SEO best practice in 2014 with ActiveStandards


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Discusses how SEO best practice has changed in recent years, which techniques are still relevant in 2014 and which should be avoided.

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  • Google has made great efforts to improve the quality of search results in recent years with various updates:
  • ActiveStandards can help you with many of the best practices I’ve mentioned today. For the remaining time this afternoon, I’m going to take you through the various SEO features in ActiveStandards, relating them back to best practice so you can get the most out of the system:
  • SEO best practice in 2014 with ActiveStandards

    1. 1. SEO Best Practice for 2014 with ActiveStandards James Baverstock: Lead Analyst, ActiveStandards 6th February 2014
    2. 2. Introduction ❶ How has SEO best practice changed in recent years? ❷ Are there SEO practices which were previously ok which should now be avoided? ❸ What guidelines are still relevant for managing SEO? ❹ How can ActiveStandards help me with on-site SEO in 2014?
    3. 3. SEO in 2009 Common practice 5 years ago  Identify profitable keyword phrase to optimise for  Create page that included the keyphrase in the page title, URL, H1 header and several times in the content  Point a lot of backlinks to the page from other websites using the main keyword phrase as anchor text  Measure success by ranking – e.g. no. 1 result in Google for keyphrase Worked well for SEOs as Google algorithm was highly dependent on external links as “votes” for a page and exact-match keyword phrases Often resulted in pages written for search engines rather than for users
    4. 4. Major Google changes (1) Panda Penguin • Feb 2011 & regular updates • Designed to filter out low-quality web pages from the index (e.g. thin content, duplicate pages, etc.) • April 2012 (most recent updates: Penguin 2.0 May 2013 / Penguin 2.1 October 2013) • Designed to punish “over-optimised” pages (esp. exact-match nonbrand anchor text), links from poor-quality or irrelevant content and link schemes Other (e.g.) • Page layout algorithm improvements (Jan/Oct 2012): designed to penalise sites without much useful content above the fold • EMD update (September 2012) Update to reduce the ranking ability of poor quality exact match domains
    5. 5. SEO practices to avoid post-Panda/Penguin Any keyword manipulation which looks artificial: • Uncontrolled user-generated content • • Pages overloaded with adverts • Link schemes which create links to your site for the sole purpose of helping your site rank better (esp. if these have keywordstuffed anchor text) • Low value (spammy) content Over-use of exact-match keyword links to your site • Exact matching titles/H1s/descriptions on pages using keywords • Aiming for an “ideal” keyword density for pages – the “correct” keyword density is one which reads naturally • SEO should ideally be “invisible”. Any obvious keyword-stuffing is dangerous in the long term
    6. 6. Major Google changes (2) Hummingbird (August 2013) • Major rewrite of the algorithm and how queries are interpreted because of evolving search needs, especially “conversation search” • Not a penalty like Panda/Penguin. • Improves semantic search. Intended to determine searcher intent and return pages that match the intent instead of just bestmatch keywords in the search phrase • Makes old-style keyword optimisation less relevant Google updating all the time (665 “improvements” in 2012) search/howsearchworks/algorithms.html Changes work to enforce the Google Webmaster Guidelines (these are now much more like “rules” than “guidelines”) answer/35769?hl=en
    7. 7. Major Google changes (3) • Results becoming more personalised and localised • SERPs much more varied than just text links: news, image search, video results, Google maps, rich snippets, author pictures, knowledge graph, carousel, etc. • “No. 1 rank” much less meaningful than it used to be • More chance to get traffic lower down the results than 5 years ago
    8. 8. SEO in 2014 • Old-style exact-match link-building and keyword stuffing are no longer sustainable SEO methods • SEO now needs to be more holistic in approach and fully connected to other marketing activities – Social media management / Content marketing / Analytics / Customer research, etc. • Overall content quality is now vital • On-page SEO has risen in importance as against offpage SEO
    9. 9. SEO Best Practices for 2014
    10. 10. Summary  Ensure your sites are well structured without any barriers to crawling and have clear navigation  Think about what visitors need rather than what search engines need  Create high-quality, engaging, unique content  Build your sites’ authority in sustainable ways
    11. 11. 1. Site architecture & navigation  Avoid any barriers to crawling – broken links, incorrect HTML, Flash navigation or complicated JavaScript generated content.  Avoid frames if there is any other way of presenting your content  Have a clear hierarchical directory structure with human-readable URLs and clear intuitive navigation with text links  If you have to use URL parameters, keep them short and few in number  Use dashes to separate multiple keywords in URLs rather than underscores  Have a link to a sitemap on every page
    12. 12. 1. Site architecture & navigation (continued)  Monitor your site’s performance and optimize load times  Make sure you don’t have any duplicate content or very similar pages which cover the same information  Ensure images have alternate text which actually describes the image, especially if they are conveying textual content. Avoid using “alt” text for keyword stuffing.  Ensure your <title> elements are descriptive, accurate and unique to each page. Include the company name in the title.  Include a single <h1> heading on each page  Include a unique meta description on each page
    13. 13. 2. Consider visitors’ needs  Write pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t try to rank for keywords which are a bad match for your content.  Look at your web statistics package/Google Webmaster Tools/customer research to better understand your users.  Look to improve pages which have a high bounce rates with low time spent on the page. Google uses these metrics to measure how happy visitors are with pages.  Think about the words users would type or speak to find your pages and make sure your site includes those words within it. Try to create content that answers specific problems or questions your target audience may have.
    14. 14. 2. Consider visitors’ needs (continued)  Think in terms of unique value propositions for your site – what content could you offer that the top 10 ranking sites in Google are not offering?  Link between content on your site in ways which will help your visitors (this is also beneficial from a search engine perspective as it links related content together). Use words in the link text that are descriptive of the destination content.  Don’t have any links without content in the link text.  Keep the total number of links on a page to a reasonable number.
    15. 15. 3. Create high-quality content  All website copy should be wellwritten and well-structured. Ensure all your content reads like it was written by an expert  Avoid unnaturally repeating keywords – use synonyms and alternative ways of referring to things  Is all content “good enough for print”?  Be clear about the purpose for each piece of content – this will help you determine how to structure your content and ensure you are using appropriate language for your target audience  Check spelling and grammar are correct  Keep paragraphs short and break up content with headings to improve online readability and keep users on pages longer  Update content regularly and remove outdated material
    16. 16. 4. Build your sites’ authority  Ensure you have relevant backlinks from quality sites (use Google Webmaster Tools to review backlinks)  Work to remove links from low quality sites if necessary (use Google Disavow tool)  Don’t link to spammy websites or websites unrelated to your content. Make all comment links nofollow.  Use social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ - including sharing widgets for article and blog posts
    17. 17. 4. Build your sites’ authority (continued)  Create content that people will want to link to, bookmark or share socially – unique applications, PDF reports, industry surveys, etc.  Include “About Us” information and contact, terms of use and privacy pages  Keep your copyright notice up to date  Use rich snippets where possible as they are more eye-catching than plain text search results  Use Google Authorship where appropriate
    18. 18. SEO using ActiveStandards • SEO checkpoints: find and fix SEO errors • Inventory reports which are useful for SEO • SEO Insight tab: available for each page in ActiveStandards • Search tool • SEO benchmarking scores • Spell checking • QuickCheck: find SEO errors before you publish pages • Tips and tutorials: resources available in our Support Centre and blog