4 Aspects to SEO Basics for Websites, Blogs and eCommerce

What do you do about SEO if the site you built doesn’t seem to have SEO features built in? First, you need to know there is more than one aspect to SEO. There are actually at least four:

  1. Meta fields
  2. On page SEO
  3. Incoming links
  4. Page load time and caching

SEO Basics

No matter what type of site you have, you can learn to improve your on page SEO and your incoming links. Whether you can configure the meta fields easily depends on what your site is built on.

Website Builder SEO

If you used a website builder, it may or may not have some accessible SEO meta fields. For example, IM Creator provides the ability to create meta title, description and keywords for the entire site – but not for individual pages.

Other website builders may not provide any meta fields at all. Ideally, it is best to be able to set different meta fields for each page on a site. If your site doesn’t support meta fields, focus on optimizing your on page SEO and building incoming links.

WordPress SEO

Sites built on WordPress have many more options. Originally, WordPress users installed SEO plugins. The most popular are:

  • All-in-One-SEO
  • Platinum SEO
  • SEO by Yoast

Today, advanced WordPress theme platforms including Thesis and Genesis have SEO fields built in. They are customizable for each page and post individually.

Some WP users install an advanced SEO plugin even if their theme has SEO fields in order to take advantage of additional features. For example, Yoast rates how well your page or post is optimized and also supports Twitter cards to pull your images into Twitter whenever one of your posts gets tweeted.

Ecommerce SEO

If you expect your ecommerce store to show up in searches, having and using the SEO fields is essential. Major ecommerce platforms typically provide meta fields for product and category pages, but many of their users haven’t bothered to fill them out.

The Google Panda update seriously penalized ecommerce sites that did not have enough text in their descriptions and on their category pages. If you haven’t filled in these fields and optimized  all of your pages for SEO you should.

You also need to find a way to increase incoming links to your pages. Many ecommerce sites fail to rank because they haven’t attracted sufficient incoming links. Some used article marketing heavily for this and were later penalized by the Penguin update and had to remove those links. 

Find  out more by reading Improve Google Indexing on Your Ecommerce Website.

Image Size, Page Load Time and Caching

Many site owners make the serious mistake of using high resolution images or just images that are so large they take a long time to load. Keep in mind that not all internet users have high speed access or new computers with tons of memory.

Online images don’t need to be any higher than 72 dpi. Except for complex infographics you should be able to keep them under 160 kb and under 60 kb would be even better.

WordPress users can Enable Gzip Encoding and Caching to speed up their sites. All site owners should work to reduce page load time as much as possible. Discussions in the forum suggest that under 10 seconds is essential and ideally average page load times of under 3 seconds would be better.

The Google Page Speed Score add-on for FireFox can assist you in analyzing how your pages are loading.

Google Webmaster Accounts

Creating a webmaster account on Google and Bing are recommended to make your site easier for them to index. Google Webmaster Tools has an SEO FAQ to answer many common questions.  

Image: SEO basics

Why Google Thinks You’re A Sly Dog And How To Make It Trust You

Trust is everything in a relationship and without it a connection is meaningless and a bond throwaway.

So, how do you build this trust? Openness…… respect…… offering a quality experience. The funny thing is that it’s not just your girlfriend that will appreciate it when she can trust you, Google will too.  

Trust is a significant and often overlooked factor in SEO

Remember the crazy girlfriend that cut up your suits one Tuesday evening before you came home from work because you smiled at the pretty barista. Those suits could be your site and that girlfriend could be Google. If Google doesn’t trust your site, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Measuring trust can be done manually through examining a potential linking site’s backlink profile, or automatically via either Majestic Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) metrics, or Moz’s MozTrust and Moz Flow metrics. Both metrics use a list of seeded trust sources vs the number of citations a site has and base their rankings on the distance between the site being examined and these sources of trust.  

Though not exactly the same, both are similar in that they have to be compared and a disparity in the metrics suggests a problem. The larger the disparity, the higher the likelihood there’s a lack of trust.

As an example a site with a TF 30 and CF 30 has a 1:1 ratio, which is a good thing. However a site with a TF 5 and a CF45 has a ratio of 1:9 which would suggest it’s very spammy.

Why Trust

Have you ever seen a site with only a few links outranking a one with times the amount and far higher metrics? Well, the reason this happens is that Google trusts that site and it has a higher ‘TrustRank’.

Sites with high trust in Google’s eyes survive negative SEO attacks without even flinching, they rank well for information they provide and they survive Google update after Google update, often going from strength to strength.

So, how do you increase the level of trust that Google has in your site. Well, there are a number of ways and we’re going to take a look at the link based ones that matter.

Outward Linking

If you ever created an academic article you’ll remember using the references and citations and honouring sources.

Doing this backs up facts, helps people delve deeper into a subject and shows that any statement you make can be trusted. Any article or piece you create for your blog or site should do the same. It needs to cite sources and the more the merrier.

Linking out to authority, trusted sites not only creates a better on-site experience but also helps the level of trust Google has in your site. It’s easy to understand why. If you can back up your facts and statements with relevant information from authority sites then your content is likely to be a lot more accurate and of higher quality than one where there are no links and information could be just pulled out of the sky.

The information doesn’t even have to be editorial; you can add sources and references at the bottom of the content or page to back up your statements.

Backlink profile

Of course, it’s not just outbound links that create trust – not at all! Links from high quality, high authority sites to yours matter.

These high quality sites are a handful of high quality trusted sites. At the very top of this pyramid are .edu sites, .gov sites, big news sites such as BBC and large industry authority sites. In an ideal world you backlink profile would be made up from these sorts of links.

BBC >My Site> Great Ranking

However, this isn’t easily achieved. However, getting links from sites with links from these amazing sites is a more realistic prospect. Placing this simply in perspective

BBC> Site we Post on > My Site> Very Good Ranking

We’re one degree away from a high quality source and because of this still getting a lot of benefit from the authority site. Needless to say that the more degrees of separation there are between the authority link and your site, the less trust there is.

Backlink profile matters more than metrics (to a degree)

Which would you rather a link from?

  • Site 1 – PR2, DA30 with 1x BBC.com link and 1x .Gov Link
  • Site 2 – PR4, DA45 with nothing of note and lots of blog comments

Well, if you’re looking for trust, you’re going to choose the first link even if the Site 2 has a lot more going for it on first impressions. By doing this you create a more trusted, resilient site with a better backlink profile.

News

Google has its own very visible criteria for trust in Google News. It’s pretty sensible when you think about it.

If Google is willing to include a site in its trusted news sources, then it’s going to trust that site as one that delivers quality news. If all other things are equal a site that’s in Google News is going to be more trusted than a site that’s not in Google News.

Like all the good things in life, getting a link from a site that’s in Google News isn’t easy. However, as Eric Ward always a mention, if a link is hard to get then it’s probably worth getting.

Trust is and has always been a big ranking factor and one that will help your site in a number of ways now and into the SEO future well past 2015. Utilising the above tactics around link can help improve the level of TrustRank Google has around your site and it’s certainly worth considering.

Link Building: Where Should You Even Begin? Basic Guidelines to Link Building

The world of SEO seems to be constantly in flux. With each Google algorithm change comes an existential crisis for the industry, although hopefully we are over the worst excess of that era and the present zeitgeist is one which is likely to be around for a while. Link building is the bread and butter of good SEO work, but is something that people often mess up. Below is a handy guide to how to make sure your link building is top quality.

Definition of link building

Building high-quality links is an arduous job that requires high quality content, website partners and well-optimized keywords.  Hyperlinks direct traffic from other sites to your own and are used to navigate around the web. Google uses crawl data to assess which links register most for key terms and uses this to position its search result rankings. Therefore, good linksmanship is an essential part of the SEO trade.

The importance of link building

Search engines need links to determine rankings and to identify the new kids on the block that need to be ranked. Google published a short videowhich breaks things down pretty nicely. While search engines identify key terms on a site, they also look to external sites to see how many are linking back to the original site. Google provides weight to different sites and getting a link on a clean, well- respected site is going to do you a lot of good when it comes to ranking. That’s why time needs to be spent on ensuring that links are getting built in the right places.

When you link to relevant and high quality sites that has been crawled by spiders and has made a correlation to your website, there will be a great possibility that Google will consider your site a prime candidate to appear on Page 1 on Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs)

Importance of Link Building

The anatomy of a hyperlink

A handy article I read recently provided a great breakdown of how the link building process works and how Google reads it in order to rank a site. This is basic stuff, but it’s good to know how the nuts and bolts of the process works.

  1. Anchor. This comes at the start of the hyperlink and lets Google know that link tag is about to follow that is going to need to be ranked.
  2. Link Referral location. This is the link address which you click on to take you to wherever you need to go on the information superhighway.
  3. Visible/anchor text of the link.  This is the text that users see on a page that guides them to a link. Think the ‘contact us’ phraseology as an example of this.
  4. Link tag closing lets Google know that the anchor is at an end.

Weighting of thematic clusters of ranking factors in Google

A number of different factors affect Google rankings and there is a good breakdown of that here. The algorithms are ever more complex, but quality is the key to Google search success these days. What this means has been discussed in-depth elsewhere.

However, finding quality partners that fit with your brand and that Google considers as ‘clean’ certainly helps, as well as ensuring that what you produce is informative and can generate organic traffic that is linked to from a variety of places is certainly the main factor affecting rankings.

Benefits of link building to your business

To rank well, there is no substitute for high-quality links to high-quality content. However, there are more than just SEO benefits to consider when building links. There are a number of intangibles that can help any business. One of these is that of building up business contacts that can reciprocate. By borrowing, partnering and generally working together, there are benefits to both sides in the short and long term.

The key thing to remember though, as I have stated multiple times already, is quality. Once you find a potential partner they need to find what you do worthwhile in order to encourage their audience to give you a chance. Quality content is key to quality partnerships and the rankings follow.

Social Media is always there to help

While it is still debatable as to the true impact of social media with SEO rankings, there are still many who insists that Social Media does add to the organic success of a website even if it is not directly obvious.

But, it is widely accepted that there is a relationship between SEO and Social Media. Some experts think that by appearing and being mentioned on a post in a social media site like Facebook can be a ranking factor. Even without a hyperlink, just by having your brand appear in a site is a signal to Google. Here we see the effectiveness of Social Media in giving your product an increase in brand awareness and promote more social mentions and conversations about your brand. Think of it like a snowball effect as its signals grow.

Lastly, believe it or not, Social Media can increase your website’s traffic which is a big factor in rankings. The most popular items we see in Facebook are informative and interesting content, funny or tragic videos, intriguing blog posts and other compelling content. You could get higher rankings especially when users read your entire blog post or watch the whole video before moving on to another site. This is measured by search engines: bounce rate, new visits, return visits, pages per visit and time spent on a website. The more engaged a user is measured, the higher the ranking could be.