good for them! Far more effective is: 5 Secrets of SEO Success, or Five Steps to SEO Success. This puts the focus on the value your readers will derive from your content.
  6. Use strong adjectives. While you don’t want to overdo it, adding a descriptive, powerful adjective can help create interest and prompt the reader to continue on.
  7. Get inspired. Take a look at content that has gone viral. It has done so because, in large part, because of the great headlines. Go on Reddit, StumbleUpon, and other sites and see what’s trending.

A great headline grabs the attention and the imagination. It’s just as – or more – important than you content itself!

Blue Website Buttons 3

In 2011, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and, later, Yandex (the largest search engine in Russia) teamed up to create Schema.org, a common vocabulary that webmasters and SEOs can use to markup their data. Structured data is becoming much more important as we move further into the “entity search” world. Using the schemas, users can essentially describe their content in a way that makes it more visible and relevant to search engines. Following are a few helpful tips for working with Schema.org.

Get some help. You do not necessarily need to know how to code to use Schema, but it helps. While it would take years to learn coding, you can get a crash course and at least learn the common terms and constructions to make marking up your text easier. CodeAcademy is one free, interactive resource that you can check out.

Know your <div> from your <span>. These are two very common elements that you’ll need. <div> can group sections of code and format them with CSS. <span>s are used to group inline elements.  Here is an example of each:

 

<div id=”content” style=”background-color:#0000FFheight:225px;width:450px;float:right;”>
Content goes here</div>

<span itemprop=”author”>Jack Smith</span>

Get familiar with Schema.org. Look at the types, properties, and hierarchies. Let’s say you have a men’s clothing shop. Your hierarchy looks like this:

Thing>Organization>LocalBusiness>FoodEstablishment>Bakery.

You would then open a text editor or HTML editor to markup your pages. Here’s how we would tell the search engines our business type and pertinent information:

<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Bakery”>
<h1> Bakery </h1>
<p>Intro Text</p>
<p>Address: <span itemprop=”address”>555 Bakery Avenue, London, UK  E4454</span></p>
<p>Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”> 444-555-3333</span></p>
</div>

Use the schemas to markup other areas of content. If you have a recipe on your bakery website, for instance,

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://www.xys.uk/Recipe”><h1 itemprop=”name”>zucchini bread</h1>

By <span itemprop=”author”<Bill Smith</span>

Published: <time itemprop=”published” datetime=”2013-09-25”>September 25, 2013</time>

<span itemprop=”summary”>A wonderful, moist zucchini bread recipe, perfect for cold fall days.</span>

<span itempropr=”rating”>4.8</span> stars based on

<span itemprop=”count”>210</span> reviews

Marking up your text ensures that search engines have detailed information about your website. It takes some time to complete, but once you have the basics, the rest is easy!

What is Entity Optimisation?

Blue Website Buttons 3

As the Hummingbird update rolled out, Google indicated that it was one of the most important updates it has made to its algorithm in years. While Penguin and Panda had a tremendous effect on a small number of sites, Hummingbird is different. It, essentially, affects all sites. It represents a fundamental shift in the SEO/search/content world. One of the terms that has come into play with the update is “entity optimisation.” What is this, and what does it have to do with the update – and, more importantly, what does it have to do with you?

Entities are just that: people, businesses, things. What Google is doing is moving ahead towards semantic search, or entity search. Instead of focusing on the keyword for meaning, it wants to analyse the users’ intent when they enter in a query. Websites need to create structured data by labeling each piece of information as an entity. Google can then better understand the context and the relationship between the various entities. What this means, practically, is that the search engine can return better, more accurate results.

In the future (and really, the future is now!), we won’t be concerned with keywords. Instead, we will have to think about creating machine-readable entities using structured data. We do this when we markup text using Schema.org, or the common semantic language of Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

In the move from “search engines” to “answer engines,” it will be important that we structure data so Google can discover these relationships and understand context. Next time, we’ll talk about using Schema.org to implement semantic markup on your website.

 

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