Business development 9 November 2015

How to stay ahead in the changing world of SEO

Google’s algorithm uses hundreds of factors to determine the relevance of a website to a user’s search query
Google’s algorithm uses hundreds of factors to determine the relevance of a website to a user’s search query

Reflect Digital’s sales and marketing director discusses the best approach to making sure you keep on top of the latest trends and Google algorithm updates to be as SEO aware as possible.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is often described as a constantly changing world and it can be a daunting task trying the keep up to date with the latest trends, Google algorithm updates, best practices, technical recommendations and Google guidelines so I’d like to offer a few helpful tips to ensure you stay ahead of the game.

SEO is far more than just keyword targeting, it is a complicated process to carry out and do well, with many elements needing to come together to ensure you achieve the greatest search engine visibility possible for your website. Google’s algorithm uses hundreds of factors to determine the relevance of a website to a user’s search query, but you can keep a few things in mind to make SEO simpler to handle.

(1) Make your website great

This might sound obvious and maybe even a little cliché but is a very important starting point. Your website needs to be the best it can be for your target audience. In 2015, there is no way to trick Google into ranking your website higher than it should be. Everything you do needs to be for the good of your user, not for Google.

If that makes sense and it is a good thing for your audience, this will make sense to Google as well. Keep in mind what it is your audience wants to find when they land on your website, make sure your content gives them the information and answers they are looking for – the chances are a page with a couple of basic paragraphs about what you do isn’t going to be enough.

Making your website great is probably a very long article for another day but for now just remember you should always be looking for ways to improve each webpage on your site for your users. If you do this, success will follow.

(2) When link building stick to the basics

I’m sure you have all heard of the term link building in SEO. Links are and will continue to be one of the primary ranking factors Google uses. One thing I often hear people talking about is how much link building has changed over the years. Something really important to remember is that link building hasn’t actually changed that much since Google introduced the Penguin algorithm update on 24th April 2012.

The Penguin update was designed to penalise websites using spammy or manipulative link building tactics. Google can now easily understand the link profile of a website using manipulative link building vs. a website with a genuine natural link profile.

If the sole purpose of the link you have created is to manipulate the search engine results then there is a strong possibility that it will have a negative effect on your SEO results.

Don’t try to use the keywords you want to rank for in the links pointing to your website, stick to brand and url links and let the search engines determine the relevance without you trying too hard to influence them.

Content marketing strategies to generate links are evolving but as long as you always ensure you are creating something of value that someone will naturally want to link to then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

(3) Set up page monitoring to Google webmaster guidelines

In the past Google has been guilty of moving the goal posts but if they make changes to what they deem best practices they will update this information in their webmaster guidelines. The only way to achieve long term SEO success is to operate within these guidelines so it is important to keep up to date with any changes. I recommend using Chrome Page Monitor to monitor the webmaster guidelines pages and notify you if any changes are made, but there are other free tools that you can use to the same effect.

(4) Sign up to leading industry blogs

Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to keeping fully up to date with the changes in the SEO industry – it does require a lot of time dedicated to reading, researching, analysis etc. There are many good SEO blogs to help though, and here are my four favourites:

  • MOZ
  • Search Engine Journal
  • Search Engine Land
  • Search Engine Watch

If you have time for nothing else I highly recommend finding the time to watch the Whiteboard Friday videos from MOZ.

(5) Find the right tools to help

There are a huge amount of SEO tools on the market to assist with pretty much any SEO task. Looking at tools can be a bit of a minefield but here are a few tools I use on a daily basis that you might find useful:

Analytics SEO – This is a leading full SEO platform with an abundance of really useful features including keyword ranking monitoring, competitor analysis, technical auditing and market share visibility.

Open Site Explorer – Link analysis tool from MOZ that allows you to see data on your own and competitors link profile including anchor text and recently discovered links.

SERP Optimisation Tool – Developed by our very own team at Reflect Digital to help our clients with their on-page optimisation.

While it is true that SEO is continually evolving and that there is always something new to learn, my number one recommendation is to get back to basics, create great content about your target keywords that is appealing to your target audience and build links by marketing your content to a genuine audience that is interested in it.

Paul Simms is sales and marketing director at Reflect Digital.

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