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Search Engine Optimization

SEO Part 2: Top 9 Things To Do To Optimise Content for SEO

Search engines work to improve the results on searches but in order for them to improve it you have to optimize it and thats where SEO comes into play. There are a million searches out there every day. – Have you tried numbering the stars? You can’t even see all of them! – Hence it is not every one that gets captured. Simply because it takes the ranking machine some time to learn about what the search is about, to understand the language (it is a robot and not a human) and also it takes time to collect data – the more searches made out there, the more clues for it to pick up for the search.

Unlike SEO Part 1 which is about polishing up your website, in Part 2, you have to be mindful of your competitors (e.g. what their searches are), your audience in how and what they search, (Seriously, their Engrish might not be as good as yours or as your copywriter’s) and also what the crawler (the algorithm is the brain of the crawler) will pick out when it searches its directory of pages.

That is why SEO for content is not easy. And we understand that many SEO self-help articles have made you tired of the words “Amazing Content”, “Great Content” etc. We don’t want to double-cross you but the algorithm changes all the time. The better your content answers the query – and stops people from searching further, even if you are second or third place on the Search Result Page – you have a success to be proud of. The better your keywords, headlines and content that can attract clicks and make people dwell on your website for a long time, the better your performance on the search result.

But learning SEO takes forever…

We don’t want to tell you that SEO is cryptic. Nothing is too difficult for the person who has embraced the challenge. It has been also a long journey for the machine to comprehend what people have been searching for…  but that is also why you contact us and let us do the hard work

One: SEO Keyword Research: 

For every basic SEO strategy it always begin with a keyword search, you must first know your subject well. This refers to your product, your customers, and what your customers and potential customers know about your store and products. If you are selling Roasted Seaweed, “Roasted Seaweed” would be your keyword. You may also want to include other keywords which your customer may use like “Sushi Seaweed”. If your customers want Japan quality seaweed, then add “Japan” and “Quality” or “Best” to the list of keyword. If you are having a “sale”, then it becomes a keyword too. All in all, it could look something like that: “Best Japan Roasted Seaweed Sale”.

Source: www.healthyfoodtribe.com

Here’s a technique to get hold of. Take each keyword as a Shopping Mall with similar stores. Something like Sim Lim Square. Carry out a research on them (who are your competitors) – what they sell and keywords for their products especially if their products are similar. Your purpose is to pick out what keyword to use and what to avoid. Clearly, a buyer looking for Roasted Seaweed will not go to the Shopping mall for Roasted Seaweed. Some tips for keywords: be specific; use a range of words. General ones like “Roasted Seaweed” will be in a bigger shopping mall. But, longer, more detailed keyword “Japan’s Best Quality Roasted Seaweed Buy 10 Packets for $5” will appear in a smaller mall with the aim to convert their decision to a purchase. This is especially so because of the algorithm, the longer your sentences or keywords are, the more natural it will seem.

Take an example of the keyword Mole Removal, you probably might want to find out if Mole Removal Singapore, Mole Removal Doctor or even Mole Removal Clinic is the best keyword that drives you the most traffic compared to its difficulty. If you are new to this, we will suggest working on those that are easier to rank and work your way up to more competitive keywords.

The recommended number of keywords is 5 – 20, look for those keywords that bring you actual traffic, not those easiest to rank.

To help you identify relevant keywords, sign up for a free keyword research tool. Give Google Adwords and LSI Graph a try: https://lsigraph.com/

Two: Search Engine Result Page: Online Headings and Snippets

It does not matter if your online headline has to be 10 words long. It can even be 20. The algorithm looks out for keywords and numbers in the headlines. A good headline is attention-grabbing to earn the clicks. Hence, put your audience first. Use words that would cause them to jump up from their seats, encourage, disturb, and even cause tears. For example, have words like “melt your heart”, “make you regret, “shocked to see” done anything to you before? Evoke an emotional quality that has led many to jump to mouse clicks!

Readers are also strange people. They want to know what will happen to them or other people after reading, like “make you cry”, “give you goosebumps” – or even better something that will turn their poor Asian lives to become Crazy Rich Asians. The phrase “will make you” will do wonders for you.

Since headlines are descriptive so you can add details, consider the famous 5Ws1H (Who, What, When, Why, What and How) in your headline. For example:

Sure, it makes people curious and some hungry. And the article goes on to explain why.

If you are a brand company, choose words that will also build trust with your readers like making them a promise and then showing that you have fulfilled it so that you will always be remembered for making them click on the headline. It can be something as simple as a promise that you have delivered, like your slogan.

Below are some real examples of what goes on in headline writing these days.

  1. Listicles:
  • 23 Things Guaranteed To Momentarily Intrigue You (Buzzfeed) – Yes, numbers, whether it is a listicle or a figure to express achievement, it will attract the algorithm’s feelers.
  1. How to headline:
  • How to make a Paper Boat: 10 Steps (with Pictures) – WikiHow (Wikihow website) – this is great as searchers these days ask questions directly to the algorithm to search the best answer for them.

  1. Question Headlines:
  • Why elderly S’poreans are committing suicide (Mothership.sg)
  • Woman swallows 11 bowls of bak chor mee in 7 minutes. Ya, why exactly? (Mothership.sg) Or,

Here’s why…

  • What Airplane Food Looks Like Around the World (Buzzfeed)

Another way to start a question

Or, what about a quiz: 

  • Which Nationality Will be Best for You to Date
  • When will you meet your Soulmate
  • Let me guess what you are wearing

If there are questions… you can consider an answer…

  • Yes, Schools Might Soon Be Able to Use Federal Guns

 

Three: “Structured Data” = Meta Tags = Schema Markup

In order to increase the chances of appearing on featured snippets, add structured data. This is a classification system of the contents on your webpage. It is like having a huge book (e.g. biology textbook) with many segments and chapters and adding post-it stickers at the side. On your webpage, this means adding a tag called <title> to your title, <description> to your description and so on, your address <address>, reviews <*****>. This is to help the algorithm understand your page better and feature your content in “snippets” or “featured snippets” even if it does not really understand it.

Here’s an advantage for the hard work: When competition is rife, this will boost your visibility amid the very well optimised, well-connected and branded webpages.

Here is how it works nicely when it appears on the snippet, taking the liberty of the restaurant, The Lokal, as an example.

  1. <title>The LoKal | Australian Restaurant . Bar | House-made comfort food</title>
  2. <meta name=”description” content=”The LoKal Singapore – a casual eatery that uses homemade ingredients and attracts locals from in and around Singapore. Join us at 136 Neil Road.”/>
  3. <meta property=”og:url” content=”http://www.thelokalsingapore.com/index.html” />

P.S. Use this https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/

Four: Social Media

If anything, social media is a good way to promote your business. Facebook allows you to posts events, pictures and even customer reviews to help you to promote your business. Even more helpful is that it can even feature on the result page of the search engine, complete with a profile of yourself from the About section and a rating for your site! Compare the details shown on the search results for your social media with that of your webpage – what your website cannot do, Social Media can do for you!

Tip: This is especially good for you if you are weak in structured markup data.

Five: Location is Key

Whenever you do a search, the search engine produces results that are based on your location, especially if your mobile phone is turned on and set to where you are (e.g. country, the street name, etc.). As a marketing strategy, it narrows the market. Search result will be able to locate similar restaurants nearby. Hence, don’t miss providing Google with information about the location of your business. When a person leaves this place, you can even send a direct message to his phone asking for a review. Pretty cool huh – talk about grabbing every chance to know about what others think about your business.

Other perks include live updates whether it is open and a contact button for you to call immediately without copying the number onto your dialpad.

Here’s where to set up your business http://google.com/business

Six: Backlinks

As such, stores would get their customers by having other people (shoppers, competing and complementary shops) recommending their stores to others by word of mouth, shares on social media with their website link, name cards and so on. As people know more about your store, they will bypass the one at the front of the mall and go to yours. On the search engines, the more others pass your links on, the greater your importance and authority to others on the web. As such, with more backlinks, the search engines will push your website up in the Shopping Mall to give you a place at near the entrance.

When inserting backlinks, craft them naturally in your sentences so that Google Penguin will not detect it as spam. Here is you make sure no black hat methods are used to prevent google from taking you off the pages 😉

Finally, Take Charge of Your Business.

Based on Content Quality manual (Google hires humans to rate the quality of pages), the rating is based on 3 things – Expertise, Authority, Trust.

Seven: Building up trust

If you are not a well-known brand, you will need to build your trust. In Google’s eyes, this means readers trust you. Work on it by improving your content, backlinks, have reviews, testimonies and respones to online feedback. Responding to your clients also indicate that you are alive.

Eight: Authority

Compare a search result about Turkeys. The page from Wikipedia or History.com over a website created by you or me will be placed first because the algorithm perceives them as having higher credibility, they climb over our heads. Create authority by using a forum – if people go to your website for answers (Quora and Stackexchange), then you are building up authority. Regulate the forum well with proper expertise.

Last by not least: Expertise

If possible, be an expert on your topic. You can be a salesperson selling Herbalife – but so long as you establish that you have qualified expert knowledge, you will not be labelled as a bad hat.

Before you leave this page, whatever you do for SEO, from creating backlinks, to good reviews, content is still KING. Search engines penalise the webpage heavily if the content is not good and the reader returns to the result page in a few seconds (literally). That said, if you have good content, and deserve to be in the first few positions, then it is high time to look into weak spots of your website and content and begin optimising!

Some interesting algorithms update in the past
Hummingbird

In 2013, Google added a new algorithm called Hummingbird which is able to read human language and understand it semantically. This means it is able to read between the lines and infer the meaning based on the content, within its context and what it emphasises. Because of this, never, never stuff your content with keywords but value a well-written piece instead. According to Google, “the best” is something that your customers are looking for and leaving without regrets. So write that!

Rankbrain

Despite being able to read languages, Google still had 15% of the searches that the machine could not resolve. In 2015, Rankbrain, an Artificial Intelligence, became official. This means that with any words or phrases not understood, Rankbrain will guess the synonyms and phrases that are a close match and deliver the results. This has been tested to be more accurate than humans.

Google Penguin

When Pagerank was introduced, a ranking algorithm based on links, people decided to spam their website with links – and sometimes links to unsavoury websites. What Google did was to introduce Penguin, an algorithm with a mission to strike these websites out. They called it Penguin.

Google Panda

When Google Panda was introduced, it’s mission was to weed the internet of websites that had no valuable content but was sprawled with keywords and lifted content from other sites and dumping onto theirs to outsmart the ranking system. But be warned – many websites were disqualified because of this. To avoid this, create content that your readers find useful. High quality content takes time. It does not happen every day. It would be better to sit down, ideate, imagine and develop (i.e put on your thinking hat) and write a long article. Ask yourself – have I answered all my reader’s questions? Are there any gaps to bridge? What more will they want to find out? Is the voice of the author clear? Next, comb your website for duplicate content and eliminate them. Don’t worry – by sprucing up your content, you’ll be back on when the search engine resets the algorithm. 😉

 

[1]Source:  https://mothership.sg/2018/07/old-chang-kee-durian-jackfruit-curry-puff/

Categories
Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization

How SEO Benefited Businesses During Covid-19

We have met hundreds of clients that complained about the cost for SEO and not really finding the value in it. Most of the time we immediately could guess why and it usually boils down to a couple of reasons

  1.  Their current agency or SEO provided them with a list of keywords that has no value or rather no demand for such keywords. This is very common as most of them are recommended by the salesperson trying to hit their target with keywords that are easy to rank.
  2. SEO didn’t help them much with enquiries. Low-quality keywords will definitely not bring them traffic and of course no enquiries. Easy to rank keywords = lesser work and cost for agencies
  3. Lack of patience, most SEO takes at least six months to a year for good quality keywords to reach page 1 and sometimes even longer.

 

So the question now is how did SEO benefit clients that embarked on SEO before getting hit by COVID-19?

When Covid-19 hit, the majority of clients in the B2C retail industry had to cut cost on their advertising fees. This made complete sense as no one is out there shopping and buying stuff. But of course, they could quickly set up an e-commerce store to sell their products or services online. Easier said than done when you have a client already losing money on rental and staff, how can they be convinced enough to set up a store and advertise more money to get traffic into the store. With clients that have the budget for this, it’s definitely an easy recommendation but not all clients are willing to do that.

For those clients that trusted our recommendations with SEO, they have clearly benefited from it now even without paid ads running. We took two clients as an example to compare, 1 in the travel industry and 1 in the beauty industry.

As you can tell they both have an increasing amount of keywords from the start of last year which roughly stabilized until Covid-19 hit. So what is interesting here is that we can see during February was when Singapore started to have more and more cases appearing as shown in the image below:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/image/12655008/0x0/1920/1961/9080aa82d1db92b3d0516fc83768c6ba/QC/timeline-of-covid-19-pandemic-in-singapore.png
Taken from Channel News Asia: Timeline: How the COVID-19 outbreak has evolved in Singapore so far by Michael Yong

 

During the month of February, things were still normal until about a month later during March was when consumers were holding back on making any purchases or rather searching for services online. This affected both of our clients and we saw a sharp drop in enquiries. Unfortunately, countries started to lockdown and Singapore announced our circuit breaker measures that put both of our clients business to a stop. This lead to pausing of all digital advertising as they could not operate their business. Thankfully they had a good amount of keywords on Page 1 that brought them organic traffic into the website. Despite being unable to operate, there are many potential customers that are waiting for things to be over so they could engage our clients for their services. With enquiries still coming in, what our clients are doing wit the enquiry is actually maintaining relationships and sharing information and updates periodically.

Imagine not having SEO done before, the potential amount of customers they will miss out during this period will be huge and when the whole world is ready to bounce back these customers are already in good relations with your competitors.

Categories
Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization

SEO Part 1: Perfecting SEO, Technically

SEO Part 1

Getting technical SEO right may not be for the fainthearted, especially if you are not a geek and HTML is alien to you. On the other hand, SEO may just mean keywords to you because that’s what search engine pick out. In this blog, we try to simplify it as much as possible for you and not scare you off with too much geekish jargon – we promise. But first, let’s introduce our search engines robots.

Search engines use a crawler[1] to browse every page on the internet. As it crawls through the content (relevant text and pictures) on the web, it picks them out and indexes them. Search engines rank results based on an algorithm[2] that factors keywords, popularity, links, speed.

SEO is doing things that get the crawler to take note of your website and fetch it, even technically.

1) Site/Information Architecture.

A site architecture comes before writing the web pages. There are different ways in which you can structure your information. Bottom line however is that there is a hierarchy. If you are a raw organic restaurant, here are some examples you can structure your webpage for users, depending on what you offer.

What do you think IKEA’s website structure would look like? Try practising using IKEA.

If your website is Amazon, it could even look like this! – Just saying. Anyway, thanks to draw.io for the chart!

Your site structure should be logical and users (crawlerbots and especially humans) greatly enhance their experience. It’s like visiting a beautiful home and knowing immediately where the kitchen, the bedrooms, the dining area, the bathrooms are. It should make the reader want to stay and return and these repeat visits send signals for the search engine to rank it higher. You’ve optimised your site – organically! However, your site would need some introduction. Simply do a keyword research to source for words with high traffic for your homepage (most importantly) and the pages closer to the homepage (in other words, those higher up in the hierarchy). This would enable the crawlerbot to index* your page as relevant.

SEO Hack: Search crawlers have a limit (officially known as budget) to the percentage of webpages it crawls. Hence, placing your keywords in areas for it to catch in your more important pages (usually those at the top of your hierarchy) could improve your chances.

*Index: The process of compiling all the relevant words it sees and their location on each page.

2) Internal Linking

After you have built your information architecture, you now want to link your pages to each other. Let’s use the organic restaurant as an example and you want to add a link on “who we are” to “write to us!” so people can go immediately to “write to us!” without returning to a mainpage (psst – idea is that fewer clicks the higher the chances on the algorithm), then you will have to include a link in your webpage.

To add a link, you can insert it in an anchor text. A link looks like this on your HTML 5 document. It starts with a href:

<a href=”/raw-cakes/“>Whole Raw Cakes</a>

Linking is important because search engine’s crawlers follow link paths to rank websites. It’s like walking from one room through to another via a door inside without coming out of the room. Just imagine links as pointing the way for a crawler to go to next room/page. If a link is broken, the crawler may miss out the page, and that’s not a good thing if it has a lot of keywords on it. In other words, ensure that your webpage is not isolated from the website and repair all broken links. Broken links and error pages (like 404 error) get a disapproval from the crawlerbot and punishes you for it.

SEO Cheat  😉  If your strength is not in HTML, right click on the mouse and click on “view page source” on any webpage. You will be able to see how HTML text like the a href above is written in a new tab.

3) Construct a Sitemap

Hence, you need to submit a sitemap. If your website is really large, like Amazon, chances are, you might miss out a link. Or, if you only have a few pages and have not linked them yet, you can still make your site appear by submitting a site map to the Bing /Google Search Console. Simply, a sitemap is a way to ensure that you have told the crawlerbot that “these are all the pages on my website.” If you keep updating your webpages, the search engine is alerted in an instance of submitting the sitemap instead of waiting for it to crawl. If your webpage content is like cupcakes fresh from the oven, you will want it to be known immediately.

A sitemap is in XML, RSS or Text format.

SEO Reminder: Search engines rank web pages, not just websites.

4) Robot.txt.

There will be pages that you do not want the crawlerbot to find. Maybe they are unglamorous or you want to hide some secrets for a reason. In that case, use “robot.txt”. Recall that we mentioned the crawl budget? Well, this will enable the crawler to crawl through all the pages that you want and not waste the time on pages you don’t want it to appear.

Don’t sweat – creating robot text is very simple. First, save your file as “robots.txt” on Microsoft Word or Notepad. (You can’t use HTML for code for this or HTML editors!) Next add it at the end of your web domain. It will result in something like this: -> www.mybeautifulwebsite.com/robots.txt.

Or let the experts do it for you.

5) Going mobile friendly. Being mobile-friendly will boost your rank on the search engine[3]. Luckily for us, this is not as difficult as it seems in this sharing economy. Google suggests 3 mobile strategies to make your website mobile friendly – Responsive Web Design, Dynamic Serving and Separate URLs. Simply these help you to launch your website on a mobile platform, assuming your website is ready for a great user experience (e.g. responsive images). Google hints that loading speed is important as it rolled out a “special flavour of HTML” called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

6) Speed

Each crawler has a crawl budget as mentioned above and this means it has a limited time on each page. The faster your page loads, the more time you give to the crawler to crawl the page. No kidding, but Google has factored loading speed into its algorithm (to search and rank pages). To keep on the fast track, it may be helpful to remember that less is more. So it will be helpful to reduce the size of your image and simplify your page, right?

7) “Alt” Attribute

Sometimes our beautiful pictures fail to load. Google understands your feelings and hence suggests an alternative. Hence, it suggests the “alt” tag. This adds a descriptor to images. For example, “Honeykids Asia” in below image.

seo4

To get it displayed, here’s how it is written:

<img src=”https://d2q2f0pfv13tpb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/New-Logo-1.png” alt=”Honeykids Asia” id=”header-logo”>[5]

If your image fails to load, Google will still sympathetically display “Honeykids Asia”. This means that Google did not read it as an error and penalise the page ranking.

[1] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1. (taken from their HTML document via “view page source”)

 

SEO Insider: Google is better at reading text than images. Bing however, is a notch better than Google at reading images.

6) Black Hat practices

There are a lot of Mafias around. Some try to cheat the search engine by sneaky redirects, malicious behaviour, hidden text or links. Now, there is no getting around them when found. Even poor content and mostly keywords are punishable. Hence, SEO is a lot like an art, where you also have to play the good guy and win the game.

SEO Myth: “It’s all about Keywords!” –> False. Search engines search webpages, not just keywords.

Probably you are nodding and agreeing with the above and need to un-stuff your webpage from keywords. Let us cover it in Part 2 on optimising content. Stay tuned!

 

 

[1] *crawler – basically it’s a software that crawls pages from the web and indexes them. To crawl is the process of looking for new or updated web pages (i.e. scan). (Glossary from Google). 

[2] * algorithm – a formula to rank pages

[3] In late 2016, Google has begun experiments to primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content for ranking, parsing structured data and generating snippets.

[4] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1.

[5] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1. (taken from their HTML document via “view page source”)

 

Categories
Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization

A Quick Summary On How Digital Marketing Saved Our Clients Traditional Business

For many years, one our client ran a successful clothing business. With the help of flyers, magazine ads, and other traditional marketing efforts, they were able to make a generous income. However, when Covid-19 hit that all changed.

This is the story of how digital marketing helped saved our client’s clothing store. But before we get into that, let’s take a moment to learn more about digital marketing.

 

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing Image

 

If you are not familiar with digital marketing, then you are not alone. There are still some businesses that do not utilize this form of marketing. However, those companies are falling behind the times. So, what is digital marketing and why is it so important to be a part of?

Digital marketing uses a variety of online resources to drive sales and bring exposure to a certain company or product. With the right combination of digital marketing techniques, any company can see growth. Below we will learn more about the different types of digital marketing.

 

Different Types of Digital Marketing

There are several different types of digital marketing. Each one of them offers a different way to reach potential clients online.

  • Content Marketing: This form of digital marketing uses informative content to attract potential buyers.
  • Search Engine Marketing: Usually Google Search Campaigns, this uses paid keywords to trigger ads to be shown at the right moments
  • Search Engine Optimization: Also known as SEO, this form of digital marketing uses keywords to organically drive free traffic.
  • Social Media Marketing: This type of digital marketing utilizes social media to drive sales.
  • Email Marketing: Email marketing is a powerful digital marketing tool that allows you to directly advertise to clients.

 

Why Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Work As Well Anymore?

During these hard time, traditional marketing simply doesn’t work very well. They fail to reach the right people at the right time. People are no longer going out like they use to, so marketing tools like flyers are not a wise investment.

Additionally, traditional marketing can be extremely expensive. Magazine ads, tv ads, and radio ads cost hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, digital marketing is highly affordable, and an online marketing campaign can be started for next to nothing.

 

How Digital Marketing Saved Our Client’s Business

When COVID-19 hit, our client’s brick-and-mortar clothing store took a huge loss. After years of running a successful business, they had fallen on hard times. People were not coming in and shopping like they used to. This was devastating to their family run businesses and the owners did not know what to do.

After contacting us, we encourage them to go in a different direction. Instead of the brick-and-mortar location, we suggested that they take their goods online. Once they agreed, we started with the following steps below:

  • Setting up an online store for them, with the option of online payment and the option of manual transfer option. The reason for doing that is because during the transition many of their audience were not comfortable with online payments yet.

Once the online shop was ready, they opened for business but there was still a lot of work to be done. To drive sales to the new shop, we started a digital marketing campaign.

  • We needed large traffic into the online store so we created a Facebook & Instagram page and ran paid advertising to their targeted audience. To our surprise, their audience reacted very well to it and sales increased faster than we expected! In fact after the first month client actually realize her profits in terms of % was higher than her brick and mortar shop!

Now that we have good audience data, we took the advantage to run a Google search and display campaign

  • With both Google & Facebook platforms running we were able to capture a large market share within her shop and we slowly expanded our range within her shop as our client increased her logistics manpower

As you can see, digital marketing helped save our client’s clothing store. By moving their store online and creating a digital marketing campaign, they were able to stay in business even during these rough times.

 

 

Categories
Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO & How It Works

Many of you have heard the term SEO before. But you may not know what the word stands for. The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and we will learn more about it today. So, if you have ever wondered what SEO is, stick around and find out more. You can read a bit more about a brief history of Google Updates here

 

What Is SEO

As you have learned above, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, but what does that mean? SEO is the practice of actively trying to increase the amount of traffic to a website by utilizing organic search engine results. This is done by using relevant keywords mixed in with content. Keywords are powerful tools, and if you use the right ones, you will bring in the right type of traffic. In addition to the volume of traffic generated, SEO also tries to bring in quality traffic.

How SEO Works

To understand how SEO works, you must look at each element that goes into the process. Below is a breakdown of each element, so you can get a better idea of how SEO works.

  • Value of traffic:

    Bringing in tons of traffic to your website is great, but the value of that traffic matters. Poor-quality traffic does you no good. For example, if Google tells visitors, you are a leading expert in cars, when your site is dedicated to model cars, that traffic is useless. The goal of SEO is to bring you visitors that are interested in the products or services you are offering.

  • The volume of traffic:

    Now that you are bringing in high-quality traffic, you will want to bring in as much as possible.

  • Organic Results:

    The final goal of SEO is to bring in organic results. These are called SERPs or search engine results pages. Most SERPs are in the form of ads. Any traffic that you receive that you do not have to pay for is called organic traffic.

Now that we know the elements of SEO, let us find out how it works in search engines like Google. You might think that when you search for something in Google, it magically appears out of thin air. The truth is Google uses crawlers to search the internet for content that is relevant to the terms you type in. Google gives priority to websites with the most relevant and accurate information. The more optimized a website is, the more likely it will rank higher on search engines.

 

Pros and Cons of SEO

Now that we know what SEO stands for and how it works, let us look at a few pros and cons.

 

Pros

  • Saves you money:

    Marketing your website can be expensive if you must pay for ads. SEO can help bring in quality traffic without spending a dime.

  • Your rank will be higher:

    If you utilize SEO on your website, chances are you will rank higher in the search engines.

  • Higher conversion rates:

    A website is an investment of time and money in hopes of turning a profit. SEO can help covert your time and money into better profits.

  • Allows you to target visitors:

    If you are after a certain target audience, you can use keywords to bring those visitors to your website.

 

Cons

  • Success won’t happen overnight:

    When using SEO, you have to keep in mind that results are not going to come overnight. It takes a long time to rank.

  • Your competition might be smarter:

    Some niche industries can be highly competitive. If someone has better keywords than you and the right content, your SEO efforts may be wasted.

  • Sometimes rankings get lost:

    When a search engine makes major changes, sometimes the rank you work so hard to get can get lost.

 

SEO Basic Checklist

Please check out this SEO checklist before you go. It will help guide you in the right direction when building your next SEO campaign.

  • Do your homework and find the right keywords
  • Make sure you are using the Google Search Console
  • Setup Google Analytics
  • Always strive to produce high-quality content
  • Keep up with the latest search engine updates
  • Take a look at your competition and see what keywords they are using
  • When in doubt, work with an SEO professional
  • Read SEO Part 1
Categories
Search Engine Optimization

A Brief A History of SEO & Google Update

With the invent of Google by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the latter half of the 1990’s, it gave marketers a whole new platform to advertise their products, services and ideas with a simple input of alphabets on the search bar and a click.

Old Google Search Bar
Source: Search Engine Roundtable

 

The term Search Engine Optimisation is skewed in itself due to the fact that the marketers aren’t trying to optimise the search engine instead, they are optimising their own content to make the maximum use of the search engine algorithms to have a higher rank than the competition in the search results.

Search Engine Optimisation has seen a lot of developments since 1990’s to the modern day simply owing to the change in the popularity of different search engines, the changes in algorithms of these search engines and change in the internet usage of the population of the world.

Yahoo was launched as a directory having a bookmark list of different sites on the Internet. Advertisers submitted their websites to Yahoo so as to register on their search engine. Yahoo then maintained these registered websites and produced results when a person searched for those websites.

This practice changed in 1996 with the advent of Google that adopted algorithm-based ranking system based on popularity and their relevancy at that time and to the search query by the user.
Post this development, there was a surge of several websites guiding advertisers of the different ways to leverage and providing updates of the development in the search algorithms of different search engines in return of a monthly subscription fee. Websites like Search Engine Watch and Goto.com provided marketeers updates and guidance to better leverage the algorithms and rank their websites higher.

The Major Updates: A Detailed Timeline

Over the years search engines have transformed themselves immensely. The AI and the algorithms have become more complex and aware to produce the appropriate and relevant results upon a search query. Inclusion of videos, images and audio files to the websites/articles has compelled the search engine companies to further refine their search algorithms and scanning techniques have gotten more complex and accurate over the years. One major outcome of these steps has been the reduction of several unethical ways used by webmasters to make their websites rank higher.
For example, Webmasters try to fool the search engines by including bogus links to increase their rankings. However, search engines recognised this and updated the algorithm to only account for the legitimate and trustworthy links only. This helped increase of uniformity in the algorithm and higher ranking.

Historical Snapshot

Some of the major updates by Google have been:
2003
• November 16: FLORIDA

This one started it all. It single handily changed the realm of SEO. It provided legitimacy to the ranking order by programming the algorithm to detect bogus multiple links, duplicity of the websites under multiple names, keyword stuffing and other malicious techniques used by the webmasters earlier to increase the search ranking.

2005
• September 1: JAGGER

The 3-phase update was rolled out to stop the different spams used by webmasters which included: building unnatural links and paid links of other sources to gain higher search results rankings. Jagger October update was the most important one and brought a lot of these features in the algorithm.

• December 15: Bigdaddy

Bigdaddy Update took about 4 months to be fully implemented and was finally completed in the month of March the following year. It dealt with the URL canonicalization and redirects.

2009
• January 18: THE VINCE

This was a keyword-oriented update. This improved the rankings of the established big brands significantly compared to the lesser-known brands which had previously been able to leverage the shortcomings of the algorithm for a higher ranking.

• August 10: CAFFEINE

This aimed at improving the crawling mechanism of google and provide better and fresher results to the end user. It also helped in faster indexing and hence give zippier results to the user.

2010
• April 28: MayDay

As much as Call of Duty it might sound, this update was focussed on giving the best match for long queries. Google was able to now recognise the sites and assess the best ones upon a long search query by the users.

2011
• February 23: Panda

This was an attack against the low-quality websites which used to copy materials from other websites, made them viral through social software and then use it for advertisement and earn a lot of money. The Panda update put a stop to these techniques used by web masters and hence promote websites having original, richer contents with a deeper research and detailed analysis in them. Several sub-updates followed to further improve the Panda algorithm in a phased-manner.

• November 3: Freshness

Google updated its algorithms to rank the websites higher if they had fresh and relevant content in hem. The Quality Deserved Freshness (QDF) factor was introduced by Google.

2012
• January 19: Page Layout

This update mainly compelled the websites to design better user interface which earlier had a lot of advertisements at the starting of main content and forced the users to scroll down. This stopped above the fold advertisement and hence helped in providing richer content to the end user.

• February 27: Venice

Google added geolocation linked display of information by the user. This enabled it to show results based on the physical/device location using the IP address.

• April 24: Penguin

This update brought a crackdown to the websites that had unnatural links, keyword stuffing etc. among many other activities violating the search engine’s guidelines of SEO. The algorithm automatically reduced the ranking of such websites and put a penalty in the lieu of ‘over optimisation’ by these websites.

• September 28: Exact Match Domain

This made the result pages get rid of the websites having keyword spamming and low-quality content.

2013
• June 11: PayDay Loan

This update put a stop on the queries related to illegitimate industries of porn, casinos, pharma, very high interest loans and payday loans.

• September 26: Hummingbird

This mainly dealt with the voice search query and the algorithm improved its result delivery upon a complex search query by the user.

2014
• July 24: Pigeon

This update aimed at improving the local searches with the use of more traditional ranking signals and improved the ranking parameters based on distance and location.

2015
• April 21: Mobile-Friendly Update

Popularly known as Mobilegeddon, the update rewarded websites which were more mobile friendly than their competitors to higher ranking and hence aimed at providing richer results upon a search query.

• May 3: Quality Update

Also called the Phantom Update, was the definitive website-quality related update as it dealt with the downranking the websites having a spammy content.

• October 26: RankBrain

Recognised as the third most important signal used for ranking, RankBrain dealt with improving the machine learning capabilities of the algorithm to deliver the best result upon a complex search quey by the end user.

2017
• January 10: Intrusive Interstitials

This update put a stop on the pop -ads and interstitials that ruined the mobile search experience of the end user. Although there was no major effect on the ranking of the websites.

• March 7: Fred

This update targeted the low value content available upon a search query. This put a stop to then prevalent websites that used malicious techniques to garner traffic.

2018
• March 9: Broad Core

This update aimed at fixing the previously under rewarded websites and hence employed a level playing field to ultimately promote quality content.

2019
• October 25: BERT

Google called this the biggest update in the past half decade since 2014. BERT which referred to Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers, was aimed to better understand the intuitive search queries by the end user. This update had a direct impact to the search rankings and featured snippets. This effected 1-in-10 search queries.
On December 9, BERT was rolled out for the 70 languages worldwide.

2020
• January 13: Core Update

This update mainly aimed at improving the broad core structure of the algorithms of Google.

• January 22: Featured Snippet Duplication

FSD affected all the searches as it put a stop in the duplication of the webpages on Page 1 of organic listing which already had a featured snippet position.

• December 17: Core Update

Google announced that the Core Update rollout was finally completed.

CONCLUSION

A more intuitive and thorough scanning technique has achieved the most important thing when it comes to search engines over the years: that is consistency. More trustworthy websites are higher in the search ranking now more than ever. This doesn’t necessarily mean a partiality towards the smaller websites but reflects a more organised system where legitimacy and trustworthiness are rewarded. Hence, its recommended that Webmasters should keep a tab on the latest updates rolled out by Google to leverage all the benefit and come out with more optimised and richer content to enhance the end user experience and generate a higher search ranking.

 

Author: Dipankar 

Technology, Cars and Dogs are probably the 3 things in the world that matter to him. Dipankar hails from the colourful land of India and has stayed in almost every state there being an Army Brat. An avid John Mayer fan, Dipankar is also a part time guitarist and a lead singer. During the summers, you could find him either trekking in the Himalayas or saving his raft from flipping in the Ganges!

His love for Marketing knows no bounds. He has been an important asset to various organisations for his dexterity and off-beat solutions to mundane problems. An avid fan of Ricky Gervais, humour has to be the constant underline in all of his projects.

Currently he’s final semester student of Bachelors in Business Administration Degree from O.P Jindal Global University, a premier global institution of the country.