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Foreword This book is my collected thoughts about SEO in 2018. It is made up

Foreword

This book is my collected thoughts about SEO in 2018. It is made up of notes and references, experiments and observations made over the last decade or more.

It contains hundreds of tips.

Hopefully after reading it you will be more informed about modern SEO.

Author

Hobo Design

Shaun Anderson, Rodger Patterson, Scott Muir

Copyright: Shaun Anderson, 2018 https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/shaun-anderson/

Disclosure

This book is my personal opinion. Within its pages are a few affiliate links and links to my own services.

Disclaimer

Whilst I have made every effort to ensure that the information I have provided is correct, It is not advice. I cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions. The author does not vouch for third party sites or any third party service. Visit third party sites at your own risk. I am not directly partnered with Google or any other third party. This content in this book does not constitute legal advice. The author does not accept any liability that might arise form accessing the data presented on this site.

Hobo:

Michael Bonnar, Rodger Patterson, Alan Muir, Martin Gardner, Chris Ballantyne, Robert McKenzie, Jack Osborne, Connor Anderson, Jim Harkins, Margaret Anderson, James McInally & Shaun Anderson

Hire Me My technical SEO Audit service provides website-owners with the direction on how to

Hire Me

My technical SEO Audit service provides website-owners with the direction on how to improve their organic visibility and rankings in Google. By using my audit service you can easily identify what you need to improve on your website to rank higher in Google.

We tailor your SEO audit specifically to your site, whichever audit is purchased. See here for costs for an SEO audit:

1. Small SEO audit service - Designed for you if you are a small business with a very small website. If you have a very small site we can up our analysis in other areas maximising the usefulness of our audit to you. See SEO costs for small businesses with small sites.

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My team has worked to improve rankings for hundreds of small businesses with small sites and many larger companies with websites with many millions of pages. Our service is suitable for businesses of any kind who operate online including business websites, affiliate websites and e-commerce websites.

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My SEO audit service is suitable for any English language sites and we have clients in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, as well as from all over the world including the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. We can also analyse foreign language sites from a technical point of view. We work with almost all modern CMS systems from bespoke systems to the more common WordPress and Magento e-commerce stores.

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What is SEO?

25

What is SEO? 25 Why Should I Submit My Website to Google, Yahoo And Bing? 26

Why Should I Submit My Website to Google, Yahoo And Bing?

26

What Are The Top Search Engines To Submit My Site?

27

How Do I Check If My Site Is On Google?

27

Do I Need To Pay to Get Into Google, Bing or Yahoo?

28

How Do I Connect My Site To Google Search Console?

28

How Do I Verify A Site with Google Webmaster Tools?

28

How Do I Automatically Get Modified Web Pages Updated on Google?

29

TL; DR - What Really Matters if you do SEO?

30

An Introduction to SEO

32

Google Rankings Always Change

40

'User Experience' Does Matter

43

TAKE NOTE: Google is Moving To “Make our index mobile-first

44

NOTE: Google has a ‘Page-Heavy’ Penalty Algorithm

44

NOTE: Google has an ‘Interstitial and Pop-Up‘ Penalty Algorithm

45

What is the PURPOSE of your page?

46

Ranking could be based on a ‘duration metric’

46

Rankings could be based on a duration performance score

46

What Makes A Page Spam?

47

If A Page Exists Only To Make Money, The Page Is Spam, to Google

48

Doorway Pages

49

What Does Google Classify As Doorway Pages?

50

What Is E.A.T.?

56

Main Content (MC) of a Page

56

Supplementary Content (SC) on a Page

57

The Importance of Unique Content For Your Website

59

Balancing Conversions With Usability &

User Satisfaction

59

Conversions With Usability & User Satisfaction 59 NOTE: User Experience Across Multiple Devices & Screen

NOTE: User Experience Across Multiple Devices & Screen Resolutions

62

NOTE: Which type of Adverts Annoys Users?

63

How To Fix Issues Found In the Google Ad Experience Report

67

What Does Google Mean By "Low-Quality"?

68

Google Is Not Going To Rank Low-Quality Pages When It Has Better Options

72

Quality

Raters Do Not Directly Impact YOUR site

73

Quality Bar - Always Rising - Always Relative?

73

Ratings Can Be Relative

77

Can Thin Content Still Rank In Google?

78

What Are The High-Quality Characteristics of a Web Page?

79

What Characteristics Do The Highest Quality Pages Exhibit?

80

What Are The Low-Quality Signals Google Looks For?

81

Pages Can Be Rated 'Medium Quality'

82

Google Quality Algorithm Updates

83

What Is Google Panda?

84

Identifying Which Pages On Your Own Site Hurt Or Help Your Rankings

87

Investigating A Traffic Drop

93

Technical SEO

99

Example 'High Quality' E-commerce Site

100

What Are YMYL Pages?

101

What Is "Domain Authority"?

102

Is Domain Age An Important Google Ranking Factor?

106

Google Penalties For Unnatural Footprints

107

Ranking Factors

107

Do Keywords In Bold Or Italic Help?

113

How Many Words & Keywords Do I Use On A Page?

114

How Many Words & Keywords Do I Use On A Page? 114 What is The Perfect

What is The Perfect Keyword Density?

115

Keyword Stuffing

116

Focus On The User

118

Optimise For User Intent & Satisfaction

119

Focus on 'Things', Not 'Strings'

120

Can I Just Write Naturally and Rank High in Google?

120

Do You Need Lots of Text To Rank Pages In Google?

121

Optimising For 'The Long Click'

122

User Generated Content & Forum SEO Advice

123

Page Title Element

124

A

Note About Title Tags;

126

More Reading:

127

Meta Keywords Tag

127

Meta

Description Tag

128

More Reading:

129

Robots Meta Tag

129

 

Robots.txt File

131

H1-H6: Page Headings

132

Alt Tags & ALT Text

133

Link Title Attributes, Acronym & ABBR Tags

134

Keywords In URLs Make Search Engine Friendly URLs

135

Absolute Or Relative URLs

137

How long is too long for a URL?

137

Subdirectories or Files For URL Structure

138

How Google Treats Subdomains: “We… treat that more as a single website”

139

Should I Choose a Subfolder or Subdomain?

140

Should I Choose a Subfolder or Subdomain? 140 Which Is Better For Google? PHP, HTML or

Which Is Better For Google? PHP, HTML or ASP?

140

Fetch As Google

141

Check How Google Views Your Desktop Site

141

Check How Google Views Your Smartphone Site

142

Check How Your Site Renders On Other Browsers

142

Is Valid HTML & CSS A Ranking Factor?

144

Point Internal Links To Relevant Pages

145

Link Out To Related Sites

147

Broken Links Are A Waste Of Link Power

148

Does Only The First Link Count In Google?

149

Duplicate Content

150

Duplicate Content SEO Best Practice

151

Double or Indented Listings in Google

152

Create Useful 404 Pages

153

301 Redirects Are POWERFUL & WHITE HAT

156

NOTE: Some Redirects May Be Treated As Soft 404 Errors

158

You MUST Redirect To Equivalent Content

159

How To Use 301 Redirects Properly To Preserve Rankings in Google

159

Redirect Non-WWW To WWW (or Vice Versa)

160

The Canonical Link Element Is VERY IMPORTANT

162

Do I Need A Google XML Sitemap For My Website?

163

Enough Satisfying Website Information for the Purpose of the Website

165

Dynamic PHP Copyright Notice in Wordpress

167

Rich Snippets

167

Adding Schema.org Markup to Your Footer

168

Keep It Simple, Stupid

169

Keep It Simple, Stupid 169 How Fast Should Your Web Page Load?   171 A Non-Technical

How Fast Should Your Web Page Load?

 

171

A

Non-Technical Google SEO Strategy

173

Does Google Promote A Site Or Demote Others In Rankings?

175

What You Should Avoid When Practicing Website Search Engine Optimisation

176

Don't Flag Your Site With Poor Website Optimisation

180

The Continual Evolution of SEO

 

181

How Does Google Search work?

183

Beware Pseudoscience In The SEO Industry

 

185

How Long Does It Take To See Results from SEO?

188

A

Real Google Friendly Website

 

190

How To Make SEO-Friendly Web Copy & Create High Quality Pages For Google

192

Google Has Evolved and Content Marketing With It

193

Is

Your Content 'useful for Google users'?

 

194

Is

The

Main

Content

(MC)

On

Your

Page

'High-Quality"?

196

Is

The Main Content (MC) On Your Page 'Unique Content', 'Duplicated Content', 'Copied Content',

'Spun Content' or 'Automated Content'?

197

How To Find Important Keywords To Include On Your Web Page

198

How Often Should Important Keywords Appear On Your Page?

199

How Many Words Can You Optimise Your Page For?

199

Can You Just Write Naturally and Rank High in Google?

199

Do You Need Lots of Text To Rank Pages In Google?

200

How Much Text Do You Need To Write For Google?

200

Does Your Page Content Satisfy User Search Intentions?

201

'Know'

202

'Go'

202

Do’ Beats ‘Know.’

203

‘ Do ’ Beats ‘ Know .’ 203 How To Optimise Content to Meet User Intent

How To Optimise Content to Meet User Intent & Satisfaction

204

Focus on 'Things', Not 'Strings'

205

What Is EAT? (“Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)

206

What Topic Are You Building Machine Identifiable Expertise in?

206

Are People Looking For Your Content On Google?

207

How Long Does It Take To Write Seo-Friendly Copy?

212

Long Tail Traffic Is Hiding In Long Form Content

213

Do you NEED long-form pages to rank?

213

How To SEO In-depth Content

214

Optimising For Topics

And Concepts

214

Stale Content Can Negatively Impact Google Rankings

215

Does Google Prefer Fresh Content?

216

Low-Quality Content On Part of A Web Site Can Affect Rankings For The Same Website On More

Important Keyword Rankings

218

What Are The High-Quality Characteristics of a Web Page?

221

What Characteristics Do The Highest Quality Pages Exhibit?

222

Pages Can Be Rated ‘Medium Quality’

223

Are Poor Spelling and Bad Grammar Google Ranking Factors?

224

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

227

Google is policing their

229

Does Google Promote A Site Or Demote Others In Rankings?

229

Google Introduced 'an explicit quality metric which got directly at the issue of quality'

230

Google Is Not Going To Rank Low-Quality Pages When It Has Better Options

232

Google Demotion Algorithms Target Low-Quality Content

233

Low-Quality Content Is Not Meant To Rank High in Google

235

Google Rates 'Copied' Main Content 'Lowest'

237

Rates 'Copied' Main Content 'Lowest' 237 How To Do " SEO Copywriting "   238

How To Do "SEO Copywriting"

 

238

Should You Rewrite Product Descriptions To Make The Text Unique?

240

Tip: Beware Keyword Stuffing E-commerce Website Category Pages To Rank For Various Other Keywords in Google

241

Are You Making Or Optimising Doorway Pages?

243

What Does Google Classify As Doorway Pages?

244

What Makes A Page Spam?

 

249

If A Page Exists Only To Make Money, The Page Is Spam, to Google

250

How

To

Improve Your Website

Content

251

How To Get Featured Snippets on Google

252

How To Deal With Low-Quality Content On Your Site

254

Specific Advice From Google On Low-Quality Content On Your Site

255

Focus on Quality To Improve Conversion Rates

256

Improve Your Content In A Way That Helps Your Page Achieve its 'Purpose' Better

256

How To Optimise Content For The "Long Click"

257

Summary

 

259

How To Get Google To Crawl and Index Your Website Fully

260

Will Google Index every page on Your Website?

262

Does Google crawl an XML sitemap and does it crawl the entire sitemap once it starts?

262

Why Doesn't Google Crawl and Index My Website XML Sitemap Fully?

264

Most links in your XML Sitemap should be Canonical and not redirects

265

Sometime non-canonical versions of your URLs are indexed instead

265

What Is the maximum size limit of an XML Sitemap?

266

Why Is The Number Of Indexed URLs in Search Console Dropping?

266

What Are The Low-Quality Signals Google Looks For?

267

What Are The High-Quality Characteristics of a Web Page?

268

Are The High-Quality Characteristics of a Web Page? 268 Help Google Help You Index More Pages

Help Google Help You Index More Pages

 

269

Minimise the production of doorway-type pages you produce on your site

269

Minimise the production of thin pages you produce on your site

269

Have your site produce proper 404

pages

270

Block your internal search function on your site

270

Use

canonicals properly

 

270

Use proper pagination control on paginated sets of pages

270

Use proper indexation control on pages

 

271

How To Deal With Search Console Indexation Report Errors

271

What Is Javascript?

 

273

The Challenges with Javascript & SEO

273

Can Google Render Pages Created Using JavaScript?

274

How Google Handles "titles, description & robots meta tags, structured data, and other meta- data" created With Javascript?

275

How Does Google Handle Navigation Links That Are CREATED Using Javascript?

275

Does A Javascript Link Pass PageRank just like any other link?

276

How Does Google Handle A Link FOUND In Javascript CODE On A WebPage?

276

TIP: Use ""feature detection" & "progressive enhancement" techniques." To Make Your Site Accessible To All Users

276

How Does Google Handle Content Which Becomes Visible When Clicking A Button?

277

How Google Treats Text Hidden But Revealed Using Javascript & CSS e.g. 'Read More' Links

277

How Google Treats Content Loaded from Another Page Using JS

279

How

Google

Handles Javascript Redirects

280

Can I Use Javascript To Hide "Affiliate Links"?

280

TIP: Mobile-First Indexing: Ensure Your Mobile Sites and Desktop Sites Are Equivalent

281

WARNING: Some Javascript Based Sites Can be "Slow and inefficient"

282

How To Test If Google Can Render Your Pages Properly

283

How To Test If Google Can Render Your Pages Properly 283 Will Google Properly Render Single

Will Google Properly Render Single Page Application and Execute Ajax Calls?

283

Fetch As Google

284

Check How Google Views Your Desktop Site

285

Check How Google Views Your Smartphone Site

286

How To Troubleshoot Javascript Issues On Your Site Using Google Chrome Developer Tools

286

Google Webmaster Guidelines

287

Introduction To Keyword Research

291

Keyword

Research Glossary

293

Different types of keywords

293

By keyword length

293

By buying intent

294

Informational

294

Navigational

294

Commercial

294

Transactional

294

Why is keyword intelligence so important?

295

Conducting Keyword Research with SEMrush

295

Step 1. Make a list of topics or themes that best describe what you do

296

Step 2. Input each of these topics into SEMrush

297

Phrase

match keywords and Related Keywords

299

Step 3. How To Work Out Keyword Difficulty

301

Step 4. How To Research Competitors’ Keywords

303

The chart

view

304

Bonus. Rank Tracking In SEMRush

305

And, that’s it!

305

How To Drive Traffic To Your Website Using Keyword Research

307

Drive Traffic To Your Website Using Keyword Research 307 An Introduction To Keyword Research For Beginners

An Introduction To Keyword Research For Beginners

307

What Is Keyword Research? A Definition:

309

Just how important is it in the mix for a successful SEO campaign?

309

Where do you start?

310

What does the research involve?

311

How much research do you do on a project?

312

Do the keywords change as the project progresses?

312

The Long Tail

314

Keyword Research Is VITAL

316

Adding One Word To Your Page Can Make All The Difference

322

Google Analytics Keyword ‘Not Provided.’

324

Example: ‘NOW’ & ‘THEN’ – How Effective Research Works To Drive More Traffic To A Site

325

What Are The Best SEO Tools?

330

SEMrush

331

Long Tail

Pro

332

SearchMetrics Suite

333

SpyFu

334

SiteBulb

335

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

337

Website Auditor Software (For Mac & PC)

338

Deep Crawl

340

Integrity For Mac Only

341

URL Profiler

342

ProRankTracker Rank Tracker Software

343

Advanced Web Ranking

344

Link Assistant Rank Tracker Software

346

Link Assistant Rank Tracker Software 346 SEO Powersuite (LinkAssistant.com) 348 Majestic 349 Link

SEO Powersuite (LinkAssistant.com)

348

Majestic

349

Link

Research Tools

350

Link Prospector

350

Kerboo (Formerly Link Risk)

352

Clicky Web Analytics

353

 

Grammarly

354

Chrome Extensions

355

Nofollow For Chrome

355

Awesome Screenshot Minus

355

Woorank

357

 

Redirect Path

357

Spreadsheets, Browsers & Other Tools

359

SEO Tools For Excel

359

Dropbox

359

 

Hidemyass

360

The Best SEO Tools for Beginners

362

Review: How To Do An SEO Audit With SEMRush FAST (Beginners Guide)

363

How To Use The SEMRush Site Audit Tool

365

Introduction to the SEMRush Technical Audit

365

How to configure your site audit

366

Crawler Configuration

367

The Audit Dashboard Explained

368

 

Overview

368

Issues Tab

370

Crawled Pages

370

Crawled Pages 370 Keyword / Ranking Positions Audit: 374 Introduction to the SEMRush Keyword Tools 374

Keyword / Ranking Positions Audit:

374

Introduction to the SEMRush Keyword Tools

374

Competitor Audit

377

Introduction to the SEMRush Competitor Research Tools

377

How to identify top organic competitors

377

Backlink Audit:

380

Introduction to the SEMRush Backlink Analysis Tool

380

Content Audit:

383

Spy On Your Competitors Rankings & Perform Keyword Research FREE for 30 Days (Worth Over

100$)

384

Duplicate Content Advice From Google

385

Google Q&A on Duplicate Content

386

Duplicate Content SEO Best Practice

387

What Is Duplicate Content?

388

What is Boilerplate Content?

390

Should I Rewrite Product Descriptions To Make The Text Unique?

391

How Does Google Rate 'Copied' Main Content?

392

Is There A Penalty For Duplicate Content On A Website?

393

How Does Googe Rate Content 'Deliberately Duplicated Across Domains'?

395

How To Manage Content Spread Across Multiple Domains

397

How To Deal With Content Spread Across Multiple TLDs?

398

How To Manage Duplicate Content When Reporting News Stories

398

What is 'Near-Duplicate' Content, to Google?

398

Can Duplicate Content Rank in Google?

398

Should I Block Google From Indexing My Duplicate Content?

399

Is A Mobile Site Counted As Duplicate Content?

400

Is A Mobile Site Counted As Duplicate Content? 400 How To Use Canonical Link Elements Properly

How To Use Canonical Link Elements Properly

401

Understand If Your CMS Produces Thin Content or Duplicate Pages

404

Will Google Penalise You For Syndicated Content?

405

Does Google Penalise 'Thin' Content On A Website?

409

How To Deal With Pagination Problems On Your Website

410

How To Use Rel=Next & Rel=Previous Markup, Properly

411

TIP: "noindex, nofollow" "is essentially kind of the same as a" "noindex, nofollow" John Mueller

 

413

Should You Block Google from Crawling Internal Search Result Pages?

413

Are Uppercase and Lowercase URLs Counted as TWO different pages to Google?

414

Do Trailing Slashes Cause Duplicate Content Challenges on a Website?

414

Redirect Non-WWW To WWW (or Vice Versa)

415

Does The Google Panda Algorithm Penalise Duplicate Content?

416

How To Check For Duplicate Content On A Website?

418

How To Change Domain Names, Page URLs & CMS And Keep Your Rankings

419

Why Should I care About Redirects When I Move Domain?

420

How Do I Redirect Visitors And Search Engines To My New Site?

420

Is It Possible To Transfer Rankings From One Domain To Another?

420

How Long Do I Keep 301 Redirects In Place?

421

Will Redirects Cause My PageRank To Be diluted?

422

How Long Does It Take For Google To Implement A Full Site Migration?

422

Is There A Limit To The Amount of 301 Redirects Google Will Follow in a 'chain'?

422

Does Google treat 302's the same as 301's?

423

Should I use a 301 or a 302 redirect?

423

Should I tell Google About My Change Of Domain?

424

Redirect Non-WWW To WWW (or Vice Versa)

424

Redirect Non-WWW To WWW (or Vice Versa) 424 NOTE: Some Redirects May Be Treated As Soft

NOTE: Some Redirects May Be Treated As Soft 404 Error Pages

425

NOTE: 301 Redirecting expired pages to your home page may result in 'soft-404s'

426

NOTE: 301 Redirects from Products To Categories May Result in Soft-404s

426

NOTE: You MUST Redirect To Equivalent Content

 

427

NOTE: How To Use 301 Redirects Properly To Preserve Rankings in Google

429

NOTE: Rel Canonicals Can Be Treated As 301 Redirects

431

Can I Merge Multiple Domains And Redirect Them To Consolidate Rankings?

432

CASE STUDY: Using 301 Redirect To Keep Google Rankings

434

Can I 301 Multiple Out-Dated Pages To A New Higher Quality Page?

436

Do Pages Need To Be Identical for 301 redirects to work?

437

Can I Transfer A Google Penalty To My New Domain with Redirects?

438

Use 301 Redirects To Switch Your Website To HTTPS

439

Should You Move To Https Immediately?

 

440

Do you need to register the HTTPS Version of a Site As A 'Change of Address' in Google Search Console?

440

Cleaning Up Your Site Before A Changeover To HTTPS

440

Do I need to Register My Https Site With Google Search Console?

441

Google's Advice on Moving To Https

 

442

CODE: How Do You Implement 301 Redirects on Apache Servers?

444

CODE: How To Implement 301 Redirects Using PHP

 

445

CODE: How To Implement 301 Redirects Using ASP

445

CODE:

How

To

Implement

301 Redirects

Using

ASP.net

445

EXAMPLE: How To Implement 301 Redirects on IIS Servers

445

How Can I Test My Redirects Are Working Properly?

 

446

How Fast Should A Website Load?

 

447

Every Second Does Count

448

Every Second Does Count 448 How Much is 'Website Speed' a Google Ranking Factor? 449 How

How Much is 'Website Speed' a Google Ranking Factor?

449

How Fast Should Your Website Load?

451

Recent Case Studies About Site Speed Performance

452

Download speeds

458

Internal Link Building

459

An Introduction to 'Internal Link Building'

459

Anchor Text Indexing

461

Propagation of Relevance between Linked Pages

461

Ranking based on ‘changes over time in anchor text

461

Ranking based on ‘Unique words, bigrams, phrases in anchor text‘

461

Rank assigned to ‘a document is calculated from the ranks of documents citing it’ – ‘Google Pagerank

462

A ‘measure of quality’ based on ‘the number’ of links:

462

A ‘measure of quality’ based on ‘traffic received by use of those links’

463

A ‘measure of quality’ based on link ‘selection quality score’

463

Links Are Like Lasers

463

How To Do Internal Link Building

466

Broken Links Are A Waste Of Link Power

467

Internal Links Help Google Discover Other Pages On Your Website

468

How Many Links Is Too Many In A Website Dropdown Navigation System?

469

Do I Need an HTML Sitemap For My Site?

470

Ensure Your Navigation System Is User & Search Engine Friendly

471

The 3 Click Rule of Website Design

472

The Benefits of A Consistent Website Navigation & Page Layout

474

First Link Priority - Do Multiple Links From One Page To Another Count?

476

What is Anchor Text?

478

What is Anchor Text? 478 How To Optimise Anchor Text 479 Is There A Limit On

How To Optimise Anchor Text

479

Is There A Limit On The Number Of Keywords In Anchor Text Links?

481

How About If The Link Is In ALT Text?

483

What If The Link Passes through a 301 redirect?

484

Beware Using Plugins to Automate 'SEO-Friendly' Internal Links

485

Does Google Count Internal Keyword Rich Links To Your Home Page?

486

Should I Use Nofollow on Internal Links (PageRank Sculpting)?

488

How To Find Rel=Nofollow On Internal Links On A Website

491

How Can I Optimise Anchor Text Across A Website?

492

Does Google Count Keywords in Anchor Text In Internal Links? YES

493

Does Google Count Keywords In The URL As A Ranking Signal?

506

What is "link building" in SEO?

507

How Can I Check For SEO Issues On A Site?

507

How To Build Links

508

Should I Copy My Competitors?

509

Content

Marketing

513

What Is E.A.T.?

514

Ranking based on Link Analysis using Historical Data

515

A ‘measure of quality’ based on ‘the number’ of links:

515

Ranking based on ‘a decrease in a rate or quantity of new links that point to the document over time

515

Ranking based on ‘on the time-varying behaviour of the links pointing to the document

515

What Are 'Natural' & 'Unnatural' Links?

516

Spam identified by the ‘sudden growth in the number of apparently independent peers (e.g., unrelated websites)’

517

Building Links Is Easier When You Have Content Worth Linking To

517

How Link Building Has Evolved

519

How Link Building Has Evolved 519 Negative SEO 522 Is Link Building Dead? 527 Avoid Low-Quality

Negative SEO

522

Is Link Building Dead?

527

Avoid Low-Quality Links

528

TACTIC: "Backlink Reclamation"

529

TACTIC: Earn Media Links

529

The Perfect Link Request Email

530

TACTIC: "Broken Link Building"

531

TACTIC: Links On 'Links To Useful Sites' Pages

533

TACTIC: "LinkBait" With Information-Rich Content

535

TACTIC: Guest Posting On Blogs & Sites For Links

537

TACTIC: Attracting Editorial Links From Bloggers

538

TACTIC: Forum Linkbuilding

539

TACTIC: Links From University & College Sites

540

TACTIC: 'Partner' Links

541

TACTIC: 'EVENT' Links

542

TACTIC: NHS Health Service Links

543

TACTIC: "Local Links"

544

TACTIC: Directory Submissions

546

Basics of Link Building

548

What Do Search Engines Say About Link Building?

549

Tell The World About Your Site But Don't Get Caught Asking For Links

551

Get Links From REAL Sites (Sites That Do NOT Exist JUST To Link To Other Sites)

553

Do Off-Topic Links To My Site Count?

554

Which Links Affect A Website's Ranking In Google SERPs?

557

Links Like Lasers

560

Should I Buy Links To Improve Google Rankings?

565

Should I Buy Links To Improve Google Rankings? 565 Link Sellers Are Rarely Discreet 566 Are

Link Sellers Are Rarely Discreet

566

Are Reciprocal Links With Unrelated Websites Safe?

568

One-Way Links

569

Reciprocal Links

570

What Is The Best Way To Build Links?

572

Why Vary Anchor Text When Building Links?

574

Ranking based on ‘Unique words, bigrams, phrases in anchor text‘

575

Ranking based on ‘changes over time in anchor text

575

AVOID: Article Marketing Syndication

576

AVOID: Low-Quality Press Releases & Advertorials

577

Are Social Shares the 'New Links'?

578

Ten things I care more about than Google +1s or any social media share

582

Summary

584

Nofollowed Links

585

Example "Nofollow" Link Code

586

Google Wants Rel=Nofollow on Paid Links

587

Should I Use Nofollow On User-Generated Content Links?

589

How Does Google Treat Nofollowed Links?

589

How To Find Nofollow On External Links On A Website

591

Should I Use Nofollow on Internal Links (PageRank Sculpting)?

592

How To Find Rel=Nofollow On Internal Links On A Website

595

Should I Nofollow EVERY Outbound Link On My Site?

596

Should I Apply Nofollow To My External Social Media Profile Links Like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin?

597

Can Nofollow Links Pointing To My Site Hurt MY SITE?

597

Should I add rel="nofollow" to links that are included with my widget or infographics?

598

that are included with my widget or infographics? 598 How To Deal With Manual Actions For

How To Deal With Manual Actions For Unnatural Links, Negative SEO & Google Penguin

599

What Are 'Unnatural Links'?

600

Will Google Tell Me About Unnatural Links?

603

Do I Need To Physically Remove ALL Unnatural Links Pointed At My Site?

605

What Happens To My Rankings in Google if Google Penalises My Site For Unnatural Links?

606

Your Backlinks Will Very Probably Need MANUALLY Checked

607

Which Links Am I Supposed To Clean Up?

609

How To Deal With Unnatural Links Pointed At Your Site

609

Download links to your site

610

How To Use Disavow Tool

612

Should I Use The Google Backlinks Disavow Tool Myself?

615

Should I Submit ALL my backlinks to the disavow tool?

616

How To Submit "Reconsideration Requests" After A Manual Action

617

Will Your Rankings Return To Normal After Getting A Penalty Lifted?

618

Will My Competitor be Penalised For Unnatural Links?

619

Verdict: A 'Prolonged, Sustained' Sin Bin For Google Manual Actions For Artificial Links

620

"A Level Playing Field" - Matt Cutts

622

Bad Neighbourhoods

624

Is It OK To Link Out To Related Sites?

626

Negative SEO - How To Check For A Link-Based Attack

627

What Is Google Penguin?

632

Real-Time Google Penguin

632

QUOTE: ‘Penguin doesn’t… penalize anymore

633

The Google Penguin Impact Was Widely Felt

634

The 'Titanic' Update

635

Low-Quality Link

Building Nuked!

637

Low-Quality Link Building Nuked! 637 The Relationship Between Penguin & Panda 637 QUOTE: What counts as

The Relationship Between Penguin & Panda

637

QUOTE: What counts as a high-quality site?

638

Should you be worried about the Google Penguin Algorithm?

640

Penguin Update History Dates:

641

Impact of Historic Penguin Updates

641

What If I Do Nothing about my old toxic links?

642

Summary

643

Google Penalty Recovery Services

644

Spy On Your Competitors Rankings & Perform Keyword Research FREE for 30 Days (Worth Over

100$)

645

The End

646

What is SEO? S earch E ngine O ptimisation (SEO) in 2018 is a technical,

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in 2018 is a technical, analytical and creative process to improve the visibility of a website in search engines. The primary function of SEO is to drive more unpaid useful traffic to a site that converts into sales.

The free SEO tips you will read in this book will help you create a successful SEO friendly website yourself.

I have nearly 20 years experience making websites rank in Google. If you need optimisation services - see my SEO consultation service, website migration service, SEO audit or small business SEO services.

Why Should I Submit My Website to Google, Yahoo And Bing? Getting listed on Google

Why Should I Submit My Website to Google, Yahoo And Bing?

Getting listed on Google and the other popular search engines is one of the most effective ways of directing free (or more accurately unpaid), targeted traffic to your website.

Organic traffic is still the most valuable traffic in the world, in 2018, with search engines still rated the most trusted source for finding news and information:

the most trusted source for finding news and information: Here are some tips to help you

Here are some tips to help you if you're a beginner in all this.

What Are The Top Search Engines To Submit My Site? The most popular search engines

What Are The Top Search Engines To Submit My Site?

The most popular search engines in the UK are Google, with around 90% of the market share, Bing, and Yahoo. It is a similar picture worldwide. All search engines serve nationwide results, based on the reputation of a website and local results, based on the proximity of the user to the business.

Google, for example, has many country-specific engines (e.g. www.google.co.uk) that help Google deliver more accurate results for UK based users.

Google deliver more accurate results for UK based users. How Do I Check If My Site

How Do I Check If My Site Is On Google?

Just type your website address into the Google search box. If Google knows about your site, it will tell you. If your site doesn't feature as the number 1 result, you may need to submit your site to Google.

Another way to check if a page is in either of the search engines is to lift a piece of unique text from the page, put it into the search box "in quotes".

Your page should come up if Google is

indexing your site.

Us the "site:" command operator - e.g. simply type "site: www.hobo-web.co.uk" into the Google Search Box (Bing too) as the "info:" command was deprecated (2016).

You can use the site command on your homepage or any internal page on your site.

Do I Need To Pay to Get Into Google, Bing or Yahoo? No . You

Do I Need To Pay to Get Into Google, Bing or Yahoo?

No. You do NOT have to pay a penny to get your site into any of the major search engines.

You can submit your URL to all the main global search engines entirely for free.

You can pay for placement in Google through Google Adwords (PPC) but this tutorial is specifically for free listings.

How Do I Connect My Site To Google Search Console?

At some point, to rank better in search engines, you are going to have to get other sites to link to it, so you may as well think about that first link on external sites.

In 2018 - that usually means creating useful, accurate and in-depth content that attracts links naturally.

If you want to bypass all that, for now, you can submit your website and verify it in Google Webmaster Tools. The procedure to connect your website is very simple with a little technical knowledge.

How Do I Verify A Site with Google Webmaster Tools?

You have a number of options to verify that you own your website:

Add a meta tag to your home page (proving that you have access to the source files).

 
 

To use this method, you must be able to edit the HTML code of your site's pages.

 

Upload an HTML file with the name you specify to your server. To use this method,

 
 

you must be able to upload new files to your server.

 

Verify via your domain name provider. To use this method, you must be able to sign

 
 

in to your domain name provider (for example, GoDaddy.com or

 

networksolutions.com) or hosting provider and add a new DNS record.

 

Add the Google Analytics code you use to track your site. To use this option, you

 
 

must be an administrator on the Google Analytics account, and the tracking code must

use the new asynchronous snippet.

 
How Do I Automatically Get Modified Web Pages Updated on Google? https://youtu.be/bjbaDP-P7PA?t=41m4s You can ping

How Do I Automatically Get Modified Web Pages Updated on Google?

https://youtu.be/bjbaDP-P7PA?t=41m4s

You can ping Google (and other engines) using RSS or XML. Most CMS systems have some support for this.

If you have a blog, In the past, I've found registering a site with FEED BURNER is useful in happy, instant indexing of new content on a site.

If your website publishes an XML sitemap, this is even better. It's amazing how fast Google indexes and ranks pages.

I've seen pages get into Google and rank in the top ten for a phrase in less than 1 minute and I recently tested just how fast Google publishes your content if you're well connected.

Wordpress, for example, pings Google when you post new content, which is very handy with a blogging system. Most modern open source content management systems of note do something like this.

You can add your website direct to Google Webmaster Tools, too.

"QUOTE: "in the sitemap file we primarily focus on the last modification date so

 

that's what we're looking for there that's where we see that we've crawled this page

   

two days ago and today it has changed therefore we should recrawl it today we don't

 

use priority we don't use change frequency in the sitemap file at least at the moment

 

with regards to crawling so I wouldn't focus too much on priority and change

 

frequency but really on the more factual last modification date information an RSS

 

feed is also a good idea with RSS you can use pubsubhubbub which is a way of

 

getting your updates even faster to Google so using pubsubhubbub is probably the

 

fastest way to get content where you're regularly changing things on your site and you

want to get that into Google as quickly as possible an RSS feed with pubsubhubbub is

 

a really fantastic way to get that done." John Mueller Google

 
TL; DR - What Really Matters if you do SEO? QUOTE : " There aren't

TL; DR - What Really Matters if you do SEO?

QUOTE: "There aren't any quick magical tricks that an SEO will provide so that

 

your site ranks number one. It's important to note that any SEO potential is only as

 

high as the quality of your business or website so successful SEO helps your website

put your best foot forward." Maile Ohye, Google 2017

 

In my opinion, here are the things that really matter if you do SEO in 2018, and I would wager that both white-hats and black-hats would agree on these:

Don't block your site

Don't confuse or annoy a website visitor

Don't block Google from crawling resources on your site or rendering specific elements on your page

Have a responsive design that works on mobile and desktop

Be situated local to your target customer

Geotarget your site in Search Console AKA Google Webmaster Tools (unless you have a country specific domain)

Put your keyword phrase at least once in the Page Title Element

Put your keyword phrase at least once in the Main Content on the page (at least once in page copy (in Paragraph tags)

Avoid keyword stuffing main content

Optimise your meta description to have a clickable useful SERP snippet

Ensure the Main Content of the page is high-quality and written by a professional (MOST OF YOUR EFFORT GOES HERE - If your content is not being shared organically, you may have a content quality problem)

Ensure the keywords you want to rank for are present on your site. The quality of competition for these rankings will determine how much effort you need to put in

Use synonyms and common co-occurring words throughout your page copy

Add value to pages with ordered lists, images, videos and tables

Optimise for increased 'user intent' satisfaction (e.g. increased dwell times on a page or site)

Keep important content on the site updated a few times a year

Trim out-dated content from your site

Avoid publishing and indexing content-poor pages (especially affiliate sites)

Aim for a good ratio of 'useful' user-centred text to affiliate links

Disclose page modification dates in a visible format

Do not push the main content down a page unnecessarily with ads etc.

Link to related content on your site with useful and very relevant anchor text

Use a simple navigation system on your site

Create pages to basic meet W3C recommendations on accessible HTML (W3c) (H1, ALT text etc.)

Create pages to meet basic usability best practices (Nielsen) - Pay attention to what 'annoys' website visitors

Create pages where the main content of the page is given priority, and remove annoying ads and pop-ups (especially on mobile)

Develop websites that meet Google technical recommendations on (for example) canonicalization, internationalisation and pagination best practices

Ensure Fast delivery of web pages on mobile and desktop

 Provide clear disclosure of affiliate ads and non-intrusive advertising. Clear disclosure of everything, in

Provide clear disclosure of affiliate ads and non-intrusive advertising. Clear disclosure of everything, in fact, if you are focused on quality in all areas.

Add high-quality and relevant external links (depending if the query is informational)

If you can, include the Keyword phrase in a short URL

Use the Keyword phrase in internal anchor text pointing to this page (at least once)

Use Headings, Lists and HTML Tables on pages if you show data

Ensure on average all 'Main Content' blocks of all pages on the site are high-quality

Ensure old SEO practices are cleaned up and removed from site

Avoid implementing old-school SEO practices in new campaigns (Google is better at detecting sites with little value-add)

Consider disavowing any obvious low-quality links from previous SEO efforts

Provide Clear website domain ownership, copyright and contact details on the site

Share your content on the major social networks when it is good enough

Get backlinks from real websites with real domain trust and authority

Convert visitors (whatever that 'conversion' may be)

Monitor VERY CAREFULLY any user-generated content on your site, because it is rated as part of your own site content

Pay attention to site security issues (implement https, for example)

What really matters in SEO in 2018 is what you prioritise today so that in 3-6 months you can see improvements in the quality of your organic traffic. I lay this out in my comprehensive SEO audits (see an example SEO audit here).

QUOTE: “In most cases the SEO will need four months to a year to help your

 

business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.” Maile Ohye,

Google 2017

 

You will need to meet Google's guidelines and recommendations in every area in 2018 (and, if you are like me with this site, you eventually avoid bending any rule and just focus on serving the user useful and up-to-date content).

Read on for a more meandering look at modern SEO in 2018.

An Introduction to SEO QUOTE : " Search engine optimization is often about making small

An Introduction to SEO

QUOTE: "Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to

parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like

 

incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could

have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic

search results." Google Starter Guide, 2008

 

This article is a beginner's guide to effective white hat SEO.

I deliberately steer clear of techniques that might be 'grey hat', as what is grey today is often 'black hat' tomorrow, or 'shady practices', as far as Google is concerned.

QUOTE : “S hady practices on your website […] result in a reduction in search

QUOTE: “Shady practices on your website […] result in a reduction in search

rankings” Maile Ohye, Google 2017

QUOTE : “S hady practices on your website […] result in a reduction in search rankings

No one-page guide can explore this complex topic in full. What you'll read here are answers to questions I had when I was starting out in this field 20 years ago, now 'corroborated with confirmations from Google.

QUOTE: "My strongest advice when working with an SEO is to request if they

 

corroborate their recommendation with a documented statement from Google" Maile

Ohye, Google 2017

 

The 'Rules.'

Google insists webmasters adhere to their 'rules' and aims to reward sites with high-quality content and remarkable 'white hat' web marketing techniques with high rankings.

QUOTE: “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” Google SEO Starter Guide, 2017

Conversely, it also needs to penalise websites that manage to rank in Google by breaking these rules.

QUOTE: "Basically, we figured that site is trying to game our systems, and

 

unfortunately, successfully. So we will adjust the rank. We will push the site back just

to make sure that it’s not working anymore.Gary Illyes, Google 2016

 

These rules are not 'laws', but 'guidelines', for ranking in Google; lay down by Google. You should note, however, that some methods of ranking in Google are, in fact, illegal. Hacking, for instance, is illegal in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

You can choose to follow and abide by these rules, bend them or ignore them - all with different levels of success (and levels of retribution, from Google's web spam team).

White hats do it by the ‘rules’; black hats ignore the 'rules'. What you read

White hats do it by the ‘rules’; black hats ignore the 'rules'.

What you read in this article is perfectly within the laws and also within the guidelines and will help you increase the traffic to your website through organic, or natural search engine results pages (SERPs).

Definition

There are a lot of definitions of SEO (spelled Search engine optimisation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, or search engine optimization in the United States and Canada) but organic SEO in 2018 is still mostly about getting free traffic from Google, the most popular search engine in the world (and almost the only game in town in the UK in 2018):

world (and almost the only game in town in the UK in 2018): Opportunity The art

Opportunity

The art of web SEO lies in understanding how people search for things and understanding what type of results Google wants to (or will) display to its users. It's about putting a lot of things together to look for opportunity.

A good optimiser has an understanding of how search engines like Google generate their natural SERPs to satisfy users' navigational, informational and transactional keyword queries.

QUOTE: "One piece of advice I tend to give people is to aim for a niche within your

niche where you can be the best by a long stretch. Find something where people

 

explicitly seek YOU out, not just "cheap X" (where even if you rank, chances are

they'll click around to other sites anyway)." John Mueller, Google 2018

 
Risk Management A good search engine marketer has a good understanding of the short term

Risk Management

A good search engine marketer has a good understanding of the short term and long term

risks involved in optimising rankings in search engines, and an understanding of the type of content and sites Google (especially) WANTS to return in its natural SERPs.

The aim of any campaign is more visibility in search engines and this would be a simple process if it were not for the many pitfalls.

There are rules to be followed or ignored, risks to take, gains to make, and battles to be won

or lost.

Free Traffic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

QUOTE : " Google is "the biggest kingmaker on this Earth. " Amity Singhal, Google,

QUOTE: "Google is "the biggest kingmaker on this Earth." Amity Singhal, Google,

2010

QUOTE : " Google is "the biggest kingmaker on this Earth. " Amity Singhal, Google, 2010

A Mountain View spokesman once called the search engine 'kingmakers', and that's no lie.

Ranking high in Google is VERY VALUABLE - it's effectively 'free advertising' on the best advertising space in the world.

Traffic from Google natural listings is STILL the most valuable organic traffic to a website in the world, and it can make or break an online business.

The state of play, in 2018, is that you can STILL generate highly targeted leads, for FREE, just by improving your website and optimising your content to be as relevant as possible for a buyer looking for your company, product or service.

As you can imagine, there's a LOT of competition now for that free traffic - even from Google (!) in some niches.

You shouldn't compete with Google. You should focus on competing with your competitors.

The Process The process that is SEO can be practised, successfully, in a bedroom or

The Process

The process that is SEO can be practised, successfully, in a bedroom or a workplace, but it has traditionally always involved mastering many skills as they arose including diverse marketing technologies including but not limited to:

Website design

Accessibility

Usability

User experience

Website development

PHP, HTML, CSS, etc.

Server management

Domain management

Copywriting

Spread sheets

Backlink analysis

Keyword research

Social media promotion

Software development

Analytics and data analysis

Information architecture

Research

Log Analysis

Looking at Google for hours on end

It takes a lot, in 2018, to rank on merit a page in Google in competitive niches, due to the amount of competition for those top spots.

User Experience QUOTE : " At Google we are aiming to provide a great user

User Experience

QUOTE: "At Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device,

we're making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle."

Google 2014

 

The big stick Google is hitting every webmaster with (at the moment, and for the foreseeable future) is the 'USER EXPERIENCE' stick.

There is no single 'user experience' ranking factor, we have been told, however poor user experience clearly does not lead to high rankings in Google.

QUOTE: “I don't think we even see what people are doing on your website if they're

filling out forms or not if they're converting to actually buying something so if we

 

can't really see that then that's not something that we'd be able to take into account

 

anyway. So from my point of view that's not something I'd really treat as a ranking

factor. Of course if people are going to your website and they're filling out forms or

signing up for your service or for a newsletter then generally that's a sign that you're

 

doing the right things.”. John Mueller, Google 2015

 

Note what Google labels 'user experience' may differ from how others define it.

Take for instance a slow page load time, which is a poor user experience:

QUOTE : “We do say we have a small factor in there for pages that

QUOTE: “We do say we have a small factor in there for pages that are really slow

to load where we take that into account.” John Mueller, Google, 2015

factor in there for pages that are really slow to load where we take that into

Or sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold”:

QUOTE: "So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected

by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first

 

either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction

 

of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience."

 

Google 2012

 

These are user experience issues Google penalises for, but as another Google spokesperson pointed out:

QUOTE : “Rankings is a nuanced process and there is over 200 signals." Maile

QUOTE: “Rankings is a nuanced process and there is over 200 signals." Maile

Ohye, Google 2010

QUOTE : “Rankings is a nuanced process and there is over 200 signals." Maile Ohye, Google

If you expect to rank in Google in 2018, you'd better have a quality offering, not based entirely on manipulation, or old school tactics.

Is a visit to your site a good user experience? Is it performing its task better than the competition?

If not - beware the manual 'Q uality Raters' and beware the Google Panda/Site Quality

If not - beware the manual 'Quality Raters' and beware the Google Panda/Site Quality algorithms that are looking to demote sites based on what we can easily point to as poor user experience signals and unsatisfying content when it is presented to Google's users.

Google raising the 'quality bar', year on year, ensures a higher level of quality in online marketing in general (above the very low-quality we've seen over the last years).

Success in organic marketing in 2018 involves investment in higher quality on-page content, better website architecture, improved usability, intelligent conversion to optimisation balance, and 'legitimate' internet marketing techniques.

If you don't take that route, you'll find yourself chased down by Google's algorithms at some point in the coming year.

This 'what is SEO' guide (and this entire website) is not about churn and burn type of Google SEO (called web spam to Google) as that is too risky to deploy on a real business website in

2018.

QUOTE : " Black hat SEO fads: like walking into a dark alley, packed with

QUOTE: "Black hat SEO fads: like walking into a dark alley, packed with used car

salesmen, who won't show you their cars." Matt Cutts, Google 2014

walking into a dark alley, packed with used car salesmen, who won't show you their cars.
What Is A Successful Strategy? Get relevant. Get trusted. Get Popular. Help a visitor complete

What Is A Successful Strategy?

Get relevant. Get trusted. Get Popular. Help a visitor complete their task.

SEO is no longer just about manipulation in 2018.

It's about adding quality and often useful content to your website that together meet a PURPOSE that delivers USER SATISFACTION over the longer term.

If you are serious about getting more free traffic from search engines, get ready to invest time and effort in your website and online marketing.

Quality Signals

QUOTE: "Another problem we were having was an issue with quality and this was

particularly bad (we think of it as around 2008 2009 to 2011) we were getting lots of

complaints about low-quality content and they were right. We were seeing the same

 

low-quality thing but our relevance metrics kept going up and that’s because the low-

quality pages can be very relevant. This is basically the definition of a content farm

in our in our vision of the world so we thought we were doing great our numbers

 

were saying we were doing great and we were delivering a terrible user experience

 

and turned out we weren’t measuring what we needed to so what we ended up doing

was defining an explicit quality metric which got directly at the issue of quality it’s

not the same as relevance. And it enabled us to develop quality related signals

 

separate from relevant signals and really improve them independently so when the

 

metrics missed something what ranking engineers need to do is fix the rating

 

guidelines… or develop new metrics." SMX West 2016 – How Google Works: A

 

Google Ranking Engineer’s Story (VIDEO)

 

In short, it was too easy (for some) to manipulate Google's rankings at the beginning of the decade. If you had enough 'domain authority' you could use 'thin content' to rank for anything. This is the definition of a 'content farm'.

Web spammers often used 'unnatural' backlinks to build fake 'domain authority' to rank this 'thin' content. I know I did in the past.

So Google raised the bar.

Google decided to rank HIGH-QUALITY documents in its results and force those who wish to rank high to invest in higher-quality content or a great customer experience that creates buzz and attracts editorial links from reputable websites.

These high-quality signals are in some way based on Google being able to detect a certain amount of attention and effort put into your site and Google monitoring over time how users interact with your site. Quality signals are much harder to game than they were in 2011.

Essentially, the 'agreement' with Google is if you're willing to add a lot of great

Essentially, the 'agreement' with Google is if you're willing to add a lot of great content to your website and create a buzz about your company, Google will rank you high above others who do not invest in this endeavour.

QUOTE: “high quality content is something I’d focus on. I see lots and lots of SEO

blogs talking about user experience, which I think is a great thing to focus on as well.

Because that essentially kind of focuses on what we are trying to look at as well. We

 

want to rank content that is useful for (Google users) and if your content is really

 

useful for them, then we want to rank it.” John Mueller, Google 2016

 

If you try to manipulate Google, it will penalise you for a period, and often until you fix the offending issue - which we know can LAST YEARS.

If you are a real business who intends to build a brand online and rely on organic traffic - you can't use black hat methods. Full stop. It can take a LONG time for a site to recover from using black hat SEO tactics and fixing the problems will not necessarily bring organic traffic back as it was before a penalty.

QUOTE: "Cleaning up these kinds of link issue can take considerable time to be

 

reflected by our algorithms (we don't have a specific time in mind, but the mentioned

 

6-12 months is probably on the safe side). In general, you won't see a jump up in

 

rankings afterwards because our algorithms attempt to ignore the links already, but it

makes it easier for us to trust the site later on." John Mueller, Google, 2018

 

Recovery from a Google penalty is a 'new growth' process as much as it is a 'clean-up' process.

Google Rankings Always Change Google Rankings Are In Constant Ever-Flux QUOTE : " Things can

Google Rankings Always Change

Google Rankings Are In Constant Ever-Flux

QUOTE: "Things can always change in search." John Mueller, Google 2017

can always change in search. " John Mueller, Google 2017 Put simply - It's Google's job

Put simply - It's Google's job to MAKE MANIPULATING SERPs HARD. It’s HARD to get to number 1 in Google for competitive keyword phrases.

So - the people behind the algorithms keep 'moving the goalposts', modifying the 'rules' and raising 'quality standards' for pages that compete for top ten rankings.

In 2018 - we have ever-flux in the SERPs - and that seems to suit Google and keep everybody guessing.

Fluctuating Rankings

QUOTE : “ nobody will always see ranking number three for your website for those

QUOTE: “nobody will always see ranking number three for your website for those

queries. It’s always fluctuating.” John Mueller, Google, 2015

see ranking number three for your website for those queries. It’s always fluctuating .” John Mueller,

This flux is not necessarily something to do with a problem per se and

QUOTE : “ that’s just a sign that our algorithms are fluctuating with the rankings

QUOTE: “that’s just a sign that our algorithms are fluctuating with the rankings.”

John Mueller, Google 2015

QUOTE : “ that’s just a sign that our algorithms are fluctuating with the rankings .”

Fluctuating upwards could be a good sign as he mentioned: “maybe this is really relevant for the first page, or maybe not.” – then again the converse is true, one would expect.

He says “ a little bit of a push to make your website a little

He says “

a little bit of a push to make your website a little bit better, so that the algorithms

.” which I thought was an interesting

can clearly say, yes, this really belongs on the first page

turn of phrase. ‘First page’, rather than ‘number 1’.

Google is very secretive about its 'secret sauce' and offers sometimes helpful and sometimes vague advice - and some say offers misdirection - about how to get more from valuable traffic from Google.

Google is on record as saying the engine is intent on 'frustrating' search engine optimisers attempts to improve the amount of high-quality traffic to a website - at least (but not limited to) - using low-quality strategies classed as web spam.

QUOTE: "If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny

 

people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal.

 

But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is

sort of break their spirits. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed

 

to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will

 

drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the

dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and

 

frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on." Matt Cutts, Google 2013

 

At its core, Google search engine optimisation is still about KEYWORDS and LINKS. It's about RELEVANCE, REPUTATION and TRUST. It is about QUALITY OF CONTENT, VISITOR SATISFACTION & INCREASED USER ENGAGEMENT. It is about users seeking your website out and completing the task they have.

A Good USER EXPERIENCE is a key to winning - and keeping - the highest rankings in many verticals.

Relevance, Authority & Trust QUOTE : Know that ‘content’ and relevance’ are still primary.” Maile

Relevance, Authority & Trust

QUOTE : Know that ‘content’ and relevance’ are still primary.” Maile Ohye, Google

QUOTE: Know that ‘content’ and relevance’ are still primary.” Maile Ohye, Google

2010

QUOTE : Know that ‘content’ and relevance’ are still primary.” Maile Ohye, Google 2010

Web page optimisation is in 2018 STILL about making a web page relevant and trusted enough to rank for any given search query.

It's about ranking for valuable keywords for the long term, on merit. You can play by 'white hat' rules lay down by Google, and aim to build this Authority and Trust naturally, over time, or you can choose to ignore the rules and go full time 'black hat'.

MOST SEO tactics still work, for some time, on some level, depending on who’s doing them, and how the campaign is deployed.

Whichever route you take, know that if Google catches you trying to modify your rank using overtly obvious and manipulative methods, then they will class you a web spammer, and your site will be penalised (you will not rank high for relevant keywords).

QUOTE: “Those practices, referred to in the patent as “rank-modifying spamming

 

techniques,” may involve techniques such as: Keyword stuffing, Invisible text, Tiny

text, Page redirects, Meta tags stuffing, and Link-based manipulation.” Bill Slawski,

 

These penalties can last years if not addressed, as some penalties expire and some do not - and Google wants you to clean up any violations.

Google does not want you to try and modify where you rank, easily. Critics would say Google would prefer you paid them to do that using Google Adwords.

The problem for Google is - ranking high in Google organic listings is a real social proof for a business, a way to avoid PPC costs and still, simply, the BEST WAY to drive VALUABLE traffic to a site.

It's FREE, too, once you've met the always-increasing criteria it takes to rank top.

'User Experience' Does Matter Is User Experience A Ranking Factor? User experience is mentioned 16

'User Experience' Does Matter

Is User Experience A Ranking Factor?

User experience is mentioned 16 times in the main content of the quality rater guidelines (official PDF), but we have been told by Google it is not, per say, a classifiable 'ranking factor' on desktop search, at least.

QUOTE : " On mobile, sure , since UX is the base of the mobile

QUOTE: "On mobile, sure, since UX is the base of the mobile friendly update. On

desktop currently no." (Gary Illyes: Google, May 2015)

since UX is the base of the mobile friendly update. On desktop currently no. " (

While UX, we are told, is not literally a 'ranking factor', it is useful to understand exactly what Google calls a 'poor user experience' because if any poor UX signals are identified on your website, that is not going to be a healthy thing for your rankings anytime soon.

Matt Cutts (no longer with Google) consistent SEO advice was to focus on a satisfying user experience.

What is Bad UX?

For Google - rating UX, at least from a quality rater perspective, revolves around marking the page down for:

Misleading or potentially deceptive design

Sneaky redirects

Malicious downloads and

Spammy user-generated content (un-moderated comments and posts)

Low-quality MC (main content of the page)

Low-quality or distracting SC (supplementary content)

In short, nobody is going to advise you to create a poor UX, on purpose, in light of Google's

algorithms and human quality rater who are showing an obvious interest in this stuff. Google

is rating mobile sites on what it classes is frustrating UX - although on certain levels what

Google classes as 'UX' might be quite far apart from what a UX professional is familiar with

in the same ways as Google's mobile rating tools differ from, for instance, W3c Mobile

testing tools.

Google is still, evidently, more interested in rating the main content of the webpage in question and the reputation of the domain the page is on - relative to your site, and competing pages on other domains.

A satisfying UX is can help your rankings, with second-order factors taken into

consideration. A poor UX can seriously impact your human-reviewed rating, at least. Google's punishing algorithms probably class pages as something akin to a poor UX if they meet certain detectable criteria e.g. lack of reputation or old-school SEO stuff like keyword stuffing a site.

If you are improving user experience by focusing primarily on the quality of the MC

If you are improving user experience by focusing primarily on the quality of the MC of your pages and avoiding - even removing - old-school SEO techniques - those certainly are positive steps to getting more traffic from Google in 2018 - and the type of content performance Google rewards is in the end largely at least about a satisfying user experience.

TAKE NOTE: Google is Moving To Make our index mobile-first

Now that Google is determined to focus on ranking sites based on their mobile experience, the time is upon businesses to REALLY focus on delivering the fastest and most accessible DESKTOP and MOBILE friendly experience you can achieve.

Because if you DO NOT, your competition will, and Google may rank those pages above your own, in time.

QUOTE: ‘To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our

   

index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of

 

websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version

 

of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to

show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built

from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience

 

for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

 

If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.’ GOOGLE