SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

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The 3 most well-known search engines are Google, Bing (MSN) and Yahoo. As over 80% of web searches worldwide are done using Google, Google is the main search engine we will talk about in this topic.

We want our website to appear on the first page of Google when someone types in keywords related to our website.

Of all the thousands of websites in the world related to our topic, how do we get our website to appear on page 1 of search results? This is the skill of SEO. Now, I don’t pretend to be an SEO genius, but I have learnt a lot of valuable SEO techniques along my internet marketing journey and I share them here.


USEFUL TERMINOLOGY

“Google slap” when Google penalises your website by dropping your ranking

“Blackhat” tactics: when you do something “dodgy” to try to get your website to rise in the rankings. Eg. Paying someone who runs a “backlink farm” to create backlinks to your site.

“White hat” tactics: when you do something “above-board” to get your website rise in the rankings. Eg. Adding great content to your website daily

PREFACE


Up until about 2011, SEO mainly involved “stuffing” the website with keywords. These keywords were used multiple times in the text of the website (which is still a useful tactic), but the keywords were also hidden in the site, such as in the hidden descriptions of the images.

For example, 6 years ago when I owned a barbecue company, I would type my hidden image description as “bbq, barbecue, barbeque, Perth, WA, West Australia, Western Australia, pizza oven, outdoor kitchen, alfresco kitchen”. This was done purely for ranking purposes rather than for the benefit of someone if they were to hover over my image.

This is no longer acceptable to Google. If you use this “black hat” tactic, Google will penalise your site by dropping it lower in the rankings. This is called a “Google Slap”.

Nowadays, Google’s number 1 priority is ranking websites which have high-quality content for the consumer. If Google provide a consumer with highly relevant search results, then the consumer will continue to use Google.

So in a nutshell, Google cares most about consumers and less about the website owners.

Since 2011 there have been several very significant changes to the Google algorithm. These have been given interesting names such “The Penguin Update”, “The Panda Update” etc. With each algorithm update, many website owners have seen their websites ranking dip from page 1 to page 10. They have then had to spend months or even years trying to get there website back up in the rankings.

Here is an excellent article which explains the algorithm changes in an easy-to-understand way:
https://moz.com/blog/google-algorithm-cheat-sheet-panda-penguin-hummingbird

There have been many attempts at working out the google algorithm- working out how Google ranks your website compared to your competitors. The company called Searchmetrics is a world leader in this area. You can download their latest report on the Google algorithm at:
http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

So What Does Google Want?

1. Quality content
2. Frequently updated content
3. Backlinks (quality and quantity)
4. Social Signals
5. Responsiveness (to mobiles and tablets etc)
6. No security issues or broken link issues on your site

Let’s discuss each of these in detail:

1. Quality content:

You need to be giving your audience quality information. If you have a website and all it is in an opt-in page, don’t expect it to rank in Google (you will need to send traffic to your opt in page in other ways)

If your website is filled primarily with affiliate links, but little actual content, don’t expect your site to rank in Google.

Solution: Go through your website and make sure you have high quality content on all pages, especially on the homepage. Use your keywords throughout your website, but don’t overdo it so that it looks “spammy”

If your website is purely a place to display opt in pages, your website will be very unlikely to rank in Google because there is no quality content. In this case you have 2 choices- either build high quality webpages on this website, so that hopefully these webpages will rank. And on these webpages put links to sign up for your various information products etc. Or of course you can just forget worrying about SEO and pay for traffic to come to your opt in pages, and promote on social media.

2. Frequently Updated Content:

If your website has not been updated in a long time, expect the ranking to fall. If you have a website with a blog that you update daily, expect your rankings to rise. You don’t have to update your site daily, but do add content every week or so if you can. This shows Google that the site is active and relevant.

Solution:
Create a blog on your website. Pre-schedule posts in on a regular basis. Try to aim for a minimum of a post a week. (WordPress lets you pre-schedule your posts and the advantage with this is that you can write 10 posts on a day and then you can schedule them to be posted 1 a week)

3. Backlinks



A backlink is a link from another website to your website. It tells Google that other sites are referring to your site, so therefore your site must have some worthwhile content.

Backlinks can come from another website, a social media post, a forum, an article and anywhere else a link can appear.

When Google first started taking backlinks into account for rankings, they only focused on the quantity of backlinks. So a “blackhat” technique that evolved was to set up a series of domains with no content on them, just a link to the main website. If you go onto Fiverr.com you’ll see many people offering to give you multiple backlinks for $5. Be wary of this. It sounds great, but Google is aware of these low quality backlinks and can “slap” your site and drop it in the rankings.

Google now rank each website with an authority ranking out of 10. For example, a website such as Wikipedia or a government department has a very high authority score. If one of these respected websites contains a backlink to your site, then Google will automatically think that your site must be pretty great, and will lift it’s ranking.

If you have backlinks from “dodgy” sites, Google might drop your rankings. So be very wary if you pay for backlinks, or if you get a company to do your SEO that uses blackhat techniques.
The number of backlinks is still a ranking factor, but the quality of those backlinks is just as, if not more important.

Solution:
Keep writing great quality content which will encourage other website owners to link back to your website. When you write content as a post on Facebook or other social media, include a link back to the information on your website if you can. Make sure your YouTube channel and individual videos link back to your website. Submit articles to article sites, submit comments on forums etc, with links back to your website (if you’re allowed)

To see how many backlinks are pointing at your website, and which sites the backlinks are coming from, go to

https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/

Check the backlinks to make sure they look genuine. If you have a lot of dodgy links to your site, then Google may penalise you.


There’s only really 2 reasons you would have lots of dodgy backlinks to your site.
1. You paid a dodgy SEO company to improve your page ranking, or

2. your opposition is trying to sabotage your ranking by getting someone to put dodgy backlinks to your site.


So what can you do if you do find dodgy links? In Google Webmaster Tools (we’ll talk more about Google Webmaster Tools later) there is a “Disavow” tool. This tool lets you tell Google that you don’t want a particular backlink to affect your ranking.

However, be very careful if you ever use this because you might inadvertently disavow a backlink that was actually improving your ranking and then suddenly your ranking takes a nose dive.


4. Mobile Responsiveness

Is your website responsive when viewed on a mobile phone or tablet? Or even an HD TV screen. Is the text large enough to read on a mobile phone or does the website text look tiny?

Solution:
If you are using WordPress on your website, make sure you choose a WordPress theme that is mobile responsive (Profitbuilder and Thrive themes are responsive). If you have an existing website and it isn’t using WordPress, you’ll need to get a web developer to make it mobile-responsive. If this is too costly then consider making a new website from scratch.

To test if your website is mobile responsive, go to:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Type in your URL.  It will take about 60 seconds to analyse your website. 

5. No Security Issues or Broken Link Issues

If Google detects that there are security issues on your website, you website will drop in the rankings. Also, if there are lots of 404 errors appearing (an error that comes up if a link no longer works) then Google will get annoyed and drop you in the rankings.

Solutions:

To solve this, you first need to know if there is actually a problem.

You need to install Google Webmaster Tools on your website. Google Webmaster Tools will “crawl” your site and will tell you if there’s any security issues or malware.

If you do have a security problem on your website, one of the most recommended companies to clean it up are called Sucuri (
https://sucuri.net). They charge either an annual fee to keep your site safe or a one-off fee to clean it up.

If Google Webmaster Tools tells you there are 404 errors, you will need to fix this up too. A 404 error happens when a link goes to a page that no longer exists or has been moved.

To solve the problems you can install a plugin called “Simple 301 Redirects”. (There are other plugins that do the same thing).

For each broken link, update where the link should direct to.



Other Important Actions You Need to Take to Enhance SEO


1.  Install an SEO plugin.


There are 2 plugins that do this best. You only need to choose ONE of these.

  •  All-in-one-SEO
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast


I use All-in-one-SEO, but many web developers prefer the Yoast plugin.

These plugins let you:

  • Add SEO keywords to your site and every page
  • Create the text that appear when your site appears on Google search results
  • Tell Google to index your site
  • Connect with Google analytics
  • Connect with Google plus


And much more

2. Check if Google has indexed your Website

If Google has never indexed your website, your website will never appear in Google search results.

In google.com type in:

Site:yourdomain.com

Google will show every page that has been indexed for that site.

If your webpages aren’t coming up in this list, then for some reason Google has been told not to index your site or pages. (see point number 3 for more help)

On the opposite end of the scale, if your site has been hacked there may be thousands of pages associated with your website that you don’t even know exist. If Google sees there are 10,000 pages on your website and 9995 of them are about improving your libido, the libido message will drown out the real content on your site.

If there is a problem, go to sucuri.net and they will be able to fix the security breach for a fee.

3. Check your robots.txt file

This is a file on your website called “robots.txt” which Google bots look at. It tells the Google bots if there’s any webpages the webmaster doesn’t want Google to index.

Sometimes when a web designer is still creating the website, they put code in the robot.txt file which disallows the indexing of webpages. They then forget to take off this code.

To see what’s in your robots.txt file, simple type in the RL:

www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt

To find out
what should be in your robots.txt file, go to www.robotstxt.org

4. Create a sitemap

A sitemap is a list of all the webpages within a website and how they are linked together. Google uses this information to index your site.

Creating a sitemap is easy to do if you have one of the SEO plugins mentioned at number 1. You can create a sitemap easily. You can then just press a button and automatically submit it to Google (and Bing).

Or go to Google Webmaster tools and press “add sitemap”.

5. Check Settings-Reading

Make sure that “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” isn’t ticked

 6. Check Settings- Permalinks
Go to Settings-Permalink

Make sure that “Post name” is selected. This means your webpages will be named using the titles of your pages and posts which is much better for SEO.
NOTE: if your existing website has another one of these ticked, beware as changing it because it might destroy the internal links of your website.