New School SEO: At Least One Thing You Didn’t Know (Guaranteed)

Filed as Features on November 7, 2012 4:26 am

I think search is a seriously exciting place to be right now. 2012 has seen some of the most aggressive Google algorithm updates of all time; a lot of SEOs were hit hard, and as each update was released some form of mini-riot followed. But while anger towards Matt Cutts (Googles human shield) ensued, I couldnt help but feel that SEO was returning to the open field that it once was. SEOs dropped out in favour of other things, they decided that Google was on a mission to destroy organic rankings and that Google owed them for all of those useless links and cookie cut content they had created; a quick look at any of the comments on SEroundtable shows that SEOs are just giving up.

But for me, SEO now more than ever is about hording knowledge, its about grabbing as much as you can and stuffing it into your brain so that you can develop – through management or being hands on – the perfect user/search focused website. So that is what Im bringing to you today, knowledge bursting new school SEO best practices that will make you smarter than the next guy.

Schema & Semantics

Image Credit: Sapienza University of Rome

2012 saw authorship being hammered home to SEOs by every blogger out there. The direct impact that schema.org markup has on SEO isnt really known, but what is known and what has been proven is that schema can dramatically improve clickthrough rates.

Schema isnt always necessary, Google can work some things out on its own but it just takes a long time and may not happen. Save yourself the headache and markup the following:

Tables

Anyone that would benefit from an embedded calendar, price list or anything else tabulated is going to want to make use of this markup. Tables, much like authorship, will pad out your result and steal the limelight from your competitor. As with a lot of other things, schema isn’t necessary for getting a result like the one below – a lot of the time Google will be able to interpret tables without any help.

Schema.org information.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs will give a user that little bit of choice when theyre viewing your result. Whether they changed their mind or just wanted to view a page a little higher up your sitemap then these breadcrumbs can help a lot. There’s no reason why a site shouldn’t be using breadcrumbs, and if you’ve got breadcrumbs then you might as well mark them up!

Schema.org information.

Reviews

As you may have seen, review markup was exploited massively in 2011. A quick search for payday loans would have thrown up 10 businesses all with shining 10/10 or 5/5 reviews from hundreds of people. Of course this was all complete buls*** and was used purely to increase CTRs and conversions Google has since made it more difficult to get this snippet.

Schema.org information.

Also consider using a site like trustpilot.co.uk not only will you be able to embed their star rating system on your site, but an additional result will give brand reassurance to your visitors.

Location

Called a place in schema, youll want to mark up contact details with this simple bit of code. Local SEO isnt a case of creating a ton of cookie cut location pages anymore its becoming more and more necessary to have a legitimate presence in the are that you want to rank. Obviously theres Google local, but marking up with place schema will reinforce where you operate.

Schema.org information.

Deoptimisation ?

Yep, this is some kind of stupid paradox where the new SEO is actually SEdO. Panda made it clear that over optimisation would land you with a nasty penalty and it makes sense only the owner of a website has the ability to dump keywords across their domain.

But Id struggle to stand here and explain exactly how you should SEdO. Its just as dangerous as over optimising but previous Panda updates and the EMD update have made something very clear: exploiting keywords will get you burnt.

What I will say is that your content keywords in Google Webmaster Tools may help. Look at your most relevant terms and see how many times a keyword appears across your site. A site that is spamming keywords across the board will no doubt be considered over optimised look closely at your domain’s keyword distribution.

A friend of mine came up with what he called the M ratio. It’s utter bollocks a simple equation:

Keyword Occurrences / Total Indexed Pages = M Ratio

He found that of the 30 sites he tested, any with an M ratio higher than 8.5 were hit; and any under got away clean There might be something in it, but to simplify Google’s entire onpage algorithm into a ‘divide this by that’ equation is a little extreme.

HTML5

HTML5 wont officially be complete until 2014, but thats not to say there are a ton of things you can be doing with it.

Just as with old school on page HTML (headers, alts etc), the individual impact is simply not measurable but following best practices will give you the best opportunity to rank well.

This tag is used to wrap multiple headers together. Lets say youve got a main headline and a subheading, the following code demonstrates how you could markup this format using semantic HTML5 code.

Main Headline

Subheading

Time Markup

Im not trying to fool you into thinking that marking up mentions of time in HTML5 is going to improve your rank. But what it does is give Google more information about your content I wont go into detail, but heres a simple time tag:

October 25, 2012

and heres a ton more you can do with time markup.

There are loads more tags in HTML5 that allow you to give your pages meaning to robots; incorporating them now will put you in a good position for the future.

Video & XML Markup

In 2007, Google introduced video sitemaps as a way of indexing video content for SERPs; this was followed by schema markup, which Google publically announced early in 2012.

Video is widely recognised as beneficial to SEO whether its through improved engagement metrics or the simple fact that video provides additional relevant information – video helps. And on top of that, marked up video content will improve click through rates the schema markup is simple and video sitemaps can be generated with plugins or manually.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken the video from YouTube, Vimeo or anywhere else; your Google listing will link directly to your page and not the original URL of the video.

Schema.org information.

Language Markup

In the past, international SEO has always been a question of subdomain, new domain or directory; well that question still remains very important but now ontop of that we have multilingual markup.

If you have a /de/ section or an /fr/ section on your site, dont just write the content in different langauges mark it up so that Google knows exactly whats going on. Google isnt the all seeing and all knowing entity that a lot of bloggers push (proven by a ton of terrible SERPs), so spoon feed the bastard and let them know whats what!

Marking up multilingual content is straightforward for a coder, so find one and get it done!

Pagination Markup

Pagination is absolutely necessary in so many different situations. And as SEOs we used to struggle with the issue of duplicate content and telling Google which page should have authority (the first page sure, but Google didnt always see it that way) Google recently introduced markup that allows you to tell them where the previous and next pages are; this lets G effectively string it all together into one long piece of content.

This kind of markup can take a bunch of small pages with tiny chunks of authority and squeeze it altogether into one large authoritative page. Of course nothing changes from a users point of view, but Google will see things very differently and attribute authority to the entire set of pages as opposed to individual ones.

Authorship

Authorship has got SEOs anxious. We all know its going to be a force in the future but we dont know how or when; so for the time being its a case of jumping on that bandwagon and pushing authorship markup like youve never done before.

Authorship will no doubt be used to judge the authority of content. If an author has published hundreds of articles on a particular topic across highly respected domains then that person may be classed as an expert making their content more valuable in search. Of course as the image shows, the SEO market is filled with Google+ authors, but in so many other markets an author result will stand out amongst the crowd.

Right now authorship is SEO’s hottest topic; most people are aware of Google author profiles but if youre not then head over to Google Webmaster support to find out more.

Dynamic Navigation

This isn’t dynamic navigation in the sense that it moves around and changes in realtime. What I’m referring to here is navigation that changes depending on where the user is on a site. It’s not new, but with onpage relevance more important than ever it’s certainly underused.

Think of each major section of your site as a new homepage. Lets say you own a mothering site; you could have a section on pregnancy, baby names and breast feeding – each would require a huge amount of information that no one could possibly squeeze onto one page. In instances like this, you might want to have all three sections in the navigation, but when each section was navigated to, additional and relevant links would appear.

Google loves articles that link out to more relevant information both on and off site. And Google is more than aware that one 500 word article on an entire topic isnt going to cut the mustard when it comes to achieving a competitive ranking.

Webmasters tend to stuff every link into their navigation when initially a user wouldnt need that much choice. Let them navigate to the area and then link out from there besides, reducing sitewide links is often a good thing and can keep your content focused.

“Jump To” Results

Marking up the contents of a page with IDs makes it easier for users to find specific content on a much longer article. If you’ve got a huge resource and you decided not to paginate, then going down the fragmented route is an absolute must. It means that if someone searched for something that was relevant to a small chunk of your page – they can get there quickly. This avoids users having to scroll through lots of content, getting bored and eventually bouncing from your site.

How’s it done?

First of all you need to give the part of the page you want to link to an ID. For instance, if you had a H2 like the above, then you would just throw in the code:

“Jump To” Results

This is now a fragmented part of your page, and to link to it (if it was on the same page) you would just need to set up an anchor that pointed to the ID that you just set:

anchor text

Great for a user, great for your search results – long pieces of content really benefit from these tags (this article didn’t make the cut).

That Thing You Didnt Know (Guaranteed)

in 1474 a rooster was put on trial for “for the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg.”

… ZING!!!

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Nick Pateman started out as an SEO in 2005 and is now a founding member ofinbound.co.uk. He helps to develop client campaign strategies and is the lead technical SEO. The majority of his time goes into developing the company’s internal projects and struggling to write funny Tweets.

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