I wrote this blog post on SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – The Ultimate Guide for UCL Advances during my time at IDEALondon.
For more info please visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/digital-business-labs/
Before I say anything about SEO, and what it does for you, I must say why Google is so important. Out of all search engine queries roughly 68 % belong to Google. If you’re not visible in a search query it’s almost as if you don’t exist, at least not in the Google world.
All this may have a detrimental effect on your business considering how many people use Google to get something they need whether that’s to buy a massage chair, to find out their dentist business hours, to book a flight or to get the score of last night’s game. Almost everything has moved online so you’ll be missing out big time if you’re not there, so step up your game and make sure you get a good grasp of search engine optimization (aka SEO).
Almost everyone uses the word SEO, but some people seem to misunderstand what it is. Without further ado SEO is really manipulating search engine results so your company shows up higher in Google results. It’s as simple as that. Now, how you do this is a different story, and unfortunately there is no easy way. In Google’s eyes there are what we may refer to as fair game, known as “white hat SEO” these are ethical techniques, and black hat SEO which, needless to say, are frowned upon by almighty Google as rule breaking and unethical.
We certainly don’t want to piss off Matt Cutts, a Google webspam policeman, so we won’t talk about black hat techniques, not that we have ever used any of them God forbid. A word to the wise, stay away from these shortcuts because if you get caught red handed you will have to lick your wounds for a long time as you will get penalized or blacklisted, that is, you will not show up in the search results.
There are many things you can do in order to have kick ass SEO results, but there are also many tools you can use to make your SEO rock! I’ll try to use plain English and refrain from using SEO lingo (eg. canonical, meta description, back link, analytics, bounce rate etc.), but where I do use lingo I’ll explain what it means.
Since SEO is an ever changing game you should always stay up to date on what’s hot and what’s not, but no need to get in too deep with things like Google’s “Panda” & “Penguin” (the updates to the algorithms they use to rank search results).
Google doesn’t tell us their secret formula for page ranking, but there are many straightforward practices that will directly improve your page ranks and quality score. You can try this Google created guide as a good starting point: Search Engine Optimization – Starter Guide
Let’s start with your server. Your website should be as fast as possible and on reliable hosting. If you have good hosting and an optimised website, that this Google Page Speed tools should be at least 70%.
Read more about WordPress Hosting on this blog post:
The best and easiest way to built your website is with WordPress, as it supports many Mobile Ready and Responsive frameworks such as Bootstrap. WordPress is one of the most popular and easy CMS to use, with large community and many themes and plugins you can use. Just in 2014 these WordPress tools reach global market income round 300k million dollars. Some of these SEO WordPress tools are free and some them are premium, but you should be using fewer plugins in order to keep your website fast and bug free. It’s is very important that you keep your WordPress plugins updated and secured.
SEO by Yoast https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/ is be the best WordPress plugin you can use to boost your SEO.
This plugin will also help you create SEO ready Titles, focus keywords, revenant content, and most of all prepare your page for Social Media with Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards, and Google Plus.
Your focus keyword should appear as a first word in Title, Link, and Description.
Title length should be up to 154 characters, and the Description (Meta-Description) up to 156. It is important, however, to note that meta description does not affect one’s Google ranking.
In order to use right focus keyword, we must first analyse the competition. Google Keyword Tools is the tool for this purpose.
Long Tail and Long Term are two strategies you can combine in order to appear in Search Results.
Than come the most important part of SEO, the Content!
Once you’ve chosen the right keyword, let’s start nailing the Content. It is the most important aspect of your SEO, and with the good content you should never worry about being blacklisted.
In a nutshell, back in a day it was important to stuff your posts with keywords and wait to reap your good ranking. Nowadays, Google has gotten smarter and came out with some algorithm updates Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird (what’s the all fuss with the animals?), and the content is the single most important factor in determining how high or low you will rank.
So, what kind of content do you need to provide? Unique – Google despise duplicate content. Frequent – the more the merrier. You should count on posting at least three times a week if you just want to keep your head above the water. On the other hand, if you want to beat your competition you might want to post as often as possible, three to four times a day. Now, you may think this is a bit much. Well, you’re right, it is and it requires a lot of commitment. However, this is where guest posting comes in handy.
Then, your content must be helpful. It can’t be just recycling some old rantings for the sole purpose of creating the content. You must provide the useful content to your readership. This is what ultimately is Google after, a helpful content. They take it seriously and work hard on it and so should you. Just to go back to my previous statement ‘the more the merrier you must take it with a pinch of salt. Why? Simply, you might go down in rankings if you clutter the Internet with some useless stuff for the sake of creating content rather than being helpful. I hear you wondering how the heck will Google know. The answer is fairly straightforward and it’s called a bounce rate. It is a length of time that you spend in between clicking a link and clicking the back button. The shorter the time the crappier content.
So, most of you have heard about the page rank and it was the most important thing in the SEO world. The key word here is ‘was’. Unfortunately, many people tend to disregard that. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Google use bounce rate along with tens or possibly hundreds of other analytics to calculate your ranking. Some people believe that page ranking is dead. I don’t think it is, but it’s important to say that is not as important as it once was.
Tools to brainstorm blogging ideas:
Headlines are the most important part of your website:
Tools to help you write easier and faster:
Tools to create beautiful blog visuals:
You might have duplicate content on your website which can be really bad for your SEO. That is why we need to use “Canonical” Tags in the header of you HTML, or simple analyse your duplicate content with these tools:
http://www.copyscape.com – Search for copies of your page on the web.
http://www.siteliner.com – Internal duplicate content
URL are also very important for SEO as Google SERP look up for URL. URL architecture should be up to 3 folders, using category and title slags.
This can easily be done with WordPress permalinks, or make ReWriteRule in .htaccess file.
Once we have the SEO content ready, let’s start building juice links with Link Building strategy. Many will say that link building is a synonym for an SEO. I will have to say that this wording is slightly outdated (welcome to the world of SEO where things get old overnight), and more appropriate terminology would be link earning. This wording is much more compliant with the Google’s requirement for having a helpful content. Since we got that out of the way, we may continue with the offsite SEO.
What is exactly link juice? Remember the election story and votes? Well, link juice is an extremely cool SEO term for the power of the vote I mentioned. In the SEO democracy we all start equal, but as the time goes on some sites collect more votes so their votes become more important or more equal (thanks George Orwell). Therefore, they have a higher authority. This means higher authority websites will pass more link juice, and that tells you that two links, at least in the SEO sense, are almost never the same.
What does this mean to you, a regular blogger. Well, you may be getting links, but your ranking might not be moving up. You would probably be baffled why that is since you’re doing all the right things. Getting a lot of links, they are relevant (you’re in the same business), you provide content, but somehow this gives no result or even worse your ranking might be dropping. The answer is the link juice you’re getting or better yet, not getting. The link juice you’re getting comes from low authority websites, and as a result it doesn’t help you move up.
To improve your rankings you must get people link to your site. For the Google algorithm this translates as helpful content. You may say, what, why is important to get links to you? Well, getting a link is a similar like getting a vote, so the more votes you get the higher you will climb on Google’s ladder. Think about the election. This analogy will help you understand the Google’s process.
Now, a million dollar question. How to get people link to your content. Very easy. Remember the helpfulness part from before? Exactly like that. If you sell fertilizer and in your blog you write posts how to treat soil prior to planting the chances are many gardening blogs would like to link to you. Why? Because you provide value. If this is the path you choose, you won’t have any problems.
Next step would be to compile a list of your friends who have blogs and could link to you. You may not remember anyone at the top of your head, but if you took a minute I’m positive you could get 10-15 names on that list. One important tip however. Google is looking out for similar content. So, when you get links or if you link out to someone, this content better be related or else your ranking may slump. For example, if you have a food blog, why would you ever want to link out to a plumber?! See, this stuff is way too important to be ignored.
Another way to get links, and is often disregarded by many, is internal linking. What is internal linking? Simply said, this is linking from one page of your site to another page on the same site. These links are just as important. Possibly even better because you may control everything about them. Anchor text or just bare anchor text, keywords, their length and the position. So, you can accomplish much with the internal linking and, therefore, you should not pass on that opportunity.
If you are a DIY type of a guy, you’ll do this work yourself. On the other hand, there are some people or companies who hire other people or companies to toil and get links for them. Well, that’s how SEO companies make their living. Just to remind, there are two ways you can get links. It’s either by using the white hat SEO techniques or the black hat ones . My suggestion, never hang with a black hat crowd. Sooner or later you will come to conclusion I was right.
This are great tools to see who is writing about you:
The Beginners Guide to SEO by MOZ
Keyword Research – Tools to create well-optimized content:
Useful Chrome Extension:
Once you’ve done all of the things above, you should go to the next level, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).
The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
The A-Z Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization – 26 specific improvements to improve UX, conversion rate and online sales.
Please make sure to stay up to date with the latest SEO trends like Google AMP posts, Facebook Instant Articles, etc.