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One of the most frustrating aspects of search engine optimization is the time it takes to see results. In some cases, you can see changes start to hit Google’s search engines in just a few hours. In others, you can spend weeks waiting for new content to be indexed with no indication when Google will get around to your pages.

In a recent AskGooglebot session, Google’s John Mueller said this huge variation in the time it takes for pages to be indexed is to be expected for a number of reasons. However, he also provides some tips for speeding up the process so you can start seeing the fruits of your labor as soon as possible.

Why Indexing Can Take So Long

In most cases, Mueller says sites that produce consistently high quality content should expect to see their new pages get indexed within a few hours to a week. In some situations, though, even high quality pages can take longer to be indexed due to a variety of factors.

Technical issues can pop up which can delay Google’s ability to spot your new pages or prevent indexing entirely. Additionally, there is always the chance that Google’s systems are just tied up elsewhere and need time to get to your new content.

Why Google May Not Index Your Page

It is important to note that Google does not index everything. In fact, there are plenty of reasons the search engine might not index your new content.

For starters, you can just tell Google not to index a page or your entire site. It might be that you want to prioritize another version of your site or that your site isn’t ready yet. 

The search engine also excludes content that doesn’t bring sufficient value. This includes duplicate content, malicious or spammy pages, and websites which mirror other existing sites.

How To Speed Up Indexing

Thankfully, Mueller says there are ways to help speed up indexing your content.

  • Prevent server overloading by ensuring your server can handle the traffic coming to it. This ensures Google can get to your site in a timely manner. 
  • Use prominent internal links to help Google’s systems navigate your site and understand what pages are most important.
  • Avoid unnecessary URLs to keep your site well organized and easy for Google to spot new content.
  • Google prioritizes sites which put out consistently quality content and provide high value for users. The more important Google thinks your site is for people online, the more high priority your new pages will be for indexing and ranking.

For more about how Google indexes web pages and how to speed up the process, check out the full AskGooglebot video below:

In a Google Search Central SEO session recently, Google’s John Mueller shed light on a way the search engine’s systems can go astray – keeping pages on your site from being indexed and appearing in search. 

Essentially the issue comes from Google’s predictive approach to identifying duplicate content based on URL patterns, which has the potential to incorrectly identify duplicate content based on the URL alone. 

Google uses the predictive system to increase the efficiency of its crawling and indexing of sites by skipping over content which is just a copy of another page. By leaving these pages out of the index, Google’s engine has less chances of showing repetitious content in its search results and allows its indexing systems to reach other, more unique content more quickly. 

Obviously the problem is that content creators could unintentionally trigger these predictive systems when publishing unique content on similar topics, leaving quality content out of the search engine. 

John Mueller Explains How Google Could Misidentify Duplicate Content

In a response to a question from a user whose pages were not being indexed correctly, Mueller explained that Google uses multiple layers of filters to weed out duplicate content:

“What tends to happen on our side is we have multiple levels of trying to understand when there is duplicate content on a site. And one is when we look at the page’s content directly and we kind of see, well, this page has this content, this page has different content, we should treat them as separate pages.

The other thing is kind of a broader predictive approach that we have where we look at the URL structure of a website where we see, well, in the past, when we’ve looked at URLs that look like this, we’ve seen they have the same content as URLs like this. And then we’ll essentially learn that pattern and say, URLs that look like this are the same as URLs that look like this.”

He also explained how these systems can sometimes go too far and Google could incorrectly filter out unique content based on URL patterns on a site:

“Even without looking at the individual URLs we can sometimes say, well, we’ll save ourselves some crawling and indexing and just focus on these assumed or very likely duplication cases. And I have seen that happen with things like cities.

I have seen that happen with things like, I don’t know, automobiles is another one where we saw that happen, where essentially our systems recognize that what you specify as a city name is something that is not so relevant for the actual URLs. And usually we learn that kind of pattern when a site provides a lot of the same content with alternate names.”

How Can You Protect Your Site From This?

While Google’s John Mueller wasn’t able to provide a full-proof solution or prevention for this issue, he did offer some advice for sites that have been affected:

“So what I would try to do in a case like this is to see if you have this kind of situations where you have strong overlaps of content and to try to find ways to limit that as much as possible.

And that could be by using something like a rel canonical on the page and saying, well, this small city that is right outside the big city, I’ll set the canonical to the big city because it shows exactly the same content.

So that really every URL that we crawl on your website and index, we can see, well, this URL and its content are unique and it’s important for us to keep all of these URLs indexed.

Or we see clear information that this URL you know is supposed to be the same as this other one, you have maybe set up a redirect or you have a rel canonical set up there, and we can just focus on those main URLs and still understand that the city aspect there is critical for your individual pages.”

It should be clarified that duplicate content or pages impacted by this problem will not hurt the overall SEO of your site. So, for example, having several pages tagged as being duplicate content won’t prevent your home page from appearing for relevant searches. 

Still, the issue has the potential to gradually decrease the efficiency of your SEO efforts, not to mention making it harder for people to find the valuable information you are providing. 

To see Mueller’s full explanation, watch the video below:

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Does it seem like your ‘Contact Us’ page never actually leads to contact with customers or interested consumers? These days, every business with a website has a contact page, but few are putting the time and care into these pages that they invest in other areas of their site.

I couldn’t count the number of stylish and modern websites I’ve found with contact pages that look weeks or even years old. Sometimes the web design looks distinctly dated, like a forgotten room in a house that has since undergone numerous renovations. Even more worrying, some businesses forget to update their contact information after address or phone number changes.

Any of these issues can deter potential customers from contacting you or purchasing your products or services in the blink of an eye. The good news is, they are also easily fixable. Today, I wanted to offer you some quick ways to turn your ‘contact us’ page from one of the least effective pages on your site to a consistent source of leads and customer engagement.

Be Consistent

The most important factor when listing your contact information anywhere online is consistency. Your business name, address, phone number, and all other contact information should be exactly the same whether they are on your contact page, Facebook, or Yelp. Not only does it provide huge SEO benefits, but showing consistency and a clear identity for your business helps build trust with consumers.

Try Some Variety

Just about every ‘contact us’ page lists a local address and phone number, but often there isn’t much else on the page. While these are both important, you are also missing out if these are the only ways you are encouraging consumers to contact you.

Potential customers aren’t always in a place where they can easily make a phone call and they are not always able to make it out to your physical location. Instead, they may want to drop a quick message to you over Facebook or Twitter. Providing many different ways for your customers to contact you will make you seem more available and allow more people to reach out when they need to.

Show Some Personality

The biggest problem with the vast majority of contact pages I see are that they are just plain boring and tell nothing about who you really are. If someone comes to your ‘contact us’ page, they are looking to learn more about you. If your page is just a simple list of email addresses and phone numbers, you are missing a huge chance to build your brand identity and reinforce who you are.

Don’t Ask Too Much Too Quickly

Some contact pages include forms which ask for small amounts of user information. These can be helpful for keeping messages organized, but being overzealous can drive people away. Your contact page isn’t necessarily the best place to build your email list or ask for detailed user information. Test out shorter forms that ask less of customers initially or make signing up for email subscriptions optional. Otherwise you may find your contact page is actually pushing interested people away.

For far too many businesses, a contact page is treated as an afterthought when they should really be a priority. They are one of the most important pages on your site and act as a foundation for you to start building a relationship with consumers. If you want to really start hearing from consumers, invest time in your contact page to turn it into a page that is as welcoming and informative as the rest of your site.

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Google Analytics is an essential tool for making sure your website is performing as you would like and making improvements to keep growing, whether you are a high-level marketer or a business owner who just launched their site.

If you aren’t familiar with Analytics, however, or the technical jargon that fills your reports, it can be difficult to make sense of the huge amount of information available. That can make it hard for someone new to running a website for their business to make sense of the huge amount of information available in Google Analytics.

Thankfully, you don’t have to depend on analysts, marketers, or your company’s “computer guy”, to understand how your site is performing with Google Analytics. Search Engine Watch has put together an easy-to-understand glossary for all the jargon and confusing labels that you will come across, making it simple for you to know exactly what your reports are saying about your site.

You can see the handy guide from Search Engine Watch here.

You can find countless articles offering SEO tips filled with practical advice about how to stay within Google’s guidelines and optimize the code on your website. You’re also likely to find plenty of buzzwords and catchphrases like “content is king.” But, all of these practical tips won’t do you much good if you are approaching SEO with the wrong perspective.

It seems counter-intuitive, but good SEO means you need to stop thinking about yourself. You have to think about what your audience wants and how to reach people in new and interesting ways. It is hard to do this if your entire motivation is to “rank higher” or “get more traffic.”

ResultFirst shared an infographic that can help you reshape the way you think about SEO and use a perspective that favors your audience, because a happy audience always leads to growth and success for your business.

SEOTips

Google-Webmaster-Tools-LogoGoogle Webmaster Tools (GWT) is Google’s direct line to every website owner, which consequently makes it the most important set of tools and webmaster has at their disposal. GWT allows webmasters to identify any problems with their site including alerting you to any penalties placed on you by the search engine and checking for signs of malware that may have infected your site.

Probably the most surprising thing about Google Webmaster Tools is how many webmasters go without ever opening the dashboard of GWT. It isn’t like the cost is keeping them away. Seeing as Google Webmaster Tools is free, the best assumption is that many webmasters stay away from GWT because they are intimidated by the wealth of data and tools all in one place.

Simon Heseltine created an extensive overview of Google Webmaster Tools’ features and capabilities, as well as how you can leverage these tools to optimize your site and ensure everything is working as it should be. If you aren’t using Webmaster Tools, you are missing out and your site is likely suffering because of it.

Matt CuttsUsually Matt Cutts, esteemed Google engineer and head of Webspam, uses his regular videos to answer questions which can have a huge impact on a site’s visibility. He recently answered questions about using the Link Disavow Tool if you haven’t received a manual action, and he often delves into linking practices which Google views as spammy. But, earlier this week he took to YouTube to answer a simple question and give a small but unique tip webmasters might keep in mind in the future.

Specifically, Cutts addressed the need to have a unique meta tag description for every individual page on your site. In an age where blogging causes pages to be created every day, creating a meta tag description can seem like a fruitless time-waster, and according to Cutts it kind of is.

If you take the time to create a unique meta tag description for every page, you might see a slight boost in SEO over your competitors, but the difference will be negligible compared to the other aspects of your site you could spend that time improving. In fact, overall it may be better to simply leave the meta description empty than to invest your time paying attention to such a small detail. In fact, on his own blog, Cutts doesn’t bother to use meta descriptions at all.

Cutts does say that you shouldn’t try to skimp on the meta tag descriptions by using copy directly from your blog. It is better to have no meta tag description than to possibly raise issues with duplicate content, and Google automatically scans your content to create a description any time you don’t make one.

Just as with any field, there are plenty of supposed SEO experts who are more than happy to offer your services and guarantees they can’t back up in order to get you to sign a contract. There are a few different ways these scammers operate, but when it boils down to it they all promise online success while stealing your money.

Any time you are hiring a company for online marketing, it is best to do your homework and ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. You can find great success online, but if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Jaydeep Dosi from Search Engine Journal shares the most common claims you should be wary of.

We Offer Free Services

Proper SEO is time consuming to manage, the economy is unforgiving, and search engine optimization is a highly competitive field. How could any business with a long-term hope of survival offer free of cost services? The answer is they can’t. Yes, real SEO professionals are able to offer special rebates or low pricing occasionally. You will even see offers for one odd service offered for free within a larger transaction, but nothing comes entirely for free. SEO “experts” claiming not to charge you are likely more interested in your information and other details you don’t want them getting ahold of.

We Guarantee First Page Ranking

Watch the wording on these types of offer closely. Many SEO professionals emphasize their goal to get your site to the first page on search engine results pages (SERPs), but they can’t honestly guarantee it. They also can’t guarantee any level of traffic, though that is also certainly a goal. The reality is search engines guard their information closely, and they change their algorithms all the time. We work to stay on top of these changes and learn as much as we possibly can to gain exposure and visibility, but nothing is guaranteed.

We Submit Your Site to Hundreds of Search Engines

This isn’t a lie so much as a misrepresentation. Think for a second. How many people do you know using any search engine besides one of the main few. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are all still relevant in their own ways, but there aren’t hundreds of useful search engines. There aren’t even tens of relevant search engines. You really don’t need your site submitted to more than two or three of the most popular engines, so don’t get caught paying for wasteful services.

We Have Connections Within Google!

Any company advertising this way is a downright fraud. The majority have absolutely no connection with actual Google employees. But, more importantly, do you really think a Google employee is going to risk their job to help a friend rank their client’s sites higher? Nope.

We Know Everything About Google’s Algorithms

A company may claim to be an expert on Google’s algorithms, but you should press them to share exactly what they mean. While one might be an “expert” in that they keep up constantly with all the latest news and information about how Google’s search engines operate, it might be hard to consider them a real expert compared to an actual Google engineer. However, an SEO professional claiming to know every detail of Google’s algorithms is blatantly lying. These algorithms are dynamic and ever-evolving, not to mention they are so complex it would be impossible to know and understand the entire system. Search engines aren’t telling us their secrets.

We Have a Secret Formula for Success

The worst snake oil peddlers don’t even try to tell you what they will actually do. Successful SEO practices are no secret, and anyone who will help you achieve your goals will tell you so. To be truly successful in SEO, you just need to work hard and with focus from the very beginning and be responsible for keeping up to date with the current best practices and guidelines.

SEO Magnifying Glass

Source: Flickr

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t the easiest thing to get into, even though it is one of the most important things you can learn when starting an online business or building a website for your company. It isn’t that SEO is too difficult for most to learn, it is simply that most people in the industry have been working in it for so long that even the basic guides often come out overly complicated.

SEO is extremely important for bringing in new customers and being found online. In basic terms, SEO is notifying search engines to the existence of your site and telling them what its about. This way, search engines can rank the quality of sites and decide where you belong in the results. Of course, the higher you are in the search results, the more people will come to your site.

Daily SEO Tip categorizes SEO into four basic parts: keywords, content, links, and relevance. If you understand each of these components, you are well on your way to setting up your search engine optimization.

Keywords

Keywords act as the basic main ingredients of your website. The amount of keywords you have, their relevance, and how often you use them all play a role in a search engine determining your site’s quality.

  • Make sure all keywords you use are directly related to your service, brand, or product. Keep them specific to what you do, not just the broad industry you work in.
  • There is a practice called keyword stuffing that can get you into a lot of trouble. Keyword stuffing is the practice of overusing keywords in order to trick search engines. But, the search engines are very smart and will quickly see that you’re using words out of context or unnecessarily.

Content

Search engines are basically rating your website, and content is the main thing they are judging. The engines want to show searchers sites with valuable information. That doesn’t mean the content is selling to the user. It should be offering something of real value such as informative videos, up to date news, or helpful tutorials. Instead, the content establishes yourself as an expert in your field and raises your site’s reputability with search engines.

Linking

Ratings are partially decided based on how many inbound links a website has. They serve essentially as arrows directing the search engines to your site. It also follows the theory that if people are linking to your site there must be something of value there. It also shows that you aren’t an isolated spammy site in the internet ether, which is why you should also include links on any social media sites (aside from simply helping visitors find your business.)

Relevance

Relevance is less of a concrete component of SEO, but it is relevant in every facet of the work. Search engines spend the majority of their time fighting spam, and irrelevant content, keywords, or links are a huge red flag that a site may not be reputable. Search engines assume webpages deal with specific topics, be it news, jewelry, or a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanpage. By keeping your content relevant to your topic, search engines know you are focused, professional and informative.

Conclusion

If you can get a hang on these four basic ideas, you will have a solid grasp on how SEO functions and how you can get your site showing up on search engines, bringing in new visitors and potential customers. SEO can be a broad, complicated topic, but the basics tend to always stay the same. Follow these principles, and you’ll be able to figure out the rest.

Turtle and the Hare Illustration

Source: Tsahi Levent-Levi

Many businesses come to SEO agencies looking for quick and easy solutions to their online problems. More often than not, all they want is to get high up in the rankings on Google, and they want to be there now.

In the past, there were ways to make this possible, though they’ve always been perceived as shady methods of optimization. Now, with Google’s continued push to make search more rewarding for the users rather than the companies fighting for the rankings, most of those techniques are completely obsolete.

That doesn’t mean you won’t find people still trying to sell you on these methods, but you will find that if you follow their advice, you won’t see your site suddenly excelling in the rankings. Instead, you will find Google slamming the door in your face by penalizing your site for your disingenuous optimization.

I found one of these groups still pushing the out of date, insta-SEO methods in a newsletter I recently came across, but I found it humorous. It seems now even the companies selling these “quick and easy” SEO “solutions” can’t even hide the reality of the situation.

The newsletter offers four “solutions” which will all sound very familiar to anyone keeping up with the SEO industry. They suggest buying links from high PR pages, joining backlink networks, using software to get quick backlinks from social sites, and using scripts to quickly fill your website with content. Do those sound familiar? If they do, you’ve probably read a list of what NOT to do in SEO within the past year.

What makes this newsletter so funny to me is that every “solution” comes with the concession that “Google doesn’t like them at all.” Every solution spends one short paragraph detailing how the methods (used to) work, but then they are all paired with a warning underneath explaining how Google has adapted to these methods and learned to cut them out of the rankings.

There is even a checklist at the bottom which tells you when to avoid the methods, and the checklist is basically made up of asking “is the website for a company?” and “do you want to succeed?” If you answered yes to either of those, even the people offering this advice admit you shouldn’t be using “quick and easy” SEO. If I didn’t know better, I would think their advice was satire, however they seem too eager to tell business owners that these methods will get you to the top of Google quickly.

The truth is, SEO is slow and the only way to build long lasting success is to keep up to date with Google’s best practices. If you want quick online success, sure you can use these spammy methods, but they won’t last long at all, and it is better to put your money towards optimization that has some sort of long-term chance of survival.