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!

Google announces doom date for non-mobile friendly websites

 

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Google has announced that websites that aren’t mobile friendly will not rank as high on mobile search results from April 21st 2015. Google has made the announcement ahead of an algorithm update for the very first time, stating that websites that aren’t mobile friendly will be significantly impacted by the new update.

The news was announced on Google’s Webmaster Central blog on Friday stating that:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

If you are not sure whether your website is mobile friendly you can check it using Google’s mobile friendly testing tool. The news by Google isn’t entirely unexpected although the short delay between the search giant’s earlier hints detailed in my previous post. This could leave many website owners scrambling to commission new responsive websites, which is ultimately great news for mobile users and web design companies.

My advice to website owners is to check your Google Analytics or other statistic platform and see what percentage of your traffic is from a mobile device. This will help you to build a clear picture of the potential impact on the 21st of April to you and your business. It is also worth taking regular records of your current website rankings on mobile and desktop devices so that ou have a benchmark to compare against after the update.

I personally think that while Google have said that it will affect mobile search results, it will ultimately contribute to the quality rating of the website in all results eventually. This is conjecture on my part but I am confident that this will eventually happen.

Image credit: Google

Now is the time to make sure your website is mobile friendly

Do you know how much of your Google search traffic uses mobile devices? Lots of website’s could lose that share of traffic soon after Google began mass emailing web-masters to notify them if their websites are not mobile friendly. The message sent out is unmistakable – make your website mobile friendly or it wont rank as well in mobile device search results.

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These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

These messages are likely to cause panic among businesses concerned about the loss of traffic, or the potential opportunity to gain a place or two against competitors. People reacted strongly to the HTTPS warnings, although that was fuelled by companies looking to exploit the warning to sell more certificates and SEO work hours. No doubt this recent news will be used by every company pitching a responsive design to clients for months to come.

Unlike the HTTPS warnings by Google, which I think are pointless for man websites I think this is a bold and good move, as it could really help to drive websites to update improving the user experience for everyone. Lots of businesses have already been moving to responsive designs as they see their mobile visitors numbers grow.

What should I do if I get this warning?

If you have received this warning you should first evaluate how many of your pages are deemed not mobile friendly. If you have little to no mobile traffic you may not need to worry quite yet, however that could also highlight a need to improve your site anyway!

If you have a large portion of mobile web traffic, you should really get your website sorted as soon as you can, especially if it is a revenue generating website.

I would then look at getting your website re-made to be responsive if you deem it to be worth your while. If you have a WordPress blog or similar there are loads of free themes available to use.

Other implications

I may be a bit cynical but if I was flagging a site as being non mobile friendly, I would also reflect that in the sites global quality score. Google haven’t said that they will do this, but I personally think that it will become yet another of the hundreds of ranking factors contributing to your site on all platforms.

Google have made a statement and I really advise you all to plan now and react, before it is too late. They have made a really strong statement, with action surely to follow.

The SEO royal big three your website needs to rank well

 

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As complicated as many SEO people would like to make it sound, SEO still boils down to 3 main areas which I like to call my big 3 of SEO. Just like a royal family all have their place and without one they can’t perform all of their royal duties. Hopefully I will be able to give you a good understanding of the areas you need to cover.

I know some people like to work out that you need to mention your keyword 3.63 times per paragraph and tell you to hop 4 steps to the left while crying “no Bing, Google is my queen!” but this isn’t really the case. Here are my royal family big 3 of SEO that you should work on to improve your website.

Your Content

Content truly is king and if your website doesn’t have any good content it just isn’t going to last. Good content doesn’t have to be long content. The best content is often the most relevant and useful content possible for the term that someone has searched for to land on your site.

So what is good content? Having 9,000 words is no longer an ideal solution, as it just isn’t a good experience for a user. On many occasions a quality landing page will have a wealth of useful information accompanied by quality imagery or videos.

Spun content and sending 3,000 shitty links from your super elite blog network provider may get you to the front pages but you will soon get penalised. Of course, this plan works for those that rely on turn and burn websites for profit. There is more to it than that of course!

Your Website’s Structure

If content is king then the structure of your website is queen. Your website platform is as important as the quality of tyres on a car in an emergency stop manoeuvre. Good quality content is useless if it is almost impossible for search engines to read and understand it. I have seen clients reap huge benefits from implementing changes to their website that I have recommended. For a lot of websites, the initial on site recommendations can bring a huge early win for you and your clients. So what do you need to consider?

Is your code clean and complete? Make sure that your website’s code is semantically sound. Ensure that rich snippets are used where possible, that your code isn’t bloated and that your website behaves as expected. Clean code isn’t going to make you rank at the top, but it will allow search engines and other bots to understand as much as possible what your website and its’ content is about.

Is your structure good? Make sure that you make a good use of your headers. If you use images make sure that the files have legible descriptive name, just like the ALT text. This can help search engines to know what the image is likely to be a picture of. Don’t focus too heavily on one keyword in your copy, having a good mix of keywords and terms will look more natural and fluid to people and search engines.

Is your site fast? Google has made a lot of noise about how a faster website offers a much better user experience.

Can a search engine tell what your page is about? Does your entire content match what a user would expect to see when they visit your page?

Is your website mobile friendly? Google has recently started to label mobile friendly websites and is likely to give preference to these to a large degree in mobile search results. Check to see how mobile friendly your website is with Google’s tool here.

Endorsement of your website

The prince and princesses of your website are endorsements. The prince is links and the princess is social media (or the other way round if you prefer).

Links

People linking back to your website and its content is critical if your website is going to rank anywhere near the front pages. Every link to your site is seen as an endorsement. Not all links are the same though. 10 amazing authoritative websites linking to yours can be more powerful than 200 low quality ones.

Social Media

A website that is popular on social media often ranks well in search engines, although this is more of a correlation than a cause. The benefits of social media are often not fully recognised by people looking to increase their website rankings and traffic.

The more liked, tweeted and shared etc your website is the better. This provides signals to search engines that your content is popular, which in theory means that it is great quality.

Social media is also a great source of traffic so it can be well worth choosing the right social media networks for you and your website and engaging with people on them. This doesn’t mean just posting your content from your website once a week. To get the best out of social media you need to dedicate plenty of time to it and engage with others in a genuine way, as spammers are as transparent as glass.

There is no fixed formula for the above, but most websites require a mix of them all to rank well at the highest that they possibly can. So make sure you try to improve all 3 on your website.

You don’t need an exact match domain to be number 1

I have heard that “you have to have an exact match domain to be number one in Google” so many times that I now cringe when I hear it. I know of some people that refuse to invest time in a website unless it does have an exact match domain, especially people that work in affiliate marketing.

I will be the first to admit that I am happy when I get an exact match domain to own or work with. Yes they do have an advantage, but not as much as they used to have. What is much more important is having relevant content and a good SEO strategy in place based on a sound platform (good onsite SEO). Continue reading

Low Quality Blogs – Google Parrot Update Target?

Google parrot updateHaving a blog has long been rumoured to help SEO. Sadly what most people don’t get is that a car is great for travel, if you can drive it well… There are so many bad “blogs” out there now that I wonder if Google is looking for a way to sort the wheat from the chaff in its next parrot update. (I decided to call it the parrot update because I’m sick of hearing about panda update 3.142b etc.!)

When it emerged that Google was looking at fresh content as a ranking consideration people selling SEO rubbed their hands with glee across the world. If Google has said that fresh content is a must it is an easy sell to people who have relatively static websites. “Just post news and events articles on your blog a few times a day containing keywords and the world will be your oyster”. Continue reading