Oy vey, the whining and the kvetching over the way Google is using Google+ is almost unbelievable. “How can posts to G+ show up in the search results ahead of posts to more established sites?” many people ask. “Google must be playing games with their algorithm to make G+ more prominent than it should be,” they bitch and moan. “Where is all my Facebook stuff, and all my tweets?” they yammer on, and on, and on…
Category Archives: SEO Marketing
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not dead, though it is certainly changing; as it has done for decades. As the search engines, lead by Google of course, have become more adept at picking out websites that are gaming the system for increased traffic, it makes sense that they should change their standards, and their algorithms. In essence, they are working to keep a level playing field for all, while trying to improve the search experience as well. Makes sense, when you think about it.
The changing face of SEO
In the wake of the Panda and Penguin updates, and all the changes we’ve been forced to accept because of them, Google has also begun to take a more focused look at how websites are using keywords; the most important tool a site owner can use to optimize their site for improved search results. This too makes sense, since every time Google makes an effort to improve the search experience for all; unscrupulous “SEO experts” work hard to discover ever more creative ways to game them. It’s become a never-ending cycle, forcing the rest of us to work harder than ever to keep up with the changing rules of the game.
By now, virtually everyone has heard of keyword stuffing. Most site owners and admins have worked hard to guarantee that they do not stuff their sites. However, the definition of stuffing has undergone a transformation, requiring all of us to reassess our use of keywords. Things which were accepted in the past will no longer pass muster with Google.
Improving the search experience for all
Google’s stated goal for making these changes to the search process is an effort to enhance the search experience for their customer. Their customer is the searcher of course, not those of us who would like the searcher to find us. As a result, the focus of search has become the quality of the content provided; a standard which they dictate, not us. Only by adhering to their standards for searches can we remain in their good graces, enabling them to bring searchers to our sites.
- 3% is no longer the magic number. In the past, keyword density received a great deal of attention, with a 3% density becoming the safe standard. This is no longer the case. In fact, 3% can get you punished these days. The best current advice available is 3 times; use your targeted keyword 3 times in your text, at the beginning, middle, and end, and no more. Also, make sure they are used naturally, within the flow of the text, or you will be punished for keyword stuffing.
- Use multiple targeted keywords. The current best practices to avoid being labeled a keyword stuffer are to use multiple targeted keywords sparingly, rather than one keyword frequently. As mentioned above, rather than 3% density, a single phrase should be used 3 times. Doing this with 2-3 targeted phrases is much safer than the overuse of just one phrase.
- Use your image “alt tag” wisely. In the past, placing a targeted phrase “behind” and image was easy. Since search engines are unable to “crawl” images, all you had to do was type your keyword into the HTML code for the image and you were golden. Today, using the same keyword in the alt tag and the text may get you labeled as a stuffer. The solution? Use a targeted phrase that you have not placed within your text.
- Craft your Meta Description carefully. Most people ignore this important area of SEO, because it can be difficult to summarize a post in a mere 160 characters. However, if you leave it up to the search engines to provide this summary for you, it will likely look disjointed and unprofessional. A well crafted, complete statement of the text you have provided will appeal to the reader – and to the search engines.
- Highlighting is now a no-no. Google used to appreciate the way we provided help to them by highlighted the targeted keywords we were using, making it easier for them to find relevant content. To accomplish this, we were told we should use bold, underline, and italics in our text. This is now a No-no for Google, and can actually get your site flagged for further study. Instead, use your targeted phrases within the flow of your text and let the search engines find them on their own.
- Paragraph headers have become a bad place for keywords. Headers are no longer the place to use your targeted keywords. Keep them descriptive of the text, rather than using them as a trap for the search engines. It’s not that you can’t use a targeted phrase here; just don’t use the same phrase you are using in your text, as we had been told to use them in the past.
Quality content leads to quality visits
In short, the overuse of a single targeted keyword phrase will lead to problems in the search results. You may even be banned from Google entirely for particularly egregious overuse. The best advice is to back off a bit on the use of your targeted phrases and see what happens. If your placing in the search results remains constant, you’re doing fine. If your ranking changes, beef it up a bit and see what happens. As always, there is no magic pill for the optimization of your website and improvement in the search results does not happen overnight. Remember this – SEO and patience go hand-in-hand.
The good news is this; while SEO has become more difficult with the emphasis on the quality of the content we provide our visitors, in most cases the quality of the visitor has also improved. By focusing on a quality search experience for their client, Google is forcing us to focus on providing quality content for our clients as well. In the long run, this is a good thing for everyone involved.
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Working as I do with a broad range of clients with extremely diverse perspectives about web content and online marketing strategies, it remains surprising when any of my clients makes the claim that SEO is dead; as happened recently. What was truly stunning is that the client in question should have known better, as she works in WordPress website design and implementation, as well as the promotion of WordPress websites on a daily basis.
After all, promoting WordPress as the preferred CMS for a marketing website includes the understanding that WordPress is very SEO-friendly, and particularly Google-friendly. Seems to be a huge contradiction to me. More on this below…
SEO it not dead, it just keeps changing
The following is part of a conversation I had with a Virtual Assistant after on online meeting among half-a-dozen VAs and me, in which we discussed improved strategies and expanded services we might make available to our clients for the New Year. As you can tell from the conversation, SEO services were not one of those improvements or expansions…
“However, I must say how disappointed I was in the follow-up conversation on Skype, where the value of SEO for client websites was discounted, to the extent that it was even said that ‘SEO is kind of dead.’ Frankly, I was stunned to read this, since this could not be further from the truth. For proof of this, take 15 minutes and type the phrase ‘SEO is dead’ into a search engine and just see the number of articles that are presented, and read a few.
While it should be obvious to all that SEO has evolved dramatically in the past couple of years especially, the vast majority of visitors to any website will use one of the three major the search engines to find the information they are seeking. (Google no longer has a monopoly on search, if it ever did.) And yes, the search engines are also used to find social media feeds like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
At a bare minimum, optimization of the Meta Data for every page of every website remains critical to the success of that site, ‘else how will the search engines direct fresh traffic to our clients’ sites? And, while Google has decided to make it extremely difficult to gauge the effectiveness of our optimization efforts, by denying us access to search information without paying for it through Adwords, it should be obvious that increases in traffic in response to an increased effort in optimization will be directly related.
I actually spend a great deal of my time helping clients optimize their pages for search, and I have seen those efforts improve traffic to my client’s sites dramatically, and quickly. This may, in fact, be due to the erroneous idea that ‘SEO is dead,’ which causes many to forego efforts at optimization.
I believe we do a real disservice to our clients when and if we accept this idea. SEO is not dead, and never will be, as long as search remains a part of creating a successful online business.
I think many people want SEO to be dead, simply because it’s not easy to do, and that makes it OK not to do it. However, optimizing web pages and content will always be necessary. We should really think of it along the same lines as site maintenance.
After all, when you pay for a tune up for your car, aren’t you trying to optimize its performance? When you get your hair done, aren’t you trying to optimize your own looks? When you use an attractive theme for a client’s website, aren’t you trying to optimize its appeal to visitors? The
examples are endless. It’s the same for a website or blog content. Performing SEO for our clients, i.e., making the pages and copy more attractive to the search engines in an attempt to attract more visitors, should be part of building and maintaining a searchable website for them.
There is a major contradiction in the argument as well, since we focus on WordPress websites. One of the major reasons WordPress is so popular is because it is so very Google friendly and, in fact, has strong appeal to all of the search engines. WordPress was designed as an SEO friendly CMS, and all of the themes and plugins that have been developed for it are designed with this in mind. To promote WordPress as the best CMS for a website, while ignoring the SEO value at the same time, is a huge contradiction – and it also ignores one of the greatest benefits of using WordPress.
The word ‘optimize merely means to ‘get the most out of’ or ‘achieve maximum efficiency, according to WordWeb, my desktop mini-dictionary. If we refuse to do everything in our power to ‘get the most out of’ our client’s websites for them, or refuse to even try, aren’t we letting them down, whether they know it or not? Whether they even understand everything we’re doing for them?
Hey maybe, since SEO has gotten such a bad rap, we should begin calling it something else; we can make the site more ‘searchable,’ or ‘visitable,’ for them.”
Needless to say, people being what they are, this conversation had little effect on any of the non-believers. Human beings become so committed to their belief systems, often regardless of the facts, that it can be impossible to change their minds. This is tragic, especially in the world of online marketing, where building traffic and customer loyalty to a business website is critical to long-term success.
Having said that, it still must be argued that SEO in definitely NOT dead, but merely changing, as it has done for decades and will continue to do for decades to come.
If you’re not doing everything you can to optimize your website for the search engines, or for those of your clients, I can guarantee you’re leaving business in the ether; business that could have been yours – or your client’s.
If you need help optimizing your business website for search, get in touch with me today. I can help.
It’s a new year with new goals for your website and your business. What do you have planned to improve the SEO of your website? Do you have plans for this? You certainly should and, with these 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Website SEO, you can optimize the New Year for your website and your business, improving traffic, enhancing your brand, and increasing sales.
Google Search Engine
What is the purpose of the Google search engine? It seems a silly question in some ways, yet many do not seem to understand exactly what it is that Google and other search engines (SEs) actually do. Consumers believe Google is there to help them find information, while website owners and online marketers believe SEs exist to help them promote their website or business. In fact, both are a bit wrong and a bit right.
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SEO – Where is my Big Red Button?
“I guess they didn’t turn on my SEO,” said the client.
“Uh…Huh?” said the website consultant, an eloquent response.
“They didn’t turn on my SEO. My website designers, they didn’t turn on my SEO. Can you do that for me?” the client continued.