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.

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.

SEO tips

Head tag optimisation for SEO

The head tag is the first tag located at the top of an document. It contains website data designed to signal search engines and communicates how the page should be dealt with.

Search engines use web crawlers, also known and spiders and bots, to index the world wide web. Google calls its web crawler “Googlebot”. Bots access the head tag to determine how to treat the  document.

Head tag elements

There are six elements to consider when designing the perfect head tag for SEO. In order they are as follows.

Character Set tag

Displays the type of character-set to use for reading the web document. The the default character-set for modern browsers is ISO-8859-1, but utf-8 is becoming more popular.

Title tag

The title is the most important tag for SEO. If you have a well crafted title tag, with the targeted term at the front, the page will index higher in search results

Meta Description tag

Search engines often use the meta description tag as the text that features in search results and should summarise the page content with a strong call to action. Users decide whether to click through to your page based on this information.

Meta Keywords tag

Although not used as an indexing element, meta keywords are cached by the major search engines. Use this if you want to tick ALL the boxes.

Meta Robots tag

Meta robots tags tell Googlebot how to treat the page. If you don’t want pages listed in search results, noindex can be applied to signal search engines not to index. If you don’t want the links on that page indexed you would use noindex, nofollow. If you want to follow the links use noindex follow in the Meta tag.

Meta Author tag

The Meta Author tag it references the name of the person who created document. Both first and last names should be used. This tag does not factor into how the page is indexed.

Additional information

You should avoid having too much additional information contained within the head tag, but there may be situations where it’s required. You may have a mobile optimized website or use CSS, Maybe you want one of those funky browser tab icons (favicon). Each of these elements will need a line of code in the head tag. Just keep it to a minimum as best practice.

Java script may appear in the head tag but should be kept to a minimum where possible for better page load times. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, especially if you use WordPress plugins, but most <script> can be moved down to the bottom of the page just before the </body> tag.

Follow these head tag tips and your site will have a better changed of indexing well for SEO.

SEO tips

How to use title tag for SEO

The title tag is the most important HTML tag on your web page for generating traffic.  The title tag is a component of meta data and should be located in the head section of your HTML code. It should contain keywords that best describe the content on the page, and be no longer than 70 characters in length.

Update: In line with its mobile first philosophy Google has recently changed the way titles are displayed in its search results. Titles they are now measured in pixels – 512 to be exact. So now with the variations in character spacing, best practice is to use no more than 49 characters. By following this practice it has been discovered that around 99% of all titles will appear – with anything over the specified width truncated to fit within the designated 512 pixels.

The title tag also acts as the heading you see in the search results of Google and Bing. It is the link users click on to visit your website and must feature the targeted term up front for SEO. It should be crafted to grab the user’s attention and be relevant to the content on the webpage. Your business name can be included but I recommend it’s best place it at the end. Title tags must be rich in descriptive keywords for effective SEO. If you get this right your website WILL generate traffic.

When building a website you must ensure that every page has the capability to display a unique and keyword rich title tag. If this capability does not exist you increase the chance of duplication, which search engines have been known to penalize.

Here are some key points to remember about title tags

  • If you site is about selling Widgets it belongs in the title tag – “Buy Widgets from Widgetland”
  • If you sell different sizes there should be one page for each – “Buy small Widgets from Widgetland”
  • Same with location – “Buy small Widgets in Widgetville from Widgetland”

Why do this? Well, put yourself in the position of a user who wants to buy a Widget. Imagine the thought process when poised over a keyboard…

“I need to buy three widgets but only small ones. I need them today and don’t want to travel too far”

Luckily our user actually lives in Widgetville, so chances are the query will be something like buy small widgets widgetville. Close to an exact match – great.

Luckily you took my advice because search engines are in the business of serving only relevant content to users, which means your site will have a pretty good chance of showing at or near the top of that search result page. Our user looks at the link and thinks “Bingo”, and clicks through. You now have a visitor – thanks to the title tag and SEO.

SEO tips

How to use headings for SEO

Using headings correctly on your web page can drastically improve your website’s chances of ranking well in search engines. Headings are implemented in HTML as tags and range from H1 to H6.

The use of headings in a document is standard practice – even before the Internet was around. Structurally, headings are considered crucial because they break down the contents of a page into easily digestible portions. This aids a reader to better comprehend a document and therefore achieve a greater understanding. Headings should contain enough information to give the reader an overview of the content in each section. The first heading in an HTML web document is known as an h1 tag and should describe the document’s content. Headings can range from the h1 tag to a depth of h6.

From an SEO perspective the h1 tag is important because it signals the theme of a page to search engines. The h1 tag is one of the three main references web crawlers use to index content in search results, so getting this element right could yield considerable benefit for your website.

Difference between headings and titles

Although both have some common meanings, the h1 tag is not to be confused with the title tag, which is the actual name of the document and is viewed as separate to the general flow of body text. Both are important because the title and h1 tag, plus the body contents of a web document are used by spiders to index the page in search engines. The more descriptive and relevant these elements are to the user query, the better chance your site will have of ranking higher in the results.

There must be only one h1 tag per page. It must be keyword rich and as descriptive as possible. The h1 tag should feature the targeted term and indicate how it applies to the rest of the document.

By acting on this one HTML element, it will improve the way search engines see your website. Similar action with all other elements will drastically improve things so it’s well worth the effort.

SEO tips

SEO Basics

So you are planning on building a website to promote your business products and services. Regardless of whether you want to sell through your site, or simply provide information, you will need to understand SEO basics. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the term used when referring to where a website appears in search results like GoogleBing and Yahoo. To succeed with SEO basics one must be able to understand psychology of the average Internet user. You need to think about what’s going through the mind when someone is about to conduct a search, and how can you provide the best answer. Is this person researching the best option, or has the decision been made to purchase? The way your site is optimized will determine whether you appear on the first page, at the right time, or not.

The three key elements of SEO basics

  1. Keywords
  2. HTML
  3. Sitemaps and Robots.txt

This is important – these elements MUST be considered carefully and be incorporated BEFORE you launch the site.


Choosing the correct keywords is the number one rule of SEO basics. These are the words that best describe your product or service, which are referred to as targeted terms. More often than not your targeted term will be in the form of multiple words – such as “widgets for sale”. The two types of keyword terms you need to understand are generic and “long tail”. Generic keywords like “widgets” are usually very competitive terms because all businesses in you category will want to rank for that term. You should aim to rank long tail terms such as “small widgets for sale in [location]”. These are the quickest wins for your site because:

  • It’s easier to rank higher up the results; and
  • the more specific the term, the better chance of a sale.

Using location specifically as part of your targeted term is a smart thing to do because it signals that a user searching by location is ready to buy. So SEO basics tip one is – start with long tail terms to begin with, and as you build a brand online the more generic terms will come into play.


Rule number two of SEO basics is to use the right tags and Metadata in the HTML code of your site. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the way your computer translates into the into the webpage that becomes rendered on your screen (transferred from a web server to your computing device via HTTP).  HTML is how search engine’s view your web page (think Neo in the Matrix), so it needs to be presented in the right way. By “right clicking” on the page and selecting “view source” you will be able to view the HTML. It will look something like this…

SEO basics: HTML source code

It probably looks very confusing but for the purposes of basic SEO we are only going to focus on three areas

The title tag

There should only be one title tag on each page, which is unique and keyword rich. The title tag is considered one of the most important HTML elements on the page by search engines.

Heading tag

If you’re reading this you’ve probably used MS Word (or a similar program), so you should be familiar with the use of headings. For basic SEO we need to focus on only one heading – the h1 tag. The h1 tag is the main heading which helps signal the theme of a page to Google. As with the title tag, there must be only one h1 tag per page and it must be unique to all others on your site.

Meta description tag

The meta description tag is a component of metadata and is used to summarise the content on your page. More often than not search engines will use the meta description as the snippet of information that appears in search results. Your description should always include a strong call to action so that users are encouraged to click on yours over the competition, and again it must be unique Why must each tag be unique? Because if search engines see the same tag across your site it will assume each page is about the same thing and the perceived quality of your content will be diluted causing a lower ranking in the results. So SEO basics tip number two is to present a unique title, h1 heading and description for each page of your site.

Sitemaps and Robots.txt

The purpose of having a sitemap is to alert search engines to the existence of all pages on the website that you want indexed in results. There are two types of Sitemaps, both of which are an essential part of SEO basics. HTML sitemaps allow search engine web crawlers (or robots) to penetrate your site structurally, while XML sitemaps provide a list of URLs contained in your site. Both must be available to ensure your whole site is indexed On most sites there are links that shouldn’t be accessible – like password protected pages, etc. A robots.txt file is a simple file which notifies search engines parts of your site to crawl (or NOT), and should be viewed as a mandatory inclusion for all websites. So SEO basics tip number three is to attract web crawlers to only the parts of your site you want indexed by including HTML and XML sitemaps, along with a robots.txt file.

Using the right keywords, unique Meta data and web crawling mechanisms lays a solid foundation for your site. And before you decide to hire someone to build it for you make sure they understand these SEO basics.