Hawaii SEO – Understanding How Search Algorithms Work (Part 2)

Previously, I talked about how search engines rank the search results. The order of the search results are dependent on the algorithm or rules. Today, let’s discuss on how search engines look for matching web pages.

black Android smartphone

Finding matching pages

After analyzing the user’s query, the next step is to look into the search engine’s index and check which web pages can provide the best solution.

After all, it’s a competition among the search engines in who can come up with best results in quickest way possible. The end goal here is to make the users happy so that they will keep coming back and use their services.

There are numerous of ways on how you can influence the search results. I have talked about this on Boosting Rankings Using On-Page SEO Techniques. To help you understand how matching pages work, here are a few pointers to remember:

  • Page title and content relevancy

    • Search engines always check the page title first, and then, scan if the page content is relevant to the user’s query.
  • Content type

    • Of course, type of content asked is a huge factor. If he asked for images, naturally, search engines should come up with photos as the search result.
  • Content quality

  • Website quality

    • Know what your readers want and provide them all they need in your website. So, they won’t look for another website to fulfill that want. Satisfy your readers through the use of microcopy. (Related reading: Microcopy And Why It Matters)
  • Published date

    • This is specifically important for news articles. It should be timely and relevant to the query.
  • Popular posts

    • Okay, this doesn’t concern the clicks and views, but it’s more of how other website perceive your content. You see, a popular page gets backlinks and other websites use it as a reference.
    • When other websites constantly links your web page (or your entire website in general), the search engines will take it as a good sign. Hence, search engines will pick it up and include it in the top results.
  • Language used

    • Yes, English is a universal language. Most people understand and use it on a daily basis. However, English is not the only language in the world. Users would want search results in another language.
  • Device Type

    • Just like my point on languages, do note that there various devices available in the market today. Some people even own multiple devices. So, develop a website that caters to both desktop and mobile users.
  • Webpage Speed

    • In this fast-paced life, everyone wants instant results. It is evident everywhere: instant food, instant delivery, instant purchase, and so on. Websites aren’t an exception. A difference of 2 to 3 seconds can make a huge difference. This could be your advantage compared to other websites. (Related reading: Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site)
  • Location 

    • Lastly, search results are also dependent on the user’s location. Of course, if he searches for restaurants in Hawaii, he won’t receive results on food establishments in Puerto Rico. Places near his current location will be given a top priority.

So, these things are just some of the factors to consider. As I have said previously, there are over 200 ranking factors in Google. To help the web crawlers understand your website more, read this SEO Starter Guide on the Google Search Console Help Page.

 

Hawaii SEO – Understanding How Search Algorithms Work (Part 1)

Now that I am done with Understanding How Search Engines Work, let’s discuss the last important step, which is ranking. Previously, I have talked about crawling and indexing. For the final step, the search engines must decide on what order to display the results.

person holding black android smartphone

The Third Step: Ranking

Each search engine has its own algorithm to follow, its own rules to act in accordance with. This algorithm will which web pages to show in the search results page and in what specific order.

When someone does a search, the search results will depend on the search engine ranking algorithms. In short, these rules will determine what the user is finding and what information it should provide to the user. Furthermore, the search results will depend on the data on their index.

How do search engine algorithms work?

The search engine ranking algorithms are not definite, and they do constantly change. It’s not a simple yes or no. In fact, there are a lot of things to do. That’s why I suggest that you follow the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog and to read on the Webmaster Guidelines whenever you are unsure.

When Google started, it would simply match the query with the page. In 2001, this is the algorithm to follow, but this NOT the case now. Google algorithm has grown into a huge set of rules. According to Backlicko.com, they are have tracked over 200 ranking factors.

From merely having the page title match with the query, Google has evolved into a complex program. Indeed, things definitely have changed since Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google back in the days. Before making decisions, the search engines follow certain parameters that will ensure that the user will only get the best results. To make you understand how things work, this is what a search engine does:

Analyzing the User’s Query

  • First, the search engine will try to decipher what kind of information is the user searching for. Then, it will analyze the query basing from the search terms.
  • The search engine will break down the search terms by identifying the relevant keywords use. Analyze the search keywords according to its meaning and purpose. For instance, if you search how to bake bake blueberry cheesecake, the search engine will take a hint from the how-to that you are searching for specific instructions. Then, next, it will add the keyword blueberry cheesecake. So, it will give you search results on cake recipes.
  • Another example is when type keywords such as Buy One Spring Night OST, the search engine will take the BUY as you looking for something to buy. So, listing on Amazon, iTunes, and other online shops will be included in the search results page.
  • Through the years, machine learning has learned how to associate related keywords together. For instance, when you type in how to capture screenshots, this is similar to how to take screenshots. Moreover, search engines are smart enough to detect spelling error during the search. When search for how to loose wieght, it knows that you mean how to lose weight.

Discussion on finding matching web pages and other useful tips on Understanding How Search Algorithms Work (Part 2)

Hawaii SEO – Understanding How Search Engines Work (Part 2)

Whatever role you play on this digital world, having a clear understanding of how search engine works, can help you make better websites. Moreover, it’s going to be a website that search engines can clearly understand. For this to happen, you should start with knowing how search engines work.

Google logo neon light signage

Tips in ensuring that web crawlers can discover your website

In Understanding How Search Engines Work (Part 1), I already explained the concept behind crawling. For the crawlers (or spider) to access your website without any problem, here are some tips to follow:

  • First, the easiest way to do expedite the crawling is to use the webmaster tools. Every top-notch search engine has their own set. In fact, Google has Google Search Console, and Bing has Bing Webmaster Tools. Use this to your own advantage, and provide the basic website information so that the crawlers won’t have to look for it.
  • Next, create an XML sitemap and list down all the web pages with the highest priority. This way, you are making sure that the web crawlers don’t skip any essential pages on your website. They can’t simply ignore what you specifically stated on your sitemap. To learn on how to build a sitemap, refer to this sitemap tutorial on Google Search Console.

In this post, I will discuss indexing, and after the indexing process, you will have to deal with ranking.

The Second Step: Indexing

Now that crawling is done, let’s proceed to the next step, which is indexing. Because crawling only deals with the discovering of websites, the information that they found needs to be sorted, and organized them in a way that the users can understand. Indexing is the correct term for this process.

The truth is that search engines don’t store every bit of information they discovered. Instead, Google lists important details such as the time when the page is created, content type, page title, meta description, keywords, and links associated to it.

The indexing process is important too.

Remember, indexing is a step you can choose to ignore. If your website is not on Google’s index, it will NOT show up in any search result. So, if your goal is for more people to discover your website, then, you have to take this step seriously.

The more of your pages are indexed, the more chances for your website to appear every time someone uses a search engine. Moreover, being part of the search results does not automatically mean you’re on the top results. That is another hurdle for you… so for your website to be visible on the first few pages of the SERPs, you have to optimize your website. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play.

How to check if your website is part of the Google index?

There are 2 simple steps:

  • Do a Google search, type in site, and then, add your domain name. For example, site:www.stevemapua.com.After the search, you will find out the specific pages included in the Google Index.
  • Next, you can also create an account on the Google Search Console and input your website link. Check out the Coverage report, specifically the section on VALID AND INDEXED pages.

 

Hawaii SEO – Understanding How Search Engines Work (Part 1)

For you to understand Search Engine Optimization better, you should also understand how search engines work. Whether you are a website developer, website designer, or just someone who enjoys blogging as a hobby, you better take time to read this post.

white and blue google logo

Knowing What Search Engines Do

Surely, you’ve used Google in search for information, in ordering for food, in shopping, and many other things. How many times do access the Google search engine in a day? 10, 20, 30, or even the 50 searches per day? Annually, Google gives solutions to over 1.2 trillion searches. Yes, it’s not a million nor a billion, but it’s trillions we are talking about here.

Indeed, search engines, specifically Google, have been embedded in our lives. It has been part of our routine; and we use it to learn, to shop, to be entertained, and to do business transactions. To some extent, we have been dependent to these search engines for almost everything yet people still don’t get the concept behind search engines.

We just know that search engines can give us what we need any time we want it. Google can acquire solutions to our queries in a matter of seconds. We just type a question and click search, but how does a search engine behind the scenes? Most importantly, how do search engines decide the order on how display the search results?

The How Part

Once you click the Search button, there a lot of things happening internally. Search engines strive to give you the best result for your query. How does this preparation happen? In simple terms, it includes 3 distinct steps: 1) discovering relevant answers, 2) organizing the results, 3) ranking it accordingly. In SEO terms, this process is called crawling, indexing, and ranking.

The First Step: Crawling

  • Search engines assign web crawlers to scan the different websites. Hence, the term crawling.
  • These crawlers are deployed to scan every website that they can find on the Internet. Also, crawlers scour the servers hosting these websites.
  • The crawlers list all the servers, websites, and they start searching. When the crawlers visit each website, they try find out the content, the number of pages, and so on. They scan every little thing whether it’s an image, a video, a javascript… basically everything!
  • Crawlers follow links found within a page. That’s how they discover more pages to crawl. To help the web crawlers (or spiders) to find pages within your website, be sure to have a good internal linking system. They do continually repeat this process so that they will know what pages are added, deleted, and modified.
  • As of writing this article, there are more than 1.5 billion websites worldwide. Remember, crawlers scan individual web pages. That’s a lot of work for the first step alone.

For the crawling process to work to your advantage, you need to take care of the following:

  • crawlers can access your website,
  • read your content properly,
  • and everything that will make their job easier.

Otherwise, the web crawlers won’t be able to scan your website correctly. Then, don’t expect to be on the top results of the SERPs. Make sure that the web crawlers won’t find a hard time by applying these tips:

More on: Understanding How Search Engines Work (Part 2)

Hawaii SEO – When to Use the Nofollow Tag on Links?

In the previous blog post What Is the Nofollow Attribute?, I discussed what the fuzz is about. Moreover, I also talked about the nofollow’s purpose and importance. Now, I will elaborate more on when to use the nofollow attribute.

man wearing white top using MacBook

Strictly apply the nofollow tag on these situations:

  • Forums and Comments Section

    • Be aware of any links posted by a user because any user-generated link can be a source of spam. So, to be safe, choose to nofollow. If you filter out the comments and forum posts, there will be links that slip your strict moderation.
    • Even if you nofollow, you would be surprised on how spam links still appear. How much more if you allow or follow such links, right?
  • Sponsored Links

    • If links are part of a deal, it should automatically be nofollowed. This sends a signal that whatever appears on the link, whether content and/or images, it is beyond your control. Thus, a nofollow is necessary in this case.
  • Ads & Paid Links

    • Speaking of sponsorships, the same rule applies to advertisements. If someone paid you to be featured on your site, choose to nofollow these external links. Additionally, nofollow the ad links on your website.

You choose to follow links during these situations:

  • Guest Post Authors

    • Remember, this is only applicable if the author or the writer is someone you personally know. Furthermore, it can be someone who writes for your website often and someone who you trust.
    • With this being said, one single link is fine, and the chosen anchor text of the link should be their name or domain name. Often times, guest post authors will would appreciate it if you link back to their company website.
  • Industry Experts, Famous People, and Other Celebrities

    • If you are featuring someone famous or celebrity, then, it is okay to provide a link to their personal website.  This works well if you decide to include an industry expert.
    • Like in the previous scenario, one link will do. Just use their name as the anchor text. Also, by providing a link, it’s only right to do this since they devoted their time and effort to be interviewed on your website.
    • However, just a small reminder for you to nofollow if you interview someone who you don’t know that well. In some other case where you interview a lot of people, then, choose to nofollow every single time.
  • Editorial Content

    • Link editorial content only if you are
      • writing an honest review of a product or service, unbiased or unpaid content,
      • noting a link as your article reference or source,
      • lastly, if you have a good working relationship with that website.
    • In these scenarios, the website deserves the follow link you have given them.
    • However, there’s always an exemption to the rule. If you received something in exchange for the review, then this falls under sponsored links already.

Conclusion

As a way to end this post, let me remind you that this list is not everything. There are still other situations where you can nofollow (or follow) links. It all depends on the situation. The best gauge is to ask yourself if the link seems natural or not. Learn more about: Amazing Content Ideas for Your BlogEssential Writing Tips For Blogging, and Important Tips to Make Your Blogs Easier to Read.

 

Hawaii SEO – What Is the Nofollow Attribute?

Since we are on the topic of internal links, let’s discuss what the nofollow tag is. What is its importance?When do you use the nofollow attribute on links? All that and more will be discussed on this blog post.

In 2005, the nofollow attribute was introduced, but it appears that people are still unsure about its purpose and usage. Google’s Nathan Johns even made sure that nofollow has not changed since its conception.

three person pointing the silver laptop computer

In this article, I hope to eradicate the confusion and explain what the nofollow attribute really is. So, let’s start with the most basic question…

What Is the Nofollow Attribute?

The nofollow tag is an indication that search engines should NOT follow an external link. This is implemented when a certain website does NOT endorse another website.

In HTML, the code rel=”nofollow” is added to indicate the nofollow attribute.

The History of Nofollow

Before we discuss further, let’s go over its brief history. The nofollow attribute start during the early 2000s. People already had an idea that links were an integral part of Google. Because of this, people took advantage of adding links. In fact, people added too many links; it was not about the quality of links anymore. The links became a quantity game!

As a result, Google had to formulate a solution to the increasing number of spam links. The solution that Google came up with was the nofollow attribute. This will signal Google that you don’t want the search engines to follow or count this link.

Aside from this, Google wanted users to implement the nofollow attribute for paid links. Also, the nofollow attribute will tell Google that you have NO control over the link.

Gradually, Google decided to penalize people who kept inserting too many links. Anytime the links seemed unnatural, Google will automatically penalize the website. Prior to the invention of search engines, people knew of new websites through linking.

Today, as you can see, search engines have been an essential part of our daily lives.

Nofollow Links Has a Purpose

Using the nofollow tag would mean that you transfer the existing website quality to another site. Moreover, Google cannot reprimand you for linking a low-quality website. Also, Google has not set a number of allowable links in a page.

If you remember the YouTube video of Matt Cutts that I previously mentioned, he clarified that too many links do not typically hurt a website. For as long as you are not exaggerating, then your website should be okay. Watch more of Matt Cutts’ explanation here.

Most of the popular websites  nowadays always toggle the nofollow attribute on their external links. So, the next time you wonder about the nofollow attribute, remember that this feature is important.

At the end of the day, you are linking a website to raise awareness. You are linking it for additional reading and for people to widen their search. There are NO exact rules provided by Google on whether you should nofollow or follow a link.

However, there are some guidelines to follow on when to specifically use the nofollow tag. Read more about this on When to Use the Nofollow Tag on Links?

Hawaii SEO – Best Practices for Both External Links and Internal Links

In my previous 2 post, I have focused my efforts on internal links. If you haven’t read it, catch up on Why Are Internal links Important? and How Are Internal links and SEO Connected?

Today, I will concentrate on external links. Moreover, I will discuss the best practices to use for external links and internal links.

assorted electric cables

Let’s discuss external links.

If an internal link refers to a page within the same website, an external link refers to a page outside your website. For example, clicking this link will send you to the Steve Mapua YouTube Channel. From being in the stevemapua.com, you will now be redirected to YouTube’s domain.

External Linking Best Practices

By now, you would have realized that external links and internal links are different from each other. So, here are the best practices that applies for external links.

  • Only link when necessary,
  • Link websites that you absolutely trust,
  • Do not overdo it, and end up adding too many external links,
  • Only link it when you think the external link will be useful to the users,
  • Link websites that have original content,
  • Link relevant sites only,
  • To avoid any link penalties in the future, when necessary, use ‘nofollow’ attribute for external links.

Internal Linking Best Practices

  • Use internal links to enhance user experience and provide quicker website navigation
  • If possible, add relevant keywords as your anchor text. Avoid exaggerations, meaning don’t repeat the same anchor text over and over.
  • Apply the ‘nofollow’ attribute responsibly.
  • Check for broken internal links because if your website has one, it’s bad for SEO.
  • Link related pages only, and do not link pages together if they don’t have a common denominator. Do not add internal links just for the sake of adding links to your website.
  • If adding keywords as anchor text is not applicable, you can always insert the page titles. For example… To learn more about website design, refer to the Important Web Pages When Making a Website.
  • Remember, attaching internal links to image may not be useful. To satisfy both users and search engines, apply internal links to texts only.
  • Lastly, just because there’s no limit to the number of internal links, it does not mean that you can exaggerate and add too many links in one page. No, please don’t add 1,000 internal links in a single page.

To summarize…

Internal links are extremely important for higher SEO scores, yet many people still fail to follow the best practices listed above. Don’t keep on applying the wrong approach on links. That’s why I posted this article to help you familiarize the best practices for external and internal links.

Always consider what makes your users happy. Think of ways how they will stay longer on your website. I have discussed this on How to Keep Your Audience Stay Longer on Your Website. Make sure that they visit the other pages on your website before they decide to leave. You can only do this effectively when you add internal links.

Look at internal links as a great opportunity to widen your scope. You can’t just focus on this or that topic forever. Your website should continually grow to tap on a bigger audience.

Hawaii SEO – How Are Internal links and SEO Connected?

Before you proceed to the connection between internal links and SEO, I suggest you read through Why Are Internal links Important?

Let me remind you that Google and Bing have their own guidelines regarding internal links. To be sure, you should refer to the Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines.

person using laptop computer

Meanwhile, here are basic concepts regarding internal linking and search engine optimization.

  • Not all internal links are created equal. For an internal link to count, it should be located on the body of the page. Moreover, internal links, found within the sidebar, footer, and elsewhere, are not considered valuable. Yes, you may use them for easier navigation, but as for the link value, they will be considered not important.
  • Next, update your old and outdated pages and insert links of newer pages. Furthermore, you should add old links to latest post. In short, you should review your internal links. From time to time, insert relevant links into the page and group related items together.
  • Use internal links to boost pages, which need publicity. For sure, some pages are more popular than others. So, pass popularity of your strong pages to other less visited pages. For instance, if a page gets clicks and views, then edit this page and add internal links to redirect users to the related pages within your website. Of course, you can’t just insert any link you. Still, you need to consider timeliness and relevancy to the topic. Avoid adding links for the sake of inserting internal links.
  • Lastly, consider the anchor text (or the display text) of your internal links. The anchor text should indicate what the link is about.

Google’s take on internal links

In a YouTube video, Matt Cutts clarified that too many links do not typically hurt the website’s rankings. As long as you are not exaggerating, the website should be fine. For instance, when you have 5,000 internal links in a page with the same anchor text, that’s too much. If you want to watch the video explanation, watch Matt Cutts here.

Additionally, in the Google Webmaster Guidelines, Google points out the importance of writing descriptive anchor texts. I posted some helpful tips on  Best Practices for Both External Links and Internal Links.

For more information on how Google tackles internal links, you better follow the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. The guidelines are constantly changing so it’s best to keep notes on their latest guidelines to know what is safe or what is not.

Bing’s recommendation on internal links

Aside from Google, there are also other dependable search engines out there. If you want to rank high on other search engines, then you might want to take into consideration the Bing Webmaster Guidelines. In fact, Bing specifically states that:

Links are traditionally regarded as a signal of website popularity, the best way to get other sites to link to you is to create high quality and unique content.

If you ever get confused about internal links, just look at Wikipedia. The website is an ideal example of a website that uses internal links very well. You will see that Wikipedia are inserting multiple internal links in one page alone.

Next topic: Best Practices for Both External Links and Internal Links

Hawaii SEO – Why Are Internal links Important?

Let me just make it clear: internal linking is a good practice for both search engine optimization and user experience.

two hands

When you add a link within a web page, you are redirecting the users to related articles. Not only they learn something new, but this strategy also helps search engines discover more pages from your website.

The 2 Types of Links

Before I discuss further, allow me to explain that a webpage can include 2 links. First, there’s what you call external links. I will discuss this on Best Practices for External Links. Anyway, these are the links that redirect a user outside your website. For instance, when you click this link, you will be redirected to the Steve Mapua YouTube Channel. This is outside the realm of the stevemapua.com!

Defining Internal Links

Now, since the topic is about internal link, I will elaborate on this further. Internal links come in 2 types of internal links:

  • Within the same page – you can move within the same page. for example, clicking this link will jump to the importance of internal links section of this blog post.
  • To another page within the same website – For instance, if you click this, you will redirect to Things to Do Before You Publish a Blog Post, which is a page within stevemapua.com.

The HTML code

If you want to know how to write internal links in HTML, here’s how you would do it:

<a href=”https://www.stevemapua.com/blog/”>Internal link to the blog section</a>

Internal links can help in:

  • improving website navigation
  • linking related pages together
  • helps search engines in discovering pages within your website
  • distributes the traffic you get to the other pages of your website

Why is internal linking important?

Good internal linking practices are needed for website to work efficiently. After all, it ain’t called a website for no reason. Each page when linked to other web pages creates a web.

For you to understand this process, you also need to understand how search engines work. Search engines deploy website crawlers to help in the crawling and indexing process. These crawlers will only be able to discover the pages within your website if you linked them together.

The more pages you connect, the more pages the website crawlers discover. Internal links serve as a guide for the website crawlers. It points them to the other undiscovered pages of the website.

If pages aren’t link, website crawlers will just scan the homepage, and then, leave! Such a tragedy, right? That is why you need to focus on SEO also, and not just website design. Create a helpful website structure that uses both internal and external links. Surely, when you do this, you are able to produce excellent content for the users and search engines too.

Another reason why internal linking is a crucial part of any website is because internal links distribute the link juice. For instance, if page C is popular, the clicks and views it receives have an influence to the related content. Perhaps, the users decided to check out page D because of the link you posted on Page C.

If you want to learn more about internal links, please refer to my post on How Are Internal links and SEO Connected?

Hawaii SEO – Boosting Rankings Using On-Page SEO Techniques (Part 5)

This will be the final post on Boosting Rankings Using On-Page SEO Techniques. For this post, I will focus on the importance of internal links, external links, and website comments.

people using phone while standing

Insert internal links on the pages of your website

In SEO, it is essential to link the pages within your website because:

Build a WEBsite

  • Take note of the word website; naturally, you would want your pages to be connected. Once the search engine crawlers scan your website, they will discover the pages found within your website. If pages are not linked together, the crawlers will keep discovering pages, and they will only stop the moment they don’t see any internal and external link.

Discover other pages within your website

  • As I mentioned above, the search engine crawlers will keep scanning the page. Whatever link — whether internal or external — is found on a page, they will read those links too. You can use this to your advantage, and do this to tell search engines about the new pages of your website.
  • So, make sure you make their time worthwhile. They will scan and go if they don’t see any more links posted.

More time spent on your site

  • If your pages are linked together, a user can spend more your time browsing your website. Once a user reads about a certain topic, he can learn more about the related topics through the internal links you inserted. Hence, this strategy will increase the time on your website, the number of pages visted, and more importantly, this will decrease the bounce rate.

Here are some tips for internal linking:

  • Insert an internal link between to related pages.
  • Add internal within the body of the page, and not on the sidebar or footer sections. If you want to know more about internal links, please refer to .

Don’t forget the external links

With updates like Panda and Penguin, people have been apprehensive in linking other websites. Most people think that Google will rank them down. However, the truth is that your website’s trustworthiness will increase if you add external links in order to provide additional information of the content you are discussing. In short, external links are good for SEO.

Respond to comments and On-Page SEO

Many people think that social media comments are unrelated to SEO. Yes, social media presence do not directly influence your rankings. However, it is still important in promoting your website. If more people see your website link, more people would click and read your content.

According to Gary Illyes of Google, social media is positive indication that people find your content useful because they interact with the website. Google sees this a good sign!

Here are some basic guidelines regarding the comments posted on your website:

  • Moderate comments before publishing them because they could just be spam.
  • Don’t approve everything, and only accept those comments that are relevant to the page.
  • Take time to reply to these comments that add value to page. By doing this, you will encourage other people to leave a comment as well.
  • Don’t hesitate to remove unnecessary comments.