Ranking factors SEO tips

Penguin 4.0 website backlinks penalty

The SEO community is scrambling after Google confirmed it’s release of the long awaited ‘bad links’ update – Penguin 4.0. Since the beginning of September many website rankings have crashed.

Overnight, some websites descended from page one for search terms to (in some cases) down around page 50. The impact of this will force some operators out of business – including quite a number of shonky SEO providers. It’s that serious!

So what is it and how could you be affected?

Penguin 4.0 origins

The first release of Penguin occurred in 2012 and was designed to crackdown on website owners buying links pointing back to their site in order to achieve better Google rankings. Basically, people were buying a whole stack of links from link farms to artificially inflate the popularity of their site. The initial Penguin update took aim directly at these obvious websites and followed those links (courtesy of Googlebot) through the web – applying penalties as they identified associated domains.

If your website has recently experienced what in your opinion is a massive drop you can pretty much assume you’ve got some dodgy sites linking back to yours. A lot of people got away with it the first time, but at version 4.0 you can assume that Google are getting a lot better at sniffing out sites attempting to ‘game’ the system.

The quest for higher PageRank

The whole ‘buying links’ frenzy started when SEO operators thought they could outsmart the Google PageRank algorithm. In short, the higher the number of high quality links from web pages with higher PageRank resulted in higher rankings on Google search results. The first release of Penguin put a stop to that – plugging a hole basically.

But SEO operators continued to devise sneaky tactics to get around Penguin. The link farms / networks morphed into low quality publishing platforms, but Google started to work this out too. So here we are today – Penguin 4.0.

You are probably reading this because your site has tanked, or you know sites that have tanked and hoping you aren’t next.

What to do now? Disavow, disavow, disavow!

There is a way out of this mess:

  • Locate websites linking to yours
  • Determine which ones are link farms / networks
  • Let Google know you aren’t responsible for the dodgy inbound links.

Let me know if you need a hand with this, otherwise you can Google all of the information you need to know about disavowing links.

Follow best practice

If you want a website to be found on Google it’s pretty simple:

  • Create ‘sharable’ content for your website people will want to see
  • Make sure your content is structured and nested under the appropriate titles and headings
  • Reach out to other websites that complement what you are doing and hopefully get them to link from their website to yours
  • Share your content on social media

If you have great content you may not even need to reach out for links – that’s the ideal!

Just DON’T try gaming Google, because in the end you WILL lose. Penguin 4.0 should have taught you that by now.

SEO tips

Top Horse Racing Tips Search Terms

The internet changed the way people gamble and place their bet on horse racing. Traditional bookies relied on traffic through their door, but today over half of all bets are placed online. The average punter is more concern about finding a winning bet than finding a great online bookmaker to bet at. Many people would place a bet and give the bookmakers their money, so much money is spent betting, it is almost impossible for bookmakers not to make a great profit. The online horse racing gambling market becomes so large. This immense opportunity makes the competition to appear on the top of search page becomes fierce. Bookies dedicated to gain high natural search position implements Bookmakers SEO.

The Melbourne Cup is likened to Christmas for the Bookmakers. Many people that bet on Melbourne Cup do not make any other bets throughout the year. So to bring people to the site and sign them up, bookies entice them with tantalising betting offers like free gift or free online betting. This kind of incentive for small free bets gives the best opportunity to choose their site rather than the competition.

Punters who use online bookmakers are prone to search with a number of varying words around horse racing tips. This gives a huge array of keyphrases to choose for active marketing use. Finding the right keywords is quintessential for gambling SEO to get the best results. Keyword research is the first step to get an idea of search volume and learn what the target market is looking for. The smarter horse racing SEO analyses the search volume to identify relevant search terms for their content marketing. In order to get better traffic, select the best search terms you want to rank for. Learning the top horse racing gambling search terms is the basic bookie guide in selecting or replacing their keyphrases. Here’s a list of the top horse racing gambling search terms in Australia based on search volume. This will help you figure out what search terms are used by punters when searching for bookie sites:

Keyphrase                          Search Volume
Racing Australia                 60500
Racing AU                          60500
Race results                       33100
Horse racing                       14800
Horse races                        14800

Keyword research is the standard practice in SEO and online marketing. Keyword research reflects what punters are looking for and the way Google thinks about these keyphrases. It’s not advisable for new bookie sites to target phrases like gambling, betting and online bookmakers. Ranking well for these competitive keyphrases is incredibly tough. There is a fierce competition for generic phrases such as “online gambling” or “online betting” major bookmakers are competing for these. More specific and less competitive keyphrases can be used for better SEO results. If you’re planning to engage in PPC ads, long-tail specific keyphrases are usually less expensive.

Keyphrase                          Search Volume
Horse racing results           9900
Horse racing tips                6600
Racing tips                         4400
Horse racing today             3600
Horse race results              2900
Free horse racing results   1000

Picking the right search terms will guide your overall content strategy. But avoid giving so much focus on high volume terms alone. Instead choose the keyphrases which is most relevant to your business. Try to understand the user’s intent and what will motivate them to place their bet on your site. Leverage on your user’s needs and use that knowledge to give them the best user experience. You will have a better success rate if you focus on your niche and serve your target customers with better content. This will result in higher ranking, better traffic and higher return on investment from your marketing efforts.

SEO tips Trades and Services

Furniture Store SEO: Rank To The Bank

A huge number of furniture stores today have shifted most of their attention to online media. This is quite apparent as you will not be finding any shortage of furniture websites that have setup and integrated their services over the internet. Their move towards online connectivity brings to the table a huge amount of benefits allowing them to pique and garner the interest of their target audience in a large scale. Online furniture stores in the present are also able to do this in a timely and efficient manner saving them a great deal of resources in the process. Online integration however, requires a number of factors that needs to be taken into consideration and one of them is with regards to your SEO approach. Let us look at furniture SEO and what search terms are the most lucrative for furniture store owners today.

It should be noted that SEO process involves the research of appropriate keywords that fits right well with the services one provides. Without the help of SEO, online stores will have a hard time drawing attention and traffic towards their website making them visibly harder to find. This is indeed quite true especially today where there are thousands upon thousands of online furniture stores found over the internet. To make the search process more seamless and fast for customers, many online stores today have applied the use of SEO giving their websites the fair share of attention it needs.

Search terms that are the most lucrative for furniture store owners today can vary from location. For instance, for small scale furniture owners, many advise them to focus their attention on their geographic region. Sydney furniture stores for example can benefit greatly with the use of local SEO. This in turn helps increase the likelihood of local customers being directed to your store front. Furthermore, these local clients will also be more likely to patronize your products especially since your store is situated near them.

Many furniture owners have also benefitted greatly with the use of long tail keywords with regards to their search engine optimization. Basically, long tail keywords are considered to be those three and four keyword phrases which are very much specific to whatever product one is selling. Long tail keywords help provide distinction while at the same time avoid the occurrence of having the same keywords with other providers. This works great if one is offering a particular brand or model of furniture.

For example, adding the word contemporary or antique in the mix of your SEO keywords will help them standout amongst the rest. The end result would be something like “Contemporary furniture in Sydney” or perhaps “Antique furniture in Sydney”. This helps streamline the search process while at the same time provide a more relevant and accurate result to the products online users are looking up today. The same can also be said with regards to the quality or type of material that is being used for the furniture. Furniture stores can add oak, timber or perhaps pine as keywords to produce the results their customers need. This in turn helps save their clients a great deal of time as well as resources when looking up furniture products over the internet. Make sure to do the necessary updates and revisions of furniture SEO to reap its wonderful benefits.


Malcolm Turnbull is Disruptive and Agile

Tonight the new Australian PM referenced the term Agile – twice. He then spoke about being Disruptive – in the sense of positive change. So what are these ideas and what do they have to do with SEO?

This is not a commentary of the events just unfolded, but one that attempts to give definition to terms born from digital that are fast becoming mainstream concepts you will hear a lot about.

What is Agile?

In digital project management Agile means getting the job done with the understanding that solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

I posted this blog about an hour after the press conference. I wanted to deliver it quickly so it was out there (early delivery). After it was posted I began to go through and tighten up the words (continuous improvement) to ultimately deliver a better product.

In SEO we do this all the time. We are constantly adapting to new landscapes and creating new information to service our users – whether that be a publishing platform or transactional application.

What is Disruptive?

Disruption essentially upsets the status quo. This can be a good or a bad thing depending upon which side of the fence you are on, but it is in line withe the universal principle – the only constant is change. Disruption drives new thinking and evolution.

A Disruptiveinnovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

Uber is an excellent representation of companies being Disruptive. The taxi industry is up in arms about this global “up-start”. Uber has essentially “Disrupted” the status quo with its innovative way of providing transport to the public.

Fail fast

Our immediate reaction to failure is usually negative. But I say we should embrace it. Failure breeds success. Just ask any successful person. Most have failed many times before achieving fame in their chosen field. The key is they didn’t dwell on the failure. They learnt from it, integrated the learning into their understanding and achieved success as a result of it.

Agility allows us to find solutions fast. Disruption shakes the status quo and forces change – hopefully for the better.

Being Agile and Disruptive is a lean and mean way of achieving successful outcomes for the greater good in general. If the new PM executes these concepts correctly we should find a bearing that leads us on a more positive path. Only time will tell.

Ranking factors

Publish or perish – oops I lost my ranking!

My last blog post on this site was way back on 11 May 2015 (it’s now 2 Sep). The thing is I’ve been busy working with clients, too busy to work on my own site. So I thought it was time to give this blog some much needed TLC. As part of general maintenance I went into Google Console and truth was looking straight back at me – publish or perish!

Because I hadn’t added anything to this blog for four months my rankings had really tanked. For key terms where I did rank on page one I was down on page three. For some they had disappeared completely. But it really didn’t surprise me. You see, I know the value Google places on producing fresh, quality content. And because I hadn’t posted anything recently I KNEW my rankings would take a hit. So to breathe life back into this site I need a plan – one that my readers can also use to maintain website rankings.

Publish or perish action plan

Many years ago I learnt first aid. My most vivid recollection of this training was when we were being taught about Actions to  Preserve Life. Check pulse. If no pulse perform CPR. Maintain external cardiac compressions until help arrives. A website is much the same as any living breathing organism and requires the same intensive care if left for dead. So how to triage a dying website?

Actions to Preserve Websites

  • Check that search engines can crawl the site
  • Check your site for low-quality back links
  • Update framework themes and plugins to the latest versions (especially if you are using WordPress)
  • Write some content – like I’m doing right now. Be sure that it’s detailed and not too thin (Google likes at least three hundred words of content
  • Use the keyword you want to rank for in the title, headings and body content (but avoid keyword stuffing)
  • Share that content  – via social media but also ask other websites to link to your content
  • Write some more content – and repeat.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not even SEO. It’s about providing users with great, up-to-date content, and maintaining a healthy website. If you view it this way you won’t be trying to optimise your website for the wrong reasons. You will actually be providing value (in this case what I hope you find helpful advice) to user who want want you have, be it a product or service.

So publish or perish – it really comes down to putting in the effort. Content is King. And great content trumps average content. Keep that in mind at all times when thinking about your website. Ask yourself daily, what information can I share today that nobody else can. That’s how you set yourself apart. So do it now!

Conversion Rate Optimisation

SEO Lead Generation

SEO is the most cost-effective way to get web traffic to your site. If your website is good enough to be on the first page of Google, you will get traffic. But it only covers half the job. SEO lead generation is all about converting users to leads and customers. This post will clarify how to generate business from your website, and is something business owners need to understand.

Total cost per lead (CPL) can vary dramatically based on the industry type. But the method of generating the lead can also fluctuate. Tradition methods such as print, television and outdoor are difficult to measure. Marketers, for the most part, can only analyse results retrospectively. The advantage of digital is that you can see the results as they occur and optimise on the fly – in real time.

In an earlier post we talked about conversion optimisation. This is the method of providing a clear path to purchase on your website so users can either fill out a registration form. Or better yet, actually buy products from an eCommerce enabled website.

There are a number of tools that provide detailed reporting on website activity. Google Analytics (GA) is a free website analytics service that enables website owners to drill down into the detail and provide insights into how websites perform from a conversion perspective.

Conversion by Traffic Source

There are essentially five channels that make up where traffic originates from:

  • Organic search – click through from a natural link in a search engine results page (SERP)
  • Direct – users typing the URL directly into a web browser
  • Paid search – click through from a sponsored ad on SERPs
  • Social – click through from a link posted on a social network (Facebook/LinkedIn etc)
  • Other – any other method (adhoc links, online press releases etc)

In this post we will cover lead generation as it relates to organic search.

Organic search traffic source for SEO lead generation

SEO optimised websites should be generating between 50% and 90% of total traffic. This figure is dependent on any other marketing activities in play at the time. If your site is generating around 5,000 visits per month SEO should account for 2,500.

By drilling down (by source) analytics tools should be able to tell you how many of those 2,500 visits convert to lead/sale. You can achieve this by setting up goals in GA. You can set multiple goals by measuring which pages were the entry point and the pages the user viewed before clicking on the final register or buy link.

You can then compare goals to determine which paths are performing better, and optimise accordingly.

It’s proven that the higher up your website appears in Google search results the more likely users are to click through to your website. If you have great structured content and compelling calls to action then users are going to be more likely to convert to lead/sale.

SEO lead generation is a science, but not a difficult one once you understand the process. Aligning user journeys with your goals by traffic source won’t seem all that hard anymore. By focusing your efforts on this process your cost per lead will reduce, which means more profit for your business.

If you would like to take advantage of SEO for lead generation give us a call. We’d be happy to help. So get in contact now

Trades and Services

Furniture Removal SEO

The furniture removal industry is a very competitive trades and service category. Business owners are seeing a huge value in having a multiple domain strategy to dominate page one of search results. This means, by securing page one ranking for each of website domain more users will be exposed to a single businesses services – on multiple sites. So let’s take a closer look at furniture removal SEO…

Furniture removal SEO terms

A quick look at Google AdWords shows us the level of competition for related furniture removal SEO keywords. I’ve included both generic and long tail location-based search terms.

Furniture Removal SEO AdWords
Google AdWords data as at 20 Feb 2015

As you can see in the screenshot above, AdWords cost per click ranges from about $10.00 for the generic term. And it goes to almost $24.00 for the location based search term. It’s also interesting to note the location-based term “removalists sydney” generates far more searches than the generic “removals” term.

The reason for this is pretty simple when you think about it. If I’m moving house I will want a company that services my location. So of course I’m going to Google – removalists sydney.

Now if I were in the furniture removals business I would want to make sure I secure at least one site in the top three of page one for that term. Ideally I’d want five sites featuring on page one – or better yet, ten. Now that’s domination!

Taking into account the Adwords rates above, and the number of visits it takes to generate a lead (say five). The value per lead to a removal company is almost $100.00. What would you prefer..? Pay every time someone clicks on an search advertisement, or get free clicks over time on an ongoing basis?

In a category as competitive as furniture removal SEO, it makes a lot of sense to invest in organic search strategy.

Ranking factors

Google sends mobility warning to Webmasters

Make your website mobile friendly or suffer the consequences. That’s the latest signal from Google as rumour circulates within the SEO community of an impending algorithm update to tackle website mobility issues.

In mid January 2015 it was reported that Google had commenced sending mobility warnings to Web masters. We in the SEO community believe this is a shot across the bow for the Google war on non-responsive, or mobile unfriendly websites.

What is mobility?

Mobility, as it relates to websites, refers to whether a website can be viewed effectively on a mobile device.

Look at any website on your smartphone. If you can see all the content easily then it’s probably mobile friendly. It will appear to render uniquely on mobile phones and tablets. But if you have to pinch or use the tactile functionality to view the page it’s most definitely not built for mobile devices. Back in December 2014 we posted an article about user engagement as an SEO ranking factor, and it seems as though Google is now ready to pull the trigger. A recent news report from Search Engine Land supports this view.

Mobile Friendly User Experience
SERP showing mobile friendly User Experience

If you haven’t done so already you need to make your website responsive, so that it renders across all digital devices in order to give the best user experience.

As we reported in our last post, mobile search is about to overtake searches from a desktop computer. If you do a search on your mobile you will also see that Google labels each appropriate search result “mobile-friendly”. The next step will be to actually apply a penalty to non-mobile-friendly websites, and that will impact negatively on where these sites rank in (SERPs) search engine results pages.

The impact of this update could be devastating for Webmasters if they don’t act fast. Some of the most recent algorithm updates have essentially wiped entire websites from the Google index.

We don’t know how much of an impact the mobility update will have, but if your website is mobile friendly (or responsive) you have nothing to fear and everything to gain!

This is a great opportunity to update the look and feel of your website – especially if it appears dated.

Update: Jan 2017

It’s clear that this update has had a considerable affect on rankings. Websites that are not responsive have all but disappeared from the top rankings. The ‘mobile first’ philosophy is something all businesses must now embrace to achieve successful outcomes from the Internet.

Ranking factors

User Experience a key SEO ranking factor in 2015

Website owners take note. User Experience (or UX) will be one of THE key ranking factor throughout 2015. So what is it and why should we worry about it? To understand what user experience is we first need to know what it’s not.

The best way to do this is to talk about “bounce rate”. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit your website but don’t proceed past the landing page. This tells us that the user hasn’t found the information to engage deeper into the site. The exception to this would be if your website was designed specifically to provide all the information a user would need – for instance a directory listing. If you use a web analytics product like Google Analytics you can find out what your bounce rate is at site and page level. If your bounce rate is over 85% you’ve got problems, and need to focus your efforts on User Experience design.

What is User Experience?

User Experience (also known as UX) design is the practice of creating a website that is easy to use, and encourages the user to consume content in such a way that it achieves a desired outcome for the website owner.

Why UX is important for SEO

Mobile Friendly User Experience
SERP showing mobile friendly UX

Historically, UX has been used for conversion rate optimisation (CRO) – the process of converting website visitors to customers. But most recently there has been a lot of chatter in the SEO community about User Experience – and with good reason. If you’ve recently used your mobile to to a Google search you would have noticed that some results show if a site is “mobile friendly”.

Before 2015 comes to an end mobile will overtake desktop as the preferred device to search from. It is for this reason alone your SEO and website strategy should be focused on a mobile first philosophy.

Here’s a great blog post on Moz that gives even more insight.

There is another reason User Experience is so important from an SEO perspective.

Post search engagement

Now let’s say your webpage has managed to make it onto page one. Congratulations, great job! But you’re not finished yet. Now you have to consolidate your position to move up the rankings. But how?

We covered bounce rate earlier in this post. If a user clicks on your listing and either clicks “back” on their browser, or visits another URL immediately after, what signal do you suppose that sends to Google? Not a good one because the assumption is the user did not find what they were looking for on that webpage.

Alternatively a user may click on a search result listing and spend some time browsing the content on that page. A short time later the user then clicks deeper into the website and again spends time on that link. This signals to Google the user was satisfied with the content on the landing page.

Given these levels of engagement, which page do you think Google will favour in search position consideration?

What’s the key takeout?

High bounce rate reduces the chances on maintaining page one ranking. If your bounce rate is high you MUST focus on UX design. If you are on page two and wracking your brain to get on page one the answer is simple. Create a compelling call to action in the search listing snippet (for higher click-through), and encourage the user to engage further by providing more information beyond the landing page.

SEO tips

What are the most common SEO mistakes?

You’ve done everything you can to make your site rank but nothing is happening. You ask yourself why. What are the most common SEO mistakes, and how do you fix them?

Too often I get clients asking me what’s wrong with their website. There’s a sense of paranoia around SEO. People think Google is out to get them because they don’t spend money on AdWords. Then they buy search terms only to find out it makes no difference to their rankings. I don’t for a minute believe that Google extorts anyone for money. The company is way beyond the need for any such nefarious tactics – yet some website owners believe it to be true. So I run a quick analysis of their website and tend to find the same common SEO mistakes – time and time again.

Common SEO mistakes

This list of common SEO mistakes is based on what SEO companies do – not the website owners. SEO requires a particular multi-layered skill set that very few SEO providers can deliver. SEO is not just about content. It not just about links, and it’s not just about technical expertise. SEO requires the sum total of skills in order to achieve high search engine rankings.

Top 3 most common SEO mistakes

You may cringe at first, after reading the following, but then you will know. Then you will be armed with the knowledge you need to get you website ranking once again – or for the first time. So let’s begin…

1. Buying low-quality links

I’ll be the first to put my hand up on this one. Out of ego I made the decision to buy 50 links from a link builder on the sub-continent. I was enjoying a friendly competition with a friend and SEO colleague in a race to the top for a specific search term. I was two spots below him so I made the reactive decision to throw some links at the page to overtake him. The Google web crawlers quickly pounced on my folly, and my site was immediately punished – severely. I then had to go through the process of disavowing those links, but not before I had them removed. My site bounced back, but only after I worked hard on my content. Here’s what that looked like…

Common SEO Mistakes - low-quality links
Google Webmaster Tools graph after Penguin recovery

2. Don’t try and game Google

I speak to a lot of SEO “experts” – it would have to be the most secretive profession out there. Very few are willing to share their secrets about how they get client sites to rank, but they are big on singing their own praises. They say they’ve found a loophole in how Google works and that they are getting great results, Then, more often than not, a couple of weeks later Google releases an algorithm update and all of a sudden those client rankings have plummeted. Those soon-to-be past clients are already looking for another SEO provider.

Don’t GAME Google, okay? Sooner or later you will get punished. It’s inevitable!

3. Create quality content – don’t duplicate it

You think to yourself, I’ll just Google the term I want to rank for, click the first link, and rewrite that piece of content in my own style. What do you think that will do to your site? That’ll be okay, right?Wrong! Just don’t do it. Either write from your your own mind or do the research. It one of THE most common SEO mistakes. Search algorithms are written by some of the smartest minds in the world, and can pick up on even the slightest bit of duplication.

What is the most important tip you will ever read about SEO?

Read Google Webmaster guidelines. These guidelines are parameters you should always stay within when doing SEO. Don’t ever go outside of these parameters – just don’t. You’ll thank me in the long run.