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SEO Industry Trends & Team Updates

It's official!

That's right - it's official! The SEO team now has a newsletter where we can begin to share industry trends, team updates, and new tools to help us expand our knowledge and better optimize our campaigns. To contribute each month, feel free to post articles on SLACK that you feel would be helpful for all Campaign Managers.

Each month, we will also try to post a picture from each office so we can see what everyone is up to across the country and begin to put names to faces.

SEO Team Deadlines & Reminders

Dashboard Deadline; Wed. Feb 3rd

KPI Deadline: Wed. Feb 3rd

Report Deadline: Fri. Feb 12th

Performance Objectives: Mon. Feb 8th

January Article Summaries

Web Developers SEO Cheat Sheet 3.0

The most recent "SEO Cheat Sheet 3.0" launched by MOZ outlines 4 main areas of optimization to be aware of in 2016:

1) URL best practices & important HTML elements (title tags, meta descriptions, etc.)

2) Sitemaps & Robots txt file standards

3) Meta data for social, rich snippets & structured data

4) Responsive web designs & user experience for international languages/regions

This cheat sheet is definitely worth the read, as it includes many elements that you may not be familiar with or may want to look into further if you're having trouble optimizing aspects of your campaigns.

Uncover SEO Content Marketing with Google Analytics

In this recent Search Engine Land article, the idea of using Search Analytics data from the Google Search Console to develop content marketing ideas is explored. When looking at this report, you will be provided with a list of top performing keywords per month based on clicks. Below are a few recommendations for filtering and using this data for your campaigns:

1) Build on developing success

Check to see if there are any keywords with a higher than average click-through-rate (CTR). If there are, this signals that the content on your website related to this keyword is relevant and people are willing to dig deeper to find information. Using this information, you can begin to uncover keyword themes that can be used in blog posts and other content pieces.

2) Explore new, more popular (but competitive) themes

Also look to see if there are any keywords that the website is ranking well for, but for which CTR is poorer than expected. Identifying these terms will help you to determine if you're not providing strong enough content or if your website is not relevant to the keyword being searched. In such a case, you may want to remove it from your content altogether.

3) Augment what's already worked well

Looking at the data, you will be able to determine if there are any keywords that are already successful that can be leveraged in other ways. If you have strong webpage content for a specific keyword, you may want to use the same keyword or related terms to develop short and long term content strategies for other areas of your site.

The article provides a lot of great tips and examples, as well as information for filtering your data to display various results. Check out the article below for more information.

Top SEO Tips for 2016

With 2015 behind us, it's important to look ahead at the ever-evolving SEO trends that are making headlines in the industry for 2016. Rather than solely focusing on reaching the top spot in Google's organic search, we must now begin optimizing for "rich answers". These answers appear above the top organic search results, especially for question-related queries. Below are top factors for getting into the rich answer box:

1) Rank yourself well for the query

2) Start your sentences with command words

3) Write clear, unambiguous headings

4) Use <li> tags and keep the sections short

Another thing we want to be aware of in 2016 is improving user engagement, which includes a variety of factors such as bounce rate, time on site, etc. Conversions are ultimately going to increase if the page is deemed effective by the user, gives them the information they need, and offers a call to action. While user engagement is not a direct ranking factors, it is definitely important for driving conversions.

Finally, the article brings forth new guidelines mentioned in Google's latest 160-page search quality guidelines. Below are a few key takeaways:

1) High quality standards should be set for transaction, financial and legal pages because they affect the happiness, health or wealth of users.

2) Value placed on authoritative and trustworthy sources for content development

3) Ensure websites are mobile friendly and provide satisfaction to users

Forget Your Testimonials Page

Even though reviews have lost strength in Google's algorithm in recent months, reviews are still integral to the perceptions held by potential customers.

This recent article by Search Engine Land suggests that in 2016, a testimonials page may no longer be the best method for improving credibility on your website. Looking at the analytic data of most sites, the testimonials page is usually not a top viewed page, and potential customers may see this page as biased because a business would be unlikely to post anything lower than a 5 star review. Instead, they suggest creating a "review" page that links to various websites where customers can read legitimate reviews (ensuring these review sites open in a separate tab).

To learn more about setting up and formatting this page, read the article below.

7 Ways to Cripple Your Website with Panda & How to Fix it

Using a colourful infographic, this article provides a easy-to-follow guide on how to conduct a content audit and begin to recover after your website has been hit by the Google Panda update. A few tips are as follows:

1) Prioritize what content to tackle first - focusing on best-performing pages first

2) Scan the website for all URLs that may be impacted by the penalty

3) Map content to keywords - using Webmaster Tools to guide your strategy

4) Create a content audit plan - rewrite/improve, remove or consolidate content based on the impact of the penalty

5) Focus on the future - address content gaps & plan ahead for future content

This article is effective in providing step-by-step suggestions, tools, and strategies for improving a site after it has been hit by a content penalty. Read the article below to learn more.

Characteristics That Can Make a Link "Bad" for SEO

As we look towards a future of improved link building strategies for our clients, it's important to understand what is considered a good or bad quality link. This recent article from Search Engine Land lists 7 characteristics that could cause a link to be deemed "low quality" in the eyes of Google:

1) It's on a low-authority or questionable domain - look at the domain authority score using the MOZ Chrome plugin to help you determine this

2) It's pointing to a source irrelevant to its content - context is important to Google

3) It's repeated too many times on the domain - Google prefers to see many links pointing to your domain from multiple sources, rather than one source

4) It's part of a reciprocal exchange (in excess) - focus on source diversity

5) It's embedded in suspiciously keyword-matched anchor text

6) It's isolated from any meaningful content

7) It's part of a link scheme

The article suggests that it's far better to work at removing a link if you notice it possesses these characteristics, instead of leaving it there to suffer the potential consequences. By focusing on strong website content that provides value to readers, you will also be able to develop stronger organic link building.

Major Core Ranking Algorithm Update This Past Weekend

Over the Jan 16/17th weekend, Google rolled out a core ranking algorithm update. While it was not the Penguin update that we are all still expecting, it was large enough to have an impact on the rankings for many websites.

If you have not checked your client's rankings since then, you may want to do so to plan ahead for any content or strategy changes you may need to make. To find out more, see the link below.

6 Big Mistakes That SEO Rookies Make

Published by Search Engine Land, this article provides some important considerations for those who are new to the SEO industry and also those who are looking to expand their knowledge in the industry. The top 6 mistakes include:

1) Not knowing what they don't know

2) Not directly addressing bad numbers

3) Not focusing on the most important items to improve revenue

4) Sticking too close to the contract

5) Not getting help until it's too late

6) Not realizing a client is forever

The article also provides a lengthy list of SEO-related industry questions that all SEO professionals should know how to answer. Chantal Desrochers has provided answers to a few of these questions below. More answers to come in the February newsletter:

SEO 101 - PART 1

What is a robot.txt file?

  • usually located at "website.com/robots.txt"
  • a robot will visit the robots.txt file before accessing the website for any instructions that need to be followed
  • tells the robots what/how to crawl or not to crawl the site

Is case important for meta tags? No

What is the refresh meta tag and why is it not recommended?

  • tells the web browser to refresh the webpage after a specified amount of time
  • could tell the browser to display the page of a different URL (it is a type of redirect)
  • considered a black hat SEO tactic - not giving users what they expect

What is an .htaccess file and how do you use it?

  • also known as hypertext access (used by CMS systems)
  • can be used to set up the custom error page so that it can present articles or areas of your website with a navigation bar to keep users on the site rather than navigating away
  • should be written with a period at the end, otherwise it may automatically have .html or .php extension added to it

What is a rel canonical?

  • tells Google which URL should be used as the single dominant version of the URL (among multiple URLs)
  • used to solve problem of duplicate content among 2 or more URLs

How does social media play a role in SEO?

  • builds brand reputation & online authority
  • social channels can leverage SEO - collaborate on content, social search, help to optimize posts for local search

What are 404 errors?

  • means the web page cannot be found on the server (page is deleted/moved)
  • recommend creating a custom 404 page with navigation to redirect users back to another working page of your website

What is a 301 and 302 redirect?

  • 301 Redirect - if a URL has moved permanently, this will pass authority to the new URL
  • 302 Redirect - if the URL has changed temporarily (rarely used)

Answers to all questions will be sent in an email once they are completed. If anyone has anything to add or has questions about the info above, please contact Chantal Desrochers.