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Rocket SEO®
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Structured data is a huge weapon in your SEO arsenal for gaining rich snippets in Google search results.

Want to learn how to take advantage of this technology and get ahead of the competition? Then read our latest blog post written by Greg Snow-Wasserman of Woorank.com

https://rocket-seo.com/news/structured-data-for-seo-how-to-get-rich-snippets/

#google #snippets #SEO #structuredata #woorank #marketing
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Are you about to start a digital marketing strategy or SEO campaign? Stop right there!

Read our latest blog post to learn why thorough keyword research is critical to the success or failure of your plans.

https://rocket-seo.com/news/why-keyword-research-is-critical-to-seo-strategy/

#Keywords #Research #SEO #DigitalMarketing #DigitalSteategy
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Just in case you missed it, something pretty big happened on Google search last month - the release of the long-awaited Penguin 4.0 algorithm update.

There's been lots of rumours and misreporting so we're here to clear up the facts, fiction and final verdicts on this game changing algo update.

#google #penguin4 #seo #digitalmarketing
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It's been a very busy quarter of Google ranking flux and activity on the SERPs. So is a major algo update finally about to hit? We think so... ‪#‎Google‬ ‪#‎SEO‬ ‪#‎SERPs‬ ‪#‎Penguin‬
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How many times have you heard someone in web or internet marketing suggest that links are “the be-all and end-all” of search ranking? It’s true right? Well, not exactly!

If like us, you’ve kept your eye firmly on the ball, you’ll know search marketing has taken some dramatic changes in recent years. If your sole marketing aim is to go out and build links en masse, from as many source as possible with no structure, no strategy and no oversight, hoping this will do the trick; then you’re wasting your time. In fact, you could do a great deal more harm than good.

Every link on the planet that points to your site may pass ranking equity but the quality and power of that equity can be incredibly varied in influence - positive or negative. With so many factors to now consider, the old school way of literally buying links (which is black-hat incidentally) is not the done thing. In fact, we'd never recommend this.

Acquiring and building quality white-hat links requires in-depth research, a knowledgeable team and people who can reach out to site owners to get these links as quickly and as effectively as possible. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

These days, no one links to a site unless it’s actually worthwhile and useful to their readers. And who can blame them? If your site is floating in the wind and has little, if no useful content that gets regularly updated then guess what, no one’s gonna link to you! It’s a fact. So the quality of your site counts just as much. It’s a two-way process. So if your site is lacking anything of note or interest to your readers, it's time to get pen to paper and start thinking about ways of making your user experience all the better.

Sure, you can ignore this advice and go out and get a tons of directory links, profiles from various spammy forums and a whole range of citations, but they’ll have little, if any, positive long term effect. The fact is, links need to be relevant, niche specific, from a good reputable source and passing authoritative link juice. Not something bought over the counter from overseas at rock bottom rates, that’s for sure! If you’re still doing this, good luck to you but be prepared for the upcoming apocalypse when Google’s Penguin 4.0 hits ya!

Link building in 2016 is not the same as it was a few years back. In fact, we kinda feel a little uncomfortable calling it that these days because the term “building” implies a structure that you are creating from a template or predetermined goal. Link acquisition on the other hand is an organic process and is all about going out and finding the right resources and saying: “Hey, we have a great site that might be of interest to you. Feel free to link to us if you think your readers will find it useful”. That’s the difference!

User experience is the key and when we set out on a link acquisition campaign, we only want to find links that have a direct correlation to what our client’s site is about. Seems pretty obvious when you think about it but the time, effort and energy in getting those links is huge and the rewards are massive.

We’d much rather acquire a handful of links from sources that are showing great traffic levels, impressive authority metrics and are bang on niche than thousands of links that inevitably will just push up ranks in the short term but will swan-dive in the long term. The reason is simply - they work!

This is why we say that not all links are created equal. We never thought we’d ever be paraphrasing a George Orwell quote in an SEO post, but there’s a first for everything!

The fact is, different links funnel different information and Google knows this. If you’re funnelling poor relevancy and very little trust and authority, that then flows through to your site and tells Google to treat you likewise. Treat links like votes - votes from disreputable sources give your site a vote of no confidence. Links from great sites say your site is worth rewarding!
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Avoid the common pitfalls of poor on-page optimisation

Whether you own a modest sized website or a directory containing thousands of pages, the most common problem we see with poor quality on-page optimisation is URL cannibalisation, which in most cases is easily avoided yet created through bad practices or simple, plain ignorance.

But firstly for those not in-the-know, let’s just clear up exactly what URL cannibalisation is.

In simple terms, URL cannibalisation is when one page or more on your website is optimised for the same keyword. Now, you may think that’s a good thing right? Well, think again!

When this happens, Google simply gets confused and is unsure which page to display in search results accordingly for that key phrase. The net result is a tendency to find pages from your site jumping in and out of search results, doing the classic Google dance, or chopping and changing between each other with annoying regularity.

It’s a very common pitfall of owning a site. You build it and in your haste and quite often ignorance, stuff keywords in the titles, descriptions and content of the page that in actual fact, doesn’t bare any true reflection of what the actual page subject is about. Or as many site owners do, copy and paste the exact same page titles across their entire website. Sound familiar?

Well, you’ll be relieved to hear you’re in good company. The problem is, it could be costing you a ton of good quality traffic!

So what can you do to prevent URL cannibalisation from occurring on your site and ensure, only the relevant single pages rank for a particular keyword?

Well, for the novices out there, assuming you own a small to modest sized website, here’s a few fundamental areas to address:

1) Page titles

Countless times do we see page titles that contain both a brief description of the page content, followed by a few 'usual suspects' of keywords thrown in for good measure. Lets imagine you own a business that offers plumbing and electrical work...

A classic example applied to pages we see are things such as a homepage title of “ABC123 Ltd - Plumbing & Electrical Specialists” only to then find that the company’s about pages is entitled “About ABC123 Ltd - Plumbing & Electrical Specialists” plus countless other pages across the board. In fact, the entire site uses the same keywords in the titles, when they should only apply to the page that specifically goes into detail about this service offering.

If your ‘about’ page is simply an introduction to who you are, then stop confusing Google by correctly using a title that reflects this. A good example title would be “Learn more about our company ABC123 Ltd”

2) Description tags

Even worse is poor use of description tags that are either stuffed with keywords or are simply duplicated across the entire site.

The whole point of the description tag is to make Google’s life easier and help describe what the page contains. The description tag also displays in search results below your website page titles so if you’ve written a description that is either aimed at keyword stuffing or is an exact duplicate of every other page on your website, how on earth is Google supposed to know what each page on your website is about or for that matter, the visitor?

If you’ve done this, it will come as little surprise to learn your site ranks poorly and traffic bounces are likely to be high. If you can’t write good quality descriptions in 160 characters or less for each of your web pages, you’re actually better off not bothering at all. Simply let Google decide what the page is about and it will dynamically generate a description in the search results for you.

Poor descriptions will simply hinder your site’s ability to rank well and just makes the user experience all the worse for it. But if you take the time to write them well, Google will reward you for it.

3) On-Page content

Each page on your website should contain unique and well written content but it never ceases to amaze us how often we see content that is either thin, poorly written, clearly designed to keyword stuff or plagiarised from another source. In some cases, we see a combination of these.

Google loves quality content and the way it scores the quality of a page is greatly dependent on all of these factors. In terms of URL cannibalisation, this occurs often when pages on the same or even separate websites contain content about the same subject matter and thus, Google simply doesn’t know which one to rank best. As a result, it ranks all of them yet none of the pages in question will ever rank highly.

Classic examples of where this occurs may be an on-site blog discussing similar subjects, an online store with various pages promoting the same product or a mirrored site using a different domain name which Google treats as a duplicate. If you’re experiencing this with frequent regularity, you may need to start implementing the rel=canonical tag to address the issue and tell Google which page to treat as the unique master.

There are of course, numerous other factors that can affect your site ranking and cause ranking flux for your site pages but as a general rule, we tend to find that the above issues are the main culprits. Other factors such as inbound links, multiple or international site versions and domain harvesting can cause cannibalisation as well. However, as a first rule, these are the areas we check initially.

What cannot be denied is the huge importance of dealing with URL cannibalisation if you suspect it is occurring. Duplicate content is regarded as one of the seven deadly sins of SEO so if you’ve been caught out by this poor practice, it’s time to get your house in order.

Thankfully, most instances of webpage cannibalisation can be dealt with by implementing good practices such as thorough keyword research, creating quality unique content and generally getting to grips with good housekeeping. Google’s artificial intelligence has come a long way over the past ten years and with countless core algorithm updates having been rolled out in recent times, its getting better at identifying on-page subject matter and how to rank it.

So if you want to get the best out of your website, make sure you’ve implemented good practices first and foremost, and make Google's job simpler!

#SEO   #Google  
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Top Google Trends & Predictions for 2016

As we approach the end of 2015, we can look back upon a year that was relatively quiet in terms of rank fluctuations and algorithmic changes on Google searches. In fact, it was eerily quiet for some periods, until recently.

Back in April, the impending "mobilegeddon" was supposed to spell disaster for those without a mobile friendly website and mark the beginning of the end, when in actual fact, all it caused was a bit of a trickle but not the tidal wave of carnage that some has implied.

On reflection, most of the noise was coming from opportunistic web development agencies trying to scare the living daylights out of business owners into hastily getting a new responsive website built in time for the looming deadline. No surprises there then! However, once the update hit, it soon became apparent that all that was required was sound planning for the future, good house keeping and the aim of improving site content accordingly.

Last month, we had the first of what many feel might be some shaky periods to come. Still yet unconfirmed, Google certainly made some form of algorithmic changes on or around November 19 as there was a huge level of organic ranking flux that really changed to search results in a big way.

Was this a simple test prior to a major algo release to come or what this an unconfirmed update? Whatever it was, it's got some folks spooked!

For most SEO's, the clock has been ticking for quite some time, waiting for the inevitable Penguin update that never came. It's now been well over a year since the last 3.0 update was released which by and large, corrected a lot of the problems some SEO's had with bad links and disavow requests but for those who didn't do their clean up job in time, the wait goes on and on.

The promise of (the soon-to-be real-time) Penguin 4.0 before the end of 2015 is now off the table and Google recently announced it won't be released this year after all. Typically, this got a mixed reception amongst the SEO community.

For those waiting to get their bad links processed, it's agonising and painful having to sit tight, hoping that when the release finally comes, they'll get out of jail.

Those of us flying high, with happy clients, are sitting a little nervously staring into the abyss of the unknown, wondering what Google has up its sleeve and why it's taking so long to get this latest algorithmic update out there. Clearly, it's going to be big and hit us hard!

So on that note, what can we expect in the world of SEO going into 2016? Here's our take on what to expect and how things will shape up:

1. Algorithm changes in real-time

Whether we like it or not, Penguin 4.0 is coming and very soon. Once it hits, it will mean goodbye to incremental algo changes and hello to real-time link processing. Is this good news or bad?

On the surface of it, surely as an SEO, seeing the instant net benefit (or drawback) as a result of your work has to be a good thing right? But of course, with any Google algo update comes a few surprises so no one really knows what to expect, so can we reliably count on what we've been told?

Possibly not. Probably best to strap yourself in and get ready for a potentially bumpy ride!

2. Mobile is going to get bigger

Mobile devices have now officially overtaken desktops as the most common way for people to get online, so is it any surprise that this trend is expected to continue?

If your website is still stuck in the dark ages then it's time to act. Google's even gone out of their way to create a mobile friendly test so if your site is failing, its about time you got onto this and got it fixed.

Mobile search results are bound to gain strength and influence so don't get left behind.

3. Voice search will keep growing

Every conceivable device is starting to promote the use of voice prompts and search is one of the first to do that. Whether you use Siri, Google Now or Cortana, people will try to find what they're looking for using longer, voice-based commands which is changing the face of search.

Google's use of structured data and rich snippets is growing increasingly as it attempts to answer questions directly by understanding the content it retrieves. Approximately 19% of all queries provide direct answers or rich snippets.

So if you're still focusing on short-tail keywords and ranking position #1 for outdated, old-fashioned search queries, it might be time for a rethink and to ensure your site utilises structured data.

4. Local ranks still matter

Finding customers local to you will be more important than ever next year and with recent Google Pigeon changes, search results on mobiles and desktops will greatly focus on what is closest to you geographically.

So if you haven't got your businesses local citations and maps in order, make that one of your top priorities for 2016.

5. Stop ignoring social media

So many businesses refuse to embrace the social age but the fact is, social signals are now integral to SEO and have practically merged as part of the wider picture.

If social media doesn't form a part of your strategy then your plans will inevitably fail. Signals, mentions and reputation through social platforms has grown and can mean the difference between success and failure, especially if your business operates primarily online.

If you've ignored social influence up until now, it's going to be pretty hard for you to continue to do so going into 2016 and to expect your business to grow. That you can count on!
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Or... why it's bad to be a lazy SEO!

After a number of dealings and conversations with SEOs and internet marketing agencies in recent weeks, it amazed me just how few actually applied well-researched and tailored strategies for their client websites. It sounds crazy right? But it’s completely true! So much so that I felt compelled to write a blog post about it as it struck me that there are still too many self-proclaimed search marketing experts around, just churning out the same lazy garbage, month after month.

I’ll be completely frank. We do from time to time outsource projects but not simply from a perspective of offloading work elsewhere. Not for a second. We do this to understand the techniques and work methods applied by others. We’re quite up front with our clients about it too so there’s no smoke or mirrors involved. Quite honestly… we like to know what the competition is up to, good or bad!

If we use an external resource, we do it for a very good reason. Either because a) we do not have the in-house skills to do a particular job; b) because we have so much work to do for a particular client, that we need additional hands to do some of the more (shall we say) basic donkeywork or in most cases c) because we want to ensure we’re one step ahead of the competition.

We don’t just farm stuff out to any Tom, Dick or Harry either. We have to be convinced that they are well versed in all aspects of SEO and can maintain the high standards that we set for all our clients. If not, it's a no go.

However, in utilising a few external resources of late, it was apparent that there seems to be a widespread “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to SEO by quite a large group of agencies. I’m not about to name and shame anyone because frankly, that’s petty and childish but what it did highlight to me is that too many search marketers out there are taking far too little interest in the business or target markets their clients are looking to break into when that is the critical issue. It frankly shocked me but it’s going on and to a high degree. Agencies are simply applying the same set routines to each and every client and feel this is acceptable. It’s frankly shameful.

Every business is different so approach them that way!

When a client approaches us, our main priority is to get a complete understanding of their business first and foremost. That understanding can be made up of items such as their product or service offering, target demographics, competition levels, aspirations, brand identity and current position within their market. That’s even before we’ve ran a single on-site analysis!

We also ensure each of our clients have complete transparency on everything and we mean everything. That way, they know exactly what we propose going forward and what we feel is realistically achievable. Not just take the money each month and run with it until they get fed up and cancel. Good marketing requires creativity, a solid real world knowledge and the ability to adapt accordingly.

The agencies and SEOs we dealt with barely asked a question or communicated when a question had been posed. Thankfully, they were only working on test projects (unknown to them) but it told us something very positive. We’re doing the right things and they’re failing miserably where it counts.

Analyse, assess and strategise.

You can only truly expect good results if you’ve taken the necessary steps to analyse a website from a multi-dimensional approach. Typically, we saw a one dimensional outlook which was simply to analyse the website in isolation. In most cases, this would be the source code, structure and markup. Nothing else. That will only get you so far and we feel this is the typically lazy approach many SEOs take these days.

At Rocket SEO, we believe that you need to look at every marketing challenge from numerous angles such as:

1) Customers: does the website work in attracting, retaining and converting potential customers. This requires a good eye for creativity and communication as well as technical, source coding skills. Something many SEOs lack.

2) Competition: why is the competition ranking better and what can be learned from them to achieve similar results?

3) Authority: does the website have good metrics that suggest it has a trusted authority on the search engines. If not, why not and how can this be fixed?

4) Rank: does the site rank well for relevant keywords and if not, how can this be adjusted to influence the search engines the improve the situation?

The above points may seem very obvious to those who are already carrying out these types of approaches, but you’d be surprised by just how many aren’t.

Don’t create content for the sake of it!

What we typically see is many SEOs falling into the “content is king” trap. What this mantra should really say is “great content is king”, not just any old garbage. Yet time after time, we witness content that is worthless, of no sharable value and of little authority being created just to try to get a link or citation that will frankly do nothing for your clients brand identity, authority and in most cases rank.

You know the kind of stuff we mean. Cruddy slideshows, spammy directories and citations, “how to” PDFs, blog posts and wikis… stuff that no one will find of use and be treated accordingly. It’s the kind of content that lacks imagination and foresight yet is filling the web week after week.

Create killer content and you’ll rock the ranks

It takes creativity and originality to make killer content and that requires an understanding of your client. As mentioned above, if you take very little time to understand your clients business or aspirations, how can you possibly create content that will be suitable or sharable in the wider scheme of things?

If you really take the time to put the necessary foundations in place at the early stages, creating great content should be easy. It should come to you in a flood of ideas that will inspire you to build a body of work that will help to increase brand identity, trust, authority and a long term platform from which your clients site will only improve.

So our message is clear. Don’t churn and burn. Create and generate your way to a successful marketing campaign and you’ll have happier clients that stick around for longer and will give you glowing praise that will make your influence stronger in the ever growing world of #SEO  
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As user habits change, has your search strategy done likewise?

Anyone working in search or involved in online marketing in any form, should know by now that search queries can no longer be considered in terms of short two-to-three word phrases. The world has changed.

Way back when during the days of spammy, over-optimised sites stuffed with keywords, it was considered the norm to treat search the old way by literally ensuring your content was geared towards the shorter, two-to-three word phrases that were most commonly used. But nowadays, user habits, mostly dictated by a change in device and algorithmic technology, has made us find the information we want in far more varied forms.

Search queries are evidently longer. You only have to look back over your historical analytical data and compare it to recent months to see a startling difference. Typically, queries are far longer and varied over the past two years. Optimising for short tail is no longer relevant. But why?

The cause in search query changes

Unsurprisingly, there’s more than a single root cause for this change but what is clear is that the reasons are all intertwined and have effectively influenced each other to reach this point.

So here’s a breakdown of the main factors that are influencing a huge shift in online search habits:

Semantic Search Indexing

A major change in how Google interprets queries and the results it delivers the end user has influenced the change in user behaviour in a big way.

When first released, Google’s search mechanism worked in a very simplified fashion. It would basically take the users search query and break it up into individual components i.e keywords, and displayed websites that matched those components the best in the search engine result pages. Websites with the most keyword matches would rank the highest; hence the huge level of search manipulation by SEOs that went on in the early days.

Nowadays, Google uses latent semantic indexing which analyses the intent of the users search query far greater, and tries to find sites that best fit the needs of the search and the end goal. The artifical intelligence behind Google became far more advanced.

Because of this fundamental change, short tail keyword searches are far less effective at matching the users intent and thus, it led users to start using more descriptive long-tail searches to find what they essentially need. In short, Google grew up!

Depth & Use of Information

It’s no great surprise that the internet has grown hugely in recent years and so finding high quality, useful information has become even more difficult.

Because of the sheer saturation of websites out there, which sadly to this day, many are of poor quality and usability, it has meant users are forced to be more varied in their search queries and thus again, they have become longer and more descriptive.

Basic, ambiguous searches only return generalised websites from wikis or brand sites which invariably is not what users essentially want to find. So by going long tail, they eliminate these kinds of useless, generic search results.

Dictation via Mobile Devices

Voice recognition software is practically on every mobile device, most notably phones. Whether you’re an Apple Siri user or prefer Cortana on Windows or Google Now, telling your phone what you want is far more convenient and quicker than typing.

It also eliminates the annoyance of having your phone’s autocorrect change your typing to some random nonsense that ends up delivering search results that are so off subject, you feel like breaking your phone.

Dictation when it works, makes life so much easier and thus, when we ask our phones audibly what we want, we tend to ask with far more detail and colloquially than a typed search. Conversations are always long-tail and because of this, queries have become more conversational and less formal.

So if short-tail is dead, what action should you take?

Instead of purely focusing on keyword tactics, look at your dilemma from a quality perspective.

So rather than optimising your site for just simple, short-tail phrases by including them verbatim across your entire website (come on, are you seriously still doing this?), write about topics that address the kinds of long-tail key phrases you expect your audience to search for and improve your sites overall quality. By doing so, you’ll tell Google you are a trusted resource and build authority that will put you ahead of the pack when the world goes fully long-tail.

Never forget what your core strength and business niche is because frankly, as more and more sites launch, the competition for short tail becomes even greater. So why focus on techniques of the past in a pool that is overflowing when you can take advantage of current end user trends and focus on building a site that is rewarded for offering in-depth, original quality content?

In the next few years, short-tail will undoubtedly have had its day so by being a step ahead, you’ll already be well placed to take advantage when that day comes!
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Google to rank mobile friendly websites higher. Is your business ready for the April 21, 2015 deadline? Check out our latest #blog  post to find out more...
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