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SEO

How search engines work: Crawling, Indexing, Ranking

How search engines work.

How search engines work and understanding their purpose is key to improving your search rankings.

Many bloggers, internet marketers, and webmasters struggle with search engine optimisation (SEO) because they fail to understand why search engines exist or what they want from websites.

For example, if you believe that search engines exist for the benefit of content creators and website owners, then you don’t really understand search engines at all. Additionally, your digital marketing tactics are likely to be flawed – which will hurt your site’s organic SEO rankings.

In this article, we will share with you the role of search engines and what they want from websites.

What are search engines?

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go, exist to connect users to the most relevant, useful content about a given search query.  

For example, let’s say that a user searches Google for “the best barbecue restaurants in Sydney.” Google’s algorithm will then return search results that are related to barbecue restaurants in Sydney – with the most relevant, informative, and user-friendly sites ranked at the top of the search results.

Therefore, search engines primary tasks are to discover, understand, and organize the internet’s content so that they can serve the most relevant results to the questions searchers are asking.

To do this, there are two main parts to every search engine.

  • Search index – A data structure containing key information about discovered URLs and the content contained on those web pages.
  • Search algorithms – A step by step process or procedure to find information within the search index in order to rank matching results to search queries.

What are search engine results pages (SERPS)?

“SERPS” or Search Engine Results Pages are exactly as the name suggests.  They are a list of results or URLs that the search engine returns for a given search query.

SERPS generally contain three or four sections of grouped URLs.  These include;

  • Paid results:  Also known as Google ads.  These URLs are included at the top of the SERPs because they have paid to be there. 
  • Orangic results: These appear at the bottom or after paid results and other results.   When we discuss page rankings we are generally referring to the organic results. 
  • Other results:  These include image packs, featured snippets, FAQs, local business listings etc.  This is dependant to the type of search query.

Following is a Google SERP for a query on SERPs.  In this example, there are no paid results.  That’s because no website has bought google ads for the keywords searched. 

SERPs and how search engines works

How do search engines work?

But how search engines work is a bit more complicated. How do they know what’s on your website and whether to include you in SERPs for customer queries?   

Search engines follow three primary functions that enable them to discover, understand and organize the internet’s content.

Crawling:

This is where search engines discover content online.  They do this by sending out “crawlers” or “spiders”, which are robots that scour over the code and content for each URL they find online. Hence the name “crawling”.

Content is anything from a webpage or media file – an image, video, pdf etc. 

The way in which crawlers find the new content online is via links from pages that they already know about.   The crawlers select a bunch of pages (billions of them) and follow the links on those pages to find new URLs.  When a new URL is found, it is added to the search engine “index”.  An index is essentially a large database of URLs.  

Indexing:

Once a webpage has been discovered, information about the page is then added into a data structure called an “index”. 

An index is, essentially, a large database of information that includes a number of relevant signals about the content that has been discovered on each URL.  This information helps the search engine understand the content on a page and determine what content is “good enough” to serve users for given search queries.

The information added to a search engine index includes the following.

Keywords contained on the page indicate the key topics discussed.

Content types that are included on the page are indicated by schema/microdata.  This includes different media as well as structured data items like FAQ blocks, recipes etc.

Published/edited dates or how fresh the content is on the page.  Search engines prioritise newer content.

User engagement with your page and your domain including click-through rate, bounce rates and time of page.  This helps search engines determine the relevance and quality of your content. 

Ranking:

When a user performs a search query, the search engine will serve the most relevant pieces of content that it has in its index in response.  The order in which the search engine serves the content is called search engine ranking.  In general, you can assume that the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site is to the query.

To determine website rankings, search engines use algorithms to retrieve and serve content from information stored in its index.   Search engines determine which URLs are the most relevant for particular queries based on what is called “ranking factors”.

Every search engine has its own ranking factors to determine exactly which pages to serve and in which order.  Unfortunately, nobody really knows all of them.  However, we do know about many of the most important ones.

Let’s use Google as an example as it is the most popular search engine by far.  Google uses over 200 ranking factors.  While we don’t know what all of them are exactly, we do know some of the key ranking factors which have the greatest impact on search results.  These include backlinks, relevance, authority, freshness, page speed, mobile-friendliness, optimised content, and technical SEO.

If you need help getting better search rankings, get in touch with us on (02) 7906 8405 or send us an email at info@foundonline.com.au.

We are an SEO agency in Sydney with a team of website developers, content writers and SEO experts.

Sources:

How Search Works, Google https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/

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SEO

DIY SEO or not to DIY SEO? 8 things to consider first.

Things to consider when deciding to do it yourself or hire an SEO agency

DIY SEO is something that every business can do to instantly start improving their rankings on search engine page results (SERPs).  Simply focussing your efforts on the right keyword selection, content creation and sharing your content across multiple platforms will help you improve your search rankings to some degree.  

However, these days, if you want to compete online in highly competitive industries marketers and business owners need to look beyond traditional on-page SEO to rank number 1 in SERPs.   To properly SEO your website, a broad range of skills are needed for things like improving website performance to building backlinks and content writing, not to mention the time necessary to do so.

Many businesses simply lack the resource and skill set to fully optimise their websites for search.   No wonder more than half of all businesses chose to hire the services of a professional search engine optimisation agency instead.1

That’s not to say that DIY SEO can’t be done.  With the right training, research and practice you will start to see improvements in search rankings.   Before deciding on whether you need to hire the services of a professional SEO agency or to DIY though, you might want to consider the following.

What is involved in SEO?

SEO is the process of optimising your website and its content so that it ranks high in search engine results for specific phrases (search terms) and words (keywords).  The goal of SEO is to get you found online by more potential customers.  It increases traffic to your website and physical location (if you have one).

The SEO process is normally categorised into one of three areas of SEO.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about optimising the content on pages of your website for specific keywords and search to improve visibility in SERPs.  This includes things like updating title tags and metadata, H1, H2 and H3 headers, internal link building and keyword optimised written content and alt tags.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is anything done outside of your website online that has the potential to increase your search rankings, your website’s traffic and visibility online.  It includes things like Backlink building, social media shares, guest blogging, local directory citations and more.   

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about optimising all the technical aspects of your website so search engines can easily read and understand it.  It also includes technical components that impact user and/or page experience.  Technical SEO includes things like site speed, broken links, site maps, robot.txt files, duplicate content, security and structured data.

What is Holistic SEO?

Holistic SEO is a relatively new term that is starting to get thrown around.  Holistic SEO takes a more customer-focused approach.  That is, it is about optimising for customers vs. optimising for search engines.   Holistic SEO also focuses on optimising all parts of your online profile to provide what the target audience is looking for online.

Due to several Google algorithm updates, it is now more important to take a holistic, customer focussed approach to SEO.  In turn, businesses see even greater improvements to their search rankings than via traditional SEO practice.   

Holistic SEO things to do to improve visibility online?

  1. Buyer journey mapping
  2. Keyword research and strategic keyword selection
  3. Competitor research
  4. Website tracking and data analytics
  5. Content Strategy and planning
  6. Consistent and regularly content writing and content creation
  7. Social media account management
  8. Consistent and regular sharing of content to socials
  9. Website performance improvements
  10. Internal link building
  11. Backlink generation including outreach campaigns
  12. Google my business page optimisations and updates (especially for local SEO)
  13. Managing customer reviews online and responding to them the right way
  14. Local directory listing citations (especially for local SEO)
  15. Guest blogging

Understanding which areas to focus on to best optimise your business is sometimes a challenge for businesses.  A qualified SEO strategist can help you understand where to focus your energy.  In saying that, more and more is needed for businesses to stay on page one of SERPs. 

Given the importance of digital marketing and being found online through search, you have to ask yourself, do you have the time to properly optimise your site?

Do you have the skills to SEO?

You’re good at what you do.  That’s why you started your business in the first place.  

That’s not to say you can’t also DIY SEO.   You know your customers well and what they might want to read about.  That alone means you can start to create content of interest to add to your website or to post about. 

Some businesses have internal marketing resources that manage websites and content creation.  However, the unfortunate truth is that these teams are often already stretched across multiple responsibilities, or they lack the technical capabilities to maximise your website’s performance.  SEO requires a mix of skills from research and analytics to content writing, social media management, on-page optimisation, and technical capabilities.   

It’s also important that you don’t make easy mistakes that could hurt your online rankings.  Ensure you’re across all search engine expectations and Googles guidelines for search ready websites.

SEO agencies like Found Online have teams of experts in their fields.  Experts like these spend years mastering their skills, many of which can’t just be taught.  Furthermore, SEO agencies are focused on all current and future changes to ensure they keep clients top of search results.  This means far superior results in search and less likely mistakes that could harm your search results.

Do you have the time to SEO?

Time is no doubt one thing that most business owners and managers lack most.  Do you have the time to learn and master SEO or to create and share new content consistently online?  To research, analyse data and engage with customers via social media daily? And can you keep this up consistently? 

Sometimes simply knowing what matters most is confusing for many business owners, wasting their time and their marketing resource, only to rail to get results.    Mistakes can be made easily resulting in penalties from search engines and recovering from them can be tough. 

SEO agencies like Found Online have tried it all before.  We know what works and what doesn’t, and we know how to build an effective SEO strategy.  Furthermore, we have a team of content writers and web developers ready to go to build your online presence.  This means you can focus on what you go into business for in the first place.

What is the cost of professional SEO services?

Services for SEO range anywhere from a few hundred to well over 10 thousand dollars per month.  The difference in costs normally boils down to what you want to achieve, and how many hours per month is required to achieve those goals.  That is, you are normally paying for time and expertise.  

With so many packages available from so many SEO providers there is likely to be an option that suits your needs.  Whether it be complete holistic SEO services or simply pick and choose your services to support your marketing efforts. 

We do advise you to be wary of cheap SEO services that promise the world. You may think that you have found a good deal but generally, low-price options fail to deliver results.  That’s because they generally use Blackhat SEO tactics, like buying backlinks from toxic sites, which will only harm your search rankings in the long run, or you are simply paying for such little activity on your site each month that you will not see results for a very long time.

In the end, SEO services should more than pay for themselves.  While it may take a few months to see the results you want to see, your SEO provider should be able to get enough traffic to your website to generate enough enquiries, bookings, or sales, that will more than pay for their cost. 

Be careful to avoid lock-in contracts with providers that will fail to get you results.  And make sure you know what you are paying for. 

How competitive is your industry?

If you are looking to improve your website’s visibility for local search queries and you’re the only business in the area providing your services, then DIY SEO is probably all you need to do.  In fact, you can probably get away with doing very minimal on your website to get good local search rankings.

However, if you are trying to get your website to rank on page one in a highly competitive industry where there are hundreds of businesses like yours all competing for a similar space, then DIY SEO might not cut it in the long run.

More than half of all businesses employ SEO service providers to make them stand out online.  Can you compete with that? 

Benefits of DIY SEO

In saying all of that, there are many benefits of DIY SEO or at least having internal marketing teams manage your SEO. 

You know your business better than anyone. You know what stories to write about, what products are going to launch etc.  So, DIY SEO can improve efficiencies and responsiveness to competitors and market activity.

You know your customers better than anyone else so you should know best what they are looking for online.

SEO should be part of your overall digital marketing strategy.  Not just some add on tricks to get around search engine algorithms or minimal on-page SEO work.  Because of constant ranking algorithm updates, businesses need to consider all parts of digital marketing and its impact on SEO.  Internal SEO can improve your consistency across all mediums.

Why Found Online SEO Agency Sydney?

Found Online is a local SEO agency in Sydney that provides services across all areas of digital marketing.  We deliver customer focussed, data lead, holistic SEO that gets businesses in competitive spaces online better search rankings sooner.

Talk to us about areas you need help with to maximise your SEO efforts.  Contact us on 02 7906 8405 or email us at info@foundonline.com.au.

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SEO

12 SEO mistakes stopping you from page one SERPs

SEO Mistakes to avoid at all costs

SEO mistakes could be harming your business without even knowing it.

With 90% of all purchases starting with an online search, being found in search results is critical to any business success.  However, 90% of all clicks happen on listings that return on page one, 90% on positions 1 and 2.   So there’s no doubt as to the importance of good SEO to generating company revenue.

But with ever-increasing businesses moving online, selling their goods and services to the same customers you’re targeting, the competition to claim the top spot in search engine results pages (SERPs) is heating up. 

Unfortunately, many businesses just can’t measure up when it comes to getting improved search rankings no matter their SEO efforts.  The reason normally boils down to 9 simple marketing mistakes that are commonly made.  These mistakes waste your time, money, and resource.  No matter how good you think your SEO strategies maybe if you don’t have the right foundation and keep making these mistakes, you’re going to fail.

Here are the top 9 SEO mistakes you need to avoid

12 SEO Mistakes to avoid

1. Failing to understand your audience and their buyer journey

Understanding who your audience is should be the first step in developing your SEO strategy. 

What is your audience searching for online?  Are they asking specific questions online that are going unanswered?  What problems do they have with current product and service offerings?  Without understanding these things, you will miss the best keyword opportunities that drive traffic, and you’ll fail to create relevant content.  

Buyer Journey is the process a buyer goes through on their path to purchase.  It includes four stages – unaware, pain/problem, solution, decision – in which the customer becomes aware of a problem or need state, the research various solutions to their problem, evaluate their options, and then decide which solution to purchase.

Buyer-journey-map-min
Buy Journey Map: Understanding your buyer journey is critical to SEO

Mapping a buyer journey is simply defining and mapping out the process that the buyer goes through on their path to purchase.  Sales, marketing and SEO efforts build an understanding of needs, problems and behaviour throughout the entire journey to create appropriate content for each stage.

2. Not Having a proper plan

An SEO strategy should include your keywords, content plans, social media activity and content, as well as how you will build backlinks, maximise your local SEO efforts and other media online you want to appear in.  In addition to this, who will be managing all of this, how will you generate quality content consistently and what is your budget?

First and foremost, in creating your SEO plan is understanding what you want to achieve.  What are your KPIs and how will you measure your return on investment against them?   This will help direct your SEO strategy and all your plans.  Once you have set your KPIs and you know your audience, conduct proper keyword research, and study your competitor’s activity.  This will help you identify the right way to stand out online.

Found Online offer results-driven SEO Strategy to help businesses win in SERPs. Get in touch to find out how we can support your digital marketing campaigns.

3. Holistic SEO mistakes

When decision-makers lack a clear understanding of our SEO works, they fail to understand that SEO is impacted by everything you do online.  Content, on-page SEO, technical SEO, backlinks, social media, local SEO and more, all impact your search visibility.  Each plays a vital role in how well your website ranks for various search queries as well as the performance of all other online profiles such as Google business listings, social media profiles and other online directories for example.

A business that develops a holistic SEO strategy that coordinates all online marketing efforts will appear higher in search and get more traffic, more leads, and more sales.

Found Online focuses on holistic SEO to get you higher in SERPs.  Get in touch to find out how we can support your digital marketing campaigns.

4. Ignoring Your Competitors

Why reinvent the wheel if someone has already worked out the best strategy to maximise their search results?  Obviously, we’re not saying to copy directly from them, you will need to differentiate your brand and positioning.  But by looking at what your competitors are doing online, you can learn from their success and from their mistakes.

Generate insights about your customers’ behaviour online by how they interact with your competitors.  What are the keywords that generate the most traffic, how have your competitors optimised for them and are there any gaps in meaningful keywords they’ve missed.

Review your competitor’s content to generate ideas on what to write about and what content to produce. There are many tools online to help you see which topics generate the most traffic.   You should also investigate how your competitors share their content online to drive reach and traffic.  Where are they sharing it, what platforms and how regularly are they posting their content. 

Your competitors can also help you build your approach to link building.  Backlinks to your competitors’ sites are easy to find with various backlink spying tools available to use free online.

5. Failing to differentiate / Pay too much attention to your competitors

Your competitors can give you good insights to help you build your SEO strategy and plans but if you want to beat the competition, you must do it better than them.  There may be things they aren’t doing well that would waste your budget and undermine your efforts.  Identify these and exclude them from your strategy and capitalise on missed opportunities.  Furthermore, it is critical that you can differentiate from your competitors in order to stand out.  

Businesses should be able to differentiate their products and services and brand positioning from competitors.  They can also differentiate with what content they create, and the topics covered, or the platforms leveraged to get content out there.   Whatever it is, to take advantage of new opportunities, reach more of your audience and maximise their ROI, businesses must do more or do it better to appear higher in search than competitors do.

6. Poor Content Relevance, consistency, and quality

Google likes informative, meaty, and unique content that connects users to business.  Most of all, your content needs to be relevant to your audience.

Google states that giving customers the information they’re looking for is the single most important thing you can do in their steps to a Google-friendly site.

The best way to do that is to understand what your customers are looking for online and what websites and information they interact with.  Refer to step one above.  You need to know who your audience is to create content for them.

Avoid wasting time and effort creating content that is irrelevant to your target industry and your target audience.  There are only so many hours in a day so ensure they are spent where it matters most.  Also, by being targeted in your approach, what your business and website are about will become clear to customers and search engines alike.

Find out about Found Online Content Writing and Content Creation Services.

7. Technical SEO mistakes

Technical SEO is the process of making your website more visible to search engines and helping them read and understand your website content.   This helps search engines to crawl, index and then serve your website for better search rankings.

Technical SEO focuses on things like structured data markup, meta tags, alt tags, URL structure, and robots.txt to name a few.   It is important to ensure each of these are properly optimised to help search engines read your website and understand what your content and your business are about.  

8. Link-Building Strategy

Link-Building is essential to SEO.  Backlinks help search engines find your website and to understand what your website is about.  By doing so, search engines can index your website and serve it in SERPs for relevant search queries.  Backlinks also build your domain authority by telling search engines that your content is worth linking to, this is a great way to get listed higher in search results.

It’s important to understand, however, that there are a lot of link building strategies that can hurt your business.  Unfortunately, there are still plenty of not so reputable businesses selling link building services like these.

Never purchase backlinks.  Rather, build them with quality content people want to link to.  Share your content to get it seen by more people to generate backlinks.  You can also request backlinks from relevant websites with high domain authority to relevant content on your website. 

Backlink building can be difficult, taking time, effort, and patience.  Understand more about how link building can support your SEO strategy in our article “Is Link Building Dead? Or should it be part of my SEO strategy?”

9. Poor website design and website performance

You want your customers to stick around once they have visited your website right?  Then ensure your user experience makes users do so.

Websites are the new face of the business, the silent salesman, and aligned with brand image.  As such, websites should be beautifully designedhttps://foundonline.com.au/content/ as well as informative and conversion rate optimised to encourage users to act – click, call, buy, hire, contact, etc.

More than that, your website needs to be fast to load and easy to use across all devices.  This is now a ranking factor that helps determine the position in SERPs.  As such, ensure your website is mobile responsive, easy to read and easy to navigate.  User’s experience should be a priority, in addition to the content, a website contains.  Keep an eye on your core web vitals via Google Search Console to prioritise website development and improvement work to improve your website usability. 

Website development most often requires a unique set of skills.  Work with website developers who know how to design and build websites for SEO.   See Found Online Website Development Services.

10. Local SEO mistakes and lack of local SEO

Local SEO is like normal SEO except that it optimises for local and “near me” search queries.

Search Engines provide personalised search results to customers based on the customers’ location when the search takes place.  Therefore, if your website is not optimized for Local SEO, you will not be found by local audiences.  This will make it hard for customers to find your physical location too.

Local SEO can even help you compete with big national brands and businesses with unlimited resources and spending power.  Proven Local SEO techniques like listing your website on Google My Business, creating locality-based content etc, will help you rank higher for local keywords and locality-based search. 

Find out about our local SEO services

11. Failing to properly resource your SEO efforts

Many businesses have internal marketing teams.  Unfortunately, they are often stretched with competing priorities or lack the right skill set to manage all elements of SEO.  Some or all SEO efforts can be easily outsourced which enables businesses to grow rapidly and adds flexibility to business making decisions.

SEO takes time and effort, as well as a unique skill set from content writing to website design and development, as well as all elements of good SEO – eg. Keyword research, technical SEO and link building.   By properly supporting your marketing teams efforts and allocating an appropriate budget to outsource key SEO functions to experts, it is impossible to fully optimise your search rankings.

The right SEO experts can help you develop an effective search strategy.  Outsourcing the most time-consuming activities like content writing will ensure consistency.  As will using professional developers for the more complex technical and coding needs for your website.  

12. Not tracking and learning from results

SEO is not a set and forget strategy.  Customers change, competitors hit back and the ever-evolving digital landscape means you have to stay ahead of the game to win with SEO.

Track your progress vs. KPIs and amend your strategy and SEO tactics accordingly. There are several tracking tools like Google Analytics and Search Console which are free to use and show the results of your SEO efforts. You will also want to keep an eye on your website load speeds.  You can do this via Lighthouse Page Speed testing which is part of Googles web developer tools.

There are many other keyword popularity, backlink checker and competitive spying tools out there to help you keep an eye on your results.  Or you could work with an agency like Found Online to track your performance and maximise your SEO strategy.

Have you made any of these SEO mistakes?

If you are failing to see page one results, get in touch with Found Online SEO agency. We take a holistic approach to our SEO Services. Offering 20 years of experience in SEO we know how to get you better search results.

Call us on 02 7906 8405 or email us at info@foundonline.com.au for a free website and SEO audit or to talk to us about how we can help your SEO.

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SEO

Is Link Building Dead? Or should it be part of my SEO strategy?

Is link building dead? What is it and should it be part of my SEO strategy?

The relevance of link building is a much-debated topic online with many SEOs and marketers weighing in with their opinions. However, it’s pretty clear that building quality links to your website is still integral to your search strategy. The important thing to distinguish is what type of link building is being discussed.

Link building refers to various SEO practices of getting links to your website from third-party domains. These vary from buying backlinks to getting them naturally and asking for them from different websites online.

To be clear, link-building practices intended to trick or bypass search engine algorithms are well and truly dead. One of which is the process of buying backlinks. While purchasing backlinks and other “blackhat SEO” tactics may have worked in the past, that is no longer the case. Recent Google algorithm updates ensure dodgy link-building practices and other blackhat tactics are easily identified and penalised, thus impacting offending sites search visibility.

However, quality backlinks to your website have always been one of the most important rank factors for websites, and they still are. QUALITY is the key here and quality backlinks are good for SEO.

What is link building?

Link building is the process of getting other websites to add links (known as backlinks) on their pages to your website content.  By building backlinks to your website, you build credibility as well as new pathways to your site. This helps SEO efforts as it signals to Google that your website is worth linking to and, as such, worth listing high in search rankings.

Link building is still one of the most important ranking factors for search

You want a website that is worth linking to right?   As such, you want content that answers your target audiences’ questions, solves their problems, and, therefore is optimised for search queries.  

The best content normally wins in the case of generating genuine meaningful backlinks.

It is for this very reason that Google will rank your website higher in search results if you have a lot of backlinks to your website.  Backlinks work like votes for your website and its content.

There is, in fact, a direct correlation between websites that have quality backlinks to their site from other domains with good domain authority. 

organic search results by average linking domains

Source:  ahrefs.com Blog “How to Find Backlinks (that you can replicate)”, written by Joshua Hardwick, Updated: 9 October 2020.  Accessed 25 September 2021.  URL “https://ahrefs.com/blog/find-backlinks/

 If you have quality link building practice in place as part of your broader content planning and SEO strategy, you will rank higher in search engine results.

How linkbuilding strategies have changed

In the past websites would build links in several ways that were designed to trick search engines into ranking pages higher in search.  This included building links. Often the links would come from spam websites, or from very poor or thin content, that lacked relevance to the page it was linking . Often these sites and content were created purely for the purpose of selling said backlinks. Google refers to these types of backlinks as “unnatural links”.

Blackhat SEO tactics like this will hurt your search engine rankings.

Google aims to deliver the most relevant content to search queries (which use search terms and keywords) that will enhance the user experience.   This means removing spammy websites from search engine results.  Two recent Google core updates –  Panda & Penguin – target spam websites that have poor or thin content and/or those that have unnatural links to do exactly that.   

If Google detects spam websites linking to your site or unnatural links, it may issue you with a “manual action”. Manual actions will stop your website from being served in Google search results.   

However, when backlinks are content-based, relevant and from websites that have good domain authority (aren’t toxic or spammy), Google ranks the page higher in search results. 

See Google’s information regarding “manual actions” and test your site to see if it has any manual actions in your search console.

How does link building get better organic search rankings?

1. Backlinks give your website more exposure to Google crawlers.

Google only knows about a page and what content is on the page if the page has been “crawled”.  When Google crawls a page it determines where the page should be ranked in search queries based on the information on the page. 

Google crawlers find a page to crawl when a website owner submits the page (via their sitemap) to be crawled and indexed or if Google follows a link from an already known page to the new page.

Google relies on links from known sites to find pages on your website as well as to develop an understanding of what each page is about.  This in turn helps Google decide where to rank your website in search engine results pages (SERPS) for various queries.

Once Google discovers your page, it can then start to understand what your page is about.   That is, it can analyse the content and media included on the page, get an idea about the intentions of the page and its relevance to different search queries.  Google will then store the information it collected in their database, Google’s index.  Google then serves your website page to users for relevant search queries.

Therefore, the more quality links you have to your website, the better your search rankings.

2. Backlinks build credibility and domain authority

Backlinks to your website tell Google that you have content that is worth linking to.  It tells search algorithms that your content is unique and adds value to readers online.  Backlinks give your website and content authoritative strength. 

Google aims to provide users with timely and relevant content based on their search queries.  Your site ‘authority’ – how many backlinks from good reputable sites you have – indicates how well your website will rank in search results.   As such, backlinks can help get higher rankings in search results.

The key to remember here is that good backlinks to relevant content from reputable websites are what you are aiming for. Google can tell if it’s a toxic site linking to your website, indicating blackhat SEO tactics as mentioned above. 

3. Backlinks get your website out across the internet to be seen by more people

Link building is a great way to get your website in front of more users’ eyes.  It gets your website out there, far and wide across the internet and, in turn, should increase your website traffic.

The purpose of SEO is to drive traffic to your website.  But traffic to your website can also improve your search rankings, in turn, helping your SEO efforts.

So how do I generate quality backlinks?

The key here that we’ve mentioned several times is QUALITY backlinks help your website rankings. 

‘Earned’ links that are ‘do follow’ likes are invaluable to your SEO.

Earned links are links to content where you didn’t have to ask for the link. Rather, another blog owner or content publishes finds your content and links to it because of its quality and relevance. For example, if your content is used as an information source, or someone loves your products or business and so wants to tell people about it. 

But don’t wait around for your content to be found and linked online. You could be waiting some time. You will also be missing the additional website traffic that comes with good backlinks as you wait. 

Instead, implement link-building strategies and tactics to build more backlinks to your website sooner. But try these more acceptable tactics rather than buying links.

  • Share your content via social media to increase exposure. Read more about how Social Media helps SEO. Social media is a great way to get your content infront of more people online. This in turn increases your changes of getting backlinks.
  • Backlink outreach. Find blogs and websites with content that is relevant to yours or where yours can add value. Reach out to the website owners and suggest backlinks to your site wherever relevant. The key is to demonstrate how your content adds value to their content by improving understanding about the topic being discussed.
  • Post to guest blogs. Guest blogs often allow a backlink from the authors bio. Become a guest blogger and post original articles on sites relevant to your business.
  • Conduct a unique research project or survey and share the results. Survey results provide insight as well as credibility to content. This makes published results appealing to mention and link to.
  • Look for mentions about your business online. If there is no link to your website, request the website manage add one.

Why Found Online for SEO Services Sydney?

SEO is not an overnight process.  It requires a strategic approach to all the things a business does online. When done properly, this online activity should ultimately improve the website’s search rankings and traffic. 

Found Online can help you generate quality backlinks with our content marketing and backlink generation services.

Found Online are SEO experts and holistic SEO service providers. Our expertise covers on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO capabilities. This includes an in-house, Sydney-based team of content writers, website developers, and SEO experts.

If you want to see your website ranked higher in search engine results, give us a call at Found Online Sydney on 02 7906 8405 or email us at info@foundonline.com.au.  You can also send us an email inquiry via our website contact form.  

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SEO

Does social media impact SEO? 8 ways socials help search rankings

Impact of Social Media on SEO

Does social media activity impact SEO?

The simple answer is yes, social media activity impacts SEO. But perhaps not how you might expect.

Social media and its impact on SEO is a much-debated topic online. 

See, most SEO’s and marketers understand the value of quality backlinks to their website.   Backlinks increase domain authority which in turn improves search engine rankings.  Unfortunately, Google doesn’t count social media links as backlinks to your website.

So how does social media impact SEO efforts then?

Social media can improve your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs)

To understand the correlation between social media and SEO it’s important to understand search engines. For instance, social media activity is included in Google algorithms, just perhaps not as you might think. Social Media impacts your overall digital marketing footprint, as well as, drives exposure to your content and traffic to your website.

Let’s take a look at how your branded activity on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In, Twitter and more can improve your search engine rankings.

8 Ways social media impacts SEO efforts and search rankings;

Social media is a great way to engage your audiences and have conversations with them online.   As well as this, and because of this, social media can impact SEO.  That’s why more and more businesses are using social as part of their comprehensive SEO strategies.

It’s important to note here again that social media does not create backlinks to your website. Therefore, links will not affect your website’s SEO in that way. However, having an active social presence can still improve how high you appear in SERPs. The impact on SEO is just a little more indirect.

It does this in the following 8 ways.

1) Social media drives traffic to your website which in turn helps SEO

If you want to improve your search engine rankings, one of the best ways is to drive as much traffic as possible to your website.   It sounds a bit like the chicken before the egg scenario, but it is true.  One of the major ranking factors Google uses is website traffic.

Traffic can come from a variety of online media, not just search engines.  This includes email marketing, advertising, guest blogs, and more.   One of the easiest ways to drive traffic is through social media marketing.

Social media is a great way to attract your target audience and direct them to your website.  This can be via branded content, engaging posts or pure social media advertising.  Google counts all users that are directed to your website as traffic, even those via social media link clicks. The data is then used to index your website.

2) Social media improves your content reach, so you’re discovered by more people

Social media can improve your content reach meaning more people discover your site.

While search engines like Google deliver content to users based on their search enquiries, social media has some additional benefits.  That is, users can receive content via social media that they didn’t necessarily search for.  This can be organic via other user activities with similar interests. It can also be part of deliberately targeted content delivered directly to the user by businesses via paid advertising campaigns.

Recommendations drive conversions online and on social media. This encourages users to click to read more and/or buy.  Therefore, using social media correctly can lead to traffic that engages with your content. Engaged uses lead to content shares, which can drive even more targeted traffic online.

Social media advertising is also an extremely cost-effective, targeted approach to deliver your content to thousands of people online. Advertising campaigns can drive traffic directly to your website, in turn, helping your SEO. Ads can also direct customers to buy in social marketplaces.  Either way, there is a direct benefit to the business.

3) Engagement with your social media content can help your rankings

We’ve already mentioned engagement with your content above but, given how important it is to your entire marketing efforts including SEO, it’s important to mention here on its own.

Firstly, and most simply, social accounts show Google that you are engaged with your audience—and engagement is one of Google’s top-ranking factors.  If your content is worth reading it’s worth ranking

In this way, social shares (and tweets) can improve the search rankings of your social media profiles, and so of your website too.   This is similar to how traditional links are being counted by Google as direct signals to Google that people think your content is worth reading.

Additionally, by engaging with your audience via social media channels you can ultimately better align yourself with their interests.  You can do this with the content that you write and share, through guest blogs, newsletter signups and lots of other ways that help your business connect with them. 

4) Social media can help improve link diversity

Search engines look at many factors when determining rankings, including link and domain diversity.  

For years, one strategy has been buying backlinks from different domains to boost domain diversity which results in higher rankings.  It might seem that this is an easy way to fix domain diversity issues. While SEO’s commonly used this tactic in the past, it adds no real user value. As such, Google views it as ‘SPAMMY’. That’s because, these links are often from unrelated, thin, or poorly constructed content.   Sometimes they are from websites created deliberately to generate backlinks. d so their content fails to be relevant, engaging, or informative.  These are all key criteria Google looks for in their ranking methods.  

Recent algorithm updates by Google attempt to weed out Blackhat SEO behaviour and link building like this. Instead, search engines favour websites that add value to online user experiences. 

So how can brands build ‘link diversity’?   Social media adds variety to your backlink profile (i.e., links to your site from different sources). 

Google likes a mixture of both follow and no follow links on any given website. Search engines want to see these links coming from different domains. Too many of one or the other will look unnatural. Google or other search engines will flag and penalise your website if links look unnatural.

To assess links, Google uses PageRank that calculates link points, or ‘Google juice’.  Social media is a great way to generate more diversity in your Google link juice.

5) Social media profiles often rank higher than websites

It’s not only your website content that can rank in search results.  Social media profiles often rank high in SERPS for branded content and particular keywords.  In some instances, search results can return a social media profile higher in their results pages than the company website for some keywords or search terms.  This is often seen, for example, with Pinterest, which has typically always generated high search rankings, as well as LinkedIn profiles and YouTube videos.  

YouTube, in particular, regularly ranks higher than company websites.  That’s because Google, like other search engines, dedicates a specific section at the top of its results pages specifically for video content.  

The reason social media profiles rank high in search engine results is because of one of the main ranking factors that controls which website or social profile links shows first for a particular search query.  That factor is what is referred to as ‘link authority’.   The web page or social media profile with greater link authority or page rank gets listed first in search results.  Social media typically has an extremely high authority score.

6) Social Media Platforms are Search Engines so does impact SEO

If we think of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as search engines – rather than social media platforms – then their purpose is just as clear: they’re all about finding people with whom you might want to do business.

Each serves a different niche. But if you want to be found online, it’s not enough for your website to exist; people must be able to find it via social media platforms as well.

Social media search engines make it easier to find information on certain topics. They make it easier to find new information every day. New posts on your social network pages show up in Google’s search results before links from an external site backlink page do!

7) Social media can help you understand your customers better

By improving your understanding of your customers via their online habits, likes, dislikes, location, etc. social media gives you insight into what people are looking for when it comes to brands just like yours.  The more you can understand your customers, their needs, their wants, and what they share on social media, the better you can serve their needs with both content as well as product and service offerings.   

Does your audience tweet about topics not mentioned by other businesses? Use that insight to create a custom hashtag on Instagram posts.  What questions are users asking via Reddit?  Write some informative content that answers those queries and share your response there.  

As people share information on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter or another network about your business or product, study what they say. If a lot of people are complaining about a certain issue with your product or service, consider changing it.   That’s going to help you get higher search engine rankings in a way that social media links never will!  You’ll show off a deeper understanding of your customers which builds trust and improves your ability to engage with your audience online.

8) Social media helps geo targeting for local SEO

If you’re targeting customers in a specific geographic area — say, if you run a restaurant — you’ll want to reach those customers searching for restaurants in that area.   To do that, you want to make sure that any posts or pages associated with your business include accurate geo-targeting information.  This is an important ranking factor for Google, particularly for locality-based searches.

The most important geo-targeting information for Google is your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP).  

Google looks for a business’ NAP and, where this is consistent with that on your Google business listing and throughout your website, Google will consider your business more credible.  The more instances of your NAP mentioned online, the more instances Google associates with your business for your geographical location.  This has a direct impact on how Google indexes and ranks your website for local search queries.

Additionally, some social media platforms allow geo-tagging of stories and posts. This is a great way to gain more visibility among a local audience, helping you expand your reach.

For ways, Found Online can help your local SEO to improve you for local search engine queries, get in contact with our local SEO experts.

Social Media does more for your business than just SEO

While social media is incredibly important for SEO, it is also beneficial to your business growth for more than just that.

Social media sites connect users by allowing everyone to see each other’s actions. This makes people feel connected, both online and IRL (in real life), which leads to even more sharing between members.  There are also connections between social media sites themselves. Eg, You can mention someone on Twitter and automatically post it onto Facebook.

Social media makes word-of-mouth advertising easier.   People like talking about products and services they love. They want their friends to use them. They want others to know how amazing something was.    Tapping into this, social media can help grow your company. It’s important to engage the right audience and build a community of online advocates.

This ‘social proof’ is far more powerful than any advertising a business can do.  Most people are more likely to trust the product and/or services recommendations that come from friends, family or those they view as experts online.  This is what makes social media so powerful for business.

In Conclusion:

The bottom line is that maintaining an active social presence can help improve search engine rankings.  But regardless of social media’s impact on SEO, there are many more reasons businesses should focus on using social tools as part of their marketing strategy.

Improving your rankings is a powerful benefit of social sharing, but getting actual traffic, engaging with customers, and creating ‘social proof’ that drive sales, is much more important for building your business.

Found Online provide social media marketing that get you found online

We’re a team of SEO specialists with a local Sydney based team of social media managers, content creators and advertising experts.   The team at Found Online improve search We provide Holistic SEO, social media management, website performance and more.

Get in touch with our Sydney team on 02 7906 8405 or send us a website enquiry.

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SEO

Google algorithm updates 2021

There have been a number of Google core algorithm updates in 2021 that may have impacted your website.   Staying on top of these and ensuring your website is properly optmised for changes is critical to ensure your customers find you online.

2020 – 2021 google algorithm updates

Google broad core algorithms normally happen every few months, yet 2 core updates are expected to have rolled out by the middle of the year, one in June and one in July.  This is following the last update which happened in December.

In truth, Google makes thousands of updates annually. That’s more than a few changes each day. However, they are often so small that they largely go unnoticed. Broad core algorithm updates happen less frequently, being a few months apart, normally. Following a major algorithm update, it should take anywhere from overnight to a couple of weeks to see any impact on your site and it’s ranking results.

The recent June rollout and upcoming rollout in July are actually just a staggered rollout in two parts of what was previously planned to be the one single broad core update. The update was announced and then it was found some elements weren’t quite ready. The decision was made to not hold back on the update of some of the elements that were ready to go. These are detailed further below.

Why do you need to know about Google updates?

It is good to understand when Google makes updates when mastering SEO. This will help you understand why your search engine rankings change. It is important to be able to pinpoint whether it was something you did on your website or off-page SEO work that created fluctuations in your ranking results or not. If there was a major change around the same time Google rolled out a core algorithm update, you can more safely assume it was due to the algorithm change vs. what you did.

In many instances, Google provides forewarning to major changes likely to impact search results. One such example is the recent page experience ranking factor. If you were unprepared for the impact of your core web vitals, you need to ask your SEO provider or website developer why they weren’t on the front foot and flagging page experience with you earlier.

Google algorithm updates earlier this year

3rd December 2020
December 2020 core update:

Google had 3 core algorithm updates in 2020, the December update being the final one for the year. This was a big change to the broad algorithms which seemed to have a drastic impact on many websites around the globe.

While Google announces updates where there is actionable information that can be used to prepare for the change, eg. recent page experience change or prior page speed change, core updates are more broad updates designs to ensure that they continue to deliver on their mission of delivering relevant authoritative content to searches.

As such, Google recommends that, if you were impacted by the change, focus on content. Ensure content is relevant and high quality. More information can be found at Google search consoles information pages https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2019/08/core-updates. This includes a list of questions for website owners and content creators to ask themselves should their SERP ranking results change, whether from the last update or any future ones.

10th February 2021
Passage Ranking

The passage ranking change meant Google would start considering passages from pages as additional ranking factors. Google continues to index pages based on the entire page and all of its content. The passage ranking update did not replace that, rather provides an additional element to factor.

8th April 2021
Product Reviews Update

This update impacts review review websites with a lot of product reviews or service reviews. The update came as Google’s attempt to crack down on review sights containing thin content. There were many that simply summarised products. Now Google rewards those that have good, researched information.

2nd June 2021
Broad core algorithm update

As mentioned above, there was a broad core algorithm update due for rollout in June. However, after the announcement, Google decided not all elements were ready for rollout. As such, some were held back. As a result, the most recent update has not appeared to be as major as prior updates. It is still early days however and the impact is just beginning to be properly seen.

15th June 2021
Page Experience Update

Google launched a new ranking measure based on how users perceive their experience when interacting with a website. Page experienced is measured by a new set of metrics called core web vitals. Considerations include; The speed in which the page loads; Mobile-friendly pages; If the website runs on HTTPS; Is there a presence of intrusive ads, and; If content jumps around as the page loads, known as cumulative layout shift. A website’s core web vitals and page experience are all tracked and visible in Google’s search console.

What are algorithms?

Algorithms are a set of rules or principles that are to be used in calculations or problem-solving. In simple terms, it is a set of instructions on how to complete a task.

Google uses a mixture of ranking factors combined with sophisticated algorithms to determine what order to pull information from its indexing system and deliver the most relevant results for given search engine queries. This is how Google determines the ranking of websites for particular search terms in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Get in touch and get found online

If you have noticed your search engine rankings declining following any of the recent algorithm updates, get in touch with Found Online.   Send us a website enquiry or call us on 02 7906 8405.

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SEO

What to expect from SEO agencies

What to expect from SEO agencies

podium representing what to expect from your seo

What to expect from your SEO is not so simple. That’s because no two SEO providers are the same and neither are the services they offer.  However, there are a number of things that most will include or offer as part of the services they provide.  Understanding these can help you decide which SEO provider you want to work with as well as to hold your SEO provider accountable.

The SEO industry has a bad reputation of agencies taking clients money each month, even locking them into lengthy contracts, and failing to deliver any real results.  Often clients are left confused as to what they are paying for.

Understanding what results you should expect, what you should see your SEO provider doing and understanding the different types of packages they offer will help you determine if you’re getting what you need and what you pay for.  

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is about increasing your visibility online via search engine results pages.  It is the process where the SEO provider makes necessary changes to your site in order for search engines to find your site easily and index it for specific keywords and search terms.  This will then mean you rank higher in search results for those keywords, and so will drive traffic to your website.

Reviewing SEO services on offer is a good way to determine what to expect from SEO agencies and your SEO agency in particular.

What to expect from SEO agencies

SEO Packages and what to expect from SEO agencies if you buy one.

Packages are often sold at a monthly cost per keyword.   However, while you might be paying for keywords, there is no place where keywords are bought except for PPC or Google ads.   Search engine optimisation is about generating organic search results and organic traffic.  Therefore, those costs are actually calculated based on the estimated time it will take the SEO to optimise a page or website for a given amount of keywords. 

What you are paying for essentially is the work that the SEO provider does for you.  Generally, that is calculated on man-hours (at their end) but you are charged on a number of words.   

The work they do will depend on what you pay and the agreed-upon package.  However, you should always know exactly what you are paying for upfront. 

What services to expect from SEO agencies

Generally, their work will include the following; 

On-Page SEO Services

  • Ensure the right content and structure of written content on your web pages. This includes search terms optimised copy, H2 and H3 headings, the right percentage of keywords used (no keyword stuffing), length of text, readability etc.   These are just a few.  
  • They may add text, update titles, add titles, recommend blog content or topics for you to post or provide content writing services to do this for you. 
  • Ensure that you have the best optimised media on every page and that it is titled and tagged correctly, including your search terms and keywords.
  • Updating seo titles and meta descriptions because this is how search engines know what a page is about.
  • Building internal links from pages and blog posts on your site to other, relevant pages and posts, because this increases crawlability and navigation.

Technical SEO Services

  • Monitor page experience or core web vitals and provide recommendations for fixes and improvements to ensure your site is functioning correctly.
  • This includes LCP or load speed, CLS or content layout shift (how much page moves on loading), mobile responsiveness, robot txt use, all site maps submitted correctly, and others.
  • Give accces to your Google Search Console account because this is where page experience is tracked.

Off-Page SEO Services

  • Build backlinks to your website through backlink outreach campaigns, guest blogging, and social media shares.
  • Manage backlinks including having those from “toxic” websites (websites with low domain authority that are irrelevant or spamy in nature removed.
  • Manage your Google my business page, reply to reviews, add posts and update links to your site
  • Local SEO services should include local directory listings.
  • Ensure consistency of NAP – Name, Address, Phone – in your footer, Google business page and directories online. 

Other things to expect from SEO providers

  • Provide regular performance and tracking reports with recommendations.
  • Manage your PPC / Google ads account
  • Access to Google analytics set up for you 
  • Access to search console set up for you

Tracking Reporting on SEO Peformance to expect from your SEO

Tracking and reporting is something to include in your list of what to expect from SEO agencies.  Every SEO agency should hold themselves accountable for their performance.  Ongoing monthly reports is a great way to ensure your agency does this.

Reporting to you should include; 

  • What keywords they have optimised your site for and what pages they have done that on.
  • How those keywords are performing for you – that is, what position you are ranking for those keywords and any change from the prior period (lost or gained).
  • Backlink audit report
  • Site audit – errors and warnings and recommendations to fix.
  • Traffic to your site and demographics – however this isn’t really necessary in a report as you should have access to this in both wordpress and Google analytics.  

Onboarding process to expect from SEOs

There is normally a set-up or onboarding fee charged.  This is normally where they will complete research to ensure you have the best search terms or keywords selected.   It may also include things like content plans, keyword mapping (what each page could win on and changes to make), competitor analysis etc.  

What to expect from your website developer

From your website developer (if separate from your SEO provider), you should expect the following.  That is in addition to web development and what you would normally expect.

Website Securtiy

  • WordPress do regular updates with security patches.  Your developer should update your site with the latest instalment of wordpress at a minimum. 
  • Updates and checks for conflicts between plugins and wordpress should be happening. 
  • A good security plugin is vital to monitor for and block security attacks.
  • Your theme and plugins should be up to date regularly to ensure hackers don’t take advantage of known weaknesses.
  • Confidence that, if they are managing your hosting, your site will not go offline.

Website Performance

  • Your website should be fast to load and coded correctly for this. This is because search engines now prioritise page experience and load speed is part of it.
  • Monitor core web vitals and fix problems to ensure your site is functioning correctly. This includes LCP or load speed, CLS or content layout shift (how much page moves on loading), mobile responsiveness, robot txt use, all site maps submitted correctly, and others.
  • Access to Google analytics and proper tracking set up for you.
  • Access to search console and proper tracking set up for you.
  • Add tracking code to track performance of campaigns (eg. traffic from social media or Google ads) and goal completions (what people do on your site so you can monitor conversions via analytics. This should drive improvements and strategy so you can increase conversions). 

You have every right to admin access to your site.  However, developers may be reluctant to provide this to avoid inexperienced website owners and editors making mistakes.   Respect that you can easily undo hours of hard work very easily.

What your SEO they should expect from you

There are a number of things you should do as a client to assist both your developer and your SEO provider.   That includes things like;

  • Providing complete and clear written as well as verbal briefs for any work whether it be project based or ongoing 
  • Compress images for them if you can.  Otherwise, ensure they understand you need their help with this.
  • Provide copy where you can or make it clear you need help. Your SEO can then quote accordingly upfront.
  • Don’t make an unreasonable amount of changes or alterations on the fly.  Know what you want and what you want to say first.  Many providers will try and be nice and do a lot of changes for you without charging you at first.  They may not want to sound petty or upset the relationship so wont mention to you that you are abusing their time. 

Not getting what you expected from your SEO?

If your SEO is failing to provide the results you expected, it’s time that you looked elsewhere.  However, be mindful that it does take some time to see results.  Don’t expect it to happen overnight but you should start to see ranking improvements in as little as a month or two. 

Your lack of overnight ranking success may not be the case of a lack of performance or work.  It’s best to raise your concerns with them.   

It’s also good to be mindful that search engines and the digital space are continuously evolving.  Google make changes to their algorithms daily.  A good SEO provider will plan and strategise for the best results but it could be possible that some things were out of their control.   

While you may agree on a package, your SEO provider may also need to make changes to their plans, ramping up one element and another down, as time goes on in order to deliver the best search results.   If this is the case, your provider should make you aware of changes and the reason why at the time.  

Working with Found Online

Found Online SEO agency Sydney takes a holistic approach to SEO.  That is we work across all digital platforms and manage all aspects of activity online in order to get better search results faster for businesses in competitive markets.  

Contact us to see what Found Online can do for your business on 02 7906 8405 or send us an email at info@foundonline.com.au.