The Fundamentals of SEO

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The slide deck from a presentation by Evan Pryce on the Fundamentals of SEO. Given to UCL students completing a Masters in Entreprenurship at IDEA London on June 9th 2014.

The presentation covers the fundamentals of SEO looking at on-site set up and link building.

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The Fundamentals of SEO

  1. 1. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF SEO
  2. 2. SEO Consists Of 2 Main Elements On Site SEO - Website Set Up Off Site SEO - Link Building
  3. 3. 25% Of Visibility From On Site Factors 75% Of Visibility From Off Site Factors
  4. 4. On Site SEO Creating a search engine friendly website that can be easily indexed and crawled by search bots. Crafting unique content that answers searchers queries i.e. matching content to target search terms.
  5. 5. On Site Elements ● Site Architecture - URL structure, internal linking, site hierarchy ● Meta Title, Meta Descriptions & Header Tags ● Site Content ● Image optimisation ● Structured data markup - Schema.org ● Robots.txt and XML Sitemaps ● Site speed optimisation
  6. 6. Tools For Assessing Your Website Google Webmaster Tools - Shows you how Google indexes your site Screaming Frog - Crawl your site to discover issues/areas for improvement Page Speed Insights - Shows you areas for site speed improvement
  7. 7. Case Study Of AO.com
  8. 8. Site Architecture Creating a search friendly website that can easily be indexed and crawled. Best site architecture is flat, clean and simple with all pages organised in a logical order. All page elements marked up for search engines.
  9. 9. Good Site Architecture
  10. 10. Craft clean and descriptive URL structure: Homepage: http://ao.com/ Main Category Pages: http://ao.com/fridges-freezers/ Sub Category Pages: http://ao.com/fridge-freezers/fridge- freezers.aspx Product Pages: http://ao.com/product/BC73F-Beko-Fridge- Freezer-White-21305.aspx
  11. 11. Internal Linking Create links between relevant pages to help users and search bots easily navigate around your site. Linking all your pages together will help pagerank flow through to all your pages allowing deeper pages (e.g. product pages) to show more prominently in search results. Make sure each page has at least 1 incoming and 1 outgoing link to ensure it can be found. More links the better.
  12. 12. Include internal links to other similar/relevant pages. AO link to other similar product pages within ‘recommended for you’ tab.
  13. 13. Link to other similar category pages. AO do this with a related products tab at the bottom of product pages
  14. 14. Meta Tags Search engines use meta tags to determine what each page is about. Meta tags will affect how your site is displayed in search results. All pages of your site should have a unique meta title, meta description and header tag (H1 Tag).
  15. 15. Meta Title Meta Description Sitelinks
  16. 16. Meta Title Key SEO element that has direct impact on rankings. 512 px Limit (50-55 Characters) Placed in the <head> section of a page E.g. <title>Fridges, Freezers & American Fridge Freezers from ao.com
  17. 17. Include main target keywords for each page within your meta title. Use Moz title checker to see how your title will be displayed in search results. http://moz.com/blog/new-title-tag-guidelines-preview-tool
  18. 18. Meta Description No direct impact on rankings, but plays a crucial role in attracting searchers to your listing when showing in search results. 160 Character limit - Aim for 150-155 character meta descriptions. Treat meta description as an advert for your website selling benefits of each page.
  19. 19. E.g. <meta name="description" content="Awesome prices on a huge range of fridge freezers, fridges and freezers. Optional connection &amp; installation service" />
  20. 20. H1 Tag is the title of your pages. Default will be the first piece of content on a page. Make sure to include target keywords for each page within H1 tag. E.g <h1>Fridges &amp; Freezers</h1> Header (H1) Tag
  21. 21. Every page needs in depth unique content to help search engines understand a page and to help show your pages higher in the search results. Each page should have a minimum of 300 words of text content in HTML format that can be easily crawled and indexed. Site Content
  22. 22. With all other things being equal pages with more in depth content ranks better than pages with less content. Source: http://www.quicksprout.com/201 2/12/20/the-science-behind- long-copy-how-more-content- increases-rankings-and- conversions/
  23. 23. All content on your website should be unique and aim to add value to the internet by addressing searchers queries. Using duplicate content can result in a loss of rankings and even result in a penalty from the Panda algorithm. Use Copyscape or Plagiarisma to check your site for duplicate content.
  24. 24. Make sure to include your target keywords within your content. When creating content you should naturally use your target keywords and synonyms of your target keywords. Use user generated content (UGC) in the form of comments and reviews to add extra content to your pages that will include lots of naturally occurring keywords you are targeting.
  25. 25. http://ao.com/product/BC73F-Beko-Fridge-Freezer-White-21305.aspx Unique Product Description Extra UGC Content Product Spec and extended product description further down the page
  26. 26. Search bots can’t actually see your images so you need to format your images to allow search engines to understand your image based content. Implementing image optimisation will aid ranking efforts and can help your images show more prominently in image search engines such as Google Images. Image Optimisation
  27. 27. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:yBlfeirLhZkJ:ao.com/product/ GNEV221APB-Beko-American-Fridge-Freezer-Black-24465.aspx&hl=en&gl=uk&strip=1
  28. 28. To help search bots understand your images you should use a keyword rich image file name. Also include an image alt tag using alt=”your image description” for all images on your site.
  29. 29. http://content.aolstatic.net/ProductImages/rv medium/BC73F_NA_FRIDGE- FREEZER_OPD_M_p.jpg Image tag for the fridge opposite. Image filename includes ‘fridge freezer’ and alt tag includes product name. <img id="mediumImage1" src="//content.aolstatic.net/ProductImages/rvmedium/BC73F_NA_FRIDGE -FREEZER_OPD_M_p.jpg" alt="Beko BC73F" modal="mediamodal" class="mcModal" type="clickToEnlargeBtn">
  30. 30. Common language used by search engines to better understand content of a site and allow them to extract the data into their search results. Full list of data markups can be found at schema.org Requires additional code to be added to your existing data to implement structured markup. Can use schema creator to help add schema to your site. Structured Data Markup
  31. 31. Implementing schema markup will help improve the look of your search results which will lead to more clicks of your listing when showing in search results. Once implemented your schema elements can be shown in search results via rich snippets.
  32. 32. Most Common Schema Markups are: ● Creative Markup - Images, Videos, Audio, Books, Recipes ● Authorship Markup - Attach a G+ profile to your content ● Organisation markup - Include all company data such as name, location, phone number etc. ● Review Markup - Allow review star ratings to show in search results. Can be used for single reviews or aggregate review scores.
  33. 33. Use Google’s rich snippet testing tool to check correct implementation and see how your data will displayed in search results. http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
  34. 34. Robots.txt The robots.txt file is used to give instructions to web bots aka web crawlers to tell them which areas of the site they should visit when crawling your site. The robots.txt file should be used to block bots from accessing pages you do not wish to get indexed. For example your wordpress admin area (/wp-admin) or your shopping cart area (/checkout/)
  35. 35. Search bots have trouble accessing any link that requires a user input. E.g. search bar and user login areas. These areas should be blocked to search bots to stop those pages getting indexed and to ensure the crawler can efficiently index your site. If the search bot cannot access a page then it will ignore that page and could abandon its crawl completely.
  36. 36. Robots.txt file can be located at this location: yourdomain.com/robots.txt E.g http://ao.com/robots.txt
  37. 37. Use GWT to check your Robots.txt file status
  38. 38. A sitemap is a list of url’s contained on your site and can be used to tell search engines about the contents of your site. You should create and xml sitemap for your site and submit it to GWT to help Google discover and index all your pages effectively. You can include data on the importance of your pages and how often they are updated to improve crawl efficiency. Sitemaps
  39. 39. You can use tools such as Screaming Frog or xml sitemaps to help build your sitemaps. For large sites limit your sitemaps to 10,000 url’s and include a sitemap index for search engines to access. You can also create separate sitemaps for your images and video content to aid indexing of media content.
  40. 40. E.g AO.com has created sitemaps for its categories and product pages seperately with one master index sitemap: Sitemap: http://ao.com/sitemaps/CategorySitemap.xml Sitemap: http://ao.com/ProductSitemap.xml Sitemap: http://ao.com/sitemaps/lister/toc.xml Add your xml sitemap to this location: Yoursite.com/sitemaps.xml
  41. 41. Once created and added to your site check your sitemap with GWT.
  42. 42. Remember to keep your sitemap updated when you add new pages/areas to your site. You can monitor your sitemaps indexing rate to give you an idea of how well search bots can crawl and index your site. If more than 25% of your pages contained within your sitemap are not getting indexed then there may be problems with the formatting of the sitemap or other crawl issues on your site.
  43. 43. Having a fast site is vital for both usability and search rankings. Site speed is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor with quick sites experiencing a rankings boost. Google measures time to first byte (TTFB) as a ranking factor. Ideally all your pages should load within 1 second. Although for every second you reduce load time you will increase conversions by 7%. http://conversionxl.com/11-low-hanging-fruits-for-increasing-website-speed-and-conversions/#. Site Speed Optimisation
  44. 44. Pingdom - Quickly check your page load speeds and get an idea of how quickly for site loads Google Page Speed Insights - Useful for identifying areas for speed improvements. YSlow - Web app that shows areas of your site that need speed improvement. Tools for Measuring Site Speed
  45. 45. Here are some ways in which you can improve your site speed: ● Implement browser caching ● Install a content delivery network (CDN) ● Streamline your images ● Minify your code ● Upgrade to a better hosting solution ● Remove unused plugins and other unnecessary code ● Load HTML elements before Javascript and CSS
  46. 46. You should be continually testing and optimising your site speed to give users and search engines the smoothest visit possible. With the rise of mobile internet usage and 3/4g connections page load speed will becoming an increasingly important aspect of running a successful website. Page speed improvements will yield some of the highest ROI out of all on site elements you can improve.
  47. 47. Check out these sites for further examples of a well structured SEO friendly site: http://ao.com/ https://www.duedil.com/ http://moz.com/ See this article for further info about on site SEO: http://moz.com/learn/seo/on-page-factors
  48. 48. To Recap…. We have now covered all the key elements of your own site that will benefit your search performance. It is essential to get your on-site set up right otherwise you will struggle to show prominently on Google and other search engines. Creating a well structured, fast loading site with lots of unique and engaging content is essential for SEO success in 2014 and beyond.
  49. 49. Now you have your site set up to be search engine friendly we will move onto the off site aspects that will really help your site move up the rankings and capture even more organic search traffic.
  50. 50. Off Site SEO
  51. 51. The biggest ranking factor in Google’s algorithm is backlinks from other websites pointing to your site. The Google ranking algorithm is based on the concept of backlinks counting as votes for your site. The more links (votes) you have the more prominently your site will show in search engines. This is the basis for Google’s own Page Rank measure of site authority named after their founder Larry Page
  52. 52. If you want to gain traffic from Google you need to gain links to your website. BUT Google’s says that any attempt to manipulate backlinks to increase your search rankings is in breach of its webmaster guidelines. This can result in your website getting penalised and losing visibility. In worst cases this can result in your website getting removed from their index.
  53. 53. “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.” Building links is a risky business and you need to ensure you are getting the right types of links to keep your link profile diverse and avoid any Google penalties. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356
  54. 54. Different Types of Sites to get links from: ● News Sites - TheGuardian.com ● Blogs - MatthewWoodward.co.uk ● Voucher code sites - Vouchercodes.co.uk ● Forum profiles and comments - Quora.com ● Directories - Dmoz.org ● Competition Sites - Theprizefinder.com ● User submission sites - Inbound.org ● Resource Pages - Smartpassiveincome.com/resources/
  55. 55. A quality link is one that will pass Google guidelines and help your site improve its rankings. To keep things on the safe side you should ask yourself - ‘Would I still want this link even if it didn’t help improve my rankings’ Links that are naturally earned and send referral traffic are the safest links you can get. How to Determine A Quality Link
  56. 56. There are many ways to determine a links worth using a range of SEO metrics including: Page Rank - Google own scoring metric ranking from 1-10 (10 being the highest) Moz Domain Authority (DA) - Gives a score of 1-100 and measures a domains total authority from all incoming links Majestic Trust & Citation Flow - Majestic SEO measures the authority (citation flow) and trust (trust flow) of your links from 0-100
  57. 57. The higher a websites scores on the these metrics the more powerful a link from that website would be. When prospecting for a good link target I look for: Minimum Pagerank of 2 Minimum DA of 30 Minimum Trust and Citation Flow of 20
  58. 58. Getting the right links to your website is hard and requires lots of testing and effort. Having a great website that offers a good user experience and has valuable content is the easiest way to attract links. Although just having a great website and waiting for links to naturally come along will result in a long and painful wait. How to get the right type of links
  59. 59. To get more links and improve your search rankings you need to embark on a series of link building campaigns. A link building campaign involves: ● Prospecting for websites you want to get links from. ● Compiling SEO metrics and contact information associated with these sites. ● Outreaching to the site owners to build a relationship and secure a link. ● Testing and Refining your approach to gain the maximum amount of links from the most authoritative websites.
  60. 60. Prospecting for link opportunities involves scouring the web to build a big list of sites along with associated SEO metrics and contact details that you can then contact to try and secure a link back to your site. Prospecting
  61. 61. Prospecting Tools: Ahrefs/Majestic SEO - Use backlink checkers to find out where your competitors are getting links from. Add all sites that pass the quality threshold to your prospect list. Blog Lists: Search for curated lists of niche relevant blogs. Sites like Alltop and Technocrati are great for finding authority blogs in your niche. All try a Google search for ‘top [niche] blogs’
  62. 62. Link Prospector - Paid tool that scrapes Google for all sites related to your target keywords. Many options to customize your searches to find only the most relevant sites. Group High - Great tool for finding bloggers to outreach to. Is expensive for small business but worth it if you can afford. Manual Searching - Along with all the prospecting tools you can build your prospect lists by manually searching Google and the social web for sites who might be interested in linking to you.
  63. 63. After an extensive prospecting phase you should have a big list of 100’s if not 1000’s of link targets. Now you need to collect all the SEO metrics and contact details for these sites to help prioritise your outreach. Can use a tool such as Buzzstream to help gather metrics and contact information to help manage the outreach process.
  64. 64. If you can’t afford an outreach management system like Buzzstream you can use a spreadsheet to compile your lists and manage the entire process. Before you start contacting webmasters try and gather as much information as possible about them and their sites. This will help improve the success of your outreach emails as you can craft your messages to fit with the site owners interests/personality.
  65. 65. At this point you should now have a nice big list of target sites with as much extra info as possible all organised in a nice spreadsheet. Now you are ready to craft your outreach message and start getting in contact with site owners via email or social media.
  66. 66. Subject Lines: Your initial goal is to get your emails opened. To do this you will need to craft a subject line that will entice your target webmaster to open. Keep your subject lines short and avoid making them look like spam email requests. Try and include a hook that will grab the attention of your outreach target and make it impossible for them not open your email. Principles of Email Outreach
  67. 67. Examples of good email subject lines: Hi [name], quick question about [website name] Hey [name], I’ve got a proposal you’ll be interested in…. RE: Potential Partnership Opportunity Key to test lots of different subject lines and monitor open and response rate with email tracking software such as Yesware
  68. 68. Body of Email: Keep your emails short and sweet and get straight to the point. Busy webmasters are unlikely to read big blocks of text. Break your email up with lots of paragraphs and spaces. Keep it to 3 paragraphs - 1. Intro yourself, 2. explain why you are contacting the webmaster, 3. say what you want from the webmaster.
  69. 69. E.g. Hey [First Name], My name is Evan, and I work for [your travel website] We offer holiday home rentals across Europe. I came across [Website Name] the other day and was impressed with your work. I really liked your article on [reference recent article]. I was wondering if you'd be interested in teaming up in some way? We are looking to partner with quality travel writers to create and host articles related to European travel and holidays. If this sounds up your street then drop me an email and we can work something out. Look forward to hearing from you soon, Evan
  70. 70. No need to go into too much detail in your initial email. All you are really looking for is a positive response from your target site. Once someone has responded to you once it will greatly increase the likelihood of them responding to subsequent emails which will lead to you securing a link back to your site. Always try and include some level of personalisation to avoid your emails looking like a mass spam email. The more high profile the target the more personalised you should make your emails.
  71. 71. Now you have a list of websites who have responded to your initial email, sound interested in your site and potentially linking to you. At this point you will need to give a good reason for that site to link to you. Most sites won’t link to you unless you are adding value to their site in some way.
  72. 72. Offerings To Secure Links: ● Content - Provide a post or other content for their site which they can then link back to your site with. ● Share their site on your social profiles if they link. ● Link back to their site - Link exchange ● Exchange money or some other offering e.g free logo design, free theme, other gifts ● Valuable content on your site that their users will want to see.
  73. 73. Having useful content is the easiest and safest way to secure links back to your site at the moment. To do this you will need to create unique and engaging content that will be of interest to users and other sites. Use tools such as Buzzsumo and social media to find out what types of content are popular in your niche.
  74. 74. Types of Content you can use: ● Articles ● Guides ● Infographics ● Videos ● Slideshows ● eBooks ● White papers/case studies ● Industry surveys ● Free apps/tools
  75. 75. Now you should start to gain more links back to your site. It is important to track your links and measure the impact they are having on your rankings and traffic. Use a backlink checker such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to monitor your incoming links. You should aim to build a diverse range of links from lots of different websites with good authority to keep your link profile as natural as possible.
  76. 76. Also a good idea to set up rank tracking using tools such as MySEOTool or SERPBook. These tools will allow you to track your rankings for your main target keywords.
  77. 77. Use SEM Rush to monitor your overall SEO ranking performance. Tracks millions of keywords and will help identify new keyword targets and keep track of long tail keyphrases you are not directly monitoring and targeting.
  78. 78. Dont forget to check your analytics regularly to monitor how your organic search traffic is performing. Google Analytics offers a great web analytics package for free.
  79. 79. To Recap…. Getting other sites to link to you is essential for improving rankings and gaining more traffic from search engines. There are hundreds of different ways to gain links but you risk the wrath of Google if you obviously manipulate backlinks for better rankings.
  80. 80. Due to this the safest way to gain links is by building relationships with webmasters, bloggers and journalists and getting them to link using content either hosted on your own site or on a 3rd party site. As you gain more backlinks you will notice your rankings and search traffic improving. It is important to track and measure all aspects of your SEO campaigns to monitor progress, looking to continually iterate and improve your processes.
  81. 81. Now its up to you to go and do all this for your own sites!
  82. 82. Thanks For Listening Email: evan@susodigital.com Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EvanPryce

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