The end of a year is usually the time when SEO professionals like our team here at SERP Ability take a breather and look at what has worked in the past year and what hasn’t, as well as where new trends in the complex world of SEO are pointing. Why? To see what will work best in the next year, of course!
Although SEO is constantly changing, it’s often at the beginning of a new year that the biggest changes become apparent. Here are three of the top methods we’ve learned will still work in 2017 from studying trends and looking back on our own activities in 2016.
1. Link Building
Link building is probably the most controversial entry on this list, because Google has changed its policy on the importance of links every time it has released a major algorithm update.
The fact is, though, that their deepest, most fundamental stance on links hasn’t changed. Quality links will always boost your site’s traffic and SERP standing. What has changed over the years is how much low-quality or spam links can help – and those aren’t the type of links real SEO professionals use anymore anyway.
Quality links from established, authoritative sites that are relevant to yours are one of the single most important factors in determining where your site lands on a SERP.
2. Quality Content
Yes, it’s easy to keyword-stuff and use other gray hat, black hat, or spamming techniques to get to the top – but no site without quality content ever stays there. While it’s true that “no one stays at the top forever,” you’ll be there a great deal longer if you prioritize well-written, meaningful, and relevant content, no matter what field you’re in.
With Google’s algorithm becoming more advanced and focused every single day, and the rise in importance of semantic search, the quality and relevance of your content are going to be more important than ever when it comes to your SERP standings.
Don’t forget that quality content is also historically proven to be the best way to get customers to stick around after they’ve clicked on your site.
3. Keywords, keywords, keywords.
This is another one that might be controversial, but shouldn’t be.
It seems that every new year some SEO “guru” predicts “20XX is the YEAR THE KEYWORD DIES!” or something just as dramatic.
However, the importance of keywords to Google and other search engines has never changed. Remember the early AOL days? Keywords were important then, and they’re important now. The only things that have changed are how much better the search engines have gotten to understand keywords in context.
This means that keyword stuffing probably isn’t a viable option anymore, or at least won’t be for long. However, keywords still have a huge role as part of a site’s high quality content – and the rise of semantic search may make them more important than ever, even as it totally changes the way search engine algorithms look at them.
2016 is ending… will you survive in 2017?
“Complacency will easily destroy your rankings… this will be dangerous for any business interested in surviving…”
– Jim Yu, Search Engine Watch
You might know all about SEO basics like keywords, tags, social media marketing, and linkbuilding – but search engines’ algorithms are always changing, and intrepid SEO marketers are always coming up with new techniques for search engine optimization. Here are 3 of the newest, most actionable lesser-known SEO tips out there today – to keep you and your site relevant throughout 2017 and beyond.
1. Use an SEO plugin for all your WordPress sites.
WordPress has some amazing, easy to use features by default that will allow you to manipulate features search engines look for to your benefit – however, installing one of their SEO plugins (such as Yoast, a free and highly functional SEO-focused plugin available direct from WordPress) can put your SEO management capabilities through the roof.
The folks blogging over at Kinsta.com know a thing or two about blogging, and just put out a highly useful list of tips for SEO in 2017 themselves. One of their first and best tips was to use Yoast or a similar SEO plugin if your site is WordPress based – this can have a huge impact for little to no financial investment, and might actually save you time as it brings you traffic!
The Kinsta article is also great in that it details some of the best features of Yoast and shows you how to use them – so if Yoast is the way you’re going, be sure to check them out!
2. If you’re not already using Schema markup, you need to start.
No one speaks the language of search engines better than Schema.org, and if you’re not already using their markup codes on your website, you could be missing out not only on page rankings, but also a better, “rich” display of key information from your site (instead of the normal search result, using just the first few lines of text from your site).
Google and other search engine industry leaders are using this “rich” display method more often every time they update their algorithms to make their results pages more attractive and informative. If you want your page to fit in, you need to familiarize yourself with Schema or find a marketer who can work it into your site code for you.
There’s a great article on Search Engine Watch that introduces readers to the basics of Schema, and we may post on Schema here in the future – it may just be the next big thing in SEO, setting itself up to change SEO big time in 2017.
3. If you can, make your website or your posts smaller.
Why would you want less content on your website? It makes pages load faster, especially on mobile – and there will be more mobile users than ever in 2017.
To downsize your site, use smaller and less complex images, minimize cookie usage, and compress your site if possible. This will certainly make it load faster (which in turn makes it rank higher!) and may enable it for Google’s new AMP feature – something we’ll definitely be delving into on this blog before the new year.
Most of the hard work for SEO marketers seems to be on your website – but what a lot of business owners and SEO marketers miss is how important other sites can be to your online visibility and reputation – sites like Yelp and Google Maps especially, as these often appear at the very top of search results and can easily be the only sites customers actually look at when searching on a smartphone (which, as you know, is more common than ever).
There was a great article on exactly this subject on SearchEngineLand back at the end of 2014 – let’s see what the SearchEngineLand staff got right and whether anything has changed in the past two years.
The main thrust of the old SearchEngineLand article is this: you need to set up a Google business account and claim your business on Yelp now. This is as true as ever going into 2017 – so if you haven’t done it yet, you’re already behind.
The SearchEngineLand article also details the importance of reaching out to your customers and keeping your accounts on Google and Yelp updated with the latest and most appealing information. That is also even more true now than it was back at the end of 2014. SEO is a long-term investment, not a one-off thing. That’s the big difficulty of SEO, but it’s also what makes SEO more viable than any other marketing form available today.
So it’s definitely important to follow the advice of the SearchEngineLand article – but there are also a few things they missed.
In addition to Maps and Yelp, Google also prioritizes news information. In fact, in one of the pictures going along with the SearchEngineLand article, a news article is right below Yelp and Google Maps, and above the main site of the business in question.
This brings up an additional important point – press releases still matter going into 2017. They were huge several years ago, seemed to dwindle by 2014, and are now coming back stronger than ever. Press releases can get your business noticed by news outlets, and often boost your search results faster than anything else.
Writing a press release and having it used to write a story is no easy feat, though. Press release writing is so specifically formatted, in fact, that there are several marketers out there on the web that specialize only in press release writing – and we have done a lot of work here at SERP Ability to make sure we can write great press releases too.
Press releases, Yelp, and Google Maps aside, it’s important to remember the fundamentals of SEO. In other words, your site and your social media profiles will still matter in 2017, and on top of that we never know when the next big change from Google is coming.
What this means is that you have to brush up external properties that mention you on the internet while also maintaining your own site to the highest degree of professionalism.
It seems that as time goes on and the search engines get more advanced, SEO gets harder – but it’s important to remember that as it becomes more difficult, it also becomes more rewarding.
With Small Business Saturday right around the corner, we thought we’d do a post in honor of the local landmarks, mom-and-pop shops, and community leaders in cities and towns across America.
A lot of small business owners rely solely on local traffic, and many exist in small towns where it seems like everyone already knows where shops are, what they sell, and how well they’re thought of by customers. Can these businesses skip out on investing in SEO and other forms of online marketing?
The answer is a firm, resounding NO. Even the smallest businesses and businesses in the smallest towns need to market themselves online.
For one thing, every business wants to grow. If you own a small coffee shop, you might not want to become Starbucks, but I know a couple hundred extra customers every few months could help. SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of online promotions could bring those customers in like no other form of marketing.
SEO marketing helps your business grow by reminding locals of your business, strengthening your customer relations, bringing in young people, and bringing in out-of-towners.
How does SEO help remind locals about your business? It’s simple. Because of the ubiquity and ease of use of the internet, especially since the proliferation of smartphones, your customers are always online – no matter what industry you’re in. While your customers might not be walking past your shop or listening to your (expensive) radio ads every day, chances are, they check their smartphones several times a day at the least.
Having high rankings on search engine results pages and a strong social media presence means you have a better chance of making one of those customers or potential customers think about your business (and perhaps come in and spend some money) every time he or she picks up the phone.
A strong presence on Google, Facebook, and other relevant websites can also give you a better relationship with your customers. These sites provide them with a forum to give you reviews – if you get good reviews, it’ll boost your standing in the community (and your sales); if you get bad reviews, you can reach out to customers and give them special offers or show that you’ve fixed the problem. Customers on Facebook and other social media outlets can also message you directly – if they can find your page (in other words, if you have strong SEO on your side).
Broadcasting your goods and services well on the internet also brings in out-of-towners, whether they’re in town on business, for pleasure, or just because they’re passing through. This type of marketing also attracts young people – the demographic that will choose whether your business thrives or closes in the next ten to twenty years, and beyond that!
Young people and people from outside your town are more likely to use Google than anything else to find their next drink, snack, haircut, or gift. If you’re the first thing they see, it’s more than likely they’ll come to you.
SEO has some other major benefits for small businesses too. For one thing, it’s often a good deal cheaper than traditional forms of marketing like radio, newspapers, and TV (even though it’s more effective than ANY of these mediums). Also, the business with the best SEO nearly always beats the competition – which means if you aren’t number 1 in your town now, you’re losing customers every day.
Every day, Google and other major search engines refine their search algorithms a bit, meaning the rules for SEO services like ours are always changing. There are hundreds of bloggers and journalists out there offering their own opinions on what each change means—it’s enough to make a small business owner’s head spin.
But for SEO professionals, it’s all very exciting, and we always try to look at changes as opportunities, not just challenges. It’s also important to note that people writing about the SEO industry can often overstate big changes, and get themselves or the businesses they work for into some hot water.
For example, within the past few years Google has tweaked its algorithm to focus not just on keywords (the words that Google users actually type into Google), but on sites as “entities.” Many bloggers in the SEO world took this as meaning those keywords would no longer be important in the effort to get businesses better Google search engine results.
Here we are near the end of 2016, though, and keywords matter as much as ever. Here are 3 reasons they’re still one of the most important assets available to get a small business to Page 1 of Google.
1. They’re the most direct link with the customer.
Keywords are still a big factor in what site gets to the top of a Google search engine result page and what sits get left in the dust, because Google knows internet users are typing those specific words for a reason.
Google’s whole mission is to direct its users to content that answers their questions and matters to them. Our mission as an SEO marketing company is to create content that fits those criteria and directs customers to you and your products.
2. Even with Voice Search, keywords are a major factor.
While no one knows exactly how every piece of Google’s algorithm works, SEO professionals can figure out many of the factors that go into search results, simply because we work with those results all the time.
While relatively new Google features like Voice Search and Reverse Image Search are a little harder for even the best SEO marketers to figure out, it’s obvious to professionals that words are still a factor. As these new types of searches continue to become more and more popular, professionals will need to continue to utilize search keywords to keep bringing users to sites.
3. Keywords have always been and always will be one tool in the box.
Much of the overreaction from bloggers to Google’s changes in their algorithm probably stems from the fact that many SEO marketers relied on keywords alone too much, and didn’t look at long-term factors like site construction and backlinks—so any small reduction in the importance of keywords seems like a huge deal.
The thing about keywords, though, is that they have always been one of many factors. A good SEO marketer will never rely on keywords alone, or completely exclude keywords from their approach. What separates the page 1 Google results from those on page 50 is not keywords, links, or any other factor alone—it’s all of those factors taken together.
With SEO and PPC sometimes seen as natural foes, it would be helpful to match the twoagainst each other and know which is right for different situations.
1. Which gives a better return on investment?
It offers more long term ROI. If you get a first page ranking and stay there, you rake more consistent income and more permanence within the search engines.
This generally gives a better ROI. Nonstop algorithm updates, new rivalry, less data and the need to create excellent content has made SEO more costly.
SEO takes time and time is money. PPC provide more quick results and if you master AdWords Enhanced Campaigns you can boost conversions with least investment.
2. Which is better for conversions?
If done well, SEO will produce more traffic providing you are ranking well in the search engine.
With PPC, you can target a number of commercial keywords and create individual ads with unique ‘calls to action’.Social, email, review and phone extensions can aid you transform users instantly, giving PPC the stronger conversion rate.
3. Which is better for short term wins?
A high quality, fresh and informative content for SEO can help you generate quick win in terms of visitors and social exposure if it’s done properly.
PPC can be better when it comes to short term wins by simply turning the taps on and immediately get good results. SEO marketing strategy needs to be planned carefully and in advanced while PPC campaign can be converted on to target real time trends.
4. Which is better for building a brand?
SEO offers the full package – brand recognition, online brand awareness and brand promotion.
Both are important for building a brand or company but SEO is probably more effective. To build a brand you must have a strong following with great brand visibility. Big companies and brands need Page One Domination and this can only be accomplished with SEO.
5. How would you vie in a cutthroat niche with your channel?
You must be relevant and get in front of your target audience.
All the best SEO techniques come into play assure you are aggressive, especially ascertaining technically your site is working properly and all the on page elements are in place.
You must assure your content is unique and interesting. Create content that people will love to read and share. Set up a blog and become an authority in your niche.
To compete in an aggressive niche, you need to have a great Quality Score. Create specific landing pages for all the top converting targeted keywords. This will boost your Quality Score and lessen the Cost per Click.
Any link that sends your traffic could be considered as good link, but what are quality links, what are good links and what are crap links, when it comes to boosting the real ranking of your own pages in Google search engine rankings?
1. Your internal links
Not the most crucial links, but the best place to begin. Get your website in order before you get links. Google loves good site structure with lots of text links pointing to each page on your site. Don’t overlook to link you important pages often, make sure they are get crawled by web spiders and indexed by Google.
2. Links on mainstream and authority sites
Links from reliable websites are the holy grail because they are a number of vote of trust as well as they have lots of links to them
3. Related industry site
The objective of SEO and excellent quality, but depends on the site, niche and the kind of link can be very beneficial typically, they too numerous links.
4. Link on a high PR old style aged trusted page
These are the university or government resource page, you are lucky if you are able to link with these authority websites.
5. Links from unrelated but non abusive sites
This depends on the site and the type of link – can be very advantageous for increasing your Google ranking & PR
6. Social media site links
7. Link on useful links page
It’s all dependent on the objective of that page in question and the quality of the site it is on.
8. Reciprocal links
These kinds of links are often abused but sometimes just a natural part of the link graph, it’s done with user experience in mind
Links that needs to be Avoided:
Dofollow Blog Comments – PENALTY MATERIAL
Site wide links and blogrolls
They are usually low quality in terms of anchor text conversion. They are used to be good for PR conversion but not nearly as effective as it used to be.
Article submission and syndication services – PENALTY MATERIAL
Directory Links – PENALTY MATERIAL
They are generally low quality, dependent on page and forum, perhapsreliant on numerous links.
Widgets – PENALTY MATERIAL
Unnatural Site WideLinks – PENALTY MATERIAL
Blog Networks, Directory networks and just about any other type of link network
Any Unnatural Links – They are potential Penalty Material
Paid Links – Of any sort (if you are rumbled)
Ecommerce has gone a long way in the last 15 years. As technology grows at a fast pace, new ecommerce stores harness new methods and amenities to make online selling and online shopping more efficient, fun and worthy.
Last year, we saw most of the online marketers make a shortcut for website optimization for higher CTR & conversation rates, guest blogging, responsive design and general improvement in website performance.
There have been many progresses in the field of technology since then, particularly in the field of mobile, big data, analytics, social networking and personalization.
These changes have initiated to give rise to new trends in the world of ecommerce marketing.
Here are the notable changes that can be seen in the ecommerce marketing:
1. Mobile is Optimized and not just mobile friendly.
Mobile shopping is becoming more and more crucial.
While 2013 noticed responsive web design spread like wildfire, in 2014, we are sure to see advancement in the mobile shopping experiences.
The first tip was to create that worked right on mobile – this year; we will see online store owners rushing to build sites that surelygrow on smartphones and tablets.
2. Targeting Wearable Devices
While smart watches, Google Glasses and other wearable devices have entered the technology market, many such gadgets are set to enter the market in 2014.
We can expect online retailers as well as ecommerce stores to give special deals, discounts, offers and updates to their customers through wearable devices.
3. Rise of Long-form Content
Google’s red eye at back link building using guest blogging will push ecommerce marketers to make more interesting and targeted content. We saw the rise of long-form content that is more closely related to the businesses, products and services offered by the online stores.
In addition to the articles and blog posts, the length of videos and podcast has also been utilized as part of SEO marketing strategy. The easy availability of analytics and data help leads to creation of more data-based content.
4. Brand and Author Identity Is More Important Ever
While Google Authorship’s branding opportunities for smaller business were all mastered even last year, death of large-scale guest blogging proposes that a digital brand – both for authors and businesses is more important ever in the coming years.
Outdated, anonymous SEO won’t work that well. Ecommerce stores and online marketers will try to build high-quality communities and articles to grow and expand their marketing efforts. A brand blog plus a team of renowned bloggers will arevital for the success of an ecommerce businesses.
If there’s anything that completely weakens someone new or struggling in business, it has to hand back money to someone who wants a refund. Adding insult to injury, you have already given your maximum best to them and yet, they still want their money back.
You worked hard and now you have to try to make money return that you no longer have.
It’s the kind of thing that makes you give up guarantees. “You pay me; I got your money; that’s the end of the story.”
Unfortunately, that kind of attitude makes it difficult for people to want to give you their money in the first place. At the very least, it makes for a very unfriendly environment.
Hardly Anyone Requests a Refund
It is just occasional that people ask for a refund and it bites when it happens but luckily it hardly ever does, and here’s why.
When someone becomes your customer, they are rooting for you to be excellent. In making important purchases, they have spent a huge amount of money and mental energy in you—they have joined your team.
In the event things that don’t go seamlessly, they really don’t want their money. What they want are results you offered. They want to feel good about their pick. They’d much rather you made things right than cause them to the ultimate last option, which is the refund.
Dishonest business people exploit this by making it really hard expressively to ask for their money back. For you as a heart-centered person, it just means that you can take a breath knowing why refunds are so uncommon, and that if something does go south with a customer, you will have many opportunities to make it right before you have to dig into your bank account.
Here are the top 3 reasons why we can afford to hand out a money-back guarantee:
- It eliminates one huge barrier to buy from a customer’s mind. It makes purchasing your product a risk free proposition for them. This is a very good thing. In the end, if they don’t like it that they can get their money back.
- It helps build customer trust. Perhaps the most crucial thing a company or brand can possess. Without your customers’ trust, your company is lost.
- It is aninfluential statement about the quality of your business, products or services. It says you are so poised, customers will love your business, products or services, and youwill give them their money back if they don’t.
It is time to deliberate the top 3 reasons how search has changed in 2014:
- Content marketing is king.
One of the most famous saying in SEO is “Content is King.”
While it is true, we want to make a case for content over against the rather weak “content” alone. Content marketing has a strong connotative meaning, and recalls more than just optimized titles and 800 words of content on a home page.
Content marketing outplays SEO in the orthodox sense because conventional SEO doesn’t help you increase your website ranking but rather keeps you from doing worse.
- SEO and PR have combined.
You cannot expect to “practice SEO” without thinking of PR. This is especially true for people – who are entrepreneurs, investors and niche professionals. Their public standing has everything to do with the optimization of their web presence.
Today’s small business and digital marketing professionals must learn and understand how PR and SEO have joined to create a socially aware and digitally flexible public presence.
Yes, SEO methods and PR technique definitely go together.
That’s why SEO and PR belong in the same category. That is why SEO and PR need to be considered not as two separate aspects, but as two sides of the multifaceted polygon known as “digital marketing.”
- The algorithm is cleverer.
Digital years are like dog years. You have to think of one as same to like ten. Based on that math, Google is now 160 years old.
At the present, the algorithm is smarter. If you 160 years old, you would probably be pretty intelligent, too.
We have seen and experience the algorithm dozens of times. May be you have recount the days when all it took was some good ol’ fashioned keyword stuffing and a number of spammy directory links, and bam you were in the first place on the first page of major search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
Now, the algorithm is shrewder and more complex than our guesses and predictions. Recent algorithms rollouts have presented a more instinctive search process.There is no such thing as “tricks” that is effective over the long run.
In one example of the revolutionary twist of search science course, co-ocurence and co-citation are proving true value. The whole idea of “linkbuilding” may be going the way of other SEO dinosaurs. (Like “keyword density.” Remember that? Ha.)
At this time, the algorithm is wise. And we must give attention its clever control over search.