Advanced SEO: Black Hat-SEO, Local SEO and Competitor Analysis
This post is by guest author, Sameer Panjwani. This article has been edited and published with the author’s permission.
Getting your website ranked high on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other popular search engines so you can attract the most traffic is not something that happens by accident. It requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses all the major components of Search Engine Optimization.
In the online world, a lot of websites have addressed basic SEO techniques and ways to optimize your website structure in order to make your web pages more appealing to search engines. Now, in this article, we are going to address some advanced techniques that describe additional things you should – and shouldn’t – be doing.
Black Hat SEO Strategies
The term “black hat” refers to sneaky, underhanded SEO strategies that attempt to fool or short-circuit the search engine algorithms into ranking your pages higher. While these types of strategies may have worked in the past. Today’s algorithms are smarter and more sophisticated – and designed to identify and penalize websites that use black hat SEO.
The best approach is to avoid black hat SEO strategies altogether. These include such things as keyword stuffing, using hidden text and cloaking, copying and pasting other people’s content onto your pages, and using link schemes that artificially increase the number of links you have leading to your web pages.
In order to stay away from these black hat SEO techniques, you should know what they are:
- Keyword stuffing is when you include an excessive amount of keywords within your content in order to artificially boost your keyword saturation. Not only are algorithms designed to identify this now, but it also will make your content effectively unreadable, turning away-page visitors.
- Using too many H1 headings used to help get pages ranked higher, but now search engines will penalize pages with more than one H1 heading.
- Copying and pasting content from another page is not only unethical. But it also could be a violation of copyright laws. If you aren’t able to create original content for your web pages on your own. Consider hiring a professional freelancer to do it for you.
- Link schemes are programs that artificially build backlinks in order to make it seem as if your content is more influential than it actually is. Search engines now actually put more value in the number of social approval signals you have. Such as Facebook Likes and how often your link has been re-posted on Twitter – than the number of backlinks your content gets.
When it comes to black hat SEO strategies, the best approach is to avoid them altogether and instead focus on innovative approaches to improve your SEO.
Local Search Engine Optimization
The Internet is global, but your customer base is often very, very local. To rank higher on Google and other search engines, include keywords that include geo-specific information about your website. For example, the keywords “auto body repair” will likely bring in millions of links on Google. But “Akron auto body repair” will bring in a much more specific SERP listing that will be more valuable to users looking for that specific type of service in that specific geographic location.
You also can localize your SEO by including local information on each page of your websites, such as your street address, phone number, and business name.
The Google Search Console also allows you to specify the country or region you want to target. If you are already a Google webmaster for our site, the steps are simple:
- Click on Tools
- Set your Geographic Target
- Input the geographic location for your website
- Select the country or region you want Google to target
It’s important to note that Google restricts this feature to sites with a given country code top-level domain.
You also can use Schema Markup to aid Google in identifying places listed on your web pages. For example, if you include reviews or other business information, structured markup can help connect your pages with these places online.
If yours is a physical business with multiple locations, you probably would want to create unique pages for each location. Making sure to include different content on each page, including local contact information.
Schema Markup is the common criteria all the major search engines have agreed to support rich snippets. Microdata is based on HTML tags that assign brief, descriptive names to items and properties within your pages. To learn more, check out this helpful article or visit Schema.org. Our you can use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool provided by Google to check the structured data markup on your web pages.
The key to running a successful business is attracting more visitors to your web page than your competitors’ sites. Competitive analysis is the process of keeping tabs on what your competitors are doing right – and doing wrong – and stealing their best ideas while learning from their mistakes.
One way to do this is by running a backlink analysis of your competitors’ site. And then comparing the report with yours. The biggest indicator of this is page ranking. If they are ranked higher than you on Google or other popular search engines. You need to change that by following the SEO strategies outlined in this series of articles!
Another way to “keep score” is to find out how many visitors your competitors’ sites get compared to yours. This can be done using data provided by Compete and Alexa, two popular online website measurement tools.
Finally, it’s important to track what your competitors are doing off-page. Set a Google Alert to create competitive brand name monitoring so you can get notified every time your direct competitors get mentioned online.
Subscribe to their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts so you can analyze their social media strategies such as the best time to post on social media platforms, the type of content to post etc. and compare them against your own. Remember, Google now gives additional weight – and ranking – to websites with a higher number of social approval signals. Such as Facebook Likes, now often their links are re-posted on Twitter and others.
Your competitors are always improving. So it’s going to be up to you to continually seek new and effective ways to improve not only your SEO but the way you promote your business online, through social media and other platforms.