“Fred” and the dangers of Black Hat SEO

 

Dangers of Black Hat SEO

Did they, or didn’t they?

In case you haven’t read, in the last couple of weeks, it’s assumed that Google released another major search engine algorithm update unimaginably named “Fred’. There are some geek jokes around the name Fred, but supposedly Fred’s aim was to down rank those websites that bought links, or are linked to by dubious sites.

Whether Fred is real, or not the message is clear- Fred highlights the dangers of Black Hat SEO. Sooner or later you will be penalized for having questionable backlinks.

What does this mean?

One of the major off-site SEO activities to improve a website’s credibility is increasing back links. The more credible back links you have (say from Wikipedia or legitimate news sites), the greater you’ll rank; all other things being equal.

Many budget/unscrupulous SEO Agencies try to take shortcuts to increase your ranking by adding thousands of farmed links from web directories in India, Pakistan, Russia and other countries. These directories often advertise vice goods/services and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’re not genuine backlinks related to your business.

What to do if I’ve got dodgy back links to my site?

Contact the webmaster
In the first instance, contact the directory and ask nicely for them to remove the link. Some webmasters might not reply or ask for a fee to remove the links. Don’t pay a fee, but follow-up after a week or two for removal.

Remove your affected pages
Remove the bad linked/low ranked pages with a 404 link to disavow the target pages. This is not ideal, and is a somewhat extreme measure, only to be actioned if there’s an obvious down ranking of those pages.

Lesson learned?

There are no shortcuts to ranking well. SEO is a slow process, and there are real dangers of Black Hat SEO. Shortcuts hurt too much in the long term and don’t offset the benefits in the short term.

Produce good content and you’ll organically grow your back links. Link building is also useful, just make sure the backlinks make sense and are genuine.

At Evolocity, we only use and recommend “White Hat” techniques to SEO. Contact us to find out more about our services.

 

 

How to create a contact goal in Google Analytics

Why a contact goal?

For most sites on the internet, the end result is to create a lead. In website terms, leads come from site visitors contacting you, or signing up to join your mailing list (or downloading an ebook etc).

Leads become an effective mechanism to be used for future marketing efforts, such as creating a newsletter or reaching out to leads on an individual basis. Knowing the performance of our lead capture methods over time is critically important, just as important as knowing what percentage of leads ultimately convert to sales.

Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool for traffic analysis as well as SEO activities. You really can find out a multitude of information about users, such as demographics, their device preference all the way down to their interests! If you haven’t invested several hours trawling through your Google Analytics data, I’d recommend to do so, as you’ll learn a LOT about your site visitors.

All this Analytics information is indeed useful, but what I want to focus on in this blog is the conversions area of Google Analytics, and more specifically, Contact Goals. This blog is focused around WordPress sites, but the Google Analytics component can just as easily be added for sites hosted on other platforms.

Goals are important for any business, so you can understand what percentage of users are effectively doing what you want them to do. This means users are effectively flowing into your sales funnel. Goals are important to measure performance of your website and it gives you the essential information to track the performance over time..

Many sites take the easy route to add contact goals and use the fact that a user clicks their “contact us” page as a goal completion. That’s not enough, however as the user needs to actually submit the contact form to successfully generate a lead. In this blog, I’ll show you how to do that.

To make a contact goal happen, there are two requirements:

1. Create a Thank you page (or similar) that’s displayed after a form is successfully submitted. Simply create a new WordPress page called Thank you and add a note to thank the user for submitting their information and provide additional contact information for your business. This is critical, so we can set the thank you page display as the goal completion.

2. Use a contact form that can display your Thank you page after successful submission. At Evolocity, we recommend Contact form 7 for WordPress for this purpose, as it’s highly configurable and stable contact form plugin. I won’t go into all the details of setting up the contact form in this blog, but in Contact form 7 you can use the hook on_sent_ok to display a thank you page after the form is successfully submitted.

With that in mind, let’s create the goal of a contact form submission.

Inside Google Analytics, at the bottom left of your account, click the Admin tab.

Contact Goal

In the View column, click “Goals” to setup a new goal:
Contact Goal
Click “New Goal” and proceed to setup your Contact goal. Go to Enquiry and select the “Contact us” radio button.
Contact Goal
 Give your Goal description a name and Click type “Destination”
Contact Goal
Enter the Goal details equal to /thank-you/ (or whatever you decided to name your Thank You page)
Contact Goal
To keep things simple, let’s ignore the optional value and funnel options and keep the default settings.

You can then verify the goal, which will check your Analytics data for the past week and inform you how many times the goal would have been activated if it were enabled. When finished, click Save and the goal is set and we are done!

You can then monitor the performance of your goal over time in Google Analytics, in Conversions -> Goals area.

Contact Goal

 

Adding a contact goal in Google Analytics is easy, by adding a Thank You page which is fired from your contact form. Contact goals are important for your business, as they are the foundation for leads and lead generation which should be a priority for all businesses.
For other tips on how to improve SEO for your small business, check out other blog posts here or here.

 

For help with your SEO, or Online Marketing contact Evolocity today or call us on 02 8091 4530.

Content pitfalls for SEO

SEO copywritingContent marketing can be extremely effective for extending your reach, driving traffic to your website and ultimately helping you reach your business goals. In this blog, I’ll aim to highlight some of the pitfalls we’ve seen regarding SEO copywriting:

Too short content

 Having content in your page that is less than 300 words is not very useful for SEO. 300 words should be the minimum target to aim for, but you should have 1500+ well written and thought out words that displays your authority to Google.

Content gives the search engine lots of information to read and helps it process and better understand what you are trying to convey in your message. As always, it’s critical to focus on engaging and original content, not filler just to make up the word count. You can find additional tips and suggestions on the topic here.

Don’t stand out

Is your content the same as your competitors? In 2017, your content needs to stand out! Create stand-alone engaging content in a variety of mediums. You’ll need to critically think about what your readers are interested in, and wow them with something they haven’t read before. I’ll touch on the fastest growing mediums later in this post.

 You don’t have a content plan

What content will you create, and when? It’s important to have a content plan to schedule when you will post. What you will post about and what medium you will use? Without a content plan, it’s nearly impossible to produce content on a reliable schedule and that which is of a sufficient quality.

Not optimized for search

Your blog posts need to be optimized for search. Before writing a piece, think about what angle you will take. When writing content, be clear and consistent about what the focus keyword will be for your article. Determining your focus keyword shouldn’t be determined by guessing, they should be thoroughly researched in google trends or the keyword research tool in AdWords. You can read more on the process we recommend here. That’s essentially the process for SEO copywriting, and your focus keyword should be mentioned sparingly throughout your content.

Over-optimizing

“Keyword stuffing” should be avoided. Don’t try and fool the search engine into ranking you higher, it’s likely to have the opposite effect and have your site penalized instead. Content should read organically, and your content first and foremost should be written for the experience of the end user, not the search engine.

No Landing pages

Landing pages are vital for each service, or location area you service. Without separate landing pages for each service and location, you are really limited in how many focus keywords you can use on your website. For example, Rather than just “Tax accountant” you should have separate landing pages, say “BAS Accountant” “Estate Planning” and “Financial Planning” depending on what services you offer. Minimum one focus keyword should be set per landing page.

Not Blogging

Blogging is still a great way to create followers and the number one method of SEO copywriting to rank well in Google and show your authority on a subject. Many businesses don’t blog regularly, or at all. It’s important to have at least one “Cornerstone article” with blogs that link to these.

Only using blogs

Time has dictated that content such as Infographics and video are becoming more important for SEO and followers. If you think about it, it’s quite logical! Just like short forms of communication are becoming more prevalent (such as chat), video and infographics are able to deliver more information in a shorter time/attention span. Infographics and videos are especially important, as research has shown that they’re extensively shared on social media.

Content marketing is extremely important for your business. SEO copywriting is effective to drive quality traffic to your website leading to increased leads and sales. Sure, it takes effort, but the returns will be worthwhile if you have an effective content marketing strategy.

If the above seems overwhelming, contact Evolocity today to learn how we can help your business with content marketing and SEO services to grow your business.

 

AMP pages and your Website

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and your Website

Accelerated Mobile PagesSince mobile devices are now the primary means of accessing the Internet with over 60% of Google search queries being submitted from mobile devices; unsurprisingly Google has recently changed their search algorithm to a “mobile-first” index.

Quite simply, this means google now “crawls” your website as a mobile user by default, rather than a computer user (as was the case previously).

In the not too distant past, mobile sites were generally terrible. Pages were slow loading, poorly formatted and many elements failed to be displayed correctly. The dominance of the WordPress platform in recent years, and it’s freely available default themes that are “mobile-friendly” significantly improved this scenario. Having said that, Google et al have recently decided that it’s time to take mobile pages to the next level with the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP)…project.

What are AMP pages?

AMP pages are simplified, open source HTML pages that are very fast loading (up to 4x faster) for mobile devices. They are designed for speed, low bandwidth usage (up to 8x less data) and are helpful for easy reading on mobile devices.

When you see this logo: AMP in your Google search results page (on a mobile device), it indicates there is an AMP version of the mobile site available.

Let’s get technical!

AMP pages have three main components:

  1. AMP HTML- A very simplified version of HTML
  2. AMP JavaScript (JS)- A somewhat proprietary version of JS. Third-party JS is not permitted in AMP, so forms etc can’t load.
  3. AMP Content Delivery Network (CDN). Primarily caches AMP pages for fast loading.

How can I create AMP pages for my site?

If you’re using WordPress, it’s relatively simple. Install an AMP plugin for WordPress such as AMP for WP which helps you create and customise your AMP pages. Unfortunately, you’ll need to duplicate those pages you’d like to display as AMP pages, so you end up with two copies; regular web pages and AMP pages.

You can also use a chrome plugin such as AMP Accelerated Mobile Pages Desktop Viewer to view your site in AMP format.

Does my small business need to care about AMP pages?

As always, it depends! Businesses that are producing and publishing content regularly should start seriously looking to an AMP strategy. You probably don’t want to produce AMP pages for your entire website, as that would cripple your design and branding on mobile. For blogs, news and feeds and any other pages where significant amounts of data is published, it’s a good idea to create AMP pages.

Since AMP is reasonably well supported so far by content producers and search/social providers Google, Facebook, Twitter etc it’s likely to gain even importance over the coming years.

What about AMP and SEO?

Although there’s currently no consensus between SEO on AMP Vs regular pages, there should be no immediate changes to your current SEO strategy. It’s worth keeping an eye on this space over time, however.

In summary, as Google’s strategy has rapidly evolved to mobile-first, AMP Pages as with other mobile initiatives are likely to dominate search results and will become more important in the coming years.

For help or advice on your company’s web design, SEO or Digital Marketing strategy, contact Evolocity today.

 

How to achieve small business SEO Success!

Ever hear the joke that the best place to bury a body is on page 2 of Google?!

Business SEOIn all seriousness, small business SEO success is vital to rank well in google and to benefit from the exceptional power of free, organic ranking. A key component of your business’ marketing efforts in 2017 should be to effectively rank in search engines.

SEO is rapidly obliterating traditional forms of printed media when it comes to business listing or advertising for products or services. The question is, do you know what’s required for your website to rank well?

There are many effective ways to assist your business to rank higher in search results. SEO techniques are not stand alone, and need to be integrated with social media, traditional reviews and in many cases Search Engine Marketing (SEM). In this blog, we’ll provide valuable tips for you to achieve small business SEO success and help you rocket up the google rankings!

Content

Content is King! Quite simply, if you have great content you’re well on the way to small business SEO success. Let’s break down overall content:

Pages- Ensure each page on your website has enough significant content (minimum 300-500 words). Content should incorporate the keywords you want to be ranked for and these should be legitimate for your business. Don’t go overboard spamming your content with keywords, just mention your preferred keywords 2-3 times in your copy and ensure they are aligned with your page content.

Posts– Many people claim Blogging is dying. Actually, we believe the opposite for SEO. Although blogging is unmistakably changing, as users become more difficult to engage. That’s where pictures, infographics and videos come in. There’s no hard and fast rules to how often you should blog, but try and keep it consistent and frequent. The same content requirements for pages (above) applies to blog posts. Ensure there’s significant content in your blogs that’s meaningful for your business.

PicturesTry and include pictures in each page/post. Firstly, it’s more enticing for people to read your pages/posts if they are visually appealing, and secondly ensure you enter ALT text keyword description for the image so it can be indexed effectively by google. Many businesses overlook this task as it requires effort for the often hundreds of photos on your site. Don’t overlook it!

 Keywords

Keyword research is important (and time consuming)! Keyword planning and research is really the foundation of SEO, so it’s important to invest the time and effort planning and researching head and long tail keywords and deciding which is applicable for each page, post, taxonomy etc of your website. We’ve covered keyword research in more detail here.

Local website listings

Ensure you are listed on local websites including google places, Facebook, yelp, yellow pages, gumtree, true local etc. These local sites are extremely important for small/local businesses and impact SEO significantly. Check your entries are listed, accurate and updated.

Links

External– Link creation and link building are vital for good rankings in Google. Links equate to credibility for search engines and the more genuine links you have, the more credibility your websites will gain. Please note, We don’t recommend “Spammy” or paid backlinks, as these are more likely to affect your ranking negatively.

Internal– Your internal webpages and blogs need to link to each other and there needs to be a clear chain of links from your homepage to all pages, to assist Google to crawl your website. Check regularly for broken links and correct them.

Invest effort creating a linking strategy for but internal and external links. You won’t regret it!

Performance

Are you aware of how long your pages take to load? Do you know the size of your pages? Slow websites are painful and significantly affect the bounce rate of users, as well as your ranking. Google needs to crawl billions of websites each day and you website will be penalised if it crawls too slow or has too any crawl errors.

Review the performance of your website monthly and tune it to make it as fast as possible.

 Reviews

Have as many clients as possible offer testimonials and reviews in Google and Social media accounts. Reviews build credibility for your business and give new clients confidence in your ability to deliver. Maybe offer a reciprocal link, discount or other incentive to clients and partners to encourage leaving a review.

 Social media

Social media engagement is necessary for all businesses. Social media is a great way to engage with your customers, don’t miss the opportunity! Although the mediums differ slightly between B2C and B2B businesses, Facebook is a good place to start for both. Don’t overlook Google+ and it’s impact on google rankings also.

This blog post is a summary of actions to take for you to increase your chances of small business SEO success.

For honest, responsive and cost-effective SEO services for your business, contact Evolocity today for a free website analysis.

 

How to kick start keyword research for SEO

SEO KeywordsKeyword research for SEO is usually, and rightly so the starting point for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Loosely defined, Keyword research is the activity where you begin building a list of keywords you’d like your site to rank for.

In the following blog post, I’ll share some strategies of keyword research for SEO that will help your website rank for the correct keywords. That is, those keywords your customers are searching for, not what you think they are searching for!

Proper keyword research is one of the most important, high return activities you can do for SEO, as ranking for the correct keyword is the ultimate goal for SEO.

Many people see traffic and it’s growth as the ultimate benchmark of their website, but generic traffic isn’t particularly important. You need the correct traffic to your website; that is, people who are specifically looking for, and want to buy your goods or services.

If you’re a small Accountancy practice in Sydney, do you really want to rank #1 for the keyword Accountant? Yes, you say? Are you sure?

A person searching for “Accountant”, is probably not looking for an Accountant in Sydney for their tax return, they’re likely reading about what an accountant is/does for research. On the other hand, if someone is searching for “best tax accountant bondi”, they’re practically ready to call, which means a higher conversion rate than using the generic keyword “Accountant”. That’s exactly where the often overlooked Long tail keywords come in.

Long tail keywords are more specific (and longer) keywords, which as a result are easier to rank for. They’re also used by google searchers (is that even a word?) that are further along in the decision making process and as such have a higher chance of conversion.

Using the previous scenario for Accountants will help to explain Keyword research a little better. Here are the steps to follow:

Brainstorming

What is your mission? How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?

Using the example above, If I’m an accountant in Bondi, how can I create sufficient long tail keywords? To do this, you’d need to break down your keywords. Usually either by location, services offered, customer service etc in order to find your niche.

Let’s try “Bondi Accountant” (No search data). Ok, let’s next try “Tax Accountant Sydney” (720 searches p/mth). It looks like Accountancy services will be a more useful strategy here, as that’s what is being searched for in Google.

Google Instant predictions:

Keyword Research for SEO

Google Instant predictions, while not always useful, often provides some long tail keyword ideas based on search analytics, such as “Accountant Sydney Tax Return” in this case.

Google Ad Words Keyword Planner

Arguably the most useful tool in your SEO keyword research for SEO arsenal! Sign up for a free Google AdWords account and use the Keyword Planner tool to understand search volumes and keyword alternatives for your website.

By inputting my service: Accounting and adding a landing page, Google suggests the following keywords (including average searches):

Keyword Research for SEO

If we enter “Accountant Sydney Tax Return”, we get some juicy long tail keywords (with high search volumes) that we probably wouldn’t have considered previously:

Keyword Research for SEO

This AdWords research really provided some “food for thought” and some additional keyword ideas that hadn’t been initially considered with a high search volume. Additional research will be required to settle on some suitable keywords for your SEO.

Other tools that are useful to expand upon and research your keywords further include:

Google trends– useful for “big” topics that trend heavily in Google.

Yoast Suggest– Expands your Keywords search and splits suggestions alphabetically.

Eventually, there should be hundreds of keywords for your site’s SEO. Research and testing will help you build an effective list over time.

To summarise, this is a primer on beginning keyword research for SEO. Long tail keywords are usually what you want to rank well for, as these convert better to sales.

Each business is different, and as such their keyword strategy will differ. With SEO, it’s always about the long game.

Research your keywords heavily, set them in your SEO plugin and review results periodically in Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools. Adjust as necessary. Repeat!

Click here to read more on common mistakes for Wordress SEO.

Contact Evolocity today to learn about our cost-effective SEO packages and how we can assist your business grow your online presence.

 

The most common WordPress SEO Mistakes you are making

The Most common WordPress SEO mistakes

WordPress SEO mistakes

WordPress is a great platform for your business website. There are many rumours out there that WordPress is “good for SEO”. Maybe that means that WordPress is a clean and well structured platform that makes SEO easier?

  1. Using a “set it and forget it” SEO plugin

Many WordPress sites tend to use free SEO WordPress plugins that they just install, enter some basic keywords and figure SEO is taken care of. This is one of the biggest WordPress SEO mistakes people make.

We’d recommend installing a quality WordPress SEO plugin such as Yoast, and take the time to configure it correctly per page/post for best results.

  1. No sitemaps

A sitemap is extremely important for search engines to accurately “crawl” your website and find content on your site to index. You can either create a sitemap manually, or use free tools such as XML-Sitemaps and upload to your default WordPress directory. Alternatively, use one of the various WordPress plugins (such as Yoast) that include a sitemap generator.

The entire sitemap creation process, uploading and checking in Google Analytics takes around 5 minutes, so what’s your excuse for not having a valid sitemap?

  1. Poor categorization and tagging

Back to the point 1, it’s important to correctly set your Focus Keyword, SEO title and Meta description. Update your SEO Plugin to ensure it accurately conveys the SEO title and Keywords you wish to be associated with. Some of the “set and forget” SEO plugins just use the first paragraph of the page to automatically set your meta descriptions. This may not be optimal for your website.

  1. No canonical URLS

Google hates duplicate content! Most websites have a duplicate URL, such as www.evolocity.com.au and https://evolocity.com.au It’s important to identify the canonical URL that the page should point to, to avoid confusing Google’s crawl and being downranked. WordPress SEO plugins such as Yoast take care of this automatically (but it’s worth double checking).

  1. Not optimising how your pages look in SERPs

A search engine results page (SERP) is the snippet of information that’s displayed in the results page of a search. If left as default, the SERP snippet is auto generated. I’d suggest using a plugin such as Yoast (or similar) to check and manually correct the SERP snippet for each page/post.

  1. Little or No keyword research

Keyword research (both long and short) is the crux of Search Engine Optimisation. Ensure you spend the time to research the keywords for your business, as well as the search frequency and competition for those keywords. Google’s AdWords keyword planner is a great place to start your keyword research. Click the link to read about our guide to SEO Keyword research.

  1. Failing to create engaging content

As with most things in life, there are no shortcuts to success. If you want a good search engine rank and lots of organic traffic, create good content! It’s important to focus on engaging content creation such as blogs, infographics etc to attract visitors to your website. Blog regularly and engage visitors to increase search engine rankings.

  1. Using “Spammy” methods

As per above, some website use all kinds of tricks in attempt to increase their ranking. Paid links, cloaking, and stuffing keywords in order to rank higher will likely penalise your ranking in the search engine (or ban you from ranking altogether). Don’t artificially try to increase your web authority, It’s simply too risky.

From reading the above, you can probably guess that we use and recommend the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. It’s intuitive, provides excellent guidance and overall does it’s job well.

Good SEO takes time. From the time taken to perform research, index your site, creating links and engaging content etc. It usually takes several months to improve your search engine ranking. Be patient and follow the advice above and you’re on the right track!

At Evolocity, we provide website creation and SEO services.

Contact us today to learn more.