Replacing something that’s genuine, aged and valuable with something similar but ultimately a poor copy of what is already available is not without its perils.
SEO (search engine optimisation) was, and still can be, a bit like this and if you try to force Google’s hand where it is ranking sites organically, based on ‘merit’, Google DOES have a big surprise in store for you.
In short, there are low-risk longer-term benefits to be had with some strategies in 2018, and high-risk shorter-term benefits to be had with others.
If you run a reputable business and RELY on your website to run that business, you had probably better avoid relying on low-quality techniques to promote it to the top of Google.
There Are Rules When It Comes To Ranking in Search Engines
The terms and conditions Google lay down in their webmaster guidelines documents clearly indicate that if you try to manipulate your rankings in ways Google disapproves of they will penalise your site or worse, remove it entirely from its ‘index of the web’ (and sometimes for a long time).
Google disapproves of a LOT of, if not MOST old SEO tactics in 2018 and comes down hard when it detects ‘deceptive’ practices.
We strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the Quality Guidelines below, which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise affected by an algorithmic or manual spam action. If a site has been affected by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites. GOOGLE 2017
Their terms and conditions cover a lot of different areas (which I cover in my seo audit service) and this is on top of a requirement for technical excellence in many areas.
|Rank||Google Guideline or Support Documents||Source|
|Guidance on building high-quality websites||View|
|Main webmaster guidelines||View|
|Quality Rater’s Guide March 14, 2017 (and previous years!)||View|
|Link Schemes Warning||View|
|Disavow Backlinks Warning||View|
|Auto-Generated Content Warning||View|
|Affiliate Programs Advice||View|
|Report spam, paid links, or malware||View|
|List of common manual actions||View|
|Use rel=”nofollow” for specific links||View|
|Adding A Site To Google||View|
|Browser Compatibility Advice||View|
|URL Structure Advice||View|
|Learn about sitemaps||View|
|Use canonical URLS||View|
|Indicate paginated content||View|
|Change page URLs with 301 redirects||View|
|How Google Deals With AJAX||View|
|Review your page titles and snippets||View|
|Meta tags that Google understands||View|
|Image Publishing Guidelines||View|
|Video best practices||View|
|Flash and other rich media files||View|
|Learn about robots.txt files||View|
|Create useful 404 pages||View|
|Introduction to Structured Data||View|
|Mark Up Your Content Items||View|
|Keyword Stuffing Warnings||View|
|Sneaky Redirects Warning||View|
|Hidden Text & Links Warnings||View|
|Doorway Pages Warnings||View|
|Scraped Content Warnings||View|
|Malicious Behaviour Warnings||View|
|Switching to Https||View|
|User Generated Spam Warnings||View|
|Malware and unwanted software||View|
|Developing Mobile Sites||View|
|Sneaky mobile redirects||View|
|Developing mobile-friendly pages||View|
|Use HTTP “Accept” header for mobile||View|
|Feature phone sitemaps||View|
|Multi-regional and multilingual sites||View|
|Use hreflang for language and regional URLs||View|
|Use a sitemap to indicate alternate language||View|
|Locale-aware crawling by Googlebot||View|
|Remove information from Google||View|
|Move your site (no URL changes)||View|
|Move your site (URL changes)||View|
|How Google crawls, and serves results||View|
|Ranking In Google||View|
|Search Engine Optimisation||View|
|Steps to a Google-friendly site||View|
|Check your site’s search performance||View|
… and that is just the ones I think are really important to know.
Making a claim for a top spot IN A COMPETITIVE industry without quality links and relevant content over a PERIOD OF SUFFICIENT TIME, in a vertical with relatively stable rankings, can raise a red flag to Google, or your competitors. Neither is good.
I’ve seen sites promoted using ‘lower quality’ techniques rise and rise and rise and when they get to the top, they get slapped back 40+ places. Sometimes immediately – sometimes a few months later. Sometimes they get delisted, sometimes they get a manual action.
If you are at the top of competitive results you can bet Google will take a closer look at your site.
That might mean a deeper algorithmic analysis of your site or even a manual review. Google has tens of thousands of manual reviewers who rate the quality of their results pages, and the sites that feature in them.
Even today, I am cautious about all of a sudden appearing near the top of results, especially with a lower quality page.
Sometimes, it is shortly followed by a big drop, if the methods used were a little ropey.
If I bag a top ten ranking, I don’t usually push for number 1 in Google anymore – not without a strategy based entirely on making things better – low-quality link building or content production, for instance, is just not a long-term plan I want to invest my energies in anymore.
I normally concentrate on other keywords when I get into the top set of results, and on building domain quality, and usually only focus on the main term if I have a solid gold linking opportunity on a site with mega trust.
I can say this online strategy has proved prudent, long-term, and still fruitful:
I have avoided low-quality techniques since April 2012.
How Can I Check My Website For Compliance With Google’s Recommendations?
You can use tools like SEMRush (specifically the SEMRush Audit Tool), SiteBulb Crawler, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog or SEO Powersuite Website Auditor to check for technical issues on any site, sitewide.
If you are not technically minded, we can analyse and fix your website for you, if necessary, as part of our fixed price SEO service.
Why Is A Top Ranking On Google So Valuable?
Traffic! Sales! Money! Profit!
A number 1 ranking in Google still:
- attracts the lion share of visitor clicks and gets
- a lot more clicks than no2 position, and
- vastly more clicks than the other 8 listings in the SERP
Of course, that’s assuming your search engine results page (SERP) snippet is as ‘clickable’ and ‘relevant’ as the competing pages’ snippets for that search query. This is really important in 2018 – as is the quality of the page your unpaid visitor lands on.
Organic listings get more the clicks than a sponsored ad listing attracts but it suits Google to balance that out in the future as they have done in the past (because Google makes more money from advertising).
I would be more specific with the numbers, but I don’t trust most stats out there these days about such things.
Everyone wants to know:
How to get to number 1 on Google?
…but the truth is Google changes what is number 1 in SERPs pretty often.
Typically there a few obvious ways to get to number 1:
- Free / Natural / Organic Listings
- Organic Listings (including featured snippets)
- Local Listings
- Social Updates
- Sponsored / Advertising links / Shopping results
A number 1 ranking in Google natural listings is still most valuable because you do not pay per click, and achieving this through search engine optimisation has been my area of interest since 1999.
Websites with a lot of organic number ones get a lot of free traffic from Google. Free traffic from Google is the holy grail for most businesses.
In competitive niches, you may need to pay Google to be number 1 using Google Adwords, and this will continue to be the case as Google becomes more an more, a local search engine (IMO).
Google Adwords and Google Shopping is typically the fast way to get to number one for valuable and competitive commercial keywords and keyphrases.
It’s been designed that way.
What Do You What To Rank Top For?
Some companies want to rank for different things and this can be achieved in many different ways. What do you want to rank no1 on Google for anyways?
How To Rank For Your Brand or Company Name
Registering your website and configuring it with Google Search Console and Google My Business is a prerequisite for website owners in 2018. Telling Google everything you need to tell them using the channels they provide is a first prudent step for any business.
The more non-specific term you want to rank for and the wider the geographical area you want to rank in will determine the level of competition you are up against. This competition that you are up against is what you are going to be rated against by Google.
- Rank for your company name – EASY. Picking a unique brand name would go a long way in helping. This is very easy to achieve with just on page optimisation and a few incoming links and citations (sometimes, not even). This is unless you have a poor reputation online, or have a brand name that competes online with a better-known organisation with the same name in the same geographic region, which is far from ideal. If you have online business authority, you will rank in Google. If you don’t, you won’t and so will need to legitimately build some.
- Rank for your service, in your area – USUALLY EASY. – again, fairly easy. Done with on-page optimisation (geographic mentions in the title and in the text for instance).
- Rank for your service in your country – USUALLY VERY ACHIEVABLE. – slightly more difficult than above, but can be handled with even low-quality links from even low-quality, unrelated sites in some cases. By focusing on the quality of your site content, you should be able to pick up links from decent sites that help you rank in your country. For more information on this, read my link building for beginners post.
- Rank for your service – HARD. – difficult depending on the niche – you’re going to need some decent links or at least the same amount of crap links your competitors have. Crap anchor text links still can outweigh unfocused poor anchor text links from even relatively authoritative sites. There is a lot of competition so you are up against a lot of savvy people.
- Rank for your products – VERY HARD. – generally speaking, very difficult, especially if your products can be bought in a 1000 other places. You’re going to need UNIQUE CONTENT, a good user experience and need links that pass Pagerank, anchor text and trust ie ranking ability. You’re going to need a few trusted sites to link to you to rank all those products. The more pages on your site, the more Pagerank you (historically) had to have. To get Pagerank, you need incoming backlinks. You will always get traffic to your pages but the amount of traffic Google will send to your pages will be based on how satisfied users are with your site, and what others online say about your site.
Black Hat SEO
I do not discuss this type of SEO on this blog. I am no longer experienced in it.
A weight of crap links built (by an experienced black-hat SEO) over time can STILL beat even a relatively trusted site in Google in 2018. However, it’s these type of ‘link-schemes’ Google has a lot of brainy people working on attempting to nullify.
If you are not VERY experienced in black-hat SEO, I would avoid it. It is far too easy for competitors to call you out for me to invest a lot of time and effort in it, especially when employed by a client and considering just a few links from one trusted site can transfer instant ranking ability and trust to another site.
Finding such sites can be a full-time occupation though, but that is the game we play.
Deciding what you want to rank for and how you want to do it are at the core of any strategy. If you choose to employ black-hat SEO techniques, I think you will find it a short-term strategy with longer-term consequences.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation is the process of making pages ‘as relevant as they can be” for search engines to believe they are valuable enough to be considered for top rankings for as many key phrases as possible in organic or natural listings.
Nobody knows for sure how to get to number 1 on Google, not exactly anyway, but getting to number one in Google is largely down the reputation of your website and how relevant and user-friendly pages are when matched to keyword queries. This, of course, needs to be manipulated to get the best out of a site, and that’s where companies like Hobo come in.
Typically you get to number 1 by having a good online reputation. Big brands have good reputations. Big brands rank at the top of Google, too.
Your reputation is increased by the number of quality web pages that link anywhere to your site. Typically relevant pages with the most, and sometimes the best, links rank at the top of Google natural organic listings.
As a result of other marketing activity, users recognise your brand, and actively SEEK OUT YOUR WEBSITE ON GOOGLE using brand identifiable terms.
Instead of focusing on number 1 in Google, your focus should be to appear in as many Google properties as possible, to give your business as much opportunity as possible to appear for as many searches as possible that are relevant to your business.
For instance, we are an SEO company, so ranking for ‘how to get to number 1 on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing‘ might well be valuable to us.
How hard is it to get to number 1 Google? Ultimately this depends on the competition for the keyword or keyphrase and the reputation of your website. New websites typically find good rankings hard to come by in Google in competitive verticals. Placing number 1 on Google and getting no traffic? You must be number 1 for a keyword that is not widely searched for.
You searched for ‘how to get to number 1 on Google’ and I hope this article has shed some light on this – at least you know you should be asking:
- how to get to no1 in Google organic listings?
- how do I get a featured snippet?
- how to get to no1 on sponsored listings in Google?
- how to get your site number 1 in Google news?
- get number 1 listing on Google maps results?
- how to get number 1 on Google video results?
- how to get to number 1 in Google image search?
- how to get number 1 in Google shopping comparison?
- how to get website 1 in Google blog search?
- how can i get a site to number in Google updates?
- how to get number 1 on Google local business (formerly Google Places and now Google My Business)?
You can get to number 1 in Google for free if you know what you are doing, and if you don’t, you can pay Google Adwords or find a search engine optimiser like me who can consult with you to help you rank no1 in Google, Bing & Yahoo search engines’ organic listings.
Beware SEO companies who promise no1 ranking guaranteed. No one can guarantee no 1 rankings in Google.
How Much Traffic Will I Get From A Number 1 In Google?
I was asked this recently:
How much traffic can you guarantee I will get from a number 1 spot in Google natural (unpaid) listings?
and this seemed like the most accurate answer I could give…..
….more traffic than you would get if you were in number 2 position
Most keyword data tools are inaccurate.
Without actually being number 1 for a term, it’s impossible to say for sure. Google Adwords, of course, is very useful (the best keyword research tool?) but you’re paying a pretty penny for all that intel and often, the client has no data to share.
If you’re an SEO with a few number 1 terms, you can look see what traffic you get and compare it with any keyword data tool for that key phrase, and then make some assumptions from any normalised data. You can also mine for opportunities in your niche comparing keyword volumes with keyword competition etc. – you can even look at Alexa (!) and Compete and a few other places.
I use SEMRUSH and Google keyword tools to give myself an idea of the most popular keyterms, but then again, I am a link builder, not a keyword monkey, or a soothsayer.
I only need to do the easy bit – change rankings for as many keyword terms as possible – usually by building domain authority.
I hate wasting too much time on something when it’s little better than a surmising that’s been calculated. I’d rather spend that time thinking about getting real links from real sites (where possible). 6 months ago Google told me a keyword sent 20,000 visitors a month – today it is 18000 – local, it is 9000 searches. I am no2 for that term plural and single word) after Wikipedia now in google.com, and getting 200 visitors a month from both terms.
That’s a pretty big discrepancy even between the local numbers. I got 10 visitors on that term today. 10×30 is 300. Even if I triple that for the number one spot, that’s still a bit difference!
Then again, I get 11,000 visitors a month to a term/keyword combo that doesn’t even register in any keyword tool lol!
I certainly never trust the actual volumes I’m told about by these keyword tools. Often I’ll turn to Google Analytics to spot more likely/ achievable opportunities in traffic.
But as an SEO, I’m supposed to know about keyword research, linkbuilding, server responses, Pagerank, relevance factors, ranking benefits ET AL.
When I am speaking to potential clients, I’m usually in, just after some swanky salesman from another SEO company, has hit the prospect with GUARANTEES and FIGURES I think to myself I’m not even bothering trying to compete with this because most claims like this in SEO are nonsense – a best guess at the very best.
And I’m not saying keyword research isn’t important. It is a fundamental part of any campaign – perhaps the most important part. It’s just not my favourite bit of SEO (getting real links to relevant pages is), and I hate making any kind of predictions in any market I don’t have years of experience in – and there’s a lot of markets out there.
I pointed out to the prospect if whether I win this contract or not is based on whether or not I can guarantee anything about traffic levels, I’ll bow out of the negotiations. Whatever I come up with is a best guess.
We did win the business….. proof you don’t always need to talk b*llocks to get on in SEO or online marketing.
Number 1 Ranking In Google + Bing + Yahoo
Here’s a secret some SEO companies might not want you to know about. The number 1 reason a lot of sites get number 1 places in Google listings are….
…they are good enough. It really is that simple.
- Basic good practice on page SEO guidelines.
- Sprinkle a few high-quality anchor text savvy links at the site while avoiding like the plague any “get links fast” schemes
- ENSURE on-site navigation is google friendly, and coherent.
- Ensure the site is easy to update
…then, round off with some killer, original content that is of at least similar quality to other sites and pages competing for the desired terms and you know what, after rinsing and repeating ad nauseum, you’ll probably rank in Google for desired terms.
I am often bemused when I visit Webmasterworld and see poor Webmasters who’ve been banned by Google (which i suspect happens a lot less than people think) or have completely lost previously high Google rankings. I automatically think to myself, if I visit these sites, will I be disappointed? Do they have the content or is their position “link generated”? If they do have the content, have they screwed up the simple stuff? Have they made a big mistake, somewhere critical?
Google doesn’t owe anybody good rankings. Just because you’ve been number 1 for years doesn’t mean the position is unmovable, either.
And anyway, is there such a thing as “Number 1 in Google” these days? Ever flux and constant updating ensure a freshness to the top ten, so in reality, no SEO company can guarantee any company prolonged number (insert number or page) listings – although many do.
Every position in Google is up for grabs. Instead of buying links, mass link-bombing of key terms, mass registration of fake domains or trying to “game” Google, why not just add good content to your site and make your site “better”? Don’t worry – with practice, it gets easier. In time, rankings come – but only with good content.
Sure, some sites bend the rules and get good rankings. They may even keep these rankings for some time. But in the end, they are generally hit by changes in the way Google deals with things.
That’s what we help customers with. We consult with them to try and make sites better. For Google and visitors. It’s a long-term strategy, takes a lot of hours, but surely it’s the only sustainable method for Google success for most companies.
And you know what? It works.
We don’t know how Google works. No SEO company does or can know (and if they do, believe me, they are too busy making money for themselves to help you). We are successful because we know the kind of sites that Google likes (this is common knowledge), and we help clients to try and develop these.
Sometimes it’s knowing what not to do rather than what to do that gets listed at the top of Google.
If you want us to do your SEO, you’ll need to understand this. If you have a one-page website, basically an advert for your company, we’re not willing to spam the search engines for you, as this isn’t common sense sustainable business for you or us.
There are too many customers out there who are willing to spend the time required making their website quality for visitors and Google. We’re too busy helping them.
If you’re one of these clients who want to make their website better, contact us. If not….
How Many Clicks Does A No1 Ranking In Google Get Compared To No2, 3, 4 & 5?
A LOT more, that’s the only thing that can be bet upon. It really does depend on a multitude of variations, from what Google displays around your listing, to the nature of the query itself.
Google Webmaster Tools now shows click-through rate and position in SERPs – so you can work this out on your own site. Not that it’s accurate – but what else do you have?
I picked a term I know I have had the top 5 positions at various times, and it’s interesting to see the clickthrough rate on particular keyword searches…. and how many clicks the top position in Google gets compared to the number 3 position, no4, and no5.
Obviously, this is just one example – it will take a while to look into the new data and look at an average – but it shows a number 1 getting nearly 30% more of the clicks than a no2 ranking. You might find some useful nuggets of information at Google Webmaster Tools for your own site…..
Of course, click through rate can be skewed by any number of factors – the nature of the query or how compelling your call to actions are in your title and your meta description, to name just a couple.
This info might prove interesting once aggregated.
Get Top Ten Rankings In Google With Simple SEO
Simple SEO is just that. Simple. You can get top ten rankings in the SERPs in many industries just by following some very basic (on the whole, onsite) SEO tips.
It’s worth pointing out that you *typically* have three chances to tell Google what a page is about, and how important the page is.
- On Page – The actual text content of the page
- On-Site – In internal links to the target page
- Off-Site – In links to the target page from other websites
OK – You’ve got your site….. it’s got the usual stuff – home page, contact page, about us, map, products – but you have a blog! A blog lets you easily add pages. That’s all you really need, although you can do this without a blog of course, but then you need to know a bit about website design.
There may be some evidence that the more you link to a page in your website navigation structure, the more important Google seems to think that page is, in relation to the rest of your site at least.
Pages that aren’t linked to frequently may not have enough link equity to make it into Google’s main SERPs.
- Optimise 1 page for 1 keyword (multiple related key phrases)
- Make sure you have a keyword rich page title, the words, and key phrases on the page and in the name of the actual file path if possible
- Link to this page from within your site with the anchor text “keyword” a few times at least
- Don’t link out from that page with the exact anchor text “keyword”
- Going forward, try and encourage other sites to link to this page with the anchor text “keyword” as opposed to your homepage. This is called deep linking. Of course, the more unique and better quality the information on your page, the easier it is to achieve this. Stay away from low-quality link sources.
- Sometimes, I consider linking out (where relevant on this page) to other quality sites
Thinking: A well-optimised page followed with a few incoming links from external sites will perform very well in Google, and is boosted when you tell Google “Hey – This page is important”, by linking to it from other pages on your site. Not linking out to any other page (from the target page) with the exact term you are targeting tells Google as far as this page is concerned, it’s the authority document on the matter (which is the aim of SEO). You would think.
Warning: This works well for small sites, with a few products. Using this strategy on a site with a lot of target pages will have mixed results, and you risk making the site look spammy.
Simple SEO might be all your website needs to get better rankings in Google.
Always remember not all links are equal. Nothing helps an individual page more than on-topic links from reputable websites, but it’s clear you don’t need thousands of links to get top rankings in Google.
Make a relevant, well-optimised page that is well linked to in your internal site structure, and back it up with a few anchor text rich links from external sites. This strategy helps leverage the overall authority of your domain to rank specific pages, ideal if you’ve not a lot of authority to begin with.
Tip to Remember – Give Google what it wants – Optimise your page, and always link generously to your important pages within your site navigation and content.
BIGGER TIP – DO NOT OVERDO IT. Keep it simple.
Traffic Is Never Guaranteed
No1 Ranking in Google Lost 87.5 % Of Value In Last Month & It’s Still No 1.
A lot of folks have been complaining about a loss of traffic on especially long tail searches. My initial thought was to do with internal linking because that’s how I’ve traditionally ‘optimised’ for the long tail & increased SERPs competition etc – but a lot of different things could be at play.
I’ve been digging about analytics to see if I could identify a particular reason for this (as I see it on a few sites I monitor) and there doesn’t seem to be anything stand out and consistent in my analytics so I checked the source – Google SERPs.
In one example I thought was interesting enough to share – I’m looking at a 4 keyword term I am number one for (which gets a bit of traffic) drop 87.50% in traffic in the last few weeks…. AND IT”S STILL NUMBER ONE.
What do I have to thank for this PARTICULAR SEARCH?
- New 3 column SERPs layout making SPONSORED LINKS creep that further bit down the page and push organic listings further down
- NEW SERPs layout encouraging clicks away from the organic “centre’ listings – I mean, come on WTF is using that ‘wonder wheel’?? Totally distracts the user clicking into Google UK only results
- Oh, hello *&^%ing Google Shopping Results and local Business Results & &^%$ing video results and images results, PROBABLY grabbing folks attention from that coveted(?) no1 slot
- Hey lets not forget REAL TIME UPDATES & NEWS & Search Customisation Updates – the list is extensive
Oh yeah, about that number 1 slot – barely above the fold tonight as I check…. still number one though for all it matters but when you’re committed to building good solid sites for customers and aim to increase month on month traffic it’s not nice to report back:
Oh 87.50% DROP on a main keyterm traffic – Google has f*&^%$£ you. We need videos, pictures and shopping feed to feed the Google monster these days
Now – of course this is on one keyword and it’s a bit of a SENSATIONALIST TITLE I’m using, and everybody will have different reasons for drops in traffic – and plenty are moaning about THAT over the last months. I just thought this was a single, granular example of how I lost a lot of traffic on a keyterm just because of UI changes.
It’s not just what YOU do – it’s what Google is doing with those SERPs too.
In some cases, loss of traffic IS probably to do with how Google is presenting all it’s products to searchers too.
It’s reasonable to assume as Google refines it’s products, they are going to seep more and more into longer tail searches, stealing clicks when previously, you would have got them.
Whats the point of being number 1 for a term if just below or above that Google is presenting eye-catching distractions via Google Video and Google images and Google News and Google Local Business Listings?
It’s probably never been more important to make sure you are taking advantage of ALL Google channels these days because Google is – and it’s playing about with where they appear on the page.
On a seperate note I do subscribe to a lot of the long tail traffic drop theory out there at the moment too – and would probably think Google is getting better at crawling deeper and faster too, and identifying better links, which is could well be the reason if you are experiencing traffic drops.
Why Do Google Rankings Change All The Time?
A big misunderstanding of Google and search engines like Yahoo & MSN is to view them as “one big super-computer.” In fact, they are tens of thousands of machines, located in different “data-centers” (DCs) all over the world.
And they do not get updated all at the same! Instead, changes are rolled out slowly, a few data-centers at a time, and a few machines per datacenter at a time.
As a result of DNS-based load-sharing, the “Google” you connect to right now is not the same “Google” you connected to five minutes ago — It is a different machine at a different IP address so different set of results.
So, you are simply seeing results on different Google machines, depending on when you connect (and where you connect from).
If you see your brand-new site appearing and disappearing, but ranking well with increasing frequency, that is potentially good news.
On the other hand, if you see your well-ranked site dropped with increasing frequency, then that is bad news. It is however possible that you’re connecting to only partially-updated servers (computers), and your data isn’t loaded yet. It doesn’t make sense to panic until your site disappears completely, because it might drop, or it might pop back — You just can’t tell.
This is why no SEO company in Scotland can promise you No.1 in Google. From minute to minute, even Google engineers don’t know who will be top for a specific search term on a specific computer / datacentre.
We aim to build good quality sites with quality incoming links to ensure at least your site remains bobbing about on Page 1 of the results.
Does Google Play Loaded Dice With Your Rankings?
What Would You Do If It Did?
Recently I found an exact match domain for a little project, with 4 domain extensions. I popped a little bit of text on each so as to be ‘unique’. A one page holding site for each. I left for Google to discover.
A few weeks later all 4 exact match domains are in Google(.co.uk) and ranking for their term in the same vertical (with another 168,000 results).
- .com 5
- .net 12
- .org 21
- .co.uk 23
Your rankings of course, will ultimately be determined by your content and incoming links, and the rankings will fluctuate, but it struck me as slightly interesting to see the difference in ranking between the sites, as I have often wondered where randomness factors into Google – if it does.
In the test sites, the titles are the same, the keyword is mentioned the same amount of times etc etc… theres only 50 words on each page max. There really is not much different between the pages – at all – apart from the domain extension.
If you have a .com in this case, you are laughing – immediately in a top 5 position. But if you choose a .co.uk, you start from the 3rd page? Dead in the water. At least, your starting from a different point.
Perhaps it’s to do with the domain extension, but perhpas it is an indication of how Google works at a granular level – the discovery phase – perhaps at this level, your positions are assigned randomly based on a particular set of principles (which we will never know).
Perhaps this randomness is prevalent in Google inner workings and is what protects it from us ever finding out exactly how any particular element works, and even employees knowing it all, or being able to ‘promote’ –
Matt Cutts did say on his blog:.
someone walked up to me and pretended like he wanted to bribe me: $500,000 for a 1st place ranking. I turned him down, because no one can guarantee a #1 ranking â€” not even me.
I’ve REALLY tried to isolate some fairly simple elements use in the past – some I thought MUST give me a definitive answer but alas they did not.
If this was the case it means trying to actually figure out how Google works is a non-starter – it would mean there was no sweet spots, anywhere. Perhaps it’s different for all sites. For all elements. Join that together with some ranking elements that are turned OFF, or tweaked, personalisation, geolocation etc etc and you have something that can’t be gamed. Well, too much.
Perhaps this randomness is more diluted for the top sites, than the churn they sit on (everything after page 2 or 3)?
What would you do?
It’s actually very easy to get good returns from Google unpaid listings if you give it what it wants.
You can stack the odds in your favour by adding lots of content and getting credible links to your site. That’s what SEO is for me. Look at what the competition is winning with and try and figure out how to 1. compete and 2. beat them. Usually that means copying them to a point, and then trying to do something better at some point when inspiration hits.
Google has a lot of spammy verticals it seems to want to let you spam your way into them as long as it’s a good relevant site which is at least as good as the current competition that have already. Of course, some verticals seem more protected than others, but that could just be the level of competition, or an ‘age’ thing.
It seems as if Google purposely uses brands to clean up verticals with lower quality competition. If I see a vertical with a lot of big powerful brands as the top ten I think ‘hello’ – here’s a vertical Google needs some help with. Brands (well, specifically internal pages, like a bbc article for instance, are good, but they don’t beat focused anchor text linkbuilding on their own). Or even a great exact match domain that’s been in a low-quality linkbuilding campaign.
To get the most from any element, you probably need to be a player – an online entity – a site with trust in any type of competitive vertical.
Which means getting BETTER, or more trusted, more credible links than the competition has, if your page is RELEVANT.
Google is clearly going to be using signals from brands for a long time to come. Links from online brands will make your website a brand until it finds another way of finding trusted sites.
I see a ‘brand’ as a real site, with some real links to it (or fake real links). This is probably why the SEO companies who put links in their client websites rank at the top of the SERPs. I don’t ask any SEO clients for links, but I ask folk we’ve made websites for, for the odd link.
As soon as Google can access your pages, with simple navigation, with original content, with a good title – it really is about getting links from real sites.
This is all pure theory – just a mind wander if you are into SEO geekery. Don’t go changing your domain name or anything silly. maybe this is all just a cae of – it looks like that – sometimes.
The point of my article I think is to point out even though you don’t have all the answers, getting quality links is and will be the most important thing you can do to get better rankings from google. If you want more traffic from Google meantime – add content. Lots of it.
How To Check Your Rankings In Search Engines
The most reliable mac/pc tools I’ve found are Rank Tracker & Advanced Web Ranking – both reviewed on my SEO tools review page here. Both tools are pretty cheap and they do what they say on the tin. Both have ‘search engine friendly’ rank checking modes…..Rank Tracker is simpler to use in my opinion.
But if you are going to use tools like these to check your rankings, then you’ll most definitely need a tool like HIDEMYASS to protect your privacy while you check your rankings – as most search engines don’t really like automated bots like these scraping their content (the irony). Eventually, your IP will trip the limit and search engines will block that IP with Captchas. Which is when HIDEMYASS changes your IP. Where possible, it’s always best to treat the search engines nice, anyway….
The ideal setup is probably to have a ‘workhorse’ computer with AWR or Rank Checker scheduled to check rankings at the same time every day – with HIDEMYASS installed and set to randomly change your IP location every few minutes between servers that are geographically local to you.
I save my rank reports to free web storage website DROP BOX so all my reports are accessible from all my machines.
One machine to run the reports. Many machines to view them.
Don’t get too fixated on all of your rankings – some terms and results pages are bound to jump all over the place – Google is designed that way! And don’t just try to rank for just a few terms. It’s much better to rank for lots of different – and related – terms than have a business based on one keyword at the top of what’s bound to be a competitive term…. so that means just adding lots of related content and getting some links to it.
How To Check Google Rankings In Other Countries
The Ad Preview tool from Google also shows organic search results and how they look to users around the world.
You can see just how rankings differ from country to country and place to place – worth considering when researching keywords. Geolocation and personalisation really mixes Google rankings up too.
I forgot all about this tool until I recently saw it mentioned by AlyssaS on Webmasterworld I thought it might be useful for some. There are desktop programs and online tools that allow you to do this too, and track your rankings over time. It’s worth noting Google does not like rank checker programs.
Check Google, Bing & Yahoo rankings in other countries using Rank Tracker, Rank Checker Ace and AWR (Advanced Web Rankings) all reviewed on this blog.
I’ve collected my favourite SEO tools here.
PS – Use a rotating proxy.
SEO Companies Who Guarantee Number 1 Rankings Are Lying To You
Matt Cutts of Google explains a bit why SEO companies are lying to you when they claim they can guarantee number one rankings in Google for competitive terms….
What Matt didn’t touch on was diversity in search results Google aims for, or geolocation differences, personalisation re-ranking, or what the competition is doing, or tweaks to the algorithm, etc etc etc…. but it’s true no SEO company can guarantee no1 rankings in Google, so don’t be duped.
Taking the analogy of a Horse Race, even if you know where the finish line is, even if you have spent ages examining the competition, and even if you have ‘fixed’ the race so that every other jockey is in on it……what if happens if your horse falls at the second last fence? What happens if it breaks a leg? What happens if it drops dead? What happens if another faster horse enters the race at the last minute from left-field? You’re No2.
And if you’re caught cheating – you won’t even be allowed to race.
Google is like a horse race, with hundreds of potential participants. It’s a horse race where;
- You don’t even know where the finish line is!
- You don’t get to see everything the competition is planning to win the race, what they did yesterday or what they will do tomorrow, whether that be address site issues, get those all important quality links or indeed hire a better search engine optimiser!
- It’s impossible to know how healthy your site is in comparison to the no2 site, assuming your site is no1.
- If you are caught cheating, your not allowed to compete in future.
It’s tiring to hear…
“sure I can guarantee a no1 listing, if you give me enough money”
Yeah, throw money at it.
Google Guidelines state;
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google“
For me this is the only absolute truth Google tells us. Matt Cutts of Google is on record as saying;
“someone walked up to me and pretended like he wanted to bribe me: $500,000 for a 1st place ranking. I turned him down, because no one can guarantee a #1 ranking, not even me.” Matt Cutts
Even the cleverest of the black hat SEO brigade can’t capture very competitive key-terms for long. Google will eventually catch up – Google manually checks some of the most competitive ‘money terms’ when the algorithm misses it and if they don’t pass a human review – the site will be penalised, along with every other site in that bad neighbourhood.
If you’re in business, you’re obviously not stupid, or if you are, you won’t be in business very long.
A SEO can’t ever guarantee you top results just in the same way as an advertising agency can’t guarantee that next advert in the local press will get you sales. If you’re paying good money to a SEO, you should expect good positions, but that’s it. To guarantee anything you need to know all the variables – even SEO who claim you can guarantee no1 listings on less that competitive terms are fooling themselves. Google can take these positions away from them as quickly as a better SEO with a better site with a better back-link profile. No1 in Google is not an absolute, it’s a floating point.
Best SEO Company Results in Google UK
The ‘best seo company‘ search engine results pages always make for an interesting review as many are using tactics they can’t use on your site. These companies do not expect to rank for very long, so it’s common practice to spam a shell site into the top of results to get new customers.
And sometimes Google doesn’t help either:
To be fair, I’ve not seen the SERPS that obviously bad in a while.
Although I see they still rank Topseos.
SECOND – I’ve moaned about TopSEOs before so I will let somebody else have a go…..
TopSEOs gets decent rankings even today (2016).
It is frankly a disservice to the SEO industry that that site has got away with (in my opinion) massive (near duplicate) press release spam about questionable (some say fake) SEO company ‘rankings’ – and ranks for ANYTHING after Google’s recent ‘over-optimisation’ penalty.
Strange. Is that an indication how much search engines care’s about the reputation of the SEO industry? Then again – does any search engine really care if you hire a crap SEO company or even a company that will scam you?
Apparently there were those who complained about Google’s results – so an ‘over-optimisation’ penalty was needed. I wonder if complaints are up or down since the Penguin was applied….
The penguin update was supposed to:
“level the playing field”
…reward good sites and good content.
Reward natural link profiles…… hmmmm.
To Be Fair….
Bing’s results are ropey as well for this term – wasn’t Bing just telling us about good SEO for bing and the importance of good editorial links not long ago? I expect Google to be better, though – even when I am drinking the Kool-Aid.
It’s ironic to compete for something like ‘best SEO company’ in search engines, you might very well need to employ the same tactics that will eventually lead to penalties further down the line. Use that for an analogy of every other valuable key term, if you want to.
…. it’s almost as if search engines invite you to break the rules to compete before they slap a penalty on you….
…strange that, isn’t it.
A lot of strange going on at the moment, it seems.
BEWARE COLD CALLING SEO COMPANIES, AND SPAM EMAILS
I received this today from a uk SEO company – …xxxxxxxxxxxx – as it’s clear you didn’t even look at my site properly or you are purposely trying to mislead me in some matters – I thought I would review and respond here (IN MY HONEST OPINION AS A SEO):
My answers are in bold.
My name is xxxxxxxxx (Name Removed I will be nice). I’m a senior search consultant at Top 10 Guaranteed. We are part of an IT Group that has been established for over 10 years as a leading specialist in all aspects of online sales and marketing.
Excuse the unusual approach, however I am writing to inform you that I recently visited your website, hobo-web.co.uk, during a routine survey of web sites which would be capable of achieving higher search engine performance. Obviously resulting in an increase in online sales or the generation of high volumes of additional sales leads.
I am confident that this information will be of use to you, but if I have caused offence in any way through my approach I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. I’m hoping this will arouse your curiosity, since you are obviously attempting to gain new business through your website. (Well, i am offended a bit)
From my initial observations, your website is under performing in at least one of the major search engines such as – Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You probably are aware that most people don’t look past the first page of search results. I struggled to find you in the first couple of pages for highly relevant keyphrases, which means that you could be losing out on a significant amount of business. As such I did a bit more digging… (What, with a spoon? Anyway – most of my traffic is long-tail)
I ran a back-link check on your website first. Back-links are the number of times your site is linked to through another website. Your website has 76 back-links. Back-links also contribute towards your Google Pagerank score. Pagerank is Google telling us how trustworthy your site is. A higher score = higher search rankings. Right now your website has a Google Pagerank score of 0/10, which, when compared to other high ranking competitor websites, may be restricting your rankings. This can be down to many reasons which we can help resolve. (If you had even looked at my site you would see that this is 100% WRONG)
The next check I applied on your website was page indexing. Search engines like Google scan the information on your website and feed it back to their database. The Google formula is then applied to the data to determine where your website should rank. As such the more pages your website has indexed with quality unique content, the higher you can rank with Google. (THIS IS MISLEADING TO SAY THE LEAST – ADDING MORE PAGES TO MY SITE WILL IMPROVE TRAFFIC IF TARGETING MORE UNIQUE KEYPHRASES – NOT NECESSARILY RANKINGS FOR CURRENT TERMS) )Right now, your site has 582 pages indexed with Google, and Google is regarding some of that content as poor. (BOLLOCKS) This can be down to many reasons which we can help resolve. (WTF are you on about?) Finally I also identified that there could be a number of structural issues with your website which may be having a negative impact on your search rankings. (INDEED THERE WILL BE I AM TESTING THINGS – YOU CAN MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE STRUCTURE OF NEARLY EVERY SITE)
So, here’s a recap of my findings of hobo-web.co.uk:
– Your Google Pagerank is 0/10 – (WRONG ACTUALLY it is PR5 (Nearly PR 6 as I have quite a few internal PR 5 pages FYI but PR is not something I even chase these days – this site had a PR 7 site 6 months after launching 4 years ago – check out SEOMOZ for proof – WHILE YOU ARE THERE I SUGGEST YOU SIGN UP FOR THEIR TOOLS or visit SEOBOOK, ASSISTANT or MAJESTIC SEO as they have obviously got better SEO tools than you are using :D)
– You have 76 back-links (WRONG – You must be using Google to check backlinks – which is crazy as Google shows you only a % of the links to Hobo – Yahoo site explorer shows more – in fact over 20,000 back-links which is not bad as we have not engineered link building to this site for years – SO, you are either trying to mislead me, or are incompetent in my review of what you have told me as a professional SEO)
– Your website has 582 pages indexed
– There are issues with content and site structure (EVERY SITE HAS ISSUES WITH CONTENT AND SITE STRUCTURE – TELL ME SPECIFICALLY WHAT CONTENT YOU ARE CONCERNED WITH PLEASE – I test a lot of things on this site – where else could I on such a well trafficked site?)
Let me expand on that by saying believe me, every page I want indexed on this site is indexed (well apart form one CANONICAL REDIRECT I SCREWED UP LAST MONTH cheers Google lol – I don’t have time to work this site any more I have my client sites to work on)
I have only scratched the surface of the factors impacting on your rankings. (YES – Apparently not even deep enough to get semi accurate data) Unlike some of our competitors, I wanted to do some initial work to identify that it would be worthwhile for you to talk to us before contacting you with my proposal. The best way to deal with any problem is to first apply a thorough diagnosis. It would, therefore, be a sensible next step for us to apply a more thorough diagnosis of why your website may not be ranking well before discussing with you what could be done about it.
THat’s funny – Google tells me there a lot of SEO companies out there who do what you have done: “Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:”Dear google.com,I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.”
What we have to offer could prove to be the most value for money investment you could make for your business this year. In an economic climate that is difficult, to say the least, all businesses must invest in areas that will deliver maximum returns with minimal investment. Only strong search engine listings offer real growth opportunities as consumer trends change.
(WOW! YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING! – INVESTING IN SEO IS IN A BUSINESSES INTEREST.)
So what do we have to offer? Many factors now impact on how and where you will appear on the search engines. Unfortunately, most business people overlook the things that prevent them from performing well in the search engines and throw good money behind advertising without understanding what their web site really needs. Good SEO firms assess the needs of sites individually and address these by working on sites month on month. A one off fix just doesn’t work. As such we offer two approaches for you to consider.
We can produce a detailed 30-40 page Diagnostic Report for your site together with a personal telephone consultation with one of our SEO experts. Consultations explain the technicalities in our report in an easy to understand manner. Our normal price for this service is £499.00. If you are prepared to act this week we are prepared to offer this at a reduced one-off fee of £299.00. Following this consultation we can discuss how best to rectify the situation. (BASED ON INITIAL EMAIL CONTACT – I WOULDN’T PAY …xxxxxxx/ 10$ for your service)
Alternatively we could provide this detailed Diagnostic Report for your site completely free. For this you would need to commit to take up our 12 month optimisation and consultancy service prior to our work commencing. (EH, NO THANKS MATE) The service is based around promotion of specific agreed keyphrases after discussing how to put right all issues highlighted in our report. We can deliver first page search results in the major search engines. For this we charge as little as £35 per keyphrase, per month, dependent upon the competitiveness of that keyphrase. Furthermore, we guarantee to refund your money should we fail to put you in the first page for the keyphrases once all changes have been implemented. (IS THIS A JOKE?)
The reason why I’m so confident about our capabilities is because we have done it so many times before. To name a few examples: Maternity Clothes, Dubai Properties, Gravel, Health Store, Van Hire, Fire Extinguishers, Financial Advisers UK, Coffee Machines, Swimwear, Limo Hire, Mortgage Advisers UK, and more – all are on the first page of Google and all highly competitive keyphrases. We put them there.
Our own group website is in the first page of Google for Website Marketing Company and Internet marketing companies. (REALLY? – I COULDN’T FIND YOU AT ALL IN GOOGLE LOL – MAYBE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ANOTHER WEBSITE?) You will see our site listed as The Web Clinic (OH MAYBE I SHOULD USE THAT COMPANY AS THE TITLE OF THIS POST THEN? :D ). To satisfy you even further we can also provide you with comparative existing client’s contact details to serve as references for the quality of our work.
If you are genuinely serious about improving your online revenues and want professional website marketing for a low flat monthly fee or a one-off detailed report, please visit our service website at …xxxxxxx which provides more details about our excellent service and a call back form. See a selection of our excellent testimonials and example results achieved recently on behalf of our clients. (NO THANKS)
Alternatively, if you prefer to discuss your requirements over the phone, then please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0844 7404951 and press Option 1
or simply reply to this mail with a convenient time to call you. (CONSIDER THIS MY REPLY)
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Senior Search Consultant
Top 10 Guaranteed
Providing SEO for clients since 1999
Seriously. OK … xxxxxxxxxxx – Let us audit my site. HERE. In public, together, to educate my 65,000 expected visitors this month and my near 20,000 email subscribers.
Ate you up for it?
NOTE – The Hobo site is built this way, on the whole, for a reason. Minimum navigation, minimalist structure , experiments with text and titles – but I can assure you we have decent rankings and this site will get a sh*tload more organic traffic from Google this month than your site will be getting in the whole year by the looks of it.
It’s companies like you, in my opinion, who give companies like us, a bad name. We don’t spam email, never have, we don’t cold call, never have – in fact, we have never paid for any search marketing leads – we get all our business from Google free listings, and we show others how to do the same, which we charge a relatively small fee for.
If your SEO practices are to the same quality as your spam emails, I will be staying well clear of you.
I have no idea if you are actually a good SEO company – a lesson here is to not make an idiot of yourselves with idiot emails to somebody who actually cares about offering a good service and will out you for it and not give a flying f*&^. :)
Enjoy – see you from the top of Google shortly ;)
SEO Who Guarantee Listings Are Either Crap, Dishonest Or Clueless
Don’t believe the hype….. ever.
There are no exceptions.
At Hobo we pride ourselves in always aiming to improve customer positions in Google, (and Yahoo and Bing).
We’re not magicians, nor do we “know” how Google works (no SEO company does!). We just know how to make quality sites that feature high up in Google search rankings. We’ve managed to crack this by following the rules as set down by Google, Yahoo and MSN, a bit of ethical creativity and by doing exhaustive research and testing.
As well as always improving customer positions in SERPs, we are always aiming to keep communication lines open between customers and above all to keep customers happy!
A happy customer is generally:
- A customer who sees search engine results improve when we are employed
- A customer who is always kept up to date with how we’re achieving these results
- A customer who is seeing actual quality traffic land on their website that converts to leads and sales.
We’re using this post on our news site to let customers have their say about Hobo Web – a testimonial page of sorts, especially useful if you are looking for a SEO company who is transparent and professional, and a SEO company who is not afraid to be judged on current client’s performance in the “organic”, “free” or “natural” search engine listings provided by all the major search engines.
But first, let us examine Google’s guidelines on SEOs and how we match up.
Google answers the question:
“What’s an SEO? Does Google recommend working with companies that offer to make my site Google-friendly? “
“SEO is an abbreviation for “search engine optimizer.” Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, a few unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results”.
They go on:
“While Google doesn’t have relationships with any SEOs and doesn’t offer recommendations, we do have a few tips that may help you distinguish between an SEO that will improve your site and one that will only improve your chances of being dropped from search engine results altogether.”
Google lists a series of Q&As you should find useful if you are planning on hiring a search engine optimisation agency:
“Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue. Amazingly, we get these spam emails too: “Dear google.com, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…” Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.”
Hobo says – we don’t ever contact anyone out of the blue! All our leads are generated via our website and by referrals from satisfied customers and their contacts.
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or through the Google Sitemaps program, and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
Hobo says: We never promise we can achieve number 1 and throughout the many posts on this site you can see we explain why this is the case. By the way, don’t bother using the Google Add URL feature, there are better ways of getting into Google free.
Google goes on to say:
“Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do. Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you.”
Again, at Hobo, we’re 100% transparent. As noted above, we’re not magicians or geniuses. We build and optimise quality sites Google and the other search engines seem to like that will stand the test of time. At no time to we try and trick Google. All our SEO techniques are white hat, ethical and professional
Googles goes on:
“Choose wisely. While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO: While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, we’ve encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.”
Hobo agrees entirely. Unlike some SEO companies, we want you to actively research us, our industry and our competitors! Only then will you understand just how transparent we are and that we are actually aiming to stand apart from a lot of the quite unethical or frankly ineffective SEO companies in Scotland and in the UK.
Talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they’d recommend the firm you’re considering. References are a good start, but they don’t tell the whole story. You should ask how long a company has been in business and how many full time individuals it employs. If you feel pressured or uneasy, go with your gut feeling and play it safe: hold off until you find a firm that you can trust. Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form at http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html. Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google’s spam guidelines.”
Again Hobo has nothing to hide, the reason for this article. Feel free to ask other SEO companies out there what they think of us. We’re a new company, just over 8 years old (2014), with very experienced staff on board, already nominated in local business awards with a large portfolio of happy and long term clients.
We have recently been declared the best (or thereabouts!) SEO company in Scotland (based on positions we achieve for ourselves) by other companies in our locale. This, we hope, will only improve (because believe us we are working all the time on it!).
The last point Google makes is:
“Make sure you’re protected legally. For your own safety, you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee. Don’t be afraid to request a refund if you’re unsatisfied for any reason, or if your SEO’s actions cause your domain to be removed from a search engine’s index. Make sure you have a contract in writing that includes pricing. The contract should also require the SEO to stay within the guidelines recommended by each search engine for site inclusion.”
Our promise to work hard and be creative, and this is the only promise or guarantee you will hear Hobo making.
Feel free to contact us to enquire about our SEO services for all kinds of businesses.