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!

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.