How To Blog For Google SEO Benefits in 2020

Blog subscribers

Disclosure: This article is my personal opinion of research based on my experience of almost 20 years. The content is my own and not sponsored. There is no advertising on this page. External links to third party sites are moderated by me. Links to internal pages promote my own content and services. I highlight monitised links in an clear way on this site. This page uses cookies. Your privacy is respected.” Shaun Anderson, Hobo

I started blogging in the SEO industry in 2007, when blogging was the new “in thing”, and I used it to power visits and sales for my company a bit before it was commonplace.

Google (I include Google Feedburner in this) has sent this site almost 8 million unpaid organic visitors since I started blogging.

There’s no single way to blog but here’s what I learned and how I did it if you are totally new to blogging.

Today this blog has

Blog subscribers

subscribers (most of which are email subscribers) and i attract about 100K organic visitors a month:

On a simple level blogging is simply about adding fresh up-to-date content to your site. The more up-to-date content you have, the more traffic you’ll get, the more links you’ll attract, the more “domain authority” you’ll build and the more traffic you’ll get (if the content is relevant and high quality).

Kind of.

Its a much different environment today (in 2020) that it was back in 2007.

Blogging was GREAT for SEO and STILL is if your blog has a clear purpose beyond just trying to rank in Google for specific keywords.

However – everybody got a blog because it was ‘great for SEO’ and basically the way Google changed meant blogging wasn’t quite as good for SEO. Google has a history of taking a SEO tactic that once worked amazingly well and reducing a lot of it’s benefits, or at least, demanding a level of quality that raises the bar-to-entry for all.

Blogging can, in fact, hurt your SEO in 2020 if the content on the blog is of very low quality, completely off topic or the topics are spread too thin across too many pages.

A blog is ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT. If the content is low-quality, and there is no desire to actually create something of value on your site that is not entirely self-serving from a monetary point of view, you probably should NOT have a blog.

You could just end up creating loads of thin pages on your site for Google to mark you down for.

As a search engine optimiser and blogger, I’ve removed a lot of stale blog posts off client sites over the last 5 years as Google continues to demand quality in this area.

Table Of Contents

A Simple Blogging Strategy

I have always aimed to create a destination for Google visitors. I have used the same strategy these past 13 years.

Every time I blogged I had some simple aim in mind, and on a post by post basis, none are really that clever, but together as a whole, I hoped to create, well, a resource of sorts that drives traffic and builds a brand for this site.

  1. Some blog posts are for attracting links from other sites
  2. Some posts are for growing a reputation and influence in social media
  3. Some posts are for giving back, helping those who have helped you, and linking out
  4. Some posts are about the company, but not many
  5. Some posts are about the company’s products, but not many
  6. Some posts are designed to rank in Google, but not without ‘value-add’
  7. Some posts are about connecting with industry or niche players
  8. Some posts are about conversation
  9. Some posts are about traffic
  10. Some posts are about increasing subscribers (and losing them)
  11. Some posts I do because I have an affiliate link
  12. Some posts are just to test how Google works
  13. Some posts I do because I like writing and putting ideas down
  14. Some blog posts are for fun – (dumb posts can often do really well in social media circles)
  15. Some blog posts are a bit more serious

Blogging is a simple enough process, but you need to take a long-term approach to blogging.

What I’ve learned in simple terms is most people don’t care about your boring company or products (leave that for the search engine visitors who are looking for your stuff) and most people connect with the individual if the voice behind the blog is at least honest.

Helping others out when you can, seems to be a good way of getting on in the blogging world, and you do that by linking to other peoples blog posts where relevant and WITHOUT nofollow.

Some savvy marketers might say the biggest mistake I made (probably) was running the blog for years with virtually no ads of any kind, but I introduced some sort of limited affiliate advertising on the site in 2010, but I’ve since removed most of those to make the purpose of my blog more clearer to Google.

I think my biggest mistake was blogging for nearly two years not giving a damn about subscriber counts, which is actually my most important metric now even above traffic and search engine positions for this site at least. (I used this article to learn how to increase subscriber counts here and that post is still of value today).

I remember being excited because I had 100 subscribers. Now I have almost 100,000 emails as a result of blogging.

Hobo newsletter subscribers

I think the biggest mistake you will probably make is you’ll be scared to link out to other blogs and send traffic to other blogs (even those in the same industry as your company).

And that is a mistake.

If you’re not even a bit generous with your links in articles, and all your links are to internal pages, you’re making it much harder for yourself. I see blogs do this all the time – being stingy with links – it is narrow-minded, especially with Google better at identifying what I call self-serving links to your own content.

I keep my blog very much on topic in 2020. I prefer to add content which might be of help to folk, and might get me a link at some point.

The benefit of blogging for me is simple:  I’ve never had to pay anybody for advertising, ever, or had to ask anybody for work, ever. Because of it, the phone goes every day. It took me about an hour a day (usually at night) to blog about something back in the day, so its not hard to understand the ROI (return on investment) from such a venture, especially if you are starting with nothing, as I did.

One last tip? I think blogging should be at the center of any social media marketing you employ and I don’t think it’s too late to start – ever, even in 2020.

You should own the platform where you write your thoughts down. You should drive social engagement there. That’s why I mostly blog, and keep off social media, except to share my content.

If you own the blogging platform (as in a self-hosted WordPress blog), when it does pick up natural links, you own the value, and you can also blog about what you want.

Mentions

How To Blog? What Should YOU write in a blog?

What you do for a day job. That’s what I do, anyway. Outspoken Media came up with a great post for those bloggers who are just starting out and stuck for ideas what to blog about.

I’ve always found writing up my research on this blog in a way I can understand it better drives Google organic traffic to it.

I spend most of my blogging time updated articles I already have, in 2020.

Google Has Evolved and Content Marketing With It

QUOTE: “Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.” Google

Google does not work only the way it used to work, and as a result, this impacts a lot of websites built a certain way to rank high in Google – and Google is a lot less forgiving these days.

Is the user going to be more satisfied with an exact match query on a low-quality website, OR a high-quality page closely related to the search query used, published by an entity Google trusts and rates highly?

Google is deciding more and more to go with the latter.

Optimisation, in 2020, must not get in the way of the text or user experience.

Do not optimise for irrelevant keyword searches.

Do not keyword stuff.

 

What Topic Are You Building Machine Identifiable Expertise in?

People don’t know what to blog about, so often, a blog becomes a jumbled mess of un-directed, thin content. You prevent this from happening going forward by knowing what topic you are building out on your website. If everything you publish is related, you are probably building authority in that niche.

If all you are building is content that is immediately out of date and found on other more authoritative websites, you are toast. Keep that stuff on social media, or minimise its footprint on your blog.

EXAMPLE: You could write 30 unrelated blog posts. Once they were all published, you could combine them all into a list that was relevant to a topic or entity. What if these 30 seemly unlinked posts once combined, gave you the 30 things Tom Cruise has spent his money on? All of a sudden, this content becomes relevant in an entirely different way that it was when it was packaged separately in an unconnected and uninteresting way.

That is a wild example. I am just trying to illustrate you don’t build in-depth content in one go unless you have a team of ghostwriters. Success is often built upon a lot of small edits to pages over time.

If you haven’t been building a topical identity on your site, you should start now.

Topic & Concept Optimisation

This is how I categorise things (and have done for many years).

  • Is your website content about a “topic” related to your core business?
  • Are particular pages on your site about ‘sub-topics’ off the main ‘topic.’
  • Do the pages explain the ‘sub-topic’ in detail, including ‘concepts’ within the main sub-topic area?
  • Does your content explain concepts in a way that demonstrates experience or expertise?
  • Does the page satisfy the user intent better than competing pages?
  • Do multiple pages demonstrate expertise or experience in in-depth ways?
  • Does this content have independent links from other ‘topic’ related authorities and entities?

That kind of ‘old-SEO’ still works fine.

Google is measuring how satisfied users are with the pages on your website, in comparison with competing pages in the SERP.

Are People Looking For Your Content On Google?

Brand Searches Imply Trust & Quality

A patent granted to Google tells us explicitly what features it was looking for in a site that might seem to indicate that the site was a quality site.

It tells us:

The score is determined from quantities indicating user actions of seeking out and preferring particular sites and the resources found in particular sites. A site quality score for a particular site can be determined by computing a ratio of a numerator that represents user interest in the site as reflected in user queries directed to the site (e.g. ‘Hobo’) and a denominator that represents user interest in the resources found in the site as responses to queries of all kinds (e.g. ‘SEO tutorial’). The site quality score for a site can be used as a signal to rank resources, or to rank search results that identify resources, that are found in one site relative to resources found in another site.

A forward-thinking strategy must take this into consideration. This understanding of how Google is moving to rank pages in the future is not something that is going away anytime soon.

Note, also, that even if the above patent is in operation, or something like it, SERP modification will still likely be influenced by geographic location, to give you only one example.

  • GOAL – Meet “user actions of seeking out and preferring particular sites” Have a brandable website or section of the website that would suit this type of search.
  • GOAL – Meet “resources found in particular sites” – Generate content that meets this goal. In-depth content that will meet keyword requirements. Tools that help perform a user requirement, keeping in mind this will be judged “relative to resources found on another site”  e.g. your competition and their competing pages.
  • GOAL – Create secondary content that transforms gracefully to other media with an intent that informs the user to your service or product. Videos, Animations, Infographics. Other relevant media.
  • GOAL – Improve brand signal from a technical SEO point of view. Optimisation and integration tasks with Google properties, for example (e.g. Google Local Business).
  • GOAL – Improve user experience. Optimise the search experience.
  • GOAL – Conversion Optimisation.  Critical to try and convert more sales from the current traffic.

Click Metrics and Task Completion Rate are LIKELY Ranking Modifiers

Are people actively seeking your website out, and when they do land there, are they satisfied?

e.g.using the Hobo site as an example, Is anyone looking for “Hobo SEO tutorial” and when they find it, are they completing the task? e.g. are they satisfied, do they hang around, do they share it. Is the page fit for purpose? Or do they immediately go back to Google and click on another result?

If there is a high satisfaction rate when people search for ‘hobo SEO tutorial’ compared to averages for ‘SEO tutorial’, then perhaps Google would be confident of actually showing that page in the mix for the actual term ‘SEO tutorial’ e.g. you would not need links. If there is a low satisfaction rate for such a keyword, then the page can be deemed ‘low-quality’ when compared to better-performing pages on competing sites.

When you satisfy a query in terms of quality and click-through satisfaction – or make Google look good –  you can actually ‘win’ a branded recognition for a valuable term.

We had the following brand highlight in the UK (for a few months, after our own content strategy hit the front page of Reddit a few years ago).

Screenshot 2015-08-18 01.28.18

I used to think Pagerank was like having a ticket to the party. It still might be on some level, but at some level keywords on a page play a similar role. Keywords used to be everything even a few years ago – but that has been at least obfuscated.

We tested this recently and was quite surprised by the difference e.g. you can’t simply add new words to a high authority page and expect it to rank just because you have ‘domain authority’ – not if there are a lot of higher quality pages targeting the term.

Site quality scores are one thing, but these site scores are tied to a KEYWORD query at EVERY TURN (or they are supposed to be). If you mention a SPECIFIC KEYWORD in a multi-keyword search, the HIGHEST QUALITY page for that SPECIFIC KEYWORD will often be returned, even with an irrelevant word thrown in. (But not two or more, apparently, as I noted in recent tests. Google is built on previous incarnations of how Google mapped the original web. e.g. for the longtail, you still NEED keywords on a page. ergo – the more relevant UNIQUE KEYWORDS (not key phrases) on a page, the more long-tail searches it WILL appear for.)

e.g. you can have a very high-quality site, but a site with no proper keyword usage throughout the site won’t rank for any long-tail searches e.g., how you are found in Google if you have a new site.

Google might still be interested in the reputation of individual authors.

Google Authorship (a push by Google to identify and highlight expert authors using special markup code in your HTML) used to be useful in a number of ways, not limited to achieving increased visibility in SERPs for your writing.

Google-Authorship-Pictures-going-from-Google-search

Google Authorship pictures were completely removed from the search results in the UK on June 2014 – but I still have my redundant Google authorship markup in place. SEOs expect authorship analysis in some shape or form to be impactful in Google ranking (it is in Google In-depth Articles, we have been told.)

I imagine Google has moved beyond this now, though, in web search, but is probably still interested in identifying expert authors. We know they use, at least, manual raters to evaluate E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority and Trust”).

There are many signals that no doubt helps Google work this out in 2020, perhaps through an author’s semantic association with certain entities and topics.

  • TASK – [BRAND] + [PRIMARY KEYWORD] GOALS
    • PROJECT GOAL – Get customers to search for your ‘brand’ and the ‘primary keyword’.
      • PROJECT TASK – Build an internal information-based page optimised for the ‘primary keyword’, with as many unique words on it as possible. Cite references. Have ‘Author’ with a link to Bio that illustrates E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority and trust). Have ‘Last Updated’ on the page (specific to page). Keep updated.
    • PROJECT GOAL – Keep pages targeting the primary keyword to a minimum on the site. Only high-quality pages should target the primary keyword.
    • PROJECT GOAL – Get legitimate reviews. Google Local Business reviews is a safe bet. Do not ASK for positive reviews on any third-party review site… in any obvious manner.
      • PROJECT TASK – Determine primary keywords to target with resources on site

 

Does Google Prefer Fresh Content?

Most of the time, yes.

Google even has “initiatives” for models that determine if some keyword searches are better served with results based on Q.D.F (query deserves freshness for that keyword phrase).

QUOTE: Mr. Singhal introduced the freshness problem, explaining that simply changing formulas to display more new pages results in lower-quality searches much of the time. He then unveiled his team’s solution: a mathematical model that tries to determine when users want new information and when they don’t. (And yes, like all Google initiatives, it had a name: QDF, for “query deserves freshness.”) New York Times h/t Search Engine Land

We know that Google likes ‘fresh content’ if the query deserves fresh results. Not all businesses need ‘freshness’, we are told. We know also that Google changed their infrastructure to better provide users with “50 percent fresher results”

QUOTE: “So why did we build a new search indexing system? Content on the web is blossoming. It’s growing not just in size and numbers but with the advent of video, images, news and real-time updates, the average webpage is richer and more complex. In addition, people’s expectations for search are higher than they used to be. Searchers want to find the latest relevant content and publishers expect to be found the instant they publish.” Google, 2010

The real risk to your rankings could be content staleness:

“Stale content refers to documents that have not been updated for a period of time and, thus, contain stale data (documents that are “no longer updated, diminished in importance, superceded by another document“). The staleness of a document may be based on: document creation date, anchor growth, traffic, content change, forward/back link growth, etc. The Google patent explains how they can spot the stale content using 4 factors: Query-based factor; Link-based criteria; Traffic – based criteria; User-behavior-based criteria.” Search Engine Journal, 2008

The real risk of stale content is that out-dated content is a poor user experience to visitors. If you have stale content your competitor will potentially get more traffic from Google with better kept up-to-date content that pleases users.

This is in the also guidelines for affiliate websites:

QUOTE: “Keep your content updated and relevant. Fresh, on-topic information increases the likelihood that your content will be crawled by Googlebot and clicked on by users.” Webmaster Guidelines: Affiliate Programs, 2018

Updating content on your site may signal to Google that your site is being maintained, and have second-order benefits, too.

Telling users when website copy was last edited or last updated is a probable ‘good user experience’, for instance.

Users also prefer relevant content that is actually up-to-date.

Consider that Google has patents to automatically detect many aspects of poor user experience (as Google defines it).

The sensible thing would be to keep your content ‘fresh’ in some way, by either updating the content or improving the user experience.

Are Poor Spelling and Bad Grammar Google Ranking Factors?

Is Grammar A Ranking Factor?

NO – this is evidently NOT a ranking signal. I’ve been blogging for nine years and most complaints I’ve had in that time have been about my poor grammar and spelling in my posts.

My spelling and grammar may be atrocious but these shortcomings haven’t stopped me ranking lots of pages over the years.

Google historically has looked for ‘exact match’ instances of keyword phrases on documents and SEO have, historically, been able to optimise successfully for these keyword phrases – whether they are grammatically correct or not.

So how could bad grammar carry negative weight in Google’s algorithms?

That being said, I do have Grammarly, a spelling and grammar checking plugin installed on my browser to help me catch the obvious mistakes.

Advice From Google

John Mueller from Google said in a recent hangout that it was ‘not really’ but that it was ‘possible‘ but very ‘niche‘ if at all, that grammar was a positive ranking factor. Bear in mind – most of Google’s algorithms (we think) demote or de-rank content once it is analysed – not necessarily promote it – not unless users prefer it.

Another video I found is a Google spokesman talking about inadequate grammar as a ranking factor or page quality signal was from a few years ago.

In this video, we are told, by Google, that grammar is NOT a ranking factor.

Not, at least, one of the 200+ quality signals Google uses to rank pages.

And that rings true, I think.

Google’s Matt Cutts did say though:

QUOTE: “It would be fair to use it as a signal…The more reputable pages do tend to have better grammar and better spelling. ” Matt Cutts, Google

Google Panda & Content Quality

Google is on record as saying (metaphorically speaking) their algorithms are looking for signals of low quality when it comes to rating pages on Content Quality.

Some possible examples could include:

QUOTE: “1. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”

and

QUOTE: “2. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”

and

QUOTE: “3. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?”

and

QUOTE: “4. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”

Altogether – Google is rating content on overall user experience as it defines and rates it, and bad grammar and spelling equal a poor user experience.

At least on some occasions.

Google aims to ensure organic search engine marketing be a significant investment in time and budget for businesses. Critics will say to make Adwords a more attractive proposition.

Google aims to reward quality signals that:

  1. take time to build and
  2. the vast majority of sites will not, or cannot meet without a lot of investment.

NO website in a competitive market gets valuable traffic from Google in 2020 without a lot of work. Technical work and content curation.

It’s an interesting aside.

Fixing the grammar and spelling on a page can be a time-consuming process.

It’s clearly a machine-readable and detectable – although potentially noisy – signal and Google IS banging on about Primary MAIN Content Quality and User Experience.

Who knows?

Grammar is ranking factor could be one for the future – but at the moment, I doubt grammar is taken much into account (on an algorithmic level, at least, although users might not like your grammar and that could have a second order impact if it causes high abandonment rates, for instance).

Is Spelling A Google Ranking Factor?

Poor spelling has always had the potential to be a NEGATIVE ranking factor in Google. IF the word that is incorrect on the page is unique on the page and of critical importance to the search query.

Although – back in the day – if you wanted to rank for misspellings – you optimised for them – so – poor spelling would be a POSITIVE ranking looking back not that long ago.

Now, that kind of optimisation effort is fruitless, with changes to how Google presents these results in 2020.

Google will favour “Showing results for” results over presenting SERPs based on a common spelling error.

Testing to see if ‘bad spelling’ is a ranking factor is still easy on a granular level, bad grammar is not so easy to test.

I think Google has better signals to play with than ranking pages on spelling and grammar. It’s not likely to penalise you for the honest mistakes most pages exhibit, especially if you have met more important quality signals – like useful main content.

And I’ve seen clear evidence of pages ranking very well with both bad spelling and bad grammar. My own!

I still have Grammarly installed, though.

Google is policing their SERPs.

Put simply Google’s views on ‘site quality’ and ‘user satisfaction’ do NOT automatically correlate to you getting more traffic.

This endeavour is supposed to be a benchmark – a baseline to start from (when it comes to keywords with financial value).

Everybody, in time, is supposed to hit this baseline to expect to have a chance to rank – and for the short, to medium term, this is where the opportunity for those who take it can be found.

If you don’t do it, someone else will, and Google will rank them, in time, above you.

Google has many human quality raters rating your offering, as well as algorithms targeting old-style SEO techniques and engineers specifically looking for sites that do not meet technical guidelines.

Google Demotion Algorithms Target Low-Quality Content

Optimising (without improving) low-quality content springs traps set by ever-improving core quality algorithms.

What this means is that ‘optimising’ low-quality pages is very much swimming upstream in 2020.

Optimising low-quality pages without value-add is self-defeating, now that the algorithms – and manual quality rating efforts –  have got that stuff nailed down.

If you optimise low-quality pages using old school SEO techniques, you will be hit with a low-quality algorithm (like the Quality Update or Google Panda).

You must avoid boilerplate text, spun text or duplicate content when creating pages – or you are Panda Bamboo – as Google hinted at in the 2015 Quality Rater’s Guide.

QUOTE: “6.1 Low Quality Main Content One of the most important considerations in PQ rating is the quality of the MC. The quality of the MC is determined by how much time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill have gone into the creation of the page. Consider this example: Most students have to write papers for high school or college. Many students take shortcuts to save time and effort by doing one or more of the following:

  • Buying papers online or getting someone else to write for them
  • Making things up.
  • Writing quickly with no drafts or editing.
  • Filling the report with large pictures or other distracting content.
  • Copying the entire report from an encyclopedia, or paraphrasing content by changing words or sentence structure here and there.
  • Using commonly known facts, for example, “Argentina is a country. People live in Argentina. Argentina has borders. Some people like Argentina.”
  • Using a lot of words to communicate only basic ideas or facts, for example, “Pandas eat bamboo. Pandas eat a lot of bamboo. It’s the best food for a Panda bear.

Unfortunately, the content of some webpages is similarly created. We will consider content to be Low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill. Pages with low quality MC do not achieve their purpose well. Important: Low quality MC is a sufficient reason to give a page a Low quality rating.”

Google rewards uniqueness or punishes the lack of it.

The number 1 way to do ‘SEO copywriting‘ in 2020 will be to edit the actual page copy to continually add unique content and improve its accuracy, uniqueness, relevance, succinctness, and use.

Low-Quality Content Is Not Meant To Rank High in Google.

Page Quality Score From Google Search Quality Rater's Guidelines

A Google spokesman said not that long ago that Google Panda was about preventing types of sites that shouldn’t rank for particular keywords from ranking for them.

QUOTE: “(Google Panda) measures the quality of a site pretty much by looking at the vast majority of the pages at least. But essentially allows us to take quality of the whole site into account when ranking pages from that particular site and adjust the ranking accordingly for the pages. So essentially, if you want a blunt answer, it will not devalue, it will actually demote. Basically, we figured that site is trying to game our systems, and unfortunately, successfully. So we will adjust the rank. We will push the site back just to make sure that it’s not working anymore.”  Gary Illyes – Search Engine Land

When Google demotes your page for duplicate content practices, and there’s nothing left in the way of unique content to continue ranking you for – your web pages will mostly be ignored by Google.

The way I look at it – once Google strips away all the stuff it ignores (duplicate text) – what’s left? In effect, that’s what you can expect Google to reward you for. If what is left is boilerplate synonymised text content – that’s now being classed as web spam – or ‘spinning’.

NOTE – The ratio of duplicate content on any page is going to hurt you if you have more duplicate text than unique content. A simple check of the pages, page to page, on the site is all that’s needed to ensure each page is DIFFERENT (regarding text) page-to-page.

If you have large sections of duplicate text page-to-page – that is a problem that should be targeted and removed.

It is important to note:

  1. The main text content on the page must be unique to avoid Google’s page quality algorithms.
  2. Verbose text must NOT be created or spun automatically
  3. Text should NOT be optimised to a template as this just creates a footprint across many pages that can be interpreted as redundant or manipulative boilerplate text.
  4. Text should be HIGHLY descriptive, unique and concise
  5. If you have a lot of pages to address, the main priority is to create a UNIQUE couple of paragraphs of text, at least, for the MC (Main Content). Pages do not need thousands of words to rank. They just need to MEET A SPECIFIC USER INTENT and not TRIP ‘LOW_QUALTY’ FILTERS.  A page with just a few sentences of unique text still meets this requirement (150-300 words) – for now.
  6. When it comes to out-competing competitor pages, you are going to have to look at what the top competing page is doing when it comes to main content text. Chances are – they have some unique text on the page. If they rank with duplicate text, either their SUPPLEMENTARY CONTENT is better, or the competitor domain has more RANKING ABILITY because of either GOOD BACKLINKS or BETTER USER EXPERIENCE.
  7. Updating content on a site should be a priority as Google rewards fresher content for certain searches.

Google Rates ‘Copied’ Main Content ‘Lowest’

This is where you are swimming upstream in 2020. Copied content is not going to be a long-term strategy when creating a unique page better than your competitions’ pages.

In the latest Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that were published on 14 March 2017, Google states:

7.4.5 Copied Main Content

Every page needs MC. One way to create MC with no time, effort, or expertise is to copy it from another source. Important: We do not consider legitimately licensed or syndicated content to be “copied” (see here for more on web syndication). Examples of syndicated content in the U.S. include news articles by AP or Reuters.

The word “copied” refers to the practice of “scraping” content, or copying content from other non­affiliated websites without adding any original content or value to users (see here for more information on copied or scraped content).

If all or most of the MC on the page is copied, think about the purpose of the page. Why does the page exist? What value does the page have for users? Why should users look at the page with copied content instead of the original source? Important: The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.

and

7.4.6 More About Copied Content

All of the following are considered copied content:

● Content copied exactly from an identifiable source. Sometimes an entire page is copied, and sometimes just parts of the page are copied. Sometimes multiple pages are copied and then pasted together into a single page. Text that has been copied exactly is usually the easiest type of copied content to identify.

● Content which is copied, but changed slightly from the original. This type of copying makes it difficult to find the exact matching original source. Sometimes just a few words are changed, or whole sentences are changed, or a “find and replace” modification is made, where one word is replaced with another throughout the text. These types of changes are deliberately done to make it difficult to find the original source of the content. We call this kind of content “copied with minimal alteration.”

● Content copied from a changing source, such as a search results page or news feed. You often will not be able to find an exact matching original source if it is a copy of “dynamic” content (content which changes frequently). However, we will still consider this to be copied content. Important: The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.

How To Improve Your Website Content

This is no longer about repeating keywords. ANYTHING you do to IMPROVE the page is going to be a potential SEO benefit. That could be:

  • creating fresh content
  • removing doorway-type pages
  • cleaning up or removing thin-content on a site
  • adding relevant keywords and key phrases to relevant pages
  • constantly improving pages to keep them relevant
  • fixing poor grammar and spelling mistakes
  • adding synonyms and related key phrases to text
  • reducing keyword stuffing
  • reducing the ratio of duplicated text on your page to unique text
  • removing old outdated links or out-of-date content
  • rewording sentences to take out sales or marketing fluff and focusing more on the USER INTENT (e.g. give them the facts first including pros and cons – for instance – through reviews) and purpose of the page.
  • merging many old stale pages into one, fresh page, which is updated periodically to keep it relevant
  • Conciseness, while still maximising relevance and keyword coverage
  • Improving important keyword phrase prominence throughout your page copy (you can have too much, or too little, and it is going to take testing to find out what is the optimal presentation will be)
  • Topic modelling

A great writer can get away with fluff but the rest of us probably should focus on being concise.

Low-quality fluff is easily discounted by Google these days – and can leave a toxic footprint on a website.

How To Get Featured Snippets on Google

QUOTE: “When a user asks a question in Google Search, we might show a search result in a special featured snippet block at the top of the search results page. This featured snippet block includes a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL” Google 2018

Any content strategy in 2020 should naturally be focused on creating high-quality content and also revolve around triggering Google FEATURED SNIPPETS that trigger when Google wants them to – and intermittently – depending on the nature of the query.

Enhanced snippet; Google Answer Box Example

Regarding the above image, where a page on Hobo is promoted to number 1 – I used traditional competitor keyword research and old-school keyword analysis and keyword phrase selection, albeit focused on the opportunity in long-form content, to accomplish that, proving that you still use this keyword research experience to rank a page in 2020.

Despite all the obfuscation, time delay, keyword rewriting, manual rating and selection bias Google goes through to match pages to keyword queries to, you still need to optimise a page to rank in a niche, and if you do it sensibly, you unlock a wealth of long-tail traffic over time (a lot of which is useless as it always was, but what RankBrain might clean up given time).

Note:

  • Google is only going to produce more of these direct answers or answer boxes in future (they have been moving in this direction since 2005).
  • Focusing on triggering these will focus your content creators on creating exactly the type of pages Google wants to rank. “HOW TO” guides and “WHAT IS” guides is IDEAL and the VERY BEST type of content for this exercise.
  • Google is REALLY rewarding these articles in 2020 – and the search engine is VERY probably going to keep doing so for the future.
  • Google Knowledge Graph offers another exciting opportunity – and indicates the next stage in organic search.
  • Google is producing these ANSWER BOXES that can promote a page from anywhere on the front page of Google to number 1.
  • All in-depth content strategy on your site should be focused on this new aspect of Google Optimisation. The bonus is you physically create content that Google is ranking very well in 2020 even without taking knowledge boxes into consideration.
  • Basically – you are feeding Google EASY ANSWERS to scrape from your page. This all ties together very nicely with organic link building. The MORE ANSWER BOXES you UNLOCK – the more chance you have of ranking number one FOR MORE AND MORE TERMS – and as a result – more and more people see your utilitarian content and as a result – you get social shares and links if people care at all about it.
  • You can share an Enhanced Snippet (or Google Answer Box as they were first called by SEOs). Sometimes you are featured and sometimes it is a competitor URL. All you can do in this case is to continue to improve the page until you squeeze your competitor out.

We already know that Google likes ‘tips’ and “how to” and expanded FAQ but this Knowledge Graph ANSWER BOX system provides a real opportunity and is CERTAINLY what any content strategy should be focused around to maximise exposure of your business in organic searches.

Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword if you take a long-term view. Google is, after all, looking for easy answers so, eventually, it might not need to send visitors to your page.

To be fair, these Google Enhanced Snippets, at the moment, appear complete with a reference link to your page and can positively impact traffic to the page. SO – for the moment – it’s an opportunity to take advantage of.

Focus on Quality To Improve Conversion Rates

However you are trying to satisfy users, many think this is about terminating searches via your site or on your site or satisfying the long-click.

How you do that in an ethical manner (e.g. not breaking the back button on browsers) the main aim is to satisfy that user somehow.

You used to rank by being a virtual PageRank black hole. Now, you need to think about being a User black hole.

You want a user to click your result in Google, and not need to go back to Google to do the same search that ends with the user pogo-sticking to another result, apparently unsatisfied with your page.

The aim is to convert users into subscribers, returning visitors, sharing partners, paying customers or even just help them along on their way to learn something.

The success I have had in ranking pages and getting more traffic have largely revolved around optimising the technical framework of a site, crawl and indexing efficiency, removal of outdated content, content re-shaping, constant improvement of text content to meet its purpose better, internal links to relevant content, conversion optimisation or getting users to ‘stick around’ – or at least visit where I recommend they visit.

Mostly – I’ve focused on satisfying user intent because Google isn’t going back with that.

TIP: If You like Writing & Sharing Your Knowledge, Start a Blog!

This advice is sound even in 2020. A blog is a great way to build content into a website. If you have a purpose to build a great resource online then you should do it!

There are many and varied benefits of blogging. If, however, you hate writing, have no interest in creating informative content on your site about your industry or art, and do not have the resource to invest in professional copywriting team, I’d avoid blogging if you are a small business.

Blogging for business is a long-term business decision and should only be attempted if the person writing your blog has E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority & Trust) in your topicality, or has a yearning to build this authority over time.

TIP: Use Your Blog To Curate Content & Develop ‘Evergreen‘, ‘In-depth Content‘ Pieces

I like to curate content in my blog posts. I’ll create in-depth pages on a topic and link to other sources that discuss it. For instance, I link a lot to Google as I quote them a lot.

Some call these type of blog posts in-depth content, evergreen content or cornerstone content, Basically – you focus on a topic and aim to create the best information-rich article available on the topic.

My search engine optimisation tutorial is an example of evergreen, in-depth content. It ranks for 100s of seo-related terms, generates backlinks and drives hundreds of visitors a day to the site.

Here are some examples of longform resources:

TIP: Create In-depth Content & Keep It Updated Every Year

I update my content at least every year.

In certain niches, you can use content on your blog to create in-depth evergreen content resources on your site.

These following images illustrate that Google will send you traffic if you create useful content and keep it updated every year:

SEO: The effects of continually improving a page over time SEO: The effects of keeping in-depth content up-to-date and fresh

TIP: Do I Put A Blog in Sub-Domain or Sub-Directory on Main Site? Which Is Best for SEO?

If you have the choice, I would choose to house content in a subfolder on the main domain. Recent research would still indicate this is the best way to go:

QUOTE: “When you move from Subdomain to Subdirectory, you rank much better, and you get more organic traffic from Google.” Sistrix, 2018

Subfolders or Subdomains for google seo in 2020

For most, putting a blog on a subdirectory of your main site is of most benefit, if of course, you are actually going to spend time making the blog a useful destination. Neither is a quick win – both include a lot of work, but making something of value usually does.

Ultimately it’s the quality of WHAT you put WHERE, rather than WHERE you put it.

I’d never put a blog on a separate domain, and I’d never go with the even easier option of hosted blogs on domains I don’t own.

I’d use WordPress for my blog, and I’d respect the license.

TIP: Automatically Post Your Blog Posts To Twitter, Linkedin & Facebook

QUOTE: IFTTT stands for If This, Then That, and the name is practically self-explanatory. If one of the several triggers you setup happens, then the service activates whatever multiple commands you designate.” IFTTT

When I publish a post on this blog, ideally I want it to automatically be shared to the Hobo Facebook page, Linkedin, Google Plus and Twitter profiles. If you haven’t heard about it, ifttt.com is very useful.

You can even use IFTTT to control automation at home.

It’s FREE, too.

If This Then That

Ifttt has been about for a while, is a joy to use, easy, and can actually automate a lot of other social services, not mentioned in this post –  and potentially save you loads of time:

See here for more.

 

TIP: Moderate Comments

Some examples of spammy user-generated content include:

QUOTE: “Comment spam on blogs” Google, 2018

User-generated content (for instance blog comments) are counted as part of the page and these comments are taken into consideration when Google rates the page.

QUOTE: “For this reason there are many ways of securing your application and dis-incentivising spammers. 

  • Disallow anonymous posting.
  • Use CAPTCHAs and other methods to prevent automated comment spamming.
  • Turn on comment moderation.
  • Use the “nofollow” attribute for links in the comment field.
  • Disallow hyperlinks in comments.
  • Block comment pages using robots.txt or meta tags.” Google

 

TIP: Be Careful Syndicating Content Via RSS

Be VERY careful how you syndicate content. In my experience, syndicated content usually ends up on very low-quality sites made to get some free traffic from Google without much value add.

If you have links pointing to your pages, and your posts appear on lots of low-quality sites, you could end up with a manual action on unnatural links. If you leave a credit link in your RSS feed – perhaps you nofollow it.  I do. Building links via RSS feeds is not as useful as it once was and may telegraph an intent to use spam to rank.

Google doesn’t like you using spammers to help you improve your own blog rankings.

TIP: I Still Recommend WordPress For Blogging

QUOTE: “WordPress is a state-of-the-art … personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.” WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, and in my opinion, it’s the best for small companies. It’s easy to install, easy to configure, easy to integrate into any website design and it’s quite simply a joy to use. For the small business owner, it makes editing your website very fast and easy. You can have a new page in 2 minutes, you can change the navigation structure easily, you can even change the ‘look’ of the website with one click.

Once you have “proved” the site is to be trusted in search engines when you publish a new article, it can appear in Google immediately – and at the top of Google results, if your site is really ‘trusted’ in its niche.

TIP: I Still Use Feedburner To Syndicate My Feed & Manage Subscribers

Feedburner does not have the latest plugins to manage your subscribers, but it is FREE. After 10 years, I still use Feedburner to manage my RSS feed and email subscriber database.

Syndicating RSS using Feedburner (Google owns this) is still one of the fastest ways in 2020 to get pages into Google SERPs (search engine results pages).

QUOTE: “an RSS feed is also a good idea with RSS you can use pubsubhubbub which is a way of getting your updates even faster to Google … so using pubsubhubbub is probably the fastest way to to get content where you’re regularly changing things on your site and you want to get that into Google as quickly as possible an RSS feed with pubsubhubbub is is a really fantastic way to get that done.” John Meuller Google

Feedburner could be phased out at any time though, so you need to have a backup plan (and most of them are paid).

 

WordPress SEO Tips

My repository of WordPress tips for SEO related activities on your blog.

This is a beginner’s guide to WordPress SEO.

I will presume you already have a light responsive desktop and mobile theme on only one URL that can be rendered by Google.

We can help if you need a new WordPress website designed and developed or you need an old WordPress website updated and maintained. We can also help if you want to migrate your website to WordPress. Some of these tips cover PHP and HTACCESS on Apache servers.

This article starts off focused on technical aspects of optimising a WordPress website and moves to tips about content quality and site quality you will need to be aware of if you want to rank top in Google.

ALERT! Before you do anything to your WordPress site you should perform a full backup of your original site including your CSS, JS and images folders in themes and uploads folder as some of these plugins overwrite existing files. I’ve used every plugin on this list, but follow these tips at your own risk as some of these advanced tips could screw your site up if handled incorrectly.

Focus on Users First

Make your WordPress site download and render fast:

PLUGINS: How To Speed Up Your WordPress Site

Page speeds and usability results.

A negative page speed rating can hurt your Google rankings. A fast site improves conversion rates. Google wants sites to fast. It is a no-brainer that you should speed your site up as much as you can.

With WordPress, you can install a caching plugin to dramatically improve your site, and you can also install a lazy loader for images on longer pages. Google has historically had a few issues reading some content delivered via lazy loader scripts but in my experience, the benefits of lazy loading outweigh the drawbacks for users (and it doesn’t seem to hurt your primary rankings).

You may want to benchmark your site using a service like Pingdom or Page Speed Insights or Webpagetest.org before you test this as the speed increase from this first step will probably be dramatic. You will want to illustrate performance improvements.

Install the following plugins:

  • Wp Super Cache: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/
  • BJ Lazy Load: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/bj-lazy-load/

Disable (and delete) all redundant WP plugins on your site.

TIP: Get used to clear the cache in WP Super Cache if you make a lot of edits to your site theme or layout.

TIP: Avoid infinite scrolling themes or sites that rely too much on hiding content via javascript

TIP: Don’t chase perfect scores on third-party tools as it could actually negatively impact real-world download times.

STEP BY STEP: How To Bulk “Optimise Images” in WordPress Quickly

(works with any CMS – but the example is for WordPress /images/ folder and using an Apple Mac with Cute FTP running).

An easy way to bulk compress and optimise images on your WP blog:

  1. Open your FTP client
  2. Download ‘/wp-content/uploads,’ from the remote server to your desktop
  3. Back up, or duplicate /uploads/ folder as this process will copy over the original file
  4. Drag entire /uploads/ folder over to ImageOptim – (imageoptim.com), and watch as the images are compressed one by one
  5. Re-upload the/uploads/ folder to your remote server

PLUGIN: How To “Optimise Images” in New Blog Post Automatically When You Publish

  • Install this plugin: Smush Image Compression and Optimisation – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

You could also use online compression service https://compressior.io if you want to compress the image yourself.

Remember to optimise image ALT Text when publishing your new post. You can fit 16 words in ALT attribute text.

Avoid keyword stuffing.

PLUGIN – Bulk Resize Images Used By WordPress Posts

Getting high page load scores on tools like Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights is cool, but the scores do not always reflect real-world load times. This is a real-world problem you are fixing.

Client-side scaling of images isn’t as much as a problem as it used to be due to the incredibly fast image rendering speed capabilities of modern browsers like Google Chrome but it’s still a best-practice to keep image file size to a minimum in as many areas as possible.

Simply put – why upload an image only meant for your website that’s 5000 px wide when the website dimensions your layout confines image widths is 500px wide?

  • Install this plugin: IMsanity – https://wordpress.org/plugins/imsanity/

PLUGIN – How To Automatically Optimise Images For Mobile Users

Fix another real-world challenge and automatically deliver smaller images to mobile users to further increase page load speeds.

QUOTE: “This plugin does not force browsers to render images as if they were smaller. It actually sends smaller images to them.

  • Install this plugin: Adaptive Images for WordPress – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/adaptive-images/

STEP BY STEP: How To “Optimise Images” in Old Blog Post

  1. Run the page using https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  2. Once the Page Speed Insights test has run on your single page, there is an option to “Download optimized image, JavaScript, and CSS resources for this page.
  3. Download and copy the automatically optimised new files to your local images folder then
  4. manually re-upload them via FTP, copying over the originals.

PLUGIN: How To Minimise Javascript, CSS & HTML Automatically

Install this plugin – Autoptimize – https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

PLUGIN: How to Fix “Render-Blocking JavaScript and CSS” in WordPress

Install this plugin – Autoptimize – https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

EXAMPLE CODE: How To Fix “Leverage browser caching” Issues

Place the following code in your htaccess file.

Example htaccess code:

# Cache 1 Month for static assets
<filesMatch ".(css|jpeg|jpg|png|gif|js|ico)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=2592000, public"
</filesMatch>

PLUGIN – How To Find & Fix “Unnecessary Redirects” On Your Blog

Unnecessary redirects slow your site down. Install this plugin – Broken Link Checker https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/

EXAMPLE CODE: How To You Implement 301 Redirects on Apache Servers

I prefer to manage redirects manually in 2020 where maintenance is prudent. I don’t think it wise to let plugins manage your redirects if you expect the site to be around for a long time.

It takes only a few lines of code to achieve this change of address in some instances. It is usually a simple if sometimes drawn out process.

The time it takes to complete a typical project is dependent on how large and how complex the website is if you are aiming to redirect the entire site, including internal pages, to exactly the correct URLs on the new site.

Success is often dependent on your access to particular files on your host server, or the CMS your website is constructed with.

I can discuss my experience with Apache servers where I use “.htaccess” files and 301 permanent redirects. NOTE – some of this code may need to be modified depending on your setup:

EXAMPLE: Redirecting to a new domain: ( NOTE: on Linux servers, you need the Apache Mod-Rewrite moduled enabled):

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule (.*) https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

EXAMPLE – Redirecting one version of your domain to the WWW version of your domain

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^hobo-web.co.uk [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/$1 [r=301,nc]

EXAMPLE – Redirecting one page on a site to another equivalent page on the same domain:

redirect 301 /how-to-do-keyword-research/ http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/how-to-do-keyword-research/

With a 301 permanent redirect instruction at your server level, the age, authority, and reputation of your old website in Google are transferred to this new web address.

With visitors redirected as soon as you apply the 301 redirects, search engines soon notice the change of address. If you have a very large and complex site, it could take a long time for Google to completely forget about your old site.

Upon successful implementation, the new domain ranks where the old domain once ranked.

This method has worked for most professionals for over twenty years and still works today.

You can also tell Google you’ve made the change, too, but Google still needs you to also stick to traditional methods like I describe above as well as registering any change at Google Webmaster Tools (AKA Google Search Console).

 

PLUGIN – How To Find & Fix “Broken Links” On Your Blog

Broken links are a waste of link power, a frustrating user experience and a sign of an undermaintained website. This can be sufficient to get your website a “low rating’ by a human evaluator.

  • Install this plugin – Broken Link Checker https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/

 

PLUGIN – How To Generate An “XML Sitemap” For Your Site

An XML sitemap is one of the fastest ways to get your new content updated on Google SERPs.

  • Install this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
  • Add a link to your XML sitemap in your robots.txt fil
  • Submit your XML sitemap in Google Search console
  • Monitor XML sitemap effectiveness in Google Search Console

PLUGIN: What Is The Best WordPress SEO Plugin?

Wordpress SEO Plugin by Yoast

WordPress SEO is easy to use and powerful.

Yoast has a great free WordPress SEO plugin.

I’m running WordPress SEO on Hobo.

PHP – How to Display Your Blog Is “Maintained” (if it is)

Display date creation or modification dates

People like up-to-date and accurate information. If you try to supply this make it obvious.

Display the date published or date edited in a visible place on the page e.g:

PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 11TH, 2011

or better, if you update pages often:

LAST UPDATED:NOVEMBER 11TH, 2011

The date should be unambiguous and easy to understand for maximum accessibility, hence why I always include the month in words rather than only numerics. If I did rely only on numbers for dates this date in the above example could end up displaying as 11/11/11.

Google displays these dates in SERP Snippets if machine-readable.

Display automatic date-based copyright notice on your blog

Keep copyright notices up-to-date in your footer using PHP

Example code:

&copy; Copyright 2006 - <?php echo date("Y") ?>

Result:

&copy; Copyright 2006 - 2018

How To Keep Your Blog Up-To-Date & Relevant

Install Search and Replace plugin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/search-and-replace/

When writing your blog copy, some content you write is very probably ‘ever-green’. That is, it will be relevant in 2020,2019 and probably 2020. Recognise when you are writing evergreen copy as some users will modify their search to look for the most up-to-date information by including a date modifier in their search query which you can match in your copy e.g. “how to optimise a WordPress blog in 2020”.

If you use search and replace to find all instances of ‘in 2017’ in your page titles, meta and page content and change it to “in 2020” you can bring your entire blog ‘up-to-date’ and make the entire reading experience more user-friendly.

NOTE: If you abuse this tactic you are a bit of a spammer.

Optimise Your WordPress Theme

PHP: How To Add Text To Home Page Only on WordPress Blog

I wanted to add a little snippet of unique text and have it display on my self-hosted WP blog homepage ONLY.

It was actually very easy.

I added this code to my theme index.php:

<?php if(is_home() && !is_paged()):?>write text here<?php endif;?>

Note – I did not want a static homepage for my WordPress blog (I wanted to display all my posts, but on the home page, just have a small piece of text on my blog home and no other pages or posts).

Simple stuff.

PHP: How To List Recent Posts From A Single Category on Posts Within the Same Category

I wanted to display the recent post titles from a specific category to visitors who landed on a post within that specific category (and I didn’t want to use a plugin).

List posts from a specific category ONLY on pages within specified category:

<?php if (in_category(‘32‘)) { ?>
<div class=”moduletable”>
<h3>Latest Snippets</h3>
<ol>
<?php
global $post;
$myposts = get_posts(‘numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=post_date&category=32‘);
foreach($myposts as $post) :
setup_postdata($post);
?>
<?php the_permalink(); ?>”>
<?php endforeach; ?>
</ol>
</div>
<?php }else { ?>
<?php } ?>

NOTE – I’ve bolded

  • 5 (number of posts to display) and
  • 32 – the category ID

These are the items I used in the example :)

PHP: How To Exclude A Category From RSS Feed in WordPress:

You just need to add this code to your WP theme functions.php file:

<?php
function myFeedExcluder($query) {
 if ($query->is_feed) {
 $query->set('cat','-5');
 }
return $query;
}
 
add_filter('pre_get_posts','myFeedExcluder');
?>

In the above example –

-5

is the category ID I might want to exclude. :) – Pretty simple as it turned out.

We’ve built a subscription base of over @40,000 RSS email subscribers with an interest in SEO who expect a certain type of post to a particular schedule as a newsletter – but I also wanted the control of publishing posts that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with the normal SEO related tips, and wouldn’t deluge my current subscribers with content they might not really want.

SO I wanted to be able to exclude a particular category from my RSS feed so I could publish more WordPress, web development and SEO news type posts (like this one). :)

I can always do the odd roundup post to let my subscribers know about this other content.

It could actually give me much greater control – perhaps if I publish something that’s popular, I can then have the option to promote to subscribers. Either way, it’s more spider food for engines.

 

What People Say About This Blog

I turned off blog comments on this blog to concentrate on working on the actual content.

I archive below some comments people had about this blog over the years:

QUOTE: “I’m a know-it-all web dev with a heart for usability, and I was pretty convinced that SEO and SEOs were all magic smoke and fraud. I can’t remember how I stumbled on Hobo, but it’s really made me realize that there exists a sliver of SEO where the people are intelligent and balance logical SEO optimizations against steadily improving content for people. I can’t emphasize enough how refreshing it is to be able to read useful, logical tips about SEO that aren’t 99% “Google updated and they lowered my PageRank and Google is wrong…” Your month of tips was amazing

and

QUOTE: “Your style of writing is easy to read and understand and usually backed up with evidence and personal experience. The current series of SEO tips I’ve found very useful, not only confirming what I believe to be the case but also making me rationalize and so think more about the why and wherefore.”

and

QUOTE: “I’m sure you hear this all the time but I have to say this is the best SEO blog I have ever seen.

and

QUOTE: “I have to admit I read a lot of SEO blogs around the net. I find I keep coming back to this one though. It’s by far the most original and informative. So many people recycle the same old stuff”.

and

QUOTE: “I always read your blog when I lived in the US now I am back in Blighty (Devon) I still do and am amazed (but not surprised) when people in the biz say they have heard of you guys”

and

QUOTE: “I have worked in IT since 1991 and the information that you provide is FANTASTIC. Generally, in a niche such as SEO, the experts are the ones that can drive the content forward continually as they know what the changes / challenges etc are. You are doing a VERY good job at providing a happy balance of tips and information”.

and

QUOTE: “I’ve been reading your newsletters regularly. Their content is excellent. The style in which you write makes for easy reading (and understanding) especially good for someone like me whose mother tongue is not English.”

and

QUOTE: “The Hobo SEO Blog played a big role in helping me build up the SEO side of our business to the stage where it provides as much revenue as the other areas of our business and has a healthy client base of its own. I read quite a few blogs these days but Hobo has always been one of my favourites. You have an excellent balance between very well thought out theories, tested facts and with a bit of attitude thrown in to make it all very enjoyable to read.

and

QUOTE: “Well before introducing myself I will say a few words on your “little SEO blog” Well I would not call it little. it is one of the best SEO resources in the world and is a good source of information to all categories of users.

and

QUOTE: “We run a small online store in Australia and found the budget to hire a SEO for our huge product range beyond our budget. Whilst our business grew using google ppc I spent a year trying to get a grip on what SEO was about….when I started I had zero understanding. After 12 months part-time research and culling 100s and then 10s of other “advisors” I decided to use your free booklets and blog articles as the source for my DYI foray into SEO. Why you? Plain speaking, to the point, non-techical advice that was easy to read and more importantly understand! The results? I started, again part-time, SEO on my website about 3 months ago. I have increased my natural search from 2% to 18% of my traffic in 12 weeks.

Summary

You don’t need only to stick to one topic area on a website. That is a myth.

If you create high-quality pieces of informative content on your website page-to-page, you will rank.

The problem is – not many people are polymaths – and this will be reflected in blog posts that end up too thin to satisfy users and in time, Google, or e-commerce sites that sell everything and have speciality and experience in little of it.

The only focus with any certainty in 2020 is whatever you do, stay high-quality with content, and avoid creating doorway pages.

For some sites, that will mean reducing pages on many topics to a few that can be focused on so that you can start to build authority in that subject area.

Your website is an entity. You are an entity. Explore concepts. Don’t repeat stuff. Be succinct.

You are what keywords are on your pages.

You rank as a result of others rating your writing.

Avoid toxic visitors. A page must meet its purpose well, without manipulation. Do people stay and interact with your page or do they go back to Google and click on other results? A page should be explicit in its purpose and focus on the user.

The number 1 ‘user experience’ signal you can manipulate with low risk is improving content until it is more useful or better presented than is found on competing pages for variously related keyword phrases.

Blog Roll

A hat-tip to various blogs I’ve followed over the years, who are still going strong: