SEO 101– Your Ultimate SEO Handbook For 2021

All about SEO

SEO 101– Your Ultimate SEO Handbook For 2021

“The best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google search.”Anonymous

It’s virtually impossible to run a business in 2021 without the help of the right SEO guidelines. From ‘pizza places near me’ to ‘plumbers near me,’ your customers are only a search away, provided you are able to reach them. This is where SEO comes in and we are here to tell you what SEO is all about.

Let’s look at it this way. How often do you go to the second page of Google or any other search engine when you’re looking for an answer? Almost never, right? Needless to say, that’s true for your customers too. If you want them to find you, you’ve got to be on the first page, if not the first result.

There are certain factors that Google considers ideal in order for you to ‘rank’ on its search engine, these are known as ‘core web vitals.’ Let’s look at what they are.

SEO Statistics

Source: NineStats

What are Core Web Vitals?

In simple words, core web vitals are factors that measure one crucial aspect of any web search: user experience. So, in order to holistically measure how good the user experience of a website is, Google measures several key aspects that are crucial in building that experience. These are known as the Core Web Vitals of a webpage or a website. Some of the most common web vitals that Google has always been measuring to rank your content include page speed, loading time, interactivity, and visual stability.

However, to judge the user experience more comprehensively, Google has also started measuring three additional vitals. They include:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This factor analyzes the time taken for the largest piece of content on your webpage to render completely and be visible to the user. For instance, it could be a heavy image file or a video. While the text on your page could load instantly, your LCP weighs in the heavier content too. Google has set a standard at 2.5 seconds or less as good LCP, anything beyond that needs improvement. If your primary content takes more than 4 seconds to load, then it’s safe to presume that your SEO is doomed.

Largest Contentful Paint

Source: Web.dev

Input delay

Google also analyzes the time your website takes to respond to an action made by the visitors. This should ideally be less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative layout shift

Google analyzes the shift of buttons and various links as your website loads. Ideally, you want no movement, so users don’t click on a button but mistakenly get taken to a different destination because the button moved as other page features finished loading.

Average Page Load Speed

Source: Databox

It’s essential to note that these are only a few factors among the 200 or so factors that Google uses to analyze a website. All these factors come together to make the Google Algorithm.

Out of all these factors, keyword usage and relevance are relatively high on the ladder. Let’s have a closer look at those to understand how keywords help you rank better.

Keywords and SEO

Every business has a target audience and this audience is looking for something specific. For example, an Italian restaurant has an audience that has a taste for continental food while someone who wants to renovate their home is looking for a home renovation company. These interests determine the keyword for their digital queries. An SEO keyword essentially is what helps Google match your page to a search query. Getting the SEO keywords right is extremely important for any business. Here’s why>

If you’re able to understand what people would search for, and then add that in your webpage, along with an informative answer to the query, half your SEO game is done.

Needless to say, before putting any keyword in your webpage content, you need to know what people are searching for. That’s where keyword research comes into the picture. For example, if you own a restaurant, your keywords would probably include: ‘restaurant near [the area you’re located in],’ or ‘fine dining restaurant near [the area you’re located in]’. These keywords help Google identify that you are the answer to the customer’s query.

Here’s a simple guide that we’ve prepared a quick and simple guide to do keyword research for any brand, product, service, or business>

While keywords are crucial, the story doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more to the Google Algorithm than the keywords.

how to do keyword research

Understanding The Google Algorithm

The Search Engine Journal has put together what we think is the most comprehensive definition of Google Algorithms. Here it goes.

“Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).”

Here’s a detailed post on the Google Algorithm for you>

While that quite summarizes the purpose of the algorithm and what it is, we’re sure that was a mouthful for you to grasp. Let’s break this down for you. Consider that you’ve invested in a new website to attract your audience. It’s a really well-made website with the right user experience and yet you have no visitors. Before you pull your hair and grind your teeth over it, the answer is simple. Your website doesn’t show up on any search results. It is currently invisible to hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

To be able to be seen by the world, you first must make your website visible to the crawlers.

What are Crawlers?

So how does Google understand your website? With the help of its bots. Googlebot is the name for Google’s web crawlers. These crawlers simulate your website’s visitors. Googlebot desktop simulates a desktop-user while Googlebot mobile simulates a mobile user.

These bots have one job to do: crawling through your website and go through the various links and the sitemap. If your website has the right structure and there are no technical barriers, these crawlers will spend more time on your website. Google crawlers only spend the most time on the top-ranking pages.

If you have the right structure, a sitemap and you’re adding fresh content regularly, Google’s crawlers will spend more time on your website, thus increasing the chance of ranking.

Read our blog on how Google’s SEO works to gain a deeper insight into crawlers, indexing, and rankings.

How to Ace the Algorithm

It’s one thing to understand these technical concepts and another thing to implement them to ace the Google algorithm. The key to ace the Google algorithm is to understand how it functions. The core focus of Google is to replicate user behavior. In short, it is thinking more and more like a human with each algorithm update.

As we mentioned earlier, there are more than 200 factors that the Google algorithm takes into consideration. While it’s impossible to get all of these rights, the backbone of the algorithm is the content.

Average content length

Source: SerpIQ

The quality of your content and the value it provides to your users will help you ace the algorithm game. As you see in the chart above, blog posts with longer (and more valuable) content have a higher chance of ranking.  For instance, take this article on SEO for example. We’ve kept it comprehensive and detailed, so it would rank higher than similar shorter, less detailed articles.

That being said, just adding keywords and writing long, long articles on your webpage doesn’t complete your SEO strategy. In fact, it’s a small part of on-page SEO.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO is the process of optimizing your website through on-site updates such as content, internal links, URLs, etc. At the end of the day, it is the content of your website that will attract visitors and keep them on the website. Even Google understands this as it prioritizes content updates as a part of its algorithm factors. In simple words, it is all the tactics and tricks you apply on your own website to rank better on any search engine.

What Are The Basics Of Optimizing Content?

 

1. Use The Right Heading Hierarchy

The basic step of optimizing content for SEO is to have the right structure on your pages. Let’s say you’re writing a blog post on ‘How to Make Pizza.’ Of course, this blog will include a number of steps and sub-steps to help your reader understand the flow better and follow the right procedure. That’s exactly how Google works as well.

Importance of Tags

Source: Databox

When you’re writing content, you should ensure that it has the right tag. For instance, since ‘How to Make Pizza.’ is the title, it should have the H1 or title tag. All the subheadings under it will have the H2 tag and all the sub-headings under H2 will have the H3 tag and so on.

Not only does it make the readability experience better for your users but it also helps Google analyze your website and the content.

 

2. Focus on Keyword Frequency

The core focus of Google’s algorithm is relevance. Imagine if you’re looking for mobile phones online and all you can see are clothing websites. Instances like these are hypothetical for a reason. Google values keyword frequency more than it wants to admit.

How many keywords to target

Source: Databox

While you’re creating content for your website, you should ensure that there’s an adequate amount of keywords in your content. Similarly, you should also ensure that you aren’t ‘keyword stuffing’ or using keywords more than necessary as it can hamper your rankings.

 

3. Build Your Links

One of the most efficient ways to optimize your content for On-Page SEO is to build a database of external links. If you’re linking to external relevant websites that have high domain authority, it shows Google that your page has relevant and high-quality information.

Using external links is a great way of moving up the ranks and showing Google that not only is your website relevant it is also of high-quality.

While these are the three core on-page SEO tactics, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Here’s how pros handle their on-page SEO game.

 

Pro-Tips for On-Page SEO

 

1. Add Emotions to Your Title

Your readers and visitors will most-probably just look at the titles and subheadings of your blog and content pieces before deciding to click on your website. Let’s take the example of the Pizza blog we talked about earlier and present two options for the title:

  • How to Make a Pizza
  • How to Make the Best Homemade Pizza in 30 Minutes

Do you notice the difference here? The key to a great title is to add emotions to it. While both of these headings are of the same content, the second title is more likely to get more clicks because it draws the user in with the emotion.

 

2. Add The Current Year to Your Content

One of the key factors for SEO that we’ve touched upon is relevance. The query a user makes and the content that they see has to be relevant. If you’re searching for ‘Top Travel Destinations in 2021’ and you come across blogs that are from 2018 or even 2020, you probably won’t click on them. Why?

Information, in this digital age, expires quickly. What’s trending today may be completely obsolete by tomorrow. Hence, to improve your content for SEO, you should ensure that your title and descriptions have the latest year in them.

Fresh content v/s stale content

Source: Moz

Just as the reader values fresh content, Google does too. If your content has the latest year in it, Google considers it as a fresh content piece as opposed to a stale one and you can rank for certain queries using this technique.

 

3. Use Unique Images

Most websites rely on stock photography to add visual elements to their content. While it has been a common practice for a while now, it may not be the most ideal one if you want to boost your SEO rankings.

While stock images may not affect your rankings directly, they most certainly won’t help you either. On the other hand, unique and original images can boost your SEO rankings significantly. How? If you run a local Pizzeria and you click and upload original photos, it stores the ‘EXIF data’ which contains information about the location, time, etc.

This information helps Google identify where the picture is taken and it can help you rank locally based on that information.

 

4. Focus on Cornerstone Content

Your cornerstone content is the most important topic on your website. These topics are also the most detailed, lengthy, and prove to be an anchor for all the other niche content pages on your website.

Focusing on the cornerstone content and identifying them alerts Google about the nature of your website, along with the most important keywords, thus giving a significant boost to your SEO efforts. Believe it or not, the article you’re reading as of now is our cornerstone content on SEO.

While we’ve covered the most important bits here, if you want to make sure your on-page SEO is done right, simply follow this Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist for 2021 that we’ve created.

Moving on, while you’ve taken care of your own website, Google also takes into account what other websites think of you. That’s where off-page SEO comes into the picture.

What is Off-Page SEO?

A quick and dirty version about off-page SEO would be that the perception of your website determines the ranking of your page. It does so by judging the authority, relevance, and trustworthiness of your website. In order to know what your perception is, Google or any other search engine for that matter analyzes your presence on other external reputable sources like social media and other qualified websites.

However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of off-page, let’s quickly go over how it differs from on-page SEO.

 

Off-Page SEO vs On-Page SEO

basics of Off-Page SEO

As mentioned earlier, the main difference between on-page and off-page SEO is the fact that on-page SEO focuses on factors within your control while off-page SEO focuses on external factors.

Similarly, on-page SEO focuses on what your site is about through the content and structure, while off-page SEO essentially judges how popular you are through backlinking and social authority.

Your off-page SEO standing is judge by a few key indicators. Let’s dive right in to understand what they are.

 

What are the Main Aspects of Off-Page SEO?

There are three major considerations that you need to work upon to get your off-page SEO right.

 

1. Link Building

Building a database of backlinks is an important aspect of off-page SEO. Backlinking is the process of adding links to an external website. A core process of optimizing your Off-page SEO is to get other credible websites to link back to you. The process of generating backlinks is rather long and thorough. To break it down for you, we’ve prepared a quick read on how backlinking works and what you can do to get good backlinks for your website. Do give it a read>

 

2. Local SEO

Local SEO is when you’re optimizing your website to rank and gain traffic from a particular location. For instance, if you have a salon in the Electronic City of Bengaluru, India, then ideally, you’d want to rank for “best salon in the Electronic city” and similar keywords. This is where Local SEO comes into the picture.

Local search results

If you look at this chart, it shows that almost half of the searches on Google have a ‘local intent.’ If you are a local business with a physical presence, it’s crucial that you focus your Off-Page SEO efforts on Local SEO as well. To do that, you need to add in your location, add your business to Google’s directory–Google My Business, and add local SEO keywords to your website.

 

3. Social Media

According to research by Opinionmaster, social popularity helps rankings on Google. Since we are talking about external sources of authority and relevance, it’s unsurprising that social media has a huge role to play to boost your SEO efforts.

social media share

Source: Databox

In fact, even social media platform features like Instagram search are behaving like search engines in 2021 with a focus on alt text and relevance.

You may be wondering that while it’s good to know what matters for off-page SEO, it’s more important to know how to do it. Fret not, we’re just coming to that.

 

Off-Page SEO Tips and Tricks

There are various tips and tricks you can use to boost your Off-page SEO rankings. A crisp list of the tactics include:

 

  • Getting as many backlinks as possible. Here’s how to do that>
  • Adding your business to relevant directories like Google My Business
  • Building an online reputation with online reviews. For instance, if you are a software tool for business, you want to not only get listed on a website like TrustRadius but also get awesome product reviews there.

That being said, this is just the tip of the iceberg, the real value lies in the details. If you’re looking to ramp up your off-page SEO strategy, we recommend these two reads:

 

So far, we have broken down the basics of SEO, its importance, and its types. However, above all, it’s extremely important to keep up with the times when it comes to SEO. Google and every other search engine are updating their algorithm regularly to meet the user needs better. Here’s what is shaping SEO in 2021.

 

SEO Trends for 2021

Now that you know about the inner-workings of SEO, you might be clear about one aspect: SEO keeps on changing every year. What’s relevant in 2020 is not relevant now. To help you stay on top of the right information, we’ve compiled a list of the top trends of SEO in 2021.

 

1. Focus on Visual Search

While type-based search is still here to stay, there’s a new sheriff in town in the form of visual search. Thanks to Google Lens, which is an AI-powered visual search-engine tool, you’re (literally) looking at the future of search engines.

The technology is further supported by the demand. 62% of young consumers prefer visual search over traditional search.

Visual search capabilities

Source: Business Wire

2. The Revamped Domain Control

Earlier, the focus of domain authority was merely about links. However, the revamped domain control and authority criteria are for the glutton in you. It is now based on the ‘E-A-T’ factor. ‘EAT’ stands for ‘Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness’.

You can boost your rankings and increase your domain authority by following these three principles:

 

  • Hire or be an ‘Expert’ in your field
  • Establish ‘Authority’ by being linked to by high domain authority pages and increasing social popularity.
  • Make sure your information is visible to establish ‘Trustworthiness.’

 

3. Add Keywords in the URL

Your URLs are essentially the address books of your website. While the URL doesn’t have a major impact on your site’s ranking, it is still considered to be an essential factor. It’s important to add your keywords in your URL, whether it is a blog post or the homepage.

Not only does it improve the user experience as they know what to expect from your website or blog post by glancing at the URL but it also improves your site’s visibility. Similarly, the relevance of your URL structure through keywords does play a significant role in increasing the domain authority of your page.

 

4. Focus on Video Content

Based on a report by Cisco, visual content like videos will contribute to 82% of the total web traffic by 2022. If that is not a strong enough reason for you to start creating visual content in 2021, we can still convince you.

Roughly 55% of Google searches have at least one video in them. Whether you’re creating videos for Youtube or posting them directly for your website, it’s a given that creating visual content is among the top trends for SEO in 2021.

video search content

Source: Tubular

5. Don’t Forget the Meta Description

An important SEO trend for 2021 is to increase the focus on your meta description. The meta descriptions for your website serve as free advertising copy that draws the reader in. If you don’t choose the meta description by yourself, Google will pick what it thinks is relevant and add it, which might not make the most sense.

The right meta description has the power to increase your click-through rates, thus helping you reach the end-goal of connecting with your consumers. The ideal length for a meta description is 155-160 characters and you should include a CTA or Call to Action for optimal results.

 

6. Update Old Content

As we’ve talked about earlier, one of the key pillars of SEO is ‘relevance.’ In order to keep your SEO updated in 2021, you should revisit older content and update it. There are many ways to do this. For instance, you can go ahead and replace all the older years with the relevant ones.

Similarly, you might have published more blogs that are relevant to older blogs. This is the right time to go and add some content to the older blog and link it to the newer blogs to improve your On-Page SEO efforts in 2021.

 

7. Optimize For Mobile

How often do you open your laptop specifically to enter a query on a search engine? Mobile devices make for a huge chunk of web traffic in 2021. 40% of all mobile searches are for a local business or interest while comparable searches without using “near me” keywords have grown by 150% YoY.

Mobile search volume

Source: Blue Corona

All these statistics point to the rise of the mobile-first approach in the world of SEO in 2021. When you’re creating content or publishing content on your website, you should ensure that it is also optimized for mobile usage. Why? Your future customer is more likely on their phones right now looking up your business. If they come across a website that’s not mobile-friendly, they are highly likely to switch in an instant.

Sneak Peek: The Right Way To SEO Your Content in 2021>

 

Wrapping It Up

Search engines like Google and Bing have come a long way from when they first started. The latest trends of SEO in 2021 and the new algorithm updates are testimony of their understanding of consumer behavior.

As a business that wants to increase its visibility, you must pay attention to these basic SEO factors and trends in 2021.

Understanding Call Center Services: The What and The Why

What is call center service?

Understanding Call Center Services: The What and The Why

How can I help you today?

Sounds familiar, right? You’d have come across this question every time you would have interacted with a customer support executive. More often than not, these executives are not a part of the in-house workforce of companies. Rather, these services are outsourced to third-party service providers.

You may be wondering, why do companies hand over this work to an external resource. You’ll get your answer in this article. Here’s what call center services are and why it is always preferred to outsource them.

What Are Call Center Services?

Call Centers are business units that take care of calls from current and potential customers. A call center service is an offering provided by a consulting party that specializes in handling calls for companies.

Call Center

Source: Unsplash

In today’s day and age where customers are the king and expect to be heard all the time, organizations are increasingly trying to be available for them 24X7. A call center service becomes the communication line between your customers or prospects and you. All types of businesses including e-commerce websites, telemarketing businesses companies, product help-desks, mail-order organizations, and even non-profit organizations seek call center services. In fact, you can say that any large company would invariably need a call center to handle leads and customers.

Before we proceed on to why these companies need call center services, here are the different types of services that companies avail of.

Types of Call Center Services

There are primarily three types of call center services that you can outsource for your business. These include:

Inbound Call Center Services

As the name suggests, inbound call center services handle incoming calls for companies. It includes customer helpline calls, complaint center calls, or even service/product query calls.

An inbound call center typically works using an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Those automated messages that you hear when you dial a customer support center make in IVR. Based on your responses in the IVR, the call either is handled using existing automated messages or is transferred to an adequate customer service agent with the knowledge to handle that call. All-in-all, an inbound call center manages the entire volume of calls made to a company, screens and forwards them to a qualified executive.

Inbound v/s Outbound

Source: Go4Customer

Outbound Call Center Services

Contrary to the previous type, outbound call center services make calls for a business instead of taking them. More often than not, these are sales, lead generation, or telemarketing calls. They can also be calls for customer retention, scheduling appointments, fundraising, surveying, or even for collecting debts.

An outbound call center, too, works using an interactive voice response (IVR) system. However, in this scenario, the IVR automatically makes calls to customers, prospects using a database, which is transferred to an agent once the person picks up the call.

Quick note, to keep up with the times, customer service executives are now trained to handle incoming as well as outgoing calls. This type of service is known as a blended call center service.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is where the entire process of handling calls is offloaded to an outside organization. Here the ownership is transferred to the third-party which functions as a complete business unit in itself. While BPO service can be availed for multiple functions, call center services are one of the most common ways companies avail the option of a BPO.

Now that you know what call center services are, here’s why outsourcing call center services is a good investment for your business.

Why you should outsource call center support?

You can focus on other functions

Even though customer support is a crucial business function, it can be outsourced easily. All you have to do is set standard operation procedures (SOPs) and key result areas (KRAs) for your service partners. Once set up, you can focus on business growth, funding, customer acquisition, and other key functions, without having to worry about dealing with calls.

You get 24/7 Customer Support

As mentioned earlier, nowadays, your customers expect you to be available for them round the clock. When you outsource your call center service, you can outsource to 24X7 provider at Prismbiz, which would provide support to your customers even beyond your company’s official working hours as they work in shifts.

You have access to the latest technology

Sometimes you’ve got to leave certain things to the ‘pros’. Call center service providers are experienced in setting up efficient IVR for business. They know what kind of menus to add, which questions to ask, how to distribute calls to reduce waiting times,

Benefits of call center

Source: Vcaretec

and more. Overall, they have better access and knowledge of the technology used in setting up a call center.

You get access to the experienced manpower

Handling calls, whether inbound or outbound, is not an easy task. Agents at call center services have the expertise to handle challenging situations and deal with difficult callers. You get access to their experience and don’t have to spend too much time on training or guiding your customer support team on how to deal with customers or leads.

You can provide multi-channel support

Call centers at the present moment are evolving in terms of the services they provide. Today, a call center service also provides chat support, social media support (WhatsApp, FB, etc.) along with call support as they are now growing to become holistic contact centers than call centers. These contact centers let you handle all communication channels that your customers might contact you through.

Less effort, more productivity

Since you work with trained professionals, they’re more efficient in their tasks and are able to wrap things up faster. They’re more adept to deal with a higher volume of calls without losing any valuable customers. Overall, they help you in becoming more productive in your customer support.

Over To You

Call Center Services are already popular in many industries including aviation, healthcare, e-commerce. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see most businesses irrespective of the industry. That being said, it all depends on your business needs.

Off-Page SEO Tricks: Non-Link Related Ways to Boost Your Off-Page SEO

Off- Page SEO tricks

Off-Page SEO Tricks: Non-Link Related Ways to Boost Your Off-Page SEO

Any discussion you may have or any article that you may read around off-page SEO, would definitely mention backlinking or link-building in it. There’s no denying that backlinking is in fact extremely crucial for SEO. However, there’s a lot more non-link related factors that boost your off-page SEO.

Before we go any further, we’d recommend that you if you’re not clear about off-page SEO, do read our article around the basics of off-page SEO.

Moving on, here are five non-link related factors that can impact your off-page SEO and get you up the SEO ladder.

1. Your Google My Business Profile

For the unacquainted, Google My Business is a free business profile that you can make on Google. It is only after you have this profile that you can rank for Google Local SEO results.

Local Pack Ranking results

Source: SEMrush

Your Google My Business profile has a very strong impact on your local pack and local SEO rankings. All said and one, you’d not only have to make or claim your business profile, but you’d also have to optimise your profile for the right results. In order to do that, be as comprehensive and provide as much information as you can on your profile. This means going beyond submitting just your website, address and phone number, but also adding categories, upload good business pictures, work hours, etc.

Pro-tip: If you know your target audience is like to use Bing as a search engine, do make a profile on Bing Places too.

2. Your Google and Third-Party Reviews

As we’ve stated earlier too, off-page SEO is search engine’s word of mouth or referral system. Needless to say, reviews are literally the best word-of-mouth you can get. In fact, according to a Moz study, reviews are the third most important factor in deciding your Local Pack Ranking and stands on the fifth rank when it comes to your Localized Organic Ranking. However, keep in mind that reviews can negatively impact your rankings if the reviews are negative. So, you have to regularly ensure that the number of positive reviews on the world wide web or Google Reviews are always higher than negative ones.

The best way to ensure a constant follow of reviews is to request for one right after providing a service or delivering a product. That way the customer’s experience is fresh and they’re more likely to share positive and quick feedback for you.

3. Your Brand Mentions

Unlike the popular belief, there’s value in each and every mention that your brand gets on the web, whether or not it’s linked to you or not. While it’s always great to get a backlink, it’s okay to put efforts into mentions that are not comfortable in linking back.

Here’s why such brand mentions matter. The mentions that link back to your are express links as they direct the user to the source of the mention/citation. Needless to say, these are always sought after. However, brand mentions that don’t link to the source are considered as implied links, and have value too.

What is implied link

Source: Guestpost

Google itself says that it considers implied links in its algorithms. If you think about it, in both the cases, the brand mentions are giving value to your business, with the only difference being the linking part. So, Google invariably factors in these mentions when deciding on your brand and content authority.

4. Your Social Standing

If you’d ask Google, they’d say that your social media presence and engagement has nothing to do with their rankings. While some may dispute this stance as something that Google does not want to reveal- we’d still agree with Google. There’s is no direct impact on your ranking based on your social media followers or likes. So, should you not worry about your social media standing at all? That’s where most brands are mistaken.

Think of this logically. The higher engagement you have on a social media directly translates to the number of website clicks and mentions you get. In simpler words, social media makes people notice your brand. One way or the other, that directly leads to better brand image which in turn translates to boosting all the other SEO factors that directly impact your rankings.

5. Your NAP Citations

NAP Citations are like brand mentions but better because the don’t just mention your name but also your address and phone number, hence the name NAP (Name-Address-Phone).

Such citations are one of the most important off-page SEO signals, especially for Local SEO. To start with, search your company name, phone and address, altogether on Google and check the results. These would probably be NAP citations that you already have. Your first task is to ensure that these citation are accurate and correctly written, with no information missing. If that’s not the case, reach out to the concerned cites and get them updated.

Here’s what a correct NAP citation looks likes as compared to the inaccurate ones.

Examples of good & bad NAP

Source: Moz

Secondly, you need to get your brand more NAP citations. To do that, you simply Google your competitors name, address and phone number and find third-party sources where their name citations existing. Then, you reach out to these sources and request for a citation for yourself too.

To Sum It Up

Hope this quick and easy guide to off-page SEO can help you boost your search engine rankings. We’d recommend you always take this one step at a time and focus on that instead of doing everything at one go. There are other ways to get backlinks without creating any new content. More importantly, record and monitor your efforts. Keep track of every brand mention, citation and review that you get. Only then you can keep an overview of your brand perception on the web and ensure you stay in every search engine’s good books to rank better.

SEO Hacks 101: How to Get Backlinks Without Creating Any New Content

Generate backlinks without content

SEO Hacks 101: How to Get Backlinks Without Creating Any New Content

There’s no denying the fact that off-page SEO is as important as on-page SEO to boost your rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). In one of our previous articles, we had discussed what off-page SEO entailed and how backlinking or link building was a major part of it. All said and done, backlinking requires a lot of high-quality content creation.

More often than not, as a business, you may not have that kind of bandwidth to regularly generate high-quality content for your website or blog. Does that mean that you should put a pause on your link-building efforts and let your SEO suffer? Not really.

Unlike popular belief, creating new content is not the only way to get backlinks to your websites. While it would help to churn out quality content, you can still focus on backlink strategies using your existing content.

Here are some smart ways to get backlinks without having to create any new content.

1. Use your competitor’s efforts to your advantage.

Shrewd as it may sound, thorough competitor research can reduce a significant amount of effort you’d have to put to generate backlinks. How does that work?

As you may have read in our previous article, that a quick way of getting backlinks is to get listed on authority resource pages. To the unacquainted, resources pages are merely pages that list down all useful websites/blogs/resources for a particular topic or theme. Online directories, community websites, and informational hubs often serve as resource pages.

Here’s what a typical resource page looks like:

Interface of info-listing

Source: Info-listings

More often than not, these resource pages require a direct submission of your website or blog, and not specific new content i.e. your website is a resource in itself. So, this has become one of the quickest way to generate backlinks without content. However, if you think about it, finding relevant resource pages related to your industry can be a time-taking task.

Looking to ace your SEO. Here’s the complete guide on SEO that includes each and every aspect you need to take care of to boost your search engine rankings. Read now>

This is where you can find the resource pages that are linking back to your direct competitors and then get listed there. To find these resource pages, you can use tools like Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and Monitor Backlinks.

This is the kind of results you’d get when you search your competitor’s website on Ubersuggest.

Interface of Ubersuggest

2. Leverage your existing partnerships.

Any business in the digital space tends to work towards building their SEO. Just like you’re putting effort and looking for ways to get backlinks, so would be your partners. This is where you can offer a win-win for your partners as well as B2B clients by linking to each other’s websites.

A link from a partner/client could be in the form of a partnership announcement on their blog, a listing on any of their webpages, or a shoutout/testimonial regarding your services while you do the same for them.

Just like Ahrefs used its testimonials to link to its reviewers’ websites.

Recommendations on Ahrefs

3. Pave your way into listicles.

Writing articles in the form of lists, aka, listicles have become a rather popular form of content in the digital arena. Many websites and portals are completely dedicated to building listicles on relevant industries and topics and usually have high domain authority. So, it makes sense to get your business offering mentioned in listicles related to your sector.

The question here is how? Believe it or not, the easiest way to do this is to simply Google lists that can be relevant to your industry by typing best [your business type].

For example, if you are in the insurance industry, you’d have to search for the best insurance companies in the UAE.

Searching your competitors for listicles

Once you know the websites with such listicles, you shortlist the relevant ones that provide backlinks and reach out to them to review your business and add it to the concerned list.

4. Transform all “unlinked mentions” to links.

More often, there might be certain companies, webpages that may have mentioned you for some reference, or a quote, or even a data point but may have not linked back to you. In that case, it’s easy to add a new backlink to your website by just requesting them to convert that unlinked mention to a link.

You may be wondering how this is a backlink strategy and how would you get to know about these unread mentions on the vast web. Well, it’s quite simple actually. There are tools like Ahrefs Content Explorer and BuzzSumo that scout the internet and let you know about your brand mentions. All you need to do is just search your brand name on the explorer.

5. Don’t be left out.

Imagine you’re at a business conference and everyone except you gets a welcome kit with notepads, agenda, etc. You’d feel left out and probably go to the organizer or the person distributing the kit to offer you one as well. After all, in all likelihood, the person might have just not noticed you when you had entered. Similarly, if there’s an article or a webpage that’s listing all your competitors but not you, you should take a stance and request a mention.

The challenge, however, is to find such articles or webpages. While you can rely on tools to do this for you, we’ll tell you a simple hack–just google 2-3 of your competitors together in a search and check the results out. More often than not, you’d get solid leads to pursue from this search.

Over to You

While you may find more hacky ways to generate backlinks without content beyond what we’ve mentioned here, we’d recommend you to take them with a pinch of salt. We’ve exclusively mentioned white hat techniques for backlinking in this article. So, even if you may come across other black hat tacts, we’d always request you to avoid using any strategy that Google could penalize you for.

So, try these 5 hacks and boost your SEO with lesser effort in lesser time!

While we’ve covered a crucial aspect of SEO here, there’s a lot more that goes into ranking on top of search results. To get your SEO up and running, and to make sure you do it right, here’s the ultimate SEO handbook. Check it out>

Ace Your Off-Page SEO: The Ultimate Guide To Get Backlinks

Ace Your Off-Page SEO: The Ultimate Guide To Get Backlinks

Did you know that nearly 91% of all web content does not get a single visitor from Google? An Ahrefs study revealed that a majority of content on the web wasn’t ranking high enough to show on the top 10 results. The same study also highlighted the primary reason behind this–lack of backlinks.

As a matter of fact, more than 65% of these webpages, which had received no visitors, had zero referring domains (website linking to them) and over 25% had only 1-3 referring domains. Needless to say, the study proved that your SEO ranking is directly impacted by backlinking.

Before diving any deeper into the nitty-gritty of getting backlinks, let us explain what backlinking means.

What is Backlinking or Link Building?

You’d often find the terms backlinking or link building used in conversations that revolve around off-page SEO. In simple words, backlinks are the links on other sites that point to your web content. They’re essentially backlinking to you. How a backlink looks, is shown on right side. Accordingly, link-building is the practice of getting more and more backlinks to your webpages.

But the bigger question here is why you should be concerned with other parties linking to your website? How is the quality & the quantity of backlinks checked?

Why Backlinks Matter?

How backlink looks like

Source: Backlinko

The most popular search engine, Google, uses a tool named PageRank which essentially analyses the quality and quantity of backlinks to rank content. While there are plenty of other algorithms that impact your ranking, PageRank continues to be one of the most impactful ones. As we discussed in our previous article, backlinks are the web’s referral system. The more sites, especially the ones that are considered trustworthy, link to you, the more your credibility is.

Nofollow and Dofollow Links

To understand how backlinks work, it is imperative that you understand the difference between a Nofollow and a Dofollow link. Consider this scenario:

You probably have a Linkedin and a Facebook page for your business. So, you go and post your blog content, your website links on the social media channels. Technically, that means Facebook is linking back to you, right? In that case, that should boost your SEO rankings. However, links from any social media channels don’t impact your rankings. That’s because they’re Nofollow links.

Nofollow links have a “nofollow” tag in their HTML. So, while a third-party site might link to you, due to the tag, PageRank or any other backlink tracking tool would not count it as a backlink. As a result, it would be insignificant to your Off-Page SEO.

On the contrary, Dofollow links let search engines count the link as a backlink and hence improve your rankings. While there’s no harm in getting mentioned on sites, even with Nofollow links, it’s recommended that you focus your efforts more towards getting Dofollow links.

And that brings us to the most important question that’s probably irking you at the moment- how to get these backlinks.

Off-Page SEO Techniques for Link Building

1. Publish “Skyscraper” content

Well, as they say, there’s always a hard-way and a smart way of doing things. When it comes to off-page SEO, the skyscraper technique is the smart way of link building. In this, first of all, you find out relevant content on the internet that matches your brand and has a lot of backlinks. Then, on the same topic/theme, you create content that’s way better in the quality and credibility of the information. Before you know it, you would have smartly attracted their backlinks to your content. However, you’d have to reach out to the website linking to the original content and requesting them to update with your link solely based on the quality of information. It’ll not happen on its own.

A sample email for promoting your Skyscraper content is provided on right side.

Email sample Skyscraper technique

Source: Backlinko

Email to fix broken links

Source: Ahrefs

2. Fix broken links

Similar to the skyscraper technique, you can also offer people to update their links pointing to pages that are no longer available. Such links are known as ‘broken links’. No website wants to have broken links on their webpages as that impacts user experience and SEO rankings. As a result, more often than not, if you reach out to someone sharing your web content that can fix their broken link, they are likely to accept your request.

Here’s a sample email you can use for reaching out to such parties on right side.

3. Publish long-form content

As we discussed earlier, websites would link to your content if they find it informative. Now, there’s no denying the fact that you’re more likely to provide more information about a subject in a 3000-word writeup than in a 700-word one. So, publishing long-form content increases your chances of getting a link back.

4. Provide data/content that other websites can use

Just like fixing broken links, websites also often try to make their content is as data-driven and impactful as possible. So, it makes sense to pitch them a data-point or an infographic from your web content that can strengthen their website information.

Here’s a sample email for such backlink outreach:

Pitching web content with email

Source: Backlinko

5. Guest posting and interviews

Sometimes it works to provide information to third-party sources to get backlinks from them. For instance, you can partner with a leading company to have a webinar with your founder with a simple request–they must link to your website wherever they publish the interview. Similarly, you can offer a website that you’d send them an opinion piece or a knowledge-based writeup from a senior person in your company who’s an established expert on a topic. While they’d have all usage rights for the content, you can ask them to link to your website in return.

6. Send out press releases

News websites are one of the most authoritative and high-ranking sites on the internet. So, getting a backlinking from those can impact your off-page SEO massively. Needless to say, the only way to get backlinks from news sites is to become a source of information for them. Your company press-releases become this source of information. Regularly share updates with the journalist community to get backlinks from their media houses.

7. Use branded strategies and techniques

Apart from press releases, you can also use strategies and techniques to get more brand mentions in the digital world. Some of the common ways to do that include influencer marketing, getting features in top listings on platforms, and even by getting more customer testimonials on the web. You need to ensure that there’s a buzz around your brand and the rest would follow.

8. Get listed on authority resource pages

Last but not least, always try to be listed on authority resource pages related to your brand. Resource pages are those webpages that are created to link out to other pages such as online directories. This may be easier to do as most directories have a straightforward process for submitting a link to your website or other web content as a suggestion to be added to their list.

Betapage interface

Source: Betapage

Over to You

If you’re beginning your off-page SEO efforts, we really think these techniques can help you get a good head start. Whichever technique you decide to go ahead with, always keep the third-party’s interest in mind. When you reach out to third-parties for link-building, always mention and be clear about what’s in store for them if they give you a backlink. That’s the only way you’d be able to successfully drive link-building for your web content.

The Basics of Off-Page SEO: An Introductory Guide

the basics of off-page seo

The Basics of Off-Page SEO: An Introductory Guide

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Jack. Jack was building his website, creating amazing-well researched content for his website blog, and following all the standard checklists for content to rank on SEO. However, much to his dismay Jack was barely getting any measurable traffic on his website.

Wondering where Jack was going wrong?

As a matter of fact, while Jack was following the on-page SEO checklist effectively, he was completely oblivious of the off-page SEO ranking factors. If you don’t want to be like Jack, here are the basics of off-page SEO that you must know.

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO includes all sorts of search engine optimization techniques that are beyond your own website. These include efforts that you take beyond the boundaries of your website that contribute to its ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

It includes everything from online mentions, to influencer and social media marketing, to guest posting that lets search engines like Google understand the quality of the content on your website.

Consider off-page SEO as a search engine’s referral system or word-of-mouth. Depending on how other digital entities across the globe read your content, a search engine, like Google decides how valuable your content is. The more recommendations or referrals you get, the higher Google would rank you.

The Basics of Off-Page SEO

Source: Backlinko

In the digital world, the strongest form of referral or recommendation, therefore, is a backlink. If another website considers your content informative enough to be linked to, then Google knows that your content is indeed good in terms of quality. In fact, based on Google’s algorithm, there’s a direct correlation between the total number of backlinks and the website ranking.

That brings us to the question of how off-page SEO is different from all the efforts that Jack was putting in to rank his content.

On-Page versus Off-Page SEO

As the name suggests, on-page SEO are efforts that you put “on your website” to rank better while off-page SEO culminates efforts beyond your website or “off your website. Needless to say, on-page SEO is completely under your control and you can continuously work on it to rank better. However, off-page SEO is not really under your control. In fact, sometimes, you end up getting backlinks to some of your content pieces without any dedicated effort towards it and just by the sheer information you provide on your website.

That being said, on-page SEO efforts will start showing some

The Basics of Off-Page SEO

Source: Medium

results as soon as you start putting content on your website. You’d start ranking for certain keywords even if you’re too low on the ladder. On the contrary, off-page SEO takes time to kick-in. It is only when you have a considerable amount of content on your website that you can expect to get some backlinks from other websites.

Why does Off-page SEO matter?

You’d be wondering that if off-page SEO is not really under your control, you should you even bother about it. Instead, you could just let it happen on its own and focus only on on-page SEO, that’s completely in your control.

First and foremost, while you can’t entirely control off-page SEO, you can put in efforts to drive better link building and off-page optimization. More importantly, off-page SEO has an extremely crucial impact on your rankings. It is almost impossible to compete for keywords on content merit alone. While you may be generating amazing high-value content, off-page SEO factors are the only way to guide a search engine that the content on your website is actually credible.

You’d be surprised to know that sometimes average content with more backlinks ranks higher than data-driven content with lesser or no backlinks.

3 Essentials of Off-Page SEO

Link-Building

Link building is the bread and butter of off-page SEO. This can be credited to the fact that Google Search algorithms to date use PageRank for ranking your content. PageRank is an algorithm that decides the credibility or ranking of your website based on the quantity and quality of the backlinks pointing to it. This is why you’d find that most Wikipedia pages rank on the top for most searches your make. That’s because everyone prefers to link back to Wikipedia to elaborate on certain terms they mention on their site. In fact, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed in 2017 that they’re using PageRank in ranking and there has been no statement to counter this ever since. So, the number of domains or websites that point to your website and the authority of these websites are

The Basics of Off-Page SEO

Source: Twitter

one of the most impact factors in influencing your ranking. You can get backlinks by generating quality content, guest posting, joining forums, etc.

Building Brand Credibility with EAT

For the unacquainted, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. E-A-T is the process of establishing your brand’s value by adding content by thought leaders and influencers on your website. While many think that E-A-T is taken care of simply by adding an author bio section to blog pages, there’s a lot more to it.

In fact, E-A-T is also an off-page SEO effort and not just something you build on-page. This comes with brand mentions. If more people are talking about your brand, quoting your company that Google establishes you as a subject matter expert. Social media brand mentions or even non-linked mentions on high authority news websites help.

The Basics of Off-Page SEO

Source: Tambourine

For improving your E-A-T, sending out press releases to get coverage from leading media organizations helps. In addition to that, getting good online reviews also helps in boosting your E-A-T. These may even include recommendations from experts in the industry. For instance, if an industry expert mentions your site as one of the top sources they use for your data, it significantly impacts your E-A-T, thereby impacting your SEO.

Don’t forget your Local SEO

Another off-page SEO tact is working on your local SEO. Google has a section dedicated to “near me” searches. For instance, if you search dentists near me, Google shows up clinics within your proximity. This is done by Google local SEO algorithm.

Google My Business(GMB) is a free profile that you can make on Google that helps in boosting your local SEO. Needless to say, your GMB profile is not only extremely crucial in local SEO but also help you in building better off-page SEO credibility through ratings and reviews.

To Sum Up

Off-page SEO has innumerable factors that you can work upon to rank better. This article is just an introduction to nudge you towards considering off-page SEO efforts as well while optimizing your website. After all, as Wendy Piersall has rightly said, “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”

And off-page SEO is the most impactful way of telling Google that everyone else is loving you.

The Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist for 2020

The Complete On-Page SEO Checklist For 2020

The Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist for 2020

Looking for an easy to navigate comprehensive on-page SEO checklist to boost your website traffic? Your search ends here.

From the traditional white hat SEO facts to the latest SEO updates, this article has all that you need to take care of while putting a solid on-page SEO strategy and execution in place for your web content.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of on-page SEO, let’s quickly wrap up the basics. Hang on, did we tell you that before even considering working on SEO, you’d need to do keyword research for your web content? Well, keyword research is the starting point of any SEO strategy, and here’s how you can do it.

Once you have your keyword research in place, you’re ready to SEO your content the right way. But to optimize your on-page SEO, it’s imperative that you understand what on-page SEO means and why it matters.

On-Page SEO: Why should you care about it?

As the name suggests, on-page SEO refers to all the techniques and practices that you use on your website to optimize it to rank better on search engines. Mind you, that not only includes best practices that you apply to your website content but also those you apply to your website HTML. Every element that you add within your page a.k.a your website comes under on-page SEO as opposed to external links and elements that you optimize in off-page SEO.

When working on SEO, on-page is what you have more control over and can start from day one. As and when you create content for your website, you can keep optimizing it for SEO, unlike backlinking that you can only do once you have a decent amount of content on your website that external sources can link back to.

Keyword Optimisation

Source: Google

More importantly, on-page SEO is where you work on the keywords you want to rank for. The most popular search engine, our dear friend, Google, itself lays emphasis on keyword optimization and you can do that only through a strong on-page SEO strategy and execution.

The Complete On-Page SEO Checklist For 2020

1. Meta Title

The title of your page is the first thing Google matches to a search query. So, your page title should include the keyword you want to rank for. For instance, we want this article to rank for ‘on-page SEO checklist’, hence the title. And not just us, you’d find this in every similar article.

It is often recommended that you keep the keyword at the beginning of the title because, after approximately 60 characters, Google will crop your title out. So, the sooner your keyword comes in the article, the better it is.

That being said, it is okay if your keyword comes after a couple of words. You need not beat yourself up trying to find the perfect title that starts with your keyword. As long as it’s in the first 40 characters, your SEO would be fine.

Keywords in Meta Title
Meta Title & Meta description

2. Meta Description

Meta description is the preview text you see right under the title for your search results. Just like the title, the meta description should also be indicative of the content on your page so it should have the keywords that you’ve selected.

Ideally, your meta description should be approximately 155-160 characters so that it’s displayed entirely in the search result.

3. Heading and Subheading

If you think that your reader is going to read every line in your website content, you’re sadly mistaken. They may choose to read it eventually, but when someone lands on your website, they scan your content. They look at the headings, subheadings, text in bold and bullet points, to judge whether your content is relevant and then they look deeper. You’d be surprised to know that even bots behave in a similar manner. It is your headings that tell these bots which is the right keyword to rank for.

So, you’d have to put your long-tail keywords in headings and allot H1 and H2 tags to them to convey their hierarchy to website crawlers. In fact, you can use tools like SEO Site Checkup to see whether or not your website content has adequate heading tags that are being recognized by bots. We tried the heading tag test there for one of our articles and here’s what it showed in the image

4. Alt Text

Ever wondered how Google shows image-based results? Are Google bots able to scan your image and understand it?

SEO Site Checkup

Not really. You have to tell them what the image is about to ensure that your image is displayed as an image search result. You can do this by adding ‘alt text’ or ‘alt tag’ to your image, which is essentially the alternative text that describes what the image is about.

Ideally, you should try to put in the alt text as something that includes your keyword or is closely related to it. It further helps in solidifying your on-page SEO for that keyword.

5. Inbound and Outbound Linking

Before you confuse this with the off-page SEO linking that we talked about earlier, let’s make it clear for you. Off-page SEO is about ‘backlinking’. That means it covers the links of websites that are linking back to your website content.

On-page is SEO is about inbound and outbound linking. If you notice, at the beginning of this article, we linked to one of our earlier articles about keyword research. That’s content we own and is hosted on our domain, so it is inbound linking. However, while talking about why on-page SEO matters, we linked to a Google article talking about how search engines work. When you link to a website outside your website/domain, that’s outbound linking.

Both of these links help Google and other search engines in deciding the credibility and quality of your content, so you must not forget to add them. Tools like VisioSpark can help you in keeping tabs on your external and internal links. However, if you are using a content management system like WordPress, you can monitor these links for each of your webpages directly on the platform.

Website loading speed
Page Speed Insight Interface

6. Website Load Speed

Did you know that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less? As a matter of fact, 40% of users would abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Google wants to provide its users with the best experience they can get. So, if your website takes too long to load, Google would prefer not to rank it high on its search results.

Not just that, to help you know that your page is doing fine in terms of page speed, Google also has its PageSpeed Insights tool which not only analyzes your page speed but also gives suggestions to boost it.

Some of the common ways to boost your page speed are to avoid redirects and optimize media content like images and videos to web-friendly sizes.

Video content is gaining popularity in recent times, so while you should try to add more video content on your website, always ensure that it does not hamper your page speed. It is best to always use video in MP4 format and compress it using tools like HandBrake that reduce the file size without compromising on the quality.

7. Website Responsiveness and AMP

It’s no news that 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. So, Google now ranks your website based on its mobile version. That’s known as mobile-first indexing. Whenever you design your website, you must make sure that the images, the headings, and the layout stays intact when viewed on mobile devices. Not just that, your website should be easy to navigate on mobile devices. Using elements like the Hamburger menu (the three lines that present on the top right corner to load the menu), responsive headings, and images under 100 kb can help with mobile optimization.

Mobile friendly Website check

You can even check whether or not your website is optimized well for mobile devices by taking Google’s mobile-friendly test.

Additionally, you should also have pages in AMP format that load almost instantly on mobile. You can actually take the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) test by Google to know whether your mobile-specific pages are in the AMP version or not.

8. SSL certificate

Have you ever come across the error that says “Your connection is not private” while trying to visit a website? (see the image)

You see this because the site you’re trying to access does not have an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate takes you from HTTP to HTTPS which allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. As of July 2018, Google has enforced SSL requirements by flagging sites without SSL as unsafe in Chrome. Not just that, Google openly prioritizes SSL certified websites, so it’s a must-have in your on-page SEO checklist.

SSL Certificate

9. Keep up with Google updates: LSI Keywords and Schema

Back in 2013, Google launched an algorithm update, Hummingbird, one of the most prominent Google Algorithm updates of all time. In that, Google started LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing. That meant it would look for LSI keywords– words and phrases that had a high degree of correlation to the target topic in the search query. For instance, if you’re talking about cars, then LSI keywords might be automobile, engine, road, tires, vehicle, and automatic transmission. So, Google would rank you higher if you have more LSI keywords in your content.

Similarly, Google also started displaying snippets answering questions related to the search queries. To rank as an answer to

Latent Semantic Indexing

those questions, you need Schema Markup. Not just that, you’d find secondary links under main website links on search results. Those too are generated through Schema. Google uses it to display richer results like this image.

To set up structured content on your website, you can use extensible schemas provide by Schema.org. You can also check whether or not Google is indexing your content accordingly using their Structured Data Testing Tool.

10. Error Monitoring

Lastly, while you may have spent time applying all the best practices from our on-page SEO checklist, to ensure nothing gets missed out, you must regularly monitor your website on Google Search Console and tools like SiteLiner. These help you keep tabs on duplicate content, broken links, and other SEO issues that can hamper your website’s rankings.

Over To You

The more boxes you tick off from this on-page SEO checklist, the better your search engine rankings will be. All said and done, SEO is an ongoing practice. While this SEO checklist will definitely help you in laying a strong SEO foundation, we encourage you to stay up-to-date with the latest algorithm updates and SEO practices that come in the market as technology evolves.

Keep an eye on our blog for the latest SEO updates!

How Google’s Search Engine Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking Your Site

How Google’s Search Engine Work

How Google’s Search Engine Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking Your Site

According to Google, it has stored ‘hundreds of billions of webpages’ in its index which it uses to show results. In fact, these webpages amount to over 100,000,000 gigabytes of data that Google stores to deliver the best possible results for your search.

However, did you know that only 61% of the webpages on the Walmart website are recorded by Google? Not just that, ~20% of the URLs on the popular online publishing platform, Medium are not recorded or ‘indexed’ by Google. That means that even though those pages exist on the World Wide Web, they would never show up on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

So, it’s quite likely that your website or several pages on it go unnoticed by Google. To ensure that doesn’t happen, you need to understand how Google works and how its bots find, record, and rank your webpages.

How Search Engines Work

To start with, any search engine out there, Google or otherwise, has three primary functions:

Finding your content: Crawling

A search engine uses robots or crawlers or spiders to comb through all the content/code that’s there on the world wide web looking over any new content added or any old content that’s been updated. It then scans through this new content to find information that needs to be added to its storage. This is known as crawling.

Storing your content: Indexing

All the content that is found during the crawling process is then stored and organized in an index. In the process of indexing, the search engine understands the content on your website and categorizes it accordingly. If your webpage is indexed by a search engine, it will be shown as a search result for relevant search queries.

Displaying your content: Ranking

Depending on the content of your webpage, the search engine will display your content on its SERPs for relevant keywords. This is known as search engine ranking. A search engine ranks content based on how relevant it is to the query wherein the higher the relevancy, the higher will your webpage be ranked.

How Google’s Search Engine Work

How Google’s Search Engine Works- Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking by Google

There’s no denying that Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of the world population. As a result, 76% of all searches happen on Google. Clearly, it becomes imperative to understand how Google is finding your web content.

Crawling by GoogleBot

No discussion about crawling can be complete without talking about Googlebot. Googlebot is the popular name given to Google’s web crawlers or spiders that scan your content and figure out what part of your content should be added to Google’s Index.

Considering that there’s a variety of content that’s available on the web, Google has a different Googlebot for each. Some of them include:

  • Googlebot (desktop)
  • Googlebot (Mobile)
  • Googlebot Video
  • Googlebot Images
  • Googlebot News

Googlebot crawls your website at regular intervals and keeps adding new pages and content to its index when you update your website. But how do you know whether or not Google has added all your website pages to its index? In fact, how you ensure that your website is present in Google’s index in the first place.

 

How to check which pages has Google indexed for your website?

Google has made it quite easy for you to know which of your website pages are stored in its index. All you need to do is go to Google and search for “site:yourdomain.com” into the search bar. Google will show you all the pages that it has in its index for the specified site.

How Google’s Search Engine Work

In the case where Google hasn’t crawled through your website and indexed it, it will tell you that the search ‘did not match any documents’.

How Google’s Search Engine Work

Another scenario could be where Google lists out several pages from your website but not all of them. So, what could have possibly gone wrong?

Some of the possible reasons why your webpages did not appear in search results are:

  • Google is yet to crawl your brand new site.
  • Your site doesn’t have any backlinks.
  • It’s too complicated for a robot to navigate through your site.
  • Google has penalized you for spammy tactics.

So, what do you do next? Now, you can either wait for Google to do its job or you can do your bit in expediting the process and ensuring that your website is crawled right.

Here’s how you can ensure that Google crawls your website

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is your way of telling Googlebot what to crawl and index on your website. It is their directory to your website making it quite easy for them to scan your website. You need to add Robots.txt in the root directory of your website (yourdomain.com/robots.txt) and Googlebot will adhere to it while deciding indexable and non-indexable pages for your website. You can even tell Googlebot how frequently they should crawl your website by adding the right robots.txt directives.

In addition to Robots.txt, using Google Search Console and creating a Sitemap can also help in crawling and indexing of your website pages. But before we discuss that, let’s quickly understand how Google indexes your pages.

Indexing by Google

Once Googlebot has found a webpage, Google then tries to understand what the page is about and stores it in its index. In the index, Google will categorize your content appropriately, classify images, and make a record of the videos on your website pages. However, just because Google has crawled your website does not guarantee that it will index them too.

Here are a few standard ways to assist Google in indexing your site better:

Google Search Console (GSC)

Google Search Console is Google’s aid for you to track the performance of your website on SERPs. It takes care of the technical aspects of SEO while you can focus on your SEO content. Google Search Console will tell you all about your site’s clicks, impressions, click-through rates (CTR) of different search results, and the average position of different pages on SERPs.[see image for reference]

But more importantly, Google Search Console provides an “Index Coverage” tab wherein you get to know which pages are in Google’s index, and which aren’t. Not just that, it also lets you know what errors and warnings made it difficult for Google to index your pages properly.

How Google’s Search Engine Work

Adding your property to the GSC ensures that Google crawls your website. You just need to login to the platform, add your domain as property, and verify that you are the owner. Also, remember to add all possible domains that Google could index your site under. Google itself points out, “If you see a message that your site is not indexed, it may be because it is indexed under a different domain. For example, if you receive a message that http://example.com is not indexed, make sure that you’ve also added http://www.example.com to your account (or vice versa), and check the data for that site.”

XML Site Map

Another way of fool-proofing that Google crawls and indexes all the pages of your website that you want to be indexed is to submit an XML Sitemap to Google. An XML sitemap is basically a list of all the important pages on your website that aids Google in finding and crawling. Additionally, it also helps Google understand your website structure better.

All content management tools like WordPress, Wix, and Shopify have tools to help you generate your sitemaps. You can also use online tools like Screaming Frog to create a sitemap.

How Google’s Search Engine Work

Source: Google Support

To submit your sitemap, you first add it to the root directory of your website and then submit is URL on Google Search Console through the following steps:

Go to Google Search Console > Sitemaps > Paste the Sitemap URL> Hit “Submit”

Robots.txt Meta Directives

As discussed earlier, Robots.txt can help Googlebot in crawling your site easily. To make it more worthwhile, you can add additional meta information to ensure that your website is indexed in a way that you want.

These are instructions that you give to the robots as they crawl through your site in the form of Meta tags that you add to the HTML of your Robots.txt. These tags include:

  • Index/Noindex tags- These tags tell Googlebot whether a page crawled by Googlebot should be stored in the index. While you’d want Google to index all the pages, it is recommended you noindex pages that have thin content available only for specific visitors.
  • follow/nofollow tags- These tags tell Googlebot whether or not to scroll through the links on your pages to give link equity to the following pages. By default, all pages have the follow tag. However, you should add the nofollow tag to your noindex pages.
  • noarchive tag- This tag prevents search engines from saving a cached copy of your webpage. It is very useful for websites that have content that changes quickly. For instance, eCommerce websites keep updating their products and their pricing, so you’d not want Google to show the product page with the old price. So, a noarchive tag should be added there.

Blog Content (Pro-tip)

While the above tactics are quick hacks to up your indexing in Google, there’s a long-term play involved as well. Creating a blog for your website helps you in getting better indexing. Blog content not only gets crawled and indexed faster than static pages, but it also brings in more website traffic.

Ranking through Google Algorithm

To rank your content based on how relevant it is to the search query, Google uses Google Algorithms that rank content based on keywords, backlinks, user experience, and content quality, amongst others. Learn more about Google Algorithms and why they matter and the most important Google Algorithm updates that impact your website SEO rankings.

In The End- You can’t ignore the bots

While it should be your primary focus to make your website user-friendly and informative for your customers, you can’t be completely dismissive of the bots, especially the Googlebot crawling and indexing your website.

You need to put a dedicated effort in Googlebot optimization and ensuring that your website has all the required elements and tags to make it easier for robots to scan through your website. Only then, will your site be crawled, and indexed, and shown for search results. And trust us, the entire effort will be worth it once you start seeing remarkable results in terms of organic traffic.

5 Major Google Algorithm Updates You Must Know All About

Google Algorithm

5 Major Google Algorithm Updates You Must Know All About

It was the year 2011. Back then, there was no WordPress or Wix to help you create websites and webpages. But there was Hubpages– a go-to platform for millions of users to simply sign up and create a webpage for themselves. People would rapidly create innumerable pages on Hubpages and gain visibility and high ranks.

Unfortunately, this led to most of the content on Hubpages being irrelevant and low quality. But the SEO factor was great, so Hubpages was a hit.

However, it all changed overnight. Hubpages lost over 90% of their traffic and over 62% of their SEO visibility. And it took them more than five months to recover from the hit. Yet, it was never back to their original numbers.

So, what hit Hubpages? Panda. No, not the animal, but the Google Update. Panda was one of the most significant Google Algorithm updates that changed the SEO landscape.

In our previous article, we discussed what Google Algorithms is and why it is so essential to SEO. We also shared how Google Algorithm works.

In this piece, we’d like to talk about 5 major Google Algorithm updates (including Panda!):

Google Panda

Launched: 2011-2016 (Several updates were made)

The aim of the Panda update can be summarized by Brian Dean’s famous quote, “You really have to create legitimately great content and a legitimately great Website to rank in Google.” Google Panda was all about content quality. Panda would go over all the webpages on your website and assign it a “quality score’. Then, the score would become a ranking factor. But the bigger question is – what would make Panda give you a low score?

In the series of updates, Google set the following triggers for Panda:

  • Thin content: Doorway pages, low-quality affiliate pages, or pages with very little or no content.
  • Low-quality content: Poorly written content with grammatical errors, low-resolution images, and bad user-interface.
  • Unhelpful, untrustworthy content: Content that spams users or steals their personal data.
  • Duplicate content: Plagiarism content with copied chunks of text.
  • Article spinning: Rewritten articles using synonyms or using article spin tools like Spinbot.

To ensure that you’re not hit by Panda, first and foremost, create original, high-quality content. In addition to that, regularly check your website for duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and thin content using tools like Siteliner and Copyscape.

Google Penguin

Launched: 2012

Google places a lot of value on the links that link back to your website while ranking you. So, to get a high ranking, many websites would buy such links. Penguin came into being to penalize such defaulters. It checked the credibility of the link that linked back to you.

So, what does Penguin see as a bad link? Anything you paid for or is not credible in itself is a bad link. This includes: (refer to image). Apart from putting a conscious effort towards building credible links on your website, you should also keep a track of your links using tools like SmallSeoTools and Ahrefs.

what are bad links?
Keyword approach v/s Semantic web

Source: SemanticScholar

Google Hummingbird

Launched: 2013

Hummingbird was launched to help Google provide more high-quality results to users by understanding what they’re for better. To do that, Hummingbird allowed Google to rank pages for search queries that didn’t match the query exactly but had relevant information related to the query.

To ensure that your website is ready for Hummingbird, you’d have to include semantic search keywords in your content, as in content that answers the query that users are likely to make. The table in the left shows how semantic search is different from the traditional keyword approach.

In addition to that, your content should be detailed, well-researched, with synonyms and contextually related words. For instance, this article has both the keywords: Google Algorithm updates and Google updates as users are likely to search for either of the words and this article would be a relevant find. Not just that, it would be ranked for a search query like “What are the most important Google updates?” because of Hummingbird.

Google Pigeon

Launch: 2014

Google Pigeon too was an update focussed on user experience and affected mostly business websites that wanted to boost local SEO. Pigeon ranked websites based on their respective business’ proximity to the user: the closer, the higher.

This meant that if a user searched “dental clinic”, Google would rank websites of dental clinics near the user higher than a general page talking about what dental clinics are.

As a business, to factor in the Pigeon algorithm, you need to ensure that your business is listed on Google My Business and other business directories. Additionally, you could also add citations from these directories and reviews from customers to boost your local SEO.

Google Fred

Launched: 2017

Technically, unnamed updates that Google makes to the algorithm were called Fred as a joke by Gary Illyes. However, there was one Fred that shook the search rankings and the name stuck to it. Fred penalised websites that produced content merely for affiliated promotion or ad-revenue. Here’s an example: (refer to image)

As you can see, on this website, the ads are in yellow, given the highest prominence and the rest of the content is vague and thin. A person landing here was looking for the full-form for HSC, and the content does not answer that. It just replicates the keyword

Google Algorithm

innumerable times with the focus being driven to the ads on the page. This update will not harm you as long you ensure that your content is relevant and just not for the sake of displaying ads. You should also go over Google’s Search Quality Guidelines regularly and ensure you don’t violate them.

Web page listing

Google Updates in 2020

Google is probably updating its algorithm while you’re reading this article. In fact, Google reported 3,234 updates in 2018 — an average of almost 9 per day and the number has only gone up since. This year, Google released the COVID-19 pandemic update and a major update regarding the featured snippet (the top result that shows up which has the exact answer to your query) update, among several other confirmed and unconfirmed updates.

Needless to say, Google will keep updating its algorithm. The only way to be least affected by them is to avoid any black hat SEO shortcuts and focus on building good websites with great content. Remember the advice of Lydia Gilbertson, SEO Analyst at Distilled, “Optimize your website for just being a good user-friendly website. It’s generally the most important thing that you could focus on.”

All About Google Algorithms and Why They Matter

All About Google Algorithms and Why They Matter

All About Google Algorithms and Why They Matter

Did you know that on an average nearly 63,000 searches are being made on Google every second? That means Google is simultaneously showing thousands of results to more than 50,000 people. How does Google handle it? Google Algorithms.

Before going any further on what is Google Algorithm, we’d just like you to know that:

All About Google Algorithms and Why They Matter

And in this article, we’d cover why Google Algorithms matter for any business with an online entity.

What is Google Algorithm?

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Google Algorithms is the system Google uses to show your website as a search result for a query on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). These algorithms retrieve data from Google’s search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query.

Why was Google Algorithm needed?

To understand how Google Algorithms came into being, you’d have to understand how searching engines worked before Google. Before the 90s, searching on the web was just like looking through a directory. You had all the content listed and you had to hunt for the relevant one. The search engines were mainly recording all the websites that existed.

It was only in 1993 that JumpStation, created by Jonathon Fletcher devised a web robot that would find pages on its own, build them into a repository or index, and also use a query program (like a web form) to help people find these pages. It was the first resource-discovery tool on the web. Back then, JumpStation would index and find results for searches merely based on the titles and headings found in the web pages.

A year later, came out Webcrawler which went beyond the titles and headings, and scanned the entire text on the webpage to index it. Using WebCrawler, users could search any word/phrase on the web instead of a pre-decided list by the search engine. WebCrawler became widely popular. At about the same time, Lycos, a similar search engine was also launched by Carnegie Mellon University and became a major hit.

Soon several search engines came into being and worked more or less on the keyword approach. These included Yahoo! Search, Excite, Infoseek, Inktomi, Northern Light, and AltaVista. They’d scan the page, find the most common keywords and then rank the page for it. All the webpages were stored in a web directory. They worked on the logic that a page which has a certain word would be a relevant search result for it. So, if you would’ve searched for the

History of search engines

Source: ResearchGate

word “Harry Potter” back then, the page with “Harry Potter” the maximum number of times would rank first.

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As the keyword mechanism became widely known to the masses, people also found loopholes to trick these search engines. This led to the birth of the popular practice known as “keyword stuffing”. Instead of putting in the effort to create content relevant to a keyword, people would essentially stuff their webpage with a keyword multiple times to get better rankings. As a result, users got search results that were spam.

Then came Google, well-aware of the existing spamming issues in the search engine arena. Based on a recently developed algorithm (RankDex by Robin Li), Larry Page patented PageRank, Google’s algorithm to rank pages regardless of their content. The algorithm ranked pages based on the number of links they receive. It was based on the understanding that the page with relevant information endpoint of many links while spam pages don’t get links. (Now you know why Wikipedia pages rank at the top- everyone’s linking back to them!)

Needless to say, PageRank was a game-changer as keyword-stuffing no longer was the shortcut to rank higher. But that didn’t deter spammers from finding new ways to ‘fool Google’. In fact, tools like “Google bombs” and “Spam Farms” came into being soon after. They were complex networks of pages linking each other so that they could eventually increase the Pagerank of some target pages.

Did Google back down? No, instead Google upgraded Pageranks and developed Google Algorithms- an ever-evolving system for ranking relevant webpages. This brings us to the next big question- the mechanics of Google Algorithms.

Wikipedia Search

How does Google Algorithms work?

In simple words, Google Algorithms scan your webpage, index it in its directory, and show it as a result for relevant search queries. But what do they look at while deciding which page should be shown as a search result and where should it rank? Here are the 5 things that Google Algorithms make note of while listing your webpage as its SERPs.

User Intent

Google’s ultimate goal is to ensure that the user finds a result that’s relevant for their search and find it as soon as possible. To do that, Google algorithms understand the ‘meaning of the query’ that the user has. A simple part of it is to check the query for any spelling errors and also expand the umbrello of the search. One of the tools Google uses is its synonym system which identifies synonyms of the words you used and shows high-quality pages ranking for those. For instance, if you search for “Google Algorithms meaning”, Google would also show you results for pages like “Google Algorithms definition” and “What is Google Algorithms”. As the owner of the website, you should just try to use keywords that people are searching more for.

Relevance

To rank your webpage, Google needs to know that the page is relevant to the user’s keyword query. While Google is mindful of the keyword in your text while mapping your page to a query, it also now has machine learning tools that let it know whether the other content on the page has relevant information regarding the keyword. For instance, we’d not be able to rank this article for the world Google Algorithms just by stuffing the phrase here a million times. Rather, long-tail keywords and details like “how does Google algorithms work”, “why Google Algorithms was needed”, “PageRank” tells Google that the content here is relevant to a query about Google Algorithms.

Content Quality

Google Algorithms also judge the quality of your content by understanding the pages that link to your page. If other prominent websites link to the page (the PageRank algorithm), Google knows the information is well trusted. Google now also has aggregated feedback that helps it decide the quality of information.

Now you’d be thinking if Google ranks webpages based on the backlinks, why can’t you just buy some of those to rank higher. We wished it was that easy to trick Google!

Unfortunately, Google has Spam algorithms that ensure that your sites don’t rise in search results through deceptive or manipulative behavior. In fact, it has listed factors like low-quality

Quality and relevance of content

Source: Google

spam sites, including buying links that pass PageRank or sneaking invisible text onto the page as things that Google could penalize your website for in its webmaster guidelines.

Usability

Many website creators and owners often overlook this aspect of Google algorithms. While your ranking does depend on the content on it, Google also wants the people visiting the website to have a good experience. This is where Google Algorithms check the usability of your website while deciding on its rank. Using these algorithms, Google knows whether your website can be viewed well across browsers and devices, irrespective of their size. Your website shouldn’t look weird on mobiles. In fact, because 70% of web traffic comes from mobile, Google now checks your website’s mobile version first while indexing it and not the desktop version. In 2018, Google also added the loading speed of your webpage as a factor that affects your website usability. You can make uses of tools like PageSpeed Insights and Webpagetest.org to know the areas of improvement in your website. While these are the key factors that Google Algorithms look at, Google regularly updates these algorithms to make them more effective.

Why does Google Keep updating its search algorithms?

SEO experts and website owners striving to rank better on Google would probably relate to this meme. Google constantly updates its algorithms with ~500-600 major and minor updates happening each year. Why, you may ask?

Well, as Ben Gomes, Google’s Vice-President of Search, likes to put it, “our goal is to get you the exact answer you’re searching for faster.”

So, Google constantly keeps evolving its algorithms to find better and faster search results for its users. As technology progresses and the way people search evolves, Google adapts its algorithms accordingly.

Google Algorithms updates

While user experience and relevance is the primary reason Google keeps updating its algorithms, there’s another reason too. Google likes to stay ahead of the game. You see, in the constant bid to rank higher, people may come up with ways to work around the Google algorithms. But with constantly changing algorithms, Google doesn’t allow people to find shortcuts to defeat the Google system. Rather, you’d find that if you get the above basic right, Google updates will not affect the ranking. In fact, it may even boost your ranking. The updates are Google’s way of making sure that the spammers and tricksters don’t get to the top ranks.

In the End

The real hack for Google algorithms is pretty straight forward: create quality content. Google intends to provide the information they need. So, all you need to do is have well-written and well-presented content that people find useful. That being said, it is also important to stay up-to-date with Google algorithms that have happened in the past, and the new updates Google does to ensure that you are not in violation of any of them.