The past year has brought sweeping changes to the world of search engine optimisation. Some SEO techniques that performed well in 2011 are no longer useful. Many webmasters, marketers and writers have had difficulty adjusting to this. The most important SEO headlines of 2012 revolved around the actions of Google. When the year began, a number of website owners were still reeling from the 2011 Panda update.
Google issued a minor update to Panda during mid-January. Some websites that were harmed by the previous update reported that some of their traffic had been restored. The main purpose of the original Panda update was to punish websites with duplicate or low quality material. Some companies responded by removing thousands of Web pages and establishing new content policies.
Top Heavy Update
Google also released the Top Heavy update in January. It penalises websites that display numerous advertisements near the top of each page. This change didn't affect as many webmasters as the Panda update. Unlike low quality links or mediocre content, this problem is relatively easy to fix. However, the temporary loss of search traffic and the removal of ads can have a substantial impact on revenue.
During the same month, there was a significant change in Bing search results. Commentators at Search Engine Roundtable and WebmasterWorld remarked that Bing appeared to be prioritising country-specific domain names. For example, this update boosted the rankings of .au domains on Bing Australia. To register such domains, most governments require people to live in the appropriate country or maintain offices there.
The next major event was the Penguin update in April. This was one of the most important updates in many years. Google punished Web pages with questionable inbound links from unrelated or low quality websites. It sought to stop webmasters from using links to manipulate search rankings. This update was very unpopular with many website owners and marketers. It had an even greater impact than Panda.
Search Engine Roundtable conducted a survey of SEO practitioners in May. About 65 percent of the respondents said that Penguin had reduced their Google traffic. Approximately 14 percent reported no change, and 13 percent said that their traffic had increased. Webmasters and SEO firms have become much more careful about the types of links that they try to obtain. Some have even asked other website owners to remove links.
The changes at Google gave people plenty of things to talk about at the MozCon conference in late July. The three-day event in Seattle attracted about 800 participants. SEOmoz.org reported that there were presentations on SEO, reputation management, Google Plus and conversion rate optimisation. The conference featured appearances by Paddy Moogan, Ian Lurie, Rand Fishkin and others.
Exact Domain Match Update
During September, Google began to take action against low quality websites with domain names that have search keywords in them. This means that a website with a name like truro-canada-news.com won't appear in the results for "Truro, Canada news" unless it has inbound links and quality content. This was a disappointing development for entrepreneurs who had bought many exact match domains.
Disavow Links Tool
Two months later, Google established the "Disavow links" tool. Webmasters can use it to request that Google ignore inbound links from specific websites. This SEO tool takes up to a month to work, but it can reverse some of the damage caused by Penguin. There were also two minor Panda updates in November. They affected about 2 percent of Google searches.
SEO Trends for 2013
These developments will have a marked impact on SEO in 2013 as well. More website owners and marketers will begin to focus on obtaining unique content and quality one-way links. Keyword stuffing, link exchanges and article spinning will quickly become things of the past. It will remain important to optimise Web pages for specific keywords and ensure that search engine spiders can read them.
Trends in search engine optimisation
If you have any kind of online business or website for your products or services, chances are you've heard of Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO. SEO is a great way to organically entice web surfers to visit your website or web pages. There are various tactics that you can use to gain visitors with SEO.
Google Plus & AdWords
Google Plus isn't the most popular social media website out there yet, but it certainly is gaining on Facebook and Twitter. Since most people have Google e-mail addresses for their Gmail accounts, it's easy to find new connections. You can share all types of information with your Google Plus contacts, including links to your website.
Google AdWords is another great tool that Google offers everyone, whether you have a Google profile or not. Let's say you're writing a piece about boating in South Florida. You can plug in that term and Google AdWords will give you a list of highly searched keywords and phrases similar to your topic. Then you can use these SEO words in your content to optimise your content with words that you know people are searching for.
Believe it or not, text is not the most highly rated content online. Photos and videos get far more attention, which means that if you want a successful web page, make sure to include this type of content. You can use SEO keywords in your video. When you upload a video, you'll have the option to include a description, title and tags, all of which can incorporate SEO.
When you combine guest posts with SEO, you seriously expand your online reach. By having people write guest posts, you automatically gain their followers as readers of your own website or blog. Whoever is writing a guest post will undoubtedly promote their piece, which means that you effectively target both your regular readers and your guest writer's fan base, too.
Maximize on this exposure by having guest posts written by professional writers who are familiar with SEO. By incorporating keywords and SEO phrases, you can increase your exposure even more.
Traditional PR & Social Media Marketing
Regardless of the major advances in marketing, there's still something to be said for good old fashioned PR tactics. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful advertising techniques that businesses can use. Make sure that the right information is spreading by always focusing on superior customer service. The only talking people should be doing about your business is positive talking.
Social media marketing is standard in today's world and you can use plenty of SEO techniques with online profiles. Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are three of the most popular, interactive social media websites, and all of them area searchable by keywords. The recipe for using these social media platforms to promote your work while using SEO is basically the same from website to website:
1. Upload an image or post a status update that relates to whatever it is you're promoting.
2. Incorporate keywords that are both highly searchable and that relate directly to what it is you're promoting. If you're using Twitter or Instagram, put a hashtag before the keyword. This makes it easier for other users to find your content.
3. Promote the content, whether it's a post, link, photo or video, on your various social media outlets. Cross-promotions are key and this is the best way to reach a broad audience.
A really interesting video from Rand Fishkin on the new way of earning links, he draws some new ways of earning links not building links. He draws a side by side comparison between the two approaches
|Old Methods of Link Building||New ways of link earning|
|link exchanges and reciprocal link||Cross referenced sites with link to genuine content|
|e-mail blasts seeking links||Social networking and getting to know people on-line|
|Buying links||Earning links by creating the type of content people want to share|
|Submitting to directories||Getting listed on heavily curated list which only take quality sites for a specific domain.|
|Article marketing or artical directories||Guest posting on a site that is picky about the topic and quality of posts that are made.|
|Links from guest books, blog comments and forums||Participating in real communities that are reliant to a topic|
|Mining competitors back links||Looking at what content is linked to on competitors sites and seeing who links to that content.|
|Private Website of links farms.||Build a network of influences and networkers on a particular topic.|
This is quite an interesting list of new perspectives on how to earn Website links rather than direct link building. The challenge is figuring out how to put it into action for a particular site.
Post update the need for a new type of SEO consultant
The original post by Rand Fishkin has provoked some interesting discussion on Goolge Plus. It is clear that the role of SEO consultants is changing, from one of on-page optimisation and external link building to marketing via an on-line channel. This is a significant shift in the role of SEO in the marketing strategy. They need to be much more involved in how a business is represented on the web, how the content is presented and how communities are build around the content presented. This will be a major shift for many of the traditional SEO service providers who have processes aligned to bulk link building, often using off-shore resources for most of the work. Thsi new era for SEO is going to be very interesting for the next few years.
I went to another search London meeting this week. The topic this time was
Technical Tips For 2012 by Craig Bradfod. Craig Bradford spoke about the technical tips you need to know for your website and you can catch all the recommendations on slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/craigbradford/searchlondon-tips-for-2012
Craig gave an interesting presentation. Although much of it was not new he stressed the importance of Google+ and author reputation. His advice was to find ways of encouraging people to plus on your site. This can have a dramatic effect on rankings of those logged in to google. Not only will this affect the results of the people who plus one your site but also their friends. He used the exile of David Beckham, who has 28,000 followers on Google plus. If David was to plus one your site then it would affect the results for 28,000 people.
Craig also presented some interesting research on the projects which have been consuming google resources. He showed that Google answers are by far the most likely project, together with rich snippets. In particulate he recommends inserting markup around video, so that is wills how up in search results.
Overall it was another fantastic event from search London, well done Joe
With the Penguin update reducing the value of many traditional links it has become more difficult to develop good quality links from article sites, directories and blog commenting. Most SEO seem to have moved on the guest blogging.
What is guest blogging
Guest blogging is where a blog owner agrees to host a post from you on there site. Often this might be a well know blogger who offers to contribute to a site. However more recently this has become one of the most popular SEO techiques. With blog owners often getting approched to host a guest blog. Often these offers of content can be quite poor quality, which have been used elsewhere.
you should look for really good quality contributions. Good quality guest blogging has a couple of benefits for the blog owner and the author, but how can you tell if it is a good quality guest blog.
Benefits for the blog owner
If the author has a good author reputation by Google, then this can be very positive for the blogger and the social search results for the blog owner. For more about social search read our earlier post on the power of social search and google. However as a blog owner you have to ask the following questions before accepting a blog post.
- Is this truly high quality content, has it got something unique to say?
- Do I know this guest blogger, have they got a good reputation in my sector?
- Are the a Google recognised author, and how many people do they have in there google plus circles?
- Is it a unique article, search for the first few paragraphs, do they come up in the search results on other sites?
- is this content relevant to my site and readership?
Benefits for the guest blogger
When accepting a guest blog then the blogger owner will normally allow you to include a few relevant links back to your site. This can be of benefit to your site however only if the blog owners site meets the following criteria.
- Is the blog site relevant to my site?
- Does the site have good quality content with good social sharing?
- Does the site have a good page rank?
- How frequently is the blog updated?
Guest blogging can be a great way of building your network and maximising the SEO of your site, but only if both the blog owner and author are interested in quality content.
Interested in guest blogging for SBSEO then just get in touch.
I attended the Search London Meetup this week and listened to some really interesting presentation by Lisa Myers, Founder of Verve Search and Paul Chaloner, Head of Social Media at Fresh Egg. Both had very interesting presentation on the future of search engine marketing and the impact that the use of Google+ will have in the future, but first a bit of a re-cap for those who are not involved in the in's and out of the search engine world.
What is Google+
Google+ is a social network from Google, it is a little a cross between face book and twitter. It enables you to share content with other people and friends much as you can do in facebook or twitter, although in the case of Google+ you add them to circles. As social network it's ok, but why would you want to put the effort into maintaining Goggle+ as well as facebook and twitter. Especially as so few people use Google+. I have just imported my entire address book of 3,000 people into my Google contacts and only about 150 people are on google+. The reason Google+ is important is it's impact of search results and the link is makes to the authorship of articles.
Authorship of Content.
The problem with Google search results is that the rankings can be influences by link building techniques and so SEO companies have got very good at generating backlinks to improve the ranking of a site. They want to move towards a more personal experience, were the person who makes the recommendations and writes about a site being great affects your search results. So for example is one of your friends recommends a restaurant or holiday the this will improve the chances of that it will appear in your search results. Even more interesting they are also interested in the authority of the person who writes and article about your restaurant. If a restaurant critic with a very strong reputation recommends a restaurant by writing about includes a back link that will be a very strong signal of quality.
Why will Google+ be important for Search in the Future?
To facilitate this Google have established rel="author" link between your web page and your Google plus profile. For now you just get a small profile photo in the search engine results, as shown below. This is significant because it will increase click though rates and indicates you are a trusted author. As time passes through this can be used by Google to identify has written about which website and the authority of the author in the domain. We think this will become increasingly important in determining search engine results. So if you are not on Google+ and have yet to set up rel=author, do it today.
If you're having déjà vu after Penguin, which is a Google algorithm update that was released near the end of April, you're not alone. The update sent many companies reeling, and a considerable number of small businesses were affected by it. It's easy to feel defeated and hopeless, but the fact of that matter is that there is plenty of rhyme and reason to the latest update. By understanding why the update was implemented and what it targets, you can make the necessary changes to improve your website's ranking. Learn more about Penguin and how to cope with it below.
The Goolge Penguin Update Highlights the Continuing Importance of Good Content
Like the Panda update, which was Google's attempt to do away with low-quality content that was being churned out by content mills like Demand Studios, Penguin largely revolves around content. As before, the quality of the content on your site is critical. The old changes have not been eliminated. They still apply. You can't hope to meet the demands of Penguin without cleaning house and ensuring that your content is well-written, original, engaging and informative. Content also needs to be updated constantly, so you need to make an ongoing investment in updating your site with fresh content.
Remove any Black-Hat SEO Tactics
Google does not take kindly to black-hat SEO tactics. A black-hat tactic is one that attempts to bypass Google's latest algorithms. Any technique that quickly improves your site's ranking without requiring a decent amount of work is likely to be a black-hat one. One very common black-hat tactic that continued to thrive in the wake of Panda involved incoming links, or backlinks. Google assesses the number of links that point back to a site while determining its ranking. Those links are supposed to be "genuine." There are many sneaky ways to get around that, and Google is addressing these issues with the Penguin update.
Ideally, a link that comes into your site should be relevant. It should come from a site that relates to yours in some way. It's easy to get links from random sites, but it takes a lot more work to round up plenty of links from a wide variety of sites. Link building is important, and it takes time. With the latest update, Google is looking more closely at where links are originating. It is also looking more closely at the anchor text that is being used on and off a site.
Anchor text refers to the clickable text that makes up a link. To prove the relevance of a link, people deliberately include specific keywords in its anchor text. In the past, this technique worked well. Google has gotten wise to the fact that people are using seemingly relevant words in their links' anchor text in order to fool the search engine. The Penguin update looks for red flags like an excessive number of links with matching anchor text. This is considered to be a form of keyword stuffing, and it can make your ranking plummet.
For the links that point to your site to matter, they also need to come from authoritative sites. It's not going to do you a lot of good to have a ton of links coming from low-ranking sites. If most of your incoming links come from sites like these, your ranking was probably dramatically affected by Penguin. Quality trumps quantity, so get to work on producing links from sites that relate to yours and have high rankings. It is doable, but it takes time and effort. Once it has been accomplished, your small business website's ranking should improve.
Invest in Quality Content
You're not going to have an easy time getting links from high-quality, relevant, authoritative sites if the content on yours is low in quality. With great content, your site will come across as professional and authoritative, which will prompt better websites to link back to it. There's no way around it: You have to invest in quality content if you want to maintain a great ranking in the world of Penguin. As discouraging as it may be to see your site's ranking tumble, you can bring it back up again. You simply need to tweak your SEO to address Penguin's standards.
For more advice on maximising your sites rankings following the penguin update then contact us for SEO training or consultancy advice