11 Technical SEO Tips to Boost Google Rankings

11 Technical SEO Tips to Boost Google Rankings

If you’re looking to rank higher on Google, you need to ensure your website is up to snuff from a technical standpoint. Following are 11 tips for success that will help improve your ranking.

Make Sure Your Site is Mobile- Friendly

Not only does the Google algorithm give preference to mobile-friendly sites, but it has even penalized several top websites for not adopting a more mobile-friendly web template. Enough said.

There are several free tools you can use to check your site against Google’s criteria:

  • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
  • Hubspot’s Marketing Grader
  • Bing’s Mobile Friendliness Test Tool
  • GTMetrix

Create an XML Sitemap

These can be created using Yoast SEO plugin or the Google XML sitemaps plugin. Having a sitemap is essential in order for Google to find and index your web pages.

Website Speed Matters

Your website may have top-notch content but if it’s slow, it will rank lower in Google’s SERPs regardless.

Here are some ways to speed up your website:

  • Optimize the site images
  • Enable browser caching
  • Enable compression
  • Reduce server response time
  • Use a Content Delivery System (CDN) like Cloudfare or MaxCDN

Fix Site Errors

To rank well on Google consistently, you should ideally run a technical audit every week. You can do this using Raven Tools, WooRank or SEMrush.

Enhance Internal Linking

Take advantage of internal linking if you’re having trouble generating backlinks from external authority sites.

Use Canonical URL’s to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues

Canonical URL’s are useful for when you want to replicate a blog post from one site to another and are especially useful if you’re running an E-Commerce type website which will have hundreds of identical pages.

Optimise Your Image Alt Text

Because Google uses metadata, such as the image file name and the image alt text to determine what’s in the image, it’s important to include keywords in your image alt text.

Activate SSL

SSL Certificates (aka HTTPs encryptions) are now a ranking signal which makes them important not just for the security of your website, but for SEO as well.

Check for Crawl Errors in Google Search Console

Checking for crawl errors in Google Search Console weekly and fixing them promptly is the best way to ensure that the performance of your website is not hindered and your ranking remains unaffected.

Use Google AMP

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is designed to load pages faster on mobile devices. Although Google has not yet announced AMP as a search engine ranking signal, they are pushing publishers to use it, which makes it a good idea to do so.

Use Schema Mark-Up

Schema markup gives SERP listing more prominence. It also gives Google extra, crawlable information on the content of web pages and advanced information regarding the theme and contextual purposes.

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6 Awesome Ways to Enhance Your SEO Campaign

SEO Campaign

What makes an SEO campaign effective?

Well, to start with you can look at an ‘on point’ strategy that pays heed to the primary issues that come with a website. This is pretty basic, but it is these bare necessities that get overlooked while putting a campaign into action.

The first thing that should strike you is – Who are my competitors? One would obvious bag first place in the 100 m sprint, if they were the only one running! If you don’t know who your competitors are, you wouldn’t know what is in store for you when you get out there onto the field, thus leaving you wither with a poor strategy or no strategy at all. You need to analyse and look into what your competition is doing to have a good rank. When you have a well-researched view of competitor websites you will have a clear idea as to how to strategize to get on top of them when it comes to ranking on the first page.

Now the question arises as to how? Here is how, you consider all the aspects of SEO, make a profile based on what your competition does best and where there is scope for improvement. This activity may be a bit difficult to carry with the speed bump being the fact that Google relies on entities instead of backlinks. That being said, this is still a vital step.

Now that you have all the data you need, it’s time for some introspection. Take a look at the problems that your website has already fallen victim to. Say, for example, your competitor site and your site have almost the same content (duplicate content issues) but is still ranking above yours, this is not a place where you should ideally start when it comes to giving priority to a campaign. The only thing you would be doing is resolving internal or external content duplication issues, and this wouldn’t really help in benefiting the visibility of your site.

Take a look these six factors to up you SEO campaign game

Content

The content of your site is one of the major areas of SEO, let’s not forget the blogs and the news sections. When you see that your competitors are producing valuable information on their websites and is shared by others, along with a good chunk of relevant text on pages that rank well, that is your que to make Content your priority area.

You will be faced with a major setback if you are not able to alter your content and come at par with what your competitor has to offer, in terms of setting up a campaign that will help you rank above them. As long as you keep producing fresh content which is up to date, your position in the search results will be taken care of.

All of the above doesn’t mean that you neglect the information you provide on your website with respect to your products and services. If you know that your overall content is up to date, then your priority area will shift to what you say about your products and services.

Backlink Risk

One must never underestimate the power of a poor and unnatural backlink. Reports show that these backlinks have cost some huge multinational brands a fortune on their share price due their search visibility taking a fall. Google tells you whether your link profile will damage the site visibility with the assistance of its three helpers; algorithms, humans and the competition for each SERP vertical.

Hence knowing your competitors and your own site from the very beginning is key, because this enable you to get an idea as to whether the backlinks are actually holding back the site or whether they are in the same boat as the rest of the search results.

Authority Building

How well is your site recognised by Google? This should be one of the first few questions that need to be asked when you are a new company, you should have quality website slinking to the site to establish a good search presence. One can achieve this by having quality content, to start with, while participating in local or national events, working with existing communities and having citations from leading industry sources. Another task you would have to carry out is establishing whether your site is strong enough to compete with its existing presence.

Another question of concern that may arise is that, your organisation is an industry leader and yet your site doesn’t show up on the first page of relevant searches. You will be able to identify whether you need to establish quality backlinks and citations on your high priority list once you know the position of your site and that of your competition.

Page Relevance

Part of your page ranking is taken care of by the relevant keywords, however, this is not enough when the ranks are determined by mathematical calculations and rules, especially in competitive search verticals. You need to carry out a detailed review of your key pages by closely examining the content on your page, when and where the page is referencing important terms and how the page is linked internally as well as externally. You may not feel it, but relevant linking sites and strong internal navigation are still very important.

Do not forget to analyse the importance of page relevance, you can do this by comparing it with competitor sites and understanding the reasons for those sites to be considered more relevant by search engines. You can get ideas as to how to improve your own site with this review.

Technical Improvements

Resolving technical issues that may be preventing or restricting search engines from picking up important parts of a site also result in considerable large gains. This also involves issues that come with mainstream Content Management Systems. Another way in which you can really improve the existing search visibility, is by having control over pages indexed by the search engine, correcting site structure, navigation and layout.

Duplicate Content

Everyone know it, duplicate content is a primary factor for e-commerce stores which sell branded goods, since product descriptions tend to be similar across the web. Sites specialising in unique goods or services that may have minimal duplication, this may not be an important issue. Having a unique site is good but focusing on other possible issues is also essential, so as to understand which would provide more value. So that you know where exactly to assign resources, it would be ideal to carry out a review to find out what is common amongst other sites in the same search vertical.

Now that you have these six essentials, you can up your game with setting up SEO campaigns. All you need to have is a strong database of research which will help you analyse your past performances as well as that of your competitors and you can create a successful campaign strategy which in turn will get you a greater return on investment

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SEO Rankings, Affected By Organic CTR?

CTR to SEO ratio

The purpose of click-through rates is to measure the ratio of clicks to impressions of an online ad or email marketing campaign. Generally the higher the CTR the more effective the marketing campaign has been at bringing people to a website. Most commercial websites are designed to elicit some sort of action, whether it be to buy a book, read a news article, watch a music video, or search for a flight. People rarely visit websites with the intention of viewing advertisements, in the same way that few people watch television to view the commercials.

Here we are going to look at whether organic CTR as compared to paid CTR has an impact on your SEO rankings, and if so, how.

Impact of Organic CTR on SEO Rankings

Below is a compilation of data that explains in detail the above mentioned point, by Moz.

Google (OK, at least one Google engineer who spoke at SMX) seems to indicate the latter is indeed the case:

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I also highly encourage you to check out Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday discussing clicks and click-through rate. In short, the key point is this: If a page is ranking in position 3, but gets a higher than expected CTR, Google may decide to rank that page higher because tons of people are obviously interested in that result.

Seems kind of obvious, right?

And if true, we ought to be able to measure it! In this post, I’m going to try to show that RankBrain may just be the missing link between CTR and rankings.

Untangling meaning from Google RankBrain confusion

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Let’s be honest: Suddenly, everyone is claiming to be a RankBrain expert. RankBrain-shaming is quickly becoming an industry epidemic.

Please ask yourself: Do most of these people — especially those who aren’t employed by Google, but even some of the most helpful and well-intentioned spokespeople who actually work for Google — thoroughly know what they’re talking about? I’ve seen a lot of confusing and conflicting statements floating around.

Here’s the wildest one. At SMX West, Google’s Paul Haahr said Google doesn’t really understand what RankBrain is doing.

If this really smart guy who works at Google doesn’t know what RankBrain does, how in the heck does some random self-proclaimed SEO guru definitively know all the secrets of RankBrain? They must be one of those SEOs who “knew” RankBrain was coming, even before Google announced it publicly on October 26, but just didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

Now let’s go to two of the most public Google figures: Gary Illyes and John Mueller.

Illyes seemed to shoot down the idea that RankBrain could become the most important ranking factor (something which I strongly believe is inevitable). Google’s Greg Corrado publicly stated that RankBrain is “the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.”

Illyes also said on Twitter that: “Rankbrain lets us understand queries better. No affect on crawling nor indexing or replace anything in ranking.” But then later clarified: “…it does change ranking.”

I don’t disagree at all. It hasn’t. (Not yet, anyway.)

Links still matter. Content still matters. Hundreds of other signals still matter.

It’s just that RankBrain had to displace something as a ranking signal. Whatever used to be Google’s third most important signal is no longer the third most important signal. RankBrain couldn’t be the third most important signal before it existed!

Now let’s go to Mueller. He believes machine learning will gain more prominence in search results, noting Bing and Yandex do a lot of this already. He noted that machine learning needs to be tested over time, but there are a lot of interesting cases where Google’s algorithm needs a system to react to searches it hasn’t seen before.

Bottom line: RankBrain, like other new Google changes, is starting out as a relatively small part of the Google equation today. RankBrain won’t replace other signals any time soon (think of it simply like this: Google is adding a new ingredient to your favorite dish to make it even tastier). But if RankBrain delivers great metrics and keeps users happy, then surely it will be given more weight and expanded in the future.

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RankBrain headaches

If you want to nerd out on RankBrain, neural networks, semantic theory, word vectors, and patents, then you should read:

To be clear: my goal with this post isn’t to discuss tweets from Googlers, patents, research, or speculative theories.

Rather, I’m just going to ignore EVERYBODY and look at actual click data.

Searching for Rankbrain

Rand conducted one of the most popular tests of the influence of CTR on Google’s search results. He asked people to do a specific search and click on the link to his blog (which was in 7th position). This impacted the rankings for a short period of time, moving the post up to 1st position.

But these are all transient changes. Changes don’t persist.

It’s like how you can’t increase your AdWords Quality Scores simply by clicking on your own ads a few times. This is the oldest trick in the book and it doesn’t work.

The results of another experiment appeared on Search Engine Land last August and concluded that CTR isn’t a ranking factor. But this test had a pretty significant flaw — it relied on bots artificially inflating CTRs and search volume (and this test was only for a single two-word keyword: “negative SEO”). So essentially, this test was the organic search equivalent of click fraud. Google AdWords has been fighting click fraud for 15 years and they can easily apply these learnings to organic search. What did I just say about old tricks?

Before we look at the data, a final “disclaimer.” I don’t know if what this data reveals is definitively RankBrain, or another CTR-based ranking signal that’s part of the core Google algorithm. Regardless, there’s something here — and I can most certainly say with confidence that CTR is impacting rank. For simplicity, I’ll be referring to this as Rankbrain.

A crazy new experiment

Google has said that RankBrain is being tested on long-tail terms, which makes sense. Google wants to start testing its machine-learning system with searches they have little to no data on — and 99.9 percent of pages have zero external links pointing to them.

So how is Google able to tell which pages should rank in these cases? By examining engagement and relevance. CTR is one of the best indicators of both.

Head terms, as far as we know, aren’t being exposed to RankBrain right now. So by observing the differences between the organic search CTRs of long-tail terms versus head terms, we should be able to spot the difference:

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We used 1,000 keywords in the same keyword niche (to isolate external factors like Google shopping and other SERP features that can alter CTR characteristics). The keywords are all from my own website: Wordstream.com.

I compared CTR versus rank for 1–2 word search terms, and did the same thing for long-tail keywords (4–10 word search terms).

Notice how the long-tail terms get much higher average CTRs for a given position. For example, in this data set, the head term in position 1 got an average CTR of 17.5 percent, whereas the long-tail term in position 1 had a remarkably high CTR, at an average of 33 percent.

You’re probably thinking: “Well, that makes sense. You’d expect long-tail terms to have stronger query intent, thus higher CTRs.” That’s true, actually.

But why is that long-tail keyword terms with high CTRs are so much more likely to be in top positions versus bottom-of-page organic positions? That’s a little weird, right?

OK, let’s do an analysis of paid search queries in the same niche. I use organic search to come up with paid search keyword ideas and vice versa, so we’re looking at the same keywords in many cases.

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Long-tail terms in this same vertical get higher CTRs than head terms. However, the difference between long-tail and head term CTR is very small in positions 1–2, and becomes huge as you go out to lower positions.

So in summary, something unusual is happening:

  • In paid search, long-tail and head terms do roughly the same CTR in high ad spots (1–2) and see huge differences in CTR for lower spots (3–7).
  • But in organic search, the long-tail and head terms in spots (1–2) have huge differences in CTR and very little difference as you go down the page.

Why are the same keywords behaving so differently in organic versus paid?

The difference (we think) is that RankBrain is boosting the search rankings of pages that have higher organic click-through rates.

Not convinced yet?

Which came first: the CTR or the ranking?

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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Grab Your Audience’s Attention With These Cool Tips

SEO Audience

Searching for helpful content online has been changing by the minute with keywords and match types leading to more audience-centric search techniques.

This puts you on the road to searching for the right audiences who have been searching for you thus making ‘searching for searchers’ an important part of your marketing strategies.

Hit The Audience Bull’s Eye With These Cool Tips

Here we have a few awesome ways in which you can search for the right audience that has been searching for you, put together by Search Engine Land.

Welcome to the new world of search

In the early days of search, keywords and match types were the main levers search advertisers used to find customers. Keywords allowed us to reach the consumers who were searching for our products and services, while match types allowed the query-to-keyword relationship to be more or less relevant, a kind of volume and relevance throttle.

Today, audiences enable advertisers to target the right message to the right person — at potentially the right time — in a way that keywords cannot. Keywords can give you intent and interest levels, but search is now on the cusp of something greater: the ability to create campaigns to specifically meet customers, wherever they are.

Just as exciting, we can use audiences to help us stop wasting digital marketing spend… and those audiences don’t have to be limited to users who have engaged with us from a search standpoint.

Could all search campaigns be remarketing campaigns?

I’ve been noodling on the idea for a while that all campaigns are remarketing campaigns. You might disagree with me, especially since Bing only allows a -90-percent bid modifier. But… a -90-percent bid modifier is still fairly close to creating an exclusion or a negative campaign.

Why is this important? It gives you the ability to segment your customers, adjust your bid strategy to reduce acquisition costs and adjust your messaging based on the audience segment.

Consider this scenario:

In the paid search brand campaigns I managed, I noticed that over time, my CPAs were steadily increasing. Using analytics to investigate, I found that there were a lot of return visitors on our brand keywords. I was paying to re-engage existing customers who were lazy and clicking on my paid search ads to navigate to the site or get a specific offer/deal instead of navigating through organic links or going directly to the website.

This, in conjunction with more competition bidding on my brand keywords, was causing my CPCs and my CPA to increase. My goal was to decrease my CPA and CPC and target net new customers to increase our overall awareness.

I decided to segment the brand campaign into two groups:

  • Engaged Visitors. Site visitors from the last 30 days who didn’t bounce right away, purchasers, visitors who touched other high-cost channels.
  • Net-new or Low Engagement Visitors. Visitors who haven’t been to the site in more than 30 days, visitors who bounced within x seconds in the last 30 days and people who haven’t been to my site.

Each group had different bid strategies and messaging.

With the Engaged Visitor segment, I reduced my bids, allowing my ads to go into a lower position, knowing that I ranked well organically. I also adjusted my messaging to our existing customers to not promote discounts/sales.

For the Net-new and Low Engagement Visitors, I did the inverse, increasing bids to make sure I was in prominent positioning with value-based customer messaging.

Making these adjustments, I was able to decrease my CPA for existing customers. And by focusing less on discount or promotional messaging to existing customers, I wasn’t paying to reacquire them every time they wanted to make a transaction. Instead, I could focus on building a new customer base that had a higher lifetime value to my client’s business.

Asking the right questions

I was able to use remarketing because I started to think more strategically about how I was targeting different customer segments.

Think about what other questions you can ask to segment out consumers and what you might do differently in terms of bidding, targeted keywords (head vs. tail) and the overall messaging (ad copy, ad extensions) and user experience. Learn to ask the right questions so you can develop remarketing strategies that align to your business goals.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE 

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The Social Media Optimization (SMO) of SEO: 7 Key Steps

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Social media optimization (SMO) was originally designed to drive traffic from social media sites such as bookmarking sites and social networks. However, SMO is now significantly more important and not simply because social networking has grown but because SMO also improves SEO performance. Good SMO will drive traffic from both direct social site referrals and from search engines.

The Origin of SMO

Social media optimization (SMO) was first used in 2006 by Rohit Bhargava in his article the 5 rules of social media optimization. At this time the core focus was driving traffic to websites from social sites.

This remains the core purpose of SMO as outlined in Wikipedia “SMO is similar to search engine optimization in that the goal is to generate traffic and awareness for a website. In general, social media optimization refers to optimizing a website and its content in terms of sharing across social media and networking sites.”

The SEO Shift

In Rohit’s initial article the focus of SMO was on linkability, portable content and easy bookmarking. This has changed over the years as social networks have changed and also as search engines have looked to social signals to help rank content. Wikipedia says “social media optimization is becoming increasingly important for search engine optimization, as search engines are increasingly utilizing the recommendations of users of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to rank pages in the search engine result pages.”

Arguably traditional SEO focused on the technical structure of websites rather than the user experience or even the quality of content itself. SMO is very concerned with the quality of the content, the authority of the author and the user experience of interacting with the content and the author. These aspects of SMO can help improve SEO performance as search engines increasingly look for social signals to aid the ranking of pages.

This was highlighted very clearly by Joshua Berg and Mark Traphagen in a recent Google+ hangout on SMO and SEO. Joshua and Mark are two of the most knowledgeable people in this area and both commented on the growing importance of the social web to search engines.  Joshua Berg commented that “social signals provide a much better way of filtering out the noise and improving the quality of search results”  and Mark Traphagen agreed that “as the social web emerges it provides a better set of signals about what is valuable on the web.”

This was reinforced in a post last week by Dustin Stout. He concludes “social proof is now being factored into search engine rankings. There are various studies that have been done on this, but all of them agree that the more social shares a website or blog post has, the better it is likely to rank.”

Read the rest of the article in Social Media Today

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