Introduction to SEO Presentation at FireBootCamp – Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of the Introduction to SEO for Developers presentation given at FireBootCamp. Part 1 is available here.

In the first part of the presentation we covered an introduction to what SEO is and why it is important. Plus we started looking at Google Analytics.

In this second part we’re going to dive into Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools in some detail:

Enjoy.


The slides for the presentation are available here:

The full transcript is below (I used SpeechPad as the transcription service):

Craig: Now I’m going to talk a little bit about Google Webmaster Tools. So just quickly to recap where we’re coming from, we did a little bit of an intro to SEO, what is, Google algorithm and what they look at. And then we got to the point where we’re saying, “Well, we’re doing stuff. How do we test and measure?” And measuring stuff was Google Analytics and we went through and we spent quite a bit of time on actualize reports. Now were actually going to look at another part of measuring which is Google Webmaster Tools and also Bing Webmaster Tools. They’re both really good, they’re nowhere near as good as Google Analytics, just about everyone has heard about Google Analytics and uses it. But these two tools, Google Webmaster Tools and especially Bing Webmaster Tools, which is actually really good, underutilized in my opinion, I think they’re really valuable so I want to go through those with you. And they’re not so much about reporting on what people are doing on the site but it’s more about how the site is performing and any issues with them.

So I’ll just give you a bit of a intro to Google Webmaster Tools. And again, you’d normally set up your Google accounts and you create a Google Webmaster Tools account and then you submit your site, it’s a bit of a different validation process to Analytics. But once it’s all up and running it’s nowhere near as complex as Analytics but it gives you a bunch of things and so again I’m just looking at the FireBootCamp. What gives you is a bit of a status on how the site is performing, if there’s any errors, search queries, and site maps. And I’ll dig into a few of these things but one of the really nice things that you can do is if there are errors you can actually sign up for notifications in the preferences.

If there are key issues that happen with your site, Google Webmaster Tools actually email you and will say, “We’ve noticed a large increase in errors your site.” That’s really useful, but the handy thing. So really recommend for that alone. And other thing it’ll do is, because it looks your robots.txt file, if your robots.txt file blocks a whole bunch of stuff you’ll actually get an email notification saying, “Robots is blocking your entire site,” or something like that, so it’s a really great way to get notified. So for those reasons alone you should sign up but let me tell you some of the things it shows you. You also get site messages, which is just if something bad has happened. We’ve link it to Google Analytics, I’ll show you how that links in a second. Search appearance, don’t worry too much about that. Structured data, were not going to go into today. Site links, though, is something that you might find interesting. See here we search FireBootCamp and we actually had to link down here, you’ll often see four links or sometimes six. It used to be referred to as the six pack that you’d get for a brand term, they’re actually site links. And sometimes you find that there’s a site link, you have no control over those, Google just decides those of the site links because it thinks, as a user experience, you’re searching for something. It says, “Well, you’re searching, this you’ll find useful.” And that’s not too bad, actually. Google has decided that the employer’s page and the FAQ’s page are useful, that’s a pretty good. Sorry, Adam?

Adam: [Inaudible 00:03:40]

Craig: So you want the mic?

Adam: [Inaudible 00:03:46]

Craig: Yeah, so that’s a good question, how and why when Google decides how many site links to put in Google, it’s really hard to influence. But generally the bigger the site you are, the bigger brand you are, and is normally for brand terms that you’ll find the site links. Like if you did SharePoint consultants or something, you probably wouldn’t see site links underneath, you might but it’s less likely. Google just decides, ” I’m going to test two, I think that’s a good user experience.” If you’re big brand, you might see four, actually if I tie within Basecamp or some other tool. You can’t really influence which ones it shows or how many, the only influence you can do is actually ask to be removed. For example, if your privacy page is one of the site links, you’d go and remove it. Adam?

Adam: [Inaudible 00:00:04:56]

Student: [Inaudible 00:05:00] do it on my domain?

Craig: Oh yes, good question. These site links that directly relate to this domain and you can actually get more results. So, it’s basically said, I’ve searched for the term FireBootCamp, it says, ” Look, you’re probably after this brand term for this site and here’s what we think.” And that’s been personalized for me, by the way, because Google knows I’m probably after that. Let’s try Adam Cogan and see what we get. So, SharePoint is showing.

Adam: [Inaudible 00:05:34]

Student: It matches the domain.

Craig: Oh, right. Google still thinks that’s more important. And that’s your employee page which has been around for years, right? So it think that’s more important. But here’s the thing, if we actually click through to this, the question was, ” How they decided,” as well. There’s a whole bunch of factors that Google uses, some of them are click-throughs. So if everyone that searches for Adam Cogan ends up clicking that link, the Adam Cogan blog, Google looks at that click data and actually will probably boost its rankings, or personalize the results at least, in the future. Sorry, yes? Question here?

Student: So you said that it personalizes for you, so if I’m doing it for my site, how do I remove my preferences? Because I don’t want to know what I want to look at, I want to know what everyone is going to see.

Craig: Yeah. So there’s a couple of ways. Ultimately you can’t remove personalization all together because even your IP address is used as location for some stuff. But normally I’m doing a quick check, I’ll just pop into incognito mode and I’ll have a look there, so we might do that. You’ll probably get something, that looks pretty similar actually. But you can do that, you could actually remove all your cookies on your browser. The other thing you can do is use proxy tools, depends how deep you want to go. So, one of the ones that I use is WiTopia. Have people heard of WiTopia? It’s great if you want to get Netflix. So basically what it does, I think I’ve actually lost Internet, oh now, it’s going. But basically WiTopia, this is way off topic but possibly more interesting coming out of nothing else, it just uses a bunch of proxies to set your location. And so this is useful like if I’m doing an audit for a client in Melbourne, I can just say, “Look, I want to pretend that I’m coming from,” I can choose gateways, I’ll choose, where are we? Here we go, “Connect to Melbourne.” And so then, from what I’m doing, Google will think I’m in Melbourne and give me results personalized to that location, things like that. And then if I did it within incognito mode I might be able to block out some of the previous history, that kind of stuff. Yeah, so I mentioned with WiTopia because if you ever want to get Netflix, you just log into San Francisco or whatever and then you can access Netflix and stuff like that. But that question is it actually a complex question and trying to get some kind of completely clean profile is actually quite hard. There’s another thing you can do, which I think is, let me just see if it gets this at the end. I don’t know if this tool works, no, I won’t try it because I can’t remember. But there was actually I think it was a PID you could set equal to zero at the end of the query string and it would set personalization to zero. Remind me later and I’ll just check that out but there is actually a way in a query string to kind of remove personalization.

So did answer all questions, did I answer yours, Adam?

So getting back to how we went down that path was because I was saying in Webmaster Tools search appearance, don’t worry too much about site links, is where you can actually demote a site like. So if your privacy pages showing, you can just put it in here and about it. It takes about a week, sometimes longer, for Google to say, ” Oh okay, I’ll remove it.” The other thing you can do is just put it in your robots.txt file, block that from Google, which is quite often when I do. So search appearance, the thing that is interesting are you can see how many pages are in the Google index, here’s the index status, just loading. It’s like my Wi-Fi keeps dropping out every so often. But there’s index status, what this is saying is that in the Google index there’s 146 pages from FireBootCamp that’s indexed. And you can kind of see, we probably submitted it it looks like then around November, and then Google has given it a bit more love in the last month or two.

There’s also things, search traffic, here’s where I use is the most. This is the queries, or this is a representative sample of queries that Google is actually showing the FireBootCamp site for. Now I say representative because it’s never the format, like this is telling us that we got, for this date range, we got 173 clicks come to the FireBootCamp site. Now we actually know from Analytics that we got more than that, I’m actually looking at organic search traffic. We we actually got about 316 visits, so these numbers never match up so don’t get worried about that, don’t try to say, “Oh, this number is vastly different.” It could be cause to dig deeper but discrepancies this large aren’t unusual but they’re still useful because it shows you representative data. Now what’s interesting about queries and the reason I like it is because Google Analytics doesn’t give you much keyword data now. Have you seen this “not provided” keyword? Ever come across this before? What Google is doing is they used to give you the keyword data when people searched for something, searched for SharePoint, they would give you that keyword data and Analytics. About a year ago they started pulling back and closing the gate on that so that you don’t get it. And I won’t go into the whole discussion of how frustrating and how annoying that is from Google’s part and how lame their reasons are for doing it, I’ll just say it’s a fact. And so you can see here almost 100 percent, there’s only 20 or so visits that we actually got any keyword data for and it’s almost not useful, it’s all been lumped into this “not provided” keyword. So this is another area where Google Webmaster Tools actually does give you some insight into the terms that your ranking for, because this is average position here, clicks you’re getting, and it’ll even show you, actually I’ll just bump this up. Sorry?

Student: Can I guess that one of the reasons Google are giving, which I don’t know, is to get traffic from Analytics over to the Webmaster Tools?

Craig: So is your question, “Why do they stop doing in Analytics?”

Student: Yeah, why they stopped doing it.

Craig: Okay, shall I go down that path?

Student: You may as well.

Craig: I’ll tell you why, the official reason was for privacy reasons. So what they did is they started saying, “If you do an SSL search,” Google is now all HTTPS within Chrome and depending on the browser you’re in, ” If it’s secure traffic, we won’t pass through the keyword data,” and they said that was for privacy reasons. However, if they do come from AdWords, you pay Google for the ads, they will give you that keyword data. So to my mind it was kind of like, and most SEO’s were kind of like, “Well, that doesn’t really ring true. You’re giving it if we pay for it,” was kind of the bottom line on that. But why did they actually do it? Well I don’t know their full reasons but I suspect it’s because they just want to control and in some ways probably obfuscate a bit how people are coming to your site. They want to get away from keywords as being kind of the focus of SEO and more just around content on the site and rather not people worrying so much about keywords. I suspect, I don’t know, they’ll give you their spin on it. But others will say, a bit more cynically, that it’s because they just want to force you into paid and that’s not untrue because I often say clients, “Maybe you’re not going to use paid advertising as a long-term channel but let’s use it for testing.” Because I know I can spin up an AdWords campaign, run it for a week, get some good keyword data about what’s coming in, what drove the traffic, and what engaged. And that’s a useful testing tool, AdWords is a testing tool. And you kind of say, “We’ll trial this, let’s throw 1,000 at AdWords, get some data, and then we’ll do the organic optimization for that. So it’s a little bit like that. The question then is, “Why do they provide it in Webmaster Tools?” Possibly it’s a little bit to get more people using Webmaster Tools because it’s not that popular and maybe it’s just that that seemed like the channel for doing it. What’s funny is that they then have a linked Webmaster Tools to Analytics so we can actually going here, see the search engine part, this actually is the link to Google Webmaster Tools and pulls in that query’s data. So it’s kind of a little bit strange, they’ll give it to you here but they won’t give it to you in this organic keywords thing. There’s one other advantage of Webmaster Tools and that is, over actually Analytics for getting this, is that in Webmaster Tools it tells you the impressions and it also tells you your ranking even if there was no clicks because it shows impressions but not clicks. So in Analytics you only see that you are showing if you actually got traffic from it, a visitor. But Google Webmaster Tools will actually say, even if you didn’t get a click for it, “Here’s what you’re showed. You’re actually showing for this term.” So these terms, “angular bootcamp,” when people searched for that there were five impressions we appeared in the result but we got no clicks. That actually could be useful because we might say, well we’re ranking number 17, that’s probably why we got so few impressions. But say this one, “angularjs mentor,” average position 7.3, we’re on the first page that term. There’s not many searching for it, we didn’t get any clicks but maybe will tweak the meta-description. Remember I talked about the meta-description right at the start? Maybe we’ll make that more compelling. I’m going to click through this. So that’s a useful tool.

Student: [Inaudible 00:16:47]

Craig: Okay, yeah, good point. So what’s an impression and what’s a click. So if I search here, all of these, see all of these results? They got an impression, in all of their Google Webmaster accounts there was an impression on that term but it’s not until I click one and go through that it counts as a click. So normally you’ll get lots of impressions and you can imagine that the lower you are on the page, the less clicks to get. So all of those got the same impressions but the ones down at the bottom, much fewer clicks.

Student: [Inaudible 00:17:26]

Craig: And I’m not sure how clever it is in being able to show whether it’s below the fold, its normally just whether it showed on that list of ten. Even if it was below the fold it’s probably an impression. Not quite sure on that actually but I suspect that’s the case. Okay, but two things I want to look at is in the “crawl” section of Webmaster Tools you can set up these two things. Remember we talk about site maps? You can actually set up site maps, the XML site map here, and submit it. And this, remember, we were saying that it’s just a guide to what you’d like Google to look at on your site. And that’s how you actually add it as a site map here. And it looks like we got the mornings, actually I should check these. Here’s another good thing about Google Webmaster Tools, it can tell you some warnings about issues that you might have. “Warning, high response time.” So I suspect the forum module we have on the FireBootCamp site might be not performing particularly will, or on these particular days. So that’s just something you could look at. So yeah, you get basically a bunch of things to check as well there. You can also do a Fetch as Google, this isn’t something you probably do a lot but sometimes you might want to look at a site and say, “Well what does Google see when it looks at the site?” And the reason this is interesting is because if you have a lot of JavaScript that controls the content on your site, Google might not actually see that. This is actually a problem we still have that Google doesn’t crawl a lot of JavaScript. If you’ve got very client-heavy JavaScript running your site, and some of these JavaScript frameworks actually do push sites into this category, you might actually find this very little content that Google sees because it doesn’t really run the JavaScript on most frameworks. So you can test it here, see what Google sees. And there’s also other tools, I was going to talk about this later, where you can check that kind of stuff. It’s probably for an advanced session where we look at that and the frameworks and the tools, but something to keep in mind. Security issues, there’s malware checks and things like that. Sometimes your site, if it gets hacked and people are injecting malware, your site will fall out the Google index. It does have been reasonably often and I’ve friends where their site has just got hacked and they’re worried about getting hacked but the biggest thing is they’re totally out of Google. So, this will give you warnings and you also get those warnings as emailed as well. And that’s it, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff but that’s probably a quick overview of Google Webmaster Tools. Yeah, question?

Student: [Inaudible 00:20:29]

Craig: Oh okay, so how to submit it initially, the very first time or just if it’s a new page?

Student: [Inaudible 00:20:46]

Craig: Right, okay. So the question is, “How to submit a particular page to Google?” So I’ll answer this in two ways. The first is if your site isn’t known at all, it’s a brand-new site, there is actually a submit to Google service that will submit to it, but the way I would do is set up a Webmaster Tools account and just by the fact of setting that up and verifying it it’ll actually say, “Is this your site?,” and then at the end it submits your site to Google. The other thing you can do, let’s say you have a brand-new page. Sorry, where was that Fetch as Google? I often use this trigger, so if you got a brand-new page that you’ve added, I often just put it in here and do a Fetch as Google. Of course then Google kind of goes, “Oh, I better look at this page.” It might not instantly put it in the index but at least raises awareness for. And then the other thing is if you’ve got an XML site map and that’s being automatically updated by your tool, Google will come back probably not daily but maybe weekly at least, check your site map and will actually see new pages and crawl them in that regard. There are other things you can do, I’m getting a bit off-topic here but if you’ve got a Google Plus account, promote it on Google Plus because that just tends to at least initiate crawl. It might not make it right getting better but it’ll get it crawling and also make sure you’re looking to it on other parts of your sites. So if your homepage is getting hit by Google regularly, have a link to this new article at least to kickstart because Google will look at the homepage and say, “Well I’m linking to stuff on my homepage, they must deem that is important.” And so that extra hint to Google, so a whole bunch of different ways you could do it. Does that kind of answer? Gives you some ideas but Google Webmaster Tools is one of those things that you could use, yeah. All right, yep, another question.

Student: [Inaudible 00:22:51]

Craig: The question is, “Do other search engines make it easier to know their algorithm?” They all pretty much hide their algorithm because they know that once someone unravels it that it’ll get spammed. But also they’re always trying to improve the relevancy or quality, so they’re always updating it anyway. So, even if you published the algorithm, unless it’s the big factors, probably wouldn’t make that much difference. And also some search engines, they all have different factors. So for example, Bing was actually earlier than Google in many ways in using social signals as more part of their algorithm. People kind of found that by reverse engineering and they would get hints from Duane Forrester, I think is the main SEO guy at Microsoft and Bing. They would give some hints like that but they’re still not open, it’s not as though they go, “Here’s what you got to do.” Some of the other big ones, I’m not that familiar with, say, the Chinese and the Russian search engines but I know that those do have a much bigger input based on on-page factors. There used to be this thing called meta-keywords, don’t know if anyone remembers this meta-keywords thing that ten years ago helped, it was part of that keyword stuff that Google, Bing, and most of the engines don’t use it but I think some of the Chinese search engines actually use that as a big input. So they’re all different, the reason I’m telling you that is because they’re all different, they’ll have their different way of doing it. Answer your question, “Do they publish it?” No, they’re not as open, they do protect it. Yeah. Actually, no, it might be a bit off-topic but there are some like DuckDuckGo is a search engine, I don’t know if you heard this. It’s kind of like a bit of a niche search engine but they were actually a bit more open about how they scored a page and they would say what influences they had that made that page to rank. But they don’t drive that much traffic so people don’t pay that much attention.

Okay, so that’s quickly Google Webmaster Tools, I’ll just jump into Being Webmaster Tools so that you can see it. And this is actually for my site, is not for the FireBootCamp site because I didn’t actually have access to FireBootCamp. But it’s a pretty similar interface, there’s a general dashboard, links and stuff like that, a lot of these configuration bits are the same. Geotargeting is not something we’re really a talk about but I’ll just tell you that Bing actually is better than Google Webmaster Tools in some of these areas. If you want geotarget parts of your site, Bing will actually give you a few more easier ways to do that. But the thing I want to show you, where was it? The Bing Webmaster Tools actually has a really nice keyword research tool. So if you want to check the search volumes behind terms, this is actually a good one to use. So we can say “Australia” and search for whatever is, “SharePoint,” and what this is telling you is within Bing, not Google so it’s going to be small but it’ll tell you the kinds of terms that people are actually searching for. And where this is useful is when you’re writing content, you might want to say, “I know people find these particular terms of greater interest than others, here’s the terms.” So you can kind of see, if you’re targeting “SharePoint 2013”, quite a broad term, it’s a lot more searches than people on “SharePoint Designer,” this is within Bing. And so that can be a useful tool. We’re going to come back to keyword tools later if there’s time but I just thought I’d mention. Any questions about these so far? It all make sense? They’re easy to set up.

Student: [Inaudible 00:27:16]

Craig: Yes it does. So the comment there was the Bing Webmaster Tools keyword research tool looks the same as the AdWords keyword tool. Yeah, very similar, that’s quite right. We might look at the Google AdWords keyword tool later if we get time because it’s something I did want to show you.

Okay, webmaster tools, we’ve looked at that, Bing Webmaster Tools, other tools, did I get to these? Okay, so we’ve got about 20 minutes left, I was just going to mention in passing some other tools just that you’re aware of them but I’m not going to dive into them, we just don’t have time. I’m I’m going to talk about some other tools and some keyword tools and then, if we have time, I was going to talk about a few other things like redirects and plus some common questions I get. But I’ll just quickly tell you about Google Places for Business and Bing Places for Business just that you’re aware of them. If you do a search for SSW I think we’ll have it, see this thing on the right? That’s a Google Places for Business account and it’s a separate tool that you use, Google Places for Business, and you set up an account there and you enter your location or locations. And that also becoming part of Google Plus now, so they kind of transferred it over. You’ll hear it called Google Places for Business, you’ll also hear it called Google Plus Local Pages. That’s something you should set up as well because it’s helpful and, if for no other reason, that you can control more of the page for your brand. As much of the page of Google result you can control, the better. That’s Google Places, Bing places has it as well. I’ll just tell you, both of them have this verification process where you submit your site and then they’ll either send you a postcard or they’ll give you a call to verify your business. So that can be a bit of a hassle and sometimes it takes a week or two to get postcard with the little pin to verify, so that’s very annoying, but there’s no way around it. They used to allow you to just verified by SMS but most sites you can’t do that for now anymore. Then the question is, “Should I start a Google Plus?” Who has a Google Plus account? Yeah? Actually there’s a few. Okay, if you’ve got Gmail accounts then you just inherited a Google Plus account. Should you set it up? I actually tell people yes, you should do it just so that you get a little bit of advantage of when you post links to your site, that it’s a little bit of an indicated Google to index that page, follow it and index it. So that’s useful, there’s also, whether you actually use Google Plus for social, the jury is still out on that. Search operators, this is just a little handy thing to show you. If you haven’t come across this before, it’s quite nice. If you want to find the pages that Google has indexed of your domain, you can just use that site operator and it’ll give you a list of all your sites, it’s included. And what’s handy about this is it kind of lists them kind of in the priority order or importance that it deems for those links. So you can see TV.SSW comes up quite early, if deemed reasonably important. By the way, look at that terrible meta-description, so that’s some work we should do on the SS TV page, whereas this one is much better. You can actually look at subdomains, so you could just limit it to that. So that’s a handy thing, it’s saying about 28,000 results, which may or may not be accurate but the general trend. Okay, there’s something wrong there, this is interesting. Is that domain correct?

Student: [Inaudible 00:31:35]

Craig: Is that correct?

Student: [Inaudible 00:31:40]

Craig: Oh okay, thank you, that’s better. I was getting worried there. But that could be good, if you put in a site and you’re getting one result or no results then straightaway you know there’s something wrong to look at.

Student: [Inaudible 00:31:55]

Craig: Per page? Thereabouts, but it gets difficult because if you’ve got a blog and you’ve got categories, how sometimes you go in categories, and it’s got 2014 January and it kind of treats that as the same. But that’s why I say it may or may not be accurate but the general broad number, you know you’ve got in the hundreds, whereas SSW was in the thousands, just use it as a kind of guide. Okay, quickly whipping through a few things. Oh yeah, keyword tools, there’s a bunch of keyword tools that you can use. What I’ll do is I’ll just flip into the AdWords one, which was mentioned just a second ago. So, this is probably the best one to use, Google will give you search volume data, a general indication of search volume data. I’m actually in the SSW AdWords account, I’m not really going to go into the AdWords but if you set up an account and going to the tools, there’s a thing called Keyword Planner. They used actually make this available externally before a couple years ago but they’re really cutting down on that, you can’t really get access to it. But what you can do is just search for volumes of keywords, so I’ll put in that same SharePoint one again. Locations, I’ll set this to Australia, country. And it groups them in AdWord ideas, just pop over to keyword ideas. What happened? Oh sorry, I think I chose the wrong one, no? It should have actually given me a range of modified terms. I’ve probably done something really dumb, what have I done? What it should have done is given me a list of the main ones plus variations. Why did that happen? Sorry, I must have done something wrong before. But here you can see a search volumes and also suggested bid. Now what that means is if you were going to bid on that term in AdWords, that’s how much you’d be spending per click. Pretty crazy, right? $10 a click. These dollar numbers are wildly variable and I just know, from experience with the SSW AdWords, we can get the much cheaper. But where they can be useful is that they can kind and indicate to you what’s a competitive term and what’s something that probably has purchase intent behind it. The higher your pay per click, the probably more valuable the term is, and shows more of a purchaser intent behind it.

Student: [Inaudible 00:35:28]

Craig: It depends but yeah, so how do you choose your keywords to buy? We could spend an hour on that but the answer is you’re probably going to use it as a guide to what’s going to be important. If it’s really cheap, probably it’s cheaper reason because he doesn’t tend to send targeted traffic that converts. But then another strategy might be we just want to get a whole bunch of cheap traffic for whatever reason, I don’t know. It would depend on what your strategy is. Anyway, the search volumes are Google’s indication of how many monthly searches there are for that filtering we said just for Australia. So about 10,000, that’s quite high, that would be a good term to try and rank organically for. Some of these others, you might say “free SharePoint hosting,” you might have thought that was the best term to try and rank for. Interesting, there’s not many searches for it’s and it still reasonably expensive. But yeah, no hard and fast rule but it’s probably not a good one to spend a long time on.
Okay, were just in the last couple minutes. There are other tools you can use, some free, some paid for, that you can use. But I’ll just get you pushing through some final stuff which I did just want to mention to you out of interest, although not in detail. A little bit about link, and redirects, and meta-robot tags.

Now I’ll just quickly tell you about links in the last couple of minutes. You know how I said we started by saying on-page, getting the page title right because that’s a really key influence to Google and we definitely want to do that but that’s on one hand. On the other side, getting links is really important. And were not going to talk about link building and all that kind of stuff today but I just did want to highlight to you why links are important. So I’m actually going to do a search, this is quite a common example and it’s the “click here” example. And, I probably should have asked you, what do you think is going to rank for the term “click here”? The answer is Adobe Reader but what’s interesting is if you go to the Adobe Reader site, you’ll never see the term “click here,” not in their page title, not in the content, not in anything. So you got to say, “Well why are they ranked that term, “click here”?” And the reason is because when everyone links to the Adobe Reader site they normally say, “Click here to download Adobe reader.” So over the years there so many millions of links that use the word “click here” when they link through to Adobe Reader that Adobe Reader ranks for that term. And so the lesson here is that links, and especially targeted links and the anchor text or the text that’s used to link through to, is important. And it’s actually swung the other way now because people tended to spam trying to get links with these juicy terms that it looked so unnatural that Google actually pulled back and kind of penalized you for it. But, putting that aside, that’s the complexity of it. Getting links that link through to you with appropriate terms is the other key piece of the SEO puzzle. Get your site optimized then when you’re going out asking people to link to you or you’re getting coverage in the media or something, getting those links with those terms is the bug thing that will help you.
Okay, were on the home stretch now. That’s links and we could spend hours just talking about the whole link building, there’s a whole industry around link building and getting links to your site, which we don’t have time for. But the other thing that I just did want to mention to you as web developers is to be aware of this concept of redirects. Who’s familiar with redirects and web redirects? You’ve come across that? Yeah, okay, so most of you have. And redirects are important because, they won’t really apply if you’re building a new site but if you’re refreshing existing site, your replacing an existing site, and it already ranks the pages, or the URLs, from those old pages in the index. When you set the new site and he goes live you want to set up redirects for those old links to the new URLs on your site. You want to do this for two reasons, one is just the user experience. Someone types in Google, clicks through, if it goes to an error that’s the bad experience. But two, Google will over time look at those links, it’s always reviewing its index. If it finds those pages are going to errors, it will just start dropping them out of its index. What we want to do is we don’t want to lose this what we call Google juice or this link equity we’ve already accrued, we want to make sure that that’s transferred to the new pages. So we do that with redirects and 301 redirects. We won’t get into the different types of redirects, just remember the 301 redirects. And that’s really probably the final thing that I really wanted to mention, it’s kind of out there with making sure your robots.txt file is correct because quite often, this happens quite often, you’ll see a new site to live and their traffic just plummets because they haven’t set up redirects. It’s one of those key bits that should be kind of the sign off of every project. So as web developers you should be aware of that, and when you’re quoting sites, when you’re developing sites, part of the go live process should always be making sure you got the redirects in place to handle that. I’ve got some links for examples of where that wasn’t done and the pain that ensued. You just see companies kind of lose money and lose their business because they didn’t do those simple things. All right, actually there’s the example. That was their traffic, they went live with the new site, and that’s their search engine traffic just drops. And though they’re actually an affiliate commissions based site so that what they used to do was they used to get traffic for certain products and then they’d shoot them off to a supplier to deliver that and they would get a cut of any purchase in the commission. So they were very dependent on traffic and pushing through,if their traffic dropped basically their business died, so it’s that serious. Here’s are some common questions, “Can I buy links to my site?” The question is yes you can, there’s plenty of brokers and people that will buy links. Should you do it? No, generally don’t, you’ll get caught, basically Google will catch you. But there was an interesting discussion that we were saying before, it’s this risk of verses return. So it’s actually a business decision, would you kind of break Google’s guidelines for the short-term return? I’ll go and buy a bunch of links, prop up my rankings, but the site will probably get burnt in time. If you got a three-month window and the client understands the risk and is happy with it, well maybe go for it. I generally don’t, in fact I never have, but that’s probably just fortunate that I haven’t had clients that want that. So I would say don’t but it depends. What should I start with? When you’re building your site and optimizing initially, I always say go for brand terms. And in your case if it’s a personal blog your brand term is your name, so you want to rank for your name. And remember when Andrew Coates was talking about this kind of stuff? He wants to rank for “Andrew Coates,” you want to find out about a person, it should try and rank for that or your company. Someone is going to Google my name and realize I’m not ranking number one, we can talk about that separate. Do social signals help rankings? Yes but minor, but they’ll drive traffic which then people might find interesting and they might actually end up making to you. So I always say it’s a useful thing, get traffic or eyeballs anywhere you can. If you’re delivering great content, there’s a chance they might link to you and improve your rankings, kind of indirectly. Is blog commenting okay? This often gets asked because it has been spammed to death in the past as a link building practice. Does that mean we shouldn’t do it? No, we should still do it as long as it’s quality and you’re adding to the conversation, that’s perfectly fine. You can always spot a spammy comment, it’s not rocket science, it’s pretty easy to spot. Do meta-keywords help? So we talked about meta-description, meta-keywords, that was another meta thing, no they don’t. About 2009 Google actually officially came out and said, “Look,they don’t contribute at all so don’t worry about that or keyword stuffing and stuff.” We actually did ask this, “What are redirects? Are they important?” Yes, they are very important. Can I track conversions in Google Analytics? You had this question before, yes you can and you should. And then the final question was, “What about using JavaScript libraries?” This is kind of a big discussion in itself because you’ll often find that a JavaScript framework, because it’s so client-heavy, it’s doing the calls, or the AJAX calls, or anything after the page is loaded and inserting that, Google doesn’t see that. And there’s a meta-call you can use, there’s a link here to whole blog post that covers how to do that. It’s probably more an advanced kind of thing but there’s also other things. If you ever wanted to check that, you can get plug-ins, I’ve just popped into Firefox because it’s got some plug-ins where you can actually check pages, like disable all JavaScript on page and see how it renders. So I’m actually going to do that now and just show you the FireBootCamp page. And what’s good is because JavaScript is disabled, there’s a whole bunch of stuff we don’t see. Like we don’t see the videos, we don’t see sliders, they’re normally the first to go. Quite often menus disappear and that’s that because menus are a good hint of links where we keep it. So the FireBootCamp site actually degrades quite nicely with JavaScript disabled but a lot of others don’t. And you’ll often find these sites where it’s purely built on a JavaScript framework, if you disable JavaScript you actually just get a blank page. That’s a bit of an advanced kind of topic but that’s something to be aware. That’s a very quick rush through those questions. Any other questions? I think that covered everything. Yeah, that was the summary. So you did really well. Oh sorry, question, yes?

Student: [Inaudible 00:46:17]

Craig: Okay, so the question is, “Does video content help?” Every piece of content that is useful helps. So actually I would always recommend any type of content, it could be a page article, it could be video, it could be presentations, white papers, any kind of thing. Generally the advantage with YouTube, you could embed it on your site and try and rank that page for having video content but you can also use YouTube as another channel, it gets a lot of traffic obviously. So if you have got good videos, and obviously SSW TV is an example of where they’re doing this, if you’re getting engagement with that, that can actually be driving through traffic to your site as well. Now, is that video directly impacting your rankings for your site? Probably not so much but here’s the interesting thing, it can also help you own the page. So if we go back to here, and I think we had this, FireBootCamp. Oh, maybe we didn’t. Oh yeah, we did. So we kind of own most of the page for that term and just a couple months ago if you typed in FireBootCamp you got all these boot camp sites for fitness and down at the beach and stuff like that. But we own it through the domain through Adam’s blog talking about it, press releases we’ve done, Twitter, also video, so we’re owning the page for that. So, should we do it as content? Yes. Does it directly impact the ranking of this? Probably not. Although that’s actually the page showing the video embedded. I take that back, what you’ll often find is, universal results, you’ll actually see the video as part of the results but pointing directly to YouTube. This one is pointing to the actual TV site, not the FireBootCamp site but the TV site. So it’s working for us in some regard, yeah, interesting.

Student: [Inaudible 00:48:29]

Craig: Okay, cool.

Student: [Inaudible 00:48:35]

Craig: No, well we should start linking to you. So are there any jumping out here that I should be looking at? Might have gone too far.

Student: [Inaudible 00:48:48]

Craig: What’s the domain of one of your- . . . [Students cross talking]

Craig: Sorry, this one? Oh, cool. Good, and you’ve got FireBootCamp in your page titles there, that’s great. Yeah, so your meta-description, should we use you as, who’s Ludwig? Yeah right. We’ll give you some clicks, so there’s some usage data for you. Google is saying, “Wow, that’s down the page and they’re still looking through, this is important.” Is this is here? Okay. Oh okay, it interesting that the meta-description wasn’t working properly because this is a WordPress theme, I would have thought that had it. Oh no, you probably just haven’t got the meta-description set. But you’ve got the page title, it’s just actually coming from the title of the post, so that’s all good. So isn’t that interesting, is actually contradicts kind of where I was going with the question before. I was saying just having the video embedded wouldn’t let you rank but actually, because you’ve got new content, you got a sentence.

Student: [Inaudible 00:50:14]

Craig: He’s got the H1 but the video, the question was about the video, “Does video help ranking?” You’ve got the title and that’s all good but it’s not as though your page is 1,000 words of content but you’re still ranking so it definitely helps. You got your page title, you have got a video that’s content. Raj, you should say, “Excuse me, Ludwig, can you put a link to me from Raj pointing to your website.” And that’s a part of link building, he’s going to do some outreach. And then you’ll say, “Well, I’ll give you a link if you link to me.” And then there will be a bit of reciprocal linking and you have got to be careful you don’t do that too much but anyway.

Student: [Inaudible 00:50:58]

Craig: Yeah. There’s a site called BeerCoin, you just trade digital beers, but that’s great. Okay, any other questions?

Student: [Inaudible 00:51:11]

Craig: So getting a bit of outreach? Yeah, so the first thing you’ll do is try and hit up your friends. Sorry?

Student: [Inaudible 00:51:32]

Craig: Oh sorry. Yeah, so the question was, “You’re starting out, you have got a blog, what’s the first things you start with trying to get some links or some Google juice from other people?” So there’s a few things, one is hit up all your friends if they have got a blog, to at least link to you. And you used to do this in the past when blogging was kind of new, you would say, “Oh, by the way, just notice so and so is now blogging, he has a good article.” So try and get some appropriate link, hit up Scott Hanselman. No, you won’t do that, but if you can get someone, some people to link, the more prominent the person linking to you, the better obviously. So it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Adam on his blog to do like a weekly post that said, “Oh, and here’s some blog posts from people in the FireBootCamp, check them out,” and that’s some link juice that he’s driving them. Do a bit of social stuff as well so you can at least get some traffic through, get people to know you. So if you have got a Twitter profile or a Twitter following, you can at least promote your content there. That won’t directly give you link juice but they might if they find it useful and they might want to give you a little bit of support and review from their site. The other thing is you can’t actually do comments, blog comments, on other sites. So let’s say on the FireBootCamp, because we’ve got a blog on FireBootCamp I think, but let’s say for one of the blog posts there that talks about it you might write a blog post yourself and then come back to the FireBootCamp one and say, “Yeah, I really loved this session. By the way, I’ve written about it on my own blog,” and there’s a blog comment. Now whether that link carries much juice may or may not but you’ve actually raised your profile on the bloggers post via the comment and they may well update their post to link to you. May or may not depending on how close of our relationship. If you had something of high-value and you say, “I’ve blogged about this on my blog, where I go into detail about wherever,” they’d be more inclined to link to. So that’s kind of how it starts. It can be difficult starting out and the other thing about link building is that it’s hard work. People are always looking for this magic bullet or something automated and it rarely works. But that’s the way I’d start, yeah. Okay, any other questions? You’ve been very good, thanks for sticking with me for so long, I hope you found it useful, and thanks for your attention, enjoy lunch. Cool, thank you.

Adam: I’ve been running SSW for 20 years, I’ve also been a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney for many years and I think the gap is getting wider between what they’re being taught and what employees need for the guys hit the ground running and be able to do real work.

Marlon: Looking for a job as a junior developer can be really tough, there are so many applicants out there and it’s really hard for employer to separate one from the other. They try really hard but it’s a challenge for them.

Gerard: One of the problem when you come out of university is everything you learn university isn’t directly transferable into the enterprise.

Adam: I think I’ve seen all the problems that companies are having with new recruits, that’s why we created boot camp.

Marlon: The boot camp is a place where you’ll go for nine weeks, 40 to 60 hours a week, and do one thing and one thing only, that is learn to code in Microsoft technologies.

Gerard: You’re going to be learning MVC 5, HTML 5. These technologies are really important because the uptake in the industry is huge so this course will just fill that gap between university to starting work.

Marlon: At the boot camp you have a mentor and that mentor gets you over a challenge you may have straight away so you can go onto the next challenge instead of sitting there for hours searching Google and trying to find answers that sometimes you just can’t find.

Gerard: It’s important to have a mentor because it stops you going off track and it stops you getting stuck on things that are really important. It happens time and time again where people are going through things that they found on the Internet.

Marlon: What they really need is experience and hands-on coding, and this boot camp is going to give people the hands-on experience in coding for nine weeks. Because if you can do as opposed to learn you have your best chance of getting job ready for your first job in the industry.

Adam: It’s not easy course, for nine weeks you’re thrown into the fire, you live and breathe .NET code, you live and breathe learning best practices and working as part of the team. You’ll be working a minimum of 40 hours and mostly 60 hours a week every week.

Marlon: Becoming job ready is more than just learning how to write code, you need to know how to work in a team, you need to know how to gather requirements, you need to know how to use a toolset, the Microsoft stack of tools. During the boot camp we’re going to be teaching you all these other aspects, the soft skills of development that by yourself, learning from a book, learning through Google or videos, you just will never learn.

Adam: It’s not just coding skills, it’s also communication skills and the ability to work as part of a small team.

Gerard: The whole course is really using Scrum so you’ll learn Scrum inside-out. At SSW, we’ve been using Scrum since, literally, day one. So you’ll learn from all our experiences and you’ll just be able to join the company at the end of the course and you’ll be able to fit straight in their team. So you’ll be a big asset to any company that you join.

Marlon: One of the most exciting parts for the students is the gala at the end of the nine weeks.

Adam: The gala is where you showcase what you’ve done to a room of respective employers. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Marlon: At this gala you’re going to be able to present the work that you’ve created and what you’ve learned, not to your mom and dad but the real employers, people looking for junior developers. And at that gala you’re going to be able to present and then talk and discuss with them, and we’re going to help you try and get a job at the end because we believe that the graduates of the boot camp are the best graduates on the market.

Adam: And that is a damn lot better than sending your resume to recruiters who you can only hope will put your best foot forward.

Marlon: By spending nine weeks intensely in the boot camp learning nothing and doing nothing but .NET programming and then creating a real app that you can show your perspective employer, is impressive. It’s impressive because it shows you’re passionate and it shows that you’ve gone through an incredibly difficult course that most people would never go through and that’s the type of person that we look for at SSW.

17 SEO Myths
Craig Bailey

Craig is the Founder and Technical Director at XEN Systems. He’s been involved in IT, web development and digital marketing for more than 25 years.

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