Category: SEO tips

2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO

There’s nothing that beats that organic #1 position in Google’s SERPs when it comes to brand visibility, increase in traffic, trust factor boost, reduction in cost per lead, and so on.

Everyone who’s anyone in online business knows this, which is why the struggle to grab that marketer’s Holy Grail can look like a cut-throat business to many SEO novices.

However, even SEO pros get confused when Google throws a wrench into the intricate workings of the rankings machine. Google’s core algorithm updates can mess up even the best SEO strategies, especially if you react in a panic to a drop in the rankings.

Today, I’ll share with you the three things I’ve learned from 2019 Google algorithm updates that will help you future-proof your SEO. First, however, take a look at the hints that Google rolled out alongside those updates to see if you’re building your SEO strategy on a healthy foundation.

2019 Google core algorithm updates and what they tell us

In 2018, Google reported 3234 algorithm updates.

That’s just a bit shy of 9 updates per day.

All of them change how the algorithm evaluates a website and its rankings (most just slightly, though).

However, three of them were so-called ‘core algorithm updates’ – meaning that their impact on the rankings was likely significant for most indexed websites. Google announced these (in March, June, and September of 2019), which is not something that they normally do. This should give you an idea of how important they were in the grand scheme of all things SEO-related.

Google Sear Liaison's tweet on its 2019 Google core algorithm updates

Websites were affected differently, with some seeing increases in their rankings and traffic, and others plummeting to Google’s page #3. Many of the sites that experienced significant drops are in the Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) niche.

(Verywellhealth.com shows a significant drop after the March core update)

“The sensitive nature of the information on these types of websites can have a profound impact on peoples’ lives,” says Paul Teitelman of Paul Teitelman SEO Agency. “Google has long struggled with this and at least one of these core algorithm updates was designed to push trustworthy YMYL content to the top while sinking those websites that contain dubious and untrustworthy information.”

Google signaled a path forward with these updates. If you were not paying attention, here are the key takeaways:

  • Google signals an intent to keep rewarding fresh, complete, and unique content. Focus on answering the searcher’s questions thoroughly and precisely.
  • E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines are more important than ever. Things like backlinks from reputable websites, encryption, and who authors your posts can make or break your organic rankings.
  • Google wants to see you covering a wide range of topics from your broader niche. Increase your relevance with content that establishes you as the go-to source in your niche.

SEO is far from an exact science.

If anything, it’s educated guesswork based on countless hours of testing, tweaking, and then testing again.

Still, there are things that you can do to future-proof your SEO and protect your websites from reacting too violently to core algorithm updates.

Based on Google’s recent hints, here are three things that you should focus on if you’re going after those page #1 rankings in the SERPs.

Three tips to future-proof your website’s SEO

Keep the focus on high-quality, actionable content

I know you’re annoyed with hearing it by now but high-quality content is a prerequisite to ranking at the top of the SERPs and staying there.

This means that you need to pin-point a specific question that the searcher wants answers to and then write a piece of content that provides a detailed clarification of the issue. Does it need to be 5,000 words long? That depends on the question but, in most cases, it doesn’t. What it needs to be is concise and thorough, and clarify any and all questions that the searcher might have while reading it.

Ideally, you will want your content to be 1500+ words. According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean and his research, Google tends to reward longer content.

 

Source: https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking

My advice is to ask yourself the following questions when you’re writing:

  • Am I providing the reader with a comprehensive answer to their question?
  • Is my content more thorough than what’s already on the #1 page of the SERPs?
  • Am I presenting the information in a trustworthy way (citing sources, quoting experts)?
  • Is my content easy to understand, and free from factual, stylistic, and grammar errors?

If your answer to these questions is a yes, you’re already doing better than (probably) 95% of your competitors.

Improve the E-A-T score of your website

In SEO, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

In other words – who is authoring blog posts and articles that are published on your website? Are they penned by an expert in the field or by a ghostwriter?

Why should people trust anything you (or your website) have to say? That’s the crux of E-A-T.

The concept appears in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), and SEO experts have debated for years whether or not it has any bearing on the actual organic rankings.

In 2018, Google cleared all doubts around it, announcing that QRG is, in fact, their blueprint for developing the search algorithm. “You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, said in a CNBC interview.

Here’s what the QRG has to say about E-A-T

Source: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf

We have no idea if Google’s core algorithm can evaluate E-A-T parameters as well as an actual human rater. Still, if that’s Google’s end goal, it’s a good idea to pay attention to it now, regardless of whether it’s implemented or not. It most certainly will be at one point in the future.

To improve your E-A-T score, focus on the following

  • Add an author byline to your posts – every post that you publish should be authored by someone. Use your real name (or your author’s real name), and start building a reputation as an expert in the field.
  • Create your personal website – even if you’re trying to rank your business site, make sure to have a personal branding website of your own (and of any regularly contributing authors). Those websites should be maintained – you don’t need to SEO the heck out of them but you should publish niche-relevant content regularly.
  • Get featured on Wikipedia and authority websites – QRG clearly instructs raters to check for author mentions on Wikipedia and other relevant sites. That stands to reason because experts in the field will often be quoted by other publications.

(Image source: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf)

  • Get mentions on forums – same goes for forum mentions. If people name-drop you on relevant forums, that means that they feel you have something important to say.
  • Secure your site with HTTPS – security is an important E-A-T factor, especially if you’re selling something via your website. An unsecured website will have a low E-A-T score so make sure to invest in encryption to boost trustworthiness.

Build quality backlinks and establish a social presence

Quality backlinks are still a very important ranking factor.

However, according to a report released by Backlinko, it’s not about one or two backlinks, regardless of how strong they are.

What moves the ranking needle are sustainable, evergreen link-building strategies – backlinks from trusted, niche-related websites that are acquired by white hat SEO methods such as blogger outreach, guest posting, and collaborations with other influencers in the niche. The more of these types of backlinks you get, the better your organic rankings.

Additionally, getting backlinks from a greater number of referring domains ensures that your rankings are protected if, for example, a couple of those websites get shut down or penalized in the future. When you’re playing the link-building game, it pays to think ahead.

(Image Source: https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors)

And, while they don’t carry the same weight as true backlinks, you’d be wrong to underestimate the value Google’s ranking algorithm places on social media signals.

A truly authoritative website – and all the authors that write for it – will have a strong social media presence. They will use it to amplify their message, build additional authority, and drive traffic to their website. Ahrefs’ Tim Soulo does this better than any other SEO expert that I know.

how having a strong social media presence helps create authority and tackle 2019 Google core algorithm updates

All of this will affect the aforementioned E-A-T parameters. If nothing, it will distribute your name far and wide, signaling to Google that you’re not a complete nobody that just happens to run a website or write a blog about a certain topic. The stronger your social media presence; the more followers, comments, and shares you end up earning – the better it is for your E-A-T.

Get people to trust you and the algorithm will follow

Pretty soon, the key to top rankings will be how believable and trustworthy you are. Google’s current insistence on E-A-T parameters clearly demonstrates that. Everything else will be just the icing on the cake after that – the fancy schema you’re using, the on-page SEO gimmicks, and all the other loopholes SEO experts are now using to rank their websites.

I’m interested to hear what you think about the direction that Google is taking with this year’s algorithm updates. Have any of your websites been affected? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.

The post 2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 19, 2019 0 Comments

11 Deadly SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020

SEO is extremely important for growing your brand in 2020. This is especially after social media’s importance in driving traffic reduced and Google became the major source of referral traffic in 2017 by driving 35% of site visits

By using SEO, you can improve your website’s ranking in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and reach the top rankings. You must do this because the first search result gets more clicks than other results.

While doing SEO of your website, there are a few things to be kept in mind and these are the SEO mistakes. If you commit any of these errors, you might end up harming your reputation. Here are some of the most deadly SEO mistakes that you must avoid in 2020. 

1. Unsatisfied search intent

While you may write helpful content, if it isn’t well-targeted, the people finding your website may not find it useful after all. You may have figured out your target audience as well but if you don’t take search intent into account, all your efforts may go into vain. 

Search intent is essentially the intent behind the search. Your website and content need to satisfy this intent by providing a solution. This is why it’s crucial to understand what the searcher is thinking when they search for something. Your website needs to provide the answer to this thought. 

For example, if a user searches “SEO” on Google, it means that the user wants to know what is SEO? But, if a user searches “SEO services” then that person is looking to hire an SEO expert or company. Both keywords (SEO & SEO Services) have a different intent. So, if you’re targeting the keyword “SEO Services” but asking “what is SEO?” you can’t succeed with that content because you are unable to satisfy the intent behind that search phrase. 

2. Traditional SEO techniques

Just the way the internet is changing, SEO is developing and changing too. To stay at the very top of the search results, you need to keep up with these changes and apply modern SEO techniques. 

If you keep applying the traditional SEO techniques, then you may end up getting penalized. Those days are gone when you can rank by using keyword stuffing, PBNs, and other traditional methods. 

Today, Google is smarter than before. Now, it can rank for those keywords that you have not mentioned in your content too. Recently, Google made an algorithmic update called Google BERT that helps Google to better understand the content and user-queries.

If you want to succeed with SEO, then you should adopt modern SEO techniques. Traditional SEO techniques can penalize your site but can’t outrank your competitors.

3. Not updating yourself

As mentioned above, SEO is a dynamically changing field and you need to keep yourself up-to-date with all the latest happenings. This is necessary because Google keeps bringing out new updates every now and then. If you miss out on a major update, your website might get affected and you may lose out on valuable traffic.  

You should keep yourself updated with the latest SEO changes and updates. Google released various updates this year including broad core updates like 3rd June Core Update, Google BERT, and many others. You must keep yourself updated about them. 

4. Ignoring structured data and search features

Structured data is essential to stand apart from the crowd, especially when you reach the first page of the search results. Through structured data, your search result may end up featuring even above the first search result. Additionally, the result would look bigger than all the other listings and may become the go-to choice for your searchers.

 

Similarly, you must concentrate on improving your website’s internal search functions as well. People who come to your website must find it easy to look for relevant information and the search feature can help with this. Try to incorporate search into your website and also try to optimize your listings such that your searchers find exactly what they were looking for. 

There are different types of structured data for different types of content that you can use on your site. Like as,

  • Product Review (for product review)
  • How to (for “how-to” content)
  • FAQ (for FAQ content)
  • Address (for company address)
  • Books (for books)
  • Events (for events)

5. Ignoring conversion optimization

The end goal of all businesses is to get customers and for that, you need to first generate leads and then convert them. However, many businesses end up ignoring conversion optimization and only concentrate on the top of the funnel. 

Instead, it’s necessary to provide everything that your leads need to become paying customers. Load them up with reviews, case studies, and show them why they must purchase from you. Make it easy for them to make the purchase as well. By ignoring conversion optimization, you may end up losing loads of customers and hence, revenue. 

It is the most important and no-cost strategy to increase your revenue that you shouldn’t ignore in 2020.

6. Not focusing on branded anchor text

Anchor texts are important for your SEO and make up a huge part of your link building strategy. While you may get loads of backlinks from reputed sources, the anchor texts of these links are extremely important.

You might use anchor texts that relate to your pages or blogs. However, by ignoring the branded anchor texts, you might not be able to improve your brand’s authority. Branded anchor texts can help in improving your brand recognition and through that, your brand may start ranking higher on search results too. 

Also, branded anchors look more natural than keyword-optimized anchor texts. I found that most of the sites that saw a boost in their rankings during the Google 3 June update had more branded anchor texts than others. That’s why you should focus on branded anchor texts. 

7. Only text is the content to focus

Probably you have heard that videos are the future.

It is true! Because videos are the easiest way to learn and people prefer to watch videos over any other content format. This is the biggest reason for the popularity of YouTube. 

But you must have noticed that videos appear on Google’s SERPs too. Google knows that videos are the future and people like to watch videos. That’s why Google shows them on the SERPs.

Videos also take less time to rank on Google than text content and are more engaging content format. 

Google has also started adding podcasts on Google SERPs. These two content formats are still growing and less competitive than text content. That’s why you should also focus on these rather than only writing blog posts.

8. Not focusing on branding and brand searches

“Brands are the solutions” and Google loves brands.

SEO is becoming more brand-centric day by day. Now, SEO is not just about getting traffic. You need to do it to build a brand too. If you want to win the SEO game and make your business a trustable and profitable brand then you need to focus on branding. 

You should increase brand searches for your business. When more people start searching for your business on Google, then it will automatically start to rank you on top. This is an evergreen strategy to grow your business and establish yourself as an authority.

9. Not ready for mobile

Nearly 50% of all traffic comes from mobiles. If your website isn’t ready for mobiles, Google will automatically consider it unfriendly for its searchers. Ensure that your website is responsive and build it for mobiles in the first place. By tapping into the mobile traffic, you’ll also be able to increase your website’s visibility. 

Mobile-friendliness and page speed are considered as ranking factors of Google search. So if you want to grow your business and get SEO success then you shouldn’t ignore the mobile.

10. Unclear SEO goals

It’s essential to have clear SEO goals before you set out doing SEO for your website. If you don’t know what you wish to achieve from doing your website’s SEO, you’ll probably never be able to grow it. The key is to identify what you want from your website and SEO and then plan out your SEO strategy. A haphazard strategy will get you nowhere. 

11. Prefer people over search engines

Last but not least, write your content and plan your SEO strategy for the real user not for the search engines. Because ultimately, you need real customers to generate sales and revenue to run your business. Search engines are nothing. Your business depends on customers and not on the search engines. 

Search engines like Google are just a medium to get new customers. No one knows when Google will penalize a site and drop its rankings. But if you prefer your customers more, then there are enough chances that your customers will promote you as well as Google will also love you and rank you higher. That’s why you need to keep your customers satisfied with your services and products. 

Conclusion

Now that you know all the deadly SEO mistakes, try to put conscious effort into avoiding them in 2020. If you don’t design your website for mobiles, have clear goals, focus on different forms of content, you may end up suffering. Try using modern SEO techniques and keep yourself updated with the latest ones to stay ahead of the competition

What are the other deadly SEO mistakes that you must avoid in 2020? Let us know in the comments.

Harpreet Munjal is an entrepreneur who is helping businesses to outrank their toughest competitors and grow their revenue online. He can be reached out on Twitter @munjalharpreet.

The post 11 Deadly SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 14, 2019 0 Comments

The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them

Imagine visiting a website that takes more than 10, no two seconds to load. We know that the mouse is going to hover to the top right corner because honestly, no one has the time to wait nowadays. 

A Forbes article mentioned that a mere one-second delay in page load time means a seven percent decline in sales, 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a seven percent loss in conversions. 

Your website may be a work of art with awesome features. It can have lightning speed chat responses but with slow loading time, none of that matters. 

Attention spans are growing smaller and patience is thinner than ever. Other than that, slow loading sites impact your SEO because it affects how Google sees your page. Speed is a ranking factor Google uses to measure your page. Sure, content may be king, but speed can change how your content performs in search. 

We’ll dig deep and find the silent killers of loading time – both common and uncommon causes.

1. Uncompressed images and bizarre image dimensions

The quality and size of an image affects its loading time. Having a high-resolution image on every page means your site will load slower.

How you can fix this

A couple of ways we found included installing plugins. The first one is with a jQuery Lazy Load plugin. This plugin allows the images that are only appearing to load “above the fold” or on a part a visitor is currently viewing. 

The second option is by using image optimizers such as Yahoo!’s Smush.it or use the WP Smush.it plugin which compacts images without altering their quality. With the WP plugin, it can be done automatically when you add graphics to your site.

2. Unnecessary plugins

If you have a WordPress site you’ll know that there are tons of plugins wandering around and sometimes you might feel the need to download every one because they’re “helpful” to your site. 

Before you know it, you’ll have plugins running your site and you might even have a plugin for your plugin.

Plugin overload can be a problem because the more plugins your site has, the more work it has to do when it loads. Also, not all plugins are as awesome as they claim to be. Beware of outdated plugins that can slow down your site instead of improving its performance.

What you can do to solve this problem is by evaluating your current plugins to figure out which ones you actually need. You might have multiple plugins that have the same function or have some that you’re no longer using. 

When you’re deleting plugins check to see if

– The plugin is relevant and updated

– Whether it has another similar plugin with same functions

– Whether you’re still using it the respective plugin

You can also check the performance of your plugins using the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) which shows you the impact of each plugin has on your WordPress site load time.

3. An excessive homepage

Your homepage is the face of your brand. So, we get it if you want it to look the best. However, when you try to impress new visitors with a bunch of widgets, content, and state-of-the-art imagery, it’s going to compromise your loading time.

When you want to make an impressive site, keep in mind that a clean design can do wonders. We’re not telling you to ban widgets completely (save them for the end of your blog posts or site pages) but we’re just telling you to keep it simple.

Another thing you can do to speed up load times is by altering the WordPress options to show excerpts instead of full posts and limiting the posts per page by five to seven each.

4. Free third-party WordPress themes

Free WordPress themes may sound like the best thing since sliced bread but free things come with a price tag. When you’re looking for a theme on WordPress, you’re likely to click on those free ones made by a third-party. They’re free anyway, so what can go wrong? Right?

Apparently, a lot of things. Like how free music and movies can come with spyware or malware, free third-party WordPress themes may be one of the causes for your slow website.

How you can fix this

One of the best ways is to only use themes from the official WordPress theme repository. If you want something more personalized, consider allocating less than $100 in a premium theme you can customize to your heart’s desire.

5. Unreliable web hosting

Having a web hosting server that’s not properly configured can harm your loading times. When picking a web hosting server, more often than not, we’ll try to choose the most budget-friendly option. That may be good in the beginning when you’re just starting out. 

However, once the amount of traffic you’re receiving suddenly spikes, your host and server won’t be able to handle a huge amount of users at a single time. Sudden spikes can happen especially during times you launch a new online marketing campaign or a new product. 

Instead of looking for a free or cheap web hosting solution, it’s best to use a well-known host that usually runs between four to eight dollars a month, which isn’t so bad. 

Other than the price, you should also keep in mind how fast the server responds when it deals with problems. Sometimes your site can have emergencies and filling in forms just won’t cut it. Do your research thoroughly and read reviews about the company and its support. 

6. Invisible loading images or videos

When you’re scrolling through a page, there is some content you can’t see immediately. Some are still at the bottom of the page and are visible after a visitor arrives at the exact spot. 

So, how is this a problem? The more images you tell your server to fetch, the slower your site will load. The reality is, the server usually fetches all of these images and videos (even the ones you can’t see yet). This is a huge factor for mobile devices since they have limited speed and data.

This can be fixed with “lazy loading” which means fetching the file only if it’s needed and only when it’s on the screen. A couple of plugins you can use for your WordPress site are BJ Lazy Load and LazyLoad. 

7. Coding issue

Your website is made of code. The more elaborate your site is, the more coding is necessary. Just because you want your website to be ideal, that doesn’t mean the coding should be over the top. Irrelevant or unnecessary code will only slow down your site since the server has to work through more data in order to get to a page.

An example of a coding issue

Unnecessary redirects which happen when the code refers to two different forms of the website URL. Although this seems like something trivial, it makes a huge difference.

When a redirect takes place, a user has to wait for the page to load twice. Using too many redirects means you’re doubling the load time.

To fix this, you need to review your code in detail. Most of the time, the root cause of slow load times could be from a coding issue. This occurs when the code isn’t consistent and causes too many redirects.

8. Not using a content delivery network (CDN)

CDN is a network of independent servers deployed in different geographic locations that serves web content to visitors. Depending on the location of your website visitors, the content requested gets served by the node that’s at the nearest data center. 

The problem with not using a CDN is that many sites can be slow, especially if they have visitors from around the world. Although a CDN isn’t necessary, it can help serve your web content much faster and reduce the loading time.

Now that you’re aware of some of the most and least obvious loading time killers, it’s time to get cracking with fixing them for your website.

Got some more load time killers that you wish to add to this list? Share them in the comments.

Nat McNeely is Digital Marketing Manager of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. 

The post The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 13, 2019 0 Comments