On-Demand Webinar Overview
Search engine optimization (SEO) should be high on every digital marketer’s priority list. Making even a few tweaks can help search rankings dramatically. Sparkroom’s Stephen Galgocy walks you through actions you can start taking today that will positively impact your SEO. Some topics Stephen discusses include:
-Securing your site
-Making your most important content easily accessible to visitors without duplicating it
-Ensuring your entire site is mobile friendly
-Cleaning up internal linking and site structure
Whether you’re a seasoned SEO or classify yourself as a beginner, this webinar gives you tips in an easy-to-understand and implement format.
Stephen Galgocy - Senior Organic Search and User Experience Specialist @ DMS
Stephen Galgocy is the Senior Organic Search and User Experience Specialist at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), an industry leader in providing end-to-end customer acquisition solutions that help clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. In this role, Stephen handles search engine marketing (SEM), which encompasses search engine optimization (SEO), user experience (UX), multivariate testing (MVT) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Michelle Verlin: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Michelle Verlin and I’m the Marketing Manager here at Sparkroom. I’d to welcome all of you to today’s webinar, Essential Actions for Dramatic SEO Growth. Before I introduce our fabulous presenter, let me give you a little background.
Sparkroom is a leader of performance marketing, providing fully transparent, analytics-based strategies that achieve challenging marketing objectives. Sparkroom provides both marketing services and marketing software, allowing for improved efficacy of database marketing campaigns. The Sparkroom marketing services team focuses on the management of media plans that incorporate a variety of performance driven channels. Sparkroom marketing software integrates marketing data, automates processes based on performance, and provides robust multi-dimensional reporting and analytics.
On your screen, you can see the recent awards we’ve won: the 2015 Integrated Marketing and Technology Award in the Targeting category from Chief Marketer, and the 2015 University Business Reader’s Choice Top Product Award, as well as the 2016 LeadsCouncil Leader Awards, a Gold for Most Valuable Technology and a Silver for Best Marketing Agency.
We at Sparkroom love to learn, test, and pass it on. Throughout this webinar, you will see links to various resources. You’re welcome to click on the links directly and go to webinar, but afterwards I’ll be sending out a copy of the presentation deck, where you will be able to access all the links as well as a separate list of SEO resources.
Today’s fabulous presenter is Stephen Galgocy, Sparkroom’s Senior Search Marketing and User Experience Strategist. Stephen has strong cross vertical experience in various industries, including education, healthcare, eCommerce, and legal. When he’s not immersed in optimizing clients’ websites, he can be found writing new music for his daughter.
But before Stephen gets us started, let me point out some functionality on your webinar control panel. This panel is located in the top right corner of your screen. If you can’t see it, look for an orange box with an arrow. If you click on the arrow, the box will expand. If you have any questions during the session, please type them into the questions box and it will be addressed at the end of the presentation. Or if you feel more comfortable, ask us questions using the hashtag #SparkroomSEO. We’ll also be live-tweeting this webinar on our official account, @Sparkroom. Thank you for joining us and I’ll pass things over to Stephen.
Stephen Galgocy: Thanks for the introduction, Michelle. Hello everyone. Thank you for joining our Sparkroom webinar on Essential Actions for Dramatic SEO Growth. We’re pretty excited to share some actionable tips and details that, say, a conference setting wouldn’t allow for. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Stephen Galogsy. I work in-house at Sparkroom in our Paramus, New Jersey office. I work agengy-side on our SEO clients’ projects. And we’re going to talk about 11 items that in 2016 are the most actionable, low-hanging fruit actions and items that will help jumpstart any stagnant site performance from mid-sized businesses to enterprise.
So, the first four items I like to cover come straight from Google. Google updated its webmaster guidelines in January of this year and Google quietly updated this document, which is one of the first places webmasters should go when learning about SEO best practices and dos and don’ts. Google has a long set of webmaster guidelines and these are guidelines on how to improve your site for search. They rarely update them, so it’s interesting to see what they’ve added and what they’ve changed. Most of the changes were slightly overdue as they’d been communicated in other outlets before and didn’t come really as a surprise, but it’s still interesting to review both the old and the updated guidelines. So, if you click on the – after the webinar of course – you have a copy, if you click on the Google logo on the screen, it’ll take you to the webmaster guidelines.
The next six items have been proven in recent years to create a positive impact on a site’s visibility if implemented correctly. They range in difficulty from basic to advance and tend to be the top items of discussion around the SEO industry conferences and cutting edge blogs. And the last item on accelerated mobile pages is so new, Google only opened the floodgates on this data at the end of last month, in February. So, let’s get to it.
The first webmaster guideline is the most impactful; It’s the update regarding securing your website. The guideline reads, “If possible, secure your sites’ connects with HTTPS. Encrypting interactions between the user and your website is good practice for communication on the web. An instant SEO benefit of moving to a secure site is a boost in organic search rankings. Further proof on this new guideline comes from Gary Illyes, an engineering spokesperson for Google. He’s openly discussed the potential for rankings improvements as a result of switching to HTTPS across your entire site, and you can see he’s very blunt; quoted on Twitter saying, “If you’re an SEO and you’re recommending against going HTTPS, you’re wrong and you should feel bad.” So, he’s pretty blunt about that and it’s pretty clear. It’s nice to get that clear of a message from someone at Google. And if that’s not enough for you, here’s a clip from Google’s own blog, the Google Webmaster Central Blog, which is highly recommended reading for marketers, stating in black and white that a ranking boost is given to secure versus non-secure sites. If you click on the link, it’ll take you to the reference article.
Next up is mobile friendly, and making it completely mobile friendly, and the new guideline reads, “Design your site for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Use the mobile friendly testing tool to test how well your pages work on mobile devices and get feedback on what needs to be fixed.” So, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise, in fact, it’s more of a surprise that it was only added now to the guidelines.
I’ve spoken about Mobilegeddon before and even before that about mobile-friendly sites in SEO, when Google gave us the first warnings about mobile-friendliness becoming a ranking factor for mobile search. So, your customers are no longer sitting at their desk behind a personal computer to access the web. Mobile has essentially taken over. Google has adapted to the behavior of its users and therefore so should you. So, the mobile-friendly update went into effect last year in April and it essentially leveled the playing field between mobile and PC users.
Content marketing company, BrightEdge, has tracked over 20,000 URLs since the update and reports a 21 percent decrease in non-mobile friendly URLs on the first three pages of search results. Searchmetrics, another big SEO data company, found that the average loss of rankings for the non-mobile friendly sites they measured were about .21 positions on average. Many sites experience a significant drop in mobile rankings while remaining relatively stable or even growing their visibility in desktop search, suggesting that the change in visibility was due to, of course, the mobile-friendly update. And Dr. Peter Meyers of Moz, moz.com, a big SEO software site, wrote an in-depth analysis of the seven-day impact of Google’s mobile update, and while their mobile MozCasts, a Google algorithm weather report, has shown a slight increase in the percentage of page one mobile-friendly results.
So, how do you test what parts of your site are mobile-friendly and what parts aren’t? The easiest way is by using a tool provided right by Google which is their Mobile-Friendly Test. The link is on the screen here, you can reach that after the presentation. On the left is an example of a page that’s not mobile-friendly. The results of the test are exactly what’s wrong with the page. For instance, the text is too small to read, the links appear too close together so they’re not easily tap-able on a device. You can set the actual viewport size and the contents wider than the screen which would give the user a poor experience because they’d have to magnify and de-magnify to the content on the screen. And on the right is an example of a mobile-friendly page and you can see there are no red X’s, which means the test didn’t find any errors and generally that’s a good start in the right direction.
Next we’ll talk about accessibility. The old guideline read, “Make your most important content accessible.” That’s it. The new guideline reads, “Make your sites important content visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content hidden inside navigational elements such as tabs or expanding sections, however, we consider this content less accessible to users and believe that you should make your most important information visible in the default page view.” So, what this means and how to check it – if we think about accessibility, you’re really thinking about the design, the use of textual and multimedia content and the structure of your site. So, I’ll just discuss this briefly on the main checkpoints in the checklist and how these apply to a modern website.
If we start at the very beginning of the list and talk about text equivalents, which is most likely the most important one, well, actually quite an extensive check, I can understand why they made this the first one. It states really for every non-text element; you should provide a textual equivalent. That goes for things like images, stand-alone audio files, video. For instance, for your YouTube video, you can add text by adding Closed Captions to your videos and build out that content, and it’s not hard if your video isn’t too long. This also goes for any kind of multimedia presentation, by the way, including this webinar. It might be easiest to just simply add additional text right below a video, or a PowerPoint for that matter, outlining what’s in the presentation so screen readers will have no trouble reading what the presentation is about and search engines will find that content and index it. Wonderful for SEO.
Site structure, the old guideline read, “Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.” And now it reads, “Ensure all pages on the site can be reached by a link from another findable page.” Keyword there, “findable.” “The referring link should include either text or, for images, an alt attribute, that is relevant to the target page.” So, this changes two things. It highlights the value of anchor text, which tells Google what the page you’re referring to is about, which is the actual link text, and it also talks about a findable link. This is a bit subjective, but it most likely means that Google doesn’t want it hidden in a site map or somewhere hidden in the footer of your site. Google also added, “Design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy.” The word conceptual here is very interesting; So, don’t make sure everything has a link, but make sure the conceptual hierarchy works. It’s very clear: you need a good site structure and internal links.
There’s an editorial comment here, in my experience in multiple verticals, I’ve seen the biggest impact from employing a topical internal linking architecture. Employing the use of a mini-content topic silos, if you will, in a link together create a great, strong topical relevance and a strong authority for the category or theme.
And tags, optimizer tags. Many SEOs focus their effort around keyword research. This research is the basis of almost all of your online marketing efforts, with a heavy emphasis on the on-page optimization of your content. But for large sites with hundreds or thousands of pages, products or services being offered, it’s implausible to perform a detailed optimization of every page on your site quickly. So, instead of waiting until you can optimize all those pages, you can start off by taking a quick pass at them by optimizing a few keys tags first. So, they are, of course, the title tag, meta description, H1 heading tag, other heading tag, such as H2, H3, and so on, so forth through H6, all alt tags, which is part of an image.
On each page, you want to make sure that every tag is unique and representative of the content of that particular page. If you have anything from your keyword research that fits a page, then use it. A detailed optimization isn’t really necessary here. It’s just about hitting the broad strokes, you know, move quickly, move on, and you can circle back around when you have a more thorough optimization of each page. Fill out every page to its on-page optimization capacity and use keyword variations. This may seem basic to some, but remember, for instance, in the game of basketball, even Michael Jordan took foul shots first as a basis and a foundation to his bigger game, and these are just as important as starting out with those foul shots.
Competitive keyword research, while we’re talking about keyword research, if you take the time to do comprehensive keyword competition analysis, you’ll be able to identify keywords that haven’t yet been targeted by even the most skilled SEOs. And while it will take you a little bit of time up front, it’ll save you much more in the long run. Assuming you’re producing high-quality content, you’ll have a much easier time getting it seen and getting it ranking highly in Google and other search engines. You’ll need exponentially fewer backlinks in the end, which will save you a ton of time and money. But in truth, there are only a small amount of low competition keywords in a niche at any given time. Of course, new keywords pop up as others disappear, but that’s all you need. You know, ranking for just a handful of low volume, but low competition keywords will get your organic search traffic started, and traffic has a tendency to grow exponentially.
One great way of finding what keywords are most important to your competitors is by using a OSE, Open Site Explorer, which is a freemium tool and is part of the Moz toolset, that’s M-O-Z. And to use this tool for keyword ideas you first enter the competitor’s URL, you go to the anchor text distribution tab and it’ll show you about 20 keywords or so that your competitor uses for anchor text when link building – the top 20, that is. And this will let you know their targeting and how strong their link building campaign is; So, you get both edges of that sword.
I’ve included this handy list of my favorite keyword research tools. Most are free, or freemium, and I’ll just quickly run through the list to highlight their usefulness. Open Site Explorer, also the Moz tools set, is the keyword difficulty checker, which uses a number of different data point including link quality, link demand, demand of the keyword, and gives a general idea of the competitive landscape. So, it’s worth checking out over at Moz.
SpyFu, which is a competitive research tool, it’s paid, but you can see what competitors are ranking for and perform some Excel magic and compare them to keywords your site is ranking for. You can see how your site measures up.
And then Keywordtool.io, great long-tail suggestions. It uses the Google Suggest functionality, which is an overall great tool. So, it’s free to use and there’s also a paid version that displays search volume data, and you can get this data yourself if you know how to query an API in Google or SEM Rush.
You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to find new and related keywords, but a little tip: ignore the search volume data. The search volume data in the planner is really only useful for keywords that you’re actually spending money to advertise on. Otherwise, the volumes are not reliable. They’re kind of relative, but really not reliable. So, while not really helpful to decide which keyword is most used by your potential audience, the Google Adwords Keyword Planner makes a useful tool in coming up with ideas for potential keywords.
oogle Trends allows you to compare the traffic for sets of keywords and you can even see the difference for many different geographical regions. And it’s very important to check Google Trends if you expect that some of your keywords are seasonal, for instance, due to regulations, holiday seasons, etc.
Last but not least, the Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, offers some good insight where analytics used to deliver but now falls short because of their decision to hide keyword data. So, you sort by impressions and see what top queries your site is ranking for.
Next up is to perform a backlink audit. You might be surprised at what you find when you perform one of these backlink audits. One of our newer clients has brand new spam links going to major program and product pages popping up all the time. We have a continual link audit to report on it every two weeks. What we do is we add these sites to link removal outreach, simply disavow them in Google Search Console’s Disavow tool. Cleaning up your backlink profile can also help you take inventory of your site’s top link sources. A quick tip, you can look at your competitor’s link profiles to see where their top links come from that you can acquire as well.
A link profile analysis, or backlink analysis as it’s sometimes called, is crucial for developing a healthy profile for a new site based on best links from your competitors, and if you know where they get their links from and how to analyze them, you’re saving yourself a ton of time when it comes to outreach campaigns. And when a site links to another site, it counts as a vote for the site being linked to. That’s nothing new, we know that. We know that backlinks are a key ranking factor and they need to be part of any analysis, however we need to look at them on a few different levels, which is where it can get a little bit tricky.
First we need to consider that backlinks are important on both a page level and a lean level. And second, we need to consider that not all links are created equally. Links can have a different value based on which page they’re located on, which site, which neighborhood. So, to analyze backlinks you need to get a backlink database tool and for serious analysis you’re gonna get a paid plan to one of the best tools, and I recommend Ahrefs, or A-H refs, or Majestic, and they’re by far the two most comprehensive backlink database tools. There’s also Open Site Explorer. When you want to analyze a specific page from a search engine result, you can simply plug it in to the text box of one of these tools.
As an example, let’s say you saw Quick Sprout Guide to Online Marketing in a search result and decided you wanted to see how hard to would be to outrank it. Typing in the URL into Majestic SEO reveals that there are 232 domains that link to that specific page, and over 4,600 total backlinks from those domains. That’s quite a bit for any single page. In addition, you also need to check how strong the domain is in general. By switching the drop down beside the URL or changing the URL to the root domain, you can see all the links to, say, Quick Sprout in our example, just about 16,000 referring domains and over 1 million backlinks.
So, that’s how you look at quantity, but how do you look at quality? One high-quality link is worth hundreds or thousands of low-quality links; So, it’s important not just to go by numbers. You could examine the quality of each link individually. An example of a high-quality link would be on a page that has a lot of links to itself and that’s relatively high up on the page. It’s found naturally in the page’s text surrounded by the appropriate, relevant text, and it’s on a relevant page. It’s also on a page without too many other links, since link power is divided by number of links on the page. In other words, quite a bit goes into it, and it would be impossible to evaluate this for every single link. Luckily, link database tools have been a pretty good solution for us as marketers and they algorithmically try to determine the quality of each link. So, it’s not perfect, but it’s good.
In a view of the top tools on A-H refs, or Ahrefs, every page and domain get a score. The first one is a URL rating and that score represents the overall quality of quantity of links pointing to that specific URL; and that’s on a scale of 0 to 100. Then they have Domain rating, which is a score that represents the overall quality and quantity of links linked to anywhere on the domain. That’s also on a scale from 0 to 100.
Majestic SEO is slightly different. It uses two metrics, Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Trust Flow is a score purely based on the quality of links on the page you enter and Citation Flow is a score based on the quantity of links to the page you enter.
And then of course, there’s Open Cite Explorer by Moz that’s part of their Premium SEO Tools Set. The index is updated about once a month and their metric, called Domain Authority, is a term to measure website strength and it’s now widely adopted.
Duplicate Content. A lot of sites suffer from different types of programming that cause duplicate content on multiple URLs. So, this is most typical of eCommerce sites that use visitor trail-based breadcrumbs. They also have multiple categories of products and product filtering options. So, these systems often generate multiple URLs for the exact same content that’s being displayed. So, whether it be product descriptions or even the same list of products, this content poses a problem for search engines and it can be a problem for your site’s ability to rank well too.
Fixing duplicate content issues can be a massive undertaking and depending on your specific site, it’s well worth it usually in the long run. You’ll need to work out the details with your SEO and developer. But little tip, don’t put this in the hands of a developer only. Sometimes, unless they’re an SEO developer, there are some complexities in SEO that can cause entirely new issues when trying to fix a current issue.
And the top three culprits of duplicate content of any site are as follows. Number one, URL parameters such as click tracking, some analytics code can cause duplicate content issues, session IDs, not so common these days, they’re still a major contributor. They occur when a user visits a website and is assigned a different session ID when it’s stored in the URL.
One of the most common recent examples comes from a migration to secure environments. So, these days it seems everyone wants to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS and in many cases, both HTTP and HTTPS versions of the page, they both render, so they produce two different versions, equals duplicate content. So, make sure you crawl your site with a SEO crawler such as Screaming Frog SEO Crawler or even the SEMrush Crawler is great for on-demand general crawls with no need for custom searches or parameters.
Next up, increase your site’s speed. Of course, it’s an increasingly important issue for algorithms that provide great user experience and site speed is a huge part of that. Now, I’m not talking about figuring out how to improve your site download time by a few fractions of a second, but rather taking care of these big wins. So, as your site gets faster and faster, you soon experience diminishing returns, but you have to balance time spent improving speed with the related gain. Site speed’s so important that you’ll want to spend a lot of time on it if you can, if you have the issues. But if you’ve never done anything to optimize your site for speed, there’s a good chance that a few good tweaks here or there could give you a substantial boost.
Your first goal is to simply ensure that there are no uncomfortable wait times for your pages to load and these days that’s really anything longer than two seconds. As long as the delay from clicking on a page to it loading is bothersome, it should be fixed. If you can get each page to load within two seconds or less, you’ll be fine for a while and can focus on something else. Any more than that and a fix is in order.
Several case studies demonstrated that fast loading sites can significantly increase conversions and boost sales. Recently, Walmart announced that conversions peak at around two seconds and then progressively drop as page loading time increases. In the top graph, you can see how dramatically conversion rate drops when page load time increases from zero to one to three to four seconds. Walmart’s findings were confirmed by another study that was published just a few months later and you can notice the similar trends and conversions between the below and above graphs. These two studies also agree with Akamai’s, a content delivery network in Massachusetts, survey that found 47 percent of online users are expecting pages on retail sites to load in two seconds or less, and that was back in 2009. In 2012, the percentage of tablet users expecting a website to load in two seconds or less is 70 percent and that was four years ago. Imagine how fast people are expecting sites to load now, and at what percentage. So, many other organizations including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Amazon, have carried out their own site performance tests, all of which with very interesting findings. So, site performance on mobile devices matters even more.
So, how can you measure this yourself? There are many tools out there that will use their own metrics to determine page load speeds, but if you’re interested in how Google sees your site, which you should be as a marketer, then I’d recommend incorporating Page Speed Insights into your tool set. It’s a really great tool. Page Speed Insights measures the performance of a page for mobile devices and desktop devices. It fetches the URL twice, once with a mobile user agent and once with a desktop user agent, and the page speed score ranges from 0 to 100 points. Of course a higher score is better and a score of 85 or above indicates that the page is performing well. So, congratulations if it’s 85 or above, but please notice that Page Speed Insights is continually improved and the score will change as we add new rules to improve the analysis. Page Speed Insights measures how the page can improve its performance on things like time to above the fold load, meaning a lapsed time from the moment a user requested new page to the moment the above the fold content is rendered by the browser. So, above the fold, of course, means all the content you need to see before you need to scroll. There are a few other elements that are of importance, but this is a great way to learn what common items may be holding up page loads and remember a fast site ranks better.
Next is a little bit more technical. We hit a couple basics and we’ll hit something a little bit more technical now. This is the recommendation to implement structured data using JSON-LD for rich snippets. Google announced that they now support JSON-LD for rich snippets. Coupled with that fact that Knowledge Graphs search results are only returned in this language, JSON-LD format, provides a strong inkling that providing a sematic markup in this format is a worthwhile approach. If Google’s doing it, follow in suit, that’s really what this means.
Using this format for structured data markup means there’s no longer a need to place the markup that’s correctly wrapped around the appropriation elements. This JSON-LD markup can be placed in a header forever page which radically simplifies things. If you’ve ever implemented structured data, you’ll appreciate this because before, say you were using microdata, you were updating element by element on a page, and now you can do it all in one fell swoop. It’s a markup data linking format or language that allows for easy imbedding of data, so there’s no need to tweak the actual HTML elements anymore and creates a much faster experience for marketing professionals. So, it saves time and it’s easy to markup things like reviews and implementing this code will help build out search results and improve the overall user experience on your site. It can increase search engine results page real estate by offering more data right within the search engine. Adding structured data to your site can lift your rankings, you can control your brand perception, and many other uses.
Here are just a few, for example, from the local business data available for markup. So for local businesses, it’s typical name, address, and phone number, business hours, and geo-location information are of the most important elements. But a savvy developer may utilize structured data to include many of these other items such as products, media, events, and build out the search engine real estate. Many benefits to that. Included here in these list of resources is the structured data testing tool and you can use that to validate your data to make sure the structured data is installed properly.
AMP Pages, last but not least. You should consider using these Accelerated Mobile Pages. The Google backed Accelerated Mobile Pages Project has been gaining even more steam and it’s hot when it came out. Google announced that AMP pages was integrated into a search engine just last month and as a way to increase page speed, here we are on page speed again, it’s likely to provide a ranking boost over time. Google says that AMP pages load 85 percent faster than standard mobile webpages. That’s 85 percent faster than the standard responsive mobile webpages.
Google discussed mobile page speed as an existing ranking factor. There’s a bit of a debate about how much of a factor, but since AMP improves load time and page speed, publishers that have these pages, these AMP pages will likely be prioritized in search results. Google didn’t confirm this explicitly, but they reiterated the importance of page speed. AMP is likely to be the most accessible way to improve page load times.
Google provided a demo of what an AMP feature would look like in the search engine results pages and you can try it out by navigating to g.co/ampdemo, the link will be provided later on, on your mobile phone, or you can emulate it within Chrome Developer Tools. Then you can search for something like, for instance, Mars, the planet Mars, and you’ll see a carousel towards the top with AMP articles and clicking on one for a reading experience imbedded in a serp. You can swipe left or right to read another AMP-enabled article, so it’s a different experience from simply navigating to a publisher’s AMP page. Several major publishers can be found within the demo, such as The Guardian and Washington Post.
Essentially a framework for creating mobile webpages, AMP consists of about three parts. There’s the HTML, which is a subset of HTML, there’s AMP HTML, and the markup language has some custom tags and properties and many restrictions. If you’re familiar with regular HMTL, you shouldn’t have a difficulty adapting existing pages to AMP HTML. And we have some more details on how it differs from basic HMTL at a link provided later, AMP’s project list of required markup that your AMP HTML page must have.
And then there is an optional AMP CDN, Content Delivery Network, which takes your AMP-enabled pages, caches them, and automatically makes them performance optimizations, so it even adds more speed to those pages.
You can already measure the impact of these pages. It’s a great way to build pages for static content that renders super-fast. AMP includes an AMP analytics element that allows you to track user interactions with AMP pages and it also has built-in support for Google Analytics. To learn more analytics for your AMP pages, please see the AMP analytics reference. For general information about AMP, you can see “What is AMP” on the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project site.
You can see here the main project site is referenced here as is how to integrate the pages into your analytics platform, as well as a way to demo the AMP pages project from a mobile device. One of the easiest ways to get your hands dirty with AMP right now is to implement it on a WordPress site. An official plugin is being developed by Automatic WordPress and it’s frequently updated so far at github.ork on a desktop, so that link is provided here as well to that WordPress plugin. And that completes our current presentation on Essential Actions for Dramatic SEO, and now I’ll hand it back over to Michelle.
Michelle Verlin: Thank you so much, Stephen, for all of your expertise. We will answer some questions now. If you have anything for Stephen, as far as a question, please type them into the question box on our control panel, or ask us those questions at the hashtag #SparkroomSEO. Let’s see, so the first question that came in was, “I have seen several sites using multiple H1 tags per page, especially those using parallaxing. What are your thoughts on this?”
Stephen Galgocy: There’s been some debate on formatting for heading tags for some time. Generally the thinking is when you use more than one H1 tag on your page, the H1 tag is viewed almost as heavily as the meta title tag. When a search engine is looking for keyword relevance on a page, when you use more than one H1, it dilutes any keywords in there and so you want to try and keep to one H1. It’s okay if you put then out of order, say you have an H2 or H3 that would come up before an H1. You can try to stay in order, but you try to only have one H1 per page.
Michelle Verlin: Great, thank you so much. Next question is, “Where can we find the ever-changing Google regulations on SEO and how often do the regulations change?”
Stephen Galgocy: There’s a link here in Resources that will take you to the guidelines pages. To stay on top of best practices, I would subscribe to some of the top blogs, SearchEngineLand.com stays on top of all that, among others. SEO Roundtable is another great one. There’s no official printed set and if there way, it would obsolete within a quarter or a year because it changes so often. But, for basic best practices, you could go to the Google Webmaster Guidelines as referenced here, or follow a blog. Also, attending industry conferences doesn’t hurt either.
Michelle Verlin: Awesome, thank you so much. Our next question says, “For those us in higher ed who market programs at a college or university, many of our internal links are to program pages using the same anchor text, which is the programming each time. Is it a bad thing since the anchor text is the same for so many links on our site?”
Stephen Galgocy: It should be a fine balance. There is such a thing as over-optimization of anchor text. It’s kinda taken on a case by case basis, but, I would say, if over 20 percent of your site as whole is linking back to those program pages with the same anchor text, I would say that is on the verge of being over-optimized. I would break up the anchor text and use keyword variations within it to avoid over-optimization of anchor text. I would happy to take a look at your site offline and provide a more detailed explanation.
Michelle Verlin: Excellent, thank you so much. The next question says, “What can you say about the Google new way to look for a sites with AI? Is it the end of SEO?”
Stephen Galgocy: Google looking for sites with AI, right, okay. No, never an end to SEO. Plenty of articles, “Is SEO Dead”. No, the same best practices will always apply. The AI is just working with the algorithm and using the algorithm which is what SEOs catered to. I hope that answers your question. Best practices won’t change with a different style of intelligence looking at our pages.
Michelle Verlin: Okay, great. “Yesterday Gizmodo reported on a new MIT codec that can improve loading times by up to 35 percent. Is there any data on how this might impact SEO?”
Stephen Galgocy: Any page speed increase will of course result in an increase in rankings most likely. So, any bit of programming that will accomplish that, speed things up, it’s considered an increase in user experience.
Michelle Verlin: Okay. “You mentioned on the AMP pages portion in order to have these AMP pages you need two separate versions of your article page, the AMP version and the regular responsive version, but won’t doing this create duplicate content on your site?”
Stephen Galgocy: That’s a great question. No, because, although the pages are pretty close to each other, content-wise, they won’t be rendered at the same time; so, when a crawler crawls a site, it will see just one version. So, no, that’s a great question, but only one is rendered for the type of device or article being displayed.
Michelle Verlin: Okay. “Can you please expand a bit on your internal linking siloing strategy?”
Stephen Galgocy: Yeah, sure. We briefly talked earlier about internal linking strategies and how they can be so powerful as an SEO strategy. I guess a great example of a good internal linking silo strategy might be just keep track of hierarchy. Make sure content on the site is categorized properly with top-level categories going to sub-level categories and that within those categories, you interlink all of those groups of pages the same way with similar anchor text, maybe some variation, but by doing so you’re creating a little silo of SEO energy that will just push the relevancy up for those groups of pages. Since like-pages help other like-pages rank well, interlinking them that way, without linking too much out to other parts of the site, will dramatically increase buoyancy for rankings on those pages.
Michelle Verlin: Okay, excellent. “What time frame should institutions expect to see results with SEO efforts? If Sparkroom does SEO for them today, can they measure results in three months?”
Stephen Galgocy: Well, we like to say three months is a good place to start. I guess it depends how many issues there are with the site. If initially there are some technical issues, usually fixing those first will produce the first bump in rankings, buoyancy. Beyond that, if your site is fine, technically speaking, and you’re just starting a content campaign, really you’re looking at four to six months before you see a big difference. Of course you’ll see initial bumps, but to really be able to measure, especially in a competitive niche, and the edu niche is so competitive, so you’re looking from anywhere to four to twelve months before you see significant change. But you can see, in the case of content marketing, you could potentially see something within four to six months, sure.
Michelle Verlin: Okay, fantastic. Let’s see, another question is, “Why would someone send spam links to my site?”
Stephen Galgocy: Ah, okay, we see this a lot. A spam link en masse, a set of spam links to a site, should be considered negative SEO. It’s sort of part of the dark side of SEO, which doesn’t exist that much these days, but there’s still a bit of grey and black hat out there. Just like having a relevant good link going to your site will give your site buoyancy, a spamming bad link, say from a gambling site or group of them, will most likely affect your site, or at least the part of the site it’s going to negatively, especially if you don’t have that much a diverse link profile.
You know, spam links to Forbes.com will make less of an impact that say a new local business site, which could really penalize your site or have to be deindexed. You want to continually monitor your backlink profile and make sure that all of the links coming to your site are of good value. If have an agency doing your SEO for you, make sure you ask them to provide a backlink profile analysis on a regular basis so you can see what’s coming up there and who’s mentioning your brand.
Michelle Verlin: Excellent, thank you so much, Stephen. I believe those are all the questions we have time for today. Thank everyone for participating and before you go, I just want to let everyone know that at Sparkroom, we do offer you free SEO evaluations and audits, so feel free to visit us at Sparkroom.com. There’s a landing page to fill out a form, or you can always shoot us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you to the appropriate person. Thank you again for joining us and enjoy the rest of your day.