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A Guide to How Meta Tags Still Impact SEO

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For a typical query typed into Google’s search bar, Google’s search algorithm relies on more than 200 “clues” to guess what the user might be looking for and give them back exactly what they want. Meta tags are one piece of the Google algorithmic puzzle representing a fantastic way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites.

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But there is confusion among webmasters concerning the importance of meta tags with articles popping up over the web every now and then about how Google ignores meta tags. Perhaps it all started with the following video where Matt Cutts said verbatim “We don’t use the keywords meta tag in our search ranking. Other search engines might but Google doesn’t.”

Note that Matt Cutts only said that Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking. He said nothing more and nothing less about using meta tags as a proxy for information about a website’s content. The keywords meta tag had value at one time for SEO and that’s no longer the case. This does not mean that Google ignores meta tags altogether when it comes to search ranking. For example,

  1. The Meta Robots tag is still one of the most important tags, which lets you influence search engine crawler activity on a per-page level.

For example, you can control how Google and the other search engines treat a page with implementations like:

  • index/noindex: This tells the search engines whether a page should be included or excluded from the index.
  • follow/nofollow: This tells the search engines whether links on the page should be crawled or disregarded.
  • noarchive: This prevents the search engines from saving a cached copy of a specific page.
  • nosnippet: This prevents the search engines from displaying a descriptive block of text next to a page’s title and URL in the SERPs.

There are, of course, other tags that you can use as a way to store information within your site and describe its content for the search engines without being actually viewable by users. Read more

6 Best Security Plugins Available for WordPress

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WordPress is the most popular content publishing platform on the Internet by a large margin. This makes it a popular target for malicious hackers and spammers. But you’re probably thinking “Why would anyone want to attack my website?”. In particular, if you have a low traffic website, security is probably not one of your main priorities.

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The truth is: It does not matter if your website has low traffic. Hackers are not always looking to steal data or delete important files. Sometimes all they want to do is use your server to send spam emails.

The takeaway: You need to ensure your WordPress website is secure from threats!

With that said, the next thing you need to understand is that the core of the WordPress software is very secure (although not exactly impregnable). So when you hear someone’s WordPress website has been hacked or worse even, your website has been hacked, the security breach probably occurred as a result of one of the following reasons rather than a vulnerability in the WordPress software itself:

  • Weak user passwords
  • Vulnerabilities in plugins and themes
  • Failure to keep the software up to date

Therefore you can effectively block attacks on your website by simply addressing these security issues. For example,

  • Host your website with quality hosting company
  • Keep WordPress updated
  • Choose the plugins you activate on your website wisely
  • Keep your WordPress theme up-to-date and well-coded
  • Use strong login information and change passwords frequently
  • Use the right security plugins to toughen your website

6 of the Best Security Plugins Available for WordPress

1. WordFence

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Wordfence is one of the most downloaded WordPress security plugins for WordPress websites. Security features of the plugin include real-time blocking of known attackers, login security including two-factor authentication, security scanning, WordPress firewall to block common security threats like fake Googlebots, monitoring features and multi-site security. It also scans your posts and comments for malicious code. Read more

A Tool for Every Webmaster: Schema.org

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Throughout the years, the practices of SEO have changed significantly. As Google continues to churn out new updates, the practices are slightly altered further and further. This can make it difficult for webmasters and SEO technicians to keep up with the latest standards. Now, there is an entirely new system, which is proving to be quite effective. Now, it is highly recommended to incorporate schemas into your HTML coding for more structure and easier understanding. Within this guide, Schema.org will be explored in depth.

Schema-org

What is Schema.org?

In actuality, Schema.org isn’t an idea or technique. Instead, it is a collaborative effort from some of technology’s most substantial individuals. The group, which runs the site and is pushing for schemas, consists of experienced and highly intelligent individuals. Some hail from Yandex, while others have worked with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. With this type of backing, there is no doubt that the group is onto something big! These massive Internet corporations encourage the use of schemas and actually sponsor Schema.org.

Introduction to Schemas

Every website owner, Webmaster and SEO enthusiast needs to know a great deal about HTML coding and other similar languages. However, they likely know very little, if anything, about schemas. The schemas actually take the process a little bit further and help to define the HTML tag in a much deeper sense. When organizing your information with header tags, such as <h1>, you’re typically helping viewers differentiate the importance of your content.

By incorporating the use of schemas, it is possible to do the same for the various search engines. When these extra tidbits of information are added, the search engines have a much easier time determining the overall purpose of the tag. This allows them to provide more relevant content to users.

By relying on Schema.org, the webmaster will be able to access a comprehensive database of information and terminology, which can be used to properly mark up their pages. By using the vocabularies, which have been shared on the website, the webmaster can enable the search engines to better understand their websites. Read more

The Why & the How of Performing an SEO Audit

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By definition, an SEO audit is a thorough analysis of your website to check the overall health of your search engine optimization, encompassing both technical and creative elements. These optimizations improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in the search engines. Determining their performance can help you identify SEO problems and in turn, determine what is holding back the organic performance of your site.

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So if you’re wondering if should you perform an SEO audit, the answer is yes. Not only should you perform an audit, you should perform a thorough one so that nothing slips through the cracks. An SEO audit can help you:

  1. Analyze and evaluate the quality of your inbound links. This can help you detect if you’re attracting poisonous links from low quality sources such as link farms.
  1. Analyze what your competitors are doing and get an inside look at their backlinks with tools like Open Site Explorer (OSE) & Mondovo.
  1. Check your content and make sure your homepage content and landing pages are optimized.
  1. Check your keyword targeting, keyword cannibalization, content formatting and headlines.
  1. Evaluate your on-page optimization including title tags, meta descriptions, URL structure and images’ file names as well as alt text.
  1. Analyze and evaluate your website’s accessibility and indexation so your content performs better in the search engine listings, including checking the robots.txt.
  1. Check your site’s architecture and internal linking.
  1. Review your website’s mobile experience.
  1. Review page load time for key pages.
  1. Avoid duplicate content by making sure there is one URL for each piece of content and the content does not show up elsewhere on the domain.

These are all small changes that can be made to parts of a website but when implemented combined with other optimizations, they can have a noticeable impact on your site’s performance up the SERPs.

How to Perform a Comprehensive SEO Audit

A comprehensive SEO audit can be broken down into 5 sections:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Indexability
  3. On-page optimization
  4. Off-page optimization
  5. And competitive analysis

Accessibility

Here is the deal: You may have the most beautifully crafted website with the most premium content that you paid the bucks for but if the search engines and users can’t access it, it might as well not exist. Under this section of your SEO audit, you investigate things such as:

  1. Your robots.txt file
  2. URLs that return errors
  3. Your site’s XML Sitemap
  4. Your site architecture
  5. Your site’s usage of Flash and JavaScript navigation
  6. Your website’s performance with tools such as Google Page Speed and YSlow to makes sure your site doesn’t take too long to load.

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Semantic Search and its Impact on SEO

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Keyword-based search engine optimization, as traditionally practiced, is dead as we witness the rise of long-tail keywords and semantic web technologies. These are now intrinsic to almost every operation performed by the major search engines including Google and Bing. As a result, if you are a search engine marketer and you are serious about maximizing the visibility of your website in the SERPs, you need to have a sound knowledge of how the semantic web works and the incorporated technologies.

semantic-search

But do not take this to mean that keywords are no longer relevant to SEO in 2015. After all, the search engines do require some text to make sense of what it is your company actually does. But what they take great pains to understand (and subsequently store) are other information including places and concepts that ultimately gives the pages on a website their meaning.

In short, semantic search is this creepy functionality within Google and adopted by a few other search engines whereby the engines derive meaning from the words on your website rather than focusing on the words themselves. This was introduced as part of the Hummingbird update released in the summer of 2013.

The Value of Semantic Search

Search begins when words are typed into a search box. This makes ranking for the right keywords one of the most important activities in search marketing. But most people don’t search with one keyword. For example, someone is very unlikely to type “laptop” in Google’s search bar. They would type additional words to give additional clues. For example, they could be looking to:

  1. Buy a new laptop
  2. Buy a used laptop
  3. Have a laptop repaired
  4. Upgrade a laptop
  5. Buy laptop accessories
  6. Or do research for a paper due at school about the evolution of laptops

In turn, the search engines explore the semantics of those additional words and understand the meaning behind them to guess what the user might really be looking for. This has an application in SEO because by incorporating semantic technologies in your SEO campaigns, you can help Google deliver your website pages as the best results possible to user queries. This means you have to determine the right keywords based upon user intent and then create content based on those terms.

Semantic keyword research has many advantages:

  1. Semantic keywords inform high-converting blog posts.
  2. It can improve your click-through rate when the elements of your conversion funnel are aligned semantically, including your landing pages and emails.
  3. It can improve your quality score, which in turn leads to better rankings.

Some Tools You Can Use for Semantic Keyword Research

1. Google’s Advanced Search

Google’s advanced search results is a quick and effective way to generate semantic keywords. Using the example above, say you’re an online laptop store and you are currently having a 30% off promotion. To find keywords that visitors actually type into the search engines, type “laptop discount codes” in Google’s search bar. Scroll to the bottom, and ignore everything in between; at the bottom is a harvest of keywords. Read more

How to Use Internal Linking to Boost Your SEO Rankings

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Search engine optimization or SEO is a complex process that includes many different elements. This process was once much simpler, but because of the frequent search engine algorithm updates more and more people are starting to look for professional help. When someone mentions SEO or takes a closer look at some SEO company offers, they will notice that most services are focused on link building especially on backlinks or external links.

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Although these links are very important, the fact is that the updates we have mentioned before are usually focused on these links and it is very hard to find a good strategy related to external links. On the other hand, there is one element that is not much affected by these changes and has significant effect on the ranking, but yet for some reason this element is often forgotten or left out. We are talking about internal links.

Internal links are links that direct users to another part of the website or on a new page that is part of the same domain (website). These links are very helpful for the users because they enable them to find what they are looking for fast. In addition, internal links can be very helpful for those who want to improve search engine rankings. In other words, with a proper internal link strategy you can expect longer visits and better rankings.

Where and How Can We Use Internal Links?

1. Use Your Footer

Many website owners don’t pay much attention to the footer although this area can be very useful when it comes to attracting organic search traffic. The website footer is much more than a place where you place a copyright notice and basic info about the creator of the website. This place should be used to improve user experience and assist users who are looking for fast access to the wanted information.

2. Use your Sidebar

If you want to start a successful SEO campaign, you should know that every element of a website can be used for better ranking. The sidebar is another element that can make a difference in your website’s success. Many people use the sidebar to place links or icons that actually direct people from their website to another place – affiliate links, ads, buttons to their social media profiles etc.

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The Smart Way to Approach Link Building in 2015

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For Google and the other search engines crawling the web, links are the streets between pages, an analysis of which reveals how they are related to one another and in what ways. Since the late 1990s, link building has had an application in SEO whereby links are treated as votes in the nuanced evaluation of websites and pages. Till date, link-related factors represent a large portion of the complex algorithms search engines use to rank pages but algorithm updates including Google Penguin has transformed link building into an art.

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Indeed, through a website’s link profile, the search engines analyze not only the popularity of the site and its pages but also other metrics such as trust, spam and authority. Link building remains an important task for good rankings up the SERPs and traffic success but you can no longer participate in link schemes or buy links to achieve your SEO goals. These black hat techniques used to work previously but these days, they are a surefire way of getting your rankings to drop into oblivion following severe penalties. Instead, you need to acquire links to your website pages legitimately. To that end:

1. Create Content Worth Linking To

When it comes to SEO, the key to inspire natural linking and viral sharing is to create great content worth linking to. People won’t link to you unless your content is compelling, leveraging aspects of usefulness, information dissemination and/or humor.

To create content that readers will want to share through links, take the time to research what your audience wants and look for content gaps. You can also create content around topics that people are already talking about on the social networks and elsewhere on the web. For this job, some tools such as BuzzSumo are excellent.

Equally important, when people think content, they often think written content. Other forms of quality content include infographics, videos, PDF guides and images. In essence, think of the content you create as linkable assets that you will use to connect with people, either to solve their problems or entertain them.

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