Top Search Engine Optimization Books for 2021

The internet is such a competitive space, and it continuously keeps on growing and changing at an unprecedented rate. One of the best ways to remain competitive and relevant online is to have your site or web property optimized so that they can show up on the front page of Google for potential visitors to engage with.

A mistake that so many big companies, small businesses and individuals make is not putting importance on their SEO efforts. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is crucial to a site’s performance, ultimately a significant deciding factor in any website’s success.

Without further ado, let’s leave it to the industry experts to lead you on the right path to the power and importance of SEO. Our ten recommendations were selected to help any individual get your website to the front page of Google using all the latest tools and tricks to help you on your journey.


1. The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie Stricchiola

Dubbed as the SEO Bible, The Art of SEO provides a complete roadmap for you to plan and execute your SEO strategy. Led by three SEO pros, the book includes the latest updates on SEO tools, tactics and different ranking methods that have been implemented in the SEO landscape. If you’re new to SEO, this book provides an A to Z experience, while experts will be able to use the book if they need references for their day-to-day operations.

Check it out here!


2. SEO for Growth by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

SEO for growth takes you on a journey explaining the overview of SEO and how different aspects such as algorithms and design changes impact your SEO. The book’s goal is to help you think the way Google does in order to put you in the most optimal mindset for you to really understand how it operates so that you can optimize your SEO strategies.

The book also  teaches you the best strategies and techniques you can use at every stage of the business providing you with an excellent link between your customers and your business to best serve everyone involved. As the name would suggest, the book wants to use SEO for growth, whether it is trying to gain new clients or even how to retain them once they are past the purchase phase.

The book truly excels in providing great value if you are a small business looking to transition to the digital age or a digital marketer looking how to provide expert advice to your online clients.

Check it out here!


3. The SEO Way: Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization by Tarek Riman

Tarek Riman designed The SEO way to help better equip start-ups, students, companies, beinggers, marketers and entrepreneurs to get a better grasp as to how to use SEO to help grow their businesses and bring irreplaceable value to any of their customers in the future.

The SEO Way provides a collection of the latest strategies, tactics and best practices that are being used by some of the biggest and best companies out there in an ingestible way that anybody can apply to their own business.

The book stresses the importance of making a meaningful impact on every part of your website because if you dont you will get left behind, not only from an SEO point of view but also by your customers.

Which is why the book is there to make sure you don’t fall short. It provides users with the industry standard tools and know-how to be successful and impactful. Ranging from technical details to the overall approach, you will learn how to get the nuts and bolts of your web properties in top shape, and how to create marketing and business strategies that continually grow your SEO strength for long term results.

Check it out here!


4. SEO For Dummies by Peter Kent

The For Dummies series is always a low effort, impactful introduction to various topics, and this SEO edition is no exception. Like many of its predecessors, the book aims to teach you the extreme basics in a friendly and easily understandable way.

SEO for Dummies is designed with website owners, developers and digital marketers in mind. It provides the ability to create websites that rank at the top of search engines, providing a high volume of traffic.

It provides value to its readers by teaching them how to fully use SEO to its fullest all the while being with you every step of the way in how to not only effectively use your SEO but other steps that sometimes get missed by other books such as registering your site to directories and indexes for example.

The book is an excellent introduction to SEO and is there for people with no previous knowledge, and provides you with a strong foundation for you to move further in your SEO expeditions.

Check it out here!

 


5. How To Get To The Top Of Google in 2021 by Tim Cameron Kitchen

If you’re looking to make an impact online, this is the book for you. Tim has updated his book to provide his readers with the latest tools, tips and tricks to get to the front page of Google. He promotes his book as a no-nonsense guide to SEO for newcomers and seasoned professionals alike. He aims to provide straightforward and to-the-point advice using various techniques and strategies to maximize your efforts.

The book is divided into 4 sections: The Foundations, Your Website, Promoting Your Website and Designing your SEO Strategy. Each chapter clearly outlines what you will be learning and delivers the info clearly and concisely, making it an approachable entry for anyone who doesn’t want to be bogged down by additional fluff and get into the meat of things.

Check it out here!


6. SEO Fitness Workbook: Search Engine Optimization Success in Seven Steps by Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is an SEO expert who teaches at Stanford, repurposing his digital marketing course content into an easy-to-understand workbook. Updated for 2021, the goal of his book is to teach you SEO Step by Step while you use the worksheets he provides to guide you through any ambiguity in the SEO world.

Learn the basics of optimizing your website, learning how to link build, effectively use Google Analytics, and various other tools at your disposal.

Check it out here!


7. SEO 2021: Learn Search Engine Optimization with Smart Internet Marketing Strategies by Adam Clarke

A very informative book written in plain English so even the uninformed can quickly grasp the information reported. This book will help you learn SEO whether you are a beginner or are a pro in the field.

The book teaches you to optimize your SEO based on how some of the most prominent websites do. Want to know how to be like a pro? Learn to be like one! Designed in a step-by-step way, the book focuses on getting your site to the top of Google and how to get customers to click your site.

The book also provides tons of resources and unique tricks to keep note of and use whenever you need to. It helps you become more confident in your SEO efforts, especially as you read further into the book. It leads to many ‘A Ha’ moments that you will find yourself learning at every turn of the page.

Check it out here!


8. The SEO Blueprint: How to Get More Organic Traffic Right Now  by David Krevitt and Ryan Stewart

The SEO Blueprint is an efficient and hands-on book that delivers a top-tier overview of the SEO landscape. Ryan provides an impressive amount of information on how to improve your website according to Google’s standards and how to run a profitable SEO agency which is a unique insight that people will find a high amount of value in.

While maybe not the best book for just the basics, it goes above and beyond in teaching you the ins and outs of the business.  The book is dubbed as a blueprint, and Ryan isn’t using the term lightly. He is highly knowledgeable and passionate about SEO, and his step-by-step no-nonsense approach shows you how to do SEO from the ground up with no additional fluff.

Check it out here!


9. Search Engine Marketing for E-commerce Business by Joe Balestrino

This book was designed to help optimize Shopify sites or other eCommerce platforms. It provides real-life examples which were specifically designed with the book in mind. This helps put real problems that thousands of people have encountered so that you don’t have to.

While SEO may not be the focal point, it provides enough of the basics for it to qualify as an SEO book. This book is on the list because it does a great job in marrying your SEO and SEM efforts together. Thus, maximizing Google Analytics and Search Console to achieve a grander vision in the digital marketing landscape.

Check it out here!


10.   3 Months to No.1: The “No-Nonsense” SEO Playbook for Getting Your Website Found on Google by Will Coombe

Will Coombe runs a successful SEO Agency in London and has brought together resources that helped him get to his point. He offers a no-nonsense approach and caters to those looking to buckle down and put in the work. 3 Months to become number 1 doesn’t get done by not working hard. The book is designed almost like a course he would teach and provides you with a walkthrough complemented by extensive and informative videos to help you progress.

All this is for your to see your results quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment after 3 months. Seeing your progress week by week does wonders and helps you gain confidence very quickly.

The book will help you

  • Discover SEO’s greatest secret – that it isn’t rocket science!
  • Save thousands by doing SEO yourself or with your in-house team
  • Filter profitable traffic to your site
  • Learn what on earth to do with your social media
  • Effectively direct and monitor people doing SEO for you
  • Gain the industry knowledge to call out anyone full of ‘BS’

Check it out here!


We hope these 10 books can lead you in the right direction to bolster your SEO efforts. We found the latest SEO books we could find in order to help you gain the latest tools and techniques moving forward. Whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned individual, there is something here for everybody. Remember to always optimize with the user in mind!

12 things to do after launching a new page on your site.

Page Launch Checklist

New pages come with new errors. Every time you launch a new page there are some issues that you didn’t plan for before launch that might end up being costly by the time they are public.

As I have launched 1000s of pages in the past, I aggregated a list of steps that you should be taken after adding a page to a site. This list will help you save time, money and effort as it addresses every aspect of a page from design, to SEO, to analytics and social media.

  • Review page for UX/UI issues

    • visit your site from your tablet, PC and Mobile, navigate the page as a normal user and see if there is anything that is out of place.
    • Images, videos, and audio files are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  • Check page for responsiveness issues

    • You can do that by visiting the site on multiple devices.
    • or you can use a tool such as  https://responsivedesignchecker.com/ that will allow you to test the style & look and feel of your site across different devices and browsers.
    • Check if the page is mobile-friendly – https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly that will let you know if the page is loading properly on mobile devices and if there any design or code issues that you need to address.
  • Test the page out on Google Analytics, make sure that the tracking code has been added to the page.

    • You can either use view source and see if the code is added there.
    • You can also visit the page, and check real-time reports in Google Analytics to see if traffic is coming in.
  • Check page for loading performance issues – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

    • This will allow you to see if your page is loading properly and fast enough across different devices, and it will provide you with different recommendations that will help improve the performance, some of the recommendations will be related to compressing code or images.
  • Double-Check Your Images

    • Check to see if they are loading properly across devices.
    • Check to see if you added the proper Title & Alt tags.
  • Double-Check Your Content is Optimized for SEO

    • Measure keyword density.
    • Check the content size.
    • Check if the content has high readability.
    • Check to see if you are using the right keywords.
    • Check to see if you are using an optimized title tag.
    • Check to see if you are using an optimized description tag.
    • Low Text-to-HTML Ratio
    • Make sure that the page has enough content (Avoid having a thin content page)
  • Double-check there are no technical SEO issues on the page

    • Make sure that the page is indexable.
    • Check the robot meta tag on the page.
    • Check to see if the page is added to the sitemap.
    • Check if the pages are using schema markup
    • Check to see if the page has the right rel=canonical
    • Make sure page is secure – running on HTTPS
    • Ensure that Open Graph and Twitter Card are debugging properly.
    • Make sure that you are using the proper language declaration – the proper hreflang.
    • Make sure that the page has no AMP errors.
  • Test form and links if any.

  • Test external links

    • Make sure external links are opening in a new window
    • Make sure external links are set to “Nofollow” if nessessary.
    • Check for broken links.
  • Test internal links

    • Click on each link and see if they are leading to the proper page they are meant to go to.
    • Ensure that you are using the right anchor text.
    • Check for broken links.
  • Make sure the text is accurate and error-free.

    • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
    • Make sure that you are using one language consistently.
  • Create a backup

 

Always remember that we can’t predict everything, and there are some items that are not on this list that you might run into.

That said, this is a great starting point to ensure that your new page will perform well across different devices, channels, and browsers for both users and search engines.


Learn more about how code can affect your SEO.

Learn about how digital marketing can expand your business in 2021.

Most tools used to audit a site don’t audit every attribute of the site. That being said, at the end of the day the most important part of SEO is to leave no stone unturned and to capitalize on every opportunity and insight available to ensure your site code is up to par, as solid site code is a critical element of solid SEO.

There are a few ways to see if site code is hindering your site’s SEO potential.

Solid HTML

The first site code investigation method is to use HTML validator:  https://validator.w3.org/

This tool allows you to analyze the code on your site and see where you can improve it. In other words, it checks the markup validity, highlighting any errors in feeds, CSS styles, Mobile friendly content, broken code or links.

When you put your site URL into the W3 validator tool, you will be presented with a list of errors and warnings. See figure below:

Figure 31.1 – W3 Validator Tools Snapshot Example – https://validator.w3.org/

Most of the information in this list can be sent to the programmer or developer managing the site. He or she should take the lead on fixing these issues as any changes made without good knowledge of the programming language, the backend, the environment, etc. can have negative impacts on SEO, user experience and more.

 

Why is fixing these issues important?

Search engine bots and browsers view your site in the same way. They go through the backend of your code and analyze the code and text on the site.

As a search engine bot goes through your site, if it finds a lot of errors it will take that as a sign of an ill structured and unmaintained page or overall site. They’re looking for something useful and accessible. Ill structured and unmaintained don’t fit that bill.

Also, these errors can cause a lot of site loading delays or may cause a web page to render improperly. This will cause a bad user experience which is one of the most valued factors when it comes to rankings on SERPs by search engines.

 

SEO Code to Text Ratio

Another important factor that we have to pay attention to when it comes to SEO and code is the code-to-text ratio.

Although it isn’t as important as it was a few years ago, code to text ratio is a good best practice to keep an eye on.

In the past, SEO “experts” tended to add a lot of code to their site vs. actual visual text as a method of tricking search engines. As those engines got smarter, they started looking at this ratio to ensure that whatever was shown to search engines and bots in the code was reflected in the on-page text visible to users. That “expert trick” quickly became useless and most people stopped doing it.

Today, when a search engine or bot encounters a poor code to text ratio, it’s usually an indicator of one of two things:

  • Whoever is maintaining the site is trying to pull one over on the search engines by showing them one thing and visitors something else.
  • The page is not well maintained and has a lot of leftover or messy code that is not serving any purpose.

Neither of these things scream useful or accessible. So, as much as you might hear talk about this ratio not having a direct impact on site ranking, it definitely does have an indirect impact.  The most common indirect impact is loading delays due to that messy code. Loading delays = poor user experience = unhappy search engines.

Also, this ratio can be an indicator that we have thin content on the page, meaning there is not enough content to provide any real value. Based on SEMrush research from 2018, the number one pages on Google have 45% more content than the number 20 pages on Google SERPs. A healthy code-to-text ratio does matter.  https://www.semrush.com/

 

How do we check a web page’s code-to-text ratio?

To test the code-to-text ratio, check out this tool: https://smallseotools.com/code-to-text-ratio-checker/

This is a great tool by Small SEO Tools that allows you to get the percentage of code vs text you have on a page.

What do these percentages mean?

If the percentage is below 20%, such as the example above, you will need to make some changes.

If the percentage is above 20%, you are in the safe zone. That said, as a best practice, the more text you can add while keeping a page engaging, the better your chances of ranking well.

How can we fix the issue?

What if your ratio is below 20%? What should you be doing? There are 2 ways to fix this.

  • Add more content to your site or page. The more text you add, the higher your ratio. Just remember the golden rule of creating for the user first, not the search engines.
  • Clean up your code and remove anything that is not being used or is unnecessary.

The View Page Source Approach

For me, this is a favourite. Nothing beats looking at the actual code yourself and understanding the process of how the site loads.

To see the code of your page, all you have to do is right click, then click “view page source”.

When you see the code, it might be overwhelming at first. But, if you know what you’re looking for, you should be fine.

For me, I always look for unnecessary JavaScript.

Here’s what to do:

Go to Google Speed Text/Google Page Insights

If you see that there are notifications with regards to JavaScript, that is usually an opportunity to clean up some code.

For example, if you go to a site and see JavaScript code for a Facebook pixel, more for a LinkedIn Pixel, more for Google Analytics, then Crazy Egg, Google Search Console, Bing Ads, Bing Web Master Tools…

Instead of leaving all this code floating like that, I recommend creating a GTM account and adding all the tags in there, while only installing the GTM tag on the site. This way, you have code for just one tag instead of several. Depending on the number of tags on a site or page, this can potentially have a significant impact on the code-to-text ratio.

To learn more on SEO, check out The SEO WAY.

SEO has changed quite a bit over the years. With the world increasingly moving towards online, it becomes even more important to have strong and optimal SEO & Content for your site or web property. Search engines such as Google and Mozilla for example, are getting smarter and smarter which makes search engine specialists stay on top of their game. This also paves the way for content to be increasingly important to drive visitors to your site. Remember, content is king, content is the lifeblood of your site or web property which is why it is important to remember these 5 key ways to improve your SEO Content so your web property can stay on top of ITS game.

  1. Addressing Searcher Intent vs Just Keywords

Remember, search engines are becoming smarter and as content creators, we have to adapt to the reality of things. It cannot be stressed enough that Intent should be prioritized over keywords! When we usually search we always go right for the goal of what we are looking for so it’s important to think about which words or phrases someone would use in the search bar. Keeping the customers’ intent in mind will help you tune your keywords towards what your customers are actually hoping to find.

Remember: Keywords of course matter, but make sure they are organic and always address the intent first. It is also important to remember the four types of search intent of being: Informative, investigative, navigational and transactional!

 

2. Create Original Content

Creating original content is crucial for not only search engines but for humans as well. In the grand scheme of things creating original content is the safest bet to not get penalized for duplicate content. You also have pride in something you created from your brain and is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Having said that, Backlinking is something incredibly important that weaves into creating your original content. Backlinking for those who don’t know is a means to get other sites to link your website to theirs. Essentially a referral, a vote of confidence if you will, and it turns out one of the best and effective ways of getting these sites to backlink you is to be original and create unique content.

 

3. Make sure it makes sense!

 We saw how smart search engines are getting and it’s important to keep that in mind the whole way through. Make sure your content makes sense! Say we are writing about “the best gyms in Montreal”. Google will grade our authority and article integrity based on if we referenced actual gyms such as Pro Gym, Rgym, Econofitness etc…

Google knows that these are actual legit gyms and will look for them, which means that if Google doesn’t find any it wouldn’t deem the article worthy and not show up!

4. Create engaging content

 Google is well aware of how engaging your content actually is, and rewards it accordingly. Which is great of course, but puts extra emphasis on how well you can actually produce engaging content. To help yourself in making engaging content, some of the main ranking factors for search engines are not surprisingly user related. Metrics like: time spent on site, bounce rate, pages per visit will help you judge how engaged your visitors are on your site. Make sure to create content people want to spend time with!

 

5. Diversifying is Key

 

Lastly don’t forget that diversification will always be incredibly useful for content. Video, images, text, gifs… product descriptions, reviews, helpful tips, useful articles, fun facts, media coverage, quizzes, your grandmother’s famous sugar cookie recipe… Is it relevant? Is it fun? Accessible? Linkable? Useful? Engaging? Get it up there! Diversify your content and your content type. Users appreciate it and Google will reward you accordingly!

 

 

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to improve your SEO and Content creation but it is a good place to start! Remember to always create with the user in mind. Search engines will always look for good, relevant and accessible content so make sure you are on the search engines’ good side!

If you liked what you read, be sure to check out The SEO Way, my book on a beginner’s guide to SEO for all the latest tips and tricks to help you along your journey!

https://www.amazon.ca/SEO-Way-Beginners-Search-Optimization-ebook/dp/B07VGJZPK8

As we are moving more and more towards voice search, mobile-first indexing, and machine learning algorithms, search and SEO are becoming more and more… intentional.

At least in the sense that you must focus on the intentions of your market.

If the content is to successfully build strong SEO, it cannot be based solely on keywords. The intent of your audience must also be taken into account.

What do I mean by this?

An intention, in search, is the meaning behind a search query and not simply the words used.

Let’s say you are looking for a gym to go to so you type “gym” into Google. Go ahead. Give it a try.

Notice that Google doesn’t give the definition of the word “gym”. It doesn’t give you the history of gyms, or even an alphabetical list of gyms.

No. Google anticipates your intention. It assumes you are looking for a gym in your neighbourhood. The first results you see will be the Google local listing gyms near you, then a list of search results for gyms in your area and gym directories, typically listed based on an algorithm of user reviews, link popularity and many other factors.

Google’s mission is, “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

For me, the most important part of Google’s mission/vision statement, are the last two words: accessible and useful.

We are constantly moving to more relevant and smarter search results – results that are more and more accessible and useful. Relevancy, accessibility and usefulness depend heavily on understanding the intent of the audience.

To capitalize on relevancy and intent as a marketer, remember these four query types:

  • Informational
  • Investigative
  • Navigational
  • Transactional

Each of these query types can be associated with certain phases of the consumer purchase journey:

  • Informational Queries – Researching non-transactional information

Informational queries are at the very top of the funnel – the awareness phase. Results are usually broad and informational, with no intent to sell.

The main intent behind informational queries is, well, to get information. Most search results associated with informational queries tend to be direct answers.

  • Investigative Queries – Researching options

Investigative queries come from consumers with the intention to discover options in the market or do additional research. In terms of the consumer purchase process, these searchers can be in either the awareness or consideration phases of the funnel. These queries may not necessarily lead to conversions. Indeed, they may not even be driven by any intent to purchase.

These are queries that involve researching specific details. Searchers may be looking for talent, competition or options available in the market.

The intention behind these queries may or may not be to eventually purchase, but what Google does know (or assume) is that the searcher is exploring options. Search results are, therefore, tailored to provide those options for investigation.

  • Navigational Queries – Looking for something you already know you want

By this phase, the consumer already knows what they want. Perhaps it is healthy fruits (from informational queries) and the consumer now knows the best places to buy them from (investigative queries).

For example, when a searcher knows the brand, product or service, but does not know the URL, they will just type the name into their search or address bar.

For example, when you want to access Gmail, you usually just type “Gmail” into the address bar rather than a full URL. Google does the rest.

As generations are getting lazier by the second, navigational queries are becoming more and more popular.

  • Transactional Queries are queries that involve an intent towards an action

The action doesn’t have to be money related, it could be a signup, newsletter, phone details, address discovery, getting direction.

For example, if you search “Buy healthy food”, then that is a transactional query.

So what can we do as marketers, entrepreneurs, and startups?

We have to capitalize on the searcher’s intent instead of keywords and capitalize on each query type.

I would recommend using this approach in your future content as well as for past content. Go to your current blogs, pages, and products; analyze the actual intent and value of the content and update accordingly.

The best way to test search intent is Google Search itself. Search the term you have in mind and based on search results, you will be able to categorize it accordingly.

Remember there are no right or wrong search intent queries, the right approach is to match the right queries with your brand and business goals.

If you are an e-commerce site, it is ideal to concentrate on transactional queries and investigation queries, while not fully ignoring the informational and navigational queries.

Intentions can no longer be ignored, they need to be a critical part of your marketing moving forward.

Source:

https://moz.com/blog/segmenting-search-intent

http://searchengineland.com/search-intent-signals-aligning-organic-paid-search-strategy-249601

 

What is on page optimization?

The optimizations that you can do on-page of the site. These optimizations include most of the on-page tags of the website.

What are the most important SEO On Page Tags?

What are the on-page tags that we can optimize?

  • Meta Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Page URLs
  • Content on page
  • Alt text for images.

It is important that the work that we do on these tags is aligned with the Keyword map that we put together in the previous chapter.

Meta Title tags

What is an SEO Meta Page Title Tag?

HTML: <title>Page title goes here</title>

This is the first thing that we see in the search results.

In the page below it is “5 Best National Parks Near Montreal | Top 5 National Parks in Quebec”

Based on Moz, https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag

They recommend that we use both the Primary Keyword and the secondary keyword with the brand in the title.

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

If we are to go back to the keyword map that we put together in the previous chapter, here is how the title would look:

Page/Topic KW 1 KW 2 Related Terms
“5 neighbourhoods to visit in Montreal” Montreal Famous Neighborhoods Places to walk in Montreal. Montreal Downtown

NDG – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

Mile End

Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

Gay Village

Mont-Royal

Westmount

Title Montreal Famous Neighborhoods | Places to walk in Montreal

It is important to note that the title should be within 65 characters if it has more than that, it will show the three dots at the end and Google will not show the full title.

 

Meta descriptions

What is an SEO Meta Page DescriptionTag?

Meta description no longer has a direct impact on the page’s SEO. Yet it does have an indirect impact.

What does that mean?

Well for search engines right now the most important ranking factors are mostly user behaviour related. Meaning CTR (Click through rate) and number visits for example.

As much as a description may not have a direct impact on the site, it may still have a direct impact on the user behaviour which in turn will have a direct impact on the SEO of the site.

What does that tell us as marketers?

Well when we are creating a description for our site, it is more important that we create the descriptions for the user’s engagement rather Search engines.

It is definitely important to include consistent keywords yet it is also important to have a call to action, and enough information to peak the searcher’s interest.

 

Page URLs

How to optimize page URL for better SEO Results?

As for the page URLs. Well, it goes back to the site structure chapter. Where I highlight the importance of having a clean and well-organized site.

Yet to emphasis, good site structure leads to a good URL structure. What I tell my students at Concordia University is the following:

“I should be able to understand what the site is about and what the pages are about, and where it fits by just looking at your URL”

So when creating URLs always bear that in mind.

But also bear in mind that you should not use:

  • Capital Letters: having different caps in the URL that makes a URL inconsistent. Not only that it will dilute the URL as it will create a different version of it. So always keep your URL in lower case.
  • Underscores: The reason be is that search engines and browsers view underscores as nothing, but hyphens as spaces. So if as search engines see this in the URL “best_montreal_restos_for_date” it will read bestmontrealrestosfordate.

So instead use a hyphen, a proper way to have a URL should be “best-montreal-restos-for-date”

  • NON- ASCII characters. Since URLs can only communicate using ASCII characters, when they see a non-ASCII character, they replace it with a “%” that causes URL issues and broken pages in the long run.
  • Spaces: Avoid spaces at all costs, if you leave a space when you are creating a URL, it will convert that space into a “%20” when the site is live. That also causes the URL to have issues and might affect your SEO negatively.

 

Content on-page

How to optimize on-page content for better SEO Results?

You might see it everywhere by now. That content is just king.

SEO and Content on the page go hand in hand. Based on research by SEMrush, sites that are rank number one have on average 45% more content than the sites ranking number 20th.

Using the right content and the impactful content on the site will help a lot.

Put it this way if Google doesn’t know enough about you and they need to make sure that you are an expert on the subject, so the more details you give the better it is, the more you can proof you are knowledgeable on the subject the better it is.

When it comes to content the quantity off content is as important as the quality of content. So as you fill up your site with information, make sure that it is as meaningful as possible.

Alt text for images.

How to optimize image alt tags for better SEO Results?

Alt image tags are made first and foremost of the visually impaired.

Meaning when someone with visual impairment is checking out your site, they will be able to know what the image is about, by moving their mouse over it.

As this is the main purpose, we shouldn’t look at this tag from an SEO perspective, yet from an ethical and purposeful perspective.

I this tab it is not only a best practice but our duty and responsibility to fill in this tag properly.

Check the example that follows:

A large scale Mural of Leonard Cohen on the side of a building in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

A large scale Mural of Leonard Cohen on the side of a building in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

ALT tag: A large scale Mural of Leonard Cohen on the side of a building in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

 

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GOOGLE ANALYTICS & SEO

 

The Search Engine’s Mission

The role of search engines is to crawl the web and index the pages that they deem worthy, in an order that provides value to users.

In doing so, their mission is to ensure users can quickly and easily find the information, products, services or content they’re looking for.

Google’s mission statement, written in 2013, is as follows: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Source: https://www.google.com/about/

 

Bing’s mission statement, also written in 2013, is as follows: “At Bing our central mission is to help you search less and do more. To that end, we’re constantly looking for ways to make your search experience more efficient.”

Source: https://blogs.bing.com/search/2013/08/23/find-it-faster-with-bing-product-search/

 

Yahoo’s mission is to “make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”

Source: Yahoo.com

 

What can we take away from this?

Essentially, search engines exist to send us away from them and to what users search for. Ironic, isn’t it?

Google Search Console on Google Analytics

Google Search Console on Google Analytics

 

Think about it. You visit a search engine, perform a search and then leave. The better the experience you have with a search engine (i.e. the greater success you have at finding what you want) the more likely you are to use that one again. With that in mind, you can rely on them wanting to return search results that are as closely related as possible to what it thinks” you are truly looking for.

There is a lot to learn from this.

My grandpa used to say, “Tell me what someone wants and I will tell you how to control him.” And I tell you today that if you want to control how your web property shows up in search engines, you have to understand that the primary mission of the search engine is around what people want and nothing else. Yes, the companies behind them want to make money through advertising, sales, etc., but they know that these things are most profitable when driven by that primary mission of providing value.

User driven metrics control search, and likely always will.

If you are able, through your site, to provide useful, accessible, engaging, inspiring and entertaining information, then you are golden. If people want you, search engines will want you. This should be the guiding principle behind your SEO strategy.

Thankfully, GA can help you understand what searchers want, like, enjoy, engage with and how you can act on that knowledge to improve your ranking.

Google Search Console on Google Analytics                                                               

Going back to chapter 14, where we installed Google Search Console, you may recall that GA alone is not enough for us to capture adequate data to take a knowledge-driven approach to SEO.

To be able to make educated SEO decisions, you need Google Search Console. Once you connect Google Search Console data to your web property, you will have access to a wide array of reports that will help you understand how pages are performing, what keywords are sending the most traffic, what pages are getting the highest engagement, what is relevant and what is not.

The goal of this chapter is to help you capitalize on GA to optimize your site’s organic search performance in the best way possible.

Let’s jump back to the GA dashboard.

Under “Acquisition” scroll to “Search Console”.

Without Google Search Console, the default analytics results are extremely limited. In fact, GA will often return “Not Provided”.

With Search Console, you will have access to extensive data, which is enough to optimize, improve and plan ahead.

Also, Google Search Console is the best SEO tool out there that you can use for free. Make sure that you are using it and learning from it as much as possible.

 

Search Console Landing Pages Report

Search Console Landing Pages Report

Search Console Landing Pages Report

As you can see in the report above, GA provides a list of the most popular landing pages on your site that visitors have arrived at through organic search.

The table shows a lot of valuable info, which is the result of the merge between Google Search Console data and on-site behaviour data. This helps you not only know what people did to find your page, but what they did once they arrived there, and whether they took the actions that you want them to take.

These are the terms you should know to get the most out of this report:

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) Impressions – This is the number of times your pages popped up in search results.

Clicks – The number of times people clicked on your page from an SERP.

CTR (Click Through Rate) –  The number of clicks/the number of impressions * 100, meaning, it reflects the rate at which people see your listing in organic search results and choose to click through to your site.

Average Position – This is the average ranking of your page in organic search results, taking into account all the keywords that this page ranks for. If your page has an average position of 3, for example, that means your page usually shows up around the third spot in SERPs (which is a very good position to have).

Sessions – This is the number of visits that you get to your site from organic search.

Bounce Rate – This tells you how many visitors to your site (from organic search) left without taking any action.

Goal Metrics – This shows how your traffic from organic search is converting on the site.

The Landing Page Report gives you a view into how your different pages are performing from an SEO perspective. It helps you see what pages are performing well, which ones can be improved, and which pages you can capitalize on elsewhere, maybe through paid search or social campaigns.

 

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

In this report, you can see the amount of organic search traffic you’re getting from each country.

This insight can help you tailor future content for different countries, with different languages and different information that caters to specific audiences.

I use this report to understand who is coming to my site and how I can tailor new content for them. It also helps me identify opportunities I may be missing out on. For example, if I’m getting a lot of traffic from a specific country, but it isn’t converting, I can start looking into why that may be, and what I can do to better serve that traffic and increase conversions.

In the sample report above, you can see that the US is the second biggest source of traffic to my site. Because of that, I try to tailor some content to that audience instead of only concentrating on Canadian traffic or local traffic.

 

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

As small as this report is, it packs a big punch.

This gives you a quick overview of where you stand as a brand and site, as it shows your average position on mobile, tablet and desktop.

If you see that you have a lower than usual CTR on mobile, for example, it may be a sign that you are not appealing to users of these devices. You may find that you need to a better job with meta title and meta descriptions, or even that your site isn’t rendering properly on mobile devices

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

This report is, for SEO purposes, the most important one in the Google Search Console reports, as it shows what terms and keywords visitors used to arrive on your site.

This shows what you’re good at and what you can improve, in terms of keywords.

It is a great place to see what type of content to concentrate on more, and gives you the start of a model for how to approach future content and what types of terms to concentrate on for a more targeted and sustained approach to the details on your site.

 

Takeaway

GA, in partnership with Google Search Console, helps you understand how visitors search for your site, how they perceive it and if they find it relevant, giving you a starting point from which to build and improve on your content strategy for better SEO.

What makes GA so important as a tool, is that it taps into user metrics, and these user metrics are the main ranking factors of any website, as of this writing.

 

This is based on chapter 18 from the book “The Secret to Capitalizing on Analytics”

 

How and Why to Master Site Structure

Not all websites, pages and blogs are created (or ranked, searched for or indexed) equally. This is true when it’s a human interacting with it and when it’s a search engine.
If you are a marketer or business owner, you probably know the 80/20 rule of websites: 80% of your business will come from 20% of your pages. If you have a blog of 100 posts, about 20 of those will drive the majority of your conversions (whatever “conversion” means for your business model). This is totally normal and not something that necessarily needs to be “fixed”.

However, because a minority of pages drive the majority of conversions, site structure becomes extremely important, for both visitors and search engines.

When I work with a client, one of the first things I do is audit their website to get a clear picture of what we’re starting with. Having performed hundreds of such audits, I’ve come to realize that site structure if a common issue for many businesses.
Think about it like this: brick and mortar stores carefully layout and display merchandise to make it easy for customers to move around and find what they’re looking for, and to highlight particular items for quicker sale or to draw in street traffic. Site structure is the web equivalent of that practice.

 

Here are the main disadvantages of not having a well-structured site:  

  • Dilution of page strength
  • Site cannibalization (self-competing)
  • Lack of consistency
  • Potential for duplicate content
  • Harder for search engines to crawl and understand

 

Do You Know How to Master Site Structure

 

5 things you can do to get a more structured site:

 

  • Divide content into categories.

There are many ways that the human brain and search engines are similar. One of those is that we both LOVE to categorize things! We like it when information fits neatly into set categories. When someone else clearly defines those categories for us (whether human or search engine), we can find things more quickly.

Aggregate related content and organize it into categories or with tags. When you have a lot of content, it is ideal to create a new directory (subdirectory, NOT subdomain as a new subdomain is much harder to rank for). The content in your subdirectories should be specific and should not overlap with other content.

As you categorize and tag your site, ensure that highly related content is put in the right subdirectory as one of your main goals is to avoid cannibalization.

 

  • Create a sitemap and submit it to search engines.


XML sitemaps are important for your ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages) because they make it easier for search engines to find pages on your site. Rather than have to follow a bunch of links, search engines know to look for your XML file so they can see all the pages in one place. Kind of like those giant maps in shopping malls.

Another key role of the XML sitemap is to tell search engines which pages are ok to crawl. This way, they know right away which pages not to bother with and can quickly crawl the others.

When creating your sitemap, it’s important to know which pages are your key pages, as you will need to organize the map accordingly.

Here is a great tool for creating an effective sitemap: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

Once you have your sitemap, add it under your default sitemap URL, which should look like this: https://thecaminowithin.com/sitemap.xml. Use this URL (obviously with your own website, not mine) as your sitemap URL when connecting Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.

 

  • Use canonical tags.


This is one of the most basic and impactful optimization tools. It’s a way of telling search engines that a certain page represents the original copy of a page in order to avoid duplicate content.

The word “canon” means, generally, “authoritative”. When a page is canonical, it means that’s the main one. The original. It’s the one that should be referenced above all others like it. So, if you have different URLs hosting the same content, designate one page as “canon” to instruct search engines to ignore the others. This ensures all search strength is directed towards your one main page, and not diluted among many.

Here’s an example of a canonical page: https://thecaminowithin.com. That’s my canonical homepage, but all these URL structures may be considered variations of that page:

https://thecaminowithin.com/
http://thecaminowithin.com/
https://www.thecaminowithin.com/

To the human eye, we can tell that these are probably all the same page. But, without canonical tags, a search engine will see all these as separate. Use a tag like this to tell search engines which page is your canon page: <link rel=”Canonical” href=”https://thecaminowithin.com”>

 

  • Remove duplicate pages, content or tags.


Duplicate content happens when content appears in more than one place within the same website. It makes your site repetitive and irrelevant for both humans and search engines.

When navigating through a website, both humans and search engines look for (and expect) unique information or content with each new page visit.

Duplicate content makes it hard to figure out what is original and what is not. It confuses search engines in deciding which version should get ranking strength and which should be ignored.

The best analogy is that you are taking a good piece of content and watering it down. Diluting its strength.

Aim for all your content to be unique, concentrating on the following areas:

  1. Duplicate titles and descriptions.
  2. Duplicate headers.
  3. Duplicate paragraphs.

 

  • Interlink properly.


An internal link is a type of hyperlink on a webpage that links to another resource (page, image, document, etc) within the same site.

There are many advantages to interlinking, such as connecting relevant pages, enabling visitors to easily find information and helping them spend more time on your site.

But, when it comes to interlinks, you must stay structured, relevant, consistent and not overdo it.

A best practice is to use relevant and descriptive anchor text that relates to the content of the page or resource you are linking to.

Just like a brick and mortar business, your website needs to be well structured for it to perform optimally. Don’t ignore site structure. Master it.

 

 

 

References:

 

What questions should a business ask before introducing SEO to their site?

10 questions every business should ask before kicking off an SEO project.

People always come to me asking, what I should ask my agency before I get them on my site SEO? Being an important question as is, I always mention that it really depends on the offer itself.

Yet there is some basic Q & As that should be considered by all business before any online engagement of that type.

Before we start with the list, it’s important to know that getting someone to do your SEO is like giving them the keys to your backdoor. It is important that you trust that person, or that company is of high authority in the market.

One of things that frightens me, is when I do SEO for a client and I discover that the person who did their SEO prior left some back links of the other clients he was servicing. Not only this is illegal, it will also negatively impact your site authority and cause lose of SEO juice.

That being said it is important for you to know that you are dealing with the right person.


Let’s start with the main question you should ask your SEO agency:

  1. What is the most recent Google algorithm update and what should I be considering when it comes to my site?
  2. What is the process that you will follow when it comes to optimization ?
    1. The brief answer should be as follows:
      1. Audit
      2. Meeting
      3. Recommendations
      4. Optimization
  3. Can you give me a list of the keywords that you optimized for and what did you rank for?
  4. When will I start seeing results?
    1. The best answer should be 5 to 10 months depending on the size of the site and the level of the competition in that industry.
  5. Who will be implementing the optimization?
    1. It is preferable that you do your own implementation if it is your first interaction with this agency.
    2. Yet the option of having the agency implement these optimizations will ensure full liability on them. And it will ensure that everything is done professionally.

It is your call on this one.

  1. Make sure that they integrate the SEO strategy with content strategy at hand.
  2. Make sure that they integrate the SEO strategy with the social strategy at hand.
  3. Make sure they address both off-page and on-page optimization.
  4. How often will the agency be following up and updating you, is really important.
  5. Who will be responsible for reporting?
SEO agencies tool box

SEO tool box

Even if this is brief it will already show the agency that you know what you are doing.

Finally and most importantly, make sure that you have a proper scope of work and a quote that matches it.

 

Source/Reference: 

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/20-questions-to-ask-before-you-hire-an-seo-agency-in-post-pandapenguin-era/62504/