Kick-Start Your SEO in 2015

The search engine optimization (SEO) industry has certainly evolved these last few years. The many Google updates – and their sometimes heavy-handed penalties – in addition to an explosion of mobile traffic have shaped the rules for SEO and online marketing. When we look at what’s working at the end of 2014, we see just how much everything has changed. Big changes in SEO will certainly continue for 2015 and beyond.

Here are six things to focus your efforts on in 2015:

1. Mobilegoogle mobile tool

If you haven’t already, it’s time to take a mobile-first approach with responsive website design. As mentioned in last month’s blog all about mobile, Google has a new tool (and new expectations) around mobile friendliness. Test your site here:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

2. Rich Snippets

These underlying webpage code elements help Google and other sites understand when to show review stars, customized descriptions, and more. All of which are vital to your site ranking and click through rate.

twitter card-examplesConsider:

  • A study last year showed an average rankings increase of 4 positions when rich snippets were implemented.
  • In one case study, 30% more visitors clicked through from search results to a site with rich snippets.
  • John Mueller of Google recently requested that examples of rich snippet “spam” in Google be sent directly to him. It must be working, and it must be valuable, if Google is looking for spam!

There are many examples of different rich snippets at http://schema.org, a site and format created by Google, Yahoo and Bing. Some types include recipes, products, events, locations, people, ratings, etc. And other formats are also being provided by social media sites: Facebook open graph tags, LinkedIn cards, Twitter cards, and even Pinterest pincards. Consider how this tweet of a site using twitter cards looks better than the standard tweet: When twitter is given data in a twitter card format, they provide a much richer experience for viewers of that tweet. And there are many different types of twitter cards too: Galleries, large images, video players, etc.

3. Universal Analytics

Google analytics is finally getting an upgrade. In the past, data about site visitors was lost if they visited several of a brand’s website properties, switched devices, or had an extended period of time between visits. Universal Analytics fixes that and even allows custom dimensions, as well as extreme customization. The system came out of beta testing in 2014, and will be a requirement at some point. Is it on your radar to transition? If not, better get to it! Google will not be providing new features to regular analytics and will eventually force webmasters to make the switch.

4. Link Disavowal

Google’s Penguin penalty has made this a necessity. Do you know where your site has links? Most webmasters do not. And many links that were key in the past must now be disavowed in Google’s Webmaster Tools. That is the price we pay for Google’s ever-changing formula!

Here are some possible sources of problematic links:

  • “Site wide” footer links
    Are other sites linking to you from every page or in their footer? Google no longer sees this as a positive thing.
  • Links from 2004-2012
    If your SEO plan included creating links during this period, you should get a link analysis performed. Even if Google’s guidelines were being followed, it’s vital to make sure these links are still the kind Google wants to see.
  • Low quality links
    You know these when you see them. Would you visit the site a link is on? Does Google still see any authority there? These are important considerations for your links!
  • Links from penalized sites
    Sites that were once in Google’s good graces might now have switched hands or been penalized.
  • Negative SEO
    SEOs used to debate whether any site’s rankings could be hurt from the outside. Now, it’s commonly accepted that negative SEO is possible and happening throughout the web. Some sites are building low quality links, links on penalized sites, etc. pointing to competitors’ websites!

5. Migrate Your Site to HTTPS

Are you planning to migrate your entire site to HTTPS? Recent thoughts from Google are making this a more important consideration! A member of the Google Chrome browser team recently commented that anything less than HTTPS is like leaving the front door unlocked. On the search side, HTTPS has been identified as a minor ranking signal – and migrating your site should be considered. Be sure you don’t create duplicate content by accident though!
 
6. Use Content Marketing for Link Authority

Content marketing is  the new link building. It’s authentic marketing that can also boost your site’s rankings (but it must be done with an emphasis on quality outreach).

When done correctly, content marketing brings:

  • social sharing
  • brand visibility
  • inbound links (with authority)
  • referral traffic

Search Engine Optimization will always be ever-changing: Technology is moving at breakneck speeds and search engines have ever-changing criteria and expectations. Having these six items on your radar will help carry you nicely into the new year. And then some. The year 2016 may be completely different, but these are good solid investments of time and money.

Need a good interactive agency or website design firm? We’ve worked with many and partnered with the best. Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll introduce you to the right match!

PSST! Need a Free Link?
Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!

Google: All about that mobile

Having a good mobile experience is increasingly important for websites. Advances in technology have made it possible for many more sites to be viewed on mobile devices, but the experience is usually much less pleasurable than viewing via desktop. Google wants to change that, and is again trying to move website design in the correct direction.Hyper Dog Media Mobile SEO

Google and Bing are currently locked in a battle to be the best search engine for mobile. They know users will judge them by the sites suggested during a search. When searchers encounter unusable sites from their query, they change search engines. Wouldn’t you rather have ten good sites given to you from a search than a hit-and-miss list?

Mobile is growing fast: Comscore estimates that mobile usage will outpace desktop usage this year! Google has already started showing “Mobile Friendly” icons in search results – and has even tested “NOT Mobile Friendly” icons recently!

So what to do? Here are some quick tips:
1. View your site in mobile
Try using this free testing tool from Google:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Google tells you if fonts are too small, there are missing “viewport” metatags, and other mobile usability errors.

2. Easy URLs
Keyword rich URLs have lost much of their power in the last few years, but are likely to lose much more: They aren’t as easy to type into a smartphone.

3. Responsive design
A responsive design is usable at any size. Previous efforts to provide different sites to different kinds of devices have failed as the many types of devices have exploded and crossed over into other categories, such as 2-in-1s and giant phones. Having several versions of your website might have also meant a nightmare in keeping all of them updated, and in sync. Googlebot in all it’s wisdom couldn’t figure out which version was canonical, either – and which to return a certain user to, based on their device.

Google’s new Mobile Usability reports (in Webmaster Tools) show the following issues:
– Flash content,
– missing viewport (a critical meta-tag for mobile pages),
– tiny fonts,
– fixed-width viewports,
– content not sized to viewport,
– clickable links/buttons too close to each other.

4. Access to site resources
Googlebot and Bingbot both want to see into your JavaScript and CSS files. It used to be a best practice to block access, and many have. But as time has passed, bots have missed important information about user experience: Are there ads above the fold? Is the user being redirected, or shown irrelevant content? Bots need to know, all with the framework of ranking “better” sites higher. And you cannot be “better” on mobile if the experience is bad.

Need a good interactive agency or website design firm? We’ve worked with many, and partnered with the best. Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll introduce you to the right match!

PSST! Need a Free Link?
Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!

Penguin 3.0: A year in the waiting

Google’s “Penguin Updates” target the easiest link building practices. Since Google’s algorithm uses links to determine whether a website deserves to rank, they use the Penguin Updates to punish sites that might be getting links in an automated fashion.

Penguin Update 1: April 24, 2012, dubbed v1.0Google Penguin Hyper Dog Media SEO
Penguin Update 2: May 25, 2012
Penguin Update 3: October 5, 2012
Penguin Update 4 : May 22, 2013, dubbed v2.0
Penguin Update 5: October 4, 2013
Penguin Update 6: October 17, 2014, dubbed v3.0

Penguin 3.0 was the sixth Penguin Update from Google, and actually much smaller than the original Penguin Update. It started on October 17, and is still rolling out. But it hasn’t been as much of a hit as previous updates:
1. Google says less than 1% of queries will be affected. That’s less than a third of the original Penguin Update.

2. No new “signals” have been added. It was more of a “refresh” than an update. For those sites that disavowed or removed heavy amounts of links, it was a welcome change.

3. Talk of a larger Penguin update has already started, expected in Spring of 2015.

Vigilance and Risk Management
Last year’s update also opened sites up to more dirty tricks from competitors. Negative SEO has been possible for a long time, and only recently acknowledged by Google. The newest forms of Negative SEO put a competitor’s site into Google’s crosshairs with:
– Links from the worst kinds of sites
– Links targeting the worst kinds of keywords
– Links targeting the right keywords, but in unnatural amounts

PSST! Need a Free Link?
Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!