How Do I Rank Higher On Google With My New Website?
Ranking higher on Google is the dream of every website owner. As SEO experts, we know that there are some recommended steps to follow in order to reach the beloved #Page 1 of Google.
1. Choose a Good Domain Name
A domain can make or break a website’s fortune. Before spending thousands on a new website, make sure you already own or purchase a domain which portrays your business in the best of lights. Even better, buy all the related domains (.org, .net, .com, .uk) in order to avoid direct competition from potential competitors at a later date, as one of our clients discovered in the hardest way possible. Avoid domains with a ‘–‘ (it is really old school, but if you have had a working website on one of such domains for 15 years, then please definitely keep it). Domains are like wines, they usually improve with age. Another rule of thumb with domains is avoid domains which are too similar to your competitors, or that in some way might mislead your clients about the products or services that you sell.
2. Play By Google Rules
When it comes to websites rankings Google has its own set of rules, which include a long list of ranking factors. In the old days keyword stuffing and backlinks, farms were considered legitimate methods to quickly reach page 1– not anymore. Over the years, Google has heavily penalised suspicious backlinks and websites which found ranking with less than transparent methods such as link schemes, doorway pages, scraped content, irrelevant keywords and hidden links.
Once your new website is up and running, get it on Google and Bing, and make sure it is a Google-friendly website. I know you are itching to know how you can make your site Google Friendly …. It is easier than you might think. As a generic rule, make sure that your site targets all the different segments of your real customers. Then give visitors the information they are looking for, with particular attention to your products and services pages. Aim for genuine, high authority, relevant backlinks & content. Finally, look at your website accessibility. Your site should have a logical link structure: every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
3. Keywords Research & Top-Quality Content
While your new website is being built, don’t forget about content and keywords. This is the right time for an in-depth keywords research. If done at the right time, this analysis will help you shape your website content, your pages, products and services and naming things in the way your potential clients will search for them. It happens quite often, when new clients come on board, to discover that their websites use the wrong terms to identify their products or services. The use of insiders’ jargon is widespread, but it will not help your Google rankings. On the contrary, fewer people will find your products or services through an online search.
Once the keywords research is over, you can start writing content in line with your core keywords. A mix of short and long tails is recommended to give your pages the best chance. The consequent SEO optimisation will help your search engine rankings even further. Google favours fresh and informative content. This is why we often recommend, during a website re-design, to add a blog. A regularly updated blog about news within your industry is the perfect complement for a contemporary website. Obviously, when you plan your blogs it helps to have your core keywords and customers in mind. Answering their questions, outlining the unicity of your products/services are all excellent starting points for a content strategy which puts the customers at the centre of your business.
4. Mobile friendly
Having a mobile-friendly website is becoming increasingly important. In technical terms this is called a responsive website that correctly displays on mobile & hand-held devices such as your iPhone, Android or Blackberry as well as your iPads & tablets. “Most of my customers aren’t looking at my site from mobile phones.” We have heard this many times– truth is that often business owners are oblivious to the importance of mobile traffic. It is not just for the widespread use of Apps. Not having a website that adapts to tablets and smartphones can potentially alienate a portion of your audience. In 2016, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time. As a consequence, mobile-driven sales are on the rise as well, in particular amongst younger generations.
Another incredibly important reason for having a mobile-friendly website is that, since the beginning of 2018, Google has started rolling out the “Mobile First Index”. This means a mobile-friendly website will be given priority in ranking, crawling and indexing compared to a non-mobile friendly one. A core element of this mobile-first index is mobile speed. Most users will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load from a mobile device.
5. Voice Search
Voice search is growing in importance month on month, and Google has already confirmed that it is the fastest growing form of search, driving millions of dollars of investment from Tech giants in digital assistants such as Siri from Apple, Google Now, Cortana from Microsoft, and Alexa by Amazon among others. As an increasing number of people use internet on their phones, conversational search is clearly the future of search. There are several strategies we could use to make your website voice search friendly.
First of all, the content itself has to be centred around answering the FAQs, or the questions that potential clients are more likely to ask. The immediacy of the answer required to impose both a simplification and shortening of your content. Voice search enhances content with an informal tone and emphasises the importance of long tail keywords. Having your blogs written in a voice search friendly manner will help your website to rank higher in voice search queries. At the same time, your location specification will help your potential customers to identify your business as their local.
If you want your website to rank higher on search engines and attract more traffic, feel free to get in touch.
Benefits of Google My Business
These days people want to find business information quickly and easily. Luckily you can find all your business information online in one place: on Google My Business.Find all your business information online in one place: on Google My Business. Click To Tweet
What Is “Google My Business”?
Google My Business is a Google-powered platform where businesses can manage their online presence in full. Once setting up a GMB account, a company can add in all its crucial information such as contact details, business hours, website URL, products categories etc… and simultaneously reach multiple Google Platforms. This means that a company will gain not only increased visibility in search results, but will also be shown in reviews, maps and in locations. Overall this will multiply a company’s exposure in Google search results if nothing else.
Why is it important to have a Google My Business account?
- Online presence: This element alone will help to attract more clients and, coupled with a smart business description, good pictures and some positive reviews, can considerably improve the first impression made by your business listing.
- Audience outreach increase: Whether on a phone, tablet or desktop, your GMB listing will consistently appear in search results, no matter which device your potential customers are using to look for your business online. This is extremely important because, recently, mobile search has slowly been taking over desktop search and the assurance that your listing will show independently from the device used for the search is really important for your long-term online growth. A business that does not appear in search results is non-existent in the eyes of Google! and the majority of clients.
- Google My Business facilitates a customer’s interaction with your business. Everything is at hand: business contacts, website address, reviews, location and business hours.
- Everything in one platform: The latter is one of the most important benefits of using GMB. It includes everything a potential customer may need to evaluate your products or services: business’s name, address, phone number, description and reviews. Moreover, now you can manage your entire Google presence from Google My Business: Google +, Pictures and many more, making Google My Business a one-stop shop for your main online presence.
Top 3 reasons for using Google My Business, particularly if you are a small business or a start-up
1. Google My Business Insights: Google My Business has some valuable insights stats which you can check on a monthly basis. These are simpler analytical information about your business, compared to Google Analytics, but they give you a snapshot of how customers search for your business online. In order to find Google My Business Insights, once you are logged into your Google My Business dashboard, you will see your core details on the top of the page. Just below there is a blue insights box on which you can click and start reviewing Google My Business Insights:
- How customers search for your business
- Where customers view your business on Google
- Customer actions
2. Virtual Tours: Google’s Virtual Tours have been around since 2010 but they have gained increasing popularity over the past couple of years. The 360 degree Virtual Tour, which is linked to Google my Business and Google Street View, delivers a 360 degree view of both your business’s premises and the adjacent street. Based on Google Street View’s mapping technology, a virtual tour is designed to allow your customers inside your business in order to give a proper idea of your company and the way you operate. The fact that Virtual Tours are fully integrated with your Google My Business listing means that your business will get maximum Google exposure as a result.
3. Google My Business Posts: Posts are one of the best new additions to Google My Business for 2017. These posts, which will appear just under your Google My Business listing, are the perfect way to drive customers’ attention to offers, news, events, or new products.
The first and easiest step in building your online presence and visibility is claiming your Google My Business profile. As a SME, your online presence is crucial, but keeping track of the daily changes to your keywords performance and analytics can be challenging in today’s ever-changing digital landscape.
How can I survive a traffic drop?
Realising that your website has suffered a traffic drop immediately triggers a sense of panic, even if the traffic slump relates to a short period of time. What can you do?
Our best advice is to try to understand the underlying reasons that may explain the reduction in traffic in order to tackle them or better still, ask for advice from an SEO professional who will have the bigger picture of your situation.
Are all your pages indexed?
Using a variety of tools and SEO technical shortcuts will show which of your pages are indexed and ranking, and which ones are not.
Did your website go through a complete overhaul such as website migration, new domain or both, or have you migrated your website without redirects?
If your website has been completely renovated, a decline in traffic is to be expected. When the changes to your website have been completed Google must re-crawl all your pages and re-index them. If the redirection process is not done properly or in the case of a change in your URL structure you will experience a loss of ranking/traffic or both. It is important to check any historic redirects to ensure that they are live, and fix any potential issues on this topic before it affects performance.
Is your keyword strategy fully mapped out?
If you do not have a clear keywords strategy in place and you optimise your pages as you go along, you may end up having two pages optimised for the same keywords. These will then be competing against each other in the SERPs. This may cause a consequential ranking drop for the two pages.
Have you implemented your structural data markup? Taking care of structural data markup seems a one time project, however, in order to avoid issues at a later date, do not forget about it, keep monitoring the appearance of your rich snippets to make sure they are pulling the correct information. Changes to the content on your website can alter the markup without warning.
New Links :
If you have had a large number of new links pointing to your domain, this may trigger an unexpected decline in ranking because Google may randomise the impact of those new links for a short period of time, even if they are natural and relevant for your website. This happens when Google applies a “rank transition function”. If you suspect that your ranking drop may be caused by your new links, check the links themselves with a backlink tool in order to make sure they are genuinely new and not a new addition to your back-link tool.
In the same way as new links can affect your rankings, lost links can have an impact too. A website with just a small back-link profile may excessively rely on a number of back-links and if those backlinks get removed or for one reason or another become unavailable, your website authority may be affected with a consequential rankings drop.
A traffic drop can also often be the result of a Google Algorithm update. In the past, approximately up to 2015 Google used to release an update and the SEO Community would have had time to study the phenomenon and react accordingly. These days Google updates are more frequent and sometimes advertised weeks after they have taken place (Ghost Updates). As a result the industry takes longer to understand their impact. It is really important to gauge whether your ranking drops coincide with ranking variations, this can often mean an update has affected your rankings. Your SEO professional will be able to help with this.
New Google ad placement:
Since Google removed the right-hand rail ads, many brands saw their organic traffic being reduced by the prominence of paid search ads. Professionals will need some time to quantify the full effect of this change, but this is clearly something to bear in mind when trying to figure out the reasons behind your traffic slump.
Resellers and Affiliates:
If you have launched an affiliate program or have a variety of re-sellers it may happen at a certain point that they start outranking you for branded keywords. Your revenue goals may not be at risk but you are losing website traffic to these sites.
Changes in search behaviour:
Sometimes, ranking drops may not be due to your website issues or your inbound links but they are rather caused by the results Google wants to return to users. Let’s say Google records a sudden surge of searches for a particular topic, then they may start showing mainly fresher, news-based results pushing down your evergreen content to page two or three.
A similar situation may happen in regard to search queries done on mobiles. The results on page one are heavily influenced by the age of the handset and the specific kind of search done by the user: news, reviews or support. As for every search query, the overall search demand associated to a specific keyword can affect the results Google returns.
British and international brands constantly fluctuate according to their demand. Very few industries experience an inelastic product demand. In order to see the bigger picture for your brand we recommend taking a look at Google trends every now and then.
Brands are linked to a wealth of customer information and sometimes brand trends can be precious insights to compliment your SEO campaigns. If you’re working with an SEO agency, sometimes sharing this knowledge can be the missing piece of the jigsaw. Let’s say you sell classic shoes. Knowing that consumer preferences are shifting around the colour black, could explain why your black shoes traffic is down.
If you are worried about a traffic drop and would like to understand more about your website traffic and page ranking, get in touch, we will be happy to help.
5 top tips on how to improve your blog search rankings
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, blogging is likely to be one of your main digital marketing strategies. There are plenty of opportunities to improve your blog search rankings if you understand how to generate traffic to your website.
We usually say to our clients that generating organic traffic is a bit like running a marathon, it takes a lot of effort and above all a long term goal.
In addition, to having a long term goal, you may want to know the new rules of the game, because you can’t use a short-term approach to create a long-term result such as organic traffic generation.
Some of the strategies that worked in the past will now get you penalised. On the other hand, some strategies that formerly weren’t worth your time are now essential.
Popular ways to generate organic traffic to a website include blogging, social media, SEO and email marketing. Many of them should be used together to maximise your results.
Healthy business websites obtain a large portion of their traffic through blogging, and while we strongly recommend that you continue to create high quality content on a weekly basis, optimising your posts and promoting them via social channels and emails will definitely increase your rankings on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Below are our 5 top tips on how to improve your blog organic search rankings
1) Stop That Obsession With Keywords
Since August 2013 when Google rolled out the Hummingbird update, it appeared clear that their goal was to move away from seeing search queries as a string of keywords and move towards appreciating the more complex environment of their use.
Google now places greater emphasis on the value of your content as a whole rather than on the single keywords it contains.
You still have to optimise your content for keywords though because the search engine still relies on keywords to understand the relevance of your content, but the days of “keyword stuffing” are long gone. Google wants to see quality content that helps your audience gain useful information.
2) Share Your Content On Social Media
In order to rank high on search engines, you need to get your content out into cyberspace, and obviously the best and quickest way to do so is by gaining brand visibility through social media.
Share your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, do it every week, keep yourself accountable. The winning strategy is having your content featured on more than one social channel, ideally tailoring your sharing to each of them.
Your social media fans and followers might not be ready to purchase your products or services yet, but they are interested in reading new content on your blog.
The idea is that your content creation strategy will ultimately improve the user experience of your fans who will start visiting your website more often, increasing the level of engagement on your social media. Good content, along with a social media presence will increase your brand’s visibility and you’ll generally notice more links.
3) Optimise Your Website For Mobile
Mobile optimisation is no longer an optional extra. With increasing numbers of people surfing the net on their smartphones, more potential clients are looking at your website from their mobile devices (phones & tablets). Mobile has essentially taken over, as we forecasted in our SEO predictions 2016 blog back in December 2015.
We strongly recommend that you optimise your website for mobiles. Our three top tips for mobile optimisation are:
Content: Discover which content generates more traction with mobile visitors to your website and use this information to your advantage.
Layout: Ensure that your pages, menus and posts are optimised for mobile.
Behaviours: Use tools such as Crazy Egg to help you assess the behaviours of mobile vs desktop users, then address your landing page strategy accordingly. You might have to create specific landing pages for mobile.
4) Quality Versus Quantity Links
In the old days, content marketing experts used to say the more links to a website, the better…Well not anymore. Since the Google Penguin update in 2012, there are agencies out there who will buy hundreds of links for you, but be careful, because this is black hat SEO and could lead to a penalty from Google and potentially ruin your brand.
What matters most these days is the quality of your inbound links, rather than the quantity. Any impact that you get from link building works on the idea that these links provide real value to users who might click them.
“Earn” Links while promoting your content
You won’t get reciprocal links by magic. If you are keen on to enhancing your brand awareness, then you will have to work hard on promoting your content. This is something we do everyday at Cariad Marketing for our clients and for our own website.
If you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy, then it will be hard to build an adequate amount of organic traffic. If that is the case, just drop us a line, our team of experts will be more than happy to help.
The most important element when trying to earn links, is to figure out who your audience is and which problems all these prospects have in common that your business could solve.
Your core content topics should directly address these needs, and your social media posts should reinforce that content on a regular basis.
“Earned Links” reflect the value that you deliver to your market. When another credible source in your industry links to the content on your website, then you have earned a link. As you have probably gauged by now, there are no shortcut strategies to increase the number of earned links to your site, apart from creating good quality content on a regular basis.
An increasing number of good quality earned links will ultimately resonate with a larger audience, attracting more people to your website, and as a consequence increasing your organic traffic.
Looking for SEO/Content Marketing advice for your website? If you would like to speak to an expert get in touch by calling us on 01992 582824 or complete our contact form and a member of the team will be in touch.
SEO Predictions 2016
With constant changes to the SEO industry and new best practices coming up every month, making SEO predictions for 2016 seems daunting at first. While SEO from 2010 is completely out of date, we strongly believe that some big changes taking place next year will be around for much longer.
2015 has been an important year for SEO, in particular for mobile traffic; we saw the long awaited “Mobilgeddon” update which penalised non-responsive websites and produced an overhaul to local rankings.
Now all eyes are on 2016. The upcoming year will offer a few landmark shifts in search but some elements of SEO 2015 will still be applicable.
Changes & Challenges:
Social Content Will be More Readily Indexed
At present social media has played a relatively minimal role in influencing your rankings. Content sharing can help you rank higher but for the most part social media serves to generate more (inbound) traffic for your site. In 2016 posting on social media will continue to grow in importance to search visibility. Google has deals in place with Facebook and Twitter already, to show social media results embedded in certain search results. Twitter tweets are starting to appear in your mobile search results as well. In 2016 more platforms will become more heavily indexed in Google and other search engines, therefore social posts will carry a value similar to any other independent web page. This will blur even further the separation of “web” and “social media” from an SEO perspective.
Mobile-Optimisation Will Become More Important than Desktop
For the past few years, desktop has been a standard form of search, with mobile users growing in numbers. In 2015, mobile traffic finally surpassed desktop traffic and Google released its so-called “Mobilegeddon” update to phase out any sites that weren’t optimised for mobile devices. Google’s Webmaster trends analyst John Mueller stated this year that mobile-only sites suffer no ranking penalty. Mobile traffic will continue to grow over 2016 with desktop fading into obscurity over the next five years. Google is also claiming that a desktop-specific site is not necessary anymore and to confirm its commitment to the ‘mobile experience” Google has recently introduced an important change in mobile search results showing the so called “local three-pack” (three paid search results first). This means that all organic results now fall below the fold (i.e. they are not visible unless you scroll down) on a mobile search (see Local SEO).
Less news and more aggregated content
Aggregated content like the one produced by Moments, a new feature on Twitter that will aggregate posts images and videos from live events into a single channel, is on the rise. Twitter of course is not the only platform experimenting with live feed channels, advanced algorithms are already able to put stories together from pre-existing sets of information. This new trend of content aggregation will make users the ultimate content creators. As a result, in 2016 the impact of a news article that is not automatically sourced will slowly diminish, narrowing the field of content marketing for everyone. However, to counterbalance this almost sad news, evergreen opinion-editorials and tutorials will rise in importance for search visibility.
Deep Links in Apps Will Become More Important while traditional link building will shrink
Google is anticipating a future where apps may overtake traditional websites in popularity and functionality. They have been indexing apps for a good few years. Starting from 2016 “deep links” to apps (links that point to a specific section of an app) will grow in importance along with app optimisation in general. While deep linking is on the rise, traditional external links building have been shrinking in importance. However brand mentions, which do not include any explicit link, and off-site reviews will carry more meaning as new forms of off-site authority building.
Video Content Will Overtake Written Content
Today written content is considered “the standard”, it is a baseline for most brands, with images and videos serving as mere additions. Years-long trends along with new technologies will help video outplace written content in terms of reach, engagement, effectiveness and ROI by 2016. Snapchat, Vine and Periscope are partially responsible for enticing users with more visual content, but the real culprits are search engines again, mainly Google and Yahoo, which have been experimenting with video ads in search results for a few months now.
The big SEO shakeup in 2015 was the introduction of the local three-pack in August. This Google update changed the number of results you see in a query from 7 to 3. This obviously penalised those businesses that appeared in the fourth position or lower. The local pack is not just showing fewer business listings, it is also redesigned to fit more with the mobile user interface, having in mind mobiles and wearable technology first. In 2016 there will be more changes in local SEO, reviews and local citations will become more important along with geographic- based searches. In the past we rarely went past region or city level, in the future we will perform even more specific searches at neighbourhood level.
What’s staying the same?
Content is still king. Despite some forms of information-based content starting to lose out to digital assistants and aggregated material, unique, quality content is still your best friend.
On-site optimisation is still about user experience. Some on-site factors are growing or shrinking in importance but on-site tweaks are still focused on user experience. If a change would make your site faster, safer, and easier to use, it’s probably good for SEO.
Authority building still occurs off-site; to build a reputation, you still need off-site signals like inbound links, social signals and reviews. While the nature of external links is evolving, brand mentions, off-site listings and consumer reviews are rapidly becoming a new form of off-site authority building.
One thing is certain; SEO in 2016 will not be the same as SEO in 2015. My best piece of advice to all business owners would be to prioritise their mobile responsiveness amongst their website implementations for 2016.