How relevant does Google think your website is?

 

The quality of your onsite SEO optimisation is becoming more critical as Google and Bing scrutinise your website more and more to ensure search quality. You think your website is really relevant; but what does Google think?

You have spent a lot of time on your website, making sure that your content is really good; you have optimised your Meta titles and descriptions and much more. You see some gains in organic rankings but just not as much as you would have hoped. So what do you do next? Do you move on with other forms of promotion or do you look a little deeper just to make sure nothing has been missed?

Of course you are going to double check; just to be safe! Your next port of call should be Google Webmaster Tools (or the Search Console as it is now called). In the search console there is the content keywords section. This often over-looked feature can be a revelation, and a great way of seeing how Google is evaluating your website and what it thinks your website is relevant to.

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If your website is for this part healthy, when you look you will see a list of keywords that relate closely to what your website is about. If the relevancy isn’t as healthy as you had hoped you will see words in your list that you don’t expect to, and this can be a huge revelation.

On some websites I have looked at I have seen all manner of unexpected most popular keywords including dates. This is because Google counts how many times words and their related terms are mentioned throughout the website. I am sure it isn’t as straight forward as that though; I would expect things to have different weights, such as headings and anchor text for example.

If you have dated archives in your sidebar and your footer or other random widgets for example, Google will see those words mentioned on every page of your website twice, and they could have more weight because they are links. Other things that I have seen include calendar entries, badly optimised image alt text and social media icons.

Will fixing this give you a miraculous boost to your SEO rankings? Probably not although a healthier website may rank above a less healthy site if everything else was equal; It will certainly make it clearer to search engines what your website is actually about, rather than what it thinks.

Ways to fix this issue are to reduce the amount of repeated elements. Make sure that you use unique relevant ALT tags for any images and reduce any unneeded irrelevant repeated items, especially in the sidebar or footer. On most of my websites I have actually removed the archives all together; opting to have just relevant categories and tags instead. This approach could be more useful for readers looking for topic related content.

Fixing as many small issues as possible can accumulate to a large improvement to the health of your website and that has to be a good thing. So how relevant does Google think your website is?

 

Is automated social media really sociable?

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Social media is a hot potato for many businesses; they know they should be doing it but that don’t have, or want to dedicate resources for it. Add to this the fact that there are so many social media platforms out there, with users not really sure of which ones they should be investing in and you can certainly begin to understand why so many utilise some form of automation in their social media efforts. The question is though is automated social media really sociable?

Scheduled posting

Scheduled posting to social media channels is still pretty sociable because the user has (hopefully) carefully curated their posts/tweets. This is a good halfway point because it makes the user have the ability to maintain a presence across wider time-scales. This could mean that they could target their postings for peak times that they may miss for example. Overall this is a pretty sound strategy as long as real time postings and engagements are there too. You have to interact to make the most of social media!

Automated messages

Anyone who is active on social media and uses Twitter will have seen them in their droves – the auto follow thank you message. Much like an auto response email, these messages are used by a lot of people usually promoting their brand, but the question is that is this just being sociable, or is it actually anti-social? I have to be honest; I hate them; especially if someone follows me, whom I then follow back because they look interesting only to get a “Thanks for following! Follow me on Facebook and please RT this picture!” or something equally cold. These people may think that they are “doing social” but this just isn’t social; this is just like a crappy spam SMS about PPI or email spam.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think automated thanks are just verging on insulting and shows how little regard for engagement that person has. I would rather do nothing when someone follows me and I will engage and interact with people as the opportunity arises. It’s much more personable and I am not just cluttering everyone’s direct messages. I can see how it started out as probably an OK thing, but as it grew people started to be more and more aggressive with it in a bid to nail followers on multiple channels, especially as people try to scale their social outreach.

Anti-social

It may be too strong to call automated messages anti-social, but they definitely stretch the boundaries of social media to its limits. I guess that for all I know it could be a really successful way of  securing followers. If you have to do it please try to be mindful though; it’s the first time someone is conversing with you so don’t be too pushy! There is plenty of time to develop relationships.

Be Sociable

At the end of the day social media is about interactions. Whether you schedule tweets or other posts it doesn’t really matter, and can in fact be a positive thing; especially if you are able to be on hand if someone engages with your posts. If you want to send automates follow greets, please try to bear in mind how it portrays you; sociable person or pushy sales person. 🙂

Private blog networks aren’t dead – They are just private

 

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If you look on a lot of SEO forums you will inevitably see a selection of forum posts from two camps; one that says that private blog networks (PBNs) are dead and the one that is shouting that they are fantastic and still going strong.

The camp that is proclaiming that they are dead are probably the people that also often shout about how SEO is dead too. These people could have garnered their opinions based on the high profile de-indexing by Google of several high profile blog networks in recent times.

The camp that are proclaiming that private blog networks are alive and kicking splits into 2 sub-groups; There is the group that claims how great these blog networks are doing so well, and so strongly do so with mixed motives, as many of them are selling links on blog networks which are supposedly private. The other group know the truth – that private blog networks are not dead; they are just private!

What?!! Private blog networks aren’t dead!

Private blog networks are very much alive and kicking and still a very strong tool to promote your website. This almost mythical SEO tool causes quite a stir in the community because so many people have misconceptions about what they are and how they work.

The wrong type of private blog network

The wrong type of private blog networks are the ones that you see posted all over SEO forums. Normally they will claim to have zero footprint, the link authority of Google itself and be yours for $9.99! OK, I would love to be able to say that I was exaggerating but I am not sadly. I have one thing to say about these networks. If you are thinking about buying links on one to your business/brand websites don’t! If you can pay twenty dollars or whatever for a link on a blog, so can Google. These people’s networks will eventually get burned because they are being too blatant about it, and your relevant link may be among 5 or 10 non-relevant links. These sites will often have really thin content and are usually built from expired domains that have a bit of legacy authority.

The right type of private blog network

The right type of private blog network is one that you have built for yourself; it doesn’t even have to be just blogs. This network of sites doesn’t have to be huge in number, just really high quality. Why high quality if it is just for SEO you might say? The secret is to make the sites authoritative in their own right. This means that they are not spammy and can still pass on plenty of link juice to your main business website. This may take a lot of hard work, time and potentially money but it is really the safest long term solution. The better you make these websites the more authority they can pass to your main websites. A good natural link from a strong website can often be more powerful than 5 lower quality links.

If you don’t want people to know that these websites are linked you can block the crawling of all of the tools such as Moz, Majectic and ahrefs etc, but don’t block search engines! This will mean that when people do link research on your main website, and they will do if you are in front, they won’t see your private websites in their lists.

What if I am promoting churn and burn websites?

If you are creating churn and burn websites the rules change to some degree. If you are blatantly churning and burning a money making website then the decision of spending loads of time on your own private network of websites isn’t as critical. Likely you will have multiple websites in different states of progress. In this case anything is game, of course at some point churning and burning becomes a grind of building a high converting website and promoting it to see it be dead and buried by Google, sometimes within weeks.

Are private networks worth it?

If you are willing to put the time and effort into building a few really high quality websites to have in your network it is most definitely worth it. You can use these to link to several of your own related websites, and if the blogs/sites become successful enough in their own right you can monetize them too! Just don’t advertise them on forums.

Image credit: Peter Lee.

Social Media is for engagement and extending reach not SEO

Social media is for engagement not seo

Social media is a fantastic source of additional traffic; a fact forgotten by many people who see it as merely an SEO tool. It is true that there is a correlation that websites popular on social media channels tend to rank well in search engines, but that may not be the cause. Lots of brands are using social media to grow their brand and improve their presence, however some are not making the most of it by using it just to try to improve their website’s SEO.

The SEO approach to social media

The SEO approach to social media (the bad approach done by many anyway) is to make social profiles for all of the main networks, and then to post the same content across all of them. Usually this is a link to each article that they write for SEO purposes. This is really transparent and will often put people off of following you and sharing your content.

The social approach to social media

This is where social media really gets interesting. I never really “got it” until I managed to break down the mental barrier that I had of talking to only the people I knew. Social media is at its’ best when it is removing barriers so that people can engage with each other, usually with a common interest.

Extending your reach

Once you begin to interact with people social media really comes into its’ own. It pays to get into the habit of liking, sharing or commenting on other peoples posts. In return you will see that people are far happier to do the same for your content. Once you break out of your shell you will realise that social media is actually great fun and an excellent way of networking with your peers. Before you know it you will gaining followers left right and centre!

Engagement brings traffic

The one thing that engaging with people via social media brings is traffic, and plenty of it if you are really active. This is the benefit often overlooked by people with a purely SEO mind-set. The best thing about this traffic is that it is a mainly relevant audience, which is exactly what you want; a free source of traffic from people who are interested in your niche! I have spoken about social media to several other bloggers during my interactions with the community and they have all said what a fantastic source of traffic social media is. One I spoke to said that well over a 3rd of her traffic came from Pinterest, and she is a really successful and inspirational blogger.

Which social media platform is best?

I don’t know which is best and can only say which I prefer. I am a huge fan of Twitter. I love the immediacy of it and how simple it is. Interacting with people with a limit of just 140 characters makes it perfectly acceptable to speak to people in a short, efficient manner. I like Pinterest and use it for my photography but haven’t had that eureka moment yet. It’s not a priority although I hope to improve my presence there soon. The networks that are best for you depend on what you are comfortable with. I recommend that you try a few of the main ones, but focus your efforts on just 1 or 2 to begin with. This will make it much easier to get stuck in without burning out.

Embrace, Engage and Extend

If you are ready to make the most of your presence on social media and to help it grow your brand just remember; all you need to do is embrace it, engage on it and your reach will extend.

Image credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham

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Google’s mobile friendly update and you

 

mobile phone - mobile friendly Google update

Now that Google has begun to roll out its mobile friendly update lots of people could find themselves panicking about losing masses of their web traffic because they don’t have a mobile friendly website. This can only be being amplified by the coverage in the media and the dubbing of it as “mobilegeddon”.

The first thing to do is to see how much traffic you could potentially be losing. There is a great post here that shows you how to check in Google Analytics. If you aren’t going to lose much traffic and are not concerned you don’t need to rush a solution. If you stand to lose a significant amount of traffic or revenue from that traffic it will be good to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. The good news is that there are some potentially quick solutions out there and this isn’t a traditional penalty. Once your page is mobile friendly again it should once more rank higher.

Buy a new theme for your CMS

If your website runs on WordPress or other common content management systems there may be free themes that you can add to your website, upgrading it to mobile friendly instantly. If you want a higher quality one or a more unique choice there are plenty out there to buy on websites such as Theme Forest; where you can buy themes for 40-50 dollars. With many of the theme demos you can test them on the Google Mobile Friendly test before you buy. On theme Forest and other websites you can buy themes for WordPress, Drupal, Concrete, Joomla and many more including e-commerce platforms.

Theme Forest

Disclosure: Above is an affiliate link that cost’s no extra – Link without referral code here: http://themeforest.net/

You can get free WordPress themes here. Check their demo to make sure that they are mobile friendly.

Update individual pages

If your website only has one or 2 key landing pages a temporary solution could be to make just those mobile friendly. Doing this would be sufficient enough to tick the right boxes for Google although it would give a variable degree of user experience to your visitors. It would retain any search positions though for those pages, which could buy you enough time to come up with a full solution.

Whichever solution you choose once you have made your page mobile friendly request that Google fetches your web page, it should then craw your site and hopefully recognise that the page is now mobile friendly.

Image credit: Johan Larsson.

 

Should you have a blog on your business website?

If you speak to a lot of people about SEO one of the first things that many of them say is that you need to add a blog to your website because they are great for SEO, but this is often heavily misunderstood. In some cases a blog is an ideal way to add more content but in others it is the wrong approach.

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Are blogs great for SEO?

The truth is that it is the content that is great for SEO; the blog has little to do with it. The only benefit to blogs is that most common blog platforms and themes lend themselves well to allowing search engines to crawl the content. This is just as achievable in the rest of your website though! So what does this mean? Should you add a blog to your business website? This all depends on what you are going to put on it.

Everyone starts a blog with good intentions, but unless you are going to post engaging content regularly a blog isn’t really worth it. Why, you may ask? A blog that has not been updated, sitting abandoned with only a couple of posts makes the site look unfocused and un-maintained. This can counteract the rest of a website that is proclaiming enthusiasm, focus and delivery of any product.

Why are you considering adding a blog to your website?

If you are thinking about adding a blog to your business website to develop a community and engage with your customers a blog is a fantastic tool. It can be a great way to show how personable and transparent your business is, which can help to positively influence people’s buying decisions. It is important to have genuine content on your blog as users are savvy and will spot fake content that is only there to force feed a product right away. This way of blogging can be really effective and also have some SEO and social benefits. Here is how:

  • SEO value – Lots of relevant blog posts can often be a great way to rank in search engines for long tail terms. If you post a lot of guides or useful information it can also be a great way for people to discover your brand.
  • Social media – Assuming you are active on social media, your blog posts will be a great resource to share with your followers. If people share your content and link back to your content it can make your website look more popular and have some SEO benefit too! This could be enough to make someone choose your brand over another.
  • More traffic – If done well, your blog should help you to generate more traffic for your website, and that’s the goal right!?

What not to do on your blog

It is important to not be too spammy with your blog. Force feeding products to visitors without any engaging content is just a turn off. Some companies take advice from shady SEO companies to add blogs purely for SEO ranking purposes. These splogs (spammy blogs) are often hidden away so that only search engines can find them. The posts on these blogs are often very poor content that is really spammy and full of links to pages on the website with a view to manipulating search rankings. This is a terrible approach and if the post is successful at helping search it could be a way people find your site. You don’t want someone’s first encounter of your brand to be some really spammy blog post that has no engagement potential at all do you?

Blogs can be a really good addition to your website

Blogs can be a really good addition to your website and a great way of generating extra traffic and exposure to your brand. It is important to have the right intentions for your blog to maximise the potential gains, which are huge.

Should you add one?

If you think that you can dedicate the time to regularly publish great content you should definitely consider adding a blog. You could also get your staff to help! If you feel that you only have the potential to add a couple of articles all together to your site why not consider adding them to a help or information on your website that looks less time based. Wherever you place your content, good content is always useful as long as it is relevant.

Happy writing and good luck!