SEO

What we do best – Search Engine Optimisation. The latest tips, tricks and news with regard to getting those lucrative top positions on Google and other search engines.

Top Tips for Finding an SEO Expert

What’s the point of owning a Ferrari if you don’t have the key to drive it? You may have the prettiest website on the internet, with the most sought-after product in your industry; but without a solid presence on search engines and a steady flow of traffic, you could well be wasting precious resource and lacking a return on investment. This is where an SEO expert steps into the spotlight – an individual or a team with the knowledge and experience to finally make your website work for you.

But In a saturated market, how do find the right SEO expert for you? How can you tell if a team or individual can really achieve the return on investment you are looking for? Here are some key areas to look at when choosing a provider of Search Engine Optimisation and online marketing.

Years of Experience

SEO as a landscape has been changing for many years, but many of its core values remain the same. It’s important to find a team which has strong knowledge of past and present SEO techniques, with the nouse to know what no longer works and what is now the most efficient and current standard. Knowing what will cause your online presence harm is just as important as knowing the techniques that will make it thrive.

Their own SEO presence

Whilst it’s not a be-all-and-end-all of finding the right SEO expert for you, it is a strong indication of the skill set and achievements of the team or company in question. It’s always worth doing your research on their Google rankings and seeing if they can put their money where their mouth is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portfolio and Case Studies

A good provider of SEO will have built up a strong portfolio of clients and successful campaigns. Ask to see their history of work and do some supporting research on the companies they have worked with. This will give an excellent indication of their skillset as well as their experience.

Detailed SEO Audit

For starters, ask for an overall technical SEO audit of your website. Many SEO companies will give you a free report or competitor analysis (we do!) and it will not only give you an indication of the current SEO state of your website, but it will also speak volumes for the SEO company in question, as the very first step to improving your online presence is fixing any issues you may have and knowing your online competitors.

Why You Should Invest in SEO

The popularity of SEO is ever growing, so much so that it has become almost a necessity for new and established business alike. Why? Simply put, SEO garners intelligent traffic to your website. It’s without doubt that search remains the best source of getting the right type of audience to your website, beating social media to the no.1 traffic generator spot by a whopping 300%. If that doesn’t make your mouth water and want to rethink your digital marketing strategy to focus more on SEO, I don’t know what will.

According to multiple trustworthy sources, around 93% of all online experiences start with a simple search, whether that be via Google or another search engine (people do still use them you know!). Partner this with the studies that show more than 70% of internet users today only click on organic search results, ignore paid ads entirely and never scroll past page 1 of the search results, and it becomes quite clear just how important a solid, organic SEO strategy is.

If that doesn’t convince you, it’s safe to say that for the time being, SEO isn’t going anywhere. A study conducted by Borrell Associates has shown that the SEO industry as a whole is already worth a huge $65 billion and is still on the rise. It isn’t a passing fad and people are continuing to value it. Not only this, but SEO is getting more and more effective and more and more business are setting aside a larger chunk of their marketing budget purely for SEO and its related activities. Borrell Associates’ research predicts that the SEO industry will continue to grow to an estimated $72 billion by 2018, and $79 billion by 2020, which, if at all accurate, suggests that SEO is bringing a significant return on investment to those that implement it properly.

But getting the right people to handle your SEO strategy can be quite perplexing. Everyone practices SEO differently, and there are a few different avenues you can take, such as hiring your own SEO in-house team, employing freelancer or outsourcing to an SEO specialist agency. Call us bias, but the matter of fact is that by utilising an SEO agency can be far more profitable than working with a single freelancer and is far less of a headache than constructing a professional SEO team in-house, from scratch.

A good SEO agency not only does all of the leg work, but they advise the client how to get from point A to B in the best possible way. This includes a full analysis of their current digital footprint and visibility as well as their website. Analysis usually includes:

  • Site structure analysis: checking robots.txt, indexation status, sitemap, page load speed, looking for site errors, duplicate content, duplicate title tags, missing title tags, etc. – basically, all the necessities that need to be structured properly for Google (and any other search engine) to successfully read your site.
  • Content analysis: Checking all the existent content on our client’s site to determine if there are any missing pages, duplicate content issues, poorly optimized post, etc. – this sort of thing helps us figure out what works for our particular client and what doesn’t – what we need to eliminate and what we need to replicate in order to keep things moving forward.
  • Off-page analysis: The third and final part of our analysis focuses on finding what people are saying about the client online and how we can turn that buzz to their advantage. This usually involves coming up with ideas on how to increase the client’s organic search, customer loyalty and retention, list their business in various relevant directories, and so on.

To summarise, SEO looks to be here to stay, as technology advances, so will SEO. Now is the time to invest in a sound SEO strategy and a good agency, as to not be left behind on the search engines by your competitors.

Interested in upping your SEO game? We’re giving away free competitor analysis reports to show you just how important it is to get your SEO strategy right.

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Kickstart Your SEO in 2018

With January quickly coming to a close, we’re truly settling in to the New Year and looking forward to the coming months and thinking about new strategies and maximising our returns. It’s important to start off on the right foot after all, and SEO is no different.

To set the stage for a great year of SEO, here are 3 simple (but not necessarily easy!) tasks you can put in motion to give your online strategy a kickstart. What’s fantastic about having to put a little elbow grease into these tasks, is that it may well set you apart from the crowd, considering not all of your competitors may not want to put the effort in!

1 – Faster Page Speed For Improved Rankings

Google have just announced that starting in July 2018, the speed of your mobile pages will be a ranking factor for its mobile search results. This is directly related to user experience, as a faster page speed is generally a much smoother and better experience for users, which has become Google’s main focus in direct ranking factors as of late.

More often than not, mobile page speed is a huge opportunity for improvement for most websites. It’s often an oversight, but it’s more important now than ever and could well be your first port of call for tightening up your overall SEO.

Some ways you can improve page speed include:

  • Investing in high-performance web hosting
  • Reducing http calls by merging CSS and JavaScript files, eliminating WordPress plugins and using sprites
  • Properly scaling and compressing images
  • Implementing server caching, browser caching and Gzip compression
  • Minifying CSS and JavaScript files

2 – Use Your Brand to Build Links

There’s a right and wrong way to go about building links, and you may well have been subject to some link requests yourself that were done poorly. The matter of fact is that reaching out for links to “cold” contacts can be a challenging process and in general you won’t get as many links back in comparison to the number of emails you send out. Building links more effectively depends on the relationships you have built and the quality of your approach as opposed to the volume you send out.

It’s a difficult challenge, but if you can build a brand that you can advertise as a staple or authoritative source in your industry, people will be far more susceptible to connecting with you and your website. If done successfully, you’ll even find that people will be linking to your content without you having to ask!

  • A few different ways you can develop a personal brand:
  • Creating consistently branded profiles on key social networks
  • Regularly sharing valuable content from others in your industry, along with your insight on it
  • Engaging with your audience, both those below and above your stature within your industry
  • Regularly publishing amazing content, both on your own website and in industry publications and top-tier business publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company

3 – Utilise Video Content

Videos have become increasingly and alarmingly popular over the past few years, resulting in them becoming as much of a necessity as having a website and a presence on Social Media channels.

Video can be a powerful tool when it comes to keeping visitors on your pages for longer amounts of time, which directly results as a good sign of a positive user experience in Google’s eyes and will ultimately lead to a positive impact on your organic ranking.

In addition, if you publish your videos on the likes of YouTube, you are further expanding your audience and putting your brand in front of far more potential customers. Plus, you’re leveraging the authority of YouTube’s domain, so you also have the opportunity to get your videos ranked in Google’s search results.

Some ways you can incorporate video into your SEO include:

  • Creating videos that answer questions your prospects have about your products, services and industry, as well as videos that demonstrate who you are and why you do what you do.
  • Optimizing your videos on YouTube so they’ll show up in YouTube’s search, in conjunction with that, building relevant, high-quality links to them so that they show up in Google’s search results.
  • Embedding your videos from YouTube on your own website to keep visitors engaged and on your website longer.

 

3 Things More Important for Your Content Than Content Length

Over recent years, the length of content has been a hot date, with SEO gurus often preaching that extremely length content is required in order to garner any success. It’s true that the length of content does have a bearing on rankings, although it’s not the most important factor.

In fact, it’s as the old saying goes “quality over quantity” in the eyes of Google. If your focus is on the length of your content, it’s a natural occurrence that you reduce the value of each word (i.e stretching a point to 1,000 words when it could be covered concisely in just 300 purely for ranking benefits).

Whilst having lengthy content may give you an initial boost in rankings, it is directly going against what Google has been requesting more and more decisively over recent years; good quality content. Their aim is to serve valuable and accurate information to their users, not necessarily the longest pages. More often than not, users are looking for quick and concise answers to their queries after all.

With that being said, here are 3 quick points that are more important to focus on than the length of your content:

  1. Providing Value

As touched upon above, users are looking for accurate and helpful content. If your information isn’t giving the reader any value, the chances of them sharing and linking to your content is slim, making it even more difficult for you to increase your ranks for competitive search terms.

Prioritising quality over quantity is the most important factor here if you want to give value to your readers. Understanding why they are reading your content in the first instance and what information they are looking for is key.

  1. Provide more than just words

It’s true that an image speaks a thousand words, even on the web. Supplement your text information with images and videos to cater for all audiences as well as giving your page variety and substance. Studies have shown that pages containing images tend to rank better on search engines. Including graphical elements such as infographics have become an extremely popular way of offering information in a fun and visual format and are often some of the most shared content on the web.

  1. Keyword Optimisation

If you are putting the effort into creating a piece of unique, quality content, ensuring you have correctly optimised it for valuable keywords is just smart. Rather than thinking solely about length, focusing on targeting keywords that are searched for regularly you will also be drawing in passive traffic. Of course, avoid keyword stuffing by all means necessary – aim for a keyword density as low as 0.2% – 0.4% to entice Google to rank your content without flagging yourself as attempting to manipulate the algorithm.

Rich Results: Our Essential Top Tips

With a new year comes an opportunity to refresh our current strategies and perhaps focus on new areas that may be otherwise lacking. ‘Rich results’ in particular, are becoming an increasingly important element of contemporary SEO practice – the term itself refers to the list of Google’s special search result features and enhancements, which includes rich snippets, rich cards and enriched results.

These terms are likely to be familiar to any experienced marketer, although the importance attributed to them may be unclear. They are essentially intended to make search results stand out by integrating additional information in the form of pictures, review stars and other key elements.

For everything you need to know about rich results, see our essential top tips below as you look to progress in 2018.

  1. Acquire Rich Results Using Structured Data

Despite structured data being commonly used as a means of providing information about a page and its respective content, it can in fact also be used to activate rich results.

Whilst structured data by no means guarantees the acquisition of a rich result, users can certainly improve their chances of procuring one in SERPs by marking up content with schema.org structured data (commonly referred to as ‘schema mark-up’). If correctly implemented, certain forms of schema mark-up, namely recipes and reviews, can successfully create a rich result.

The process of implementation is very straightforward you’ll be pleased to know. In the case of a WordPress site, you will have a vast array of plugins available to install in order to add the required mark-up.

  1. Rich Results Are Not Always Guaranteed

As aforementioned, the application of a structured data mark-up to your pages is an essential step towards acquiring rich results – in spite of this however, Google may in fact reject the opportunity to show them for your site. Here, Google have outlined a range of explanations for why rich results may not exist in its ‘Structured Data General Guidelines’:

  • Whilst structured data can enable a feature to exist, it does not in fact guarantee that it will be present. Google’s algorithm moulds search results to generate what it deems the best search experience for the user, and is dependent on a number of key variables including location, device type and search history; it may therefore decide that one feature is more suitable than another.
  • The testing tool may not recognise the structured data due to an unrecognised error
  • Content data referred to by the structured data may be hidden from the user
  • The structured data is not fully representative of the page’s main content
  1. The Mark-Up Will Not Necessarily Affect Your SERPs Rank

It is important to note that the inclusion of rich results in your listing in an attempt to improve its SERPs positioning in not yet guaranteed.

Despite Google hinting at the idea as a consideration for a future ranking factor, various studies do in fact suggest that there is absolutely no boost from structured data.

Nevertheless, it has been proven that certain rich results have the capacity to increase your click-through rate and can therefore result in more traffic regardless.

  1. Use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

Following the unveiling of its novel ‘rich results’ terminology, Google pioneered a new tool specifically designed for testing them.

The tool represents a new version of Google’s original structured data testing tool and has been principally designed to make page testing and structured data diagnostics more simplistic.

Google stated on its Webmaster blog:

‘The new tool provides a more accurate reflection of the page’s appearance on Search and includes improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content. The tests for Recipes, Jobs, Movies, and Courses are currently supported – but this is the first step, we plan on expanding over time’.

It is important to note that the tool is still in its testing phase and does not currently exhibit schema.org syntax errors.

There are also other tools available for testing rich results. A particularly useful tool is SEMrush which provides innovative ways to uncover featured snippets. Using its search domain, it can track which snippets are used and when.

  1. It Can Take Time For Rich Results To Appear

Before any prospective rich results appear, Google must first crawl and index your site following the application of a mark-up. If necessary, you may check the current status in Google Search Console.

From then, it can take up to three weeks for rich results to finally appear in SERPs – and don’t forget that Google can prevent them from appearing all together!

Our Top Tip: To get your structured data mark-up indexed faster, use Fetch as GoogleBot (found within Google Search Console).

Beware that spamming structured data mark-up could lead to your rich results being disabled and could result in a further manual penalty.

Summary

Rich results can be a crucial resource when considering meaningful results and immediately relevant answers.

The notes and tips provided in this article have been delivered to ensure that marketers understand their correct use and value with the aim of enhancing search results in future.

Advice For Mobile-First Index

Google has released advice about how users can be preparing for the mobile-first index. They have already confirmed that the mobile-first index has been rolled out for “a handful of sites” for testing and monitoring purposes. You will be able to spot when your own website has received the update by an increased crawl rate by the Smartphone Googlebot within your log files and the snippets in the results and Google cached pages will be that of the mobile version of your site.

The mobile-first index continues the trend of Google favouring sites with optimised mobile versions; it will rank search listings based specifically on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. This is due to the majority of users now making searches on their mobile devices as opposed to desktops.

If you don’t have a mobile version, don’t worry, as Google has stated that they will still crawl the desktop version of your website instead. You should bear in mind, however, the continuing trend of users turning to mobile searches over desktop and ensure that your website allows for a good user experience across all devices.

Google said, “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

Google’s Gary Illyes has released tips outline how users can be ready for the mobile-first index:

  • Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos — in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: It should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
  • No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
  • Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
  • Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn’t affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.

Is Your Website Ready For The Mobile-First Index?

Whilst Google will continue to index your desktop website, it’s vitally important to ensure that you have a mobile optimised site. We can give you a FREE mobile optimisation audit using our tool below:

Be In The Know – Google Manual Actions

It’s vital, when dealing with a Google Manual Action, to understand why you have received a penalty, the consequences and most importantly how to address the issue and resolve it.

In general, manual actions aren’t largely a common thing and they are reserved only for serious offences so it’s safe to assume that when they are applied, it’s not a mistake, human error or a false positive.

Simply ignoring a manual action should be avoided at all costs as it can have huge consequences on the performance of your website in the long term. Even if you don’t see a difference immediately, the effects will show over time and the longer you let it run its course, the more difficult it can become to recover from that position – particularly if you begin to stack multiple violations. You don’t want to become a repeat offender.

Of course, receiving a manual action doesn’t mean the end of your site and its successes. Any manual action can be revoked and Google doesn’t hold grudges against websites that have received a manual action in the past. With that said, here are a few tips when it comes to handling manual penalties:

What makes a manual action different to an algorithm update (like Panda or Penguin)?

Manual penalties are just that; they are applied manually by the Google Search Quality team, as opposed to an algorithm or machine calculating ranking factors and adjusting your position accordingly. Algorithms don’t apply penalties as such, they simply calculate and adjust.

When is the right time to apply for reconsideration after receiving a penalty?

You should only apply for reconsideration after you have fixed the reason for the penalty, and have done so in a manner that means the issue won’t arise again. You should also be in a position to adequately provide the Google team documentation that includes the steps you have taken to fix the issue.

What can you do if your reconsideration request is rejected?

There is no limit to how many times you can submit a reconsideration request, so if your original application gets rejected, you can start the process again and ensure you have fixed the issue as above and provided the correct documentation to back it up.

What can you do if your site has dropped in organic searches, but you don’t see a manual penalty warning in Google Search Console?

There are a large number of factors that result in losing organic search positions. The only reliable method to finding the culprit is to conduct a full SEO audit.

How quickly does Google process reconsideration requests?

There is no official guarantee given by Google in this case and unfortunately no way of predicting how long it can take. In some cases, it can be processed in a matter of hours, in others it can take weeks.

Don’t Be Haunted By These SEO Techniques

With Halloween just around the corner, let’s not add extra ghouls and gremlins into the mix in the form of “what could have been”. Here are 5 SEO strategies that may come back to haunt you if you ignore them.

Schema Markup

Googles ultimate goal is to serve its users (its customers) with the best possible search results. This is achieved through the use of its algorithm and machine learning, which gives users the most relevant and user-friendly pages to their search query.

You can help Google understand your content by using schema markup code. Schema markup lets you define and organise your content and give Google a better indication as to the type and topic of it. It’s not really something that affects end-users, but is more for Google’s bots and (creepy) crawlers.

HTTPS

Google has begun showing warnings on websites that aren’t secured with HTTPS. Don’t spook your visitors with it! Google also gives a small ranking boost to sites that are HTTPS, so you really don’t want to miss that boat or you may find it coming back to haunt you later.

Voice Search

Google has stated that 20% of searches made via its mobile app and android devices are voice searches. Now, optimising for voice search is a whole different ball game and it could be a vital piece of the (pumpkin) pie that you’re missing out on. You may want to start looking at your content and tweaking it to be optimised for the way your customers are searching via their voice.

Auditing

Only 43% of SEO profs always perform a site audit for their new clients. That really does give us a chill down our spines. By not performing a full audit, you’re practically walking into the dark without a torch! In order to fully understand the SEO project you are taking on, a site audit is vital, and you can achieve it quite easily with most major SEO tools on the market.

Google+

We know, most of you think that Google+ is as dead as a graveyard. But whilst it’s true that Google+ may not be the most popular platform, it is the platform that people are most satisfied with according to research.

Oh, and did we mention that every single post you make on Google+ has its own unique URL that can be indexed in search results? That’s right, by posting good quality, keyword rich content regularly on Google+, you can improve your rankings.

Why Your Link Building Campaign Isn’t Getting You Results…

Link building is no easy task, but it can be a constant uphill battle if you don’t get your strategy and foundations right in the first instance. It really is quality over quantity in this case, so going out and getting masses of backlinks isn’t exactly the best practice.

By all means, link building isn’t the magic formula to having a successful website, but it certainly helps supplement a good organic SEO strategy, and if you’re going to put time into it, you want it to be right.

Here are 3 quick tips as to why your current link building strategy might not be as fruitful as you want it to be.

Targeting Uncrawled and Old Pages

There really is little point in getting a backlink on a page that is archived, outdated or unvisited. For the most part, these pages hold little to no authority and aren’t regularly crawled by Google.

Targeting pages and websites that are fresh is a far smarter strategy. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid pages that are more than 3 years old – you can easily spot this in the Google search results by looking at the publish date.

Targeting Pages With No Authority

Much like the above, fishing for pages that don’t have high page authority, trust flow or URL rating simply isn’t worth it. Use the tools that the likes of Moz and Ahefs provide to determine good targets for link building.

Targeting Irrelevant Pages

These days, content reigns supreme in most aspects of SEO, and link building is no exception. Once again, take the quality over quantity route, and target pages that have good quality content that is relevant to the topic of your own website / page. Try to avoid dropping links on ‘one-off’ blog posts where a website doesn’t usually generate content about your industry or topic.

Put some time into looking for pages and website that, overall, are more in line with your content.

To summarise

When looking at your link building strategy, you may want to put some real thought into the following:

  • The websites and pages you’re going to target
  • Your approach to earning backlinks
  • The quality of your own content and that of the target site

Even these quick tips and tweaks can make a big impact on your link building campaign for the better.

 

Getting Smarter With Content & SEO

As much as Google changes it’s algorithms, one thing remains constant – content is king. Good quality content is what ultimately drives your customer engagement and interactions and, of course, conversions. But, according to research, only 20% of B2C and around 50% of B2B content receives any engagement at all as a large percentage of marketers are unaware of what exactly makes a successful and effective content marketing strategy.

Luckily, there is a smart way to look at content and the proof is in the key word; SMART. SMART is a framework on which to set your goals, where S stands for Specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant and T for timely.

Specific content is king

Content isn’t always about what your business wants to say or the message your marketing team wants to dish out. What’s important is providing your customers and wider audience with content and information that is useful to them and what they want to see. SMART content focuses on delivering information targeted to a specific audience with their particular wants, needs and intent in mind.

It’s important that you get to know your audience through keyword research, geographic locations and user intent as well as knowing your competitors in the marketplace. Knowing your audience is the first step to creating SMART content.

Measurable content delivers on the metrics that matter

Content creators and marketers are constantly improving on how proving and tracking how their activities are benefitting businesses in terms of return on investment. But how can you ensure that your content marketing strategy can be measured?

Firstly you want to set KPIs that can accurately tell the true story of your contents success. Tracking site visitors, quality of leads, shares on social media, conversion rates and bounce rates are all good metrics to keep an eye on.

Actionable content is always on

Good quality, actionable content answers users’ questions and offers value even after the initial promotion and publication. Ensuring your content is always accessible is key here, particularly from a technical stand point; good internal link structure, mobile readiness, site speed and code errors are all notable factors.

Resonate with content promotion in relevant channels

The saying goes “build it, and they will come”. Unfortunately that’s not entirely true in the realms of online marketing. Visitors will only come if they are attracted to your content in one way or another in what is a highly competitive landscape. By targeting the right people at the right time and in the right places, you can increase your efficiency and manage your spends. Try experimenting on the likes of Twitter and Facebook with minimum promotional spends and see how your content is received by certain segmentations.

An often underused platform is email. 86% of users want to receive emails from the businesses that they are interested in, even if just a monthly broadcast. With strong calls to action pointing to your content, you can harness a lot of traffic to your site in the form of users who are genuinely interested in the content you have on offer. Some of you reading this right now have probably landed here via one of our own beautiful emails! It really does work!

Tangible business results are derived from SMART content

Whilst the KPIs we mentioned above are fantastic for measuring how your content is performing from a search and social standpoint, you really need tangible results to prove how valuable your activities have been – Make sure to embed tracking facilities for site traffic and conversions for a good. Don’t underestimate customer testimonials either. Not only are they valuable content in their own right, they also provide social validation and real consumer experiences.

How SMART is Your Content?

Sometimes it can be difficult to take a step back and audit the content you already have. But don’t worry, we can take a look for you; just fill out our handy tool below to get started.

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