Why SEO Is Much Easier Than You Think

Search-engine optimization (SEO) has gone through a series of evolutions over the years. Older tactics, which focused on keyword-based optimization and black-hat practices, have become obsolete, and modern strategies, which focus on user experience, have come to replace them. Throughout its history, SEO has been a cost-efficient and incredibly valuable strategy for business owners of all industries.

But despite the strategy’s simplified development, many business owners are still too intimidated by the perceived difficulty of SEO to follow through with it. SEO is a time-intensive strategy, and it does demand significant attention, but it has reached a point where it’s no longer difficult. With the right mentality and a sound commitment, any business owner can start building an SEO campaign — and reaping the many benefits.


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The roots of the misconception

To business owners unfamiliar with the technical side of web development, the idea of Google’s algorithm often seems extraordinarily complex — truly, the algorithm itself is extraordinarily complex, but that doesn’t mean you need an extraordinarily complex strategy to be successful with it. These business owners typically think about the advanced engineering and coding that go into the maintenance of this algorithm and the development of complex websites, and think how impossible it would be to construct something of that scale with limited knowledge.

Related: Increase Your Conversion Rates With These 7 Landing Page Must Have’s

The misconception here is that sophisticated structures require sophisticated strategies if they’re going to be harnessed to their full potential. However, despite a sophisticated backing, the tenets behind Google’s search algorithm are simple, and simple strategies are sufficient to achieve positive results. Google’s goal is to give users the best possible online experience, which means giving them the most appropriate, relevant and valuable results.

The basics that anyone can master

The process Google uses to calculate search rankings is extraordinarily complicated — and search experts don’t even understand it fully because Google has never published the inner workings of the algorithm. But we do know that you have to fulfill two requirements to rank high for a given query: you have to be seen as an authority, and you have to publish what people are looking for by giving them value. The sites that fulfill these requirements the best will rank the highest.

Fortunately, fulfilling these requirements can be done with basic strategies that are implemented consistently over time. The more you implement them, and the more consistently you implement them, the more your authority and online presence will grow.

Onsite content comes in two main sections. First, you’ll need to optimize the body copy throughout your website to ensure that Google can recognize the purpose of your site and the industry niche of your business. To do that, make sure your site pages are in order.

You’ll want to feature the most important pages (such as “Home,” “Products,” and “Contact Us”) with strong headlines and several paragraphs of compelling copy. Include words and phrases that describe your business accurately, but don’t try and stuff your content full of them. Focus on writing naturally. Optimizing your title tags and meta tags (which can usually be done simply through your site’s content management system) is also extremely helpful, especially at the start of your campaign.

Next, implement an ongoing blogging strategy. Write at least one 1,000 word (or more) blog post every week, scaling up as you gain more traction. Write about topics your audience wants to learn about, answering their potential questions in as much detail as possible. This will help you become the resource your searchers want to find, and you’ll rank higher as a result. The more questions you answer, the more potential queries you’ll have the answer for.

Inbound links. Building authority means having a strong online presence, and that means having quality inbound links pointing to your site. Building these links is relatively easy — you can put links pointing back to your site in the body of an external guest blog post, a forum comment or citing your affiliation within an interview for a publication. Just be sure to diversify your strategy. Use many sources, link to many different internal pages of your site, and always ensure your links are relevant and add value to the conversation.

Social and local integrations. If you don’t already have a social-media presence, it’s time to get one. Claim your profiles for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other channels you think would be appropriate. Post regularly, engage with your audience, and your credibility as an online business will greatly improve. You’ll also want to claim your business profiles on local directory and review sites such as Yelp, and ensure that all your information (especially your name, address and phone number) is accurate. The more positive reviews you get on these sites, the higher you’ll rank for local search queries.

Related: Why Authoritative Content Is More Important Than SEO

The true challenges of SEO

While these basic strategies are easy to adopt and consistently execute, SEO is not without its true challenges. As you get started with your basic strategy, you’ll likely encounter these obstacles.

Finding appropriate targets. You might be lost on what types of questions to write blogs for, or what keywords to include on your website. The best way to address this problem is to find honest answers. Summarize your business as simply as you can, and use that summary to describe your business in your onsite content. Ask your customers directly what they’d like to read on your blog, and write about it.

Investing time. The time factor is a major hurdle to overcome, especially for entrepreneurs of small or new businesses. It’s tough to manage an SEO strategy on top of all your other responsibilities, but remember, you can always hire an outside expert to help you shoulder the load. There are ways to measure your return on investment so you can ensure you don’t lose money on your campaign efforts.

Adjusting your strategy. Knowing what to adjust and when can be a major problem, even if you accurately measure the initial results of your campaign. Overcoming this problem is difficult, even for industry experts, but the only way to move forward is to do some research, make an educated guess at the root of your problem, make an adjustment to your campaign, and see what the result is.

Strategies to keep SEO on “easy mode”

If you’re trying to keep SEO as easy as possible for as long as possible, try these strategies to avoid overcomplicating the work.

Read SEO news. Subscribe to multiple SEO-based news feeds and forums. Read up on developments as often as you can, preferably daily. While some of it might be over your head to begin with, eventually it will start to make more sense. The only way to make SEO culture easier to understand is to immerse yourself in it.

Watch your competitors. Keep a close eye on your competition. You can monitor their blogs to see what topics they’re writing about, or use tools such as Open Site Explorer and SEMRush to see what kinds of links they’re building. Doing so can help point your own campaign in the right direction, or provide new insights for you to develop in your ongoing strategy.

Perform monthly reviews. Take a look at your metrics on a monthly basis. Any more frequently, and you might drive yourself crazy looking at random fluctuations. Any less frequently, and you won’t have a good read on the health of your campaign. Use Google Analytics and other free online tools to measure metrics like your keyword ranks, organic traffic and visitor behavior.

While SEO is likely easier than you think, don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort it will take. You’ll get out what you put into it, so if you only spend a few minutes a day, don’t expect to climb the ranks on a national scale at any noticeable pace.

If you’re concerned about the ROI of the strategy, or if you’re still nervous about the steps of its execution, start small. Implement your strategy at a small scale, measure the results and gradually scale up until you’ve reached an ideal balance of cost, risk and reward. After a few weeks of implementation, you’ll likely find a perfect pace for development.

Written By :

Founder and CEO, Audience Bloom

The SEO’s 2015 wishlist: what would you like to see happen in search?

Specifically that’s the hope that Google will listen to the SEO community and makes their dreams come true in 2015.

We’ve already asked the SEO community what they think will happen in search next year, and now it’s time to reveal what search experts would like to see happen in their industry in 2015.

Here’s what they came up with…

Penguin integration

Nick Fettiplace, SEO director at Jellyfish

I’d really like to see Penguin finally become more closely integrated into the core Google algorithm, similarly to how the Panda algorithm was in 2013.

We saw a lot of frustration throughout 2014 from those who had worked endlessly in correcting their algorithmically penalised backlink profiles but were yet to see any kind of recovery due to the Penguin 3.0 update taking so long to surface.

By the time the update took place on October 17 2014, it had been 12 months since the previous major update.

Google’s John Mueller recently suggested that they were getting closer to a greater integration of Penguin into the core algorithm, so this move is definitely on their roadmap.

To me, this will have a positive impact on organic search.

(Related post: Penguin 3.0: what’s it all about?)

Pitching to bloggers

Andrew Girdwood, media innovations director at DigitasLBi

I would like to pitch an editorial idea to a blogger without getting a ratecard response “I’ll blog about this if you pay me to” in 2015.

I make that wish as a busy blogger.

(Related post: Five lessons for effective blogger outreach)

Data insight

Ruth Attwood, advanced search consultant at 4Ps

This is an obvious and continuous development – but always worth mentioning – with an increasing number of clients implementing tools like Google Tag Manager, the importance of turning information and data into insight increases.

Clients will surely value more insight across data from content, SEO and PPC as this trend continues.

I am wondering what kind of tech, accessible to ‘beginners’ can help us get ahead.

Successful content community

Andrew Girdwood, DigitasLBi

I would love to see someone make a success of a blogger and/or content community. This is a chance for a win-win between publishers and the agencies that wish to influence them.

As a blogger I don’t like having to hunt through the web for ways to detect the latest viral video attempt.

As a marketer I dislike having to hunt through the web for a blogger who might be interested in our latest viral video attempt.

(Related post: The 10 most common mistakes of blogger outreach)

Give us back our (not provided)

Will Critchlow, founder and CEO of Distilled

The release of some excellent new data to replace the loss of keyword (not provided) data.

I’m not holding my breath, but I think it’s a shame because I think that if Google didn’t have such a dominant position, competition would push them to provide better ways to measure the value of organic search and I think it remains a crucial issue as the marketing mix continues to evolve.

(Related post: Has (not provided) become a major barrier to effective SEO?)

Access to Webmaster Console

Andrew Girdwood, DigitasLBi

I would like better access to keyword data via Google’s Webmaster Console.

The data provided in the downloads is even more limited than the integration the console allows, and the console doesn’t allow for enough analysis.

Implied links

Nick Fettiplace, Jellyfish

There is much talk around brand mentions beginning to serve as ‘implied links’ across the web.

So for example, the mention of your brand name across relevant or authoritative websites would start contributing more prominently as a ranking factor for your website, even if it is not backlinked.

Building your brand just got even more important!

For me, this also creates greater opportunities for better integration of your wider marketing strategies with your SEO strategy.

The relationship between the two will become closer and more powerful.

So it is important for marketeers to begin ‘tying together’ their channel activities in a smarter way, knowing that what they do ‘over here’ is now more likely to affect performance ‘over there’ and vice-versa.

User experience

Ruth Attwood, 4Ps

User experience needs to be a higher priority for brands.

Taking technology and using it to create a better and more joined up user experience as they go along their purchase journey, ensures that they are not lost, confused or irritated by the process.

Putting customers back into the heart of strategies for brands means that they need to think about delivering a killer UX (particularly on sites that are technically decent).

Published 16 December, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

6 SEO Myths about Alt Tags

The buzz about alt tags and search engine optimization is ramping up again. So it’s time for some myth busting around this oft-misunderstood topic.

Myth 1: They’re Called ‘Alt Tags’

To be exact, they’re properly named “alternative attributes of an image tag.” The alt attribute is a modifier that gives descriptive information about the image called in an individual image tag within a page of HTML code. The alt attribute’s descriptive information is useful to assist visually impaired customers and search engine crawlers as they navigate the site.

For example, see the image below from Amazon’s toy landing page.


The image tag in the example above displays the Holiday Toy List image on Amazon’s landing page by utilizing the following elements.

  • img tag. Displays images on a page.
  • src attribute. Specifies which image file to display.
  • width and height attributes. Specify the width and height at which the image should be displayed.
  • alt attribute. “Holiday Toy List.”

The alt attribute is just one element of an image tag. Yes, everyone understands what you mean when you say “alt tag,” but it’s not actually a tag. It’s like pointing to a moped and calling it a car. People will understand that you recognize the moped as a vehicle, but they may also think you’re less experienced.

Myth 2: Alt Attributes Can Replace Text

There is no replacement for unique textual content on the page that’s visible and useful to the customer. If a page contains solely image-based content with no on-page descriptive text, it will have a hard time ranking on search engines.

Even perfectly optimized alt attributes will not have enough prominence to make a difference. They’re just not strong enough SEO signals.

Myth 3: Alt Attributes Are Mostly for SEO

Originally developed to improve accessibility for impaired visitors, alt attributes have somehow become solely an SEO element in the minds of many. This is a false and dangerous mindset, because alt attributes could be “optimized” for SEO in ways that actually hinder their true purpose of improving accessibility.

In actuality, SEO needs are best served by keeping the true purpose of alt attributes in the forefront: accessibility.

Imagine you’re a blind or handicapped consumer that uses a screen reader to navigate a site. Even better, install a plugin like Fangs for Firefox that emulates a screen reader as it reads of a page. If you have trouble navigating your site, chances are an impaired customer will have even more trouble with it.

Alt attributes are only part of the accessibility picture, but they can both help and hurt. Write short, descriptive alt attributes for images that assist consumers in understanding what the page is about and how to complete their desired actions. In doing so, you’ll also be optimizing for SEO without having to worry about stuffing too much content or too many keywords into each one.

For example, if the image is a product, as most ecommerce images should be, the name of the product is an appropriate alt attribute. If your site sells products from multiple brands, adding the brand to the product name may also be a good idea.

Which information will help the customer understand and act without overwhelming her with excess words? That’s your alt attribute.

Myth 4. Every Image Needs Alt Attributes

Many images do not need alternative attributes. If your site uses spacer, line, bullet and other purely design-oriented images, do not use alt attributes in those image tags. Imagine having to sit through a slow reading of something like this just to understand that there are four navigational links in a menu:

“Graphic line separator graphic spacer gif bullet graphic orange arrow link toys and games graphic spacer gif bullet graphic orange arrow link clothing and accessories graphic spacer gif bullet graphic orange arrow link home and garden graphic spacer gif bullet graphic orange arrow link sports and outdoors graphic line separator”

The presence of three images — a separating line image, a spacer image, and an orange bullet to delineate the list of options — takes three times the words to convey in a screen reader. Leaving the alt attribute blank for those three images would save the consumer valuable time and increase her ability to use the site successfully. The consumer would only have to listen to something like this.

“Bullet link toys and games bullet link clothing and accessories bullet link home and garden bullet link sports and outdoors”

In short, consider the descriptive or navigational value of an image before assigning it an alt attribute.

Myth 5: You Need to Fix Alt Attributes Now

Tackle every other possible on-site SEO element before you worry about optimizing existing alt attributes for images that are already in use on the site. Alt attributes have such a small SEO value that there is not enough benefit in launching an initiative of optimizing them as a standalone SEO tactic.

Optimize title tags and meta descriptions, optimize templates to give prominence to the optimal text fields, optimize navigational and cross-linking elements, and clean up duplicate content. When your site is perfect and only alt attributes are left, go for it.

The three exceptions to this rule are:

  • If you’re loading new images, absolutely include alt attributes as part of the upload process;
  • If image search is a priority, alt attributes are somewhat more important;
  • If improving alt attributes is part of a larger initiative to improve accessibility.

Myth 6: Alt Attributes Take Forever to Write

Actually, this one is mostly true unless you have the support of a developer. With the proper scripts, tools, and shortcuts in place, the process of writing alt attributes can be cut to a tenth of the time it would otherwise take you.

Ask your developer is she can write a script to include the product name as an alt attribute automatically for every product image.

Ask your photographer to label images descriptively. He has to call the images something, after all. Rather than  “image02345s.jpg”, have him name it in a way that a developer could write a script to build alt attributes with. Talk with both teams to determine the best way to accomplish this.

Think hard about more automated ways to generate good alt attributes and ask your developers and other digital marketers how they’ve tackled it in the past. The alternative — manually viewing and writing alt attributes for every image — unfortunately can take forever.

by JILL KOCHER, Author at practicalecommerce.com

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How will you neutralize a toxic link to your site?

This post was originally in YouMoz,and i am just promoting to the my internet marketing blog because it provides great value and interest to our community.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Internet Marketing Blog.

Matt Cutts’ statement in March 2012 that Google would be rolling out an update against “overoptimised” websites, caused great turmoil within the SEO community. A few days later thousands of blogs were removed from Google’s index and Matt tweeted confirming that Google had started taking action against blog networks.


Even though thousands of low-quality blogs of low or average authority were manually removed from Google’s index, they weren’t the only victims. For instance, www.rachaelwestdesigns.com, a PR7, DA70 domain was also removed, probably due to the very high number of blog roll (site-wide) backlinks.


1334099680_4707729a92830c72b9840ec914f622d3These actions indicate that the new update on “overoptimised” websites has already begun to roll out but it is uncertain how much of it we have seen so far.

At around the same time Google sent to thousands webmasters the following message via message via Google’s Webmaster Tools:


In the above statement, it is unclear what Google’s further actions will be. In any case, working out the number of “artificial” or “unnatural links” with precision is a laborious, almost impossible task. Some low quality links may not be reported by third party link data providers, or even worse, because Google has started deindexing several low quality domains, the task can end-up being a real nightmare as several domains cannot be found even in Google’s index.


Nevertheless, there are some actions that can help SEOs assess the backlink profile of any website. Because, in theory, any significant number of low quality links could hurt, it would make sense gathering as many data as possible and not just examine the most recent backlinks. Several thousand domains have already been removed from Google’s index, resulting in millions of links being completely devalued according to Distilled’s Tom Anthony (2012 Linklove).


Therefore, the impact on the SERPs has already been significant and as always happens in these occasions there will be new winners and losers once the dust settles. However, at this stage it is be a bit early to make any conclusions because it is unclear what Google’s next actions are going to be. Nevertheless, getting ready for those changes would make perfect sense, and spotting them as soon as they occur would allow for quicker decision making and immediate actions, as far as link building strategies are concerned.

As Pedro Dias, an Ex-Googler from the search quality/web spam team tweetted, “Link building, the way we know it, is not going to last until the end of the year” (translated from Portuguese).


The Right Time For a Backlinks Risk Assessment

Carrying out a backlinks audit in order to identify the percentage of low-quality backlinks would be a good starting point. A manual, thorough assessment would only be possible for relatively small websites as it is much easier to gather and analyse backlinks data – for bigger sites with thousands of backlinks that would be pointless. The following process expands on Richard Baxter’s solution on ‘How to check for low quality links‘, and I hope it makes it more complete.

  1. Identify as many linking root domains as possible using various backlinks data sources.
  2. Check the ToolBar PageRank (TBPR) for all linking root domains and pay attention on the TBPR distribution
  3. Work out the percentage of linking root domains that has been deindexed
  4. Check social metrics distribution (optional)
  5. Repeat steps 2,3 and 4 periodically (e.g. weekly, monthly) and check for the following:
  • A spike towards the low end of the TBPR distribution
  • Increasing number of deindexed linking root domains on a weekly/monthly basis
  • Unchanged numbers of social metrics, remaining in very low levels

A Few Caveats

The above process does come with some caveats but on the whole, it should provide some insight and help making a backlinks’ risk assessment in order to work out a short/long term action plan. Even though the results may not be 100% accurate, it should be fairly straightforward to spot negative trends over a period of time.

Data from backlinks intelligence services have flaws. No matter where you get your data from (e.g. Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Blekko, Sistrix) there is no way to get the same depth of data Google has. Third party tools are often not up to date, and in some cases the linking root domains are not even linking back anymore. Therefore, it would make sense filtering all identified linking root domains and keep only those still linking to your website. At iCrossing we use a proprietary tool but there are commercial link check services available in the market (e.g. Buzzstream, Raven Tools).

ToolBar PageRank gets updated infrequently (roughly 4-5 times in a year), therefore in most cases the returned TBPR values represent the TBPR the linking root domain gained in the the last TBPR update. Therefore, it would be wise checking out when TBPR was last updated before making any conclusions. Carrying out the above process straight after a TBPR update would probably give more accurate results. However, in some cases Google may instantly drop a site’s TBPR in order to make public that the site violates their quality guidelines and discourage advertisers. Therefore, low TBPR values such as n/a, (greyed out) or 0 can in many cases flag up low quality linking root domains.

Deindexation may be natural. Even though Google these days is deindexing thousands of low quality blogs, coming across a website with no indexed pages in Google’s SERPs doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been penalised. It may be an expired domain that no longer exists, an accidental deindexation (e.g. a meta robots noindex on every page of the site), or some other technical glitch. However, deindexed domains that still have a positive TBPR value could flag websites that Google has recently removed from its index due to guidelines violations (e.g. link exchanges, PageRank manipulation).

Required Tools

For large data sets NetPeak Checker performs faster than SEO Tools, where large data sets can make Excel freeze for a while. NetPeak checker is a standalone free application which provides very useful information for a given list of URLs such as domain PageRank, page PageRank, Majestic SEO data, OSE data (PA, DA, mozRank, mozTrust etc), server responses (e.g. 404, 200, 301) , number of indexed pages in Google and a lot more. All results can then be exported and processed further in Excel.

1. Collect linking root domains

Identifying as many linking root domains as possible is fundamental and relying in just one data provided isn’t ideal. Combining data from Web master tools, Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer may be enough but the more data, the better especially if the examined domain has been around for a long time and has received a large number of backlinks over time. Backlinks from the same linking root domain should be removed so we end up with a long list of unique linking root domains. Also, not found (404) linking root domains should also be removed.

2. Check PageRank Distribution

Once a good number of unique linking root domains has been identified, the next step is scrapping the ToolBar PageRank for each one of them. Ideally, this step should be applied only on those root domains that are still linking to our website. The ones that don’t should be discarded if not too complicated. Then, using a pivot chart in Excel, we can conclude whether the current PageRank distribution should be a concern or not. A spike towards the lower end values (such as 0s and n/a) should be treated as a rather negative indication as in the graph below.


3. Check for deindexed root domains

Working out the percentage of linking root domains which are not indexed is essential. If deindexed linking root domains still have a positive TBPR value, most likely they have been recently deindexed by Google.


4. Check social metrics distribution (optional)

Adding in the mix the social metrics (e.g. Facebook Likes, Tweets and +1s) of all identified linking root domains may be useful in some cases. The basic idea here is that low quality websites would have a very low number of social mentions as users wouldn’t find them useful. Linking root domains with low or no social mentions at all could possibly point towards low quality domains.

5. Check periodically

Repeating the steps 2, 3 and 4 on a weekly or monthly basis, could help identifying whether there is a negative trend due to an increasing number of linking root domains being of removed. If both the PageRank distribution and deindexation rates are deteriorating, sooner or later the website will experience rankings drops that will result in traffic loss. A weekly deindexation rate graph like the following one could give an indication of the degree of link equity loss:


Note: For more details on how to set-up NetPeak and apply the above process using Excel please refer to my post on Connect.icrossing.co.uk.

Remedies & Actions

So far, several websites have seen ranking drops as a result of some of their linking root domains being removed from Google’s index. Those with very low PageRank values and low social shares over a period of time should be manually/editorially reviewed in order to assess their quality. Such links are likely to be devalued sooner or later, therefore a new link building strategy should be devised. Working towards a more balanced PageRank distribution should be the main objective, links from low quality websites will keep naturally coming up to some extent.

In general, the more authoritative & trusted a website is, the more low quality linking root domains could be linking to it without causing any issues. Big brands’ websites are less likely to be impacted because they are more trusted domains. That means that low authority/trust websites are more at risk, especially if most of their backlinks come from low quality domains, have a high number of site-wide links, or if their backlink profile consists of unnatural anchor text distribution.

Therefore, if any of the above issues have been identified, increasing the website’s trust, reducing the number of unnatural site-wide links and making the anchor text distribution look more natural should be the primary remedies.

About the author

Modesto Siotos (@macmodi) works as a Senior Natural Search Analyst for iCrossing UK, where he focuses on technical SEO issues, link tactics and content strategy. Modesto is happy to share his experiences with others and posts regularly on Connect, a UK digital marketing blog.

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