What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of ranking websites higher within the search engines. There are lots of different search engines out with the main ones being Google, Bing and Yahoo. While some people do use the others you really want to be ranking on Google. Statistics show that over 65% of people use Google as their primary search engine so ranking on there will provide you with the most traffic.
It’s also important to note is that different search engines have their own ranking factors, this essentially means that ranking well on one search engine doesn’t mean you’ll rank on the others. These search engines use different factors to rank a website so it is important that as part of any SEO Strategy you take multiple search engines ranking factors into consideration.
What is an algorithm?
The algorithm is the science behind how the search engines rank your website, Google uses over 200 different variables on how they rank a website. Each variable is weighted and SEO’s will tweak websites to suit these requirements, however Google regularly change their Algorithm to make sure that people who try and use software to do SEO automatically cannot exploit the system.
Ideally, you will try and optimize your website to a very high standard and be strong on many of the variables so that when Google does an update you are less likely to feel the effects of such changes. Recent years (April 2012) was the start of it. Google released what is known as the Penguin update which targeted spammers and those who use link building software and millions of websites were affected. Since then there has been a range of Panda and Penguin updates which make SEO more difficult for those who look to take shortcuts.
Even now in 2020 Google are always on the lookout for websites to take down so that when the general public Google something they get a good quality relevant website for the search term they type in.
SEO Tools and Software
There is SEO software out there which you can buy and this will do some of the boring SEO work for you, things such as directory submissions and link building can be done at the push of a button.
Many SEO companies try and use software to carry out some tasks, our advice is to steer clear of any software because as tempting as it may be your SEO efforts will suffer by using tactics like these. Search Engine Optimization has been around for a while, Google is well aware of spamming techniques and is smart enough to counteract any cheating as it were. Don’t get me wrong there will always be smart people out there creating tools that can cheat the system and yes these may work for a little while, however, Google will eventually penalize you and all of your rankings could come crashing down. Search engine optimization only works best when done manually and naturally by a professional SEO with experience and reliable resources.
One of the problems many people face is being led down the wrong path. You will see that there are loads of different people out there telling you how SEO works and the reality is there isn’t one set way that SEO works. On top of this, there are loads of ways SEO doesn’t work but there is so much material out there telling you it does. Everything I show you in this course is a proven strategy that has worked for me and if you follow these steps and procedures then you will be able to rank websites.
The terms used for these SEO Tactics are: White Hat SEO, Black Hat SEO, and Grey Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO
Well as we explained this is the tactic we recommend you use as all others will lead to you being found out eventually and suffering a dip in rankings or even being banned by Google. A white hat SEO carries out all SEO work manually and uses ethical tactics only, this will result in good rankings and no potential danger or penalties. Those of you who know me know that I don’t 100% believe this is the best tactic to use. Now I’m not against white hat procedures at all, my concerns are for the businesses and niches that don’t quite have the budgets for massive advertising campaigns or have a captivating piece of content to write. That is where other techniques may have to be implemented into the SEO campaign.
Black Hat SEO
This is a tactic used by SEO’s where they use software to carry out tasks such as link building and directory submissions. Other Black hat tactics are Doorway Pages, Hidden text, keyword stuffing and link rings etc. Doorway pages are simply buying a domain name which links to your main website, for example you could sell cars and your main website is www.cars.com. You could buy other domains such as www.cheapcars.com and have a single page website linking back to www.cars.com; this tactic is now frowned upon by Google.
Hidden Text is another tactic that worked years ago, people would add white text onto a website with a white background and mention the keywords over and over again as it wouldn’t be visible to the human eye. Having keywords on your page is an important ranking factor that has been abused by people over the years so if you decide to use hidden text then you could potentially get your website into trouble.
A popular topic that you may have heard me discuss is PBN’s (private blog networks). These are a big list of sites within your control that you can link out to any websites of your choice. I won’t go into too much detail about this right now but it’s something that a lot of SEO’s will use to help rank a website.
Grey Hat SEO.
Grey Hat SEO is just a mixture of white hat and black hat techniques. Like I mentioned previously there isn’t one set way to rank a website, some niches require more work than others, some won’t need any black hat methods to rank well and others may rely on it heavily. Grey hat is an SEO tactic that implements any technique that is required and if done correctly can ultimately rank your website high on the search engines.
The first video is about what is SEO. SEO is search engine optimization. I’m sure many of you know that anyway if you bought the course. But for those of you don’t know what it is, search engine optimization is a technique, a skill that people use to rank websites organically online. So forget about all your paid stuff, you’re social media, and everything else. The organic search engine rankings are what SEO is. And obviously, there’s a wide range of definite things that you can do to make a website rank.
And throughout the duration of the course, there are different modules which will go into all the different aspects of what actually gets a website to rank well. But with search engine optimization it’s not about one thing. There are lots of different things. Google will tell you that there are over 200 variables that constitute a website being ranked. As for 200 variables, there probably is if you wanted to count them all up, but the main variables are things like site speeds, click-through rate, and content on your website, link building, and technical issues. The certain parts of the technical side of your website that need to be tweaked and fine-tuned to make sure that your website is doing what it has to, and loads within the optimal amount of time. You’ve got guys that analyze server’s logs. There are real guys out there doing some real weird and wonderful stuff to try and get their own websites the competitive advantage over the next guy’s.
Back in the day, there were people out there who had websites that were just flung together, had the back content on, a nice video and a ‘buy now’ button. At some point, I’m sure that was enough to rank well and make some money online. But Google wants to, obviously, refine the websites that it shows on page one. They have to look at the technical aspects, site speed, and the content. Is the content on there really for what people are searching? The link-building side, you’ve got good quality relevant links now whereas back in the day, again, it was just sheer volume and spam.
Obviously, with the volume of websites and web pages that are flung out there on a daily basis, and I’m not sure exactly what the stats are, but there are literally millions of websites getting put up on a daily basis. Google somehow has to be able to filter out some of the garbage that’s out there. At the end of the day, that’s what SEO is. It’s always evolving and changing. Google releases updates. They’ll look at different things or look for different things, and it’s up to you to keep on top of the most recent updates. When you start learning this, it can be very difficult to get a grasp on everything that is required to rank well, which is why you’ve got to do it step by step and probably not follow that many people.
There are loads of guys out there who claim to be good at SEO who are potentially using dated tactics or whatever. Some of the guys that are on the speaking circuit and whatnot don’t even do SEO on a regular basis anymore, they’re just very good at talking, were good at SEO back in the day, and probably have guys in the office that do it. But do these guys keep on top of it? Absolutely not.
I’m not saying that’s the case for every speaker out there, just you’ve got to do your research in who you follow or who you want to listen to in order to rank well. I would always say back when I was learning, I used to follow a huge amount of people. Some were talking bullshit, some weren’t. That confused me a lot, so in the end, I had to follow a select few guys after doing more research, checking what they were saying out, trying my own stuff out, and doing my own testing. Then I started to find my feet.
You have to do your own testing, but as for SEO are, that is essentially what SEO is. Obviously, this course is designed to go through all the different aspects of SEO that are required to be done in order for you to rank a website. Just follow this as a step-by-step guide, and hopefully the end of it, you’ll have a much firmer grasp on what SEO is.
That is the definition of what SEO is, but how it all pulls together, that’s what the rest of the modules are all about.
How the search does engines work
Search engines are a pretty complicated system. The ways you need to look at there are a network of stops for it to hit before it can provide the user with the right information. There are billions of websites out there and a search engines job is to choose which sites will be on the search engine (indexed) and when to show the results based on the keywords that the user has put in.
These are ‘bots’ that search engines use to scan through the World Wide Web looking for new websites and pages to add to their database. For spiders to do this successfully it’s really important the websites are easily crawlable. Sites with broken links, bad URL structures etc can cause spiders to miss out and your pages might not end up on the search engines.
What the spiders will also do is check the contents of the page to see if it’s suitable to appear on the search engine and also what kind of keywords it will show for.
To use a search engine, you enter a keyword into the search bar and it will provide you with a list of results. How a search engine determines what it shows you are a complicated process. The first process is the when it thinks about relevance. The search engines have to crawl your website. This is the search engines analyzing your page to see if it’s suitable to show.
For example, say you have a piece of content on your site that is talking about a certain jacket. If that is made clear throughout the page then the search engine can crawl the page, see what the page is about and decide firstly if it’s going to index the page and secondly, how high on the search results it will appear for the keyword ‘jackets’ and any other keywords related.
Rules & Guidelines
Every search engine out there has certain guidelines that they need every website to follow. As you know there are obviously certain things out there on the internet that are illegal etc and should not be made easily accessible by a search engine. There are also people who use certain spamming techniques to try and trick the search engine into providing people with their website above others when it isn’t really justified. It’s really worthwhile reading into the guidelines of any search engines that you want to rank a website on so you get a better understanding of what they are looking for from you.
How do the search engines work? So, much-asked question by everyone. No one knows exactly how the algorithm works or anything like that, but you see people goggling how do the search engines work? People see using the three-step process. There are lots of different search engines out there, Google being the main one.
Basically if you look at this, it will tell you the crawl and index and the algorithm are how it all works. What I want to do is talk about a few of those things and how things work. Obviously, your website has to be built properly, first and foremost. You have to have a website that Google can crawl, index, and the bot can go in and out and check out what you’re doing and crawl and index your pages. So you’ve got bots or Google bot, if you like, if you’re asking the question of how Google works. Different search engines and even search engine optimization tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. They all have bots which crawl websites and obviously check out the pages, crawl all the content, energies and everything else that’s on there.
That is essentially what Google do; the bot goes about looking at websites. The first part is web crawling. So that’s one thing, so you hear people mentioning that the bot, spider or whatever, crawler, it’s the same thing. What we have is a tool called Google search console. It’s wise to install Google search console first and foremost purely … well, not purely because it does a lot of different things. But you know, if you want to see how Google’s crawling your website, what it’s indexing, if there are any problems, and then the search console can give you all that information.
So as I said, Google you want to crawl, and then what it should do is index the pages within your website. Now, crawling is one thing. Allowing Google to crawl your website is one thing. Getting the context indexed is another. Quite a common problem is people who copy and paste content. Now, if you copy and paste content from another website, or a supplier’s list or whatever it may be, and put it on your own website, the chances of that page being indexed are slim depending how much of it you copied.
So that’s where you can go into your search console and you can see how many pages are indexed. You can also see how many pages are excluded. You know, and the certain things within a website that you would want to exclude from Google’s index such as search photos and various other certain things. So for ecommerce websites you want to make sure that those pages are not indexed or products that’ll get maybe the description, you know, varying sizes of products.
So for example, for this black shoes, you may want the black shoes page to be crawled and indexed, but you know, you might … if the content’s going to be the same on various other aspects of that shoe, other variants of the products, then you’re going to get penalized for duplicate content so you might not want all the kind of product variations indexed. So if it’s black shoes and they come in a size six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and then you might not necessarily want six, seven, eight, nine, ten indexed. You know, having one of those pages indexed is more than enough. Then obviously the customer can select the size they want. But in terms of Google you would maybe want to filter out some of those product variations.
But as I said, the search console will allow you to see what’s indexed; see if there are any problems on there. But in terms of duplicate content, there’s a tool out there called Copyscape.com and you can easily run your website through here by sticking in your domain name. What would happen is state your domain name, and what Copyscape will do is show you other pages that have similar content on the website. So you can see here, someone’s clearly taking content from Amazon’s website for this 100 [Days of Food 00:04:42].com. That’s what not to do if you want to rank well.
So the [inaudible 00:04:49] Google is clever. It can obviously filter out duplicate content and it basically throws it in the bin if you want to use layman’s terms. So that is how search engines work. They crawl, and then index, then obviously that algorithm and whatever else they’re looking for will be taken into play. And if you, first of all, get crawled and indexed, you’ve got a chance of ranking. Whether that’s on page one or page ten, you’ve got a chance of ranking well. But obviously, they are going to take other things into consideration. It is very unlikely that you’ll rank well on content alone unless it’s a very, very niche market you’re working in or some non-competitive local area.
So that’s how search engines basically work in layman’s terms. Obviously the mechanics and everything else that goes in behind Google servers, you know, it’s a lot more complex. If you want to understand how all that works I’m sure there are core, seasoned people you can talk to such as Don Anderson and various other tech SEO’s who are completely obsessive about how these search engines work and do a lot of research on all that kind of stuff [inaudible 00:05:59] trying to get to the bottom of it. So they’re super smart people and these guys are [inaudible 00:06:08] technical stuff. But that is how the search engines work in layman’s terms.
So the crawling, the indexing, and then getting your website ranked is the key part. But Google search console is something you do definitely want to install from the get go. You can have an overview of your website, performance. It does give you a whole heap of other stuff there as well, such as if you’ve got manual action taken against you. Mobile usability, if you’ve got Site maps and various other things as well. So you can see my site map here, when Google last read it, all that kind of stuff.
There’s a whole heap of other stuff in here that you can have a look at, and what should allow you to get much more performance out of your website. And obviously it will flag up certain errors and stuff as well, so you always want to make sure your website’s error-free, so make sure that you do have a look at that, and as I say, that is pretty much how the search engines work in layman’s terms.
How to Rank on Map Pack Transcription
So I’m going to show you some tips and tricks on how to rank locally with the map pack and stuff like that. So obviously something I spoke about in the Chiang Mai SEO Conference, which I’m flicking through all the garbage here. Just going through all of the slides and stuff, you don’t need to see them all.
Now local SEO, I just wanted to visually show you this stuff and how to rank well on the map pack. Some of the tips and tricks that I’ve been working with over a period of time, that have worked well for me.
So local SEO, there’s lots of statistics out there where people tell you that up to 46% of all searches are people on Google looking for local information. There’s various other statistics here. 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. These are all fairly standard figures that do make a lot of sense. If someone’s looking for a plumber, they’re likely to get in touch with them.
So that’s the local search statistics. Now with local search we’re not going to discount technically SEO on-page or off-page SEO. That is all very important for the overall SEO structure of a website, but when we’re talking about local SEO we’re talking about the local map pack. We’re not going on about technical SEO or anything like that because regardless of how fast your website loads or how great your internal linking structure is, that isn’t what impacts the local map pack listings, so that’s why we’re going to ignore that.
So Google My Business, as I said earlier, you set up all your information, photographs, and all that kind of stuff as you can see from my example here. Obviously, verify it one way or another, whether that’s by phone or by postcard, fill out all the information as best you can, and obviously just make … I was explaining there as to why you should verify it so that someone else can’t steal your leads and whatnot, but then how do you rank well on the map listings?
You’ll hear a lot of people mention the word NAP, or NAP plus W. So NAP basically means name, address, postcode, or NAP and W means name, address, postcode and website. Basically what Google are looking for is your website citations, whether that’s in Yell.com or various other local business directories, they want to see variations … not variations, they want to see your business address on lots of different directories to make sure that that business is legit. Obviously if that business is legit, it’s verified and it does exist, then you have a chance of appearing on the map listings. So it’s really important that you do get your name, address and phone number out there consistently across websites.
Now things to avoid are using acronyms on your NAP; overdoing your NAP, just spamming the hell out of it; or using multiple locations on the same page. So if you are a business that does have multiple locations, then create a landing page for each location you’ve got. You don’t have to have them all on one page that just leads to confusion for Google.
So as I said, what is NAP plus W? It’s name, address, postcode and your website. Examples of bad NAP would be … this is what not to do if you’re going to list on directories. For example, if I was a doctor, you could have Dr. Craig Campbell, the address and the postcode and all that stuff, and then you could shorten it on another directory to Dr Craig Campbell, or Dr C Campbell. It’s these inconsistent NAP listings which cause a problem. Google want your NAP listing to be consistent across all directories that are out there.
That poses a problem because if you’re doing it yourself then fine, you can knuckle down and make sure that your name, address, postcode is consistent across all directories and stuff like that, but if you’re getting some intern or some other member of staff to do it, they may not fully understand what is required here. You want that address to be consistent that is what Google is looking for to rank your map listing. Consistency is the key.
Local citations, you can get tons of them, loads of niche relevant business directories, local directories relating to the area that you’re located in, and anything else that’s out there. You don’t have to get a million directory listings, no one’s saying that. You can get 35, 55, 105, whatever you feel is most relevant to your business. Make sure that you are on these consistently though.
If you can’t be bothered doing that, now the options are you can give it to a member of staff and say, “Go and do the directory listings. It’s a tedious job, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and it might not get done properly. You could potentially also outsource this to a virtual assistant who doesn’t really understand SEO, and again, might not do it, there might be inconsistencies. One way or another it needs to be done properly.
If you can’t be bothered doing that yourself, or you can’t trust a VA or the member of staff in your office, then there’s a great option for you, citationsbuilder.com. Robert Kirk is the owner of that, he’s a fellow Scotsman, and you can see that he’s got various different packages here. Now, you can go for whatever package is most relevant to your business or how many citations you think you’ll need to rank that business. There is no one package that suits all; it really comes down to competition and all that kind of stuff.
But for example, the key part of the citation thing that I want to touch on is I could tell a VA or a virtual assistant to go and get me 100 directory listings. One of the most common mistakes these guys make is using the same business description on all 100 business listings. Now what happens is Google will crawl that, and it’s only really going to index one or two because the business descriptions are exactly the same across all websites. So only two of these are going to get picked up by Google and indexed by Google, and that’s not what I want. I want a number of different citations. So if I do 100, I would fully expect … I’m never going to expect 100% index rate, but I would certainly be looking for the highest proportion of those to be indexed.
That’s where Robert Kirk’s Citations Builder really stands out from the crowd. They spin your description to make it unique. They do send it to an indexing tool and they do it very quickly, in five days for most of the packages there. Now they do mix it up from generic directory listings to geographic specific ones, and also niche relevant directories, and that is quite important as well. But as I say, the most important thing is for these citations to get indexed so that Google themselves, when they’re looking at your business and looking at the name, address, postcode side of it, then that is all indexed and they’re able to easily find your consistent address and postcode on all these directories. That is what’s going to help your map listing.
So Robert Kirk’s citationsbuilder.com is what you can do if you don’t want to do it yourself or you can’t afford the time to do it yourself. For the prices that Robert’s charging, it makes more sense to just get a professional to do it. That’s just one of his medium packages, but the indexing is the key part there.
Now you’ll see, and this is not just me saying it, this is a company called Blue Corona who’ll tell you that your NAP is correct and consistent, and all that kind of stuff. These guys are specialists in local SEO, from America, and they will tell you also that your NAP has to be correct. So it’s not just me saying it, other people are telling you to do it.
It’s also wise to use the same Google account for your Google My Business as your analytics and search console. Make sure that you tie everything in consistently and make sure you all work from one account. It just shows Google that you are legit and that business is working from one account rather than it all being confused and then all over the place. I don’t think that would help with your local SEO whatsoever.
Also, use a local number where possible. I think that that helps. If you have a mobile number for example and you’re a local business, you can get Twilit and get a number for a couple of bucks per month and forward it onto your mobile. You can keep that to a local number where possible. I believe that that definitely helps on there through my own trial testing and whatnot.
Tim Capper, well known local SEO guy, does a lot of stuff with Google. He will also tell you here, if you look up Tim and Google webmaster guidelines, that citations are a local search ranking factor. That’s where he’ll also tell you that it is critical that you keep your citations correct and up to date to rank well, and the consistency is really, really important. So again, that’s something that Time Capper, Google are spouting on about it, and everyone else is spouting on about it, and for when I’m training people I like to use other people’s examples as well as my own to make sure that that message hits home. So you want to make sure that your citations are there, it’s the main ranking factor for local map listings is the citations. So that is really important that you keep them consistent and the same across all the websites.
Again, this is Google releasing some information. What else helps with your local ranking factors? Obviously relevance, distance from the area you’re in, and prominence are all key factors as well. So it’s not just the citations that help, but they certainly go a long way to getting you up into that. But if for example someone’s in the city center and they’re goggling for a plumber for example, it’s likely that based on distance from that particular customer that someone else may show up before you if you’re up the other side of town. So distance does play a factor and that’s not something you can gain.
You can use the postcode trick, which I’ve mentioned. People often say, “What is the postcode trick?” So as I said, having your name, address, and postcode is something that Google are looking for to promote your maps. Now if you wanted to be a little bit sneaky, and I’m not saying this is for everyone, but you could potentially use Scrape Box, GSA, Money Robot, or any of these spammed tools to get consistent name, address, postcode markers out there on forums, on blog comments and whatever else. I’m not suggesting for a second that you go out and spam this to death because you will be penalized, Google are looking for that, but you can use these tools.
If you’re struggling to get above the competition, you may want to do something out of the ordinary to get in there ahead of them. It’s certainly not something I would discount doing as getting more consistencies of your name, address and postcode out there. So if you ever hear anyone referring to the postcode trick, that’s likely what they’re talking about.
Do Google reviews help? Absolutely not. So in this example, it’s a lawyer’s based in London or Essex, or whatever, I can’t remember the exact search was. The top one doesn’t have any reviews; the other ones do have reviews. But do Google reviews help? Absolutely not. I’m pretty sure they probably once did help, but because people would obviously then try and game the system, they have to say, “Right, we can’t lay any weight to Google reviews because everyone will start setting up fake reviews.” So they don’t help. You can rank position A on the map listing without a single review, as the previous example showed you.
But Google reviews do help build trust. Certainly building reviews and getting reviews will encourage people to click. So if I go back to this particular example, I’m personally not likely to go to the first guy because he’s got no reviews. The other ones look a bit more appealing to me. That may be a personal thing, but in terms of click-through rate and stuff I do believe that these stars do help build trust. They can impact your click-through rate, and the click-through rate is obviously a ranking factor for Google in general. So I don’t see that anything that’s going to benefit click-through rate is going to be a bad thing, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get tons of fake reviews or anything like that in order to rank your map listing.
So these are some tricks that you can get to help your map listings and get up there, citations being the main one. If you can’t be bothered doing it yourself then Citations Builder is a great tool or a great service to use if you want to get it done quickly, easily and properly, so have a look at that.
A directory submission is another part that we would call Off-site SEO. This could also be seen as a form of link building and of course getting your link placed on some good quality directories will pass some link juice to your website. We would advise you though in the UK there are probably around 50 good quality directories that you should be getting yourself listed on. The rest of them however, are pretty much useless as there are just far too many websites on them now, making the site essentially spammed.
Some of the decent directories have phone call verification or other methods to ensure that any listing is genuine. Now, this can be a bit of a pain to do when going through and doing this type of work, but overall it’s the only way that a directory can keep all of their listings genuine making it a worthwhile directory for the general public to use.
One downside to directory listings is that in almost any instance that I’ve ever done them, you always receive a call from the company trying to up-sell you a paid listing which they claim it are the best directory with premium features and you will gain loads more work. In all honesty, a directory listing is done with a view to getting a link on it, not because loads of people go onto directories and look for services. Most people in this day and age will simply just Google what they want, and click on the first couple of websites. It’s highly unlikely that they will go through directories looking for your services.
So at this point, you should go and Google “Free Directory Listings” and see what comes up, some of the top ones we would recommend you get on are
UK Small Business Directory
Every town or city in the UK will most likely have a couple of their own local business directories which may or may not be good. Any form of advertising is always a great way of promoting your business though so don’t worry too much about putting a link on others, we just recommend you don’t waste too much time registering with everyone you can find.