5 tips for better SEO. No Blackhat Techniques, Page Speed Optimisation, Quality Content, Internal Linking, Page Titles and Meta Descriptions.
Well the short answer to this is, you really can’t.
The reality is that most Home Based and Small Businesses just don’t have the time and resources to do everything that is required. Things like continually adding relevant content, continually adding content to Social Media, continually building back-links and so on. This all takes time and money, and we just don’t have the dedicated staff and finances to do compete with this.
So what can you do? Well all you can really do is adopt best practices and do what you can, and if your competition isn’t doing that, then you will more than likely out rank them.
So try and set yourself small achievable targets. Like a new Blog Post every two weeks, or even once a month. Once a month is better than never or very rarely. But whatever you do, make sure it is a quality Post, and not just some drivel to fill a page. Make sure that what you are talking about in your Post adds some value to your website, and that is relevant to what you sell or do, and it is something that people are likely to want to read. If it is interesting, if it answers burning questions, if it is worth knowing about, then it is more likely that people will read it, and share it, and link to it. But even then, make sure that when you do create a Post, that you do some SEO on it. Spend some time creating a properly constructed Page Title and Meta Description, and keep in mind what keyword or phrase you want to target for the Post.
When you publish the Post, make sure you paste a link to it in your Facebook page (if you have one, which you should). When you post in your Facebook page, make sure that in addition to your Link, you have sufficient text so Facebook creates the “See More” link. When someone clicks on this, it counts as an “Engagement”, and they are also more likely to click on your Link.
If at all possible, include at least one image and make sure you do the SEO on it as well including a proper Image Title and Alt Description.
But there are other things you can do too. For example, if you are competing against other businesses in the same retail space, do some research on them. See what they are doing and what is working for them, and adapt it to your business and improve upon it. You will find, for example, that if a website is ranking well for certain search terms, the business may well be complacent and are not bothering to continually add content. This gives you the opportunity to exploit that and do it better than them. If you consistently do it better than your competitors, then over time, your website will rank better than them.
But you too cannot fall into the same trap once you get that number one or high ranking position. Let’s face it, that is why I am writing this Post right now. Apart from the fact that I wish to impart this knowledge to my customers (or potential customers), it also gives me a means of adding relevant content to my website.
It’s also a good idea to be able to quantify where your traffic is coming from and what keywords people are using to find you. This will help you “tweak” your content to better reach your Target Market.
Happy Blogging and FaceBooking 😉
What is a Backlink?
Let’s start off by explaining what a backlink is. A backlink is a hyperlink on someone else’s website that links to your website.
An example of a backlink is Spotty Dog Computer Services. This links to my other website which mainly focuses on Computer Repairs.
A backlink from another website to mine that looked like the one shown above is great, but it could be even better if the Anchor Text was related to a Key Word I was targeting.
Google places a high value on backlinks. Backlinks tell Google that other people value the content on your website enough that they want to tell others about it. Google considers each backlink as a vote that someone thinks your content is worth reading, and consequently places a high value on it.
But what gives a backlink an even higher value is having the Anchor Text reflect a keyword or phrase that you are targeting. The Anchor Text in the example shown above is “Spotty Dog Computer Services”. Anchor Text that would be of a greater value would be something like “Computer Repairs Morayfield”, which highlights the keywords that I would target. So an example of a higher value backlink would be Computer Repairs Morayfield.
So how important are Backlinks?
To give you a real life example of how a properly constructed backlink can assist in elevating your website ranking, I have a story about this very website.
After creating this website with the intention of trying to rank Number One for the keywords “Website Design Morayfield”, and after spending a lot of time creating relevant content and pages, the best this website could rank was around Number four, and it stayed that way for weeks. It wasn’t until I gained a few backlinks, Website Design Morayfield, that I suddenly shot to the Number One position. So immediately you can see the value of having backlinks with the appropriate Anchor Text.
The trouble is of course, getting the backlinks and getting appropriate Anchor Text. If you have friends or associates with a website, you have a much better chance of being able to achieve this.
Google has just launched it’s new algorithm named “Hummingbird”.
If you didn’t already know, Google uses a secret algorithm to determine what should be displayed in a search query. The latest incarnation of this algorithm is called Hummingbird.
So what, I hear you say. Well if you are a business owner with a website, you should care because there is the potential that it will affect your search rankings and because of the way Google now deals with what it shows the searcher, it could also reduce traffic to your website.
This algorithm overhaul aims to limit the “fluff” that is sometimes present on a website purely for SEO, and filter that stuff out, so that the the searcher gets more relevant and useful search results.
The Hummingbird algorithm has moved away from traditional keyword analysis of the content, and now uses “conversational” techniques that are more in tune with what the searcher is looking for.
Google have found that user searches are becoming longer and very specific, so the new Hummingbird algorithm focuses on the searchers’ “intent” by trying to answer the searchers’ question.
How does the Hummingbird Update affect your Business Website?
This latest update will undoubtedly affect your current rankings.
It may be negative or positive, or in other words, your rankings may improve or get worse or a combination of both.
For those businesses that had poor rankings for generic non specific terms, you may well find that your rankings improve.
If you don’t want your rankings to suffer with this latest update, Businesses will need to rethink the content of their websites to come more into line on how people use the internet to search for goods and services.
Hummingbird places a higher emphasis on conversational techniques and natural language, and has been driving towards better support for longer search queries. Hummingbird takes this a step further by trying to provide answers to questions rather than finding matches for keywords.
This is because serving up results based on keywords does not always reflect what it is someone is searching for.
When formulating the content of your pages, you will need to consider what sort of questions will be asked by a searcher and incorporating the answers within your content.
What this means is that simply having content on a page for the sake of having content, does not have the same impact it once did.
Why Hummingbird may affect traffic to your website
One of the big changes that has come with the new update is the way Google displays information.
Search data may now be displayed to the right of the search results.
For example, if you type “Gravity” and then search, to the right of the search results you will see information from the IMDb website showing data from their website about the movie Gravity.
Now this may be great for the searcher, but what this means is that the searcher is now less likely to visit the IMDb website.
Other things that may be displayed in the Brave New World of Google Search are things like links to YouTube videos or a link to “Watch It Now” on Google Play, ie. Google’s own content.
Wherever possible, you will now find Google trying to direct people to their own content rather than your website.
So what can your Business do?
Well not a great deal.
About all you can do is try and concentrate on the content, framing it in a way that answers questions people may be searching for, ensuring at the same time that it uses natural language without looking spammy and without keyword stuffing.
Stick to the other principles of SEO by including relevant images, videos, headings, page titles and page url’s.
The first step to getting found online is obviously to have an online presence via a website.
But simply having a website isn’t enough. Unless you are appearing in Search Results, and preferably somewhere near the top of the first page, then the only way people will find your website is through advertising.
Advertising can take many forms including print and signage, but there are online alternatives ranging from free and paid for Internet Business Directories like Start Local, True Local, Hotfrog and the like.
In addition to that, Google have their own “Paid For” advertising called AdWords.
But wouldn’t it be great if your website appeared right at the top of the first page of search results without paying for it?
These results are called “Organic Search Results”. Those are the results that naturally appear at the top of the Search Results page and that’s what SEO is all about. Getting to the top of the results page.
Getting to the top is easier said than done. Google’s algorithm for determining the ranking is secret, so any individual or company that tells you that they can guarantee a number 1 result, or even a page 1 result, is probably in need of a reality check.
Having said that, there are plenty of things you can do to help your cause. So with that in mind, here are my Top 8 SEO Tips:
- Read the Google SEO Guidelines – Google actually give you a clue about what you need to do. It takes some of the guesswork out and spells out exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing. It’s amazing how many people attempt SEO without reading this first. Do yourself a huge favour and read the Google SEO Guidelines.
- Use a good SEO Plug-in – Something like All-in-one SEO Pack or better still WordPress SEO by Yoast. It has a “Content Analysis Function” which will help you write better content and help you optimise your website’s Page Titles and Descriptions, and displays a Google snippet preview. It will also automatically generate XML Sitemaps which Google uses to help Index your website.
- Write Good Content – DO NOT fall into the trap of keyword stuffing. Write original content from the heart. Google is all about the End User Experience and trying to serve up the best result for it’s customer’s. If you write unoriginal garbage, or you plagiarise content from another website and change a few words here and there, have no doubt, you will be penalised. You will hear this term everywhere, but it’s true, when it comes to Google Search Results, Content Is King.
- Do Regular Updates – Add content to your website regularly. But not just any content, content that is relevant to whatever it is your website is about (See previous point). It can be in the form of Reviews, Tips and Tricks, News Articles or a Blog Article like this one you are reading right now.
- Avoid Using Flash – Whilst Flash animation can add some pizazz to your website, unfortunately Google’s Search Crawlers have no idea what information they are displaying. So from an SEO point of view Flash is bad. But another downside is that Apple devices don’t support Flash and anyone viewing your website with an Apple Computer or Tablet etc will not see it. So there is a double wammy.
- Structure your website clearly – Every page on your website should be accessible from at least one link on the site, and preferably from the menu structure. Hiding the visibility of pages is a big No No. Your Navigation Structure should be logical and easy to navigate. If you have to jump all over the page to find things, then that presents a poor user experience and you will suffer the consequences.
- Generate Backlinks – Backlinks are links on other websites that link back to you. Ideally they should come from websites that are related to your industry, and the Anchor Text used should be a keyword that is beneficial to you. An example would be Website Design Caboolture. The Anchor text in this example is “Website Design Caboolture” which links to this website at the url www.websitedesignmorayfield.com.au. Generating backlinks is not an easy task. It is even harder generating backlinks from websites related to your own industry. After all, who is going to link to a competitor? Some backlinks will occur as a matter of course through people just doing it, but you can also register your business on internet directories as previously mentioned. Whatever you do, DO NOT fall for paying for backlinks as this will most certainly see you penalised by Google.
- Do Key Word Research – Decide on the keywords you want to target and use them in the content on your page, and in the Page Title and Description. But don’t forget to use other words related to those keywords. For example, I might want to target the keyword or phrase “Computer Repair”. Examples of related keywords would be, “PC Repair”, “Fix Computer”, “Computer Technician”, “Computer Servicing” and so on. To do keyword research you can try using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, or SEMRUSH.
So this is the reality, SEO is a slow process. You can get some moderate results quickly, but SEO is a long and laborious process that is ongoing. Stick to the SEO Guidelines and adhere to the rules, and at least you won’t be penalised. Remember, if you try and pull the wool over Google’s eyes, you will lose. Stick to trying to create quality, relevant content and make the user experience a priority, and you should see positive results.
There are many reasons we use WordPress for the basis of our Web Designs. First and foremost for me it’s because WordPress is by far and away the easiest to learn and understand.
But here is a detailed list of the reasons and advantages to using WordPress:
- It’s FREE and Open Source – Being an Open Source Project, WordPress is completely free to use, forever!!!. Being Open Source means that there are people around the world continuously contributing to the project and improving it with extra features and improved security.
- An Abundant Array of Plug-in’s – If you need to add a particular function to your WordPress website, you can almost guarantee that there is a Plug-in available to do it. There are Plug-in’s for SEO, Contact Forms, Buttons, eCommerce, Photo Galleries, Guestbooks and Forums, Social Networking and the list is endless. By and large, the majority of plug-in’s that you would want to use are also free, with Plug-in developers offering “paid for” versions which add some extra features, or support for a fee.
- User Friendly CMS – In my opinion, WordPress has to be the easiest and most flexible Content Management System (CMS) around. I have used others, but WordPress is very intuitive and there is a wealth of information and help forums online if you get stuck.
- Themes let you “Style” the look – The way your WordPress website looks, feels and behaves is determined by the Theme used. So if you get sick of the look, or just feel like a change, you can achieve this by simply uploading a new Theme, activating it, and hey presto, there you have it. Of course it isn’t quite as easy as that because the reality is that some content may not suit the new styling, but there is nothing that is overly difficult to overcome.
- Your website can grow with you – Your WordPress website can grow with you and you can easily upgrade it with new features and security. You can change your Theme at any time without the need to re-do your whole website. Plug-in’s can be added for enhanced functionality (add e-commerce if your business grows, a photo gallery, conatct forms, etc.). WordPress is used by millions of websites, so it won’t be going away in a hurry.
- Good for SEO – Over the years I’ve used various SEO plugins including All-In-One SEO, WordPress SEO by Yoast, and Google XML Sitemaps. But even without these plugins, the simple structure of WordPress, the permalinks, and the easy linking in WordPress is Google friendly. I even heard a statement directly from the horse’s mouth Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s “Web Spam Team”) when he spoke at WordCamp San Fransisco 2009 where he said, “WordPress is a great choice” and went on to say how much “WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues“. Don’t believe me, see for yourself below.
There are almost an infinite number of Plug-in’s available for a WordPress based website.
However, there are some that I believe are a must have regardless of what type of Website or Blog you have.
The following Plug-in’s are the top five that I believe are essential and you should have installed:
- iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) – As mentioned previously in my WordPress Security Blog Post, this plug-in can do many things, but not limited to:
- Change the urls (web address) for the WordPress dashboard including login, admin, and more.
- Rename the “admin” account. For example you could rename it admin2013.
- Change the WordPress database table prefix. The default is wp_. The plug-in will change it to a random set of letters.
- Change wp-content path. You could change this to anything, for example site-content.
- Ban bots and other hosts.
- Prevent brute force attacks by banning hosts and users with too many invalid login attempts.
- Enforce strong passwords for all accounts from Subscriber’s to Admin’s.
- Detect and block numerous attacks to your filesystem and database.
- BackupBuddy – This plug-in has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. Imagine you have spent 100’s of hours and dollars developing your website, and the unthinkable happens. Your website is hacked and your website is compromised, or even worse, the Web Hosts’ Server is hacked and everything is lost. Now wouldn’t it be nice to be able to restore your website from a backup almost immediately? Well that is just one of the things you can do with BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy is a “Paid For” plug-in, but it’s worth every cent. With BackupBuddy, you can:
- Back up your entire WordPress installation. Your Widgets, Themes, Plug-in’s, Files, Images, PDF’s and SQL database – the entire website! Just like you would backup your laptop or desktop computer, you should be doing regular backups of your website. With BackupBuddy you can schedule backups and have them sent off-site to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server, or your email. Or you can download them straight to your computer.
- Restore your WordPress site fast. The restore function in BackupBuddy is very simple. Upload a file called importbuddy.php and your backup file, and it restores WordPress including your Themes, Widgets, Plug in’s, and everything else. You don’t even need to re-install WordPress first!
- Individual File Restoration – Did you make a whole lot of changes to your theme and then decide that you wanted everything back like it was? Now you can identify files to restore individually, instead of having to go through a complete site restore! Easily browse your backup .zip file contents right from the dashboard and decide which files to restore.
- Move your WordPress site to another Web Host easily. Not happy with your current Web Host? No problem. Simply make a backup of your website, sign up to a new Web Host, upload the backup file and importbuddy.php script and run it.
- WordPress SEO – WordPress SEO would have to be the most complete WordPress SEO plugin around. It does everything including a Google Snippet Preview and Page Analysis that helps you optimise your page content, image titles, meta descriptions and more, as well as creating XML sitemaps, and a heap of optimisation options in between.
- Broken Link Checker – Over time, a website will accumulate quite a number of links within pages, both internal links and external links. These links will occasionally break when the website they point to cease to exist for any number of reasons. You would only know if this was the case if you happened to check the links periodically, or you are notified by a vigilant visitor to your website. Broken Link Checker will notify you via the WordPress Dashboard and via Email if it detects any broken links.
- Imagify – One of the biggest mistakes I see when people manage their own websites (and sometimes by so called professionals), is the use of images that haven’t been optimised for web use. Imagify takes the hard work out of optimising images by doing it as you upload them. Of course you should still resize images to an appropriate pixel count first, but with this plug-in, images will be optimised on the fly. If you already have images on your website, there is also a bulk optimisation feature. The free version of the plug-in offers 25MB of data per month at no cost. After that, a fee is applicable, or you can wait until the next months anniversary and pick up a further 25MB Free.
There is more to Web Page Design and Website Design than just visual appeal.
For a Business Website to be effective and successful, it requires not only a great look and feel, but more importantly it requires quality content and relevant content.
This needs to be coupled with some basic and fundamental techniques like ensuring that Page Titles reflect the content of the web page, that images have appropriate Titles and Alternative Text and that the Meta Descriptions match the web page and provide a short accurate description of what is on the web page.
This is all part of what is known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
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