Actionable SEO Advice

Okay, so you know what SEO is, how Google crawls the internet with spiders, and you have a vague idea of what makes good SEO; content with keywords and phrases and a number of quality backlinks. Now you want to take action. You want to know the best way to start ranking up in Google. Good news for you, this blog post is all about the most actionable techniques you can use to start optimizing your site right away.

One of the most important aspect of SEO is link building. Google’s PageRank algorithm is heavily biased towards link building – so much that being linked to by other high-ranking pages is probably the best thing you can do to increase your websites search engine visibility with Google. While it is a bit more complex than this, you can think of a backlink (an incoming link) as an up vote or recommendation from somebody. Of course, when it comes to recommendations, people are more inclined to give more weight to, say, Abraham Lincoln’s recommendation than they are to a random person’s from off the street. This is why it is important to be backlinked from the Abraham Lincolns of the internet world. It’s important no note, too, that while being linked by an authority – like Abraham Lincoln (Wikipedia, CNN, etc..) – linking to authority in your niche – such as being linked by a Steve Jobs about modern design principles – is better. While you might not rank higher than Abraham Lincoln about general things, when people search for design principles, Google will rank your site higher than Abraham Lincoln because you are linked by a Steve Jobs, an authority on modern design principles. And because it is harder to get a link from an Abraham Lincoln or a Steve Jobs than it is from a John Doe blog, the links from Lincoln or Jobs will provide more SEO juice than a link from John Doe.

By this point, I’m sure you’re sick of metaphors. Me too.

While you’re busy trying to get your website linked from leader’s in your niche, it’s also important to know just how to check if your hard work is paying off. You can do this with Google Analytics, a free tool provided by Google. Google Analytics allows you to track what keywords are bringing in the most traffic, find out what content on your website is getting the most traffic, discover what demographic visits your site, and find out which backlinks are providing the most traffic. Basically, Google Analytics allows you to find out what in your SEO tool set is working, and refine your process further until you start achieving the results that you are looking for.

I want to end this blog post with a short discussion on single most actionable piece of SEO advice.

Network network network!

You are not the only one embarking upon a quest for a Search Engine Optimized websites or blogs! There are others just as new to this world as you are. Seek them out, befriend them, and link to each other’s sites! Some of these John Doe buddies will may flame out, some may slowly but surely grow in their niche, and some may blow up into the next Abraham Lincolns or Steve Jobs! When you are all working together and truly wishing to see each other succeed, only good things can happen.

Effective SEO Tactics – What Works and What Doesn’t?

Search Engine Optimization is in a constant state of flux. Google is constantly changing it’s search engine algorithms, and each iteration of the algorithm that Google puts out it makes it harder and harder to leverage and exploit. No longer will trading linkbacks with others skyrocket you to the top of Google’s search results. While there is still value in constant linking to and from your website, Google is looking to rank quality content the highest when it comes to SEO. It is better to start focusing on converting the traffic you already have than on bringing more traffic that is less likely to convert in.

Google changes its search algorithms close to 550 times every year – usually via justsmall, tiny tweaks, but sometimes withlarge, sweeping changes such as the latest Penguin update. This means that, as far as SEO goes, what worked yesterday might not work today. However, the only things that stays constant for Google is it’s mission – to provide the most relevant and useful information to its users. The biggest changes to Google’s algorithms – Caffeine, Hummingbird, Panda, and now Penguin – were designed to do just that. It is becoming clearer and clearer that trading links within a network no longer has the same oomph it once did. This is not to say that linking has lost it’s usefulness – Google still uses links to help determine a page’s relevance and content. Internal linking practices, such as leaving a breadcrumb trail of links from a website’s homepage are still worth doing and will help provide context for Google’s search engine.

The main goal of Google is to provide it’s users with the content that is the most helpful to them. In this pursuit, content is King. Make this your new SEO mantra! Content is King! Content is King! Content is King! Google’s algorithms are being produced to this end. Great content is most central to ranking in Google because content is read by people – not robots. Content is shared by people and their entire social network. But only quality content, something that brings value to a person’s life is worth sharing. This is what shows up most in Google’s index.

We’re seeing a gradual shift from links to other signals – particularly user signals such as click through rate, bounce rate, time spent on the site and so on. The days of just blasting links to a site are long gone.
Sebastian Johnsson, creator of Smartlend.se, a comparison site where consumers can borrow money/låna pengar in Sweden.

Those with websites should not focus so much on getting more traffic to their site. Instead, the focus should be on converting the traffic that is already present. After all, the entire point of bringing more traffic to your site is to increase sales, or readers, or subscribers, or followers, etc. There’s absolutely no point in ranking highly in Google if the traffic you bring in does not stick around because none of the site’s content was engaging to them. When this happens, you may as well not have gotten the traffic in the first place!

Ever since the advent of Search Engine Optimization, many have been preoccupied with “cracking the code” of Google’s search algorithm. The people that do this have been barking up the wrong tree. Google is not about rewarding those that score highest on who has the best links. Google is focused on its end user, and is determined to make sure that only the most useful and relevant information gets shared with them.

Will SEO Ever Die?

As of late, there has been quite a buzz around the tech blogoshpere and tech news sites about the death of SEO. Many are claiming that Search Engine Optimization has become or is becoming obsolete, especially with the constant changing of Google’s searching and indexing algorithms. These claims often come from those who don’t truly understand SEO, and ironically many others are simply taking advantage of this trend to drive traffic to their blogs, thus implementing a rudimentary version of SEO! SEO is not dead, and it is unlikely that it will come to pass anytime soon.

 

The number one reason why SEO will probably never die is because the internet has become much too large to navigate otherwise. The internet got so large in fact that in 2008 that Google stopped counting. There is simply too much data for any one person to wade through in order to find what they’re looking for. When there is this much of anything, there needs to be a system set in place in order to find what you’re looking for. By the very nature of a system, there is a set of rules, a procedure, an algorithm set in place to accomplish this.

As long as there are people that want to find something, and people that want to be found, there will be search engines. As long as there are search engines, there will be people trying to rank higher in a search engine, a la SEO.

When people make the absurd claim that SEO is dead or dying, they are probably simply misunderstanding what SEO really is. Practicing SEO, at its core, is simply trying to figure out the rules of a search engine and then attempting to follow those rules as closely as possible. The only way Search Engine Optimization will ever die is if there ceases to be search engines.

The rules of the search engine are constantly changing, however. Google has begun to change it’s search algorithms 550 times every year. That’s almost twice a day, every day of the year. The result is an ever changing rule set on what ranks well and what doesn’t. For example, one of the first, most widely used SEO tactics was to trade linkbacks with just about everybody you knew. Business sprung up overnight, promising thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of web pages linking back too yours for a fee. And for awhile, it worked. All it would take is some linkbacks to your website and your place in Google’s search results skyrocketed. Since then, the rules have changed. It’s not so much just how many links you have, but the quality of those links as well.

In this case, the tactics of SEO have changed. Long gone are the days when 1000 links to your site put you on Google’s front page of searches. The effectiveness of these tactics may have died down a bit, but the actual practice of SEO has not died. Far from it. SEO is alive and well, and it is evolving.

How to do SEO for a Startup

KNOW YOUR CONCEPTS AND KEYWORDS

Start by determining what customer behaviors you want to be a part of and what concepts you want to be associated with.

PLAN YOUR CONTENT INVESTMENTS AND PRACTICE CONTENT MARKETING

Now that you have a handle on your key concepts and have built a strategic keyword list, you’re ready to create a high-level plan for content creation.

ENSURE YOUR SITE IS TECHNICALLY FLAWLESS

Modern content management systems do a pretty good job in this area, and if you are using WordPress you are really lucky as there are some great SEO plugins that make tuning the technical side of things easy.

GET YOUR ON-PAGE AND METADATA ACT IN ORDER

Best practice is to build this front-end metadata into your templates where appropriate and have them pull the right attributes from the database or have your writers enter the values into the CMS at the point of content creation.

DEVELOP YOUR SOCIAL AUTHORITY PLAN

This means you need to determine who in your company will become active on Google+ and other key social graph and authority platforms like LinkedIn to champion your brand, create content, and get connected to other authoritative people.

MOBILIZE, LOCALIZE, AND SOCIALIZE YOUR CONTENT AND PEOPLE

Search engines are geo-locating results more and more – not just the local results block but the core web results as well. Create geo-targeted evergreen pages, create geo-optimized profiles, location pages, support or reseller pages, whatever. No matter how abstract your business is you can find some way to make it locally relevant.

PRACTICE DISTRIBUTED, SEARCH-INFORMED COMMUNICATIONS AND PR

It’s not just press releases. It’s interviews, it’s getting your employees to link to deep pages from their Google+ profiles, and it’s drawing attention to the deep functionality of the site so that bloggers and other folks will link to them and discuss them.

TRAIN EDITORS, PUBLISHERS, AND WRITERS ON SEO AND LINKING

Be sure to put your writers and editors through SEO and social media bootcamp before you go live. Get them to understand content metrics and target keywords. Make sure they push their content on Google+, LinkedIn, wherever it’s relevant. The idea is to do content marketing, not content creation. If a particular writer gets a lot of inbound links or tweets, let them know rewards will follow.

PUT KEY METRICS, REPORTING TOOLS, AND REPORTING CADENCE IN PLACE

Having a content metrics and inbound marketing reporting plan in place before you launch is a great way to ensure these elements don’t get de-scoped or forgotten. There are a ton of tools out there to help you evaluate content both from a social sharing as well as an SEO perspective. Add in traditional web analytics and you have a good idea of how well acquisition content is doing.

ALLOCATE DOLLARS FOR CONTENT PROMOTION AND SYNDICATION

At this point, you pretty much have a plan in place. Now you need to understand how you’re going to promote, syndicate, and generally give you content a push out the door.

 

 

The Best SEO Plugins for WordPress

SEOPressor

SEOPressor is all in one and truly the most powerful WordPress SEO plugin ever built. It has power to manage all your pages, posts, custom post formats or in simple terms your complete website.

Ultimate Video SEO Plugin

One of the most important features of this plugin is its ability to automatically fetch video SEO details from its respective video hosting service. Furthermore it even generated video sitemap which helps Google and other search engines to easily index you new pages and its content. Thus this plugin helps to rank your video higher on SERP and helps to drive extra organic traffic. Currently it supports almost all major video hosting websites like YouTube, Vimeo, dailymotion and many more.

All in One SEO Pack

It can automatically generate meta description, meta keywords for your blog posts. It can automatically optimize your titles using best practices. Additionally it can even add alternate tags to all your images within any of your posts. This is really important task as search bots can understand the graphics and they only need the text based explanation. Finally it’s the only SEO plugin which has extended support for eCommerce websites. And with its advanced algorithms it can check your blog for any kind of duplicate pages so as to prevent panda penalty. Overall its a complete solution for novice to advance users.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

It gives you custom boxes to place meta description and keyword tags. Then it automatically checks keyword density in your post, checks if the targeted phase is present in title, post url. It even provides you hint where to place the keyword so as to get better position. Finally with the complete analysis on links (both inbound and outbound) it provides you with the rating based on 100%.

WP Social

This plugin is all about making your website social friendly. We all know that Google has been considering social signals to rank web pages on SERP. And so we should take every step whether small or big to make our site more user and social friendly. Few of the important things are adding social media sharing buttons, using Facebook open graph tag, adding twitter meta data, using Google authorship and finally adding microdata.

Google Sitemap

A powerful yet easy to use plugin from bestwebsoft; it allows you to easily create and submit your sitemaps to Google webmaster and bing webmaster tool. It even generates the .gzip file which Google usually uses and considers.

SEO Friendly Images

SEO friendly images’ WordPress plugin automatically adds the alternate and title tags to each and every image on every individual post. It will use your post title as the keyword and then will implement it. The best part is that it even makes your article W3C/xHTML valid.

Must-Have Tools for SEO Professionals

While it’s easy to get distracted by all the shiny, new analytic tech out there on the web, it’s important to remember that tools are just that – tools. Having a tool belt and a van doesn’t make you a general contractor. General contractors need to have extensive knowledge and know-how about building whatever he is hired to build if they plan to stay in business for any length of time. The same is true about SEO. You first need a solid foundation of understanding before you can truly call yourself an SEO professional. You then use your tools to leverage what you already know.

Now, with that sobering tidbit out of the way, here’s a list of 7 of the best SEO tools, recommended BY SEO professionals.

1. Google Analytics

 

Nobody understands Google better than Google. This free suite of tools can be surprisingly powerful, and is always growing. It easily allows you to track not only data about your own websites, but to see the latest trends and changing whims of the marketplace. A great place to start out as far as tools are concerned

2. Ubersuggest

 

A free keyword suggestion tool. It’s great for content creation and can be especially useful for bloggers. It can identify the best keywords to use for any given search queries – great if your targeting a very specific niche market.
3. Screaming Frog

 

Screaming Frog a piece of freemium software – meaning that you can use it in a limited fashion for free. Screaming Forg allows you to spider a website’s content from an SEO perspective. You can also export whatever data you get from into Excel. Useful for both novices and professionals.

4. SEOmoz

 

SEOmoz includes an entire suite of premium and extremely useful SEO tools. Everything from analyzing competitors to crawling your own website is possible with SEOmoz.

Also, the website has a ton of free resources, such as tutorials and how-to guides. A good place to start for those just getting into SEO.

5. Raven Tools

 

Another suite of impressive, robust SEO tools, Raven Tools is often lauded for its flexibility in SEO campaigns. In addition to one-word keyword research to link acquisition to even social media monitoring, Raven Tools can also create automated SEO reports – a great time saver for the busy Search Engine Optimizer.

6. WordPress

 

While not primarily an SEO tool, WordPress has become so ubiquitous in it’s usage that most – if not all of your clients will be using WordPress as their website’s platform. Becoming familiar with Worpress will pay dividends when working for clients. It’s also a platform to build your website(s) on as well, even if they’re just dummy sites used to test your SEO.

7. Yoast SEO

 

The most easy-to-use SEO software in the world. Well, technically, Yoast is not a piece of SEO software, but rather a free plugin for use on WordPress. If as a blogger you learn nothing else about SEO, at the bare minimum you should be using the Yoast plugin. If as a blogger you are not using wordpress for your blog, well, then you’ve got bigger problems on your hands. Refer to number 6 of this list.

There you have it. 7 of the best SEO tools you could ever use.

Some SEO Secrets You Might not Know

Today’s SEO is changing. Google is evolving, and with it the search algorithms used to index the internet. With the unveiling of Panda, Google completely turned the SEO world upside down. While some saw a significant boost in their Google ranking and traffic, other websites went from 5000 visitors a day to 5. Yet there are still some people trying to sell the SEO tactics of yesteryear – tactics that simply no longer work. Here are some SEO secrets that most Search Engine Optimizers seem not to know.

Firstly, being the first result in Google means a lot. It fact, it means close to 30% more than traffic than the second result in Google.

 

Anybody that tells you ranking highly in Google does not matter is either lying or is ignorant of today’s modern reality. Google knows that ranking highly on their search engine matters. That’s why the Panda update purged low quality websites from the top of Google’s search results. Websites that were filled with simple filler-content that was written for robots and with paid-for backlinks – websites that offered no real value to Google’s users – suddenly disappeared from the search results, as if they’d never existed in the first place.

Today Google is trying to find and reward websites with the most authoritative, relevant content, websites that provide actual value to users. Google has started this by treating social activity – such as retweets and likes – as the new backlinks. Content that is genuinely valuable will likely be shared by any user to their personal network of friends – a kind of social proof. Social media is becoming a new source of SEO juice – it’s not just for referrals to your site anymore.

Google has also started using a site’s bounce rate – a metric that shows how many people “bounce” from your site after viewing just one web page – as a means to determine how valuable your site is as well. You want to keep your bounce rate as low as possible. This means having a well-designed website that leads to a nice user experience. Easy ways to do this include adding relevant links at the bottom and to the sides of the main content of the page to encourage the user to click on another link.

You should also make sure your website looks good on a mobile platform. More and more people are beginning to use mobile devices more frequently than their desktops or laptops, meaning that having a good desktop design but a bad mobile design could lead to an inflated bounce rate.

Google has also started including the importance of having a core readership that returns consistently to the website. A website with a steady audience is providing value, as far as Google is concerned. Ways to increase this include constantly updating your website with new, fresh, quality content that your audience wants to read.

I hope you take these SEO secrets to heart! Google does not want to rank up websites that are trying to “game” the system. Google wants to provide it’s users with the best, most valuable information on the internet. It’s becoming more apparent that the best way to rank highly in Google it to simply produce great content that people enjoy consuming.

What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization or SEO refers to the process of improving the position that your website appears at in the “organic” search results returned by sites such as Google.

As a general rule of thumb, sites that appear higher up in the results will get more traffic to their pages, and so potentially more business. Your goal is to get to page one and ideally to position one, but whether that is feasible largely depends on the market that you are operating in.

One of the key tools that search providers such as Google and Microsoft (Bing) employ to determine your rankings are “spiders”. A spider is a piece of software that crawls the web in a methodical, automated manner. They browse your website (and everyone else’s) to identify the actual copy written on the page along with things like use of key words and phrases. This data is then used to determine the relevance of your site when someone enters a keyword or phrase into Google, Bing or any other search engine.

With this in mind, you need to consider the search habits of your target audience, and ensure that the terms they might use to find your business are reflected on your pages. Text included in images cannot be crawled by spiders, although alternative text associated with the images is, so you may wish to revisit the design of some of your pages.

Once you have identified your keywords, ensure that they appear in the body of your pages, as well as in the metadata of your page, which is the unseen data that gives the spiders key information about your page. This can either be done by yourself, with a little knowledge of HTML and access to your server, or it can be done by your web designer.

The rate at which search engine spiders crawl your site is in part determined by how frequently the content of your pages change. With this in mind, you may want to create a monthly task to change text, images, or add or remove pages, in order to ensure that your content is regularly updated.

Alternatively, set up a blog on your site and allocate time each day (or week) to write or curate some content that is relevant to your target market. This might seem onerous or daunting, but once you get into the habit it becomes second nature and shouldn’t take more than about half an hour a day.

The algorithms used by Google and Microsoft to determine the order of their results are subject to tweaks and improvements as they attempt to deliver ever more accurate search results. As a result, SEO is something of a moving feast and it pays to stay up to date. That said, these basic principles are unlikely to change significantly as they are key determinants of your ranking.

How Effective is SEO?

Many years ago companies were able to make it to the top of search engines by simply adding in keywords into the metadata of their websites and unfortunately many companies still think that’s what it takes. But although this practice still continues today, the effectiveness of this single SEO act is useless. This begs the question, “How can I get my website to the top of Google?”

As search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and now Bing adapt and improve their technology for searching through millions of websites, the “science” behind how to get your website at the top of these searches becomes more and more complex. What once used to be an easy insertion of keywords to metadata, is now a literal computer science which requires a team working to maximize results.

Factors such as website structure, keyword density, directory submissions, linking structures, and standardized content and picture protocols, just to name a few, must be completely in sync and directed towards the goals of the SEO Campaign. It is a literal science that takes time, experience, and innovation to master. Additionally, it is key to monitor SEO efforts and make necessary changes as technology and the goals of the website change. SEO is proven to yield the highest ROI out of all internet strategies and when done correctly can yield huge dividends.

Besides increasing the traffic by providing the content to the search engines, there is a lot more to achieve through Search Engine Optimization. Some benefits of search engine optimization are:

Targeted Traffic: Search Engine Optimization increases the number of visitors to your site. It also ensures that these visitors are converted into potential customers by focusing on bringing targeted traffic to your website. More targeted traffic would mean more sales of your products and services.

Increased Visibility to the Search Engines: Search Engine Optimization makes your website more visible to the search engines and gives it an international recognition. The search engines index the web pages and ensure that your website is reached by the customers from across the globe.

High returns on investment: Effective SEO measures offer higher returns on investment than any other online marketing efforts. This ensures that your volume of sales and profits are raised.

Measurable Results: The SEO campaigns can be measured through various SEO reports on SERP ranks, visitor conversion and others. When the results of a campaign can be quantified, it becomes easy to track the effectiveness of the same.

Cost Effective: Search Engine Optimization offers the maximum exposure to your website at a fraction of cost. There cannot be a more cost effective way of achieving this.

How do I learn SEO?

Search Engine Optimization has become a prevalent term and an important skill to know, especially as far as internet marketing is concerned. The more optimized a website is for search engines, the more natural traffic it will receive, and the more potential the website has for paying customers. But SEO is not important for large companies with websites looking to sell a product. With the internet becoming such an extensive part of every day life, even the humble blogger must learn SEO in order to get their voice heard in toady’s world.

In order to learn SEO, one must first learn about SEO. Search Engine Optimization includes optimizing web content so that is scores well on a search engine’s algorithms. But you must first learn what the algorithms are scoring. What follows are some resources for the complete SEO newbie.

Steps to a Google-friendly site: a must read for anybody who needs to learn the basics of how to rank well in Google.

How Google Search Works: A short article with more detailed information about how Google crawls and indexes the web.

SEO Starter Guide: Written by Google, this PDF goes in depth about the best way to start optimizing for search engines.

You may have noticed something peculiar about the above resources: they’re all published by Google, about Google. That’s because Google owns about 70% of the search engine “market.”

 

So know that you have some basic knowledge about it, best possible way to learn Search Engine Optimization – or any other skill for that matter – is to just sit down and do it. Start off with a small website, a blog maybe, a place to sit and test to your hearts content. Coding is not ever required to do SEO effectively. In fact, WordPress, the easiest platform to publish a website, incidentally has the easiest SEO tools for the everyman.

If you’ve got a website already and want some quick tips that you can implement immediately, this Buzzfeed “article” has surprisingly good tips for the beginner. If you’re a blogger looking for some quick and dirty tips to implement quickly, too, this problogger article is a good place to start.

Once you’ve started learning a little bit more and have gotten a feel for the whole “SEO thing,” it’s time to take your learning up a notch and start really getting into the nuts and bolts of the industry. Start attending SEO conferences and networking events. These events are invaluable to the beginner. You will be immersed in a sea of knowledge and start rubbing shoulders with people in the same boat as you, and people who’s boats are much further upstream than yours is.

Lastly, consider joining a university-type website, such as DistilledU. SEO is cutting edge, and traditional universities and colleges have yet to add SEO (or any sort of internet skill for that matter) to their core curriculum. These courses offer you a comprehensive, in-depth learning experience for learning both the theoretical and the technical aspects of SEO.