Meet Nina, an SEO Consultant and Freelancer, Training provider – certified Google Analytics Adwords and Advanced.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?
I progressed from printed media advertising sales to selling advertisements on my employer’s website back in 2004 – wow, that’s 13 years ago – during my time with the company I was the person singled out to train fellow coworkers with the confusing new introduction of creating emails and sending advert proofs online. My parents bought a computer before Google was mainstream so I’ve been around the world wide web since the early 1990’s when Ask Jeeves and Yahoo! were the main search engines.
Progressing through my Sales career I always chose a role that involved the internet, as it happens I was doing SEO before I knew what SEO was. One day the Director said, “We have a website, can you make it higher in Google do you think?” So I asked what search terms/services he wanted to get higher for and off I went. I am a voracious reader of articles, double checking facts and joining SEO forums for discussion and confirmation of the recommended methods. The website climbed in Google within a few weeks and everyone was happy.
It was after this experience I decided to apply for an eCommerce SEO vacancy – an online personalised cards company was in need of a full-time Marketing Manager as they were going through a business rebrand. My time with the company was relatively short as I had beaten all rivals in Google to hit the number 1 spot throughout the UK in 12 months for “Personalised Cards” which led to a company takeover and I knew it was time to move on.
I joined People Per Hour in 2009 that year and worked two jobs by freelancing at the weekends and evenings, applying SEO to my own website and building a local and national client base.
Do you feel that SEO has a ‘Shady’ reputation?
Absolutely, I’ve heard people refer to the industry like used car salesmen, or pestering cold callers (unwanted spam emails) and taking lots of money with zero results. Even in 2017, there are different techniques around the globe. My advice is to place the work with a freelancer in the same country as yourself, this helps with communication being in the same time zone, and also on People Per Hour, the currency will be the same.
What are some outdated SEO tactics that are still being used in 2017?
Meta Keywords – Google has ignored this since 2009. Previous to this, Search Engine Optimisation was never a major issue for websites, it was easy to rank on the first page of Google simply by repeating keywords on the website and also in the meta tags to climb up in rankings.
Businesses also used other tactics of keyword repetition to shoot up in Google – simply by adding white text on a white background so the human eye couldn’t see the junk text, but Google could.
Now Google and other search engines are getting smarter – and businesses need to be proactive with their website, keeping it maintained and keep adding new content.
What are the Search Engines really looking for?
Let’s explore 2017 SEO methods using an example law firm in Brighton:
- Textual Content – each page should have at least 300 words. Search Engines are like humans, they read a website like a newspaper. No one wants to buy a newspaper with nothing to read. This is number 1 as I feel it’s the most important.
- Maximise your H1 header – avoid saying “Welcome to my website” in big bold letters, tell Google that you are a Law Firm in Brighton (and your specialist areas too).
- Page URL structure – great for geographically targeted businesses. For example, a law firm in Brighton should create a blog post or an internal page with the URL ending in /law-firm-brighton.
- Images – rename your images from “My logo” or “DC0034” to your chosen key phrase, so “Law Firm Brighton Family Lawyers Logo_1” instead.
- Ensure other people are linking back to your site – Google likes backlinks from relevant and trusted websites like Yell, Thompson Local and even Google+ and YouTube. Google owns YouTube and also the site blogger.com. Create extra traffic by ensuring your website is mentioned online with business profiles. Avoid spammy directories.
What are Search Engines NOT looking for?
- A pretty website with lots of photos and zero text. Google can’t read images, only the Alt tags as mentioned previously.
- Spammy blog comments linking back to a website. Commenting on blogs is an outdated tactic that used to work 10+ years ago.
- Submitting your websites to SEO directories. Check out SEMrush to view the changing volume of traffic for your site and also your competitors.
- Hundreds/thousands of low-level backlinks – Google views buying backlinks as bad, especially when they all show up over a few short days.
- Linking from ‘Bad neighbourhood’ websites such as adult or gambling.
- A website built on a free platform such as Wix, Hibu/Yell or Weebly.
- Social media signals – Google only ranks websites when a social media post goes viral with thousands or millions of shares, I’ve seen proposals detailing “50 social shares, 50 blog comments and 100 backlinks from directories” and here we should apply the logic of quality over quantity.
Try it for yourself – Google search for your geographical area and your services – what page in Google is your website? Can you see your competitors above you? Often wonder how they dominate Google search results? They have employed an SEO freelancer or invested in SEO training to learn DIY SEO.
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