SEO companies in India have mushroomed up all over the place. But ethical, knowledge-based SEO – offering an authoritative glimpse into the mind of a search engine and how it works – remains elusive.
Enter Bruce Clay, a veteran SEO since before the launch of Google.
Below are the key takeaways from the high-powered master class of tips, tricks, best practices and methodologies.
1. Mobile-First Indexing
2017 will be the year of mobile-first because that’s where the market is headed. Google is planning to use the mobile (rather than desktop) version of a website in their primary index used to rank results.
If the mobile version of your website isn’t displaying all the content that you normally display on your desktop site, be aware that your website will run into problems.
Did you know that Google has only one index for both mobile and desktop sites — despite reports to the contrary?
2. Voice Search
With the exponential rise in the use of mobile devices and AI-based digital assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, voice search is poised to become the next frontier for digital marketers. comScore predicts that by 2020 more than half of all searches will come from voice search.
Voice search is going to have a huge impact on the future of SEO. Start thinking of strategies that target voice searchers – including natural language keyword phrases people will most likely be using when searching for the types of products or services you sell.
It’s no secret that search engines award top rankings to the website that they see as most relevant to the theme or subject of a user query. The primary goal of SEO is to make a website such that it’s about themes that best match certain keywords – and not just a collection of targeted keyword phrases containing unrelated information without a central theme.
If you have a single page on a theme compared to 10 pages of useful information on that same theme by your competitors, chances are that your competitor’s website will answer a user’s query more satisfactorily. Thus Google will reward them with rankings. The takeaway for a digital marketer is to expand the depth and breadth of content on your themes.
4. Siloed Site Architecture
Siloing refers to grouping keyword-based theme pages together – either structurally or via linking – much like the chapters of a book. It has become one of the most significant architectural concepts in digital marketing. It enables you to construct a website that aligns with the way users search. When done right, it positions you as a subject matter expert in the eyes of search engines.
Strategically architecting your website by ensuring your most important themes get the highest visibility allows you to deliver higher rankings for major keywords that matter. There are two ways to silo a website, physical siloing (directory structure) and virtual siloing (internal linking). Siloing isn’t a new concept to SEO but it is a critical one that can drive meaningful results immediately.
5. RankBrain – A Top Search Ranking Factor
RankBrain helps provide more relevant and helpful results to user search queries using artificial intelligence (AI). Pulling up the most appropriate results is what keeps Google in business – and RankBrain helps the search engine do just that.
Google has publicly acknowledged that RankBrain is among the engine’s top-three ranking factors, alongside content and links. With that kind of weight, marketers must make strategic adjustments along the lines of higher quality content.
As RankBrain continues to get better, content quality will be in increasingly high demand. RankBrain’s strength is in serving results for long-tail queries. Stop words are normally dropped from queries but RankBrain understands the conversational manner of search and give results accordingly.
6. Local Search
Claiming your business online by listing it in local search directories and listing services – such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yellow Pages – shows that you exist, and builds trust and visibility for your brand. So identify high-quality local and vertical directories, and claim your presence!
Also ensure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is identical across all listings and directories. It’s one of the most important local search ranking factors, so you won’t want to get this one wrong. For example, each local directory that accepts a listing might have a different requirement in terms of the “name” field (think character length), and you may end up entering different business names. Do not fall into this trap, instead ensure your company name is the exact same every time.
Make sure you optimize your landing pages for local search by following SEO best practices, such as listing your business address, phone number, business hours and services offered on your home page, with a map and directions to your business, as well as prominent landmarks in your area.
Do not forget to add schema markup for local business and be sure it matches your NAP details.
7. Frequently Asked SEO Questions Answered
One of the benefits you can only get from an in-person, classroom style SEO workshop is the ability to ask questions and get answers from an unmatched expert like Bruce. Here are some of the highlights gleaned from attendees asking questions.
Q: Does domain age matter?
A: We believe if a domain is above six years of age, it can add some extra authority to your website. A legacy domain (pre-Google) might also deliver some additional value.
Q: What’s more important – the quality of a blog post or the quantity?
A: The quality of the blog post matters the most. One of the measures of quality is the number of engagements it gets – signs of popularity such as comments, social media shares and backlinks.
Q: What’s the difference between a newsletter and a blog post?
A: A blog is a theme-focused series of writings and media published to a website. A newsletter is a collection of information, such as upcoming events and organization updates, commonly distributed to subscribers by email.
Note: BCI recently stopped publishing its newsletter in favour of weekly blog posts.
Q: How many hyphens can a domain name have before it is considered spam?
A: We believe more than two hyphens in a domain name will raise a red flag.
At the end of the day, minds were racing with all the strategies that could be implemented to improve rankings. Every year we collect inspiring testimonials about the value of the SEO master class in India and the transfer of advanced SEO concepts. Here are some comments that we received about this year’s master class:
“It’s the most comprehensive SEO course I have attended.”
– Gaurav Gaba, CEO Amaugerwatch.com
“Insights into the ranking algorithm and details of each ranking factor (made for) a great course. I believe it will be very beneficial once I will start implementing the recommendations from this course.”
– Nikhil Jogimahanti, Manager, Oyo Rooms