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SEO 2018: Game-changing SEO trends to Look Forward To

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic | Posted on 18-01-2018

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The word “organic” has many connotations.  In today’s health conscious society, many people associate “organic” with produce that is grown without pesticides.  If you are in the business of search engine optimization, “organic” has an entirely different connotation.

In this arena, “organic” has to do with writing that is on one hand authentic, while at the same time accomplishing a little “name dropping.”  This strategic writing has been assisting web site producers increase the likelihood of their websites showing up on the search engine results page, resulting in greater traffic to the site and also higher profits.  Well, hang on to your hats because in this quickly evolving business, organic writing is now only one of the strategies needed for optimizing a website.

The coming year promises to bring some new challenges to the field of search engine optimization.  The good news is some new tools and strategies are in the wings as well.

THE EVOLUTION OF SERP FEATURES

serp
So what’s behind all these changes anyways?  For one thing Google is constantly changing the way it presents information to users.  The original “10 blue links” is becoming an outdated concept against the more modern presentation methods on the SERP including local packs to site links, image results, knowledge panels and so on.

Fortunately there’s tools to help you compete with features that may be stealing traffic. Tools like SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker will help you track Google SERP features along with organic results.  This way you can see which Google SERP features are being triggered by your keywords.  This nifty program can help you revise your SEO strategy and regain the competitive edge.

Armed with knowledge, you may find that you can get a featured snippet for a particular query. Or that another SERP feature can work for your web page.

TOOLS IN YOUR TOOLBOX: STRUCTURED DATA

Another tool that must be in your SEO toolbox is structured data.  Structured data refers to a standardized way of providing information about a page so that the search engine knows how to interpret the page and how to display it on the SERP.  There are several structured data formats out there.  Among them Yotpo and Schema.org are commonly used and recommended.

Using this tool is sure to improve your search listings, helping turn a regular snippet into a rich snippet.  Studies show this to improve CTR by as much as 30%!

OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE SPEED

The next thing you’ll want to focus on to optimize your website is speed.  There are multiple reasons for this but first and foremost is the rapid shift from the majority of searches being conducted on PCs to the majority of searches being conducted on mobile devices.  This means that page speed indicates the viability of your site more than a ranking factor.

In fact, that speed would be a ranking factor in its mobile-first index was already announced by Google.  Simply put, the success of your website is inextricably tied to its speed.

Fortunately, there are some quick and easy ways to speed up your website.  Google offers you a hand first by providing its Google’s Page Speed Insight Tool.  Check here first to get some help.

Next, see what you can do to reduce the size of your page; look into compressing codes and optimizing images to whatever extent possible.  Other tools that may be of use include Google’s AMP Project and HTTP2.

ITS ALL ABOUT RELEVANCE

When we start talking about relevance, the term LSI, or “Latent Semantic Indexing” inevitably gets mentioned.  LSI is a math based function whereby a computer determines the relationship between keywords and concepts in an article or on a webpage.

LSI can crawl a page an identify keywords and establish relevance, that is to say, it can match the keywords of your article or website to commonly searched related concepts.  It probably goes without saying that LSI came in response to people trying to fool search engines by using keywords without actual relevant content.

Having good content will not guarantee a great ranking but it will help.  What do you need to know to make LSI work for you?  Mostly it’s just common sense.  Make sure your page title has a connection to the information.  For instance if your page title is Learn to Cook, make sure the article is about cooking.  By all means use keywords.  But don’t overuse them.  If you outsource your content, pay for higher quality.  Keep an eye on how your pages rank for keywords using Google Webmaster Tools.

GET USED TO SIRI, SHE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

Voice searches go hand in hand with the growing prevalence of mobile devices.  It’s no surprise to find that more and more searches are coming into search engines via mobile devices.  This is already affecting how Google ranks websites and presents information to users.  In addition, more and more of these searches are coming in via voice searches.  This is going to have an interesting affect on search engine optimization.

For one thing, queries are being framed in more natural language.  People making the queries are giving no thought to keywords.  This is not necessarily a negative thing for the field of SEO but it is going to cause some changes and for some of the details of these changes, we may just have to wait and see how things unfold.  In the meantime, take a look at tools like Rank Tracker.  The free version will allow you to discover Common Questions entered via voice query and you can see which ones are related to your keywords.

While we’re on the topic, keep in mind the benefits of optimizing your website for mobile use.  According to Google, people are five times less likely to leave a site if it’s mobile friendly.  This is the era of mobile devices and more people are searching on mobile phones then on computers.  Therefore you have every reason to make sure your website is fast and mobile friendly.

A final aspect of how the field of search engine optimization is evolving has to do with personalized SERPs.  As technology becomes more and more advanced, the SERPs of individual users will look very different from one another.

Google can “know” the habits and interests of individual users and tailor SERPs for what each person is most likely interested in.  Some suspect that competition will become fiercer in this type of atmosphere.  It will no longer be good enough to be among the top ten.  For users to see your site you will have to be number one, THE authority in a field.  How will all of this play out?  We will have to wait and see.

Avasoft Solutions offers web design, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and pay per click advertising. Contact us today!

SEO is Always Changing… Or is it?: Debunking the Myth and Getting Back to Basics

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic | Posted on 23-11-2017

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As an SEO specialist, I spend a fair amount of time each day talking with clients and my peers about SEO and the ways that it’s changing over the years. Most people seem to have the belief that SEO is constantly transforming and changing and that SEO tactics need to follow suit.

I remember saying something similar myself in the past and believing that I had to alter the way I ranked sites annually to keep up with Google updates. The truth is that basic SEO remains pretty much the same over the years.

Sure, there are minor technique changes to be aware of, and you’ll have to alter the way you do business all the time if you’re trying to fool Google. However, there are some general best-practices that have been working all along.

Learn to use these and you’ll be set. Heck, most of them are simple enough for business owners to master themselves.

The Fundamentals Aren’t Changing

While tricks and special tactics need to change over time, fundamentals really don’t seem to when it comes to SEO. There are certain steps that every website owner should keep a few sets of basic considerations in mind when deciding how they’re going to rank a website.

Answer the following questions with your website and you’ll be off to a very good start.

  • Is you website accessible? Search engines need to be able to crawl your website effectively.
  • What sort of content do you have? Make sure your site is optimized for appropriate keywords.
  • How should content be sorted and what’s most important? Make sure you have a clear hierarchy that you follow for your pages using a site map.
  • Is your content trustworthy? It needs to have plenty of backlinks proving trustworthiness.

As long as you tick off each of the above four boxes, you’ve got basic SEO in the bag. Sure there is more to it than that, and you may want to employ more advanced tactics, but you need to do those things first.

When first starting out, you’ll want to focus on these fundamentals and then move on after you’ve mastered each of them.

Make Your Site Accessible

No matter how good your website is, it’s not going to rank if Google and other search engines can’t access it. Make sure that each of your pages is crawlable.

Generally they start out that way unless you block web crawlers with a special command, but you can ping search engines to get them crawling your site faster, which is good after major updates.

Focus in on the Right Keywords

Now that search engines can access your website, it’s important they’re getting an accurate picture of your pages. You can paint that picture using keywords that you hand-select. Make sure you focus on one primary keyword per page or post.

It’s okay to add some sub-keywords but they should be building upon the main keyword, not competing with it. When putting your pages together don’t use the keyword too many times, and try to create the most helpful page that you can around the topic.

Make a new page for every keyword that you want to rank for and make the page as specific and helpful as possible. Think of your website like a library and each page like a book on an individual shelf. The keywords you use are catalogue cards for the library.

The library can only catalogue each book one way and put it on one shelf. Treat your webpages the same way so Google and other search engines can easily catalogue your website.

Show Which Content is Most Important

Every website has a purpose, or at least it should. Know what your purpose is and which pages on your site are the most important for that purpose. These are the pages that you want linked closest to your site’s home page.

If you’re a siding company your contact page and your services page would both be two of the most important pages, because they help you sell more siding. You would want those pages shown on the top navigation bar, and linked to as much as possible, while the page about choosing the right siding could be farther down the hierarchy.

Keep this idea in mind when building your website, and make sure the most important pages are linked to the most and closest to the home page of your website.

Build Quality Backlinks

It’s not enough to say your website’s great, someone else needs to say the same for search engines to take note. That’s what backlinks are for. When a decent website puts a link back to a page of your website, they’re saying that it has something of quality to offer.

You want to build backlinks to all the most important pages of your website, as proof that you have a high quality site that other people use. It’s not as simple as getting as many backlinks as you can though. Google looks at websites differently.

Some sites it trusts very well, and others it doesn’t value much. You want links from the highly trusted sites, because they carry much more weight overall. Avoid building up links from low quality sources, and instead focus on tactics that will get you links on major players, because they’re much more valuable and will help you with your goal of ranking well.

Follow each of these four fundamentals and your website should start ranking well in search. It takes time to get good at things like keyword research and backlinking, but at least you should know what your goal is now.

Even if you don’t do all the work yourself and you outsource a project to an SEO company, you’ll know what you want that company to achieve with this guide in mind.

Avasoft Solutions offers web design, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and pay per click advertising. Contact us today!

Resolving Google Penalties: The Complete List & How to Recover

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic | Posted on 19-09-2017

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Google is well-known for changing its rules and the way that it ranks sites, which leads to de-ranking sites and making it more difficult to achieve top rankings in the search engines.

If you’ve ever heard of Penguin or Panda updates those were algorithm changes made by Google, but even if your website loses its rank because of those updates that isn’t technically a penalty.

Google issues penalties to individual websites for things like spam, link cloaking and low quality or suspicious links. These are issues that you need to be aware of and that you need to try and avoid.

If you do get hit with one of these penalties, it’s important to be able to recognize the problem and for you to know how to fix it once you do. Below is an overview of common Google penalties and how to fix the issue on your website.

A First Click Free Violation

Google has a strict policy that requires website owners to show visitors the first page of their site for free. When you make your site content available to Google, but restrict it to visitors this is known as the First Click Free violation and will get your site a penalty that hurts search engine results. The penalty will likely affect SEO efforts over your entire site in a slight way, and that specific page in an intense way, like being delisted entirely.

Fixing the Issue

To resolve this issue you need to make sure that Google and visitors see the same exact content when visiting your website. Make sure you don’t lock up pages coming from the Google search engine with subscriptions or other fee-based access requirements. Instead present the subscription on that page and use the web traffic to help try and convince more people to subscribe to you, while offering something of value to everyone that visits that one page of your site.

Cloaking or Suspicious Redirects

Cloaking is a tactic that Google really looks down on, and it means that you are showing different content to Google than you are the visitor. Cloaking is a problem because Google sees it as suspicious. You should be able to make your content viewable by Google if you want to be ranked organically. Some websites also make the mistake of redirecting visitors to other areas of the internet without making the redirect properly so Google does not have access to it. This is another suspicious activity that could get your website flagged and penalized.

Fixing the Issue

If you’re flagged for cloaking or suspicious redirects you can fix the issue with a bit of work.

  • First use Google Search Console and use the Crawl Feature and Fetch as Google to get a look at your site through Google’s eyes. This is how you’ll find the problem.
  • Once you see how Google is seeing your site differently, you can take action to make the information the same for the search engine.
  • Carefully get rid of redirects that send users to an unexpected or unrelated location online, and try to avoid conditional redirects that aren’t accepted by Google.
  • Once you make all these changes you can send in a reconsideration request and Google will look your site over again and hopefully lift the penalty.

Cloaked Images

Images can be cloaked as well and cloaked images are pictures that are blocked by other pictures, pictures that show up instead of the ones that should be showing, or redirects that send users away from the expected photo.

Fixing the Issue

To fix this issue just make sure that you always show the same image to people. Look at your images and remove redirects around them and make sure the site behaves normally. Once you do that resubmit a reconsideration request to get rid of that pesky penalty.

Hidden Text

Hidden text is an issue for Google because the company wants to know what users are actually seeing when they visit. Google looks for text that is hidden through styling tools like CSS. Text that is hidden using the invisible tag, or text that’s colored the same color as the page will be flagged by Google and likely result in a penalty as well.

The Fix

The fix is simple. Make sure all your text is visible to human visitors plainly. Color text for visibility, and avoid hiding text through other methods like special CSS tags.

Spam Penalties

Serious span violations are only given to websites that utilize web scraping, gibberish text and cloaking in order to offer low quality text and content to visitors.

Fixing the Issue

To fix this problem, remove the spam content and add text and images with helpful information that’s unique to your website.

Free Hosting Penalties

Many companies offer free hosting, but in exchange for that hosting they spam your website and put up advertising to try and profit from your visitors. Often free hosting will result in penalties from Google as well.

Fixing the Problem

Ditch the free host to fix the problem. Hosting is cheap and you can pick up a reliable web hosting service affordably and get your site functioning without the spam.

Thin Content

Google looks for web pages with little content and not much to offer visitors and marks them as shallow pages. These pages might have scraped content, very few words, spun content, or very low quality content.

Fixing the Problem

The only way to fix this issue is to add good quality and rich content to your website. Make sure you have several hundred unique words on the page that offer something valuable to visitors.

Unnatural Links

One of the most common penalties that webmasters get hit with are for unnatural links to or from their sites. Webmasters that buy links to their sites are in violation of Google’s terms, and so are webmasters that sell links out to other websites.

Fixing the Problem

To solve the problem, change any suspicious links or remove the links entirely.

There’s really no way to beat out Google so it’s better just to follow the rules and avoid getting penalties the best that you can.

Avasoft Solutions offers web design, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and pay per click advertising. Contact us today!