3 SEO Podcasts for Your Listening Pleasure

In addition to using blogs to learn more about SEO, podcasts are full of useful information. Podcasts provide news, tips and pointers on different topics and can help make a commute or other downtime more productive. Listening to an SEO podcast could make your SEO more successful, without cutting into your already busy schedule. Here are three great SEO podcast recommendations from the Searchable to get you started.

 

SEO 101

SEO 101 is, as the intro goes, your introductory course on search engine optimization. This podcast eases listeners into the basics of Search Engine Optimization without a lot of the more technical jargon. With over 200 podcasts, SEO 101 has covered a lot of different topics and their backlog probably contains some sort of information on the question you have.

Their recent episode on how to improve local search results gives a good feel for the podcast’s style and feel. Ross Dunn and John Carcutt, the hosts  of the show, discuss Google’s method for determining quality content by taking information from all around the web, finding the best answer, and then breaking it down for listeners.

SEO Rockstars

If you feel you have graduated from 101, you can also check out their sister podcast SEO Rockstars. SEO Rockstars covers topics in a bit more detail and bring in a variety of experts to participate in the conversation. Although this podcast is a bit newer, their backlog still covers quite the variety of topics, including covering many topics more in-depth than SEO 101.

A recommended podcast to listen to, especially for small business owners, is the Small Business SEO value. Here, hosts  Chris Boggs and Frank Watson discuss the importance of owning websites and how to avoid “#SEO lies” in order to get the most value from your SEO efforts..

Edge of the Web

Both Edge of the Web’s podcast and the website in general are an absolute treasure trove of great SEO content. The podcast, a product of Indianapolis based Site Strategics, breaks down different SEO topics with interviews of industry professionals and an open, funny personality.

Site Strategies CEO Erin Sparks, leads a rotating cast of other Site Strategies employees and other experts in a discussion of SEO tactics and other digital content. In a recent podcast, they brought Barry Schwartz onto the show to talk about his experience as an expert in the search engine field.

If you don’t have time to listen to the whole episode, Edge of the Web will post highlights of the podcast on their YouTube page. Another major tool from the website is their Score Your Site tool where the people at Site Strategics will take a look at your website and give you feedback for free!

 

Podcasts can be a valuable tool not only for improving your SEO, but also for all aspects of your business. With over 60,000 podcasts out there, one is bound to help answer some of your questions.

For a quick glossary of terms you may hear on these podcasts, check out our Go-To Glossary for SEO. For current trends in SEO check out our Evaluation of 3 SEO Trends of 2016.

Head Towards Better SEO With Headers

Headers are more than just an exciting soccer move, but actually play a very important role in Search Engine Optimization. Incorporating headers into your website can help improve web traffic and SERP rankings.

The Basics

Headers are a part of a webpage’s architecture that help separate titles from the main text of the page. There are six levels of headers  that start with header 1, or h1, and go all the way down to header 6, h6.  H1s are the most important, usually the title on the page, and are a very broad description of the topic at hand. As the header numbers increase, their text gets more specific, but they also become less important. For example, let us look at the headings for a hypothetical ice cream shop.

 

<h1>Scoops Ice Cream Shop Menu</h1>

<h2>Soft Serve</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h4>Toppings</h4>

<h5>Nuts</h5>

<h5>Sprinkles</h5>

<h2>Milkshakes</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h3>Strawberry</h3>

 

As you can see, as the header numbers increase, the topic gets more specific, from the menu, to the title of the page, to the type of ice cream, to the ice cream flavors, to the toppings before taking a step back to move onto a different type.  It is important to note that you cannot skip levels in your headings. Jumping from a h1 to an h3 will break the HTML coding. Additionally, every page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 heading. H1s are the most important heading, but having more than one creates confusion both for customers and search engines.

 

Headers and SEO

So how exactly do headers help optimize your webpage?

Importance

Headers help denote important title text from the rest of the information on the page.  Google’s Hummingbird algorithm uses headers, especially the h1 and h2s, to determine pertinent information on the page and help put relevant sites on their result page. Looking back at our example from earlier, the ice cream shop would rank well for “local soft serve”, a h2, but be ignored for “local sprinkles”, a h5.

Organization

Organization, both for you and the visitors of your web page, is another benefit of headers. Headers help to provide structure for the pages, as well as keep them organized. Pages look better and can make content easier for users to find.

Consistency

Search engine algorithms compare headers against the body text of a page when determining what to put on a results page. Headers that match the body text get ranked higher, while mismatched headers and text will fall in the rankings.

 

Pitfalls of Headers

While headers are an easy thing to start with when optimizing your website, there are a few things to avoid.

Too Many or Too Few h1s

Each page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 header. The h1 header is a vital part of the page layout and SEO, but multiple h1s usually confuse both readers and algorithms.

Spamming Text into Headers

Headers are important in identifying keywords and other important information on a page. However, tons of headers or headers with paragraphs of text are viewed as spam by some algorithms and hurt your search engine standings.

Hiding Text

One older method of getting higher rankings on search engines was to put keywords unrelated to your product in headers on your page, but coloring them the same as your background. This prevented everyone but the search engine algorithms from seeing the text and would cause irrelevant pages to pop up on SERPs. Now this practice is considered unethical and your page will be penalized.

 

Although they do not have the biggest impact on your SEO,  headers are an important part of your optimization process and an easy way to score some goals early on.
For more basic SEO, check out our Basics of the Basics article. For more pitfalls to look out for as you begin your journey, check out our 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO Journey.

Rock the Moz Bar

Here at Searchable, we have already talked about Moz a number of times, including their blog and their On-Page Grader. Today we are going to take a look at the Moz SEO Toolbar, an in-browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that lets you track SEO while browsing the web. While there are some upgraded features available with Moz Pro, we will be focusing on getting the most out of the free tools in the Moz SEO Toolbar.

The Basics

Being an in-browser tool, the Moz SEO Toolbar is always there to provide background information on your webpage or what makes a competitor’s website rank so high. The toolbar has two main features, the SERP overlay and the web page analysis.

SERP Overlay

The SERP overlay is a feature that helps explain why different web pages rank so highly on Google, Bing or Yahoo search. In this overlay, each result is shown with their page and domain authority scores. Page authority serves as an indicator of how strong the individual page is, while domain authority shows the strength of the website as a whole. For example, let us say you want to start a boutique cat clothing store. The Google SERP if you search the term “cats” looks like this:

Cats Search Engine Result Page
Each of the top 3 posts have mid-range page authority ranking and 100 domain authority. It would be very hard to break into this SERP.

On the other hand, if you search cat boutique, this is what the SERP looks like:

Cat Boutique Results Page
These pages have a much lower page and domain authority score on average. As a result, ranking high on the cat boutique SERP would be a much more attainable goal and something that would take a lot less time and effort.

Web Page Analysis

In addition to the SERP overlay, the MOZ toolbar also lets you gain insight into the what ranks certain pages so highly. Keeping with the cat boutique example, we can look at the top ranking result when you search for cat boutique.

Hemmingway Web Analysis

Hemingway’s has low page and domain authority, but a low spam score and decent Facebook activity. The low authority rankings mean the page does not have that much clout and is susceptible to being passed on the SERP. However, the low spam score means search engines are not penalizing the page for Black Hat SEO, and the Facebook activity shows the company is active on social media.

The two tools on the left of the toolbar help dig a little bit deeper into the page. The Magnifying glass over the web page is the page analysis tool. This tool pulls up information about a website that is important for SEO, such as headers and meta descriptions.

Page Analysis Tool

The other tool is the highlighter tool, which highlights links on the page.

Link Highlighter

In addition to looking into competitors, the web page analysis feature can also be used on your own web page. When used on your site, this tool can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses or point out holes in your website’s SEO.

As pointed out earlier in this article, and as can be seen throughout the images, there is a full version of this toolbar. The full version will give you access to more metrics and analytics and can be tried out for 30 days free of charge. The free version of the Moz toolbar should be more than enough to get you started on your SEO journey.

For the Chrome version of the Moz Toolbar click here. For the Firefox version, click here. For more posts about free SEO analytics tools, read Ana’s article on 4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed.

Why and How to Track Your Webpage

Now you are well on your way with your SEO journey. So far you have helped Google find your website and avoided some early pitfalls that many business encounter when starting to optimize their websites. Now is a good time to look at the progress you have made and how to track your SEO progress.

Why should I track my websites rankings?

Tracking your website’s page rankings and traffic flow may seem like an unnecessary addition to your already busy schedule. Good SEO will work whether or not it is tracked, right? Real data gets real results. Tracking can help make your optimization more efficient and effective, as well as allow you to spend less time on SEO.

How do I start tracking?

Establish a baseline:

The first step to tracking your website is building a baseline of your website’s current traffic. Using Google Analytics or any number of other online tools, many of which are free, you can establish your webpage’s current metrics, such as Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking or daily number of views. These baseline statistics will help point out areas that need improvement on your website.

Set SMART goals:

Once your baseline information is established, you can set targets to work towards for improving your website. Setting SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based, goals allows you to give trackability and structure to your objectives. By making your tracking goals SMART objectives, you will also improve the targeted metrics. Instead of setting a goal to “improve daily pageviews”, set a SMART goal like “increase daily pageviews by 20% in three months”.

What should I track?

Different metrics help show your website’s strengths and weaknesses in various areas. Here are a few basic metrics to start looking into:

Bounce Rate:

Bounce rate looks at the number of people who visit your website without interacting at all. High bounce rates can indicate problems with your website, such as a slow loading screen or a lack of interesting and engaging content. Lower your bounce rate by helping people find the content they are looking for on your page. You can also use tools such as GTmetrix, recently featured in Ana’s 4 SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed article, which helps optimize your webpage’s loading.

Referring Pages/Keyword Rankings:
Knowing how people are getting to your pages is important to knowing your audience and spending your time and resources properly. Referring pages is a name for when websites link to your pages and how many people followed these links. Knowing who linked to you can provide new websites to build connections with. Keyword rankings show how high on the SERP your website appears with different keywords. Looking at which keywords score well with search engines can determine what words to highlight in advertising. Additionally, some sites can help determine unpopular keywords that could be used by your website in the future.

Link Strength:

Link Strength is a metric that shows how strong the links on your website are. While links to other websites are good, too many links or links to low ranking websites will actually hurt your website’s credibility, causing it to drop in SERP ranking. Ecreative Link Juice Calculator, another one of Ana’s  4 SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed, can help you make sure your links are strong and relevant.

 

Tracking your website can help optimize your page and the way your SEO flows in general. This will ultimately provide you with more leads and better connections all with less time spent. When it comes to tracking, a little set-up can go a long way.

 

For more information on Analytics, read Becca’s article on Robots.txt. If you wanted to read my previous work, check out my post on SEO Ethics

Putting the Ethics in SEO: Optimizing in an Ethical Manner

As you begin your SEO journey, it is important to consider the ethics of SEO. Optimizing your site in an ethical manner is important because it helps maintain consistency with your business’s identity and authenticity. Unethical, often called black hat, optimization may actually have legal implications for your business and send your website plummeting down, not up, the results page.

SEO Code of Ethics

Many of the firms that do SEO, such as Bruce Clay Inc or Fuel Web Media, have an SEO Code of Ethics that they promise to follow. Using Bruce Clay’s code of ethics as an example. This code has a couple of points that deal more with the firm’s relationship with their client, but there are a few important points that apply even to small businesses too.

  • No SEO practitioner will intentionally violate any laws

Working to stay within legal boundaries is important in any business context, SEO is no exception. Be sure that anything you do to improve your search engine results are within laws of the state and err on the side of caution.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent the content of the client site
  • No SEO practitioner will misrepresent their own abilities, education, training, standards of performance, certifications, trade group affiliations, technical inventory, or experiences to others

These two points are closely tied together. Ensure that all visitors to your website are receiving the same content. Don’t false advertise. Do not overstate your abilities or claim to sell certain products/services just for the sake of improving your search rankings.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent others work as their own

Be careful to properly credit any work you use on your site that it is not your own. Provide links back to the original source of information, not just where you found it, and ask permission. Not only is this a more ethical practice, but it could help make a new contact as well.

Looking at this code of ethics can help set a tone for your brand. Add some clauses of your own to maintain a consistent, ethical stream of content for your business.

 

Black Hat SEO Techniques and How to Find Them

Black hat techniques are just about as sketchy as they sound. They are aimed at tricking the search engine algorithm into ranking the page higher. They can range from relatively harmless, such as adding random, unconnected keywords on your website, to more nefarious methods, such as link websites to a lot of low-quality or unrelated pages. Designhammer’s list of 17 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid has great examples of not only different black hat techniques and what they look like, but also better white hat counters.

Black hat SEO techniques may increase your search results in the short term, but it is entirely based on trying to outsmart a computer algorithm that is, let’s face it, much, much smarter than you. The algorithms will figure out what is going on and sort out both your links and your entire website. Using black hat methods will cause your website to be entirely left out from all search engine listings. The graphic below, from Axandra gives a great visualization of the effects of black hat, called spammy SEO methods on the chart, and white hat, called ethical SEO.

Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

As you can see, the spammy SEO method sees a sharp uptick in position for a short period of time, but has an immediate drop off a short time later, as the site is banned and left off of search engines.  Without a listing on search engines, any growth is almost impossible. Bruce Clay offers a SEO Penalty Assessment Service that helps companies repair their standings and undo the damage caused by black hat SEO. The ethical search results have a slower growth rate, but the growth is consistent and the page is never punished in the rankings. As a result, using white hat methods will allow your page to reach a much higher level.

Ultimately, following an ethically sound system of search engine optimization is the best way to improve search results in both the short and long term due to punishments imposed by search engine algorithms from unethical, black hat methods.

 

For more possible dangers in your SEO journey read our post of 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO.