Category Archives: Search Engine Optimisation

A Comprehensive Checklist for Your SEO Audit

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An SEO audit is important for any website seeking to increase traffic. Thorough website audits are helpful for planning future strategies relating to keywords and creating more effective content. If you are planning an SEO audit for your website, you need to follow our comprehensive checklist to ensure nothing is left out during the process.

What Should an SEO Audit Cover?

Attention should be given to five main areas in order to complete a successful SEO audit.

Technical Analysis

For your website to be listed, it needs to be able to be identified and indexed by search engines. When checking SEO, focus on the following:

  • Analysis of how duplicate content is being identified.
  • Sitemap validation using XML sitemaps which make available information for search engines such as last updates, page hierarchy and public pages to be crawled.
  • Assessment of site speed and studying the load time, which is critical.
  • Analysis of backlinks i.e. the links leading into your site. Links coming in from poor quality sites or unrelated sites where your niche is concerned can harm your SEO.

Review Page Design

This includes evaluating ease of use, CTAs, overall design, and inter-page connection for a seamless flow on the website. This component is important in an SEO audit because it makes search engines able to make sense of your content. It also increases your chances of getting found by visitors.

Usability Audit

This involves measuring how easy your users find it to make use of your site, and to navigate to the information they seek. Incorporate the following into your usability checks on your website:

Relevant internal linking –internal links on from one page to another on your site is a great idea for reducing bounce rate and maintain the interest of visitors. During an SEO audit, make sure your pages are not overly saturated with links, and that the links present are not optimized over the top, which is unadvisable in SEO practice.

Easy navigation – the goal is for visitors to be able to find what they are looking for. There is no right or wrong way to present a site structure as long as the important features and information are easy to locate.

Semantic mark-up – with semantic mark-up, search engines are better able to index your site more accurately, creating rich snippets which users make use of to locate information that interests them.

Analyse Site Content

SEO requires organised and well-written content. Industry or brand-specific content that is focused on providing value to site users attracts more users and higher rankings. During SEO audit, assessment of content should be based on consistency and value.

On-Page Audit

On-page SEO factors to consider include title tags, Meta descriptions, and headers and sub-headers. Ignoring these could make you miss out on the opportunities a comprehensive SEO audit offers.

 

Google Takes the Fight to Fake News and Offensive Content with Project Owl

8-fake-news-Owl-algorithm-fcdGoogle is certainly unrelenting in its fight against fake news and content that is considered offensive, disturbing, or clearly misleading, as it officially announced the Project Owl algorithm. According to the search engine, their algorithm was being updated in order to boost, authoritative content while penalising low-quality content, specifically with queries that could display offensive or misleading material.

Further, Google introduced a feedback mechanism for featured snippets and auto-complete suggestions to swiftly obtain feedback from users on search results that are not in line with their guidelines. Google’s search quality rater’s guidelines were also updated to aid the fight and check that the algorithms were working accordingly. Meanwhile, what do the new changes mean?

Boosting authoritative content

As a way to fight the fake and offensive content that appear in search results, Google is keen on pushing for authoritative content. Google tags as offensive, any content that encourages violence or hate against a group of people based on a number of criteria ranging from gender and race, to religion and disability. Also tagged as offensive is any content that contains racial slurs, detailed how-to information about dangerous or harmful activities, and other types of content users in a particular locale would find intensely upsetting.

Featured Snippets feedback form

A Featured Snippet is an informational box displayed at the top of search results, designed to have a profound influence on the search experience. Featured Snippets are becoming even more important with the rise of voice search as they are the default answer to a user’s question. Google introduced a feedback form that lets users pick from a variety of tags that can be used to describe the content, and a space to make comments or suggestions. While individual snippets are not going to see immediate removal, Google will use the data to adjust the algorithm to effect the necessary changes.

Autocomplete feedback link

Designed to save time and help make searches faster, autocomplete suggests possible queries to users, drawn from the most popular searches. While it is a useful feature, occasionally, autocomplete may offer suggestions that are offensive or inappropriate. Google has now introduced a new “report inappropriate predictions” link that lets users flag predictions as violent, hateful, sexually explicit, or any other tag the user feels describes the suggestions.

Conclusion

It will take some time before Project Owl will be seen to impact search results; nonetheless, Google is clearly determined to present users with legitimate results. Meanwhile, new sites are not expected to find it more difficult to rank higher in search; neither will big brands have any advantage over smaller ones.

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Was There A Google Algorithm Update On Monday & Tuesday? Unsure.

Making useful information available and easily accessible is the main goal of Google and it dedicates itself to this cause by constantly seeking to improve the users’ search engine experience.

Google updates its algorithm from time to time with multiple updates happening within a day sometimes. The number of changes is between 500-600 updates per year. The updates are mostly minor and the results almost unnoticeable but there are some that cannot occur unnoticed because of the relative impact such updates have on the on page rankings in the search engine.

It is important to Google that black hat SEO practices by webmasters and search marketers are curbed.

Whenever there is an algorithm update, Google may announce and give hints here and there about the impact of such updates while other times, the updates are done without any form of admittance or detail on the implication of such update from Google.

What is most important is whether the updates have noticeable impact on SERP.

The main question now is that, was there an update on Monday or Tuesday, June 19th or 20th?

The drift is nobody is sure what happened. We all know Google can be pretty secretive about their updates but most of the automated tracking tools;(Mozcast, Accutracker, SERPMetriccs, Rank Ranger, SEM Rush) except for Algoroo revealed that the algorithm may have been tweaked on either of the two days. They showed massive spikes and activity but not many people seem to catch up to it.

Updates with impact cause a lot of chatter that may have resulted in a lot of satisfaction or dissatisfaction among the SEO community but the expected activity that is supposed to be the immediate result of such massive update is missing. No one is screaming foul or livid about penalties.

The SEO community always give an insight into the impact of huge updates.

Barry Schwartz gives an insight into what may have happened but even that isn’t conclusive.

Below is a screenshots of the Mozcast tracking tool showing huge changes in search engine results observed

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As earlier stated, these should stir conversations but nothing has been observed from the white and black hat SEO forums or Google Forums.

It is quite irregular not to have the regular noise that would have preceded or accompanied the kind of activity noticed on the automated tracking tools.

It is somewhat uncertain the kind of impact this update has and if it is an update or a change in Google’s user interface. it is certainly not related to the Google Owl as believed by some.

Did you notice the change? How has it affected you?

How to Optimise for Local SEO UK: A Guide for SMBs

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To take advantage of the ever expanding trend of ecommerce, most small businesses now have an online presence – mostly through their websites.

While having a website is a good first step in positioning your business to reach a global audience and thus more customers, it is not the only step. You still have to let people know about the existence of your website. One reliable and highly recommended way to get your website more publicity is by optimising its SEO. This means optimising your website to be better found on search engine results, in order to increase its organic traffic.

To optimise your SMB’s website for local SEO UK, simply execute these following tips;

  1. Optimising your website’s content.

You can accomplish this by inserting into your website’s content keywords or phrases that most local consumer of your products or services search for online. You can discover what these keywords are by using tools such as Google Trends.

Another effective way to optimise your site’s SEO via content is to mention something unique about the locality you are serving within your content. For example, if you are an architect serving London clients, your site can talk about some of London’s architectural landmarks. Search engines will rank site’s that do this higher than their local competitors that don’t. Also be sure to insert your city/region alongside a relevant keyword into your landing page title tag, H1 tag, URL, and image alt attributes.

  1. Organise your website effectively.

This can be accomplished by having each headline and title tag on each page contain a keyword or phrase that will immediately intimate search engines and site visitors alike about what your site has to offer. You can also embed a Google map showing your business’ location into your landing page

For better results, you can also have your most important content featured on your homepage with a link leading to that content’s own page. That is, make sure your bestselling services and products stand out on your site. Said content should also have links referring to them from within the content of other pages.

  1. Improve user experience

This is another useful way to improve your site’s local SEO UK as well as the engagement of your visitors. You can accomplish this by making your site more mobile friendly, especially since most online activity now occurs via mobile devices. Also ensure your site has good loading speeds that will motivate your visitors to keep searching through your site.

Further measures you can take to improve user experience include; having your business’ contact information at the top and bottom of each page, as well as placing headlines over each page to assure visitors they’ve come to the right place.

Lastly, local SEO UK can be improved on by ensuring the website’s design is one that facilitates movement across the site by crawling bots and customers alike.

With these simple steps, your SMB’s website’s local SEO UK will be greatly improved.

“Fred” Google’s Latest Algorithm Update

8-What-You-Should-Know-About-Google-Fred-UpdateSearch Marketers Beware

Successful search marketing has a lot to do with Google’s search algorithm. As a search marketer, developer or SEO expert, you must be conversant with the latest Google algorithm trends to pull off a successful marketing campaign because it relates directly with:

  • Search engine optimisation
  • Search engine ranking and
  • Organic website traffic

Optimising Search Marketing by Staying Up-to-Date with Google’sever Changing Algorithm

There is need for every search marketer, developer and SEO expert to understand the dynamics of  Google’s algorithm as it undergoes frequent major and minor modifications every often because it is essential to the success of their business. It is important you keep your ears tuned to these changes, especially the major ones which have a considerably weightier impact on the overall success of your business. Google Webmaster YouTube Channel is a useful resource that keeps you informed on latest trends in the SEO world.

The most successful search marketers, SEO experts and developers are those who do due diligence in keeping up with Google’s ever changing algorithm which does have a significant impact on search engine optimisation and ranking that translate into organic website traffic.

To be on top of your game as an SEO expert, marketer or developer, you must have adequate information on latest trends in search marketing and SEO best practices. Google was said to have made a major change in its search algorithm over the past few weeks, on March 8th to be precise.

Latest Google Algorithm Ranking – March 8th 2017 Update

It was reported recently on the 8th of March 2017 that there was a perceived major update in Google’s search algorithm known as Fred. Google’s Gary Illyes recently confirmed the update which was a mere speculation before now. There were, however, obvious signs that indicated there was a major Google ranking update before it was confirmed as it already had its toll on the SEO world with hundreds of websites recording between 50% to 90% decline from Google’s organic search.

According to Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land, the sites that were hardest hit by Fred are sites that place revenue generation above user experience. These are sites which he claims are heavy on ads with low value content. Google’s recent major update Schwartz says is link related. Studies have it that there were significant changes in Google’s rankings in the first week of February which were link and content related. January 10 also saw a momentous change in the SEO world after Google warned against intrusive interstitials. “Fred” is, however, what SEO experts search engine marketers and developers need to be more concerned about now.

The safer thing to do is to go low on ads if your website is already heavy on this and focus more on quality content that will be useful to everyone who visits your website. The most important thing you should keep in mind is user experience.

Best merge your PPC and SEO worlds and achieve cross-channel success

PPC SEO Cross Channel

Should we pay per click or should we just focus on search engine optimisation for our website? That is one of the questions business owners and campaign mangers ask themselves when they are looking to increase the traffic to their sites, as well as increase the conversion rate.

The answer to that question is that PPC and SEO both help you to get to a specific destination- just that they use different routes. It is not far-fetched to see that if the forces of the two combined, you would get to that destination quicker and in better shape. They complement each other.

Integrate SEO and PPC

When you combine your SEO strategies with your pay per click campaigns, you are able to share your search marketing goals between both options. They are different channels that when crossed, will bring you much success.SEO and PPC

There is no other way to say it. Ensure that you are integrating both channels and maximising the unique advantages they hold for your search marketing.

Things to note

  1. You will need to conduct keyword research to use both channels maximally. For either channel to be successful, keywords are the basis. In addition, keyword data generated from one channel must be shared with the other so as to make targeting better and more accurate.
  1. Share actionable data: Organic data from your SEO strategies is as important as the data you will get from your pay per click campaign. The data from both sources should be examined and used, to determine your actions going forward.
  1. With a combination of both, you are able to target the right people at the very right time in the right place and with the right organic content. That is too important to overlook. It is what you get when your pay to click campaign messages are right next to the organic listings of your website that you have achieved with your SEO strategies.
  1. If you are using the two channels, do not use them in a silo manner. Let both channels have shared goals that will guide their actions. They should not have separate goals.
  1. Budget: The issue of budget is always one of the top reasons why people are not excited about combining SEO and PPC. While the budget issue is indeed a legitimate concern, you can always custom create a combined SEO and PPC strategy that can suit your budget.

In conclusion, you can win at your search marketing by being open minded and flexible in your use of search engine optimisation techniques and pay per click campaigns. Combine forces.

Google’s Shift to Mobile-First: Mobile Moments That Matter

Google index mobile first

The world has gradually become a mobile-first world. This is evidenced even in our simple routines where the first thing we pick when we wake up is a mobile phone. Many people are using their phones more than they do their computers. Google has seen this trend and has shifted to prioritise mobile results.

Google in November 2016 announced that when it comes to search results index, they will be putting mobile first. This means that the mobile version of your website will be regarded as the primary one for search rankings. Prior to now, to rank your website, Google looked only at the desktop version of your website but now will be looking at the mobile version instead. It will be looking at its content, structure, links and relevance to visitors.

How does this affect you? You might ask.

If you have a website, your site is likely to have a separate mobile version, not have a mobile site at all or be a responsive site that is optimised for both a computer and a mobile device.

For websites that have separate versions, the drawback here is that if the desktop version is the one with better content and structure, Google will not see it. The crawlers will only go through the mobile site and not the desktop one. If your website is like this, you need to update and upgrade the mobile version of your website. It should have the same content and user relevance and experience that the desktop version has to offer.

If your website is desktop only and has no mobile version, it will have lower search engine rankings. The Google crawlers after all search through all websites not just the mobile ones.

For users with responsive websites, the shift mobile first indexing has more or less no effect on them. Such websites are mobile friendly as they already have a content and structure that display and work well on a mobile device

Mobile First Indexing

What should you do?

To ensure that Google’s mobile-first indexing is working to your favour, you should:

  1. Make your website friendly and responsive if it not already
  2. Create content that is best for mobile. If you have both mobile and desktop versions of your website, you do not need to duplicate all the information on the desktop into the mobile version, just get a way to better communicate the same message in a way best suited for mobiles

There are a few other things such as ensuring a good user experience when your website is viewed on a mobile device but doing these two basic things will help your website get the mobile-first advantage.

Google Search Switching to Mobile First Index from Desktop Index: Desktop Index as Secondary

Google Mobile Index

The way Google ranks web pages is about to change. While we may not know when this change will begin, it’s important that website owners know exactly what to expect.

Previously, Google considered the quality of a web page by crawling across the desktop version of that page, and then using data from the desktop page to rank its mobile version. This was its first index and the ultimate means of checking for content quality.

Mobile Users Versus Desktop Users

But shouldn’t the mobile version of a website be considered first since there are far more mobile users than there are desktop users? Gary Illyes at Pubcon was in tandem with this thought, noting that 85% of search results are mobile-friendly already and more than half of the search queries are from mobile devices”, so he announced that Google was switching to a mobile first index.

It has been understood that even before this revelation, the search engine had been musing over the intention to separate its desktop index from mobile index early last year at SMX. The news may be celebratory to some and a scare to others, but SEOs and website owners need to start thinking about steps to maintaining  top ranking on Google search index or at least not fall of the ladder completely.

Steps to Maintaining Top Ranking

  • Build a responsive website. A responsive website makes all of the content on a website look good across devices, whether it’s on a desktop or mobile. Website owners usually reduce the content on their mobile site to allow for faster loading, thus having a desktop page that is separate from the mobile page. However, with the current news, this would no longer be necessary. Every page, then, must be responsive.
  • Do not compromise content on the desktop page: While website owners and SEOs may want to focus more attention on maintaining a top quality mobile page, they may want to digest Illyes’ announcement a bit more. The company does not intend to phase out its desktop index, but has decided to make it a secondary index.
  • Load structured data on mobile page: Website owners need to find a way to include structured data on their mobile page. The problem users of mobile version faced was the inability to view highly organised, rich data. For example, if a user wanted to view the legal records of a mortgage company they wish to do business with, the user would have to turn to the desktop version for this. This was clumsy, so making structured data visible on lite version becomes necessary. However, the downside to this may mean slower load time, and it could even get worse in countries where the Internet connection is poor.
  • Do not over use links on mobile pages: Google has yet to announce that it will index links on the mobile pages of websites, so suffusing a mobile page with links may not yield good ranking results.

Mobile Search Index

Although the company has not set a date when its mobile first index will begin, they have forewarned site owners and SEOs of the upcoming change. Meanwhile, the search engine is in the process of “launching an experiment where they take a big chunk of the index and they do something to that part,” blogged Lisa Barone.

Google Says Penguin 4.0 Rollout Now Complete

Google Penguin 4.0 Update

A tweet from Gary Illyes confirmed that Penguin 4.0 from Google is completely rolled out. The algorithm is the latest one in the pool of 200 unique signals the company uses to determine the quality of a page.

While each algorithm performs a specific task, Penguin mostly looks at the link source of a web page and determines whether the source is high in quality or not.

Recall that Penguin Update was first started on September 23, 2016, and we got Illyes explain how exactly the algorithm would work.

Gary Illyes on Penguin Update

  • Penguin gets real-time update. Most of the other algorithm worked in real-time; that means they were updated immediately they received information from a webmaster. Penguin didn’t work in this fashion – it was refreshed periodically. However, an update would see Penguin work in real-time, which means that webmasters, whose sites are affected by Penguin after the update, would see changes made to their ranking much faster when they relink their pages to quality material.
  • Penguin becomes more granular. Illyes also revealed that Penguin would become more granular, meaning that the algorithm would only devalue spammy pages and not the whole site.

Now with Penguin 4.0 finally on the table, webmasters, whose sites were penalised during the roll out of previous versions, should start seeing changes to their rankings, supposing they had taken steps to get their links cleaned up.

What Getting Cleaned up Means

Here are a few things website owners should do to clean up their spammy link sources or stay out of trouble from Penguin Update altogether.

  • Avoid linking to poor blog network.A link to a guest blog that contains poor quality content will be penalised by Penguin. A guest blog is content written for a blog site with the intention of getting backlinks to the writer. Writing a top quality post is ok, but when Penguin discovers that a guest blog is linked to a poor blog network, it devalues that link.
  • Do not manipulate directories. If a web user wanted to get authoritative information on a brand, he usually visited a directory.However, overtime, many listings within online directories became paid-for inclusions, with the sole purpose of driving traffic to their sites, which lacked relevance and value. Google frowns at this tactic, and wants SEOs to avoid it.
  • Avoid excessive link exchanges. It was a natural concept for websites to exchange links for the purpose of driving traffic back and forth, but once the links became obviously out of proportion, Google clamped down on it. One type of excessive link building involves stuffing a page with anchor text links. Bottom line is creating content that adds value, and your site would definitely be scaled high on Google SERP.
  • Control comment spam. Getting a lot of comments on a great article does not necessarily increase the article’s page’s ranking because some comments are spewed out with backlinks to irrelevant or downright unworthy content. Getting a spam checker to block unwanted comments will definitely prevent quality web pages from being attacked by Penguin.

Google Penguin 4.0 Update

There are other link building schemes website owners must avoid to escape Penguin Update penalties, but should your page be penalised, remember that Penguin 4.0 works in real-time. All it will take is a proper link source cleaning, and you should see your page up again.

Google Roll out the Elusive Penguin Real Time Update

Google Penguin Real Time

The much-anticipated Google Penguin 4.0/Penguin Real time update has been officially announced by Google (as released today, 23rd of September). It was originally expected to be released at the end of 2015 but it never happened and website owners, SEOs and Agencies have been patiently waiting for it ever since.

Key Points to note:

Penguin now updates in real time – This marks the end of the official Penguin updates. From now on, website owners won’t have to wait for an ‘update’ to occur. Changes to your link profile will be taken into account upon the next spider crawl from Google.

More Granular – Penguin is now more granular and instead of penalising a whole website due to spammy in bound links, the bad links in question will be ‘devalued’ based on specific spam signals, thus indirectly affecting a websites SEO profile.

What this means for website owners:

  • You may notice a fluctuation in your keyword rankings across the Google SERPs
  • You may notice an increase or decrease in organic traffic coming to your website
  • You may receive a manual penalty notice in your Google Search Console/Web master Tools account IF you have been engaged in spammy SEO practices.

If you haven’t been engaged in un-natural organic optimisation then this update shouldn’t worry you. On the whole, this new Penguin Real time update will be beneficial to website owners by allowing them to see the effect of changes in real time, rather than having to wait 12-18 months for an official Google Penguin update.