Friday, February 28, 2014

SEO Will Not Die, Long Live the SEO

I have been hearing rumors since the last 5 years and particularly after the updates which Google brings in every now and then, that SEO will be dead and that the relevance of SEO will evaporate into thin air after a time. The doomsayers have also predicted that SEO is already dead. Many service providing companies have gone out of business due to the changes which have impacted Google in the last couple of years. However, I would never buy this argument that the SEO is dead. Why? For the following reasons:

1. For those who predict its doom, they think mostly about the off-page activity as its integral part. However, this is not true. It is also the on-page activity which is of immense relevance for ranking in search engines. Without proper on-page fixations, it is difficult to rank on the basis of off-page activities. Since webmasters would still be doing the on-page, SEO can not be dead literally.
2. At the same time, if someone is to think that most of the off-page activities are essentially of spammy nature and these would be punished sooner or later and therefore these shall not be done, I would not buy this reasoning as well. Why? Let us assume that for a particular keyword there are 10 top domains which have achieved top ranks solely on the basis of on-page, would the rest of others not have done on-page correctly? This is simply not true. May be it is the top 20 or top 50 domains which have done their on-page right but are still not ranking higher. What would these less ranked domains do in order to make up for the lost positions? Even if two domains have done same on-page, there will be a tendency for one of these to rank higher than the other. This logic can also be extended to subsequent SERPs as well. In this scenario, which is most often the case, off-page will attain importance. For the less-ranked domains, off-page will be the only hope of getting higher ranks.
3. Google says it uses more than 200 parameters to judge the ranks of a particular site. We are not aware of many of these. On-page activities might hold importance in order to keep the site health good. There are clear and definite guidelines to follow in this respect but there is no such guidelines for off-page actions which makes the latter highly uncertain. The only thing to keep in mind is that the activities shall not lead Google to assume that you are engaging in spam. So, this is a hide-and-seek game which might be tricky to do but is important nevertheless. The scope for this activity might keep changing from time to time but is never going to fade away.
Google has its interest in revenue generation through Adwords. SEO denies it this opportunity and makes a mega impact on its earnings. For this reason, it will continue to push away SEO without affecting the credibility of its SERPs. So, even as it wishes SEO to be dead, it can not afford to lose its credibility as a search engine. SEO practitioners have to be dexterous at changing their course of work in such a way that their projects gain due to higher credibility.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Writing an On-Site Blog

One of the best practices for SEO nowadays is to write an on-site blog. An on-site blog is different from an off-site one in that the former is integrated with your website while the latter is a stand alone resource. An on-site blog is an integral part of your website and is a reflection of your brand. So, once you are writing for it, you have to keep the brand image of the business in mind. This is not an easy task and requires a lot of planning and brainstorming. Some of the points that shall be considered in this respect are:
1. What are you going to write about in the blog? It is better to have a long term plan of producing content on certain predefined topics so that the blog can be run for a long time. Some of the businesses might not have too many things to share through blog as compared with some others which might have too much to share.
2. Proper organization of what is to be written: It is also important that you organize content so that the readers are able to move directly to what they want to read. You might even consider having more than one blog, with each blog dedicated to a single topic. Within a single blog, you can have categories and tags which shall be suitably selected. Categories are broader while the tags are keywords which are used for finding the content on blog search.
3. Creation: What is the best way to reach out to your audience? Is it a video or an image, a presentation or even simple words which are going to be effective in communicating with the visitors? You will have to decide on the best form of presentation for a particular type of content. Another point worth noting is that the content shall be as comprehensive as possible. It need not be too long to be boring for the readers but, at the same time, shall not be shallow. Content shall be creatively created and delivered.
4. Content audit before posting: Audit of content is done in order to ensure that the content will do justice to the brand image of the business. For this reason, there has to be proper brainstorming and planning before it is published.

There are certain ways in which this content can be made more useful for SEO purposes:

1. While thinking of some topic to write on, conduct a quick keyword research in the Keyword Planner to know whether this is what is searched by people. It is important to note that your ideas shall be primary consideration for writing, not the searches, but the latter can help you in gaining more ideas.
2. Avoid the tendency to insert links of your own website in every blog post. This looks very bad and does not give good experience to readers. Search engines might also consider it a spam activity.
3. There is no problem in posting content everyday on blog provided you do not engage in link building and truly have something important to share.
4. Do not hesitate to link to outside resources (which shall be authoritative) if these links are going to add further value to your blog.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Matt's Latest Cut on SEO- Relevant Backlinks and Social Signals

There is a lot of interpretation amid a lot of speculation doing round in SEO circles on two topics on which Matt Cutts has replied. One topic pertains to relevance of social signals from Facebook and Twitter for ranking and the other pertains to relevant backlinks from other web resources pointing to the site.

Social Signals from Facebook and Twitter

First, let us dispel the mistaken notion that signals from these two resources is not relevant in search rankings. What Matts has said is that the number of likes or followers do not count. These are no criteria for gaining the rankings. So, the mad rush to make more followers or gain more likes, by hook or crook, shall not be the focus. What Matts has said is that it treats the pages from these resources (including the profile pages) just like any other webpage and is crawled like any other. It has also been seen from the practical experience that facebook and twitter pages do rank on first page for many businesses. So, what is it that Matts has said. He has simply asked you to post quality content which the users of these platforms find AWESOME. He does not ask you to stop sharing content but, on the contrary, says that this activity is good. However, he does point out that deliberate efforts (which means that content quality will be compromised in some respect and the users might not find it awesome) to gain more likes will not count.
What shall the SEO people do? Answer is simple. Keep on producing good content. It can be informative, hilarious, satirical or any other. It can be text, image, graphic, table, video or slide. Try to make it good and interesting and share it on your platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Let the following and likes grow naturally. Let them share content on their own. If they comment, you are free to engage them in productive conversation. The best part would be to be selective in posting content and do it on a random basis.

Relevant Backlinks

Matts has once again reiterated that relevancy of backlinks to the site count significantly in rankings. He has also admitted that Google has been toying with the idea of doing away with the backlinks as a ranking criteria but found that the SERPs results were worse off. So, their importance is here to stay. The onus on SEO practitioners is to determine which web resources or pages are relevant for developing these links. Highly relevant ones would naturally be a greater ranking factor.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Matts Cutt Video on Article Directories and Their Limited Relevance

This is the video of Matts Cutts responding to a query from India whether article directories shall be used for building the links. This video has been circulated around the web and caused hiccups in the SEO communities. After watching this video, the common question is what next if not the article directories? This blog post is to dispel certain mistaken notions about this issue.
At first, Matt Cutts has used the words 'in my personal opinion', 'use of these article directories for spam content' and a suggestion that one shall not 'probably' use these. Using all these phrases, he had derided the importance of article directories, which is true in any case (in fact, that was the reason which prompted me to write the post on why an on-site blog will be a better bet rather than these directories).
However, this does not mean that the value of article directories has been lost totally. There are certain specific ways in which these can still be used for the sake of getting more traffic. Some precautions which might prove useful for the SEO practitioners are:
1. Use these in a limited way. Make your on-site blog the priority since it will take a step further towards brand building as well.
2. Post quality content which will really really be useful for the people.
3. Do not stuff keywords in titles unnecessarily. Let there be a natural flow.
4. In resource box, you shall be doing a more diversified link building activity. Put links occasionally to your website pages. You can also point links to some other web resources of yours which are relevant. If there are not many web resources of  your own, you can link to some authoritative source from where more information about the topic can be gained.
5. Links need not necessarily be on the promoted keywords (anchor text).
6. Try to engage people on article directories by commenting and sharing.
7. Write your complete profile in article directories, providing even you company website as well as social media connects. If people really like your article, they would like to know about your company and website and this will increase your profile views over a period of time.