5 Ways to Find Out What’s Wrong With Your SEO – And 3 Ways to Fix It

Are you attracting visitors to your website despite your digital marketing campaign? If not, there’s something seriously wrong with your strategies, particularly your search engine optimization (SEO). It is essential to do a regular SEO test or analysis to monitor the performance of your campaign.

Conducting a regular SEO assessment allows you to discover the fine points and flaws of your SEO campaign and make the necessary adjustments to optimize results. The upside is clear: with proper working SEO, you can attract valuable site traffic and potential leads. This article will discuss the common SEO mistakes you might incur, how to conduct an SEO analysis, and how to improve your SEO performance.

What Are the Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies to boost your sales. Becoming updated with the latest SEO optimization strategies will maximize the performance of your website. Here are some common SEO missteps you should avoid to ensure the effectiveness of your SEO campaign:

  • Practicing keyword stuffing – You might think that using your keywords a lot will boost your content’s rankings by Google and other search engines. However, it could be the opposite as too much keyword use or overstuffing will make your content spammy. If your content is labeled as spam, it will become useless and will hurt your SEO campaign.

    To avoid this label, use your keywords naturally at strategic placements. The best practice is to use your keyword in the first 100 words and include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords or variations of your main keyword throughout your content.
  • Posting plagiarized or non-original content – Using plagiarized or copied content on your website will make it a ‘pariah’ to search engines. Invest in producing original and valuable content to improve the performance of your website. Make sure to post relevant, informational, and error-free content to build the reputation of your site.
  • Failure to invest in a mobile-friendly website – The majority of Internet users nowadays use their mobile devices to access and consume content. In the United States, 94% of people use their smartphones to search for local news or information. Your rating on search engines will be severely affected if you fail to make your website mobile-friendly. To avoid a possible drop in your ranking, test if your website is mobile-compatible.
  • Using the wrong keywords – The wrong choice of keywords will leave your content at the bottom of search engine rankings. Even if your content is top-notch, if you fail to use the keywords preferred by users and search engines, it will be useless.

    To make sure you are using the right keywords, use optimization tools like SEMrush, Google Trends, and Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It would be best to use different types of keywords to increase the ranking of your content. These types are broad keywords, long-tail keywords, fat head keywords, and chunky middle keywords.
  • Failure to use title tags, image tags, and meta-descriptions – These SEO elements are important to search engines when crawling for content. Failing to include these essential components will hurt the researchability of your content.
  • Linking to low quality or unrelated internal and external links – Your use of internal and external links also affects the performance of your content’s SEO. Make sure your internal links are related to your content. Also, use reputable and well-ranking websites as external links.
  • Unwillingness to leverage social influencers to share your content – When sharing your content on social media, you should consider leveraging social influencers to promote it. Having an influencer to share your content will gain instant attention, while having them to promote your content will increase its visibility to the search engines.

    The many benefits of leveraging influencers to build your relationships and conduct structured outreach make this a must in your optimization plan.
  • Lack of SEO performance analytics and monitoring – Failure to analyze your content’s performance will leave you in the dark about how your SEO campaign performs. You may use tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to regularly monitor and evaluate your SEO campaign.
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5 Steps in Conducting an SEO Analysis

An SEO assessment is a vital part of your SEO strategy to boost your website content’s ranking potential in search engine results pages (SERP). This process will allow you to identify what’s working and what’s causing your content’s failure to rise. Let’s discuss the steps you should take to find out your website’s flaws:

  1. Investigate your visibility on search engines like Google – Start your analysis by determining your content’s SERP performance and the overall visibility of your website on search engines. Having a clear view of where your website sits on the rankings will allow you to develop an optimization plan.

    In calculating your search visibility, collect all the rankings of your keywords and compute the estimated click-through-rate (CTR) based on each ranking. Add all the CTRs and divide the total by the number of your keywords. The higher the result, the better is your website’s position in the Google rankings.
  2. Analyze your content – Your content is an essential component of your content marketing strategy. Make sure you have no duplicate content by eliminating every duplicate you found immediately. Start your analysis with your top ranked pages.

    There are several things to check in your content. Make sure your URLs are around four to five words long, and your meta-descriptions contain your primary keyword. Ensure your titles and headings are relevant and attention-grabbing and should also contain your keyword.

    Check the quality of your backlinks or external links. Try to link your content to ranking and trustworthy websites to increase your site’s reputation. Your internal links should also be relevant to your content. Make sure to fix any broken link to improve user experience and avoid its negative effects on your SEO.
  3. Check your domain, images, and technical SEO – To improve your SEO, use a simple, short, and easy to remember domain name that reflects your brand or business. Don’t use hyphens and special characters. To optimize your images, use alt tags and include keywords in your brief descriptions. Also, compress your images for faster loading of your content.

    Your technical SEO also affects the visibility of your website. Some of the technical components you should check are your XML sitemap, robots.txt file, and website security. You may buy a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to boost your security. – Read more

Leveraging Voice Search for Local Businesses

My Post (18).pngEach year, voice search increasingly becomes a more dominant force to reckon with. 20% of the global online population is already using voice search, and 58% of voice users employ it to run a local business search.

Last year, we undertook a study that focused on uncovering factors that influence voice search rankings in 2019. This year, as search results vary depending on location-specific queries, we decided to check how questions about local businesses and services alter the voice search results.

The 2020 study provides unique insights into the search algorithms that are behind various voice assistants to help businesses leverage the power of voice search.

About the 2020 Voice Search for Local Businesses Study

As voice search expands, the market keeps introducing more and more virtual assistants. If the previous year’s study focused exclusively on Google devices, this year we’ve added Siri and Alexa to cover almost 100% of the voice assistants market:

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To run the study, we employed the following devices:

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The main goal of the study was to understand how different voice assistants compare to one another when it comes to returning local results and to uncover the algorithms behind them:

  • By comparing all voice assistants in regards to basic parameters like answer length and number of questions they are able/unable to answer.
  • By analyzing factors that affect how voice assistants choose what local results to return.

Key Takeaways From the Study

There are a few key insights we’d like local businesses to take away from our findings to integrate them into their overall SEO and marketing strategies:

  • Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa take up comparable market share, so businesses should aim to adapt to all three assistants whose algorithms are drastically different.
  • The average answer length for all analyzed assistants is 23 words, and Google Assistant devices return the longest answers, at 41 words.
  • Alexa cannot return results for each fourth question, implying that this is mainly a home-based device that understands voice commands but is not intended for running search queries.
  • With Google-run devices, businesses can apply the “regular” local SEO logic by polishing their Local Pack presence and tweaking their content to match the more natural language of voice search queries.
  • To be present among Apple’s Siri replies, businesses have to aim for higher Yelp ratings and more positive customer reviews. Having a 4.5/5 Yelp rating with the biggest number of reviews will turn any business into the most popular local spot in Siri’s eyes.

Comparing Various Voice Assistants

Now, diving deeper into the findings, we will reveal the specificities of different voice assistants and uncover how they choose to return certain results over others.

1. What’s the Average Answer Length?

The average answer length returned by a voice assistant for a local-intent query is 23 words:

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With Google devices, the presence of a screen explains the difference in word count – the Google Home/Mini’s average answer length is 3.7X of the Home Hub.

2. Do Various Google Assistants Give the Same Answers?

Google assistants do not return the same results despite having similar algorithms. The average answer match between Google Assistants stands at a mere 22% across all devices.

  • Despite the difference in the nature of the devices, the Google Home Hub and Android phone have the highest percentage of matching results at 66%.
  • Only 0.33% of the answers match between the Google Home Mini and Android phone, despite the high match between the phone and Google Home Hub.

3. The Similarity of Answers Between Google Assistants

As Google Assistant devices run on similar algorithms, namely Google search, they essentially return the same answers, using different wording.

The main reason why we see any differences has to do with screen presence/absence. A screenless device typically returns a more detailed answer, whereas those with a screen often answer with ‘Here’s what I’ve found…’ or similar, and display the information on the screen.

4. How Many Queries Voice Assistants Couldn’t Answer

Our research confirms that voice assistants are getting better at understanding users.

The average percentage of questions that are unable to be answered across all devices is just 6.3%. This is a positive trend, as Forrester’s study suggested that, just over a year ago, this figure was as high as 35%.

Of the six devices we analyzed, five of them struggled to answer only five or fewer questions out of every hundred asked, whereas Alexa struggled to answer almost one in four. – Read more

How to Get Your SEO and PPC Teams on the Same Page

My Post (8).pngYou wouldn’t hire a brain surgeon to treat your heart condition. Different conditions require different specialists. It’s the same for search engine marketing. SEO has a role. PPC has a role. And, like holistic medicine, they work best when tightly integrated.

Easier said than done. Too often, marketers find themselves managing multiple agencies or internal teams, each of which is trying to accomplish their goals. The result is an inefficient, ineffective strategy.

Deeply integrated teams, in contrast, deliver:

  • Streamlined communication across multiple teams, allowing you to play the role of air traffic controller rather than carrier pigeon.
  • Clear expectations to ensure agency partners strategize effectively, with a high degree of accountability and without a self-preservation bias.

So how do you get there? Ask the following six questions to help SEO and PPC teams collaborate—and achieve better results than either could on their own.

1. Are SEO and PPC teams communicating effectively and sharing insights?

SEO and PPC teams that don’t communicate effectively (or at all) achieve less.

For example, our PPC team discovered fast-moving trends during the onset of COVID-19 for an events management company. Search volume dried up overnight for generic queries like “summer concerts in Richmond, VA,” as well as branded events that had been canceled.

Shortly thereafter, we discovered a corresponding increase in paid search queries for “things to do during quarantine in Richmond, VA.” The PPC team noticed the changes in search behavior and informed the SEO team so they could start creating relevant content to position the client ahead of the trend.

The first step is to establish communication channels between teams and set expectations about when and how to use them. Focus less on the tools (e.g., Slack vs. email) and more on the integration of existing workflows and communication paths.

In pre-COVID days, our SEO and PPC teams sat in close proximity, so conversations could naturally flow between them. Now that we’re remote, we share threaded conversations in Basecamp (our project management tool of choice) so both teams are aware of the others’ activities.

Encourage your teams to over-communicate. Response times are a critical factor to address market change; prioritize speed over formality. It may not be possible or necessary to have everybody on each phone call or impromptu discussion. We share client call notes internally (again, in Basecamp) to create a paper trail and immediately bring everybody up to speed.

Not sure who needs to be included in each conversation? I prefer the RACI model to determine who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed in cross-functional projects. – Read more

3 Areas of SEO to Address by the End of 2020

My Post (6).pngIt’s no lie to say that websites are constantly having to adapt to the SEO changes search engines, such as Google, make to further improve the user experiences online. However, ultimately, the core SEO has, pretty much, stayed the same: provide high quality and unique content that web users will find useful and enjoy reading. The SEO I am talking about is the ‘little’ things around the side that can help boost the high-quality content SEO.

These areas will not make or break the SEO of an article but are a catalyst for improving or declining the SEO. This means, if you have great content, it will still rank very high for certain keyword search phrases. However, if you want to get to the top spot instead of second, making sure to address the below SEO elements will really help towards the end of 2020.

 

Core Web Vitals

Core web vitals are a fairly new addition by Google to address concerns regarding page speed and user experience. They fall under three elements:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – this measures loading performance: how long does it take for the largest contentful paint to be loaded. Google states under 2.5 seconds are good, whilst 4+ seconds as poor.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – this measures interactivity: how quickly is the web page able to become interact upon being requested to load. Under 100 milliseconds is deemed good, whilst over 300 milliseconds is poor.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – this measures the web page stability: how the content moves with different parts of loading, or how responsive and stable the site is. If it is under 100 milliseconds, this is good, whilst over 250 milliseconds is poor.

Google has stated that core web vitals will influence the SEO of a website/article, but not by early 2021. For this reason, there is still plenty of time for website owners to address any concerns that your website might have with core web vitals.

How much of an impact poor core web vitals will have on a website is still yet to be seen. The general consensus of the community is that it will help an article, but it won’t ‘make or break’ an article – content will always be king for that.

 

Page speed

Related very much to core web vitals, the speed of a website has a direct impact to the SEO of it. If there are two websites with similar content, you can bet the website with a quicker page speed will rank higher.

Page speed’s SEO weighting has increased, almost in correlation with Google moving towards mobile indexing. Therefore, it is vitally important to make sure the mobile version of your website is as quick as it can be, both for SEO reasons and user experience. – Read more

 

SEO vs. PPC: Are You Making the Most of Them?

My Post (20)One of the questions that are often asked of marketers is whether budgets should be allocated toward SEO or PPC or spread between both.

This is a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer as it very much depends on a whole host of different factors, including:

  • Your goals and objectives
  • Your budget and resources
  • Your industry
  • Your current performance

But these discussions are nothing new. There has been an ongoing debate around SEO vs. PPC for many years.
Deciding where best to invest your marketing budget can be a difficult task for business owners. So, the big question is: Is it better to use pay-per-click (PPC) to buy your way to the top of the search results or should you put your efforts into an organic (SEO) strategy?

You know you can’t ignore channels that can drive traffic from the search engines, but which is the higher priority?

It depends.

To make a decision on which strategy to use, you need to understand the pros and cons of both SEO and PPC, and how they can work together to drive growth for your business. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into each of these tactics and help you to figure out which channel is right for you, specifically looking at:

  • SEO as a Growth Strategy
    • The Pros of SEO
    • The Cons of SEO
  • PPC as a Growth Strategy
    • The Pros of PPC
    • The Cons of PPC
  • SEO vs PPC – Which is Right for Your Business?
    • Choosing a Single Channel
    • Integrating SEO and PPC for Search Success
    • Retargeting
    • Run Ads and Use Data to Inform Your SEO Strategy
    • Own Brand Bidding
    • Using Shopping Ads to Target Buyers

SEO as a Growth Strategy

SEO is all about ranking on the organic (or natural) results on a search engine results page (SERP).

Run any search on Google and the organic listings are those that come after any paid ads or shopping results and are what have historically been known as 10 blue links.

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To succeed at driving increased visibility from SEO, it is important to understand how to properly optimize your website. You need to ensure that the search engines are able to crawl your site, understand your content, index it, and show that your site is a significant authority.

With more than 200 ranking factors used by Google’s Algorithm, it takes a smart marketer (or, more realistically, marketing team) to understand how to win at:

  • Technical SEO
  • On-Page SEO
  • Link Building
  • Content Marketing
  • UX
  • and so much more!

However, ranking is no simple task. The complexity of SEO (at least in comparison to other channels) and the fact that Google’s algorithm is constantly being updated means that it takes the right balance of a multitude of factors for your site to perform well.

And, according to Jason Barnard in our ‘What is SEO?’ guide:

How high in the rankings and how often you appear is merit-based; these engines will show the results they consider to be the best fit for their users.

— Jason Barnard

SEO is all about creating the best result on the web for a search query and those who are able to do that can drive significant volumes of traffic.

The Pros of SEO

But just what are the main advantages of SEO that you need to know about when figuring out where to invest your marketing budget? – Read more

How to Win the “SEO vs. PPC” Debate

My Post (2).pngBelieve it or not, some marketers are still taking sides in the “SEO vs. PPC” debate. I can understand the passion on both sides of the aisle, but I’d compare it to an argument about the need for “air vs. water.” Depending on your immediate circumstances, one may be more important than another—but both are necessary for survival.

To those passionately arguing that SEO is better than PPC, or vice versa, I propose a truce based on the potential for incremental gains when we work together.

For those seeking answers to the question, “should I invest in PPC or SEO,” buckle up—we’re about to unpack a debate that has raged for more than a decade to help you decide how to prioritize your digital marketing efforts.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of improving your brand’s visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs) to attract more visitors to your web properties.

It’s not limited to just web search engines, though. SEO strategies also improve your visibility in maps search results, image and video search results, shopping listings, app stores, and social media search results.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising positions your brand in sponsored ad positions on search results pages. Advertisers have more control over the targeted keywords, audiences, and creative, but they pay for each click to their website.

Screenshot of a typical Google Ad
A search ad is most commonly found at the top of the search results.

Many marketers oversimplify the difference between SEO and PPC with a half-truth like, “SEO is free but PPC costs money.” While it’s true that clicks on organic search results don’t cost you money, there’s a good chance that your content won’t rank consistently well unless you invest in people, content, and tools to step up your SEO game. You get what you pay for.

Another misperception is that PPC has to be expensive. Sure, PPC can be pricey if you don’t put proper safeguards in place to protect your wallet. You wouldn’t just leave your debit card hanging out of an ATM, would you? No, you protect it with a PIN and withdrawal limits. Similarly, you protect your PPC spend by setting daily budgets and monitoring your campaigns for wasteful spending on irrelevant keywords.

Which channel is better at increasing revenue?

That’s a trick question. It’s both.

SEO and PPC can generate qualified traffic to your site and improve your chances of converting more visitors to customers. And surveys conducted by Google and Nielsen suggest that brands get more combined clicks on ads and organic results when both are present on a SERP. Sharing insights and integrating your paid and organic search strategies will yield more growth than focusing all of your resources on one versus the other.


How do you measure the success of an SEO strategy vs. a PPC campaign?

Start with your business objectives. In most cases, the overall aim is to increase revenue, leads, sales, or engagement. Successful SEO and PPC strategies can create measurable impacts on your business, quantified with a few key metrics at each step in the customer journey.

This is not an exhaustive list of the metrics that you can measure, but it does show the similarities and overlaps between SEO and PPC that can be exploited.

The SEO or PPC zealots can each claim superiority in some of these metrics. But savvy marketers realize that neither channel exists in a vacuum and we should focus on the contribution of each channel to shared goals.

Attribution Is the Future Present

In most cases, consumers interact with your brand multiple times before converting. And like snowflakes, no two conversion paths are the same. There are likely multiple touchpoints that must be accounted for to get a true picture of the customer journey.  – Read more

The Only SEO Checklist You Will Need in 2020: 41 Best Practices

My Post.pngIf you are looking for an SEO checklist that will help you to increase your site’s organic traffic and rank on Google, you have just found it.

We have put together the ultimate checklist that you need to drive SEO success in 2020, covering 41 best practice points and tasks that you need to know about.

From the SEO basics to must-knows when analyzing your off-page signals, use this as a reference point for ensuring that your site is adhering to best-practice and that you’re not being held back by issues that you have missed.

Here are the main categories I will cover in this guide:

  • How to Use This SEO Checklist
  • SEO Basics Checklist
  • A Keyword Research Checklist
  • Technical SEO Checklist
  • On-Page SEO and Content Checklist
  • Off-Page SEO Checklist

How to Use This SEO Checklist

We’ve broken this checklist down into sections that cover the main focus areas of SEO; the basics, keyword research, technical SEO, on-page SEO, and content and off-page factors.

There’s a good chance that your site already covers many of these points, and if it does, great!

However, we also know that all websites have opportunities to improve and are confident that you will find at least some best-practice areas that you have overlooked.

Some of these points might not be relevant to you, and that is OK!

Work through the list, reference these against your site, resolve issues, and maximize opportunities where you can. SEO success doesn’t come from simply following a checklist, but to outrank your competitors; you need to make sure you are at least covering most of these points.

SEO Basics Checklist

If you haven’t got the basics covered, your site will struggle to rank for competitive terms.

The following points are very much housekeeping tasks but form the basics of implementing a successful SEO strategy.

1. Set Up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Google Search Console is an essential tool that provides you with invaluable insights into your site’s performance as well as a wealth of data that you can use to grow your site’s organic visibility and traffic.

You can learn more about why it is so important to use, how to set it up, and more in our definitive guide.

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Bing Webmaster Tools is the equivalent platform, just providing data and insights for their search engine.

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These all-important tools allow you to view the search terms and keywords that users are finding your site on the SERPs for, submit sitemaps, identify crawl errors, and much more.

If you have not got these set up, do so now, and thank us later.

2. Set Up Google Analytics

Without the right data, you can’t make the right decisions.

Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that allows you to view data and insights about how many people are visiting your site, who they are, and how they are engaging with it.

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Our definitive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the tool as a beginner, including how to set it up and the reports that you will find the most useful, but one this is for sure, and that is that you can’t run a successful SEO strategy without it.

You will also need to connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console to import data from the latter.

3. Install and Configure An SEO Plugin (If You Are Using WordPress)

If you are using WordPress as your CMS (which there is a pretty good chance that you are, given that it now powers 35% of the web), you should install and configure an SEO plugin to provide the functionality and features that you need to properly optimize your site.

In SEMrush’s recently published WordPress SEO checklist, we have SEO plugin suggestions for you. Whichever plugin you choose pretty much comes down to personal preference, but these are three great options.

If you are using a different CMS to WordPress, speak with your developer to see whether you need to install a dedicated SEO plugin or module or whether the features that you need are included out of the box.

Plug in SEO, as an example, is one of the most popular Shopify SEO apps.

4. Generate and Submit A Sitemap

The purpose of a sitemap is to help search engines decide which pages should be crawled and which the canonical version of each is.

It is simply a list of URLs that specify your site’s main content to make sure that it gets crawled and indexed.

In Google’s own words:

A sitemap tells the crawler which files you think are important in your site, and also provides valuable information about these files: for example, for pages, when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and any alternate language versions of a page.

Google supports a number of different sitemap formats, but XML is the most commonly used. You will usually find your site’s sitemap at https://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml 

If you are using WordPress and one of the plugins mentioned above, you will find that generating a sitemap is standard functionality.

Otherwise, you can generate an XML sitemap with one of the many sitemap generator tools that are available. In fact, we recently updated our ultimate guide to sitemaps, which includes our top recommendations.

Once you have generated your sitemap, make sure that this is submitted to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

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Make sure to also reference your sitemap in your robots.txt file.

5. Create a Robots.txt File

Quite simply, your site’s robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers the pages and files that web crawlers can or can’t request from your site.

Most commonly, it is used to prevent certain sections of your site from being crawled and is not intended to be used as a way to de-index a webpage and stop it showing on Google.

You can find your site’s robots.txt file at https://www.domain.com/robots.txt

Check whether you already have one in place.

If you don’t, you need to create one – even if you are not currently needing to prevent any web pages from being crawled.

Several WordPress SEO plugins allow users to create and edit their robots.txt file, but if you are using a different CMS, you might need to manually create the file using a text editor and upload it to the root of your domain.

You can learn more about how to use robots.txt files in this beginner’s guide.

6. Check Search Console For Manual Actions

In rare instances, you might find that your site has been negatively affected by having a manual action imposed upon it.

Manual actions are typically caused by a clear attempt to violate or manipulate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – this includes things like user-generated spam, structured data issues, unnatural links (both to and from your site), thin content, hidden text and even what is referred to as pure spam.

Most sites won’t be affected by a manual action and never will be.

That said, you can check for these in the manual actions tab in Google Search Console. – Read more

Why SEO Should Be The Foundation Of Any Small Business’s Digital Marketing Strategy

My PostIn my line of work, I’m often asked, “What is this SEO thing I’ve been hearing a lot about, and why should I care about it?” These days, businesses already have to worry about website design and social media, so most business owners may not even be aware that search engine optimization (SEO) is a thing. If this sounds like you, then this guide might be of some help.

What is SEO?

Simply put, SEO is the process of optimizing your website in order to get organic or unpaid traffic from search engines like Google or Bing. It increases both the quality and the quantity of traffic to your site.

This means making changes to your website’s content and design that will make it rank highly on different search engine results pages. But why should you care about your website being the top result on Google? Why is generating organic traffic better than paying for ads?

The Internet’s Librarians

Imagine that you are one of the librarians for the most complete repository of knowledge and data that humanity has ever created. Imagine that millions of people come to you every day looking for information on a specific subject—for example, on Nietzsche or the Oscars or how to cook the perfect steak.

In order to help each person find the information they are looking for in a fast, efficient manner, you will need to know a bit about what each book in your library is about. You also need to arrange all the books according to some type of system—perhaps alphabetically, year of publication or by topic or keywords.

Search engines act like the internet’s librarians. They try to match the user’s search terms with the most relevant information in their database, and we need to understand how they do this in order to understand why SEO is so important.

How Search Engines Work

Search engines work in three steps. First, they send crawlers through all available content on the internet—webpages, images, audio, video and so on. Crawlers are bots that send snapshots of all accessible content back to the search engine’s servers.

Next, the information is organized into a searchable list. This huge list is called a search index and can serve as the basis for a raw keyword search. But good search engines like Google and Bing go one step further.

These search engines rank all the pieces of content relevant to a searcher’s query, using an algorithm to order the generated list from most relevant to least relevant. These algorithms are always changing, with Google, in particular, making constant adjustments.

Search engines that consistently deliver relevant results gain repeat users. These loyal users learn to depend on that search engine above all others. Recent data shows that Google and Bing make up almost 85% of all internet searches. This indicates a high level of user trust in these search engines. – Read more

Link Building for SEO: Which Strategies Work in 2020 (and Which Don’t)

My Post (25)If you want to rank a website on Google in 2020, you can’t ignore the importance of link building and the need to put together a solid strategy that will help you earn high-quality links. In fact, links remain one of the top three most important ranking factors out there.

That said, whether you are a total SEO beginner and are learning how to build links for the first time or have been doing it for years and just want to find new tactics that still work, there are literally dozens of approaches you can take.

In this guide, you will learn how to build links with strategies and tactics that are still effective and that will help you to earn those top-ranking positions, as well as knowing those that will see you wasting time and resources and that could potentially have a negative impact on your organic visibility.

We will share quick win tactics alongside those that need a little more time and planning, but that can truly help you to get those ‘can’t buy’ links.

If you want to learn how to build better links than your competitors, then read on…

What is Link Building?

Link building is a key part of any successful SEO strategy that involves getting other websites to link to yours — a simple hyperlink from one site to another. It is also agreed by many that it is one of the hardest parts of ranking a website, whilst one of the most rewarding when you get it right.

Not familiar with how links work?

When website A links to website B, it s a strong hint to Google’s algorithm that it deserves to rank higher for relevant keywords, and you might hear these referred to as inbound links, backlinks, external links, or, quite simply, just links.

You can think of links from other websites like votes.

The more high quality links that point to your website (and form part of your backlink profile), the higher you should rank on Google, and, therefore, the higher level of organic traffic you should receive.

However, links aren’t all created equal, and some can even cause your website to decrease in visibility, something that we will cover shortly.

There are many different tactics that you can use to build links, some easier to execute than others, and knowing where to get started can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are aware that some can do more harm than good.

Why is Link Building Important For SEO?

Link building takes time and effort. There is no hiding from that fact.

It is also hard to get right, meaning that those who can successfully execute tactics to build better links than their competitors typically see significant growth in organic traffic and revenue.

And that is why you need to understand why links are so important and should account for a considerable portion of your SEO campaigns’ resources.

We delved deep into the importance of link building for SEO in our guide to backlinks, which you should check out for a detailed introduction to the what and the why behind this key pillar of any successful campaign.

However, the main reasons why you need to make sure you are placing a strong focus on link building as an SEO are:

  • You will rank higher on Google and other search engines.
  • Google will find new pages on your site faster.
  • You’ll enjoy increased credibility and trustworthiness as a business.
  • You could benefit from targeted referral traffic.

You can’t ignore link building, and you need to make sure you are rolling out tactics that give you a competitive advantage, something that we will show you how to do in this guide.

What Are the Key Elements of a Successful Link Building Strategy?

There is more to link building than it may seem, and not just in terms of the complexity of those tactics that deliver the best results and impact.

When planning a link building strategy, you need to remember that not all links are equal and that there are key elements that drive forward success.

You shouldn’t be building links blindly.

By that, we mean that you need to know what a great link looks like for you and fully understand that the more effort you put into getting the right links, the better impact you will see.

Here are some of the key components that you need to focus on that make up a great link building strategy to help you understand what a great link profile looks like.

1. Contextual Links

Links on a page that are more likely to be clicked are typically those that hold the most value and can have the biggest impact on rankings and the way that Google measures the value of a link is with PageRank, and its ‘reasonable surfer model‘ parent indicates that different features associated with links change how this flows.
Bill Slawski explains this as:

If a link is in the main content area of a page, uses a font and color that might make it stand out, and uses text that may make it something likely that someone might click upon it, then it could pass along a fair amount of PageRank. On the other hand, if it combines features that make it less likely to be clicked upon, such as being in the footer of a page, in the same color text as the rest of the text on that page, and the same font type, and uses anchor text that doesn’t interest people, it may not pass along a lot of PageRank.

— Bill Slawski

Contextual links, those placed in the body of a web page’s content as opposed to the footer or sidebar, as an example, are typically higher quality links and are key to a successful strategy.

2. A High Percentage of ‘Followed’ Links

Not all links pass PageRank and impact a site’s rankings.

Links can have different attributes applied, with the main ones you need to know to be nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links.

Links that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute give a hint that Google should not crawl them and that they should not associate the two sites from a ranking perspective.

Rel=”sponsored” attributes indicate that a link has been paid for (and therefore should not pass PageRank).

Rel=”UGC” showcases links that come from user-generated content such as forums and comments and indicates that these links are not editorially placed and may be manipulative.

If a link is referred to as a ‘followed’ link (or sometimes, a ‘dofollow’ link – even though this is technically not the right terminology), it means that there are no attributes in place that prevent PageRank from being passed and a great link profile should contain a high percentage of these, so long as they come from quality sources.

3. Editorially Placed Links

Editorially placed links are simply those that exist because a third-party has taken the decision to add a link from their website to yours, rather than because of payment, some other incentive, or that you were the one responsible for placing it and did so to increase your rankings.

The most effective links are editorially placed, and Google themselves highlight in their guidelines that links that don’t fall under this categorization can be deemed unnatural. – Read more