SEO Thoughts for February 2016
Some quick thoughts to kick off 2016.
Brands & Multiple Listings
Weren’t the days of Google showing 3 results for a website in the SERPS supposedly at an end? Obviously Not! The screenshot below clearly shows 3 listings for Gumtree. It’s annoying to see Gumtree doing so well when the pages are all littered with ads (Google hammered one of my sites for this) and the content similar on all 3 pages. This is an example of Google’s algo favouring a brand and over the last few years, I’ve seen this more and more. No matter how much SEO you do, Google still favours sites like Amazon, Gumtree and Ebay at the expense of smaller independent sites.
The screenshot below shows a page Google had indexed and started to show as a sitelink for a search on the company’s name.
To get rid of a poor sitelink like this there is a little known feature in Google’s Webmaster Tools/Search Console where you can demote sitelinks.
It’s under Search Appearance > Sitelinks.
I guess you could also quickly remove the page from Google with GWT’s removal tool or add a noindex to it.
SEO & AdWords Aren’t the Same
Google AdWords and SEO are similar disciplines in many ways, and a lot of search companies will offer both. There are however some big differences and many AdWords specialists don’t offer comprehensive SEO, and vice versa.
So if your AdWords company has issues such as a 404 sitelink appearing (and it’s been there for a while), and little background or experience in search then the chances are they just offer it as an add on. So buyer beware, do your research before handing your SEO over to a Pay Per Click company.
Google My Business Reviews
Very few companies where I’m from (Belfast) have an online review strategy to encourage their customers to sing their virtues. I see many business with no reviews, or with a negative review and the business hasn’t taken the time to post a reply. Something for the marketing team to actively pursue.
Definitely worth making sure you have a review strategy, whether that’s for Google My Business or other review sites such as Trustpilot or Feefo. It helps for Organic traffic, Google AdWords and GMB.
5 reviews trigger the stars in GMB, which shouldn’t be too onerous for an established business to achieve. There are plenty of ways to use reviews in a comprehensive online marketing strategy.
Recently I worked with a client that had suffered a manual penalty and had all the trouble, time and expense of having to clear up their backlink profile. Using a combination of Majestic and GWT or other tools that you might prefer, it’s a good idea for companies such as this to keep on top of their backlink profile and doing regular audits is best practice.
Marie Haynes provides excellent guidance and has a very good comprehensive guide to using the Disavow tool.
Surprisingly there are still plenty of companies that haven’t Google Analytics installed or if they do they don’t look at the stats regularly or know how to interpret them. One guy I meet was using Lead Forensics rather than Analytics. Lead Forensics has some features that GA doesn’t but it’s not on the same level as GA, saying that I haven’t looked at Lead Forensics in a while. Get up to speed and learn the basics of Google Analytics, so that you can measure and segment traffic yourself if you need too. There are lots of bullshit agencies that will try and pull the wool over your eyes on what a great job they are doing, see for yourself.
Google Webmaster Tools / Search Console
Make sure to set up your Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console, protect your site and get website health checks straight from Google. It’s a no brainer to make sure you get an early email notification if Google has a problem with your site, for instance when Google detects your site has been hacked. Rather than your potential clients seeing the screenshot below in the SERPRS, get on top of it first and deal with it quickly.
Google My Business
Just this week I needed to link a Google My Business account to a Google AdWords account in order to get Google AdWords to show the Location Extensions. This can be a minefield and very time consuming. Having worked with this quite a bit over the last numbers of years I’ve found the easiest way to deal with this is by calling the Google’s My Business team (UK number 0800 169 0409). They’ll help you request admin rights, or claim a business so that you can make the necessary changes to a GMB listing.
For all your Google My Business and local issues there’s a very good local search forum run by Linda Buquet.
The Importance of Internal Links
The more internal links that point at a page, the more PageRank juice it will have. For on site SEO, site structure and internal linking is critical.
I was comparing a blog site that had switched this year from a WordPress single page theme with no links on the right, to a theme that showed all the recent posts, popular posts, categories on the right. In Google Analytics the landing page traffic is up 70%. Now a lot of these posts were written in 2012, 2013, 2014, so my guess and gut feeling is that the new WordPress single pages with internal links on the right passed a lot more pagerank and helped boost the rankings of the pages.
Another site I was working on had a splash page, where you pick either ROI, UK or NI on the front page. Once you pick a region, a cookie is stored, and the main navigation within that site is then controlled by a cookie e.g. your region selected is in the main navigation and the other 2 not shown.
Google can’t store cookies, so what happens in effect is that Google will see just one default region in the navigation, and the other region pages won’t get indexed and will rank poorly. Looking at the internal links (another feature of GWT), if your important pages have a lot less links than some less important pages, you should consider your internal link structure. Anchor text on internal links is still one of the major factors, this doesn’t mean go overboard on this technique.
Exact Match Domains
Bing clearly pays an awful lot of weight to exact match and partial matches. So does Google, though the weight isn’t as heavy as it once was, there’s still other factors that are taken into consideration, so an exact match domain by itself no longer is sufficient.
Having keywords in the URL is a big ranking factor.
The Importance of monthly, annual SEO Audits
Increasingly with the complexity of Google, there’s more than ever a need to do regular health checks of your site.
Screamingfrog is excellent for broken links
Advanced Web Ranking great for keyword ranking monitoring
Google Webmaster Tools and Majestic are good for backlink analysis
The site: command is great for seeing what Google has indexed (just search on Google for site:yourwebsite.com)
Google Webmaster Tools is great for everything from checking the number of indexed pages, to what HTML suggestions Google gives, to broken links.
Google Analytics is great for tracking events and goals and monitoring a site’s performance.
Deepcrawl for site health checks looks very promising and one to get more up to speed with.