Summer SEO Thoughts 2016

Some quick thoughts for summer 2016.

DigitalDNA Event

Last month Belfast welcomed the 4th DigitalDNA conference. Great to see digital buzzing in Belfast, with some excellent companies and knowledgeable speakers. Great also to meetup with people within the industry.

Although the event was a great success and I’m sure it’ll continue to go from strength to strength, there was some lessons to be learnt. Two of the talks that I attended, the Google talk and the Loudmouth Media talk you could bearly hear. The speakers were drown out, so well done the speakers as they carried on despite this.

Surprisingly the main hall with some of the big speakers didn’t appear to be as well attended as I would have thought. Maybe there’s a disconnect between some bigger companies and the small businesses that I’m guessing would have made up the majority of the attendees.

A couple of things that I find about conferences, there’s very little real detail in the talks, and they’re pretty basic particularly when the audience surely have a decent knowledge of digital. Maybe it’s just the conferences I attend!

The Facebook Ads session taken by the charismatic Andy Hill was very well attended. The popularity of Facebook, it’s easy accessibility, and the increasing costs of Google AdWords are helping Facebook Ads boom. I’ve even tried Facebook Ads with surprising results, though like anything it takes a wee bit of persistence.

If you are looking to get your demographics right, don’t forget Google Analytics can provide you with a starting point in setting up your audiences.

demographics in Google Analytics

Referral Spam

Unfortunately, spam has returned to Google. There was a few weeks around the turn of the year where it looked like Google had their referral spam issue under control. Increasingly the number of spam referrals are returning and skewing analytics.

It would be a great feature in Google Analytics, if you could go into the referral report and could simply click on a button and add a site to the exclusion list, rather than the long winded ways you currently have to go about filtering out traffic. Either that or Google takes care of the issue once and for all.

spam referrals in google anlaytics

Link building

While I’ve been doing SEO for an ecommerce site, I’ve re-read some articles on link building. The old mantra that to get links you need to build quality content, isn’t exactly true, it doesn’t work like that. You need serious resources, a subject matter expert, promotion and so on. Anyone looking to get backlinks needs to have a read of this article on the ‘Link Building Pyramid’. Although it’s from 2010, it still hits the nail on the head.

Log File Analyser

Screamingfrog SEO spider tool is one of the best SEO tools on the market, and worth it’s weight in gold. Now the guys have gone one step better and released a log file analyser. Anyone that has dealt with log files knows that they are a nightmare, some are huge and very difficult to open, yet alone read. LFA makes things easy. Having recently been working on a Magento site with a disproportionate crawl to the number of pages, opening up the log files in LFA makes it easy to see what pages Google is crawling when it shouldn’t. You can and then add these folders/files to the robots file.

google crawl report

Google Ads

How many novices/beginners start up Google AdWords and lose fortunes on running broad match. Do they really know the difference between the keywords they bid on and the search terms that they pay for?

Having been teaching intro courses for Google AdWords, one recent lesson involved a campaign were a beginner had a daily budget of £10, and was paying up to £7.50 for one click on a keyword in broad match. When we looked at the search terms, some terms like ‘oven cleaning’ were appearing for the broad match keyword ‘carpet cleaning’. Another couple of campaigns that I’ve done audits on, and that had been reviewed with the help of Google consultants no less, had an awful lot of wasted clicks, roughly 70% or so. AdWords can be dangerous and a money pit if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Crawl errors

If anyone can answer this question, please do. Why does Google still show old URLs in the crawl errors section of Google Webmaster Tools (pages that don’t have incoming links) even when the 404’s are literally years old? Surely they should just be dropped.

Organic Traffic

Has your organic traffic suffered an unexpected dip in the last couple of months?

Your Google Analytics has a new referral source, that although showing as referral traffic, is in fact organic traffic.

Traffic coming from Android devices while searching in the Google Search Apps is showing up as referral traffic. Read more here and set up a filter to reassign this traffic.

CTRs in organics

There’s much debate on whether CTRs in organics is a ranking factor. I’d be amazed if it wasn’t particularly given it’s importance in Google AdWords and it’s part in the quality score algorithm. Nowadays for important pages I like to write the title and meta descriptions like ads.

GWT hacked sites

Lastly this month, I’ve emailed 3 businesses that presumably where unaware that their sites and their client sites had been hacked. Make sure you have a Google Console account set up. Increasingly more and more sites are getting hacked, and an email notification from Google can flag up any issues that might go unnoticed. As well as a hack notification, there’s more and more email warnings for penalty violations, crawling issues and other health check problems.

Page Titles

Isn’t it about time that search engines used a display page title element that they could show in the SERPS. Why not give site owners the opportunity to write a display page title, that they can focus on solely to increase the CTR in their organic listings. Invariably, particularly when you’re doing GEO targeting SEO, page titles don’t read right. No one is gonna tell me that ‘Web Design Leeds’ in the page titles below reads right, yet because the page title is a ranking factor the listings have the term at the front of the page title and mostly as an exact string.

web design leeds SERPS

Why not bring back the meta keywords element? Now there’s a thought!



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Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced web developer based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own web design company.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 225729 or use the contact form.

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