What Exactly Are Back Links and What Do They Have to do with SEO?
Backlinks are links that are directed towards your website. Also known as Inbound links. The number of backlinks is an indication of the popularity or importance of that website. Backlinks are important for SEO because some search engines, especially Google, will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks, and consider those websites more relevant than others in their results pages for a search query. Be careful though and don’t ever purchase back links and block the address of anyone claiming to sell them. If you own a business and you have money invested in your website, and then you buy a link package ( that’s really just a link farm ), you could spend another additional year cleaning up this profile after it negatively affects your site’s position in search. These types of backlinks do not benefit SEO and can do the opposite and penalize the site more than if it had zero backlinks. Most of the time, zero backlinks is better than 500 from a link farm.
Backlinks Are Important, But …
When search engines calculate the relevance of a site to a keyword, they consider the number of good quality inbound links to that site. So we should not be satisfied with getting any inbound links, and must always keep in mind that it is the quality of the link that is what really matters. Most major search engines consider the content of the sites (that link to yours) to determine the relevancy and the quality of a backlink. When inbound links to your site come from other sites, and those sites have similar content to your site, they are considered more relevant to your site. If inbound links are found on sites with unrelated or irrelevant content, they are considered less quality. The higher the relevance of your inbound links as far as your site, the greater their quality will be and vice versa.
Search engines prefer websites to have a level playing field, and look for natural links built slowly over a period of time. Links on directory sites do little to nothing for your position in search. If you do notice a change after buying a premium directory liting, it’s most likely unrelated. Search engines are much smarter than that now.
Back Links for SEO Going into 2016
Expect Google to get even tougher as far as the criteria for what they consider “quality inbound links” going into 2016. Thanks to webmasters trying to achieve ranking by deceptive Black Hat or sneaky techniques, such as with hidden links, or automatically generated pages whose sole purpose is to provide inbound links to websites. These pages are called link farms, and the links from these sites are ignored by most major search engines and have little to no ranking power. Yet, linking to a link farm could get your site penalized and removed from the first page. Trying to manipulate search engine rankings with backlinks is a waste of time and money at best, and potentially damaging to your SEO at worst. I wouldn’t bother trying.
Why Are Backlinks Important for SEO? was last modified: October 14th, 2018 by Jeff
Are you doing landscape company SEO on your website?
If you own a landscaping company and you are doing your own search engine optimization, here is some valuable information.
Landscape Company SEO
It has been well documented many times that the title tag is one of the important elements to good search engine optimization or SEO. Google and Yahoo (and probably Bing) have said this publicly so many times, I’m not going to bother linking to the articles in this post. If you are not familiar with what a title tag is, you can read more on HTML tags by clicking here.
I have been writing and developing search engine friendly websites for a while now, and I have noticed a few things in doing so that search engines like Google and Yahoo pick up on, and in turn reward for, in their SERP or results pages. Metaphorically speaking, I am not about to offer you the entire pizza for free, but I will give you a slice or two every once in a while. A slice meaning an SEO tip… I have made many landscapers number 1 on Google for several keywords using this technique. You can apply the information here to SEO in general. This technique has worked for me several times on several different business websites. This way of writing titles does not pertain to only the landscaping business, but small business in general. I have used it successfully for many industries other than landscaping.
Optimizing Your Titles to Target a Specific Location
When you write a title tag, you want the title to include as many interchangeable focus keywords as possible. For example, if you are optimizing a landscape company’s website for the Detroit Michigan surrounding area, you would first want to pick a good focus keyword or keyword phrase like ” landscaping detroit mi” or “landscaping detroit” and then build the title tag around that focus keyword or phrase.
Here is an example of a well optimized title tag for a landscaping business that also does lawn care (like most of them) targeting the Detroit, Michigan area.
Landscaping Detroit MI | Full Service Landscape | Lawn Care Company
Notice how you can make the following keyword phrases out of the above title:
full service michigan landscape company, lawn care company detroit mi, detroit landscape service, and etc.
The words are in lowercase because they are the search keywords and that’s how most people would enter them into a search engine box.
For those that are not aware, Google reads Michigan and michigan, exactly the same. They do this for several abbreviations also (RE and real estate, SF and san francisco, San Francisco etc). This does not mean the results are the same for each phrase, but that Google will read SF as san francisco or San Francisco. The results page will be slightly different.
The more you think about this, the better the results will be. The more interchangeable all of the words are in your title, the better off your website will be from a SEO perspective.
The first part of the title tag should include the location you are targeting in your SEO campaign. The second two keyword phrases should be the second and third most searched keywords for the location in the first part of the title. So for example, if you want to optimize for 3 keyword phrases in one city, do a keyword analysis with Google Keyword Tool. Include the most searched for terms for the industry and location in the title.
Remember, all of these words are processed by search engine bots or computers. Algorithms break the title down by noun, location, verb, etc. than process it however the algorithm is written for that search engine. Rather than writing the title stuffed with keyword phrases, you would want to include the business type or category and location in the first part of the title and then build from there.
In a nutshell, you want your title to include one location in the beginning and several interchangeable focus keyword phrases throughout the rest of the title. If you are targeting the Detroit area, make sure Detroit is in the beginning of the title tag somewhere then follow with your focus keywords separated by a pipe. The search engines will break it all down, read it accordingly, and process all the words in the title. If you want to optimize for a keyword phrase like “landscaping detroit,” I would recommend writing the title tag like the example above or very similar. The point here in this post is, make your location known once and place as many interchangeable focus keywords throughout the rest of the title. It’s simple and it works well. Give it a chance. You will see results.
Photos and Videos for Landscape Company SEO
In addition to writing your title tags and meta descriptions properly, it’s also a good idea to add lots of photos and videos from your job sites. Content is really important if you want to rank well on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. I have a few landscape companies as clients, and one of the ways I keep them alive in the SERP is with new video and photos. It’s a good idea to have a professional photographer come out one time and film and photograph your work for a few hours. This will make for great content for your website all season long. Make sure the images and videos are optimized for the web and for search engines. It’s best to upload your videos to YouTube and then embed the code directly into your page or post.
A friendly reminder…
Please keep in mind, the title tag is just one element of search engine optimization. When used with other techniques, this way of writing titles can be highly effective.
Landscape Company SEO | Writing Title Tags was last modified: December 24th, 2018 by Jeff
Here’s 3 Free SEO Tools to Help You Look at Your Site the Way Google Does
If the traffic your website gets is important to you, SEO should be where you should start first. Here are 3 free SEO tools that will help you view your site like a search engine does.
1. Google WebMaster Tools
Google’s Webmaster Tools suite is a comprehensive set of diagnostic tools that will help you in correcting all that’s wrong with your website from an SEO standpoint. This is where you want to start if you are working on Search Engine Optimization. These tools are critical to your organic search strategy because they allow you to focus on the elements of your site that Google deems important. Search appearance in the SERP, back links, and keyword concentration are just a few areas that Webmaster Tools focuses on.
2. Moz.com Pro Tools (free for 1 month)
If you sign up for the Moz.com Pro features, you will receive the first month for free. You will need a Google Analytics account in order to use most of the custom reporting features. With Moz.com, you can work on your on-page SEO, view your current competition, and you can track your position in the search results. With Google now using your IP address to display listings, you might want to use a third party application like Moz.com to track your position.
3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This is an SEO’s best friend. Designed specifically for the SEO-minded, this program crawls the websites you specify examining the URLs for common SEO issues in an attempt to make site optimization easier. Not only does the Screaming Frog SEO Spider make crawling your website and finding all that’s wrong from an SEO standpoint easy, it’s free! Download it here and just dive in. There’s a ton of useful features.
3 Free SEO Tools for Google Search was last modified: September 4th, 2018 by Jeff
Ever since the Penguin 4.0 Google algorithm update, links of poor quality no longer count and are ignored by Google Search when determining your site’s ranking. The information in this article is obsolete for the most part, since spammy back links don’t really hurt your positioning in the way they used to. Quality of content is what and will always hold the most weight with Google as well as most major search engines. Google still looks at high quality links over extended periods of time, however there are thousands of sites that rank in the top 3 that have not a single “follow” backlink.
“The objective is to make your links appear natural. The objective is that your links are natural.” – Matt Cutts, Google WebSpam Team
Linking Schemes & SEO
In the past month, we have received quite a few phone calls for link building services for webmasters. So, I decided to briefly explain what link building is and why we do not offer it as part of our SEO services. Besides the fact that it violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it is a spammy internet marketing technique and (we don’t like SPAM here at JA Publications). Links are, by far, the most misunderstood factor of SEO today. There is no other ranking factor more misunderstood in the SEO world than links and how search engines utilize them to determine a website’s relevancy and position in search.
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines:
Text advertisements that pass PageRank
Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example: There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example: Visitors to this page: 1,472 car insurance
Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example: Thanks, that’s great info! – Paul paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego
Why Does Google Frown Upon Link Building Services?
When you engage in “link building” you are taking away the earned credibility element. Google believes that good content will naturally get linked to on its own, without “link building” services. The idea is to build a quality site that people want to link to, and then you will earn back links naturally. In turn, this will help your SEO. Additionally, link building schemes violate Google’s webmaster guidelines for best practices.
What Happens When Google Finds a Website Practicing Link Schemes?
Eventually, Google will catch up with the offending website and then the offender is penalized in the search results. If you weren’t on Page 1 before, you’re definitely not going to be after getting penalized for this spammy black hat technique. Google has even removed websites from it’s search results pages all together which is called “black listing.”
You can read more about Google and link building here.
Here’s Matt Cutts of Google Explaining How to Build Quality Links
Why We Don’t Bother With Link Building Schemes was last modified: October 1st, 2018 by Jeff
After Google’s release of the Hummingbird update, SEO copywriting is just well-written copy with well-placed keywords and accurate and useful, descriptive metadata attributed to it. There once was a time when keyword stuffing and other grey/black hat techniques would actually work temporarily, but those days are over.
SEO Copywriting Post Hummingbird
The entire integrated spectrum of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) relies on the creativity, expediency, and efficacy of content creations. SEO copywriting, since its inception, has been comprehensively dependent on the algorithm practices of Google. Over the years, this search engine giant has come up with increasingly complicated algorithms to exterminate every possible manipulative optimization technique, poorly written or low quality content, and spam on its search results pages. Google’s vision perfectly aligns with quality web marketing practices.
SEO Copywriting Landscape Prior to Hummingbird
Even a few years back, the concept of SEO copywriting entirely concentrated on maximizing the use of keywords. The whole industry crystallized around the concept of incorporating a certain percentage of generic and specific keywords in their content while selling messages and managing content creativity around the key phrases. The content world was jolted into the harsh reality of Google Hummingbird. After this algorithm, if you are still focusing on keyword density percentages instead of creating the best content possible, you have a long way to go.
How Copywriting Evolved
To be more precise, Hummingbird has been preceded by Panda and Penguin – two of the earlier Google algorithm versions. These two algorithms were completely revised and re-engineered to launch Hummingbird in 2013. This new algorithm made it nearly impossible for malicious spammers to infiltrate and upended most of the Search Engine Optimization copywriting practices of the yore. With Hummingbird, Google is consistently transforming the comprehensive search dynamics. It expects the user to search in ways that includes –
Question – searching by inquiring different questions
Mobile search – searching while on the move
Anticipate – anticipating what a user is looking for even before the search strings are finished to increase the speed of information delivery
These steps will usher in new changes in the process of copywriting and help in establishing unique nuances in content. This algorithm is also a stride towards processing ‘real’ speech pattern where the search engine generates results even by processing conversational queries.
Page Authority, Keywords, & Semantic Relevance
Building on page authority is important as Hummingbird rewards authority. It advocates depth over surface, information over fluff, backup over bluff, and a compelling collection of facts, data, and information. Each of these ingredients meshed together propels the authority of page by establishing its content quality. Keywords, so far, play a significant role post Hummingbird. However, the outdated technique of employing a same keyword and keyword string repeatedly throughout the content is the biggest faux pas that can ruin the credibility and ranking of your page. The long tail searches are highly likely to be characterized by human needs and desires and not just keyword strings. Keywords still remain a fundamental strategic tool but the writer must find interesting methods to redefine the keywords in meaningful ways. Most notably, content writers must move beyond the limiting constraints of keywords to offer depth and breadth in their content and copy. Page authority and intelligent use of keywords are intrinsically related with semantic relevance. Your content must communicate to a precise need with in-depth knowledge in a particular topic or area. In hindsight, Google’s Hummingbird is a step that will encourage serious content creation which upholds and endorses the value of quality over mindless gimmick and spam content.
5 Google SEO “Hummingbird-friendly” Copywriting Tips
Good content usually has 1 primary focus and should always be more relevant than creative. It should always keep the reader’s attention. It is important to stay on point so that your article does not seem cluttered or difficult to read. When you write, don’t worry about impressing your competitors or anyone other than the reader. The main goal should be getting your point across clearly and directly to the website’s user. Everyone should be able to read and understand your website. A good rule of thumb is to write at a 9th grade level when you’re writing website content. If the words you’re using are not commonly said or the sentence structure of your sentences is too difficult for the average person to read, chances are your website will not appeal to everyone and in turn this will only hurt your ranking with the search engines.
1. Write for People and Forget About the Search Engines
That means make bullet lists, give lots of white space between paragraphs, and make headings worth reading. People don’t read at first, they scan. Write and format in a way that is easy for them to see the important words. Expect people to skim instead of reading line per line. Break each paragraph into bit size reading. Use a format that is visually appealing with images, colors, and language.
2. Use Headline Formulas
Headlines work by bringing the reader in and getting them to stop scanning and start reading. The best SEO copywriting is using what works and headline formulas do work. A good headline formula to follow is the “who-what-why.” For example: “Have You Been Secretly Penalized by Google?”
3. Users Read 24% More When You Use Numbers
Numbers grab the reader’s attention. For example: “The Top 5 Tips To Gaining More Readers Through SEO Copywriting.”
4. Use Bold and Italic, Instead of CAPITALIZATION
That’s pretty much all I can say on that one.
5. Use Power Words
Power words are usually adjectives that draw the reader in. For example, the phrase “Must Read” works well along with “Free.” A power word in a title should be written at the beginning like this: ” 5 Free Must Have WordPress Plugins.” The power words are “Free” and “Must Have” in this case. Put some thought into this and you will see your click through rate increase.
5 SEO Copywriting Tips for Google Hummingbird was last modified: June 22nd, 2017 by Jeff