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20/Oct/2020
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Optimising technical SEO will make it easier for Google and Bing to crawl, index and surface your pages in search results. This quick-fire checklist will help to run through some of the issues that could be flagged and make adjustments to improve rankings.

Use ‘hreflang’ to identify multilingual content

Have you been focusing on transcreation in recent months for pages that will be tailored to international audiences? Using the HTML attribute known as ‘hreflang’ for this content will communicate specific details to Google about language and geographic targeting.

Why is this important? Google would otherwise view the same pages in different languages as duplicate content. This means that it may only index one of them, which is not ideal for SEO. Implementing hreflang can also help pages in different languages to rank higher in SERPs in the regions that you are targeting.

Optimise pages for fast load times

Ensuring that pages load quickly is a well-worn technical SEO objective, but it is really worth taking the time to tweak HTML and other on-page elements to improve the user experience. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will give you an overview of how your pages are performing here, with a score of between 0 and 100 for both mobile and desktop.

There are several things you can do to boost page speed. You can resize and compress images to reduce the overall weight of pages, minify HTML and JavaScript files by removing whitespace, and install a caching plugin for a better distribution of assets. Asking IT to switch to a faster DNS provider can also help.

Create a sitemap

Google says that sitemaps are the second “most relevant” source of URLs, so it makes sense to create one for your site. A sitemap will list all of the pages on your website. There are three main sitemap formats, but XML files are generally used to detail structured listings that help web crawlers to index pages in search.

Fortunately, you can automatically generate a sitemap using any of the most popular content management systems (CMS). Google also uses the URLs in sitemaps to identify the master copy of a page, which is something that can also be achieved with the use of canonical tags.

Fix duplicate content

A common thread running through many technical SEO fixes is duplicate content. While content that appears multiple times on a site will not be directly penalised by Google, it can lead to backlink dilution, undesirable URLs being surfaced in SERPs, and wasted resources.

To see if you have any issues with duplicate content, head into Google Search Console, bring up the ‘Coverage’ report, and tick the box to show ‘excluded URLs’. Any problems will be listed here. To fix the problem, you only need to select one of the URLs to be the primary version by using the ‘rel=canonical tag’.

Use HTTPS redirect

HTTPS, a protocol for web browser connections, has been a signal in Google’s search algorithm for six years now, and its use can have a positive impact on SEO. HTTPS pages load faster and are much more secure, which can lead to better search rankings. Even if you have HTTPS in place, your website can still be viewed via the HTTP version if you do not have a redirect code in place. You can check whether this is the case by trying to load the HTTP version. An automatic redirect here indicates that all is well.


29/Sep/2020
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When trying to implement an effective SEO strategy, you can fall prey to myths and untruths that can throw your best-laid plans off track. No, SEO is not dead, and it’s not just something you can set and forget about. Here are five other common myths.

Long-tail keywords are easier to target

There is often a misconception that long-tail keywords are easier to target and rank for compared to head terms that drive large search volumes. While long-tail keywords attract fewer searches over a given period, this does not mean that they can be used to boost rankings for more esoteric or niche queries.

This is because keyword difficulty, a metric that tracks the ranking difficulty of a word or phrase, can be very similar for both high-volume and low-volume keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer in length, hence the name, but are not a silver bullet for better rankings.

Google will penalise duplicate content

Duplicate content is defined as any copy that appears on two or more pages, either on the same site or across multiple domains. It is not desirable as it can undermine SEO strategies, but Google has stated on several occasions that there is not a specific search penalty for any websites that continue to host duplicate content. You can find out if you have any issues with this by running a site audit and checking the final report.

Google only ranks new content

Publishing new content is very important, especially as Google uses a ‘freshness’ signal in its ranking algorithm, but there are times when an article or a blog can continue to rank near the top of SERPs even though it was published several years ago.

This usually occurs when freshness does not have a negative impact on the quality of the content. For example, Google currently ranks a page from 2013 at the top of search for the query, ‘how to tie a tie’. The answer to this question is the same now as it was seven years ago, so freshness does not factor into it.

PageRank is not relevant anymore

PageRank is an algorithm that measures a webpage’s authority. Google has confirmed that it continues to be a ranking factor, but its decision to discontinue public scores for the metric back in 2016 has caused confusion. Some SEOs now claim that it is no longer relevant for this reason.

However, PageRank is still used by Google when ranking content, and research shows that the metric aligns quite closely with organic search traffic, which highlights its value.

SEO should focus on first-place rankings

The top position in search rankings is the best place to be, but it does not always translate to higher levels of traffic. A recent study of 100,000 branded search queries found that the first listing only gets the most overall traffic from search 49% of the time. Perhaps surprisingly, pages between fifth and 10th are able to drive the most traffic for 10% of queries.

This suggests that a first-place-or-bust mindset is foolish because pages can rank for more than one keyword and thus generate higher levels of traffic overall. The key is an effective SEO strategy that aligns search intent with the right content.


15/Sep/2020
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Technical SEO does not have to be difficult. The four actionable tips listed below will lay the groundwork for steady streams of organic traffic and mitigate some of the issues that can hold your SEO strategies back over time.  

Start adding internal links

Internal links will distribute link authority across your website and help to create a structure and hierarchy, all of which will aid your quest for better rankings in SERPs. Google’s John Mueller even notes that the anchor text in each internal link can provide “additional context” to assist its search engine. 

Adding internal links is easy enough, but you need to do it for each new page you publish. Rather than just linking to random pages, you can enter ‘site:yourwebsite.com’ and then a keyword into Google to see which pages are closely related to the new page.

You can also use SEO tools to see specific metrics for each listing. Linking to pages that have a better URL rating is preferable as this content will have a higher authority.

Conduct regular content audits

Content can become outdated and irrelevant over time, which can lead to it dropping out of search rankings entirely. Content that has no positive impact on SEO is a potential candidate for being deleted. Running content audits every six months to a year will highlight pages that need to be jettisoned, updated or consolidated.

Removing content can actually lead to an increase in the traffic to your webpages. Again, there are SEO tools such as the free WordPress plugin from Ahrefs that offer actionable instructions for each blog or article. Assessing each page individually is important as you don’t want to remove something that contributes to your business outside of SEO.

Add subtopics to existing content

Content does not have to stand still – it can evolve over time to the changing demands and needs of users and search engines. A ‘content gap’ analysis can be used to highlight important points or sections that have not been included in a page and could potentially improve its position in rankings.

Running your pages through a content gap tool will show the keywords that top performers in search are ranking for but that are absent from your copy. Adding a new subtopic or two at a later date to cover these keywords can give your content a boost at just the right time.

Fix any broken backlinks

High-quality backlinks can also give your content an edge in search. Backlinks are created when another publisher or site links to your content or when you link to a high authority page elsewhere. Unfortunately, broken backlinks can occur and undermine your SEO. To make sure that you don’t have any broken links, you can filter for 404 pages in a relevant SEO tool such as Site Explorer.

After flagging the offender, you can either reinstate the dead page so that backlinks point to a working page again or redirect the older URL to a new URL. If a third party has incorrectly linked to your page, you can get in touch with them to request for it to be changed.


08/Sep/2020
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The majority of on-page SEO tactics are simple to implement and can have an immediate impact on your search rankings. The five recommendations below will enhance your technical SEO and help you generate more valuable sources of traffic from Google.

Build internal links

Adding internal links to your content is one of the easiest ways to build structure and authority for your webpages, which can lead to better performance in SERPs. Internal links are a core part of on-page SEO and not just limited to blogs or articles. You can link to product pages with basic copy and ‘about us’ and support sections. These links act as a signal that you have practical content available across your site.

Use schema

Schema markup should be used alongside internal linking to create a structured website hierarchy. Fizzbox CEO Rob Hill says: “Whether it’s FAQ content or a recipe write-up, you might understand the content, but search engines might not be able to comprehend what they’re looking at. This is where schema markup comes in.”

Hill noted that the use of event schema markup for a festive-related campaign resulted in a 23% spike in click-through rates from Google search results and a notable increase in sales.

Schema can be used to provide additional information about a range of items on your website from products and places to creative work and events. The markup supports SEO by improving how your page is displayed in SERPs. For example, schema for a FAQ page can lead to content being served in Rich Snippets in listings below the page title.

Craft unique content

Google recently updated its Search Quality Raters’ Guidelines, and it includes more than 100 mentions of E-A-T, an acronym that stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust. The best way to display E-A-T on your webpages is by crafting compelling and unique content. It should offer insights, answer questions, address customer pain points, and generally deliver the high-quality experiences that modern consumers expect.

You can also make sure that your content is ‘unique’ by using a content management system (CMS) to find any duplicate content on your website. If you do want to use duplicate copy, make sure to use a canonical URL to direct search engines to the original piece.

Hill also recommends going through older content with the view to updating it. A mix of fresh new content and updated articles and blogs with added sections and editors’ notes can maximise the incoming flow of traffic.

Optimise title tags

Title tags will be front and centre in search engine results, so optimise accordingly. Title tags should be between 50 and 60 characters in length and include keywords, numbers and dates where possible. Don’t keyword stuff though. It needs to look natural while offering a general overview of what the article, blog or page is about. If you are struggling with title tags, a content agency can assist you with the process.

Use categories

Another great way to add structure is by creating a range of categories and subcategories for your content. These categories should be relevant to your brand and content output. A smaller number of targeted categories will work better. Again, categories make it easier for search engines to understand your content.