Develop an SEO Plan Based on Competition

Develop SEO Plan Based on Competition

To Build an SEO Plan, Analyze a Competitor for SEO Strategy

An SEO Plan is essential to any startup looking to compete with the competition.  A startup is like David and the competition like Goliath. David needs a plan before walking out on the battlefield.   The startup David cannot expect to write an SEO plan off the cuff, or think it up on the fly.  A competitive plan requires some methodical research at the very beginning.  A pre-existing website will allow the small David access to some great data mining for putting an SEO Plan together.   But, the David needs to understand how the competition’s website is built in comparison to his own.  If David does not have an existing website, he can still mine valuable data for an SEO Plan.  He can analyze a Goliath competitor for an SEO strategy!  So before building an SEO Plan, build the plan about how to analyze SEO competition, and continue to modify that plan as the company finds competitor SEO weaknesses.

Analyzing the competition is not something new; it has been around for centuries across all types of industries.  Many organizations have written about this topic, including Forbes, which has written about how to analyze competition for SEO strategy.  After analyzing the competition, David will understand how his competitor’s product/services, but specifically how to better compete.  Granted, an established competitor may feel like a David vs. Goliath, but that story itself shows that an SEO niche or an SEO weakness can be found.  The company may not need to take down Goliath completely, but gaining a foothold can spell a great fortune.

Suggested Steps on How to Start the SEO Competitor Research

1 – First Understand the SEO Competition Website before Building SEO Plan

Start by just browsing the competitor website. Take notes on what is done well, what is done poorly.  Not only will analyzing the competition yield helpful notes for the company website, but the company will learn SEO strategies to avoid as well.  Things to note may be the appearance ease of navigation ease of checkout (if applicable), colors, content, pictures, URLs, and especially links.  While this does not have a lot of data, understanding this feel of a website will help when the data mining starts.

2 – Analyze the Competition for SEO Weaknesses and Strengths

Time for competitor SEO analysis. Many sites exist for such analysis, but Majestic is a great SEO tool. Other tools to beat the SEO competition include SEMRush, SEOQuake, and Spyfu among many others.  These tools will give insights on the number of backlinks, keyword densities, what appears to be the keywords or target words, images details, how many pages are on the site, etc.  The tools will even point out SEO weaknesses such as a bad Meta descriptions, lack of HTML Headings, images without the ALT references, and more.  Glean as much as possible from this SEO analysis.  Some weaknesses may be glaring, or they may be harder to find.  With these weaknesses in mind, the small startup David is starting to fill his sling with rocks.  Those rocks include understanding the type of links the needed to compete, keywords, URL names, heading tags, image ALT descriptions, etc.

3 – Based on the Data from the Analysis,  Identify Keyword Niches Not Used by the Competition

Next, use the data from the competitor research to begin optimizing the company’s SEO Plan. The established competition will most likely dominate simple keyword searches: the single-, two-, and three-word phrases for the industry; the startup needs to exploit the weaknesses in some long-tail search phrases.  Based upon the keywords from the competitors, write out 10 or 15 possible search terms that the competitors are not currently using or are under utilizing.

Now feed these into SEO tools such as Google AdWords, or KeywordDiscovery.  These sites will help in several ways: 1) provide additional search terms/phrases not previously considered, 2) show if competition is already high for the search terms (i.e. how hard will it be to rank with that phrase), 3) possible click-through-rate for the search term, and much more.  The company can hone in on the SEO niche that will allow the company to raise to the top of the search engine.

With targeted keywords in mind, the company can build a beautiful website that will rank for long-tail searches that puts the company closer to users that want to purchase something.  Remember, general search terms could just be informational, but as someone creates longer phrases such as “How to Analyze Competition for SEO Strategy”, that person is very interested in that topic and may be very close to pulling the trigger on spending money and funneling those funds to the company!  Search volume may not be as high as the competition, but the quality of the clicks may be much higher.

4 – Using Data from the Competitor Research, Build an SEO Plan to Beat the Competition

Armed with knowledge about the competition, the company can now begin developing an SEO Plan based on competition. The company SEO Plan can exploit weaknesses, build on competitor excellence, and provide additional direction on the type of content to include on the site.    The company needs include the following in the plan based on the research:

  • SEO Strategy in URL with Keywords

Create a map for the URLs and how to connect multiple pages.  Decide on keyword rich URL names that capitalize on the keyword strategy previously researched.

  • Don’t Replicate Competitor SEO Weaknesses

A small startup must be smart and ensure the simple stuff that the SEO competition missed will not be replicated: images have keyword rich ALT tags, HTML headings are prevalent, Meta tag descriptions are keyword rich and meet the appropriate character length, robot.txt file is correctly implemented, any page redirects are appropriately handled, etc.

  • Build an SEO Plan Based on the SEO Strategy from the Competitor Analysis

Most importantly when building an SEO Plan to beat the competition, build the content.  Content must keep users on the site and matche the SEO strategy determined through the competitor analysis.  If the identified keywords are not properly included on the website, search rankings will suffer.  A competitor may have left an SEO niche in their armor.  Any David needs to exploit the niche by throwing the stones through it.  Build good content, compelling content, based on the keyword phrases.  The company has to include the single, two-, and three-word phrases, but the long-tail is where the small David can exploit the Goliath SEO weaknesses in the market place.

Building an SEO Plan is not Easy, but it is Necessary to Succeed

Building an SEO Plan is hard work.  The analysis of competitors can be tedious and long, but it will yield great fruit.  The steps above may seem too simplistic and easy.  But the deeper any company mines the data, the better the chance that company has at identifying weaknesses in the competition and creating a competitive SEO strategy.

Sarting with competitor SEO analysis will help young startup David’s without a lot of knowledge on SEO.  Such SEO analysis will decrease the SEO learning curve, increase the understanding of how to compete in SEO, and help build the bones of an SEO Plan.  There is no sense in starting this journey without identifying a starting point or an idea of the competition .  Even seasoned SEO professionals should start developing an SEO Plan based on the competition.  Knowledge is power.  The little startup David understands that knowing where and how to start the battle against Goliath is essential  for victory.

Vertical Search: How to Influence and Improve Pages Ranking

This article will give a brief introduction to vertical search. The article includes the factors influencing pages ranking and how to improve ranking. Firstly, The article will introduce vertical search by comparing it with the traditional horizontal search. The article will compare them in advantages and disadvantages . Secondly, this article moves to the factors that influence page ranking results. And lastly, it will offer some suggestions on improving the ranking results.

Vertical search comparing with traditional horizontal search

Vertical search describes different way of traditional horizontal search onperforming the search process In the traditional horizontal search, the search engine offers results from a broad spectrum of topics. As a result, the search results tend to be universal and blurry. People have to select the necessary information from various search results. For example, people search the internet with the keyword “spring” in the traditional way. As a result, they are more likely to get various results. For example, an introduction of one of the four seasons, an image of a spring bed and so on.

People will have to spend more time to find the results that they really need. It means a lot of time has to be wasted. However, vertical search is quite different. It is designed to only search down through one broad topic and focus on a limited data set.

By using vertical search method, people can fully enjoy the advantages of saving time and energy. Several typical vertical search solutions include image, video, news, books and blog search. By vertical search, people are able to find the results they need in the shortest time. The introduction of vertical research results has actually changed the landscape of SERPs. One obvious change is a decline of searches conducted on traditional search services, the other one is an increase of searches on topical sites. The traditional search service is a category that is dominated by Google. The introduction of vertical search results challenges of the market shares of traditional search services such as Google.  In the other hand, the introduction of vertical search offers significant opportunities for SEO practitioners. SEO practitioner try to increase placement in vertical search results. it can be as important as high placement in the web search results.

In the Futue

In the future, as smartphones become more and more popular and more widely used, vertical search results will be more important as consumers can go straight to Apps such as YouTube for videos, Facebook for the latest news and Amazon.com for books. The existence of large number of apps reduces the need for searching in the web. In fact, the trend is that designs more and more apps for smartphones, which indicates an increasing importance of vertical search results.

The factors that influence page ranking results

However, the introduction of vertical search research does not mean there is no need to improve the ranking of web pages. In fact, at least in the near future, vertical search services cannot replace the traditional search process. Therefore, it is still vital to improve the search rankings of web pages. For SEO practitioners, knowing what features of web pages can impact the search rankings is of great importance. According to SEOmoz, there are both positive and negative factors that can influence search rankings. The list of the top nine positive factors that influence search rankings in 2011 as follows:

  • Page Level Link Metrics
  • Domain Level Link Authority Features
  • Page Level Keyword Usage
  • Domain Level Keyword Usage
  • Page Level Social Metrics
  • Domain Level Brand Metrics
  • Page Level Keyword Agnostic Features
  • Page Level Traffic/Query Data
  • Domain Level Keyword Agnostic Features

Meanwhile, the negative features are that impact search rankings include malware, cloaking, pages, and content that advertises paid links on the site. The web features that impact search rankings will not remain the same all the time. In reality, as search engines continue to evolve, the importance of each feature will change accordingly. According the survey conducted by SEOmoz in 2013, the top nine factors that influence search rankings have changed greatly compared to that in 2011. For example, not including Page Level Traffic/Query Data as a factor that influences search rankings in the 2013 survey results. And in 2015, the situation changed again. The SEOmoz’s survey about the influence of ranking factors in Google’s Algorithm showed that top one influencing factor was Domain-level link features.

the influence of ranking factors.

Suggestions on how to improve the ranking results

There are so many factors to influence search rankings. Small changes of the influential factors can immediate influence on search rankings. To make an immediate impact on search rankings can make some site changes.

Firstly, page level link metrics is one of the most important factors that influence search ranking. SEO practitioners can improve the ranking of a site by increasing the numbers links pointing to that site. 100 quality links pointing to the site will certainly help rank higher than 50 quality links do.

Secondly, SEO practitioners can improve the ranking results of a site by making changes to the “page level keyword usage” . It is good that the title of a web page should be concise to summarize the main content. Then, search engineers can lead more searchers to the site. Good usage of page keyword will increase the traffic of the site to a great extent.

Thirdly, the search ranking of a site can be improved by editing the URL, and using some keywords. It is better to get rid of the random site provided by the Internet. For example, the URL http://www.cheaptickets.com/ contains the keywords “cheap tickets”. When searchers use “cheap tickets” as key word to search, the site is likely to show in the results.

the End

In conclusion, this article is just a brief introduction about some of the basic concepts. The concept is about SEO and some basic methods on improving pages ranking. In fact, there are more details about concepts and more intricate about improving rankings. For more details, people can visit moz.com, which offers very detailed information on this aspect. In addition to provide a guide to SEO, it can provide services for customers to improving their rankings. Improving ranking in fact is hard to do. Therefore, if there is a need for company to improve ranking, it is better to seek advice from SEO practitioners.

 

Creating a SEO Friendly Website

 

SEO Friendly Website

When creating a SEO friendly website it is helpful to know that a search engine will be impacted by everything on the webpage. With having a SEO friendly website someone would typically think that SEO would be Search Engine Optimization but to build a website that truly creates a memorable experience and is compatible with search engines SEO should or could be stated as Site Experience Optimization.

Building and improving your Site Experience Optimization is important to sustainable growth. With that the site needs to be able to evolve as there is a new age of SEO. According to a Forbes article that SEO is also becoming search experience optimization. SEO is expanding and becoming better that it is becoming harder to be gamed but necessary to still do the following things so that the website is SEO efficient. post will share following steps but your site needs to be relevant and an enjoyable experience for users.

Domain, URLs and Crawable Links

The domain name and URLs are two basic parts to creating a SEO friendly website. Make the domain name unique for better search results by doing this it will help the website be different but it is important to own other relevant domain names that the website is not confused with other websites. When deciding on available domain names only choose dot com available domains. Keep it as short as possible and easy to remember. When picking the right URLs it needs to describe the content and also keep it short just as the domain name. Static URLs improve SEO by connecting search results with relevant URLs.

Search engines use website links to see what other sites might link together or be similar. Some websites are created that aren’t crawable or limit spider accessibility but it needs to be able to link structures and pages. If websites do limit crawl abilities it impacts the page’s opportunity to be indexed in search engines. There are tools to help see how the webpage where is the PageRank, one of those tools is Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog runs reports to see how many outgoing links there are per page.

Indexable content, Structure and Achitecture

According to this Moz.com article to perform better in search engine results the most important thing to do is have the site content be in HTML text format. Going along with indexable content, when using images and videos on the website put titles and descriptions with the videos. Adding text to images for search results enables search engines to find and utilize in search results. Be sure that image or videos are relevant to the content on the page. Doing this will impact search results as well.

The more content that is on the website can increase the opportunity for search engines to find the website. Not only content but how its structured will impact SEO. What is structured data and how does it impact SEO? If the website has category structuring it will be able to crawl the website to find snippets to display in the search results. The category structuring will impact the user search experience and SEO by having navigation that helps the user.

Flat vs deep architecture will impact SEO by creating or having less clicks. It is decisive to have a flat architecture so that the user has less clicks to get to the desired page. Web crawlers favor flat web pages to find the content but having too much on a single page can work against SEO as well. It is significant to keep things simple where possible for a better SEO friendly website. Flat architecture will also help users navigate the webpage which creates a SEO friendly website as well.

Mobile Friendliness

Now is the time to become mobile friendly and embrace it 110%. This is critical to create a positive user experience. Mobile devices are becoming a priority browsing experience so it is critical to create the website a seamless experience. Doing this will help users navigate on the web or mobile web. With more users having mobile experiences if the website is a pleasant experience on a mobile device consumers will stay longer which will create a longer dwell time. This dwell time helps lower bounce rate and Google loves high dwell time. To continue to find success it is key to optimize a better mobile experience.

Cleaning up for a SEO Friendly Website

It is crucial to have relevant information and an up to date website. Most importantly having the site updated helps search engines find the site.  By cleaning up your website you remove errors and duplicates. This is not to say that linking is impacted because everything is connected and browse-able. These links will only connect to pages based on relevance and semantic worth and the links need to be standardized for SEO.

Cleaning up is simply keeping the content fresh, how do you keep the site content fresh? It can be from creating a blog, having a news section on your website and having videos or pictures. Google bots can see by the inception date if the content is fresh. The below image is a way to see that fresh content gets a better fresh score and over time fresh content becomes old. That being said some older documents might be more favorable than a newer document.

Content Fresh Score helps the site to be a SEO Friendly Website
Newer or updated content get a better fresh score

In conclusion the main takeaway to build a SEO friendly website is to build your site in the way that search engines will be able to utilize the content. The website needs to be readable and that starts at the structure of the website. The webpage needs to be linkable and crawable for search engines. There are other factors to increase a SEO friendly website but these will improve it. The website needs to be memorable for the user and for search engines. For a SEO friendly website the search engine needs to be a factor with the customer. SEO success happens when you have a search engine-friendly website.

 

Long Tail Keyword Search: SEO Strategy

Long Tail Keyword Search: Small Businesses Can Compete

What is a long tail Keyword search?

Long tail keywords are phrases usually made up of three to five words that users more commonly search for when they are close to the point of purchasing an item or service. These phrases may be searched less often, but can be extremely valuable especially for small businesses where keyword search volume may be lower.

Take for example a local gun shop. There is almost no chance that the site for the local shop will ever appear near the top of an organic search for “AR-15” because there is just too much competition. However, by targeting searchers looking for “AR-15 for sale in northern Utah” the shop will significantly improve their chances of ranking for the more specific long tail keyword search.

The phrase “long tail” describes the shape of the distribution created by graphing the search terms by popularity (See image below).Long Tail Keyword Search Graph
Terms such as Youtube and Pandora fall within the high frequency searches at the head of the graph where a search for “shooting ranges in Utah with metal spinner targets” would be included in the long tail to the right of the graph.

The crux to long tail keyword search: Know your customer

People searching for these more specific terms are more likely to transact or make a purchase. It is also easier and less expensive to target longer more specific keyword phrases. The big challenge comes when trying to figure out which long tail keywords to target.

In order to find effect long tail search term it is essential to know your customer. One of the common pitfall that comes with knowing your customer is the temptation to make assumptions. Any assumptions about a customer’s wants, preferences, and beliefs must be thrown out. A strategy that was successful last year may be disastrous the next.

To find the best way to connect with the customer generic assumption must be ignore and research into the current desires and preferences must be discovered. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest provide a window into the customer’s life that reveal their likes, habits and what they are buying. That is why it is essential for any business to actively manage a social media account and encourage interaction with their customers. These accounts not only help manage relationships with current customers, but also provide opportunities to connect with prospective customers.

One of the biggest benefit of social media is having the opportunity to talk directly to your customers. Many companies skip this basic strategy that provides valuable knowledge about what the customer really wants and how companies can better serve them. The various social media platforms also serve as a place for customers to share product and service reviews. Honest reviews can provide important feedback to a company that helps refine and improve the customer experience. It also often gives companies that chance make amends with customers who may not be satisfied with their experience.

Events also offer companies a chance to not only gain knowledge about their customers, but to also gain knowledge about those who they associate with as well. A well planned event can also help companies develop a profile for the target market through observation of their behaviors in a social setting (see 10-ways-of-getting-to-know-your-customers-better for additional information)

How to find long tail keywords?

Once a company starts to know and understand its customers they can start to form long tail keyword searches that may appeal specifically to them. There are many tools that can aid long tail keyword research however most people begin by using Google Keyword Planner or Google Adwords keyword tool as their keyword suggestion tool of choice. The major problem with this strategy is that google gives the same exact long tail keywords to everyone who uses it that includes competitors. Some have speculated that Google intentionally does this to drive up the competition and price of the long tail keywords. There are however, several alternatives to Google Keyword Planner that can be instrumental in finding long tail keywords.

Google’s related searches can be a good starting point for your long tail keyword search. Start by googling terms related to your company, product, or service and take note of the terms that show up at the bottom of the SERP under the “Searches Related To…”. These suggested will usually be a mix of alternate phrases of your main long tail keyword. Another strategy is to take one of the related searches and enter it back into the google and see what additional “Searches Related To…” result for the secondary search.

Forums and Q&A sites, like Yahoo! Answers, can also be a good long tail keyword tool. Chance are that there are many people on these sites that have questions that can be addressed by the product or service provided by your company. Scanning related questing will help you understand how some people start their search process. The answers can also give you insight into how other are solving the problem or give you a chance to post a better solution. Another Q&A site that can be helpful is AnswerThePublic. This tool will show you questions that people tend to ask that are related to your business. These make good keyword ideas for site content or improve on long tail SEO.

UberSuggest is a time saving long tail keyword research tool that can quickly help you explore the Google Suggest functionality. What Ubersuggest does is take a provided keyword and adds every letter in the alphabet after it to create a list of hundreds of suggested keywords. For example entering the search term “Britney Spears a” into google returns short list of phrases that contain a third word that begins with “a” such as “Britney Spears age”. When “Britney Spears b” is entered an entirely different list of phrases is generated. UberSuggest is a great shortcut in long tail keyword analysis compared to the alternative of manually adding each letter of the alphabet.

Google Correlate is another possible long tail keyword generator tool that indicates words that tend to show up with one another. To search a keyword simply enter it into the search box and click “Search Correlations”. The words that are returned will have a number next to them and the closer the number is to one the higher the correlation between the two. These correlated words can then be entered into other tool such as UberSuggest to find phrases that include both.

What to do next with long tail keywords?

You don’t have to be a professional keyword analyzer to use one or many tools to generate long tail keywords, but the next step is where the real work begins. Long tail keywords can be used to develop quality content, start an advertising campaign, or structure a web site. With all of the tools available to find long tail keywords the very real challenge becomes figuring out which one appeal more to the target customer and how can they be used to drive traffic to your site?

All about the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm

All about the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm

How do Search Algorithms work anyways?

You are searching for an answer, what better place to look than the internet? But, with over hundreds of billions of web pages on the internet, how do we make sense of all this information? More importantly, how do we even know where to look? Fortunately, there are numerous search engines that harness their own search algorithms to crawl and index all information online. Google is by far and away the most popular search engine on the planet. By conducting a Google search you can rest assured that you will receive the most accurate information available.  The most recent Google algorithm is known as the Google Hummingbird search algorithm. When you search for something online, Google rankings systems analyze your search. Next, it sorts through the search index to provide you with relevant information in a matter of milliseconds.

What do we know about the Google Algorithm?

At the most rudimentary level, the Google Algorithm internalizes your search term in their index of the internet. Next, it analyzes where and how frequently those keywords appear on a web page and then provide you with the highest rated results. There are many other variables at play within their algorithm, including the Google PageRank.  PageRank was named after Google Co-Founder, Larry Page. PageRank counts not only the number but the quality of the links on a web page to determine a rough estimate of the importance of that web page and coincidently gives it a ranking. The PageRank algorithm was the first used by Google and still is a piece of the overall equation in the Google Hummingbird search algorithm.

So what is the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm?

The Hummingbird update is revolutionary for numerous reasons. First and foremost the Google Hummingbird search algorithm is completely new and unique algorithm. Unlike the previous Google algorithm updates like Google Panda and Google Penguin that partial tweaked previous versions of the Google algorithm. Hummingbird is also revolutionary because it was built to be more accurate than ever by employing semantic search. Techopedia defines semantic search as follows:   

“Semantic search is a data searching technique in which a search query aims to not only find keywords but to determine the intent and contextual meaning of the words a person is using for search.”

Put simply, Hummingbird like no other Google Algorithm update before attempts to determine both the intent and the context of the user. A great example of this is if we do a Google search for the term ‘Panda’. With only a one-word, incredibly broad, search we could be looking for information on an actual Panda Bear, Google Panda and or even Kung Fu Panda.

Through the Hummingbird algorithm, Google as a first option provides information on the Panda Bear the mammal since it existed prior to both Google Panda and Kung Fu Panda. But, harnessing semantic search, Hummingbird also provides the user with numerous other possibilities for the one-word search. Hummingbird also incorporates YouTube videos and Google Maps if applicable to provide the user with the most relevant information. By simply searching ‘Panda’ a YouTube link for a music video for the song Panda by the rapper Desiigner, as well as a map to the closest Panda Express restaurant show up in the search results.

With 77% of American adults owning a smartphone, Hummingbird was also created to provide these individuals with the most advanced and precise Google search experience yet. As mentioned above, a search for ‘Panda’ provided the user with a map to the closest Panda Express. This particular feature is obviously based off of your real-time location of your mobile device. It will even provide users with directions on how to get to that location by either car, public transportation or on foot. In addition to the location, the user is also provided with pictures, reviews, as well as location hours. Just in case you are searching for a restaurant to order takeout, the phone number is listed as well.

Converse with Hummingbird

The Google Hummingbird search algorithm provides users with another revolutionary way to conduct a Google search. By using their smartphone, tablet or computer which is called ‘search by voice’. Through your Google browser on your tablet or computer or through the Google Search app on your iPhone or Android, users can verbally ask Google a question. The ‘search by voice’ feature has been around for a few years prior to the Google Hummingbird search algorithm. But, there are many new features that are truly revolutionary with the Hummingbird update. The fact that Google will now speak the answer back to you. For example, using your Google Search app on your iPhone you could ask, “When did George Washington die?”

Google will verbally tell you “George Washington died on December 14, 1799”. This is an incredibly convenient feature, particularly while you are driving and can’t use your hands. The real magic with Hummingbird is that you can continue the conversation with Google about George Washington. After asking when he died, I then asked: “where was he born”? The Google app then answered me back with “Westmoreland County, Virginia, VA”. Via the Hummingbird update, the Google Search app is able to now intuitively understand. It knows that when I said the word “he” I actually meant “George Washington”. This is because I asked a follow-up question directly after my initial inquiry about George Washington.

Google Hummingbird is your new weatherman

Another groundbreaking feature of the conversational search is how convenient and valuable even mundane searches can be. For example, I asked Google “Will it rain tomorrow?”.  Google then provided me with the following information based off of my current location.

Along with a verbal reply of “No, rain is not expected tomorrow in Salt Lake City. The forecast is 92 degrees and sunny”. While I didn’t ask if it would rain in Salt Lake or for an 8-day forecast. The Google Hummingbird search algorithm provided me with all the useful information I needed but didn’t ask for. This is a game changer for when you travel. The weather forecast is automatically updated for the location of your phone. Gone are the days of getting off your plane and looking for a newspaper. Gone are the days of pulling up weather.com. Now, you can now simply just ask Google, “what’s the current weather?”.  Google Hummingbird is legitimately making life more convenient one search at a time.

Search Engine Optimization Planning And Ranking

SEO Basics & Planning

The internet and search engines are still relatively new areas of technology.  For small business owners the task of understanding how search engine optimization operates without any formal search engine training can be daunting.  Most of the small business owners I run into are experts in their own areas of business, but many need clarification and insight in basic SEO techniques and planning.

The way people search for information has changed dramatically over the last few decades.  Gone are the days of going to the library when you wanted to look something up or opening the old Yellow Pages books to find a plumber in your area.  Now anyone can type in whatever they want to know into any of the magic search engines, primarily Google, Bing and Yahoo and Ta-dah, by the time you blink you will have thousands if not millions of results with applicable data.  With so many choices and so much competition, as a business owner I would ask how do I get on the first page of Google?  What is SEO and how do I learn basic SEO?

Understanding Search Results:  An introduction to SEO is a search engine tutorial of sorts. In order to understand the basics of SEO you first have to understand the basics of a search engine and how results are ranked.  In its most basic definition a search engine has a search query box, some form of paid advertising and natural or organic results.  Look at the first page of any search engine as real estate.  There’s only so much real estate to go around so companies generally have two choices to try to show up on the first page; Pay per Click through Adwords or Microsoft Adcenter and or search engine optimization. SEO search results are pulled from indexes and ranked based on popularity, relevance and other algorithms not known to anyone but a select few.

What is SEO?:   SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the organic section of the various search engines underneath the paid ads and local map listings.  SEO is a process by which the goal is to improve the position of the website using ranking factors such as anchor text,  therefore moving it higher with more traffic and conversions as a result.  At its core the trick is to be relevant, credible and of high quality when anyone searches for your product or service.

search engine optimization planning and ranking

SEO Ranking:  The search engines send out crawlers discovering public information, going from website to website looking for relevant information which then much like a library gets indexed.  While there is no specific outline into search engine ranking, SEOmoz recently conducted a survey which ranked the top nine factors of SEO.  In no particular order they are;

  • Page level link metrics
  • Domain level link authority features
  • Page level keyword usage
  • Domain level keyword usage
  • Page level social metrics
  • Domain level brand metrics
  • Page level keyword agnostic features
  • Page level traffic/query data
  • Domain level keyword agnostic features

Conversely there are attributes of a website that can have a negative influence on ranking.  These include;

  • Malware hosting
  • Cloaking
  • Pages on a site that sell links
  • Content that advertises paid links
  • Page Speed

In addition to this, businesses cannot ignore the importance of local SEO.  Local SEO involves location searches for a particular product or service.   In order to maximize the effectiveness of your local SEO;

  • Verify your Google map listing

  • Embed a Google map in your website, especially if you have a contact us page.
  • Optimize Meta tags and pages content for local keywords
  • Use consistent contact information across all online profiles

SEO Planning: The structure of any website must be considered when implementing an SEO campaign including navigational and internal linking among other key factors as outlined below

Keyword Strategy:  Two basic ways of looking at SEO keyword strategy include branding keywords such as the name of your company and keyword groups.  The best way to create a keyword group involves asking the following questions;

  • What are people searching for during the time that they need my products or services?
  • What product or service do I provide to solve their problem?

For example, the purpose of this blog was to inform and educate on a basic level and planning level “SEO Basics & Planning”?.  Using the technique above I came up with the following keywords using Google’s keyword planner;

  • Search engine training
  • Basic SEO techniques
  • Learn Basic SEO
  • Introduction to SEO
  • SEO ranking
  • Search engine tutorial
  • SEO search results
  • Search engine optimization
  • Crawlers
  • Search engine ranking
  • SEO Plan
  • Google Map Listing
  • Local SEO
  • Search engine optimization ranking
  • Keyword strategy
  • SEO keyword strategy
  • Keyword planner
  • SEO strategy

Cross-link relevant content:  Linking between related articles is difficult, but can be rewarding if done correctly.  This is especially true with e-commerce sites where groups of products are crosslinked to relate to each other.  This has become a common practice among online retailers with links such as “customers who bought this also bought”,” also viewed”,” frequently bought together”.

Anchor Text:  An example would be text that can be clicked through such as this; Anchor Text.  This should be above all relevant and descriptive.  Avoid generic anchor text links such as “more” or “click here”.  For example if a car rental company sets up online reservation capability then underneath each respective vehicle such as a 2017 Nissan Murano” there should be a “reserve Nissan Murano” instead of “click here”.

Breadcrumb Navigation:  This is possibly the easiest way to show a customer the hierarchy and structure of a website.  Breadcrumb navigation should be key word rich and follow a predictable flow such as “Home > Appliances > Washers & Dryers > Washers”.

Link Depth: The most important content shouldn’t be 4 or 5 clicks away from the homepage.  Instead all valuable relevant content should be relatively close to the home page.  This allows search engines to identify which pages are the most valuable to the searcher.

Resources;  I suggest keeping apprised of all the latest SEO and search engine trends on https://searchenginewatch.com , http://searchengineland.com, https://www.searchenginejournal.com/  http://yoast.com

Google Ranking Factors

“Where do I rank on Google?” is a question as old as time. Or more accurately, a question as old as 1998, when Google was founded. People have been asking this question for almost 20 years now and we still don’t have a concrete answer. How can an organization improve their Google ranking location on a SERP (search engine results page)? This blog will hopefully shed as much light as possible and provide tips on the still elusive topic of the Google ranking factors.

What is Pagerank?

Google uses its pagerank to dictate the importance of a web page. It was first created by Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Larry Page actually named it after himself when he dubbed it Google pagerank. When first released, your website Google ranking was mainly determined by how many quality keywords were on your page. This led to a serious problem where people would try to game the system and the phrase “keyword stuffing” emerged. Content often did not make sense or provide much value, but there were so many keywords on a page that they ranked high. Luckily, for us, Google is nimble and customer-focused, meaning they adjusted their algorithm. It is now a much more complex beast to rank high on Google’s SERP. You are probably writing right now, on your to-do list for yourself “check Google ranking”. Well, below is an outline of factors that Google considers, today, according to Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie C. Stricchiola in their book The Art of SEO, 3rd edition.

For more information on the definition and history of Google’s pagerank, check out Lifewire’s article.

Google ranking factors

Although the Google ranking factors change constantly, the infographic below shows the nine most prominent factors, currently.

Top Google Ranking Factors
Google Ranking Factors Infographic

Negative Ranking Factors

Use caution when manipulating your site to improve your ranking, as there are some negative factors that can punish your Google ranking.

Malware being hosted on your site

  • You will be punished if you have viruses of Trojans on your site

Cloaking

  • Do not show different information to Google than you do average viewers

Pages on your site with links for sale

  • Google has a policy against paid links

Content that advertisers paid links on the site

  • Promoting the sale of paid links is an easy way to get on Google’s bad side

Page speed

  • Your page should load quickly for both happy visitors and a happy Google crawler

How to get a top ranking on Google

Before we get begin on how to improve your Google ranking, you must first complete a pagerank check. This does not simply mean to search for your company’s name on Google. You must remember that your cookies have been tracked, you frequent your site, and you are probably searching from your office’s IP address. Of course, you will appear as the #1 result on a SERP. You can start this search by using a SERP checker. If you simply search in Google for “SERP tracker”, there are many options that can help shed more light on where you would organically appear on Google for any Joe-Schmo. Once you know how much work you should do, you can follow the Google ranking factors outlined above to begin improvements.

Remember, these changes will not take place overnight. Even though Google’s crawlers never take a night off or pause for a lunch break, there are millions, if not trillions of web pages Google must get through before returning to yours. It is likely you will not see a change in your position for three to six months. Continual focus on web improvements will always pay off in the long run. Just remember that you may not receive instant gratification for your work. Make sure to periodically check back on your rank checker to see where you end up. But do not stop there, continue to make improvements constantly.

Myths of Google rankings

Since Google has never published their algorithm, we are still guessing part of it. Even with thousands of SEO experts out there, we are still taking stabs in the dark at what impacts Google’s pagerank. Below is an outline of some of the myths of Google Rankings…at least for the time-being.

Keyword Density

Google’s original pagerank was determined mainly by keywords alone. However, once that system was gamed, Google changed how they did things. There is no magic number for keyword density. While you should ensure all your content is keyword-rich, make sure not to keyword stuff, making the content less beneficial to visitors.

Use of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

Although it is easy to see why Google would favor websites that use their own products, there is no evidence this takes place. It is always a wise idea to have both of these tools and keep a close eye on them. However, when considering the question how to get top ranking on Google, this does not contribute to a solution.

Facebook Interaction

Linking is a crucial technique to improve your Google ranking and social media is a big part of that. Even if you are not very active on one or more social media sites because of your industry, you should still have a profile set up. Make sure you link in the “about” sections back to your website or your effort is moot. Interactions that occur on social media platforms, like Facebook, however are not counted towards your Google pagerank. Google cannot see Facebook likes and shares, so, therefore, it cannot be a ranking factor.

Although these are myths now, we don’t know what the future holds. Google updates their algorithm so frequently, it gives everyone in the SEO world job security. For more information about the myths of Google rankings, check out this Moz article.

 

This article was just a brief introduction into the world of Google’s mysterious and elusive pagerank and the Google ranking factors. Remember that continual improvement is key and instantly gratification of your efforts will not occur. Do not be demoralized, all the work is worth it in today’s search-reliant world.

 

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