When you have learned a bit about SEO you are constantly monitoring your rankings for various keywords. It can be quite stressful -- particularly nowadays. That's because keyword positions in the SERPs are more volatile than ever.
Almost every time I log in and check my rankings for this site, for instance, I see a slightly different position. For example, I was in position two for Aussie searches for the keyword phrase "SEO tips" for a long while. But over the last nine moths or so, the position has been moving up and down quite often. This variability seems to have been at its greatest over the last couple of months. Some days I'm in position eight or nine, then the next day I'm at five. Then I'm at three, then down to nine again. I've seen a similar level of volatility in my rankings for a couple of my other sites.
This can cause you a lot of angst because you see a huge fall in traffic if you drop out of the top three results
. And there's even a substantial difference between positions one and two, and between two and three.
It's not a huge issue for me since I'm not depending entirely on income generated from my sites. But for business owners who had become accustomed to holding the top spot in Google for a targeted keyword phrase, the present volatility must be making them nervous wrecks!
I think this phenomenon is due mainly to the increasing sophistication of Google's algorithms. It's clearly becoming increasingly human-like in its ability to asses the quality and relevance of a web page.
So, how do you deal with this issue? Of course you can do things to lift your rankings, but it's increasingly difficult to dominate them consistently. If you're a webmaster, the whole issue is largely out of your hands. I think the best policy is just to not worry about it so much and accept things.
You should also remember that as long as you've done the fundamentals, there's a good chance that you'll reclaim your previous position eventually or at least not fall too far down the list.
That said, there's always a chance that a webmaster has decided to knock you off your perch for a certain keyword and will just keep plugging away until he does this. In that case there's not a lot you can do.
So, just keep adding quality content, sharing on social media sites, building and most importantly earning
links. If you keep at it you will be rewarded by the search engines eventually, even if it's not in exactly the way you'd like.
I've been reading a lot of blogs about blogging lately. And there seems to be a consensus that bloggers should write timeless or evergreen content rather than topical stuff.
Now, there's no denying that if you can rank fairly highly for your evergreen content then it will have the best long term effect. But remember that there will be a much greater number of bloggers competing over those keywords -- particularly if you're in an already crowded niche. In that case it could be almost impossible to rank for some generic keyword combinations, even long tail ones. That could be very disheartening.
That's why I'd recommend putting some topical stuff in occasionally amongst the evergreen stuff. It's so much eaiser to rank for. And it can still be highly relevant. So, keep an eye out for developments related to your niche being covered in the mainstream media. Look out for highly specific keywords such as the names of individuals, organizations, locations, companies and products. Put those in your blog titles and write thoughtful, opinionated or even downright provocative posts about them. Chances are you'll be seen by quite a few people, and you may score the odd backlink to that topical content as well.
And it should be remembered that some topical content can end up drawing visitors for a surprisingly long time. I've found this with a couple of my political blogs. I've kept an eye out for news makers who weren't very well known at that point. I've put their names in the post titles and written some thoughts on stories related to them. Because I got in early and received some comments on those posts, they've ended up high in the SERPs and stayed there. When these people have popped up in the news some time later, my content has continued to appear high in searches for them.
It's almost like being a talent spotter. In that game if you find someone early, before they're famous, then represent them, you can reap the rewards for many years.
So that's another thing to consider. An example might be a person in your field of interest who is slowly gaining a strong profile, or maybe a local landmark, business or organization that is becoming more widely known than before. Write about many such topical subjects and some will bring short terms surges of traffic. And a few may well end up drawing visitors over several months, even years.
One thing I've noticed lately is how much traffic I'm getting from Bing and Yahoo these days. While I still get the lion's share from Google, the proportion of it coming from these two main competitors has risen substantially over the least year or so.
This is good news because it's not great to have all your eggs in one basket. Depending solely on traffic from this one source is not good for a website. You can do months of work to get it on the top of page one for a particular keyword search and then lose that position in an instant when Google decides to tweak its algorithms. This would be a hugely negative outcome for obvious reasons. But merely worrying that such a thing might occur can cause a lot of anxiety as well.
The fact that there are now more search engine possibilities is yet another reason why blogging is such a good thing to do. Google traffic is desirable, of course. So you should use its keyword tool and the drop down suggestion box to get ideas for blog posts. But if your post fails to rank highly there as hoped then there's still a good chance it will do so on Yahoo and Bing, which use different algorithms. That's a comforting thought and makes blogging all the more worthwhile.
For the same reason it's a good idea to get visitors from social media as well -- not to mention offline sources and pay per click. Spread your traffic sources around and you can make sure that the money you earn from your website is coming in more consistently.
One site that I've been using occasionally lately is Quora
. It's a question and answer site that has really taken off lately. It's a great place to learn stuff, and also share your knowledge. It has some social aspects to it as well, so it's good for making new connections with those who share your interests. If you supply good answers to questions this will help you build your reputation as an expert in your field. You can also use it to get ideas for web content, since there are all these very specific questions up on the site. If people are asking them on Quora, they must be typing them, and ones like them, into Google, right?And you can use it in a geo-specific way, too. You can get the ball rolling by typing in a geo-specific keyword and seeing what turns up. For instance, here's what's listed for Sydney. You can see that those results
cover numerous different subjects that are related in some way to that city. If you use a bit of free association you can use these questions to come up with others that relate to your website, no matter what niche it is in.For example, there's a question about where the best boxing clubs are in Sydney. That's given me an idea for a blog post for this blog. I could do some research and write a post about the best SEO companies in Perth, for example.And it's not just locations that can be used in this way. I'm interested in politics and have a couple of blogs about the subject. So I saw what people are asking about Australian PM Julia Gillard.
There aren't that many questions there, but there's one that I could use directly about whether she has any chance of winning the next election. There are other questions about how her visits and speeches have been perceived internationally. Also good fodder for blog posts.You could do this with the names of high profile people in any field. As long as they are based in Australia you'll come up with ideas that would be most appealing to Aussies.
You could also do the same thing with local products, services, organizations, businesses. This approach is a bit hit and miss. Not all of these posts will draw traffic. But some will for sure. And you'll still be adding relevant and interesting content that Google will index. That has to be a good thing for your site's SEO in the long term.
While it was always a good idea for SEO to build authority in your niche, now it's more useful than ever. This is because Google is gradually decreasing the value of links you can build yourself, and making voluntary one way links from others comparatively more valuable than they were before. And if you are seen as an expert in your field then your website or blog is sure to get some of those links eventually.This idea of expertise and authority can apply to any field or business. Say you're a hairdresser in Adelaide, and you have a website for your salon. You may have added your URL to relevant directories, classifieds, etc. But then what? Well, you can definitely improve your SEO substantially by expounding your expertise in different ways online. Keeping your own blog (and writing guest posts for other blogs) is the obvious way to build your authority. This is not only because you can keep adding insightful, expert information to it; but also because if your blog is part of your main domain you increase the odds of getting links directly to it.While a blog is preferable, you can get a similar effect by building authority on Twitter. If you constantly link to interesting articles and blog posts (by yourself and others) as well as tweet quality tips and insights then you will definitely develop a reputation as someone who really knows her stuff. Links to the URL you include in your profile are sure to result after a while.Of course blogging and Twitter are mainly about words, so they're great for people who love to write
. But what if you're not this way inclined? There must be a lot of people in this boat; people who have much useful and detailed knowledge about a subject, skill, or profession, but just don't enjoy working for hours on a PC keyboard. If you are one of these people then YouTube could well be the go. There are countless people who have built substantial followings on that site simply by sitting in front of a video camera in their homes and telling -- or better still showing -- viewers how to do stuff. Deliver interesting, insightful and most of all useful tips, advice and observations in your videos and people will have no doubt that you really know your stuff. Some are sure to share it on social media. As long as you feature your URL in your visual offerings some sturdy dofollow backlinks will result eventually.
Since being on Twitter, I've noticed much tweeting and retweeting of blog posts featuring infographics. And they clearly do attract links, so using them is being seen by many as a good SEO tactic.The reasons people like them so much are obvious.
They make a page more visually interesting, as well as containing lots of useful information that can be easily and quickly processed by the visitor. I've never created any infographics myself, but it doesn't seem all that hard to do.
And you can find the raw data to inform and organize your images in many places on the web.Their use by bloggers and other web publishers could have peaked, however. When infographics are being used to explain why you should use them, it's clear that the method is on the verge of over-saturation!Also, while the backlinks that they generate do have definite SEO benefits these days, it looks like Google may well be discounting their value in the future.That said, there's nothing inherently wrong with them. I doubt they could do any SEO harm, and they certainly have a lot going for them in other areas. As yet, I haven't published any ones that I've found elsewhere on this site and probably never will. One reason for this is that I want to maintain the blog's look and feel. I'd prefer to keep it clean and basic in design and focus on the verbal content.Traditional blog posts are not nearly as eye catching as those containing infographics, of course. But you can still give them some visual impact by using bullet points, bold text and italics, etc. And of course you can describe all the same information contained in an infographic. Better still, you can simultaneously investigate and interpret the information in an insightful and comprehensive way. While people do tend to have much shorter attention spans these days a certain proportion of your visitors will appreciate this more old fashioned approach.
Social media is going absolutely gangbusters these days, and is very useful for anyone with a website or blog. The more people you connect with online in your niche, the more you learn, and the greater the likelihood of getting those valuable, natural one way links to your URL.But you shouldn't forget offline social networking. (You know, the real world activities people used to engage in during the olden days before the internet completely took over our lives!
)Of course, you can use the big social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin to find get-togethers in the real world. However they do lend themselves much more to online networking.One site that is much more focused on offline activities is Meetup. Joining this site could be a really good move for anyone with a locally oriented business website or blog. For those in Perth, where I live, there's this group. I might even go there myself some day.I'm surprised that there aren't many other sites like Meetup. But Zenergo looks like a new and promising social networking site with more of an offline focus. Of course there are plenty of other ways to network with locals in your niche. I just did a search for "meet bloggers in Perth" and several seemingly independently organized events popped up (mostly mentioned on blogs -- funny, that!). You could even organize and promote such a gathering yourself. Not only would the event itself be a great way of making valuable contacts in your locality and niche, but just the act of writing about it on a blog could actually be good linkbait.Firstly, you might get some bloggers linking to the details about when and where it will be held. Then if you took some photos and/or videos at the actual get-together and posted them afterwards, that content could generate still more links down the track.
Google's recent Penguin update
certainly changed the rules of SEO quite a bit
. Among other things it made building links to your own websites something you should cut down on, as well as approach with far greater caution.Perhaps the wisest approach now is to focus heavily on your onsite optimization (without overdoing it, of course!). You should make sure your pages contain the best, most relevant content possible. Aside from sharing them on Twitter and other similar sites
you really shouldn't do much more than that.Not only will all that top notch work directly result in improved rankings; in time it will also attract natural links, which are of course gold for SEO.But what if you have, say, a static ten page website, and even after making it close to perfect in this regard the higher rankings take forever to eventuate? This could be extremely frustrating. You could be caught in a real state of inertia, not wanting to tweak your pages any more for fear of losing the search engine traffic they are getting. I suspect there are quite a few webmasters -- particularly ones with small business sites -- who are in this position.This is why, if you are one of these people, you really must add a blog. Merely updating it regularly will give your website a "pulse" that is a bonus in Google's estimation of its value. And with each post you publish you have another opportunity
to jag some more long tail keyword traffic. Those posts can function as linkbait as well. Since you've already perfected the static pages, those linking to your individual blog posts are more likely to link to some of them, too.
So you'll be speeding up the process of natural link accumulation.Unless you went overboard with the blog, adding hundreds of pages in a short space of time and veering off topic quite a bit, the chances of it negatively impacting your website's SEO are very small indeed. Having all that extra associated content would be overwhelmingly positive. And apart from anything else, blogging is a proactive activity, which gives you a strong sense of empowerment. That's worthwhile in itself, I believe.
Like almost all bloggers, I get a lot of comment spam. This is annoying, of course. But what's really surprising is that quite a bit of it comes from search engine optimization companies!
Clearly, these businesses are not at all concerned about the quality of their work. And I suspect they haven't been keeping up with developments in their own industry. While spamming comment threads may still work as a way to lift rankings in the short to medium term the effect must certainly be waning. Nowadays, any URL associated with the practice risks being slapped pretty heavily by Google, or even completely removed from its index.
The fact that this practice is still so widespread is another reason that website owners should do as much of their own SEO as possible., in my opinion. Imagine pouring thousands of dollars into such a campaign thinking that it was completely legitimate, only to see your search engine traffic disappear overnight!
That's not to say that all blog commenting is bad. There is SEO value in leaving good, relevant and thoughtful comments because you do get backlinks -- but most importantly you are alerting other bloggers to your website's presence. If both your comments and your website content are of a good quality, then a few of them will probably link to one of your pages in time. Therefore the best way to approach commenting is to only ever write ones that you would leave regardless of whether you even had a URL to link back to or not.
There has been a lot of talk about this latest Google update, dubbed "Penguin". Much of it had to do with over-optimization
. Countless websites suffered a massive and swift drop in search engine traffic.Clearly, many webmasters feel that they were unfairly punished. I can certainly sympathize with them, but I do see what Google was trying to achieve with this.One of my niche websites was hit (or at least I think it was -- you never can be entirely sure with search engines!). I was angry and disappointed at first but on second thoughts I realized that I was definitely over-optimizing it.Firstly, I had several pages that had a common two word keyword phrase in the titles. Even though the content on each page was unique and different, this was a big no-no!
That was pretty dumb in retrospect but I chose to include those words because they did reflect the purpose of the pages, and I was in a bit of a rush to build the site. Secondly, I'd done a lot of article marketing for that website. I must have submitted about 25-30 articles
in the last several months. These were all unique, and not "spun". I did vary the anchor text, but in retrospect I didn't do this nearly enough. I didn't endlessly repeat exact keyword phrases but I did use some words over and over again, even if they were in different combinations.Thirdly, I didn't pay enough attention to the pages themselves. While they certainly had some useful and relevant information on them they
were pretty general in nature. I should have spruced them up more and made them punchier, more specific and informative. I was always intending to do this eventually, but basically became fixated on getting lots of article backlinks because they really did seem to work well and my traffic was rising steadily.
I wasn't trying to trick Google, but I was certainly being way too overzealous with certain techniques. Clearly, there was an imbalance between the amount of work I'd put into the on-site content, and my backlink building. Google picked this up and slapped me for it.It's been a good lesson. Basically, the main thing to remember is to keep focusing on the content of your site. As the search giant keeps saying, build sites for people, not search engines. So now I'm going to pretty much forget link-building -- particularly via article marketing -- for a long while. Instead I'll be putting almost all my effort into writing lots of quality content for my websites and blogs.