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What worked well six months back might work against you today.

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You have heard it all. Google is constantly changing the rules of the game. How you change your SEO strategy and tactics in response to it will decide whether you take a battering or emerge a victor.

This is part one of a three part series to share with you the new rules of the SEO game.

Images and Videos are just as important as words:

Old Rule: Google cannot read images so say it with words and keep these words in line with the keywords you would like your website to be found for. Weave your content around these keywords and keep spinning content.

New rule: Original images show in search results taking prime real estate on Google. Uploading fresh rich media (images, videos etc) needs to be a part of your SEO plan. Here is an example on a search for “wedding cakes”

Google has picked images from a site which features edible collection of wedding cakes and an active blog with  interviews from local cake shops alongside cake photos. It is not just about stuffing the keyword wedding cakes in their content but making it visual and engaging through the use of photos.

Videos and images in search results have been around since Google launched blended search. Read my article on Smart Company on Inside Google Universal.

It is now important than ever to invest in original graphics and photos and use videos. Since images and videos are more clickable they will tend to show up higher in search results. Here are some tips:

–         While you add a new post to your blog don’t just go to Google images or some free stock photo site and reuse them on your blog page. Invest in original images, use the video feature of your phone and upload those videos.

–         Visualise your information and data with Infographics.

From a user’s perspective, it is quicker and easier to go through an infographic than read pages and pages of concepts and data. What’s more, with the rise in image sharing sites including Pinterest you can make it easy for your information to travel around the web generating credible links.

–         Rename your images and align it to what people will search for example dsc002.jpeg to portable_marquee.jpeg

–         Give relevant alt tags. Alt tags are the alternate text that tell a search engine what the image is about. It is still true that Google bot cannot read images. It understands what the image is about based on the alternate text defined. Till not so long ago alt tag was used to put in all the keywords one wanted the website to be found for. This could harm you. Example, you are writing about fashion trends for spring then don’t have an alt tag saying baby clothes because that’s your keyword. Instead say baby clothes for spring.

Reduce reliance on exact phrases:

Old Rule: If you want to be found for Baby photographer Melbourne then the anchor text for the incoming links should exactly be Baby photographer Melbourne. We all know that the order of keywords matter so if you have engaged an SEO company to be found for just that keyword chances are all the link building is happening with electrician Melbourne as the anchor text.

New Rule: Google is becoming smarter. Well, at least it is trying. And incoming links are still and will continue to be an important part of rankings algorithm, now it is important to vary the text of the incoming link. Using a variation of Singular / Plural, change of order of the words and use of other synonyms to vary the anchor text is now very important. Using the earlier example mix the anchor text to newborn photographer or baby photography to ensure that the links are not devalued by Google or worse penalised.

Here are some tips on choice of anchor text for links.

–         Use brand based links. Yes, Google has almost taken a U turn on this one. Earlier to get higher for a search term it was important that you had a high proportion of incoming links using that search term as an anchor text, now the proportion of incoming links using the company name need to be 4 to 5 times higher. Now if you are a well known brand that would most likely be the case anyways, else you need to create enough buzz about yourself to get other websites to mention your brand on their website.

–         Get links with your web address as the URL links

Phrase match is better than exact: If you want to be found for say weigh loss, don’t just try to get links with the anchor text weight loss. Google is expecting to see a mix of anchor text variation like quick weight loss, fast weight loss, weight loss recipes etc.

It is not that incoming links are bad. Its just that the new set of rules requires there be a healthy ratio of keyword based links and brand based natural links. This has raised concern that Google search results will be skewed towards brands. I personally don’t see that shift happening. What I do foresee that sites that were built purely for SEO and were used as micro sites will be filtered out from search results. In the next part I will share about Author Rank.  Stay tuned.


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