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The ALT SEO
Earn Rank Without Compromising Yourself
Online version below…
The ALT SEO
Earn Rank Without Compromising Yourself
I sleep at night. I’m an SEO. It’s not very often someone can say those two statements. The reason is because to rank high in search engines some people find it necessary to bend or break the rules. And it works for them… until it doesn’t.
Fear not. I’ll show you ways to get Website traffic to your most precious asset– your personal brand, product, or service without getting the gate code to heaven changed on you.
When looking at your existing content on your site, is it possible that it’s weak, thin, lacking a voice? I constantly find myself in that position. I found a few things I could do to improve the content of my posts. Here’s what I did that helped me:
- Focused on being original – in ideas, content, and presentation
- Added header tags to break up content (H3, H2, etc.) and fix incorrect header tags – for example the site title was an H1
- Increased content word count from around 350 words to 800-1100 words
- I added additional images
- Added more bulleted lists
- Incorporated ideas based on comments I received on my posts
- Reached out to people via social media to gain some traction
- Encouraged people to visit my social media profiles
- Added more links to my social profiles
- Added more descriptive ALT tags to images
- Added ALT tags to images that had no ALT tags
- Read this post from Google about what THEY said they want from sites
- Added <strong> tags to highlight important terms in my post (bold)
- Added additional content to the post. I used my Google Analytics to help determine what users were searching for, what they weren’t finding on my pages, and came up with a plan to address problems people had
- I cross-linked some posts and came up with bulleted “related posts”
- I added more references and links where I could to substantiate my claims
- I removed superficial posts
- I updated the content I updated even more
- I removed unnecessary links (hyperlinked post titles that pointed to the page users were on)
- I removed links to weak pages / pages with superficial content
- Blocked files and pages in my robots.txt file (I had 3 resume files and an HTML resume page – only needed the HTML resume page that linked to the files)
- I improved the content-to-ad ratio
- I tried to genuinely write about problems users were having, but doing so in an entertaining and personal way that was different from other major sites
- I edited my content again – improving the writing while keeping core keywords in mind
- Thought about what would make my content shareable
- Removed the “www” from my domain name (doesn’t really add value and makes your URL harder to read in search results)
- I crossed every T and dotted every i
Content matters to Google more now. Common SEO practice used to be to produce short posts or content, but do it frequently to improve your rankings because somehow “fresh” content, even though it was sparse, was somehow better than longer, stale content.
When I took a look at my content a while ago, much of it was medium length (350 words). But some of it lacked polish. Polish from all sides really. My content should have been longer. It should have included more resources. It should have been easier to read with more headlines, bullets, and boldfaced text. I left superficial content about minor news on the site.
Google Makes Content a Priority — Don’t Fight the Trend
The Google algorithm finds the best content and presents it to users. To be effective, the algorithm must think like a human editor. Sometimes it gets fooled by content owners who try to trick the algorithm. That’s when the algorithm writers tweak the algorithm to shake out the scammers and let the best content rise to the top. A lot of people online were angry that their sites, which they thought were quality, were knocked out of the rankings.
I stand by the Google Panda algorithm. The algorithm thinks more like a human. Writing quality is valued. Length and production time are valued. Research is valued. Original thought and ideas are valued. This is good for the Web. It’s the reason The New York Times is frequently quoted more than a local newspaper. But when the algorithm is out of whack, a local newspaper could outrank The New York Times. It shouldn’t be.
LISTEN to Blog Commenters
Chances are, if someone takes the time to leave a comment on your blog, and that comment is a question, you probably haven’t covered the topic well enough. I’m amazed at the repetition of some of the comments. Did I explain the topic clearly enough? That might be a clue I didn’t. If you are missing pieces, too vague, or just wrong, commenters will point it out. Incorporate their feedback. I did and it paid off greatly.
Original Content, Original Me
Google’s Matt Cutts said that the best way to do SEO on a small budget is to use a small niche to your advantage. As you get well-known in that space, you can gain rank and build out to more broad topics. Focused sites are better sites. There are plenty of small sites that turn a profit because niche marketing usually targets enthusiastic people. I’m not into diving or cupcake making, but I know people who love it. Usually niches evoke strong feelings from people – those people subscribe and buy.
Usually when you search for a small topic the search results are so bad that it’s easy to come up on top. A well marked-up site with proper meta tags will be well presented in the results page. Bing in particular presents well marked-up pages beautifully in the results pages.
Most of all I learned the importance of being original. I learned I can never compete with larger organizations head-on. And that’s fine. I know they can’t compete with me because they don’t have my original ideas. I don’t think faceless corporations care about people the way I do. I’ll let the people decide about my content. Now run and tell that, Google.
Ads on the Site
Killer Adsense Ads or Kill the Adsense Ads?
Ads can play a big part in SEO now. We have learned how we can gauge how many ads are too many.
Affiliate Marketer Andrew Hansen posted a canned Google response he received:
“The site must have user value other than providing ads. For example, Google provides web search, news sites provide regularly updated original content, and other services. To check that your website complies with our arbitrage policy:
1. Open the site in a new browser.
2. Expand the browser to a minimum of a 1024 x 768 pixel display.
3. Make sure you have minimal browser menus and your font is set to medium or normal.
4. Scroll to the very top of the page, as evaluation is based on what appears above the fold.
5. The site is considered compliant if the area of ads is less than or equal to the area of content.
“Please use the instructions above to evaluate your entire website and, if necessary, bring it into compliance with our arbitrage policy. If you’re not in compliance, you may receive a low landing page quality score, which can negatively affect your Quality Scores, cost-per-clicks, and ad positions.”
Let’s also not forget ads slow down a page, and Google’s inclusion of a Site Speed section in the new Google Analytics shows site speed is an increasingly important ranking. You definitely want some ads on your site, but just be sure you provide more value than ads. ALWAYS.
In the Technical SEO Weeds
Semantic Markup for SEO — It’s Part of Google Panda Optimization
I think people forget that HTML tags like <strong> (bold) and H3 (header) MEAN something to Google. They don’t just help layout. They tell it what is important on the page. It knows bulleted lists help users comprehend what they are reading better than straight copy sometimes. HTML5 is all about semantic markup – not just generic tags. It gives Google a clue as to what is the meaning of this content within certain tags.
Clean / Fix Sitemaps for SEO
If you use Google’s Webmaster tools, one thing to look out for is the number of links Google has indexed from your sitemap and how many are left out. You want this to be 100%. All links in your sitemap should be indexed. Remove all superficial and wasteful pages! Instead of posting more, spend your energy improving existing posts / making them longer. You will get more hits and linkbacks with strong content that WILL push you higher in the rankings. CMS engines like WordPress add useless tag pages and some category pages that generate duplicate content / superficial content. Block them with a Robots.txt file.
Beyond Google – There is Microsoft Bing
It should be noted that what’s good for Google can also be good for Bing. I’ve never ranked well on Bing. I hope that will change. From what I’ve researched, Bing takes into account content length as a significant factor. So by increasing content length, you cover both major search engines. I believe Bing to be “dumber” algorithm that relies more on external links to sites. It’s harder for the little guy to rank well that way. Google gives rank based on about 200 variables and lets the best content rise to the top on its merit. With search such a significant source of traffic – quality traffic usually, you can’t ignore optimizing your site for Google. But remember that longer content is always more shareable – so spending more time creating each post or page helps get a viral lift.
Keep Up with your Web Stats
Contrary to many advice sites that say not to track your Web stats daily or often, you can clearly see keeping up with what’s going on with your site IS important. What if you were selling Books online and had $600/day in income? If you didn’t pay attention to your stats you would have lost $2100/ week if you didn’t figure out what was going on and how to fix it.
Update Your Content on the Go with a CMS/WordPress Mobile App
One of the best ways to increase search traffic, I’ve found, is to add and refresh existing content to make it deeper. But we aren’t always connected to a computer all the time. If you have a WordPress blog you can download a mobile app to update all your posts and even add new ones. This is handy if you’re waiting in line somewhere or have a stroke of genius when you’re walking somewhere. Check out WordPress for iOS. It works on iPad too.
Video for SEO
How Can YouTube Videos Be Helpful to My Web site?
YouTube videos are great because they can help out your site in a few ways:
- Enhances page display on search engine pages
- Exposes your video to the second largest search engine (YouTube)
- You can make money with YouTube videos via AdSense and tie that to your main AdSense account
- Users spend more time on a page
- Users can more easily bond with a person in a video
Since it’s so easy it’s definitely worth adding a video to your content.
Produce (or Steal) Web Video and Juice SEO
It’s 2016 and you need to live in a world where users expect video when they are searching for information. The bad news — you need video to help rank your page or site. The good news — you can “steal” it.
With the explosion of YouTube, social media, and smart mobile devices, users often don’t have patience to read through a lot of text sometimes. They want simple answers and a real person to deliver it to them. I’m not discounting text and images, but what’s the attention span of people now that thousands of tweets are blasting out in a second? Exactly.
Increase Your Odds for Ranking on the SERPs
Your chances of ranking for a video on YouTube versus text content are significantly higher. Domain age, authority, inbound links, and other common SEO practices don’t necessarily have to apply to video for Google to rank a video highly. There are 319,000,000 results in Google for “Video SEO.” How many video only results? 31,300. Your chances of ranking are 10,191x better. I like those odds much better. Plus, if your text content includes a video you’re likely to get boost in ranking. Also, users tend to stay on your site longer because online videos are usually around 5 minutes. That’s 5 minutes they could be looking at ads, your Twitter handle, related posts, or anything you want them to see.
You can embed video from YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sharing sites. Smart video producers brand their videos with the producer’s name, Web address, and Twitter handle. Since YouTube embedded videos are served from Google servers, your site bandwidth isn’t affected and videos typically load in a snappy fashion.
Producing Web Video is a Lot of Work – “Steal” for Inbound Marketing
Producing good Web video is time consuming. That’s why your odds of ranking are 10,191x better. It’s not easy. People are picky when it comes to online video. They have no patience for cheap-sounding audio. Not everyone can afford expensive non-linear editing software. Not everyone has the editorial skills to make a fun and informative video. If you can produce a snazzy Web video, brand it with lower third information, and blast it out to the world using third-party video hosting services, you’ll make your site and content much more appealing to a broader audience.
Since many people don’t have the tools or skills to produce their own quality Web video, I recommend “stealing” quality, relevant, videos to sex up your site.
The Apple TV Gamechanger
YouTube videos are no longer just for the Web. They are living room entertainment now!
I held off on getting a streaming device like Apple TV or a Roku for a long time. I mostly watch movies on my Playstation 3, and used it to watch Netflix using the built-in app. A few things dawned on me.
- The amount of material on Netflix is fine, but limited.
- There is a lot to watch on YouTube if you know where to look.
- Streaming media devices use very little power.
- The idea of watching “TV” has changed.
When you produce video for your site, remember it can be viewed on mobile phones, tablets, computers, and TVs all over the world. The views to video on a TV could be used to generate traffic to your site and drive conversions.
The Never-ending Conclusion
SEO is constantly changing. The amount of effort required to keep people interested in your message doesn’t change.
Spend time on content. Writing, video, photos, storytelling — those are the pieces that make a memorable Web experience. Don’t outsource where possible. Outsourcing causes successful corporations to become unrecognizable from their original successes. Make sure you are recognizable. People will return.
About Ken Morico
I am an award-winning developer – Web | Mobile | Social. Micro entrepreneur. I blog / podcast #dev #marketing #seo. I care.