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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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To use the www or not when selecting a domain name?

Why do some websites use www and does mine need to?

A question that arises a lot is whether to use the www or not in a website domain name. We also get asked what the implications of using www or not are for SEO. So, let’s look at what is important and the issues to be aware of to get the best outcome.

Understanding how search engines treat sites that use www or not

Search engines view sites that use www and those that don’t as different subdomains. This is the same for sites using HTTP or HTTPS. HTTPS is simply an indication that an SSL certificate exists.

Search engines also treat subdomains as completely separate properties. So, for example, www.foundonline.com.au and foundonline.com.au have little relationship to each other. Likewise, if a site uses HTTP or HTTPS they are not the same. i.e. http://foundonline.com.au shares no data with https://foundonline.com.au from a search engines point of view.

The most important thing is to ensure that there is only one active property online. You can do this by redirecting with a 301 redirect to the canonical version. i.e. Redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.

Should you use www or not?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter, so long as only one property is active.

So here is what matters: when displaying your URL in marketing material, you should aim to put the root domain without the HTTPS e.g. foundonline.com.au/about and the redirects should handle the rest, typically taking it to https://www.foundonline.com.au/about.

Additionally, SSL certificates are now free through LetsEncrypt. Most hosting providers also support the auto-renewal of certificates through them. So, there is no excuse to not be using HTTPS. This means you can pick either the www or non-www version so all traffic goes to one property only.

With the basic scenario out of the way, let’s have a look at some of the more interesting cases.

What about other site areas?

One technology (probably WordPress) typically manages a website. However, you may have a new area of the site where it just doesn’t provide the functionality you need. This could be a documentation area, projects portal, journals, maybe even a new blog engine.

Typically, it is fairly straightforward to set these up on a different sub-domain such as blog.foundonline.com.au or projects.foundonline.com.au. However, this is where the search engines will see them as separate properties. In this instance, you run the risk of diluting the ranking of your site.

Ideally, you want to get these working as a sub-folder on the main site e.g. /journals. Especially where the content and links are related to the main site content. The solution to this is to implement a reverse proxy.

What is a reverse proxy?

A reverse proxy is where the server receives a request to /docs and then proxies that request to the platform handling that part of the site.

reverse-proxy-diagram-for-managing-use-the-www-or-not-redirects
A reverse proxy handles the main domain but splits off the sub-folders to different servers that run different applications.

This way the customer (and search engines) will see the single top-level domain, but really there will be multiple servers and technology stacks delivering different parts of the website.

Admittedly, this is not trivial to set up. There can also be lots of technical implications that need to be worked through as a result. But you should be aware that it is possible and that it should be considered functionality as on a site.

If this is something that you are needing to do to maximise your search results, we recommend getting in touch with a qualified agency or hosting provider that can help you with this.

Get in touch with us for SEO matters

Found Online SEO agency Sydney builds search engine optimised websites that drive traffic and sales. If you still have questions about whether to use the www or not, get in touch. Or talk to us about our website design and web development services.

Contact us on 02 7906 8405 or at info@foundonline.com.au.

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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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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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How to Optimise Google My Business (GMB) Listing

How to optimise Google My Business (GMB) Listings

Optimise Google my business for local search and grow your business on and offline! According to Google, 46% of searches have local intent.  That’s a lot of user traffic.

Google my business or GMB is designed to help small businesses win for local searches.   A properly optimised Google business listing will improve your visibility online for locality-based and “near me” searches.   

It can also even help improve your website organic rankings.  That’s because Google my business gives Google meaningful signals on how you interact with your customers.  Your content, your posts, products, and services listings etc. all help improve Googles understanding of your website and your business.   As such, a properly optimised business listing on Google can help get your website higher in search results also.

What is Google my business (GMB)?

Locality-based businesses, or “near me” searches result in a list of business profiles above organic search results. These profiles include all the information a user needs to visit a business, make a purchase, or contact the company.   It includes a Google map view as well as links to the company website, customer reviews, questions and answers, and posts shared by the business on the profile page.

How a business listing appears in search

This is based on a search for “Google my business listing”. The panel on the right is how a business profile appears in search.

Google-my-business-listing

GMB gives access to business owners and digital marketers to claim their business listing or create a new profile.  That’s right, businesses don’t automatically own their business profile or control the information there.  Anyone can generate a Google business profile.  GMB gives control to business owners of their profiles on Google.

There are several things you can do on GMB.  This includes.

  • Add your business information to Google Maps, Search, and other Google services
  • Create or get access to a Business Profile on Google
  • Manage how your business information shows up across Google

So, how do you properly optimise Google my business listings for local search?

Following is a definitive guide for optimising your Google my business listing with 14 steps to follow.  Alternatively, Found Online offers complete local search optimisation services. Get in touch with us.

14 Ways to optimise your Google my Business Listing for local search

1. Claim or add your google business listing and verify your business

Claim your business profile so you can manage it in GMB.  If it doesn’t exist, create a new business listing. 

If you have multiple locations, you should claim or create a unique business listing for each one.   Link each back to the specific location page on your website to maximise your search results.

See Google’s guide for how to add or claim your Google business listing. Follow these simple steps to claim and verify your listing.

It is important to note that you must verify your business listing before you can fully optimise it for search.  It can take two weeks or more to complete this process so, if you’re looking for search rankings fast, we recommend you not delay in claiming or creating your business listing.

Once you have verified your business, you will be able to fully leverage all the features available via Google my Business listings including customer reviews, customer messaging and responding to the Q&A section.

2. Complete all your business information on your Google my business listing

Ensure that all information on your Google My Business listing is complete and accurate. 

Fill in all details about your business.  Don’t leave anything incomplete if you can help it.  Add business category, service locations/areas, hours of operation, products, or services you offer, accessibility information, COVID19 information and appointments link.  

Ensure to keyword optimise all of your profile information for locality-based searches and popular search terms.  When completing your business description, avoid copy and pasting it from your website or other local directory listings or this could be seen as duplicate content.

3. Check you have the best GMB Category selected

When selecting your business category, select the one that most represents what you do while being as specific as you can.  For example, Google refers to a nail salon in its guidelines.  For a nail salon, it’s best to choose the category “nail salon” category rather than “salon”.   

If your category doesn’t exist, though, select a more general one. 

If you could fit within more than one category and you’re not sure which to choose, select the one most others are using.   It is still important to be specific so have a look at you’re your competitors have selected and go with the same one. Avoid selecting the general option in these instances. 

You can add another category as a subcategory if you need to.  This will ensure you are ranking for the right search terms.

4. Add secondary categories

Second categories are helpful when you offer a range of services that could just as easily cover multiple categories.  

We recommend only selecting 1 or 2 sub-categories at most.  That’s because whatever categories you have selected, your listing and your website should reflect a business that operates in the selected category.    Selecting too many categories and your website is unlikely to cover relevant topics for them all well.

Remember, Google loves relevant content.  Therefore, Google will serve only relevant websites for given search queries.  You will not help your search rankings by selecting categories that you’re not optimised for.

5. Ensure Name Address and Phone Number NAP Consistency

The most important information to ensure you include is your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP).  You must ensure your NAP is consistent across all digital elements.  And when we say it should be consistent, we mean that it should be EXACTLY the same!   Your website footer should include your NAP written identically to your Google my business listing and all online directories, social media and anywhere it is mentioned online. 

The precise formatting of your NAP should identical too.   For example, if “Street” as the full word rather than “St.” is used on your website, ensure this is consistent anywhere else your address is mentioned.  If there is a comma included after the street name in one listing online, it should be there for all listings of your address online, and so on.

6. Add images to your Google my Business Listing

Google will favour a business that has relevant and unique images on their google my business listing vs. a business that doesn’t.   Google wants businesses to use images that give the end-user an accurate feel for who they are and what they do.   Therefore, unique images of the business location, its products, services and/or team can be beneficial for improving your rankings for your business listing.

It’s important to avoid generic or stock images that offer very little insight into your business.  If you have used them, it’s best to remove them.   Google prefers original content that adds value to the end-user.  That is that it is informative, relative and/or engaging.  Stock images, unfortunately, fail to meet these criteria.

Photos taken on location can also improve your rankings via metadata recorded within the image file.   This metadata includes the longitude and latitude of the image location.  This is an additional geo-targeting signal for Google and can help with your local SEO.

7. Get customer reviews and respond to them quickly

Customer reviews on your business listing indicate to Google that you engage with your customers.  Replying to them quickly means you value your customer’s opinions and the review they left.  

Send a request for a review to customers after they have purchased your goods or services.  Even better, make the process of placing a positive review for you on Google easier by providing them with suggestions they can copy and paste.  Your suggestions are a great way to add some key search terms and keywords in which will also help your local search.

Aim for 5-star customer reviews.  Your listing will appear higher in search results the more five-star ratings you receive.  You see, as your average star rating increases, it shows that you are a good, reputable business that your customers trust.   And Google loves to support businesses that keep their customers happy.

The way you reply to your customers Google reviews matters too.  Replies are a great way to include keywords for searches you want to win on.  There’s quite an art to getting this right while sounding sincere and appreciative.  With practice though, you will be able to fully leverage Google reviews to optimise your business listing.

8. Post articles linked to your website

Google Posts are almost like mini ads with a picture, description, offer landing page URL etc.  They are a great place to share your blog content and to link back to your website.  And the more times you share your content online, the more opportunity it has to reach more users online.

Google has insight into how you and your potential customers are engaging with your Google My Business listing and the more activity associate with your listing, the better.  Posting interesting content and sharing articles from your website is a great way to increase activity on your listing as well as to increase engagement.   

GMB posts with linked content can also contribute to better search rankings for more search terms and keywords.  This will, in turn, increase your online visibility overall and drive more traffic to your website.

Found Online offer locally based content writers to support your content marketing efforts. We can help you improve visibility online. Get found online, Get in touch to see how.

9. Post locality-based content

Locality based content is relevant to users searching for businesses in their area.   It is more engaging, and it will more likely include location-based keywords and other geo-targeting attributes.

If you have a few locations, each location will need regular content to be shared on the given google listings.   You must share unique content via each.

Take images from the local area, including news stories relating to people from the area and content relating to products and services you offer from each location, particularly if they are unique to the shop, office, or storefront in that area.

 There are many ways to make content locality relevant.   Whatever your content, ensure you are including keywords relating to the location and its surrounding areas to maximise performance.  

10. Enable customer messages

By enabling customer messaging via google business listing, you allow customers to contact you more easily.  A contact is an opportunity to tell them about your products and services and to, ideally, convert them to a sale.   Therefore, the more ways for a customer to contact you the better. 

Using the Google my business app, go to the “customers” page and enable customer messaging.   Once enabled, a button will appear on your profile which customers can click to message you.

There is even the option to add automated responses to customer messages.   Not only does this help you and keep the customer happy, but it can help you improve your average response time. 

You should be aiming to respond to customers within a maximum of 24 hours.   The better your average time to respond, the higher your listing will appear in search.  This, again, is because it tells Google that you readily engage with and value your customers.

11. Answer questions via the Q&A section to promote information about your business

Q&As is a section on your GMB listing for crowdsourced questions from people online. Similar to Google My Business reviews, customers can leave questions here with the expectation the business will respond with an answer.

Anyone can answer questions posted on a business profile.  That includes the business and other customers too.  Google and customers are more likely to perceive user answered questions as unbiased. They, therefore add credibility and trustworthiness to your profile.

However, it is also important to answer questions about your business when you get them.  It’s a great way to promote your business in a good light.   Customers also like to have their questions answered promptly.  This is information they need to make a purchase decision.  Unfortunately, many businesses are failing to answer questions posted on their profiles.  So, by answering any of yours, you’ll get a competitive advantage.

12. Add your own questions to Q&A section

Yes, you can add your Q&As to your listing.  Add questions that your customers frequently ask, then answer them as the business.  Creating an FAQ section this way is great for search and it’s something your competitors probably aren’t doing, so will give you an advantage.

If you add these commonly asked questions and answers, they will also head off questions potential customers have.  This means your answers are already there and they will likely perfectly answer common search queries.

13. Clean up old listings that could be competing with your relevant ones

If you have old, irrelevant listings, remove them.  Mark closed business locations as permanently closed. 

This will avoid competing in search for your other nearby locations and will ensure customers are interacting with the correct business and GMB listing.

If your business has moved address and you created a new listing for your new location, you need to mark the business as moved.  You should also transfer your customer reviews first.  It’s important to refer to Googles guidelines for listing your business profile.  Do it wrong and you run the risk of losing all your hard-earned reviews and search rankings. 

14. Ensure you stick to Googles Guidelines for representing your business

Familiarise yourself with Googles Guidelines for representing business on Google.  You will need to abide by these to avoid being penalised. 

Unfortunately, businesses are making simple mistakes that are hurting their search rankings.   These include things like adding addresses to nonphysical locations, selecting the wrong business category, duplicate content or duplicate listings and many more.   Google can penalise you for mistakes like these.

Getting Google penalties can be challenging to recover from and can hurt your business.  Therefore, it is very important to follow Googles guidelines on representing your business and its information on your listing correctly.

Hire an SEO like Found Online to optimise Google my business listings for you.

Optimising your GMB business profile is relatively easy to do.  Unfortunately, many companies simply lack the time and expertise to do so properly.  Simple mistakes are easily made and, unfortunately, very common.  These mistakes can invertedly hurt search rankings and undermine SEO efforts.  

Found Online SEO agency Sydney is experienced at getting google business listings ranking higher in local search for businesses.    We have proven success in helping small and local businesses in competitive industries get to the top of page one search results.   

Contact us on 02 7906 8405 or via website enquiry to find out how we can help you get found online.

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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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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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Content Marketing Secrets: 9 “Magic” Tips to Make Your Content more engaging

Make your content more engaging with these 9 tips.

Customer Engagement is the new black when it comes to SEO in recent times.  Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and link farms, now it’s all about creating content that users are looking for and that they want to engage with.

Google’s algorithms now monitor user engagement, amongst other online experience metrics as part of their ranking factors.  That means, user engagement can now have a direct impact on your search rankings.

That’s not to say that technical SEO is dead.  It’s far from the truth.   Rather that, content creators and businesses online should be focusing content creation more on engagement.   But how do you create content that is engaging? 

What is User Engagement?

User Engagement is a term usually used to describe the interactions between a user and a business or the level of interest a user has in a business, their product or their content online.  


How is Engagement Measured Online?

User Engagement is typically measured by the interactions a user has with a business and/or it’s products and content online such as time spent on page, clicks, enquiries, content shares, mentions on social media and conversations online with the business.

Top nine tips that will make your content more engaging online

1) Know your core audience and what they find engaging online

How do you know what to say, if you don’t know who you’re talking to? That’s not a trick question. It’s a critical aspect of writing engaging content.

There is always a core group that will be open to you and your content. Your core group of readers is the most likely to share your content on social media. They’re also usually the first to buy when you launch a new product. More importantly, they care about what you have to say.

Do some digging and figure out whom you connect with easily. For example, you could be marketing to self-employed accountants. Once you’ve defined your core group, make sure your content fits their needs. As a result, they will see you as an authority. They’ll be attracted to you and your message.

Even so, content writer beware, as this group of users / potential website visitors, will be interested in different content, have different questions that need answering and will search and engage with different content topics online depending on which phase of their buyer journey they are at.  Therefore, it is important to really understand your audience and how they shop your industry and/or products.

Buyer journey is the active process a buyer experiences before making a purchase decision.  It involves awareness of a problem or need, considering different solutions to solve the problem, and then making a decision between the different solutions to make a purchase decision.

2) Focus on solving problems

People read content because they want solutions to issues they struggle with. As much as it’s important to entertain, there needs to be a definite problem that your content solves. Choose topics that give readers hope for a less painful life.

When you’ve figured out what problems your audience cares about, it’s like waving a magic wand. Your readers will be mesmerised because they will feel you’ve hit the right spot. Think of the questions your readers might have on their minds. Better still, look at the problems you’ve solved for yourself. You can use them to create a deep connection with your readers.

3) One problem at a time

People are most likely to buy from you when they’re focused. Plus, you need to keep them on track while they’re reading. For this reason, make sure each content piece deals with just one issue or challenge.

Take this article as an example. If you feel your content needs to be “more engaging” that’s a challenge. So, each tip deals with just that one problem. This approach can give you a substantial boost in sales when you apply it.

4) Tell them what to do next (have a call to action);

Rather than leave your customers without a clear next step, encourage them to keep engaging with you.  A compelling call to action can do just that.

If you sell a product, the next step might be to contact you for more info. You may invite your readers to read the sales copy. They could also sign up to your mailing list.

Again, that’s why it’s essential that you relate your content to problems. After all, that’s why your business exists – to help people. Make sure each content piece tells them what to do next.

5) Use simple words

Simple words make your content easy to grasp. If they have to look up definitions in a dictionary, you’re in trouble. Nobody wants to think too hard when reading online content.

Keep in mind that your reader’s world is already full of distractions. The easier you make it for them to go through your content, the more likely they are to stick to the end. Don’t worry about this when creating your first draft though. Write what’s comfortable for your first. Then, simplify your content during editing.

6) Read it out loud

Reading your content out loud will help you catch mistakes. You’ll also get a better feel for how your material flows. Do this even if you hired someone to write the content for you.

Use your computer’s text-to-speech function, if it has one. You could also ask a trusted friend to read it for you. The best part is this process is fun once you get to use. In fact, it can be slightly addictive, and that’s a good thing.

7) Use these “hacks” to help you write faster

There are several “hacks” that can make the writing process easier and faster.

  • Use outlines. If you plan what you’re going to write ahead of time, your brain won’t strain to come up with words.
  • Remove all distractions. You need to ignore anything that could take you away from the keyboard.
  • If you write on topics you enjoy, your writing will speed up on its own. That’s because you’ll enter a state of natural flow. You will have more fun, and your content will be more appealing.

These little hacks can make a massive difference to your writing speed. Take them seriously.

8) Get attention first

Grabbing attention is the hardest thing in content marketing. The trick is to choose the right topic and create a good title because readers look at the title first. If they like it, they pay attention. It’s as simple as that.

9) Write to one person

Top radio presenters know and use this secret all the time. People feel a strong connection when they think you’re speaking directly to them. They don’t want to think about thousands of other people. They want to believe the content was created just for them.

To make this work, close your eyes for a minute. Picture your reader looking at what you’re about to write. Try to feel what their situation is. Then, imagine them taking the action you want, such as buying your product. Once you have that firmly in your mind, begin writing. This tip alone can bring magical results to your bank account.

In Summary

These tips are the foundation for creating content that makes readers feel good. It leads them to action and helps them deal with a problem. Read them over one more time. Write down the ideas you are ready to apply right away. If you have any questions, get in touch now!

Found Online content writers can help make your content more engaging

Found Online have a team of content writers and content creators ready to help you create engaging content online.

Found Online is a local, Sydney based team in Australia with expertise acrsoss SEO, website design and development and content for SEO.

Get in touch with Found Online today on 02 7906 8405 or via website enquiry

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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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Website performance and why it matters to SEO

Website performance and SEO

Website performance is integral to your customer acquisition and retention strategy. A fast loading well-designed website will get you higher search rankings. A well-designed website will also improve user experience and drive more clicks, enquiries, bookings and buys.  That means more revenue for you.

Paying for SEO and not getting the results you expected?   

Things like page load speed and cumulative layout shift matter to your search rankings. However, many companies still treat these as separate from SEO. As do some SEO providers. 

We take a holistic approach to SEO.  We understand the relationship between all of your online communications efforts.  With experts in both SEO and website development, we can ensure you get the results you need.  

Why website performance matters;

 1. Website performance impacts conversion rates

You may have the best products at the best price or offer the best service there is. But if your website takes too long to load your customer’s won’t wait to find out about them. Even worse is if your customers can’t find you online in the first place.

A study by Aberdeen looked at behaviour online and the impact of slow page loads. It found that conversion rates drop 7% and page views 11% for every second over two seconds a page took to load.  According to Google Small Business Blog, for each additional second, it takes a mobile page to load, conversions can drop by up to 20%.

For a business that generates $10,000 a day, that results in around $2.5 million to $4.5 million in revenue annually. 

2. Website performance impacts SEO 

Core web vitals – Load speed and layout shift – are now key measures used by Google to determine site rankings on search engine page results (SERPS).  That means, if your site performance is suffering, so will your SEO, making it harder for your customers to find you online. 

This was a relatively recent algorithm change by Google.  However, prior to that and still, just as important, website performance impacts user experience and therefore user engagement with your site and conversion rates. 

When a customer engages with your content, staying on your site, Google determines this is because you have relevant content based on their search.  Where content isn’t relevant, Google will drop rankings.  So with that in mind, we need to consider what happens when your website performance isn’t up to scratch

The Aberdeen study demonstrates that improved load speed results in better conversions – for every second beyond the two-second mark that a site took to load, conversion rates drop 7% and page views drop by 11%.  Similarly, bounce rates increase as users can’t be bothered sticking around to wait for the page to load. 

With high rates of users bouncing out of your site, Google would attribute those high bounce rates and low engagement with poor keyword relevance.  As a result, Google would drop your search ranking accordingly. 

3. Brand Image and Reputation

Imagine if a tech giant had a poor-performing website.  Would you feel confident in their capability?  

Your website is the face of your business online.  It is often the first and last experience a user or customer will have with you.   Therefore the experience they have with your website will influence the way they view your products and your services.  

Poor design and user experience, long load times and frustrating navigation where you can’t find what you need, are all going to impact users’ impressions of your business.  On the flip side, a well-designed website that delivers the right message and brand image will impact the value users attribute to your products and/or services.

Better Performance Means Higher Conversions – More clicks, more sign-ups, enquiries, bookings, and buys.  

If you want to win in highly competitive spaces online and in local markets, a business needs to start looking beyond the classic SEO principles.   A holistic approach to digital, including website performance, user experience, and SEO, delivers better search rankings, more traffic, higher conversion rates, and more revenue.

Many businesses lack the internal resources necessary to properly optimise their website for search engines let alone the technical ability to improve their website performance for optimal results. That’s why so many oot to work with experienced agencies.

How Found Online SEO and website professionals can help you.

Found Online SEO agency Sydney can help improve your website performance. We take a holistic approach to your digital marketing.  From SEO to website design and conversion rate optimisation to everything in between and beyond, our goal is to do the things online that you need to do to get more revenue. 

We get businesses in highly competitive and local markets to the top of page one search results and then we help convert traffic to sales.   

We’re so confident in our ability to help drive your business goals online, that, unlike other SEO providers, we have no lock-in contracts.  We believe great service and great results will keep our clients coming back. 

Our Web Performance Services

  • Complete site audit with recommendations to improve website performance
  • Mobile responsive website monitoring, development, and optimisation
  • Media compression and optimisation 
  • Hosting with lightning-fast delivery and CDN management
  • Seamless website migrations to new domains and/or hosting providers
  • WordPress and Shopify Installation and plugin upgrades
  • WordPress and Shopify customisations
  • Programing logic review 
  • Website design and development

Found Online delivers superior website performance

Found Online has a team of website designers and developers that can help you build a beautiful website with superior performance. From website design to website development and hosting, we deliver websites that load fast and convert more visitors to sales.

We are an SEO agency in Sydney that delivers Holistic SEO services.

Get in touch with us today on 02 7906 8405 or send us a website enquiry.