Things I wish I new when starting SEO

URLs should be 80 characters or less as you can then see the whole ur in search results.

 

Preparation, Content and Understanding. Honestly and accurately communicate with the world. Speaking the language of whoever is searching for you.

 

Search algorithm is secret so that websites are built to be the best that they can be, otherwise website builders would attempt to game the system so they appear at the top.

Use of keywords, links to the pages, speed of the site, content within html tags in a page and lots more.

 

Types of Content, Personalisation and Location also play a huge factor. To optimise it for search engines, you must optimise it for people. 

 

Black Hat SEO (Dishonest, illegally)

Heavily regulated. There is a moral obligation to provide content that is valuable, honest, accurate and helpful, don’t try to cheat the system, or mislead people into using your site.

 

Hidden text (so your users think your pages contain things that they don’t).

Don’t give in to the dark side. It can give you a terrible reputation. You’re building a relationship with people, not trying to trick them. Black Hat tactics are unreliable and SE are constantly chasing tricks. Could also be banned by SEs, or potential legal issues further down. If anyone guarantees a ranking on search pages, you should be cautious. Getting ranked can take weeks or months. 

 

Whitehat SEO. Techniques you can use to the benefit of your users. How you deliver and link to content. 

  1. Easy to find (logical architecture that people are used to)
  2. Link to all the content on your site (within a reasonable number of clicks) If you don’t link to it then it’s invisible to SEs
  3. Use logical link names (contact, portfolio etc) Don’t overthink this.
  4. Don’t use too many links on a page
  5. Within content, use links naturally
  6. Include relevant keywords, somebody is looking for this content, so how would they look for it? If you want to be found for those keywords, use them throughout your site.
  7. Keyword density. The measure of the number of times you use a keyword on a page - don’t worry too much about this, don’t calculate how many times you should mention something or the quality of your content could suffer
  8. Use various content types. The more diverse your content types are, the more likely you are to be found by different people looking for different things. Videos, pdfs etc.

 

What is content?

Creation, optimisation, strategy. It’s the text that users and SE sees. It must make sense to human beings, write them for people and SEs will understand it too. By linking to something, you’re basically endorsing it, you believe that it gives value.

 

What can be found about your site.

Keyword research. Use terms used by your potential users. What products or services do you offer? What is the subject matter? Who’s it for? Is it for a certain time or location? The most effective keywords are the ones which show the unique qualities of your business. Broad terms won’t be effective. Add qualifiers and locations. Using Hypernyms, the specificity of these smaller pages could hold real value. I.e. 

SEMrush (free and paid version) shows what your competitors are doing well for. 

Look at the related searches part of a google search to see the most popular qualifiers. Keep your focus, and understand that each page needs that keyword focus as well.

 

Content Variety:

Written word. Naturally containing the search terms. SEs need contextual information about images. 

 

Google measures the freshness of a page. Age, how often it’s updated, how much it’s updated (and the important parts), the links, and how long users spend there. Content is still king, if you can regularly create more pages, and continue linking to old pages, it will make your site continue to be fresh. 

 

Link Building: If your site has an online presence and influence, then many sites will link to you. And the higher chance you’ll be mentioned on social networks, blogs, and websites. They’re called inbound links because they require no effort on your part. 

 

Link Building requires knowledge on who gets visited and who has influence. A link to your site from theirs would be mean a lot!

Focused approach: Reach out to writers saying why your products and services are worth reviewing. Submitting articles or doing chats. This might take marketing or PR connections but could be worthwhile.

 

Link building strategies

Write guest blog posts on industry websites

Participate in industry forums and chat boards

Submit your blog to RSS feed directories

 

Without quality content, you actually have nothing to offer. What is “this link” promising? If you deliver on that promise, you’ll get repeat visitors. It’s about putting real effort into what you’re putting online. Play to your strengths. Create content that you want to create, and that you want to consume. Organise some thoughts and create a plan to share quality content.

 

How code impacts SEO:

Tags, Meta tags, title tags, Header tags, alt tags, anchor tags

 

Negative circumstances:

Incorrect or incomplete tags, 

duplicate code or tags

too much code

text hidden by code

deprecated or unnecessary code

 

Title Tag

Unique, always displayed at the top, and is always seen by SE in the tag, and titles are the most prominent part of a search result, or a social media link-post summary. The title tag is vital for search engine success. 

Google displays a maximum of 70 characters on search result pages. Longer is fine, but the 70 are critical. Especially if it’s for your home page or an important page on your site. Your result should be easily recognisable. The title tag should always match the title of the post.

Location names are used within search terms, if it’s relevant, consider what location would appeal to your visitors. Also consider how the title tag will be read by human beings. Including the price could be helpful. You need to be compelling and appear trustworthy. Don’t pin all your hopes on this though.

 

Meta tags, also in the head section. meta description isn’t used as a ranking factor, but can be seen when shared on social media and as the description on google. Should be limited to 160 characters. Keyword research is also important here, make sure to include some important ones, but don’t make false promises by using ones that aren’t relevant to your page. Ensure that each page on your site has a unique title, and a unique description.

 

meta keywords have long since been removed from their search algorithms. Should I still use it? In some countries, neither google nor bing is the lead SERP, so it might be worth doing. Generally they are not recommended, but can help. 

 

Site Architecture:

By creating and enforcing a proper structure, you can reinforce the strongest pages within the structure, creating the best basis for your SEO. If you can’t get to important content from the homepage, there’s something wrong. Most homepage link to categories etc. Hub pages. Breadcrumbs are increasingly useful for sites with 1000’s of links. 

 

Search engine’s do apply a bit of ranking to the actual URLs of the pages. Numbers in the URLs confuse search engines. Too much division of content can have negative effects on SEO. SERPS deem pages with too many levels below the homepage as less important. So pages deep within a directory structure suffer. 

Longer URL’s don’t get clicked by as many users, 90 characters seems to be the number suggested by many. 

 

Canonicalisation (duplicate pages etc)

What is better? What should be ranked higher by SERPs?

CMS can publish the same content on multiple pages.

When duplicate content is available for indexing, SEO value can get split between them, meaning you’ll rank lower. You need to tell SERPs where the original source is. 

the URL in that tag shows SEs which the original source is, and where the value should lie.

 

Page Structure

If the content of the title tag doesn’t match the h1 tag, there’s probably a disconnect somewhere. h1 content is given SEO value. 

Anchor tags give interlinking benefits to a page, without having the depth of a multi-page site. 

 

Noindex and Nofollow

Default action for an SE is to index what it sees on the page, and to follow any links looking for more.

You might have pages on a site that you don’t want on a search engine. Exclusive sections of your site for employees or clients, nor should a promotions page specifically for customers. Form completion pages also shouldn’t be indexed. To ensure a page doesn’t get found unexpectedly, include within the head tag of the page. A page with this may still get crawled, and a copy may get cached, but it won’t appear on Search Engine Results. Be careful. Do not add this to templates etc. 

A special file called Robots.txt needs to be prepared very carefully, you don’t want to include your root directory for example or nothing will be crawled. 

Each link to another site is a vote for them. To prevent Search engines counting links as endorsements, use nofollow. Simply add rel=“nofollow” to the code that generates the link. Nofollows are often used in blog post comments. Nofollow stops search engines from following them.

 

Title tags work best when they feature:

Location names, especially for businesses looking for local customers

The name of the company, website, or person

Less than 70 characters

 

Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Google want people to use their site to search for stuff and to trust the results they get.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/

Submit a sitemap to them, they’re helpful for new sites which haven’t been crawled yet. Make sure to follow google’s instructions on creating a sitemap.

 

Google Analytics

Some of the best insight comes from viewing data over time, spotting trends. The bounce rate is the % of users who leave your page right after they arrive “This isn’t what I was looking for” and it’s about not meeting their expectations. Maybe the wrong keywords are being used, or the page content should better match them. 

You can set regular email reports to be sent to you, regarding your analytics.

 

Authorship and Places

Verify your ID through a process called authorship. Create a Google+ account, then use that to verify your authorship on blogs or other places where you publish content. For Authors and other content creators, authorship is something you should definitely consider.

Google Places, they physically verify your address with a postcard, then you can start building your profile. With more mobile users than ever before, you want to make sure that you appear on these results.

 

There are specific tags for social sharing. FB OpenGraph tags.

og:title

og:description

og:url

og:image

og:type

 

Twitter:

twitter:title

twitter:description

twitter:url

twitter:image

twitter:card

 

Whether you add these fields manually or dynamically bear the standard SEO pointers in mind. Titles should be less than 55 characters and descriptions less than 155.

 

Website Speed

Especially important on mobile. Pages get loaded by making a request to the web server that is hosting it. Browser load time is completely dependent on the external dependencies. To know for sure how fast your site is, use sites like pingdom. 

 

Woorank.com 

marketing.grader.com

Both of these are great for little SEO tips.

UpCity gives a free report card.

validator.w3.org (finds code problems that could affect the usability of the site)

builtwith.com shows you what tools certain sites use. 

Try out each one and see what insight you can get.

Google Trends (is interest in a keyword rising or falling?)

 

SEO is a business and an industry in and of itself. Best practices have come and gone. Things change.

Monitor your results. Stick to the basics if you’re managing it yourself.

Understand the needs of your clients and visitors, how can you match up your website’s performance to meet those needs.

Follow web standards and web rules.

Websites won’t be found without AWESOME CONTENT.

You should have a strategy in place. Give your users what they need and want.

Stay updated.

Everything you do is to help people, not robots. Remember that.

 

Setting up a business on Google Places offers helpful benefits, such as:

A Enhanced listings on SERPs, such as within a carousel

B Direct links to directions using Google Maps

C Results that feature pictures, ratings, and other relevant data