One of the SEO factors that many website owners are confused about is whether their domain name helps or hinders them in trying to rank higher in Google’s rankings. One of the primary reasons for that confusion is the conflicting advice that gets written about domain names and how big a part they play in SEO.
There are several attributes that a domain name has which all contribute in varying degrees to how much it helps a website’s ranking. Some of these have a bigger impact than others, plus you also need to remember that just having an optimised domain name is no use if you have ignored all the other SEO factors.
Here are the main ones with a brief explanation of how Google views them.
Domain Age: This is the one that most often gets discussed with some of the view that it plays no part and others who will tell you to look for a domain name which is over 10 years old. While Google score older domains higher, the impact it will have on your ranking in comparison to how good your back-links and content are, is very small.
Exact Match Domain (EMD): If you were opening a poodle grooming parlour and went all out to find a domain name like ‘toppoodlegroomingparlour.com’ you’d boost your ranking score slightly, but whether the time, effort, and expense, if it were a premium domain, would be worth it, is questionable. More importantly, Google views EMDs with far more caution than they used to, and the days of an EMD being a free ticket to a top ranking for a keyword are long gone.
Although many businesses have an online presence, and in theory, could have visitors to their website from anywhere in the world, most are only targeting an audience and customers in their local area. This is why having an SEO strategy for local rankings, rather than a global one, is so important.
Countless time, energy and money are wasted by webmasters trying to get their website ranked for search terms and keywords which are generic. For example, they might try to target a term like ‘landscape gardener’ and so are competing with just about every other landscape gardener in the world and they wonder why they can’t rank for it.
Instead if they focused on ranking for ‘landscape gardener in Anytown’, with Anytown being the neighbourhoods, towns or city they operate in, they would have far greater success. Not only that, this is where their customers live, so even if they could rank worldwide, a customer in London is hardly going to employ a landscape gardener based in Adelaide.
One of the top strategies to improve your website’s local SEO ranking is with the effective use of content. There are lots of ways this can be achieved, and none are particularly difficult. Nor should they take any more time to do than your current content creation. It is just that it will be more slanted towards a local audience and be using keywords which include local areas you wish to target.
#1 Social Media: If you haven’t done so already, when you search social media sites for groups which are based in your local area, you will be amazed at how many there are. If you know what demographics, or what interests your target audience have, then seek out those groups which they are likely to be members of.
You may already be aware that having keywords in your website content can help your SEO, but what is even more important is that the content is used in the right way, and in the right places. It is not enough to simply insert keywords anywhere, and worse, doing so excessively can damage your rankings, as Google consider this to be ‘keyword stuffing‘, which is a big red flag to them.
You need to get the balance right though, as what you don’t want to do is go too far the other way and have little or no keywords in your website content. While Google is very much against practices like keyword stuffing, they do need and want you to use keywords. They are an important factor in helping Google identify what subject a website is about, and thus allows them to make their search engine results more relevant.
Before thinking about where to use keywords, you first want to determine which keywords and keyword phrases are the most important and relevant for your website. The mistakes many website owners make with this process is they limit themselves to just a couple, or they only focus on one or two-word keywords.
When people type search queries into Google the terms they use are often several words long. For example, someone looking for running shoes may add a brand, their gender, and specific feature. So, instead of search for just ‘running shoes’, they may type in ‘Cushioned Nike running shoes for women’.
If you have content optimised for that phrase you have a much better chance of being ranked for it, than if you just had ‘running shoes’ sporadically placed around your website. You’ll also have a lot less competition for a keyword phrase than you will for single or two-word keywords.
Once you have your list of keywords and keyword phrases it’s time to determine where in your website you should be using them. Remember, that you want to make it as easy as possible for Google to know what your niche or market is, and there are several key locations within the structure of your website they can be used to do just that.
#1 Page Title Tag: This is regarded as the most important tag, as it is the title tag which appears as the first line of text on Google’s search engines results. It is important to note that you can have different title tags for each page, therefore making that page highly optimised for any keyword which you use in its title tag.
If you visit any website which discusses SEO and how to improve rankings on Google there will undoubtedly be some discussion, articles or information relating to backlinks. To prove the point, you are reading one of them right now, so it is fair to say SEO and backlinks are very much related.
Where the confusion, and sometimes reticence to use backlinks arise is not knowing which backlinks have a positive impact, and which backlinks are more likely to see you plunging down the rankings, or worse, wiped off them altogether, which has happened to countless websites.
Part of the problem is that there are so many ways in which you can create a backlink to your website, and just as many places online where you can link from. Add to this Google’s determination to clamp down on spam links, link farms and links which appear to be high quality but aren’t, it has become a cat and mouse game between the search engines, and those who use those blackhat tactics.
It is not to say that blackhat methods don’t work. Many of them do, and an element of those methods is backlinking strategies which go under Google’s radar. You’ll need to decide whether you want to go down this route but be aware that you may be only one Google crawl or update away from having your website deindexed from the SERPs.
If you prefer not to be looking over your shoulder and want to have backlinks to your website that Google actively encourages, then here are some of the places you can go to create them.
#1 Your Existing Network: If you are in business it is more than likely that you have clients, customers, associates, suppliers, and neighbouring businesses that you are in contact with on a regular basis. It is also fair to say that many of them will be operating in the same or similar niches as you are. Whether they are or not, if they have a website, there is a lot to be gained by asking if they could link from their site to yours.
Your local chamber of commerce, business development organisations, and even your local government are all very reputable organisations which if Google see linking to you, will add to the authority of your website, and in turn, help your ranking.
An essential part of any effective SEO strategy should be the building of backlinks to your website. Google sees backlinks as a measure of the importance and relevance of a site, and therefore if backlinking is done correctly it can produce significant improvements in the ranking of your website in Google’s search results.
There are multiple ways to build backlinks, although not all of them are recommended. Many so-called blackhat techniques may work in the short term, but they risk having your site delisted from search results if you get caught. For this reason, you should only ever consider using methods that are perfectly legitimate.
The first method is to use the SEO tool ‘AHREFS’ or a Google Chrome extension called ‘Check My Links’ to discover broken links on other websites. You should try those within your specific niche and more generic websites that have at least some relevance to your business. Ideally, you want sites that have resource pages or links pages, but this is not essential.
When you find a broken link, contact the website owner, and advise them that they have a broken link. Explain that broken links can have a huge negative impact on their website rankings and offer them a quick and easy way to fix it.
They might expect that you are going to ask for a fee, but instead you ask if they would mind changing the broken link to a link to your website. The worst that can happen is that they say no, but for everyone that says yes, you have added another backlink to your website.
All the websites that you can get links from will pass on a lot of authority to your website, and if you continue this process, the authority and the ranking of your website, can only improve.
Every site owner should know that keywords play a massive part in SEO and are used extensively by Google to assess a website and subsequently rank it. Keywords can be used in multiple places as part of an SEO strategy such as your domain name, your content, anchor text in backlinks, and in meta tags. The question which then arises is ‘Do any of these keyword ‘locations’ carry more weight than the others in the eyes Google?’. The simple answer is ‘Yes’.
In the world of SEO extensive testing takes place with some consultants having hundreds of websites which they use to test SEO strategies, adjustments, and ranking theories to see which make a positive difference to a website’s ranking. Many changes are subtle and minute such as editing a single meta tag. The accumulation of all this data has concluded that Google places more importance on keywords which appear in certain places than others.
The main principle behind that Google’s thinking on keywords is that the harder it is to use a keyword, then the more importance they will place on it. In other words, they give a higher-ranking score for the places it is most difficult to achieve the use of a keyword.
So, what does Google see as the most difficult? Answer: the domain name. When Google crawls a site, the first thing it looks at is the domain name so if you have a domain that describes what the site is about then this is a positive.
Therefore, choosing as close to an exact match domain as you can get is important. Compare ‘dallasdoggrooming.com’ to ‘dallaspetcare’ if you were trying to rank for the term ‘dog grooming in Dallas’ and it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out that the first site will be ranked higher.
Ask 10 SEO experts what SEO tools they use or recommend, and you will undoubtedly get 10 different answers. No one answer will be right, nor will any be wrong. The truth is that there are lots of tools available, and not one of them can provide you with all the information you might want for SEO purposes.
One thing that is certain; the tools which these consultants might be using will mostly be paid tools. The cost of each tool will range from as little as $10 per month to as high as $1000 per month for agencies who need high capacity and multiple user access for specific tools.
If you’re just getting started or do not like the idea of paying out for these tools, then you need to consider some tools that come from the very source that all these other tools are trying to second guess; Google. They have three tools which can help you with your website SEO, and they don’t cost you a single penny.
You should be aware of how important keywords are to SEO, so one of your first tasks is to research the keywords you should be targeting within your industry or niche. The tool you need for this is Google’s ‘Keyword Planner Tool’. To use this tool is free, however, you will need to sign up for a Google AdWords account, if you haven’t already done so, to gain access to the tool.
With the tool, you can enter possible search terms and it will give an approximate number of monthly searches, and levels of competition for that term. Best of all, it will generate lots of suggestions for similar keywords that Google believes are relative to your main search term. To give you an idea of how powerful this is, by entering the search term ‘dog grooming’ it returned no fewer than 929 relevant keyword suggestions.
Imagine if you ran a dog grooming service and had no idea what search terms to try to rank for. With this tool, Google is giving you all those keyword suggestions, it provides search levels, how hard it is going to be to rank for them in terms of competition, and it does so in mere seconds. How long might it take you without this tool? Hours? Days?
There’s been a trend in recent years for ‘makeover’ TV shows giving our cars, our homes, our gardens, and even our pets the full treatment. In this article we are going to emulate those TV shows, by giving your website a makeover to improve its SEO, and in turn boost, its ranking on Google.
There are plenty of differences between giving your website a makeover compared to a house or a car. Firstly, it can be done with the minimum of disruption and in most cases without the website having any downtime. The changes that can be made require little more than spending time logged into your website admin panel and making the updates.
Your website’s SEO makeover can also be done without any expenditure, although you may want to obtain some software or plugins which can assist you. Finally, the time it is going to take for you to carry out most of the SEO makeover can be measured in minutes rather than hours. Your website’s SEO makeover consists of 7 specific tasks.
#1 Make It Mobile Responsive: Google penalize websites that are not mobile responsive, and if that wasn’t reason enough, most online searches are done on mobile devices. If your website doesn’t have a theme which is mobile responsive, it is time to get it one.
#2 Update Your ‘Contact Us’ Page: Even if you already have a contact us page, (and if you don’t you need to add one asap) if all you have is a basic send message box, you are losing out. Add in alternatives like your email address, social media buttons and if you have the resources a live chat. All of these improve customer engagement, which in Google’s view is positive.
A common mistake that many website owners make is thinking that improving their SEO ranking is something which can only take place away from their website. They clamour for backlinks and will make plans for a social media onslaught, and while these can help, a more sensible strategy would be to look at ways of improving the SEO on their own doorstep; in other words, their website.
One of the biggest benefits of working on your website to improve its SEO, is you are in full control of what you do. You can select which aspects of your website you want to work on, and in which order you do them. You can choose the number of resources you want to employ in terms of time, effort, and possibly even funds, should you decide to outsource any of the work.
Here are 3 important changes you can make to your website, which can improve your search engine rankings.
#1 Content: Most webmasters and website owners should already know that content is important, not only for ranking their website but for the benefit of visitors to the site.
You need to assess whether the content on your site has the appropriate keywords, if it is engaging enough to make visitors to your website want to stay and ask yourself if it is the correct type of content for your market.
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, then you need to correct your existing content, and make sure that any new content which you add, helps your website, rather than hinders it.
In this multimedia age, the days of just using written content are long gone although it is no less important. However, you need to think about other content such as audio, images, video, and where possible make it as interactive as possible.
Content which engages your visitors, not only helps you to build a loyal following, it also makes your website worthier of a higher ranking in the eyes of Google, because of the time that people spend there.