04- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
34 Views

15 SEO Myths That Just Won’t Die – SEO 101

In digital marketing, and specifically search engine optimization (SEO), there are tidbits of information that in their retelling lose context and become what we call in other circles “Zombie Lies” or in this case “Zombie Myths.”

Zombie SEO Myths

Zombie SEO myths are myths that, despite being debunked over and over again, never seem to die. They take on a life of their own and leave site owners confused as to what is true and what is not.

So this chapter is going to look at some of those myths that never seem to die – no matter how hard experts try to kill them.

Mostly, we’re going to focus on Google because that is where most sites get their traffic (and where most of the myths revolve around).


Myth 1: SEO is Voodoo or Snake Oil

There is a low bar to entry into the field of digital marketing, including and especially SEO. There are no real certification processes (because how would you certify something that changes every day?) and Google never publishes the algorithms, so there is no way to test an individual’s knowledge against what they contain.

Basically, when you hire an SEO provider it has to be based on trust.

This is why the myth that SEO is voodoo prevails. It prevails because bad practitioners did bad work and the client is left with no other way to explain their lack of results. In fact, it is often these bad practitioners who use the myth to explain their poor results.

That being said, SEO isn’t voodoo (or magic or “bovine feces”). Real SEO is the process of making sites adhere better to Google’s algorithms, for specific query strings, in order to increase relevant site traffic and/or company revenues.

These algorithms aren’t completely unknowable things.

While Google never publishes the details of that information, informed SEO professionals have a good understanding of what will bring a site in compliance with those algorithms (or, in the case of black hat SEO, how they can game those algorithms). They are after all based on math and processes governed by logic.

A trustworthy SEO professional lives and breathes algorithm changes, which can amount to multiple changes a day. They know why the algorithms do what they do as best as anyone not working at Google can do.

This is the opposite of voodoo and magic. It is called earned knowledge. It is also a very hard earned knowledge.

When you pay an SEO pro, you aren’t paying for their time. You are paying for their knowledge and results. Prices are set accordingly.


Myth 2: Content Is All You Need

“Content is KING!”

You will find many articles that make this statement. While they are not completely untrue, content is less king and more like a valuable business partner to links, design, and usability.

Mostly, though, content and links are the like the conjoined twins of the SEO world. You must have both. One will not work without the other (at least not well and not for the long term).

Now, Google will tell you many long-tail queries rank without links. That is likely true. It is also likely that these long-tail queries are so unique that there is no competition for them, so links don’t play an active role the way they do in a competitive query.

If you’re trying to rank for the Walking Dead, you better have links* or don’t expect anyone to find you.

*Good links. Not poor, $99 links bought from a link farm.

So while content is very important, content needs links. Just like links need content.

Bonus Tip: Content is not king. Content is special, but not king. Like peanut butter and jelly you can have one without the other, but it isn’t as good. Add technical to this duo and you have the triad that is the basis of all good core SEO.


Myth 3: Speed Isn’t That Important

Google said a while back that page speed is only a tie-breaker when all other factors are equal. This is one of those cases where I can say that this is not borne out in real-world testing.

Personally, I had a client increase their traffic by over 200,000 sessions a day when they cut their page speed by 50 percent during a likely Panda update. So while it is true that it acts as a tie-breaker when all things are equal it can also dramatically improve rankings when your site has a severe page speed issue.

Now when I say a page speed issue, I don’t mean you cut your 5-second site load time down to 2 seconds. I mean when you dramatically cut your page load, say a 22-second site load time down to 8 seconds, which is what happened in this case.

Know What is Being Measured

It is also important to know what Google is measuring when they are evaluating page speed. While they are looking at overall speed the issue they are most “critical” of is how long the DOM (Direct Object Model) takes to load. The DOM items are the visible items on the page excluding ads, if you have stacked your load right.

This means that if you can cut your DOM load from 22 seconds to 8 seconds as in the example, Google will likely reward you for the dramatic decrease in page load because you are now dramatically faster. This is an additional benefit of improving page speed unrelated to breaking a tie on a specific query result.

A faster site is much easier for Googlebot to crawl. When the site is not slowing the crawl down, more of your site is getting indexed either in number of pages or in depth of page crawl.

Note: The Google Page Speed Insight tool only measures items in the DOM, so you could have a higher page speed score than another site, but still perform more poorly in the rankings because your overall page load is too slow. Page speed is very important and will become even more so as we move into mobile first. So never discount it.


Myth 4: Links Are Dead

I once had a call from a potential client that asked me if I could remove all his links.

“Remove all your links? May I ask why you would want to do that,” I asked.

“Because I heard links were bad and I need to remove them,” he told me.

“Did you buy the links or get them from some nefarious method?”

“No they are all legit.”

“Then, sir, whatever you do, use me or don’t for other reasons, do not get rid of your links!”

True story.

Links aren’t dead.

Links aren’t close to dead.

If you have the best content in the world and no links, your site won’t get much visibility. Links and content are correlated with rankings. Great content still needs great links (or a lot of mediocre ones).

If you’re buying links for $99 and expecting to get to the top spots in Google, you’re barking up a very dead tree.

Remember, good links require topical relevancy and legitimacy. If it isn’t natural and it comes from an unrelated page or site, it probably won’t help much.

Bonus tip: Reciprocal linking died circa 2007, maybe earlier. Linking to your buddy and them linking to you won’t do you much good.


Myth 5: Keyword Density

There was a time keyword density have some validity.

Really, if it did not work why do you think all those people were stuffing white text on white backgrounds for ranking purposes? Then Google got smarter and it did away with keyword stuffing as a viable practice and even people who got good results from applying density testing to much smaller keyword placements no longer could count on knowing what keyword density would help.

In both cases, this no longer exists.

While you can still put any word on the page too many times, there is no set range of what makes a page rank. In fact, you can find results now where the keyword does not exist in the visible portion of the page. It might be in the links or in the image tagging or somewhere else that is not part of the content it might even be a similar not exact match. This is not typical, but it does exist.

Bottom line: placing a keyword X times per page is no longer something worth spending your time on. There are far better fish to fry.

Bonus Tip: Better to make relevant content that you can link to internally and others can link to externally than to waste time on optimizing keywords. That being said your title tag is still highly relevant. Spend some time adding your query set there. That might give you a boost.


Myth 6: You Must Submit Your Site

At least twice a week I get an email from an SEO site submission company telling me I need to pay them to submit my site to the search engines.

Seriously? No, you do not.

Now, are there times when it is good to submit your site URLs? Sure when you need the search engines to come back to the site to do things like pick up a new piece of content or re-evaluate a page, however, you never need to submit your site.

Google is advanced enough now – and especially with its status as registrar – that it can find you minutes after not only that site is live, but also when the domain is registered.

Now if you’ve been live for a few weeks and have an inbound link to the site and Google has not come by as evident by your logs it can’t hurt to submit it via Google Search Console Fetch and Render, but never ever pay someone to submit your site.

Bonus Tip: When in doubt just use Google’s URL submit form or “fetch and render/submit” in Google Search Console.


Myth 7: You Don’t Need a Sitemap

Sitemaps are not a nice to have add-on for sites today. This gets even more important as we move to the mobile-first algorithms in 2018.

Why? When Google cannot easily crawl a portion of your site, the sitemap allows the crawler to better find these pages.

Bonus Tip: Google is going to have a harder time finding pages due to the reduced size of navigational elements in mobile-first indexing. Sitemaps – both XML and HTML – will be the best way for them to find all the pages on the site you want indexed and ranked.

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Myth 8: Query Must Have Freshness

QDF, or Query Deserves Freshness, most certainly applies to queries that need fresh results. For instance, from a news site or say the most recent Powerball numbers.

That does not mean you have to change every element on your homepage every day, or even very often.

While there are sites that absolutely must have fresh content on their main site pages on a daily or weekly basis, most do not.

Evergreen pages are evergreen for a reason. If you write an article on mobile-first indexing and that information has not changed, you do not need to change that page to give it “freshness”.

You do, however, need to have some fresh content on your site. So a good content strategy is how you address having fresh content without trying to meet some unnatural goal for daily content changes.

Bonus Tip: For smaller sites that have small teams or little money and do not need to have fresh content daily, you can just invest in adding pages to the site when needed but keeping an active blog presence. Adding 2-3 blog posts a week will keep the site relevant without adding the demands and costs of continually updating pages.


Myth 9: Because Big Brands Do It, It Must Be Good!

Remember your parents saying to you when you were little, “Would you jump off a bridge just because Johnny told you to?!” Same thing goes here.

There is a long history of sites copying bad website decisions from each other simply because they thought the other site knew something they didn’t.

Don’t be a lemming.

What one site does may work for them and may not. What if they tell you it is the best thing since sliced bread? Unless you’re looking at their metrics, don’t believe them and even if it is the best thing for them, the chances of that being right for you are slim.

Why? Because you’re a different company. Your users have different queries and user intent. Just because Facebook and Twitter use infinite scroll doesn’t mean you should.

In fact, because big brands don’t suffer as much from user and Googlebot discontent when they get it wrong, they are more likely to – get it wrong.

Don’t copy big brands. Find what works for your users and stick to that.

Bonus Tip: If you want to try something that you see on another site, find a section of yours that isn’t bringing in a lot of traffic and then A/B test the idea on your own pages. Your data will show you what works best for you. Never assume because a big brand does it, you will benefit from following their path.


Myth 10: Algorithm Devaluations = Penalties

Google has two types of site devaluations.

Penguin, Panda, Pirate, Pigeon, Layout etc. are all algorithms. Algorithms can giveth and they can taketh away. This means that not every site sees devaluations from the update of these processes. Many sites see positive results. This is called an “algorithmic change” not a penalty.

What are penalties then?

Penalties are manual actions you can find in Google Search Console. This is when Google took a look at your site and decided it was in violation of the Webmaster Guidelines and devalued the site. You know this happened by checking your messages in Google Search Console. When it happens they will tell you.

Penalties also require you “submit a reconsideration request” to regain your site status and remove the penalty.

Algorithmic devaluations have no such consideration. You fix what you think went wrong. Then you wait to see if Google gives you back your rankings when that algorithm or set of algorithms comes back through and re-evaluates the site.


Myth 11: Duplicate Content Is a Penalty

There is NO duplicate content penalty!

There has never been a duplicate content penalty.

Google does have a duplicate content filter, which simply means that if there is more than one item of content that is the same Google will not rank both for the same query. It will only rank one.

This makes perfect sense. Why would you want the results for a query to bring back the same content multiple times? It is simply easier to rewrite the piece than try to guess what those might be.

All that said, too much duplicate content can affect you with the Panda algorithm, but that is more about site quality rather than manual actions.

Bonus tip: The duplicate content filter applies to titles and meta descriptions as well. Make sure to make all your titles and descriptions unique.


Myth 12: Social Media Helps You Rank

Social media, done well, will get you exposure. That exposure can get you links and citations. Those links and citations can get you better rankings.

That doesn’t mean that social media postings are inherently helpful to getting you rank.

Social media doesn’t give you links, but it encourages others to link to you. It also means that the social media post may escape its ecosystem and provide you a true site link. But don’t hold your breath.

Social media is about visibility.

Getting those people to share your content and link to or mention your site in a way that Google counts it as a “link”? That is SEO.


Myth 13: Buying Google Ads Helps with Organic Ranking

No. Just no. Investing in PPC won’t boost your organic search rankings.

These two divisions are in two separate buildings and not allowed to engage with each other about these things.

Personally, I have worked with sites that have had massive budgets in Google AdWords. Their site still lived and died in organic by the organic algorithms. They received no bonus placements from buying Ads.

Bonus Tip: What buying ads can do is promote brand validation. In user experiments, it has been shown that when a user sees an ad and the site in the organic rankings together, they believe it to have more authority. This can increase click-through rates.


Myth 14: Google Uses AI in All its Algorithms

No. Google doesn’t use AI in the live algorithms except for RankBrain.

Now, Google does use AI to train the algorithms and in ways internally we are not privy to. However, Google doesn’t use AI in terms of the live algorithms.

Why?

Very simply put, because if it breaks they would not know how to fix it. AI operates on a self-learning model.

If it were to break something on search and that broken piece hurt Google’s ability to make money there would be no easy way to fix it. More than 95 percent of Google’s revenue still comes from ads, so it would be extremely dangerous to allow AI to take over without oversight.


Myth 15: RankBrain

So much has been written about RankBrain that is simply incorrect it would be difficult to state it as one myth. So, in general, let’s just talk about what RankBrain is and isn’t.

RankBrain is a top ranking factor that you don’t optimize to meet.

What does that mean? Basically, when Google went from strings to things (i.e., entity search), it needed better ways to determine what a query meant to the user and how the words in the query set related to each other. By doing this analysis, Google could better match the user’s intent.

To this end, they developed a system of processes to determine relationships between entities. For those queries they understand, they bring back a standard SERP. Hopefully, one that best matches your intent as a user.

However, 15 percent of the queries Google sees every day are new. So Google needed a way to deal with entities whose relationship was unclear or unknown when trying to match user intent.

Enter RankBrain!

RankBrain is a machine-learning algorithm that tries to understand what you mean when Google is unsure. It uses entity match and known relationships to infer meaning/intent from those queries it doesn’t understand.

For instance, back when the drought in California was severe if you looked up “water rights Las Vegas NV” (we share water) you would get back all sorts of information about water rights and the history of water rights in the Las Vegas area. However, if you put in a much lesser known area of Nevada, like Mesquite, Google wasn’t sure what you wanted to know.

Why? Because while Google understands Las Vegas as a city (entity) in a geological area (Clark County) and can associate that with water rights, a known topic of interest due to search data. It cannot, however, do the same for Mesquite.

Why? Because no one likely searched for water rights in Mesquite before or very often. The query intent was unknown.

To Google, Mesquite is a city in Nevada, but also a tree/charcoal/flavor/BBQ sauce and it brought back all of these results ignoring the delimiter “water rights” for all but one result. This is RankBrain.

Google is giving you a “kitchen sink.” Over time, if enough people search for that information or the training Google feeds it tells it differently, it will know that you specifically wanted x, not y.

RankBrain is about using AI to determine intent between entities with unknown or loosely formed relationships. So it is a ranking factor, but not really a ranking factor.

Bonus Tip: While there are a few niche cases where it might make sense to optimize for RankBrain, it really doesn’t for most. The query is a living dynamic result that is Google’s best guess at user intent. You would do far better to simply optimize the site properly than trying to gain from optimizing specifically for RankBrain.

Source: 15 SEO Myths That Just Won’t Die – SEO 101

04- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
21 Views

Seven ways to future-proof your SEO strategy for 2018

The web’s changing, and so is the ways people use it. Update your SEO strategy so you’re not behind the times.

Search engine optimisation is always changing. To stay ahead of your competitors you need to be able to shift your SEO strategy. You can expect to see mobile devices, artificial intelligence (AI) and voice search dominate the news.

But what practical steps should you take this year? In this article, I’ll take you through the key trends to be aware of in 2018, and what you can do to act on them.

 

1. Leverage Google RankBrain and user experience signals

AI was a big topic last year. This year is no different. Google’s pushing to use AI whenever it can and it’s no different in search. Its machine learning system RankBrain, is its third most important ranking factor after links and content.

RankBrain helps Google better understand search queries. It runs tests on Google’s algorithm to try improve the user experience for people using the search engine, measuring the success based on user experience signals like click through rate, bounce rate and time on site.

How to optimise for RankBrain:

  1. Reduce your bounce rate
  2. improve your click-through-rate, and
  3. keep people on your website longer.

 

2. Make sure your website load speed is lightning fast

Nothing is more frustrating than a slow website, and search engines know this. Page load speed has been a known ranking factor for some time.

Until now, this has only applied to the desktop version of you website. Google has announced that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches, too.

How fast is your website load? According to Pingdon, the average page speed is 3.2 seconds, while Google’s benchmark is 2 seconds.

How to improve your page speed:

  1. Reduce media file sizes
  2. compile and minify your code
  3. upgrade your hosting package
  4. work with developers to improve server response, and
  5. leverage browser caching.

 

3. Go mobile-First

In case you’ve been under a rock, mobile devices are taking over the world. It’s time to take your digital strategy mobile-first.

Jump into your analytics and check your device spilt to see what part of your website traffic is mobile. And even if it’s not a large part here’s why you need to go mobile-first:

  • Google has said that more than half of all its searches occur on mobile, and
  • this year it will begin switching to a mobile-first index. This means it will rank your website based on how it renders and appears on mobile devices.

 

How to prepare for mobile-first index:

  1. Make sure your website is mobile responsive
  2. make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content, and
  3. structured data is important for indexing and search features.

 

4. Prepare for voice search

A clear next step from mobile is voice search. Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant and more are living in our pockets and homes. Voice search is becoming more prominent in daily life.

Comscore predicts that 50% of searches by 2020 will be through voice-technology. Are you prepared?

How to get ready for voice search:

  1. Focus on answering questions
  2. target long-tail keyword phrases
  3. structure your pages with the question in the heading and answer directly beneath it, and again:
  4. optimise your website for mobile.

 

5. Take your visitors security seriously with HTTPS

Two big names in the web industry – Google and Mozilla – have each taken measures to make the web more secure. Chrome and Safari now show ‘not secure’ on pages with forms when websites are not secured with an SSL certificate.

Not to mention that Google has been using HTTPS as a ranking factor for a few years now. And with this recent security push we can expect it will become more important in the future.

How to make your website secure:

  1. Get a SSL certificate installed on your server, and
  2. migrate by redirecting HTTP urls to HTTPS.

 

6. Create long form content, it wins every time

There’s been a big shift in the length of content required in the past year. A short blog post is no longer going to rank well for a competitive keyword.

To rank in search engines you need to be writing long-form content that covers several topics. Research from Backlinko and Search Engine Land has shown that the top five spots on average in Google are usual north of 1,500 words.

How to write long form content:

  1. Pick a short-medium tail keyword
  2. cover it comprehensively in 2,000 words or more, and
  3. break it up by sub-topics: aim for six to eight.

 

7. Focus on content and links: they’re not going away

They are here to stay. With all the new trends that come and go in the SEO world, the foundation will always be content and links.

Google has confirmed that content and links are its top ranking factors. Without great content you will never get high-quality links. And without high-quality links you won’t rank for competitive keywords.

Source: Seven ways to future-proof your SEO strategy for 2018

06- Mar2018
Posted By: DPadmin
39 Views

Top 4 Reasons Your SEO Isn’t Increasing Sales

Due to the degree of difficulty and ever-increasing complexity of search engine optimization, you can’t fully erase the qualms of small businesses when it comes to ROI.

You can’t really blame them though. After all, if I’m pouring in over a thousand dollars a month on a strategy that doesn’t improve my sales, I’d begin to question my investment decisions, too.

But before you hit the brakes and abandon ship, you need to understand that SEO is a “go big or go home” kind of commitment. It’s not something you can casually do on the side — overshadowed by a collection of other marketing strategies — and expect it to produce substantial results.

Statistics show that the top result on Google has a 33.64% click-through rate. This is significantly reduced to only 5.61% on the fourth position — tapering off to only 0.95% by the tenth.

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Image source: Advanced Web Ranking

In other words, you either go all-in with everything you’ve got, or give up SEO altogether. Just do yourself a favor and decide now — will you keep pressing on, or call it quits?

Still here? Good.

It’s time to set the direction of your SEO campaign straight. But first, you need to identify the top reasons why it’s not producing results in the first place.

Let’s begin.

1. Your Campaign Is Led By Amateurs

It may sound harsh, but in SEO, there’s no room for amateurs.

You can’t expect to win against a stacked, full-service SEO agency if you only have a subpar “specialist” or team with half-baked strategies and truckloads of guesswork.

Sure, a budget SEO services company might be capable of putting your brand on Google’s first page. But even if they do manage to help you secure one of the top three spots, then they were most likely only targeting unprofitable keywords just to get you excited.

Remember that effective SEO requires a tremendous amount of work. It requires a team to be well-equipped and ready to take on even competitive keywords.

More importantly, they can design a system wherein your SEO efforts can directly translate to sales. This means they already know everything else in this list like the back of their hand.

2. You Didn’t Build Enough Branded Links

Here’s An Inescapable Fact: You’ll Never Snag One of the top three positions until Google trusts you.

From an SEO angle, brand building can be reflected across multiple areas. One of which is in the science of link building — more specifically, the aspect of keyword optimization.

A lot of new businesses make the mistake of optimizing too much for niche-related keywords. As a result, they build an unnatural backlink profile that doesn’t establish brand authority.

To help you understand this, let’s take a look at the homepage backlink profile of one of the biggest brands in the e-commerce space — Amazon:

  • Amazon.com – 30%
  • Amazon – 28%
  • www.amazon.com – 16%
  • https://www.amazon.com/ – 12%
  • Niche-relevant keywords – 6%
  • Others – 8%

Notice anything peculiar? Yes, up to 58% of their homepage backlinks contain a branded anchors — 86% if you include the naked URLs.

Put simply, you need to optimize for branded anchor texts on your homepage if you want to .

Think about it — authoritative brands that legitimately draw the attention of online users would naturally amass branded links to its homepage. That’s why you should aim to have at least 80% of your homepage links to have a branded anchor text.

3. You Forgot To Build Your Brand

In online marketing, brand building can pertain to different activities.

Influencer marketing, for example, is one endeavor that will definitely benefit your brand. It describes practices that will let you leverage the authority and online reach of other experts, brands, or other customers to improve your reputation and boost buyer confidence.

Granted, being on Google’s first page is impressive in its own right. But the influx of traffic you can achieve is meaningless if your visitors don’t have even an ounce of trust in your brand.

A common solution is to have a steady supply of relevant and useful content for your target audience. The more valuable and accurate information you freely provide, the easier your content consumers will turn into paying customers.

Another area of brand building is investing in social signals that incorporate social proof numbers and user-generated content.

For instance, if one of your posts have garnered thousands of likes, re-shares, and positive comments on social media, other users would become more receptive of your value propositions. Your content’s potential for links would also exponentially increase as more people share and engage it.

Some of the best ways to generate social proof is to launch social media contests and track brand mentions with a social listening tool.

4. You Don’t Score Your Seo Leads

Keep in mind that brand discovery through search engines is only the first step in the customer’s journey. They may not complete a purchase during their first visit, but you can show them the path to conversion by delivering content that matches their needs.

This is where the art of lead scoring steps in.

According to statistics, companies that have an effective lead scoring system can improve their lead generation ROI by up to 77%. It’s a marketing strategy that involves giving points to leads whenever they perform actions, and then sending them off to the sales team whenever they reach a certain “point threshold”.

For example, if one prospect clicks to a webinar landing page via a newsletter, then they can be attributed a point. But once they do attend your webinar, then their lead score can be increased by 5-10 points.

With SEO in mind, lead scoring begins by assessing the search terms and links they used to find your site.

If they used a keyword that signals a high purchase intent, then it might be ideal to send them off to the quickest path to sales. But if they arrived at your homepage via a branded link, then they most likely need a more proper introduction to your brand’s story and unique value propositions.

Conclusion

Remember, SEO is an incredibly intricate mechanism with a lot of moving parts. Considering the

fact that SEO can be bloody expensive, you can’t really blame small businesses who are hesitant to adopt an SEO strategy in their marketing.

Hopefully, learning the reasons why SEO isn’t affecting your bottom line would set your direction straight. If you’d like to know more about the SEO landscape in 2018, feel free to check out this post. Good luck!

Source: Top 4 Reasons Your SEO Isn’t Increasing Sales

01- Mar2018
Posted By: DPadmin
31 Views

8 Things You Can Do to Significantly Improve Your SEO

What do you think of when you hear the term SEO? Many people think of keywords and focus a large part of their time trying to perfect the keywords they choose. If you’ve been focusing on keyword optimization and the results you want aren’t there, you should turn to some other things to significantly improve your SEO.

A good thing to keep in mind is that search engine algorithms rate the relevance of keywords on pages and in the meta data, but also evaluate other information like the time visitors spend on your site, the presence of broken links, the inbound and outbound links, bounce rate, the pages viewed and more.

To improve your website’s ranking, you need to get users to stay on your site and interact with your content. Do this by improving the usability and user experience on your website.

Take a look at these eight things you can do to significantly improve your SEO.

1. Provide high quality, useful content

The amount of time visitors spend on your website can affect your SEO ranking. Visitors tend to stay on your website for longer amount of time (also called dwell time) when you provide useful content. Research shows that content around 2,000 to 2,500 words ranks the highest in search engine results.

The word count of your content isn’t the only thing that impacts the SEO world–no one will read what you share if it doesn’t help them–but longer content does give you the ability to provide greater value, include more keywords, add outbound links, and get people to stay on your page and spend more time reading. High quality content is one of the most impactful SEO best practices to generate sales and generate business growth.

2. Improve load speed

Users might leave your website if the pages don’t load immediately–even waiting five seconds for a page to load hurts your dwell time. Pages that don’t open quickly increase your bounce rate, reducing the number of pages people view. Both of these things hurt your SEO ranking.

Some steps you can take to speed up your page load, from using caching plug-ins to making sure the code is streamlined and clean, will help your page load more quickly. Remember to minimize redirects and ensure all images are properly optimized to reduce file size, improving the speed of load. This is essential to business success whether you offer private jet rental services worldwide or have a small e-commerce clothing shop.

Make sure you use good, high quality images: according to research, quality images often increase conversion rates. Make sure to optimize images to generate empathy, improve trust, and create a better experience for the visitor.

Bing and Google both take page-loading speed into consideration when ranking websites.

3. Optimize your images

In addition to image sizing and file format, you can take other steps to ensure the images you use are on your side when it comes to SEO. When you do this, you’ll show that your content is relevant to search engines. Use keywords for the image file name, description, alt tag, title, and caption. This is just one of many ways you can make your e-commerce store a success.

4. Header tags

People don’t want to read a big block of text. Instead, format your content in a way that makes the user experience enjoyable. Readers will want to spend time reading content and come back again and again for more. This will signal your site’s relevance to search engines.

The proper use of header tags will break up the content you’re sharing into sections that make it easier to read your information. No one will bother reading what you wrote if you make it hard for them.

Keywords in header tags are a must; search engines rate them more heavily. Include relevant terms in your readers’ tags to improve your SEO ranking.

5. Include outbound links

You’ll make your content more relevant when you link to well-known sites that can provide readers with in-depth, helpful information they will want to read. When you link to authority websites, you increase the relevance of the content you write and the time readers spend on your website. This can also send positive signals about your site to the search engines.

6. Utilize various forms of multimedia

Do what you can to enrich your users’ experience and use various forms of multimedia. Images, slideshows, videos, and audio each allow you to deliver helpful information to your viewers in a way that suits them.

A variety of forms of multimedia also signal search engines that your site provides quality content, and it’s true: you have to put time and effort into your site to produce that interactive content.

One reason businesses are turning to video marketing is due to its high efficacy. It’s a crucial part of driving user engagement, generating more conversions. Utilizing video marketing leads to a 4.8 percent higher rate of conversion than 2.9 percent of websites that fail to utilize videos. Videos encourage visitors to spend more time on a site and allow them to retain more information too.

7. Remove any broken links

Does anyone like to get a 404 page when they’re hoping to read helpful information? Broken links negatively impact usability, and search engines see numerous broken links as a sign of a neglected site, negatively impacting SEO ranking.

The good news is that you don’t have to go through every page of your website to manually test the links. You can utilize apps and tools to help check for broken links, if you prefer.

8. Readability

It doesn’t matter how well-versed your audience is, no one wants to have to decipher the content on your website. The last thing you want is for your readers to give up and click away from your site because the content you wrote is too tough to digest.

Write in a way that is conversational so it’s useful to your readers. Experts believe Google takes readability into account as it ranks websites.

There are various tactics you can use to bump up your ranking in the search engines. Keep your focus on the tactics you can use to build a website that gives users an optimal experience, and you’ll find a boost in conversions and customer retention.

Read more at https://www.business2community.com/seo/8-things-can-significantly-improve-seo-01972054

Source: 8 Things You Can Do to Significantly Improve Your SEO

11- Oct2017
Posted By: DPadmin
97 Views

The ever-increasing importance of usability and trust in link building

Sometimes link builders identifying promising sites think only in terms of metrics. Columnist Julie Joyce explains why usability has become one the most important things to consider.

Just the other day I was showing a cool site that I’d just found to a (very intelligent and internet-savvy) friend, and he quickly became confused due to the ad placements on the site. The ads were shown on the top of the page below a nav bar, and they looked like categories for the site. So he clicked on them.

Then there was the search bar. Blacked out completely, you couldn’t see what you were typing into it, and it gave no error messages when you just hit enter. The 404 page had a broken image on it. One of the social buttons went to the wrong account.

And then I found the dreaded page with the lovely Lorem Ipsum dummy text still on it.

Bottom line: I didn’t really love the site so much anymore. It ranked well (that’s how I found it), but I didn’t trust it.

Ask yourself: Would you click on this link?

When I’m building links, I always ask myself if I’d want that link to my site if I were the client myself. I do get a bit irritated when clients complain about really nitpicky stuff, but if I were the client and my link-building company got a link on this site, I’d be super-irritated.

It’s not enough to rank well. I mean, it’s fantastic when you do rank well, of course, but everyone knows a top ranking is no guarantee that you’ll gain a new sale or a new email subscriber or whatever else you view as a positive conversion. With so much spam making its way into the top SERPs, users are finding out that they really can’t trust the rankings the way they used to.

So, while it’s really nice that you get a link on a site that ranks well and has some good metrics, if you depend on that link for converting traffic, the linking site’s usability can’t be ignored any more than yours can. Why have a link on a site that someone doesn’t trust?

I approve every single link that we build in my agency, and the main reason I’m turning down sites these days is for something related to usability. They have the metrics and look good on the screen, but something’s off. The page doesn’t load correctly until you try it three times, or it takes 30 seconds. The site is so covered up with ads you can’t tell what’s an ad and what’s the actual content. There are a gazillion pages that throw 404s.

bad usabilityAdd all of this to the usual things we look for, and you’ll see that finding a great linking partner just gets harder and harder.

What should you check?

Generally speaking, I encourage our team to do an initial quick check on a few things to see if a site is even worth digging into. We do look at metrics like Domain and Page Authority (at our clients’ requests) and we check things like the country that is sending the most traffic to the site. If we don’t see any big red flags (like 90 percent of the traffic is from Hungary and it’s a US blog), then we dig deeper.

Is the content any good? My goodness, you would be amazed at all the crappy content on the web, and on highly ranking sites. I don’t mean that it’s just not my thing. I mean that it’s written with incorrect grammar and rampant typos, and there’s no real structure to it. I recently refused to order some clothes that my daughter wanted from a site where it looked like they had gotten a 4-year-old to write their “About Us” page. They didn’t list a phone number. The descriptions of some of the items we looked at seemed to be whatever happened to come with their terrible system. I don’t want to buy an item where there’s no image but there is a line reading “insert photo of tan shirt here.”

Oh, and I love to check for a Viagra or Cialis hack. Yes, those are still all over the place! Do a “cheap online order viagra” search in Google and you’ll see.

viagra hackWe can’t forget mobile, either, and that’s only getting more important. You know when you’re on a smartphone and you go to a site that looks like a tiny version of its regular self? Why lose the chance for a mobile conversion by placing a link on a page that won’t even be seen by users on a smartphone? By the way, I like Mobi to check this in a variety of formats, but there are various tools available.

mobile check

Stop forgetting users with visual difficulties

Years ago I had a blind user show me how he navigated the web. Something I wrote then is something that I STILL see today, and it drives me nuts:

If [they] are reading a webpage that has links on it that aren’t coded to look like links which are easily recognizable as gateways to another page or site, they obviously aren’t going to find them and click. Of course, neither am I — most likely, neither are you, even if your vision is 20/20.

Sometimes webmasters (and maybe the people requesting the links) are so intent on staying “safe” that they make links blend in as if they weren’t links. It’s awful. We sometimes get links for clients and have to request that the links LOOK LIKE LINKS. How stupid is that? Why in the world would you not want your link to be clicked on? If I see a site doing this, I’m just left wondering what else they’re doing and what other bad things I have not yet found.

Always always always LOOK AT THE SITE!

It’s very clear: poor usability breaks trust. The problem is that discovering it can take time, and isn’t attached to an easy metric, other than maybe page speed. Again, we’re left with that pesky requirement to actually look at the website upon which we’re seeking links! We have to spend time going through it! And so we should.

Source: The ever-increasing importance of usability and trust in link building

11- Oct2017
Posted By: DPadmin
152 Views

How to make sure your local search marketing is up to scratch | Search Engine Watch

For local businesses, having a strong presence in the local search results is fundamental to those all-important conversions.

Just to be clear, a “local business” refers to any business that has either a physical location that offers face-to-face contact with the customer, such as a showroom or shop, or one that offers a face-to-face service within a certain area.

When it comes to local search, it’s simple: if searchers can’t find you on the web, then frankly, you don’t exist. It’s the way of the modern world.

It’s all very well dominating the SERPs for your more general target keywords, but if you fail to rank highly for location-specific terms then you are missing an almighty opportunity.

When users are searching for a local term, they are far more likely to be looking for a service or product. Hence why the conversions on local search tend to be higher, and why you need to ensure that your local search engine marketing is up to scratch.

Of course all the usual SEO 101 stuff applies. Offer an unrivaled user experience, nail your on-site optimization, provide exceptional content and build quality links.

Those fundamentals will set you up for ranking well for local search terms, but there are extra steps you must take to differentiate yourself from the competition and really bolster your local SEM strategy.

Local business listings

The first place to start is with local business listings. Ensure that your business is included in all the major directories (Yell, Yelp, Thomson Local, etc.), as well as any industry specific ones. Some listings may already exist, and it may just be a case of claiming your business so that you can take ownership of the listing.

We recommend keeping track of all your business listings in one comprehensive spreadsheet to save you repeating or forgetting any entries. It also enables you to be consistent (more on this in the next point) in your information across all listings.

Remove all duplicated entries, as multiple listings for one business or location can become confusing, both to potential customers but also to Google. And we certainly don’t want to be confusing the Big G.

Be thorough but don’t be reckless. Avoid spammy directories as these could have a detrimental effect on your SEO. Deploy a spot of common sense to identify the spammy directories but if you are really unsure then it’s worth checking the spam score via Moz’s Open Site Explorer or via other similar tools.

Google My Business

So this technically falls under business listings, but it’s so important we’ve given Google My Business it’s own subheading. Arguably the most important business listing because, well, it’s Google. Remember to implement the following:

  • Claim your business via a verification process
  • Include accurate information: contact details, location and opening hours
  • Carefully select a small number of highly relevant categories to represent your business
  • Ensure up-to-date branding, such as in any images of logos or premises
  • Use high quality images to represent the business

Be comprehensive and accurate in the information you provide in order to strengthen your Google My Business profile and improve your chances of being featured in Google’s three-pack.

For further information, have a read of Google’s guidelines on representing your business. Don’t forget to also cover off the equivalent for Bing and Yahoo with Bing Places and Yahoo! Local.

NAP consistency

NAP consistency sounds a like a fancy term but the concept is very simple. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number, although it is sometimes expanded to NAP+W to include website address too. As mentioned above, it is crucial that your business information appears consistently across the web.

This is particularly important to consider if your business has changed address, contact details or even rebranded. Any mentions of your business will need to be checked and updated to ensure accuracy.

Simply google your business name (do the same with your previous business name if you have undergone a name change) and work your way through the listings. Maintain a spreadsheet of your progress so you can keep track.

Reviews

Reviews can bring both utter joy and absolute misery to any business owner. Unfortunately you cannot simply ignore them, as reviews are indeed used as ranking signals in the eyes of the search engine. This is especially true for your Google My Business reviews.

Not only are reviews important in terms of local rankings, they are also key in terms of click-through rates. According to a recent study by BrightLocal, 74 per cent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

Apart from providing the most incredible customer service you can muster, how else can you seize some control over your reviews? No, this isn’t about getting your mum, brother and great-nan to write a review for your business. It’s about a bit of gentle encouragement and managing a bad customer experience before it reaches the review stage.

It is also important to check the rules and regulations of each review platform, as they all have very different policies on asking customers for reviews and responding to them.

We’ve had several clients who have received a negative one-off, anonymous review that is either quite clearly spam, or in some cases, a bitter competitor or personal enemy. These situations can get a bit sticky, but sadly there isn’t an awful lot you can do.

Generally people won’t be deterred by one bad review, and the best course of action is to encourage other happy customers to get reviewing. This will push the bad review down and push the average star rating back up.

Many review platforms allow you to reply to reviews. This can be a good opportunity to set the record straight but you have to be careful about it. For this reason, sometimes it is best to get someone who is not as emotionally invested in the business to either write the response or edit it before it gets published. Be professional, remain calm, and kill them with kindness.

Location pages

If you don’t already have location pages on your website, then you could be missing a valuable opportunity to target all the relevant locations. For each key location that your business operates within, create a page dedicated to that location on your website. This is easier if you have a unique physical address in each location, as it is important to include as much location-specific information as possible.

Where there is a physical location, be sure to include an interactive map and images to further enhance the page. If you do not have separate physical addresses, try including testimonials and case studies relevant to each location.

This will help you to avoid duplicating content across your location pages; it’s a fine art to differentiate the copy, but do it right and it can have seriously good effects on your local SEM strategy.

Schema markup

Once you have your location pages set up, the cherry on the cake is schema markup. The whole concept of structured data can sound very daunting to markup newbies, but it’s easier than it sounds. Schema markup simply helps search engines to understand what your website is about.

This is particularly important for local information, as it will help those spiders crawl your location pages and you’ll benefit as a result.

According to a study by Searchmetrics, pages with schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in search results. Now that’s a pretty good incentive. Get your head around schema markup and you’ll have that crucial advantage over your competitors in the local search results.

Ensuring your local search marketing strategy is up to scratch needn’t be difficult or convoluted. Follow the above steps and obey the usual SEO rules. With some hard work and perseverance, you’ll start dominating those coveted top spots and see your conversions skyrocket in no time.

Source: How to make sure your local search marketing is up to scratch | Search Engine Watch

26- Jul2017
Posted By: DPadmin
329 Views

3 SEO Wins (Often Overlooked) for Ecommerce Sites 

There is more to search engine optimization than keywords, titles, meta descriptions, and H1s. In this post, I’ll address three valuable, and often overlooked, SEO opportunities for ecommerce sites: PDFs, store locators, and product images.

PDFs and PDF Viewers

Many ecommerce sites host a decent number of PDFs. You might not think that there is SEO value in them, or even know where to start if you wanted to optimize them. But, you’d be wrong to ignore them. Let me show you.

PDF is the typical digital format for product information sheets, user manuals, and catalogs.

You can find how many PDFs Google has indexed for any site by searching with:

site:sitename.com filetype:pdf.

Search site:sitename.com filetype:pdf for any site to see PDFs indexed by Google. The Home Depot has 163,000 PDFs indexed at the time of this writing.

Search site:sitename.com filetype:pdf for any site to see PDFs indexed by Google. The Home Depot has 163,000 PDFs indexed at the time of this writing.

These PDFs accumulate valuable links like any other web page, and could help the SEO of the site if optimized correctly.

For example, a PDF guide from Home Depot for a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm has eight backlinks, according to Ahrefs, a backlink checking tool.

Sadly, like most PDFs, it doesn’t have any links back to the site. The backlinks help the PDF get indexed and ranked, but they don’t benefit the rest of the site. When users find the guide in the search results, those visits won’t be tracked in analytics. There won’t be a way for them to navigate to the rest of the site and potentially order other products.

The best way to optimize the PDFs to benefit overall site traffic is to use an HTTP canonical headerand choose one of two options:

  • If the PDF is a duplicate of information already available on the site, for example a product information sheet, set the PDF’s HTTP header canonical to the page that it is duplicating.
  • If the PDF has no HTML equivalent, add a PDF viewer and canonicalize the page to it.

The choice of canonicalizing to a PDF viewer requires a bit more explanation.

The main advantage of a PDF viewer is that you can add your site navigation and analytics tags, and enable users (and search engines) to follow links and navigate your site. The HTTP header canonical effectively replaces the PDFs on the search results and replaces them with the canonical URLs.

You can verify that the HTTP canonical header is set up correctly using Google Chrome Developer Tools.

You can verify that the HTTP canonical header is set up correctly using Google Chrome Developer Tools.

ViewerJS is a popular open source JavaScript-based PDF viewer. Some sites host their PDFs and media files with third party vendors like Scene 7 and Endeca.

Make sure your vendor supports cross-domain HTTP canonical headers so you can get the SEO value out of your PDFs. Scene7 explains this in, ironically, a PDF. It addresses adding canonicals to images, which Google does not support, but the instructions apply to PDFs.

Store Locators

Store locators are another opportunity to drive nearby mobile users. But traveling around the country and pulling out your phone to see if the store locator is working correctly is very unpractical (and expensive). Fortunately, you can use Google Chrome’s powerful emulation features, to virtually travel anywhere in the world.

Let me explain the steps to use this fascinating feature.

First, I’ll review the store locator from a mobile user’s point of view, and then also check if the stores are ranking high in Google Maps.

Using Chrome's Developer tools, we can see a mobile user's point of view.

Using Chrome’s Developer tools, we can see a mobile user’s point of view.

You can access Google Chrome Developer Tools under View > Developer > Developer Tools.

Next, I’ll pretend to be in San Francisco by clicking the three vertical dots, and then More tools > Sensors and setting my location to the coordinates of San Francisco.

Click on More tools > Sensors to set your location to San Francisco, as long as you know the coordinates.

Click on More tools > Sensors to set your location to San Francisco, as long as you know the coordinates.

You can simulate being anywhere in the world as long as you know the coordinates, or you can select one of the predefined ones.

Next, I’ll obtain a list of the Bed Bath & Beyond stores in San Francisco from that company’s website.

Using Developer Tools, we can search for the closest store as if we were using a mobile device.

Using Developer Tools, we can search for the closest store as if we were using a mobile device.

The closest San Francisco store is on 555 9th Street. Now, let’s see how the store ranks in Google Maps. The branded searches are the easiest to rank.

By performing a Google search on a mobile phone, we can see how the store ranks in Google Maps. This search result also includes a Knowledge Graph for this Bed Bath & Beyond location.

By performing a Google search on a mobile phone, we can see how the store ranks in Google Maps. This search result also includes a Knowledge Graph for this Bed Bath & Beyond location.

I searched for “bed bath and beyond near me.” Google provided the closest store as listed by the store locator. Having Google My Business listings for each store should be enough to rank for navigational searches like these.

But what if I perform a non-branded search, such as “kitchenware near me”?

Performing a non-branded search like "kitchenware" shows less conclusive results.

Performing a non-branded search like “kitchenware” shows less conclusive results.

Bed Bath & Beyond products show up as sponsored listings, but no locations show up in the organic results, not even if the results are sorted by distance, where Bed Bath & Beyond is clearly closer than the competitors.

That’s because Google is prioritizing keyword relevance over proximity, for stores that include “kitchen” in the label. If I search for “bedding near me,” I do see Bed Bath & Beyond ranking third — two competitors have closer stores.

When searching "bedding near me," Bed, Bath & Beyond ranks third because two competitors have closer locations.

When searching “bedding near me,” Bed, Bath & Beyond ranks third because two competitors have closer locations.

To improve your local store rankings, follow these tips, which many of the top-ranking stores use.

  • Provide a web page for every store using a hierarchy of /country/city/store. Googlebot should be able to crawl every store by following links, starting from the home page.
  • Make each store profile unique and valuable. List all relevant information, such as hours of operation, phone numbers, map of the location, and reviews.
  • Verify all your stores in Google My Business using the bulk upload feature. Download the sample template, and make sure to provide all the required info.
  • Research how users are searching for your business, and use that to guide your ideal title tags. For example, as noted above Bed Bath & Beyond is missing out on organic listings for “kitchenware near me.”

Product Images

Google image search represents as much as 10 percent of total search visitors to many ecommerce sites. Track image search visits in Google Search Console, under Search Traffic > Search Analytics, and select Search Type: Image.

Track image search visits in Google Search Console. Go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Search Type: Image.

Track image search visits in Google Search Console. Go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Search Type: Image.

But, how valuable are image searches? Aren’t image searches typically writers, bloggers, or speakers?

This line of thinking assumes that images only rank when people search in Google images. But Google often blends images with regular web search results. Also, Google image search is easier now, from phones, using the Chrome app. Think about a consumer taking pictures of a product on your competitor’s shelf, and using Google search by image to shop around for a better deal.

Optimize your images by following Google’s comprehensive steps.

  • Avoid excessive text in images. Use CSS to overlay the text, instead.
  • Avoid generic image file names, such as IMG0003.JPG, and use, for example, frying-pan.jpginstead.
  • Use ALT text to describe what the image contains. It is important that all product images include the name of the product as ALT text.
  • The content around an image can help search engines know a lot about what is it about. Alternatively, use the optional caption attribute in your image XML sitemaps.

Source: 3 SEO Wins (Often Overlooked) for Ecommerce Sites | Practical Ecommerce

05- Aug2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
293 Views

Top 6 SEO ranking factors of 2016 | CIO

Google regularly makes major updates to it algorithms, and its SEO ranking factors have changed dramatically during the past years. A group of SEO experts and search pros share insights on how SEO rank has evolved and offer advice on how to keep up.

Are links on other websites that point to your site an important Google-search ranking factor?

The answer used to be blatantly obvious, and for some, it still is. Google, however, made major changes to its search engine algorithm during the past few years. The company also changed the way it displays search results. Then there are mobile search results, which can be different from desktop results, the possible impact (or not) of social media shares, the emergence of Google’s RankBrain artificial intelligence (AI), and many other factors that come into play.

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It’s all enough to cause confusion and lead to questions about today’s most important search engine ranking factors. We interviewed a set of SEO experts for their takes on the most important ranking factors. They’re not listed in order of importance, because not all of the experts agreed on the degrees of importance for factors. However, the consensus is all digital marketers, SEO experts and other search pros should focus on the following six SEO ranking factors.

6 key search-ranking factors

1. Content relevance and SEO rank

Google ultimately became the dominant search engine because it is adept at displaying, on the first page of search results, the most relevant content that matches a keyword query. Eventually, users came to assume the search engine only shows the most relevant results first, a behavior that web-usability consultant Jakob Nielsen dubs, “Google Gullibility.”
Content relevance is often assumed or overlooked in studies of ranking factors, but it’s still the most important factor, according to Eric Enge, CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, which offers content marketing, SEO, social media, and Google-penalty recovery services.

Relevance is often presumed to be “on” or “off,” so content is either relevant or irrelevant to a query. “But that’s not really the right view in my opinion,” Enge says. “You can’t assume that relevance is a binary factor, where you assign a zero score if it’s not relevant and a 1 score if it is relevant. True relevance scoring would be on a sliding scale, ranging from 0 to 1, with any possible value in-between. The content with the lower score would need to score somewhat higher on other metrics to outrank the [higher score].”

2. Inbound links and SEO

Google made a number of tweaks during the past year, including the rollout of RankBrain and a second mobile-friendly update, but the core ranking factors remain much the same, according to Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a content- and social-media marketing firm. “The quality of inbound links pointing to your domain or page is still the most important ranking indicator.”

Links have always been key to high Google ranks. During its early days, Google touted its PageRank technology as an important competitive differentiator. PageRank is Google’s “numeric rating of how important it considers pages to be,” according to Search Engine Land. Google said in 2011 that PageRank “works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.” As of earlier this year, Google no longer shares PageRank scores publicly, but it still uses them in ranking calculations, Search Engine Land says.

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Stone Temple Consulting recently performed a research study to answer the question: “Are links still a powerful ranking factor?” All of the details are available in the company’s related blog post, but the gist is that provided the content is relevant and a site doesn’t have technical problems or quality issues, links are still highly important. And “authority” is Enge’s No. 2 most important ranking factor after content relevance, though it’s primarily driven by the quality and diversity of backlinks, he says.

SEO consultancy Backlinko recently posted the results of its search engine ranking factors study, based on a million Google search results. Backlinko found that “the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.” Backlinko also concluded that a site’s overall link authority, as measured by Ahrefs Domain Ratings, “strongly correlates with higher [search] rankings.”

Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, which offers SEO and other software tools as a service, says page-level link features are the No. 1 search engine-ranking factor today, assuming a site’s content is relevant. These features include Google’s PageRank, the quantity of linked root domains, quality of the link sources, and trust metrics. Every other year, Moz releases its own search engine ranking factors survey, and in the last survey for 2015, page-level link features were the No. 2 ranking factor, just slightly below domain-level link features.

3. Content quality and SEO rank

Google wants to deliver not only the most relevant content, but also the highest-quality search results. And quality can be measured in a variety of ways, according to Enge, including proper grammar and spelling, reading level, comprehensiveness — how well the content covers the spectrum of user needs related to the query — uniqueness, and a lack of negative signals, such as excessive keyword repetition. (The Content Marketing Institute’s blog offers more information in, “How Google judges quality and what you should do about it,” and, “What quality content is, and how to help your clients create it.”)

“Marketers and SEO professionals should still focus on developing the best content they can to attract quality inbound links to their content, and that usually means executing a solid content marketing strategy,” says DeMers. “It’s harder to stand out these days due to increasing competition in the content sphere, so if there’s one change I can recommend … it’s investing more to make sure your content is truly remarkable, even if that means creating less content overall.”

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Backlinko’s survey results found that “publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings,” and that “longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.” And a separate study from BuzzSumo and Moz found that long-form content “of over 1,000 words consistently receives more (social media) shares and links than shorter form content.”

Searchmetrics, an enterprise SEO and content marketing service provider, ranked content quality as the third most important element in its 2015 study of search ranking factors and rank correlations. Among the factors that can influence such ranking are keywords, in the body of the copy, in internal and external links, and in meta-descriptions; word count; and relevant terms.

4. Technical issues and SEO

Like content relevancy, technical issues are sometimes overlooked in SEO ranking factor studies. Technical issues, however, can prevent a site’s content from ranking as highly as it could for relevant keyword queries — or keep it from ranking at all.

Common technical issues include duplicate content, dubious inbound links, poor navigation, and improper redirects. Google’s goal is to deliver a positive user experience, so content on sites with architecture problems won’t likely earn high ranking. “You have to solve those problems if you want to play the SEO game,” Enge says.

In fact, technical issues ranked as the No. 1 most important factor to mitigate in Searchmetrics’ study. Technical issues aren’t just about problems in a website’s structure, however. Technical on-page factors that can play a role in rank include whether or not content has a strong meta-description, if it uses H1 and H2 tags, and whether a site is encrypted via HTTPS. “HTTPS is becoming more relevant and even a ranking signal for Google — but it is not necessary for every site,” the Searchmetrics report says. “Encryption is primarily important for sites with purchasing processes or sensitive client information to increase trust and conversion rates.”
5. User engagement and SEO rank

Does your content truly engage website visitors? If so, Google may reward you with a higher search ranking. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how exactly Google measures user engagement. “I don’t think anyone in the industry has a good handle on what user engagement measurements might be,” Enge says, adding that he doesn’t think click-through rates are a direct ranking factor.

For some pages, high bounce rates are a positive signal, according to Enge. When visitors land on contact pages in search of phone numbers and then click away, for example, that’s a satisfactory user engagement. “But I do believe Google is looking at user engagement in some ways,” Enge says. Google software engineer Paul Haahr confirmed as much in a March 2016 presentation, in which he said Google leverages user engagement to evaluate the quality of its ranking algorithms.

Moz’s Fishkin says user interaction and engagement, along with usage-data signals, are among the top SEO ranking factors. Such signals include clickstream analysis, which collects, analyzes and reports aggregate data on the pages site visitors see and in what order, and visitor traffic. In its beginner’s guide to SEO, Moz outlines some user engagement metrics, and provides an explanation of how usability and user experience impact search rankings.

Searchmetrics lists user experience as its No. 2 ranking factor, based on elements such as the number of internal links and images, responsive design — when a website adjusts to both mobile and desktop screens — and time spent on site.

6. RankBrain and SEO

In March 2016, a Google search executive said RankBrain, links and content are the three top ranking factors, according to Search Engine Land. RankBrain uses AI to help Google “interpret the searches that people submit to find pages that might not have the exact words that were researched for,” Search Engine Land says.
But some SEO professionals aren’t convinced RankBrain is such an important factor. Google has said many times that RankBrain has a larger impact on long-tail queries, according to Enge. (Long-tail queries are highly specific search phrases with multiple words.) RankBrain runs on all queries, he says, but it doesn’t impact broad or generic keyword search terms at all. Instead, it impacts keywords terms that are a bit more complex “infrequently,” and RankBrain affects long-tail keyword phrases “fairly often,” Enge says.

SEO tips and best practices for 2016

1. Don’t overemphasize social media shares

After Google+’s fall from grace, social signals lost a lot of search sway, especially for personalized results, according to Moz’s Fishkin. And Enge points out, “social media sources can be shut off at any time, so Google doesn’t want to make it part of their core algorithm.”

2. Ranking factors are intertwined

Some misconceptions about ranking factors come from the idea that site owners can make a handful of changes or tweaks to pages and quickly see them rank, according to Holly Miller, a Searchmetrics SEO expert and professional services manager. “There are a lot of factors at play,” she says. “A lot of the technical and content elements have to work together in concert to provide a superior user experience. It’s ultimately about asking yourself, ‘Does this content help the user accomplish X?’ Or ,’Does this content answer their question?'”

3. Always keep user experience in mind

Usability, user experience, speed, and the ability to deliver unique value are crucial to SEO, according to Fishkin. “These were often the domains of other marketing and website professionals in the past, and SEOs merely helped with more technical and keyword-based on-page and off-page signals,” he says. “But today, to succeed long-term in search, you need these elements of stickiness and remarkability.”

Source: Rankin factors of 2016 | CIO