How to Improve SEO Rankings with Google Plus

In our attempts to improve SEO rankings we do miracles and try everything we can think of. Of course, even if we could, it makes no sense to try absolutely everything. What makes the most sense, is to try something that does have great effect on our SEO rankings, yet is not known to everybody […]

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Website Speed and Search Rankings

Google is constantly modifying its algorithm to sort sites based on keyword relevancy and while keywords and backlinks always have the lion’s share in terms of weight, more and more seemingly minor factors are taken into account. For instance, take website speed. You might wonder what at all it has to do with search rankings but actually it is also a factor (though with minor importance, to be precise) that influences your position with Google. How Website Speed Affects Rankings First, if you expected that website speed influences your rankings big time, we need to clarify that this isn’t so. While the two are related, you won’t find a direct correlation – i.e. low ranking sites might load fast and vice versa. The results depend on which metric you use to measure website speed. For instance, if you take into account the time needed to load the first byte of the page, then it turns out this is a huge factor because sites that are fast to load the first byte of a page typically rank higher in Google. If you take other metrics into account – i.e. the time necessary to load the main content or the time it takes to load the complete page (with images and ads), then things change because it seems these two factors are not of that importance to Google. Overall, it’s believed that website speed has less than 1% effect on rankings. Google themselves have stated that they take website speed into account but they didn’t disclose details about exactly what matters. Nevertheless, many sites report increase in traffic (from search engines or otherwise) after they optimize their site for speed. This is a pretty good reason to do the same, if your site is slow – you are not doing it for Google, you are doing it for your users, your traffic, and your conversions. Website speed is key to user experience, so if your site is slow, there is no reason to keep it that way. What’s the use of getting traffic from search engines, when your visitors have to hang for 10+ seconds before they can see your content – they will have left much before the page has loaded. What to Do to Improve Website Speed If you want to improve website speed, there are a couple of steps to be taken. First, you need to measure your website speed – otherwise how do you know it’s slow? 1. Measure Load Times In order to measure load times, you need a good tool. The choice here is quite rich. Pingdom Page Load Time tool and Google Analytics Site Speed reports give a good idea of your site’s general performance. WebPageTest is a more advanced tool because it allows to test your site in different browsers and spot slow areas on your site. These tests could take some time for a large site but since they give you detailed data about which parts are slow, just be patient. Good tools report not only the average site speed but elements, such as first byte, user time, time to fully load, percentage of images, htmls, JavaScript files, etc., which is useful later when you start fixing the problematic areas. 2. Move to a Faster Server One of the obvious reasons a site is slow is that the server you are hosting it on is slow. The reasons here could be numerous – from a web hosting provider that lacks the capacity to offer fast servers, to the type of your hosting account. The easier solution here is to upgrade your account. For instance, if you have a large site with many...
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How to Make Your Site Less Vulnerable to Search Engine Algorithm Changes

Any update to the algorithms of search engines, for instance the famous Panda update, is a major source of stress for any Web master because often these updates are like earthquakes ‐ they shake your rankings upside down and all your efforts to pump up your site’s rankings go down the drain. While these changes are inevitable and there is nothing you can do to prevent them, there are some measures you can take in order to soften the blow. Basically, it’s believed that if you follow white hat best practices, you are safe from updates but in reality this isn’t so. Here are some suggestions (in addition to the general white hat best practices) how to make your site less vulnerable to search engine algorithm changes. However, before we continue with the steps themselves, let’s clarify that not all traffic fluctuations are the result of a search engine algorithms update. Very often fluctuations are normal ‐ for instance, seasonal fluctuations are not caused by an algorithm change but rather by the time of the year factor. Such changes are harder to control because similarly to search engines algorithms they are also outside your reach and this is why we are not discussing these here. 1 Stay Focused on Your Target Keywords When you want to increase the traffic from search engines, your first idea might be that if you manage to rank for more keywords, you will get more traffic. Could be (especially if the keywords are not closely related) but basically this isn’t necessarily so. You might think that when you expand into new keywords, this will increase traffic but actually it’s just the opposite ‐ these new keywords will dilute the relevancy of your present keywords and as a result you might lose some of the traffic you already have. So, before you target some new keywords, always be ready to back off, if results turn out to be worse than expected. 2 Optimize for Long Tail Keywords Long tail keywords are frequently neglected because they don’t bring as much traffic as their more lucrative counterparts. However, long tail keywords are more proof against changes in algorithms. The traffic of long tail keywords tends to fluctuate less because there is less competition. If you have been skipping long tail keywords up to now, start optimizing for them asap. 3 Optimize for Less Competitive Keywords Less competitive keywords might be not long tail but they also tend to suffer less from search engine updates. The explanation is easy ‐ for example, if there are 10 sites that compete for a keyword, even if Google updates their algorithm and shuffles results, the worst that can happen to you is to rank 10th, which is much better than to rank in the second hundred, as is quite possible with keywords that have hundreds of sites competing for them. 4 Post New Content Regularly All equal, huge intervals between new posts can literally bury your site even for keywords you always used to rank well for and even if there are no search engine algorithm changes. While you can’t beat these changes solely by posting new content all the time simply because it takes time for new posts to rank well, new content is fresh blood and it does bring traffic. As we’ve mentioned multiple times, it’s better to post one new content piece a week or even a month than to post no content for months and then pour 20 new content pieces at once. 5 Get Backlinks from Superb Sites Only The days when any backlink was good are history. Now links from bad or simply irrelevant sites...
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SEO Plugins for WordPress

There might be numerous SEO tools out there and though nobody disputes their role, one of the easiest and most accessible ways to optimize your WordPress site is with the help of WordPress SEO plugins. Fortunately, there are quite a lot of WordPress SEO plugins for you to choose from. While you can’t say there is a WordPress plugin for every type of SEO tool you can think of, there are some SEO plugins for WordPress you really must try (if you haven’t already done it). Here is a list of the most important ones. 1 WordPress SEO by Yoast WordPress SEO by Yoast is rightfully considered one of the top SEO plugins for WordPress. It’s a complete suite that covers almost any aspect of SEO. With WordPress SEO by Yoast you can analyze onpage and offpage factors, create XML sitemaps, optimize meta and link elements, as well as RSS and breadcrumbs, edit .htaccess and robots.txt file, enjoy integration with social media, use it on multiple sites and many more. In a sense, if you get this plugin, you might not need anything else. 2 All in One SEO Pack All in One SEO Pack is another really popular and comprehensive SEO suite for WordPress. Similarly to WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can use this one to handle all your SEO tasks. All in One SEO Pack offers XML sitemaps, optimization of titles and metatags, advanced canonical URLs, and what not. One of its uniques features is the ability to eliminate duplicate content issues. Additionally, it’s a plugin you can use on e-commerce sites. 3 Google XML Maps If you are not looking for a complete SEO suite, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast or All in One SEO Pack that among their numerous features come with XML sitemap generation functionality but would like a simple plugin especially for this, then Google XML Maps is your best choice. This plugin doesn’t come with bells and whistles and it doesn’t offer tons of functionality but it is really fast and reliable for XML sitemap generation, even if your site is pretty large and there are thousands of pages. 4 HTML Sitemap for WordPress Here is another plugin (or more precisely a template) from Yoast de Valk HTML Sitemap for WordPress. While XML sitemaps are no doubt useful for search engines, an HTML sitemap is definitely more useful for your human visitors. HTML sitemap generation is not part of the WordPress SEO by Yoast it’s provided separately. The template in the link is special because it gives you a lot of flexibility when you decide what to include in your HTML sitemap and what to skip. 5 SEO Friendly Images We all know how important it is to optimize images and how much time this could take. This is why it really makes a difference when you have a reliable ally on your site. With the SEO Friendly Images plugin for WordPress, it gets so much easier to optimize your images. This plugin automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images. Of course, if you are not pleased with its suggestions, you can always modify the automatically added alt and title attributes to something you like more. 6 Share This You might have mind-blowing content but if it doesn’t get traffic, then it’s useless. Out of the many ways to drive traffic to your site, social sites are among the best. With the Share This plugin for WordPress, content sharing is much easier. The plugin not only allows you and your readers to share your content on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and 120 others but it also comes...
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