Category Archives: SEO

Google Search Quality Update – March 2012 50 Updates

Another month and another Google update from their Inside Search quality changes for March.

Google have announced 50 new search updates, I will look at a few specifics in detail:

As I eluded to in last months Google February 40 changes post, there was an interesting update was mentioned regarding link evaluation, now there is a little bit more detail and will be interesting to see what impact this has on anchor text in links:

Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [launch codename “PC”] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.

Also an improvement on how anchor text is interpreted for a query to a website:

Better interpretation and use of anchor text. We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.

Panda update again and seems now that Google will keep this a fresh database for updates to improve the content algorithm:

High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements. [launch codename “mm”, project codename “Panda”] Like many of the changes we make, aspects of our high-quality sites algorithm depend on processing that’s done offline and pushed on a periodic cycle. In the past month, we’ve pushed updated data for “Panda,” as we mentioned in a recent tweet. We’ve also made improvements to keep our database fresher overall.

The full list has a few others but these are my main points from an SEO point of view.

Google Search Quality Update – February 40 Updates

Google updated their Inside Search quality changes for February this week and announced 40 new updates, i will digest the list and feedback on specific SEO related changes.

Firstly, an interesting update was mentioned regrinding link evaluation, as ever Google are quite vague on the update as to not unlock Pandora’s box with secrets of the algorithm, but interesting none the less as to what has been ‘switched off’ in link signals:

Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.

Another, the Panda update, this update is not a ranking signals change but more of a data refresh similar to previous Panda updates – see The Google Panda Update, One Year Later [infographic]:

Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.

An update to the site: search query, this could be interesting in seeing how Google ranks a sites pages:

“Site:” query update [launch codename “Semicolon”, project codename “Dice”] This change improves the ranking for queries using the “site:” operator by increasing the diversity of results.

Here are a few others from the Google update post:

Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “Snippy”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] This improvement adjusts a signal we use to try and identify duplicate snippets. We were applying a categorizer that wasn’t performing well for our expanded sitelinks, so we’ve stopped applying the categorizer in those cases. The result is more relevant sitelinks.

Less duplication in expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “thanksgiving”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We’ve adjusted signals to reduce duplication in the snippets forexpanded sitelinks. Now we generate relevant snippets based more on the page content and less on the query.

Google to Encrypt Search Data – Killing off Organic Data

So it begins, Google to kill off organic data to webmasters for logged in users, I won’t re-hash and rant as there are plenty of useful posts out there.

I will provide a quick summary though, the data is still there but Google only offering aggregated data through Webmaster Tools but as mentioned by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable, it’s not that accurate. So begs the question is the data now being sent to webmasters useful?

So for more information on this topic here are a few useful posts:

 

guaranteed page one results

SEO's that offer "guaranteed page one results" Run a mile!

guaranteed page one results

After conducting some research for SEO companies as a project, it seems like there are some dodgy SEO’s out there that claim to be able to “guaranteed page one results in Google”

Absolute bull! If you are approached by such a company/individual then as the title says, run a mile! You may hear things like:

We have a relationship with Google

We can prioritise submission to Google

We can guarantee ANY search term will reach Page 1 of Google

It really boils my blood to hear and even see these statements, i have had the joy of rescuing an SEO campaign from one of the “guaranteed page one” companies.

SEO as a practice is not a set your campaign up and leave it, SEO requires constant work to maintain and grow rankings and for a quality service the likes of the £50 per month scam artists needs to be looked at in great deal before deciding this is right for your business.

Google themselves have their own SEO guidelines that states “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”

I have been working on SEO campaigns for 3 plus years and still gets under my skin seeing these modern day Dick Turpin’s operating.

So in short, don’t trust ANY company or person that offers “guaranteed page one results“!

SEO for SME's What You Need To Know

As a business owner with a website, one of the most important things to consider is visibility. SEO also known as search engine optimisation, is a daunting project if not approached correctly.

There are many ways to tackle SEO such as content creation, link building, keyword research and many more.

The danger of doing SEO without any prior knowledge can be detrimental to your website as many tactics that can be used may end up getting your site penalised.

Building Blocks

When beginning any search marketing campaign there are processes to address, firstly keyword research.

Without in depth keyword research a campaign can fall at the first step as identifying the correct keywords/phrases is vital to any success.

Once a defined list has been agreed the next phase is to then look at the website from an on-page and technical perspective.

This can identify any structural issues with the website as well identifying areas to improve.

Content is also a vital part of on page work to undertake, make sure your content is unique, not to keyword heavy, a reasonable amount of keywords to mention is perhaps 1-2 per 200 words, make the content useful for the user as conversion is the main goal for any website.

Patience

Once the website has then been ‘optimised’ for the SERPs (search engine results pages), patience is the next important part of SEO as it’s not a quick fix.

It can take the search engine’s time to re-crawl your updated site so a handy tip is submitting an updated sitemap.xml file to the Google Webmaster Tools console (account setup and verification needed). This can help inform Google of changes and new pages to crawl.

Now a little bit of time has passed and your newly optimise site is appearing for your researched terms in the SERP’s what next?

Links

Link building is an important part of SEO as links to your site count as a ‘vote’ but be careful when trying to attract links to your site as there are key factors involved to ensure a link to your site will be beneficial.

Relevancy is key, if your site is about and a site about laptops links to yours there is no relevancy between the 2 and therefore could be viewed as spamming which if this technique is adopted can lead to poor results.

Quality Over Quantity

Ensuring that the quality of a link is relevant to your site topic can lead to greater results 1 link from a highly related website will have more benefits than having 10’s to hundreds of unrelated links which could lead to a penalty.

End Results

SEO is a steady progression and making the wrong choices on a small budget can cost SME’s a lot more in terms of money if the wring strategy is adopted.

UPDATE

As SEO Account Director at MEC Manchester SEO Operations manager for Latitude Digital Marketing‘s I have seen businesses that use ‘black hat seo’ techniques as well as poorly planned strategies come a cropper compared to a professional and well planned campaign that reaps rewards.

g+1

Google +1, Yes Another Post!

Ok i’ll get straight to the point of my +1 post, i won’t bore you with will it kill SEO or how cool is it?

I have been playing around with this new social tool and spotted a couple of observations when a site has been +1’d:

When using the preview option for a +1 site, you get a little snippet from the site, in this example a description and contact details, quite handy if you want to contact a site without trawling through to find the information:

And without being a +1 site:

Ciao for now

New Google Algo Update

Quick post, it has been announced that a Google algorithm update is to happen in the US only for now but the recent Chrome block sites extension has helped identify 84% of blocked sites match in the algo.

What does this mean?

Potentially for UK SERPS in the future sites that may be marked as link selling or spam sites may have their external links discounted further and pass no weight.

No indication of the release in UK yet but keep an eye on your site or clients rankings as if the drop a cleanse if backlinks will be required.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

There are various methodologies used to describe the practices of search engine optimisation (SEO) and they generally are colour based, the main 2 are “White Hat” and “Black Hat” techniques.

Whilst believing that black hat SEO techniques might have some short term positive effect, the long term implications can be disastrous for your website and in turn your business.

Black hat SEO isn’t just about buying paid links as there are various techniques that can give a website a short term boost but as mentioned can have a detrimental effect on your website, such as ranking penalties, Page Rank penalties and being de-indexed altogether.

Let’s take a look at a few methods for both White and Black hat SEO in more detail:

BLACK HAT SEO TECHNIQUES

1. Bulk Link Purchasing/Link Farming

Buying a large volume of links in a short period of time will alert the search engine’s to unnatural linking behaviour and could see penalties imposed.

Known public networks are generally used to place links on a site within the network but generally placed in “bad neighbourhoods” i.e. a link for a keyword relating to a blue widget site being placed on a gambling site with a high page rank.

2. Keyword Stuffing

There are 2 meta tags that are used to inform search engines of content on the page, they are the description and keyword tags.

Meta Description is used to describe the page to a user and is usually a descriptive paragraph of 1-2 sentences.
A common black hat technique is to overload the description and keyword tags with just keywords that are being targeted for rankings.

3. Hidden Content

Hidden content comes in many guises but the basic principle is that content is “stuffed” with keywords within the code of a website site, this content will not be visible to the end user of the site but can still be read by the search engine’s when crawling the site. Examples of this as follows:

1. Comment Tags
2. The use of the tag
3. JavaScript

WHITE HAT SEO TECHNIQUES

1. Keyword Research

Research keywords and key phrases you think people might useful to find your site, multi-word phrases that are much more specific to your product/service and you’ll be targeting end users that are much more likely to want what you are offering.

Use the keywords and key phrases you’ve identified effectively throughout your website. Assign each page 2-3 of the keywords you’ve identified and use the keywords throughout all the important elements of the page. Those are:

• Title
• Meta Description
• Meta Keywords
• Heading Elements
• Text
• Alt Tag
• Links

2. Link Building – Quality vs. Quantity

It is important to look at the ways to link build in a natural way as to not just grow the back link count to help with rankings, A A good approach to link building for campaigns to look at quality, relevant links that will pass benefit to a keyword so rankings may improve for a keyword where just a small number of relevant, on-topic links will impact greater than bulk buying links on un-related websites. The amount of quality inbound links to your site therefore have some relevance on where in the search engine your site is placed.

3. Quality Website Content

There is nothing more valuable than to optimise your site for search engines by offering unique, well written content. A search engines aim is to provide what it believes to be the most appropriate website for any given search term to the end user.

4. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Providing pages with proper titles and meta data is an essential part of on page optimisation. As discussed in the black hat SEO techniques section the meta description and keywords tags have been so misused in the past that search engines place less importance in using them in the algorithms for search rankings, but it’s still important to ensure that the information given is correct and used in an appropriate way.

5. Semantic HTML Structuring/Internal Linking

Structuring HTML mark in a semantic way helps search engines understand the content of your webpage. Make proper use of heading elements is essential because search engines give more weight to the content within the heading elements.

Using CSS to separate the design elements from the content makes for much leaner code and makes it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for.

Creating an internal linking structure is essential to help both users and search engines traverse your website.

Why SME's Should Employ Agencies for SEO

As the Operations Manager for the SME division of one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies i thought i would share my thoughts of why outsourcing SEO as a small business is key.

You can find my blog post on small business seo over at the Latitude blog.

Key points I covered off include:

1 Price
2 Resource
3 Contracts
4 Specialist Teams
5 Accreditations
6 Tools

Hope you fond my info if use.

Ciao for now.

Google Mobile Goes Instant? Suggest More Like! – Updated

A recent post by bigmouthmedia here is saying Google Mobile Goes Instant, I quickly jumped onto my iPhone 4 to check and it seems that the suggest feature is what is showing not instant, as the background SERP’s don’t change upon searching:

I’ll keep my eyes peeled to see if instant is rolled out on iPhone mobile.

This is available on google.com as my default is .co.uk that’s why not seeing.

Ciao for now!