Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015

It is out again, a Moz survey of factors affecting search engine rankings. The purpose is to gain insight into the factors that may help a website’s visibility in search engines.

Moz surveyed this time over 150 leading search marketers who offered their expertise in over 90 ranking factors. They also ran an extensive correlation study to determine which features of websites and webpages are associated with higher search rankings.

These factors are showing the characteristics of web pages that tend to rank higher, but are not “proof” of what search engines use to rank websites. Combine this survey with your experience and knowledge of search engine algorithms, it will lead to better SEO practices!

You can read the full article through the following link: Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015

SEO Training for Women Executives

Nordic Search is organizing a two-day SEO training and networking event for women executives 4-5 September, 2014. It will be held in the Japanese Spa Hotel Yasuragi Hasseludden (www.yasuragi.se).  It is an unique opportunity to learn SEO and network in relaxed settings!

yasuragi-300x120WHAT IS THE COURSE OFFERING?

SEO is a cross-discipline effort and it requires across-the-board training of key management, influencers, and implementation staff in order to gain momentum and share common language. During the two days we will go through the following areas:

  • Basics of SEO
  • Understanding Google
  • Challenges of SEO
  • Optimizing Press Releases and Content
  • Content Marketing
  • Blog Advertising

There will be a lot of practical examples and exercises during the training. These examples and exercises will help you to learn and understand search engine optimization through practice.

HOW YOU CAN USE THE KNOWLEDGE GAINED IN YOUR DAILY WORK?

  • You will know the basics of SEO and you understand how Google works and the importance of following the changes in its algorithm.
  • You will be able to make website improvements that will have immediate effect on your traffic and revenues.
  • You will understand what challenges SEO faces.
  • You will learn to write press releases in an optimized way and help those reach the target group better.
  • You will understand SEO reports and it is possible for you to have a better dialogue with vendors such as marketing and digital agencies.

WHO IS IT FOR?

The course is targeted for middle and top level female managers within marketing and/or communication.

PRICING

The price of the 2 days training and networking event in the Japanese Spa Hotel Yasuragi Hasseludden is 12 000 SEK. The price includes:

  • Accommodation in a single room in the Japanese Spa Hotel Yasuragi Hasseludden
  • Morning and afternoon coffee both days
  • Lunch both days
  • 4 course dinner on Thursday
  • Breakfast on Friday
  • Japanese Spa with Yukata (cotton bath robe), slippers and bathing suit; to be taken home
  • Course material
  • SEO Course Diploma
  • SEO support via email one (1) week after the event

Booking latest by Aug 15th, 2014. For more information about the course, please contact Laura Lilja, tel. +46 704 82 52 12, laura@nordicsearch.com.

Google Penguin 2.0 rolled out

Since the last Google Panda update in March this year, webmasters have been waiting for Google Penguin 2.0 to hit the search results. Yesterday, the 22nd of May, Google rolled out “the next generation of Penguin”, Penguin 2.0 update.

According to Matt Cutts, the new Penguin will have much bigger impact in certain small areas and it will go deeper than the previous update:

“It’s gonna have a pretty big impact on web spam.”

Matt Cutts stated that about 2.3 % of Eglish-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The update will affect non-English queries as well, and the scope of Penguin varies by language: languages with more webspam will see more impact.

But what will Penguin 2.0 bring?

Penguin 2.0 was specifically going to target black hat spam, but it will have significantly bigger impact on spam than the other Penguin updates have had.

Sources:
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/penguin-2-0-rolled-out-today/
http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2270007/Google-Penguin-2.0-Update-is-Live

5 Ways to Boost Your Local Search

Online results for local search vary based on the location of the searcher. In a recent study it was discovered that 97% of consumers search for local business online.

This is true in many situations where buyers first enter a location-specific search term into Google or Yahoo. For example, if a person is searching for a diving school, he or she may spend time on the Internet searching for information about diving locally. If your business is local brick-and-mortal, a great way to boost your online visibility is via local search (SEO). The infographic below is a sneak peak data from the local search study results.

Improving Your Local Search

Local directories: Not everyone is using search engines to look for info, some visit local directories. Look for local directories and list your website in the right section of a directory. Make sure you provide them with enough of accurate information to ensure your site shows up in local searches. Other benefits from submitting your site to local directories is that they have higher value (they are focused only on one area) and you can increase inbound links .

Blogging: On a regular basis, post well written and relevant content, aimed at attracting attention of the local buyers. Google still claim to have the same objective as before: to return the most relevant information as quickly as possible. This is why you should use specific keywords in your content writing, those that match local buyers keyword search. Frequent content writing can also help you increase your position in location-based searches.

Local Business Listings: Add your local listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing. For example, by using Google places for business you will be able to update the information, upload images and add other company details such as business hours, specializations and so on. You can also create, claim and verify you business listing not only in search engines but also on popular social sites such as on Foursquare and Facebook. The benefits are being visible not only to online visitors but also mobile users. The keyword in the process of improving your local search is location, location, location.

Location pages: It is essential that you include a physical location on your website with the information such as business address, service areas and the name of the cities you offer your services. Your detailed information you provide on your “contact us” page will help both visitors to find your place and search engines to discover your address and show it in a search.

Social Sites Optimization: On your social sites such as Facebook Twitter, Linkedin, Google + and other social networks complete your contact information and turn on your location. The information you provide should match the real information, such as your physical location address and phone number.  Also, remember the high quality written content you uploaded on your website with the specific local keywords selection? Share this content on your social sites. More your content is shared more Google will put value to it and more frequently your business will show in local search.

You Should (Not) Avoid Black Hat SEO

Ranking high in search became harder and the practice of SEO is changing.

Most probably you have heard from your fellows web publishers about their website been negatively affected by latest Google updates and their website rankings falling. The majority of these websites were negatively affected as a result of practicing ‘Black Hat SEO’ tricks, others because of offering bad user experience.

Frequent updates or algorithm changes can damage website rankings. They are also necessary in order to reduce the spam and improve user experience. The constant changes however, will sometime mean what was considered to be legal white hat SEO method yesterday, it turns out to be black hat SEO today. This is why it became questionable what is actually black hat SEO and why you should (not) avoid the black hat SEO method.

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

The black hat SEO does not necessarily follow the search engine guidelines.  While this method is very tempting it is often used by sneaky marketers who want to achieve big results fast, or rank high for the web’s most competitive terms. Their practices include short – cuts such as: link farms, content cloaking and other secret methods which promise only short-term gains. On the opposite side is the white hat SEO. Its method aim is to follow search engine guidelines, almost all the time and implement long term strategies. It is considered to be safe showing positive results on a long run, but being very slow in achieving set goals.

Both methods have the same goal, for a site to rank high in search, or to naturally fall near the top of the search engine results pages and boost website visibility. The fact is that SEO is not easy. It is hard, it is not fast process and it can get complicated. However, it is possible to stick with right methods and avoid bad tactics for your SEO efforts to work.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing. This is an old black hat SEO practice not valid anymore. Having only pages stuffed with keywords not related to what you do will only get you penalized by search engines. Instead, learn what keywords to use, where and how. Keywords you choose should be relevant to what you do.

Get rid of Invisible Text. Are you trying to trick search engines by adding keywords or text on a white background hoping to attract more search engine crawlers? That is an ancient practice and against search engine rules. Get rid of this habit, be open with what you have to offer and try not to be sneaky.

Have valuable content. “Content is King.” It can be optimized, searched and shared. Avoid writing content only for search engines. Rather, optimize your site for search engines by offering unique and well written content that brings value to your readers. Good content is also worth linking to. Write quality articles targeted to your customers yet search engine friendly. More your customers like what you write, more likely they are willing to share your content. More they share your content, comment on your work, more search engines give relevance to your website and your site has better chances to be indexed fast. A good page is considered to be the one that has a quality text and that answers to the search query.

Quality inbound links. One of the most effective and highest impact SEO practices is to promote your content on other websites that link back to your website. More you have inbound links to you site better off you are and search engines gives more relevance to the content of your page. But there are good links and bad links. Before you engage with link building tactics conduct a link profile analysis of the client’s website. Make sure you have only good inbound links to your site otherwise you risk to be penalized.

Always measure and tweak. Set up your goals monitor and measure your SEO efforts. Make changes accordingly.

SEO can go wild because of the frequent updates and algorithm changes. Putting too much effort to figure out if your method is white hat SEO or black hat SEO is also exhausting. A good approach is to stick with techniques that target the right elements of the website and to make sure they are as optimized as possible. The results might not be fast, but at least they will be permanent, you will get website ranking, drive organic traffic, and capture more leads.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

Google Updates – Avoid Being Penalized

Having skilfully designed website with super effects is not enough. And if you have followed news about Google Penguin, the webspam algorithm update, you probably learned that.

For your super website to be found online it needs to be well optimized, page by page. But the journey does not stop here. Next to having a well optimized page and the stunning design you also need to frequently update your website with a quality content, have others link to your specific landing page, follow regularly trends, observe searchers online behaviour, stay updated with latest market needs and closely follow search engine updates. Otherwise you get “slapped” by Google.

Search engines collect, store data and deliver results in SERPs for a query. They also define how, why and if your website will be found online based on their algorithms and parameters. Google, being the number one SE has also the great impact not only on your website visibility but also how searchers are getting results when they are finding information about you. In particular, with Google’s frequent algorithm swings, your website page rank or domain authority can be severely damaged which will influence how others find you online.

Google tweaks every year their algorithm with 500-600 minor changes, and every few months they release the bigger change. Recently, At SES San Francisco event Matt Cutts answered few questions about the Penquin update which keeps many webmasters on alert. At the event Matt Cutts said “you don’t want the next Penguin update.” He warned that the Google “engineers have been working hard,” on this update.

How to Avoid Google Penalization

To have your site ready for Google’s next algorithm change, follow updates and newest SEO guidelines and consider doing following:

  • Upload frequently new and original content to your website.
  • Have unique titles. They should look natural and targeted for humans.
  • Metadata. Every page needs to be in order. Remember to put keywords in the meta data.
  • Your content should be optimized for both search engines and human readable.
  • Don’t practice black-hat SEO tactics (for example, don’t add hidden text in web pages).
  • Pay attention to keyword density because if you don’t Google will.
  • Only the first anchor text link counts, don’t link repeatedly to the same page with the same anchor.
  • Don’t overly optimize your web pages. Make sure you optimize for local search engines.
  • Don’t practice manipulative linking. Check your back links and if they are coming from bad sources, contact webmasters and ask them to remove these links pointing to your site. And, avoid black-hat link building strategies (link buying, link farming).

The impact of Google frequent updates and tweaking its search engines does not affect only few. Rather, it can shape anyone’s online presence and for quite many it may result in being penalized. If you are curious to learn more about 2012 Google updates, which might also help you in adjusting your web pages, visit SEOmoz website. They did a great job listing all Google updates, here is the link: http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

Does Your Site Have Broken Links? Find Them Before Search Engines Do

Search engines do not want broken links in their search! Also, users don’t like dead ends.

If your visitors see a 404 or 403 error for a page they requested on your website, it means that specific page was not found. As search engines, visitors too prefer to land on your site and get the content they searched for.

Broken or DEAD links can bring quite some damage to your web site. For example, search engines may think that the page does not exist anymore and then remove it from the search. Also, your visitors might be discouraged to visit your site again, once they do not find they are searching for.

There are different reasons why would you have broken links. You might have moved the page or removed the page without doing redirection. Or, some website owner made a mistake when linking to your site. Here’s how broken links could harm your online presence:

  • Less customers – you may lose current customers if they keep running onto dead ends. Bad for reputation.
  • No customers – When other websites link to a specific page on your website which has a broken link, they may equally send new target customers to a non-existing page. With such a problem you may lose getting new targeted customers.
  • Search Engines – If search engines cannot find already indexed page, it may have negative impact on your quality score.
  • Lost traffic – With quite many broken links, your site will not be crawled as often and eventually pages / site will not be indexed.

Link Checker for Broken Links

Solution to this problem is to first check and then, as soon as possible find a way how to fix broken links. There are quite many useful FREE tools available for finding broken links. For instance Google Webmaster Tools is a free tool and it can help you find URL errors. It can also provide you with an information when was last it tried to crawl the URL and briefly explain what errors deserve your actions NOW. The problem with Google Webmaster Tools is that it is always a bit late with their analysis which in many situation can mean “too late.” One should check for broken links before Google does (to avoid penalty).

Health of your links can be checked with a link validator, a program called LinkChecker. LinkChecker is a free GPL licensed website validator. Once you install the program, all you need to do is enter the URL of your website on the command line. The LinkChecker will validate all pages as well as external links pointing outside of your URL. Here’s how it looks:

How to Fix Broken Links

Once you get your visitors to visit your website, you want to make sure they keep coming back. Here is what you could do in order to fix broken links:

  • Create a custom 404 error page so your visitors KNOW only one page is missing. Here you can offer them other links to follow. Having a custom 4o4 error page is a must for every website.
  • Redirects. Have 301 redirects when moving a page to a new destination or when completely removing a page. This way search engines and visitors will be redirected to its new destination.
  • If applicable you can create a new page and link a missing link to it.
  • Set automatic redirects (automatically redirects the site visitors to the new page) if your CMS is supporting them.
  • Regularly perform link check.

If not sure how to find out if your website have broken links and why, send us a quote at: info@nordicsearch.com. You can also visit our  Facebook Nordic Search Fan Page ‘Like’ us and share with us what is your approach when dealing with broken links by leaving a comment .

Article by Daliborka Krstic

How to Optimize Your Page Relevant to Search Engines and Users

Search engines have a goal, to find the most relevant content for a person’s search term. On the other hand, the mission of a user is to find exactly what he or she is searching on the Web. There is a one way to satisfy both and to make sure your page is properly indexed, by improving on-page optimization (On-page SEO), an important part of an effective SEO strategy.

Optimizing your page is rather important for search engines. In order to accept and show your page in SERPs (with information requested by users), search engines need to receive information first about a piece of content gathered by bots.

(Bots are programs which collect information about a page on the Web.)

More targeted information you provide, more chances for your page to be found / indexed. Users also need to have exact and relevant information they are searching for. Based on the information found on the page and its relevance, users will either engage, share the content and come back, or simply bounce. On-page optimization includes elements like content, HTML tags and keywords.

Search Engine Optimized Page

  • Keywords & Content – This is one of the most important elements of the website, particularly keywords. Keywords are useful for both, robots and users. Within the text on a page you should have specific keywords around which you form the content (keywords will also get attention of the crawlers). Spend some time learning which keywords work best for the particular page. Remember to bold and underline some of the keywords, one time each. As a rule of thumb avoid keyword stuffing. Make it look natural.
  • Title tag (at the top of the page) Include ONLY main keyword in your title tag and as close as possible to the beginning of the title. The length of your title should not exceed 70 characters.
  • Page headers or H1 Tags – Make clear headings to help users get an idea of what is the page about. Add header H1 tag. Remember, it should have the most important keyword.
  • Sub heading – Add H2 header tags. Here you can place your second most important keyword.
  • Meta description – This is a short description of your page which if done properly may induce clicks. Include keywords in your description. If possible add your keywords at the beginning of your text.
  • Image with Alt attribute – Properly including an alt tag to your images, it can improve your rankings.
  • URL – Make sure that each page on a website has a unique URL. If this part is not in order, your URL might look messy, needed to be fixed by redirects. Have the targeted keyword once in the given URL to boost your relevancy metrics.
  • Internal linking – A well structured, organized and meaningful internal linking will give positive signals to search engines and give truthful direction to users.
  • Site maps – Include sitemap.xml one for users and one for robots, they are like table of contents. Every page you consider, it will be indexed by Google.
  • Robots.txt Having robots.txt files you give instructions to robots about your site, such as which web folders to exclude from indexing.

Optimizing your pages is useful for both people and search engines. It will attract more targeted traffic, it will increase your online visibility, it will be more easy for search engines to index your pages, and it will become more accessible to your users.

Make sure your on-page (SEO) optimization is not overly optimized, but also it isn’t forgotten. Include keywords in your page title, header, have Meta description and have descriptive link text. This will not only help users find you easier online but it will also help major search engines show your article in SERPs for a specific keyword.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

The Death of Link Building?

Unnatural links is the next fight for Google as many people noticed with Penguin update in April.

Notifications about unnatural links pointing to your website were first sent out in July 2011 and this was further ramped up in March this year with a peak in the last weeks, causing both panic and relief for webmasters around the world.

This is not something you want to receive:

“We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines.

Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team”

The reason that you receive this message is most likely that you have bought links in an unnatural way and that you have been doing it in too much volume.

Consequence of this message has usually been a hit on your rankings within 1-4 weeks, most commonly after about 10 days. The penalization is likely to lasts 6+ months and to get back in rankings you would need to send a reconsideration request to Google.

There is however no reason to panic completely, Google has recently sent out many messages with “false alarm” and you may not be in danger as Matt Cutts is stating here. Going forward it will be more clear what kind of danger you are facing in regards to this.

What should I do now?

You still need to get your links to rank but more attention needs to be put in the direction of creating content that people naturally really want to link to.

If you find this too expensive and hard you need to consult a link building expert, such as Nordic Search, to ensure that you are keeping the risk level you want and that your money is put in a direction where it matters, within Google’s guidelines.

Relevance and quality needs to improve, at the same time you can’t be too aggressive with anchor texts and definitely avoid link networks to boost your rankings. Short term, go through your link profile and make sure that obviously bad links are removed.

This is time consuming and many people are expecting the launch of a “link disavow tool” (enabling you to select what links that you don’t want to count) also for Google (not only Bing) to make this process easier.

Stay tuned for further updates about Google’s war against bad links!!

Link building facing huge challenges nowadays

After the famous Google Penguin Update, the importance of hard-to-get quality links has become clear to all. What you should aim today is to get links meant for humans, not for Google.

So what does this all mean?

Linking from relevant places

Don’t just submit links to different directories just because they are directories. Choose the best and biggest ones, where people actually go to look for websites. Examples could be Dmoz.org, Yahoo! Directory, etc.

If you want to make blog commenting, do it only if you really have something smart to say and you believe that the link you are posting in a comment provides some value to the blogger, or other readers. Otherwise, just skip it.

I could go on and on about this, but what I really want to say is that you should avoid all kinds of link building activity where the main purpose is just to get SEO optimized links and affect to your search engine rankings.

You want to be linked from places where you are having actual audience that might see your link and click on it directly to visit. You want the links from these kind of places that believe the link will benefit some human beings by providing them more information beyond what’s on the page itself, not because they are thinking the link will benefit someone to rank better.

Yes I know, earned links are not easy links. But they are worth it, or at least they won’t lead you to get penalized by Google.

Unnatural looking links

So what are then unnatural looking links? The examples I am going to give you are based on the examples I found from Search Engine Land’s article Can There Really Be 85 Types of Unnatural Links. (Don’t worry, not going to list all 85 types.)

1. You have a link from a sports bar based in Paris to your boxing club in Birmingham. This is a classical unnatural link that has no natural connection in subject matter or location between these two websites.

2. The title tag and the heading tag of some of your internal pages are the exact keyword match for several anchor text links from other websites pointing at your site. This is clearly unnatural.

3. Your less-good-blog or site has ten times more blogroll links than your nearest competitor. The amount of links should go hand in hand with the quality of your website. If your bad quality SMS loan site has 100 blogroll links, it will be seen as unnatural.

4. If your website has 1000 unique domains linking to it and 400 of them are coming from some directory, or file named /resources-links.html, links.asp, or /exchange-links.html, it is definitely unnatural. When half of your inbounds originate from links pages, that is unnatural.

5. Your site has a high amount of incoming links, but all these links are coming just from few resources.

6. Sitewide-links

7. Blog networks and article networks.

8. Mass directory submissions outside of your vertical.

9. Link(s) from (a) site(s) that offers no contact information, author name, etc.

10. Blogs with 3 external links from each blog post: one link to Wikipedia, one to .gov or .edu site, and one to a client site.

There are surely more different types of unnatural looking links, here was listed only 10 of them. Please go and read the article published in Search Engine Land (natural link above) if you are interested in reading further about unnatural looking links.

What is a good link profile then?

Good link profile is diverse. There are links from blogs, static pages, news websites, directories (good ones), social media bookmarks, etc.

Some of the links can be SEO optimized links, but majority should be just natural links, placed by webmaster. These include URL-links, brand links, long-tail keywords, just some word like “read more here“, etc.

It is very important to vary the anchor text, also the top level domain (.net, .com, .org, etc.) and geo location of the site linking to your site.

The link types should also vary: some links should be permanent, some footer links, some links from sidebar, some links should point to your subpages, some links should come from other website’s subpages, some from the homepage.

Important is just to try to have the link profile as diverse as possible, and of course, natural.